Sunday, May 27, 2018

Are You There, Readers? It's Me, Lady C

I have a favor to ask: Will you please leave a comment for me right now? Particularly if you are someone who knows me, either in "real life" or online through Maud-L.

(If you are a total stranger just passing through, don't worry about it — but if you are a total stranger who reads my blog regularly, it would be nice for you to do this for me.)

If you find the Comment feature cumbersome, can you text me or send an e-mail?

Here's why I'm asking: I don't tell many people about my blog, but it is public; anyone could find it or share the URL. My posts get an average of 100 views on a regular basis, and I can only think of 15 regular readers (meaning, people who leave occasional comments or mention my blog to me in an e-mail). I don't think the 100 views = 100 regular readers, but I do think there are probably more than 15.

You know that bloggers like to get comments, right? I hope this isn't news. And I understand there are lots of reasons that people don't comment regularly — which is fine. But today I would like to know who's "out there," and I think this is a reasonable request, particularly of people who know me.

Thank you. I really appreciate this.

More to come, very soon! Reports of my glorious two weeks in the Pacific Northwest! The thrilling conclusion of the Whole Life Challenge, Round 2! Pictures of my yard! OK, that third one may not be exciting to you, but I am very happy.

Looking forward to reading dozens and dozens of comments!!

Lady C

Thursday, May 10, 2018

Moving On, Literally


It is never pleasant to be misunderstood, particularly when the misunderstanding leads to hurt feelings, anger, or pain of any sort. I've been reflecting on the power of words this week — and also, whatever the opposite of "power" is. When I literally write one thing ("We are forever friends") and the recipient hears the exact opposite (". . . which clearly means that I don't want to be friends with you any more"), where do you go from there?

I have lots of thoughts about this week's kerfuffle with the Seattle girls, including its aftermath, but I think I need to do everything I can to get out of that head space right now.

In a few minutes I am leaving on a two-week trip, during which I will see many people I love and whose presence in my life brings me joy. I have many exciting and fun activities planned. I'm going to see a new and beautiful part of the world. Best of all, I'm doing this with my sweet husband, who is an unfailingly cheerful travel companion and will bring me drinks and snacks whenever I ask him to. Friends, after 25 years of marriage, this is pretty great.

I probably won't blog while I'm away — Blogger never accepts any version of what I believe to be my password when I'm at another computer — and I'll do my best to post to Facebook, though my devil new phone thwarts my efforts to send pictures. But I will try.

Next stop, Ashland, Oregon! Au revoir!

Lady C

Monday, May 7, 2018

Paying the Piper


I wrote this in my blog yesterday:
I almost forwarded her note [an invitation to dinner, naming a date, time, and venue] to everyone else, to say SEE? SEE? THIS is how you welcome a visitor!!!! But I did not. And yet, I'm writing it here and some of those folks may well read my blog — que sera sera. I stand by every word.
So, guess what? Some of those folks did indeed read my blog and are very mad and hurt indeed. Two of the four I'm meeting one afternoon in Seattle have already bowed out, and the other two may as well; one has already told me that she's coming off a night shift at the hospital that morning (so will be exhausted), and one says that she'll be tired but cheerful as she has completely overcommitted herself work-wise, so they may instead elect to sleep or rest, which I completely understand, particularly if I've pissed them off.

Two things:
  • It is never my intention to hurt anyone's feelings. I am very sorry that my words were taken as hurtful. I sincerely apologize for this.
  • I did not write what I wrote in anger. More - in puzzlement. I have been genuinely startled and baffled by the response to my visit (in five venues where I'm meeting people, not just Seattle).
One friend (an actual friend — someone I've met in person many times, have hosted for dinner at my home, and like very much) wrote to me this morning, expressing how hurt she was by my words and her disappointment that I failed to acknowledge (and in fact completely disregarded) the genuine offers of generosity that I received.

And she is correct. I did in fact receive offers, and I am very sorry that I did not acknowledge them.
  • This friend, the one who wrote to me, offered to host a picnic, with her apartment as backup in case of rain. I was so focused on the word "picnic" (I think readers of my blog know that I am an indoor kitty; I do not eat outdoors where the dirt is) that the offer of her home for a meal went right by me, in addition to her offer to be a hostess.  I know how much work hosting entails, which I did not acknowledge. I regret this very much. I hate the idea that I have hurt this friend.
  • Another friend offered her apartment for our gathering — a straight-out, kind, lovely offer. I actually thought of that as I wrote what I wrote yesterday ("Wait, La Belle Nicole did offer to host"). I even thought about qualifying my statement to say, "Well, actually, one person invited me, but for some reason we didn't all jump on that invitation, like, Eureka! We have a plan! — and in fact immediately after that another friend begged us not to settle on a venue just yet, and then the potential hostess didn't respond to my questions about potential guests, and I didn't feel comfortable inviting other people to her apartment (which she has told me is very small) without an official okay from her — so, while yes, this was technically an invitation to someone's home, it felt . . . complicated" — but I decided not to write all that. Which I now regret, as this friend is also someone I know in real life and care about.
  • One friend (whom I haven't actually met) said that she would invite us all to her apartment if only she weren't moving. I guess I didn't actually see this as an invitation — but knowing how busy this friend is (a new mom who also works outside the home and is moving that weekend), I should have acknowledged that she was offering the best of herself that she could.
I think this entire situation has been a sterling example of how e-mail is not the best venue for communication — things are so easily misunderstood, particularly text with any sort of emotion attached.

I thought about going back through all the e-mails I received and pulling out the passages that most startled me. I thought about naming all the questions I asked people directly that I received no responses to. I thought about doing a time-series analysis, showing when I wrote my original e-mails and when people responded, if they responded at all.

I decided against doing any of this, because I'm not making a case that I need to support. I'm not mad about any of this. I was startled. I am puzzled. But I am nonetheless prepared to greet everyone with an open mind and an open heart. As I wrote yesterday:
Honestly, I don't take any of it personally — I believe that people generally do the best they can.
I try to give people the benefit of the doubt and to believe that their intentions are usually good. I hope that people will do the same for me.

— Lady C

Saturday, May 5, 2018

Learning to Be Hungry, and Other Life Lessons


An interesting side effect of the Whole Life Challenge is that there is NO mindless snacking — you always have to think about what you're eating and whether it's Compliant (or if it's Non-Compliant but worth taking a point or two). And when I get really busy, as I have been for the past week, it is sometimes easier simply not to eat.

Which is unheard of for me. I hate, fear, and loathe being hungry!!!! But I've been having a nonfat Greek yogurt for breakfast and an apple and a handful of nuts for lunch while I work work work (and drink water water water), and sister, if you think that's enough to sustain an almost 300-pound woman, I am ready to laugh in your face.

But I've been doing it.

And I've also lost about 20 pounds since November (as has Mimosa). Fit-Bit says that isn't fast enough, she wants us losing at least a pound a week, so we'll see if my new Spartan eating habits will make her happy (or if I can sustain them). I also know that what I'm doing is the opposite of the strategy "breakfast like a king, dine like a pauper," but what can you do.

This morning I was down to 282. Mind you, I had a bath last night (post-bath weight is always artificially lower by a pound or so) and I know that this is still a HUGE weight, but — it's progress! I was happy. And I celebrated by taking a three-mile walk this morning with Good Neighbor Anne.

I don't love doing my exercise walk with people; I'd rather walk as fast as I can and not expend energy on talking. But I haven't seen my pal in so long, and we have so much to catch up on! Each of us are dealing with our personal Trifecta of Crazy: we each have a crazy mom and daughter, she has a crazy sister, and I have a crazy former BF. Much to share and commiserate over! We walked and talked, and I panted a lot. It was great.

I've been thinking a lot about friendship these past few weeks, as my longest friendship just abruptly ended — and also as I'm preparing for a trip to the Pacific Northwest, which will involve seeing many family members and friends, both old and new.

Planning these outings has been such an interesting experience. As I've gotten older, I try hard not to hold other people to my own standards; I believe that I set a very high standard for myself in many areas, and it's ridiculous to expect other people to hit a needlessly high bar. So, one of my challenges, always, is to determine what's a reasonable expectation for my friends.

(You've heard me go on about party guests before — for example, I think it's reasonable to expect someone to bring their own bowl or plate for serving their potluck item and not just plunk down a bag o' chips on the hostess's beautiful table . . . and so on.)

In the case of my upcoming trip to places I've never been, I think it's reasonable to expect the locals to suggest a restaurant or other venue for a meeting place.

And yet, and yet . . . of the seven get-togethers I am having with family and friends, I have chosen the venue for five of them. Me, the person who doesn't live there, who knows nothing about good local places (both food-wise and comfortable-group-meeting-place-wise), and is choosing blindly from the Internet.

I think of the many intimate dinners and larger group parties I have hosted for visitors — many of whom have stayed in my home — and I reflect on the fact that not one of these West Coast folks has invited me to their house.

Honestly, I don't take any of it personally — I believe that people generally do the best they can — but it does give me pause. Is this an area where my standards and expectations for how one treats a visitor are completely off the rails?? I didn't think so — but I don't know.

(One of my seven get-togethers was a surprise: Someone I know slightly just wrote, saying, "I would ADORE to meet you, but I can't be there on the date you're meeting everyone else. Any chance you'd be free for dinner the night before, at this time? I suggest this restaurant [name and address]. Let me know." I almost forwarded her note to everyone else, to say SEE? SEE? THIS is how you welcome a visitor!!!! But I did not. And yet, I'm writing it here and some of those folks may well read my blog — que sera sera. I stand by every word.)

The recent bizarre blow-up with my oldest friend made me think about some of my other "friendship expectations," which can pretty much be summed up in one sentence:
(Which, as I read it now, might be confusing — I will certainly befriend the celibate! How about: BE AN ADULT, FOR FUCK'S SAKE ?)

My former friend is sad and pouty because she no longer feels like my number-one super-best all-time BFF, and it took every ounce of self-possession I had not to scream at her OH MY GOD ARE WE TWELVE??? Yes, ranking my besties used to be one of my favorite activities — in high school. But I am now 55. I do not rank my friends.

(In two separate conversations, I announced this to Writer Jenny and to Brunie. Jenny's response: "You don't??" I said, "OK, sure, you're #7." Brunie's response: "Except that I'm first, right? but you don't rank everyone after me?" Ha ha ha, my friends are so funny.)

But that's kind of my point: my friends are so funny. They are so smart. They are good and interesting and wonderful in so many different ways, and I appreciate all of them for who they are and what they bring to my life, on so many different levels.

Zanny often apologizes for not sending birthday cards, and I always reassure her that (a) I don't care, and (b) I don't need her to be the friend who sends birthday cards. She plays so many other friendship roles in my life — no one is a more fervent (bossy) advocate for my writing (not even Writer Jenny, my all-time bossiest friend!) (in a good way) — and that is all that's important.

I read these great words somewhere:
Relationships should be reciprocal but they are never mirror images. You give, you receive, but you may not give and receive the same things. Some people are good at life events and rituals and gift-giving; others give practical support or emotional intimacy. Ask for what you need, but in general let your friends play to their strengths.
The main problem for me with my newly ended friendship is that it wasn't reciprocal at all — my friend took and took and gave very little.

Her M.O. when she's upset with me about something is to go silent, and her silence can last for months. And then I dance around her, begging to know what I've done and how I can get back into her good graces.

I have said and said and said: This has to stop. You have to tell me what you're mad about, ideally in the moment, when I can do something about it. But to no avail.

So . . . that's it. She has gone silent again, after sending me a letter officially ending our friendship. And while I am reeling . . . maybe it's not such a bad thing. It has not been a good, fulfilling friendship for more than 10 years now. Mrs. Cynicletary encourages me to think of the whole situation as a really fucked-up gift, and that is what I'm trying to do.

(Wow — downer post, huh?)

I think I will stop here. I just finished my chores and colored my hair — and there are more useful things I could do, of course, but instead I think I will drink a champagne cocktail and watch The Handmaid's Tale while my hair dries. Useful things can wait till tomorrow.

Which is another day!

Lady C