Monday, November 29, 2010

boiled amphibians

I'm happy that November is over, aren't you? It wasn't the easiest of months for me. But now that it's December again, I can celebrate little anniversaries. Like it's been a year since I left for Argentina. It's (almost) been six months since I met Marido. And it's been two months since I quit smoking--all reasons to celebrate.

Everyone I know seems to be struggling with their relationships. Relationships are always complex and interesting, but lately they seem to be taking more from us than giving, which I suppose is only normal during the jolliest time of year. Things with me and Marido have been no exception. I really thought we were over, but we aren't.

I think this conversation sums it all up:

ME: I think we have communication problems. It's obvious to me that you've been unhappy for more a little while, but you insist nothing is wrong. Then all of a sudden one day you say you don't want to spend the holidays with me, can't live with me, and don't see a future for us. Of course I freaked out and thought you were breaking up with me. It was the most you'd said in a month. Why didn't you say anything before?

(long, thoughtful pause)

MARIDO: Well, it is like boiling a frog.

(Figuring this is some sort of cultural thing, I wait for him to continue. But instead there is an even longer pause during which I stare at him wondering if he is making an ill-timed joke about our communication problems, or if he is just insane.)

ME: Um, boiling a frog? I don't understand. You're going to have to explain that to me.

MARIDO: (genuinely surprised) Really?

I've never heard of this allusion, but it apparently is so widespread that Little Brother understood it immediately (of course) and it has its own Wikipedia entry. If you're too lazy to click the link, the "boiling a frog" reference is an allusion to the myth that if you place a frog in a pot of temperate water and then slowly bring it to a boil, it will not react to the gradual rise in temperature and boil to death; whereas if you place a frog in boiling water, it will jump out and save itself. Whether or not it's true, this idea is a reference to people's abilities to tolerate extreme circumstances when subjected to them gradually.

Classic hilarity!

Anyhow, it's obvious we need to communicate a little better. Last week was pretty fucking dicey, and I packed up all of my stuff and came home, unsure of whether or not I would return. It is a hard thing to have my confidence in a relationship shaken, when I see that as mainly what keeps me attached to someone--my belief that they will love me and protect me and be a new source of awesomeness, not a source of infinite strife, and vice-versa. I want to make Marido happier by amazing him with love and people and new possibilities for adventure. I don't want to make him feel like a boiled frog!

When I left San Francisco, I was unsure of if we were boiling each other or making each others' lives better. Our lives have changed a lot with the addition of each other. We are both intense people and diametrically opposed in a lot of ways. My first step after leaving San Francisco was to consider whether I wanted to ask him to come to Chicago for Thanksgiving (as planned), because it meant a lot to me, or if he should hang back in San Francisco for a breather (as we both knew would be beneficial in other ways). While discussing this with my mother, he texted to tell me he would still come, if I wanted him to. It meant the world to me that he came.

I love Thanksgiving. This year, I am especially thankful for:

1) Delicious food (no boiled frogs!), particularly pie, ice cream, and turkey;
2) the miracle of aviation;
3) my friends, who amaze me with their patience, wisdom, and incredibly diverse range of relevant advice;
4) my family, who sometimes bring out the worst in me but love me anyway;
5) love in general, its resilience, its optimism, how it makes everything and everyone better;
6) Marido, for believing in us, for continuing to make memories with me, for giving me keys to come back to San Francisco, for destroying a dictionary to send me a love letter, for his pasta carbonara, and for his little-boy smile which makes me believe that we will grow old together;
7) the ability to step back and see where improvements can be made in one's life;
8) the ability to make those improvements with the help of all of the above.

I'm excited for my New Year's resolutions this year. Aren't you?

Monday, November 15, 2010


Lessons learned these past two weeks:

Filed under Cooking:
Fried garlic is the perfect topping to many savory food items. Purple cabbage and apples keep for a long time. If you cover a rack of ribs in barbecue sauce and then throw it in the oven at 250 for 3 hours, the result is DELICOUSNESS. Artichokes are sort of a bitch to prepare, and their deliciousness is mostly derived from butter and garlic, negating most of their healthy properties as a vegetable.

Filed under California:
Even property 150 miles away from San Francisco without water or gas hookups is expensive. The further north you go, the more delicious the beer. Biking north into Sausalito is mostly downhill. You can purchase cocktails on the ferry. The town of Sea Ranch, though nestled on a beautiful stretch of the Pacific and purportedly full of hippies, appears to be uniformly oppressive, at least from an architectural standpoint.

Filed under Relationships:
Passion and dedication are interdependent. It is always better to be appreciated than tolerated--but if you can be happy alongside someone else, that is just as good; if you can't, it's worse than not being tolerated at all. Everything important about relationships can be traced back to the movie Say Anything. Everything else is petty fluff.

Filed under Writing:
Graham Greene is surprisingly funny. Alberto Moravia will consume most of my life for the next few months. Abebooks is a great source to get used books for cheap. Computer games and great writing do not mix.

Filed under Miscellany:
Peanut butter and birdseed alone will not self-adhere and dry into a molded form.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

treading water with guns

This photo is from a story about training police officers in Missouri to wrestle with criminals in the water.

Last week was a really hard week. My PMS was compounded by a severe lack of nicotine, and I felt like a failed human being and especially a failed friend, which is usually the most solid thing I have going for me. But yesterday that all went away, and left me feeling so liberated that I confronted my old novel. I "finished" the novel before leaving Argentina, but am not satisfied with it. It has been giving me heartache like an ex-lover who lives across the street and plays terrible music through his open windows all day long. I try to ignore it and chalk it up to failure/learning experience, but it is impossible not to sing along with the sappy lyrics.

Well, I let the novel sit for four weeks and then I started revisions. Only they are not revisions; it is a big 'ol rewrite, which sounds completely crazy and daunting but it is exciting more than anything else. I thought I would just give up on it because I lost faith in it, but now I think I can save it. Maybe I am just wasting my time betting on a dead horse, but it is *my* dead horse and you can't really reason with sentimentality.

It is one thing to tread water...and another thing to tread water WITH GUNS.