because life doesn’t fit in a file folder

Letting Go of Love: On Grief and Dirty-Faced Boys

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When I was in elementary school, I liked a boy whose face was always a little dirty, a boy who wore corduroys that were always patched at the knees. Somehow, I sensed he had less than I did in this life, and for some inexplicable reason I felt a connection to him.

One afternoon, this boy and I held hands during a roller-skating party in our school gymnasium. It was wonderful, the way he whipped me around the room. His fingers tightly gripping mine, I felt alive, chosen.

I started bringing candy to him, assorted caramels rolled in colorful wrappers, and he happily took my plastic baggy filled with sweets, eating everything hungrily and without much appreciation.

I brought him treats for a long time, until I realized it was the candy he liked, not me.

Apparently, I haven’t learned much since my elementary school days.

Because I did it again.

This one knew how to clean himself up well-enough. He told me that he’d stop smoking cigarettes someday and shared enough secrets to make me feel like I was special. I liked the way he curled around me at night, pulling my body against his, making me feel delicate. I loved watching him sleep, hearing his breath, studying the curve of his face, his perfectly shell-shaped ears.

But nothing was easy. Our conversations were filled with miscommunications, and he was forever hanging up on me when we spoke on the phone.

And yet.

I encouraged him to follow his dreams, helped him with his business, opened my home to him, gave him my heart, my body. Some many offerings.

The point is I see it now, this old pattern, this longing to save someone I like. To make him love me.

I want to say that I’m hopeful that one day I’ll find my person – someone who is willing to accept responsibility for hurtful words, someone who apologizes and makes an attempt to change his future actions, someone who is willing to fight for me rather than with me, someone passionate and affectionate – a partner who possesses all the attributes I dream of and which, at one time, seemed so simple.

Time for me to stop offering up what little sweetness I have left.

Time to love myself and eat all the chocolates.

Ever stayed in a bad relationship for too long? How did you know when it was time to end things?

tweet me @rasjacobson

Do You Know Your Love Language?

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Back in elementary school, when we were essentially forced to make Valentine’s cards for each other, we never discussed love or compassion. We were taught that a good partner should intuitively know what would give the other person happiness.

We were definitely not instructed to ask for what we want.

Ideally, we are supposed to to put aside own egos and give what we know would bring our partners joy.

Even if we aren’t totally into it.

That kind of sacrifice is called love.

Compassionate love is hard to sustain.

But without it, relationships fail.

No doubt, cutting out construction paper valentines was fun, especially when paired with a cupcake and a nappy.

But it taught us the wrong message.

Store bought cards signed without any sentiment aren’t enough, even if paired with a handful of Hershey’s kisses.

If we really want to show someone that they are important to us, we need to think about what they want and be mindful to do so in a way that they will most appreciate.

Several years ago, I read Dr. Gary Chapman’s The Five Love Languages. In his book, Chapman asserts that it’s rare for two people to speak the same primary love language, and we become confused when our partner does not understand what we are communicating.
Chapman reiterates that the euphoric high of the honeymoon stage wears off after about two years, and while we still try to express love, the message may not be received because we often speak to our partner in what is, essentially, a foreign language.
In order to have a successful relationship, Chapman says it’s necessary to understand one’s own primary love language as well as that of our partner. And he asserts we must attempt to express love in his or her primary love language.

What Are These Love Languages?

Chapman identifies the five primary ways that people show love:

  1. Words of Affirmation:  You feel most cared for when your partner is open and expressive in telling you how wonderful they think you are and how much they appreciate you. Basically, you need people to remind you that their world is a better place because you are in it.
  2. Acts of Service:
    If your partner offering to watch the kids so you can do what you’d like to do gets your heart racing, then this is your love language.
  3. Physical Touch:
    If you like to hug, kiss and touch a lot, and/or if naked time with your partner makes you feel most loved, this is your primary love language.
  4. Quality Time:
    This love language is about being together, fully present and engaged in the activity at hand, no matter how trivial.
  5. Gifts:
    If you feel most appreciated when your partner takes the time to buy you something you’d really like, this is your primary love language.

When I took Chapman’s test in the back of the book, I learned that my primary love language is “Physical Touch” followed by “Quality Time.”

Chapman asserts that we have to figure out what our partners really want based on their primary love language. When our unique needs are met, he asserts, it feels like “our love tanks” have been topped off; however, if our needs aren’t being satisfied, we will feel drained and experience health problems.

What am I doing this Valentine’s Day?

1) Treating myself to a pedicure. 2) Celebrating my son’s 16 & 1/2 birthday; and 3) Remaining hopeful that one day I’ll find someone who understands me… and my love language.

Which language is your love primary language? What about your partner? What would you most love to receive for Valentine’s Day? Are you willing to do something different this year in the name of love? I’d love to hear from you!

 tweet me @rasjacobson

 

How The Death of My Treadmill Reminded Me Love Is In The House

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I have this treadmill. Rather, I had this treadmill. I used it for years. It’s not like I have been training for a marathon or anything. I just like to walk on it at a nice clip for 30 minutes a day. You know, to shake my groove thing. 

Three weeks ago, my treadmill broke. Or part of it did. The speed keys stopped working which meant I had two options:

  1. I could walk at .5 mph. One-half mile per hour should not even qualify as a speed. It’s like moving in slow motion.
  2. I could use one of the custom programs, which vacillated between too slow and too fast and too much elevation.

It took a while to figure out if it was worth trying to save my 7-year old treadmill, but when I learned a new motherboard was going to cost over $500, Hubby and I found ourselves shopping around.

{Because he knows I need to move my badinkadonk for 30 minutes a day.}

Last Sunday, while I napped on the couch, Hubby called for backup. He needed help carrying the heavy 55″ platform downstairs, but then my man hung out in the basement – alone — putting the whole mess together.

It took him hours.

There was absolutely nothing in it for him.

And he’ll never use it.

It’s all for me.

Isn't she beautiful?
Isn’t she beautiful?

Does that not scream of selfless love?

This week, Piper Bayard wrote The Happy Man Manual in an effort to offer tips to befuddled women everywhere about how we can keep it simple when it comes to pleasing our men. Piper asserts:

Men come with a three sentence Happy Man Manual: 1) Feed me; 2) Feed my ego; 3) Feed my libido. If a woman does at least two of those three things, she’s made him happy. Three, and bliss ensues.

So here is what I did:

1) I fed my man’s ego. I told Hubby how awesome he is for putting together the new treadmill. Even if the old one is lying like a heap of trash  at the foot of the basement stairs. Whatever.

How long before this gets out of the house?
How long before this thing makes it out of the house?

2) I fed my man. I made an awesome meal last night because everyone knows that restaurants jack up their prices 20 gazillion percent on Valentine’s Day. Plus, it’s a school night. So we’re not doing that.

Haddock with pomogranates; whole rice; edamame beans; melon & strawberries
Haddock with pomogranates; whole rice; edamame beans; melon & strawberries

Hubby LOVES these gross Kosher for Passover fruit slices. a few days ago, I happened to be in the grocery store where the good folks at Wegmans were starting to fill the aisles with all things Pesach. And there they were. I bought him a package and hid the box.

Last night, I brought out the box.

Mostly gone.
Mostly gone at this point.

Paydirt.

What? Oh, you want to know about the libido thing. Can I just say Hubby and I are going on an adventure on Friday and leave it at that?

Currently, we’re hovering somewhere between happy and bliss.

And you know who else is happy?

Marcia from Finding Felicity (@FindMyFelicity). She won the gnome salt & pepper shakers in my impromptu Getting To Gnome You: Valentine’s Day Giveaway. I loved reading everyone’s entries and I had a great time finding You Tube videos for y’all.

Gifts notwithstanding, what have you done recently to show someone you love them? Because isn’t that what it’s about?

tweet me @rasjacobson

Getting to Gnome You: Valentine’s Day Stories

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Remember these guys? My neighbor won them at my Book Club’s Annual DeGift & Re-Gift Party. Well, as it turns out, Lori wasn’t wild about the gnome salt & pepper shakers. And guess what? She gave them to me! And just in time for Valentine’s Day! Read on  to see what you can do to win them!

Valentine’s Day in kindergarten was simple. My teacher wore a red sweater with pink hearts on it. We ate cupcakes. And then we napped.

In 3rd grade, Valentine’s Day became a bigger production. Valentines needed to be made for every person in both sections of the grade. Forty construction paper hearts, people!

My mother brought out a the colored construction paper, handed me a pair of scissors, and I got busy cutting out small, medium and large-sized hearts for my friends.

The people I liked the best got the biggest hearts.

And since I was not stupid, I made my teachers big hearts, too.

{I needed all the brownie points I could get.}

In 1976, I was crushing hard on two boys. I took tons to time make sure both boys received double-matted cards – pink construction hearts glued on top of red construction hearts – and I carefully wrote the same note to both boys. And signed my name.

{In pen.}

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Image courtesy of Antonio Rodrigues, Jr. Click to see his beautiful booklet!

I didn’t think much about signing my cards.

It was Valentine’s Day.

If ever there was a day to use the word “LOVE,” that was the day, right?

Um, wrong!

Once the cards were delivered, it was discovered I loved not just one but two boys.

That day I learned about monogamy. There were rules, and I had broken them. It didn’t matter how much Herbal Essence Shampoo I used, girls were not supposed to love two boys at once. It didn’t matter if Savallas called Mary and me on Saturday mornings to talk about Soul Train. It wasn’t okay for a girl to like two boys.

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Photo courtesy of Antonio Rodrigues Jr. Click on the image to see more of his work.

In high school, the pressure around Valentine’s Day increased.

Students bought flowers for friends {and the people with whom they hoped to become more than friends} for the bargain-basement price of $1 per stem.

While I  always received a few flowers from my closest friends, the popular girls made a big show about carrying their dozens of carnations around, toting them from class to class like it was a chore. It was hard not to feel inadequate sitting next to Miss Universe over there, holding two-dozen pink and red carnations on her lap as she copied her vocabulary words off the blackboard.

And some people didn’t get any flowers at all. That had to sting.

When we were in the “I-so-want-to-impress-this-woman” phase of our relationship, Hubby made an amazing dinner at his friend Brian’s house. (Okay, maybe Brian made the dinner, but I’m sure Hubby helped). It was a long, late leisurely meal. I tried escargot for the first time. And ate filet mignon alongside a green salad. We all drank wine.

Later, I smashed an irreplaceable wine glass (hand blown in Germany and borrowed from Brian’s mother) on Brian’s floor.

Anyway, Hubby wasn’t mad at me.

{Brian’s mother probably was, but Hubby made me feel okay about being human.}

Years later, when I became a high school teacher and saw girls parading around with their carnations, I decided celebrating Valentine’s Day in school teaches students the wrong message about love.

The implication is that love is something you can buy.

That the person with the tallest pile of cards or the most flowers is the winner.

Hubby helped me unlearn that lesson.

And for that I am grateful.

Tell me about a best (or worst) Valentine’s Day memory. It can be fact or fiction or hybrid.

*If you are interested in winning those gnomes, include the word #GNOME at the end of your post! And tweet me for an extra chance to win!*

Winners will be announced on Friday 2/15, after I do all the figuring. I imagine Random Number Generator will help.

tweet me @rasjacobson

Romancing the Throne: A Guest Post by Tori Young

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Tori Young is one of my favorite bloggers. Her writing ranges from humorous to introspective to downright naughty. This little ditty was born after my January guest writer selected her as the winner of his book. He said: “That chick packed a lot into her comment. I want the backstory there.” That’s how Tori’s writing leaves you. Wanting more. Even if it is unsettling or yucky (and this one really is), you will still want to read more. Follow Tori on Twitter at @toristoptalking or at The Ramblings. You can also follow her on Facebook.

• • •

Romancing The Throne by Tori Young

He thought I was pretty. I thought he was edgy and cool. We called it love.

Ignore my fragile, needy self-esteem and ability to cry at the slightest insinuation of insult. Never mind his rough Northern accent, claiming his harsh words were meant to be jokes. We forgave each other ourselves, found at least some things in common. He worked as a waiter, and wouldn’t you know it? I love food. He is short.  I am tall. He was the cosmic yin to my 6-foot yang. I can quote most lines from The Office. Sweet Destiny! He just so happened to have every season on DVD. We spent nights in his grown-up, studio apartment watching the movies because his cable was shut off. I liked his cozy little place, the thrill of having a guy bring me leftovers, and the pretty idea of finally being big enough to play house.

As our first Valentine’s Day approached, we made plans. He was thoughtful enough to book an intimate couple’s massage right in the comfort of his living room/dining room/kitchen. I went above and beyond to hand-buy from scratch a gourmet dinner from a quaint Italian eatery.  I arrived with foil carry out plates from the kitchen of a West Nashville trailer known for delicacies such as fried cheese and fried ravioli.

Ever the seductive sir, he poured liquor from its plastic jug into fancy speckled glasses he’d swiped from the bar at work. I was trying for romance, too, sporting secret, frilly panties I planned to let him see. They were a stretch from my usual boring bottoms, the kind of lace’n’string thing that screamed “SEX!” or “Thrift Store Score/Box Labeled ‘Granny’s Attic’ “.  And while the thought of this cheekiness made me squeamish, I went ahead with the scheduled wooing.

Sometime between 7 PM and cold pasta, a knock at the door said the masseuse had arrived. She smelled of chicken tenders. I soon learned she was a waitress alongside my beau. She assured me she was certified but did not clarify if that meant she had a license to rub me or serve booze to hungry diners in the state of Tennessee. She brought her own folding table with a head hole and a plethora of lotions, so I decided she was professional enough.

The friendly woman oiled me up as my boyfriend ate and switched out laundry. This being my first massage, my first true relationship, I tried to ignore the nagging tug in my belly. What am I doing here? Why am I with this guy? Who taught this lady to massage because I think she just broke a rib? Crazy talk! I reassured myself that I this discomfort stemmed from my not being learned in the ways of true romance. Yes, these were the joyous flutters of butterfly wings stirring my stomach so. My, what excited butterflies these were. How rumble-y in my tummy! As the stranger ran her fingers in between my toes, I felt a panicked pucker and jumped from the table into the bathroom. “You go ahead!,” I yelled to the boyfriend from my seat on his toilet.

Oh, Love Gods. Those weren’t butterflies.

vdaytpThe next minutes and hours were a blur of uncontrollable bowel movements and wrenching explosions.

His once cozy apartment now felt like a cage, giving me nowhere to hide, no window to crack or climb out of.  I tried to disguise the disaster by flicking on a vent, running loud water from sink and tub to drown out the gory sounds.

Occasional pauses were filled with my whimpering, little begs for mercy to make it stop. Desperation gave way to creativity as I showered the whole crime scene with the baby powder I found in a cabinet. I waited for the police to arrive, called from the upstairs neighbors who warned them: Judging by the stench and cries, something has died down there. It truly was a massacre. When the shit storm cleared in the wee hours of the morning I glanced around the square-foot bathroom like a serial killer must stare down at his guilty hands. Look at the horrid things you’ve done.

I limped from the bathroom to find the boy sleeping on the couch. “Do you want to–?” I tried to feign some Betty Davis eyes to no avail. Save face, save the sexy, save something. He was typically harsh and seemingly pissed at the audacity of my intestines; he grunted and rolled over.

That relationship didn’t work out. I know. I was surprised, too. As most bad phases do, that ugly night taught me a thing or two. Some really sweet friends make a point to the “Tori shat on V-Day plans” story with dinner tables full of strangers. Even this has become an invaluable method of determining which new folks I could befriend. I ask them to pass the rolls as they hear of my deepest, darkest encounters with a toilet bowl, and if they can laugh about it, still manage to make eye contact afterwards, I know they’re my type. The ones who dry-heave and suddenly need to switch seats couldn’t handle me anyway.

My so-wrong moment reaffirmed common sense that I let myself forget back then:

Never trust anything that comes from a trailer, but always, always trust your gut.

Have any really “shitty” stories you’d like to share?

tweet us @toristoptalking & rasjacobson

Lessons on E-readers

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I’ve been considering getting an e-reader for a long time because I read a lot of books, but I hate the clutter that they leave behind. In fact, a Facebook friend recently commented on my sloppy bookshelves which were in the backdrop of a photo. Can you imagine? (Thanks a lot, Todd!)

Anyway, I have been holding out on getting an e-reader for three reasons:

1) Sheer laziness: For a long time, I just couldn’t justify moving up “Research e-readers” in the queue ahead of “Buy new bra.” Guess what? Went to Victoria’s Secret yesterday! 😉

2) Fear. I am definitely afraid that the e-reader could become a chore, another gadget that I have to charge and worry about losing. I worry that I won’t like the experience of an e-reader because I like to write in my books. Back in 1940, Mortimer Adler told his readers in his article “How to Mark Up a Book” that:

The physical act of writing, with your own hand, brings words and sentences more sharply before your mind and preserves them better in your memory.

As a teacher, I could not agree with him more. And yeah, I know you can highlight and leave notes with these gadgets, but there is nothing like flipping through an old book and finding my old handwritten scribble to remind me where I was at a particular point in time. I pick up favorite old books all the time and giggle when I find: “This is sooo mom!” or “Make husband read this whole paragraph!” I’m not sure I’ll have that same experience with the e-reader.

3) There is something creepy about e-readers. I don’t know. I’m not anti-technology or anything, but it’s like when I found out one publisher of the latest version of The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn had taker out the “n-word” and replaced it with the word “slave,” I got a little bent out of shape. Things felt all Big Brothery to me. I worry that libraries are going to start closing, and I love libraries – even though, these days, they seem to have become places where the mentally unstable like to hang out to avoid the inclement weather. I don’t know, for me, books are as much a part of my head as they are my heart. I’m not so sure I’ll feel that in an e-reader.

Still, Valentine’s Day is coming up, and all the stores seem to be insinuating that the best lovers buy their significant others e-readers, so yesterday, I drove around town trying out various e-devices. I needed to feel them in my own hands, see what they could and could not do.

And so I am definitely leaning in one direction, and I must admit, it is not the direction in which I thought I would be going.

Without dragging things out (you know, the way I usually do), I figured I’d ask you, my beloved readers, for your opinions.

 

Note: iPads are not in the running. (I don’t need all those bells and whistles. Plus I need to be able to read outside, and the iPad has too much glare.)

For those of you who have e-readers, can you tell me which one you have, what you love most about the one you have, and if you had a chance to do it all over again, if you would make the same purchase. If not, what would you choose now?