Thursday, August 30, 2007

A Clean Slate

A clean slate – that’s what I’m calling it.

It sounds way more positive than “starting over.” I’m doing all I can to see the positive in all of this. I mean, there are definitely some positive things. Before this relationship, I was bound and determined never to get too involved, much less married again. If you can stay “easy come-easy go,” it never hurts too much when they do inevitably go. That view has definitely changed. I finally realized that unless I do put it all on the line, they will always go.

Maybe it was just the right time in my life or maybe I just finally met someone wonderful enough that I actually didn’t want them to go. Whatever it was, I can honestly say this was the first time in my life that I actually put my whole self out on there on the line and lived for the other person more than myself. I wish I’d been able to do it earlier in the relationship, but at least I still got there.

This was also the first relationship I’ve ever had where I was able to forgive mistakes and continue to love the beautiful but imperfect person inside. That was a big step for me. In the past if I felt wronged, that person would end up begrudged for life, and I would most likely never speak to them again. I finally realized that I’m far from perfect myself, and I worked really hard to forgive. Sometimes it was extremely hard, and I think maybe I was too forgiving when I should have put my foot down. I guess I was just overcompensating trying to make up for my past track record and worried that I just wasn’t trying hard enough.

It’s amazing how fast people can change though. There’s nothing that hurts quite as much as returning an engagement ring. One day you’ve got plans – then next day, clean slate.

I knew the clean slate was coming though as I saw her start pushing me away weeks ago. I’m not happy it did happen, but it’s almost a sense of relief that I don’t have to worry it might happen anymore. It’s kind of like ripping the band-aid off the wound instead of just sitting there and peeling it slowly. I really did all I could to keep her from successfully pushing me away, but when someone that stubborn makes up her mind about something, there’s no changing it. You can’t work out problems in a relationship no matter how loving and forgiving you are if the other person has already decided that they just don’t want it to work.

I’m trying hard not to fall into my usual pit of despair, but it hasn’t been an easy day. As usual I can’t eat or sleep. My stomach already sucks when I’m not upset, so it really sucks when I am upset. During our previous break-ups it would be 2 or 3 days after Emily and I had reconciled before my stomach would finally relax enough that I could eat again, so this may end up being quite a fast. That’s not really a good thing since I’m already kind of scrawny to start with.

The worst though was this morning. I had laid awake all night before drifting off sometime around 5 a.m. Then the alarm went off at 6, and the dog had snuggled up against my back. I thought it was Em. I hit snooze and rolled over to throw my arms around her only to realize it was just the dog, and then I suffered the unmerciful shock back to reality as I remembered that she was gone.

I was excited that I finally ordered cable for the house this week. They’re installing it tomorrow, but I just realized that Jace owns the TV in my living room, and Emily owns the one in my bedroom. I think I’m going to have to do some TV shopping before the weekend is over if I actually want to use the cable. That’s ok though. I guess it finally gives me an excuse to get a flat screen, and it will actually be kind of nice to buy something for myself for the first time in months.

I’m not real sure what to do with all this time on my hands. I used to work on the Mustang when I was stressed, but I sold the Mustang back in April when I was trying to pay down my debt and get my priorities straight in an effort to create a successful relationship. Working on cars somehow just numbs my mind to everything except the nuts and bolts. If I was changing out the heads or tuning a carburetor, there was nothing on my mind except the work at hand. Music is a great pastime, but it tends to amplify my emotions, and right now I just need to get them shut off. I’m kind of scared to pick up the guitar.

Whatever the case, I’m sure this weekend will involve drinking heavily. I wonder if I can finish the huge bottle of Crown from Mexico before Emily comes to get it.

To all the people I’ve ignored and blown off over the past 8 months, I sincerely apologize. I really just wanted to make sure I gave my all to this relationship, but I was wrong to sacrifice my friendships to do so. Next beer is on me.

Monday, August 13, 2007

Thoughts on love

I’ve been thinking about love a lot lately. I’ve been trying to figure out what it is, whether or not I’m really feeling it, and why it can be so hard.

In the dictionary, “love” is defined as:

a profoundly tender, passionate affection for another person.

a feeling of warm personal attachment or deep affection, as for a parent, child, or friend.

sexual passion or desire.

There’s of course, many other definitions, but they tend to gravitate towards the use of the word “love” as a nick-name or term of endearment or the term as a verb for lovemaking, etc.

I agree with the first two definitions, but I think the third definition applies more to the word “lust” than “love” – although it can definitely be a part of “love.” I think definitions one and three combined do well to create a literary definition of love between a man and a woman on paper. However, despite that seemingly short definition, love is nowhere near that simple.

In February 2006, National Geographic ran a big article called “Love: The Chemical Reaction.” In it, they proved that the initial euphoria and feeling of falling in love with someone was created by the release of certain chemicals in the brain. However, usually within the first year a couple was together, the brain ceased to release these chemicals. As you would expect, the passion died. Some couples stayed together and moved into more of a friendship relationship while some split up and looked for new partners, which would once again result in the release of these chemicals.

I have friends that run from relationship to relationship always needing something new and fresh to stay excited running at the earliest sign of trouble. I have friends that stay in seemingly miserable relationships that from an outsider’s standpoint they should have run from a long time ago. What makes a person stay or leave? Is it purely chemical? Is it some sort of emotional commitment/abandonment issues? Is it maturity? Is it simply a fear of dying old and alone?

With 6 billion people in the world, how do you meet just one that you’re supposed to spend the rest of your life with? It seems impossible, yet people do it every day.

Both sets of my grandparents made it past the 50-year mark. My parents are headed towards 30. Yet, the first time around I couldn’t even make it 2 years. Most people date their high school sweat hearts longer than that.

Some say that when you meet Mr./Mrs. Right, it just works. In my experience that’s true – for about a month. Then the emotional scars, conflicting schedules, and daily stresses start taking a toll, and the work to make it work begins. I’ve talked to all my successfully married friends, and none of them deny some seriously rough times in their first two or three years of marriage. Looking at my parents’ marriage, I know that the rough times extend far beyond the first few years. People change. They grow, they find new interests, they get frustrated, they get hurt. Quiz a person on their beliefs, goals and dreams today and check in with them in five years. I think would be incredibly rare to find someone with the same answers because with each new experience, you’re never quite the same person you were before.

I’ve heard from an incredibly wise old man that over the course of a marriage, you’ll fall in and out of love many, many times. If that’s true, which I’m pretty sure it is, a lot of work must go into keeping those relationships alive. But how do you decide whether or not a relationship is worth the work?

I know some people might put in the work because they feel it’s their duty in the eyes of God. Some people might put in the work for the sake of their children. Some people might put in the work because it’s all they know, and the idea of leaving their comfort zone is far scarier than riding out a storm.

I don’t have kids, I’m not married, and I’m not afraid to be alone. What incentive do I ever have to make things work with someone instead of running for that next chemical rush? I mean, you have to admit, there’s nothing quite as incredible as a first kiss. Why not trade a lifetime of work for a blissful string of first kisses?

I’ll tell you why. Because I tried this, and it’s lonely. It’s empty. Yes, there’s a heady rush of excitement every time you’re with somebody new, but there’s no substance there. And that lack of substance eventually leaves you more damaged and lonely than when you began.

I don’t have all the answers, but I know that when I see a beautiful sunset, when I hear a funny joke, when I really like a new song, when I feel bad and need someone to talk to, there’s only one girl that comes into my mind that I would most like to share those things with. There’s one girl that despite no matter how mad I am at her, I still have a longing in me to make her smile. There’s one girl that I’m actually happy to share a tiny twin bed with in a hot cabin whereas with any other person I would have insisted on just sleeping on one of the other empty twin beds. There’s one girl who can say something as corny as “Hay look” when we pass a hay field and can make me giggle for 15 minutes. There’s one girl, that despite not wanting to believe it, is every bit as dorky and clumsy as me.

When it comes to anything worth sharing with somebody else, there’s one girl that comes to my mind. And THAT is why I work for it.

So as I was floating down the river this weekend staring up at the big blue Texas sky and pondering all these thoughts, I came up with my own definition.

True Love: Being dedicated enough to swallow your pride, face your fears, and actually put out the effort to make a relationship worth having actually work.

Thursday, August 02, 2007

Elton John is pissing me off

So, Elton John said this about the Internet and blogging:

“The internet has stopped people from going out and being with each other, creating stuff. Instead they sit at home and make their own records, which is sometimes OK but it doesn’t bode well for long-term artistic vision. It’s just a means to an end. We’re talking about things that are going to change the world and change the way people listen to music and that’s not going to happen with people blogging on the internet. I mean, get out there - communicate. Hopefully the next movement in music will tear down the internet. Let’s get out in the streets and march and protest instead of sitting at home and blogging. I do think it would be an incredible experiment to shut down the whole internet for five years and see what sort of art is produced over that span. There’s too much technology available. I’m sure, as far as music goes, it would be much more interesting than it is today. I don’t have a mobile phone or an iPod or anything. I am such a Luddite when it comes to making music. All I can do is write at the piano. In the early Seventies there were at least ten albums released every week that were fantastic. Now you’re lucky to find ten albums a year of that quality. And there are more albums released each week now than there were then.”

Wrong. Just because you're not face-to-face doesn't mean you're not communicating. Struggling musicians can't afford studio time -- our computers are the only way we have to get our music out there. Perhaps the reason all the records in the early 70s seemed better was that only the established groups with the backing of major labels and professional producers could get a record out.

But what's your excuse Elton? If you're such an anti-technical luddite why do your records suck so terribly bad these days compared to the 70s?

I swear I've seen this hypocrite in an iPod/phone commercial where he's walking around with headphones on embracing technology. I just can't remember what the commercial was for.