Tag Archives: summer

Pressure Cooker

17 Jun

College students often feel driven by pressure. And I’m not talking about the “Will I smoke the marijuana?” type pressure. I’m talking about sweat-down-the-back, eyelids-falling-down, instant-rice-cooking-in-the-microwave pressure. So many sayings about pressure exist in college life. The pressure can be “on,” we can “feel” the pressure, and some of us feel like we’re constantly “under” it. It’s hard to believe that pressure has such an overwhelming effect on us, especially when it has no corporeal form. Therefore, in order to affect us, pressure has to manifest itself in concrete obstacles. These obstacles are imbued with frustration, deadlines, anxieties, and challenges.

There is no pressure in dating. The word “dating” seems stressful, sure, but that’s not because it is inherently so. It’s because we think about coming up with topics of conversation, sustaining witty repartee, and deflecting any moments of blasé into oblivion. But, this week, I was faced with a different kind of pressure from dating. Even though a blog is a very public thing, I consider it very private, and I don’t let everyone know about it. I know that I post updates on Facebook and Twitter, and that is super public, but at the same time, I don’t openly tell people about it all the time, especially people I want to potentially date. I don’t want people to think they’re just another notch in my twenty-date belt, and I also don’t want someone knowing all my inner thoughts and insecurities right away. Two of the most useful aims of the dating process are discovering someone’s inner thoughts, and breaking down the wall of confidence and secrecy people put up in the beginning. Reading someone’s blog is the instant-satisfaction, drive-thru version of waiting for a home cooked meal.

I had a date on Monday. We met outside a Barnes and Noble, and proceeded to get coffee upstairs and chat. He’s a great person. He’s hilarious, coolly laid-back enough, and understands things that are important to me. He knew about my blog. He had referenced it once in conversation. And, at the end of the date, he said, “I hope I get a good write up.” I even consider this entry a bit of a swan dive for the relationship (hopefully not the friendship,) but as my father described, so is the life of the writer. If I lie, and write down something that pleases everyone, then the writing loses its truth, and if the writing loses its truth, then I’m doing a disservice to myself and my writing. Out of nowhere, I felt this kind of pressure on me. Do I stay true to myself and my blog, or try to nurture this egg of a friendship along? I don’t want to say I didn’t choose the relationship, but I chose myself, and that’s saying a lot. In the past, I haven’t always been my number one priority.

We walked around downtown, all the way up to midtown. We had great conversation, but I could feel a feeling of disconnect coming from both sides. Maybe it’s because he felt pressured to perform well, so he could earn a good “review,” and maybe I felt pressured to show that I was in it for more than the story. Either way, the blog was haunting me with every step. My blog is all about writing and feeling true to myself, but with it weighing over my head, I felt like it was pressuring me to act differently. But, if I take what I just said into account, it couldn’t have been.  An internet blog is not manifest, it’s just ones and zeros. That’s how I knew I was cherry-picking chimeras out of the air. Any pressure I put, undue as it is, comes from me and me alone.

Keeping the Pressure Down is Every Housewife's Best Friend

I cooked a meal today for my family. It was elaborate, and having to make everything come together perfectly was like orchestrating a symphony. Every flavor had to add to the meal just right, and slight changes in the recipes, and injecting a bit of my own personality into the given recipes was a big part of the success. I never feel any pressure when I cook, because it relaxes me. I know that if I follow the guide, and give a little personal flare, I should have a beautiful finished product. Any mistakes, any deviations from the plan, should not be given more weight than they deserve. It’s called “trial-and-error.” The potatoes, sitting on the counter, the pork chops in the fridge, they don’t have any inherent stress. Any stress people have about cooking doesn’t come up from the proteins in the meat, but are cherry picked from the air, where they nest and take root in our brain. Maybe dating is like that. We all know the road map to dating, even if we sometimes feel like we’re cooking without a recipe, or feeling our way around a city without a map. But, injecting our personal flare into things can take a lot of edge off of things. I didn’t just try to mimic the recipe, and hope for the best, I changed it to suit my tastes, needs, and wants. Dating is one of the most impersonal things around, because we change ourselves so much in the process. With cooking, I learned that the pressure is off as long as you stay true to what you want, and guide the ingredients along the path to success. Now, just let it simmer, and enjoy.

Suddenly, Last Summer

14 Jun

I went on a job interview this past Thursday. For the last question of the interview, the employer asked me, “What do you want from this job?” I answered that I wanted us both to come out differently at the end of the experience. It is my belief that no job is worth the experience if you don’t come out differently when you leave, especially the kind of job I was applying for—a one-on-one internship where I work exclusively with the director of About.com’s Gay Life Blog.  A job should not be meant only to utilize one’s skills, but to augment them, as well.

My philosophy on taking a job is also very similar to my experience with dating, or any friendship. Both relationships and friendships are based on compatibility. Like a screening process or an interview, any human relationship is built on met needs. Do you both have similar sense of humor? Do you both like the same things? Do you both want the same things for the future? A restaurant dinner table and an interview table bear many similarities—not the least of which is the stream of questions that fly over them when two people meet across them for the first time.

My answer to my own interview question got me thinking over the next day whether I came out changed from my last—my first and only—relationship. When the relationship failed, I was the first one to heap blame on the other party, which is one of the things I try not to do most in my life. I believe that in most arguments, or disagreements, or separations that there is blame to be parceled out. In the vain of Carrie Bradshaw, “Blame for everyone!” So, it was unusual, even if I was badly hurt when we broke up, for me to parcel him all the blame.

Breathe, Just Breathe

These questions couldn’t have come at a more opportune time. While Thursday saw me at a Date with Destiny, Friday saw me on a Date with the Past. As fate would have it, my ex-boyfriend and I spoke with each other Thursday night, and we agreed to hang out that Friday morning so I could bring him to the video game shop that I discovered by Union Square. This would be the first time that we would hang out alone and have to get along amicably. Not that that would be a problem for me. I had most definitely moved on, and I was no longer angry with him. I think the part I have to take blame for is that I wanted more from him than he was ready to give. The only way I knew how to get what I wanted from him was through incessant nagging and bickering. In a way, I wasn’t a very fun person to date, because I didn’t want to date him as he was—I wanted to mold him into someone that I wanted to date.

Between my constant questioning of myself, my questions about my last relationship, and my thrusting into the dating scene, last summer was creeping up on me steadily.  And, I didn’t like where I was when last summer ended. I was experiencing growing pains. After being thrust out of a relationship, rediscovering writing, and being dumped by two rebounds guys, I wasn’t in a best place. I was doing a lot of growing really fast because of my circumstances, and I didn’t get all the time to reflect on it. That’s why this summer, I’m documenting my growth through these tiny reflections. ST. Ignatius of Loyola reminds us that an experience is only half an experience without reflection. I want this summer to be the fullest experience possible, which is why this blog exists. Because this is my reflection, and it’s the other half of what I need to keep my experiences full and fresh—steady reflection.

The Sweetness of Dependence

21 May

I keep my summer challenge books in a blue shopping bag on the floor by my bookshelf. I originally wanted to use the “go-fish” system of selecting the sequence of the reading of the books. I would close my eyes, hover above the bag, and dive my hand into the pile, pulling out the next book I was to digest. But I decided instead to choose my next book by alternating the type of book, genre, time period, or subject matter. The first book I decided to read was Summer by Edith Wharton, because I wanted something to get me in the mood for the coming season. Summer is a novel about a young librarian, Charity Royall, who spends the summer in a love affair with a newcomer to town, Lucius Harney, and while she enjoys her liaison, discovers the dangers of that love as she gets pregnant and ultimately forced into marriage by the man who raised her, the lawyer Mr. Royall.

"Summer" by Edith Wharton

The lush New England seasonal scenery described by Wharton was a joy to read, and definitely excited me for the oncoming summer, as have the past few days of heat and sunshine. But, more than that, the book really got me thinking about my summer challenge. When she first starts flirting with Lucius, and she feels wanted for the first time, she starts to feel what Wharton calls “the sweetness of dependence.” That got me thinking about why I started my challenge, and why I write this blog. I’ve always had a weight problem, but when I get down to the bottom of it, is my driving factor really my health? It should be, but isn’t my real aim in losing weight a chance at feeling the sweetness of dependence? I know any doctor would list the health reasons for losing weight, but any good group of friends would say weight loss is the best boost for self-esteem, or the perfect doorway into the house of love.
What about dating and blogging? I don’t believe dating has anything to do with the sweetness of dependence. In fact, dates are one of the least dependable things I can think of—mostly because we imbue them with expectations. I should be able to depend on someone to be somewhere by a certain time, but once they fail, I already deem them undependable. What about the expectations we have of the dinner conversation and the subtle nods we expect—the hand that grazes yours as he passes a fork, or the extra laugh after an unfunny joke—to bolster the mood or our ego. We come to expect these, to depend on them, to help our self-esteem, and because we want to sample what we think will be the sweetness of dependence. Even though we may just be masking the taste of the bitterness of delusion.

I check my blog every few minutes. WordPress (my parent blog website) offers on its home site a line graph that tracks the progress of how many hits your blog gets per day. I watch this like Hollywood executives track box office scores. It’s nice to know that one hundred and forty-one people have looked at my blog in one day. To know that people out there wish to read what I so carefully take the time to write is an ego-booster, but it also reassures my heart that the life I lead is worth living, and it reassures my head that what I have to say is worth reading.

Is Edith Wharton’s book an advertisement for the fruits of summer and the beauty that comes with awakening one’s senses to the sweetness of dependence? Or, is it a warning for those wide-eyed individuals who, like me, go into the summer looking for a change of pace? Charity Royall found an everlasting love, though ended up pregnant by one man, abandoned by him, and married to another. Though I don’t have to worry about birth control, am I setting myself up in my quest for life’s riches and sweetnesses for a sense of bitter regret? A loved one asked me if I would be upset if I didn’t get to the twenty dates I set out for at the beginning of my mission, and after reading Summer, my answer is that, it might not be the worst thing in the world. Sometimes, when you get everything you want, and your soul is transported to nirvana on a summer’s breeze, there’s nowhere to go but down—a fall into autumn. Maybe my lesson from Wharton is much like a lesson that I should take for dating itself—setting up expectations distracts one from the most important parts of life. Sometimes, you have focus on the experience. And that’s what my blog is about:  experiences. I may have a goal in mind, but once I reach my goal, the blog has to end. So, I wouldn’t mind not reaching my goal, because it would only give me more opportunity to express myself, and I sweetly depend on you to stay with me along the way.

1st book: Summer by Edith Wharto, 19 books to go.