What is ‘Enough’?

One of my cousins died yesterday morning. 34 cousins on that side of the family. We weren’t close. He never came to family reunions; hadn’t seen him in years, maybe not even at our grandmother’s funeral.

He was in his late 50’s. He’s the first to die of ‘our’ generation, except for the two babies. My little brother Michael died of a heart defect, and my cousin J.R., who taught me to talk, had cancer.

When someone dies, it’s a wake-up call. This time is no different.

It’s an extremely busy time at work for me. I’m already working overtime just to make the arrangements for the upcoming board meetings, plus my usual daily stuff, follow-ups from the last (other) board meeting, and an extra committee meeting thrown in the mix.

I’m very good at what I do and have been at it long enough that I no longer have the anxiety that characterized the early years in this job. I trust myself and my abilities, I have cultivated the right connections, and I am careful never to ask too much. My colleagues understand that when I ask, it is not a frivolous request–it is a true need.

I spent several days last week and part of the weekend playing tug-of-war to get two world-class minds to reach an agreement and send one, single e-mail. During that time, I was on the receiving end of the wrath of one, as he failed to express his thoughts and expectations clearly and I scrambled, rather unsuccessfully, to satisfy him and convey them to the other. The e-mail in question was finally sent around 10:00 pm on Sunday evening before Monday’s meeting.

The issue amounts to a power struggle and the misunderstanding of a newcomer and the mastery of someone who has long since assimilated the distinctions and precedents, starting maybe around the time I was born. Both their salaries are at least four times more than mine. But I was the one who took the heat and am carrying the aftereffects.

I told my boss yesterday morning that it’s no longer worth it.

Housing in the area is targeted for the wealthy; even if I were willing to go all out and borrow what the bankers offered, mine would still be substandard, based on the single, paper-pusher’s income that I am paid. Instead, I chose to spend less and still be able to join friends for drinks and dinner, be able to shop when I feel like it, or go do something if the mood strikes.

I’ve been passed over for several positions that would have amounted to a promotion, either pay increase, more vacation days, or both, and have heard that someone else is being considered for a position I’ve been recommended for. I will apply and do my best, but getting the position would be a pleasant surprise. I don’t expect it to happen.

My son has started classes this semester, which are free. He has yet to receive the letter saying that he’s fully admitted. A three-legged race after a SNAFU at his school and not finding out until applications were no longer being read kept him from going full time this semester. We’ll know for sure in December.

And the dating pool here would be better characterized as un-dateable. There is no one who would be capable of joining me to meet former first ladies and world dignitaries without substantial grooming, and those who could aren’t good choices politically speaking. Not that I’m a snob, but that I can’t risk bringing an adversarial or indiscreet personality to the table.

I sacrifice a lot in order to do the kind of work I do and feel like I am making a difference in the world. When people ask me about it, you’d never be able to tell, but all the untold bits and pieces add up to a lot of good work, crises averted, and behind-the-scenes influence on people and situations…and history. I keep us from going off the tracks.

When work goes to hell, however, all of those other factors come into play. If I am taking the heat and can’t do what needs to be done because of a pissing contest where one competitor isn’t even paying attention, my unmet needs are suddenly speaking loudly.

  • I want a nicer home, and the odds of getting that in this market on my salary are slim.
  • I want to make more money so I can do some things I’ve been putting on hold, but someone else always gets the job.
  • I want to find my life partner, someone whom I love and who will be present and be loyal and love me every day, not just on the weekends, but I can hardly seem to find a date who will show up and is relatively compatible.
  • My son gets a free education – maybe.
  • And my work is gratifying and goes along smoothly–except for these last few days.

The demands at work are heading toward more hoops to jump through with less time for jumping. I don’t have any idea how we’re going to get the newest one implemented.

I told my Friend yesterday that it was a F&*( This moment, but I was wrong. A month or two ago, I told him I wasn’t sure how much more I could take, but it’s getting closer.

My cousin died yesterday. He wasn’t that much older than me, and here I am wasting my time and my life on people who are so busy going about their lives and have so little consideration for me that my wants and needs are falling through the cracks.

I am ready to walk away. I think I’ve had enough.



Letting Go

I am a longtime fan of Star Trek: The Next Generation. In some ways, that kind of society is what I strive for in my interactions with others: to be kind, fair, give everyone a chance until they prove otherwise, and firm when the situation calls for it. My Friend is a fan, too. Some of our time together was spent watching marathons on Netflix and talking about how we wish reality were closer to that.

One plot device that comes up every now and again in science fiction in general is the concept of alternate timelines. The characters most often figure out they have entered into one by the presence of someone who should not be there, and from there, the thread unravels, finally resulting either in a return to the original timeline or a character (whose actor is exiting the series) jumping to another timeline to save the day–or set the prime timeline right.

It’s been almost two months now since the break up. I’m tentatively reaching out for a new kind of daily life, meeting new people and dating some, and my friends are excited for me about the fresh possibilities in my world.

My Friend and I rarely miss a day of at least touching base. He and his new Love are solidifying in their crazy, wonderful new relationship, and he looks happier than ever–moreso even than in all the photos of him ranging back many years.

We chatted for a while this morning to catch up and make plans, and as always, the conversation turns to the inevitable checking in: “How are you?”

He’s deliriously happy; by dating, I’m speculating about what my future might look like, figuring out parameters I thought existed but really don’t and pushing the limits of my own, imaginary boundaries. And for a moment, we both say, “I love you” and “I’m still letting go.”

It occurred to me, after we signed off of chat, that we’re not really letting go. Letting go of what? We still care deeply for each other. We’re still making plans to hang out together, the three of us. Letting go of future circumstances that didn’t work out?

Us Star Trek fans know it’s not really letting go–it’s just embracing an alternate timeline.

Except nobody has to save the day.

The Time Value of Settling

I’ve been struggling lately (what’s new, right?), trying to find some balance between the thought of my ideal, absolute, wildest, perfect-est dream relationship partner and the possibility of having to settle in some ways because of the simple realities of life. One of those sounds SO much happier and more abundant and more attractive than the other. Being alone while I hold out sounds like a tremendous opportunity cost, and not one I’m willing to bear for too much longer.

I’m in the boonies. If things keep going along the current trajectory, looks like I’m going to be here for a while. After being so worn down by distance and the commute while I was dating my Friend, I’m leery of meeting people who are an hour away, which, coincidentally, the three closest areas with sizeable population just happen to be. Work is close, but I’m strategically positioned–NOT–in relation to the nearest cities. I wasn’t thinking date-able population and demographics when  I bought my house. Ugh.

When I change my search settings to “Distance,” that is, to sort so that the people closest to me show at the top of the results, with results further down also being further away, the closest “pickins” are slim unless you like shaggy, snaggle-toothed, tattooed hunting, fishing, and mudding with “want to know anything, just ask” and  “flexible pallets” as part of their profiles. I’m somewhat curious (though not enough to message and ask) about how those flexible pallets are working out, having dated (only once as a courtesy to a colleague) someone who asked (about pizza), “You lack ‘at kinna food?”

It appears that, for the most part, the dating grass is greener–and much purtier–in the city.

So what’s a girl to do? I’ve chatted up the dentist in town, who is so busy squirreling that he contacted me on one site and then on a second, not realizing I was the same person…in spite of identical essays. Paying attention much? Or is it that he’s one of the better local candidates and overwhelmed with responses? No telling, but he seems to have disappeared, as do the random pretties from far, far away. The thought of two or four or six hours on the road clouds the photo attraction pretty quickly, as well it should.

Pretty, not pretty, distance or not, time is passing.


Wait and See

Had a message early one morning last week from someone on one of the dating sites. He hadn’t turned up in my searches or match results. I clicked on a photo to get to his profile.

I am a visual person. As much as I don’t want to admit it and as much as I believe everyone deserves a chance, looks do matter. Having long been a “one or two good features” kind of gal, I’m now looking more carefully. My eyes have to be able to rest, like some kind of Golden Mean for faces. His piercing blue eyes and bone structure caught my eye out of a page full of thumbnail shots.

His description of the “ideal candidate” was serious, with a twist. It matches me–perfectly–and made me laugh out loud. He said he has also had an experience similar to mine, of seeing someone fall truly, madly, deeply in love. And my “imagination and a toybox” comment elicited his “me, too.”

His profile doesn’t reveal much, but the conversation has now progressed to a philosophical question about wearing pants in public. I grinned all the way through the grocery store this morning–probably a good sign, since I don’t really enjoy that little chore. I’m pretty curious about him, his life, and what other twists may be in store. And his voice–I want to hear his voice.

It’s really too soon to tell whether we’ll even wind up face to face. There are always more criteria and fine points left unsaid, and chemistry has to be seen in person. I’ll wait to hear what he wants to do (and hope he will lead the way), but it seems like the right season for another go-see on the Mountain.

Fall-like weather is here, and it’s gorgeous out. Just for the record, there are two caution lights in Sewanee. 🙂

Plugging, Unplugging

Today is vacation day. Theirs. Not mine. I’m ready for mine.

Not my vacation. My Person. I am ready for my person but the ‘person-pipeline’ is barely established.

They are headed off to seclusion for days. A day early, even.

This whole “being friends” thing is hard. Knowing their plans is hard. It’s using some bandwidth I thought I was going to reclaim.

I do have a date this weekend. He’s handsome in a “place to rest my eyes” kind of way, seems like a decent guy; we have some key things in common. Telling our stories has come much more easily, more honestly, and much sooner than with my friend. We’ve both offered answers before anyone asked what could have been the hard questions. Probably a good sign. I’m curious, but my hopes aren’t really up. I’m just taking it as it comes, seeing how it unfolds.

My Friend and I have continued our conversations by text and e-mail, and I’ve appreciated being able to keep the comfort of the routine at least, having that kind of support and someone who understands what I’m dealing with, sometimes more than I do. He’s excited about my date.

There’s no cell service or internet where they’re going, so it will be quiet for these next ten days. It will be hard, but probably also a good thing–a relief, maybe? My bandwidth, at least part of it, will be quiet (if not free), and I can get back to where I really am.

Do I need to unplug a bit? Adjust the volume? Or the balance?

The answer to everything lately, it seems, is, “I don’t know yet, but I’m about to find out.”