Sunday, July 31, 2005

Diego-bashing

San Diego, California that is. This week my sister settles into her new home in Katy, Texas. A 15-year resident of (and now refugee from) the sadly corrupt city of San Diego, she now tells all her California friends to move to Katy (my sister and I were born in Los Angeles and raised in the San Francisico Bay Area. I fled 17 years ago). For more information on (the excellent) real estate in Katy, Texas, go to www.MoveToHouston.com or www.HoustonTexasHomeInfo.com. Or you can read more on the current train wreck that is the San Diego City Hall.

My sister just bought a roomy three-bedroom house in Katy, Texas for $108,000 (it was built four years ago). In San Diego, housing costs many times that and only 10% of the San Diego population can afford the median cost of housing (in the general U.S. population, 50% can afford the median cost of housing). My sister also relishes filling up her gas tank for just $2.10 a gallon.

California. You can have it.

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

Plateaus

Somehow I initially impressed him as someone he felt attracted to. Somehow he initially impressed me as someone I felt attracted to. The more he gets to know me, the more he wants to know me. The more I get to know him the more I want to know him. We have grown closer in what are probably the typical "couple" ways. But over the past seven months, each time we reach a new level of connection and affection, his excitement makes him want to hold me closer, while my response to the new level of affection is to want to take a break. Each time we achieve increased understanding and commitment, he anticipates more firmly clasped hands while I need to step away completely and catch my breath. We keep disappointing each other.

When I express the need for space, I hurt his feelings. When he expresses the desire to spend more time with me, I feel pressured. I know feeling pressured is the wrong response because when you feel closer to someone, you want to spend more time with them and the only people who want to get away from their romantic partners are men and I don’t want to be like a man. But maybe I am the man in this dynamic: I’m the one who wants more space and it makes me feel like a failure as a woman.

After we spent two and a half days out of each other’s presence last week, I found myself actually missing him. It surprised me and it was a great feeling. Since then I’ve told him that I need to spend time away from him so I can miss him. It seemed to me like a reasonable, healthy request, until I recognized it from my John Gray research (the Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus books) as a typical masculine need. I’m disturbed to think I’m a healthy man because that must mean I’m an unhealthy woman.

I want to stop wanting to pull away just as the music swells and the lighting comes up. I want to want him as much as he wants me. I want to be like all the other women who can hear this, “I will work very hard to do whatever it takes to make you happy,” and flush with pleasure and the feeling of being cherished. Instead, his selflessness bewilders me. He loves in a way that is foreign to me, with complete generosity and outward focus. When he says, “Whatever you want” he means whatever, no matter how much time, money or effort my needs/wants might require.

I believe I would probably feel baffled by any man who expressed love and devotion for me, but his boundlessness of service is beyond my ability to comprehend. He offers me everything he has with no fear of me sucking it all dry, taking over his life or demanding narrow obsequiousness. He offers me the last bite every time with no future demands or expectations. I once distinguished our basic ways of being by saying, “Unlike you, if I only have one Tootsie Roll on me, I’ll just eat it.”

But apart from our different ways of understanding abundance, he really does feel much more in love with me than I feel with him and it makes me wonder if my heart functions properly. Maybe it doesn't. I wish I could respond to this man the way he deserves, and I wish I could believe I deserve him. After seven months, am I unhealthy to not return his strong feelings for me or is he unhealthy to be so way ahead of me? (He's been married before. I haven't.)

Sunday, July 24, 2005

Birthday

Today I am 39 years old. I remember being in grade school in the 1970's and thinking about the year 2000. With disappointment I realized I'd be 34 and too old to even enjoy the excitement of the new millenium; my life would just about be over by the year 2000.

I wrote this song last January and am publishing the lyrics now that it's current -- my next birthday WILL be my 40th -- and in danger of becoming out of date soon since it seems I'm no longer manless, finally. Finally. (finally). Sing it to yourself in blues twelve-bar form:

Forty
©Regina Rodríguez 2005

I’m coming up on forty
Might as well be ninety-nine.
I’m coming up on forty
Might as well be ninety-nine.
I have never had a man
I could legally call mine.

I’ve been dating 23 years
Longer than some marriages.
I’ve been dating 23 years!
Longer than most marriages.
Oh, I know just what the growing-
old-alone terror is.

I gotta rev up my own engine
Got no man to treat me nice.
I gotta rev up my own engine
Got no man to treat me nice.
Only good thing is I never have to wait to do it twice.

Some men think “divorce-in-progress”
is the same as bachelorhood.
Some men think “divorce-in-progress”
is the same as bachelorhood.
But their wives don’t always agree
and I've learned to listen good.

Every day I’m getting closer
to the one I’m looking for.
Every day I’m getting closer
to the one I’m looking for
Or at least I’m getting further
from the crap that came before.

I am coming up on forty
Might as well be ninety-nine
I am coming up on forty
Might as well be ninety-nine
I have never had a man
I could legally call mine.

That’s my whine.

Friday, July 22, 2005

Dove Ads Have Real Women

(Thanks to Mopie at Big Fat Deal for drawing my attention to the following and providing the links.)

Have you seen the ads for New Dove Firming (a cellulite cream)? They feature real women with ordinary (i.e. not size 0), beautiful bodies? Apparently many vocal men are not only unimpressed by them, but seem to think there's something wrong with natural bodies on billboards. I couldn't possibly comment on these editorials better than Wendy at Poundyblog, who writes in part:

...[T]hese editorials say stuff like "ads should be about the beautiful people" (see the second segment), and "if I want to see plump gals baring too much skin, I'll go to Taste of Chicago," as if it were all just a matter of venue--because, what, it's of great masturbatory importance to see chubby chicks in one place and not another? Like are there secret freaky Old Testament-style Jerk-Off Laws that prohibit getting off on "real women" when they're served up on the same platter used for taut model fantasy fucktoys? I know these guys are talking out of their asses, but there's a whiff of righteous outrage coming out of there, too, and it's creepy.

The rest of her article is just as great. %*^&-ing model-loving men...

how not to eat all the cookie dough

Yesterday I made a PILE of cookies for work in honor of my and a co-worker's birthdays. This is how I kept myself from swallowing large quantities of the dough (I like the uncooked dough so much more than the baked cookies, but who doesn't). First, I ate a meal right before I started, so I wasn't baking while hungry. Then I stuck a See's chocolate lollipop in my mouth. When I got to the step of pouring the chocolate chips into the dough and inhaling that great chocolate smell and having the mouth-watering desire wash over me, I already had chocolate in my mouth and I didn't have to cram chocolate chips in.

Sometimes I'm almost brilliant.

p.s. I did lick the mixer blades, spoon and bowl.

Thursday, July 21, 2005

London

I don't believe the bombings in London mean that we in Chicago are in danger of any terrorist attacks. Nothing I've ever read or seen anywhere makes me think anything would ever happen in Chicago. I just can't see it ever happening. Am I in denial? Ill-informed?

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Clear lines of communication

I am afraid of everything. Every day. I worry that I’m not earning enough to live on. I worry that I’ll eat too much and gain weight. I worry that I will finally prove to myself that I am unworthy of love and incapable of happiness and kill myself. I worry that my friends will stop liking me and that I’ll get fired from my job. I worry that I’ll lose my voice and not be able to sing. Et cetera.

So it’s really quite bizarre that I have the following behavior response: when I suspect there’s a problem between someone else and myself, I try to talk to them directly. Why, if I’m afraid of everyone and everything, do I do this? It makes no sense at all when many people, much MUCH braver than I am will do many other things besides directly address someone who seems to have a bone to pick with them. I watch my friends and co-workers with awe and bafflement as they step lightly through life not taking things personally, expecting things to work out for the best, not getting all worked up over little stuff, letting things go, knowing it’s all going to be okay. But I also look at them with surprise when I watch them avoid conflict, deny that they’re upset, talk to other people besides the person they have a problem with, or hold their tongue while facing the person and then letting loose when the person isn’t around.

Why is this the one type of situation in my life in which I seem to have guts? I tend to be a nervous, pessimistic person who believes we’re all doomed, but maybe my conflict non-avoidance comes from watching my parents function as community activists when I was growing up. In the early 1970’s they joined the Mexican American Political Association, which advocates for Mexican Americans and fights racism in various arenas such as the schools, housing, political races, etc. Throughout my lifetime there have been countless instances of this organization taking on school boards, housing authorities, police chiefs and politicians. Since my father was the president of MAPA for many years, I particularly saw him face situations that few would choose. I have watched my mother demand her rights whenever she has suspected she or others aren’t being treated fairly. She has gotten kids back in school who had been sent home because their parents were undocumented workers. MAPA has been instrumental in electing politicians, supporting eduational reform and building alliances between organizations. Probably my bravery when it comes to dealing with conflict is a learned behavior from my parents. It’s still weird though, considering that when it comes to everything else I consider myself to be like Piglet: a very small animal.

I believe in clear lines of communication. If you have a problem with someone, talk to her or him about it. Nothing could be more appropriate. I feel particularly frustrated with people who will do things like sit through a meeting, saying nothing when the faciliatator asks people to share their questions or problems, and then stand in the parking lot afterwards, complaining and complaining. What’s that? It’s just cowardice. I hate cowardice.

I hate cowardice! That statement also shows more of my self-hatred: I’m a coward every single day that I’m certain that I’m not worth anything. I’m convinced that Mr. Possible is wasting his time, money and effort on me, I’m a bad horse to bet on, it’ll never work, I’m incapable of relationships, he’ll have a successful relationship only if he dates someone else. That’s cowardice.

But since we respond to the things in others that we also see in ourselves, I can get pull-my-hair-out crazy over people that I identify as cowards, especially the cowardice that involves avoiding conflict: having a problem or issue with one person, but talking to someone else about it. If you have a question about my behavior and life, please talk to me. Unless I’ve proven myself to be completely unapproachable and unavailable (or in a coma) (or just an asshole), talking to someone else about me is just inappropriate.

Monday, July 18, 2005

Update

My life:

1. Guilt for ignoring my blog for so long.
2. Irritation and confusion regarding recent familial reaction to it.
3. Uncertain happiness with the guy I'm dating. Have stopped dating others. Might have boyfriend. Wish I weren't afraid of the word "boyfriend."
4. Cautious optimism about waitressing job that's finally getting easier as I learn to do it better.
5. Current obsession with the History Channel: keep getting sucked into documentaries about things like the French revolution, bootlegging, the U.S. advance on Tripoli, anything, it doesn't matter they're all great STORIES.
6. Renewed optimism about health and fitness as certain huge, gaping NEEDS in my life are filled and my 36-year Cake Fever abates.
7. Feeling remarkably okay about birthday on July 24th. I'll be 39.
8. Search for guitarist/musical collaboration partner continues (using online ad and Reader print ad). Wish I didn't get discouraged so easily, but it took years to find boyfriend. Why should this go any better?
9. Guilt, guilt, guilt about ignoring blog since July 2nd, but didn't know what to do after family freaked out about it. (Send your email address to info@reginarodriguez.com if you want more on this.)
10. Will now see what's playing on the History Channel.

Friday, July 01, 2005

War of the Worlds: why my reaction?

Noticing how Spielberg’s War of the Worlds affected me (see yesterday's post) has led me to wonder why. Why did I see the alien invaders as the American military when no pretty much one else did? Hmmm...well...I tend not to put much effort into political action or debate and view the world as pretty much screwed no matter what we do (hence my attraction to the trailers for this film that showed a hopeless doomsday). Last fall it was uncharacteristic of me to throw myself into the Kerry presidential campaign, but I did it because I saw a clear connection between my personal action and the greater good of the world. When that connection turned out to be not nearly enough to turn the election, I withdrew back into my usual self-absorption. Since then my blog has remained fixated, for the most part, on the problems and obsessions of one insecure, self-hating minority spinster, struggling to attain self-expression, financial solvency and some degree of sexual activity.

But the 2005 version of War of the Worlds has shocked my sensibility and forced my attention on how my country conducts itself in the international arena, a bizarre thing for a Spielberg movie to do, especially since Spielbergy clearly sees his movie as a possible allegory for us as the victims, not the invaders.

Why did my inner mind see Tom Cruise as a terrified National Guardsman running for his life from enemy fire while his comrades explode around him? Why did I see an Iraq landscape in the scenes of destruction? Why did the horrific yet indifferent cruelty of the aliens remind me of the American military’s tendency to dehumanize the very people whose “hearts and minds” it’s supposed to be “winning?”

Because I live with the guilt of an impotent liberal. I know the world desperately needs a different America than the one it has now, I know change only happens when people like me stand up and demand a new direction, and yet I just can’t see what is to be gained from even my slightest political effort. And I’m talking about what is to be gained by me as well the world.

So my apathetic inaction stems from my belief that even when I throw everything I’ve got into it (as in the last five days of canvassing for John Kerry’s presidency), nothing I do can really make a difference at all. So why bother?

But the guilt of being a citizen of the United States festers. It’s the guilt of knowing that around the world innocent people are dying every day and the United States is directly responsible. It’s the guilt of knowing that there is some link, however corroded and ugly, between who I vote for and U.S. foreign policy, between what I buy and how many children are exploited for labor, between what I believe and what the world looks like to millions who live in poverty. It’s an overwhelming guilt so most days I shove it to the back of my mind and pretend it’s not there; I pretend that being a good person in my small daily life is good enough; I pretend that what I refuse to know won’t hurt anybody. But the guilt festers.

And look at what finally brought the pus to the surface: a Spielberg movie conceived as a modern-day allegory for the hostile world in which we hapless Americans find ourselves, a right-wing, toadying propaganda film designed to stoke our fear and show us how justified that fear might turn out to be.

As a registered Democrat, a leftist hot-head and the daughter of Chicano community activists, I couldn’t see War of the Worlds as anything but a state-of-the-art masterpiece of metaphor, showing me how it feels to be hunted by U.S. “peacekeeping” forces. I saw every scene of slaughter, every adrenaline-draining chase, every cruel capture and consumption from the point of view of a hunted people with no one to take up their cause against a foreign presence. The fact that in the real world that presence is often us produced for me an exquisite horror of self-recognition. There was no separating myself from the cold, ugly exterminators of Spielberg’s movie. I felt guilty sympathy for people I should be helping, not empathy with people I can imagine being a part of.

Am I the only one who felt this way? I hope not, but have yet to see evidence that I'm not. H.G. Wells - a British subject - originally wrote War of the Worlds as an allegory criticizing British colonialism. How I wish Spielberg had the consciousness to use the story similarly, as a way for us to examine American “nation-building.” I still think it could be, but only if we start talking about the movie in that context.

What do I do now with my animated liberal guilt? I don’t know. Get those conversations going?