Sunday, July 29, 2007

Petition against email harassholes

Recently, I complained to my sister about two nasty emails an ex-boyfriend had sent me. I recalled other (also nasty) emails sent to me by other ex-boyfriends and over-zealous, and subsequently rejected, dates. It occurred to me that the only people who have ever sent me a nasty email have been people who had also once claimed to love me. Their love was declared verbally, and their hatred in print.

This made me think about two golden bits of advice my parents once gave me. My father told me not to write anything down that I wouldn't want the whole world to see. My mother told me not to make decisions when I am angry. Over and again, men I've unfortunately chosen as dates have demonstrated why.

During that same conversation with my forty-two-year-old sister, she said that when she was dating, she was able to just walk away from her unfortunate selections. She didn't understand why I kept getting harassed after the break-ups. For a moment, we concluded that I just chose particularly sensitive and angry men. Then we realized something. It's not me at all. It's technology. I'm not shirking responsibility for my choices in saying this; I am acknowledging a new phenomenon.

When my sister was still in the dating game, no one had access to email. If her exes wanted to say something, they had to say it to her face, or at least over the phone. Email makes things too easy for the sender. So do social networking sites. The rant can be prepared in advance, revised, rewritten and reviewed by friends. And, better yet, the recipient can't immediately respond. The message will wait patiently in their "in box", like a tiny emotional bomb. A jab. A stab. A slap across the face. A punch in the gut. A split second's click can launch a lasting attack.

What the angry sender doesn't realize in the fog of damaged pride is that the written word is not impervious to reinterpretation. The blips and bloops of digital information do not carry tone or context. Once the "send" button is clicked, the owner of the meaning of the message becomes the recipient.

So, if the message is bitter, petty, insulting and/or assaultive, you can be sure that only one meaning will be drawn from it. No matter how inclusive or well-thought out it may have initially seemed to its composer, all it really says to the recipient is that she is glad she got rid of you when she did.

Friday, July 20, 2007

Never date the needy

I date men who fall in love with me.

There have been three this year and I am starting to understand why that might be a problem. It is not fun. It is not a privilege. There is nothing especially remarkable about me that makes me irresistible. The answer is simpler: These are the men I choose.

I am self-aware enough to know that it is healthy to identify negative patterns in my life, address them and move ahead a little lighter, knowing that I'll "never make that mistake again". BUT. And, I also know there is always a "but", but how do I distinguish between sensitive men who treat me well and needy men who get angry when their sentiments aren't reciprocated?

During the most recent 4-month stint with an educated, well-read professional who was slightly older with tell-tale sprigs of ear hair, I reasoned that he was mature enough to no longer need coddling or constant reassurance. Uh-uh.

What complicates neediness in men is that often they do not know how to communicate their emotional needs to their partner. Women are often accused of the same, but not me. I am blunt, I am direct, I am honest. This, for many men, is confusing. They assume my words and actions are cryptic clues to be deciphered, as they may have been with past girlfriends; these men always get me wrong.

When I say, "I am not looking for anything serious." My date hears, "I haven't met the right guy yet, but I am pretty sure it might be you."

When I say, "Can we take this a little slower?" My date hears, "I am scared of letting myself fall in love with you."

When I say, "My independence is really important to me, I can't spend all my time with you." My date hears, "Please call me every night before bedtime to make sure I don't accidentally sleep with someone else."

Love is organic; it grows and withers and festers and flowers, and it probably even defecates. No one has the authority to punish anyone for losing love. Sometimes love behaves badly. Sometimes it moves away.

There are so many unspoken promises to be broken with the more deluded of the emotional men I date. I break them all, essentially because I didn't make them in the first place, but that's a moot point. According to my dates, I did, and now they somehow justify verbal and written assaults. Surprise emails, nasty phone calls. Honesty is lost on these men. I'd embargoed the one thing they thought they needed, and it was something I never promised them.

Last night, I received another angry email from the hairy-eared gentleman, a man who technically broke up with me. Apparently, one of the unspoken dating/un-dating rules was buffer time before new conquests, post-separation, and no "hunks" allowed.

I'm still considering what sort of response his words warrant, if any. It's futile to argue with someone's pride. When pride talks, everything it says is projection. It doesn't have a heart, ears, pulse, or the capacity for reason. All I can hope, is that this ill-equipped character trait will breed out quickly. Survival of the fittest.

Thursday, July 05, 2007

Antibiotics - Antierotics

I am not sure how it happened, but somehow, Adonis is topless in my apartment, serving me tea with honey and lemon, and tickling the bottoms of my feet while I try to shake this fever. Maybe I am in a delirium. He’s surely a figment of my wishful thinking.

I am also not sure how I got tonsillitis. Following the standard three-and-a-half-hour wait in the lobby of the clinic, the doctor told me what I already knew, and gave me the prescription I needed. I have ahead of me 24 hours of being highly contagious, 48 hours of bed rest and 10 days of antibiotics. I’m not sure for how long I will benefit from the tender lusting care of this young traveller, new friend, and temporary housemate, but I’ll enjoy it as long as I can, like any self-respecting single twenty-something woman should.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

A letter to my Road King

Dear Beater Bike,

I don’t know where you are or how to find you. Maybe you don’t want to be found. I suspect you aren’t far. You’ve always loved Montreal in the summertime, and I am sure you still do, without me.

I was surprised how you left in the middle of the night; I thought I’d given you the security you needed. Now I’m left lacking closure and sometimes I find it hard to leave my house. Daily life has slowed without you, and it takes me twice as long to get anywhere, to do anything. It’s hard to pretend things are normal.

It’s not that you were the only bike in the world for me. I mean, I’ve had rides in better shape than you, slicker and younger, but I was willing to work it out. But you? What did you do for “us”? Sure we went everywhere together, but do you remember how you hurt me?

When we decided you were ready to let your chain guard go, I thought things were getting better. We were finally able to enjoy a special silence; things were going smoothly. You looked and felt ten years younger. But, it wasn’t long before remnants of your sordid past resurfaced, and you let me slip on your broken pedal and gouge my ankle on your useless, rusted parts. When I suggested we get professional help for these, the last of your hang-ups, you proved to be a difficult case. After that, I wasn’t sure you wanted the help. It wasn’t my fault you were scarred, yet it was me who paid the price. I hope you know that I did everything I could for you. I couldn’t afford to give more. We were good together.

Don’t you remember what a mess you were in when I found you? You were rusting in the snow, twisted and broken by a sidewalk plow hit-and-run, a junkie standing over you, anxious to snatch you away. Your fate was so uncertain. Had I not left the bar at exactly the right time, who knows what might have happened to you that night.

I did everything I could to get you back on the street again. How could you leave like this after all I’ve done for you? I want to think you couldn’t help yourself, or that you’ve gone off to serve a greater purpose. But, I met someone who saw you leave. He said you sold yourself for the cost of a hit.

Loving you was risky, but I’d hoped I’d be able to care for you in a way that could keep you from getting sucked back in by the junkies and crack whores who seemed to know you, and your kind, so well.

I would like to think that you’re enjoying the sunshine somewhere, rolling down a bike path not far from here. I half expect to see you to ride past me, some other girl on your saddle. Just know that I still want you. And, if I find you, I’ll want to chain you up and keep you with me forever. You’ll always be my Road King.

Friday, June 22, 2007

Six-dollar coffee and a coming of age

The fair trade coffee would take minutes longer to prepare than regular brew, she warned me with a hand-rolling gesture that implied eternity. She didn’t tell me it would cost $6 for a to-go cup. I was already feeling guilty for not brewing my own at home, for not bringing my own reusable container, and for ignoring the current strain on my finances.

Then, I realized I’d misunderstood her. Silly me. How could a single cup of regular filter coffee sell for what nearly constitutes a basic hourly wage in some Canadian provinces?

It can. And it does at this mediocre cafe. The “coffee agent” reassured me I’d heard correctly. How can a cafe ethically advertise that they offer fair trade coffee when they package it in such a way that it becomes unaffordable? It’s a ruse.

Since the coffee cost me more than it was worth, I am making it into something bigger than it is. I am assigning the now cold, exorbitantly-priced beverage symbolic value as an offering to the goddess of debt.

This is the year I begin my worship of this, the least compassionate of modern North American goddesses. Only by appeasing this deity will I prevent my own head from rolling, and eventually free my own palpitating heart from her merciless grasp.

Her voice resonates at every sales counter, restaurant and ATM. Her minions monitor my every transaction. She owns me. I am her bitch.

Even though Revenue Canada has misspelled my name on my tax installment forms, I must accept responsibility. Even though my ex-boyfriend emotionally abused me following our break-up, I must continue to pay off the shared Visa bill and its impossibly high interest rates. Despite having graduated from university seven years ago with a degree that would get me nowhere, I continue to make monthly loan payments. And then there are the bills, rent and birthdays. There is no space in my life for $6 coffees.

From this day forward, I acknowledge her power over me and my every decision. I pledge to give her what she craves. I will make sacrifices of my own so as not to be condemned to financial ruin and seven years of purgatory. I will follow carefully planned financial budgets and travel only when I am financially secure. I will swallow my pride. I will no longer see red.

As soon as I have my soul back, I’ll have the freedom to save for my future and address my deficits and responsibilities to humanity and my own personal development. I’ll have true freedom of choice and I will get down to business.

For the record, when that time comes, I still won’t buy $6 coffees.