Back by Request

A friend made a request of sorts, that I post again, because apparently my wrecked romantic life is so incredibly entertaining. Well, at least it is good for something. Nice to know, if nothing else, my love-lorn misadventures spark smiles and a bit of glee perhaps. Twisted, I know, but I can dig that. I like twisted. And let’s face it, I am a bit of whore for the attention. Speaking of which…. (does this even require a winking emoticon?)

First let me dispense with one woman who dispensed with me before anything really got started. We’ll call her — Lois. Yeah, I’m not particularly fond of that name either but for me it conjures up images of overly-tanned, chain-smoking retired snowbirds in Florida, which this woman is well on her way to being. I suppose that’s why I’m not very torn up over it not working out, or even getting started really. I don’t really want to date a smoker, and while I like the sun and the beach and a bit of color on my skin as well as a woman’s, I’m not all that interested in dating someone who bares a striking resemblance to an old baseball glove. Of course, that is an over exaggeration. She doesn’t look that bad…yet, or bad at all really. But it was clear that she thought I could use some color and preferred it, said she thought it “looked healthier.” Why do people think that? Seriously this looks healthy:

AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh!

Anyhoo… this woman does not look like that….again I stress yet.

We didn’t meet on a dating site. We connected via facebook. She was/is(?) an old childhood friend. Well, not even that. We sort of knew of each other in our youth, you know, but didn’t really know each other. It was one of those things — we friended each other because we knew each other’s names. Anyway, we went out for lunch when she was in town — she lives 2-hours a way, which presents a challenge but also perhaps an advantage in a way too, if you think about it — and texted and talked on the phone, and then I was supposed to visit her for the weekend, which she had originally suggested. Then the weekend came and she copped out. Good thing I made an effort to confirm otherwise I would might not have known it wasn’t going to happen. It was kind of annoying, but hey, what are you gonna do. She was apologetic and there was even the possibility of trying for another weekend, but it became clear that she was not interested and simply would not say so. Or perhaps she just wanted some attention, which is something I am finding a lot of women want, as much as they can get.

Which brings me to the mid- to late-twenty-something type who admits to seeking attention outside of her “relationship” and having Daddy issues and having a high sex-drive, so much so that she could never see herself being with only one man for the rest of her life, but yet her current man is so good to her and is willing to tolerate her that she could never leave him, but she just can’t help wanting more blah blah blah. I won’t even give her an alias, but I will give her a description. She is what Tyler Durden from Fight Club would call a “Predator posing as a house cat.”

But those were just two quick hits on the way to my most recent dalliance, this time with an exotic, international beauty with dark skin and a big dark eyes, and long lush black hair. And who had a knack for keeping me on the phone so long that my cell bill this month is going to kick my ass. I can forget about any road trip vacations for the near future dammit. I’ll call her Tia. Why not? It’s as good as any name. Meh

Here’s the difference this time. I copped out on her. It became clear that her,um, lack of relationship experience had her pining for some kind of mythical true love romance that couldn’t exist in the most syrupy of fairy tales. And her obsession with shopping and brand name labels was annoying as shit. She actually wanted to meet to go shopping. Ugh! Why don’t women get that men hate shopping. Stop making us go, dammit! Go. Buy your shit with your girlfriends and let us stay home and watch sports or whatever the fuck it is we do.

I attempted to let her down easy, saying I didn’t think we were compatible, to which she proceeded to lobby hard in favor that we were. I listened, doubtfully, counting the minutes that were costing me $0.49 per and finally, and stupidly agreed tocontinue, although in what form was unclear. What the point of all this was lost on me. Until the next day when she texted me that essentially she didn’t believe a romantic relationship was possible, which made it clear that her whole compaign the night before was so that she could then “reject” me. This was fine with me, since it was what I wanted anyway. So I proceeded to delete her contact info, including blocking her on facebook, which she did not like at all. She wanted to know why I would do that? To which I replied, Why not?

Now she continues to text me asking banal questions such as, How was your day? And, how was work? And, wasn’t the weather nice today? Until I wanted to fucking shoot myself! And when I am non-responsive she gets pouty, like a child.

Something I realized, though. And that is this: I may not really have an interest in a serious relationship right now. Before I was married I wasn’t really interested in one. That was a relationship born out of circumstances and manipulation. Maybe I’d be more comfortable just being on my own. Apparently more and more people are opting for this option. In fact, according to this new book entitled Going Solo: The Extraordinary Rise and Surprising Appeal of Living Alone, by Eric Klineberg, the single person household is more prevalent in this country than the standard nuclear family.

It’s quite interesting. Check it out.

Watching The Waltons and being annoyed

I’ve been watching The Waltons a lot lately. I have fond memories of watching this show as a kid with my family. It always reminded me of West Virginia, where both of my parents are from, and where I spent many a summer as a kid. But recently I watched and episode that kind of annoyed me. I believe it is entitled “John’s Crossroads” or something like that. It’s the one where John, the father, has to take a job away from home with the county or state road commission, working in an office. He has to actually leave Walton’s mountain to go to work. Heaven forbid! Much of the drama is centered around John and Olivia, the mother, being separated and how hard it is on them blah blah blah.

But of course the job was only temporary and eventually John comes back to work in the mill, only a stones throw away from his beloved wife and family. How quaint. Ack! One can’t help but wonder how John and Olivia’s marriage and family life would have fared had John had to leave home to work all his life, as most people today do.  In fact, now it is often the case that both parents have to work away from the home.

I guess in the grand scheme of things it’s unimportant, it just annoyed me  for some reason. Probably, now that I am unemployed, I have too much time on my hands, too much time to think.

One upside to being unemployed

Besides not having to shower in the morning or even put on pants that is. It may be better than having a crap job, at least that is the thrust of this Time article.

A new study says that, income notwithstanding, having a demanding, unstable and thankless job may make you even unhappier than not having a job at all.

Of course, I’m not sure that exactly applies to me. My job is not overly demanding. It was definitely unstable there leading up to notice of my lay-off. And I wouldn’t say it was thankless. It could sure be tedious and boring, but I liked that the fact that I worked in a library, that I was contributing to the purpose of such an institution even if what I did was not always that interesting or challenging.

Here are some numbers:

Unemployed people in the Australian study had a mental-health score (based on the five-item Mental Health Inventory, which measures depression, anxiety and positive well-being in the previous month) of 68.5. Employed people had an average score of  75.1. The researchers found that moving from unemployment to a good job raised workers’ scores by 3.3 points, but taking a bad job led to a 5.6-point drop below average. That was worse than remaining unemployed, which led to decline of about one point.

And here is a conclusion that made me smirk:

Perhaps employers could be persuaded to be more mindful of the mental health of their workers — happier employees are a benefit to their employers. “The erosion of work conditions,” the researchers noted, “may incur a health cost, which over the longer term will be both economically and socially counterproductive.”

Because while I believe that some employers may have good intentions when it comes to being mindful of their employees mental health that on the whole it is not high priority. Getting stuff done is, regardless of how it beats up employee moral.

GenX Museum Board Results Oriented

Just ran across this article about a children’s museum board run by a bunch of GenXers, touting their results-oriented focus.

An exceprt:

Sherri Petro, president of the consulting firm VPI Strategies in Kearny Mesa and an expert on multi-generational communication and business, says the success of the board doesn’t surprise her. “Gen X (in their late 30s and 40s) is very results-oriented,” she says. “They were the first generation of latch-key kids, mom and dad said, ‘get this done’ and then left. So they had a lot of creative latitude to get results.”

Petro said older boards, where Boomers dominate, tend to be process-oriented. “They want to make sure the processes are followed. Whatever the process is doesn’t matter as much as following it to get the results you want. Whereas Gen X-ers tend to be very creative and go to a bunch of different sources to make something happened.”

Just one answer is not the solution to every problem.

Here is an interesting article by Tamara Erickson about the greatest gift her father gave here, which was encouraging her to always consider others’ POV.

One of my most vivid memories of time spent with my father as a little girl was watching the evening news together. Each time, after Walter Cronkite confidently closed his broadcast with “And that’s the way it is,” my father would ask me one question: What do you think the “other guy’s” point of view would be? Night after night, he painstakingly pointed out the possibility of another perspective, in doing so giving me perhaps his greatest gift.

She makes an interest point regarding how Boomers may tend to view solutions in terms of one problem one answer whereas Generation X is open to the possibility of multiple solutions to a given problem. No single answer  is the correct one. What works, works.

Coupland cleans house

Check out this blog post about Douglas Coupland donating his papers to the University of British Columbia.

Among the more interesting items to me is the first draft of Coupland’s breakout novel, “Generation X,” and a manuscript for an unpublished novel entitled “1991” but which was later retitled “The Day the Muzak Died,” which I thinks is much more interesting. Oh yeah, also a Generation X comic strip.

I am sure that Coupland’s papers will be one of the more eccentric and interesting collections that exist.

GenX’s midlife crisis in books and movies

JenX67 linked to this NY Times article titled — GenX Has a Midlife Crisis.

It’s actually a review of the new novel by Sam Lypsite, The Ask.  But it also references the Ben Stiller movie, Greenberg, and the John Cusack movie Hot Tub Time Machine.

I’ve read The Ask (well, most of  it; for some reason I couldn’t seem to finish it, not sure why,  I love Lypsite’s stuff) and seen Greenberg. I’ve yet to see Hot Tub but from what I’ve read/heard, like The Ask and Greenberg, there will be much for me to relate to.  How could I not? I’m 42 ,in the midst of divorce, and living with the rents…again. I got mid-life crisis coming out my ass, man!

As does Milo, the protagonist of The Ask:

Milo is in his early 40s, or so one surmises from his pop-cultural references and from the fact that the author, Sam Lipsyte, was born in 1968. He’s not a kid anymore: he’s a man of a certain age. And “The Ask” is, at least so far, the definitive literary treatment of a hugely important social phenomenon. Mr. Lipsyte, through the shambling, highly articulate and pathetic persona of Milo Burke, has announced the onset of the Generation X midlife crisis.

I feel as if I could insert my name for Milo’s and it would make complete sense. I was born in 67.

The articles references to Greenberg and Hot Tub are in comparison to The  Big Chill, the Boomers mid-life crisis movie, one which I can never decide if I like really because it can be so fucking irritating. The author states that Hot Tub is — not a better movie necessarily, but rather preferable.

The raunchy riffs and lowbrow gags of “Hot Tub” are vastly preferable to the navel-gazing sanctimony of “The Big Chill,” at least for my taste. But my taste may be suspect in this matter, since, give or take a few details, “Hot Tub Time Machine” is the story of my life.

No doubt that author’s going to hear about it for that one. Note the apologetic tone in which he presents his case, qualifying his preference, obviously anticipating the Boomer outrage at such a ludicrous notion.

The article makes a good point when it states: “How can a generation whose cultural trademark is a refusal to grow up have a midlife crisis?”

I can’t help feeling that I’ve plagued myself with this….GenX (male mainly I think) syndrome of refusing in many respects to grow up. Although I don’t believe it is an epidemic. I know too many people my age that are mature and responsible. I’m just not really one of them. I’ve always gone kicking and screaming into adulthood, I admit it. Why? Because from where I was sitting it just didn’t look all that great to me.

Th article goes on to point out that of course this midlife crisis thing is nothing new, it’s just that different generations went about it in different ways.

Members of the Greatest Generation and the one that came right after — the “Mad Men” guys, their wives and secretaries — settled down young into a world where the parameters of career and domesticity seemed fixed, and then proceeded, by the force of their own restlessness, to blow it all up.

This pattern repeated itself in the next decades, yielding variations on a story everyone seems to know. At a certain point, Dad buys a sports car, or starts a rock band, or has an affair or walks out on Mom or quits the law firm to make goat cheese. When this kind of thing happens to Mom, it’s not a crisis but an awakening. In any case, the driving impulse is to shake off the straitjacket of adulthood and find some way to feel young again.

And then goes on to ask the ironic (that’s right I used the word) question: “But what if you never gave up adolescence in the first place?”

How does a midlife crisis work exactly then? Well, that’s precisely what the characters in The Ask, Greenberg, and Hot Tub are portraying.

They all seem stuck in an earlier phase of life, which wasn’t so great to begin with: Milo’s dorm room bull sessions and sexual escapades; Roger’s rock ’n’ roll dreams; that crazy time at the ski lodge with snow, cocaine, sex and spandex as far as the eye could see.

And the resulting revelation is fairly brutal, as illustrated in The Ask:

“If I were the protagonist of a book or a movie,” Milo says to his onetime boss, “it would be hard to like me, to identify with me, to like me, right?” The response is devastating: “I would never read a book like that, Milo, and I can’t think of anyone who would. There’s no reason for it.”

It’s an assessment that is difficult to argue with when you consider the following:

A lot of people seem to feel that way about “Greenberg,” which has done modest business and inspired a great deal of ambivalence among audiences. “Funny People” was a big flop, and “Hot Tub Time Machine” has not done nearly as well as “The Hangover,” which offers up coarse humor and male immaturity without the slightest attempt at historical perspective. Since its publication in March, “The Ask” has sold around 7,000 copies. Disappointing? Of course. Our generation wouldn’t have it any other way.

Which I guess means I should got ahead and scrap my idea of my own GenX midlife crisis novel. Because who wants to read the crap, anyway. But  you know, just because most people don’t like something doesn’t mean it isn’t worthwhile. That’s like saying if you’re not popular in high school, you’re nobody…

Think about it….

….no you won’t.