April 14, 2010

Time marches on, and eventually you realize it’s marchin’ all over your face.

Posted in Nerdiness, Past, The Happy, The Who at 8:22 am by Dagny Taggart

You know, because maybe somewhere back in your brain, Jake Ryan was your older sister’s crush.  Because when that movie came out, you were just a year or two shy of having crushes or really understanding them, premature discovery of V.C. Andrews novels notwithstanding.  And so, when you actually got around to seeing the movie again, you saw the oh-so-very-eighties clothes, and you thought it was all very cute, and certainly there was nothing objectionable about Mr. Ryan, but he just wasn’t doing it for you.

No, because by that point in time, you had found your own definitive crush.  And his name was no paltry three-syllable concoction.  No, no.  This was TWICE the crush, for twice the syllables.  And… he leaned really, really well.

And maybe you discovered that you could see him again, on Hulu.  You could watch him lean to your heart’s content!  Or… whatever.

You could watch him break your Angela’s heart, and forgive watch her forgive him.  And remember how thoroughly you crushed on him, along with her.

And maybe, while you were re-watching, you noticed just how… flannel everything seemed.  And … overalled.  And…  wow.

And then you realized that there are people out there – you’re sure you don’t know who, but there are people for whom someone else, some younger, Robert Pattinson type, is Jordan Catalano.  Which is pretty upsetting, or something.

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March 23, 2010

“Rue the day? Who talks like that?”*

Posted in *cringe*, I need a helmet, Past, The Angry, The Just a Little Sad, The Who, The Why, The WTF at 8:27 am by Dagny Taggart

Growing up in a relatively feminist era is not without its drawbacks.  I say this because I was lucky enough to grow up with a mother who, in her determined and steady way, worked her way through barrier after barrier – as the daughter of Eastern European immigrants, then a college and graduate school student, then as a woman in the world of business, and then as a female professor, complete with PhD, in the realm of academia.  For as long as I can remember, nobody has ever questioned Dr. Taggart’s qualifications, or wondered if she was capable of making decisions for herself, or thought that she “didn’t really mean” something once she’d said it.

And because she never once acted as though this was any kind of spectacular achievement, because she never once implied that her career was anything out of the ordinary, I always thought of it as a consequence of the force of her personality.  I never really considered how many people she’d had to ignore, or to dismiss as ignorant, when they suggested that a woman might not be capable of deciding what she wants in the next ten minutes, let alone achieving great things outside of the home.

And so, when I was told that “no” meant “try again more forcefully, later”, I thought perhaps it was a consequence of me not being forceful enough.  That I must have sent some kind of mixed signal.

Because it was nearly unfathomable, to me, that someone might actually believe that no meant something other than no.  That someone might be so incredibly self-absorbed that he could convince himself that “no” could mean exactly what he wanted it to, even though a plain language reading of the word indicated the opposite.

And so I put it out there now.  There are, in fact, people who think that “no” sometimes means “yes”.  And who are willing to take the chance that they are imposing themselves on someone who does not want them, who has in fact said no, and who will afterward be unhappy with the fact that her/his wishes were not respected.  They genuinely believe that this is how the world works – that women don’t mean it when they say they don’t want something – and if they do, it’s just because they don’t know better.

How do we fix that?

*Real Genius.  Of course.

March 16, 2010

Exercise gives you endorphins. Endorphins make you happy. Happy people just don’t shoot their husbands.

Posted in Darth Vaguer, Oubliette, Past, Project: Fail, The Small and Petty, The Who, The WTF at 7:45 am by Dagny Taggart

The Swiss-engineered, Vulcanized Hammer of Logic has seemingly quashed Voldemole.

THWACK.

Take that!

March 4, 2010

Embracing it

Posted in Nerdiness, Past, Present, Project: Fail, The Happy, The How at 9:08 am by Dagny Taggart

You know, I remember thinking, after my sister had been a litigator for a while, that she was a lot less nice than she used to be.

I didn’t think it was a bad thing, though.  Just… that she was a lot more assertive, willing to say she didn’t like something.  Willing to not go along, even if it meant incidentally hurting someone’s feelings.

Though, that didn’t prevent me from dropping my jaw, just a little, when she mentioned she’d been listening to Korn while working out, lately.  I wasn’t aware she knew that anything harder than Regina Spektor existed.  This is a most entertaining development.

Anyway, so I noticed it.  And I attributed it to her job, mostly, since she was a litigator.  And she did na lot of defense work, which means you’re often dealing with the kind of person who pisses other people off,  and brownfields litigation and oh, yeah, basically took over the stateside operations of a multinational corporation for a while.  So I figured the job had toughened her up.

But lately, I’ve been noticing a bit of it in myself.  And I have to say, caring more about what I actually think and want than I do about what anyone else thinks and wants – having the courage to own those preferences and voice them?  Is SO MUCH FUN.

Maybe this is what they meant by that confidence you get in your thirties, I don’t know.  Maybe it’s just that it’s getting close to spring, and I can see hints of the sun when I leave for work in the morning. And I was about to type that I wish I’d figured this out sooner.

But I think that I’m a lot closer to having a balance that I’m comfortable with now, than I would have if that had been the case.  I know what I want, and I’m willing to fight for it if I have to… but I think I’m a lot less likely to incur extraneous casualties than I would have if I’d found this assertiveness five, even two years ago.

Seriously, though.

SO MUCH FUN.

February 14, 2010

I know…

Posted in Past, Present, The Happy, The Who, The Why at 12:19 pm by Dagny Taggart

…I’ve mentioned the fraught conversations between S.E. and I, concerning her wedding.    To a certain extent, I think such things are to be expected.  She’s my sister, she’s (nearly) five years older than me, and we’re going to have different approaches to things, different approaches that occasionally result in conflict.

But here’s another story about that event that I hold much closer to my heart.

S.E.’s in-laws hosted a beautiful rehearsal dinner, one that likely rivaled many people’s actual receptions.  Once everyone had visited the buffet at LEAST once, it was time for the distribution of the bridal party gifts.  Here, as with every other aspect of her wedding, S.E.’s desire for meaning and personalization really showed.  Each gift she’d selected was individual, and personal, and came with a few heartfelt lines about why each of us meant so much to her.

I received a plush rabbit, and a pillow.  And the pillow had embroidery on it, embroidery that reads:

“Once you are REAL, you can’t be ugly, except to those who don’t understand.”

S.E. gave me my gift, and said, simply, “You made me real.”

I hope that everyone gets to feel that kind of love at some point in their lives.  It’s a pretty amazing thing.

Happy Valentine’s Day!

February 2, 2010

Majorette, Part 2.

Posted in Past, Present, The Happy, The Who, The Why at 8:57 am by Dagny Taggart

I was trying to explain the friendship to W, who occasionally finds my relationships with my friends somewhat confusing and/or unrelatable.  Which is understandable, as I have eclectic tastes.

And given that she lives far, far away, W has not yet met the woman for whom I am majorette-ing.  And she’s not exactly someone you can explain – she must be experienced, to be understood.  So what I tried to do, is explain who she is to me.

There is the woman who has known me since toddlerhood, who can tell you much you might want to know about who I was.  And there is Sibling Extraordinaire, who can tell you about the dark and twisty ways I traveled to get to where I am, even if she doesn’t quite always understand or approve of where that is.  There are newer friends (relatively speaking), with whom a certain kindred-ness resonates, and whose objectivity and honesty have been invaluable.  But this friend?

She is the person with whom I am most fearlessly, unadulteratedly myself.  Because I trust that she won’t take things the wrong way, and because I know that she looks at everything I say and do through a lens made up of my fundamentally good qualities – the way I see the things that she says and does*.

This is not to say that she hasn’t ever criticized me.  But when she has, I’ve never once doubted her esteem or affection for me.

People like that are pretty hard to come by.  So when you think you might have found one, you’ll likely be happy to don a poly-wool blend in garish school colors, if the occasion requires.

*I see things through a lens of HER good qualities, not mine.  Just in case that wasn’t clear.  *sigh*  Another metaphor ruined!

January 19, 2010

Stamina

Posted in Grief, Past, Present, The Happy, The Just a Little Sad, The Who, The Why at 10:22 am by Dagny Taggart

I have a mere handful of memories of Dr. Taggart’s father that do not involve him working.  I remember flashes of an Easter morning, his hands holding my basket of eggs, the sleeve of a blue cardigan at eye-level as he bent down to encourage me.  I remember his arms as they created a shelf for me, as he carried me facedown into the house so that the blood streaming from my cut forehead wouldn’t get in my eyes.  I remember a birthday party, where someone had made a paper hat for him using wrapping paper.  And I remember, towards the end, as he lay on the medical cot in what had been their dining room, as my mom and I showed him the prom dress he’d given her money to buy, before he started to forget the years I’d been alive.

I remember wondering, at various times, how he did it.  How he could have worked in factories and stockrooms and grocery stores, hours and hours of work.  How even into his seventies and eighties he never stopped – tending the roses at the house in Hawthorne, or painstakingly pulling up weeds and trimming hedges at my parents’ house.  Mowing the lawn.  Peeling and grating horseradish for our Easter feast outside, because he was the only one who managed to do it for any length of time before the fumes mandated a break.

I also remember him telling me to call my grandma “Babka”, and her being semi-furious with him in that way that long-married, long-suffering, long-loving wives are.  He found ways to have his fun, found the time to play, occasionally, with his granddaughters.  He found time to pick me up at school, sporting a black and white houndstooth cap, driving the dark green Buick with the tan seats, that smelled just like their house and that had a loud, clicky turn signal.  He found time to sneak himself platefuls of fried spaghetti, and found room for Grandma’s golubki and pieroshki a scant hour later.  He walked Grandma to church and back, walked me to the park.  And I never heard him complain, never witnessed discomfort.

He must have been tired sometimes – but he chose to do something besides think about it, to focus on what he wanted to accomplish rather than how hard it might be.  I must have inherited some of that, I think.  I just need to find it.

January 11, 2010

Catching up

Posted in Darth Vaguer, Nerdiness, Past, The Happy, The Just a Little Sad, The Why at 12:07 pm by Dagny Taggart

Cleaning one’s condo can occasionally involve sifting through old memories, trying to figure out whether they’re worth keeping, worth filing away for future reference.

A phone call from an old friend, the sort I don’t talk to for over a year, but whose contact information is squarely filed away in the space reserved for “good eggs”, helped bring some of those memories to the surface. 

Like, for example, the friend’s roommate during the time when we spoke more regularly, the man for whom I may have actually pined.  The man who, when he found himself rather suddenly without his beauty queen fiancée, didn’t turn towards the awesome opportunity (me) just around the corner.  The man who didn’t engage in more than the most idle of flirtation for months after that… and the man who made it clear, when the issue was forced, that he wasn’t interested in anything… real.

That particular memory, along with the ghost of the pain and humiliation I’d felt at the time, had been swept from side to side, from one dust pile to the other, since I couldn’t imagine having any use for it and thought it best to just let it fade as best as I could in a town where running into that man simply happens, from time to time.  But there it was, blown front and center by a chance phone call.

And maybe because it was my first time revisiting this memory since some pretty good therapy, maybe because I get to be with someone who really wants to be with me, who made an effort to let me know that, early on… and maybe because since then, when I have run into that man, he’s been pleasantly surprised to see me, I got it. 

Because once one is in a relationship because one chooses to be, rather than because one feels it is expected, it becomes so much easier to understand how that kind of rejection is often completely impersonal, as to the rejectee.  When someone says “No, thank you” before sampling the dessert you brought, it doesn’t mean you’re a bad cook. 

I think I’ll file that one away under “XP”.

December 10, 2009

Oh, boy.

Posted in *cringe*, Past, The Small and Petty, The Who, The Why, The WTF at 8:56 am by Dagny Taggart

So, I read this article, about the Tiger/Elin/extracurriculars.

Extracurriculars.  Which implies a curriculum in the first place.  So maybe not the most appropriate euphemism, but it works for me.  Has in the past, anyway, when I was referencing the various women who subbed in for me in a previous relationship (without me even having to ask!  or know about it until later!).

The article, anyway, is tangentially about whether it’s okay to snoop, when your snooping has come up with exactly what you thought it might – when you have the proof of infidelity, does that mean it was okay to snoop in the first place?

According to my education and training, that’s fruit of the poisonous tree.  So, no.  It’s not okay.

I found out about other women inadvertently, and at the time, I was… crushed.  I can’t describe how that felt (I think it’s different for each person who goes through something like that).  And I messed up a lot of subsequent relationships because I couldn’t trust anyone, including myself.  But still, I didn’t snoop.

At one point, I was confronted with a situation that would have given me justification to snoop, if such justification exists.  I was dating someone who wasn’t exactly forthcoming with personal details, who talked about nameless friends and was vague about where he went and with whom.  And someone contacted me, and told me that he’d been unfaithful. 

The first thing I did, was inform him of the accusation.  In part, because I genuinely believe that we really DO all have the right to face our accusers – or at least, in this case, defend ourselves against those accusations.  But the other motivation?  Was because if I hadn’t told him immediately, I’d have been tempted to investigate surreptitiously.  And I really, really didn’t want to be that person.

In short, I’d rather be the last to know, to deal with the humiliation and hurt and anger that comes with that, than be the person who snoops. 

I’m not sure why that is, exactly.

November 24, 2009

NOS

Posted in Nerdiness, Past, Project: Fail, The OCD, The Round, The Why, The WTF at 10:57 am by Dagny Taggart

Not Otherwise Specified.

The LA Times wrote about binge eating, and the prospect of its inclusion as a distinct diagnosis in the American Psyciatric Association’s DSM-V.  A reason why they might not include it?

Because they don’t want obese personages, people who have clear weight problems, to view such a diagnosis as a crutch, as an excuse for being unhealthy.

While I was in college, I technically met the diagnostic criteria for both types of anorexia for… oh, I don’t know.  5 months?  At my smallest, I was at roughly two-thirds of my recommended, “normal” weight.  I attained, and maintained, this weight through a combination of highly restricted eating, with occasional bouts of purging/overexercising when family dinners required me to consume regular portions of food in front of other people.

I have also exhibited signs of binge eating and orthorexia for periods of time.

I never received professional help for my disorder.  I am, and probably always will be, in some form of recovery.  I am lucky.

Many, many people are not so fortunate.  Many of those who suffer from disordered eating need professional help, and many of them need that help to be covered by insurance.  They need established treatment plans, they may need disability coverage for periods of recovery.

The causes of eating disorders, specified or not, are not completely understood.  And personal responsibility is a huge part of recovery from any kind of mental illness – whether it be the personal responsibility required to visit a methadone clinic regularly, or to remove even over-the-counter cold medicines and sugary foods from one’s house (a not-uncommon requirement for alcoholics to remain sober), or to choose to attend talk therapy sessions rather than consume an entire jar of marmalade in less than five minutes.

But if the fundamental aspects of a diagnosis are known, and if by identifying the symptoms and making these characteristics better known, more people can become aware of their problem, or their loved one’s problem, or their patient’s problem… if even some of those can be helped, why would you hesitate? 

To protect those who would abuse the system, at the expense of those who might benefit from the research and structured treatment that would follow a more specific diagnosis?

It just doesn’t make sense.

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