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“Pivot…Pivot…PIVOT!”

September 21, 2009 2 comments

Last Friday, my fross and I were discussing the mastery and magnificence of the TV show Friends. The conversation began after agreeing that we both couldn’t hear the word “pivot” without thinking of the scene when Ross, Rachel, and Chandler are attempting to guide Ross’ new couch up a set of stairs. I found the clip on YouTube tonight. Just so funny. Comedy doesn’t get simpler then a man yelling “Pivot, Pivot, PIVOT!” and his friend shouting back, “Shut up! Shut up! Shuttt Up!” And yet I can laugh even thinking about it.

I would argue that the chemistry of the cast on Friends remains unbeaten. The show started its run in 1994, when I was 12 years old and entering junior high. A year after I graduated college, the show ended. I based so much of how I wanted my post-college life to be off the lives of the characters. Sad to say I know, but those were my formative years, and I liked believing that life after college could be fabulous apartments in a big city with my five closest friends in the room next door or the apartment across the hall.

The funny thing is I did have that life, twice before the show ended. My last year of college, I lived with one of my best friends, and our five guy friends lived in the apartment in a building attached to ours. We had no Central Perk, but we had the boys’ living room, which was good enough. And we spent all of our time together.

I had that life again in Santa Monica, where I lived with two of those same boys, and another best friend from college. And Central Perk became our living room, but instead of coffee we drank beer and played cards. We struggled with the transition from school to work, but we didn’t really struggle, because we came home to each other, and lived in one of the most fabulous neighborhoods in all of LA.

But life couldn’t stay that way. And now I can’t go back to it. I left LA, for a lot of reasons, but mostly because I wasn’t happy with what I was doing there.

What I couldn’t comprehend, on the day I drove away, is that I was leaving my Friends days behind me, almost exactly a year after the show ended.

I loved graduate school. I loved caring about what I was learning and having real conversations with my professors who respected me. I fell in love with my closest friend and spent over three wonderful years as his girlfriend. I have a great job now, and I’m on a career track I’m proud of.

But none of that means I don’t often long for the days when I had three or more of my closest friends to come home to. I never spent a weekend alone, or a day alone. Now I have to spend a lot of time alone. And I’m not very good at it.

Here’s the thing though. If I had stayed in LA, or if all of my college friends had followed me to DC, I wouldn’t have had a three-year relationship with a great guy. I wouldn’t have learned that sometimes I have to be alone. And I wouldn’t have grown up. Because it doesn’t work like the TV show. We didn’t pair off and get married. And we couldn’t all do what we were passionate about in the same place.

I’m fortunate enough to say I’ve had a lot of “best days of my life.” Some were with my “Friends” and others were with my boyfriend. And I’m sure there will remain quite a few from each when the total number of best days is tallied up.

I thought it was ironic that what sparked this blog post was the word “pivot.”

Here’s what Merriam Webster has to say about it.

Main Entry: piv·ot
1 : a shaft or pin on which something turns
2 a : a person, thing, or factor having a major or central role, function, or effect b : a key player or position; specifically : an offensive position of a basketball player standing usually with back to the basket to relay passes, shoot, or provide a screen for teammates
3 : the action of pivoting; especially : the action in basketball of stepping with one foot while keeping the other foot at its point of contact with the floor

I think my friends are the foot on the floor. They remain, despite their distance, the pin that holds me steady as the other foot turns from man to man and from job to job and from place to place.

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Sports Love

September 20, 2009 2 comments

My football team, the New England Patriots, suffered an embarrassing loss today at the hands of an opponent whose coach and players had been talking all sorts of smack before game day. It was a frustrating, disappointing afternoon.

For a moment though, I’m going to go back in time six days, to last Monday night, when the Patriots came from behind to win the game against my buddy’s Buffalo Bills. It was the return of Monday Night Football and the return of Tom Brady. And I did a dance in my kitchen.

The day after the game, Sports Illustrated‘s Peter King wrote, “Time will tell if the Patriots are really good and just escaped with one, or if they’re just a member of the NFL pack. The latter’s unlikely. This team has flaws, but this team also has Brady.”

After today’s performance, I may get some sass for using that quote. But in that moment, on that night, Brady and his brand of magic were back, and this fan was left with a 24-hour high.

My love of sports started with a love of sports writing. As a teenager, I used to anxiously await the arrival of my father’s Sports Illustrated. If I found it in the mailbox first it meant I wouldn’t have to hunt for it behind my parents’ toilet later.

Once I had my hands on it, I would try to be good and read it in order. But more often than not, I flipped right to the back page, to Rick Reilly’s “The Life of Reilly” column. Reilly, who now sadly works at ESPN, is my favorite columnist of all time. So much of why I love sports, and all the good and bad that goes with it, is because of him and other sports writers who made me care about the games through the stories they told.

I have never been good at retaining stats or remembering the names of players who aren’t in the news often or aren’t on one of my teams. I don’t follow drafts, or participate in fantasy leagues. And lately, I live without cable, so no regular SportsCenter. But I love Sundays in fall. And I love the moment when you walk into a baseball stadium and the green of the grass first hits your eyes. I love filling out my brackets for March Madness. And I love the sound skates make against the ice when they come to a hockey stop.  And most of all, I love waking up the morning after my team won a big game, or even a championship, and scouring through all of the fresh words set out by sports writers in the wee hours of the night.

I have girlfriends who think I’m slightly off for how much I care about my teams. For example, I bawled into my ex-boyfriend’s shirt after the Patriots failed to complete an undefeated season with a loss to the Giants in Super Bowl XLII. We happened to be watching the game with a roomful of elementary school teachers who didn’t care much about football, and who really didn’t understand how I could possibly care enough to be shedding tears.

I have other friends who believe my love of sports will some day help me land a man. And they could be right. I swear the reason I landed my last boyfriend, or more specifically why he stuck around after a rocky start, was because I got so into the 2006 World Cup. How could he not hang onto a girl who so enthusiastically watched every Germany game?

But trying to impress men, or compete with their vast sports knowledge, has never been a reason for me to care about sports. If it was, I wouldn’t call myself a true sports fan.

The Boston Red Sox are on a hot streak right as playoff season begins. And despite the loss today, the season’s just begun for the Pats, which means a whole lot more chances for Brady magic. To top it off, I’ll be wearing my new #21 t-shirt at the Verizon Center on Wednesday for a Washington Capitals preseason game, and then again on October 3 for the home opener.

Thanks go to talented sports writers, my baseball-loving parents, my sports-playing little brother, all of my ex-boyfriends, and my hockey-obsessed college friend for making me care about the game. I can’t imagine a life without my sports love.

Walk On

September 14, 2009 Leave a comment
Lately, I have heard a lot about my own strength. People comment on how “strong” I am being as I stare down my family troubles and a broken heart. My question to them is do I have another choice?
Am I being strong? Or do people say that as a way to encourage strength? And is it strength, or just life?
I was listening to Pandora today at work and The Weepies started to play. It was a song I had never heard, “Can’t Go Back Now,” and before it was even over, I found the music video on YouTube and sent it to my best friend. It made her cry (hopefully in a good way). The lyrics follow (but I recommend clicking the link and watching the video. It features Deb Talan and Steve Tannen, the husband-wife duo, as puppets).

Yesterday, when you were young,
Everything you needed done was done for you.
Now you do it on your own
But you find you’re all alone,
What can you do?

You and me walk on
Cause you can’t go back now.

You know there will be days when you’re so tired that you can’t take another step,
The night will have no stars and you’ll think you’ve gone as far as you will ever get

But you and me walk on
Cause you can’t go back now
And yeah, yeah, go where you want to go
Be what you want to be,
If you ever turn around, you’ll see me.

I can’t really say why everybody wishes they were somewhere else
But in the end, the only steps that matter are the ones you take all by yourself

And you and me walk on
Yeah you and me walk on
Cause you can’t go back now
Walk on, walk on, walk on
You can’t go back now

I can’t go back to when my family was intact and I had my boyfriend by my side. All I can do is appreciate I had it while I did.
And now I’m taking steps all by myself. I don’t think that’s being strong. I think that’s living.
My friend’s mom, who I adore, left a comment on my Facebook status yesterday. She wrote, “We were just talking about you last night… and how you love life!”
I am fortunate that my instinct is usually to love life. That’s not to say I don’t complain, or have dark moments. But I never falter from my belief there is a way out of the hole.
My mother used to tell me, “You always have a choice.” I could chose to wallow in self-pity, which I occasionally do, or I can chose to find my way back to happiness. I think me being “strong” is me walking on, with those who love me behind me, in case I need to turn around.

Boyfriends Are Not Best Friends

September 3, 2009 Leave a comment

“I’ve lost my best friend.”

It’s a classic line, used by both males and females, when going through a break up.

It’s a lie.

My ex wrote in an email that among the hits to his social circle was him breaking up with his “best friend.”

I admit to also having used the line multiple times in my three months of singledom.

But as I spoke to one of my best friends last night, who happens to be going through a eerily similar break up, I realized that boyfriends, at least our ex-boyfriends don’t deserve that title.

Best friends never break your heart, and they rarely break a promise. In fact, best friends are your first call when someone else breaks your heart.

The title of “best friend” is earned through months or years of knowing each other, unlike the title of “boyfriend,” which can be bestowed after only a few weeks.

Best friends “get” you. They know your baggage. They know the right thing to say to you to make you feel better. I have yet to date a guy that gets me laughing when I’m crying as quickly as my best friends do.

Best friends will drop everything when you are in a crisis. They will leave the happy hour. They will reschedule whole weekends to be with you. And they will pick up the phone at 11 p.m. on a week night and, without a word exchanged, know that something is wrong. It’s their best friend-dar.

And finally, best friends don’t leave you. Under only the rarest of circumstances do you break up with your best friends. Best friends, if they are true, can be the thread you use when you stitch your heart back together after the one you loved has left you.

The point you get by now. No boyfriend I’ve had deserves claim on the title of “best friend.” I have a feeling most of my friends would say the same.

The New Normal

August 23, 2009 2 comments

My college best friend told me on the phone I sound like me again. Yesterday my roommate said I seemed much happier lately. And I have caught myself frequently singing in the car (to happy songs!)

I woke up three weeks ago hungover and sad. I had hit the latest “bottom.” As cheesy as it sounds, I sat in bed and gave myself two options–wallow in self-pity or push off the bottom and start making my way back to the surface. I didn’t know how much further down the “down” could go, but I didn’t want to find out.

I went on yelp.com and found out where to take beginner yoga classes in Silver Spring. I joined an online dating service. I started this blog. I began eating healthier. I found joy in being with my girlfriends. And I started going out on Friday nights with co-workers or Bocce teammates who introduced me to their friends.

This morning when I was reading Modern Love, my favorite column in the Sunday New York Times, the exact expression I had been looking for to describe my rise was written in a single line, “This was the new normal.”

The column’s writer was dealing with a break-up and a bout of breast cancer. In my case, I have been dealing with my parents rocky divorce and my own break-up. And though our pain was different, Judy Smith of Seattle and I had come to the same conclusion. We needed to accept our “new normal.”

My parents are leading separate lives. For the first 26 years of my life my mom and dad were together. They aren’t anymore. When I call my mom at the house, I can’t reach my dad. And some years, at Christmas, I’m going to have to pick. But I still have both my parents, and my little brother, and they still love me and want to spend time with me.  The time spent together has just taken on a new form.

I am single. I don’t have a last call of the day or someone to wake up next to. My best friend is out walking the world on his own, and I don’t get to know what he’s doing or if he’s okay. He’s not my best friend anymore. But I get to spend time with old friends and make new ones. And I get to write this blog, which means I get to write, something I didn’t even know I missed.

I will get to have butterflies again some day. And experience the wonder of falling in love.

My “new normal,” compared to so many others’ “normal,” is fairly fantastic. Buried beneath the sadness and pain of the last year, I found “me” again. It’s nice to be back on the surface. It’s easier to “be” up here.

Crash and Breathe

August 16, 2009 6 comments

I fell on my head in yoga class on Friday.

I was attempting my first yoga handstand. I was asked to face a wall on hands and knees. I kicked one leg up and the other one was supposed to go with it. Instead my arms gave out and my head came crashing into the wall first and then the wood floor. I think I sent my yoga teacher into five-seconds worth of cardiac arrest.

The shock of failing so miserably at something I was confident I could do took my breath away. When I was describing the event to my roommate, I discovered it was a very similar feeling to when I have failed in other aspects of  life.

I failed my relationship. I remember clearly the moment when the failure hit. My boyfriend and I were at dinner at a local Mexican restaurant. My chest tightened and I had to remember to breathe. In the days previous I had a feeling the end might be near, but when the failure hit, it felt like being dropped on my head.

I failed again with this blog. I didn’t want my ex-boyfriend to find it. I knew if the situation had been reveresed, I would have been heart broken to see him writing about online dating and places to meet girls. I blocked him from my Twitter feed so he wouldn’t have to see tweets about my blog. I didn’t send an email out to our friends about it, just in case, and I didn’t post the link on Facebook.

So when I found out last night from a mutual friend that my ex stumbled upon Lady & Her Boys Club, I felt like I had tumbled onto the floor all over again.

My ex has always been more emotionally stable than me. And he will have the willpower to not regularly check for updates. He may not even care. But on the chance that he does, I’m sorry I hurt him.

Part of the journey is failure. The wisdom-givers drill that in from a young age. They also say it’s important to learn from failure, and to not let the chance of failing make you hold back.

I couldn’t save my relationship. I couldn’t figure out the right equation to make it work for both of us anymore. So I had to accept defeat.

I couldn’t stop my ex from seeing that I was making a very public attempt at moving on. I hope he accepts my apology, but that’s all I can do.

I couldn’t prevent gravity from winning out when it came to my first attempt at standing on my hands since I was 10. I went back to yoga class today anyways. And next week maybe I’ll give the hand stand another try.

Sometimes the build-up to a crash is long and happens in slow motion, sometimes it happens in the blink of an eye. It always takes my breath away. But it also reminds me I’m still breathing.

Categories: Ex-Boyfriend, yoga

Romance Novels v. Real Life

August 11, 2009 6 comments

I read my share of romance novels in high school and early college. My collection consisted mostly of Nora Roberts paperbacks, which were on the bestsellers lists and could be read in public without shame.

The basic formula Roberts used worked for me. Strong, career-driven female meets pesky, but very attractive man who challenges her basic way of life and makes her realize she doesn’t want to go it alone. There are fights along the way that only ever lead to two things: hot, makeup sex or romantic grand gestures. And there was never once an unhappy ending.

But here’s the problem, fights don’t always end in great sex or grand gestures. Happy endings seem to be fairly infrequent. And at the ripe old age of 21, I figured that out. So I stopped reading romance novels and I never looked back.

Last fall a friend I respected told me I had to read the Twilight series. I was clued out of what the books were about, and so when she told me that she could guarantee I would think vampires were hot after I read them, I thought she had hopped on the crazytown express.

Turns out I think vampires are hot and Twilight is really four romance novels disguised as pre-teen vampire novels. Except the happy ending lasts forever because the vampires live forever. Romance novels on steroids.

Here’s the catch about reading romance novels three years into a rocky relationship, they remind you of something important–it’s okay to want big love.

I won’t find a hot vampire who turns me into a vampire so I can be with him for all of time and have sex all night every night instead of sleep (because according to author Stephanie Meyer vampires don’t sleep).

But I can do better than someone who is never sure and won’t hold my hand.

Post-Twilight I have not returned to reading romance novels. I don’t want to believe I have to wait for the perfect man to sweep me off my feet (literally and figuratively). If I thought that’s how it worked, I wouldn’t be online dating.

Cheesiness aside though, romance novels do deliver an important message. We all deserve big love. We don’t all find it. But it can’t hurt to try.

Update August 13, 11:31 am: Looks like they have turned a classic hottie, Mr. Darcy, into a vampire, or should I say “vampyre.”

Categories: Books, Dating, Ex-Boyfriend, Love