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Inconsequentials & Trivialities » Relationships

Another story must begin

Today was Catherine’s first day at her new job. She’s been very excited about this place, especially after the difficulties experienced at the last one.

To help get this chapter going on a strong footing, I had flowers delivered to her at work.
Bouquet for Catherine

I am happy to report that she loved them. I, too, am very pleased with the good job the florist did.

Lunchtime Ponderings #1

First in an occasional series of things I think about during lunch.

Today’s lunch involved a walk over to Safeway to buy some vitamins and a sandwich. The sandwich was good enough, but it took just about forever to get through the line to order it. I probably won’t be heading to Safeway for lunch too often.

Anyway, during the stroll I thought about the virtues of friendship and loyalty. I can hardly claim to be a completely virtuous man; I have SO many faults. But I have always felt that I do a very good job in the loyalty department. And not too long ago, I had someone else tell me that this was the trait she thinks of when she thinks of me. I guess I take this quality for granted and am shocked and surprised when it is missing in others. The perplexing question for me is why do I sometimes choose to befriend people who do not seem to value or manifest loyalty. When I am hurt by the actions or inactions of my friends, I tend to accept that I bear the responsibility for how I feel. I did choose these people after all. Oh sure, the first instance may come out of the blue, but as the old Russian saying goes, “Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me.”

So here’s the question, why do keep placing myself in the position to be so disappointed by some people. Is the lack of loyalty an example of being good to each other? I think not.

 

So, last disclaimer(s). I’m not really looking for anyone to answer/respond. I’m sure we are all searching for meaning in this life and this is just me giving voice to something with which I am wrestling. Also, I have many, many areas in which I am deficient. We could talk about any number of those and I wouldn’t be on such a high horse about them. Today, I was thinking about loyalty, an area in which I tend to score highly. Tomorrow may well be about perseverance or discipline or motivation, all areas in which I suck tremendously. I’m not making myself out to be some sort of noble higher being. Finally, I am not, by any means, painting everyone I know with the same brush. I have many, many people in my life who are tremendously loyal. There are just a few who have really fallen short. And I’m sure I fall short in some areas for them.

Drama Around Oregon

I’m a member of several Meetup groups. These groups have been very helpful in my first few months here in that they’ve greatly facilitated the meeting of new people. I’ve gone on numerous hikes, some dinner outings, several coffee meetups, dancing, photography, book clubs… I’ve met some great people. But there has also been drama.

One group I’m in is based out of the college town 30 minutes south of where I live. It was initially set up as a summer outdoor activity group. Let me bore you with some history.

The group came to be in May. The organizer (whom I’ve never met) scheduled a few meetups to discuss what kinds of things the group ought to be doing. It seems like this founder only paid for a month’s worth of service to the Meetup.com website and then elected not to renew at the end of that month. At the beginning of July, one gentleman in the group, let’s call him Ecurb, was thinking about stepping up (and paying the subscription fee) to become the new organizer, but he decided to sleep on it. By the next morning, another member, Abby, had already paid the fee and become the group’s leader/organizer. Ecurb contacted Abby and let her know that he’d been considering the role and offered his help. Abby made Ecurb a co-organizer.

A couple of activities were planned for July and August, and I joined the group for a hike in September. This hike was only the fourth activity for the group since its reboot. Starting in October, the group got much more active, at least in terms of how often meetups were scheduled. Ecurb was doing most of the scheduling, but Abby had organized a bike ride for Oct. 9. I was attending all the meetups and Ecurb asked if I’d be interested in being a co-organizer too. Sure, I said. Make it happen. Abby didn’t make it to the bike ride she’d scheduled, but did alert us ahead of time.

By the end of October, it had been nearly two months since I’d seen or heard from Abby. I did hear that life had gotten pretty busy for her, and that’s fine. What I did want was a bit of discussion amongst the organizers as to what the group would be doing as we moved forward. Anyway, towards the end of October, Abby did schedule two or three more meetups so we knew she was alive.

*Side note #1*
Following a hike at the end of October, 8 of us went to lunch at a local Mexican restaurant. They were apparently short-handed that day and the service reflected that. I am always very chill when in that kind of situation. First of all, I understand that for the most part, they are doing the best they can. Certainly my getting upset won’t help the situation. Second, if I feel that this is what I can typically expect from the place, I just won’t go there again. I realize not everyone reacts the same way. Ecurb in particular was quite vocal about his displeasure with the service. I was really uncomfortable with how he dealt with the situation. Despite the fact that we’d been going out to eat after every hike for the past two months, I decided that I would not be eating out with Ecurb again.

*Side note #2*
Ecurb is quite a bit more eco/hippy than me. Nothing wrong with that, just different. Whereas I react to the fact that the seasons are changing and the weather is likely to be MUCH more rainy for the next several months by looking to plan indoor activities for the group, Ecurb feels that getting drenched is just part of Oregon living and we should embrace it. He even responds to a discussion about what to do during the winter by scheduling a hike and calling it, “The question asks, ‘What should we do?’. I reply, ‘Enjoy planet Earth'” instead of “McDonald Forest Hike”. Not at all descriptive of the hike itself. But whatever, that’s just Ecurb being Ecurb. Not a huge deal.

*Back to our original story*
So a week ago, I get a message from Meetup that Abby has stepped down as organizer and someone else needs to pay for more subscription time or the group will be closed. (Ecurb did end up paying for more time and thus became the organizer.) I emailed Abby to ask what was up and she replied that she’d received a nasty-ish email from Ecurb chastising her for not living up to his idea of leadership. Her response was along the lines of, “If he wants to be in charge, fine, he can be in charge.” A day later she quit the group entirely. While I think that her rage quitting was an overreaction, I blame Ecurb for stirring up all this mess for no reason and for no gain. There was NOTHING that he or I couldn’t do as co-organizers that he can now do as the primary organizer. He’s emailed me a couple of times since this incident to criticize Abby and to explain some of his thoughts on leadership. But I’ll say it again, we’ve gained not a single thing as a result of stirring up this shiz, and not only have we lost Abby as a member, but one of her friends has departed as well. There may be more to come. Gaahhh! So idiotic to have initiated this drama. Well done, Ecurb.

 

*Some closing notes*

  • I haven’t really gone into this much detail about how I feel about the situation with Ecurb. You may ask why not. Well, two reasons. One, much like my attitude about poor customer service, I’m not one to inflict my opinions on others as to how I feel about their behavior. People can do whatever they want, and I can react however I want. My reaction is to distance myself from those people. Second, I haven’t seen Ecurb in person since this all ‘sploded.
  • It’s entirely possible that he will be reading this post. I’ve changed the names to protect the innocent and the guilty, but anyone halfway aware of the people involved will recognize the players with no difficulty.
  • I’m at least 50% tempted to drop this group myself. I don’t need the drama. But before I go that far, I’ll try some distance for a while. Who knows, my lack of 100% participation may motivate Ecurb to send me a nasty email complaining about my leadership.

Kevin Bacon subverted

I am so frequently surprised when I realize that not everyone thinks as I do. You’d think I’d be used to it by now, but nope, it’s always a shock.

Case in point: It seems the most natural thing in the world to me to share my friends with one another. I mean that if I know two people that are cool, I want them to know each other. I make the introduction and I try to facilitate the creation of a friendship that can stand on it’s own. Not everyone thinks this way. Actually, I’m not sure if I know anyone else who thinks this way.

Three examples.

Mary. Mary has been my friend for many years. We’ve had church and work in common, among other things. Of course, Mary has her own life, and I have mine. But I’ve thought of her as one of my closest friends. She got married last October to a man that she’d been dating for a year and a half or two. The wedding was only the third time I’d been in the same room as her husband. Even now, I have not been in the same place as him since the wedding. (I had the opportunity at the baptism of their child, but I didn’t go.) For a long time, I had no idea how serious they were because the life she led which involved him was completely separate and distinct from the friendship she had with me.

Letitia. We’re not friends anymore, but when we were together, she had a virtual parade of friends coming through town and staying at our place. Many of them very clearly wanted nothing to do with me. I on the other hand shared all my friends with her. I often felt that many of her friends were actually rather disrespectful of me and the fact that they were guests in my home. Their attitude seemed to be, “I’m Letitia’s guest so I can do whatever I feel she’d be ok with.” They occupied my space, sometimes my bedroom. Sometimes I was asked to go significantly out of my way to pick them up at this or that airport. One one standout occasion, one of them was really quite free with her derision about my faith. I don’t believe any of my friends ever behaved so ungraciously. Anyway, as I mentioned before, none of her friends (the ones I did like) had any interest in continuing to know me after she and I were over. Perhaps they were just pretending before that.

Lance. There is such a long list of my friends that I have introduced to Lance. And yet, not once has he ever made any effort to have me meet any of his friends. At one point, I asked about meeting one of them in particular. He stated very plainly that he liked to keep his world separate.

So what’s my point? I don’t know anymore. I think I had one in mind when this topic occurred to me last night, but I can’t remember what that may have been right now. I’ll say that often I would like to develop a friendship with the friend of my friend, but my friends always seem to see themselves as gatekeepers regulating contact with their friends. Maybe I really am that unpleasant?

I took one big step and I looked away

I frequently have difficulty with depth or introspection/reflection. I’m not sure why, but I think it’s related to a general avoidance mentality. I don’t like conflict or awkwardness, and I tend to delay dealing with things. I’m not thrilled that this is the case in my life. I should deal with this and make a change, but I’m avoiding it. 🙂

Anyway, I have an ex-girlfriend that is still in my life. It sucks. The relationship I had with her was way beyond what I was ready for, was looking for. She was the driver and I was entirely caught up in circumstances over which I had no control. Yeah, I was out of control. Ultimately, the only way I could regain some semblance of control over my life was to break up with her. I didn’t want to, but there was no space for me to process things. And she was so inflexible when it came to meeting me halfway on anything. I could go on and on and on about the difficulties I had (and still have) with that relationship. I may and will probably do so as I continue to blog. But today I will say that I still feel really broken as a result of being with her. I question if I’ll ever be right for a relationship.

A friend of mine has a daughter that is getting baptized this weekend. I had been planning on going until I realized that my ex-girlfriend would be there too. I told my friend that I wouldn’t be attending and that it was because I didn’t want to be in the same place as my ex. But really, it’s not about being at the same event. I still work in the same office as my ex, so being around her isn’t really the issue. The real problem I have is that all of the friends that she had prior to knowing me want nothing to do with me now that we’re not together, whereas my friends have remained friends with her. Maybe I really was the bad guy and I deserve being shunned. Maybe she has chosen friends that are more loyal than the ones I have chosen. Maybe she’s just more likeable than me. Whatever the reason, I admit to you, faithful readers, that it hurts sometimes. So I won’t be attending the baptism because I don’t want to be reminded of that pain.

A run for the roses

Aaaannnnnnddddd the scale once again is hovering at 245. Whatever.

I was sort of depressed today. Mostly over financial matters. But that’s always a gateway worry. It segues into relationships, life status, health (my dad’s, not so much mine), and whatever else can worm its way in. C’est la vie. I really do wonder how I’m going to make ends meet for the next few months.

The 5K is Saturday so there’s not much training time left. I wanted to see if I could do the 3.1 miles in 28 minutes this evening, but I screwed up. With about 12 minutes left on my time, I accidentally jumped back to the warm-up phase. I moved it back to the run phase, but my time was lost. So I started over. That did free me to just keep going past the predetermined 28 minutes though. All in all, I ran just over 3.5 miles in about 35 minutes. Yippy! So I’ll do a light run tomorrow night and rest on Friday. I should be all set to go come Saturday morning. Then on to my 10K training. Starbuck, check your rear-view. I’m coming!

Friendships do sometimes end

A couple of years ago, a woman named Alyssa came to work at MJC in the Financial Aid Department. Alyssa and I became good friends. Our friendship grew at first through numerous daily phone calls and email messages; later through much time spent together. It was a platonic relationship but a uniquely special one. Alyssa had a boyfriend, John whom I got to know, and he and I got along well. I spent many hours at Alyssa’s house. I got to know her family and in particular her sister, Kaleena. I would flirt outrageously with Kaleena but just in fun. Neither of us had any interest in the other. Weekly dinners, time spent with each other running errands, shared work environments all contributed to my friendship with Alyssa.

Although we had this great friendship, one should not be misled into thinking that there were no points on which we disagreed. There are two points that are germane to this story. Early on in our friendship, Alyssa told me that she did not believe that friendships should be work. We argued gently about this a time or two but there it was. The second thing that bears on this story is that I have a pattern or tendency to not do a very good job with long distance friendships. I have had several good friends that have moved away at the height of our friendship. Though there was a bit of effort in the beginning to maintain the friendship, it has always faded as our lives go on, now on separate tracks. I do not like this reality but I accept it. Alyssa, Kaleena, and many other people claim to be able to pick right up where they left off when they have the opportunity to see their old/distant friends. I do not possess this ability. I have a finite capacity for relationships.

So, a year ago, Alyssa decides to quit her job at MJC and move to the Bay Area to live with John. This was a very sad thing for me to have to accept. At the same time, Kaleena had announced that she was moving to Los Angeles to live with her boyfriend. To me, this effectively signaled the end of our friendships, at least the active friendships. Alyssa was my connection to her sister and the rest of her family, and with her gone, I no longer had a connection. Kaleena was also moving away and truth be told, she had never been much for reciprocating the effort that I put in to be her friend.

So neither Alyssa, nor Kaleena, nor I have really put any effort into communicating with each other since then. I’ve emailed Alyssa a couple of times and received replies but they are essentially meaningless. Kaleena ended up not moving out of town and as it turns out, it wasn’t at all important to tell me that. I always felt with her like I was the one putting in all the effort. I’d actually decided to stop to see what would happen and very predictably, I never heard from her. A couple of times, Kaleena would include me in the distribution list for a mass email she was sending out. Not exactly the personal touch but it was something. Upon receiving one of these emails from her, I would immediately respond with an offer to get together. For whatever reason, we never did. Until this last week.

She sent out one of her mass emails and I responded with an inquiry about when we might get together. After a couple of false starts, we ended up meeting at the Queen Bean on Sunday evening. The first minute or two of conversation was awkward. So much for her alleged ability to pick up right where things left off. Then she launches into a “why haven’t I or Alyssa heard from you?” She accuses me of not putting in any effort.

Let me tell you, I was pissed. The fracking phone rings both ways! My entire history with Kaleena was a one-sided effort on my part to be her friend. The only time she’d ever call me was when she needed something. Here’s an example: on Sunday she asked if I would be willing to go with her to a club here in town that caters toward an older crowd. Was she asking because she wanted to do something with me? No, no. She wants to go there to pick up on older guys and didn’t want to go alone. She would be very happy to ditch me if some sugar daddy happened along.

Anyway, as I read over this whole thing, it just looks stupid. Maybe it is stupid to have put this much thought/time into it, but it’s how I have felt and I won’t apologize for it. The reason I wrote this out is that I had posted somewhere that I had a good weekend until I saw Kaleena and one of my friends asked me about it. It would have been too hard to explain via text messages so I told him I’d post an entry to my blog about it.

Hope you enjoyed the story. 🙂

Relationships as a zero-sum game

I was discussing this with a new friend yesterday and she agreed that it was blog-worthy.

I have a particular way of conceptualizing my capacity for relationships. I see it as a zero-sum game. I have a finite amount of attention, energy, and interest in pursuing, improving, and maintaining relationships. If one person’s allocation of my time is to increase, that portion must come from somewhere. And if a new person is to enter my life, other relationships must be downsized in order to make room.

Here’s an illustration.

This graph shows how much of my attention is spent on the various members of the Brady family.

The numbers add up to 100%. Now, when I am forced to add another person to this pie, the numbers have to shift.


In discussing this imagery with friends, I have had some respond by saying that they don’t need to reduce what they have in order to add a new person to the mix. Poppycock, I say. I do think that people have differing capacities for relationships. 100% to one person is a different quantity than 100% to another.

Well, enough about that. Thanks, Stacy.

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