Dear Boy I Used to Love,

I think you’re an idiot. And I think you gave up too soon.

You told me once you wanted to work hard. I took that to mean you wanted to work hard no matter what it cost you, because you were determined to make something out of the bullshit life handed you. I saw that as a perseverance to be respected, a drive that would prove to the world how special you were, and how extraordinary.

Well, I helped get you a job, and you fucking blew it. I put in a good word for you and you decided that it wasn’t for you. Instead of sticking it out for the summer, for a measly twelve (or less?) weeks, you quit. You left your colleagues with a reminder of the kind of dumb shit they hate to work with– someone with a piss-poor, know-it-all attitude and a preconceived notion that life owes you.

Allow me to clue you in: life doesn’t owe you a goddamn thing. And you can look down your nose at me in jaunty confidence and treat me to a patented, affronted reverse-snobbery; you can ask me how the hell I would know, haven’t I been handed everything I could ever want?

I’ll tell you something, and it’s up to you whether you want to pay attention. The only reason I grew up with a childhood so different from your own, is because my mother worked as hard as she possibly could at a job she was mentally overqualified for, for nearly thirty years. My mother’s work ethic and drive to give my sister and I a childhood so far removed from her own, are the sole reasons I didn’t grow up with your childhood.

Where do you think she got her drive? Possibly her own determined mother who worked day and night to be the only provider for her three children. Perhaps seeing her father and uncle kill themselves with the bottle had something to do with it. Maybe it was the fact that she realized, almost too late, that she might not fulfill her own potential as a human being. She didn’t go to college for long. She realized that she needed money and she loved my father so they began a life together– but they earned everything they now own from the ground up. Her life wasn’t fucking peaches, either, but she didn’t whine or complain that the work was too hard or that she deserved better than what was handed to her. She didn’t blame others for her mistakes.

She passed those traits on to me. I don’t blame you for hating me. I don’t blame you for giving up on our friendship without so much as a struggle, even though I was hurting and I needed you. Even though it looked like I hated you, I was absolutely miserable without you and you didn’t even bother to look away from your empty-headed, real-college friends to notice. By the time you figured it out, it was too late and my heart had broken and spilled out and healed over. And you didn’t so much as turn your head, except to complain to other people that I was “mean.”

I’d thought we’d worked toward becoming friends again, but you don’t give a shit. You don’t have the balls to tell me so, even now, and truthfully I don’t care enough to make it clear to you. Then again, maybe I’m hoping in some deep recess of my heart that you’ll grow up and we can share some (not all) of the bond we once shared. I do think that once (if) you pull your head out of your ass and realize you’re going to be twenty, that you might come to remember that I apologized. I apologized, and after that I didn’t know how to behave because how could things go back to normal? You seemed to have thought they could in a heartbeat. But I couldn’t do that. I didn’t know how.

Then you were angry and the cycle of misunderstanding started again. I was mad too, don’t get me wrong. I was furious. Even now, you seem not to give a shit that you’ve disappointed many of those who care about you, including my family and, well, me. Like it or not, I do still want the best for you, even if I don’t really like you as a person anymore. And if that didn’t make any sense to you, read it again.

I know now that you think I’m some pretentious diva who lords her expensive school and fancy ideas over everyone (don’t worry that I’m paying for the expensive school out of my own pocket and that I work constantly). Because I’m quiet, I’m stuck up, and I don’t tend to drink like a sloppy whore so I’m not any fun. I don’t dress to cover only my tits and ass so obviously I don’t fit in with the girls you prefer now, anyway. Yes, I’m a bitch, and I’ll stay that way in your mind until (if) you decide to grow up and maybe then you’ll realize: I would have given you everything.

But it’s okay. You’ll continue to earn mediocre grades and a respectable beer gut at some state school where it doesn’t matter how well you actually do, because unless you have something special that sets you apart, you’re going to settle for a mediocre job somewhere that you loathe. You’ll take your enjoyment on the weekends with your slutty girl friends who only want in your pants because they believe you’re the best they’ll ever get. Not because they want what’s best for you as a person or as a lover, not because they give a shit about your dreams or your hopes or your fears.

It’s okay.

It’s even more okay because I’m thinking about this after seeing your pictures on facebook… Don’t you realize potential future employers see those things? How could you be so stupid? I know for a fact some of your past employers have gone back and looked to see what kind of a dumb ass they were mistaken enough to hire, so they won’t do it again. I hope you don’t have really high goals for future jobs. Then again, if you don’t like the work, you can just quit, right? That sort of lack of discipline is acceptable, isn’t it?

I think you talk big and you never follow through. I think you had all of these big plans and loved to tell people about them, and then you realized it would take blood, sweat and tears (God forbid you don’t have “fun” all the time) in order to achieve those goals. So you quit. You gave up too soon on those dreams, and on working hard. And on me.

But, Dear Boy I Used to Love,

I’ve long since given up on you.

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Reflections on stars and the moon

I’ll preface this by saying, I don’t really know why I’ve thought about these things lately. If I had to hazard a guess, I’d probably figure that it’s part of some larger circle that needs to return and resolve. But anyway.

At some point within the past three years, I’ve realized that the boy I gave most of my innocence to wasn’t the person I thought he was. He never pretended to be someone else: no, he didn’t pretend. But I did. I saw the hurt and the sadness in him and I wanted to fix it. I saw the scars she had inflicted and the wounds he didn’t want to admit his parents had left him with. I saw a sharp mind and an experienced, worldly soul and I wanted to help him grow. I wanted him to be the man I’d always read about: the one who swoops in to sweep the strong, independent, outspoken and vibrant woman off of her feet.

Well, here I am, nearly four years older and a hell of a lot stronger. And more independent, and hopefully more vibrant; although I can’t comment for sure on the outspoken because I feel like I do an awful lot of listening these days. But I’m smarter, and I suppose that lately it’s struck me just how much stronger.

He was eighteen then; I was fifteen. I was precocious, sure, with quite a bit of educated reading under my belt and a pressure to be better, to learn about the world.
He had been cheated on and, I guess, manipulated. His parents were divorced and I’m sure he’d seen a little too much of the world.

Those aren’t excuses, for him or for me. I guess I could fall back on my old quantification: I never said I loved him; I never gave him everything; I never expected too much, especially toward the end.

But that’s not entirely right. I never said I loved him but I allowed him to manipulate me, to make me think I was less than I am. I allowed him to tell me things about myself that weren’t true. I let him steer me away from my family and my friends simply because he wasn’t that close to his and I wanted to be with him. I gave him my trust. I gave him my loyalty. I gave him my time, my being, little parts of my heart that I’m proud to say I reclaimed and then some.

Long story short, I think it’s really interesting to see how capable I really am of looking back on the only “real” relationship I’ve ever had to see the issues I’d viewed as such complexities then become clear as day, now.

Now I sit here in my room in the dorm building of a school that is leagues and leagues above and beyond what I’d even dreamed of attending four years ago. I’m going to be in debt for the rest of my life, but I charged headfirst into that with the full intention of making the most of myself in the time I’ve been given here. I’m doing something I love, and am going to continue to. I am capable of doing almost anything.

And I all I can think of right now is how much has changed, how much I’ve learned in a few short years. How much I’ve grown. How much my life could have been like the song “Stars and the Moon” from “Songs for a New World.”

And it never changed
And it never grew
And I never dreamed
And I woke one day
And I looked around
And I thought, “My God…
I’ll never have the moon.”

But I’m not. That’s not me, but it could have been. But I don’t think I need someone who can give me the moon, as romantic as that might seem. I’ve grown up surrounded by strong women who take the moon for themselves, and I intend to be one of them. I’ll have the stars and the moon for myself.

Gotta have standards. Right?

I was planning on blogging about boys and drinking and all that good stuff, but instead of just going off on an unrelated tangent, I should explain a few things first.

I’ve always been a closet romantic. Ever since I was old enough to read the love stories. It’s pretty pathetic, if you ask me, and there’s a certain layer of vulnerability there that I’m really only comfortable sharing where no one can see me blushing a little as I talk about it. I am just a sap for romance, and the idea that the chemical combination that produces a feeling of love somehow exists boggles me and fascinates me simultaneously.

But in the same breath, I realize that for me, and the lifestyle I’ve chosen, the attitudes I’ve adopted, this is an unlikely scenario. I am not a slut and adamantly refuse to put myself in a situation where I will be taken advantage of, so it seems unlikely that I will ever find myself a “right” dude. Let’s be honest here: all boys want is to get in pants. Don’t even lie, if you are a gentleman. Just don’t even open your mouth to protest that one. You know, and I know (hate to break it to you, but the WORLD knows) that the male species has serious issues controlling the hormones that derail the brain and send thoughts elsewhere in the anatomy. To the real area that makes decisions.

For a girl, it’s not just about the sex. Sure, that plays a part, or should. But later. I’m going to be honest and admit that physical attraction is just as critical to the lady in a heterosexual relationship. And sometimes a girl just wants to score, and screw the sweet-talking for weeks or months or years beforehand.

But that’s just not how I’m truly wired. I’ve had one “serious” relationship: three years ago. Since then, it’s been on-and-off, very brief flings– if that’s even what one would call them. They weren’t serious enough, in any regard, to be called friends with benefits, or any of that other jazz. But there was No Romance. In any of them. Sweetness, sure. Sometimes. Courtesy? Mostly. I guess.

But I can’t help but sigh over the idea of a gent who would understand me, or make an effort. I don’t need (or want?) some uomo perfetto. But a guy who would make the time to see me, who wouldn’t treat me like a booty call, wouldn’t expect me to follow his every command, and would not take off assuming I only want him for his body? That would be a nice change. He would be even more of a winner if he liked classical music. Or maybe if he didn’t call it shit. I’ve had one of Those Boys before, who somehow didn’t understand that opera was my major? Or, you know, my future career? Yeah. That didn’t last long.

See, I used to have standards. Then, after my first (cough, only) boyfriend, I fell under the impression that boys would never like me. I felt as though this kid I’d been dating had stained me somehow, like he left an undeniable mark that everyone could see. My standards went out the window and I hoped for anything I could get.

Now I’m a little older. Three years older, actually. And I have more perspective, and less clouded judgment. Or so I would hope. I’m in a new place with new people and I feel like, in this new life, I should reset my standards.

I do want to have that chemical cocktail of amazingness, after all. I just don’t know if it’s attainable. See below: My List of Standards, narrated as if I were speaking to a boy.

01. Please be a hockey fan. Or, if you’re not, pretend you like it. If you diss my favorite sport, I’ll just get cranky. (If you’re a Leafs/Sens/Flyers fan, however, prepare for some flirty banter. Sabres fans are highly approved of, as well. As long as you know what the hell’s going on… because I do. For example, Philly beat the Sabres in preseason Friday night 3-1, and they play again this Sunday. First regular season game’s the 8th. Know this crap and I’m yours. Possibly.)

02. Don’t be scared of me. Apparently I’m scary. Please be brave. I’m really not intimidating, I just have a loud laugh, bright hair, and a tendency to sing whenever and wherever. But it’s not in an I’m-so-great way, it’s in an I-freakin’-love-singing way. Please don’t be a wimp. That’s not hot.

03. Be smart. I don’t mean you need a degree (right now) or anything. I’m not judgmental if you don’t like school/books/education. But in my world, if you’re articulate, literate, and considerate you’re pretty well off. It’d just be a nice plus if you liked learning.

04. Don’t insist on getting in my pants right off the bat. Or right away. Or at all. I’m so over horny boys trying to “get” me. No thanks. Let me hold the reins there. If I like you enough we may get there. Eventually… maybe. Okay, when and if I damn well feel like it.

05. Don’t presume to tell me what to do. Understand that we’re each individuals. Not each others’ parents. I won’t give you instruction as long as you don’t try controlling me. Been there, and I’ll pass.

06. Romanticism is not outdated. That is all for number six.

07. And finally, please don’t call opera “shit.” Note: if you’re a musician you get bonus points. (If you sing to me, I’ll probably swoon. If you actually sing, like for real? Definitely swoon.)

That’s really all there is to it. For me, anyway. The hockey and music ones are the biggest, I think. If we can talk sports and appreciate Rachmaninov together, I’m done for.

And I don’t quite know why I’m thinking about this. I did go to Alex’s this evening and she had her gentleman friend there to spend time with some of us Eastman folks. It just makes me think, if she can handle a boy, why can’t I?

Too bad I can’t find any straight ones here. Ivana did a nice explanation tonight: she told us she had a pie chart. “Fifty percent at Eastman are gay or confused. Forty-five percent are straight but taken. Three percent are straight but weird.”

And that leaves the rare straight semi-normal two percent to ponder.