Thursday, September 20, 2007

The Hardest Thing...

Sometimes the hardest thing to do for something you love is walk away from it. Even when, hell, especially when you have to do it for its own good.

To be honest, ladies and gentlement, that's how I'm feeling right now. I don't have much I can write about at the moment, and as much as I love this blog and you guys, I feel like it's better to stop before the quality here tanks. There's only so many times you can link to an interesting article or post a funny picture before it's time for something of substance to keep things interesting. And unfortunately, this is not the right place for my thoughts of substance at the moment.

So LMNtal Attraction is closing down indefinitely. I'm not going to say I'll never write here again, but I don't think that seems very likely from where I'm standing right now. I'll certainly write again, because I love writing. And I'll continue to write privately for myself as I always have. I might start another blog someday, or try a different kind of forum altogether. Hell, there's a chance, however minimal, that I'll even decide to pick it back up again here. No promises, though.

If you'd like to be kept up to date, shoot me an email. There's a handy little link next to the picture on the upper right hand side of your screen. I'll put you on the list and let you know when and if I start writing in a public manner again.

This has been a great experience and an unbelievably fulfilling journey, and I have sincerely loved it. I've made some excellent friends who I know will stick around, blog or no blog. If you're on that list, you know who you are, and I'd like to say that I'm truly glad to know you, and pretty darn pleased that you found this blog at some point.

As for the rest of you, hopefully we'll meet again sometime in the future. Until then, I wish you all the best of luck, and you know how to get a hold of me if you so desire. I like mail.


Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

The Perfect Relationship... the one where you're both loved, honored, cherished, and respected. You try to let them know they're appreciated every single day, whether it's a large gesture like breakfast in bed, a picnic under the stars, or a romantic surprise, or a small one, like a backrub, a "honey you just relax and unwind, I'll take care of dinner/laundry/whatever-it-is-that-needs-to-be-done," or that look, the one that says "you make me the happiest (wo)man on the planet." Those three little words are a wonderful way to show it.

You laugh together every day, and do your best not to go to bed angry. The relationship is based on respect, and is about 90% friendship. That other ten percent? An amazing physical bond. Compatibility in the bedroom (or on the couch, or in the kitchen, or wherever else) that leaves you seeing stars. You know exactly how they like to be touched, they have the same dirt on you, and you both revel in sending chills up each other's spines.

It's not always smooth sailing, but you handle your problems like adults, and work to find solutions that keep everyone in a good place. And once you've done that, the issue is put to bed. You don't rehash past fights, you trust the other person to have done their part to avoid repeating the problems in the future and move on. You put the relationship before the individuals, because what's good for the team is good for the team members. And you really are a team. You know that you'll always have each other's backs in any situation, even if you think they might be in the wrong. You'll tell them that behind closed doors, but everywhere else, you're a demonstration in solidarity and loyalty.

You both work hard to keep things fresh and fun. In fact, you both work hard in any area that needs it. You're not afraid to roll up your sleeves, because you know that by doing so, you're earning the happiness that you've enjoyed with them. You take risks, 'cause the thing is, if you truly love each other and understand how to make relationships work, they're not really risks at all, even if everyone else thinks you're gambling.

You do all of these things for the rewards they bring and the satisfaction of knowing how happy you're making this amazing, amazing person you're so lucky to be with. The rush you get from putting a smile on their face is second only to the butterflies you have anticipating doing it. You do everything you can to be happy together, because you know, to one of my favorite guilty pleasure movies, that "the juice is worth the squeeze." And? It really is.

Friday, September 14, 2007

Universal Difficulty

Sometimes the hardest thing in the world to do is to take your own advice.

I mean, the thing about dating is that most experiences are usually universal. We all enjoy reading and hearing about other people's issues because we can relate to them. When you really look at it, there's an infinite number of different variations on things, but there's really only a handful of core issues in relationships. It's the variations that make them our own.

As someone who has a lot of conversations about such things and gives out advice pretty frequently, I like to think I've seen just about all of the handful. And in most situations, the different variations don't really affect (look C, I got it right!) the proper response to the problem. Just as there's only a few core problems, there's also a few standard answers, again with little variations to tailor the answer to the situation.

And when you're in one of those situations you've seen a million times, it's pretty easy to recognize that hello, this is scenario "F," which calls for response 4. So why is it always so damn hard to actually perform response 4, knowing that it will bring you back to where you want to be if properly executed? It's always so much easier (and feels better) to go with emotional reaction 4, which, while being exactly the wrong reaction to the situation, feels more like you're doing something that will bring about the end result you want (it won't, and your logical mind knows it will most likely earn you the opposite reaction, even though it seems on the surface like a so much more effective way). You know where you are, you know where the other person is, you know where you want to be, and you know full well both the psychological principles in play and the correct course of action to achieve your goals. You also know that the thing you're most tempted to do will drive your goals completely out of reach. So why do we want to do it so badly?

Humans are complicated creatures sometimes.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

A Musical Interlude

So my new car* has XM radio in it, and let me tell you, this could be the greatest gift to mankind of our generation. Seriously. I'm in a constant state of musical bliss. Awesome new music on demand, instead of the overplayed, overhyped, fascist ClearChannel-monopoly sewage that dominates the FM airwaves. Access to music that's actually made by musicians instead of constructed by corporate interests is awesome!

As I've mentioned a time or two before, I'm totally a music person. And ever since XM? Well, I've been going a little crazy. Crazy as in keeping a notebook and a pen within reach at all times in the car, so I can write down the info on songs I dig. Making mix cds for just about every music person I know. Sharing the awesome stuff I'm coming across is really fun, though. I love giving and recieving hot new music tips. I've pretty much been spending my time in my room with iTunes up on the laptop and an ever-shrinking pile of blank cds nearby.

I listen to stuff from lots of different genres, but my favorites usually have an indie sort of sound with pop sensibilities and catchy hooks. Especially when it borders almost on Beatle-esque. And since I've been having so much fun sharing, I'm going to go ahead and do so here, so if that's your style, too, here's the playlist that's been dominating my airwaves lately. All the songs are available on iTunes. I was gonna give you a nice little description of each of them, but it's late and work's busy, so go check'em out yourself when you've got a minute.

1) Oh Shoplifter -- The Stills
2) Try Again -- Hail Social
3) So Free -- Hello Operator
4) Once and Never Again -- The Long Blondes
5) When We Were Young -- Dolores O'Riordan
6) Insomnia -- Novillero
7) Stuck for the Summer -- Two Hours Traffic
8) This is a Song -- The Magic Numbers
9) Dirty Mouth -- Hot Hot Heat
10) You Blanks -- Portastic
11) Turn Off / Turn On -- Mascott
12) Yer Not The Ocean -- The Tragically Hip
13) Of Angels and Angles -- The Decemberists
14) What I'm Trying To Say -- Stars
15) Every Day -- Voxtrot
16) Hey Now Now -- The Cloud Room
17) Another Pilot -- Hey Rosetta!
18) She Moves In Her Own Way -- The Kooks
19) Upside Down Frown -- They Might Be Giants
20) Feint -- No Second Troy
21) Don't Walk Away Eileen -- Sam Roberts


* Did I mention I got a new car on my summer vacation? I did. She's got great curves, killer headlights, and just the right amount of junk in the trunk. In fact, she's my new girlfriend and we're gonna get married and be in love forEVER. Here's a couple pics:

My Baby

Pretty Lights

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Monday, September 10, 2007

Rules and Politics for a Friendly Breakup, a How-To Manual

This is a post I've been writing with my thoughts, words, and actions for several years now. It's the result of trial, error, and most importantly, learning from my own mistakes, which I'm putting down on paper (or more specifically, digitally on teh internets) for my own reference in the future, 'cause it's probably a good thing to have handy if I ever plan to date again. The kind of thing that you hope you'll never need, but understand realistically that you probably will. It's also a good checklist to keep in mind in my current situation. It's something I've learned a lot about, and I think I do pretty well, as evidenced by the number of current friends I have that I used to date. That said, I doubt I'm perfect. Anyway, without further ado...

So you think you want to remain friends with that person you're about to break up with. In most cases, it's certainly possible, and such friendships can be especially rewarding, because the people you date tend to know and understand you better than most others you interact with. The most important thing to think about first is whether you should attempt it at all. Each person you date, and the situation involving them, is completely different from all the others. Some are more conducive to good friendships than others, and sometimes it's just plain a bad idea. Here are some important questions to ask yourself. This would be the "figuring out if this is really the good idea you want it to be" phase.

"Why do I want to be friends with this person?"

If the answer is "I don't want to lose them completely," you should be hearing sirens and seeing flashing red lights. Wrong answer. Stop, do NOT pass go, turn around, and go back the way you came. This will not bring good for either one of you. You could arrive at this answer because they broke up with you and you still love them, because you're afraid of being lonely, or for all kinds of other reasons, but the fact of the matter is that it just isn't possible if this is your motivation. Make a clean break, grieve your loss, rebuild your self esteem, and move on (this sentence will be referred to from here on as "Plan A").

If, on the other hand, your answer in some way reflects that you would both be good for each other as friends, you're in good shape here. It could be that you were friends beforehand and work very well in that capacity, or that the relationship just didn't work because you weren't romantically compatible, but you get along great, have a wonderful connection, and would be positive forces in each other's lives under different circumstances. There are several other reasons that would work, too. If you're doing this for positive reasons instead of selfish ones, you're probably on the right track. Move on to the next question.

"Why did we break up?"

The right answers here involve neither party committing any major wrongs or betrayals. For example, "grew apart" or "different life goals" = good chances. "Someone cheated and/or lied" or "I caught him in bed with my sister" = no way, Jose. If there's been a serious breach of trust or inordinately bad behavior, you don't respect each other enough to be friends, and you won't be able to trust each other, which is VERY important to a positive friendship. See Plan A, and possibly Jerry Springer, depending on how extreme this particular case is.

"Will the benefits be worth all the trouble it takes to get there?"

This is a big one. Breakups suck, and they're pretty damn difficult without the extra pressure that's involved here. The higher your initial expectations of the relationship were, the more serious it got, and the closer you expect the friendship to be, the more emotionally taxing the road to get there is going to be. This stuff is not usually easy. It's kinda like walking through a minefield, actually. You will definitely get hurt at times, blindsided at others, and have to be the mature one at yet other times when your new friend is hurt or blindsided. You'll have to be diplomatic when you don't feel like it, and your first reaction to almost any situation will have to be to step into the other person's shoes and look at your situation through their eyes. Is a friendship with them really going to be worth all that grief? Will it bring enough good into you life to counterbalance the crap and make a profit emotionally? If the answer is "no," "I'm not sure," or "I don't know that I can handle all that," then again, see Plan A. It will be better for both of you. If you're willing to be the best person you can possibly be and you want to see it through to the good parts, it's time to move on to the rules:

1) Clearly state your intentions, and allow them to make their own decision. -- You can't force this. They need to go through the whole process I wrote about above, and it takes two to tango. If you're not both in the right place emotionally, it's not gonna work. You need to be prepared to walk away for the best interests of both of you if they say "I don't think I want that."

2) Be nice. -- This person is a human being, just like all the rest of us, with their own flaws, limitations, and sometimes irrational emotions, and they're dealing with all the same shit you are. Keep that in mind. While you won't always be able to avoid hurting them at all, you should have the grace and tact to avoid it wherever you can and minimize it when you can't avoid it. Nobody wants to hurt the people they care about, so do your best, ok?

3) Grieve alone. -- Everyone needs some time to heal after the end of a relationship, and as long as you're not doing it for an extended period of time, a little wallowing and moping is perfectly healthy. That said, it's important that you do it privately. You'll be very tempted to mope together and commiserate, but that's a very bad idea. It will extend the healing time for both of you and may tempt you to commiserate and reassure each other in ways that aren't healthy for either of you (read: ex-sex), and that would start the whole emotional upheaval all over again. Just don't do it. You should try to have your best face on whenever you see them. We're all human, and it's not always possible, but the more you can be positive together, the easier (and happier) this will be.

4) Live your own life, but keep them in mind. -- Don't make decisions about your life based on how it will affect them, but handle the effects of those decisions as diplomatically as possible. For example, deciding not to date because you don't want to hurt them is not a good thing. Deciding not to date because you're really not ready yet is. Make your decisions for you. That said, how you choose to expose them to the results of your decisions can be a big factor in how much you hurt each other. From the example above, if you've got a date, don't go to their favorite bar, where they might unexpectedly see you out with someone new. Don't hide things from them that may blindside them later, but don't rub your new boys or girls in their face, either. Try not to be unfair.

5) Put yourself in their shoes before you react. -- As I've said before, it's impossible to do this without getting hurt. When that happens, look at the situation from their angle. If they're doing this the same way as you are, it's highly unlikely that they genuinely want to hurt you; they just want to move forward with their life, too, and sometimes the way to handle a situation that causes the least pain to someone else is hard to determine. If you need to discuss your feelings with them, that's usually ok, but you'd better do it from the "here's what I'm feeling" angle instead of the "WTF? That was really messed up" one.

6) Be strong when they're weak. -- Ok, this has come up several times now, but just a reminder -- we're human and no one's perfect. This process is full of emotional turmoil on both sides, and there will be times where either one of you is not so much the grown up you usually are. Your job is to pick up the slack when they're in a weak place, and hopefully they'll do the same for you.

7) Spend fun time together being happy. -- Vastly important. The good should outweigh the bad or else it's not a good situation. Hang out with friends, do fun things, and don't let the negatives swamp the positives. Laugh together. As often as possible. Why be friends with someone you can't have fun with?

8) Be prepared for, but don't expect, failure. -- Even if you're doing everything right, it may not work out. You both need to be extremely mature about all this, and mutually committed to being a positive force in each other's lives. Maybe they won't handle it properly, maybe you won't be able to do it anymore, and maybe it just won't work for some other unforeseen reason. You've got to be able to walk away on good terms if it's not going to happen with your head held high knowing you gave it the best chance you could have.

9) Follow the golden rule. -- This pretty much sums up all of the above. Do unto others as you'd like them to do unto you. This is someone you care about very much, or you wouldn't even be attempting a friendship. Treat them like you care.

And that? That's about all I have to say on the subject. Yes, it was long. Deal.