What you want and what I want

…is to be seen.

shadowscapes kings 1


I drew the King of Wands today as my daily card. Fitting, really, because I’d just been talking to my mother about husbands and so such and I like the KoW best out of all the kings.

Golden. Charismatic. Warm. Fearless and all encompassing. Creative, with a flair for life.

Thene prefers the King of Cups and said that she knew one. “A kid who knew what he was doing.”

I consider him. Wise. Patient. A listener. Calm arbiter of justice and mercy. Quiet.

Her husband, M, has many of those qualities, in fact.

We both don’t like the King of Pentacles as much. I wonder how much of that is our experience with a man as the sole source of bounty? Thene comments, “I guess I am just not that interested in what the King of Pentacles is selling. Personally.”

I think him both too inflexible and sweet, too single-minded.

I like the King of Swords fine. “Be wise, be just, do what needs must and crush some skulls if necessary”, but then again, I’ve always identified with the Queen of Swords myself.

Even as I would prefer to be the Queen of Wands.

I like the QoS, but I fear that she can just as easily be an obstacle to happiness as for. Thene: “I have never got the impression that the queen of swords perceives happiness as a reasonable or even attainable goal. she is Not About That.”

I don’t know as I agree. I just think that the QoS’s idea of happiness might be a bit cold for most. Perfect justice. Perfect logic. Perfect black and white. Perfect knowledge.

I think that’s why I like the KoW, myself. The QoS needs the KoW to draw her into the sunshine and have fun. The KoC might just sink into mutual angst-fury with the QoS if they’re not careful.




Mommy issues – or, who doesn’t have ‘em?

I’m not going to kill myself, because if I did, that would mean hate and apathy win and I’ve never been a gracious loser.

I nearly had a complete mental breakdown a couple of years back when I realized just how much trauma I’d been carrying around without realizing.

Somehow, I didn’t realize it until something  I said to the therapist triggered in my own ears and I realized I was sounding completely insane.

“It was a punishment. I deserved it.”

But I didn’t.

I didn’t deserve to be punished for who I was. I didn’t deserve to be whipped with a bamboo cane until I had to go to school with knee high socks in the tropical summer heat because I had bruises all over my legs. I didn’t deserve to be told that the reason I was being ripped away from the only world I knew was because I was disobedient. I didn’t deserve to be told over and over that I wasn’t the ideal child, that I should remake myself so I was more like my sweeter, demure, obedient cousin. I didn’t deserve to be dragged out of the car and left behind on a deserted road in the middle of nowhere. I didn’t deserve to have my mother feign death on me. I didn’t deserve to have my grandmother tell me that she’d never forgive me if I made my mother sick from anger and die (and that I was doing it just by existing as me). I didn’t deserve to be slapped in the face as a two year old just for fretting. I didn’t deserve to be told that the reason I’d been taken out of the good school and put in a terrible one for rejects was because I didn’t have good enough grades when the truth was that we couldn’t afford it anymore. I didn’t deserve to be told that if I got less than a B in any course in college I would get yanked out and brought back to China when I explicitly said that I’d throw myself off a building if I had to stay in China for college. I didn’t deserve to be told not to smile because it made my cheeks puff up more and therefore looked fatter. I didn’t deserve to be told not to laugh because I didn’t laugh in a suitable fashion.

I didn’t deserve lots of things, but I’ve been taught over and over that I did. That I do deserve it when people disappoint and hurt me. That being hurt means I was being entitled, that nothing is guaranteed and nothing on this earth is truly yours.

Be grateful that you aren’t suffering more. Be grateful that we’re just negligent and slightly emotionally abusive rather than physically abusive drunks who try to sell your virginity. Be grateful for the things you do have and don’t mention what you don’t.

Lately the refrain is that I should just get over things. Get over my aversion to people. Get over my inability to be flexible. Get over my anxiety. Get over the hyper-sensitivity that makes me ill when people are upset around me. Get over my sadness. Get over all of the broken things in my life.

Thene said something, and I realized that the reason I’m like a radar endlessly trying to pick up unhappy vibes is because I had no security as a child.

My mother was capricious in how she doled out punishments. I likened her to a volcano when I was eight, citing the fact that she would just blow up out of nowhere and something that was perfectly all right two days ago would suddenly be the reason for an all out screaming scold. She would come home, vibing strangely, and then deliberately go and open my room door so she could have a good excuse to scream at me. Other days, she’d just put up with my room and its messiness.

My father is shit at communicating. He simply doesn’t convey disapproval or upset. He just gets quieter and quieter and then does things like suddenly storming into your room and smashing the CD player that he bought for you into pieces because the fact that your room is a perpetual mess must mean that you don’t care about your things and he’s therefore justified in breaking them right in front of you. This when you always thought that your mom was the crazy one about tidiness.

So essentially they broke me. And now they complain that I’m broken, that I can’t help but be on edge, that I can’t help but always be looking for danger, always knowing that I’m not enough, always aware that I could be sacrificed upon the altar of their lives without a second thought.

So maybe I don’t have avoidant personality disorder. Yes, Thene and I totally had a looong “discussion” about this. Maybe I don’t have it, but if I did… If I did, it would likely be because of my parents.

Hypersensitivity to rejection/criticism
Self-imposed social isolation
Extreme shyness or anxiety in social situations, though the person feels a strong desire for close relationships
Avoids physical contact because it has been associated with an unpleasant or painful stimulus
Feelings of inadequacy
Severe low self-esteem 
Mistrust of others
Emotional distancing related to intimacy
Highly self-conscious
Self-critical about their problems relating to others
Problems in occupational functioning
Lonely self-perception, although others may find the relationship with them meaningful
Feeling inferior to others
In some extreme cases, agoraphobia
Uses fantasy as a form of escapism to interrupt painful thoughts

Maybe I don’t have a disorder, but I do have issues. And how.

I’m not sure what to do with this.

I’m living with my parents right now because I have no other choice. Odd how being nearly bedridden half the time can fuck with your options. I don’t know how to insulate myself when being inattentive might mean that I could draw their ire on me. I don’t know how to shield when being less than completely compliant/agreeable might mean another huge eruption.

And I’ve lost almost all the buffers I’ve ever had. I can’t eat my feelings because I need to lose weight. Drowning myself in reading is harder with no income. I can’t escape home because this is where I live now. I can’t hide behind my friends because the only person I really trust is half a globe away and I’ve misplaced everyone else along the way.

I don’t know what to do. I can only remind myself that this is my life and I can’t let anyone other than myself win.

In further news of life’s not fair

Also known as “no one ever asks me what I want”.

I was fourteen, maybe fifteen.

Sophia was my best friend. She was pretty, popular, slender (but with tits), and she liked me. She was also just this side of worldly and cynical without being mean about it. At least not ever overtly that I can remember. She treated me a bit like a younger sister, perhaps a bit like a pet, and that was all okay because I adored her. Not the least because I’d never gotten along with other girls. I didn’t really understand them and they didn’t like me.

I was heartbroken when I was pulled out of Shanghai American School, in part because of her. She was my only friend and I’d lost her to time and space and money and all those realities.

I had another best friend, Phil, but he was a guy and there were some things that he didn’t get. Sorry, Phil. But I wasn’t about to talk to you about period pains and accidentally getting blood on my white pants or being heckled because the maxi pad I was using was visible through the too-tight/too-white/too-something pants.

So when SAS had a fair, I pleaded with my mom to let me go. The school was about an hour’s drive away from my home and I’d have to take a taxi there and I had to plead with my mom to pick me up after, but it was completely worth it to see my friends again.

When I arrived, Sophia wasn’t there yet, but Phil was. We hung out, rough-housed, talked smack, got physically violent — and ended up with me chasing him around trying to dump ice water on him.

Cue Sophia’s arrival. And she was livid. Absolutely livid. She was upset with Phil and she was furious at me for “flirting”.

The day ended poorly, with Sophia running off in anger the moment she arrived and her boyfriend Phil chasing after her to make things right and my standing alone, completely bewildered at what had just happened and sick to my stomach.

I never wanted Phil. I had never even thought of wanting Phil. I would never have come between Sophia and Phil for the world.

But it didn’t matter what I wanted. I lost two friendships that day, but I never factored into any of it.

Just as it doesn’t matter now what I want.

If someone had asked me; if someone had cared; I would have told them this:

  • I’m not a home-wrecker. I don’t wreck homes. It’s not in my nature and it’s not what I do.
  • I’m not interested. I’m also not interested in a relationship right now completely asides from not being interested in this friend that way. I need friends way more than I need another romantic experience. The latter which I need like I need a knife to the gut.
  • I don’t go for married men.
  • I don’t go for men who are nearly twenty years older than I am. I don’t even read May-December romances and I read freaking alien sex.
  • I don’t go for men who are literally halfway across the globe from me. Believe me, if I’m putting forth everything necessary to sustain a relationship, I better be getting real, physical cock out of the deal.
  • I’m almost weirdly affectionate to people I like. It doesn’t mean I want to fuck the person in question.
  • I have no TMI filter. This means that it often seems like I’m trying to create emotional intimacy when I’m not. Not in the romantic fashion anyway.

But it doesn’t matter.

And this is why I actually really loathe reading best-friends-to-lovers books and why I’ll hate them even more now. It doesn’t matter if there is or isn’t the possibility of sexy love there – the chances of a male-female friendship surviving a marriage is almost nil. So why not just go for it? It doesn’t make any sense to delay. Might as well go out with an explosion rather than wondering what if.

And no. That was not an admission of interest. That was a “well, you’re probably going to be fucked anyway if you’re het and you have a friend of the opposite gender so you might as well enjoy being fucked before you’re reamed up the ass”.

Cue Fifty Shades of Roza, she of “you can’t talk to this chick and ask her how her day is going and how she’s feeling because that’s emotional intimacy that should be reserved only for the girlfriend” beliefs.

And cue another blog post about friendships, love, what you would or wouldn’t do for those you love and how unfair and unsustainable our current paradigm of marriage is, but that’s all for another day.

Farewell, Wolfe, it was nice knowing you and I wish you nothing but the best. You’re a good man, and don’t let anyone tell you different.

Life’s not fair, yeah, I know and thanks for the reminder

I just got a phone call from my third aunt – Aunt Lili is in intensive care at the moment and they don’t think she’s going to make it. According to them, she’s barely hanging on with kidney and liver failures in additional to other things that happen when your liver and kidney give up on you and she’s only alive because of extensive tubing and machines.

Everything feels very far away at the moment – I saw her earlier this month and we (and ten other people) went out to a fancy dinner together. She looked beautiful and healthy and vibrant and now, less than a month later, I’m hearing that might have been the last chance I had to talk to her.

Regrets. I know that I’ve said that I try not to do anything to cause regret, whether through action or inaction, but now I’m realizing just what it truly means to always treat every moment as the last you could have with someone and I regret. I don’t so much regret that I didn’t talk to her more, but I am sorry, so sorry that I didn’t tell her when I saw her last how much I appreciated how good she was to me.

Aunt Lili isn’t actually related to me by blood. In fact, her beginnings aren’t the most auspicious if one really gets down to it. She worked for and with my grandfather, but I’m pretty sure their relationship was never purely professional. Both because they shared an apartment at one point and because my grandfather told me to call her “yi-ma”.

To put things into perspective, we call grandmothers “a-ma” and back in the day, you called concubines “xeh-yi”. So that “yi-ma” was some sort of portmanteau of “yi” as in both aunt and inferring concubine status and “ma” to infer that she was equal in status to my grandmother.

But I didn’t know any of that then. All I knew was that my yi-ma was a beautiful, patient, and lovely woman who always had patience to listen to me talk and who seemed to truly love me for who I was. For more perspective, my own mother parked me in front of a tape recorder at least once and told me to talk to it because she needed me out of her hair. I was a very, very talkative little girl. There’s at least four hours of tapes that survived the ten moves between then and eighteen. Implying there probably was a lot more at some point.

I didn’t see her much after that couple of years when I was young. In part because my family was still living predominantly in the US and I’m guessing in part because her position in my grandfather’s life changed. By the time we moved to Taiwan when I was about 8 or 9, she and my grandfather no longer lived in Taiwan and the last time I saw her was some years before that.

I only met her again this summer. She took a string of garnets from her wrist and pressed them on me. It says something of how she treated me as a child that my mother didn’t object when she saw them on me. Usually it’s not done to accept random gifts from people, but my mother only sighed slightly and said, “she was always very fond of you”.

The prognosis isn’t good. My third aunt and my cousin are flying to China tomorrow to see her and my aunt told me that it would probably be the last.

If that’s true, then she’s going to be the third death in my life where I question why someone so wonderful has to be taken away from us when people like my grandfather are still kicking around ruining people’s lives.

The first was my ex’s grandfather. I met him only once, but I fell in love a bit with him when he patted me on the cheek and said in gentle tones of rueful sympathy, “you’re a fragile hothouse flower, aren’t you?”.  I have no recollection of the conversation before and after, but I do remember that moment.

I would have wanted to slap anyone else who said such a thing, but he said it in such an inimitable way that I somehow felt cherished and invited to join in an in-joke rather than derided.

I am a hothouse flower. It’s unfortunate, but true, and he’s perhaps the only person in my life, including myself, who’s ever said that in such a way that I felt that he truly felt sympathetic without judgement.

When he died, I told my ex that I was sorry that mine didn’t die instead of his. For those of you gasping in horror, I refuse to burn in hell for that statement. My grandfather is a miserable old man who delights in delusions that he’s some sort of emperor and like all terrible emperors before him, his hobby is tearing lives and families apart. Especially his own family. As emperors tend to do.

Then there was Akhil. It hurts to think of Akhil; he left this world far sooner than anyone expected, dying of cancer before he even saw thirty.

And now Aunt Lili is lying in an hospital bed somewhere, living off tubes, and part of me is so viciously mad.

She’s near sixty and she’d been working her ass off because my grandfather asked it of her. Getting up at 6am in the morning and falling into bed at 3am and doing it seven days a week. Working herself to the bone while fielding hate from my relatives because they’re afraid that she might be trying to get some of what’s “theirs” and dealing with an irascible old man who is never satisfied, never willing to believe the best out of anyone, and who is about as constant as a roulette wheel.

I ache for her and for what made her feel like this was something she had to do. If I were her age and I were well off, there’s no way I would have stepped into that nest of vipers for anything. There’s a certain extent to which loyalty will carry me, and as far as I’m concerned the old man doesn’t come close to deserving that level of devotion even from a dog, much less a human being.

But my fury will do nothing and if I must send her off, I’d rather it be with beautiful thoughts. Thoughts worthy of this lovely and warm woman.

Aunt Lili:

I love you. Thank you for your presence in my life. Thank you for the love you showed me. Thank you for loving me as I am, for appreciating the girl I was even when I was so outside the box for what a “proper” little Chinese girl should have been. Thank you for all your kind words to me and your faith in me.

I wish you the best. I pray that you will pull through, that we can look at each other some day and smile over this scare. I hope that I will be able to see you again and tell you how very much you brought to my life.

I wish you strength and I wish you peace, Aunt Lili, and I will always hold you in my heart.



September YNAB analysis

Maybe I should be doing further ado. I could be pointing out that I went to Japan with my parents in August and refrained from buying anything with “new” money. I had some Japanese yen from way back when and spent that, but if I hadn’t had it, I wouldn’t have bought anything.

Motto of the story: don’t carry cash. Ever.

So yeah, maybe I should add in some head patting to the self-flagellation. IDEK.



So, books are still a problem, as usual. *sigh* Some days I wonder if it’s even worth fighting that one. I’m tempted to just relabel the category as “prozac” and be done with it. Certainly back in the day when I was taking Wellbutrin, it cost well over that amount every month. Win some, lose some, eh?

Good news is entertainment went down to just my Spotify subscription. I’m debating stopping that also, since it’s going to take me what, only about 12 months at $20 for me to crawl back into the black as is already. But I have a thing about paying for the stuff I consume so I’ll probably keep it going rather than shell out the couple hundred dollars to pay for the tracks I listen to. One of these days I’ll do a cost analysis and see, but for the moment I might just let it slide.

Ah, letting it slide, the nemesis of saving money. :D

Aaaaaand, I exploded my toiletries category. My handkerchiefs were getting a bit too holy for my taste, so I got some new ones. Yeah, about $150 worth of new ones.

I did do the math; the handkerchiefs I got back in March of 2011 have lasted me this long and even with the calculation of laundry, I was still ahead. Not ahead if you start counting labor, but eh, what is?

So total for Sept was $366.68 and it’s going to take me about, oh, also about 12 months to recover from the handkerchiefs. Sweet.

If I count the $100 I paid to E to schlepp my boxes from my old place to my parent’s house and I do, that’d be $466.68 and an object lesson in “never trust anyone not to stab you in the back” and “why an emergency fund is a good idea” and most importantly, “why having a fucking income is next to godliness”.

If I get a windfall, it’s an even toss as to whether I should slot it toward my book red or if I should just stick it in an investment vehicle somewhere. Or I might stick it in toiletries because I hate seeing that red. We’ll see.

And yeah, part of the deal for October is I need to write down the title, author, and review of every book I buy.

August YNAB analysis

Without further ado:

August YNAB


So. Books. Still a problem. Obviously.

Me, in pained accents: “Katia, what am I going to do with you?”

Entertainment was not too hot either. Kev got me into playing Fallout Shelter and I totally went and got some microtransactions going. *sigh*

Me: “You know, self, there’s only so much you can play the depressed card, right?”

Total outflow was $189.58, so technically still within bounds, but meh.

And now for something different…

It’s interesting, to be without my own income for the first time since I was eighteen.

So it’s been about, what, three months since I came back to Taiwan? Which, since I used “back” again, I probably really should try to unpack that a bit at some point. I keep being surprised by it, but it keeps slipping out anyway, so maybe I really should think harder on it.

So since I don’t really have “income” right now, just a sort of allowance/stipend thing, I figure it’s a good chance to get on that hyper-focus on budgeting thing. Or, you know, it’s another way to procrastinate, I don’t know. Probably the latter, to be honest, but on the other hand, I really do need to be putting all of my expenditures under a magnifying glass at the moment. Or at least, the trend of spending if nothing else.

I do have some money put away, but I really don’t want to drain it unless I really have to.

So, starting from July…



To clarify, my parents are still paying me $100/month to deal with their rental property and my mom has very graciously decided to pay my Doctors Without Borders monthly donation. That means I have about $100 of my own money that I’m pulling per month for non-negotiable stuff like clothing, books, and business expenses. Theoretically I’m going to try my best to not touch it, but I figure not budgeting for it is a stupid idea.

So, July is not all that pretty.

I went way overboard on the books. Not surprising considering that I was stressed and I tend to binge read when I’m depressed, but not good either. At least it was low triple digits…

Entertainment isn’t looking too hot either, but the reason for that is because I had to replace my Kindle after it got lifted from my pocket in Sweden. Yeah. “Had to”. I know.

I spent $95 on a five book cover credit, which I think was a steal but that did put me over budget.

In all, not terrible, asides from the book binging. I’m trying to figure out how to cut down on it and I usually have varying stages of luck. Sometimes going completely cold turkey and not looking at anything that isn’t free works, but sometimes it doesn’t on really dark days, especially if KU is being particularly slushy.

I’m wondering if forcing myself to write a book review on everything I pay for would work. On the other hand, I usually start paying for books when I’m too depressed to roust myself out of bed, so I’m not sure how well that would go.

Ugh. Having no willpower sucks. That delayed gratification challenge? I suspect I would have failed at it… On the other hand, part of the problem isn’t so much delayed gratification as I tend to just fwomp when I can’t see that things will get better if I delay my gratification. It’s not like I’m going to get more money if I hold off on buying more books if I technically have the money in the bank.

Well, in terms of interest, maybe, if I saved the money and bought stocks with it. Maybe that’s the ticket – every time I hold off on buying a book, I transfer the money into an account I then funnel into my stocks.




Pre-nups and pragmatism, oh my

The topics do sort of run downhill together, don’t they? One just leads into the other.

Thene mentioned something about marriage and permanence and the thought brought pre-nups to mind. Whereupon we move into yet another question of pragmatism versus cynicism.

At this point in time, I think I’d definitely want to sign one if I were to marry. Getting out of my previous relationship was complicated by financial matters and that’s something I never want to revisit. It was by turns hurtful and humiliating.

Further in those thoughts, I think some of my friends were surprised when we learned that another of my friends, X, had signed a pre-nup involving such clauses as  a bride piece, being paid/awarded for having children, and if I recall correctly, even a bonus for how much time they’d been together. Some of them were openly dismissive if not outright opposed to the notion.

Unpacking various aspects of the idea, keeping in mind that the majority of my thoughts is going to boil down to “society sucks, so a person saying that future hubby is just going to have to suck it up and share the spoils is fair” :

- the bride piece makes sense if you consider that in certain cultures, even today, a divorcee is considered to be less attractive than a similarly prospected woman who had never been married. In another way of looking at it, a man usually gets more promotions and higher raises than he would have otherwise once he’s married. I don’t think it’s particularly unfair to request a cut of the wealth. So I wouldn’t say no to one, but it’s not something that I’d ask for in a pre-nup.

- consider the “mommy penalty” for having children, being awarded money for having children makes perfect sense. It’s not just the financial aspects of it either, but a woman can have health complications arise from having children. In a way, I see it as a pre-negotiated sharing of the various consequences of having children that aren’t usually adequately addressed. Definitely wouldn’t say no to this clause and I’m unsure that I wouldn’t bring it up.

- Bonuses for amount of time spent together. At the moment I can’t really think of anything to justify this, so it’s something I wouldn’t ask for and probably wouldn’t want even if someone offered. I can see the rationale – a woman’s worth as considered by society is based off her youth and therefore the pre-nup assigns a value to her time spent. Also, the longer a man is married, the more respectable he’s seen to be. Not completely unfair to request a bit of that pie, but again, not something I really can throw myself behind.

All of the above really boils down to a simple notion: the protection of a woman’s interests after the man she married no longer cares about her well-being. And you know what? I’m very not-surprisingly completely in favor of that.

I’ve seen way too many tragedies occur because a woman who was a stay at home wife or mother was dicked over after a divorce. I myself have felt a shadow of what it is like to be without recourse for what was owed me after a relationship ended.

My aunt is still with her husband after she caught him cheating on her in their bed because of money. Another aunt remained with her cheating husband, even after he told her that he didn’t care if she and their babies lived or died while she was on bedrest for a problematic pregnancy, because of money. My grandmother never divorced my grandfather despite his many, many abuses and infidelities… because of money. I know women who stay with men who aren’t good for them… because of money.

I don’t think it’s unfair at all to try and negotiate the care of the more disadvantaged spouse ahead of hand, while you still love each other and presumably care about each other well-being. And I use those particular words very carefully: if I were the bread-winner and my husband wanted to be the one to stay at home to take care of the children, I’d be perfectly in favor of putting money into an account for him so he wouldn’t have to ask me for money for his own stuff. Being a house-spouse can be a part-time job to full time job depending and being a stay at home parent pretty much is a full time job. It’s perfectly legit to be recompensed for such.

Sure, it’s nearing the end of 2015 and it would be nice to think that society doesn’t suck that much, that people wouldn’t suck that much after things have been broken off that they wouldn’t take care of their obligations, but that’s just not fact at the moment. I’d be perfectly happy to revisit and revise should that change, but I don’t think it is going to in the near future.

Especially since I’m living in Taiwan at the moment; the situation here really makes me wonder why anyone would get married without a pre-nup. Heaven knows the horror stories abound: one aunt had to save pennies off the grocery money to buy underwear because her husband was so tight-fisted.

And then, of course, there are the basics:

Things that I would definitely want addressed in a pre-nup at this point: clarification that there is to be no shared debt; specifications on what happens to a shared home/vehicle in the case of divorce; separation of any income post marriage, none of that community property stuff; child support; child care; and custody of children.



Quantum of Solace

Thene mentioned this before:

The Governor paused and looked reflectively over at Bond. “You’re not married, but I think it’s the same with all relationships between a man and a woman.  They can survive anything so long as some kind of basic humanity exists between the two people.  When all kindness has gone, when one person obviously and sincerely doesn’t care if the other is alive or dead, then it’s just no good. That particular insult to the ego – worse, to the instinct of self-preservation – can never be forgiven.  I’ve seen flagrant infidelities patched up, I’ve seen crimes and even murder forgiven by the other party, let alone bankruptcy and every other form of social crime.  Incurable disease, blindness, disaster – all these can be overcome. But never the death of common humanity in one of the partners. I’ve thought about this and I’ve invented a rather high-sounding title for this basic factor in human relations. I have called it the Quantum of Solace.”

Bond said: “That’s a splendid name for it. It’s certainly impressive enough.  And of course I see what you mean. I should say you’re absolutely right.  Quantum of Solace – the amount of comfort.  Yes, I suppose you could say that all love and friendship is based in the end on that.  Human beings are very insecure. When the other person not only makes you feel insecure but actually seems to want to destroy you, it’s obviously at an end. The Quantum of Solace stands at zero. You’ve got to get away to save yourself.”
It’s become a sort of shorthand, a touchstone, a reminder.
It’s not just a reminder that humanity is a goal, not a guaranteed state of being, it’s also that everyone’s line in the sand is different.
What X defines as being adequate humanity might not make the cut for Y and yet it might be the height of coddling for Z.
The smallest possible unit; the baseline below which if you fall, everything shatters.
I was talking to my cousin the other day, exploring the idea of being in a relationship and when it’s worth it. I finally summed it up for myself thusly:
Assuming that your own baseline while single is either at zero or plus one, adding another person should always raise it to at minimum plus two or three for the relationship to be worth staying in.
I’m not currently looking for a relationship because I’m currently at zero with the needle wavering between plus and negative one.  I’d only want to look when I’m at a solid plus one heading towards a plus two. There has to be something in the tank before you go diving because there’s always going to be something out there that’s going to drain you before buoying you and the latter isn’t guaranteed.
I admit, there’s also a wee bit of man-hating going on right now, so that cynicism isn’t something I want to bring to a new relationship either.  Also, let’s be frank here – no one really heads into a relationship with someone who is knowingly a zero or a negative. It’s not fair to anyone and it’s mostly a waste of time and effort. It could be a learning experience, but seriously, how many of those does any one person need?
No matter what that person brings to the table, no matter what requirements you or they have, no matter any of the standard quantifiable stuff – the real question is “am I happier with this person than I am single”?
If you cannot answer that with a solid “yes”, then it’s time to get the hell out of the relationship.
Something else that took getting out of a relationship to figure out: if you can’t see yourself marrying the person in question, then you need to grow a spine and some guts and break it off.
I didn’t understand that at first and I don’t think my ex really did either.
It’s another line in the sand that I looked at and didn’t see for what it was. He might have known, but either I didn’t understand what he was trying to say, or he didn’t know how to distill his feelings into something that I could comprehend.
It went both ways, which was the funny part. He kept dragging his feet on talking to my parents about getting married and threw a hissy fit in the ring store when I dragged him there and  I told him verbally I didn’t see being able to marry him towards the end. We hurt each other with our reticence, but we were both unwilling to really step back and say “yep, not working” and abort.
If you can’t imagine marrying someone, then something’s wrong there. If there just isn’t that urge to “put a ring on it”, then the emotion just isn’t there. And when the emotion isn’t there, then clearly the two of you together isn’t anywhere near a sufficient positive balance.
That simple. It’s not even math.
Are you really happier with him? Or is it just fear and habit?

The sins of our fathers

More on babies and love and marriage and general shit.

Yeah, I’ve been thinking about this a lot, but in my self defense it’s only been, oh, about four or five months since I really resigned myself to the end of a ten year relationship. If I go by what I’ve heard before, which is a month for every year, I figure I still have more than half a year to go.

Seriously though, this came up the other day when we were at lunch. I was talking with my aunt and my cousins and of course, significant others came up again. And of course, there was that song. And then there was that lovely, depressing, uplifting, heart-shattering book by Barbara Bretton…

I heard from someone once that we are our forefathers, that we reincarnate endlessly as our own descendants so long as we fail to learn our lessons, that we can never get away from the cycle until the day we achieve enlightenment.

Wow. Okay. That brings the whole “sins of our fathers” concept to a whole new level of crazy.

I don’t know if I believe it or not. Color me agnostic.

What I do know is the trope of families reenacting the same dramas over and over again, of families beloved by tragedy, of families who can’t seem to get on HEA train, so on and so forth.

My family, both sides, fall into that trope.

My mother’s side is exhibit A of “what not to do” in terms of marriage. My grandfather abandoned my grandmother early on, after getting five children on her, and proceeded to spend the rest of his life with various “secretaries” and mistresses and “housekeepers”. My eldest aunt married someone who gives her stomach ulcers and they seem to lead mostly parallel lives. My mother seemed to have an okay marriage, up until the point where my father really went off the deep end with his midlife crisis, and it’s now kinda at the point where much as I love my father, I think it might almost be best if they divorced. My third aunt married a man who pursued her relentlessly, thinking that he would be good to her, and he was frolicking with another woman while she was bedridden with their children. Then she had a sequence of boyfriends, none of whom worked out, and now she’s with a man who doesn’t really make her truly happy. I don’t know much about my little aunt’s love life, but she and her husband mostly seem happy with each other. Then again, they both work more than sixty hours a week, so god knows when they would have time to get on each other’s nerves. Then there’s my uncle. His wife left him for another man, came back because she (no joke) had lupus and was on the verge of dying, and he succumbed to the blandishments of another woman while she was gone/recuperating, and now the two of them seem perpetually caught in some twisted kind of limbo where he apparently still hangs out with his mistress and yet is still married to his wife and lives in the same house as hwe.

My father’s side…

Welp, there’s my fourth uncle, who probably drove his wife to religion (devout, devout Buddhist) because, dude, that man can be a pill (said by his own brother). Loud, abrasive, judgmental, impatient — yeah, it runs in the blood. Good man, despite all that, but just not the easiest person to be married to.

There’s my aunt, the eldest in their family, with five boys trailing after her, who caught her husband cheating with a woman in their bed.  She’s who I think of when I think that it does a woman no good to be all blade and no sheath. A lovely woman, generous to a fault, and active in the community, but… I suppose her husband tired of her being a fishwife, deserving of it or not.

If my father’s recollections of his parents’ relationship can be believed, his mother was an endless nag and his father long-suffering and their fights legion and legendary. If he can believed, his father went to his grave complaining about what his wife had kept him from achieving.

Then there’s all of their friends and relatives. I don’t think I know of a single happy marriage in any of my grandmother’s circle of friends and I can’t think of any happy marriages in my parents’ generation either.

Then there’s my generation, with my cousin and his wife who is at best indifferent towards his family and my other cousin whose wife loathes his family and then there’s me. We don’t seem to be doing so hot either. Before you ask, there’s a lot of drama going on with the daughter in laws. It’s not so simple as saying “fuck it” and leaving it alone except for holidays.

So let’s not talk metaphysics and quackery. Let’s talk about environment and learned behavior. Let’s talk about role models and expectations and failed expectations. Let’s talk about the society they grew up in and the world we grew up in and whether or not we take on their broken dreams through osmosis.

In a way, it’s not about just me. Of course I want a happy ending for myself. Despite my airy words and casual gestures, of course I want it all.

But it isn’t just for me.

I want something better, something more lovely for my children if I have any. I want them to be happy, to be secure in a world where they know that their parents love each other and them and would do anything within their means to cradle their family in safety and love for as long as they reasonably can.

I’m not talking helicopter parenting. I mean that bone-deep assurance of being loved, of knowing that you are loved for you, that there is someone waiting to catch you if you should fall. I mean the knowledge that there is possibility of a HEA out there for you, that it can be done, that not every marriage and relationship has to end in bitter acrimony.

Sure, I know there’s the lottery winners, but in the same way that people often don’t believe that what tragedies that touch other people will descend upon them, it’s hard to believe in fairy tales when everyone you know intimately says otherwise.

It’s not so much a happy ending for me. I think I could live without the traditional happy ending. I could probably get over it and deal, eventually. I just don’t want this for anyone after us. If our family doesn’t know how to be happy, if our family can’t figure it out, isn’t it in a way better to just cut everything short?

I just don’t know.