Patience becomes a thing you never knew you’d need so much of.
In which my little sister takes up the family business. :)
Hello internet! I come to you once again your humble servant since the tender age of 14 in the land of Livejournal:
I am looking for more freelance or otherwise type of work! I want new places and new eyes and new blood (mmm blood) for writing. If you have a publication and you pay $$$ and you like me and my writing, let me know! (But also, see below for other work I can do, and see above for a puppy holding a leaf in his mouth.)
I am looking to write for:
-TV or web programs
-any project really where you need a writer
I am also available to do on-camera hosting for your channel or show. Here are some videos of me doing that:
Every few months, I get the idea that I should start painting. It’s a stupid thought because it only comes up when I’m feeling unproductive and wish my work had some sort of tangible measure, an actual body I could touch and feel. Words sometimes aren’t enough. You put them down on paper or more likely, on a computer and maybe sell them to another place that puts those words somewhere else, in a magazine filled with other words, and people read them and that’s it. There’s very often nothing to hold.
I’m also not a good painter. I’ll buy a canvas and sweep my paintbrush over it until the colors run together. I’m not sure what I’m painting, and it ends up this sort of gross abstract thing that maybe a four-year-old made for their mother in pre-K class and now the mother has to hang it up with pride even though it looks like regurgitated Kool-aid and carrots sprinkled with glitter.
I can’t do minimalism. It always has to fill the canvas, colors colliding, until I’ve done too much and ruined it.
My kitchen table is covered in my “paintings” right now, none of them even remotely usable. I despair for a few hours on Sunday night with the thought that former president George W. Bush can paint and I can’t. That’s how useless and untalented I am. That fucking nob can make a face or a foot or a potted plant and I end up with vomit swirls.
When I want to do self-pity, I really fucking go for it.
"You’re loud," he says, "and you have a lot of opinions and man, if that doesn’t do it for me."
It is a weekend afternoon, and we lie in bed with sun streaming through the windows. It’s a cliche. There’d been coffee and donuts and driving. I’d traced my fingers through his wayward hair and asked what drew him to me. There’s a John Mulaney stand-up joke about Jewish women being more forthright than gentile women, and at times I’ve literally pulled him from the computer with the direct, “Pay attention to me. I need attention now, please.”
This apparently rings true everywhere. Earlier, he’d told me how he liked that I never faked it during sex. That he could tell I wasn’t ever faking it.
"Who fakes it anymore?" I asked, scoffing and snorting. He laughed, "Other people, Gaby. Like, everyone else."
When I began looking for internships in college, a lot of places would point out one thing listed on my resume: my ability to do basic html. There’d be some impressed noises and then questions about how I came about that skill.
This always struck me as odd. I never learned html in any formal way. The real way that I know some code is because when I was a tween, I wanted to make my Livejournal look pretty.
It started when AIM became popular when I was in the third grade. People would spend hours searching for coding websites to find out how to format their purple and pink Backstreet Boys lyrics just right, or how to insert the “dolls” they’d made on other sites.
I wanted my profile to be black and green and to scroll down to a picture of an alien made out of parenthesis and the letter “l” and to do that, I had to spend a few hours looking around for the proper html codes. Once found, I’d diligently type them into my profile and voila! It looked so cool the popular kids were definitely going to ask me to one of their pool parties. For sure.
That never happened. But I did eventually use code again. This time for my beautiful and sacred LJ.
I loved LiveJournal because it operated on a hierarchy I could understand. You weren’t judged on your age or your looks — you were judged on your writing and your commitment to inane fandoms. I had BOTH in droves. But I also knew having a cool LJ design would only make me more likable, so I set out learning how to toy with the code on the default designs to make my journal look exactly how I wanted it to look.
I learned Photoshop to make banners and icons of celebrities I adored like Conor Oberst and Janis Joplin. I inserted my own “mood themes” with the faces of the cast of “Smallville,” a show about young Superman. And I learned to format my fanfiction so the most people would be able to read it clearly.
So when in those interview rooms for jobs, when bosses asked me how I knew how to make websites or fiddle with html, I was not sure what to say. “I was a pretty cool and well-known teenage personality on Livejournal in the early 2000s” was probably not going to fly.
"Oh, I’m just a nerd," I’d reply. That about covered it.
This is the first time I’ve been single for a long stretch since 2010. I didn’t mean to always have significant others. It just sort of happened that way. When I like someone, I really get in there and pull everything apart. I dissect and pick and prod and nudge and push until I’m satisfied that the other person won’t go away — and if they do, I have a reason as to why.
My pattern: Go HARD for the first couple years and then back out HARD.
One ex likened dating me to “a really good movie you know is going to end.”
And so I’ve been told I’m “cold,” or that I approach feelings like “a space alien just discovering Earth.”
But I’ve loved deeply and when I did, I chose the wrong person, (“chose” like I had a choice) and I had that love curb-stomped until its teeth fell out American History X-style. I went on a date recently where the guy stopped me in the middle of talking about how it’s hard for me to love and said, “Because you did already once, right? And it turned out badly.”
He read it on me like a marquee.
I used to joke that everyone has a thing that can be boiled down to answer the question, “What’s wrong with you?” I’d ask it to friends, strangers, crushes: “Tell me in three words, what’s your deal?” The answers ranged from “My parents divorced” to “Childhood sweetheart died” to “Raped in college” to “Came out. Disowned.”
I assumed that everyone was carrying something that explained everything about who they are in a relationship. (To be fair, I’d say mine is “Alcoholic, addict father.” But some industrious exes might have different answers for what’s wrong with me.)
Right now, I could maybe possibly sort of say I like myself. MAYBE.
I’m just being a thing, and then people who like that thing can get on board or they can catch the next train. (I am a train now.) Maybe I’m not very good at being in a relationship and keeping myself intact and that’s the real struggle here. It’s nice to have someone and still be able to be independent and I’ve just never found anyone who allowed for that balance.
This last ex. I wanted it to work out so, so, so badly. But he stopped me. He asked me why I loved him. He didn’t want to run off into the sunset, guns blazing, us against the world, forgetting all reason — or at least not with me. I think maybe not with anyone.
In a way, he saved me from myself. My romantic instinct is to bury my head in another person and hibernate until the pain goes away. I need a buffer like I think “myself” is a person having tea with might be awkward. As my dad says about his addictions, "One was too many and a bathtub full was never enough."
But it must be possible to have a “teammate” you trust, who also lets you be yourself. It doesn’t have to be HARD one way or the other, right?
In conclusion, this is the time when you’re supposed to be enjoying people. It’s hard to appreciate the moment when you’re constantly worried about the future and so whenever someone shows you who they are, who they really are, try and stop and breathe and take it in without wondering what it means or what it will become.
Whoever you’re with should make you feel good about being you, instead of making you run from yourself. Because that’s not dating. That’s just another form of distance. And I’m not running anymore.
PS: I recommend anyone in their twenties watch the movie “Singles” with Kyra Sedgwick. It’s by Cameron Crowe and it’s very 90s, but I love it. In fact, re-read this post and listen to Paul Westerberg’s song from the movie "Waiting For Somebody."
PPS: I hate writing about dating. I’m gonna go write about robots now.
PPPS: The date was really good, thanks for wondering. ;)
Time has not been kind to them; The girls of your youth, the ones you found so tantalizing and could not wait to touch — well, now they are old. They’re lined with stretch marks and wrinkled skin and calloused hands and drooped faces and they have babies which you look at with a mix of awe and removed disgust. You have slept with these women and in a sense, these could be your babies but you have resisted getting older in your child’s face and in your teenage angst and in your twenties finances.
I am young. I am new. My skin is stretched thin and unending over tiny bones. My limbs are soft. My face smooth and pink. I’ve never been pregnant. There are no wrinkles. No dark eyes. Hardly any visible scars.
But these women, they’re the ones you dreamed of as a teenage boy. They’re the ones who seemed out of reach and sun-drenched in summer grass, who wore potent matching school uniforms and chipped nail polish, who let you touch them, maybe. Maybe. That always elusive maybe as your fingers groped with exciting possibility, with want, a gut desire you haven’t felt in years and worry you’ll never feel again. They are photographs and memories and fashions and cassette tapes and wonder. I do not feel satisfied and alluring, no. They are old now — but you will always love them more because you remember them, and you, new.
In college, I dated a guy who often proclaimed his ex-girlfriend to have been “crazy.” They were together when he and I met, and they broke up shortly before he first made a move on me. I was taken at the time, but he didn’t care. I was flattered and so I let him “steal” me. (I thought of it that way at the time, but now I know that’s not really a thing. I went willingly.)
During our relationship, he would often talk disparagingly about this ex. When he and I first started sleeping together, she called and told him that she had been pregnant by him when they were together, found out after they broke up, and then had had an abortion. She asked him to pay for some of it.
He went apeshit. He accused her of lying. He called her all kinds of names. He assured everyone that she was “crazy.”
At the time, I remember telling my mom the story and saying, “I just feel really bad for him. It’s so unfair that she’s making him part of this drama.”
I know. I KNOW.
And so I comforted him, and I talked shit about her to anyone who would listen. I wanted them to know he was MINE now. I had never met her. Never spoken to her. Nothing. But I was threatened by her previous relationship with my boyfriend and I wanted to believe she was “insane” and that I, the new girlfriend, was “cooler.” I would be SO cool compared to this bitch.
Fast forward a couple years. This boy and I are living together. He has cheated on me in front of my face. He has been physically intimidating and verbally abusive. He has beaten all my will to fight out of me, and he has gaslit me to the point that I tearfully apologize to him almost every night.
When we finally break up, I think a lot about this other ex-girlfriend. I start to see things in a new light. She wasn’t crazy. She was never crazy. He’d done that to her. He’d been cruel and dismissive and left her alone to deal with an abortion. Was she supposed to act rationally? No. She did the best she could with what he gave her.
She was my warning sign. And I participated in erasing her.
Recently, I saw the Twitter page of another ex-boyfriend’s former girlfriend. The one before me. On it, she’s made some jokes at the expense of the man we both dated. They are all spot on. I’m sort of shocked by how not-special my relationship was with this person. How typical. Every single messed up thing he did to me, or told me when we were together, he did to her too.
I knew these things, sort of, when he and I started dating. He’d told me. I’d heard them from other people. But he made it seem like SHE was unreasonable, or that she was the problem in the relationship. She was, once again, painted as “crazy.” And I delighted in hearing about how she was inferior to me.
But in the end, we are both the ex-girlfriends. We hold the same position.
With the same bullshit excuses and the same twisted logic and the same empty promises. I’d say we’re both better off, but during this time, we went from acquaintances to hating each other. I’m really sad about that and I regret it. I think from what I know, we’d be friends if things were different. There shouldn’t be this block between us.
With her, I did what I did in college again. I turned on another woman for the sake of a guy. (Or well, we turned on each other when I should have been able to see her side too.)
I will NOT do that again.
Listen: He won’t be “different” with you. You won’t “change” him. You won’t be “better than her.” There is nothing to be smug about or to cheer over being “better than her,” or “winning” over another woman. You should not feel superior when a man you’re dating speaks ill of his ex. You should make notes. She is right.
What I’m saying is: I could have had long friendships with these cool girls and instead, I have shitty exes.