This is very long and detailed, so I’m going to try to put in a cut tag.
All right, I can't get that to work, not if it was ever so. I'm sorry.
On Tuesday Raphael and I went to Sherburne National Wildlife Refuge. The forecast was for a sunny, almost windless day with a high of 87. The air quality was moderate. I complained about this the day before and Raphael asked if I'd prefer not to go. But Sherburne is actually a good place to go on a less than perfect day, because there's a seven-mile wildlife drive with stopping points for viewing whoever happens to be around; also a tiny oak savanna (1/10-mile loop) trail and a prairie trail with an oak grove in the middle with a bench (1/2-mile loop). And it's September; hiking season will be over at some point.
We got a late start but arrived with about five hours of daylight ahead of us. Sherburne is near Sand Dunes National Forest, and its soil is also sandy. It's a lightly rolling landscape full of marshes, pools, and prairie, broken by lines and clumps of trees. You drive through a short stretch of mature restored prairie to reach the actual wildlife drive. It was awash in blooming goldenrod and blue and white asters and rich brown grasses.
We stopped at the Oak Savanna Trail and had a sandwich, read the list of plants presently blooming (six kinds of goldenrod, four kinds of white aster, two kinds of blue aster, rough blazing star, and boneset) and then walked out on the tiny boardwalk. We examined what looked like an abandoned bald eagle's nest through one of the spotting scopes provided, and then started looking at spreadwings (yet another kind of damselfly) in the tall grass that the boardwalk runs through.
Here is an image of a spreadwing that one might see in Minnesota, though I don’t know if that’s what we did see.
A flicker of motion in the distance caught my attention, and I looked up to see three sandhill cranes landing across the prairie near the road we'd come on. "A family," said Raphael, looking through the binoculars. "See the juvenile?" I did see the juvenile, which did not have all its red in yet but was almost as large as its parents. The cranes started walking through the grass, not unlike herons stalking through shallow water; occasionally they would bend their long necks down and poke around in the grass roots, and occasionally one of them would make a sharp dart and come up with food and swallow it.
It was hard to decide whether the cranes were more awesome through binoculars or just as tall shapes against the pale road and prairie, bending and straightening, wandering apart and together again. If you didn't look through binoculars you could also see meadowhawks darting around, the spreadwings rising to catch tiny insects and settling again to eat them, the unexpected wind shaking the oak leaves and the grass and the asters. From time to time a darner moved across the larger prairie, veering after prey or just powering along.
At last a truck came fairly fast along the road, raising a cloud of dust, and the cranes paused, considered, opened their huge wings and rose up, gawky but graceful, and flew away low over the grasses. We went back to looking at smaller wildlife
I was trying to spot a spreadwing through the binoculars when I saw what looked like an animated tangle of brown grass. I said to Raphael, “There’s some kind of mantis there!” and when Raphael expressed astonishment, I added, “It’s very stick-y,” which allowed Raphael to come up with the actual name: It was a stick insect. It took a few moments for me to describe its location and for Raphael to see it, and then I had trouble finding it again through the binoculars, but it was busy clambering around against the wind, so we did both get a good look at it. It was only the second stick insect I’d seen in Minnesota. The other was at Wild River State Park. That one was much larger and was rummaging around in a pile of leaves at the edge of the parking lot. This one was fascinating because its camouflage was so great, and yet it did have to move around, so you could differentiate it from the grass if you worked at it.
We’d arrived in the deep of the afternoon when smaller birds are quiet. We heard a few goldfinches murmuring, and a phoebe carrying on, and a chickadee. We left the boardwalk, admiring the asters waving in the non-foreseen but welcome breeze, and walked around the oak savanna loop. The little oak saplings tangled among the other shrubbery were already starting to turn red. White asters poked their flowerheads through leaves belonging to other plants, to startling effect. Autumn meadowhawks floated and hovered and darted, snatching up gnats from the clouds around them. We had seen a monarch butterfly in the asters while we were eating our lunch, and also a dark-phase swallowtail wandering over the grass; now we saw a painted lady butterfly.
We made an attempt to leave, but a darner landed on a drooping dead branch of an oak tree right in front of the car. The sun was behind it and we couldn’t get a good look without tramping heedlessly into the prairie, so we didn’t, but its silhouette was lovely against the brilliant sky.
We drove on, past tall browning and reddening grasses, clumps of goldenrod, clouds of asters. Darners flew up from the sides of the road and zoomed away. We found at the turning that the refuge had reversed the direction of the wildlife drive since we were there last, which was momentarily confusing; but we found our way, and stopped at the Prairie Trail. I pointed out some thoroughly spent plants of spotted horsemint. We’d seen it in bloom, if you can call it that, at William O’Brien. It’s a very weird-looking plant. Here’s a photo:
This observation continued my inability to accurately provide the names of things; I’d just called it horsemint and Raphael reminded me that that particular weird plant was spotted horsemint. There are other horsemints, but they don’t look so strange. As we stood looking over the rise and fall of the little prairie, with folds of alder and sumac, and lines and whorls of different grasses and goldenrod, all truly starred with the blue and white asters, I said that I loved how big the sky was at Sherburne. Raphael noted that it was a slate-blue just now; we assumed that was the haze of the wildfire smoke all the way from the west coast, a somber reminder of far too many things.
We took the grassy path, startling small grasshoppers out of our way and stirring up meadowhawks from the tall plants and shrubs. We saw a monarch; we saw a painted lady. Passing through a little grove of young alders, on almost every tip of the dead trees intermingled with the living there was a meadowhawk perched. They swept upwards, snatched a gnat or fly, landed to eat again. Raphael showed me how to identify a female autumn meadowhawk: they have a definite bulge just below the thorax, which was easy to see against the sky. Darners zipped past from time to time. If it was a green darner we could usually tell even from just a glance. The others were mosaic darners, but harder to identify in passing.
I think it was as we approached the oak grove that we started seriously trying to identify the grasses. We’d known big bluestem, aka turkey-tail, for years. After seeing it labelled repeatedly here and there, I could pick out the charming clumps of little bluestem, just knee-high, with their pale fluffy flowers lined up and catching the light. We’d looked at an informational sign at the trailhead, but its drawings of Indian grass and switch grass didn’t look right. Raphael pulled up the photo of the sign about grasses at the visitor center at Wild River, which had struck both of us at the time as much more informative than other attempts to depict native grasses; and we could suddenly identify Indian grass after all. It has a long, narrow rich brown seed head with varying degrees of spikiness; some are quite streamlined and others are tufty and look as if they need combing. And we felt more confident about the switch grass with its airy spreading seed heads.
Raphael pointed out a beetle on the path, maybe a Virginia leatherwing, and then realized it was a moth. A little research when we reached the oak grove and sat down showed that it was a netted moth, and the entry even mentioned that it looked quite a bit like a leatherwing.
The bench we were sitting on was made from boards of recycled plastic. At some point Raphael had ha enough sitting and went ahead a little way just to see what was there. I’d noticed when I sat down that there were verses from the Bible printed on the back of the bench in some kind of marker. On the left was the passage from Matthew that begins, “Come unto me you who are weary and heavy-laden,” and on the right the passage from John that begins, “For God so loved the world.” These might have been written in different hands. But the passage in the middle was definitely in a different hand, and began, “We had two bags of grass, seventy-five pellets of mescaline, five sheets of high powered blotter acid, a salt shaker half full of cocaine.” The ending of the passage was a bit smeared and I couldn’t read all of it, but at the bottom the name “hunter s. thompson” was clear enough. I followed Raphael and relayed the beginning of the passage. “Hunter s. thompson!” said Raphael, going back to the bench with me. “It’s from <i>Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas</i>.” Raphael looked this up too, and showed me the unsmeared passage on the cellphone.
Giggling a bit, we went on our way. We were now well around the loop and into the straight stretch back to the car. From the other side I’d pointed out a lovely layering of grasses, goldenrod, a narrow cleft of willow scrub, and a candy-red line of sumac. Now we came to the sumac from the other side. On the path in front of us was a butterfly. “What is that?” said Raphael. “It’s a Red Admiral,” I said confidently, but it wasn’t. It was another Painted Lady. Raphael consolingly told me that they were both Vanessa, very closely related, but the Red Admiral is very common in Minnesota and I was chagrined that I’d misidentified something else as that.
We came to a little stretch of boardwalk over a marshy area. On a shrub was a shimmery amber-tinged odonate. I pointed it out to Raphael. It turned out to be another autumn meadowhawk, though it looked as if it ought to be an Eastern Amberwing, or at least a Band-Winged Meadowhawk. It had perched on a bit of red-stemmed dogwood, just to be extra-cooperative. We went on through the cattails and willow, past a minute patch of open water and up onto the grassy path again. Raphael pointed out that where the path climbed back out of the tiny marsh there was a nice view over the rest of the open water and the winding marsh with more willow, and cattails, and a shrub we should have known but didn’t. (I briefly misidentified it as more red-stemmed dogwood, because it was my day to misidentify everything; but it had deep purple stems and leaves just starting to turn reddish.)
On our right for the end of our walk was the brilliant sumac and the cleft of alder saplings, all their leaves fluttering and twinkling in the wind and sunlight; on the left a long slope of prairie grasses interrupted by goldenrod and asters. More darners sailed by. The sky had lost its smoky cast and was a fine late-summer deep blue. We came back to the car and Raphael began to drive away, but I exclaimed at the sight of a big clump of stiff goldenrod covered with pollinators. We didn’t get out, but looked our fill from the car. Big bumblebees, a stenuchid wasp, beetles, ambush bugs.
There’s one more trail you can actually walk along, near the end of the wildlife drive, but there was a sign at the beginning saying that it was flooded. Before that we drove past long stretches of marsh, open water, and rolling prairie, all patched with clumps of trees. From time to time there would be a wider spot in the road, sometimes a formal space big enough for three or four cars, with a bench or two, or a platform over a low spot with spotting scopes and some informational signs about the wildlife; others just a metal platform with railings, where you could stand and look over the water. We tentatively identified the spot where we’d once common moorhens, which are not so common that we weren’t deeply excited. We’ve also seen muskrats and various ducks in these locations, and once there was a gigantic cloud of mosaic darners all brown and yellow – I seem to recall that some of them were lance-tipped darners, but I may be wrong. This time we heard water birds making a ruckus, but couldn’t see them. Darners came by in about the density that they had been all the while. Over one platform we saw what turned out to be a northern harrier; these guys have an amazing acrobatic flight, and they’re reddish on the underside and bluish on the back. I excitedly called this one a kestrel, which would be smaller and have the colors reversed: bluish on the underside and red on the back. We also very clearly saw a nighthawk with its white wing bars, though the sun was still up.
We also saw some cedar waxwings fly-catching from a tree with a dead top, and heard a yellow warbler.
At last we came to a stretch of water, islands, and snags so large that it had two separate viewing-spots. From the first we saw several groups of large white birds. I thought the first were swans, but they were white pelicans. There were also some swans, however. We came finally around a curve of the gravel road to an observation station in a little oak grove, overlooking the far side of this large sheet of water. This is where most of the dead trees are, and here, to our delight, we saw as we’ve seen before several times a very large number of cormorants. The sun was setting by then, off to our right. The sky was pink and the water reflected it. Many cormorants were roosting already, but some were still coming out of the water; they would land on a branch, sometimes settling and sometimes glancing off several different trees before finding one that suited them, or one in which the other cormorants accepted them. It was hard to be sure. Then they would spread their wings out to dry, looking as if they were practicing to be bats for Halloween.
We found the swans and pelicans we’d seen from the other viewing station, though it was getting pretty dark by then. Cormorants still flew up into the trees and spread their wings. Through binoculars you could see the ones that had folded their wings now preening their breast feathers. Some of them had pale necks and brown fronts rather than being entirely black. I mentioned this to Raphael, who looked it up in Sibley and confirmed that those were juvenile cormorants.
It was getting quite dark by then and the mosquitoes were starting to think about biting us in earnest. We drove past two more pools; beside one two groups of people we’d seen pass earlier, a third car I didn’t recognize from before, and a man using a wheelchair were standing and gesticulating. We pulled up and got out. The water and trees were lovely in the twilight, but we didn’t see any wildlife. The solitary man went away in his wheelchair, the unfamiliar car left, and we followed, watching the varied texture of the grass and flowers fade away into the dark.
Of course that means I got another up close and personal feel of how weak and not so much out of shape as a bit out of shape and a lot still in recovery I am, yay. Fucking con crud. Fucking lungs. Fucking body.
I did finish the first two character interviews for Turing Shrugged though. So that's not nothing. It also has some summary copy for Kindle, and now Starlight does too. I finished a scene in Starlight, worked on some of Long Road. Things happened. Progress was made.
Paid off the lesser of two credit cards. Again. Which actually is not a bad thing to be doing, paying off a credit card repeatedly. It's just the greater of the two credit cards that bugs me, although I'm still nowhere near to being up at the average of individual credit card debt in this country. Which is kind of scary. And that's just the credit card debt, thanks be to the Goddess and my family I don't have student loan debt anymore. But eeegh credit card debt, over time, paying down. Not picking up any more absurd hobbies like makeup and spending a shitload on establishing them. Or hoarding things to draw with/knit/paint for the next ever. Ahem, Me Of Last Year.
(My yarn stash is truly terrifying. And I don't knit nearly fast enough.)
At some point this week goddammit I will get packages out. There's a couple of them that have been sitting here for ages. And I have been both hyper and hungry all day, no idea what the actual fuck is up with that. And my brain is leaping around all over the goddamn place, I was in the middle of a character interview and I had a Khan Academy window open to copy over physics equations and I ended up doing neither of those things in favor of doing a quiz on the parts of the cell. What the hell brain. We got sleep last night, we didn't slam back a giant pack of pixy sticks.
Most of the good ones are popping up in October. I remember when everything popped up the week after labor day. Now we have revolving television seasons. And about 145 shows per season, which is about well multiple that by four seasons...and that's a lot of television. That said, most of them are hard to find or require a device, a smart television, cable subscription, and payment. None of it is really free. Well, maybe the five or six broadcast channels.
Returning shows that I'm watching or thinking of watching...or haven't given up on quite yet
1. Lucifer - Now at 8pm on Fox. Starts October 3.
( vague spoilers and casting spoilers from the mag on Season 3 )
2. Poldark S3 Returns to PBS at 9PM on October 1. (Poldark goes to France with the French Revolution, while Demelza must deal with her troublemaker brothers, and Elizabeth has her kid.
3. Good Behavior S2 pops up on Oct 15 - at 10PM TNT. Basically a con-artist/thief, her hitman love and her precocious son living the family life.
It's really good. A twisty and somewhat humorous noir series.
4. This is Us returns on Tuesday (used to be on Wed, confusing) - 9/26/17 at 9PM on NBC.
I can never remember what channels these shows are on. They were discussing at work what channels they watch...I was thinking I don't really watch channels just television shows.
This is Us is an ever-surprising non-linear family saga about a husband and wife who lose a triplet during childbirth and adopt a third baby at the hospital, as well as the journey of the three children, Randall, Kate, and Kevin as children, teens, and thirty-somethings.
It's the best family drama I've seen and one of the best serialized dramas of last year. If you liked Brothers and Sisters, Parenthood, and Friday Night Lights..you'll probably enjoy This is Us.
5. Riverdale returns 10/11 - CW at 8PM. (I personally would have put it at 9pm for the adult content, but what do I know?)
This is basically Archie Comics by way of Twin Peaks, except without David Lynch. So S1, Twin Peaks.
It's dark, gritty, sexy, and twisty in places.
6. The Good Place returns on 9-20 (ie, tomorrow), on NBC at 8:30 PM (yes, it also moved nights, again, confusing -- I wish they'd stop doing that, stupid network programmers. OTOH, probably doesn't matter, since most people just DVR it or watch on demand or stream.)
This is the comedy with the weird twist. I actually had given up on it, until I found out about the twist and went back to watch and decided it had a charming satirical edge to it.
Anyhow, Eleanor and her friends think they are in heaven. She believes she landed there by mistake. Except heaven is rather irritating and problematic. It's also run by a well-meaning but rather inept and bumbling Angel, who has built a new heavenly domain or so we think....( spoiler )
* There's all sorts of satirical jokes on American culture, politics, and religious mythology.
7. Grey's Anatomy returns on 9-28, Still Thursdays, at 8PM. It's Season 14. It has Supernatural beat by one season. Supernatural is on S13. But NCIS has made it to Season 15, and The Simpsons and South Park are on Season 20 something.
Some shows can't die.
They are rebooting or refreshing it with new interns, a refurbished and remodeled hospital (it was sort of blown up last season), and new love triangles...because it's actually a soap masquerading as a serious medical drama. Entertainment Weekly provided a flow chart showing all the incestuous and soapy relationships between the characters...basically proving my point.
8. Once Upon a Time reboots itself on 10-6 at 8PM on ABC and it also appears to have changed nights.(Because the network programmers are bored apparently?) It's now on Fridays.
It also has basically re-written itself from scratch. You honestly could come into this without having seen the previous seasons and be fine. Instead of the story revolving around Snow White and the Evil Queen, it's revolving around Cinderella and her Wicked Stepmother...and StepSister. With Alice (from Alice in Wonderland) as a sort of portal jumping Rumplestilskin character. And the Princess from Princess and the Frog as Cindy's friend. Also, POC cast. Which is interesting. And Henry is apparently in the Emma role now, or rather an adult Henry is.
Very odd. I am admittedly curious. But the writing has been ...disappointing to date. So we'll see.
9. Crazy Ex-Girlfriend Pops up on 10-13, still on Friday. CW. It has managed to survive, probably because it is on the CW. The CW is rather interesting in that regard.
This is a cool sitcom, doesn't always make me laugh, but it has its moments. Sometimes it makes me cringe. But it is a great satirical critique of our gender issues, how our society views romantic love, etc. Plus it has song and dance numbers.
10. Stranger Things S2 -- shows up on Netflix on 10/27. In time for Halloween.
11. Big Bang Theory --- returns on Monday 9/25 at 8PM (Season 11)
Shows...I'm giving a second chance to:
* Lethal Weapon (I'm curious what they do with the cast shake-up)
* Gotham (Bruce Wayne is becoming Batman)
* Outlander (I may do the Starz trial and check it out)
* The Exorcist - Jon Cho
* Better Things
* Will & Grace (okay it's new, but 11 years later...)
* Poldark (see above)
* Great News (which I didn't try last year)
It's late, bed calls. Will do the new shows some other time.
My sleep schedule hasn't settled, though, which is probably partly my fault for not setting a consistent bedtime and thus not having a roughly consistent getting-up time. Since I take the pills with breakfast, this also introduces several hours of variability into that schedule.
Anyway, I was crushingly exhausted in the afternoons on Saturday, Sunday, and Monday, which resulted in two-hour naps on the latter two days. I was not similarly tired today, and I wonder if that's because I tend to drink tea (and thus get a dose of caffeine) much earlier in the day on work days. But I do the same on Saturdays -- albeit one hour later -- so... a mystery!
Additionally, last night I could not sleep for shit. I used to have mild insomnia as a child and teenager -- the kind where you just can't make your brain shut off no matter how tired you are -- but I had some meditative techniques that mostly worked and that had largely stopped being an issue by my early twenties anyway. (By which I mean, if I had told myself stories when falling asleep as a teen, I would have been up all night, whereas for the past fifteen years such storytelling has been my most reliable way to make myself fall asleep.) Monday night felt like I was eighteen again and could not fall into more than a thin and restless slumber for love or money. It was very frustrating, and I hope that does not repeat tonight.
My mood has been neutral to mildly positive, and while my motivation and time management continue to be iffy and liable to vanish without warning, the world does not feel crushing and impossible, so there's that. I feel like I will get my list of stuff done, even if I don't get to any given task on the first day I schedule for an attempt. That is a noticeable change. :)
I like Scott being awake and energetic in the evenings, so that's a positive for working third shift. The negative is that I have to be super quiet all day so as not to risk waking him. I'm even hesitating to make tea because of the noise of the whistle.
My left elbow is hurting a lot. Even when I'm not using the arm or hand, it sometimes hurts enough to make me mutter. The doctor recommended cold packs, but those hurt worse while I'm applying them and don't make things better after, so I'm wondering if I should try heat. That will be a bit harder because Scott moved my rice pack, and I'll have to find it. The elbow is bad enough to wake me if I move wrong, but I discovered this morning that, if I lie on my right side with a pillow between my arm and my body, the damned thing doesn't hurt. It's not ideal because I'm still feeling too warm most of the time and because the rest of my body doesn't like staying in that position, but it's better than nothing.
I have pulled out my sling. It can be useful in reminding me not to try to pick things up with that hand, but it also seems to make things worse in the long term. There's something about the angle and about how close in to my body the sling is that just doesn't work right. Possibly, I need a sling that holds the arm about three inches out from my torso.
I think that I have a solution to the problem of my c-PAP headgear sliding off-- I loosened the straps just a tiny bit, and now the dratted thing stays in place better. It's counterintuitive, but I've had it that way for two or three nights now, and it is better.
Sleep is still not great. Halcion has an effect, but it's not what my doctor said it would do. The stuff is supposed to be very short acting and hit me like a ton of bricks. It doesn't make me more immediately sleepy, but I am tending to stay asleep longer before I wake up to pee. The downside of that is that I'm getting up for that too close to when I have to get up for the day to be able to sleep again. When that's ten minutes, it's not such a big deal. When it's more than an hour... That's enough to matter.
I am a 35-year-old straight guy. I met a nice lady through the normal methods, and we hit it off and have grown closer. I think we are both considering "taking it to the next level." We are on the same intellectual wavelength, enjoy the same social experiences, and have a lot of fun together. So what could be the problem? My friend decided it was the time to inform me that she is transgender, pre-op, and will not be having gender-reassignment surgery. This was quite a shock to me. I'm not homophobic, though I've never had a gay experience. I'm open-minded, yet there is a mental block. I like this person, I like our relationship thus far, and I want to continue this relationship. But I'm in a state of confusion.
Confused Over Complicating Knowledge
Lemme get this out of way first, COCK: The nice lady isn't a man, so sex with her wouldn't be a "gay experience" and homophobia isn't the relevant term.
You're a straight guy, you're attracted to women, and some women—as you now know—have dicks. Are you into dick? Could you develop a taste for dick? Could you see yourself making an exception for her dick? It's fine if "no" is the answer to one or all of these questions, COCK, and not being into dick doesn't make you transphobic. Evan Urquhart, who writes about trans issues for Slate, argues that in addition to being gay, straight, bi, pan, demi, etc., some people are phallophiles and some are vaginophiles—that is, some people (perhaps most) have a strong preference for either partners with dicks or partners with vaginas. And some people—most people—want their dicks on men and their labia on/vaginas in women.
"There's no shame in it, as long as it doesn't come from a place of ignorance or hate," Urquhart writes. "Mature adults should be able to talk plainly about their sexuality, particularly with prospective partners, in a way that doesn't objectify or shame anyone who happens to be packing the non-preferred equipment."
Some straight guys are really into dick (trans women with male partners usually aren't partnered with gay men, and trans women who do sex work typically don't have any gay male clients), some straight guys are willing to make an exception for a particular dick (after falling in love with a woman who has one), but most straight guys aren't into dick (other than their own).
Since you're confused about what to do, COCK, I would encourage you to continue dating this woman, keep an open mind, and keep taking things slow. You've got new information to process, and some things—or one thing—to think about before taking this relationship to the next level. But don't drag it out. If you conclude that the dick is a deal breaker, end this relationship with compassion and alacrity. You don't want to keep seeing her "to be nice" if you know a relationship isn't possible. Because letting someone live in false hope is always a dick move.
A few months ago, I started dating someone. I made it clear early on that I didn't feel comfortable being in a nonmonogamous relationship. They said that's not usually what they're into but they weren't interested in seeing anyone else and they had no problem being monogamous. It's not that I don't trust them, and they've never given any indication that they're unhappy with our arrangement, but I can't shake the fears that, though they won't admit it (maybe even to themselves), they'd prefer it if our relationship were more open and I'm taking something important away from them. Can someone who usually doesn't "do" monogamy feel fulfilled in a "closed" relationship? Can it work out, or will they just slowly grow to resent me for this?
Deliriously Anxious Monogamist Nervously Inquires Today
If you stay together forever—what most people mean by "work out"—your partner will definitely grow to resent you. It could be for this reason, DAMNIT, or for some other reason, but all people in long-term relationships resent their partners for something. So if monogamy is the price of admission this person is willing to pay, let them pay it. There are a lot of people out there in closed relationships who would rather be in open ones and vice versa. And remember: What works for you as a couple—and what you want as an individual—can change over time.
My relationship with my husband is bad. We have been together for twelve years, and we were married for eight years before getting divorced last year. We have small kids. We reconciled four months after the divorce, despite the affair I had. I have a history of self-sabotage, but in my relationship with him, it has become near constant. Everyone thinks I'm a smart and kind person that occasionally makes mistakes, but I'm not that person with him. With him, I'm awful. I make promises I don't keep and I don't do the right things to make him feel loved even though I do loving things. We have been in couples therapy a number of times, but I always derail the process. I have been in therapy solo a number of times with similar results. I always get the therapists on my side and no real change happens. I want to change but I haven't. I want to stop hurting him but I keep doing it. He doesn't feel like I have ever really fought for him or the relationship. Why can't I change?
My Enraging Self-Sabotaging Yearnings
It's unlikely I'll be able to do for you in print what three couples counselors and all those therapists couldn't do for you in person, i.e., help you change your ways—if, indeed, it's your ways that require changing. Have you ever entertained the thought that maybe there's a reason every counselor or therapist you see winds up taking your side? Is it possible that you're not the problem? Are you truly awful, MESSY, or has your husband convinced you that you're awful in order to have the upper hand in your relationship? (Yeah, yeah, you had an affair. Lots of people do and lots of marriages survive them.)
If you're not being manipulated—if you're not the victim of an expert gaslighter—and you're awful and all your efforts to change have been in vain, MESSY, perhaps you should stop trying. You are who you are, your husband knows who you are, and if he wants to be with you, as awful as you are (or as awful as he's managed to convince you that you are), that's his choice and he needs to take some responsibility for it. By "stop trying" I don't mean you should stop making an effort to be a better person or a more loving partner—we should all constantly strive to be better people and more loving partners—but you can't spend the rest of your life on a therapist's couch. Or the rack.
If you truly make your husband miserable, he should leave you. If your marriage makes you miserable (or if he does), you should leave him. But if neither of you is going anywhere, MESSY, then you'll both just have to make the best of your messy selves and your messy marriage.
On the Lovecast, Dan chats with Slate writer Mark Joseph Stern about left-wing anti-Semitism: savagelovecast.com.
Is it just me, or are pencils getting worse? They break so easily, at least in the hands of my second graders. Last year and this, it seems like I sharpen a bunch of pencils and ten minutes later, they’re all broken. And half the time, I sharpen the pencil and then can pull the point right out. It’s so frustrating. It doesn’t matter what kind I use, either. I try to use only Ticonderoga pencils, because they’re supposed to be the best, but, really, they’re just as bad as the Target brand. Maybe it’s my pencil sharpener. I don’t know. I used to manage pencils using The Wise Owl’s Winning the Pencil War, but even with giving the kids seven sharp pencils, I was constantly sharpening. Now, I have a sharp bucket and dull bucket and just try to keep up with them throughout the day.
I was going to take pictures of my class and post them today, but, honestly? My room isn’t that pretty. I try, but I’m just not good at decorating. I wish I was better, but I don’t have the interior design eye.
All in all, it was a good day. I still felt rushed for time, but I had library today and was expecting to feel rush. I did get a chance to take pictures of the kids at library and playing math games, which I posted to Class Dojo. The parents really liked that. It made me feel like I was doing something to connect with them without having to step out of my comfort zone. I really need to work on connecting with parents. That’s my goal this year.
What’s your goal for the year?