October 15, 2008

sex, drugs & chuck klosterman

Posted in aging, divorce, movie review, nostalgia at 9:33 pm by Marise Phillips

i started reading his book — you know, that one with the cocoa puffs in it — and i felt too old for it in some ways, yet the perfect age for it in others. especially when he goes off on how all the women he’s known, born anytime between like 1965 and 1975 (I’m paraphrasing, but my year was in there,) are in love with john cusack.

i’m not, not with him specifically, but the more i thought about chuck’s argument, that pop culture has ruined real life, because it makes us mere humans believe we can attain perfect love, symbolized by that scene in say anything where lloyd dobler serenades ione skye with his boombox in the rain. the sad point that chuck is trying to make is that regular real life can never measure up to what we see in movies.

and i know what he means. i’ve been there, i still have to struggle to drag myself out of that, those dreams of true love and happily ever after, riding off into the sunset. and it’s at once horrifying and also okay.

tonight, i watched before sunset and despite all my assumptions that it would suck (eg it could never be as good as my faint happy memory of before sunrise, etc), that i was too much older than the characters to take anything they had to say seriously, etc etc… i was pleasantly surprised.

1, i’m only a couple years older than they are in real life (maybe 3-4 yrs older than their characters); and

2, their love lives — both when they met and in the interim — share certain themes with mine.

Case in point, Ethan/Jesse’s line:

I don’t want to be one of those people who are getting divorced at 52, falling down into tears, admitting that they never really loved their spouse, and they feel that their life has been suck– sucked up into… a… vacuum cleaner. You know, I want to have a great life. I want her to have a great life. She deserves that. All right? But we’re just living in a pretense of a marriage, responsibility, of all these — just these ideas of how people are supposed to live.

Oh. Oh yes, I know that one. And I gotta say, it sounded both weaselly and fucking true, in equal measures. It made me feel just that little bit more serene about where I’ve been and how I’ve gotten to today.

June 14, 2006

How it happened, Part 2

Posted in divorce, nostalgia at 8:41 am by Marise Phillips

Although this post might suggest otherwise, I wasn't more than vaguely conscious of any unhappiness regarding my marriage at this point in time. Instead, I was focusing a big chunk of my waking thoughts on getting pregnant. As I do with all new obsessions, I bought every book I could find on the subject and spent a large portion of my free time digesting all the information available to me as woman in her mid-thirties who’d been trying for over a year to conceive.

My husband and I had both been tested for possible infertility issues; he was found to have a slightly lower-than-average sperm count, and I was diagnosed with a pre-polycystic ovary. Nothing that would likely prevent us from conceiving were I to take a few cycles of Clomid (an ovulation-inducing hormone) and, possibly later, undergo intra-uterine insemination (IUI). Because we knew a couple who'd blown their life savings on multiple in-vitro procedures, we counted ourselves fairly lucky so far.

Looking back, however, I think our main "infertility issue" was a plain and simple lack of sex. Before we were actively trying to conceive, we'd gone as long as two and a half months straight without it; therefore, the 2-3 times per month we were having at this point seemed plenty frequent by comparison. But I truly doubt it was often enough to make a baby.

Add to that my usual stream of consciousness during each encounter: "There's really no point in trying to come; he'll be done soon anyway… Hum-de-dummm… I can't wait 'til this is over so I can get back to doing [insert current project/TV show/DVD/video game here.]" So yes: rote it was; exciting, fulfilling, titillating it was not.

Still, I loved him and was happy to be commuting with him at my new job.

June 12, 2006

How it happened, Part 1

Posted in divorce, nostalgia at 11:15 am by Marise Phillips

A few years ago, my boss informed me that our team was going to be reorganized and that I – or my job, at least – would be made redundant. The company I worked for, SureSize Corporation*, called this status "redeployment," and it meant that I had approximately 4 months to find a new job, either inside or outside the company – or simply take the severance money and run.

During my year and a half there thus far, I'd had far more ups than downs – but had finally caught a break about a month before the redeployment by being assigned to a very exciting, high-profile project. The timing couldn't have been worse for me to leave SureSize; the project was interesting, a lot of fun, staffed with some of my favorite colleagues and would look great in my portfolio.

Considering the options, I decided to keep working as if my days weren't numbered, and I put in evening and weekend hours to finish the design and specification. My efforts were noticed and appreciated, and I felt vindicated by the praise I was finally receiving from a management team that had hitherto only been fairly dubious of my contribution to the organization. Meanwhile, I put out feelers for other positions within the company because I really liked its culture and benefits and hoped to remain there long term.

The only challenge was staying out of Hank's** way.

Now in charge of the team that had just swallowed up the one I was in, I'm fairly certain that Hank was the main force behind the decision to redeploy me. Unfortunately for my future there, Hank was swiftly climbing the corporate ranks in SureSize's Marin County headquarters – and he'd taken a dislike to me several months earlier, I guess for not submitting to his short-man-syndrome-induced authority on more than one occasion.

Thanks to my "great attitude" and hard work on the exciting project, however, I was recommended for an opportunity to fill in for a product designer in the San Francisco office who was going on maternity leave for six months. The hiring manager there was fairly confident that she would either not come back (since this was her second child) or that there would be an open headcount ready for me by the time the six months were up.

I accepted the new job without hesitation; the only negative (and hardly a major one) was that my current 10-minute commute would increase to about an hour, but the majority of that time would be spent on a scenic ferry crossing from Larkspur to downtown San Francisco. Moreover, SureSize’s offices were in the same exact building as my husband’s. We could commute together!

* Not the company's real name.
** Not Hank's real name.

June 9, 2006

For balance

Posted in divorce, nostalgia at 8:49 am by Marise Phillips

Many of the revelations in my last post come from mixing a half-pound of hindsight, a soupcon of self-flagellation, and a dash of exaggeration.

Here are some of the positive reasons I fell in love with, and wanted to marry, my ex:

  • He was more intelligent than anyone I’d ever dated before, without having that anti-social weirdness that so many super-smart people tend to have.
  • We could talk for hours about all manner of subjects, profound and ridiculous.
  • He was a rugged outdoorsman and loved skiing, camping, hiking and mountain climbing – all of which had a very positive effect on me and my fitness level.
  • He loved food and wine, and learned so much about that latter that he began making it himself.
  • He’d worked with developmentally disabled adults for half a dozen years before I met him, and had heartbreaking and honest stories to tell about the experience. I deeply respected his drive to better the lives of others.
  • He was sensitive, romantic and gave the best gifts of anyone I’ve ever known. For the second-to-last birthday of mine we spent together, he surprised me with round trip tickets to Paris.
  • He loved animals (almost) as much as I do, and we were quickly able to agree on the kind and number of dogs we wanted to have and when we wanted to get them.
  • We had a ball raising and training our two pug puppies, and were equally shattered by the loss of Chloe the baby black pug when she died on the table during her spay operation.
  • We both wanted children very much, and had similar values with regard to childrearing.
  • He was unaccountably kind to my parents and had a fabulous extended family, who were lovely enough to take us all in under their wings.
  • He loved me more than any man ever had, and probably ever will.

June 8, 2006

Confessions of a former Bridezilla

Posted in divorce, nostalgia, self-flagellation at 7:03 pm by Marise Phillips

Top Signs You Shouldn’t Marry “The One You’re With”

  • By the third time you have sex with this person, you ask yourself, “Is that it?”
  • When he asks if you’re bothered by his sexual dysfunctions, you immediately (and repeatedly) lie, “Of course not!”
  • You soon begin to have recurring, sexual dreams about all your favorite ex-boyfriends.
  • You crush on and daydream about other men with increasing frequency.
  • You’re afraid of losing weight, getting hit on, and not knowing whether you’d have the willpower to say no.
  • You don’t discuss any of this with your therapist.
  • Nevertheless, you’re about to turn thirty, so you hound him for an engagement ring. (your boyfriend, not your therapist!)
  • You drag him to estate jewelry stores, agree on a ring you like and he can afford, and are disappointed that he didn’t buy it the day you found it.
  • You get in a fight over when he’s going to propose, not knowing he’s already bought the ring and hidden it under the bed you are both sitting on during the fight.
  • He “finally” proposes during a weekend getaway/goodbye party for his best (lesbian, anti-marriage) friend, who tells you the next day that she dreamt your engagement ring was made of spikes.
  • You worry that you weren’t thin enough for the “day he proposed” pictures.
  • You worry that he wasn’t good-looking enough for the “day he proposed” pictures.
  • At a friend’s bachelorette party about a month after your engagement, you get so drunk that you dance on the bar and… um… hook up with a random stranger.
  • You try to hide this from all your friends who were there; of course, they all know, you know they all know, yet no one discusses it.
  • You lose so much weight between the engagement and wedding that you have to get the ring resized three times.
  • You obsess about the wedding plans and are so controlling of every detail, he has no idea what’s been planned and what hasn’t – and it gets to the point where you can tell: he knows better than to ask.
  • He shaves his goatee a bit too closely one day, and you begin to wonder, “Is it wrong to marry someone who looks um… no-so-good without facial hair?”
  • You hire a personal trainer so that you are in perfect shape for your big day, yet you look at him and wonder if he’s going to ever lose any weight — but of course you don’t dare say anything.
  • A week before the wedding, you burst into tears when you accidentally shut the car door on the fingers of your left hand, worrying: “The photos will be ruined!!!”
  • You drain $5,000 in savings and rack up over $10,000 in debt for the wedding, despite the fact his father pitched in $16,000 for it.
  • You can’t decide which friends to ask to be your bridesmaids, and so you end up with too many.
  • The one you definitely should not have asked is a fairly casual acquaintance, and clearly ends up resenting you for every penny she spends on the wedding, despite the fact you bought her bridesmaid’s dress for her.
  • She doesn’t get you a wedding gift.
  • She is one of the witnesses to your little “indiscretion” at the aforementioned bachelorette party.
  • You don’t enjoy much of your wedding day, and are disappointed in your bridesmaids for various things you expected them to do, but didn’t.
  • The sex is so strange and bad on your wedding night that you ask yourself, “What the fuck was I thinking??”
  • You’re bored during your honeymoon and have joyless, obligatory sex maybe two or three times in two weeks.
  • Months later, you continue to obsess about details of the wedding that weren’t “just right:” e.g. people who didn’t RSVP or who failed to show up, the disappointing taste and design of the wedding cake, the prematurely-lit floating candles that burned out too soon…
  • Less than three years later, you begin to obsessively fantasize about your husband meeting a tragic, untimely death.
  • You have absolutely nothing against him except for one tiny detail… he’s not the one you should have married.