How soon is never? by Mark Spitz

No, that’s not the swimmer. It’s a pathetic guy who can’t get over the Smiths. He takes us back into the teenage world of the 80’s when the Smiths could explain everything and save the whole world.

He writes about a poor little rich boy who can’t make sense of his life without following the counter-culture movement with religious fervor.

If you ever suddenly threw out your whole wardrobe because of a new album, you will identify.

If you’re like me, though, you will feel slightly sick to your stomach at the shallow angst of a Long Island jewish kid who knows so little about what’s important in life.

Which is not to say I didn’t like the book. It really grabs you. The story starts when the guy is already an adult, working for a rock magazine and trying to retain his hip youthfulness.

Through a series of convoluted yet rapid leaps, he comes to the conclusion that his whole life will start to make sense if he can get the Smiths back together for a reunion performance.

And more important than getting his life to make sense is getting the girl of his obsessions to be his.

If you were a fan of the Smiths, you should read the book. Like I said, despite it’s stomach turning quotient, it is very readable.

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The day after

Finally and completely, Chris has moved in. All of his things and all of my things are now in OUR condo.

He has a different moving philosophy than I do. I’m all about getting a truck and doing it all in one weekend. HE decided he wanted to move it over the course of a month. I practiced letting him have his way, and it actually wasn’t such a bad way to move.

It took a long time to get it all there, but we were able to put things away kind of slowly. On Saturday, when we took the very last things up, it was moderate chaos.

Now we just have to figure out how to make everything fit.

‘Living together’ is not something I ever thought I would do. But life is strange; the unforseen is always ahead.

After my divorce, which is also something I never thought would happen to me, I had to take it one day, or one hour at a time. Living in the moment had to be learned.

So, thinking about a long future with someone was nearly impossible. I sure didn’t think I would be with Chris this long. I didn’t think it when I met him. I didn’t think it a few months later, the first time he kissed me.

I wouldn’t have stuck around if I had thought we would have been together this long. I would have wanted my future to be determined by me. And a committed relationship, with future plans, sounded to me like I was signing my life away.

But…Chris is very good at giving me space and room for my dreams to grow. He has never gotten in my way.

Poor guy! Anytime he tried to talk about long-term togetherness, I would cry. That can’t be easy on the ego, to have your girlfriend cry when you tell her you want to be with her.

So, I finally yanked my head out of the sand and told myself I would HAVE to deal with this. Chris deserved better from me. So I tried. And I cried.

Finally, laughing and crying, I told him that it would be easier if we made up some OTHER people and talked about THEM. Maybe I would be able to distance myself enough to have a conversation.

He said, “Let’s give them the silliest names we can think of.”

He’s wonderful.

So Prudence and Sloan were invented to be our avatars. We didn’t always need them, but they were there when we did. When we’d be talking along about our lives and goals and what’s important, every once in a while I’d stop being able to breathe. I would inhale and not stop. BEFORE, I would start to cry at that point. But now, I could gasp out, “Prudence is a little concerned about that.”

You know, whatever it takes to get you through. The path to true love never runs smooth.

Some people just stay there

I met with a colleague who works across the street from me. It’s hard to find people who do what we do, so it’s pretty exciting when we can meet.

How funny is that? Don’t all multi-national companies do conferencing? Video conferencing is part of a lot of businesses. But we still don’t get noticed. None of the job sites have “Video Conference Adiministrator” as a possible job category.

Stealth Career.

So one of the things my neighbor wanted to talk about was how to get Mo’ Money. An extremely worthy topic. He wanted to triangulate, find out what we video people are worth. He has a certificate…I’ve been thinking about getting one. And we chatted about possibilities.

He kept saying, “don’t get the wrong idea…” when I was being very honest about my strong desire to make as much money as possible.

I am making less than I have, that’s for sure. What do I come to work for, if not to make as much money as I can with my time? Sure, the free coffee is nice, but it’s really about the paycheck. Let’s not kid ourselves.

Dude had been working at that same firm for 10 years.

TEN YEARS. Holy Crap. That’s crazy. My dream is to keep a car for ten years. Not to work in the same compeny.

He was surprised to hear that I had moved around in my career as video guru. I told him, that is the only way to get the big pay increase.


I’m a little too restless. I have “grass is greener” syndrome. And it’s not just the money, although money is very important. It is also the challenges. I want new projects, I have to have stimulation. Repetitive think injuries can happen. Do the same thought process, with no changes, you atrophy.

Or in my case, get cranky.

That being said, staying in one company has a few advantages. Companies have figured out that it’s cheaper to underpay people for years and years.

Dude had 5 weeks vacation. WOW! I would love that.

And I bet he didn’t worry about being let go.

I don’t ever trust an employer. I’ve participated in too many layoffs. why not me? It’s a possibility.

So I’m always on the lookout.

But some people just stay. I hardly know what to think about that.

The american dream

About a million years ago, I took a few martial arts classes. It was fun; I wouldn’t mind doing it again. I just have to find the time…

Anyway, one time, the teacher, while dismissing us, brought one new guy forward. Turns out he wasn’t new:

“Jeff…Come up here jeff! I need to take a moment. Everyone, you should congratulate Jeff. You used to be a lot bigger…How much weight have you lost?”

Jeff was a little shy. “About Sixty Pounds.” He was proud, though.

“THis is an accomplishment!” the Teacher praised him. “This is a big deal! I had to take some time and give you kudos.”

At that time, I was in sore need of some weight loss myself. I was amazed at the big deal made over this guy. 60 pounds, that is an accomplishment.

How much time do we spend thinking about losing weight? here in america, I think it is always on our minds. The American Dream. Just to lose that 10..15…50…150 pounds we need to lose.

My older brother Mark has been on a diet. He’s inspiring. I don’t know how much weight he’s lost exactly, but he came down from looking sort of substantial to looking how I always remember him.

He’d always been fairly slim. I think it was because he had been a perpetual student for so long. One of his remarkable achievements was living off a 25 pound bag of dried pinto beans for a year.

He’d been given the bag from my oldest brother. Like a great number of people, Bryan had been attracted to foodstores. For emergencies…the end of the world that was supposed to happen on y2k, or some natural disaster or the tribulation that comes right before the second coming of Christ…You have to be prepared!

Except he also had to move. And all those food stores didn’t fit neatly into the Uhaul. Which is how Mark got the sack, and was able to afford the fulfillment of another american dream: a college education.

My brother Bryan is not alone in his gut need for self-sufficiency. All those bags of beans…where they really belong is in a cabin in the woods, you know?

Chris took me to see Hearst Castle this friday. As I was driving with Chris up the highway one, through all these lovely remote places, I was seized with a desire for a cabin in the woods.

“Chris, wouldn’t you like a little cabin somewhere? A getaway sort of place?”

“Like at Whitney Portal?”

He and I like hiking in mountainey places. So we dreamed a bit.

“Wouldn’t you like to build a log cabin? If we bought a piece of land without any building on it, it would be cheap!”

“What about electricity?”

“Psh! We dont’ need electricity! We can get a generator! Solar power!”

He kept driving. I thought about all the things we can get away without.

“Except we HAVE to have water. That’s important.” I knew someone who built a whole gorgeous house on a patch of land that didn’t have a well. Water is key. “Maybe we should get it on a lake, or a river or something.”

That’s another American Dream. Your own land. Self-suffieciently. The shotgun and the “NO TRESPASSING” sign.

Well, maybe not the sign. I would like a cozy place where people would not be easily able to find it. Needley trees cushioning the space around small walls.

Mark, newly skinny, was telling us more about his self-evaluations. He was working the Color your Parachute book. He was trying to find the right sort of career for his talents.

Another dream-the career dream. Chris is an entrepenuer. Just enough to make me freak out. Work for the man? Get a pension? Not for my man.

I am nervous to be self-sufficient in that way. But Chris makes it happen. God bless him. His American Dream is his own business.

Folks at work here are constantly making pools for Lotto. Buy 100 dollars worth of tickets and split it if any of them win.

I ask them, “What would you do if you won?”

They seldom get past the first month…A big party, a big trip.

But what then? Life is long…How do you fill the hours without a dream? And if you make your dream come true too soon, where are you?

Mostly, they say, “If I won, you wouldn’t see me around HERE anymore.”

I remember there were people who won the dot com lottery. 20 something millionaires. And they showed up to work. What else would they do with their time? They liked their jobs. Some of them, anyway…

Hmm…I wonder. I know for sure what I would do with a lottery windfall. Go back to school. But you know, that might only be the first few years. What would the dream be then?

William Hearst had the windfall. Well, theoretically, he worked very hard for it. He had a lot of businesses. But he had all the money anyone would want.

He spend his free time shopping. And throwing parties.

The American Dream. Is that what we’re about?

*cough* UGH

i am unwell. I have a cold, and I am weak as a kitten.

But I’m at work. I’m bored with being home.

I don’t have that much to say, but I know i’ve neglected my readers a lot lately.

Not only was I sick this week, but I was low on interesting books. I’m in the middle of Brothers Karamazov, Vanity Fair, and The Saga of the Vatnsdal people.

All of which are pretty weighty. The saga is actually the lightest reading, which is why I took it up, even though I was in the middle of the two others.

The Vatnsdal people are actually some founders of iceland, and the saga is part of a kick-butt book called Sagas of the Icelanders.

I read Egil’s Saga and became a convert. What a guy!

So, there were several more sagas in the book I hadn’t gotten to yet.

Someday, I really will go there, Iceland impresses me. A major part of my identity is being a stubborn, get-out-of-my-way-and-don’t-tell-me-what-to-do pale-skinned Northerner.

Which is exactly what these Icelandic peopple are! So I dig their stories. Chris, that love of my life and fellow adventurer, bought me the book. I might not have bought it for myself, but the rightness of the gift shows that sometimes he knows me better than I know myself.

But the Vatnsdal people are not quite as cool as Egil was. They seem more like local heroes than cosmic ones…Which is still okay, but…Not the exact right spot I was hoping to hit with my reading this weekend.

The reason I started to read Brothers Karamazov was because of my love of Russian Novels. One of the great things about them is they take so long to read. It’s like living an entire life in a novel.

But they also have a great effect of helping you sleep. You read a couple pages, and bam, you’re asleep.

HIGHLY recommended for insomniacs. If you read carefully, you can enter into the Moscovsky countryside and forget all the problems of the 21st century that keep you awake.

Anyway, I was going on trips that required me to conquer time zones and still get a good night’s sleep. Dostoevsky helped with that.

And Vanity Fair…Well…They were starting to annoy me…Selfish greedy judgemental victorians.

I will get back to finishing Thackeray, but…Well…We needs some sensationalism, like the Brontes or Dickens…Can’t he drum up a ghost or a spontaneous combustion or an excaped prisoner to move the story along?

I’ve misplaced the story I wanted to read…The Autobiography of my Mother by Jamaica Kinkaid. That one looks good. Light enough but interesting.

Anyway, I ended up renting movies. I wanted to see Finding Nemo or Ice Age or some cartoon I hadn’t seen yet.

Chris was NOT feeling like a cartoon. He got Matrix Revolutions, which actually seemed like a good one. I got Nemo and Johnny English.

Love Rowan Atkinson.

Turned out the Matrix was the best of the lot. Even though I was hard put to stay away through the battle scenes…It was a lot for my sick senses to take in. It took itself too seriously, but at least it was entertaining. I was glad to see Trinity die, because I never believed that they loved each other that much anyway. But it was engaging.

Finding Nemo was such a disappointment. I have no idea why everyone was raving about it! Okay, maybe if your daddy left you, you would find it irresistably charming that a fish daddy worked so hard to find his son.

But there was no bad guy! The only bad guy was the distance between them…Not much drama there. And the “transformation” of the major characters Nemo and his dad was so insipid…Nothing like the better disney cartoons.

Johnny English was moderately funny…But I’ve decided that Atkinson is best in a shorter half-hour format. Mr. Bean left me purple with laughter when he visited the church. And Black Adder never fails to keep my smiling, but his movies are just a bit too long for extended silliness…

Okay, I guess that’s enough. I hope I will get better soon.

Take care of yourselves!

independence and intimacy

So Chris and I have been together for coming up on Five Years. It is time to take this whole thing seriously. So we’re going to take it to the next level.


None of us would be such relationship chickens if we hadn’t have those bad experiences. Now that I’m “taking it to the next level” that fire alarm that was comfortably damped…You know that alarm bell? The one that starts ringing DANGER! DANGER! DANGER! when you allow another person to become too important to you?

There are trip wires over certain parts of the heart that set the alarm off. When that certain cologne sets the back of your neck prickling. When you lean in. When your knees buckle thinking about him the next day.

The risk of wanting. The risk of denial.

But I had damped that alarm. It’s been practically five years, I had lulled it. Comfortable, known. When I lean in, he meets me there. He doesn’t let me fall.

But now I’m Leaning Further. More is at risk. Maybe I’m too heavy for him to catch. Maybe he’s not willing to lean in too.


Take a deep breath. Those years count for something. I think they do. I hope they do. If they don’t count, nothing does.

So I take a look and see where there might be weak spots in our RELATIONSHIP.

I don’t particularly like talking about relationships. Actually, I like talking about The Relationship too much. I feel like if we just have a good hour or two of conversation then we can settle everything….And I know I’m wrong about that. Having endless talks about The Relationship does not make as much of a difference as I feel like it does. Basically, we can talk about how we do things, but if we don’t get out and do them, we don’t have a chance to make the little improvements that would change the situation.

So, talking about it is not as helpful as I feel like it should be…It only feels good if the talks are basically insincere. It only feels good if he tells me what I want to hear.

Chris is very much a sincere person, so he won’t play that game.

I went to the library and got some books on communication. The ideas of power in a relationship are very important.

I weigh myself every day. I weigh my power relationsips every day. I can feel a very slight tip. I don’t always know what to do about it, but I know when I’m giving too much.

I was raised on very traditional female roles, so i always felt like I was required to give more. Because women were supposed to be subservient, that the man was supposed to support mom & kids (I don’t have kids, but that was supposed to change) and mom was supposed to do everything else. Including put up with the Man.

I tried to recreate that. When I was married, and I started to support my husband in school, I felt that this was an aberration. This is not how things were supposed to be. He was supposed to support me. He was going to graduate and then support me.

But that didn’t work out. He flunked out. So then we left college behind, and I got the first job I could, and started working very hard. He spent a lot of time trying to find the Perfect Job.

I ripped through three imperfect jobs, and then he finally found his perfect job.

Well! Thank god! I could now relax into the pose of subservient. I quit, because I wanted a break.

But I should have just taken a two week vacation. It was deep blackness, man, I don’t like not working.

But then I found a less important job than the Husband. I was a little intern. He was the important one. So I could maintain the right position.

I was very sad, without his company. I liked being with him. At least I remembered liking being with him. I wanted to spend time with him, but he always came home very late. It seemed like he did it on purpose! why would he stay away from me?

Finally, after weeks of crying at home and waiting for him, yelling at him when he came home because I was waiting so long, I said, No More.

If he wasn’t going to be there in the evenings, I would find someone else to play with. If I was crying at home, it was my responsibility to fix it. I thought I would just go out.

I told him, “i want to do this.” He thought it was a great idea, he told me I shouldn’t be lonely, I should go out and have fun. Go out with your girlfriends!

But then…I said, “This will change us. We won’t be as close anymore.”

He didn’t get it.

But I watched it happen.

I went out, I played with other people. Other people who thought I was interesting and smart and funny. Who didn’t play games and shelf me, and ignore me and break promises and let me down.

These other people listened to me. They TALKED with me. I thougth I was going to explode with happiness, to think that I had people listen to me.

And I gained independence. I knew who I was.

But I lost intimacy. That man, who I had been so desperately in love with, who I thought I would die without, had to go. It was a choice between me and him. He left no options.

There was the subservient role he offered, and then there was me.

I couldnt’ even fit in the role anymore. It was like pants that were too tight.
If I had tried, it would have resulted in escalating violence. I was scared of him

no more. I couldn’t go back. But I didn’t know where forward led.

More independence.

Yes, that particular choice was very obvious. My independence led me away from intimacy.

But then I started thinking….

How many women refuse to know things, because it will lead away from intimacy? It’s a standard thing (I hear) for girls to not do TOO well on their grades because they don’t want to be separated from their peers in high school.

I work in a highly technical field. I get lonely, because very few people know enough about what i do to talk about it. My independence made me give up the intimacy.

I bet that the women who work at beauty salons have a lot of things to talk about and share with each other.

I have felt like it’s a sacrifice, to learn things. Yes, it’s a benefit too, but it’s a sacrifice.

Intimacy is so important to me. That’s what Chris gives in abundance. He is always there for me.

And yet, he never gets in my way. That’s what helps me to feel comfortable with him. I HATE it when someone gets in my way.

And yet, I really wish I could be closer to people. Its a constant tug.