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Once again, I can't sleep. I continue to swing between two trains of thought. I look back on my mistakes and wonder what I could have done differently, how could I have avoided losing her; avoided driving a wedge between us. I have many regrets about how I behaved. The weekend Layla died was a big one. The botched week we spent house-sitting together. How I made a point of resisting as she pushed me to say I loved her or to join her in daydreams about living together or the possibility of kids. I look back at moments like these and see how easy it would have been to have done the right thing but I was stubborn and did what I thought was 'right'. I agonize over these failings.
On the other hand I take the bitter medicine and try to convince myself that even if I'd made the best choices, our relationship would have collapsed eventually anyways. Jane is a slave to her psychology and her medication (willingly or unwillingly, it doesn't matter). Even though she cared about me so much that I was only the second man that she'd ever wanted to live with, that wasn't enough to overcome her biology. I loved her when she awake and truly present (her goofy antics and witty sass and intelligent sparkle) and I began to hate when she was asleep. Not only did it make me feel unimportant and interfered with so many of my aspirations for us, but it would also cast a long shadow on our waking time together. The migraines, her aches and pains, the nightmares, her slow metabolism which only served to further extend the effects of the medication; to me it seemed so obvious that many of her troubles were rooted in her dependence on these drugs. I wanted her to be healthy and alive and alert with me, not constantly narcoleptic and unhealthy. I could have educated myself on these matters of her psychology and these drugs, that might have made me more considerate and forgiving. But even if I had come to understand and accept that aspect of our relationship, I know I would have been unsatisfied with the type of relationship it was beginning to dictate. It would have closed the doors on things I wanted us to be able to do and how I wanted us to be. Even if I could have learned to live with it, I would have had to sacrifice much of what I wanted in order to keep her. Sooner or later, that would have ended us. As this relationship was nearing its end I thought that if we could just hang on until we were employed again, that would force Jane to assume a normal sleeping schedule and that would resolve my biggest concern about us. But then I think back to when we were both on a 9-5 schedule and realize the problem was still there. The rationale and the excuses were different, but it still came between us. So job or no job, the outcome would have been the same. I couldn't have accepted the life that would come with being with Jane and she couldn't change who she is.
When I can convince myself of that conclusion, it seems irrelevant to wonder if I could have truly become the man she wanted me to be, communicative and emotionally supportive and effusive. I don't think I could have ever satisfied those needs of hers. As I look at our relationship I realize that it placed an emphasis her desires and needs. It wasn't quite as severely unequal as the relationship I had with Liz, but it was unbalanced. From minor mundane matters such as whose music we listened to to larger decisions such as whose house we stayed at or whose family and friends we spent more time with. Granted, this imbalance could have stemmed from the possibility that I simply needed less than Jane. I felt at least that my demands were modest, consistent, and few. Also, the imbalance may have been my own fault. I was too eager to please Jane and make her happy so I may have prioritized her needs too much. To this day, I don't understand Jane's disinterest in me. She always said she wanted me to open up more but whenever I'd venture to share something with her that was important to me, she would take no interest in it or disparage it outright. She said my music sounded like women orgasming (while we always listened to her NIN and 90s playlist), she never read any of the books on my shelf (though I read multiple books of hers and her articles as well), she never wanted to watch, let alone play any of my games, even the one I said was the most beautiful one I'd ever played and had inspired me to put 40 hours into sewing a costume of. We watched her movies but none of mine. She declined my invitation to go to the theater to see a movie that reminded me of her. When Lilly and I cosplayed, she didn't once rouse herself to see my project as I was working on it or join the family on the day we wore them. The books I bought when we went to the bookstore she dismissed as being 'depressing'. It was like she was always apathetic or negative about what mattered to me. Is it any wonder I was reluctant to share with her?
She always wanted so much emotional affection and reassurance. Notes, texts, phone calls, emails, instant messages, presents, flowers, gestures. I didn't ask for any of that. I was touched by them and cherished them, but that's not what I wanted from her. I wanted to feel that I was important to her, that she was interested in me and respected me. But most of the time I felt subordinate to her needs, unrelenting as they were. I felt like I wasn't an equal partner in this relationship. I think that was the true root of my recurring frustration. We built the relationship to satisfy her. I'd sit through the painful nightly ministrations for her quirky satisfaction, I reduced my expectations in order to accommodate her minimal sex drive, I worked to incorporate her rational and irrational requests into my own behavior; the focus was on what she wanted/needed. It became more unbalanced in the denouement of our relationship as she began to pull away while I increased my efforts to woo her back. I could never dispel my frustration though, because subconsciously I was aware of the imbalance of effort and affection and respect. I wasn't consciously aware of it during our relationship and I'm kind of surprised about that. I would have thought I'd be keenly sensitive to such a situation after going through it with Liz. But I wanted to be with Jane so much more than I wanted to be with Liz and our good times together were so much better too, that I think that changed my perspective and heightened my tolerance to any inequity in our relationship. I don't know if I would have become consciously aware of this imbalance if we had stayed together. Perhaps so. That frustration was probably my coalescing awareness that this relationship wasn't fair. I helped make it unfair.
Jane made the correct decision when she asked me to stop coming to her shows. Her reasons are different than mine, but I agree that that was the proper course to take. Despite all my efforts to convince myself that this relationship was not sustainable or fulfilling for me, I still want to be with her. And that's why I shouldn't be with her, not even as a friend. Not now anyways. But I still can't help but wonder, What would have had to be different about us, for it to have worked? I can't help but feel that we were so close to being just right for one another. I feel that we almost had it and not knowing the answer keeps me from getting any rest.
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That's how I knew it was definitively, completely, utterly over.

Jane's comedy troupe was doing their last performance. The structure of it was, no troupe could win more than 4 times in a row. This was their fourth performance. So no matter how good they did, this was the last time. I went, of course. I'd been invited and they were a good group. Aside from non-relatives, I was the only consistent groupie. The challenger duo was exceptional. Jane's group was pretty good. I sat with Nan, as per usual. But somehow I missed the explanation/whatever following the performances. I hadn't bothered to submit my vote as I assumed that the outcome could only point one direction. It was a brief exposition; according to Nan, Jane's group won again.
In my own words, Jane's group's main advantage was that it was slower paced and more approachable than the challenger's razor-sharp efforts. Once again, Sally was the group's Hail Mary pass, crawling in like an amputee.
So their group won, for what it's worth. This time around I'd actually taken the train to the show so I was genuinely checking the time to see when I would have to leave. At this time of day the train only runs once every half hour so I couldn't be too casual (?) about it. As we were all departing though, Jane and Nan inquired as to where I was parked/situated/whatever. They volunteered to give me a ride to the train station where my truck was parked.
I sat in the back seat. My buzz was still fluent enough that I could interject into their conversation as was appropriate. The conversation primarily centered around the night's performance and then angled towards more mundane matters, such as Nan's doctor's appointments or how the animals were doing. As all that was going on my eyes were continually fixed on Jane's profile. I could see her luminous skin, the nuances of her profile, her lustrous hair . . . but not once did she divert her gaze towards me. Always she looked forward. She never looked back to see how I was doing; never cast a concerned look behind her. If I had met her gaze just once, for a moment, I would have felt something. But I never saw her eyes. They looked beyond and above me. That's how I knew.
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I went to Jane's improv show tonight. I could cite many minor reasons for going, such as: she and her group are funny, I enjoy stand-up, she would appreciate the support and input, she invited me so it would be polite to go, I could use a laugh, etc. The underlying motive though was that I wanted to see her again, in any way, shape, or form. I wasn't 100% sure that this would be the best idea, but I psuedo-rationalized it by saying that it would be good for my recovery to see her doing what she does best, without me.
I had a few drinks on the way down. Like I said, I don't normally drink when I'm depressed but I thought I might need some outside help to dismiss the dark clouds that have been following me, something to mute the negative thoughts that have been playing on loop. I got to the club about 10 minutes early. Nan was waiting in the front. We made small talk about their pets, Jane's new job, Nan's health, and such, while ignoring the elephant in the room. Nan was glad I had come and expressed that Jane would also be thankful. The usher called everyone in and we took our seats in the theater. [“When I read your post I felt terrible.”] As we were waiting for the show to start, Nan asked me, “Are you two really over?”
“According to Jane, we are.” Despite the relaxation of the alcohol and my commitment to be strong, I could feel the tears wanting to well up.
Nan continued, “Jane would kill me if she knew I was telling you this, but she says that she really misses you. Now she's got no one to share with.” She said more but it was hard to make it out with the music playing overhead.
I merely nodded. It didn't seem appropriate to share with her how devastated I was feeling. She began to say something else when the houselights went down.
The show started and the improv groups were excellent. The challenger team went first and they were on point. Fast, creative, and animated, I really liked their work, though they did change topics very abruptly which I felt lost the audience momentarily each time. Jane's group did as well as they ever do; Sally (the team's sparkplug) seemed a bit subdued tonight. It was a close match. I filled out my ballot for the challenger but abstained from turning it in. It turned out that Jane's team won which means they'll be returning next week. So I may come back for that.
After the show everyone moved to the lobby. I sat with Nan and we talked about the show for a few minutes as we waited for the comedians to come out. The conversation ebbed and I considered leaving before Jane came out. I could easily have said that I needed to catch my train back home. But I knew that Nan has trouble walking and that Jane would want to pull the car around, but this wasn't the sort of neighborhood where a girl should be walking alone after dark. So I stayed. Eventually Jane emerged and we three talked of comedy for a bit. I then walked Jane to her car. We avoided any delicate topics, mainly just talked about the show. She thanked me for coming and said that she was a bit surprised that I had. I shrugged it off, saying that, “Regardless of what's going on with us, you and your group are really funny.” We got to her car and I told her to take care. She asked me to give Lilly a kiss for her.
As soon as we separated I could acutely feel that cavity inside of me. I don't know if this venture was good or bad for me. I'm home now and that sadness is still there just as before.
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After last night's final blow, I vented a little on Facebook this morning. Nothing venomous or pathetic, just a statement of what's going on with me: the break-up, being broke and giving up on Dragon*Con, and my continued bad luck in finding a teaching job with the school year just about to start. I received quite a few messages of support and consolation and a handful of friends reached out even more than that. I was touched. The messages were heart-warming, even though they can't do anything to really ease my depression, they . . . helped in a way.
This afternoon Katherine sent Cameron to pick up some bourbon that she needed for cooking. He came back with that bourbon and an extra bottle of rum for me. It was an odd surprise. He's trying to help, I suppose. But I only drink in pleasant situations; I wouldn't dare risk mixing alcohol with my current emotional state. I'm almost considering it though.
The past few days I've been doing what I can to keep myself distracted. That means reading, playing games, watching TV, playing more with Lilly, just anything to keep my mind preoccupied. I was playing a video game this evening when Lilly got up a few minutes after her bedtime. Usually she just goes to the bathroom or asks her dad for some water. But this time she came to my door and asked, "Uncle Cody?" That was atypical.
"Yes Lilly?"
She pushed open the door and asked, "Why are you not friends with Miss Jane anymore?"
How do you explain a break-up to a three-year-old? Lilly was really fond of Jane so I'd been dreading this question. I suppose the topic must've come up when Cameron was putting Lilly to bed. The best answer I could give Lilly was, "Because I hurt her feelings really bad."
"Why?"
"Because I was mean."
"Did you say you were sorry?"
"Yes, I did. But . . . she doesn't want to be my friend anymore."
Lilly didn't look like she really understood or accepted my explanation, but I couldn't think of any other way to describe it better. I miss her too, Lilly.

In ruins

Aug. 4th, 2015 03:05 am
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It hurts all over again. I . . . was holding out some hope. When I had sought to talk to her shortly after the break-up, she said that she needed time to make this decision, without being swayed by emotions or the sadness of break-up. She said we'd 'talk soon'. As of a couple days ago, her Facebook status still showed us in a relationship so I thought she was still considering things. But I looked just now and it says 'single'. Just like that. One word and it's done. I keep looking at that word, dumbfounded. She didn't say anything further to me, there wasn't any notification; I've just been deleted. Is that it? Is that really it?
I'm still in shock how quickly this happened. We had difficulties sure, but the speed and magnitude of her change of heart has stunned me. Five days before we broke up, she was still asking if I could come over. Three days before we broke up she seemed happy when I came over. The day before we broke up we had good times, slept in the same bed, shared our meals, shared our time, shared our shower . . . there was nothing I saw that said this was our last week/day/hour together. And in the space of four days I've been deleted. I haven't heard from her at all. I just . . . can't comprehend how things changed so quickly. I mean, was I truly so oblivious that I didn't see any indication that this was it, that our time had run out? Had she really given up on our relationship so long ago that once the last words were said, she could instantly and dramatically flee? I thought we both cared for each other but apparently I was a fool. I was still committed to something that had become a hollow act for the other person. I didn't think I was so easily disposed of.
If I cared for someone so strongly and without any true fear right up to the very last minute, how can I trust my feelings in the future? If I was caring for someone who wasn't actually there anymore, what does that say about the depth and sophistication of my relationships? That I can be content with a charade? I just don't understand any of this. I thought we meant something to each other. How could I have missed the truth by so much?

Lessons

Aug. 3rd, 2015 03:10 am
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I'm no longer as emotional as I was those first few days. I am still depressed; not eating too much and it's hard to sleep. It feels like something's physically missing inside of me and at times I feel sick to my stomach. I'm getting a handle on the sadness. I can now find ways to keep myself preoccupied and distracted, but I still feel it in the back of my thoughts. At least I can get through the day. The nights aren't easy though. I haven't had such an adverse reaction to a break-up ever, I think. Maybe when I broke up with Liz, but that was a 3-year relationship, compared to six months with Jane.
I thought I should try to put to paper what I've come to understand, while it's the most vivid. I think my biggest mistake was underestimating Jane's words. Every concern and issue that she identified turned out to be accurate but I dismissed many for various reasons. I should have taken them all more seriously and gotten out of my own head and past my own acute concerns to take a look at the big picture. The savannah was on fire around me but I couldn't see through the grass.
Yes, sex was the first thing to fade. But rather than getting obsessed with that issue, I should have perceived that it was a symptom of a larger problem, not the source. Granted, there was some confusion or ambiguity about what was behind the lack of intimacy, but this isn't the first time this has happened. Every time that sex has tapered off in my relationships, it's not because of a physical disconnect, it's due to something deeper. If this should ever happen again, I MUST realize that it's a warning of a deeper issue.
Her sleeping habits was the one issue I wouldn't budge on. I thought if she cared about me and truly wanted to spend time with me, she could change her behavior. It made me feel unimportant when I was ignored or apparently forgotten all those times. I'm still not sure whether it is within her abilities to effectively change, but that's not important. I dismissed her dependency on her drugs and hardly bothered to understand her psychological issues. This is something she's been burdened with her entire adult life and I have no real understanding the magnitude or difficulty of what I was asking her to do. I should have tried to learn more about her habits, her perspectives, her biology, etc. I should have delved into whether it's partly to blame for her tenuous employment status and poor health. I should have placed a priority on understanding her situation from every aspect, rather than insisting that she change a behavior that I saw as unhealthy. If she was ever going to change, she needed my understanding and support first, not my anger. I'm so ashamed that I was hard on her.
Whenever she would talk about her hopes for us, I was often lukewarm about my support or agreement. I was cautious and didn't want to over-commit before I was ready. But what I didn't realize is that she was bearing herself to me, sharing her dreams in a trusting, open manner. And I was un-gentle to them, I didn't support them. Again, I was unkind. I should have recognized the value of the trust and openness she was offering to me and matched her generosity.
Increasing communication . . . that was the tough one. Even after I decided to make a conscious effort to speak more about everything and anything, it was difficult. I just . . . don't spontaneously think of communicating with others. Maybe the cooling atmosphere between us made it more difficult but I think most of the issue lay with me. I'm just not that gregarious. That also included the spontaneous texts and notes, all those nice touches. My big gestures were good but those were few and far between. Jane needed a continuous show of affection/thought. I started taking her for granted almost as soon as the relationship started. I didn't think I needed to secure or maintain my hold on her heart, but obviously, it was needed. I believe it's a habit that I could develop, being consciously attentive and facilitating communication. As for actually having more to say . . . I don't know about that. In retrospect, I think it would've been a good practice for us to talk every night that we were together. At the very least we should ask each other what they thought about the day. It's good for preserving memories and airing out grievances promptly, but most importantly it would have gotten me into the habit of talking more openly and easily about what's on my mind.
Speaking of which, Jane often called me out on my behavior and wouldn't let issues fester for long. Thanks to that she helped me to learn how to more healthily and promptly address personal issues without waiting for it to become a fight or ignoring it permanently. I just wish we would have talked about our issues more constantly. But it's so risky when the relationship is on the rocks. Paying constant attention to the problems can quickly exhaust what patience and caring still remains.

She would say that it seemed like I was always angry. While I would object and say that I was actually frustrated, that's just splitting hairs. I was angry, because I was selfish about what I wasn't getting or what I had to give. In past relationships I've been able to deny my anger or clothe it in righteousness. This time around there was nowhere to hide it. I was angry too often. The only way to prevent that from happening again is to mature in my understandings and expectations of my partner and I. As long as I only view things from a selfish perspective, I will always continue to unwittingly sabotage my relationships.
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I came to a realization tonight. As I was going through my phone, beginning to delete the texts between me and Jane, I could see a trend emerging from our interactions. Jane was almost always forthcoming and the first to share emotion or any other sign of caring, while I would always react. If it happened to be a emotional concern, I would often deflect or downplay or otherwise ignore it. That's how I created a distance between us. When I wasn't getting what I wanted or what I thought I deserved, I used excuses like her OCD or her sleeping habits to exempt me from having to understand her, or to undermine the legitimacy of any concerns she had. I always used those things against her, rather than trying to understand and accept them. And then it struck me that these were similarities to what I learned in the end of my relationship with Liz. (And it manifests in both my professional and personal life too. I "ignore" what I'm afraid of confronting, but spin it so that I have a legitimate reason to ignore it. Whether it's the check-engine light in my truck, my workplace situation, my financial situation, etc etc. I act as if these matters are trivial when in fact I'm just afraid of dealing with them. And in the same way, I've been ignoring Jane's pleas.)
The counselor had helped me to see how emotionally detached I was, how I learned that as a coping mechanism in the adversarial environment of my childhood. In order to protect myself from being hurt, I would invent or rationalize to myself that I didn't care. That something wasn't important or without merit. When Jane came to me with her unsatisfied needs, I would pay lip service and maybe half-heartedly attempt some change in behavior, but in my core, I held grudges. Her true concerns were rooted in her emotional heart. Yes, she had superficial needs, which truly aren't significant and fooey on me for using them as ammunition against her. For distilling them into animosity. All that Jane really wanted from me was for me to share my heart with her. And I didn't. I was insecure about letting in someone again, I was embarrassed to admit these feelings, I didn't trust what I felt, I didn't want to risk being rejected, I feared that I wouldn't be able to live up to the commitment and expectation of “love”, etc. And so I latched onto minor grievances between us and erected them as barriers to our growth as a couple. Jane has come to me with nothing but an open heart but I've resisted matching her openness and caring. Because of fear and insecurity. I held Liz at bay too. Back then, I prided myself on being cold and rational about our troubles. Now I see that all I was doing was using my rationale to invent defenses against the allegations levied against me. Somehow fear crept into that relationship. Yes, she had issues, but I carry some blame for sabotaging us. And I've almost done it again. Jane wasn't asking for anything truly beyond my means; I denied it to her because (although I would never admit it), some part of me would never surrender, would always hold back to protect me. Even though she's been in more relationships than I, I was the one acting jaded and selfish. Me.
When I connected these dots, I wasn't crying anymore. I wasn't upset. This was a revelation. It probably came too late to save Jane and I, but I knew I had to do something. My failing in this relationship was not committing fully to it. I always held back, I was never fully honest, I always used logic or excuses to excuse me from committing and loving. Now my logic was telling me, “Cody, leave her be. She's made her decision. It's wrong to contact her now. You had your chance, it's too late. She doesn't love you, it's over.” But I can't trust my logic. Any of those could be excuses that are rooted in fear or insecurity. I'm a clever human, it is well within my ability to deceive myself. The only way I can know something for sure is to act according to my true feelings.
So I left my bedroom, walked out of the house, and got into my truck. I didn't have keys to lock the door behind me, I didn't even have pants. I knew if I stopped or turned around for any reason, I'd use it as an excuse not to act. I had to tell Jane that I now understood what I'd done wrong. All this time I'd been holding her at fault to some degree. Now I could see it was largely my fault. I knew this information would not change her mind. But I HAD TO tell her. This is what I felt now. Not sadness, or anger, but conviction. And a vow that I would not allow myself to do this any more. That I would act fully and truly according to my feelings for her. Even though we're over now I had to share this with her.
I started driving to Denton with many doubts as to whether this was the right or wrong thing to do. But I wasn't going to let doubts stop me now. I already greatly regret what I've done these past six months; I'm not going to regret not seizing upon this opportunity here and now.
And so I drove. Eventually I had to admit that I might catch her at a bad time, or cast myself in a bad light if I showed up without warning at her house, pantsless and wearing my “Fuck Y'all, I'm from Texas” shirt. So I texted her when I was halfway there. “Are you up?”
The next five minutes were tense. If she didn't reply, then this was all for naught. The epiphany was truly too late. Then came, “Yes”.
I told her I wanted to talk and she acceded to texting. That wasn't what I'd hoped for, but it would have to do, so I pulled over somewhere in Prosper. I was torn between respecting her wishes for time and distance to come to terms with things, and making her understand that I saw things differently now and accepted full responsibility for my actions. This wasn't about asking her to take me back. That's too much to hope for now. Even though this was probably all out-of-line, I did my best to unflinchingly admit what I'd done and describe how I believed I could overcome it. I struck the best balance I could see between respecting her needs right now and my own need to answer for my actions. Jane was graciously understanding, yet firm. After an hour of long texts, I felt that I'd said as much as I could expect to, in these circumstances. I bade her goodnight and turned around and headed home.

All day I swung between sadness and barren emotional exhaustion. Now though I feel energized with purpose. It feels good to act. Whatever happens now, I won't regret. I've acted with honesty and authenticity. I've laid all my cards on the table. If I lose Jane, well, I've learned a valuable lesson at a dear price. If I win her back . . . there might be a chance for me to grow into a better man after all.



P.S. Part of me warns that all this might just be desperate, addled logic resulting from my emotional state and that I shouldn't trust my instincts right now. But all I can really be certain of right now is that the past six months of me deliberately navigating through our relationship led us to ruin. Reasoning is not to be trusted right now.

Afterword

Jul. 31st, 2015 11:36 pm
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Today was very rough. I awoke late in the afternoon and believed I had the house to myself. I began gathering up Jane's things (there wasn't much). There were many interruptions of crying. I found some old journal entries, the ones that I hadn't been able to post, and uploaded those to my web journal. Jane didn't approve of my journal but it doesn't really matter anymore. I need to get rid of those hand-written pages, but couldn't bring myself to delete them from existence. I need to keep a reminder of how I broke this relationship.
I came downstairs eventually and was surprised to find Cameron there. He said he was taking the day off. I managed to exit quickly without betraying my emotional state. I went out for lunch but had hardly any appetite. I almost broke down a couple times in public. Fortunately it was slow at the restaurant and there weren't many eyes about.
Back at the house I finished sewing the alterations on her dresses that I'd promised so long ago. It hurt to think that I'd never see her in it, that we'd never go on those vacations that we'd planned, but keeping busy helped me. I packed up her stuff into a box. Taking her key off my keychain was the last part and sent me into another jag of sobs and crying. I had thought I would mail her stuff back to her but then I remembered that she has that little postal box and wasn't sure how or if she could receive such a big box. So I decided I'd drive it over and drop it off on her doorstep. I just needed to wait until rush hour was over.
Lilly came home and came into my room, oblivious that I'd been crying. As far as she knew, it was another good day with the people she cared about. I read a chapter to her from our book and then coaxed her to go back downstairs. I gathered up all of the mementos I had from Jane and packed them away. As I looked through them and my journal notes and my old texts, I realized how terribly I'd failed at returning Jane's affection. All the time I wanted her behavior to change and thought her words paled in comparison. My stubbornness and unkindness gradually trampled over her soft, gentle, caring feelings. I could see them wither away over the weeks and months in the face of my displeasure. I hate that I did that to her. I put too much weight and penalized her too harshly for her lack of action and paid no heed to the precious value of her words. And now she's gone.

I thought that I needed to try and function normally so I went downstairs and joined the family in the living room. Cameron and Katherine were on their phones, Lilly was watching the Lego movie and playing with Play-Doh. I was just kinda . . . there. And out of nowhere, Lilly says, “I really like Miss Jane's present.” Hearing Lilly speak of her tore at me. I'd feared having to explain why Miss Jane would never be coming back, of why we weren't boyfriend and girlfriend anymore. I asked, “What present are you talking about?” Katherine supplied, “The Millenium Falcon lego present.”
Some time later Cameron was chatting and asked the inevitable, “So how is Jane doing?” My voice was rough when I answered, “Not so good, I think. We broke up yesterday.”
Cameron and Katherine were silently shocked. Cameron, like a good brother, did what he could to console me. I know it must've been awkward for him to see me tearing up. He gave me a hug and prompted Lilly to do the same. I wasn't in any state to receive kindness and I cried more. I didn't break down entirely, but I just couldn't talk about it right now. I'm grateful that I'm not alone. This loss would be much harder to bear without anyone around me.

About 8 pm I left for Jane's house. By now the tears were coming less frequently; emotional exhaustion was taking its place. Although my intent was solely to leave her belongings at her house, part of me wanted her to be there, wanted to see her just once more, while the rest of me knew it would be better if she was gone. She'd had plans to go see an improv show with a friend today. If she was at home, I would think that she was still traumatized by our break-up and that would give me some sliver of hope that she might reconsider. Or at least, it would show me that she was hurting too and that would lessen my own hurt. If she was gone, that would mean that she was recovering faster than me, that our break-up had less of an impact on her. That would hurt me more, but would speed up the break.
Jane's car wasn't there and I was glad, in a way. I walked up to her front door, the familiar setting twisted me up as I approached. I set the box down and paused, my face crumpling. What little I had left of her was in that box. There was no reason to stay; this was the very last time I would be here. I was visiting a grave.
I turned and left.

As much as I want it to not be true, I don't think I'll ever see her again. I fucked up a good relationship with a great woman and I have to live with that. I haven't felt so strongly about someone since my first naive relationship and yet, I couldn't hold onto her. This was the biggest failing of my life.
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Tonight was the end of Jane and I. A month ago, we'd been on the verge of breaking up. All the signs that I saw indicated that it was over, but sheer chance, or maybe my tears, bought us a reprieve. Jane wasn't sure how she felt about our prospects. I still wanted us to be together but I was very frustrated and virtually out of hope; if her heart was no longer in it then there was no hope.
In the month since, I was tugged between two impulses. To either begin withdrawing to protect myself and place all burden of saving the relationship on her, or to increase my efforts to reach out and try to revive what we'd had. I like to think I did the latter, though the frustration was still simmering beneath and at times I was selfish.
I've been through this month before; still caring for another person but terribly uncertain how they felt and doubting the permanence of what we had. Part of me knew that real changes would take time, the other part was insistent to see quick improvement in order to merit my increased efforts. To be selfish or selfless.
I'd been over at Jane's for three days. I'd found myself acutely missing her the weekend before and came up on Tuesday. It wasn't as if our time together was ominous or foreboding; I believe we had as much fun as we normally do. No physical intimacy and a dearth of affection, though, that much is certain. I was exceptionally happy when she kissed me goodbye this afternoon when she went shopping with her mom. It had been the only affection that she initiated over the three days and I was starved for any. We bummed around town Tuesday, showered together and went to her comedy show on Wednesday, and endured a family gathering at her house on Thursday. Pleasant times and some trying times, nothing out of the ordinary. My sleep schedule had become as screwed up as hers so we were staying up late together. I'd tried to initiate intimacy on Tuesday night to no avail and I wanted to try again tonight. I knew the chances were virtually nill but I was tired of letting pessimism dictate my actions.
Relatively early in the evening though, Jane asked my thoughts on the month since our last difficult talk. I replied that the limbo had been tough to bear, but overall, things were good. Jane confided that although she recognized and appreciated my increased efforts, she still did not feel any of the . . . romance that she once had. Jane commented that my emotional response tonight seemed lesser than when we'd broached the subject of breaking up last month. The idea still tore at me, but having had a month to contemplate it, I could hold my composure a bit better. That was the only difference. The conversation descended into the same pessimistic outlook as last time. There wasn't much I could say. This decision depended on what Jane felt, the words had to come from her.
Last month I was certain we would break up. The lack of tears or emotion from her (while I was a wreck) looked like undeniable proof that her heart wasn't in it any more. If I'd had my truck that night, I would've forced the break-up regardless of her diplomacy. But as it was, I had to stay there and that compelled us to talk through the crisis.
I thought tonight would be a re-hashing of that last conversation, but then Jane finally brought herself to say what I'd been fearing and expecting. We didn't have a future together. She was as calm and kind and apologetic as she could be, but it still tore me up. All our plans, all my hopes for us, all that I'd wanted for me, for her, for us . . . it was gone now. The photo album I'd made for our future trips, our house, her perfect baby name (Arbor), her meatball costume, it was nothing now.
I know we weren't the perfect fit for one other and I was stubborn about changing to meet her needs but I really wanted us to find happiness in each other. I wish I'd understood her concerns when she first brought them up months ago, rather than dismissing them as being implausible for so early in a relationship. I'm still stunned and ashamed that I lost or squandered whatever she felt for me so quickly. Despite our significant differences this was the best relationship I'd been in and yet, within the space of two or three months I'd done irreparable damage to us and didn't even know it.
I didn't want to end up as just another name on her list, but there I am. I failed us. Why couldn't I have made it work?


I gathered up my things, trying with some success to keep it together. My clothes, toiletries, my mug, all the short roots I'd put down here. As I scanned the house for more of my belongings it hit me harder. The painting Lilly had made for her, the desk we'd built together, the painting we'd made . . . This was the last time I'd be here. What had been my half-home with her just a few hours earlier was now a place I didn't belong. She brought me my shirts that she had become her sleep-shirts. I wouldn't be able to wear them, but neither could she.
Once that was done, I hugged her for the last time. Her warmth, her size, her smell, her feel. There was no way I could hold onto any of these feelings, they would be gone soon. This was the very last moment that she would be 'my Jane'.
“I'm sorry,” she said and I felt one warm tear fall on my arm. That meant the world to me. It meant that somewhere, at least in some small way, she did care for me. It meant that, at least for a time, we had something meaningful.
“No,” I said, “I'm sorry.” I cried and kissed her on the top of her head just like our clumsy first night together. As much as I was hurting right now, the feeling of being a failure was just as strong. “I hope you find the right man for you. I just wish it had been me.” I couldn't say any more than that. I couldn't hold onto her any longer. It was done.

I miss her so much.

7-16-15

Jul. 16th, 2015 05:46 pm
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Jane and I are over.
She doesn't want to make a decision tonight but from her words and her flat, diplomatic tone, I believe she's already made her decision. She revealed that following our last big talk last week, she'd wanted to give us a couple more weeks to see how “opened up” Cody was. So she was obviously contemplating the end. What hurt me the most during our conversation tonight was her lack of emotional response to the prospect of breaking up. I was tearing up and struggling to keep my voice steady; she seemed displeased by the topic but not upset in any way. I've seen that type of detached response before, when the girl has already given up on the relationship and now has the burdensome task of breaking-up before her.
I lost my hold on her heart somewhere along the way. There was a time when the mere specter of breaking up would cause her to cry, but that girl wasn't here tonight. She said that she'd felt the loss of the “romantic lovey-dovey” feeling that helped her overlook/overcome our differences 2 or 3 months into our relationship, brought on largely by my emotional reticence. That's been an ongoing issue for her, that I was never as emotionally effusive or intimately communicative with her as she needed me to be. Since that issue came up often I'd been deliberately working to change that and although recently she's been commenting favorably on my improvement, it hasn't repaired what was lost in those formative months. She'd told me essentially as much a month ago, but I didn't recognize that she meant the spark was gone. That change coincides with the platonic stretch of the last couple of months. As I've learned to my bitter realization, sex is the first thing to die when a relationship is failing. Of course, at the time I thought it was just an issue confined solely to physical intimacy, not the canary in the mine.
We clicked strongly in some ways, but strongly pulled apart by our divergent personalities. It's placed stress on our relationship from the very start and for a long while now I questioned whether I would eventually be able to adapt or if she/I would run out of patience. As frustrating as it was, it was bearable so long as I saw some possibility of reconciliation, so long as I perceived that she was trying just as hard as I was. Jane would often nudge me to admit that I loved her and while there were many times that I could hardly hold it back, that budding emotion was often eclipsed by my frustrations at the moment. I should have said it when I felt it instead of being so stern with myself and keeping my mouth shut until I was 100% certain. Lately, despite my increased efforts to improve myself for her, I didn't see any improvement in our relationship; the gap didn't seem to be shrinking. I know a few weeks isn't much time to change course, but in our six-month relationship, it should have been a significant span of time.
In past relationships I would often write about them in my journal. I've hardly written about this one because I wanted to commit myself to it in real-time, rather than retreating into my thoughts where she couldn't see my feelings. I wanted to be more active and engaged and communicative. I fell far short of her expectations. Maybe I was naive to expect that we could overcome our significant differences. I was often disgruntled over how I didn't seem to be important to her and she bore my displeasure for a long time. I regret being so hard on her. I'll never really know if that's how she really felt or if it was just a symptom of the other issues she deals with.
Maybe my immaturity sabotaged our potential. Perhaps both. Despite all the trivial shit that I got worked up about, I still care for her strongly and would stay in this relationship. But she doesn't feel the same.
Although I said I would try to change and I earnestly did, I had doubts that I could be what she wanted. It sounded like another man entirely, not me. Stubbornness made me want to resist and have her adapt to me, but her behavior never changed except for some lip service and some ineffectual attempts to shift her sleep schedule. That was the line I'd drawn in the sand and I feel that if I'd retreated from that, I would not have been able to respect myself within this relationship. I don't know if I was right or wrong. I always felt that my requests were modest; shift her sleep schedule so that we would be conscious at the same time instead of ships passing in the night and to be more communicative about our sex life. Of course I'm biased about my standing requests. Most of her requests were also simple, but there were just so many of them. And the ones most important to her seemed so vague; I never knew if I was succeeding or failing. I suppose it could be attributed to her OCD condition or due to her being “high maintenance” (her own words). All those requests chafed, moreso when I didn't see my efforts reciprocated. But who knows if there was a true inequity or if it only existed in my eyes.

Goddammit. I don't know how I managed to lose her. I know I resisted her talk of baby names and living together. It wasn't because I was truly opposed to the idea, just that I knew these were serious fantasies and didn't want to imply something before it was the right time. Again, we're different. I was a realist in those matters and couldn't/wouldn't give Jane the emotional support/confirmation she was looking for.
Shit, I really wanted to be with her. I thought we could iron out our differences and come to an understanding, find a way that worked for both of us.

I'm sitting at a park bench at an elementary school at one a.m. I can't go home because I took the train here. Jane doesn't like that I prompted her to make a decision tonight. She asked if we could revisit this matter in the morning. That was the one moment during this difficult talk when I smiled. In all likelihood my emotional distress coupled with my tendency to be a light sleeper would probably have me up at dawn and Jane probably wouldn't wake up before noon due to her sleeping medication. I told Jane that I didn't want to endure those hours of limbo. Buy my unspoken reason was because I wanted to hear her say definitively that we were over or if she still harbored hope for us. She retreated to her room and I went for a walk. So as of this writing, we're at a juncture. As much as I might wish it, I don't hold out hope for the positive outcome. This talk we had didn't cause her any visible pain because she's already let go of me in her heart. No amount of rational deliberation is going to change how she feels.

About a month ago we played a “game” where we asked each other questions of an increasingly personal nature. This list of questions was purported to cultivate a real intimate connection for couples that were just starting out. The game was fun/touching up until the last question, which essentially asked, “What is your biggest fear concerning your relationship?” I responded first and voiced how I was afraid that I'd give up on trying to meet Jane's expectations or try fully and fail all the same. Jane's response (as I interpreted it) was: she was afraid of deciding if she should stay in her current relationship at the risk of not being fulfilled or try to find one more fitting for her. What I heard was basically, “Do I settle for Cody or try to find true happiness?” Her answer really ripped into me. I took it as an admission that she wanted to break up. I was on the verge of leaving; I couldn't share a bed with her after that. Somehow she dissuaded me from leaving and explained that she hadn't meant her answer in the way I'd understood it. I forget how she re-explained it, but afterwards I couldn't help but feel that I'd heard her clearly the first time.

3-2-15

Mar. 2nd, 2015 06:33 pm
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The forecast was anticipating snow all weekend. I was lucky enough to get out of school early and made my way to Denton where I would be snowed-in with Jane. Traffic was terribly slow, more than doubling the drive time, but fairly easy and safe.
Jane was sick with a cold so we wouldn't have been going out even if the weather had been agreeable. We made a nice dinner with groceries I picked up on the way. We also had a fire and later on had some quality time playing Uno with Nan.
Saturday evening the conditions were favorable enough that we went out for a late lunch and to fritter away time on the Square. The bookstore was closed so we went to the coffee shop instead. We must've stayed in that coffee shop for at least an hour, all for just one mug of hot chocolate.
The most fun that evening came from when we were walking through the Square, be it for the purpose of taking selfies in front of the lights or just returning to our car. The sidewalks were icy and Jane was deathly afraid of slipping and falling so she kept a fierce grip on my arm the entire time. I couldn't help but tease her a little bit. Although I protested against taking the selfies I had to admit that this felt like a special moment and I was glad we were able to capture it.

2-25-15

Feb. 25th, 2015 06:16 pm
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We went to Cat's birthday party this weekend. It was the first time Jane would meet my friends. I was pretty excited; I really wanted to show-off/introduce her to all of them. We overslept our nap and ended up about thirty minutes late as a result. Unfortunately the restaurant hadn't allocated enough space for our party reservation so when we got there we had to cram onto the end of the table away from all my friends. We had to make small-talk with Cat's work friends instead. The restaurant was an all-you-can-eat grill-your-own-meat place but we had to piggyback on someone else's grill to get food. I'd really wanted a chance to introduce Jane to my friends and let them get to know her, so I was really disappointed with the situation. Jane had expressed her disinclination about attended the karaoke after-party so I assumed we'd be going home immediately after dinner. But Jane was very observant and considerate when she realized that we hadn't had a chance to mingle with my friends and said that she'd be willing to go to karaoke.
I was quite pleased that Jane was so understanding. I frankly didn't care about the karaoke but I REALLY wanted my friends to get to know this cool girl I was with. Some of my more cunning friends smuggled their own booze into the karaoke bar (like Amanda) rather than pay for the ridiculously overpriced drinks (like me). I would've brought booze if I'd known we were going to karaoke. Although Jane had often warned that she needed to be seriously drunk to perform karaoke, once Sia came on, she joined in on the fun and didn't look back. I was really happy to be there with her and see her enjoying herself.
Karaoke didn't lend itself well to conversation so we didn't really accomplish my goal of introducing Jane to everyone. But at least everyone saw her face so she's more familiar to them at least.

The next morning we had sex. This time we finished up with Jane on top. It felt especially . . . amazing towards the end. I came, she came. Afterwards, I thought I might have broken through the condom. All I could see was a lot of prophylactic bunched up at the base of my shaft. After inspection I realized that the condom had been drawn so tightly against my penis as to be virtually invisible. That also meant that any semen had been pumped out as well. Some seemed to be on me, some seemed to be on Jane . . . the big question was, "Was there any IN Jane?" That prompted a long, dour (?) talk about what we should do. My reflex answer was Plan B, as it was the only way to be certain. Jane was understandably reluctant about the side effects of Plan B but I couldn't help but wonder if her pro-motherhood stance might've contributed to her reluctance. Even though we thought there was a good chance that my semen was on the outside and thus, nothing to worry about, Jane didn't want the onus (?) of an accidental pregnancy falling squarely at her feet because she chose not to take a single pill.
So we went to the drug store, got Plan B, and took it. Although the box warned of three potential days of unpleasant side effects, Jane experienced only very mild effects. She attributed it to her tendency NOT to experience side effects from all of her prescription medicines. So although it was an unexpected turn of events, things turned out as well as we could've hoped.
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Inspiration for Jane's Valentine gift/card didn't finally strike until Thursday afternoon, of course. I focused on that project all evening but had trouble with the gear system. I gave up on that some time after midnight.
I left school early in the afternoon so that I could throw together a replacement card and then heard out to Jane's place. I took the train this time to avoid the frustration of rush hour and to save a little gas. Jane picked me up at the end of the line and we went out to dinner before heading to a friend's place for game night. I dozed on the drive down; I was still fatigued from my efforts the night before. I was a bit nervous about meeting new people but soon got over that once it became apparent that we were all just nerds of different stripes. Hell, one veteran was wearing a hoodie from an anime convention. And the drinks probably helped too. We started off the night with video games, then some YouTube, then some Cards Against Humanity and then ... ?
Even though I'd downed a Five-Hour Energy Drink just before the gathering, I started fading about 11 pm. Drunk Jane was cuddly and fun at first but kept chastising me for yawning and incessantly egging me on to go do pull-ups with the other guys. It was all I could do to keep my eyes open and stay somewhat engaged; I certainly did not want to go exercise. Her needling chipped away at my good mood. Then she texted me a 'secret'. I hadn't hugged/kissed her at the train stop and she told me that she'dd momentarily interpreted it as a sign that I wasn't interested in her anymore. I don't know why the hell she thought this was the right time or place to discuss that. Even if it was an irrational thought that could quickly be dismissed in normal conversation, it wasn't anything we could air out right then and there. So all of these factors had me ready to leave the party ASAP but Jane wasn't in any hurry to leave even though she started dozing off after awhile.
When we got home Jane was mostly sober, according to her own words. Awaiting us on the kitchen table was a bouquet of flowers that hadn't been there before. Jane asked me if it was my doing. I said no. Then she roused Nan from her room and asked her as well. Nan deferred responsibility for the flowers, possibly trying to foist credit for the flowers onto me. Jane kept going back and forth asking which one of us had done it. It was funny to see her get so worked up about it. She seemed eager to thank me for the supposed gift, but I wasn't about to lie. Eventually though Nan spilled the beans.

Saturday afternoon we went to go do couples' painting at a studio on the Square. It was BYOB so we brought along a bottle of wine (though we should've brought our own Brushes too, since the didn't give us many to work with). I got pretty pumped once we were inside and put on our aprons and took our seats with the easels and paints and brushes at the ready. We got to painting and pretty soon I was so focused on the painting that I hardly acknowledged the instructor's directions or bothered with the wine other than to slake my thirst. It seemed (to me at least) that we were the only couple that was genuinely having fun. Many of the guys there were making obvious that they weren't there by choice. They looked bored, apathetic, or downright sullen. And their women were so intent on trying to evoke some romantic creative experience or something. Jane and I on the other hand were happy as clams. The two hours elapsed more quickly than I expected. I was painting right up until the last second.

I'd made the mistake of assuming the train ran on Sundays. It didn't. That meant we had to scramble a bit Sunday morning. Jane was kind enough to leave her place a couple hours early to drop me off at my truck so that I could keep my tutoring appointment that afternoon. After I was done with that and Jane was done with her class we re-convened at my house. We didn't do much else other than eat, nap, and talk. When she had to unexpectedly leave that night because she had forgotten her medicine I was sincerely upset. I'm getting really accustomed/fond(?) of seeing her on a daily basis (or as near as we can manage).
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Jane had two comedy classes this weekend so she'd be down in our area for the majority of the weekend. Even though we'd spent Tuesday and Wednesday together, I didn't feel like waiting till Saturday when she'd come down from Denton, so I went up there Friday evening. Along the way a bought a armful of facial products to improve my skincare game at Jane's suggestion. She was surprised by my ambitious bounty; I appreciated her advice as this was a topic I was significantly ignorant about. This weekend was Jane's monthly ebb so we didn't do much else besides go out to dinner (at a yummy unique place called the Greenhouse) and then lounged around in bed that night.
We didn't stick around in Denton for long on Saturday morning but we did go out to lunch on the Square. The temperature was mild and the weather was beautiful. We had the restaurant almost entirely to ourselves and the food was good. It felt like a very special moment to me, precisely because it felt so 'perfect' without any conscious effort or planning. When Jane went to the bathroom I found myself feeling oddly melancholic. No matter how ideal this moment was, part of me was aware that eventually the memory would fade, be forgotten, or eclipsed by a negative break-up. I had no reason to be pessimistic; I suppose I was just trying to pull myself back from being too smitten(?).
Back at home I half-ass cleaned while Jane was in class. Cameron and Katherine were all gussied up and ready to go out for their night alone. They left at least twenty minutes before Jane arrived. Lilly was eager for her to show up. I wasn't sure how this evening of baby-sitting with my girlfriend would turn out, but Jane had been eager for the opportunity.
Jane was ready for a nap when she arrived. I laughed. We were on duty tonight; there'd be no time for naps. After dinner we attempted to watch the Muppets movie but it proved to be too advanced for Lilly to follow so we reverted to watching her usual shows. The couch situation was: me as the bottom layer, Jane as the middle layer, and Lilly as the cherry on top. After a couple of episodes Lilly grew still and quiet so we both thought she might've fallen asleep, but our laughter from sexualizing the dialogue of TumbleLeaf probably shook her awake.
We bathed Lilly and then put her to bed. Jane almost succumbed to Lilly's teary-eyed entreaties for another story/song/treat/etc but I was able to pull her away eventually. Fortunately Lilly fell asleep without any of her usual incidents. After that we retired to my bedroom. Jane finally got her nap and I played video games. It was a low-key evening but pleasant in it's domesticity.
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This was an easy weekend. I brought my tools along as we'd planned to modify Jane's desk. We were also planning to cook together and even mentioned massages. All in all we had plenty of fun stuff to keep us occupied.
I went up there directly after tutoring Friday evening. I was rip-roaring hungry by the time I got there so we got straight to cooking. The recipe was fairly easy and we had a pretty tasty dinner with Nan. Afterwards we settled down on the couch and burned the last of the firewood. We talked, completely sober this time. As she is wont to do, Jane often prefaced her words with, "This is going to sound so weird . . ." and concluded them with " . . . I don't know why I'm telling you all of this." It's amusing how she's still worried that she'll scare or offend me somehow. Anyways, I remember that we got onto the topic of children; not ours per se, just in theory. Jane described her thorough beliefs concerning conception, reproductive rights, and parenting. Being a male, I downplayed my own opinions on the matter and expressed how I was open to both a future with kids or without kids. Jane commented how this was the most that I'd ever spoken in a single conversation. I laughed. Of course I'd participate in such a deep and important conversation. Small talk, on the other hand, doesn't come quite so easily. I don't recall what else we did for the rest of the night, probably more talking.
I missed my cue/opportunity for sex the following morning. Once we were out of bed we went to a yummy hole-in-the-wall Mexican restaurant for lunch and ran a couple of errands. Even going to the drugstore was pleasant with her company. It was a cold and rainy day so we weren't able to work on her desk after all. At home Jane took a nap and to my surprise, I succumbed as well. Although I'd told Katherine I'd be back home that Saturday afternoon, I didn't actually have any reason to be back in Plano. Of course I still wanted sexy funtime so I was quite willing to extend my stay at Jane's for another night.
After the nap Jane and Nan headed out to go see Paula Poundstone, leaving me at the house to grade papers, play video games, and keep the pets silent company. We had a belated dinner after they got back. That meal proved to be inadequate so we wound up going to Denny's after midnight.
Even after taking our late bedtime into account, Jane slept in especially late the next morning. I got up a little before eleven and was mildly displeased to see the minutes and hours slide by until Jane woke up at 1:30. I had tutoring that afternoon so I wouldn't be able to stick around for too long. Jane woke up nauseated and with a head ache, brought on in part by the late night meal, I guess? That was unfortunate. Even after rushing to get ready, we only had enough time for a quick lunch before parting ways.

Jane will be staying over at our house Tuesday and Wednesday, which should be fun/interesting. Plus I won't have to wait an entire week to see her again! Hopefully I can keep the entropy of this place at bay while she's here. And I won't/shouldn't keep her all to myself this time. I should let her get to spend time with my family. It'd be weird if she were here for two nights and didn't.
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I was talking to Jane Saturday afternoon. She was bored at home and floated the idea that I might come over to hang out if I was bored as well. I had RSVPed to Amanda's house-warming party that night but I wasn't too keen on going since I only knew the hostesses but none of the guests. So I was quite fine with abbreviating my time at that party.
After a short how-do-you-do at the house-warming I headed up to Denton. Since this would just be hanging out (a "non-date") I nominated some random fun ideas like driving up to the state line to blow $5 at an Oklahoman casino or just exploring Denton at random. Y'know, nothing serious. I went to Jane's house and then let her take over the driving responsibilities. We went to Chipotle first and then to a coffee shop on the square next. I liked the decor and even though I don't do coffee they had a tasty cider for me. The abundant hipsters were a slight detraction but I soon tuned them out. Jane started talking about broken dicks and roast beef labias (labii?), mostly in regards to her past relationships. It was quite fun; I've never known a girl platonically or romantically that could talk about sex so casually. I was glad to know I didn't have to tiptoe around certain topics with her. I'm sure the conversation bothered some of our neighbors but it was too fun to pay them any mind. I didn't have quite as many sad/embarrassing anecdotes to share; either I've been extra lucky or she's been especially unlucky in these matters.
We stayed at the coffee shop until well past closing and then moved to Paschall's, a nearby bar. Jane seemed almost indifferent to the idea. I don't know if it was because she didn't want to spend money on that or just wasn't a fan of drinking, but I pushed forward with the idea. I knew that if I was going to make up for my relative reticence at the coffee shop, I'd probably need the assistance of some alcohol. We didn't have to wait long before some vacancy opened up and we could go inside.
I liked that it was a small bar with a tasteful but not pretentious interior. Thankfully it was small enough that we could have a conversation AND the drinks were strong. I don't mind paying $7 a drink if those two conditions are satisfied. I didn't really feel the booze due to the burrito obstacle in my stomach but the familiar atmosphere helped to put me more at ease. We continued our colorful conversation from earlier. I mean we talked about serious stuff like our messed-up families and other baggage, but it was more amusing to talk about our past romantic mistakes and misunderstandings instead. We only had two drinks each, but they were serious drinks. As the evening progressed Jane became more playful. Not necessarily more vulgar or candid, but definitely more playful. She was even asking me about my personal measurements and I used a dollar bill as a measuring stick. It was great fun; everything was fair game. If this had been a real date I would've been high-fiving myself in the bathroom and matching her flirt for flirt but I kept reminding myself that we were just hanging out and be cool and not get any ideas or hopes in my head. Even with that collar though it was still a great evening.
Closing time came again and we were cast out into the night. It took us a couple of laps around the Square to find her car. She didn't trust herself to drive but neither did she trust my state of semi-sobriety so we sat in the car for awhile. I didn't mind. It was more time to spend with her. We waited for about twenty or thirty minutes, watching the stray drunks wander throughout the Square. Jane read a children's book from a McDonald's Happy Meal.
Eventually I was cleared for departure and we left. Jane began predicting how embarrassed she was going to be tomorrow when she was sober. I laughed and kept trying to explain to her how I only truly trusted people who had shown me their uninhibited self but I couldn't seem to allay her anxiety. Or maybe she was just trying to pre-emptively excuse any offense I might've taken during the night. I got us back to her home safe and sound. By now it was 3 am, give or take. Jane lingered between the car and the front door for a moment and I . . . thought about it. I felt that I could probably push my luck to make something happen but considering how that's essentially how I started my relationship with Courtney, I was loathe to try and start another one the same way. So I left. I don't think I even hugged her. I'm not sure I trusted myself to.
Of course on the way home a flurry of texts from her confirmed that I had sold myself short. Of course. That's me. Too fucking cautious. But still, that was better than screwing everything up. And as a result I was literally and carnally up for quite a while after that. There was no way I could sleep with so much on my mind.
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If there's one word that I'd use to describe my feelings about my relationship with Lindsay, it would be 'frustrated'. I know I haven't written about us since our high point in July. Our time together since then has given me plenty to dwell on; nothing to brag about. Lindsay is significantly different from my past girlfriends. As I mentioned previously, she seemed distant or indifferent during our courtship. That much has persisted even though we're “officially” boyfriend and girlfriend now. I . . . believe I had the good/bad luck to meet her when she had no horse to ride. The first month we were together, although I still sensed a lack of interest/initiative, we would spend the afternoon in downtown Denton, or a couple days over the 4th of July weekend with her parents and her place, or the evening together at the movies and her place; I thought it was as much as could be expected given the physical distance between our homes. Since then though, our time together is usually limited to about 4 hours together, the evening typically ending when Lindsay asks me to leave (politely but frankly), for whatever seemingly trivial reason. I'm listing them below to the best of my memory, just so I can step back and see if there's a pattern or common thread.

7/18: This weekend I had the house all to myself (for the first time ever) and I cleaned up since Lindsay would be coming over to work on cosplay; I was prepared for her to spend the night. She came over in the early afternoon and we worked for a few hours. Her parents invited us out for dinner. While we were out with them, her mom asked Lindsay if she'd be spending the night at their house, to which she replied in the affirmative. That wasn't the response I expected, but I thought she might've been caught off-guard by the question and hopefully didn't really intend to go over. After dinner we watched the Flapjack DVD. Lindsay snuggled with me on the couch. This was the only time she's ever initiated physical affection, before or since. I took this as a promising sign, but as soon as the DVD ended around 9 pm, Lindsay excused herself despite my expressed dissatisfaction and headed to her parent's.
7/25: I hardly remember this weekend. Lindsay was only free Sunday evening. I went over and we went out to Texas Roadhouse (?) for dinner. Not too long after we got home, Lindsay mentioned how she needed personal time in preparation for going back to work the next day. It was a school night so I didn't really press the matter; I hadn't anticipated that I'd be spending the night anyways.
8/1: We went out to see the Guardians of the Galaxy movie. Lindsay was house-sitting her parent's house for the night which was relatively close to my own residence. I thought this would make it easy to parlay the early date into an extended visit at her place. As we were walking out to our cars after the movie, I asked if she wanted to do anything else. Her response was No, the dogs were waiting on her. That seemed like such a non-excuse that it confused me long enough that I ran out of time to push the point.
8/8: I went up to Denton Saturday evening and we promptly went to dinner (Chuy's) once I arrived. When we got back to her place, Lindsay started working on cosplay. I refrained and just tried to engage her in conversation, i.e. hanging out. If we were only spending a handful of hours with each other once a week, I wanted that time to count. When we work on cosplay together, we work separately. After she called attention to the fact that I wasn't doing anything, I did get to work on cosplay. At one point I was helping her with her work, marking her leggings while she was wearing them. With my face not too far from her crotch, I mentioned that it'd been a long time since I'd been down in that area. No response from her. She stated that I could stay till 10 pm. She wanted to go to bed early since she had an early start the next morning. As we wrapped up our work for the evening, I mentioned how it was distracting to work on cosplay at her place, since I spent half my time trying to think of how to seduce her into the bedroom. Again, no response from her. The time came for me to leave. I was a good sport about it since she'd made it clear beforehand, even though of course I wanted to spend the night.
Still, I was disappointed. I knew I'd just mull over the evening's events if I went home, so I took up my co-workers' offer to go out to a hookah bar that night. I would drink instead of mope. During the drive from Denton to Richardson, I restrained myself from falling into the same feeling-sorry-for-myself and bitter rut that I often fell into when Liz and I were no longer intimate. Rather than just dumping all the fault at Lindsay's feet for why we weren't being intimate or growing closer, I interpreted the situation as being evidence that I had yet to learn how to make Lindsay feel comfortable enough for that level of affection. I took responsibility and I felt proud of myself for not reacting selfishly or immaturely to this evening. Then while I was at the bar with my friends, I noticed that Lindsay was posting to Facebook a little after midnight. This perturbed me. I'd been willing to take Lindsay's words at face value despite my doubts and now it seemed like she was being disingenuous if not outright lying about wanting to go to bed early.
8/15: I was still disappointed and dwelling on the previous weekend, so I didn't bother to contact Lindsay this week and set up a date. I didn't think she'd mind or notice, considering that this was her period weekend and she'd taken that weekend off the month before.
8/22: Lindsay had once said that I could use her place as a cosplay refuge and escape from the distractions at my house. As this was the last weekend before Dragon*Con I assumed that we'd be spending the whole weekend at her place, cramming and planning for the event. I told her as much after she said that she would only be free Sunday. I didn't know, but her family had taken her out to a nice restaurant Saturday night in anticipation of her birthday (the 25th). I like to think I would've/should've been welcome. Since my birthday is the 31st, we had agreed to just celebrate our birthdays at Dragon*Con so I hadn't planned any birthday-oriented gestures for this weekend. I felt like I'd been denied a significant occasion to be a boyfriend.
I came over Sunday mid-afternoon and we worked on cosplay. I was undecided if I should bring up my concerns/frustrations with Lindsay, just before we were about to go on vacation. We went out for a good dinner. When we got back, I suggested that we watch a movie that she'd just bought and been raving and I hadn't seen yet. I figured a couple hours of digesting and cuddling would be a pleasant and realistic expectation. She said she had already planned to watch it tomorrow and that she needed her weekly personal time before work on Monday. I was disappointed but not surprised.

In the last two weeks that I went without seeing her, I'd been trying to assess just what our relationship is. I've moved beyond just fixating on the lack of intimacy. After all, it may all be due to something as simple as it hasn't been convenient for her. However, it's not so easy to dismiss what seems like a huge difference in what we need and how much we need from one another. I know we're both introverts; that doesn't make things any easier. I knew it would take some effort, but I thought that with enough persistence I could find my way into her sphere of comfort and our connection would grow. I know that between work and her family and her riding commitments, she doesn't have much free time. Yet, it seems to me like she's consciously keeping me at arm's distance. Either that or her appetite for having a boyfriend is satisfied by just a few hours of platonic company once a week. If so, that doesn't come anywhere near to satisfying my needs.
I'd been tempted to ask Lindsay if she wanted to attend Dragon*Con as friends rather than boyfriend and girlfriend. That would spare me any further frustration or unmet expectations. But no matter how I could think of to bring it up, it always sounded to me either unnecessarily confrontational or insecure/needy once I tried to outline my reasoning.
As I left this evening I asked her (in a half-joking manner) if she was really ready to spend a 4-day weekend with me. After all, I wouldn't be leaving at the end of the night while we were there. She chuckled. There was a kernel of truth in my question. I know that we'll get along better while at Dragon*Con. It'll be a vacation and frankly I'll be inescapable. If she wants to keep her distance from me at D*C, it'll be obvious. I'm hoping for any sort of break-through while at the same time reminding myself that I shouldn't allow one fun vacation weekend to erase these concerns of mine. I don't see this relationship persisting if things continue the way they are.

A-kon 2014

Jun. 11th, 2014 10:56 pm
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This past weekend was A-kon. I ended up rooming with a totally random grab-bag of new people. There was nothing special or amazing about that, though our room party got pretty huge a couple of nights, which ain't for me. I hadn't been able to get the official time off for A-kon as I'd requested, so I had a couple of shifts interrupting/abbreviating my convention. I was mildly hungover when I reported to work Friday morning and that didn't do me any favors. So Friday night I took it relatively easy with the booze. Saturday would turn out to be my cosplay day. I cosplayed all three of the costumes I'd brought along, which is probably a new daily record for me.
As a bonus, Lindsay was also at the con on Saturday. I'd met her online about a month ago and we'd gone on a couple of dates. The dates had gone well enough, aside from the common ailment of struggling to find things to talk about. She's a mild cosplayer and fortunately/unfortunately(?) her friends wouldn't be attending A-kon, which meant that I was her sole option for accompaniment. I didn't have any cosplay or scheduling commitments, so I was content to have someone to bum around with. After an hour or so of text-tag and hide-and-go-seek, we managed to find each other and spent most of the day with each other. The online metrics say we're a very strong match personality-wise. I have trouble reading her though. I can't tell if her quietness and lack of outward expression is just because she's a reserved person, or if she's bored/uninterested with me and thus disengaged. I figure if she weren't interested, she wouldn't have stuck around. It's just weird that I can't discern any positive or negative cues from her.
She certainly looked cute in her Kiki costume. We wandered the con, grabbed some lunch, and went up to my room for awhile so that she could charge her phone. She'd just driven in for the day, so had no charger or change of clothes for that matter. Later on we went to the cosplay contest, which ran long. We got out of there about 10 pm and we were both ravenous and chose to wait in the long lines for the food trucks. By the end of dinner, Lindsay seemed to finally be relaxing/warming up to me. It being 11 pm, I was ready to switch to drinking and socializing. I proposed that Lindsay join me but she declined. After all, she had to drive home and she'd been wearing the same costume all day long. So I walked her back to her car and that was that.
The rest of the night was typical con goodness. I strengthened some friendships, made some new buddies, and unfortunately missed some people that I only get to see this one time of year. That's just how these things go.

Zenith?

Feb. 28th, 2014 01:20 am
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While driving home today I caught myself in a rather ebullient mood. A bit of reflection revealed to me that the reason for my mood was that at this moment, it seems that everything is going well and moving forward for me.
At the beginning of this year, I'd looked into the possibility of working as a tutor at a tutoring business. That didn't go anywhere, but I eventually found my way to a website that serves as an intermediary between tutors and potential students. It wasn't until my conventional job hunting was going nowhere that I began to seriously consider that sort of freelance work. Yesterday I had my first tutoring gig. I was nervous as the hour drew near. It's one thing to test well and prove competency to yourself, but that may not correlate at all to how effective you are at teaching. I pulled up at the student's residence and was somewhat dismayed to see a giant affluent house situated in a country club community. I was reminded of my mom's stories of her tutoring experiences, where rich parents would just burn money on tutors for their dumb or apathetic kids. I was worried that might be the situation I was about to experience.
I was pleasantly surprised. Sure, at first when the student pulled out his geometry homework, it looked nigh incomprehensible. But after a few minutes of letting him take the lead in explaining what he was trying to do, the vocabulary and theorems came back to me. We started clicking pretty quickly and I soon had a firm grasp on where to focus his attention and what ideas would be instrumental to his grades. Luckily for me, he was an engaged and intelligent kid. From what I could gather, I assume the only reason for his difficulty is that the teacher cannot provide enough in-depth explanation or direct instruction, for whatever reason that may be. The mother seemed to have already concluded that we should meet twice a week. I doubt Zarar will need that much help, but I couldn't resist the offer for a more consistent revenue and besides, it can't hurt to be extra diligent, so long as the student is okay with the regimen.
I was delighted with the successful outcome and the prospect of a long-term job opportunity. More than that, it was rewarding and relieving to have an experience that says I just might actually be a good teacher after all.
Oh, and speaking of jobs, I was starting to worry about my job offer from Chipotle. I'd filled out all the necessary forms by Thursday evening, the same day of my interview. But I didn't hear anything else from the all weekend. Complete radio silence. Not until Tuesday did they call me and say to bring in my license and social security card so that I can be 'put on the schedule'. But when I told the manager that I didn't have my card available, she wasn't able to offer me any alternatives; not even my passport would suffice. I said I'd do what I could. So I spent Tuesday afternoon at the Social Security office up in McKinney, doing what I could to expedite my replacement card. They gave me a receipt that proved my number belonged to me. I went in to Chipotle today with some trepidation that this still wouldn't be acceptable. The general manager appeared to receive my documents, but then stopped when she saw that I didn't have my card. When I told her it'd be two weeks for the replacement to come in, the expression on her face told me this might be a deal-breaker. She stepped away to call her manager and I wondered if this was a no-go. Then she came back and told me that my passport WOULD work. Okay, that's not what I'd been told, but whatever works. So I'll have to go back on Friday with my passport to finalize all this, but I'm glad to know that I'm still holding onto this job opportunity.
I took it easy at the gym today because I forgot my water bottle. With the air as cold and dry as it is right now, my exercise-induced asthma is tricky to manage. Constant hydration and mindful breathing techniques seems to keep it at bay. But anyways, I weighed myself on the scale and either the last scale I used was wrong, or else I've actually lost weight. I'm certain I wrote a post this time last year, when I crossed the 200-lb mark (though I can't find it); that's what prompted me to start being more disciplined about food and exercise. Today I was at 187, according to the scale. That difference is more than can be attributed to error; the only conclusion is that my efforts, inconsistent as they may be, have had an effect. I'm pleased with this. I was worried that I'd get softer, now that I'm living with my brother's family. They've got snacks everywhere and they're less concerned about healthy eating (as is evidenced by my brother's waistline).
I continue to expand my workout regimen at the university gym. Every week I add a new machine to my regimen. I still don't have any real strategy to my workout, but I figure each machine must confer some benefit. Ultimately I'd like to get around to using the weights/weight machines, but I'm most clueless and least confident about those. I don't know if that'll happen. And on top of that, I've been pretty good about riding my bike to and from the bus stops to get to school. That's 5 miles roundtrip each day that I go to school, rain, shine, or sleet. The only exceptions have been when I have too much stuff to carry with me, like today since I had a presentation to rehearse. All things considered, I'm fairly confident that if I maintain my current commitment, I'll continue to see physical improvements. Once the weather warms up I'll be able to push myself even harder. Woo! Eventually I'm going to be a hottie! *knock on wood*
The other developments are a bit more difficult to quantify, but I'm sure they're just as integral to my current feeling of satisfaction. To put it simply, I think I'm fitting in with my classmates. I know maybe I'm just too self-conscious about my age. I just think if the situation were reversed and I was in my early 20's, I'd be dis-inclined to hang-out/chat with someone a decade my senior, especially if they were the opposite gender. To my surprise, I haven't perceived any of that disinterest or aversion that I was expecting. It helps that almost all my classes utilize cooperative learning (group work), which helped as an initial ice-breaker. I'm on a first-name basis with an unexpected number of my classmates. Rather than being avoidant, the gals seem to be cool with my company. I commonly walk with one partway to her dorm after class, chatting. Tonight the cute one in my Psychology class said she hopes that she can work on a project with me. I'd assumed the gals would be the most skittish of all, so this outcome has done much to assuage my initial doubts about fitting in.
With all these aspects in positive territory, I can't help but feel good about my current situation.

Febs

Feb. 20th, 2014 10:47 pm
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School is going well. Most of the courses are push-overs. The only one that gives me any difficulty is the 100% online one. It's just so . . . meta and meaningless; as if it's a federally-mandated course that sounds good on paper but is so abstract or intangible that no professor wants to teach it, nor does anyone really have an idea of what it should amount to. At least, that's the impression that I get. Or maybe some tenured professor invented this class as their sole piece of territory to maintain their own relevance. Or something.
Anyways, yeah, that's class. I've also joined the anime and k-pop clubs. The anime club is large, but I don't agree with the format. They do a lot of things (not all related to anime), so I applaud them for being ambitious, but I feel that some members may be discouraged or disinterested due to that (I know I am). I joined the K-Pop club to expand what little exposure I've had to it. It's a tiny club that's still trying to establish it's place in the acknowledged student clubs. I've got homework to listen to some recommended artists. We'll see how that goes.
I've been looking for work ever since my school and student teaching schedule stabilized earlier this month. I tried at places that I was both interested in and thought I might have something to offer, such as Home Depot, Lowe's, Jo-Ann's, and CostCo. I didn't hear back from any of those dozens of applications. I applied at Chipotle and got hammered with responses. I suppose Food Service is always hungry for fresh meat. So I interviewed there yesterday and was offered a position immediately. Yay. I mean, I'd prefer not to work in a restaurant, but I applied with this company because it's the sole food chain that I respect enough to be part of. So I think it'll be fine. Though, I was reading through the employee's handbook tonight and was slightly displeased to find that I can't participate in a 401K until I've been there for a year. Boo. I suppose I could re-invest in my old 401K on my own, but that takes a bit more discipline and initiative. Although that's a small hurdle, it might still be large enough to trip me up.
This job really came in the nick of time too. A couple weeks ago would've been ideal though. My savings are all tapped out and I have to decide whether I want to dip into my retirement again to bridge this shortfall till my first paycheck. I probably will, just to ease the tightness and avoid defaulting on any obligation. I'm just wary of becoming too familiar with using this 'last resort' option.
Student teaching is a bit frustrating. I'm only there one afternoon a week, which isn't enough to build any rapport with the students or the teacher I'm assisting. Three weeks in and not even the teacher knows my name yet. Plus, I'm there as more of an observer than a teacher or disciplinarian; I can't really take the initiative for either without usurping the teacher's own authority. And with these middle school kids, she's already fending off enough challenges to her control of the classroom. I just wish I could participate more. Oh well. Just six more visits and that'll be that.
I found out that this certification will take longer than I anticipated. Although the coursework will only take me two semesters to complete, I can't perform my actual student teaching (as opposed to this 'early field experience' stuff) until I've completed my coursework. So it'll be two semesters of coursework followed by a semester of student teaching and THEN I'll have my certification. So three semesters all told. It's no big deal I suppose. I'm comfortable living with Cameron and I can work fast food for a year and a half. Plus, this development may actually be in my favor. I'll finish everything up and begin my job searching at the end of the school year. Before, I would've been trying to get a job halfway through the school year, which isn't the most opportune time to do so.

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