Water on the jealousy inferno

My first boyfriend just got engaged.

Before you start squirming about what a stalker I am, allow me to point out that:

A) He was my “boyfriend,” um, 12 years ago (gulp. I’m old);
B) I use that term loosely given we mostly held hands and chatted on AIM;
C) We stayed friends far beyond that two-month relationship; and
D) We’re Facebook friends. And all this stuff is on the Internet.

I’m not upset about R. getting engaged. Though I cried my 15-year-old eyes out when we broke up via AOL Instant Messenger, that was approximately 10 billion years ago. I’m now in love with a man who knows me — really knows me — and have a job I enjoy, a family who supports me. A roof over my head. A little change in my pocket. I’m happy.

What I am upset about? The fact that everyone I know is old enough to be engaged. Heck, that many people I know are not merely engaged but married and starting families and making real, honest-to-goodness adult decisions. My own boyfriend is a homeowner, for cryin’ out loud. We all have debt and are more concerned with the state of our health insurance than what we’re doing on a Saturday night.

Or maybe that’s just me. Those books aren’t going to read themselves, you know.

I’ve drafted a post similar to this one a hundred times but never hit “publish.” Probably because you can find variations of this “We’re all growing up!” consensus on most blogs written by 20-somethings, and I know I’m not adding anything new to the conversation. But I think there’s comfort in solidarity. In another person shouting into the void, “I’m with you. You’re not alone.”

No matter your age, we all experience growing pains.

Life is messy. It’s complicated. It’s tough not comparing yourself to others, wondering where and how you measure up. Are you ahead? Behind? Stuck somewhere in the middle?

It’s impossible to know. And does it really matter?

I don’t think so. And Facebook isn’t helping me decide.

Lest this dissolve into a “Facebook is evil” rant, I’ll curb myself by saying this: I’ve had to work hard in recent years to cultivate confidence that life is unfolding just as it should. “All things in time,” as they say. Scrolling endlessly through a newsfeed — comparing, contrasting — doesn’t bring me peace.

In three weeks, I’ll be 27. The years pass too quickly . . . and I’ve had a frightening sense of that since I was a child. There’s just so much I want to do. And see. And experience.

And I’m not a little kid anymore. Neither is anyone I know.

But jealousy isn’t a good look on me. If I start to get the “comparing” bug, I pour water on that out-of-control inferno immediately.

Most of the time, anyway. I am only human.

‘Have a good life’ is less of a brush-off than I thought

My ex-boyfriend is getting married.

I’m grappling with my feelings on this. Not because I’m grappling with my feelings for him — no; those feelings long ago warmed to nothing more than friendship . . . and today, not much of anything. I certainly don’t “hate” him — that would require me to feel much more strongly about him than I do. I don’t really feel much of anything about him, in fact.

The truth of the matter is, while we dated for more than two years, we were never in love. In the four short months in which I’ve known Spencer, he consumes so much of my daily brain power, thinking of the face I’ve probably seen just hours before — the way his eyes crinkle when he smiles; the tiny cleft in his chin; the way I feel when he takes my hand, pressing his palm flat against my own. I feel . . . happy. Loved. Secure. And beyond that? Excited. Giddy with the possibilities of it all. Eager for life and everything still to come. Happy to be a freshly-minted 25-year-old, a woman who found a man who makes her smile so much and so often.

P. was not that man. Though both technically “adults,” our relationship was childish — built more on an initial friendship than anything. At the time, I needed someone there to lean on; and at the time, he was there. We outgrew each other, plain and simple, and maybe things wouldn’t have gotten so ugly in the end if I’d been brave enough to face that. But I wasn’t.

Regardless, he’s getting married this month. Of the four men I seriously dated in six years, he’s the one I would have least expected to learn was tying the knot. Coincidentally, he’s also the youngest. I wish he and his new wife happiness, because I have no reason to wish them anything but pleasant things. Life is hard enough without carrying a grudge. And as I said, my feelings have fizzled and become so muddled toward P., being unhappy about his marriage would require me to care about his marriage.

I mean, it’s not that I don’t care. I’m not rude or heartless. I just mean that I don’t care care. I don’t care in the I-can’t-sleep, up-all-night, sick-to-my-stomach way. Not even remotely. In typical fashion, I’m just thinking that P.’s marriage means time is marching on — and I’m thinking about what all this means for me.

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You’ll come out of nowhere and into my life

Photo by sunsetgirl creations

I’ve written and rewritten this post several different times, trying with each draft to make it decidedly less cheesy than before. But my problem, of course, is that it’s only getting cheesier!

Here on write meg!, we’ve nursed broken hearts together and flipped out as old loves resurfaced. Blogging about my feelings, even if I’ve had to be cryptic (never know into whose proverbial lap this little blog may fall!), has been such a fantastic and cathartic experience for me. I’ve met so many awesome people through write meg! and can’t wait to meet even more of you soon.

And that’s why I feel the need to tell you when things — big things! — are happening in my life. Because I love you guys. And because you’re my sounding board. And because I’m a writer and couldn’t stop writing if you plucked every single mechanism with which to do so from my cold, unfeeling hands. (I’d probably just start drafting stuff in my head.)

Because you guys? I met someone. Someone awesome.

Now before you think I’m going to board my usual Drama Train and start flinging my arms about wildly, twirling in circles (in my Power Dress, natch), I’ll say this: I am keeping it together.

For the most part.

And if he ever finds this post, I don’t want him to panic in that adorable, dark-eyed way of his. So I’m going to keep this simple and uncomplicated.

I’m heavily in like.

He’s someone I’m crazy about in a totally different, new, exciting and frightening way. It’s only been a few weeks; I’m battling every terrified, cynical part of my heart and challenging myself to stay open and unafraid. To just enjoy this. Every first moment.

It’s been a long journey to staying brave and hopeful — and as unjaded as possible. And it’s too early to shout “it was all worth it!” but I know that regardless of what happens with Spencer and me, it was all worth it.

Because I’m here. Right now. Happy, buoyant, optimistic. Ready.

And it’s not just that now I have a boyfriend. Lord knows I’ve had boyfriends.

It’s that now . . . I have Spencer.

And if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to try and forcibly remove my ever-present, ear-to-ear grin.

Dating: Or, I like talking about myself — but live in fear of the Awkward Lull

What I like about first dates

I get to dress up. The anxiety revolving around what to wear, what to wear! on these outings is nothing compared to the fun of shopping for said outfit ahead of time. If I have enough advance notice, I like to run out to the mall with sis or best friend and pick up a new top — or two. (Or four, but who’s counting.) I go through the motions of choosing the right color (I favor red or blue), the right cut (flattering but not too low-cut; I’m a classy lady), the right style (modern and hip, but not too young or old. I’m a ripe 24, after all).

I get to talk about myself. Let’s not play games here, friends — I run a blog. On said blog, where you’re currently hanging out (hi! Thanks!), I talk about . . . whatever I want. Books? Sure. Writing? Yep, I love it. Me? Always. write meg! is the public display of my vanity, and that vanity runs deep. Writing post after post about my goals, dreams, projects, love life and aspirations all point to . . . me just liking me. And I totally love me, actually, since we’re on the topic.

Getting to share the hilarity that is Meg with someone new is exciting! Because, I mean, who cares if I tell the same hil-arious stories again? He’s never heard them. I can wow him with the same stuff I’ve been torturing friends and family with for years, like my obsession with England and my recent trip to London. (Did I mention I went to London last year? Um, a few times? . . .  OK, sorry about that.)

I get to learn about someone new. Despite that narcissitic preceding paragraph, I do genuinely like people and love hearing about their lives. Maybe that’s the writer in me. (Or just the nosy girl in me.) Generally speaking, if you like to talk and want to share, I’ll listen. I’ll tell you the London story, and you can . . . tell me whatever you want! Let’s talk books. Travel. Romance. Food. Stupid TV shows. You can tell me your life story and I’ll sit with a mug of coffee, giving you my patient listening face.

The promise of possibility is intoxicating. Even though I try to go into first dates with as few expectations as possible, it’s hard not to succumb to the intoxicating aroma that is possibility. I mean, we could have the best date of our lives and fall immediately in love with each other. This could be the story we tell our future (adorable, brilliant) children about when Mommy and Daddy met, a la “How I Met Your Mother”!!!1! Or, you know, the funny anecdote we bust out at cocktail parties about our first meeting. If I spill something on myself, we could laugh as you gently hand me napkins and become enamored with my reddened cheeks and way I manage to, um, maintain my composure. Sort of.

I struggle greatly with this one, I’ll admit, because the moment I start mentally tacking your last name after Megan and wrinkling my nose in thought, I’ve got a problem. But I don’t put too much stock in early dates and generally manage to stay cool, calm and confident. If it works out, awesome! If not, no worries. Um, most of the time.

Attraction. Boys — they’re cute! That’s why I date ’em. I like looking at them, holding their hands, wrapping my arms around them. I like their boy cologne smell. And it feels good to be attracted, and to feel excited, and to be appreciated. Chances are that if I’ve made it to a first date with a guy, even one I met online, I’m going to be attracted to him — at least intellectually. And as a start, that’s enough for me!

What terrifies me about first dates

The awkward lull. Every conversation has its ups and downs, to be sure, but every now and then you spot that most dreaded of visitors: The Awkward Lull. Lord knows I’m a Chatty Cathy, but even I cannot always navigate around the Lull when it settles down at our table, takes off its jacket and grabs a roll from the bread basket. Suddenly, I can’t see anything but that Lull, all sloppy and annoying and silent. I can think of nothing to say. And I guess that’s around the time I usually get up to use the ladies’ room and frantically begin texting everyone I know for help. This hasn’t happened too often (see: “I’m a Chatty Cathy” above) but I live in perpetual fear of the moment that it does.

Who pays? After dating several men who were, um, flat broke, I’m particularly sensitive to this issue. I’m a modern woman and certainly don’t mind paying my own way, but on a first date? If a man doesn’t want to impress me now, it’s all downhill from here. I fully expect my date to pick up the check, but it can be so awkward. Do I reach for my wallet and offer to pay for myself, though I don’t want to? Will he be annoyed if I don’t offer? Will he be annoyed if I do? Gah. It’s almost enough to make me curl up with “Becoming Jane,” a mug of cocoa and my laptop and call it an early night. Almost.

Will we like each other? I know I’m all cocky and silly, talking about how gorgeous and brilliant I am (and I am!), but there’s always that off-chance a man will . . . um, not fully appreciate me. Or understand me. Or think I’m funny. My fear stems mostly from the fact that either I’ll think he’s fantastic and he’ll fail to become enamored with me or, conversely, that he’ll think I’m great and I’ll feel that leaden “meh” feeling in the pit of my stomach. Unrequited affection is just so inconvenient.

Why I want to punch brains after first dates

Communication. So, hey — let’s say we had a great time! We clicked! There was totally a “connection” between us, the sparks were flying, etc., and so on. And now? Now, I get to wait to hear from you.


I’m not exactly a “sit back and chill” sort of girl. I don’t like waiting. If I can jump in there and get something going or done, I probably will. So the idea of being demure, playing “hard to get” or seeming aloof isn’t something with which I’m comfortable. That doesn’t mean I’m going to start texting you nightly at 3 a.m. with my musings and professions of love, but it does mean you’ll probably hear from me. At a reasonable time of day and in reasonable intervals.

But I don’t want to contact you first. How will I know if you like me if I’m the one instigating all of our communication?! Answer: I won’t. Maybe you’re just polite and don’t want to ignore my calls or texts (or emails, or tweets . . . ), so you answer but don’t tell me you’re not interested. So how do I know?

I know if I hear from you, so I just have to wait. Like Drew Barrymore’s character in “He’s Just Not That Into You,” I get to look for you to call, text, Facebook, tweet or Gchat me. And really? You could do any or all of those things at any given time and I would probably instantly know. That’s one of the joys — or traumas — of living in the digital age. So for my iPod touch, cell phone, work phone, work computer, email inboxes and Twitter to all be silent is . . . ick. Unpleasant. Rejection on a multitude of platforms is way suckier than just waiting for your home phone to ring like, you know, in the old days. Say, 1997.

 And by all this, I mean . . .

Dating is fun, scary, intimidating, awkward, exciting, frightening, sweat-inducing, nerve-wracking, thrilling, unbelievable, crazy and . . . good. And I know that if I can swallow all my anxiety and make myself go on these dates and be myself, I have a decent shot at finding the right person for silly, dramatic and loveable me.

Let’s just hope he doesn’t freak out if he sees this OCD blog post.

Books boys convinced me to read

I’ve been fortunate to have loved a few boys who adored reading. Whether for entertainment or purely educational purposes, it would be rare to find them without a dog-eared paperback in their car or backpack. And though those relationships have — ahem — ended, the book knowledge they imparted lives on.

Like any devoted bibliophile, they would often try to convince me to pick up their favorite books. Some of them I will admit to actually enjoying! And some I read about twenty pages of and promptly decided they were going to put me in a coma.

But the overall experience of spending time with a book they considered important was in some way valuable — just like the relationships themselves! Sure, there’s a lesson to be learned in everything.

Now, before I go any further — if any of my past boyfriends happen to stumble across this post, I hope they won’t take offense to my thoughts (and occasional gentle ribbing). I don’t harbor hard feelings, and I appreciated their bookish tendencies! This is merely an exploration of the books shoved into my hands over the years. I hope they know I wish them well! Well — most of them, anyway. 🙂

Books Boys Tried To Convince Me To Read

(Some With Success; Some With Utter Failure)

korgi Korgi by Christian Slade

Oh, the first of the many graphic novels a boyfriend convinced me to read! Korgi is the story of a young girl named Ivy and her — yes, you guessed it! — pet corgi named Sprout. They live in a world called Korgi Hollow and life is great up until the time when all these insects and monster things threaten the pair of them. Sprout is there to save the day, of course!

I have to admit to liking this one. I have a not-so-secret obsession with corgis, which is what Boyfriend knew, so he picked this one up for me.

And I have to admit that as much as I’m loathe to admit it, just typing this has made me feel sad about him! He so shared my love of books — it was ridiculous. If only we’d shared thoughts about many other things. But moving right along . . .

zen_art_motorcycle_maintenance Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance by Robert Pirsig

This classic, originally published in 1974, has garnered some seriously glowing comments. One reviewer on Amazon called it “the most influential book in my life beyond the Bible.” I mean, whoa. A very sweet, awesome guy who would eventually become my boyfriend recommended it on our first real date, and I couldn’t have been more eager to pick it up!

Except . . . it was all downhill from there. No matter how much I wanted to like it, there was a total disconnect for me. I’m wondering if I tried to become engrossed now, at 24, I’d dig it more than I did at 20. I’m thinking the answer could be yes. I might return and see if I can find my own Zen one of these days.

catcher_in_the_rye The Catcher In The Rye by J.D. Salinger

Ah, Holden Caulfield — anti-hero to the masses! As at countless other high schools across our great nation, The Catcher In The Rye was mandatory reading during my formative years — just for the grade-level above me. One of the boys I idolized and would later “date” (I use this term quite innocently) once told me this was his favorite book, and that was all the prompting I needed to grab my own copy when I was around sixteen.

I remember devouring it quickly, somewhat shocked by the content. I wasn’t any literary innocent, but the cynicism and wonder of New York through Holden’s eyes was a little bit strange. I don’t remember much of the plot now; in fact, I recently gave the copy I’d had on my dresser since high school away. I guess it’s just one of those books that faded into oblivion for me.

maus Maus I: A Survivor’s Tale: My Father Bleeds History by Art Spiegelman

Spiegelman’s classic graphic novel depicting his parents’ horrific experiences in the Holocaust is a profoundly moving take on World War II. The same comic-loving boyfriend made sure I was exposed to this one, knowing as he did my love of history and reading. I was shocked to find myself in tears by the end of it, and many of the book’s images have stayed with me in the years since I finished it.

on_the_road On The Road by Jack Kerouac

Another modern classic handed to me in high school! I tried unsuccessfully to read it at the same recommendation of the high school boyfriend, but couldn’t begin to process Kerouac’s “fictional” look at a group of friends making a cross-country journey toward . . . something. Enlightenment? Freedom? Youth? Happiness?

I gave the unread copy I had away only to purchase another one last spring. A coworker and I were talking about the “modern classics” — those books everyone claims to have read, but probably haven’t. We were both surprised to find On The Road on that list of books we’ve always wanted to read but haven’t — and, I’m sorry to say, I can still count it in that category. My hardcover has been sitting on a bookshelf gathering dust. I’m still interested to read about Sal Paradise and his motley crew of lovers, travelers and dreamers . . . and just might find myself in the mood for it soon.

bury_my_heart_wounded Bury My Heart At Wounded Knee: An Indian History of the American West by Dee Brown

Okay, I’m cheating a bit with this one — because the guy who suggested it was never technically my boyfriend (I just desperately wanted him to be). My raging high school crush brought everything he said, did and enjoyed into laser-sharp focus, and it’s impossible for me to forget the image of him hunched over after school with Bury My Heart At Wounded Knee clutched in his hands. While the rest of us were barely getting through our required reading, here he was reading something serious and historical and important. Needless to say, he seemed light-years above all the other knuckle-headed boys I knew!

The image of him with the book, and his tiny smile when I asked him what he was reading, is such a solid, visceral recollection that, years later, I would find myself running my fingers across a copy of the book in our history section at the bookstore where I worked. That dusty copy brought the memory close to me, fragile and personal.

enders_game Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card

I have to admit that I was totally into this one — until I suddenly just wasn’t. I started it around May or June, read about sixty pages and promptly put it aside to grab some chick lit! It’s not my usual fare at all, and sometimes I’m willing to branch out . . . but after the boyfriend who suggested it and I broke up, I considered my casting it aside as an act of rebellion against the entire relationship! And I feel good about that.

“Watchmen”? Pass the booze, please

I'm gonna need this!

I'm gonna need this!

pina_coladaAt dinner last night, my boyfriend and I decided that the only way I was possibly going to get through the new, hit flick “Watchmen” was to drink.

Enough to get a little silly. Enough to make almost three hours of violence, sex and a bizarre alternative universe scenario in which the good are bad and the bad are good and we’re all headed for nuclear war unless some blue guy can stop the whole mess begin to . . . make sense.

Mind you, I very, very rarely drink. Ever. I can probably count on two hands the glasses of alcohol I’ve consumed in my entire life. And that’s what makes my immediate interest in booze a little hilarious to me — I was desperate to get through this film. I was trying to be a good girlfriend! It may be hard to believe (or not!) based on my good-natured blog posts on books, music and cute scarves, but I can actually be a pretty hard-headed, difficult person. We usually do what I want — see the movies I like, eat the places I enjoy, etc. — and I can recognize that good relationships are all about compromise. Boyfriend is very sweet and usually willing to go along with my demands, but I knew how much he’d been looking forward to “Watchmen” — and talking about it for months. I had to tough this one out.

watchmen_movie_posterThe problem is that, Internet guru that I am, I looked up the movie’s stats a while ago . . . and promptly decided that the gore was going to be too much for me. Everything I read talked about “intense” scenes and disturbing images, and I’m not all about the blood! In fact, I’d much rather skip the blood all together, thankssomuch. But I was trying to be good! I really was!

And that’s where the piña colada came in.

We get to the theater a little early, hunker down with our snacks and settle in for a long wait. I get a little antsy in theaters, I’ll freely admit it — I can’t stand when people around me are talking during a movie, and I have a tendency to voice my unhappiness about said distractions. Much to the dismay and chagrin of my friends and family. But I was determined not to let anything ruin this for Palmer — he’d been dying to see it for so long, I was going to turn around and punch the guy behind me in the jaw for mumbling plot points to his girlfriend for the first 10 minutes of the showing. Or was I?

watchmen_smiley_faceNo, no — I didn’t. I behaved myself. While people are being thrown through windows, blood is spewing and random characters are appearing out of nowhere, I rocked gently in my rocky theater chair, eyes to my lap to avoid seeing any unpleasantness, and swayed to Bob Dylan’s “The Times They Are A-Changin'” (love that song, by the way). At some point, the movie introduced the fact that it was 1985, Nixon had been elected for a third term (okay, we’re in an alternate universe — got it) and the U.S. and Soviet Union were in a heated entanglement regarding nuclear weapons (Cold War issues — check). And then I got a little lost. Or I zoned out. Or the booze took effect and I dozed off with my eyes open. I don’t know.

Needless to say, I got a wee bit lost! The movie was interesting, the special effects awesome and the acting solid, but I just couldn’t keep my brain moving at the speed of the comic characters. And I had to look away every ten minutes or so to keep from watching someone bleed out. Unpleasant. All tied together in a neat bow, it added up to one perplexed Megan.

Of course, driving home from Virginia, Boyfriend totally filled me in on any gaps in the story — and explained a lot more of the back story and other details I was missing, or just didn’t catch. The important question I kept asking was whether he liked it — he was the target audience. I was just a sleepy, semi-tipsy tag-along girlfriend. So it’s not like what I was thinking was of serious importance! Palmer said the movie was true to the book, and that most of the characters (save Dr. Manhattan) were as he would picture them. He was happy with the representation of Rorshach — the creepiest of all the characters, in my opinion — and liked the movie’s tying up of loose ends at the end. I’m glad he had a good time!

And I’m glad I had a little something to . . . take the edge off. As I sat on the edge of my seat. Ha!


Not something you can easily part with

high_school_musical_3_poster My mom had David Cassidy. Friends had Rick Springfield, New Edition, New Kids on the Block and Michael J. Fox. My sister and I lovingly adored Hanson, ‘NSYNC and, occasionally, Devon Sawa and Jonathan Taylor Thomas (oh yes, J.T.T.!). And now, in yet another chapter of “teenage rites of passage,” my 12-year-old cousin has Zac Efron, the Jonas Brothers and “High School Musical.” It’s hard to believe we’ve already gotten to that teen-crush stage, but I’m happy we’re able to share some of that heart-pining misery!

Now, I’m 23 years old — not exactly beyond the realm of school-girl crushes. And I still have a few! Start up a friendly chat about John Mayer, James Franco or James McAvoy and I’m right there with my latest spate of celebrity gossip. Either I really dig boys with “J” names in general or I’m never beyond the realm of ogling a cute guy.

Do we ever really get beyond the realm of ogling a cute guy?


We still love Hanson!

And even though Hanson has been out of the limelight for ten years or so, my sister and I have religiously followed their careers, marriages, children and various other activities since I was 11 — and she was 8. Eight years old! That’s not something you easily part with.

And my mom reminded me in 1997, as she reminds me now, that these fads come and go — all young women need someone to screech and squeal and discuss at slumber parties and walks around the mall. Take the Beatles as Exhibit A. Does anyone really get over their first-time-discovery love of the Beatles? It’s pretty much impossible.

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