Archive for March, 2010


I’m Sorry vs. Excuse Me

March 29, 2010

I think a lot about these two exchangeable phrases.  I’ve actually been kicking around the idea for this post for months now because I think about it so much.  Maybe it seems trivial or silly to some people, but I think there is a lot said about someone if their go-to phrase is one or other.

So, you bump into someone, or your yoga mat on your back maybe grazes them on the subway (my most constant problem), or you get in someone’s way, or maybe you’re not even in their way, really, you just have to walk around someone.  I wish I could say my phrase were to say “excuse me” but my knee jerk, what comes out of my mouth CONSTANTLY, multiple times almost every day is “I’m sorry.”

I think this is problematic.  If you look at this pattern closely, it means that I am in a constant state of apologizing. In context it’s for being in the way, but in the grand scheme, I think it could be translated as a constant apology for being at all. I’m sorry I’m here. I’m sorry I have anything to do with your space, I don’t belong here, my simple presence is problematic.

I realize this could seem like a big leap to make to some people, and I certainly don’t believe the above thoughts are ACTUALLY going through my head when I say this quick, common turn of phrase. But I think it speaks to an endemic problem, which I want to fix.  And fixing this wee locution, I think could aid in fixing the larger problem.

The other day at the end of one of my favorite yoga classes, I had to skip around a gentlemanly older fellow when our paths crossed taking props back to the prop closet. As per habit, I smiled and muttered “sorry,” and he responded, in a way only a gentlemanly older man could, “Why? What’dya do?”

I laughed at the response and immediately decided I liked him (by the way – immediately deciding I like or do not like certain people based on seconds’ worth of interaction is another habit I could stand to break) and his jovial ways.  But then I got to thinking – that’s sort of a profound thought.  What the hell DID I do wrong? Nothing. I was just there, in closer proximity to another being than I meant to be. There’s nothing for which to apologize, other than my presence, which should not warrant any apology whatsoever.

I’ve been going through palpable, direct and intentional change of late.  Change can be painful. It’s happening all the time, of course; it is, in fact, the only thing that’s happening, really.  But when you see patterns you dislike and make a pointed effort to change something, there can be a lot of exhausting effort and discomfort involved.  But if there’s one major thing that has to be altered, at any and all exhaustive and painful cost, it’s apologizing for my presence.

I, we, all of us, deserve to be here. No matter what. No matter what we’ve done, how we’ve harmed ourselves or others. There’s no reason to apologize for existence.


Spring Fever

March 21, 2010

You know, we think we’ve moved so far from the primal.  We, with our cement and concrete, with our retail clothing and plastic sunglasses, with our systems of government, religions and propriety-based behavior, we have the audacity to think we’ve escaped the circadian pull of the natural world. But take one look down Smith Street in Brooklyn over the course of this warm, sunny, blue-skied, last week and it’s abundantly clear what power the force of the tides, the moon and meteorology have over all of us.

You can’t walk out of your Carroll Gardens door these days without having to step around some shoulder-clasped couple.  There is no cliche to birds and bees in the unseasonal warmth of Brooklyn – when birds begin to call to one another, and bees get to pollinating, they don’t call it Court Street for nothin’.

This, of course, is not a borough phenomenon, but when you live in a neighborhood populated predominantly by the “marriageable age demographic,” it’s really in your face. When you’re single and can’t get a date, it’s not just in your face, it’s crawled up your nose and sank its teeth into your heart.

Alright. That’s narrative hyperbole.  But it really is amazing to me how suddenly the world seems to have hyper-paired-off within the last 5 days. That and about 10 more pregnant women per subway ride to stand up for, 10 more Park Slope strollers per block to have to walk around.  We may pretend we aren’t controlled by the seasons, but it’s undeniable around these parts to ignore what’s going on.

The problem for me, is that this weather makes not drinking extremely difficult.  I used to chalk it up to loving a corona in the sun, loving white wine with a light breeze. loving margaritas on a terrace. But ultimately, it’s not the alcohol that made me want to drink – it’s the sudden coupling everywhere.  My envy seethes at all the conjoined hands – I fight an embarrassing desire to lyse through them like an enzyme separating cells – the tug of cycles in my own body screams at me to pollinate, so to speak, and the only way it knows how to do that, still, is by first throwing “nectar” down the gullet; my body is starving for intimacy, but like an infant whose needs are limited to its survival, it only knows how to ask for a bottle.

To allay any fears, I’m not actually worried about falling off the wagon, just hyper aware in this seasonally reproductive time that I haven’t worked through my alcohol-and-only-alcohol-equals-sex conundrum.  I see these couples, I even hear about my friends’ one night stands (something I know I can’t do without dire emotional consequence), and this intense jealousy overcomes me.  Jealousy, sadness, anger, loneliness… are they really even different things when you get down to it?

And it’s like each hour that passes of nice weather, each weekend that slips away, was a missed opportunity. Even as I sit here writing, knowing that this is the best and healthiest conduit for my melancholy, there’s this pull I feel insisting I should be out walking around – walking the streets? – looking for a mate.

Maybe this is the biological clock people talk about. To be clear – I feel no pull to have a child.  In fact I feel quite the opposite in my present state.  But maybe it’s the same internal time piece – that human need to pair and at least “practice” reproducing is ticking away within me.

And what annoys me even more is how I feel this impulsive need to constantly bring the subject up, broadcast the length of my celibacy, write this damn blog entry.  I’m not sure what that need is – I don’t know what response I want to receive from my friends whenever I mention the “year and a half,” or my seemingly unending single status.  Do I want their pity? Do I want them to tell me it’s ok?  Do I want them to tell me it’s preposterous I’d be single this long? Do I sadistically want them to confirm my Superego suspicions that, yes, you deserve this solitude, and no, it’s never going to change? I honestly don’t know. But over and over I seem to feel this need to lay this struggle on the table; throw my broken clock onto another’s work bench and tell them to fix it.

I know I must annoy people. I’m sick of myself, others must be sick of it, too. Since my early adolescence, I’ve been writing the same journal entry, making the same wish on birthday candles and 11:11’s, saying the same prayer, crying the same tears.  At this point I don’t think I even want the actual thing of the boyfriend, I just want the suffering longing to go away. It’s old and boring and too comfortably familiar.

(Not true. I really want a boyfriend.)

The only positive bit of awareness out of all of this, though, is the knowledge that alcohol isn’t going to solve things.  I didn’t have that knowledge for a long time, and I still hold it only precariously.  But at least for the moment I know that drinking again will only intensify this heartache – a high risk bet with little return.

This entry is self-indulgent and possibly counter-productive in its wallowing. But at least it’s on a screen and out of my head.

And I won’t drink today.