Tuesday, October 30, 2007

the character of my X

This is about one of my ex-boyfriends- not my child's father, but an ex-boyfriend who seems to have been a significant figure in my adult life. He still is. This post is my effort to get to the bottom of it.

My assignment is to write about my experience of his character, good and bad. When I met X, I noticed that he seemed larger than life. He had to stand out, being confidant and cocky. Yet I sensed something "shady" about him. My best friend at the time (WHY WHY WHY didn't I listen to her??!!!!) said, "Beware. X is BAD NEWS. He'll use you up, wad you into a ball, and throw you away."

But he was good-looking, undeniably good-looking. I am a sucker for cute guys. Character be damned. I want the cute guy.

X was a gifted speaker, natural-born story teller. He loved to "hold court." I was a good listener, thus, we were a perfect match. Every once in a while the notion would sneak into my mind that it was all about X, never about me.

Actually, it WAS about me some of the time. Periodically he would launch a brutal attack on my character, accusing me of being weak, needy, clingy, incompetent, unworthy, gamy, dishonest, you name it.

And meanwhile, we had certain money-related issues going on. He announced a few months into the relationship that he was moving in with me. (I had never invited him.) After he did indeed move in, he failed to offer to pay any expenses, preferring free room and board instead. I lacked the courage to speak up and ask him to pay his share of the expenses. Once he asked for a "loan" of $500- he'd pay me right back. This was several years ago and I still haven't been paid back. But that was nothing......

My mother, unfortunately, was dying of cancer. He told me I was wrong to want to travel halfway across the country to be with her, and she died asking for me, wondering where I was. When she died, he valiantly offered to fly to upstate NY with me to attend her funeral. What a thoughtful gesture. When we returned from the funeral, he presented me with a bill of several hundred dollars to cover his expenses incurred due to my mother's funeral. I paid it.

Shortly thereafter, he moved to Montana. We broke up then, but once he got there he called and asked me to visit. The short-notice airline ticket to Montana cost $1,200. My friend D drove me to the airport for my trip to Montana. While he drove, D yelled at me about how stupid I was being, about how X was using me and abusing me. I had never before seen D so mad. But I went anyway, and it got worse.

X decided during my visit that it was nice to have me and my money around, so he offered to let me stay with him for a year in Montana if I would give him $7,000. I immediately said yes, and took a year off work, without pay, using up my life's savings to support us in Montana (AFTER I had already handed over the 7,000).

To sum up his character as I experienced it, I'd say he was very controlling and self-centered. He used me and never admitted it or addressed it, even though he was quick to take my personal inventory. I was not only a money source to him- I was also like a slave in many ways, placed on earth to serve him. He came off like a guru, a leader, a ruler, a superior. On the positive side, he really is a gifted speaker and story-teller, almost to the point of being charismatic. He really seemed to value honesty and at times displayed brutal honesty. (However, his ability to see his own faults or how he hurt people was limited.) He is smarter than most people and strives very hard to live a spiritual life. His sense of adventure led him to the wilderness of Montana, where he now seems to live the life he wanted, although surprise, surprise, he finds himself running from one disastrous relationship to the next. It seems that there is some sort of mental impediment which prevents him from seeing his wrongs, because he really does appear to be trying sincerely to live a life of integrity, and he thinks he is. If I showed him this post, he would be dumbfounded. I know this from the few times I did feebly try to let him know about the things that bothered me. He seems utterly unable to see his own shortcomings, and bulldozes me if I dare stand up to him. He is a talented, intelligent, adventurous spiritual seeker who talks a lot and took advantage of me in many ways. Although insightful, he can't see his own issues. He enjoys power and control and tends to be self-centered.

But he was good-looking, undeniably good-looking.

Friday, October 26, 2007


Many years ago, my father used to tell me that: A) I had no personality; B) I would never have any friends and C) that nobody would ever like me. Over the years I did not consciously think of his words, but they insidiously infected my way of being in the world. I "knew" I was inferior. I only entered into relationships doomed to fail. And generally, in most aspects of my life I was afraid to speak up or to set boundaries.

Something unusual happened today. I gave a work-related presentation to a group of well-to-do people. It was very well received and as I left the building, an older gentleman offered to help carry my props to my car. As we approached my car he said, "You know, you have a wonderful personality. I don't know if you have any idea how entertaining and engaging you are. I am surprised - often, people in your field are quite introverted."

Well, as soon as he spoke those words, my father's erroneous message from so many years ago was erased. It's not that I now think I'm superior- it's just that the damage is fixed.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Capitol of Longevity

The new Capitol of Longevity is not some remote tropical island devoid of stress and toxins. It's New York City. Since 1990, New Yorkers' live expectancy has risen 6.2 years, compared to 2.5 years for the rest of the country.

Speculation abounds. Could it be the stimulation of the city which somehow stirs its population to want to live? Are the cultural offerings so enticing that New Yorkers are inspired to stay alive to indulge? Or is it the city-wide ban on trans fats?

I'm sure it'll be a few years before the studies are published, but the obvious conclusion of many people, including myself, is that NYC's longevity factor is directly related to the way its people transport themselves. Few New Yorkers own cars. Why would they? Mass transit is readily available, and the city is wonderfully walkable. And anyone who's been there knows how fast New Yorkers walk and talk. It's that "New York minute" phenomenon. It serves them well.

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

a city for the people

Here's a city which was planned and built for PEOPLE. In the U.S., that's highly unusual. Cities in this country are generally designed to accomodate the almighty automobile. This particular city, though, is more European in design, with its narrow streets, tightly packed buildings, smaller city blocks, bike lanes and truly functional mass transit. Parking lots are absent.

This downtown is vibrant and alive every day and night. People really do live in this downtown; we know this because grocery stores can be found here. Stores abound- big ones like Nordstrom, and small independent boutiques, along with a staggering array of restaurants, coffee shops and cafes.

Who needs a car? There are so many alternatives: walking, biking, light rail, streetcars, busses, and even a monorail (like a ski lift). The air is cleaner, the streets are safer, the people are thinner.

The urban planner's dream-come-true, this city features tight-knit neighborhoods, each with its own set of shops, coffee houses and restaurants, and many of these hoods are in or within walking distance of downtown. Can you imagine knowing and even socializing with your neighbors?

Let's hope this city sets a national trend.