On being an awful partner

I currently have a friend over for a long weekend and I am becoming more and more aware that I am not cut out for a long-term female partnership..

How do I know?

I have no patience for conversations about frilly knickers, nail varnish, the best way to burn candles or which bread has the lowest glycemic index. (But I can sit for hours listening to people talk about the finer points of changing the blades on a thickness planer machine, despite never having seen one).

I am not very knowledgeable about yoga, stretching, running, or really any exercise in general.

I don’t care much about fashion, fabric, design, pattern, or clothes as long as I’m dressed and warm enough.

I have less than no idea about hairdryers. I don’t blow-dry my hair unless I absolutely have to. That happens maybe once a year, twice if I go to the hairdressers. I have a small hot-air-blowing device which I use on the rare occasions when I deem it necessary, and which packs into a small bag in a cupboard for the rest of the year. (Naja, that’s not quite true, it’s also pretty good at drying paint/woodstain if I’m too impatient to let things dry by themselves, so it does get to come out of the cupboard sometimes). It turns out it isn’t a proper hairdryer but rather a styling brush (and therefore not useful for drying one’s hair). Who knew?

I wouldn’t recognize an electric nail file if I tripped over it, nevermind know which way to hold it or how (or why) to use it. Or an electric callous grinder (see? no idea what they’re even supposed to be called). I don’t remember ever having or doing a pedicure, unless you count filing the pointy edges off my toenails when they break and threaten to make holes in my socks.

I am used to being the dithery party. I am used to getting lost in places I’ve been before. I am used to people complaining about how long it takes me to get ready to go anywhere. I am used to people getting stroppy about me leaving a trail of my things strewn across the house. I am used to people laughing at or not understanding my clothes (“so what is this thing anyway?!” – talking about a wrap around skirt).

I am not used to waiting for more than an hour to get into the bathroom in the morning.

I am not used to working round other people’s PMS.

I am not used to multiple (many many many) bottles of ‘body care’ potions appearing all over the house.

I am not used to getting home and being greeted by a wave of ‘girly smells’. Perfume and baby powder and shampoo and conditioner and body lotion and hand cream and whathaveyou each with a different (but strong) fragrance.

I can’t work up any excitement (at all) for an evening of ‘pampering’ if it involves anything other than massage. Start talking about mutual makeovers and I will bail.

I can’t deal with “What’s up?” “Nothing.” conversations.

I don’t understand freezing but simultaneously objecting to either finding another jumper or turning the radiators on.

I don’t understand why anyone would [regularly and willingly] eat nothing but salad for dinner and then get up in the middle of the night to raid the fridge and the breadbin.

When I get ill, I am more likely to have manflu and go to bed with honey-and-lemon and a hot water bottle (and maybe my laptop) than to try and keep up my manic schedule while sneezing, snuffling and coughing, at least for the worst couple of days.

I am not naturally a tidy person. I don’t think anyone could reasonably call me a neat-freak (:)) – I severely dislike washing up and doing housework – but finding cups in the bookcase and plates left on the coffeetable instead of at least in the vicinity of the sink has helped me develop a new sympathy for people who are.

Also. Hair. I used to laugh at a long-distant-ex-boyfriend for complaining about the “hairy woman-beast” inhabiting his space. I’m not going to take sides with him, but I can at least see that he might have had a point.

In short, I feel like I’m suddenly on the wrong side of all the bloke-whinges-about-girlfriend cartoons/sketches/blogposts and I’m not used to it. I’m not sure I even like being on the other side of the frustration.

Ok, so frustration is frustrating on both sides.. I’m just usually defensively frustrated, at the people trying to hurry me for example, but I could never really see where they were coming from. I used to get upset at people who weren’t understanding or able to listen or were obviously disinterested by what I was saying, people who wouldn’t cooperate with me and/or my way of working, people who were more concerned about reaching a destination than enjoying the journey..

I am slowly starting to understand some of the people who complained about me, as well as some of the actions of the people I complained about… and that’s worrying!

I’m not a particularly good hetero girlfriend, but it seems I would be an incredibly awful lesbian… 😉

***

NB: Against the impression I’m probably giving, I do like this lady 🙂 I’ve just previously only seen her in smaller doses (like for an afternoon) and never had her to stay..

On sleeping in the doghouse

The radio comes on loudly, waking us up the way it does every morning.

DB sits up and looks across at the dog (C) we’re looking after, who’s sleeping on the floor next to his side of the bed.

DB: (excited) Good morning C! It’s time to get up! Yup yup yup! It really is! (Hugs dog.) Now I’m going to get up! And then you can have breakfast! That means I have to get dressed! And you’re standing on my socks! (Starts howl-singing so that the dog joins in. Starts getting dressed, interrupting both his monologue and his dressing himself every couple of seconds to pat/hug/sing to the dog). (Ad infinitum)

Me: Good morning DB.

DB: Good morning Jesska. Come on C! Let’s go downstairs and get some breakfast!

***

Good thing I know my rank in the herd….

On working with men (and trying to understand them)

I need some help with a problem that’s going round and round in my head. I’d be grateful for insights….

***

Over the last few days I spent several hours working with a retired electrician who’s a friend of DB’s. We planned, installed and wired up the new lighting in DB’s aquarium. We went shopping for the parts we needed and talked about ‘Gott und die Welt’. A few things went wrong, lots of things went right, and although we’re pretty much finished, and could probably leave it as it is, we still have a little bit more to do, because it will make it that much better. He’s coming round tomorrow to put the finishing touches to it.

The electrician is a great guy. I like him, and working with him is fun. As we were working, he said we work well as a team.

***

Before Christmas, I spent a couple of days working with DB. We planned, installed and replumbed the replacement kitchen counters and old sink. We went shopping for the things we needed and talked about ‘Gott und die Welt’. A few things went wrong, lots of things went right, and although we’re pretty much finished, and could probably leave it as it is, we still have a little bit more to do, because it will make it that much better. (There are also plenty of other projects waiting for us in the kitchen, and the rest of the house, just waiting for us to make time to get round to them).

DB is a great guy. I like him*, and working with him is fun**. As we were working, he said we work well as a team.

***

Today, DB and I went to help the electrician move a heavy wooden workbench. Naja, I’m not that strong, so reality, DB went to help and I went along for the ride.

Whatever.

When we got there, his son had already helped him.

***

“Your woman’s been bullying me!”

Instead of moving the bench, they both complained to each other about how awful it is to work with me, how I am nit-picky and awkward and stubborn and slave-driver-ish, not to mention my perfectionism. How I bully them and boss them about. They compaired how much greyer they’d become and how much they’ve aged since knowing me/working with me. They agreed that it’s a pain in the wotsit to listen to me explain anything and that it’s easier to ignore me and say ‘yes dear’ when I finally shut up than to try and follow what I’m saying. They swapped examples of things I did or said while working on the respective projects which they found superfluous and/or annoying. They laughed companionably.

As they laughed louder, I got quieter.

***

This evening, as I wondered out loud whether it would be better if I kept out of the electrician’s way tomorrow, so as not to cause him any more grief, DB didn’t have a clue what I was talking about.

Obviously I should carry on and finish the job with him. Why on earth not??

When I told him I didn’t feel particularly wanted on voyage, being as how they both find me a nightmare to work with, he said that was ridiculous; they both love working with me. The electrician wouldn’t agree to come back to finish off if he didn’t want to work with me.

I said it didn’t sound like that earlier…

Apparently, according to DB, it’s my own fault if I apply their words to myself/my behaviour (= take it personally) and think they’re getting at me. Especially since they/we live in Berlin.

***

Can somebody please explain male logic for me, because I don’t get it.

***

*’God and the world’
** and live with him 🙂
*** (most of the time)

On illogical guilt

Can someone please explain why my brain feels the need to produce guilty-conscience-feelings for vacuuming so noisily during 5 minutes of DB’s TV programme (which he was dozing through anyway), whereas his is perfectly content to relax so lazily through my cleaning???

It’s not as if I mind him lying on the sofa, watching TV while I vacuum, he’s ill (again), and could use the down-time…it’s just my thought patterns I don’t understand.

If you have any ideas, please throw them my way!

On listening to multiple voices

DB’s parents both tend to talk (to me, and anyone else who’ll listen) at the same time. As a result, I often don’t understand either of them (or at least can’t follow either topic properly). Three simultaneous conversations between the four of us are no rarity. I suppose I should offer a fourth, but I can’t think straight enough to form sentences while they’re all yakking away.

I quite regularly complain about it/them to DB who always tells me it’s not that hard and I’ll get used to it soon.

***

Today, we came home from the specialist via his cousin and aunt.

They both talk at the same time too (must be in the genes), but with the added bonus of a heavy dialect on top.

Back in the car, DB ranted about how it was impossible to understand a word they were saying when they spoke over each other.

I still can’t, so I couldn’t tell him it was easy, or that he just needed more practice and he’d be fine – but I did remind him that his folks aren’t a whole lot better!

Apparently that’s different……..

On not listening

A: “I like bananas, they have such nice yellow skin”.

B: “But tomatoes are red! And have seeds”.

A: “yes, I do love yellow bananas”.

B: “I hate it when I get the seeds stuck in my teeth!”

***

About 3 minutes ago, I was sitting in a bar, eavesdropping two people deeply involved in an discussion/argument. It wasn’t exactly the version above, but it was about as stupid. Most notably, neither of them cared what the other was saying, they just kept ploughing on with their opinion, often repeating their previous sentiments, without bothering to check whether the subject matter matched, and getting progressively more irate in the process.

I left them to it – I hope they stop before they explode!

On hurt feelings – part 2

I recently posted this:

“There’s a fine line between holding your tongue so as not to hurt other peoples’ feelings, and letting people hurt yours..

I’m too sleepy to be articulate right now, but I’m pretty sure I need to work on finding that line and learning to walk along it.”

I thought I’d written, albeit sleepily and inarticulately, about being fed up with letting people (= everyone who feels like it) trample on my feelings instead of putting up boundaries and telling them to be nice to me.

After a rough evening I had had enough, and had decided to start working out how to go about protecting myself from future verbal attacks.

Everyone who read and commented apparently took it to mean I regretted saying something mean to someone else….

***

Don’t get me wrong, I love that you commented, hey, I love that people read my posts at all! Thank you 🙂 You’re awesome and you make my day – I love it when there’s that special ‘pling!’ noise and that small orange dot appears next to the bell on my WordPress app 🙂 I love and appreciate that you tried to put yourselves in my position and help me. Really. I’m just a little bit confused about how I should’ve written what I meant, in order to be understood.

(St. Francis would tell me to aim to understand more than to be understood, but I like being understood too)

***

It’s not that I don’t have foot-in-mouth moments, because I do. I think everyone does. Sometimes I say mean things. Sometimes I’m cutting, sometimes I’m hurtful, sometimes it’s accidental, sometimes it’s on purpose. But it doesn’t happen often. At least not that often… I try not to let it happen at all.

More often, I hear people say mean things to me.

I am too polite to cover my ears when someone’s still talking.

I don’t even get up and leave when someone’s yelling at me.

Instead, I listen when people rant.

I very rarely rant back. I will probably argue if pushed and as long as no one’s actually shouted yet.

Usually I’m the one biting my tongue and not the one being bitchy. I’m the one crumpling up inside and trying not to cry in front of yet another person who believes that they ‘ate all the wisdom with a spoon’* and can tell me what I’m doing wrong. I end up on the receiving end of a lot of advice and back-handed compliments and bad-tempered yelling and condescending head-patting.

Some people are presumably self-confident enough to ignore the barrage, some people fire their own right back. Some people tell you you’ve gone too far. Everyone has their own survival strategy.

I make excuses and I let things slide.

Generally, I keep quiet. I tend not to say anything when things other people say and/or do hurt or annoy me. I stop functioning when people raise their voices. The natural response to stress is fight or flight. Mine is ‘roll up in a ball and hope it goes away’. It’s a strategy, but not a successful one. Hedgehogs aren’t known for winning battles with cars.

They are people and people are never perfect. I know that because I’m not perfect either. I tell myself they didn’t mean it, that they have too many other things going on, that they’re not good with words, that they’re having a bad day… and tell myself not to make things worse for them.

After a while of having my own feelings battered, the frustration-dam bursts and floods everything.

At this point I might snap at someone.

I regret the [hopefully few] times I’ve hurt anyone. Knowingly or otherwise. (Really. If I’ve hurt you, please let me know and I’ll apologise profusely.)

I also regret not telling people to mind their own business. I regret taking people’s rants to heart. I regret believing that other people have their lives worked out and that they have the right to tell me I don’t. I regret permanently putting myself on the receiving end of other peoples’ bad tempers and mood swings. I regret letting other peoples’ insecurity place restrictions on my dreams. I regret taking the time to listen to people let out their frustration on my ears. I regret swapping my priorities for those of those who shout loudest. I regret putting people on pedestals at the cost of digging myself into a hole.

I regret not being strong enough to walk away before I’m too weak to stand up  [by and for myself].

***

Now, if you’ve got this far (thank you :)) and have advice for building a protective shield around my feelings, I’d love to hear from you! 🙂

‘Pling!’ 😉

***

* fantastic German expression 🙂

See also:
https://notthrowingstones.wordpress.com/2012/11/29/on-what-we-say-v-what-they-hear/
And
https://notthrowingstones.wordpress.com/2013/01/03/on-plans-mice-and-men/

On friendship and ignoration

Friendship is one of those things that should be easier than it is. Sometimes I think I’ve figured it out, and then BAM! I’ve buggered it up. Or they have. Whichever. It still sucks. And just as we get over whatever problem there was, something else happens. Round and round and round (though not so merrily).

This time round, it was a friend I hadn’t spoken to in months. There had been a trust issue at the end of last year, and it took a while to sort out. Since then our paths hadn’t crossed much. When they had, we’d been civil, but not exactly friendly.

Until last Friday.

We ended up at a meeting together. It wasn’t entirely unforseen, it’s a mutual interest, but they hadn’t been to any of the previous meetings so I wasn’t expecting it.

Afterwards, they stopped to ask how things are, and to talk about the meeting.

So far so good.

On our separate ways home, a text conversation commenced.

Apparently they’d decided to stop ignoring me. I wasn’t even aware that they had been. I thought, naiively, that it was just the way things were.

I am so naiive.

On being stood up by a doctor

(or on doctors and DBs – part 1)

No. Chew chew chew.  You chew definitely don’t chew chew have an appointment. Chew chew chew chew chew.

We stared at the chewing-gum-man in disbelief. Turning slightly, we looked at each other, looked back at the man and shrugged before making our way to the car and driving home.

That was the first (and, I hope, only) time I’ve ever been stood up by a doctor.

Continue reading “On being stood up by a doctor”

On patience and pizza dough

I’m kneading pizza dough when DB walks into the kitchen…

DB: Did you put herbs in that?
Me: Yes
DB: Then it’s not dirt after all…
Me: ??!!

– 2 minutes later –

DB: Shall I turn the oven on?
Me: Not yet, I haven’t finished kneading, and then it’s got to rise and I still have to cut the toppings up and…
DB: How long’s it gunna be?
Me: Dunno. Maybe an hour?
DB: Don’t take this the wrong way, but can we buy ready made dough next time?
Me: ?!!!

It’s a jolly good thing I wasn’t making scones.

On cold coffee

I wanted to talk to you..

I did try.

Multiple times.

I wrote, I texted, I phoned.

But you didn’t answer.

I’m guessing you won’t read this either, but maybe writing it will get it out of my system.

I missed you, you know. I spent a long time missing you.

But you know what they say? Never make someone a priority if they make you an option.

So you don’t qualify for priority status any more.

Which makes my head reel a bit, because you were there at the top of my ‘list’ (for want of a better word) for such a long time.

Only now you aren’t.

I’m sorry.

But then again, I’m not sure what for.

It’s not as if I didn’t try.

In the [translated and paraphrased] words of Kennedylovesme (a German band) :

“I’m like your cold coffee. You ignore me until you want me and warm me up, only to let me get cold again because you get distracted.”

Who wants to be someone else’s cold coffee??

Especially when they could be the hottest of all hot coffees. The sort you drink fast and without worrying whether you’ll burn your tongue.

On what we say v. what they hear.

I’m too sleepy to write as much as I’d like to on this, but it’s been a theme running through several conversations this week.

If what we say isn’t always what they hear, then maybe what we hear isn’t what they said…….. (/what they meant)