15 December 2009

Into Temptation

1. No, thesis with proper binding not yet handed in (was struck by the flu), so it lingers along. Let us not mention it.

2. Speaking of the Crowded House [see also: Title], how long has it been since I last wrote a rambling, introspective post? Am not sure where it's going to go but it's going to be long and it's going to be bleak, I am doing bleak today, possibly tomorrow, you might as well stay away till the end of February.

About a fortnight ago one of my friends was talking about online connections, saying they weren’t real, it wasn’t real life, and it struck me as hysterical for two reasons: 1) she met her ex online (experience possibly coloured by the fact that he was an absolute waste of inhalation effort) 2) online life is real. Case in point, I unexpectedly met two people online in November that have come to mean a lot to me in a very short while. I was just discussing this a few hours ago with one of them, let’s call her Amp [Hi Dyke! *waves cheerily*] [In my defence, that was her actual username]. Amp and I had been negotiating her coming to visit with her wife before she became sick, that’s how much and how fast we connected. Loosely paraphrasing the other person I met, you log in to grab a few shows and suddenly you’re talking to people and willingly, even gratefully, opening them the doors to your life [Crowded House dixit: “You opened up your door, I couldn’t believe my luck”]. My friend’s argument was along the lines of online people can lie to you and it is a source of comfort that someone in my circle can occasionally be even more fucking naïve than me bcs seriously, online people can lie to you? Online people? As opposed to the ever-trustworthy real people in our lives?

I know what she is trying to say, no voice, no body, no facial expressions, no inflection – everything is more artificial but that depends tremendously on how genuine you decide to be. If you’re wankerly inclined you can fool someone far more easily, I imagine, because the common signs of deceit are not as readily available but, and this is the key point for me, if you’re wankerly inclined online I think we can safely assume you’re not an altogether fabulous example of humanity in real life either. And Manuela is real, so real. Udge is real. Chimmy is real. Dana and Beth are real. Diana used to be real, Kath is real, everyone starts off a stranger but people who become important end up spilling into your real life as well bcs you'll want to meet them, you'll want to hug them and hear them laugh in person, you will ultimately want to be able to have wild discussions about books or men or politics or what have you while sitting on the same sofa. Online can be just the starting point, not an inevitability, if you both deem it worthy, if you're both very lucky.

You know when a blogger goes through extremely rough times and readers circle their generous wagons and offer support that is no less real for stemming from a keyboard, may even be more effective, and then said blogger abruptly stops posting and then there are the comments that read like “I hope nothing bad’s happened, please just leave a quick note if you can so we know you’re alright”, and then the comments that read like “HOW DARE YOU, X/Y/Z owes you nothing, it’s her blog [it usually is a woman], she can do with it as she pleases”? Guess which ones I want to smack soundly across their misguided faces, go on. Seriously, are you kidding me? Are you fucking kidding me? I don’t care if it is technically her blog and the readers technically strangers, there are no limitations to elective affections, no limitations to how we begin to care, no limitations to – and brace yourself, psyche, for you will not enjoy this quoting from this particular book at all but the fox was right – how effectively responsible you are for all those you have affectively tamed, because we do, we tame the people whose lives we've touched however tangentially, we are tamed by those we chose to make ours, the responsibility may be novel, that of a brave new world, but one we should feel equally compelled to honour, none of us exist in a void, we're all in this beauty together. [Paul Muad'Dib Atreides this time, not Crowded House]. If I had flippantly and abruptly turned my back on everyone who cared so much when Uzi died and afterwards, who cared so much during this demented-making degree of mine, you’d all be very much within your rights to show me the back of your V-ed fingers and smack me soundly, what the motherfuck?

December is a harsh month, 11 more days and it will have been 5 years since Uzi died. Half a decade. I see my lips move but… *shakes head slowly* No, just – surely not. And minor aggravations and big griefs all tend to coalesce at times and create this big knot that ranges from uneasiness to overt pain, and I am feeling raw, wide-open and slightly used. Remember my friend who used to be my best friend who stopped being my friend at all bcs she couldn’t find time to spend with me one particular evening when I was falling apart bcs she, as she eloquently put it, had booked a shag? I never told you we made up, we did. I never blogged about it not sure why, sec… – wait, see, this is why I write, I don’t think and then write, I find out things while I write, I didn’t write about it bcs her excuse, which makes sense if you know her, would make her sound a bit callous. She didn’t realise I was in such bad shape, she didn’t realise I really needed her. I was crying on the phone. What sort of person doesn’t realise her (then) best friend is crying on the phone? Her. This utter lack of empathy had been a point of contemption for over 2 decades actually, she has a very narrow view of the world outside her belly button at times. What shocked me the most during that year we weren’t talking was how little I missed her, I almost didn't at all and shouldn't I have?

That threw me around far more than her actual absence and I didn’t even have to ruminate on it for too long, I knew why. She was in my life in audio-mode mosty. We talked on the phone every day but for us to meet I’d usually have to initiate it and it’d mostly be me going to her. For many years she didn’t have a licence and since she lives outside Lisbon it made sense to go to her. But when she did get her licence she was too frightened to drive to me, she had car issues. I mean, the stretch between our homes couldn’t have been more user-friendly for new, scared drivers but ok, I understood. I stopped understanding when she had a meeting with another group of friends in one of Lisbon’s busiest, narrowest and hilly quarters and she wasn’t too scared for that. I stopped understanding when she had time to go out to meet other people but most of out meetings required some sort of emotional blackmail on my part unless she was feeling bad about something. I stopped understanding when, knowing the shitty aspects of my internship (I didn’t talk abt it and I won’t, I learnt loads but a lot of it was very hard for all the wrong reasons) and how much depended on my thesis, she forgot she had agreed to proof it (verbatim: “Oh completely forgot abt it, sorry, my bad.”) and I was forced to send in the first draft to tutor without the benefit of another pair of eyes. I stopped understanding bcs she had written a Masters as well, she knew what it entailed, she knew how stressed and worried I was and she’d assured me she’d have it done it by the date I needed it. I also stopped understanding when my other friend who’d said she’d read it turned out to have got the dates mixed up even though she was not given a deadline and was horrified I had been left hanging by both of them, stubbornly talked through my cordial coldness for 15 minutes (when hurt I pull back and become insufferably polite) until I agreed to let her give it another try, and my so called best friend, upon hearing that my other friend hadn’t done it either, was not horrified at all – she was, in fact, relieved, “See, I wasn’t the only one who failed!” Verbatim, again.

I was too shocked for words but not really too surprised after the shock wore off. Mad as all bloody hell, oh yes! I mean, in absolute terms it is still a rather unacceptably callous thing to do to someone but the punchline is, I’d sent her 1/3 only of the thesis to check. When she handed in her own thesis she was completely at ease because all of it, from index to appendixes, had been repeatedly checked in all their various stages by me. BY ME. It would have been absolutely incomprehensible in relative terms as well were it not for a past lacking in empathy and she mostly being available when her life was in the shits. I was too busy trying to finish the thesis and hand it in to be able to afford talking to her about this but then she rang me one day to tell me she’d just come back from the doctor’s (she is pregnant, a sainted pregnancy that didn’t even cause a smidgen of morning sickness, in case you felt inclined to use it as an explanation, it really wasn’t the pregnancy unless she’s been pregnant since we were 12) and she’d heard a heartbeat and then she says this, se actually says this to me: “You have no idea how it feels to hear your baby’s heart beat!” Yeah, funny thing, I don’t. I really, really don’t. I even remember crying abt that. I even remember crying abt that to her. I was shocked speechless, retreated into silence, to which she was – shocker - oblivious, and when she rang me abt 3 weeks later bcs her dog had kidney failure I pointed out that maybe that had not been the finest choice of words to say to someone who had not only had a miscarriage but a rather traumatic one at that. Her time to be stunned into silence bcs wow, she’d forgotten abt it, so sorry, she’d not said it with the intention of hurting me at all, surely I knew that! There are some of you who never met me who probably still remember my miscarriage and yet it slipped my "best friend"’s mind, oops. I don’t know what to make of it, I could say it’s too insensitive even for her but the truth is, it isn’t. We had this dynamic where I had her back at all times, and then coached her to have mine when I needed it, often unsuccessfully. Is this a real friendship? Is this remotely healthy? No. We haven’t talked about it yet, I don’t feel like it yet, not even sure there’s anything left to say. In a funny twist, she is now pissed off with me bcs I texted her on her birthday rather curtly. What she doesn’t know is, I was at a community meeting in Berlin and hid in the bathroom during Shabbat so I could actually quickly text her bcs I was surrounded by rabbis and religious Jews and figured I’d explain when I got back, and the reason she was pissy – she texted me rather haughtily and passive-aggressively – was because, no sick dogs, no more pregnancy news, she had no reason to ring me, I mean, I hardly had a thesis’ viva coming up and the editing and proofing of said thesis had gone so well, yes?, so she had no idea I'd be away at all and that my mere texting her was not mere at all. Then again, she hasn't really had an idea about what is happening in my life for quite a while now, she moved in with her boyfriend in the begginning of this year, ask me how often I have been invited over. Rhymes with 'zero', if it helps.

Online relationships can be trickier, yes. You only have the words, you risk misunderstandings, you risk opening up your heart to a literally virtual stranger, you may misjudge and end up wit their big boots imprinted all over it. Would someone care to explain to me how real life is any safer, for fuck’s sake? There may be gradations in pain but it’s not the medium that matters, it’s how much the person now turning your world upside down has come to mean to you, if they have become important you end up buggered, full stop, doesn't really matter whether there's a screen between you. I have been hurt by people in my computer, just like I have by people who can reach out and touch me, there is no safety anywhere, is my point. No bloody safety, not until I change my personality and become fractionally less gullible and stupid. I am not stupid at all, and yet. AND YET.

And this is my point too, this is what’s making me pissy beyond words and it's mostly abt this friend but not only, I am so careful with others, I’ll forever kick myself if I’ve somehow upset someone long after the person I’ve upset has forgotten about it, I always do my utmost to not trample someone’s feelings, I am always ready to believe what you have to say because I myself try very hard to be as honest as I can possibly be without completely baring my tenderised jugular, you don’t just take my trust and loyalty and fuck around with them, you’re not just my friend when it bloody suits you, you don’t just remove yourself, negating whatever deeper bond we had, bcs life is so bloody splendid again you don’t need me to entertain you anymore. You have tamed me? Have a care then, do I not bloody bleed too, OVER YOU, pun very much intended?

The guilty get no sleep
In the last slow hours of morning
Experience is cheap
I should've listened to the warning

I am guilty of being an idiot, I don't want to be this idiotically naive anymore, I don't want to be a domestic appliance anymore, Universe, I'd like a big sign flashing NO next time, I do bleed, and am fucking tired of it. Cheers.

16 furballs:

Anonymous said...

Yes, all of these relationships -- offline, online, a mixture of the two -- are real as real can be. It's about the emotional entanglement, as you suggest. And yes, you are thin-skinned, but it's part of what makes you so wonderful and insightful. ((((Johnny))))

Oh, you know who, of course.

lorem ipsum said...

I've missed your *ROAR*—bless you. xo

Anonymous said...

big, real, hug,

Flicka said...

Of course online relationships are real. The women of my community have carried me through more than I could imagine and I can't leave them behind even though I don't need the emotional support as much as I used to. I'm taking pleasure now in being able to BE an emotional support where before I was mostly useless.

I'm sorry about your friendship because you deserve better. And I'm glad you finally drew some healthy boundaries and allowed yourself to stop being as badly hurt by her. Lots of Portuguese hugs (no butts sticking out) from me to you.


QuietusLeo said...

Please don't keep me in such suspense, you're killing me, was the re-bind accepted?

Udge said...

What a great roar, and what a thoroughly worthy (i.e. unworthy) target.

And yes, online is differently real, but it is just as real.

(and btw I thought you were quoting from Le Petit Prince, not Dune :)))

Happy Chanukkah nonetheless, dear Johnny.

Kristin said...

Awesome ROAR and I'm glad that is back! Online is real, sometimes painfully real. As Udge said, it is differently real but real nonetheless.

BTW, i do remember what you went through and, when I read that woman's words to you, I was truly horrified.

kirkjerk said...

I agree with those who say it's great to see you in fine fettle.

kirkjerk said...

Or some kind of fettle, or something.

Lioness said...

V., wonderful and insightful will carry me far, oh yes. Had much rather be more like everyone else.

Lorem, stay close, chances are it will happen again.

K., thanks dahling, one can never go wrong with a hug.

Flicka, you made me laugh with the bum thing, can't believe you remember that. And I can't begin to tell you how happy I am that you now ca be the comforter, can you believe how much your life has changed?

QL, great timing, just returned from yet another attempt at proper rebinding, MACHINE WAS BROKEN. *sigh*

Udge, re taming, I was. Have added the fox bit to avoid confusion, I thought it'd be clear what I was quoting from, hadn't counted on Dune confusing people.

Kristin, different real but real all the same, yes. And I have your embroidered butterfly to prove it. And yes, that comment, it was a surreally bad moment.

Kirk, thanks? ;)

Eliyahu said...

unfortunately, it seems in real life, more so than online, there are givers and there are takers.

then also, some people are hugely more sensitive than others.

memory also varies. the memory part may be the key. obviously, it would be terrible if we actually remembered everything that we take in. there are some studies going on about this trying to figure out the receptors geared for marijuana. they might be there to help us forget.

blessings for a great channukah/shabbos, and finding a happy balance. remember, G_d loves us, and wants us to be happy; hence, alcohol.

JoeinVegas said...

Sorry, but it does look like it's time for a new best friend. I would gladly offer myself, but I'm really nothing but a well written computer program.

We did miss you. Happy Chanuka

D said...

Great post.

Are you actually trying to prove rain = wet? Who cares, if you know it's true?

How did we meet again? Felt pretty real from the get-go.

I can never look at documentaries of the tsunami without thinking of you and your loss. Sometimes I think "Get over it" and then I realize that, had it been one of my two best friends, I would not have been over it. All this feels pretty real, as real as any friendship that started 'off-line.'

You said "...people who become important end up spilling into your real life as well bcs you'll want to meet them, you'll want to hug them and hear them laugh in person, you will ultimately want to be able to have wild discussions about books or men or politics or what have you while sitting on the same sofa. Online can be just the starting point, not an inevitability, if you both deem it worthy, if you're both very lucky."

Couldn't have said it better myself. Too bad you're spreading yourself around so thin. ;)


Lioness said...

Eliyahu, I don't much care for alcohol, alas - I did manage to become slightly inebriated on Mon Chéri a week ago though, surely that counts. Didn't come with bliss so as much as with bumping into furniture, alas. I will freely admit to being super sensitive, Princess and the Pea-y to a ridiculous extent, at times. But not in my dealings with her, funnily enough, and after years of automatically excusing someone's beaviour bcs that's how they are it didn't feel like enough. I don't expect my friends to remember every little thing about me, I certainly don't, but I do expect my close friends to remember events that left an indelible mark. She remembers what she chooses to remember when it suits her, I haven't often been one of those things, what do we have really? Not facing reality never helps, at the end of the day the people I need in my life are the ones who truly value being there.

Joe, :D. It's good to be back!

Dany, the funny thing is, I now associate you with Portugal IRL so much I didn't even think to include you in the list but you're right of course, we did stumble upon each other's blogs and as luck would have it you already had ties to Portugal and now you're all living here (mostly, anyway :D) - what are the odds? See how some things are meant to be, you cynical rationalist? Not to worry, love and fondness are self-sustaining, the more I give the more there is of me to go round. ;)

Eliyahu said...

well, princess, you are certainly correct that it becomes tiresome after a while to be friends with the always takers. may you be blessed with peace, and not peas!

Nancy said...

I think I'm real.. I'm pretty sure you are. Our relationship isn't a deep one, but, if it means anything....

note the date I stopped by. (it was still the day before when I started this reply)

Hugs to you, my dear. Butterflies are still hovering around your soul, and some of us are flying with them.

I wish I could come and threaten the binding machine for you.. I seem to have a way with getting stubborn machines to work..after I point out that the trip to the recycling bin can be moved up...