Re-Post: Untitled Space

I wrote and originally posted this in October of 2007. At that time I was in the middle of my very first internship in Washington, DC. This was the first time I'd been so far from home for so long. When I wrote this, I had finally cut most of my ties with J and was trying to come to terms with what that meant. Being 2.5 years removed from this space, now, I can say that I think I wanted to feel some of these things, but I'm not terribly sure I really did

At the end of this post I talk about holding my feelings inside and allude to the idea that I think it's what's best. In hindsight, it wasn't. At that time it was right, but it wasn't something I should've done long term.

The past two months for me have been chock full of experiences. I'm literally on my own in a big and brand-new city. Something about being on my own has made me feel more adult and more responsible but it has also made me long to be a kid just a little while longer. I intend to take full avantage of that opportunity when it presents itself.

I've learned a lot about the person I've grown into. All of the lessons I've learned over the years (and even the ones I'm still learning) are starting to make a ton of sense. I now know what sorts of people I want to surround myself with. I have a little more direction for my life and I'm excited about what the future holds.

This isn't to say or even suggest that I'm not struggling with these lessons. I'm still sifting through what all of this really means.

When you put someone out of your life what does that mean? Does it mean I can never speak to him again. No e-mails, no texts? Is it wrong to want an apology? Is it wrong to wish he would call and beg for your forgiveness?

Honestly, the answer to all of those questions is that there isn't a right or wrong answer. This isn't a black and white situation. What's most important to me right now is that whatever I decide about those things, that it doesn't hold me back. I have been especially surprised at how much easier letting go has been than I thought it would be. Truly, I had done all the work before. There was nothing to hold on to by the time I decided to let go. Emotionally I was a wreck and physically I was working myself into an early grave. When I finally said "let it go" I was about three months behind the game. And I was absolutely prohibiting myself from being happy, successful and productive.

So yes, I wish he was man enough to call me or text me or e-mail me or facebook me or whatever me and say how sorry he is and for him to truly mean it. Yes, I wish he would beg me to come back to him. I absolutely long for the companionship that I don't have because he hasn't done any of those things. What makes wishing these things even harder is that if he were man enough to apologize and to try to right his wrongs, we never would have gotten to that point. Once I had him figured out, he never changed and all the time I thought I just didn't get him, the reality was that I didn't want to get him; I didn't want to believe that what was right in front of my face was true.

He's a good person deep down inside somewhere. I know he is because once upon a time I met that part of him and I fell in love with that part of him and I thought if I waited I'd get that part of him back. Now that I get that I can't make him be that person I can start dealing with everything else. He will always be someone special to me and I will always love him though sometimes it hurts when I think that he probably doesn't feel the same way. Not for a lack of trying but because we met each other at a time when love was just not something he had in himself to give to me. And maybe our relationship was never about me, maybe God brought me into his life to love him through that part of his life and when my job was done I had gotten so attached that I didn't know how to let go even for my own safety.

It takes two peole to mess up a relationship and I played my part. I ignored the warning signs and I never stood up for myself and maybe I wasn't as supportive as I should have been; all lessons I will remember for the next time.

Maybe he's learning, too and maybe our paths will cross again. I would like that. But for right now I'm learning to like where I am as lonely as it feels sometimes and rather than learn to not feel lonely I'm learning to really FEEL the loneliness and be okay with it. I'm learning to FEEL every emotion I have for all that it is worth. To feel the sadness and the sense of loss and the anger and the happiness and the contentment and the since of pride. All of that and so much more I"m really feeling for the first time in a very long time. I've got a ways to go. Heck, I'm not even sure I completely have come to understand who I've evolved into but I like what I'm seeing so far. I like how I'm feeling so far.

To be in the sort of situation I was in for the amount of time I was in at the age I was, you have to be able to turn it off. Yur emotions become like water out of a faucet and you turn it on when you need it and off when you don't. If you let them run, it costs you in the long run. I was too young to know that doing that was unhealthy and I didn't have anyone to tell me that -- mostly because turning your emotions off means to hide them from everyone. Even I didn't realize how much I expected him to be apart of my life. Even when I would think about "what if" I never could see my life without him but I never addressed what that really said about me.

There's a lot I'd love to say to him if I could, but I know that right now it would do neither of us any good; so I'll put it here and I'll hold it in my heart. I'll hold it in the piece of my heart that only he will ever have access to. Oddly, I'm very much ok with that.


Blogger Spotlight

One of my really good friends, Jillian, has (re)started a blog called Letters to Mollee.

Go, check it out, leave some comments. :)


I Could Be Wrong... I've Been Wrong Before

Ok guys. I need some outside opinions. Am I wrong?

A few months ago, around the time that this and this was happening, you can imagine the types of conversations I had in private with my friends.

Now, over the years, I've come to realize that sometimes my friends don't feel can I say... in tuned with me and my thoughts as I either think they are or they want to be. This, in turn, results sometimes in them trying to play "gotcha" with me. If they think I've mistakenly revealed something about myself, some of them like to let me know.

During the conversations I had about what was going on, one friend, Kim, told me, in a "gotcha" way that she thought I was fooling myself into thinking I didn't want a relationship. "You definitely do," she told me matter of factly. I hadn't actually done any real thinking about what I wanted, I was just... talking...

In another conversation, a different friend, Jasmine, made the opposite assertion. "You don't want a relationship," she told me. She made some good points that I hadn't considered and I was actually pretty intrigued by it. I thought the perfect person to mull it over with would be the one who told me I was ready for one.

Now, I didn't need either one of them to tell me what I was or wasn't ready for, but I welcomed the outside input and was interested to hear more of it. We all know friends can sometimes see things about us that we're too dense to see.

Later that afternoon, I spoke with Kim and told her about Jasmine's point.
"So basically, she says I'm not ready for a relationship because I use these arbitrary things to essentially disqualify guys," I told her.

"I don't understand," Kim responded

I sighed. "Ok, so ol' boy throws all these obvious hints at me, right?


"But my major complaint through this is how he isn't being 100 with me. How he won't just say 'Look, I like you...' Right?


"Ok, so Jasmine's point is that guys don't always come to you 100 with stuff like that. And further that if I keep saying 'Oh, I'm not going to pay him any attention until he gets real with me,' I'll basically be ignoring almost every guy who might be interested."

"Oh. I get it, now," Kim said. "I don't agree, though."

"You don't?" I asked.

Kim sighed. "No, I think everything that happened with dude actually proves my point."

"Ok," I began, "now I don't understand."

Kim began explaining, but cut herself off and quickly said instead, "You know, I don't actually think I want to talk about it."

I was a little confused, but more surprised than anything else. "Um. Ok." I said hesitantly.

"I mean I just don't like to talk about things that are pointless." Kim explained.

"Ok." I said again. Kim kept talking.

"I mean, it's just that you don't have any real current prospects which means there's no chance of you being in a relationship and so this conversation about whether or not you're ready for one is pointless to me."
I was a little put off is an understatement. Here was a friend I've had for a long time telling me, essentially, what I wanted to discuss about myself with her for her opinion on it was pointless. Her tone of voice was exasperated and I felt, in that moment, very hurt. I immediately thought of all the long conversations about "pointless" things I'd had with her and all myo ther friends. I'd always told myself -- if it matters to my friend, it matters to me. Guess I hadn't really considered that others didn't share my sentiment

But I also knew she probably didn't say those things to hurt my feelings. And even though I believe you should own your words, even when there's an unintentional consequence, I decided not to call her out on what she'd said.

I suppose Kim realized how she'd messed up and she tried to do some double backing which eventually led to her actually explaining her point, anyway. I can't tell you what she said because I was so caught up in what I was feeling (the hurt and surprise) that I didn't hear anything she said. When I was silent for too long, she asked,
"Are you mad at me?"

I paused for a minute to consider whether or not I wanted to have that conversation with her before I'd had a chance to think about it. I decided I didn't. "Why would I be mad at you?" I countered.

"Oh. Well you were just really quiet all of a sudden."

"Yeah. I was thinking. Sorry. I don't really have anything to say."
I ended our conversation shortly thereafter. I got the feeling she knew that maybe she'd messed up, but I also noted that she didn't try to fix whatever she thought was wrong.

In the time since then, I've noticed that I don't really like talking about what's going on with me, to her. I have, some, but definitely not as it relates to touchy subjects like my romantic life. Further, I just don't feel that even if I did bring it up and she did apologize (and, I would expect that she would, she's not a bad person) I still wouldn't feel comfortable.

The question is -- was I wrong for not bringing this to her attention? Am I wrong for not wanting to talk about this with her anymore?

I could be. I've been wrong before.


Actions and Consequences.

I have often said that 2 of the first words my kids (if I have any) will learn are "consequences" and "repercussions," because I believe in those things. There are consequences and repercussions for everything and I firmly believe that if more people understood that, people would make better decisions. The problem is, we spend a lot of time pushing consequences off onto other people or trying to shield those we care about from said consequences. And don't get me wrong, sometimes that's appropriate...for children...

I dislike the word "whatever." If there was a word I could delete from the English language, "whatever" would make the top 3, easily. I hate that word because it's usually misused in a very dismissive way and I hate being dismissed. J realized that and he would say "whatever" whenever he wanted to smoothly piss me off (and sometimes, that was all the time).

My mom uses it a lot with me and I'm realizing that's because she doesn't really get how much it pisses me off, but don't worry -- we're going to handle that.

The thing I hate about dismissiveness is the way people use it to absolve themselves of responsibility for their actions. Another overused phrase that accomplishes that goal is "it's not that serious" or "I was just joking..." Think about the last time you used either of those phrases and be honest about why.

My experience is that people use those phrases when they realize that their words/actions had unintended consequences and instead of accepting the consequence, want to absolve themselves of it.

Let me be frank: if you say something, and unintentionally hurt the person who hears it, your "mistake" does not absolve you of responsibility.

If I'm sitting in my living room and there are other people around and I'm playing with a gun and it goes off and the bullet hits someone and kills them, the unintentional nature of my actions doesn't absolve me of responsibility. It will lessen whatever punishment I receive, but I'm still responsible for my actions. The same goes for words.

Look, I feel misunderstood about 85% of the time, so I get what it's like to say something and have it taken the wrong way. It happens to me daily. But I'm an adult, I believe in accepting responsibility for what I do and so I apologize. "I'm sorry, I didn't mean to hurt your feelings..." is not that hard to say. Takes about as much effort as "I was just kidding, calm down" or "It's not that serious..."

Once words leave your mouth (or fingers, as we become more and more of a text-based society) they are no longer yours. They belong to whoever was there to hear (or read) them and they get to take them the way they want. I've been the victim of gross misunderstanding: that is where people purposefully twist my words into something they can take offense to, and as much as I want to say "you're an asshole..." I don't. I simply say "I'm sorry" and I note that I should be very careful with them in the future.

The thing about dismissive phrases like "whatever" or "it wasn't that serious" or "I was just kidding, calm down" is that they not only deflect acceptance of responsibility but they also push the responsibility back on the other person, as if to say "you took that wrong, it's your own fault you feel the way that you do."

Yes, there are over sensitive people out there and yes there are appropriate times to let a person know that they're being too serious for a situation and I believe we all know what those are. But even in those situations, words have consequences and that person deserves acknowledgement that how they feel is noted, valid and not intended.


My Window

Earlier today, I retweeted something first said by @sistertoldja that said,
I just feel its okay to be upset, vent and not want any lame Care Bear words of encouragement
I just... ::sigh::

Look, one little piece of advice I give out freely is that everyone looks out their own window. I learned that lesson the hard way and sometimes have to be reminded of that. It ties right into the whole "someone always has it worse..." gem people like to share.

But let me be honest with you, I hate that little tidbit, sometimes. Can I be free to complain about my car without being reminded that some people don't have one. Sometimes I want to whine about my job without being reminded some people don't have one. I'd like to freely gripe about how much I hate wearing glasses without the friendly reminder that some people are blind (ftr: I don't actually hate wearing glasses, but if I did, I'd want to whine about it).

The job thing might be the one a lot of us can relate to. In this economic downturn, you're hard pressed to find someone who doesn't know at least one other person who's lost a job. Some of us even know folks who have lost almost everything because they lost their jobs. I talked about close friends I know who fit this bill.

I have to say that I do -- I really do -- feel terribly about people who have lost everything through little fault of their own.

Their loss, however, doesn't change issues I may be facing or my (and others') need to vent about it.

I'm not talking about folks who are always complaining, who never have a good thing to say about their own lives or situations. Those people do need reminders but we all know those people when we see them.

Does that make me insensitive? I hope not. Everyone has issues and everyone has their way of dealing with it. Venting is one universal way and we should all feel like we can do that without having 50-11 people remind us that "it could be worse" or "at least you have such-and-such..." Everyone looks out their own window man. Everyone.


Re-Post: Here We Go Again

I wrote this almost 5 years ago and I'm just a little embarassed to admit that very little has changed... So, I guess I re-post this as a reminder to myself...

Originally posted October 18, 2005

The past two days have been anything but "memorable in a good way." Today is the first day in 48 hours that my phone has not rung incessantly. I go from one bad relationship talk, right into another. Sunday, I was on the phone from the time I woke up around 2:45 right up until I walked into the library at 7:00. In that time frame, perhaps I spent an hour not on the phone -- but that was not 60 consecutive minutes. It was erratic. Everyone had a problem. Well, everyone except two people My mom and Sharea. The only two people who called me all day who didn't want to whine. Those were my two shortest conversations.

Yesterday was very much similar to Sunday but my phone didn't start ringing until about 7:30 and I went until about 12:45. The same stuff. One friend even called, supposedly to hear me vent my frustration, and somehow we ended up talking about him and a past ex-girlfriend. It wasn't his fault, but I was so locked up emotionally by the time I talked to him, that I just didn't even want to say what was wrong. Not a good look for the kid.

To say I'm tired is an understatement. This aforementioned friend told me I should turn my phone off sometimes. He says it's what he does when it all gets to be too much, but I've been one of those shunned by his voicemail when "it all gets to be too much" and that feeling is not a nice one. I wouldn't wish it upon anyone who really needs a shoulder to lean on. That's what friends are for, right?

I can tell you this, though. I've had a lot of people ask me how I'm doing -- and I can say that I don't think any of them really cared. Well -- perhaps one or two. Of the rest, some asked because they felt bad about dumping on me, but then proceeded to dump on me anyway. Others asked out of habit, not out of genuine concern. The final few... they asked, and perhaps they cared, but they didn't care long enough for me to vent all of it out. Not a good look for the kid. I'm pissed off and generally angry at the world. Half the time I want to scream that I don't care about anyone's relationship and I wish everyone would suck it up and walk it off. I've got papers due, exams to take and group projects. There is no time in my world for stupid conversations about relationships that I can't control. But I don't mean those things -- I feel them bubbling inside of me, but I know that's the anger. The real me does care and does want to help. But I have hobbies and playing relationship counselor has never been one of them.

I think what's pissing me off more than anything is that no matter how much I say "I'm so emotionally drained" people laugh it off and keep it moving. No one is concerned with Ashley and that's because everyone is so self-absorbed in their "oh-so important relationship" relationships that aren't that deep, not half that serious and definitely not worth the time I'm being forced to spend on them.

The irony of it all is that some of the relationships I'm having to hear people vent about are relationships that have stolen once-close friends from me, put me on the back burner in people's lives and generally caused me anguish. But a good person would never say that. Never. Bitterness: Not a good look for the kid.

I want to be there for those who want me to be there for them, but I can't keep doing it, if every evening all I have to look forward to is more complaining and more whining. I'm going to break. Won't be a good look for the kid. I've been through my fair share of emotionally taxing things. This, my dears, tops it all.

I need new friends.

Distractions II

This post started back here

I think it started in high school. By my Junior year I was super involved in clubs. I was President of this, leader of that, special member of the other... it helped me get into college but it also required a lot of attention. I would get to school at 7:00, an hour+ before the first class of the morning and some days I wouldn't get home until 8 or 9 at night.

My mother and I are just now growing into a good relationship. From the outset, I have to say that so much of what I've been able to accomplish is directly because of my mother. Period. She was and is not a bad mother. At all. During my teenage years we clashed on a lot. I wasn't necessarily rebellious but I was hard headed. When I decide something should be a certain way, I stick to that. I march to the beat of my own drum, I live relatively unapologetically in my own world (and I have the bumps and bruises to prove it). I get that, actually, from my mother. So when we didn't see eye-to-eye, we really didn't see eye-to-eye.

Our disagreements stressed me. I didn't like the way they made me feel and so to a degree I used school as a distraction. My home life wasn't abnormal, but even still I didn't know how to deal with what was going on in my head so I just didn't.

As I got older and started running into more problems, I began taking that approach to more problems. I ran out of clubs to join and I began using my friends lives as a distraction. If I spent more time talking to them about their issues, I didn't have to spend a lot of time talking to them (or myself) about my own issues.

This worked, but it backfired because my friends began to think I didn't have issues. Hell, I began to think I didn't have issues. On the rare occasion a good and close friend thought enough to ask, I'd either feel guilty for having an issue to discuss or not trust them enough to actually care.

In fact, one thing J (the ex, for those new) was surprisingly good at was knowing when something was wrong and coaxing (read: demanding) me into sharing it with him. Unfortunately for both of us, a lot of what was bothering me during that time was him, but still, I loved the way he wanted to know... I digress...

Sometimes I can't get my brain to shut off. Most notably when I most need it to -- as I'm trying to go to sleep. As a result, distracting myself has almost become an art form. I spend a lot of my day distracting myself.

I know why, I know how... now I need to figure out how to stop. Or at least dial it back a bit.

Dealing directly with things as they happen is one option. I recently read an an article Donna Brazile (a personal hero) wrote for O Magazine called "The Smartest Advice I Ever Got." The first one she lists says,
1. Be the buffalo.
Wilma Mankiller, the first female principal chief of the Cherokee nation, once told me how the cow runs away from the storm while the buffalo charges directly toward it—and gets through it quicker. Whenever I'm confronted with a tough challenge, I do not prolong the torment. I become the buffalo.
In a lot of situations I think I'm like that -- the buffalo. Just do it and get it over with. However, some situations, specifically ones that feel like the storm might last too long, I distract myself -- I run away from it.

Two good examples:

In high school I did a lot of ropes course type stuff. I'll maybe do a post on all that. Anyway, one consistent thing ropes course activities mess with is fear. The point is not to teach you not to be afraid (fear can save your life) but rather to find skills necessary to overcome fear when you need to. Running right into whatever it is that I'm scared of is one of the skills I developed. So when I'm up on top of a pole that's 40 feet in the air and I'm being told to jump, or when I'm strapped into a contraption that pulls me 60 feet in the air and I'm told to let go (and fall), I just... do it. A deep breath and let go. That's my motto.

However, the reason my broken relationship with J went so long was because I was afraid. I couldn't just... do it. I couldn't cut it off even if it was hopelessly broken. I was afraid. I was worried about the consequences. I delayed and debated and delayed and debated until I really had no choice.

On occasion I successfully escape having to go through the storm, but you know what? Eventually it comes back around and you can't run (or distract) forever.

See. I get it. I KNOW the right answer. I just need to get to implementing. ::sigh:: Much easier said than done.


FYI: DC Event

If you have any interest in creating your own investment group and you live in the DC area, there's an event you might want to attend:

CAPITAL CAUSE POWER SESSION: Tips on Establishing Your Own Investment Group
Date: Monday, June 21, 2010
Time: 6:00pm

Limited Seating Available

2 Groups will win $200 each
4 Groups will win Busboys & Poets gift cards
*Group (3 or more)

Corey Holeman – Former Manager of Vanguard Tax-Managed Growth & Income PortfolioHarold B. Pettigrew, Jr. – Founder, Alpha Investment Circle



One really awesome perk to my job is access to the Library of Congress.
Wait, before I get into that, let me say, I've alluded to my job a few times and there are a handful of people who sorta know what I do. Lots of people know I live in DC, so some have probably put 3 and 7 together. I don't discuss my job because it could cause me issues. However, I'm leaving here in about 60+ days. At that point, I'll be glad to share what I've done for the last 2 years. Back to the post...
Whenever I hear about a book I'd like to read, I just request it and it's delivered to me ASAP. It's pretty awesome.

A few moments ago, I got a new delivery. A book that, actually, I'd forgotten I had requested. Once I crack that book open this evening, as I know I will, I will be reading 5 books simultaneously. Why?

Right now I have 7 tabs open in IE and 2 open in Firefox. Most of them are blog posts/articles I want to read. Why?

Earlier I had 3-4 word documents open. All of them work related but none of them related to each other Why?

Rarely do I sit down to write a blog post and do so in one fell swoop. Perhaps that's normal for average blog writers (those of us who don't do this for our paychecks), but I think it's yet another sign of what I do to myself. In just the time I've written these few paragraphs, I've checked out a game my alma mater is playing in baseball, read some emails, responded to some text messages. Nothing important and maybe not even more important than this post. Definitely distractors, though.

I'm always distracting myself. I can remember in high school spending my evenings watching tv, writing papers, talking on AIM and the phone, all simultaneously. I made great grades. Just earlier this week I had a conversation with a friend where I told her I feel like I have to multitask to get anything done. She told me that's just what I tell myself.

I think that it's not just what I tell myself, but rather just what I've always done. To the point that maybe I can't accomplish things without multitasking. Sorta like how a person eventually becomes legitimately addicted to something. A long-time heroin user will tell you that it was fun at first but now they use to avoid being sick. They almost literally can't function without it.

In the grand scheme of things, it's not terrible that I'm reading 5 books at once, can't write a blog post without checking twitter 20 times or that from time to time I talk on the phone while I'm reading a super important article. But I think this self-distracting thing goes deeper than tasks I have to complete.

A long time ago, I noticed that the more I focused on others the less I had to focus on self.

To be continued..."



I present to you an edited re-post from a time so long ago, it wasn't even on this blog. :)

Originally posted 5/17/2007

Last night at church I got a lesson on forgiveness. It definitely hit home for me. It's funny how hard it is to take your own advice. For years I've told my friends that refusing to forgive someone is an unhealthy choice and while initially it probably feels good to hold a grudge against someone who has done you wrong, long-term it does nothing for you but make you bitter. Not only that but IF in fact the other person does feel bad, you not forgiving them may prolong that, but not indefinitely. Eventually they will move on realizing there's nothing they can do. Too, as we learned last night, for Christians, forgiving is something we're supposed to do; purposefully not forgiving (and since the act of forgiving is a conscious choice, not forgiving is always purposeful) effects your testimony as well as your own relationship with God.

Whoo. Intense.

Like I said, I've been saying this stuff to my friends for years. So when it came time to put actions behind my words, I completely fell on my face.

Here's the deal: I know a lot of people, but I don't think of myself as having a lot of friends. On facebook, it says I have well over 700 friends -- that's nice, but to tell you who my friends are, that is the people I trust completely, would take all of 5 minutes and about 7 fingers. I've been hurt by "friends" in the past, forgiven (and in some cases, been forgiven) and moved on.

There was a person in my life who had their own category. Not a trusted friend, but someone I did care about and did want the best for. As time had gone on, our relationship became STRESSFUL. It was affecting my grades and most likely, my health. A few weeks ago, this person really hurt me. To be honest, it wasn't any one thing he did in that moment, but it was a culmination of at least 18 months of crap. He knew he upset me and I made it clear that I didn't want anything to do with him. I've been ignoring phone calls and emotional voicemails for weeks. Refusing to talk to him and ESPECIALLY refusing to forgive him.

I kept telling myself that it was because I wasn't ready to talk to him that I couldn't forgive them. I had myself believing that I was just too hurt and too emotional about it. I felt completely justified in what I was doing, because as I told myself, it was high time they felt what I had been feeling.

Pretty childish, right?

I was hurt, I had every right to be, but the lesson last night made me realize that aside from being immature, I wasn't walking the walk. When I got home, my mom asked me what I learned at church. I told her I hadn't learned anything new, but I had gotten a very much needed reminder that it's not enough to KNOW the right answers, you gotta put them into action as well.


My Friends Are Awesome

Continuing on in telling random stories from my past triggered by reading old stuff I wrote, and to counterbalance the "my friends suck" theme from a lot of my recent posts...

At my undergrad, one place we liked to congregate was the dining hall. It was guaranteed that if you walked in between 12:00 and 1:00 the middle of the dining hall would be completely full of black students.

One afternoon, probably during the latter half of the semester and close to finals, I found myself hanging out in the dining hall during an off peak time, between lunch and dinner. It seemed like people I knew kept strolling through and sitting down to talk.

At some point, I found myself at a table with a bunch of people. Some I knew well, some I didn't know well at all. One of the people I didn't know well at all was a girl named Erica. Erica and I had a bunch of mutual friends, but her personality was just a little too much for me to want to incorporate into my daily life.

Eventually, the table cleared out and left myself, Erica and another male friend of mine. At a table next to me were some other people I knew and so I carried on a conversation with them until they left.

When I turned my attention back to my own table, Erica and my friend were mid conversation. For most of the time, Erica kept her head buried in her arms on the table. Occasionally she would look up at my friend, but she never looked at me.

When an opening in the conversation occurred, I took the opportunity to speak to her. What I said, exactly, escapes me now, but I'm sure it was something like "hello."

She lit into me. She started yelling about how she was sick and she didn't want people to talking to her. She yelled specifically at me claiming she had said she was sick and I purposefully ignored that.

I was...well...shocked. I had never experienced anything so suddenly like that. I'd had people lose their minds on me, but never someone I didn't know well, never unprovoked and never so publicly.

I sat there for a moment -- my guy friend and I had the same surprised look on our faces. I gathered my things and left the table.

Later in the day, I was at dinner with some of my closest friends and I relayed the day's bizarre events. One of my friends questioned me extensively about the situation. What, when, where, why... all of that. We all agreed that it was completely ridiculous that someone who didn't want to be bothered by others would camp out in one of the busiest spots on campus. It felt good to vent about the situation and we all went on with our dinner.

The next day, the friend who'd been so inquisitive told me that she and a few others had found Erica later that night and cornered her about the days events. She told me that initially Erica denied that it had happened. She even went so far as to initially deny being in the dining hall that day. Eventually, though, she admitted that she had blown up at me, but she claimed that it wasn't unprovoked.

My friends wouldn't tell me exactly what they said to her -- but they told me she apologized and though I stuck to my vow to never speak to her again, I noted she tried her best to be courteous whenever I was around.

Ahhhh.... it always feels good to have people who have your back.



In my AP English class senior year, our teacher assigned each of us a literary element. We were then given a date that we had to teach the class about that literary element. Her teaching tactic worked because I've not forgotten what a motif is.

A motif is a recurring theme in a story. I have several motifs in my life and in thinking about one that has popped up in almost literally every stage of my life that I can recall, I remembered an ironic story...

From pre-school up until I went to a private school in 8th grade, I had 3 best friends. One's name was Jackie. She and I were very close for a long time. Even as we grew up and discovered that we were very different, our history of friendship kept us close.

Being older now, I can imagine that Jackie spent a lot of time back then defending our friendship. Because we were very different and had different interests, we actually spent a lot of time in our own groups of friends but Jackie and I had been friends since pre-school. We were friends because...well..we just were.

I also imagine that it was her defense led to a very awkward situation...

I had tried hanging out with Jackie and her friends but for the most part, they didn't get my jokes and found my sarcasm (which yes, I was perfecting at even age 12) annoying. Jackie used to press me to spend more time with them. I think she thought that if they got to know me, they'd like me.

7th grade was the year my friends and I started pairing off. I had a huge crush on this boy named Dennis, but of course, Dennis liked Jackie. The three of us and a bunch of our friends had a morning class together and, as best as 12 year olds could, Dennis spent a lot of time flirting with Jackie. Dennis, of course, had his own crew of friends including one guy, Charles.

Charles, at the time, was annoyingly awkward. He lacked heavily in the charm department and he didn't seem to know it. Of course, most 12 year old boys fit this bill so in regards to that, he was average. Charles was also in the morning class we had and he would often, as best as 12 year olds could, attempt to flirt with me. I didn't dislike Charles, but I didn't like him either. I didn't want to hurt his feelings, so I would entertain the mindless chatter (yes, even at 12 I was like that).

It didn't take long before someone came up with the bright idea that all of Dennis's friends and Jackie's friends should pair off. I'm sure I don't need to tell you who I got pushed towards.

I was nice, and back then even a little shy, but I wasn't stupid and I wasn't pairing off with Charles. I didn't like him, he annoyed me and I was embarassed that my "friends" thought that was ok. My choice to not go along to get along pretty much cemented that Jackie's friends would never warm up to me and I was ok with that because, even at 12, I knew it had nothing to do with 2 friend units coming together and had everything to do with embarassing me.

The summer after my first year in college was an interesting one. The summer before, my best friend had completely and abruptly stopped talking to me. Even now as I type this (and as I've mentioned before) I have no idea why, though I've surmised many reasons over the years. In any case, this meant that that summer I was spending a lot more time with "other" friends. My pride and feelings were hurt because not only had I lost a close friend, I'd lost other close friends in the process and I didn't know why. Friends I'd had long before I met the BFF who had become friends of hers chose her over me (when, in fact, I would have been fine with maintaining a friendship with them).

I'd also, that summer, tried to reopen communication lines. I felt that maybe a year at school had done us both some good and maybe she was ready to open up to me. I'd managed to get her talking to me, on occasion, via AIM and this one particular night I took advantage of that.

She and I had been talking for about 15 minutes when I got a phone call from one of the aforementioned friends who I hadn't seen in almost a year (outside of places like church where we were bound to run into each other). I had definitely not hung out with her since the summer before. I was a little confused, but answered the phone anyway.

She was calling to invite me over to yet another MIA friend's house. She said something about they were hanging out and wondered if I was free and wanted to come over.

I need to reiterate that the former BFF, and these 2 were tied at the hip. Somewhere inside I know I hoped that that former BFF would show up as well. Maybe this was some intervention, I thought. I told the former BFF where I was going, to end the conversation and I rushed out of the house.

When I got there, the 2 girls told me why they had really invited me over: Earlier in the day while they were out, they met 3 guys. Each of them had taken a liking to one of the guys and invited all 3 over. Of course, with there being only 2 of them they needed a third person.

It didn't take me long to start wondering why they called me instead of any of the other girls they knew. Why me of all people? The girl they hadn't bothered to call or spend time with in a year. I was upset, embarassed and my feelings were hurt. I wasn't sure if they were trying to play a game on me. But, wanting to believe that people are inherently good, I stuck around to see who would show up.

When the 3 guys came in, it was quickly clear who was the 3rd one -- the one for me. He was a little awkward. He also looked a little familiar to me, but I couldn't place it. The guys sat on one couch across from us and we started talking. We each introduced ourselves one person at a time, one fact at a time and so I slowly was able to gather where I knew this guy from. Even though he told me his name was Charles from the outset, it took me a few rounds of introductions to realize it was the same Charles that Jackie's friends had tried to set me up with years before.

The longer it's been since that happened and the more I've learned about people, the more irony I've seen in the situation. I don't doubt for one second that it didn't take tweedledee and tweedledum too long to decide I'd be the girl, of all their friends, they would call. Just like I know it didn't take Jackie's minions long to decide who they would dump on Charles the first go-round.

There are several motifs within these two stories that continue to show up in my life. Including subpar friends, guys I don't want and the way females like to get you back -- even when you don't know what you did. I like to think I get better and better at dealing with them with every go-round.

Oh and when I returned home that night after a very less than stellar evening, I found the former BFF had sent me an IM after I left. She told me that talking to me brought up painful memories for her and that it would be best if we didn't talk anymore. I wasn't able to shake the feeling that I'd been set up from the jump.