I work with a lot of men. Good men. The kind of men that you want to work with as a woman in your twenties. I work with men who love women, respect them, but also feel like women need to sack up and play the game. A little less emotion and a little more “shut the fuck up, sir.” It’s not an environment for everyone, but having two brothers and lots of uncles, I will always be the girl that wins the game by playing the hand she has. Sometimes it’s wit and sometimes it’s much simpler: tits.
The value of these men is not lost on me. Every day I am given the opportunity to observe how men and women process things differently. We have open conversations about our genderly shortcomings. Sometimes we laugh and other times we look across the table somberly, too embarrassed that we’re bound by our respective genitalia to say anything. On more than one occasion I’ve found myself explaining through tears that I’m actually not worked up, I’m just a woman. I can feel tears prick at the back of my eyes and despite my internal screaming, they will make their way down my face. Derailing the conversation, discrediting me, and making a babbling mess of the men who are subjected to it. Definitely on my list of favorite things. Right there under shitting myself in public.
I, as usual, digress. In this period of my life that I’ve now dubbed the “Positivity, Solutions, and Adjustment Period” or “Fuck My Life. Period.” I’ve gained incredible insight from the men I work with. In times of trouble, women are prone to commiserating. We gather together to talk about how sorry we feel for one another and compare our respective shittiness. When a friend calls about a breakup, it’s rare that she wants a pep talk about next steps. She’s looking for affirmation that she’s not a total hag and a lot of “that’s terrible” “he’s awful” “I’m so sorry” and “I can’t believe that!”s. When men call, they generally just need to be reminded that shit happens and life goes on.
One of the biggest complaints of the gentlemen here at 727 is that women are often angered by solutions. If the wife is complaining about work and they offer a solution, it’s met with disbelief. “Do you not understand how unfair and terrible this is? Do you not know how awful my day was? Don’t you have any sympathy?” They thought what they were offering was better. A solution. A way to make the problem go away. A way to restore harmony to the household. What assholes.
I’ve never been known for my warmth and compassion. Whether it’s the prevalent male influence in my life or my “low frustration threshold” (I was “diagnosed” with that last week. I can’t believe I have a medical problem with stupid people. It almost makes everything seem okay.) I can’t say. What I do know is that I do not care for wallowing. If you call me for an opinion, ask me for my take, or seek my counsel, that is what you will get. I value emotion (believe me) and I think it’s important to go through the steps of getting through something and moving on, but I do not react well to emotional stupidity. Questions like “am I ugly?” should never be asked. You have a mirror. You tell me. Are you?
But recently I’ve found solutions difficult to come by. Not because they do not exist, but because they are challenging and multidimensional. They involve work or perseverance. Sadness takes time. Loneliness takes the making of friends. Boredom takes finding shit to do. (Because my system of drinking and or smoking randomly to overcome boredom is inadvisable. And awkward.) Tactical problems have tactical solutions, easily understood and fairly painless to implement. (Unless your hubs is IMPOSSIBLE.) Emotional problems have emotionally draining solutions. And those are not painless to implement.
Tactically, things are clipping along like gangbusters at the Beaulieu house. We’re a little poorer than we were this time last year so we’re trying to spend a little less. I’ve been in a dark pit of despair, so I have a few new BFFs that come in child proof bottles. One of those BFFs makes me hotter than a skillet in hell so I’ve taken to sleeping without clothes. The hubs refuses to buy a bigger bed because he thinks we’ll get lost or some romantic nonsense, so I figured out that if I sleept at the opposite end of the bed, it creates more wiggle room. I even had to get firm with the hubs when he decided he would sleep at the foot with me. “Get back to your end.” I told him. He replied with some nonsense about love and cuddling. “Get back to your end now. The only reason I’m down here is because you’ve robbed me of my figure and my sleep.” He thought it was an actual fight. I just thought I was being clear…
The real moment of genius came last week when I lost the battle for the foot of the bed. The hubs INSISTED that we sleep at the same end of the bed. I told him that was fine, but he was not to touch me. The surface of his skin is the same temperature as the face of the sun. I know it’s because he is a Yeti, so I don’t blame him, but he has to keep his paws off me at night. I’m practically menopausal as it is. One touch from him and I feel like I need to kill him so that I will never feel that uncomfortable ever, ever again. Well, Casanova wants to cuddle. No. It’s not happening. If I wanted to cuddle with him I would have Zeus knit me a blanket of sunshine and I’d wrap it around my body and drink hot tea. Or run around in a Mylar sweatsuit and polyester. The man is a solar panel. Love may be patient and kind, but there is nothing in there about cuddling. Cuddling is clever and pessimistic.
He wasn’t giving up. A solution needed to be identified. A rule instated.
Rule: If you wish you touch my body while sleeping, there must be an ice pack between your skin and mine.
And so it was that the hubs got up from the bed, marched into the kitchen and retrieved the largest ice pack that we have, got into bed, put it on my back and cuddled right up to it. The big spoon and the little spoon. On ice.
Unfortunately, my 90 year old, sweating alter ego is the least of my current worries. Heat is a tactical problem, easily solved by a fan and an ice pack. Wondering what you’re going to do next with your life is not. That’s a real, life problem. The kind that can’t be solved. Feeling trapped is not cured by opening a gate or taking a walk any more than feeling confused is about drawing a life diagram. Sure, these are tools, but at the end of the day, they’re arbitrary. You need courage and confidence in those moments… the very moments they tend to disappear.
I haven’t been blogging because I haven’t had anything to say. The stories haven’t felt meaningful and the thoughts have seemed too trivial to make into entire posts. Staring at your life (whether you’re in your 20s, 30s, 40s, or 90s) offers perspective, and sometimes perspective takes away the humor. But there’s some hope.
In the fall (September 23rd to be exact), I start Teacher Training for yoga. I’m so excited about what it could help me bring to my own life, but I’m even more excited that we’ve got a whole new bucket of humiliating content coming our way. Maybe it’s just the thing. Maybe it’s the solution.