On Conferences, Comparing, College Campuses and Aspiring Like Youth

“Which poet do you want to be when you grow up?”

My friend N and I were walking around a New England college campus.

She and I were there to attend a writers’ conference: four days of craft courses, critique, readings, and dark hour debauchery alternating with daytime discomfort, summer camp style.

Familiar liberal arts trappings surrounded us: sprawling grass fields, soulless, florescent dorms, red brick buildings, patio furniture bolted to cement. Together, they rejuvenated some spirit of youthful optimism: We can do anything! Be anyone! The world is ours!

This is an attitude that can collide with another one such gatherings are known to provoke: the prickly recognition that good fucking god there are SO MANY PEOPLE in the world who are writing things and how will any of us ever succeed and who in god’s name will ever read ANY of us?

That happened, too.

 *

On the train back to New York from New Haven, I sat across from an undergrad who was also in attendance, helping out: a young woman entering her senior year, she came across as effortlessly social, stylish and smart—the sort of person born to glide impressively through college life.

Still (or, perhaps, as a result), she told me, the various traumas the (idea of the) end of school engender aren’t far from her mind: the loss of close community, the loss of clear purpose. Even, she said, the pressure to accomplish the kind of Big Things that elite universities are apt to persuade their students lie, inevitably, in their path.

“You’re only twenty-one!” I reminded her as she described her angst.

“Yeah,” she shrugged, glancing out the window toward cement and tracks, the somber sidelines of Metro North. “But some people my age have already done so much!”

“Oh, stop it!” I rolled my eyes. “You’re so young. You have so much time.”

She wasn’t convinced. But of course, it wasn’t really her I was trying to sway.

I didn’t get serious about writing until my mid-twenties. Early compared with some, but more often it seems late compared with others—and at the Conference, it didn’t elude me how many folks not much older than me seemed to have accomplished so much more.

Overall, brief stints on college campuses notwithstanding, I’ve found the occasion to feel invincible about the future increasingly elusive. More and more, that toxic impulse to compare my accomplishments with those around me—particularly those close in age—beckons, gathering perilous heat.

It quickly becomes a losing game. One has to think hard to list accomplishments at which thirty-odds can’t arrive: A Nobel prize? (Actually, they can.) Meaningless awards of Lifetime Recognition? Grandchildren?

We’re told, over and over again, not to compare ourselves: that everyone has their own path. That it doesn’t matter. We know. I know.

And yet: we all do it. If we didn’t, we wouldn’t need to comfort ourselves with lists of well-known people who bloomed late. We wouldn’t hear every other writer make a self-deprecating reference comparing their productivity to Joyce Carol Oates’. We wouldn’t scan the wedding announcements making a certain kind of mental note.

We don’t know how not to compare ourselves, just as we don’t know how to detach from the way we’re perceived: we derive so much meaning in our lives derives from how we fit in with other peoples’. How can we avoid measuring ourselves the same way?

On the last day of the conference, N and I googled some of the other participants, comparing their publications with our own. We made fun of ourselves as we did it. (We’re in a dorm room! I assured. We’re supposed to act juvenile!)

In truth, she and I have become expert at jointly indulging this, the lamest part of ourselves: the part fueled by ego, that maddening, driving aspect. It works. We share a sense of humor about it, and a convenient commitment to (mostly) differing sections of the writing world.

A part of me feels shameful, wary of enabling each other. A larger part feels relieved: it’s a tough part in which to be alone.

And it did feel important, refreshing, to balance that reflexive, negative spin with that more youthful, college-inspired one. The one that recognizes, as I overheard one participant put it, that some people take until seventy to figure ot their purpose. That, with writing, as with so many things, there is no formula, no model anyone can proscribe that will lead anywhere assured.

That it isn’t now, and in fact, will never be, too late to aspire toward goals, selves, people, projects we may (or may not!) someday achieve.

 

 

 

On Men and Women and Words; Storytelling, Journaling, and Re-Entering Singledom

“Sorry, I’ve used up all my words for the day.”

It was edging on one in the morning, and a couple of women in my teaching group and I were in bunk beds, holding a fiery debate over categories of creative nonfiction. (“It’s the difference between Eula Biss and Jo Ann Beard.” “I just feel really defiant about genre labels right now.”) No matter that they had to get up in not that many hours to teach. And, at the sight of the lone male colleague with us for the weekend, getting ready for bed, we invited him in. To talk.

“No thanks,” he said, holding up his palm — no more words.

Bless him, he’d held his own for the four hours prior, as the group of us sat on stools in the downstairs kitchen with pretzels and hummus and beer and wine, talking about teaching and writing and attitudes on communal living. But by this point, he had little interest in matching the extreme level of chattiness the rest of us couldn’t resist keeping up.

I try to avoid generalizations, and I know there are men out there who really love to talk and plenty of women who really don’t. But, in my experience, the reverse tends to be true: that men are more often the ones who run out of words.

It isn’t only, or necessarily, that women talk more. It’s that, often, we are fundamentally more interested in sharing. Reporting. Telling tales about our days. Our ideas. Our families. Our relationships. You know. The mundane shit of our lives.

*

“The problem is that it’s really easy for me to be single.”

I was sitting with a friend who also recently left a relationship. And he was telling me why it isn’t difficult for him to end up alone for long stretches of time.

I agreed. (Sidenote: I worry the whole dating blog thing gives me a rep as someone who’s always in, or always wants to be in, a relationship. Untrue.) I like spending time alone. I like being independent and having control over my travel and my time. I like meeting new people as a single person, not having to worry about developing relationships in couple form.

But here’s the part about being coupled that I miss: the part at the end of the day, when there is someone to hold you in their arms and say, “Tell me everything.”

I still don’t have a solid list of qualities I require in a partner. But if I did, Good Listener would be at the top. And I’ve been lucky to find men who have been. Who have indulged my desire to lie down and share all: about the phone conversation I had with my brother or the walk I took with a friend, the yoga teacher whose style I loved or the interview with a nurse who made me cry or the bearded guy at the grocery store who gave everyone the creeps.

All that banal stuff that, I suspect, men don’t always feel as inclined to share. And, perhaps, a lot of women don’t either. Maybe it’s the Writer Brain combined with the Female Brain combined with the Journalist Background, or maybe it’s just my DNA: I’ve always, automatically chronicled the moments of my day. It’s a running narrative in my head, and one that I’ve never been particularly interested in recording as a journal, or for myself. Instead, it’s always one I want to share. Either as art, or as conversation with those I love.

And now that I am re-entering the single life, I am looking for new ways to satisfy that need.

The blog, obviously, helps. (Thanks, team!) And time on the phone with girlfriends. And, lately, writing hopelessly lame poems about rainbows over Minnesota lakes and pairs of brightly colored underwear.

I’ve even begun to open up the occasional  Word document and write out my “reports” in the form of a letter — to a partner who doesn’t exist. I’m thinking of it as a transition to the genre of journaling, toward which I have long had a mysteriously epic aversion.

And I’m thinking of it, too, as another way I can practice self-care. I don’t know that there’s anything wrong with wanting to share thoughts and stories with others, but there has got to be something worthwhile, too, in holding, even crafting that stuff just for myself.

 

On Moving Back to a Place

Here is a significant sampling of the very few things I know for sure:

1. I would like to eat a Golden Pride breakfast burrito every day forever.
2. There is no place I would less like to be than any car in any city during rush hour.
3. Tomorrow is the weekend. I think.
4. Moving back to a place is a funny thing.

I’d hate to overwhelm you with my profundity, so I’ll stop there.

As you may have guessed (okay, one last thing all of us know: the last item on any list tends to be the most important/punchy), it’s that last one I’d like to discuss.

Because, for the last six months that I have been living in the Twin Cities, a place I lived before, but not in a while, “a funny thing” has been the awkward zenith of my descriptive capacity.

Another thing we sort of kind of all know (last thing for reals this time) is that perspective yields clarity, along with, sometimes, enhanced describing acumen. And so, now that I have temporarily launched myself, hyperactive puppy style, into another kind-of-sort-of familiar place (Taos, New Mexico, where I’ve spent a total of about four weeks in life and have just arrived for a three month writing residency*), it feels an opportune time to take a whack at writing about my return to Minnesota.

As the Internet often illustrates, when you don’t have anything particularly significant to say, it’s nifty to disguise your thoughts in list form. Alas, here you are:

*What happens when you mix together eighteen acres, Taos, New Mexico, three months, and eleven artists uprooted from their jobs/partners/homes many miles away? Stay tuned.

1) People move on/still exist even though you forget them.  

Soon after I moved to Minneapolis, I had a conversation with an old friend in which she mentioned a woman who both of us used to know and whom I hadn’t thought of in nine years.

“Oh, her!” I said. “So, you still hang out with her?”

“Um, yeah,” my friend said, agreeably. (Cause, you know, she’s Midwestern and all.)

She could have said, “I see her a lot,” or “Of course I do,” or, “Just because you leave, Elizabeth, people don’t stop hanging out.” All of which would have been totally fair.

Intellectually, it’s obvious that things continue to exist even when we don’t live near them/ they aren’t on Facebook or Instagram. But the whole “out of sight…” thing isn’t small: we only have so much space to which we can pay attention; tenuous ties and sizable distance inevitably take hold.

2) Minneapolis and Saint Paul are different cities.

This may seem intuitive, but when two towns sit right beside each other and share a boundary so elusive that even natives are often unsure which one they’re passing through, the divergent characters of each place are worth noting.

I went to college in Saint Paul: half my time there was spent within the confines of a bitty college campus; the other half within a radius of no more than a mile. My friends and I explored the occasional Minneapolis diner or record store, but for the most part we stayed nearby, in the well-heeled, Whole Foods-progressive neighborhood that Jonathan Franzen so aptly skewered.

Here’s what I have re-learned in the last six months:**

* Minneapolis hipsters are really really hipster-ish, like, to the degree that, if not for the negative thirty five degree wind chill, you might think you were in Portland.
* St. Paul hipsters are mostly in college. (And later might become Minneapolis hipsters, if they don’t move home to Iowa or try to make it in Chicago.)
* Minneapolis is denser, busier, and more fast-paced.
* Saint Paul (or, as one old friend used to refer to it, “Saint Small,”) has more old-world charm. It’s sleepier, has majestic residential neighborhoods with more character than those in Minneapolis, and is pleasantly less concerned with being Chicago.

**Yes, what’s happening is a list within a list. Believe it.

3) Both cities have a lot of suburbs, and a startling number of them start or end, confusingly, with the word “maple.” 

4) Smells really bring you back! Also, you don’t know anyone anymore.

A couple of weeks ago I met N at a coffee shop near my old college campus: a coffee shop where I’d spent literally hundreds of hours as a student, studying American history and literature and, mostly, preening. The décor was identical, the scent of roasting beans exactly as thick.

The place was packed. I couldn’t stop looking around: surely I’d know somebody there, surely somebody there would know me.

Nope.

My rational brain knows that people and places move on without you; my rational brain knows that nine years is a really long time, especially when expensive and transient liberal arts college neighborhoods are involved. But my senses seem sadly slow to catch up.

5) Sounds also bring you back! And, again, things and people change.

Recently, I went to a yoga class taught by a friend. It was the first class I’d been to in ages, and the music (Hanuman! Hanuman!) and the postures transported me right back to Albuquerque: I began to feel wistful for my old studio and friends there…only to realize how many of them had already left, too; how different the place would be if I were to go back. How, most often, the places we leave are never again the way we left them.

6) New bars and restaurants open a lot!

Right???

7) College acquaintances are people too!

One thing about having gone to school with fewer than two thousand others is that, by the time you graduated, you recognized pretty much everyone in your class. You probably didn’t know their name, but there’s a good chance (especially if they’re the same race as you, which, probably, they were) that you knew them by association: they were on the soccer team, or sang acapella, or hung out with a bunch of kids who smoked severe amounts of pot. There’s also a good chance that you know very little else, say, nine years later, when you run into them at a coffee shop, and realize that, despite having had a distinct area of interest/drug of choice, they are actually a three-dimensional human beings who (like you!) drinks coffee and (like you!) enjoy music and bagels and (like you?) is probably, also, pretty smart and interesting.

I told you moving back places was funny!

I hope you learned something, friends. Or at least, I hope I successfully distracted you with all of the numbers.

 

 

 

An Ode to List Making, Mood Swinging, and Ladies Who Lit

On Tuesday afternoon, I pranced around Manhattan like an actress who had aced an audition.

I felt, literally, elated–charmed by elements of the New York landscape that, on normal days, turn me enraged: the hordes of over-layered NYU students peeling past on West 4th; the aggressively chatty man in the excruciatingly slow elevator; even my wildly overpriced tea latte, I paid for with a grin.

It was hard to imagine, I told A–meeting her to work at a crowded coffee shop on Mercer (“This place is so claustrophobic!” I beamed)–that less than twenty-four hours earlier, I had been, to not overstate things at all, in despair.

So extensive had my list of grievances been during my Monday therapy appointment that Therapist and I made the simultaneous (silly, but seasonally appropriate) suggestion that we burst into a chorus of “Dayenu:” if only one of these things had been going on, it would have been enough:

  • Leaving town, in four days, for five weeks.
  • Putting pressure on myself, during that time, to write an entire book.
  • Having had a total meltdown the previous night with my parents, in which I had, fourteen-year-old-style, run up a flight of stairs, slammed a door, crumpled, bawling, into a pile of dirty clothes.
  • Not having heard back from Ari in a full day. (Therapist and I narrowed the possibilities down to three: Hit By a Bus, Commitment Freakout, or, as turned out to be the case, Working.)
  • Not sleeping.
  • Having, that morning, as I, apparently, do, when feeling vulnerable, made myself feel more so. (Me: “I do that!” Therapist: “I noticed.” Me: “Why!?” “Therapist: “We need a few more sessions.”)

I tried to recall this list on Tuesday, while also mentally collecting another one–the reasons, I supposed, that, so soon after, I felt Fucking Fabulous.

Some attempts:

  • It was sunny.
  • Therapy had actually (imagine!) helped.
  • Ari was not dead.
  • I had spent much of the day listening to this beautiful thing.
  • I’d been unusually productive, work-wise.
  • For breakfast, I’d eaten a large, spicy coconut curry that tasted as rich and satisfying as any breakfast ever has.
“We have extreme highs and lows,” A said, nodding in recognition after I giddily crammed my body, laptop and assorted tote bags into the tiny space beside her. (“I’m schlepping workout clothes all over New York City that I don’t even have time to use!” I crowed. “And I don’t care!”)
So extreme,” I said.

I was trying to turn the exercise–my mental list-making–into a (self-) Teachable Moment.

“I feel like I’m good at reminding myself to enumerate what’s making me sad when  I feel down,” I explained. “But I don’t always do that when I feel good!”

A nodded. “Right,” she said. “I just try not to give it too much energy.”

A few hours later I careened into an airy Ditmas Park apartment for book club (yes, we call ourselves Ladies Who Lit)–the eager anticipation of which surely factored into my swinging spirits.

(These gals, I must take the chance to say, are as bright, delightful, and easygoing as they come–and it struck me last night that our collective appreciation is not unrelated to the clarity and smallness of our collective expectation: that once, every 4-6 weeks, we will spend a decadent evening drinking, eating, and catching up–and a few minutes discussing some, alternately gendered, work of contemporary fiction. It’s remarkable how much easier it is to enjoy people when all you ask of them is a few occasional hours of fun.)

“I have got to tell you guys,” I gushed, tossing my things on the floor as I unloaded beer and grapes. “Yesterday I was so down, and today I feel so awesome!”

“Ugh,” one replied, shaking her head. “I feel like that happens to me from hour to hour!”

“I know,” another chimed in. “I think most people have really erratic moods.”

“Oh,” I said, tossing my coat into the bedroom. “I guess just not everyone needs to burst into apartments and tell everyone about it.”

(What can I say–some people love math and hockey, I love basketball and dogs and telling everyone everything, all the time.)

But back to my lists: because I do like the idea that–regardless of how common those dramatic internal shifts– I can arm myself with tools, that I can walk around with a set of strategies for turning myself around: listen to Kurt Vile! Be productive! Eat Thai curry!

But I also know that A is right: that largely, our moods are outside our control. Had I run into that guy in the elevator or been swarmed by students on Monday, they would have only soured me further. Too, had I not indulged a complete adolescent meltdown, I probably wouldn’t have been able to feel good later on.

It’s basically the same idea I wrote about earlier this week, and last week too: things shift. We can’t control our emotional tides, we can only sit with them, surrender to them, know they will, soon, pass.

But it’s nice to remember, too, that small things–curry, music, perspective–can be a big help.

 

What I Really Learned in Grad School

Next week, I’m starting on a new phase in life. I would tell you what it was called if I had any idea what to call it, but that would mean knowing what it will look like/involve/include, and I have basically no idea. So, while we await further information on the future, let’s, briefly, reflect on the past. It’s been three years. I dated some dudes, some more disappointing than others. Here goes.

1. I have a type. Sometimes I wonder if a certain group of men I’ve been involved with are all distantly related cousins. I imagine them as part of a tribe, or team, swaying back and forth in a large, shirtless huddle, arms draped around each other on a dusty field. What do they chant? Oh, I don’t know: “Your art is most important!” perhaps. Or, “Don’t even think about meeting a romantic partner on anything but your terms!” Or, “Compromise is for kids!” Is that wierd?

2. Don’t date your colleague’s offspring. Even if they’re attractive in that dirty, uneducated sort of way. And even if they give you incongruous bedroom eyes in the florescent stairwell of your academic department where they loiter for use of WIFI, being too cheap to pay for it themselves. Probably, it will not end well. And, probably, you will spend the remainder of your career with said colleague feeling certain, each time that they ask to speak to you in private, that they are about to interrogate you about why you are not their future daughter-in-law. (Probably, though, they won’t. Because, in reality, you only went out once and everyone except you has moved on. Probably.)

2a. Go ahead and date your former students. Once you aren’t in class together, your former students have just as swell a capacity to seduce and hurt you as anyone else. I’m not saying it’ll actually work out. But really, in the end, isn’t this whole thing rooted in fantasy, anyhow? Sometimes we need to sacrifice temporary feelings for sustainable stories. Indulge.

3. Don’t Get Hurt. Get Pissed.  Has someone said this before? Anyway. A few years ago, if a guy started off talking about how I was the most special thing since Santa and a month later started treating me like some estranged step-uncle, I would have taken it personally. You know, thought it was because I had too much belly fat and not enough talent. When it happened a few weeks ago, I knew it had nothing to do with me. It’s not that I don’t have flaws (shocker!), but they weren’t what made the guy bail–his own bullshit was. Instead of feeling hurt, I just got mad. Which is still unpleasant, but less profoundly soul-crushing.

4. Because, They Mean It At the Time. Related: dudes say stupid shit. They say it without thinking. “Oh, we should drive across the country together.” “Oh, I’ll come visit you in Albuquerque.” “Oh, I’ve never met anyone like you.” And when they vanish, shortly after, from all things Earthly, one is tempted to feel tricked: “You liar!” one wants to scream. Or, “How could I have been so fucking stupid to believe that shit, again?” The latter of which, may, possibly, at some point, be worth seriously considering. (Or, in my case, considering more in a professional psychiatric context.) But as for the first, not true. I know there are dudes out there who concoct elaborate lies to undo a woman’s pants. But pretty sure those I attract have other preoccupations for their creative energies. They aren’t lying when they say those pretty words. In the moment, they mean them. They just forget about these things (slash, you) much more easily than you forget hearing them. Because that, friends, is the difference between women and men.

5. Date people you yoga with at your own peril. Another cautionary tale. Ideally, when things go sour, they will defriend you on Facebook, find another girlfriend immediately to whom they will propose in two months, and–most importantly–cease going to your studio post haste. (That happened.) However, one–less ideally–runs the risk, post-unraveling, of running into the culprit unexpectedly at yoga, refusing to accept the hug he offers and calling him a jerk because that’s what he is, and then spending the rest of the class struggling with balance because one isn’t sure whether such behavior was really the best choice, energy-wise, before a yoga class, and because he is standing directly behind you and you can’t be sure through your fogged up, sweaty vision whether he’s staring at himself in the mirror or your ass. (No comment.)

6. Women are awesome. Friends, that is. For all their shortcomings, men are much less drama when it comes to sex and living situations. But without my small army of girlfriends, at this very moment I would be huddled under the awning of some Panda Express, shivering in the 70 degree temperature, begging for beef and broccoli, and yelling at random homeless people in sleeping bags about how men are much less evolved. In other words, I would have packed approximately nothing and have vented my frustrations in far less appropriate ways. Yay, girls.

That’s all I got for now, folks. See you in Brooklyn.

 

How to Mend a Broken Heart: The Real Time Version

The day before before D broke up with me, I found myself reading this post on my friend Sarah’s blog–titled “How Can You Mend a Broken Heart?”

(Sometimes, by the way, my womanly instincts are so trustworthy it scares me.)

Sarah is very smart and articulate, and she has lots of very smart and articulate readers who comment–making that post a true trove of wisdom and insight that I dare not rival.

However, I happen to have a broken–or at least severely ripped–heart at the moment. (Sorry to break this news–I’m as shocked as you.)

And already, I am thick into the realm of post-breakup copage. Not to suggest that I’m managing this with any superior sort of intelligence or grace, but, as of yet, I haven’t completely crumbled.

Here, my friends, is a loose list of what I’ve been doing–and what, perhaps, I might suggest for anyone whose heart is similarly, unexpectedly, broken:

(Note: Like most lists, this one is incomplete. I reserve the right to update it in future posts periodically–one thing I know about breakups is that they take more than three days to get over.)

1. Crying in public. Last week, my sister-in-law sent me a link to this essay , from the New York Times website, about the unique urban experience of public tears: both having and witnessing. She sent it to me because the writing is great, which it is. But the writer focuses on the fascination that public crying provokes–not the interaction or support. But when a hot young thing (female, but still) approached me, all red-eyed and wet-faced, in the yoga changing room (pre-class, before such signs could be taken for sweat), bearing a hug and kind words, I felt a sweet taste of much-needed comfort and warmth. Recommend. (Note: this incident did not, obviously, occur in New York–but it did happen to involve two New Yorkers. Discuss.)

2. Crying in private. You will not make friends, and you may scare your (quite easily spooked) mutt, but you must do it. A lot. She will get over it, and so, eventually, will you.

3. Eating fatty meats, and acting a little ridiculous. Hours after the incident, my two roommates and dear girlfriends, S and N, took me out for a plate of Korean BBQ. This has long been something of a tradition for S and me: whenever one of us feels any sort of vulnerable, we go out and stuff ourselves with grilled meat. It helps. Afterwards, S demanded to buy a round of “nasty” shots, and pair it with some “nasty” television. Not having a tv (or, really, the ability to produce said libation) we proceeded to the nearest bar, where we sabotaged our collective chances with the adorable bartender in order to demand that he turn on The Bachelorette. Despite the objections of the less attractive, less accommodating bar patrons, he complied. And thus, my romantic difficulties began to pale.

4. Sweating. Somehow, I managed to lose a boyfriend and a working car in the same week. Meaning, each morning, I have spent 90 minutes in severe heat, contorting my body into unreasonable and uncomfortable positions and, immediately afterwards, used same body to haul myself (along with my vintage-Schwinn-that-weights-almost-as-much-as-me), in slightly less severe heat, up the most obnoxious hill in Albuquerque. There’s nothing quite like anger to help pound those pedals.

5. Speaking of which, feeling angry. Ask anyone who’s been hurt (aka, anyone): the pain is easier to bear when there’s someone to blame. I adore D, and this isn’t his blog so I won’t get into the details of his decision (at least, not now), but I will say this: the man made a stupid choice. He had something good (me) that he could’ve held onto (at least for a while), and he let it go. For this, and only this, I feel furious. That, also, helps.

6. Drinking a lot of lattes, and, generally, doing exactly what I feel like. Normally, I get my “treat” drink, an Iced Decaf Soy Latte, approximately once a month. Now, I’m having at least two daily. I’ve worn the same shorts for three days. I haven’t washed my hair. Yesterday, I thought nothing of spending $7 for beer at a baseball game. Tomorrow, I’m going to buy myself an extremely overpriced sports bra. Hey, getting dumped is awesome!

7. Acting a little bit reckless. This was among the many pearls of wisdom that S has provided in the past few days. Immediately post-breakup, I felt the compelling urge to contact an ex. (Well,  more of a friend than an ex these days, but still: he’s someone with strong sway on my emotional state.) I wrote a text. I didn’t send it. “S is going to tell me not to,” I told N, as we took a walk around the neighborhood before S got home. But, walking to dinner, when I asked her, she didn’t. “I think this is a time when you can act a little bit reckless,” she said. “It’s kind of what you have to do.” Thrilled to receive her permission, I sent. He called. I felt better.

8. Talking to people who love me a lot, a lot. Especially those with goofy senses of humor.  My brother J was clearly very fond of D, but when I told him of the breakup, this is what he said: “Good riddance! I never liked that guy anyhow. I mean, he was from Texas. And so skinny!”

9. Thinking about why I’m really sad. Another of S’s gems was this: “Often, after a breakup, the loss we feel isn’t the relationship so much as the expectations we had for it.” So true. And if I’m really honest with myself, I’m more sad about losing the relationship than I am about losing D. And that says something. Something that leads, lastly, to this:

10. Telling myself things I need to hear. For example: D is a great guy. And I’m sure he could have made me happy. But I’m also sure that someone else can–and will–make me happier.