Many of the qualities that come so effortlessly to dogs – loyalty, devotion, selflessness, unflagging optimism, unqualified love – can be elusive to humans.
I met with a reporter on Monday and it was clear to me why he had won every major award a journalist can win:
He knows on a visceral level which are the most meaningful questions to ask and how to probe more deeply to get to the truth. Although I had only met him briefly once before, he had me spilling personal information and revelations within 30 seconds of our being seated at lunch.
I suppose it hardly takes Edward Murrow to get me to talk. But still, the reporter jumped right into the heavy stuff with nary an apology or explanation, and his ease and style of questioning led me right along the garden path to Truth.
Whose Truth? Why, mine, of course!
Truth is as unique in interpersonal relationships as is our DNA: we may all look similar on the outside, but in truth we are all vastly different in ways too numerous and complex to list.
My Truth is that in 2016, every fiber of my being has been changed and morphed into something completely different than it was before. Everything I believed in on a cellular level – love, family, marriage, friendship, commitment, honesty, fidelity, honor, and decency – has been challenged. The presidential election was the final straw, and for a time afterward I believed that the world had truly turned upside-down and there was no going back to the happy blinders I used to wear.
I’ve had to rethink my pessimism lately. My friend Isaac keeps telling me, “You have no idea how strong and smart you are. I can’t wait for you to find out.”
To which I usually reply, “I hope you’re right.” He always assures me he is, and since he’s the smartest man I’ve ever met, I’m choosing to believe him.
Monday the reporter asked me, “What has surprised you most about this whole experience? What friends have surprised you, in ways good or bad? What about life has surprised you most?”
Here is what I told him:
- Friends I would have bet all my money on to support me ($345 at last count) have suddenly disappeared. I do hope their family has reported them missing to the proper authorities. One “friend” in particular neglected to tell me some very important information that could have prevented me from living next door to a home frequented by a man neither my son nor I ever want to see again. Yeah, Portland is actually THAT small.
- Other people have stepped up in ways that fill me with humble wonder and remind me that when you choose your friends carefully, rather than based upon things that don’t matter, they will prove their mettle when times are difficult.
- I don’t like being alone. I’m alone a lot. It’s lonely.
- There are some who seem to take pleasure in reporting things back to me I’d rather not hear. For the record, I am not interested in the goings-on of people with whom I used to live. If you are tempted to share with me, please do not. I’m living in the present and the future and frankly, you are jacking my happiness ride.
- People are idiots. Here are two examples of recent events, both of which took place at my gym, because: of course they did.
A. Poor Lady Has a Rough Life
I’m on the treadmill, doing my daily five miles, and onto the machine next to me hops a woman I know from my former existence. She’s never worked a day in her life, she spends all of her time at either Nordstrom, the gym, or the golf club, and while she is perfectly nice, she’s also a bit dim.
“How are you doing?” she asked me, with a slightly pained expression, as if she didn’t really want to hear the answer. I wondered why she was speaking to me at all.
“I’m OK, I guess. Things aren’t easy, that’s for sure. But I’m doing my best.”
“I know what you mean,” my treadmill neighbor sighed. “I’m starting to lose it with Christmas preparations. I feel as if I can’t possibly get everything I need to do done in time!”
Her tone was as dramatic and woeful as if she were describing a recent diagnosis of Stage 4 cancer. I just looked at her. I may have blinked sarcastically, but I don’t really recall. What I do recall is a burning desire to say this,
So, has Pampered Bitch magazine called you yet to get your story for the cover? Will there be a photo shoot with Annie Leibovitz? What does your therapist say about your troubles? Will your next trip to Hawaii make you feel better?
I didn’t, but I wanted to.
B. Insurance Guy Thinks He’s Funny
Yesterday found me feeling extremely grouchy. I have spent several months trying to explain a very simple concept to a lawyer and his lawyer client, both of whom put the “douche” in “fiduciary.” I have asked repeatedly for communication, but both these men seem afraid to engage in talks.
It’s funny how people go through life trying to project an image that is contrary to their own core. But I digress…
So I’m frustrated and a little bit angry yesterday, and I run into someone I considered a friend for the past ten years, but who really wasn’t. Like all of the very few “friends” I met through my former roommate, I haven’t heard a peep from him or his wife since June.
This guy, I’ll call him “Steve,” is an insurance agent. He sold me a long-term disability policy that a certain someone cancelled after starting his new life. Steve asked me not how I am doing, or if I am OK, but rather, this:
“You didn’t want that long-term care policy, did you?”
I responded, “What difference does it make? It’s cancelled. It’s gone.”
“Yeah, but you didn’t want it, right? Did you want to keep paying for that policy?”
I wasn’t sure what his point was, but since the fidoucheiaries mentioned above have struggled to understand another insurance policy, insurance was a button-pushing topic that morning.
“I don’t see how it matters, but I certainly can’t afford any extras like that right now.”
At this point, Steve laughed. He actually laughed and said, “Yeah, that makes sense!” He said it in a cheerful, upbeat tone, as if I had just told him a saucy joke or complimented him in some way.
His casual chuckles did not sit well with me.
“Yeah, that’s fucking hilarious, Steve. I can’t afford my rent, your buddy is off for his third vacation since he left me and my son without a dime, and you are laughing. I’m glad you think this is all funny. I’m glad my problems amuse you.”
He looked like someone had just shit in his Cheerios. I guess he wasn’t expecting honesty and being called on the carpet for acting like an insensitive ass.
Or maybe he’s not getting the full story.
Maybe he doesn’t know about the lies and the mistress next door and the money hiding/gifting to others and the information I’ve uncovered that has given rise to my potential ability to secure an annulment, rather than a divorce.
Why get an annulment? Why not? Fraud is fraud, and I’d like to undo this marriage so when I get my next divorce, I can claim to only be a two-time loser.
It’s important to think ahead to future failure, you know.
Back to lunch with the reporter…
“I guess the thing that has surprised me most, even more than the disappointment I feel over being let down by so many people, is the pride I feel in myself. I’ve taken control of my life and I’m working 12 hours a day in my efforts to go from no income to fully-self-supporting overnight. Necessity really is the mother of invention, I’ve found, and I’m reinventing myself like a mother fluffer.”
“Speaking of reinvention, that’s one of the reasons I asked you to lunch,” he said. And with that, he began a conversation that was exciting and motivating and which I cannot tell you about.