Tangles1

i am cranky.
and i’ve tried every trick
the book to
get on the other side
of it,
but nothing works.
i’ve tried productivity,
ticking things off my
embarrassingly long
to do list.
i’ve tried buttermilk pie.
i’ve tried walking
and dancing
and an extra 15 minutes of yoga
and an extra hour of sleep.
i’ve gotten a manicure
and a pedicure,
a new haircut,
a new pocketbook.
but nothing erases
or even alleviates
this crankiness.

it’s a big ole’
tangle,
this,
and it’s gonna’ take me a while
to find my way through it
because, honestly,
lots of threads
feed this tangle.

for starters,
there’s the flight
from salt lake city.
hubbie and i had
emergency row seats
diagonally across
the aisle from
each other.
he was on the aisle in row 26
and i was across the aisle
in the aisle seat on row 27.
we could see each other,
talk to each other,
reach each other
to share the water
and magazines
and such.

when we got to our seats,
however,
a man was sitting in my seat.
“excuse me,”
i said,
“i think you’re in my seat.”

“well, this is my wife,”
he said with huge affability,
pointing to the woman seated next to him.
“so would you mind swapping seats with me?”
“where’s your seat?” i asked.
“it’s up front there. no rows of seats
in front of you. plenty of legroom.”

“but this is my husband,”
i said, pointing to andy,
“so . . . “

“okay,” he said hopping up
and moving to the seat
directly across the aisle from me.

he was mr. congeniality, this one,
quite friendly,
quite loud.

eventually came a woman who stopped
right beside him.
“excuse me,” she said,
“you’re in my seat.”

“i am?”
he said, sounding a wee bit
surprised.
“are you traveling alone?”
she said “yes” with an
understandable tone of
hesitancy in her voice.
“great!” he said.
“that’s my wife over there –
wave your hand, honey –
so would you mind swapping seats with me?”

“where’s your seat?”
the woman asked.

“it’s on the front row
of that section,” he said.

“is it an aisle seat?”

“noooo, but there’s not a
row of seats in front of you,
so you’ll have plenty of leg room.”

“is it a window seat?”

“no, it’s the center seat,
but remember: lots of legroom.”

“but what about my bag? there’s
no room in the overheads there,”
she pointed out,
“and there is here.”

“no problem.
i’ll find a place for your bag.
so what do you say?”

and with that, the woman
quietly headed for the
center seat
in the front row –
the one with
plenty of leg room
and nobody in front of her.

when he returned from finding
a place for her bag,
he looked at me and said,
“so what do you say?
wanna’ sit behind your husband?”
and when i hesitated
because being behind andy
was not nearly as convenient
as being where we currently
sat – in fact, that’s why we
chose the seat configuration
we did, he continued
“you’ll be closer to him.”

which is technically correct,
but still.
i didn’t want to move.

but what did i do?

i unbuckled my seatbelt
and moved
to the seat
behind andy
where we couldn’t share
the water nearly as easily
and we couldn’t talk without standing up
and leaning over the seat
and we couldn’t both
read the magazine article
or shop in the sky mall
catalogue.

at first i was mad
because i got so upset
over a common,
not-at-all-unusual
situation.
i mean, really
only a bitch
of a bitch
would do that, right?

then i was mad
because the man
did a sucker sales
job on me,
pointing out why
it was in my best interest
to move
when actually
there was nothing in the move for me
and everything in the move for him.

eventually i got mad
because i moved.
i didn’t have to.
i could’ve said,
“no, we selected these
seats, and i’d like to stay.”
or, preferably a simple “no.”

but i didn’t.
i unbuckled my seatbelt
and moved.
even though i didn’t want to.
even though i knew i did not benefit,
regardless of what he said.
even though i knew i didn’t really have to.

so why did i?

because i still long to be liked.

and if i’d said no to this
affable, congenial man
who just wanted to sit next to his wife,
i ran the risk of being considered
a selfish, unreasonable bitch.

by people i don’t know
or might not ever see again.
i get that,
and yet . . .

///

and so i get mad at
the society
and culture
that created
such a mindset.
which is easy to do
because it’s justified
and familiar.

///

for so much of my life,
my worthiness gas depended on
how other people saw me.
especially males.
if the men liked me,
i was an absolutely
worthwhile
woman.

if women didn’t like me,
i could convince myself
and others
that they were just being
catty.

being nice is everything.

nobody wants to be around
a cranky woman,
a mean woman,
a woman who thinks only of herself.

///

but it’s time to be over that.
and that,
is one of the threads
at the root of this
crankiness.
why do i still cave
to such nonsense?
to such wrongness?

when will i
be over that?
when will that
nonsense
not even be a
speck in my
on its own
rearview mirror?

///

i don’t want to whine.
i hate whining.

///

i am cranky with
myself.
again.
always.

///

i have to be even nicer
because i’m
overweight,
as if trying to
wanting to
needing to
lose weight
isn’t bad enough.
but to feel like people
see me as
disgusting
because i’m overweight,
well shoot.
that means i have to be
even nicer
and of course i should
swap seats
and be genuinely
and thoroughly happy
to do whatever
anybody wants.

used to be because
i wore glasses,
(boys don’t make passes
at girls who wear glasses.)
but now it’s the weight.

///

i use the word “fuck”
a lot more
than i ever did before
and it’s seldom followed
by an apology,
even though (interestingly enough)
people – especially men –
still apologize to me
for saying “shit”
or even “damn”
in front of me.
as though i have
virgin ears.
and i don’t know what i think
about that.
there was a time when it
bothered me
annoyed me, actually
because i interpreted
a virgin –
even virgin ears –
mean i had not been
found desirable
and therefore
was – say it with me:
unworthy.

and as absurd as that might sound,
it’s absolutely true.

honestly, though
sometimes fuck is the only
word that will do.
and maybe
letting that word
roll over these lips
was an early step
in the process
to claim my crankiness.
the key that would
let me out of my
own prison cell.

///

“The eyes of others our prisons; their thoughts our cages.” Virginia Woolf

///

and then i read this post about
a new paradigm of being a leader
and i think:
well, huh. maybe i just want to lead
myself.

and maybe that’s enough.
of course that’s enough.
it’s all i really want to do:
lead myself out of
this ridiculous
reoccurring
conversation
and crankiness.

i know this
seeking outside
approval
and validation
and acknowledgement,
i know that basing
my worthiness
on how others see me
and what they think of me
is antiquated,
and though i’m not sure it ever
fit,
i know that the difference
is that now
i have a choice.
i can say
enough already.
or
fuck that.

and so one of the threads
of crankiness
is that i didn’t do that.
i caved.
i sold myself out.
i dishonored myself
in hopes that somebody –
doesn’t matter who –
would think me nice
and therefore
a worthy woman.
a woman
greater than all the rubies
and diamonds
in the entire world.

///

to be continued . . .