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Jibralta
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Yes.

 

I think there are relationship-parasites, as well.

 

Personally, I prefer symbiotic relationships in all aspects of life. I don't care if you're a schmoozer if you bring something to the table. But I resent being a host!

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One observation I made from your above post is that when you list all the great qualities regarding why this guy would have been such a great catch to marry, you never mention love in any of this, and I think that is the true reason you never jumped into his arms (or, private jet shall we say!) and went off into the sunset with him.

 

That is a really interesting observation. It makes me draw a complete blank--maybe it hits close to home! I have to think about it a little.

 

Well, I gave some thought to your observation. And I don't think I've come to any hard conclusions. But I'd like to write it out because that helps me to think.

 

My initial reaction to reading your comment was, "I've never equated marriage with love." But I wasn't sure if that was true or not. After all, marriage was introduced to me as something that happened when a man and a woman loved each other very much (like sex and babies!). And that depiction was further reinforced by books, music, movies, TV shows, and commercials, as well as the beliefs of friends, relatives, and acquaintances. Also, I was in my early 30s (after I dated Tom) when I learned that marrying for love was a recent phenomenon. It made sense to me (and was strangely reassuring) when I heard it, but it hadn't been my understanding of marriage prior to that discovery. So, I questioned my knee-jerk reaction to your statement, and reached back into my memory for my pre-30s view of marriage.

 

I drew a complete blank!

 

I know what I think of marriage now. But I don't know what I thought of marriage then. I think I simply accepted what I was told. Everybody gets married and has children, and that's just the way it is. I studied marriage and romantic relationships whenever I watched movies or TV, and when I read books. I always searched for a romantic story line. Now I see that I was searching for the reinforcement of my heretofore unquestioned beliefs. Because what I saw didn't jive with what I was told. I saw cracks in the relationships around me. I saw resentfulness, sneakiness, selfishness. I saw divorce. Absentee fathers. Struggling mothers. I had both a belief in love-marriage and an extreme cynicism about what you actually get. Marriage looked like a thing of beauty, but unless you were really lucky, it was probably a gilded turd.

 

So, I don't think that my knee-jerk reaction to your observation was completely inaccurate. I just hadn't discovered my own beliefs at that point. It seems crazy to say that there was (and could still be!) something about myself of which I was not aware. But I am reassured by the existence of sayings like, "Know thyself," and "The unexamined life is not worth living."

 

As for love: No, I didn't love Tom. But I had loved before, and one thing I did (and still do) believe was that love could grow. And this I know for certain: Love, wonderful as it is, has never kept me in a relationship. In the past, it actually made me walk away from them. When I was younger and life was in front of me to discover, I couldn't make big commitments. I was incapable. But I recognized this about myself. Rather than lead my boyfriend on indefinitely, I broke up with him and set him free. I felt that it was the decent thing to do for someone who I loved and respected.

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This morning, I sent my boyfriend an I-Love-You Bitmoji.

 

A minute later, I get a text back, "Yay! Can't wait to see you again. Love you boo"

 

I was like, "Boo?" and then I was like, "See me again? We see each other every day."

 

So, I opened the message and it was from my friend Lisa, who I'm going to dinner with tonight. I'd sent her the I-Love-You Bitmoji. And she liked it!

 

So then I had a moment of anxiety. I wanted to tell her that I'd meant it for Arnold, not her. But it seemed to make her so happy, and I didn't want to take that away from her. But at the same time, what if it came up during dinner?

 

I have really weird anxiety.

 

I ultimately decided to CONFESS and let her know that the bitmoji was a mistake.

 

She never responded.

 

I actually have mild guilt about this. Why am I so crazy?

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]

 

I found this old college ID the other day. I am about 20 here. I always liked the necklace that I am wearing in this picture. Unfortunately, there's a blotch right at my throat that makes it hard to discern. But basically, it was a knotted piece of leather with some sort of a polymer clay pendant. The pendant is under the collar of my shirt. My future boyfriend gave me the necklace. I met him in a coffee house, during a street fair. I was at the coffee house to use the restroom and pour water over my head because it was hot. When I came out of the bathroom (with my sopping wet head), he was standing there. We ran away together to go swim in a lake. He had what I thought was a beeper on his ankle. Turned out to be a parole transponder. Oops.

 

After swimming, we went back to his house. He painted my toe nails and we reclined separate couches in the living room and listened to Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness. The house was a huge mess. I thought he lived there with a bunch of kids our age, but it turned out he lived with his mom. She was schizophrenic and couldn't keep after the house. The kitchen was filthy but she was a really good cook and I ate her food even though I was afraid of it. I ended up painting the whole house and refinishing the floors for them.

 

We spent a year as friends, and then we became boyfriend and girlfriend for about 16 months. He was a pretty cool guy, but he ended up going back to prison.

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ahh ha. . If we only knew then . .

 

I have a hard time understanding my decision-making process from back then. Old Me thinks Young Me was a little too fearless. Although... while Old Me probably wouldn't make a lot of the same decisions that Young Me did, Old Me doesn't regret a whole lot. In many cases, the adventure (or the learning experience) was worth it. And that boyfriend was a cool guy, despite his criminal record. It's too bad he couldn't get it together in life.

 

You do look a bit like a hard @ss

 

I was.

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I think a friendship may be coming to an end, and I feel weird about it.

 

I've been friends with this girl Carol for about 15 years. We met at work. After she left the company, we'd meet for a drink or a meal maybe once or twice a year, often with other work-people. Carol had a charming, quirky personality, eclectic tastes, interesting perspectives, and a wonderfully inappropriate sense of humor. Over time, our acquaintanceship evolved into a nice friendship.

 

Carol and my boyfriend get along pretty well. Since we all love good food and good conversation, the three of us make a point of going to new and interesting restaurants a few times a year. In the past, I've always looked forward to seeing her. But lately, I find her more annoying and aggravating than fun.

 

We went out on Saturday night, and again she got on my nerves. All day yesterday I thought about it. She's become rude. She complains loudly about waiters, she talks over me unapologetically, and she behaves in this flippant, silly manner that is not cute. It's like she's become less mature. But she's 44, so I don't know if that is actually possible.

 

Now, I know she is depressed. She's overweight and getting heavier. She's jobless again and has been mostly jobless for years. She's been single since I've known her. She lives with her mother (although the place is absolutely gorgeous and I almost can't blame her for staying). She's always in debt and makes really foolish decisions about money. In short, there's a lot going on with her and there always has been. But I don't think she's ever been unpleasant to be around until now.

 

I don't know what's changed, but I don't think this is something that I can talk to her about without her becoming defensive. I almost sense it on her, like this over-jovialness is a cover for inner anger--which I am sure she has. No one fails so persistently at everything without anger being the root cause. It just sucks, though. I feel like the best thing to do would be to take a big step back from the friendship. But that just seems so sad.

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I think a friendship may be coming to an end, and I feel weird about it.

 

I've been friends with this girl Carol for about 15 years. We met at work. After she left the company, we'd meet for a drink or a meal maybe once or twice a year, often with other work-people. Carol had a charming, quirky personality, eclectic tastes, interesting perspectives, and a wonderfully inappropriate sense of humor. Over time, our acquaintanceship evolved into a nice friendship.

 

Carol and my boyfriend get along pretty well. Since we all love good food and good conversation, the three of us make a point of going to new and interesting restaurants a few times a year. In the past, I've always looked forward to seeing her. But lately, I find her more annoying and aggravating than fun.

 

We went out on Saturday night, and again she got on my nerves. All day yesterday I thought about it. She's become rude. She complains loudly about waiters, she talks over me unapologetically, and she behaves in this flippant, silly manner that is not cute. It's like she's become less mature. But she's 44, so I don't know if that is actually possible.

 

Now, I know she is depressed. She's overweight and getting heavier. She's jobless again and has been mostly jobless for years. She's been single since I've known her. She lives with her mother (although the place is absolutely gorgeous and I almost can't blame her for staying). She's always in debt and makes really foolish decisions about money. In short, there's a lot going on with her and there always has been. But I don't think she's ever been unpleasant to be around until now.

 

I don't know what's changed, but I don't think this is something that I can talk to her about without her becoming defensive. I almost sense it on her, like this over-jovialness is a cover for inner anger--which I am sure she has. No one fails so persistently at everything without anger being the root cause. It just sucks, though. I feel like the best thing to do would be to take a big step back from the friendship. But that just seems so sad.

 

I can soo relate.

Best friend for over 30 years. It's hard to let go of and you often see flickers of the friend as you once know them. But it becomes few and far between.

I wish I had great advise here. I just don't.

Take it day by day.

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I got into a bit of a tough situation today, at work. Basically, I pissed one half of the client off, and made the other half happy. The Happy Half is the project owner and the operator of the facility in question. For the purposes of this story, his name is Orville. And actually, he's probably not happy per se, but more likely only marginally satisfied. The Pissed Off Half is the project manager. His pseudonym is Manny. And he is definitely pissed off.

 

Just to be clear, the facility in question is a piece of critical infrastructure that serves nearly 3 million people in this state, including two major cities. It's not like a Walmart or Pep Boys or something.

 

You would think that Orville and Manny would be aligned in their goals for this project, since they work for the same company. But they're not. As with any project, there is only a certain amount of money available. To keep the project at a certain budget, Manny made some design decisions that Orville was not happy with, and these issues come up from time to time over the course of construction.

 

One of these issues has to do with a leaky retention basin. Orville wanted to have sheet piles driven at the leaky embankment. But for cost reasons, Manny chose grouted rip rap. This in and of itself is a point of contention. But the situation is now further complicated by the fact that a nearby excavation has caused the adjacent embankment to become unstable. Last week, I noticed that water was leaking out of the earth in this area. Furthermore, the ground around the outside of the trench box was caving inward and sinking. I took some pictures and sent them to my company's project team.

 

This morning, the project manager on our side (John) told me that he was concerned about the stability of the embankment near the trench box. He felt that it could fail, and that if it failed the facility would lose the use of this retention basin. This would be a catastrophe. So, I emailed and called Manny. True to form, Manny's first concern was budget. He asked me to have the contractor explore options for stabilizing the bank. I emailed the contractor, and when I didn't hear back in what I deemed to be an appropriate amount of time, I forwarded the issue to the facility operators, who are on site today and can storm the contractor's trailer.

 

This got a response. I guess Orville must have chewed out Manny because Manny called me, irate. He wanted a geotechnical engineer to show up at the facility instantaneously to visually inspect the area and calculate the flow rate and the probability of failure. He wanted this in a memo. He didn't want to raise false alarms. We shouldn't be going by photographs. Blah blah blah. He even started to suggest that I should have gone through him before I contacted operations. But here he stopped short because as a P.E. he knows that life safety is priority #1. Plus, he knows that our project manager has inspected dams for 30+ years and knows his stuff.

 

We got Manny the geotech and the contractor is now filling the unstable area with a good, sturdy embankment fill.

 

But Manny is in high dudgeon, and I will probably be under fire for the next couple of weeks until the contractor pisses him off worse.

 

I really don't care. I think I made the right decision.

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Dang. Very astute! I was trying to be vague, but some of the phrasing and terminology is a dead give away. Like, I couldn't figure out how else to say "lose the use of the retention basin."

 

Yes, it is a drinking water treatment plant. They are very diligent about environmental safety, but I'd like to see them take human safety a little more seriously.

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Same here but on a very small scale.

Operations and facilities. But while you two are dealing with large scale environmental issues, I am making sure the carpets are clean and lights stay on.

Outside of construction projects every few years, my daily responsibilities don't compare.

 

But I do relate with a couple things. Too many cooks in the pot and I don't know about you, but being a woman dealing with male contractors is a challenge.

I am often spoken down to. I had an engineer the other day talking to me as if I was stupid, showing me where the shut off valve under a sink was. He was pointed

at it insisting that I look at what he was showing me. . as if I didn't already know. Seriously?? I just growled at him and walked away.

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My mom has never dealt with stress well. And for her, holidays were very stressful occasions. For my sister and I, holidays meant our mom flying into an unprovoked rage, screaming insults at us at the top of her lungs, and bemoaning the sorry state of her life. Then a silent car ride to a cousin's or an aunt's house, where we all smiled and pretended everything was fine. Then we stayed until we were the last ones there because that's what my mom wanted to do, and whatever my sister and I would prefer didn't matter.

 

I don't dwell on that too much because it's in the past and it's pretty useless to my everyday life. But there are a few memories that I do revisit, because they are so ridiculous that they have become funny.

 

One of these events occurred at Christmas time. I guess I was about 14. My mom, my sister, and I had just moved for the third time in four years. We got a fresh cut Christmas tree and brought it back to the house.

 

This was the last fresh-cut Christmas tree that we ever had, because of what happened next.

 

]

 

It didn't fit in the Christmas tree stand. There was a low branch, about an inch thick, that prevented the trunk from sliding down to a stable position in the stand. There was a very short length of trunk that could clear the diameter, but it was not enough to support the cantilever of the tree. We made several attempts to tighten the bolts against the available length of trunk, but the tree would teeter over the moment we stood back.

 

This effort did not take place in a calm, jovial holiday setting. On the contrary, the atmosphere was one of fear and hostility, with my mom yelling and cursing, complaining about the situation but refusing to accept anyone else's input. And there was no escape.

 

My idea was to ask a neighbor for a saw. Of course, this idea produced an eruption of rage from my mother. Asking for help was one of the most egregious errors we could commit. No one outside the house was permitted to know that things inside the house were anything less less than perfect. We would all die trying to get this tree to stay up before we would ask a neighbor to borrow a saw.

 

So, I did the next best thing, which was to grab a serrated bread knife from the kitchen and saw away at the branch using that. All the while I was crying, with my mother hovering over me, yelling. I got about halfway through the branch before the knife stopped cutting. I grabbed a hammer from the garage (the one tool we did have!) and hammered the branch until it broke at the knife cut. The stump of the branch still bulged a bit from the trunk; a saw would have produced a better cut. But we were able to get the tree to sit in the stand.

 

The next morning, we woke up to find the tree lying across the living room floor.

 

The memory cuts off here. I think we got the tree to stay up. After that, we had a pre-lit fake Christmas tree, and The Saga of the Broken Lights began.

 

This story makes me laugh now, but at the time, it was awful. And, you know, I don't decorate for Christmas. I don't think it's because of the dismal experience I had during the holidays as a kid, but it really could be. I do, however, love the way my mom decorates, despite her insanity. She does a spectacular job. In time, perhaps I will begin decorating.

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Same here but on a very small scale.

Operations and facilities. But while you two are dealing with large scale environmental issues, I am making sure the carpets are clean and lights stay on.

Outside of construction projects every few years, my daily responsibilities don't compare.

 

My company is actually building a flood wall around the plant, but since we have to coordinate with the operations people, I get to see a lot of the day-to-day facilities management. Which is really cool.

 

being a woman dealing with male contractors is a challenge.

I am often spoken down to. I had an engineer the other day talking to me as if I was stupid, showing me where the shut off valve under a sink was. He was pointed

at it insisting that I look at what he was showing me. . as if I didn't already know. Seriously?? I just growled at him and walked away.

 

I find that bigotry and prejudice, which come in many, many forms (not just sexism, racism, etc) are among the most difficult situations to navigate. Because you are dealing with a person's belief system, and because people are not always aware of their beliefs (and how ridiculous they are), it's often necessary to find a way to navigate around the situation rather than confront it head-on. So, sometimes I just nod and look like I am learning something interesting because I know it will pay off later. But it's not always necessary to be so tactful.

 

I am fortunate in this position to have very supportive coworkers, all male. They will go to bat for me if my feminine will is not respected. But it usually is.

 

At my current company, I met a couple of men who are simply unable to see me as an equal because I am a woman. It's not a major loss, because it turns out that they are not very intelligent people and I have been able to succeed despite them. Now I know who not to work with, which is about as important as working with the right people!!

 

I find that on a construction site, relationships are very important. If I am non-confrontational and cause a guy to consider what he is actually doing (or refusing to do), most will drop the B.S. and do the right thing. Because at the end of the day, it's their ass. But it does take a bit of patience and most importantly perseverance. I can't be worried about what the guy thinks of me, if I'm a nag or a b**** or whatever. The thing is, I am not there to tell them what to do. They are really the experts when it comes to means and methods. But if I see something going sideways, I have to say something.

 

Where I am now, I get along with most of the subcontractors. Many of them are older and I think they have a fatherly sort of demeanor (I look like a kid to a lot of people--truth is, they were probably 10 or 15 when I was born). They wave and chat, and are generally happy to teach me stuff when I ask questions. When people first get on site, they tend to be a little edgy. But everybody gets used to each other after a while.

 

The general contractor is another story. I don't get a ton of respect from them, but I am there to watch them so they have reason to be wary. Also, I'm not on site the whole week, and I think that makes me a little less relevant to them. Which I can actually understand.

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My mom has never dealt with stress well. And for her, holidays were very stressful occasions. For my sister and I, holidays meant our mom flying into an unprovoked rage, screaming insults at us at the top of her lungs, and bemoaning the sorry state of her life. Then a silent car ride to a cousin's or an aunt's house, where we all smiled and pretended everything was fine. Then we stayed until we were the last ones there because that's what my mom wanted to do, and whatever my sister and I would prefer didn't matter.

 

I don't dwell on that too much because it's in the past and it's pretty useless to my everyday life. But there are a few memories that I do revisit, because they are so ridiculous that they have become funny.

 

One of these events occurred at Christmas time. I guess I was about 14. My mom, my sister, and I had just moved for the third time in four years. We got a fresh cut Christmas tree and brought it back to the house.

 

This was the last fresh-cut Christmas tree that we ever had, because of what happened next.

 

]

 

It didn't fit in the Christmas tree stand. There was a low branch, about an inch thick, that prevented the trunk from sliding down to a stable position in the stand. There was a very short length of trunk that could clear the diameter, but it was not enough to support the cantilever of the tree. We made several attempts to tighten the bolts against the available length of trunk, but the tree would teeter over the moment we stood back.

 

This effort did not take place in a calm, jovial holiday setting. On the contrary, the atmosphere was one of fear and hostility, with my mom yelling and cursing, complaining about the situation but refusing to accept anyone else's input. And there was no escape.

 

My idea was to ask a neighbor for a saw. Of course, this idea produced an eruption of rage from my mother. Asking for help was one of the most egregious errors we could commit. No one outside the house was permitted to know that things inside the house were anything less less than perfect. We would all die trying to get this tree to stay up before we would ask a neighbor to borrow a saw.

 

So, I did the next best thing, which was to grab a serrated bread knife from the kitchen and saw away at the branch using that. All the while I was crying, with my mother hovering over me, yelling. I got about halfway through the branch before the knife stopped cutting. I grabbed a hammer from the garage (the one tool we did have!) and hammered the branch until it broke at the knife cut. The stump of the branch still bulged a bit from the trunk; a saw would have produced a better cut. But we were able to get the tree to sit in the stand.

 

The next morning, we woke up to find the tree lying across the living room floor.

 

The memory cuts off here. I think we got the tree to stay up. After that, we had a pre-lit fake Christmas tree, and The Saga of the Broken Lights began.

 

This story makes me laugh now, but at the time, it was awful. And, you know, I don't decorate for Christmas. I don't think it's because of the dismal experience I had during the holidays as a kid, but it really could be. I do, however, love the way my mom decorates, despite her insanity. She does a spectacular job. In time, perhaps I will begin decorating.

 

oh my darling ..I nipped over here to see what had happened at Christmas time for you growing up and now it all makes sense . I hope in time you do start decorating ..I would be happy right now to hear you threw a bit of tinsel over your door to be honest . I am glad you can have a little chuckle about it all now , but deeply sorry these are the memories you have xx

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oh the tree story. so funny, so tragic, like the christmas story movie, one doesnt know whether to laugh or cry. can you see it on the big screen, the bread knife? omg so painful and ironically funny at the same time. but its your reality. I have many xmses of late wherein I couldnt care a whit to havd a tree or any of it. It doesnt make me sad not to want, it makes me ... neutral or even happy.

 

I always have hot cider tho. and maybe some rum and maybe some bourbon.

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A Christmas Story actually flashed through my mind when I was rereading it. I relate to Ralphie's stress, I really do!

 

I'm not sad, either (so don't worry, Pippy!). It was unfortunate, but it's over.

 

Well, mostly over.

 

Last year, we spent Christmas at my sister's in Florida. My mom started to have a mini meltdown when I was making the turkey. She thought I was supposed to do something a certain way (can't remember what), and I disagreed. She didn't fly into a screaming rage when I disagreed with her, probably because my boyfriend was there, too. But she was on the brink of tears and wouldn't talk to anyone. My boyfriend, of course, was bewildered. My sister and I exchanged meaningful glances, not without humor. My sister is usually my mother's protector, but when my mom gets especially crazy, she becomes my sister again.

 

I think the trigger was actually that my sister's friends were going to be joining us for dinner, and my mom is obsessed with looking perfect to outsiders.

 

God, that was a stressful week! I love those people, but I'm not looking forward to spending the holidays with them again.

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