Speaking of not being powerless…

So, a few years back I seated my window air conditioner in not-quite-the-right-spot and condensation dripped down the inside of the wall and caused a bunch of damage. The landlords are making me pay for repairs, which, y’know, fair enough.

The contractor they got said he’d do it for $700 cash or $700 plus tax if I paid him by any other method. I get it: if I give him cash, he can hide it from the tax people and not claim it. If money goes through his bank account and he doesn’t claim it on his taxes, an auditor would find out.

I don’t condone cheating on taxes buttttttt I’m poor and want to save money so I said I’d pay cash. But then suddenly my landlady was texting me that the contractor needed half the money upfront and she wanted me to e-transfer her the amount and she’d give it to him. I’d been going to give the guy cash as soon as he came in the door anyway but I assumed he must want it even sooner than that, and that this is what “upfront” meant. I texted her back that if we did what she was suggesting, I’d have to pay tax, and couldn’t I just give him cash when he got here? She said I should email him.

So I email the contractor and he says it’s not him insisting on payment going that way, it’s my landlady – she wants an invoice for the work. He himself would be fine getting cash like I wanted. FOR FUCK’S SAKE why did the landlady send me on a wild goose chase, then?

I messaged the landlady explaining again about the tax thing and basically saying that the tax on this job adds up to quite a chunk of money for me and I’m not the one who needs an invoice sooooo how ’bout I e-transfer her $700 and she covers the tax herself? Or else I could pay cash and if she needs proof that the work was completed I could send her pictures. I did say it more politely than that but yeah.

After I sent the message I clued in: the landlady wanted an invoice for the work, in her name, so she can claim it as a write-off on her taxes. Even though I’m the one paying for the work. And that’s fucking bullshit. I mean I don’t actually care about her writing it off – it’s not like I could use that write-off myself – but I’ll be damned if I’m paying almost a hundred bucks extra for the repairs so someone else can benefit from it.

But the landlady is scary so I felt pretty barfy wondering how she would react to me refusing to pay that tax. Also she didn’t say outright that she wanted an invoice so she could scam the government, so if she refused to accommodate my request, then what? I’d have to get kind of accusatory and she probably wouldn’t react well.

Annnnd right about at this point in my panic attack I got a text from her saying “I’ll cover the tax. Just send the main amount.” Just like that.

I’m really proud of myself for being assertive. Normally authority figures scare me and I roll right over for whatever they say. But making me pay extra for her to get a tax break really would have been bullshit. I think she knew it, too, and that’s why she opted not to fight with me about it.

 

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A reframe

I’m sure I’ve mentioned this before but for the first two or three decades of my life I had severe, undiagnosed health issues that left me basically bedridden. I rarely ever tidied my room/apartment/wherever because I felt so drained all the time and being upright (or bending, as in picking things up off the floor) hurt my head and made me dizzy. And so I never developed a habit of cleaning up after myself, and I did develop a high, high tolerance for living in my own filth (because what other choice was there?).

By now I’ve figured out at least some of my shit and I’m in better health. I’m not gonna be running a marathon any time soon (or, let’s face it, ever) but I kick ass at a very strenuous job and when I get home I can usually even watch tv sitting up(!) and sometimes even do more than that(!!). But I still barely ever clean and I think it’s because it’s not a habit I ever got into. I have to consciously remind myself to do it. Often I forget.

Also, in cognitive behavioural therapy I learned that people have “core beliefs” about themselves/other people/the world and if these beliefs are inaccurate, they can skew all kinds of shit in your life. One of my core beliefs is that I’m powerless. And one of the ways that this core belief impacts my life is that, if I spill something on the kitchen counter or otherwise make a mess, I think “Oh mannnn, now it looks gross in here and I guess I’ll just have to live with it.” It doesn’t occur to me to clean the mess up, I guess because I’m so used to that being physically impossible for me. I mean I’ll do basic damage control – cleaning up broken glass on the floor so the cats and I don’t slice up our feet*, throwing a wad of paper towel over a liquid spill so it doesn’t spread – but that’s as far as it goes. I’ve always told myself that I “don’t see messes” but I’ve come to realize that I do notice and it bums me out but I still don’t do anything about the situation, usually. Messes are like blizzards. Sometimes they happen and of course it sucks but what’re you gonna do?

To unfuck a core belief, you’re supposed to seek out and notice evidence against it. So lately I’ve been trying to consciously remind myself that I can make my place look better, and to notice how satisfied I feel once I have. This, in theory, will show me that I have power over my environment, and also hopefully I’ll start associating cleaning with happy things instead of thinking of it as this series of dreary tasks that I’m just gonna have to do all over again eventually so why bother.

Mind you I still have low-energy days where I’m messed up after work and have to just lie here like a dead whale, and other times I wanna put whatever energy I have into something other than scrubbing the bathtub. So I’m not suddenly gonna become little Suzie homemaker. But still, it might be interesting to see what happens if I keep reframing housework as a thing I’m glad I did rather than a thing I dread having to do.

 

*Confession: when it was just me living here and no cats, I sometimes didn’t even do that. I mean if the broken glass wasn’t in too inconvenient of a place I’d just step around it.

 

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I hate “normal” jobs

The thing about conventional jobs is that usually there’s a boss you have to work pretty closely with and usually that boss will have some kind of terrible personality quirk. Maybe they can’t admit when they’re wrong. Maybe they tell you to do a thing and then decide they want the opposite thing instead and somehow it’s your fault for not reading their mind. Maybe they forget to tell you important things and can’t admit that they forgot so they throw you under the bus for it. There’s almost always something.

I’ve mentioned before that I took a part time job at an art gallery to supplement my model earnings. My boss has many good qualities. She’s not around much; she gives me a fair bit of freedom; when she does pop in, she always hugs me and thanks me for my work when she leaves; when she forgot I’d booked a day off, and then saw the multiple emails and texts we’d spent talking about it, she apologized to me for accusing me of not having told her I needed the day off.

But she’s inconsistent, and inconsistency drives me mad. One day she’ll point out that the gallery is slightly in disarray from an event the night before and that I should have restored things to normal first thing. Another day, I’ll come in to find some disarray and work my ass off to get things to normal and she’ll see me doing this and tell me I should have done some other thing first instead. Some days it’s like “why is that chair still there?” and other days I’m asking her where I should put this random chair and she’s like “Ehhh, just leave it.” She’s not horribly mean when I’ve displeased her, but still – I’m a perfectionist who wants to excel at work and she keeps moving the goalposts around and I hate it. I want clear rules that I can learn and win at.

The most annoying thing happened just recently.

The gallery does life drawing some mornings and I model for it from time to time (it’s how I met the owner and got the desk job). At one time she was booking models and offered me two gigs in the same month. I asked if she was sure; my understanding is that artists like variety so it might be a tactical mistake to have any one model pose too much (I felt like I was shooting myself in the foot to point that out but I really wanted her life drawing days to thrive, dammit!). She said she loved my work and would happily have me pose every single week if I wanted to.

Then back in December she told me to go ahead and book myself some model days in January if I wanted. Those were her words: some days. January starts off slow for me (the schools are closed for the first week and then it takes a while for them to start booking) so I figured what the hell and I wrote myself in for two different days. Boss lady had said she didn’t mind me posing all the time, after all, and it was a month where I could really use the cash.

Turns out the gallery closes for the holidays and wouldn’t reopen til later than I thought, so I had to cross off that first day that I chose. And the remaining date, I wrote in my calendar wrong somehow. Those things are both entirely my fault; I own that.

Long story short I showed up to model the other day and so did one of the gallery’s regular dude-models. Boss looked at the calendar and it was indeed supposed to be the dude-model that day. But she also saw that I had written myself in on two days in January (and crossed the one out). She told me that she’s the only one who books models and always has been. She got this quizzical, why-are-you-so-crazy expression and said “You can’t just book yourself in. And on multiple days!” I said that she’d invited me to do exactly that last month and she briskly said “No. I wouldn’t have done that.” And I had no way of proving anything because she’d said it to me face-to-face, so I had to just suck it up and apologize. Goddddd that infuriates me so much.

I think it’s blown over now. It doesn’t look like she’s gonna do some big exaggerated thing of re-explaining the basics of my job to me or acting like I’m not trustworthy (as other bosses have in similar situations). But still. Fucking hell.

(The dude-model gracefully stepped aside and let me have that shift, btw, because he lives ten minutes away by bike and he knows I live across town. So that was lovely. I owe him one.)

The art instructors I work with have a lot fewer opportunities to be inconsistent like that. Sometimes they’re wishy-washy about booking me, or write a booking down wrong and then automatically blame me when I don’t show up on the day they mis-wrote, but for the most part it’s pretty smooth sailing. They usually don’t ask me to do anything specific in class – I choose my poses – and times that they do need me to do a particular thing, it’s pretty cut-and-dried: they ask me for the thing and I immediately do the thing. There’s no time for them to forget what they asked for and claim that I was doing something different, and if they did try that (nobody ever has) I’m in a room full of witnesses who could attest that it didn’t go that way.

Normal jobs suck. 😦

 

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Trigger Avoidance

Here’s my convo with The Dandy from last night btw (with some tangents edited out).

Me (a propos of nothing except my own paranoia): Hey ummmm how much does my anxiety etc put you off? Like how red-flaggy am I, to you?

Dandy: I’m used to anxiety, so not red flaggy.

Me: You are used to it, yes. But this makes me really conscious of potentially seeming like Dandette: The Return. Or something.

Dandy: When you’ve been upset you’ve turned to me for support instead of pushing me away – which is good, as the latter brings out my insecurities.

Me: Ah, okay, good to know. My own insecurities are around partners resenting me for leaning on them too much sooooo yeah.

Dandy: Jealousy and poor anger management are probably my biggest red flags – so [ex wife], not Dandette.

Me: I do okay on those fronts so I don’t think I’ll give you any flashbacky feelings.

Dandy: Also heavy drug use. And smoking disgusts me. Kissing a smoker is about as pleasant as licking an ashtray. Never again.

Me: Yeah, cigarettes are gross. …I think we avoid each other’s major triggers so far, so that’s good.

Dandy: Agreed. You’re not getting anywhere near mine.

Me: Woot. 🙂

So The Dandy’s big baggage thing is being pushed away when a partner is upset. That explains why he seems super pleased to let me cry all over him in times of crisis. I’m still gonna avoid leaning on him too hard because I’ve been quite capable of scaring off the whitest of white knights in the past, but it’s nice to know that the current level of support The Dandy is providing isn’t too much for him.

Oh also, when he was here the other day I mentioned in passing that waiting around for people gives me instant rage because I’ve been stood up or screwed around by so many people in the past. He connected this to a recent thing with us without me having to prompt him (“So that time I couldn’t come over until after the car was repaired must have driven you nuts, huh?”). And I said yeah, it totally did and I really should have just said “let’s postpone hanging out” the second I realized that our plans hinged on waiting for an unpredictable thing to be done first. He held out his arms for me to snuggle into them. I feel like he gets where I’m coming from and will remember in future to avoid this particular “button” of mine. So yay.

 

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Dandy stuff

Hung out with The Dandy again a couple of times. Both times, he cooked for me even though we were at my place. One of those times he made a grocery run on the way over and bought the food he subsequently cooked. Being fed makes me swoon and it’s an extra bonus not to have to leave my apartment for it.

Also, The Dandy caresses my head a lot and that’s absolute Kryptonite to me.

He’s been married before and during that time his wife was forever getting fed up with little things about their living space and demanding that they move, so he’s lived in a lot of different apartments that he found by looking at ads and stuff, like normal people do. I’ve lived in three places on my own (as in, not with my parents and not with a partner). I found the first two through friends. My current place, I found in the usual way, but it was the second place I looked at and I’ve been here for over ten years. So I feel like I don’t know how these things work at all. I want to move out of this place and The Dandy has been just this calm source of knowledge in the face of my GIGANTIC TIDAL WAVE OF ANGST, telling me which areas of the city are cheapest, what the pros and cons are of different kinds of apartments, what the application process usually entails, etc. etc. etc.

The Dandy feels feelings like a human and picks up on body language well – a refreshing change from The Pedant. But much like The Pedant, The Dandy is somewhat one-note in a way that I find soothing; The Pedant was mostly kind of emotionally “flat” and The Dandy is just…all cheerful and happy-go-lucky, all the time. Very little negativity for my brain to intercept and refract. So that’s good.

And it’s so nice dating a grownup. By which I mean not so much that The Dandy is my age (though he is) but that he generally has his life in order. He has a stable job that I’m pretty sure pays a lot. He has a nice apartment. He has a car. He seems reasonably self-aware, so far. Whether there are any treacherous gaps in his self-knowledge shall remain to be seen…but we had a good talk tonight via text message. We discussed the things that trigger us in a partner and we don’t have any potential red flags with each other so far.

Also he texted me the other day that he’s bought a new bathrobe to replace his old, worn-out one. And added that he’s bought some pajamas, too, so he can layer according to how cold it is in the apartment. This is significant because for a long while he just hung around the apartment naked – in front of his ex who still lives with him, mind you – and I think this contributed to their messed-up sense of boundaries with each other. I never actually told him that out loud, though he may have picked up on it when he casually mentioned his habitual apartment nudity one time and I was like “wait, what?”…Anyway he is almost certainly trying to demonstrate to me that he’s putting boundaries in place now.

On a side note, Dandette has a boyfriend again so that should take the edge off her desperate need for validation from The Dandy, although I still have no intention of going over to their apartment ever again. She’s also finally getting treatment for her mental issues so maybe she’ll find the werewithal to move out. There’s a light at the end of the tunnel, is what I’m saying.

So those are the good things about dating The Dandy.

On the con side, I wish I were more attracted to his body. Visually, I mean, and not just as a source of warmth and snuggles. Sex doesn’t always flow with us the way I’d like it to; there’s usually, for me, a moment of “Ehhh, okay, let’s do this now” rather than me just being pulled in by the hotness and losing myself there.

He seems to have no erogenous zones but his dick, is dead silent when I stimulate him, and barely makes any noise when he comes. TBH I’m pretty selfish and have a short attention span, so when I get him off it’s purely out of a sense of duty; he doesn’t really give me the reactions I need to keep me engaged and interested.

I’m not falling in love with him. I’m feeling the initial strains of cat-love already, but I suspect that may be as far as my emotions will go. This only becomes a con if The Dandy falls for me and the imbalance gets weird, mind you.

On a side note, I miss being in love and often tell myself that I would like to have that again. And yet I repeatedly throw my lot in with men I know I won’t ever feel that way about. I think I’ve developed a variation on Madonna/whore complex where I’m convinced that the most solid partnerships are the ones where two people have a down-to-Earth, logical discussion of what they each need and how (or if) they can provide it for each other, and make the conscious decision to forge a relationship where they do their best to fulfill each other – and I’ve somehow come to believe that this can’t coexist with fiery, passionate feelings. Either that or I’m just afraid of falling in love because I’m all about having power and control and falling for someone is a very powerless feeling. I miss the intimacy of meshing with someone’s mind like that but I don’t want to feel like I’ve lost my head. I don’t want to worry unduly about losing the other person. I don’t want to pine for someone all the time when they’re not around, or to feel as though I’ve lost my autonomy.

And so here I am again, doing preliminary relationship negotiations with someone who is very nice and sweet but who will likely always remain at a slight remove from the core of me.

And I’m even having some (totally predictable) trouble dealing with the level of intimacy we have now. My brain is doing that thing where it keeps kind of shunting my feelings around so I don’t get too vulnerable. I can look The Dandy in the eye when we’re sitting around talking about random things, but not if we’re talking about personal things and not usually during sex. During sex I can come so hard that I feel opened to the world like a peeled snail and I’m alternately laughing and sobbing, but only if I kind of pretend The Dandy isn’t there or that he’s some generic person or device getting me off.

…It occurs to me that I may be messed up in some ways I hadn’t previously realized.

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Another treatise on objectification.

I work part time in an art gallery to supplement my model earnings. Recently a woman came in with a male companion and she tut-tutted about how there were a lot of naked drawings of women on the wall and none of men.

I agree – men’s bodies are just as interesting and worth looking at. I remarked to the woman that I am equal opportunity when it comes to objectification. She was immediately like “Whoa – no – I’m not saying the drawings are objectifying women. Except maybe that one – ” and she pointed to a figure study of a woman who happened to be wearing stockings and a bra.

I didn’t want to argue with a customer so I let the conversation peter out, but it was obvious this was yet another person thinking objectification has to be sexual.

Objectification is treating someone like an object, dammit. It doesn’t have to be an object you want to fuck. And I would argue that any drawing/painting/sculpture of some random person, where the only point of the piece is “hey look at this body/face”, is objectifying. You’re putting that person up there for the sole purpose of looking at their body, or looking at how the artist rendered it, just as you would with a still life of literal objects. It’s not a bad thing. Bodies and faces are interesting to look at! But if there’s no deeper meaning to the piece than “hey look, a body,” then yeah, it’s objectification. Whether the portrayal is sexy or not.

/rant

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Satisfying

My kitchen sink strainer was all full of disgusting food paste and a sponge couldn’t properly get in all the little holes so I cleaned it with The Pedant’s toothbrush that he left behind.

 

 

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