Sunday, October 24, 2004

Better or badder?

My dad has a game he likes to play with his goofy poodle, Sam. Dad holds out his fists and asks Sam if he's been better (indicating one fist) or badder (using the other). Whichever fist Sam pokes his long poodle nose into determines the answer... which typically has little to do with Sam's actual behavior.

I had a bout of insomnia last night -- nothing compared to those of you who suffer it regularly, but frustrating nonetheless -- and lay awake on the couch at about 2 a.m., thinking about writing a post based on the better-badder philosophy. And, astoundingly, I think I'm coming down on the "better" side, especially when it comes to relationships.

Evidence in my favor:
~Relations with Darren's parents are much improved. We've seen them several times in the last month or so; they live about 25 minutes away, but we tend to go through long periods of time without getting together. I know they - especially Darren's mom - would like to see us more often. But, historically, I've had a tough time warming up to them. Darren's mom and I have very little in common, and I think we're both sort of disappointed by that. But lately, without saying anything about it, I think we've both been making more of an effort to reach past our differences.
And the beautiful thing is that it's working. Seeing them more often - brunch at our place a few weeks ago, then dinner out last weekend for their birthdays, then Game One of the World Series last night at their place - is creating the habit of being together. It's ok that I read while Darren and his parents watch the Sox, and it's also ok that I interrupt them occasionally with sputtering outrage over a (several weeks old) article in the New Yorker about the Justice Department's shift away from removing barriers to voting, in favor of an effort to root out voter fraud... coincidentally, in minority communities that tend to vote Democratic.
In any case, I'm having fun hanging out with them - and that's not something I've often said in five years of marriage.

~I've reconnected with D., my friend who has ALS. We saw her again this morning, at a (very freakin' cold) 2.5-mile fun run fundraiser for her. She is a beautiful person; she's doing an amazing job of graciously accepting all the support she's offered, which I can't imagine is easy. And she has just welcomed Darren and me back into her life without a word about our absence. Amazing.

~I took a step toward resolving a lingering problematic relationship at work. Interestingly, the form this took was an exasperated, exhausted outburst from me when this person uttered the 900th snarky, veiled insult of the week. There was silence in the office for a bit afterwards, then an almost imperceptible - but very important - shift in attitude.

~Ginga is back in my life! This is a fabulous and unexpected gift of this here blog; she started hers about the same time I started mine. We happened to talk on the phone shortly thereafter, and have been commenting voraciously ever since then.
We met on the very first day of college, and after a number of trials and tribulations - including some very lousy behavior by yours truly - we ended the college experiment with the amazing experience of writing our honors theses side-by-side. Our lives tend to take parallel tracks, and it's wonderful to be back in such frequent conversation.
Speaking of which, Ginga, are you and DP up for visitors anytime soon? Darren and I are pondering a potential Baltimore/DC trip the first weekend in December - things are very tentative at this point, but we were thinking about maybe spending a couple nights with y'all and a couple more with D. and C. in Washington. E-mail me if you get a chance.

~Finally, tonight we are planning to have some friends over for dinner. They've been part of a very sticky social situation that unfolded this time last year, and again I was not perhaps the best human being about it all. So it's sort of a big deal that we invited them and that they're coming. I am hoping to be brave enough to explicitly apologize for my actions earlier. On top of which I am planning to make what sounds like a very fabulous winter squash galette - squash, roasted garlic and sage in a rustic crust - with some garlicky collard greens on the side. So how can they resist me??

In any case, it's feeling like I've got some good friend karma going; I'm definitely not badder, at least in this respect. It's been a long time since I felt that way, so now I think I'm going to just shut up and enjoy it.