at the root of this crankiness: a churning, part 1

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 . . .

15 Comments

  1. Mynde Mayfield

    jeanne! you are gettin’ there, aren’t you? you are getting closer to bein’ just fine with ‘bitch of a bitch.’ And you will! One day very soon you’ll own it. And I gotta secret for ya… it feel REALLY REALLY good to be a ‘bitch of a bitch’ When your time is nigh and your clarity shows up, on time for once! (except, everything really is on time. Just like FUCK… on-time!) 

    on friday night, i accepted a backhanded compliment for the last time. (Except the accept was a reject, really). The bitch in me had had enough. I know, it’s probably nearly impossible to imagine my bitch in sweet lil ole me. Just like you Jeanne… where in mama’s sweet tea could Jeanne’s bitch be? I get you ya know. 😉

    backhanded-er said: “OH MY GOD. LOOK AT YOU!!! YOU’VE LOST SO MUCH WEIGHT, you are WASTING AWAY!”

    wasting away. i’ve heard this several times. nice huh? guess what, there wasn’t barely a breath i took before you-know-who showed up…

    my bitch said: “you know, i feel good and i LOOK HOT and the only thing that’s not gotten smaller on me is my mouth! (and i jammed another tortilla chip piled high with homemade salsa into it).”

    my heart was beating pretty fast, in a liberating kinda way. i felt like, EVEN THOUGH, others in the room including her KNEW how outta character that was for me, and EVEN THOUGH some of them may have thought i was taking it personally or something like that and EVEN THOUGH a few others might have thought i was needing to be right or to make her wrong… none of ’em knew jack shit (thought I’d round it out a bit). what i said, i said and meant as… “you will not talk to me like that and expect me to smile and grin and be convinced AGAIN, that that’s just who you are. that THATS the way you give a compliment. cuz, this bitch don’t accept any kinda compliment like that! 

    it was a very firm, no thank you. 

    it’s taken a whole lotta unbuckled seat belts to get here. i’m glad for each one of those moments, like the one you’re in now. seriously celebrating, me & my bitch.

    so just know, that whatev’s gotcha thinkin’ there ain’t no party where the bitches are IS WRONG! there’s a party over here… and i’m holding the door open for you!

    tons of love, ya know, bitch-of-a-bitch style (Fuck YEaH!)

    xxmm.

    • whollyjeanne

      sugar, i’m printing this out and tucking it in my bra. and when it wears out (cause it sure won’t fall out), i’m printing out another copy. i love you, my sister bitch-of-a-bitch. xoxo

    • whollyjeanne

      sugar, i’m printing this out and tucking it in my bra. and when it wears out (cause it sure won’t fall out), i’m printing out another copy. i love you, my sister bitch-of-a-bitch. xoxo

  2. Anonymous

    First, buttermilk pie??? Why have I never heard of this??

    Second, this is awesome: “worthiness gas.”

    Third, those people like the man on the airplane are so sneaky. Appearing to be friendly and nice when really they’re just shoving their passive aggresiveness down your throat until you choke on it. No wonder you’re cranky.

    And I think so many of us struggle with the same issue, so I hope you can find some comfort in that. It takes a long time to unlearn a habit or reprogram the neuron paths in your brain that make us crave outside validation. As Mynde said so perfectly below, it just takes practice, one bitchy moment at a time. 🙂

    • whollyjeanne

      Sugar, I will send you a recipe for buttermilk pie. It’s second only to chocolate in the comfort food category. And hey, thanks for your comment. Though I wish it weren’t so, it is kinda’ comforting to know that I’m not the only one. Just tired of it. Ready to be a woman who stands in her own high heels in her own space in her own way – know what I mean? xo

      • Anonymous

        Yes! Yes I do! I often wish I could be Karen from Will & Grace, just for a day, to get some practice. 🙂

        • whollyjeanne

          Okay, now – at last – I’m laughing and saying “me, too. me, too”. I adore Karen. I absolutely adore Karen. Was thinking yesterday that what I need is a new archetype. Thanks to you, I now have one. Here’s to the Karen in both of us! Get ready worldie.

          • Anonymous

            Cheers! 🙂

  3. Angela

    Ah, I aspire to be one of the bitches of the bitches! We will have more opportunities.  xo

    • whollyjeanne

      Well, I think there’s enough of us to start a movement, now! And yes, you’re right: there will be more opportunities to flash our membership card. I mean membership demeanor and attitude.

  4. Meredith

    Eh, it’s just a word: fuck. There’s nothing inherently evil about it — it just gets a bad rap is all. I think I need to take notes here because I worry about much of the same things you worry about. Why is it that some of us are so worried about being likable? I know I’ve met women who certainly don’t seem to have that same anxiety.

    Oh, and I agree that the man on the plane seemed more sneaky than friendly. His closeness to his wife is somehow more important than your closeness to your husband? Geesh.

    • whollyjeanne

      Yeah, Meredith. What’s with some women wanting to be likable and others not so much? Did we get in the wrong line? I know we can beat this thing. We HAVE to. So glad you see the airplane seat jumper as sneaky, too. I thought him quite – okay totally – self-agendaized from the get-go, but then I feared everybody else would think him affable and making a simple and perhaps touching request to be beside his wife and me the b of a b. Which I actually aspire to . . . but I want to embody that way of being without worrying so much as a wee little bit about what others think. One Day. One Day Soon.

  5. Kira

    I am so annoyed at that passive aggressively affable man on your behalf. You deserve to be cranky if you need to be, just don’t let it eat at you. And say whatever you want to say. I didn’t curse for the longest time, but now I figure as long as I am careful to be respectful of the Lord’s name, I might as well say what I want to say. It makes me feel funny sometimes to curse, but it also can feel just right.

  6. Jane

    i fucking love this
    want to poke that man with something sharp (and wish i had a sharp enough tounge to have given him something to think about at the time but i would have unbuckled too)
    but you are one more unbuckling closer to saying no
    wanna make tshirts that say “seatbelt firmly fastened”?

  7. Mrsmediocrity

    I have always maintained that at times fuck is absolutely the only, most appropriate word to use.
    ANd the rest brought to mind what has become my mantra in the past few years, “The only person whose behavior I can control is me.” Try it out, it works in so many situations. And don’t let them bring you down…
    p.s. I felt that way all year, until I started running again. Seriously, it keeps me sane and way less cranky than I would be otherwise.

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