May 30

Dear Readers,

In today’s installment of “At Least My Love Life Is Better Than Troi’s” we entertain the following question: Is it possible for your romantic love of a previous partner to remain and yet move forward into a new relationship with somebody new? Or must that romantic love pass prior to giving your love to another person?

Having traced the checkered history of my past romantic relationships (See www.troihasn’, I’ve found that I traditionally subscribe to the philosophy that moving forward works best when not looking backward. When I walk forward but look behind me, it never ends well, because I miss what’s right in front of me (dog poop, a pothole, a cliff that one time). Similarly, in the Decidedly Ineffectual and Shaky Attempt at Striving To Establish Romance (DISASTER) that is my dating life, I find that moving forward works best when I avoid lugging yesterday’s heartbreak into today’s relationship. Moving forward means setting my sights on something in my future, and accepting that the love from my past wasn’t meant to last.

It sounds so straightforward, but what happens when that love doesn’t leave? How do we navigate new love when our feelings for a former flame remain well past the relationship’s date of expiration?

I’d like to think that as I approach the age of thirty-one, I’ve become sufficiently evolved as to acknowledge that deep affection for a past love without allowing it to preclude my capacity for love of another person or prevent me from accepting into my life someone else’s love for me. And while in principle my evolution may have indeed reached such enlightened heights, in practice I’m a tadpole waiting to sprout legs so that I can walk this fine line rather than wade uncertainly around it.

Imperfect tadpole that I am, I’m gradually beginning to strike touches of illuminating gold when digging through the sands of my past to uncover life lessons so that mistakes made aren’t made again. I do believe that a person can acknowledge the presence of feelings that remain without being vulnerable to them. It involves acknowledging not only the feelings themselves, but the reason those feelings weren’t enough to sustain the relationship. This acknowledgment is crucial, as feelings are typically first to come and last to fade, long after we’ve conveniently repressed the reasons the relationship failed.

In a scene from one of my favorite movies, 500 Days of Summer, a character simultaneously mourns and fights the passing of a relationship that wasn’t meant to be. Another character tells him:

“You’re just remembering the good parts. Next time you look back, I think you should look again.”

When he looks back, he sees the perfect picture he’d painted, but he sees it for the first time against the backdrop of an imperfect pairing that couldn’t be salvaged by a few touch-ups.

It is an inevitable fact of my life that I have loved people with whom I wasn’t meant to be. But when I, too, take another look, I see a discrepancy in commitment and values that simply wasn’t bridged by the depth of my feelings. Every time I look back, I see the love that remains, but every time I look forward, I hope to see the possibility of love that shares not only depth of feeling but also shared values and a mutual respect for our differences that remain.

–Troi out

*Tegan & Sara

May 26

*If you click the links, this post doubles as your daily Bible study

Fred was here

I’m pretty cool, and I like to show it by driving my car with the top down. Except that my Ford Escort has no top, so I drive with the windows rolled down, which I tell myself is practically the same thing. The open window invites winged passersby into my car despite my clearly-marked “No insects allowed” bumper sticker taped to the rear window (I guess bugs flying in through the front windows don’t see it, or can’t read it because they suffer motion-sickness when reading at high speeds, or can’t read it because they’re bugs). One such passerby—-I called him Fred but you don’t have to, because he’s dead now, so in deference to his passing please refer to him as Dead Fred if his name comes up in conversation—-was a feathery white speck about the size of a pencil point, who nonetheless endangered my life every time he flew in front of my face to say hello as I drove. I would roll down the window and calmly explain his options (“You can leave peacefully now, or I will park this car and forcibly remove you from the premises”) but Fred never listened and I never followed through on my threats, because besides the near-death experiences he wasn’t really causing me any harm. Plus I figured that, being a bug, his lifespan couldn’t be terribly long, and he’d probably pass on naturally, and I’d pass guiltless into Heaven one day letting God know I had valued the antennae on the bug as much as He values the hairs on a sparrow and we’d have a good friendly laugh about the whole thing.

That was the plan but Fred persisted and grew larger than life—-he was almost the size of two pencil points at the time of his death (R.I.P., Fred, R.I.P.). I was flummoxed by both his rapid growth toward bug obesity and his longevity. Doesn’t a bug in carptivity (get it??) die more quickly than a bug who breathes in fresh, polluted air?

It was only through thorough investigation of Fred’s living situation—aka my car—-that I spotted the culprit: My penchant for eating on the go. In my haste, I tend to accrue a few plastic coffee cups, candy bar wrappers, bags that once contained pastries from Sweet Pea bakery, and the like, in the receptacle that doubles as my car. I am fastidious about removing the waste, just as soon as one of the containers actually starts to stink. It turns out the remnants from the coffee cups and the nano-morsels inside the bags, adding up to no more than a few moldy calories for the average human, was enough to feed an army of Freds for several decades to come. I had been inadvertently intentionally sustaining Fred just as Jesus sustained the 5000 hungry people with five loaves of bread and two fish.

So the way to rid my car of Fred the everlasting bug was to rid my car of its everlasting trash. I cleaned and polished every compartment, and Fred watched, and I really felt good about my decision to purify my car’s environment while eliminating Fred’s will to live through slow starvation.

But Fred was not to be so easily deterred, as he told me as he flew at me the next morning on my way to work. As had become our ritual, I pushed the button that automatically rolls down the window, and I suggested he exit the automobile. I think he was trying when the button stuck, and the window began to automatically return to its closed state, catching poor Fred in the crossfire. I mourned Fred’s passing for a few…..wait, what was I talking about?

After forgetting Fred, I drove for 40 days and 40 nights in peace. But apparently Fred wanted to leave a little piece of him behind, besides that piece that remains on the window. Fred bred when he was in my car. And now I’m raising his children.

–Troi out

May 25

Dear Readers, you have put up with listening to my most dearly held beliefs regarding dating, cooking eggs, and why you should never cook eggs while dating (wait, I didn’t write that last one, that was just a dream I had). Now on this rare occasion I offer you a brief reprieve from my rants. A loyal Reader sent me the following letter in response to my last post, which, as an unbiased blogger, I felt compelled to share as a guest post. I hope you find his knowledge helpful.

(Really—-I did not write this. Thank you to the dear friend who sent it to me. You are hilarious!)

Dear Troi,

As a long time reader, I have always enjoyed your pithy proverbs, clever witticisms, and honest observations on life. As usual, I eagerly awaited this week’s subject matter, which I assumed from the title would be a celebration of an excellent song from a brilliant band.

But I am shocked and dismayed with this, your latest virtual entry! You’ve always striven to keep from advertising to the general public, (unless, understandably, you would directly benefit from the product, of course). But now? Have you lost your objectivism? Have you sold your journalistic integrity? For shame, I say! This blatant sponsorship of RATboy, avaricious young upstarts that they are, is simply unconscionable. There is an original and far superior organization I must defend; the Men Accompanying Neglected Women (Having Obtained Remuneration Enthusiastically).

As a dedicated member of this esteemed organization, I must provide the public with the education that you have withheld from them. MANW(HORE) is an organization, nay, some would claim it a profession, that is as old as time! In fact, it may be the oldest profession in the world.

Unlike RATboys, MANW(HORE)s offer their services for much less, some for practically nothing! Also unlike RATboys, who need to be called to arrange for service, MANW(HORE)s can be found in every restaurant, bar, and street corner in order to be readily available to any woman at any time. In fact, some members will approach women, even going door to door, to offer their services, simply for the convenience of the customer! They are always agreeable and ready to please; and when the time comes to say goodbye to one, you’ll find another member waiting in line. Yes, those tireless, ubiquitous MANW(HORE)s are far superior to the RATboys, though the membership screening is, admittedly, much less stringent.

So I ask, oh reasonable blogger, that the public be allowed to be fully informed of their choices. Let all women know that no matter what their situation, there will always be a MANW(HORE) ready and available. I am sure that in the future you will return to your objective reporting, or at least reflect a more egalitarian approach to your advertising, and so I remain your most fervent fan.

G. I. Golo

May 24

Dear Readers,

*The individual appearance of each RATboy may vary slightly.

Have you noticed lately that your significant other seems to be monopolizing your time and energy? Are you bored of always spending your time with the same person? Have you ever wished you could rid yourself of your other half*?

*Not your left side. You need that.

Have you hesitated to throw in the monogrammed towels because the boyfriend still comes in handy at couples-friendly events like weddings and parties?

Well, now you can throw in the towel and throw out the boy, with the comfort of knowing a perfect date is just a phone call away!

Thanks to my easy and convenient Rent-A-Temporary Boy (RATBoy) Rental Service, you can revolutionize the way you live your life! RATBOY guarantees the instantaneous elimination of that annoying ESPN sportscaster from your television, an immediate decrease in arguments, and an increased amount of time to spend doing what YOU want to DO!

Here’s how easy RATBoy is to use. Pick up your phone. Dial: 1-800-RATBoys. One of our operators will do a brief intake to collect information regarding your age and location, and will then match you in our database to a list of potential RATBoys. When an event arises that requires you bring a guest, you can rest easy knowing your handsome and clever date is just a phone call away! Simply call RATBoy Rental Service within 24 hours of the event to ensure an age-matched RATBoy in your rental area is available for use.

Just listen to what my devoted clients of RATBoy Rental Service are saying about their experience:

“My old boyfriend was so difficult. But my new RATBoy is so easy to use!” –Anonymous #1

“RATBoy is so convenient, I’ll never go back to an old-fashioned relationship again!” –Anonymous #2

“I needed a date for a party. I called RATBoy Rental Service, and my RATBoy showed up twenty minutes later! Thanks, RATBoy Rental Service!” –Anonymous #3

“I used to have to beg my boyfriend to be seen with me in public! He never wanted to go to parties with me! RATBoy always wants to accompany me!” –-Anonymous #4

Order your free six-week trial of RATBoy now and receive a bonus RATBoy at your next event! Just imagine how you’ll look showing up at that party with a RATBoy on each arm—-you’ll be the envy of every woman there—-they’ll be wishing they could leave their long-term boyfriends for the ease and convenience of a RATBoy!

–Troi out

Disclaimer: RATBoy is not for everyone. Please contact your psychiatrist immediately if you feel pain in your chest from missing your previous long-term boyfriend, or if you experience weight gain or an increase in cholesterol from boredom-induced overeating. Side effects of RATBoy include growing old alone, buying too many cats, talking to your cats with increasing frequency, and the eventual belief that your cats actually care what you have to say. RATBoy is not available for use as a full-time boyfriend.

May 16

Portland Peeps,

“I’m better than you are”

I love the food at Sweet Pea Bakery. As our resident Portland vegan* bakery, it tempts me with offerings of cheesecake, creme-filled donuts, decadent cupcakes, scones, and the like. And I can savor them all, reasurred that the bavarian creme in my creme-filled donut didn’t come from a mad cow injected with Monsanto rBGH (bovine growth hormone). They even offer a few gluten-free options to boot.

While their treats are tasty, their employees intimidate me. I can’t pinpoint why, except that in place of a friendly customer service smile is a scowl, which may be less a deliberate act and more a product of the employees’ mouths being physically drawn downwards by no less than a dozen piercings between their philtrim and chin. I envision the craigslist post advertising a job at Sweet Pea to look something like this:

Position opening at Sweet Pea. Must have at least a dozen piercings, and at least one fully-tattooed appendage. Preference will be given to applicants whose entire bodies are covered by tattoos. Must have air of superiority and be able to sniff out Portlanders who frequent Sweet Pea but are not strict vegans.

And I’m pretty sure they’ve sniffed me out, being, as my dear friend Scott calls me, a vegan fraud. That is, I am by no means a member of the Portland vegan culture, but I nonetheless accrue frequent flyer miles to Sweet Pea because I subscribe to the philosophy of eating delicious food with ingredients I can pronounce. At Sweet Pea, I also don’t have to worry about my body’s slight intolerance to eggs (too many and I have more hives than a beekeeper), which are a staple in most baked goods.

My daily occasional jaunts to Sweet Pea are not the first time I’ve been revealed as a vegan fraud. I have volunteered the past four years for the local vegetarian festival, at which every local vegan vendor sets up shop and samples their selection of vegan masterpieces disguised as something the average individual would actually want to consume. There are deli meats made without meat, coffee creamer made without cream, and cheese spreads made without cheese. (And they call me a fraud.) I volunteer in the children’s section, where we give children stickers with pearls of wisdom like “This fish was sad when you ate his dad”** and “This cow was happy because you ate an apple instead of his pappy.”** I wasn’t ashamed of my meat-eating practices prior to attending the vegfests, but it’s incredible just how much peer pressure one feels when trapped in a conference hall that holds every vegan in the greater Portland area (for those mathmatically-inclined folk, this breaks down to 4.3 vegans per square inch).

“Are you a vegetarian?” a fellow volunteer asked me at a vegfest a few years back as I strung vegan fruit loops on a piece of vegan string to make a vegan necklace for a five-year old vegan child.

I answered honestly, “No,” which felt like the right answer until her eyes narrowed and I felt the judgment of the entire vegan community in her disapproving glower.

So I cracked under pressure and added hastily, “Sometimes I eat fish.” Which was true, but with the intentional omission that I also sometimes eat chicken, turkey, and pork. And by sometimes I mean every single day. In fact, that moment found me already salivating in anticipation of a giant turkey burger from Burgerville at the culmination of my meatless volunteer shift.

At any rate, there’s a hardcore vegan community in Portland, and eating a few vegan brownies makes me no more a member of it than riding my bike once back in 2000 makes me a member of the bicycling community here. But one of the things that makes this community uniquely Portland is its variety of options for food minorities like vegans and gluten-freegans. And as a Portlander, I will continue to embrace these vegan delights, even if I’m not delightedly embraced by the vegans.

–Troi out

*Vegan: Contains no animal products or animal byproducts. No meat, fish, eggs, dairy, gelatin, etc. Different from vegetarianism, which exlcudes meat and fish but allows eggs and dairy products.

**Poems courtesy of Troi. For rights to reproduce these poems for use with your own children, please subscribe immediately to Troi’s blog. Yes, this is a shameless ploy to increase readership.

« Previous Entries