05 May, 2009

More Incoherent Blather!!!

[WARNING: There is absolutely no science in this post, just bullshit. Please be polite: don't point and laugh, for Toaster is unaccustomed to being this exposed regarding the mechanics of his life. If you insist on pointing and laughing Toaster will have no choice but to use you for spare parts.]

I can't help but find it odd to note that now, after everything, all I've got is a lovely little knot of rage warming my spleen. And the thing is, I'm not even angry at anyone or anything. So maybe it's not rage, but that's simply the best name I've got for it; perhaps sisu reawakened would fit better.

As it is, a great deal has changed in The Life of Toaster in the last year. One year ago I was sitting on The Diag with my fiancee, exhilarated in my cap and gown, full of idealism and hope and thinking I was ready to take on the world and win. Now I am suddenly single, although that's been coming for quite a while, for the first time in 4 years. Effectively, for a long time we were two single people poking along the rotting zombie corpse of the relationship we used to know, but who each have changed too much to fall back into those too simple roles and syrupy love. I'm still ready to take on the world, but instead of idealism and hope like a fool, I am instead full of piss, vinegar, and perchloric acid. Instead of wanting to take on the world with grace and charm I find myself wanting to take it on with a motherfucking sledgehammer. Uncle Thor would be proud.

I knew this was coming. I may be tungsten when it comes to social interactions, but even as such I could see the signs of disintegration. Looking at the past 8 months, it's somewhat amazing that I was able to pull enough hopeful fluff out of my ears to blindfold myself for so long. But in the end, all either of us had left of what we had once sought to be together was a handful of bittersweet hope, and that's not enough to sate. We began avoiding each other, withdrawing into our respective spheres. Slowly, I began to ease out of the yoke of her expectations, becoming less (Toaster)monochrome and more (Toaster)eleventy!. In idealizing my love for her, I allowed too much of myself to be subsumed by her expectations. I gave and gave and gave and gave and gave and rarely ever received and in the end began to feel more like a hollow toaster than Toaster himself, exhausted and frayed and, kind of, used like I was an appliance. She told me that this or that was wrong and that it was something I needed to change, and I made the colossal error of turning my analytic lenses around onto myself, thinking that if I could just figure out what was wrong with me and fix it then maybe she'd reciprocate my love for her. I was foolhardy. In dissecting myself, I began to question absolutely everything and quickly found myself caught in a viscous resurgence of the OCD tendencies I have struggled with my entire life and wrapped my daily routine up in comforting, but obsessive, rituals. I stopped drinking because I wanted to drink, to seal myself in a bottle of whisky to break the anxiety. But in the end the thing that defanged it was to reclaim myself from what our relationship had been, regaining the things that make Toaster Toaster instead of who I was expected to be. She always thought they were silly and annoying and items to be corrected, but doing things like playing music too loud and singing deliberately off key while dancing around in my leprechaun socks and underclothes make me happy even though I don't exactly understand why. Cookies also make me happy (there are going to be more cookies in my near future). At the same time as I was emerging from all the anxiety, stress, and expectations, I began to blog more heavily. I'd been blogging anemically for years, at first as a way to synthesize what I was trying to learn in my cell bio class, but getting into science blogging and discovering that there are other unabashed science nerds out there perfectly happy to be their nerdy selves allowed me a space* to be Toaster as Toaster is in his natural habitat instead of suppressing Toaster whenever she was around.

The feeble illusion we'd been maintaining came crashing down last night. True, I'd asked for her ring back months ago when we had a fight that exactly echoed how my parents fought when they were still together. But we'd poked along some kind of odd hope, even though we both knew that we were each essentially alone anyway, or at least I did (I can't really speak for her). Afterwards, I retreated back into the comfortable world between my headphones and forced myself to listen to the music I had composed 3 years ago for our wedding. I was OK until the violin solo halfway through it, the most beautiful melody that my clumsy hands have ever crafted, and then I folded, all the self-incrimination from the past 2 years flooding back all at once and squeezing my lungs like a shivering asthma attack. So I opened up a program and awkwardly poured it all into my laptop in words; not a way in which I am accustomed to expressing my inner milieau, but my hands were shaking too badly to take up charcoal and graphite at the moment. The important thing is that the blood-letting seems to have gotten it all out and even though I only got perhaps 3h of sleep last night I feel somehow relieved and lighter despite all of it.

I had decided back near the start of the new year that I was too stubborn to walk away immediately is spite of all of the bullshit and toxicity that had built up and that I'd give it until June, one last little reservoir of hope. Close enough, I guess. Now, though, I can't bring myself to be angry about any of it, nor to feel that I've wasted 4 years. All I have is this hungry knot of sisu smoldering. For the first 1.5 or so years I was very happy, and I was absolutely, completely in love and I'd rush home with a grin stretched across my face and my heart in my mouth. That was good. The next 1.odd years were middling and it's really only been the last many months that sucked, but all of this has taught me so much about myself and what I really want out of life. I suppose I have to appreciate at least that much. And now, of course with the clarity of retrospection and deep maturity of 23**, I can see that maybe my family was correct in supposing that at 19 we were too young to know ourselves well enough to imagine the rest of our lives together. The thing that I do, however, regret is allowing her expectations to drive away most of my friends. I'm going to be busy repairing bridges here in real life for a while.

The thing is, is that Toaster is not a simpering romantic and never has been***. This isn't going to stop me or set me back in the slightest, because I refuse to allow it. I will heed its lessons, but I will move on. I'm not the type to languish about in grief for months, and the absolute last thing I will ever allow myself is the indulgence of pity. She may have never realized it, but I am much stronger than this: I've survived and thrived through worse. Today my head is clearer than it has been in months, there's no longer that frustrating swirl of self-doubting seeking and feeble hope constantly chattering up the backchannels of my mind. Today I'm going to pick up my sledgehammer and take on the motherfucking world. My sisu is fucking hungry.

*If I forgot anyone I apologize: t'wasn't intentional.
**OK, yeah, I heard you snorting at that. Shaddup.

***It should be that reports of Toaster being an irredeemable asshole are largely conflated with his unredeeming bluntness.

[Cultural Note: Sisu is a Finnish word and concept translating roughly as stubborn perserverance and courage. It's similar to "having the guts" to do something, but in a more sustained sense. It can also be understood as sustained toughness and from what I remember it is said that with enough sisu one can even go through the grey stone (meaning granite in Finland).]


Anonymous said...

hugs * (lots and lots)^lots

I'm in the picking-over-the-rotting-corpse stage myself at the moment. It stinks...


Stephanie Zvan said...

Much hugs and cookies.

I'm happy you learned what you can handle, and what you shouldn't, and happier still that you're out of that. I like this Toaster too much to watch someone trying to "fix" him.

I'd never have pegged you as 23, by the way. You've got hella sisu for someone your age, and that showed even before this post.

Eppendork said...

MMMM cookies - now mr toaster are these cookie cookies or are they choc chip cookies? It took me two years to walk away from my last relationship before my current one. That is two years after I realised it was heading south. Its amazing how much lighter you do feel when you eventually call it a day.

Mmmm cookies.....


Ambivalent Academic said...

A refreshing and forward-thinking perspective on the end of once-important things Toaster. Here's wishing you plenty of cookies for your sisu.

quietandsmalladventures said...

*hugs* and you are Toaster (eleventy!!!11!!).

i did the same thing at 22. the best thing to come out of it was that i learned what i was willing to overlook, what i was not going to put up with and what i want. it sounds like you have that figured out already. smart cookie:)

you'll be better than ok. promise and i can't even say that about my assays lately :)

Isabel said...

wow, 23, hard to believe...

When I was 23 I was heavily involved in the "avant-garde" "underground art scene" and hung out with "transgressive" filmmakers and another black-clad hipsters yet realized after a while that I had escaped the suburbs only to find another world of boring oppressive conformity....scientists on the other hand are true weirdos, and are much less pretentious.

I love being a science nerd, wish I had discovered it sooner. It took many years to extricate myself from my previous life.

Prof-like Substance said...

The best thing you can do at this point is learn what you can from the past and hold that with into the future. I often think that people learn more about what they don't want in a relationship than what they do, and it's far more useful. In that realization you can overcome some of the idealistic image you had for the "perfect" relationship and actually stumble into one that truly makes you happy.

Juniper Shoemaker said...

My goodness! You're twenty-three! As an older male novelist said wistfully to me when I was that age and he learned of it: "Ah! Arcadia. . ."

You rock, Toaster. It hurts me to think of anyone trying to change who you are and of you acquiescing. Being loved for who you are is key.

I'm sure many of your "real life" friends will be thrilled to have you back in unsuppressed form, too.

Toaster Sunshine said...

Thank you all for your support. At the moment it has become more logistically awkward than emotionally painful.

I mean, don't worry about it; I'm already rocking out! I've got some hot new tracks already in production since all the inhibitions of good taste and musical decency have been lifted from me.

PhizzleDizzle said...

TS, I just read this....hugs in your direction!!!!!

Toaster should always be Toaster and no one else!! Best of luck to you, you are 23 and have your whole life ahead of you...to be you :).