the definition of tangential

OMG, I found a cool blog. I know, I know! It's written by a woman who posts ads for casual encounters at craigslist. I've never posted an ad at craigslist, but it's interesting to read the experiences of someone who has. Plus, it's always nice to know what a woman thinks when it comes to sex and relationships.

This woman seems cool. I can definitely relate to this post, wherein she writes:

Some people have noticed that I'm a bit of a snob. I snark the net-speak emails I get that replace "you are" with "u r" and I blithely ignore the emails that don't meet my high standards. Aren't there women out there on the net who are less particular in the ways of intellectual seduction? Shouldn't I cut guys a little more slack?

The answer to the first question is: Yes, absolutely. There are millions upon millions of women in the US -- hell, just on my side of the Mississippi and Mason-Dixon line -- who are less fussy than I am, especially about things like coherent sentences and good grammar. Just because I mock these things in conversations with my friends, family, and strangers on the internet doesn't mean that I'm the last word on them. If you'd rather fuck someone who doesn't care about such things, by all means, go for it!

The answer to the second question is: Heh.

I'm very uptight about grammar, spelling, and usage (e.g., refer to this post). I used to proofread at my old job and frequently wanted to stab my eyeballs with a pencil, going over those damnable manuscripts. What really bothered me was that most of the manuscripts were written by college graduates. What on earth were they doing in school? I'm a drugged-out product of Californian public education and I can write these people under the table with a lead pipe through my frontal lobe. However, I can admit that my standards are too high and I make unreasonable demands on people. For example, it bothers me when people split their infinitves and it really bothers me when people use ellipses to indicate a pause or break; you should only use an ellipsis when excising words from a quote. See, now I'm just being ridiculous. I never hold people to these standards (although I can be a real dick when proofing), but I admit it's awfully arousing when someone is aware of these rules. My biggest pet peeve is when people use an apostrophe for the possessive its. For example, " . . . anal sex in all it's glory . . . " would, technically, mean: " . . . anal sex in all it is glory . . . " or: " . . . anal sex in all it has glory . . . " which is just inexcusable.

Actually, "in real life" I don't care about these things. At least not anymore. I've come to accept that most people couldn't give a shit about proper grammar. It's a hopeless fight. More important, does it matter? My ex-girlfriend Lucy was an indignant intellectual and we initially bonded over our contempt for the general laziness and stupidity of most people (mostly, though, it was just the hot fucking sex that did us in). She was a brilliant mathematician and logician; she had saved voluminous amounts of old school work, just so she could admire the artistry of algebraic and geometric formulae. She was the stereotypical academic who fretted over a 98% on a paper; could pick out flaws and inconsistencies in any argument you threw her way, but had no idea which direction was south or west. She was in love with David Foster Wallace and Liebniz; obsessively counted the steps that led up to our apartment, no matter how many times she walked up and down them; and carefully allotted certain activities a specific length of time in her day planner. Me? School bored the tits off me. DFW is okay, but a better essayist than a novelist. I'm only obsessive about music and sex. I notice and remember details about people's personalities, not about objects. And I'm impulsive to a fault; I can't think five minutes into the future, let alone five days. Lucy is brilliant in an academic sense; I'm a working-class sort. I tried going to college, but I didn't fit in. I can talk my way out of fight in the streets, but all I want to do in a classroom is argue with the professor. Lucy and I have a lot in common, but ultimately our relationship didn't work out. We're different in ways that I wasn't cognizant of while we were together. I grew up poor, whereas she had a pretty good childhood. I suffer from depression and anxiety; she is calm and collected and generally optimistic. She needs stability and security and I'm the most unstable car-wreck of a human being you'll ever meet. Most of her friends from high school went to college; most of my friends became parents, are strung out, or both. Everyone who knew us thought we would get married, because we have so much in common, superficially. I thought we would, too. Maybe she did as well. I'm not sure. Looking back, I feel as if I never really knew her. You live with someone for almost three years and walk away scratching your head. We broke up early last year and she promptly met someone else, whom she married over the summer. It's like, Uh, okay. It's as if all that time we spent together meant nothing to her. And maybe it doesn't. It used to bother me because we seemed so right for each other. She was what I thought I needed in someone else: intelligent, funny, and extremely sexual. Yet our relationship still didn't work out. The real problem with us is that she's really sheltered. I was only her second boyfriend. Her previous boyfriend was some super Xian who denied her sex for the five years they were together(!). She was still with him when we met and then she meets her husband about a month after we break up. She just doesn't know how to be single. I've been with almost thirty people and she marries number three. She lacks a lot of "life experience," to use a ridiculous phrase. I mean, she's never smoked a cigarette or gotten high or anything. We always did fine financially when we were together, but she always complained about us "being poor," which really bothered me since I grew up on welfare and actually was legitimately poor.

My fucking point with all of this is: "academic intelligence" is nice and all, but if I had to choose, I'd rather be with someone who has more "life experience." The two significant relationships I've had since I broke up with Lucy were with women who were self-professed white trash. Both had gone to college but knew they didn't fit in. Rachel is brilliant, but she downplays it quite a bit. She's probably the most perceptive and clever person I've ever known (she can read and see through people with an almost preternatural accuracy). She grew up poor and was raised by her mother. Her mother was the first person in her family to go to college, so it was really important that Rachel and her brother go, too. Rachel is an academic, but she's not sheltered by any stretch. She went to a small liberal arts school in the northeast and felt like a complete outsider amongst her overwelmingly privileged classmates. Honestly, I couldn't believe someone like her actually existed. She's everything Lucy isn't. Rachel is strikingly beautiful (I know how that sounds and I don't mean it that way at all; Lucy is beautiful, too), has a lot of sexual experience, has a drug problem, grew up poor, comes froma broken home, etc. but her thesis was on Lacanian psychoanalysis. We would talk about music and film for hours. She's a model, with amazing style, but she's total trash. She's a bi-polar fucking maniac; even crazier than I am. With Lucy I felt I had to hide my depression because she just didn't understand, but Rachel understood completely. (Maybe she understood too well.) Rachel is a total bitch who would call you a fucking douchebag to your face, yet she worked at a children's center and is one of the most caring and giving people I've ever known. She isn't self-absorbed at all, which is very attractive to me (and pretty rare for someone in their early 20s). Same thing with Tina, the girl I was with after Rachel. Tina is a horrible speller. But she knows that to live is to struggle. She had the absolute worst childhood ever—she doesn't know her biological father; the man who raised her beat the shit out of her, put her in the hospital dozens of times, knocked out her two front teeth, shattered her jaw from her to ear; and she OD'd on smack as a child. Tina would talk shit on anyone to their face and didn't care. She wasn't afraid of anyone. Why would she be? It was amazing being around someone that fearless. Yet I've never seen anyone more patient and affectionate and giving.

Life sucks. It's hard, it's painful, you die, and then people forget about you. American culture is built on the precarious notion that life should be fun and happy and easy. I look back at my relationship with Lucy and I feel alienated from her and from myself. Like I said, she wants security and stability and I wish her all the best, but I can't give that to her. I can't because I don't believe in it. It's great to be an academic, but the academe is only going to carry you so far. It's great to want the middle-class, assured, suburban lifestyle the American Dream promises, but it's folly. It's great to want success, but what does success teach you about life? Reality is icily indifferent to your wants. I want Tina to return my calls and let me know how her daughter is. I want to be a part of her daughter's life. I don't want to be in love with Rachel anymore, but I am. More than anything, I want a family, but I know that will never happen. Maybe I'm just jealous of Lucy. Jealous that everything seems to work out for her. That everything is always so effortless and perfect for her. Maybe I'm jealous of everyone for whom life seems so simple. It drives me crazy when men leave their families or don't father their children. They have no idea how lucky they are.

Wow, I really have no idea what I'm even saying anymore. This post was originally going to be about expectations in relationships and how, even when you're with someone who seems perfect and fits your criteria, there could be another set of criteria you're not even aware of that trumps your previous set of criteria. Lucy and I seemed perfect for each other, yet our relationship didn't work out. Why? It's obvious to me now, but at the time I wasn't sure. What really confuses me is what happened between Rachel and me. She doesn't know what happened, either. It's been eight months and I'm still totally confused by it. She basically asked me to give up everything for her and I did. Then when I did she freaked out and broke up with me. I moved across the country to be with her. She told me: "I know I'm fucked for asking you to give up everything for me, but you're just as fucked for doing it."

I should stop. This is starting to depress me and I'd rather go on being comfortably numb. I haven't really written about these things and I guess shit just needed to get out. Strangely, I don't feel any better. Regularly scheduled snarky, shallow, and unemotional posts to resume tomorrow or something.