Is Optimism A Fatal Flaw?

The Happiness Dilemma

I’m guilty of putting a positive spin on every catastrophe I encounter (in my case, many). I can usually find the sunshine in any situation. And I’ve begun to wonder, is seeing the good in everyone and everything distracting me from demanding the best from myself?

On Easter Sunday, I was watching a home movie of my older brother and I searching for Easter eggs in 1989. Every time he found an egg, he would announce, “I have 3 eggs,” or “I have 8 eggs,” or whatever number.  And every time he announced his new find, I would say the same thing, with the same enthusiasm as the last time: “I have one egg!”

Why was I so happy with just one egg? Why was I so proud? Did I not learn anything in my first 6 years? As an American child, I should have been more competitive. I should not have been happy for that one egg in comparison to my brother who had eight times that amount. We are taught to win, and we are taught that more is better. More is better after all, no?

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I’ve been in love, or at least thought I was, with two previous boyfriends where during our relationships, someone else just kind of moved in and swept me completely off my feet. It’s not easy to explain—like, I probably wasn’t in love with  those boyfriends at the time in the first place or that never could have happened, right? I definitely was not with one; I very much so was with the other, but maybe I was getting bored. Cheating is not always black-and-white.

That is true of the last time it happened to me. I didn’t really love him. I wanted to love him, but I did not. And then I fell in love with someone closer…neighborishly close. He was so much more my type of person and it was hard not to spend time with him. I acted on it; I didn’t have the courage to break up with my boyfriend first, but I couldn’t let my lust object of affection get away. The emotional came way before the physical, and it ended very badly—an almost year-long ending—with all parties losing.

However, another time this happened, I was very much in love with my boyfriend. We were going through rough times, but I didn’t really doubt our relationship would last. I had hope for us. It’s just that this really funny guy at work was so charming, and I was working sometimes 12-hour days with him. He was attractive, flirty, and refreshing. I didn’t act on it. I wanted to, but refrained because I loved my boyfriend more. Still, this had a way of unraveling my relationship.

My boyfriend had an idea of my connection with John, and he wasn’t too happy about me working with him. John showed up at one of my parties, saw my boyfriend, and immediately turned around. I chased him to the elevator. “Don’t leave my party,” I said. “I can’t see you like this, with him,” he said. “I can’t.”

He left, and I went back into my apartment. My boyfriend and I fought viciously later that night. “Why did you chase him to the elevator?” John and I had not hooked up, but it was clear there was something there.

After summer was over and I was back in school and John was fired from work for excessive lateness, things eased. But they never really did. Because I wasn’t happy. I flirted with other men with abandon. I was searching for something…else. Someone like John.

Physical cheating can lead to emotional cheating, but that happens out of cowardness of breaking up when something is already broken. What about emotional cheating? Falling into lust first with someone else before the inevitable? I’ve found that that this type is more threatening to your relationship than a sex-one-time cheat.

Friday Night Meal

My Friday night meal is the simplest thing to prepare. It requires almost no effort and is practically fail-proof, which is why it is the perfect way to end the week when you’re tired and lazy but want something better than take-out. It’s also useful this time of year for those of us who are prohibited from eating meat in observance of Lent Fridays. Here is a briefing of the steps:

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

2. Throw a variety of vegetables and fruits onto a pan.

3. Toss the pan into the oven and cook for an hour or more.

4. Take out. Eat.

Here is the more detailed set of instructions:

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I was let go from my company Thursday due to a “cash flow” problem. Eventually, I will have a personal cash flow problem if I don’t secure a new post soon, but in the meantime: For the next few weeks, I have time for everything that I put aside while I was married to the magazine. The benefits of being a free woman:

Kimono Living: I no longer have to dress up and brave the elements commuting to the concrete jungle. Instead, I can live in my silk pajamas and Japanese robes, read every book that’s been put aside in lieu of editing stories for the magazine, watch all of the television I want (become a videot, as my dad would say), and research all avenues/carve a path for my next career—all from the comfort of my bed.

The Library: My new office away from home is equipped with plenty of good books, *silence*, and nerds like me. Plus, I love the smell of old books!

Time For Other Creative Endeavors: This site, for instance. As well as a project I’ve signed on to do with my older brother’s company.

Friends: I’ve barely seen anyone all season . Ever since the holidays, all my efforts were poured into saving this dying/lost cause. Work was a stressful roller coaster and has taken its toll. Soooo… to everyone I owe time to, I am here now. I’m a liberated woman. Woo-hoo!

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