Advice, Book Review, Op Ed, Relationships

The Art of Asking: Part 3

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Never did I quite imagine that Amanda Palmer would be helping me with my relationship, but on two occasions thus far I have flipped to a section of the book and handed it to my boyfriend Scott to read. [I did offer for him to read the book after me, but once he read the first line of the book and saw the word “tampon” he decided it wasn’t for him.]

Amanda Palmer shares a lot about her relationship with Neil Gaiman, how they met, when they started dating, the struggles of being in different places during good times and bad. She shares their intimacy issues, fights, growth, trust. It’s really great to get these little insights throughout the book.

The most recent bit that I shared was a passage where Amanda was yelling and being a bit overdramatic about a situation, then Neil quietly quips to ask if she’s expecting her period, which only proves to further anger Amanda. I chose to show this particular passage to Scott after an F-bomb filled outburst I had to which he looked over and did the “shhh” face and told me in a soothing voice to “calm down.” Of course, as Amanda would later discover in that passage, I’d just started my period.

Amanda also shares little games her and Neil play, a series of questions she would shoot at Neil and then he would in turn ask her. Scott and I are two opposite sides of the brain, so most of the time if I ask him a question, he tries to break it down logically, and ends up asking me at least four or five more questions before he is able to answer my original question. In short, asking games don’t work well for us. I tried anyway, asking him one of the questions Amanda posed to Neil in the book: “What are you most afriad of?” Scott’s answer was: *shrug* I handed him the book and had him read the passage.

I am not saying, by any means that our relationship should be modeled after Amanda and Neil’s, just that she points out the basic things most people in relationships face: distance, trust, money issues, emotional issues, communication, PMS outbursts–stuff most people have been through at some point in their lives. In the very least, even if you haven’t experienced these things, Amanda makes the sharing of these moments interesting enough that the reader gets a bit of a laugh or is touched in someway by reading them.

It’s also comforting to read about her relationships, the snippits of them, prior to Neil. Reading about her experiences makes me feel a little bit better about some of the guys I’d dated in the past, and makes me wish I’d dated more artists!

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The Art of Asking: Part 2

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One of the great things about The Art of Asking, are the peeks into Amanda’s personal life. Especially when she talks about Anthony. I won’t give too much away for those who have not read the book yet, but some of the most poignant pieces of advice that Amanda got from Anthony through the years she passes along to us in the book. One of them is a story you may have heard before about a dog (paraphrasing):

There is a man sitting on his porch. Next to the man was his dog, who was whimpering. I asked the man “Why is your dog whimpering?” The man said, “He’s laying on a nail”. I asked “Laying on a nail? Well, why doesn’t he get up?” The man then replied “It doesn’t hurt bad enough yet.”

In life, you don’t want to be the dog sitting on a nail until it hurts too much for you to stay there. Don’t sit on the nail to start, or get off as soon as you find yourself there!

Sometimes I wait around for life to help me along so I don’t have to make the important and scary decisions myself. My last job at the super corporate call center is a perfect example. I made the move from my previous job because they were cutting my hours, overworking me and paying me barely above minimum wage after working there for 3 years. The call center paid about $4 more an hour and came with a chair and a free soda fountain. Shortly after starting at the call center, I quickly realized that being in a cubicle for 8 hours a day was not for me. Also, customer service was grating on me. I don’t work well under constant pressure, and every call was recorded, timed, and graded. I always constantly got marked off for not being fast enough. I need to be ever faster. I soon found myself having horrible bouts of random deep depression coupled with uncontrollable sobbing. All of the abuse I took over the phones day in and day out over and over and over again was building up in me and would let itself out during really inopportune moments. Not to mention the stress was causing me to get new migraine headaches and other health issues. I didn’t want to seem like a wuss, so I cut back my hours to work 3 days a week, but I was still miserable–I was still sitting on the nail, but it didn’t hurt quite as much, so I stayed there. I started to feel even more miserable as time passed, even less appreciated and I still wasn’t fast enough, the goal kept changing and I couldn’t keep up, but I stuck it out for over 2 years.

I would fantasize that the building would burn down, that there would be a saftey threat (no one would be harmed thankfully, but work would be cancelled), there was this uplifting hopeful period when the lease hadn’t been paid on the office lot property and the landlord threatened to seize the property if payment wasn’t received in full (they coughed up the money on time though *sigh*). I imagined some crazy scenario in which I’d be harassed and forced to leave or an equally rare scenario where I would screw up and finally be fired. Anything that would get me out of the job without me actually having to take control of my life and quit myself. I wouldn’t get up off the nail.

Eventually I had an opportunity present itself that would allow me to show my photography in a gallery in New York City, and I jumped at it, I tried to quit the call center before I went on the trip, but corporate America didn’t want to let me go (they probably had to keep numbers up for HR through the next quarter for payroll or something), so, per the manager and the supervisor’s request I was on temporary leave instead of quitting. After the art show in New York, instead of coming back to work (the thought of which made me physically ill), I quit.

I think we all do it at some point in our lives, we all sit on the nail, whether it be staying in a relationship that isn’t fulfilling us, staying in a job that isn’t serving us, not asking for help if we really need it, or whatever the case may be, staying someplace because it doesn’t hurt enough for us to make the decision to move on. But, we need to move on. We need to let go of our fears, get out of our comfort zones, and do what is best for us. We need to trust that we will make the best decision for ourselves, and even if things don’t work out, at least we got up off the nail and tried. You can dust yourself off and try again. (RIP Aaliyah)

You can find out more about Anthony HERE.

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