textbook reply: tell him how you feel

In ALL, DATING & MATING, INTROSPECTION by Stephanie Klein50 Comments

I’m bored, which means I should force myself to go out.  Because if you’re bored, chances are you’re boring.  Sometimes I embrace the bored and call it “listening.”  I’m tired of doing that.  It’s time to shower and hit a gay bar or something.  I can’t decide which sex.  Brandy’s Piano bar is always an option.  I’m always my happiest there.  Have dinner at Parma, then hit Brandy’s.  It’s a full night.  But really, Parma is for Sunday night dinners when there’s snowfall.  Tonight, it’s warm.  I need to put on some boots and a skirt without underwear, just ’cause.  ‘Cause I’ll know, and then somehow I won’t feel as bored.  I’ll go sit at a bar and listen to some music, have some wine, bring a notebook and be a bored nerd. 

2I’m also going to spend much more of my time at Country, a spectacular bar near where I live now (photo taken from their site).  I’ve eaten there twice.  Once in the bar area (where The Suitor proposed on bended knee before the restaurant was open), once in the restaurant upstairs (last night for Valentine’s Day).  Insanely good food, the kind you want to bring home and eat cold from the fridge the next morning (if you can even wait that long).  What looks like a fancy yellow hat is really warm pull-apart rolls.  Salt and pepper cellars.  Warm Gruyere cheese puffs.  It’s expensive but lacquered pork ribs should be expensive; they’re lacquered.  Only artists and drag queens lacquer things. I love that my local watering hole is all about fine wine and zoo-like cheeses.  It’s hard to get bored when I remind myself of the cheese board. Of the leather Ludwig Mies van der Rohe Barcelona chairs.  Of the orange light.  Of the warmth.

After I hit up Country again tonight, I’m heading over to Mercury Lounge to watch some bands I’ve never heard.  I’m going at it alone because that’s what the bored do.  9:30 Black Wire, 10:30 Overnight.  It sounds like a secret mission.  Maybe it will be.  Less bored now.  I’ll post again when I get home, drunk… to be continued… because this is what you can do in this city, just pick up and show up without any obligations.

… So now I’m home.  I didn’t make it past Country.  I made it home to cry.  To feel sorry for myself and question what I’m doing with my life, to gulp down drama and wonder why I feel so much.  I’m tired of putting it all out there just for people to tell me how fucked up I am.  Tired of baring it all and being beaten down for it.  But what the fuck.  Who cares?  It’s not like I don’t know and admit it.  I don’t need it in my face, in comments, to know.  I live it and breathe it, and quite frankly don’t give a shit what remarks are lobbed my way.  At least I’m honest enough to say it.  I’m not sleeping with a married man, not cheating, not saying mean things behind the backs of friends.  I’m vulnerable and trying to grow up, and it takes work.  Takes sucking in the hurt and sharing it with the world, with anyone who’ll listen and stick to it and offer some type of balm, anyone but the person.  The one it’s all about.  Because when I share it with him, then it’s drama, it’s “you’re trying to control me.”  When it’s just me and a notepad or slew of emails, it’s safe.  But when I bring it up, in crafted neat words, it’s a discussion, a “let’s talk.”  I feel lonesome and alone, even though I had every opportunity to play tonight.  I wore the boots, put on the makeup, the skirt, curled my hair and eyelashes.  But I didn’t feel like fun and flirting.  I felt sorry for myself.  And when I say it to him, he feels guilted, which isn’t how I want him to feel, so I tell everyone but him, making me feel the most distant, with him feeling fine and none the wiser.  That’s the way relationships seem to work near me.  I tell everyone but the person.

I know the quick answer is you should share intimate details with the person; be direct.  I know that’s the textbook reply, but it’s not true with me.  With me, it’s “let time heal it, bite your tongue, call a friend instead.”  And I listen and do as I’m told, but I feel distance grow. Because, before, when I was writing this from my own apartment, in my space, I’d go to him and tell him how I felt about anything, and that’s what made us, US.  Because he was the best friend I could say it all to, but then, somehow that stops, and it becomes wanting to be respectful, wanting for him and his best needs.  It feels like giving by taking away the words and talks.  By just letting it go. 

When I share now, it is misconstrued into “manipulation” and “trying to control me,” so I bite down hard and say “have fun” with a smile.  Inside I feel alone.  I’d feel this in any relationship.  It’s not him.  Why do I need so much? What am I not giving myself?  I cannot think of a thing.  I will live this, sometimes more than others, for the rest of my life.  And I’m scared to admit any of this; it’s exactly why I will.


  1. Being bored can be dangerous. I was bored last night. I fell asleep, and I had this dream about this guy I work with — we were making out with such vigor that I almost fell out of bed. And today that's all I can think about.

  2. I was sick. I was a west sider. I'm better now, or at least on the tail end of my cold. And I moved in with the Suitor just before we got engaged, so now I've got a new hood. Speaking of hoods, we're leaving on FRIDAY for AUSTIN, TX. for a visit and a bit of house hunting. We'll be in AUSTIN for a week! Photos and updates to come. If you live in AUSTIN, come meet us at a bar one night! Just email me!

  3. I love the west side – moreso than the east – it seems more neighborhoody. When i'm in NY we spend most of our time in Soho – perhaps we'll find a place down there to live. Our favorite restaurant is Balthazar – but we'll have to try Country – i've heard such great things about it.

    Are you moving to TX?

  4. We're just looking for right now. We'll also be looking in Charleston, SC. We basically want warm weather year round, where our NY dollars will buy us more than a one bedroom apartment. I make a fixed amount of money, no matter where I live, so it makes sense to live somewhere, well, where I can play tennis and breathe, and feel like I'm on vacation, writing out by the pool. I'm tired of living in a box without grass or a grille or a pool. I want SPACE and a view without buildings! I think we'll start off renting, just to be sure. We might also look near L.A., but I'm worried about that. I don't want to surround myself with any more materialism. I know how I can be, and I want to live some place where people just don't give a shit what you're wearing, driving, or carrying. I've lived that life. I'm ready for something new. I just don't know where it is yet.

  5. Steph,
    Looking forward to meeting you guys when you're in Austin … a place where a few people care what you're wearing, whatever you're driving had better have a Kinky Friedman for Governor bumper stucker on it, and no one can tell if you've got a fake Fendi from Canal St. Didn't know you were a tennis player. I'm the captain of a women's USTA team, so you've got a group of girls to play with if you want to indulge your competitive streak. See you soon. Safe travels.

  6. wow. the only thing I'd like to say is that you are right to feel so much. not only right, but lucky. how much better to feel a lot than to numb it all with flirty fun as your primary escape. this is only for those whose wells are full. i think artists need time to reboot, so to speak, to fill their deep heartfelt wells and hearts with new thoughts, new expressions( a new film, painting, song, walk in the park?), and sometimes just simple private indulgent pain to be able to face the world again. a wise woman once told me that an introvert gains her energy from time apart from others, and with this newfound strength, can face people openly and warmly. an extrovert gains her energy from being around others, making it easier to be alone. i am a performer, loving the experience of sharing my art with the public, but an introvert none-the-less, who needs to gain her chutzpah from spending time alone with thoughts and feelings and creative meanderings. add to this a very loving desirable partner, my newbie husband, whose support means the world to me. even so, no one person, lover nor friend nor parent nor whomever can meet all your needs. some pains are meant to be privately dealt with, others are meant to be shared. timing seems to be everything. expecting more from your lover friend may not always be the answer. he cares, no doubt, but probably knows his own limitations and fears the parts that are your own personal nemeses. the hardest part for me is not to personify the agitation, the every day angst of mere living, into a symbol of his falling short (of what I need?) what i need is personal. what you need is to let yourself be who you are. beautiful, evolving, pushing, pulling, advancing, retreating, a woman of substance, with human flesh and blood, and an ability to express it with verve and passion. your strongest asset is also your chink in the armor? god bless, you're doing great!

  7. I feel you. And funny that I found myself at a gay piano bar last wknd – coincidence? If you end up in charleston, stop by Cumberland's on King Street for happy hour. Tell Sunaan Clemson Katie sent you for the $1 Mystery Beers and french fries. He'll take care of you.

    Odd that we also both harbor an intriguement with Austin. I love how you've mentioned it multiple times. I've yet to go, myself.

  8. So Stephanie.. what you really mean is you're fixin' to get to Austin…!

    Soon we'll be hearing about Frito Pie, you'll be calling every single drink a 'coke' and we may even read the phrase 'Dumber than a box of rocks' every now and then. ;)

    Texas rocks.

  9. Stephanie,
    I have lived in Charleston, SC for three years now (originally from Queens) and it is a beautiful place. Prior to Charleston, I lived in Atlanta, GA (Hotlanta) for almost 25 years. I still maintain a strong NY accent, my secret is to NOT eat grits.
    My brother owns Andolini's Pizza here in Charleston. We are known for the best NY style pizza around. Slices and all. I try to teach the kids to fold the slices and eat them the RIGHT way, and not with a fork and knife as many do here.
    Keep Charleston on your list.

  10. Just out of sheer curiousity, why Austin? What motivated the move? Work? Family? Other? And, again just curious, would you get married in Austin? Or will there be no big wedding?

  11. Wow, how cosmopolitan of you! I live in the burbs and every time I want to do something like that, I’ve got to plan it out, strategize methodically… it is a mission. My boss is trying to convince me to move downtown, she says I’ll be in my element. But making the trek out to work in the burbs would suck. That bar looks hot, if that was a gay bar in Toronto it would be the coolest gay bar in the world! I can’t wait for your next blog!


  12. Smile lady. You've got a great life and a great future ahead of you. You've got love for goodness sake. Don't ruin it with the glum.

  13. Your kids will talk funny. However, if you insist on this, please be aware: "y'all" is second person singular; "all y'all" is second person plural. Please review.

  14. Wow. The tale of two posts. I think you have to at least recognize how far you have come, and not feel so discouraged. It can be a long journey to figure oneself out and then figure out whether you are happy with what you have learned or not. Some people never even make that first step into self-discovery, and often throw it all on another person or people or avoid or deny or do anything that doesn't involve so much effort. These are, of course, good go to moves, but not very productive in arriving at a good final destination. No one ever said it would be easy. Easy is … doing nothing.

  15. I'm surprised to see so many comments posted about the night out and the potential move, but not so many on what she she's feeling…those last 3 paragraphs ran a little deep. You alright there, Steph?

  16. Stephanie,
    Check out Austin, then get thee to Charleston, if only for a weekend. Fabulous live music scene, artists' and photographers' haven, and a foodie's heaven. You can wear flip-flops or Jimmy Choos, year-round. Wake up to the ocean, or to the buzz of downtown. Small enough to know your local baker's children's names, big enough to disappear at the newest "it" restaurant. It's a desperately gorgeous place and we have 5 direct flights a day to NYC, so you're never too far. Neil's right- Andolini's is the only pizza in town as far as locals are concerned!
    Email me if you're coming down….I'll give you the real scoop.

  17. Wow, cool move for you. I've been to TX several times but haven't spent too much time in Austin. San Antonio is nice…the River Walk, and be sure to get to Corpus Christi and Padre Island. Have fun!

  18. This is one of those times where you have to have patience for yourself. You seem to be doing good. The lonliness will pass and you'll be joyful again, soon. I think it's the plight of all humans to feel alone sometimes; I think of it as being part of the package that comes with self-awareness…

  19. steph,
    one of my sisters has lived in charleston for years; her husband's a career navy guy, 2 great sons, all good people. if you wanted someone to chat with about what i've been told (a million times) is a great city (never been there yet, may go there in april for my first visit), i can hook you up with her via her email. she'd be more than willing, i'm sure, to give you the straight scoop (she's quite a "talker"). lemme know if you're interested; either way, best of luck always.

  20. Wow! House hunting – that`s a big step and moving from NYC to Austin, TX or Charleston, SC will be a new start. Everything will be so different and I`m sure you`ll love it.
    5 or 6 years ago it was like no life existed out of the city but now idea of living there is exciting and I can`t wait to see it happen.

  21. I'm heading to Austin this weekend, too, visiting friends. LOL. I used to live there–I highly recommend it. Great music, great food scene (La Fonda San Miguel is terrific interior Mexican), funky artsy town with the U of Tx. Great vintage shops, too. If you can afford it, my fave neighborhood is Hyde Park, north of the University. Great old houses with porches. The bargains are east and south, but most people seem to move north and west, which is where the traffic is. The paper isn't great (I used to work there), but you can get the Times at least. Have a great time!

  22. i really identified with a lot of what you wrote at the end. i often feel simultaneously isolated while surrounded though. and putting our words out there is a release but it's also dangerous and revealing. it's a risk that we have taken. and i am certain you wouldn't want to live a life without that risk. your words are your voice, your livelihood, your courage. and don't let anyone cut you down for putting it out there. i have gotten a disparaging comment here and there, and it's upsetting to say the least. there's quote from some movie, which will come to me, i'm sure, right after i post this comment wherein the character says something like, "the bad stuff's easier to believe…" it's totally true, but it's easy to see here, the lovin' far outweighs the hatin' :) smile.

  23. Austin is a wonderful town, however I sense that you would probably be happier in Charleston. I think Austin might be a bit too rough around the edges for you.

    Regardless, here are just a few things that you MUST do while you're in town:

    Have a drink in the courtyard bar at the San Jose Hotel on South Congress.

    Drive out to Lockhart and have barbecue at Kreutz's – don't listen to those people who tell you the Salt Lick is better – Kreutz's is where it's at: huge slabs of tender meat served on butcher paper with a slice of wonder bread…perfect.

    Lockhart also has some terrific thrift stores and you will also find a multitude of fantastic photo ops.

    See a show at the Continental Club. Austin's music scene really is amazing.

    On Sunday night go see the Resentments at the Saxon Pub (they go on at 7:30). They're an Austin super group comprised of some of the best musicians in town and they are really, really fun.

    Go to the INSANE new Whole Foods. The place is so huge it has actually become a tourist attraction of sorts.

    As a foodie you will probably also like Central Market.

    Shop at By George – it's the Barney's of Austin.

    Have a fantastic time!

  24. I've seen Charleston on HGTV. Some of the old homes are spectacular beyond belief. the craftsmanship probably could not be duplicated even if you had the money.

    IRT to the 'textbook' reply, my 'textbook' reply is to throw out the textbook. As a guy, I never burden anyone with my feelings. So I am not naturally acclimated towards having people share their feelings with me (though I'm told I'm a good listener). With my wife, I try a middle ground approach. I don't want to deal with work, the commute, the office politics, and then come home every day to hear her complain about the same things. I just don't understand the need to complain about the same problems that virtually everyone in the world has.

    But I do understand that I should be able to listen occasionally. Could the problem be one of over-burdening the suitor? Also, you mention he feels guilty, even if it is not intended. This might be a Mars/Venus thing. Since we don't share, if someone comes to us with a problem, it is because they want us to fix it. And if we can't fix it, we feel guilty. I have this same issue with my wife, so I don't think it's that unusual. It might not be you or him, it might just be the wiring, and that you cannot change.

  25. oh … no…
    I have the same problem – not at the moment, because I am single. but… generally… and I hate it. and I'm afraid there is no solution for it.

  26. My sister Lea went to College of Charleston, so I've visited and LOVED it there. We'd probably look in Mt. Pleasant for a home, though. Lea lived on King Street (now she's in MONTANA eating meat sundaes). I loved the market, the sweet tea, how everyone said hello. Magnolia's. Blossom's. Dueling piano bar. What I didn't love were the enormous "palmetto bugs" aka ROACHES. Nasty. "Yeah, but it's the low country, Steph."

    "Yeah, I so don't care. It's just gross."

  27. Some things you do have to just let go. There's no crime in having an unexpressed feeling, emotion, or thought; sometimes these things are best left unexpressed. ;) But if you are getting hesitant about expressing ANY feeling, thought or emotion, then step back for a moment and see if you can figure out why. If he's saying "manipulative", check your retort for a second – why did you say that in the first place, and ask why he sees it that way? It can be a hard discussion to have; it can be a very emotional thing to discuss.

    It might not be you here; everyone has his or her own issues and emotionally "safe" fallbacks, and when these things are questioned in any way ~ like, we're buying a house together! Big step! or, Can I live with this person and still love them? Big question! … the reaction can't be anticipated. Some people shut down or shut off the discussion, some act out. You don't know until you have many big talks about it.

    IMO, not always saying what you think or feel is not necessarily being untrue to yourself. Biting your tongue once in a while ~ and then LETTING IT GO, not letting That Time I Had To Bite My Tongue Because You Said This Or That And It Was Six Weeks Ago And I'm Still Pissed Off stew inside your brain… well, let's just say that not everything is worth a conflict. … (disclaimer) It goes both ways; you shouldn't always be the only one checking your comments.

    Did that make any sense? You have to figure out if you can live with his faults – and he has to do the same thing. But it has to be discussed. Not all at once, and as best you can, without labeling it negatively… which is hard, because lots of times you plain can't see another side to what's being said. Which is where friends come in handy. :)

    Good luck.
    sarah g

  28. Please don't move to Charleston – there are more than enough JAPS there already. But if you insist, I'd wait till you're married – the girls in Charleston tend to be very pretty and very thin.

  29. I went to Charleston and loved it, but was there as a visitor and not looking with a permanent eye. Living in Vegas is exciting and warm, but not green..San Francisco is like Manhattan lite..I miss NY but don't want to give up having a house..I'm now thinking Austin, and was planning to go in August for a real look. I'm wondering if it has enough of an "edge". I'll be looking forward to your opinion of the place.

  30. Stephanie,
    Which room in the house-hunting process is the most important room to consider, you think? I would go with the Kitchen, and I wonder if you feel the same!

  31. mystery girl,

    You named some nice spots in Austin. I grew up there when Liberty Lunch was the place to see up and coming bands for cheap. oh and GM steakhouse… what fun.

    Stephanie, go to Austin and you won't want to leave because it has style. I've been to Charleston too and it's cute but real life is in Austin. You can play tennis all year long… as my father does 6 days a week. In Austin, you can do a variety of sports. Get a boat, a house on lake travis (like Lance), and sail, dock, and order at the many restaurants.

    Go to Chuy's to eat some tex mex food with a rita. If you are there on a Monday, go to Hut's to get a 2 for 1 burger special. Go get coffee at Texas French Bread on Guad-a-lupe. You pronounce the G. You are able to get real authentic mexican food and the tex mex, whitey stuff (which I love too).
    Whatever you do in Austin, make sure its austin stuff and not stuff that you can get in NYC because you will only compare. I do this now that I'm in California and I miss Austin every day.

  32. I'm bored too and would love to just give up everything and move to a new place. But alas, I cannot, but thankfully I can live vicariously through you.

  33. Stephanie,

    I felt your words today. I think we all do that a little. Move from being selfish to respectful and hate the conflict speaking up would bring. As women we try to fix things one verb at a time. Sharing and opening the jest of our own doubts, we believe, can be taken out of context putting us exactly where we didn't want to be in the first place.

    Or something like that.

    Austin is a great city and right next door to Houston where I am. if you have any questions about it let me know.

    Charleston is a beautiful city. I almost ended up at the College of Charleston myself. I want to retire there and snuggle up on the big swings that sway out over the ocean and drink sweet tea with mint.

    Enjoy your stay in Austin.

  34. mystery girl knows what she's talking about, Stephanie. you should definitely hit saxon pub for the resentments.

    as for whole foods … my roommate got me hooked on Cheesy Sundays. we're trying a different, way-too-expensive cheese every week. it'd take about two years to get through them all – maybe longer. take phil, grab a baguette and a few kinds of cheese, and enjoy them on the upstairs outdoor patio. take in a view of downtown austin while you munch.

  35. Stephanie, if you're bored, might I suggest doing some volunteer work? You may already be involved in some way, but if not, I recommend volunteering for many reasons:
    1) it will show you a piece of life from a different perspective – may provide inspiration for new writing/photography…
    2) you won't be bored
    3) you'll be helping someone else to whom life has not been as kind
    4)if your boredom is caused in part by your flexible work schedule, regularly scheduled volunteering can offer you a little (but not too much)routine
    5)you can wear underwear or not – your call.


  36. Try Marin County in California – just over the Golden Gate Bridge. You have everything at your fingertips – the mountains and the beaches – close to Napa and Tahoe for weekend getaways and San Francisco when you need a fix for 'culture'. I grew up there and would highly recommend it. It's a truly beautiful place.

  37. Thanks Sarah. I do volunteer, and while it does pass the time, it doesn't cure boredom, though it does feel good. I think we try to "cure" boredom instead of just sitting with it most of the times to listen to what we hear when we sit still. This wasn't the case last night, but I totally agree that volunteering can add such wonderful meaning into our lives.

  38. PLD,

    If you're talking about Magnolia's in Austin, it is very much alive and kicking. I know of at least two locations, and there may be a third.

    Magnolia's still has its priceless sign outside the S. Congress location:

    "Sorry, we're open."

  39. Stephanie:

    My husband and I moved to Portland, Oregon from New York City a year and a half ago. Right after we got married. The straight poop: We owned a one-bedroom in the West Village. On Bedford. We sold it, scored, and moved here to a TOTALLY CUTE, Americana street and a 2500 sq-foot home built in 1929 with fab details for less than what we sold our apartment for. It's a beautiful city, the beach is an hour away and skiing is an hour away, you can see mt. hood wherever you are. There is no sales tax. The people are freaking nice (almost too nice. They won't shut up). The problems: Hippies and hipsters. Rain. People who talk too much (as in, tell you about their diarrhea at the cash register). Bad drivers. Less-than-fabulous shopping (but getting better). But we're getting used to it. The quality of life is fantastic. You can buy an enormous mansion with a beautiful view for 6-700 grand. There are tons of New Yorkers here. You can hop a flight to San Francisco or LA for sun (or go to Bend, down south) for pennies.

    I have LOTS to say about a boy who calls you manipulative. But I think I'll email you on that one.

  40. Steph – move to Chicago! It's still a big city, but the real estate's better than NY…incredible food & music…and the lake would provide many photo ops. I've lived here for about 5 yrs and love it. Haven't gotten bored yet, there's always new restaurants to try, new places to go.

  41. Why are you crying? Relationships take work. THEY TAKE WORK. It's not you, it's not him. You're both obviously intelligent people; you don't have to worry about money (really); you have a move and a baby and your book and your whole life ahead of you. Stephanie, I'm sure you don't like me and don't care about what I have to say, but take it from a woman who is still overcoming myriad issues while making her marriage work- it is never easy. Why should it be easy? It's wonderful, painful, beautiful struggle. But it is a struggle.
    I think what people (including yours truly) find hard to stomach about your blog is the utter lack of perspective. Maybe it's the medium- maybe there's nothing to be done. But when you juxtapose a well-written couple of entries about your engagement and pregnancy and the loss of that pregnancy, with whiny posts about how you weigh (gasp) 136 pounds, the whole enterprise comes off as disingenuous. Ditto this post. Like I said, maybe there's nothing to be done. Every person goes through hundreds of moods in a week- but what's very telling is the particular moods you choose to share with us, and the order you choose to post them in.
    Maybe your book will be better, because at least there'll be a coherent narrative and a literary arc. Here's hoping.

  42. Hi Noisette. You know what? This blog is not a literary mainstay. You are right about the medium. It is a blog, which is a web log, which is a diary. It's not SUPPOSED To have arcs. It is supposed to whine. It's…um…personal.

    The cool thing about reading things that bug you is you get to not read them anymore. If it really bugs you, then maybe write like a critical essay for the New York Times Opinion page. That way, you can really effect change and you know, get a clip for your book or something. Complaining here is wasting time. If you're going to throw a stone, why not REALLY throw one?

    I think you suck. Go away.

  43. "…and wonder why I feel so much."

    Dangerous territory here. Let me give it a try: uh, you feel so much because you're human? But your formulation worries me because it teeters dangerously on the brink of implying that you feel more than other people do.

    I'm trying to say this constructively, but…er…maybe concentrating more on what other people are feeling would help? would get you out of your head when you get in a funk like this?

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