html xmlns="" xml:lang="en" lang="en"> From the archives: Someone to watch over me.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Someone to watch over me.

I’ve had this same crush for a long time now. It isn’t a satisfying crush, because he knew about it and made choices that aren’t me. It isn’t even erotic anymore, ‘cause it has been too long since there was anything new to feed that. No. This crush just hangs out at the base of my throat and aches a little, all the time. I’ve tried to manage it, because that is my responsibility. I act like I would if it weren’t there. I make sure I do things that bring me extra joy and laughter, to override small painful twinges. I’ve tried to release him lots of times, send him out into the world with my affection and good wishes, get him the fuck out of my chest. It doesn’t work though. He is still the watcher in my head.

Chris does this utterly maddening thing, and he does it often enough that now I do it my ownself. I’ll come to him, hurt over something, a crush that won’t go away. "Right," he’ll say. "What do you get out of making it that way?" I used to do the step where I explained that I didn’t want that way, and I was trying so hard to change it and I couldn’t help it and it wasn’t like I liked being all sad about it. But now we skip straight to his question. What do I get out of a neverending crush?

I think what I get out of a crush is someone I can report to, someone who might care that I went for a run instead of sitting on my couch hitting Reload. (Well, he’ll care when he finally comes to his senses and realizes what a precious jewel I am.) As long as I have a crush, there’s someone who could hypothetically notice that I made especially good oatmeal this morning. Ali could notice, because she’s eating the other bowl of it, but I think it has to be a boy who notices. I don’t know if I need that function more than other people do, but I seem to need it so much that I’ve even put you guys into that mode.

Maybe the alternative to this crush is not having a crush. Maybe not having a crush is even worse. Maybe if I don’t have an imaginary voice to care that I am trying hard and doing neat things and being a better me, then no one would care. I mean, my family and friends might notice, but they’ll just love and approve of me whether I sit around like a slob in filth or go outside and plant my garden. So that doesn’t help. I don’t care, because I know I can make yummy gratins, so making the next one doesn’t impress me. So I have this need for approval by someone it might matter to and I guess that has to be a boy. I’ll probably have this crush until I don’t need that kind of approval or I find another boy to foist it on.


Blogger Jens Fiederer said...

> I think what I get out of a crush
> is someone I can report to, someone
> who might care that I went for a
> run instead of sitting on my couch
> hitting Reload.

No, that is not what you get out of having a crush. A crush might or might not give a damn about your existence. If you have a crush on somebody who cares about you, you are getting that out of his care, not your crush.

It is, however, what you get out of having a stalker.

12:05 PM  
Blogger Erik said...

I would never have put it that way myself, but I think you are exactly right. Having a crush helps a person stay clean, and hygienic, and fit, and interesting when it's easier to be lazy and let things slide.

12:30 PM  
Blogger billoo said...

Megan, my heart sinks a bit when I read your unbearably sad posts-writings like this. Hey, what happened to fun-Megan?

2:01 PM  
Blogger Megan said...

I'm not always fun-Megan.

2:13 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yup - and ouch. For a long time I really grooved on having this phantom watcher - it did for me exactly what Erik says it does. Eventually, though, I realized that it was a way of not being present and in my own head - which is ultimately not good for me. It's been a long time since I've had a crush on anyone and I damn! I miss it, but I'm also a little afraid that it's like an addiction and if I let myself go there again, I'll immediately jump to the passed-out-on-the-floor-cuddling-a-vodka-bottle phase. I also suspect that the crush thing has gotten in the way of a real relationship developing a few times because the high of a crush is preferable to the gritty work of making a real relationship.

2:38 PM  
Blogger grant said...

This is one of those posts that makes me realize I might actually be from this planet after all. Or that I need to invent a better tin-foil hat to block the thought reading satellites, because that's the exact way a crush works for me.

I've learned to use a crush as fuel without feeling bad about it, most of the time.

2:49 PM  
Blogger Megan said...

But I kept my crushes on the boys I dated for real. I still wanted my ex to pay attention, even when we'd been dating for years. I guess I don't think there's much of a conflict between a crush and a relationship, except that you're getting real feedback when you're in a relationship.

I am gonna think hard about the concept that it is a way to avoid being present.

2:50 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The permacrush and the internets-surrogate-permacrush. Sounds painful (despite megan's post yesterday I'm not saying whether or not I empathize from experience)

How many long term relationships succeed that don't start with crushes?
Not that I'm trying to justify the permacrush ...

3:33 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I see a crush as hope. and hope keeps the reflex to get out of bed solid.

3:42 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I sometimes miss having crushes that make me ache. I guess the older I've gotten the less they've afflicted me. But that's for the good considering I had a HUGE crush on a girl in high school for all four years, but was too shy to do anything about it. Not healthy. But I agree, crushes can be a decent source of fuel.

3:44 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Maybe the solution is to still have something like a crush, but not focused on a real person. You have to believe there's someone out there who will fill the empty spot in your life, just that you haven't found out who that person is yet. But in the meantime you still get up and do interesting things for him/her, the same way you would if you had a crush. (I dunno if this makes sense, but it does make me feel better sometimes.)

4:11 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hmm, the last time I had a crush on someone all it inspired me to do is spend as much time as possible around her.

It certainly didn't get me to go spend more time at the gym, or hiking, or camping, or anything worthwhile.

If anything it made me lazier.

And, as far as people really caring what you're doing, good luck. Maybe for tangible things, like, you made good oatmeal. But, for the real things you do, the ones that take a lot more effort and work on your part. Unless you're an artist, or a writer, no one is ever going to care what you do really.

No one has ever cared about any amazing piece of software I've ever written. Not even the people who use it. No one cares about how it works, or what problems I had to solve to get there. No one cares, let alone understands, or wants to have a conversation about it. And that's just how life works. Your biggest accomplishments in life you're going to be completely alone with.


4:27 PM  
Blogger Megan said...

You don't have to tell us whether you empathize. We know.

Mr. Huston,
You can just go ahead and admit that was me.

That doesn't seem to do the trick for me.

Thanks, sunshine. (smiling)

4:33 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sorry, but I've said it before, this is a reason to have kids, so you have someone you can force all this worthless information on no one else cares about.

And, you know it's true. You know you've worked on things day and night to figure something out, or solve something, or just did some huge project, and in the end the best you can hope for is someone to notice that you even did it.


4:54 PM  
Blogger Megan said...

TonyT got uncharacteristically shy and sent me this, which is right on.

Don't know why he didn't post it here.

4:55 PM  
Blogger Megan said...

I must work in more accessible media than you do. Or I've been very lucky. But usually when I do good work, someone notices. I couldn't look at your code and tell you whether you did an elegant or a barely functional job.

5:01 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Justin -- no one cares about your successes in life? Your co-workers don't care when you do good work? Sounds depressing. I sense a "Wonderful Life" type possibility here.

Does anyone think that crushes can make you unavailable for new possibilities? I sort of feel that way.

As I've gotten older I've gotten much less vulnerable to crushes. I see them as part of the fantasy dimension of love...not that they aren't real in that way...romantic fantasies are the kind that can change the world...but I've gotten pretty realistic about romance as I've gotten older and experienced it from different sides. I don't know whether that's good or bad; love may need fantasy as fuel. So much of it is projection anyway. But maybe there's an older, wiser sort of love.


5:13 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

And I agree with Megan that people notice at work. When I came back from a good public presentation last week I got like a half a dozen high fives and slaps on the back. Maybe you need more tactile co-workers, Justin.

5:15 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sure, people might notice that you finished. But, the effort that went into it, people don't care.

No one cares whether or not you did it well either, as long as it's functional.

No one will ever look at your design, unless they have to. No one will ever even want to hear about it. That's always been my experience.

A lot of the computer industry is built on the half-assed, get it done as fast as possible, screw what it means for the future, approach.

But, none of that is really my point. The things I do that I think are really neat, no one else would ever care to understand. People are happy that I write the tools I do, but the details, the part I actually care about, no one else does.

The earliest example I can think of, in college I played in this AI competition. We had to write a program that could play a game, and then we'd all get together and run our AI programs against each other.

Mine went undefeated in the tournament, so I won. And, sure people were like, wow, congratulations. But, no one cared how. No one ever asked to see the code, or for me to explain the architecture, or anything.

The competition was for an internship at some company, that I didn't end up taking. But, the people from the company who set up the competition never even asked, and you'd think they'd have some interest, since I could have taken a job with them.

That's what I've always found. People understand the need for having the tool, but most people around don't understand the tool at all, even the basics of how to run it, or how to read the output. So, they really don't care about the details of how you managed to put the thing together, and solve all the technical problems, and design the thing, and leave it open for maintenance, and upgradability.

And, I'm certainly not alone in this. I know people come up to me from time to time after doing something they're especially proud of to tell me all about it, and I listen, but they know I don't get it.

It's just the way this kind of technical stuff works.


5:52 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Justin it sounds like you're the kind of guy that puts in the effort so the software *just works* (which is an extremely complimentary statement in the software industry for those that aren't) which means that these people don't have to ask or worry. And in an over complicated world, one less thing to worry about...golden. So perhaps you could try to take some satisfaction out of their not caring. Though I know that doesn't fulfill the desire to share what you find interesting about it.

Megan, do your crushes notice the things you do because you focus your efforts on doing things for them or being around them? Or is it just that you notice them noticing more because you have a crush on them?

6:05 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"I think what I get out of a crush is someone I can report to, someone who might care that I went for a run instead of sitting on my couch hitting Reload."

This sounds like the typically female notion that relationships/closeness is best measured by boring talk. "Who else can I tell i got a great deal on toiletpaper!?!'

I totally got a crush on the intern in the office i started at yesterday. THe annoying things is sheh hasn't done ANYthing annoying, and has no physical flaws. Thats usually how i fixate to de-crush. ANd i don't want to flirt in an office. Disaster Meg Robinson. Crushes ar ethe worst; they're hookups that have been derailed into mere thought. Maybe thats just what the 'man' thinks, since not making a move is deadly and all my fault.

6:17 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm going to guess its a particualrly american preoccupation with wanting validation for one's occupation. Maybe this is because in better places work itself is respected, not just the $$$ you make. Perhaps i've psent too much of my precious youth listening to Billy Bragg instead of reading my casebooks.

6:41 PM  
Blogger Mark said...

Yep, it all resonates with me, as does the concept of needing a muse. I think it depends upon personality. I've got very little ambition on my own behalf, but great motivation to help my Loved Ones achieve what they want.

I'm one of the ones who need a muse. Just thinking "she would think this was good of me" gives me what I need.

7:01 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

No one has ever cared about any amazing piece of software I've ever written. Not even the people who use it. No one cares about how it works, or what problems I had to solve to get there. No one cares, let alone understands, or wants to have a conversation about it. And that's just how life works. Your biggest accomplishments in life you're going to be completely alone with.

One of the neat things about open source software is the community discussion that happens. When someone posts a patch, or a design for some new feature, there is often substantial discussion about the pros and cons of the work and of alternative approaches. And getting something included is a nice bit of validation because it's (almost) purely about the quality of the work, and because it comes from people who really know what's up.

7:59 PM  
Blogger Dubin said...

This doesn't make my heart sink. This is normal. Imagine what you would feel like if you didn't have crushes? As much as I love Chris, I hate when people say therapisty things to me like, "what do you get out of blah blah?" The answer is, you get to feel like a human being! Even if it's painful.

There are both good and bad things about being out of the crush phase and into the married phase, by the way. Sometimes you miss the concept because of the way that a crush could make you feel like writing songs and making movies...

8:39 PM  
Blogger Justin said...

I'm not going to argue this point, and I know a lot of people are in love with open source software.

But, the open source software I've seen/worked on is some of the worst written garbage I've ever encountered. Including the GNU development tools, assembler and compiler. I've worked on both at various points.

Ok, it's not the ABSOLUTE worst I've seen. I worked somewhere once where it wasn't uncommon to write an entire app as a single 10k-20k line long function, with a lot of internal gotos and whatnot. That was in C++. They did manage to wrap the 1 function into a class, so at least it was OO, I guess.

I am a fan of the boost library, though the code itself isn't that clean, the libraries are nice.

And, yes, I do use linux and I do like getting software for free, and the Open Source stuff does tend to generally work, that doesn't mean it's well written. The app as a 20k line long funtion worked too.


10:51 PM  
Blogger billoo said...

Dubin, isn't it normal for the heart to sink? Isn't it normal that life revolves around absences, things unsaid?

"Two tragedies in life" -and this applies to crushes as well methinks-"to lose one's heart's desire, to gain one's heart's desire".

10:55 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think humans are just helplessly social creatures, at least most of us, most of the time. We instinctively want some other person or people to look to for affirmation. That can make us sad sometimes, when we don't have those people, or they don't give it, but it can be motivating and inspiring, too. And when you have that person, and they do notice and appreciate you, that can be pretty darn awesome -- so, really, it's a good thing, that this post is about wanting.

11:34 PM  
Blogger Noel said...

Justin, congratulations on getting an account. Also, you work in a sucky company; it isn't like that everywhere. I've worked at a lot of crap places, but I eventually found a good one. I was beginning to think they didn't exist. They do, but they are rare.

9:46 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

See why I feel like any discussion is incomplete until I know what Justin has to contribute?

10:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Actually, I'm pretty happy with where I work now. My manager now is a big fan of doing things right up front to save maintenance time in the future.

And, we're encouraged to make neat little tools that can be useful for future projects.

Anyway, no one really got the point I was trying to make. I'm bad at explaining things. Oh well.

Oh, and I've always had a google account, google just finally unified the logins. But, you still have to type the verification text, even if you're logged in, so what's the point?


10:50 AM  
Blogger Megan said...

Justin, the explanation you sent me was beautiful. Can I post it?

11:02 AM  
Blogger Megan said...

I'm one of the ones who need a muse. Just thinking "she would think this was good of me" gives me what I need.

Yeah, like that.

11:14 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I guess, if you really want to. It turned out to be obnoxiously long.


12:15 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

But, the open source software I've seen/worked on is some of the worst written garbage I've ever encountered. Including the GNU development tools, assembler and compiler. I've worked on both at various points.

The point that I was trying to make was not about the quality of the software, but about the quality of the discussion about the software. You could argue that those two things are linked, but that's a whole separate discussion.

Of course, some people writing proprietary software have a strong culture of internal review, but in my experience the discussion side of things is a much bigger deal in the open source community.

And that's why the open source comment was on-topic: in that area the way things get done involves other people knowing about what you've done. Which, in my opinion, is pretty cool.

1:24 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Errrr. I HATE crushes, hate, hate, HATE them. They are the worst. Because nothing ever happens. And it sucks. Because all you want sometimes is that crush to be realized! Oh, GRR! I hate them!

3:14 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

The best cure for unrequited crushes is a requited one. Develop many crushes on many men and at least one of them will probably work out.

9:33 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

title - art tatum reference?

subject - show me you can do this and i'll have the courage to face a lifetime.

7:49 AM  
Blogger Megan said...

Qui Tacet,

Do what, shug?

9:23 AM  
Blogger Liz said...

Ok, I've never had a crush like that on a person... But when you wrote about it so clearly, I realized that I've had the same sort of feelings for a lifestyle. Does that make sense? When I was married, I longed, oh so much, for a comfortable family life with a house and friends and all the trimmings. But I was with a guy who regularly emptied our savings account to go drinking with his buddies (and, eventually, girlfriend).

I was doign all the steps I needed to do to have that life. But I was in the wrong place and around the wrong people to have it. So I think having that crush helped me hang on to the things that were really important to the real me. And reminded me, subtly, that I'd gotten off track. Once we divorced, I realized that for right now, I would actually be pretty bored with that particular life. I'm not quite ready to settle down. So the longing has gone. But the ideas that crush raised in my head are still there... And, of coure, I've replaced the old crush with a new crush on a non-law-related life, for the rest of law school.

Does that make sense?

10:48 AM  

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