Sunday, January 13, 2008

First, before I launch into this - once again - negative post, let me say that I am a little horrified by myself. As I noted in the comments to the below post, I have felt pretty self-conscious about being a mess, in this forum. R always used to tell me how together and even-keeled and "well-adjusted" I was...(She noted this because it made her feel like a fuck-up.) Well, ever since about six months into this blog adventure, life has been pretty damn up and down for me. So you all have had to witness this months-long sense of crisis. Since it's come to a head, lately (witness the continued - but not so acute - crying jags on the street on Friday and Saturday), I feel some hope that things will get better...I am doing "all the right things," as my friend M told me today. Therapy, socializing, etc. I'll get through it. And more importantly, figure out some really crucial...stuff. I just worry that I seem endlessly in a mess...that's embarrassing, frankly.


Anyway, so here's some bitching of the non-existential variety. I just need to vent about it.

I have a friend here in Scary City, F, with whom I was "set up" by a friend from Home City/Dream Uni. F and I see each other every few weeks...usually - like today - we go for a long walk.

On the second occasion that F and I socialized, I invited F in for dinner after our walk. While I got dinner together, she perused my bookshelves, calling book-related observations to me from the living room. When I emerged from the kitchen, I discovered that she had a rapidly growing pile of my fiction books at her side. She asked me about several author collections I have..."What is your favourite of A.S. Byatt's novels?" she asked. I would tell her, and stare as she pulled out all of those favourites and added them to the pile. Note that she hadn't said anything about what she was making the pile for. After she had a pile of at least eight books, she asked, "Can I borrow these?" I was a little taken aback - don't you ask before you start pulling books off the shelf? And why were there 8-10 novels?

So I sent her off that night with a collection of the books that are most important to me. Feeling bugged, but not wanting to admit it to myself. I mean, sharing books is the right thing to do, of course. Why should I hog my books? It's not like they're rare editions, or anything.

The next time I saw her, 3-4 weeks later, I asked her how the novels were going. "Oh, she laughed, "I haven't had any time for those! Maybe I'll get to them at Christmas!" More irritation - why take 8+ books from somebody if they're just going to sit there for months? This was October. But I've tried to be bigger than that feeling. I know how selfish and unnecessary it is.

Flash forward to today. Early in our walk, she told me she'd spent all of yesterday holed up with a great novel...not one of the ones she's borrowed from me. What's more, she is currently packing to move, and so my books are being just packed up in her stuff, unread.

I can't tell you how much this pisses me off. Yes, I'm selfish, yes, it's petty, but these are some of my favourite novels! And yet, I find it really hard to address this. We're not close enough, I feel, to weather the awkwardness that would ensue if I brought it up. I've long since resigned myself to simply asking for my books back, just as "naturally" as can be, when I move away from Scary City, whenever that is. As if I hadn't been obsessing about them for the last number of months.



Psychgrad said...

Ugh...yeah - that would annoy me. I think you should just be upfront with her and say that since she's moving, you would feel more comfortable to hold your books until she's relocated. I don't think it's unrealistic - particularly since things have a tendency to get lost/damaged during a move. You might also ask that she take one book at a time. If you just ask for your books back during the move, you can probably deal with her taking one book at a time later. There's no reason for her to take eight, particularly if she's not the type to read a book a night.

The way she dealt with borrowing your books makes it seem like she's a pretty aggressive person. I have a friend like that. I find the best way to deal with aggressive people is to bump up my own assertiveness. Otherwise I get walked on and end up feeling resentful.

Maggie said...

Oh wow, this would piss me off so much, and then I would feel extremely guilty for being as pissed as I was.

I try not to get too attached to many "things," but books? Books are things I get quite attached to.

I agree with psychgrad's suggestion: be upfront.

Maude Lebowski said...

ditto to maggie and psychgrad! from a practical point, if those should get lost or damaged during a move, it would probably cost you at least $100 to replace your favorite books. secondly, you have every right to be pissed and to not feel guilty about being pissed! and if you feel guilty about asking for them back while she moves, you can totally be like, "well, it's silly for you to have to move my stuff, too" or "i don't want you to have to worry about them and they'll be waiting for you at my house when you're settled in" or something like that. you have the perfect opportunity to get them back. or say something like you need them for your classes that you're teaching. would she know?

that being said, i would have done the same thing in this situation and would be "obsessing about them for the last number of months" myself. argh. good luck.

dbm/gaa said...

That would piss me off too! Borrowing one book is reasonable, eight is not, and assuming that one could borrow them by making a pile is just cheek. Ask for them back so that they don't get mixed up with her stuff in the move.

Now, about being an emotional wreck or whatever. Everyone is allowed a few meltdowns in life, and you've had some major shit to deal with lately so cut yourself some slack. You are doing remarkably well for someone who has had relationship stress, a new job and moved across the country this year!

heu mihi said...

And books also have a way of never getting back to their owners. I agree with the others--just ask for them back now (if she hasn't already packed them up). She's being ridiculous and you are ENTIRELY in the right!

(How's that for affirmation, eh?)

Hilaire said...

Unfortunately she's packed them up already, I think...we went to her apartment on our walk last night, to pick up something, and I quickly scanned, and I think they're already in the many boxes that are packed up. I should address it, though - why does this have to be so awkward???

And Maggie, yes - books are important thiings. I actually don't have many "things" at all that matter in any real way to me, besides pieces of art. I don't have any - any - knick knacks, really. Books are the one (techically) "superfluous" object I hoard. Hence the upset.

Dr. Bad Ass said...

Absolutely tell her you want them back. Even if she is not able to get them to you right away, she needs to know that those books are important to you. If she is your friend, she will want to do what she can to get your possessions back to you.