Friday evening was actually fairly pleasant with Shobhit -- a refreshing change from some relatively dire places our relationship has gone into recently. He had to work most of the day on Saturday, which would normally be when we did all our grocery shopping since I got paid on Friday; instead, we did our grocery shopping right after I got home from work.
And he went to a job fair that afternoon in Pioneer Square, which he took the bus to, so I took the car and drove down to pick him up there. From there we went down to Costco, then, since we were on that side of town, we did our PCC shopping this time at the Columbia City store. Shobhit had a Groupon for a dinner for two at an Italian Place on Beacon Hill called Café Bengodi, which he had transferred funds to when a Groupon for a bar with a kitchen that closed on Capitol Hill was rendered moot. (Side note: Shobhit often says "mute" when he means "moot," which is adorable. "The point is mute.") The Groupon said reservations were required, so I called to make a 7:45 reservation at about 6:45, as we were driving from Costco to the PCC.
Once we got to the restaurant, it was hardly busy -- no reservation had been necessary. The host who sat us, and also served us, felt like he was new. If he wasn't new then he needs to get his shit together. He was a nice, very young man, but not quite as attentive as he could have been, especially on an evening that wasn't even that busy and there was another server working.
The food was worth it, though -- especially for the deal we had. The Groupon value was $69 and the paid value was $36 -- 48% off. They only charged us tax (on a check showing a value of $65, rather than the $69 shown on the Groupon -- which the waiter never tapped to redeem actually), and I paid that and the tip, so what I paid was $16. For this we got one starter, two entrees, two glasses of wine, and a dessert. Shobhit calculated the menu values of all six items and it actually came up to slightly less than $65, but whatever. I don't like wine so Shobhit had both glasses and I became the designated driver. He was super impressed with the risotto dish, which surprised me as I found it relatively bland -- but, Shobhit asked if they had gnocchi even though it was not listed on the menu, and they did, and the gnocchi dish we shared was phenomenal.
We sat next to the window and Shobhit commented on how different the neighborhood felt on Beacon Hill as compared to Capitol Hill -- it feels much flatter, even though we were on top of one of Seattle's several huge hills. As a matter of fact, Light Rail cuts a tunnel straight through this hill, and its station was on the other side of the very block where we were eating. But, the difference is that on Capitol Hill, the neighborhood is now packed with residential buildings between five and seven stories tall, some even taller; and downtown's skyscrapers are a looming presence only one neighborhood over. We couldn't see any of that stuff from our restaurant window on Beacon Hill, which sort of made it feel like we were out in the suburbs. It was comparatively dark and very quiet.
I was pretty sure this was the first time we ever had dinner at a sit-down restaurant on Beacon Hill, as a matter of fact.
I spent a lot of time reading my library book on Saturday while Shobhit was working his two shifts, which ended at 5 pm. In the meantime, I was either reading, or chatting with Ivan, or taking myself to the first showing at 11:40 of the movie The Tiger Hunter at the Meridian downtown. I thought about seeing if Shobhit wanted to see it with me, given its very Indian story, but decided against it. It would just remind him of the very kind of lead role that could have been perfect for him. Danny Puri does look young for his age, which is 38; Shobhit is 43, so, a five-year difference. The lead was clearly meant to be seen as in his early thirties at best, and Danny Puri could easily pass. Shobhit likely would not have gotten cast in that role for that reason alone -- but the guy who plays his roommate, I think Shobhit could easily have done well in.
I have no idea where the casting for that film even occurred though. It was set in both India and Chicago (not sure what the South Asian connection to Chicago is lately -- The Big Sick was also set there); I don't really know where it was actually shot. It was very much an indie movie and could easily have been shot somewhere besides Chicago or Los Angeles. Still, I think seeing a movie with all these South Asian actors might have just bummed Shobhit out.
So I came home and wrote the review, which I did surprisingly quickly, in about half an hour. So then Ivan and I watched my Blu-Ray copy of Life of Pi -- I could not find any record in my journal of ever having watched it since I bought it; I think this may have been my first viewing since I last saw it in the theatre in 2013. I did see it three times in the theatre, though. Anyway, Ivan had just happened to mention this would be his next Netflix movie, clearly insinuating that perhaps I would watch it with him, and I was like, "I love that movie -- and I own it!" He was expecting it to come in the mail Saturday but it didn't; that was fine because I still had my copy for us to watch.
He had seen it before too and apparently wanted to see it again. Although this was yet another movie that, even though he was the one who wanted to watch it, he spent most of the time looking at his phone. I could understand how, say, Let Me In wasn't exciting enough for him, but Life of Pi? That movie is a thrill and a half -- not boring in the least. I don't get it. Maybe his attention span just works on a pendulum depending on the day, I don't know.
Shobhit was home not long after that, and here we get into yet another one of our stunningly stupid arguments. I don't know what the fuck is up with his memory lately: we had a conversation on Friday about what we would do for dinner on Saturday, and I said to him that I would make us veggie burgers. I know he heard me say this because he said, "Okay." When he got home he said he was in the mood for something else, and professed no memory of this conversation. But, he ate the veggie burger I had prepared for him anyway.
But, he also decided to make pakoras, and out of nowhere, he saw the spice jar of "Pork Garlic Pepper" on the counter -- and flipped out. Literally out of nowhere, he started yelling at me about this, that he didn't want any meat things in our kitchen.
Again, a memory problem. I brought that sample from work home weeks ago, and I showed it to him literally moments after walking in the door. It was part of The Spice Hunter brand's "Grill Shakers" line: Pork Garlic Pepper. Do you think I would ever bring it home if it actually had pork in it? Shobhit insists I once brought home a similar product with bacon in the name and it turned out to have bacon in it. Now I'm the one who can't remember that; maybe I did. This is still different: I read over the ingredients like five times to be sure before I brought it home. How about we review right now? These are literally the ingredients:
Garlic, sea salt, onion, black pepper, chile pepper, parsley, brown sugar, celery seed, citric acid
Raise your hand if you see anything even remotely resembling any kind of meat among those items! Anyone?
And by the way, on the very day I first brought that spice bottle home, I showed Shobhit the bottle, so he could read the ingredients for himself. On that day, he did not flip out.
For some reason, though, on Saturday night he saw that bottle and pitched a fit, only because it had the word "pork" on the label. He even said, "Don't bring anything home with meat in the name!" I was like, fuck that -- I'm not going to adhere to such an objectively preposterous demand. I explained to him multiple times that this did not have pork in it, it was simply designed as a seasoning for pork -- but also, it's just garlic pepper. Who doesn't like garlic pepper? Why wouldn't I want to take a free sample of it? He's the one who wants free shit all the time, for fuck's sake. As part of our initial argument about this, because of his truly irrational behavior, I said, "You're being legitimately insane right now." I guess that's not the most constructive thing to say in the moment, but I had no idea what else I could say that would reach him in any way.
But this wasn't the end, or the worst, of it. This initial exchange completely altered my mood -- and, okay, I have to take responsibility for that. I had come into the kitchen to help him fry the pakoras -- chopped vegetables dipped in batter and put into a wok full of boiling oil to deep fry -- and I was being rather quiet. And Shobhit had the nerve to say to me, "Why are you angry?"
Are you fucking kidding me? This -- this right here is the fundamental problem between him and me right now. He engages in behavior that ranges from insensitive to spiteful, refuses to acknowledge that he's behaving poorly, and then has the nerve to act as though he has no idea why I'm upset. When this shit happens it drives me fucking insane, and this time I was the one who snapped. I told him he was being an idiot. "First you're insane and now you're an idiot!" I said.
Shobhit did not take well to this. "You're an idiot, calling me an idiot!" he said. Okay, in this case he had a fair point. I did concede to him later that my responding with hostility was unconstructive -- but it did all begin with his completely pointless, out of nowhere hostility, over a fucking spice jar. I often think about Shobhit's and Gabriel's arguments and how hostility breeds hostility, but it only takes one person to break the cycle, which neither of them ever want to do -- and here I was falling into the same trap, which I must admit I do often with Shobhit. This is part of why I keep thinking about getting a therapist of my own, even if Shobhit refuses to come with me to one (which would absolutely be far more helpful, but honestly Shobhit has zero interest in being helpful when it comes to this -- his all-or-nothing approach seems to regard the only two options as either me just falling in line to his irrational demands, which is never going to happen, or just giving up altogether). I need an objective third party to help me figure out how to communicate effectively with someone who seems occasionally unhinged -- or finding out if it's even possible. I feel like Shobhit and I long ago hit a wall with our communication skills. He's only ever been interested in my not being upset, and never had any interest in addressing why I'm upset. This is not at all a sustainable long-term way of doing things.
When it comes to Shobhit's insensitivity -- whether to me or the way he talks about other people in the world -- a friend recently said something to me that really made my heart sink. "People like that don't usually get better as they get older. They get worse." This does not bode well for our long-term future, because as I already stated, with no change in the behavior, I am likely to reach a breaking point. Consider the times when Shobhit has tried to wield power of me in a way that will ruin my day or my plans when he got angry with me, such as telling me he would not drive me to Wolf Haven the day before we were supposed to take a day trip there during my Birth Week. I have every certainty that he will pull that shit again one day -- it's not a matter of hoping he doesn't do it again. I know he will. How much longer will I put up with that shit? Well, hopefully never; I do have the option of reacting differently myself, and insisting on his no longer being able to behave in such a manner without consequence. The next time he does something like that, I'll just tell him, "fine," and rent a god damned Zipcar and go without him.
I do feel compelled to mention that Shobhit's employment situation is becoming increasingly stressful and depressing for him, which makes him lash out more often. Now, I only offer that as an explanation. It's still not an excuse. What truly, deeply saddens me is that Shobhit either can't recognize that or has no interest in recognizing it.
I did find out how much difference it would make in my paycheck to lower or end my 401(k) contributions. If Shobhit and I ever split up -- which, for the record, is still currently not my plan or intention -- keeping the condo for myself is just not in the cards. What a shitty thing it would be to do to Shobhit is one thing (if I did that, it would be the worst thing I ever did to him, I think, and I don't actually want to do that), but on just a financial front, it's simply a stupid idea. Technically I could afford it, barely, if I stopped the 401(k) contributions, filtered all of what I currently pay monthly to my savings account, and had rent revenue from a roommate -- in which case, what's the point? I'd literally no longer have any means of saving money at all, and whenever I did need anything extra, I'd have to pull from a savings account that was never growing, only shrinking. It would be a slow, financial suicide. My even thinking about this was just an example of me being pointlessly spiteful, to a self-destructive degree, and I should really own up to that. If anything were to happen between Shobhit and me, I would just have to find myself an apartment, plain and simple.
I don’t want to do that either. I want to make this relationship work, actually. But I also want to feel like Shobhit wants the same thing, and sometimes it's difficult to feel like he does. I still think Shobhit's trip to India will be a good break, for both of us. I struggled with Shobhit's return the first few months after he returned from L.A. last December, and then for a while it felt like we were doing surprisingly well. We've taken a bit of a downturn as of late, probably largely with Shobhit's frustration with not getting a job that actually matches his skills and training.
Ivan is openly baffled by Shobhit abandoning even the jobs he has now in order to take this trip, but it doesn't bother me. I think a visit back home might be a very good change of pace and change of scenery for him -- and a break will do me good too. It's easier to remember how much he still means to me when I actually miss him again.
Ivan even told me yesterday morning that if he were in my position back in 2010, "I would have put my foot down" and not allowed Shobhit to go to L.A. to begin with. "This will have permanent personal and financial consequences," he said, in the hypothetical scenario of him talking to a husband thinking about doing the same thing. And that's very true -- Shobhit and I both knew this from day one. And we even talked multiple times about the likelihood that he would not ultimately be able to make a living at acting and he would have to come home, which Shobhit always agreed with and said he understood. But, the feeling of failure is still hard to shake. I think we both thought we were prepared for that in the event it did not work out, and perhaps we were both naïve to think that.
Still, he had to do it, and I had to support him. My response to Ivan was, "If I had done that, I could have -- I could have insisted he not go, and he wouldn't have gone. But I did not want to be the one responsible for him being unable to pursue his dreams." I even said, "I don't regret it at all," and that's true. If I had it all to do over again, I would still have encouraged him rather than trying to hold him back, when it came to pursuing acting.
Ivan asked me, "What do you think is going to happen?" when it comes to Shobhit's work situation. I have no idea, but I do still operate under the assumption that things will work out eventually. I always have that attitude, and by and large that's how it happens. Some things take longer than others. I've also stated this before: we still have options. It just occurred to me yesterday that Shobhit still has some money in India, which he could maybe bring home. He told me he hasn't decided yet whether to do that. And once I have an open enrollment period again, I also have the option of lowering my 401(k) contributions, if only temporarily, not to try covering all of the mortgage on my own (which I just demonstrated was a dumb idea regardless of context), but to help cover more of the mortgage payments and take some of the financial pressure off of Shobhit.
Shobhit's problem with that is financially pragmatic: I save more by keeping the 401(k) contributions where they are because they don't get taxed, than by just using my savings account temporarily to help with the mortgage. Now, the savings account as a funding source is far more finite, but he's right that I'll lose less money in the long run that way. I'm already going to have to pay the full mortgage in probably both November and December just because of this trip he is taking, during which he will be making no money and has no idea what kind of job he'll have waiting for him once he gets back -- if any; one of his two jobs he's already put in his notice because they naturally won't allow a month's time off only a few months after he was hired, so his last day is October 15, the day before he flies out.
Either way, the point is still this: we have options. We also both have the option of reacting to each other with more civility and less hostility, and that is the challenge.
Ivan was in his room on the phone with his parents when Shobhit and I had that stupid argument about the garlic pepper, and when he came out, smiling, he said, "So what's been going on out here!" He even admitted to trying to eavesdrop on our bickering while he was on the phone, as though our conflicts were there for his entertainment. That was not exactly helpful.
Yesterday was much less eventful. I finally finished the Eddie Izzard memoir, which took me a full month: I had checked it out on August 24; I finished it on September 24, ten days after it was due, which means I racked up $2.50 in late fees. Not too bad, I guess. I must have read the last eighty pages or so yesterday, maybe more. I then wanted to return it as soon as possible, and Shobhit walked with me to the library to return it. We stopped at a couple of thrift stores in a fruitless search for jeans because my two pairs of blue jeans will soon be shot -- I'd much rather find new ones at a thrift store than pay full price (the two I have I found both at a Portland thrift shop when I was there with Danielle . . . in January 2013, so four and a half years is pretty good for used jeans to last, actually). But, Seattle's thrift stores have by far the worst track record for me finding anything I need; for some reason I only tend to find good stuff in other cities. Also I insist on wearing 501s.
When we got back, Shobhit and I watched my Netflix DVD copy of the 2006 film Idiocracy, which I had actually never seen -- but in the Trump Era, I had a renewed interest in. A lot of that film is conceptually prescient, but it is also largely a wasted opportunity, spending less time on effectively skewering the dumbing down of our culture and more time just reveling in dumb gags. It ended and I just said, "Well, that was pretty dumb." Shobhit's astute reply was, "Well, that's what it was, 'Idiocracy'."
We did the New York Times crossword and then spent the rest of the evening watching The Golden Girls.