Addicted to attention, Confessions, dating, essays, Labels, Sex, Writing

Relationship Status

IMG_3792Connecticut has a lot of female friends. All those sexually tense months before he finally reached for me, I thought I was the only person getting witty text banter, but that is not the case.  There is this woman he’s close to, and if I was uncharitable, I would say that he’s been leading her on; she clearly likes him, and he hasn’t told her that I am his girlfriend.

I get it. I do. I get it from both their perspectives, but it profoundly bums me out, that we’re still a secret to some people.

The Facebook relationship status is a pretty good indicator of willingness to go public. My friends list cuts across a broad spectrum of people I know and have known, many of whom have had their genitals in my mouth at some point, some of whom would be upset to learn about my new boyfriend through fucking Facebook.  And then there’s Sketch’s friends and family: I haven’t deleted any of those associations yet, and I am friends with Sketch’s mother, and she is only friends with twelve people, and it feels mean to unfriend her. Or Sketch’s sister-in-law: I’ve played with her daughters, Sketch’s nieces, since they were babies. I used to crawl drunk into their play-tent. I used to give them hazardous, galloping piggyback rides down the stairs.

You never get to break up with someone else’s kids—you just completely vanish on them and they are left with further proof that adults are as unreliable as mirages.

I like seeing these people on Facebook. And I like seeing Sketch’s friends. It makes it feel less like a whole piece of my social circle just got sheared off and flung into space. Even if it’s just assigning a like to a post, it feels less like exile.

The habits of being single and hoarding crumbs of attention, like an orphan or a refugee, are hard to break. So I get why Connecticut is hesitating to tell this woman about me.

Is it important to you that I tell her, he asks. And I don’t want it to be my decision, so I tell him to do what he wants, but there’s no way to tell someone to do what he wants without sounding petulant. She’s moving to Southeast Asia in a few weeks anyway.   This woman is alternate reality Tippy, traveling and doing cool shit while dragging around feelings for Connecticut. That’s the way it could have gone for us, too. I could have gotten a lengthy email from him, explaining a new relationship, and I would have wanted to kill him and then myself even as I kept my voice level.

I walk around the next day feeling insecure and uncertain, and hating it. I didn’t have any of this to deal with, back when I was splitting my time between Connecticut’s bed and Sketch’s; if one of them was too busy to pay attention to me, I just called up the other. I always had a back-up plan.

I hate this, I tell Connecticut. I hate feeling this way. Jealous, and scared, and insecure. It’s the first time in our relationship when I have ventured a look down, and I don’t care for the view. It all feels like a preview to a plummet.

He goes to see this woman, who is getting ready to move and thus selling a bunch of her shit, and he comes back with a pair of creepy lithographs and the news that he told her about us. I told her about you by name, Connecticut says. She and I know each other, peripherally, from around the neighborhood; she told him that she was happy for us.

That weekend, Connecticut and I go to the movies to watch superheroes punch the shit out of one another and I pull snacks out of hidden compartments in my bag. My life is full of hidden compartments and trap doors, it seems like; I love a hiding place, even if I’m not hiding anything more subversive than carrot sticks.

Connecticut checks in on Facebook, tagging me as being with him. He writes: FINALLY. As in finally going to see this movie that apparently everyone else has seen already, but to me, it’s finally, as in finally time to just come clean with everyone, and with ourselves, that we are together and that we love each other and that there isn’t anybody else.  It’s kind of a moment.

Our check-in gets seven likes.  I’m not sure our friends get the significance.

We are in bed that night when I look at him and tell him, “You are my person.” Followed by a flood of remorse and feelings of disloyalty. Because Sketch was always my person, and that’s what I called him, especially once I could no longer call him my boyfriend. My person. The human that goes with me.

It’s hard, in the new relationship, not to use the vocabulary of the old. Because that is all I have. I am trying hard to write something new, but when I look at Connecticut, I sometimes think that his eyes crinkle like Monster’s, and that he is smart like Kick, and that I love that he reads books, like Bunny. He reminds me of the men I have loved already, and so I know how to love him, but he is also new, and unknown, and frightening. It’s the fear more than anything that makes me realize: holy shit. I am in a relationship.

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Addicted to attention, Addiction, Bad Influences, essays, Sex, Texting, Want Monster, Writing

Return of the Want Monster

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Connecticut is going to IKEA with a friend this evening, and I ask him to please text me pictures of pieces of furniture he would like to do me on. He complies, and then sends me an actual dick pic (not shot at IKEA.   That would be insane). A dick pic! What have I done to this shy person? Just last month he was still hugging me like we needed to save room for a Bible, and now he’s documenting erections and one-upping me on the filth I send him on my lunch hour.

He also sent me a text a few days ago in which he thanks me for reconnecting him to his humanity. I think by humanity he means getting blow jobs, but I am glad that this is working for him and that so far I am not making him miserable. Suddenly, after months of chasing him, he likes me; I can tell he likes me, but it feels like someone just handed me something heavy and valuable and slippery, and I’m nervous.

Getting Connecticut in my bed doesn’t feel like I thought it would. I thought I would finally feel contented; I thought it would be a break from the tireless want that constantly ruins everything like a spoiled child pointing at things in a store and yelling. But this doesn’t feel like contentment. Instead, I feel dizzy and glutted, like if you drank wine with bourbon or ate a fistful of gummy bears with piece of cheesecake. It’s too much sweet. It’s too much.

Also, there are scheduling problems, already. I go to see my parents for the Easter weekend, which just leaves Friday, and this is why it’s tough to really be involved with more than one person. Because sometimes you only have one night free, and then it becomes painfully clear who you like best.

It’s Sketch, it’s always Sketch, Sketch forever.  I go uptown to see him and put my phone on airplane mode so Connecticut can’t text at an inopportune moment, and Sketch and I walk across Central Park to go see the Edvard Munch exhibit at the Neue Gallery. I identify not with “The Scream” but with “Puberty,” Munch’s painting of a round-eyed, naked girl sitting on a bed, an enormous phallic shadow menacing the wall behind her. And walking home Sketch makes me laugh and I can’t stop admiring the way his shoulders fill out the back of his shirt, a back I want to climb up on like a raft, but there is this thing that’s going on in my life now and here we are not talking about it. And it makes me feel far away from him, like his voice is coming at me through a tube. In the morning we will have coffee at City Kitchen with three of his friends, two of whom want to sleep with him. One of the women calls him sweetheart. A long time ago she was the mistress of someone famous; she has the best ass I’ve ever seen. When she tells him goodbye, she tells him that she loves him, and I know I have forfeited any right to be jealous, but I am, and he’s not even sleeping with any of these people, at least not that he’s told me.

He doesn’t belong to me, and I don’t belong to him, and no one belongs to anyone, and I take my phone off airplane mode so I can see what Connecticut has texted me, and I kind of feel better for a moment until I realize that this is what coping looks like.   I am getting enough to get by, but this is not what I pictured for myself, not at all. My friend Jocelyn asks me over dinner, “In an ideal world, who would it be?” Something I am learning is that no one can handle your lack of monogamy, and I’m finding it hard to even talk about Connecticut with people, without feeling sort of apologetic and sheepish.

Time is limited, and energy is limited, and after a long holiday weekend with family I just want Sketch. I change the sheets before he comes over, because someone else has been here, and it’s impossible for this not to make me feel profligate and seedy, and he gets down with me on my new rabbit sheets. Some of the rabbits have sweaters. One is a wearing a scarf. One is turned the wrong way.

Am I turned the wrong way? I’m not even sure what the markers are for the wrong way, but I am being reminded this week that getting what I want is not necessarily the thing that makes me happy. Getting what I want doesn’t stop me from wanting something else, something different.

The next day I have one of those 12 step meetings to go to; I’m impressed that I’ve made it through the last few days without getting into my mother’s Xanax or turning up at some bar with my wallet and my bottomless supply of want, and so I can hardly begrudge the time I have to spend in church basements to make that happen. But because the recovery rooms are basically high school, I’m in a fight with someone there and now I don’t want to go. Connecticut goes with me and sits on my left and my leg drifts in his direction until it finds him, warm, on the other side of my jeans. He found a book of weird John Shirley stories for me at the Strand. It is a specifically thoughtful gesture, precisely the correct gift for me.

The argument rages inside my body about whom I am supposed to love, where I should be spending the energy that I have left, and the most convincing argument for Connecticut is that he is there, showing up next to me when I need him.

And Sketch is far away. The messages I get remind me of the texts I sometimes get from Lovesick, in Paris. Lovesick messages me this week, and we compare the states of high terrorist-alert in our respective cities this week. It’s raining in New York, I tell him. It’s raining in Paris too, he reports.  Sketch sends me a message in between art school and yoga, but when I call him, he does not call me back. It’s a good thing I like his back so much. I can see it now, retreating.

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Addicted to attention, Breakups, dating, Sex, Sex Addiction, Writing, yoga

Is There Sex After The Friend-Zone?

FullSizeRender-15Connecticut confesses this week that he snuck a look at my blog, driven by a bolt of perverse curiosity, and then he tells me that I’ve gotten him wrong, all wrong.  “Come over here and tell me that,” I challenge.

So he comes over and he sits at one end of my hard little couch, his arms folded over his chest, looking like a bouncer for a nightclub which is in his pants. I’m at the other end in a black minidress, whorish in variety, intended for the bachelorette party I’m supposed to be at in an hour, and I lay back and let my icy feet seek him out for warmth, my palms chilly and damp because social anxiety always goes straight to my extremities. It’s the waiting that always kills me. The waiting and the talking. He tells me that it’s hard for him to make the move, and there are air quotes. “The move.” My heart breaks a little for this boy; I am eight years older than he is and sometimes it feels more like fifteen or twenty. “You can touch me,” I tell him. “You’re allowed to touch me.” He puts his hand on my leg, and then he kisses me uncertainly. His mouth tastes good.

Up until this point, I wasn’t entirely sure I even wanted him to kiss me anymore.   Something about being made to wait: I’ve been known to abandon baskets of carefully selected comestibles at Trader Joe in the long and snaking line, because after a while I just get offended and fucking leave.     And it’s been three months of telling anyone that would listen that Connecticut and I are friends, just friends, friends only, and that I like it better that way. But now he touches me, and the elevator doors of my soul ding open and a wall of oxytocin pours out.

His skin, when he takes his shirt off, is softer than mine, and he makes deeply appreciative noises when I pull my dress off (a dress I will have to put back on, slightly damp, in 30 minutes for the bachelorette party—I set a timer, and make it clear this is not enough time for sex, we’re just scouting things out). He’s been so fucking poker-faced for the last three months that I’m frankly a little astonished by how emotive he is once his pants come off.

Validation. I sigh, an addict with a fresh bundle behind a locked door. He even compliments my choice of underwear: black and strappy. No one ever notices your underwear; it’s usually a wasted effort. He touches me. I had forgotten to turn my all-girl Pandora station off before he got here, and I’m a little embarrassed by the Fiona Apple kicking out the speakers, but otherwise, I’m in a happy place.

A half hour later, the timer chimes and I have to try to reassemble myself for the bachelorette party. Still reeling from what literally just happened, I will squeeze into a carful of beautiful girls in tiny dresses; I will be given a penis straw and a penis lollipop and we will go to a drag show where my friends will be given penis balloon-animals which they will wear like hats. It’s a fever dream of revolving dicks, all to celebrate the fact that my good friend is transitioning to an astonishing phase of committedness called Lifelong Monogamy. And I am in the back seat, behind her novelty wedding veil, thinking about this new person I will be fucking. I text a friend of mine, Connecticut came over and he went down on me because I have to tell someone this or I am going to die. After I hit send, I realize that I sent it to the wrong person, some hapless acquaintance who now knows too much about how my Saturday is going.

Too many people, and it starts to all get confusing. I’m crashing at Sketch’s apartment tomorrow, helping him practice running through the basic series for his yoga-teacher training. He’ll be adjusting me, telling me what to do in that voice that broaches no argument, and afterwards he will come and lay on top of me in sevasna and fuck the ohm out of me. And I love him, I will love him until my ears ring, but I still want Connecticut, too.

Is it OK to want them both? I don’t know. A drag venue full of bachelorettes makes it seem that love is supposed to be one person finding one other person and then unconditionally being into each other and getting tax benefits forever. But mine doesn’t look like that.

I don’t know. I don’t know exactly how either man is supposed to take it either. Sketch and I talked about the okayness of sleeping with other people back in the fall, and we have just been sort of asking each other no questions since then. But I haven’t slept with anybody else. Partly because I’ve been working on other things, but also because I haven’t been sure that new dick wouldn’t feel like cheating.

I’m still not sure it won’t feel like cheating.   And Sketch has told me he doesn’t want a bunch of details, but I feel like the headline is pretty important: Sex Addict Fondles Nervous Man.  As for sweetly awkward Connecticut, whose junk has not been touched by another human in a motherfucking YEAR, I’m asking him to run with an unconventional relationship model that’s not going to make sense to a lot of people.

I want them both, but there is a skeptic in the back of my head telling me that people in hell want ice water, and little girls in city apartments want ponies, and no one ever gets what they want.

But I can try, right?

I know polyamorous people who seem like they were born without jealousy, but that is not Sketch and I either.  We are wholly untested; this whole open-relationship thing has been completely theoretical until now.  How will I feel, hearing about his extracurricular activities with the yogi girls that surround him, bendy and willing?  It’s just hard to break out of the monogamy shape when that is the pose you have held for so long.

In my handbag, there’s a blue raspberry ring pop from the bachelorette party, a corn-syrup totem of marriage. My rabbit has dug it own and dragged it under the bed, and is trying to tear open the wrapper with her teeth. The crunching, chewing sounds under the bed are appropriately monstery, but the real monsters are up here, not in between my legs but in between my ears, in the place where I know what I want but am scared shitless to just ask for it. But at least I know what I want. That’s a start.

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Addicted to attention, Environment, essays, Holidays, Relationships, Uncategorized, Writing

Global Heartwarming

images-62It is annoying to me when people confuse climate with weather—the denier who plummily queries What global warming? It’s FREEZING outside. Likewise, I have well-intentioned friends who make entire assumptions about Sketch based on what is going on right now. Things are going good at the moment, but he is not my boyfriend.

We’re in the holiday season, and here come other people’s expectations. Apparently, you are supposed to spend the day together, with family, possibly in matching sweaters, and this is not how Sketch and I roll.   Our first ever Christmas together, I got him a rat in a jar of formaldehyde—the skin translucent, the tiny bones inside visible. Yeah, I’m that kind of girlfriend. He liked it though, kept it until the jar was shaken too many times (I don’t know why; a rat-jar is not a snow-globe) and the thing started to come apart. Eventually we abandoned it someplace.

There’s a lot of family stuff during this time of year, and I go alone, and I don’t mind going alone because it’s easier to get one seat than two adjoining on the overcrowded New Jersey Transit busses.   It’s not just family, it’s extended family, people like my cousin’s wife, who has an ugly baby slung from each arm. I would literally die if I had to shoulder those burdens, just as she could not handle my life of carrying all the groceries six blocks and up four flights of stairs. The other day a homeless man on the subway was jerking off inside his pants just a few feet away and I just went back to putting on my mascara.   My family and I are mutually horrified by each other’s lives, so it’s good that we get to live with our own choices.

The internet makes it possible to find other people who think the way I do. Thus: blogging.  This week, I am Twitter-stalking my favorite writers.  I don’t understand how Twitter works, so it is very ineffective stalking, like peering really hard out my window for a glimpse of Ryan Gosling.  It could happen, it just probably won’t; I live on a sort of seedy side street. One of the writers, Jennifer Wright, replies and retweets something that I wrote, so in my mind we are best friends now.

Sometimes I worry that I am becoming a mean anti-Christmas type person.   I want to be charmed by babies and Santa and mistletoe, but this is overshadowed by the more muscular and developed part of my brain that thinks videos of children crying over bad presents is hilarious.

Sketch’s apartment is a blissful holiday-free zone, the walls crowded with faces, none of them Santa.   His unit faces an airshaft and a stack of other studio apartments; across the way, there is a middle-aged woman who walks around naked. Not in the way you do when you are showing off, but in the way you do when you believe you are totally alone and want to eat spaghetti without worrying about spilling anything on your shirt.   Sketch’s nickname for her is Hiney-Time. She is an interesting study on what people do when they believe they are unobserved: she sniffs her bra as she removes it, she licks her plates when she’s done eating. Occasionally, awkwardly, we see her in the elevator and pretend not to recognize her.

Is it exhibitionism if you are obliviously unaware that people are watching you? In my teens and twenties, I had a whole fetishized relationship to parading around in no pants, very very aware of being watched. My dorm room window should have been tricked out in marquee lighting. This impulse has since faded, but I still have an astonishing lack of modesty (Exhibit A: this blog).  I am most comfortable walking around my apartment in nothing but a pair of slippers, and it doesn’t occur to me that the Indian couple whose windows face mine might be bothered.

It’s kind of weird communal feeling, having these strangers with whom my life is so intertwined. I don’t even know this Indian man, but I see him doing lat pulls with an old towel in his livingroom every morning at 5:30. I sort of absently applaud his progress.  I feel like the lights he has hung in his window are a sort of Christmas card to me, to all the naked neighbors his apartment faces.  Who else can see them?

Sketch and I have an across-the-airshaft Annie Hall style relationship too; I just wish people would stop trying to make it be something that it isn’t, or looking at me with pity-face when the temperature of our relationship is actually precisely the climate that suits me.   But I guess if I didn’t want people to comment on my relationship, I should stop walking it around with no pants on. That sort of thing generally is an open invitation to remarks.

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Addicted to attention, Married People, New York, Single

Married People

images-7Living in New York, alone or partnered up, is fucking hard. Carless, I carry home seven plastic bags of groceries that leave ligature marks around my wrists, climbing the long flights of stairs to the apartment I share with a roommate and a rabbit. I take the subway to work and two homeless guys fight with their canes in an enclosed car, swinging wildly and scattering commuters. Once, I fell asleep for a moment on the 1 train and woke up without my expensive new sunglasses; someone had literally stolen them right in front of my eyes.

But I love New York, because anyplace else I go, places with Costco and parking lots and backyards with people raking up their leaves, these places are filled with married people. I go home for Thanksgiving and the only other person who is not married is my cousin’s 14-month-old baby. There are new pictures on Facebook all the time, mom and infant in matching outfits.

I’m not going to lie; I do feel the pressure, to try to approximate something normal, to just find someone who wants to slap their last name up on me before I go marching off towards menopause. But the thing is, I don’t want their lives, these married women. I don’t envy their actual partnerships. Sometimes I think Sketch saved me, because in my late thirties, tickled by the novelty of getting a normal job and starting to do some normal things after years of living like a wild animal, I really wanted to get married. I grew back in my pubic hair, and I wanted a funny little disguise too, a disguise like a marriage license. And I might have gotten trapped in a thing like so many people that I know, who have bill-paying life-partnerships with people they find intrinsically irritating.

Instead, I have the freedom to do what the fuck I want.  H.L. Mencken said it: Marriage is a great institution, but who wants to live in an institution?

On a day off from school, I go out to lunch with two badass older women I know. Leticia is Bolivian, 65 and still somehow sexy.  She owns a house in Sunnyside with a garden, does yoga everyday. Kate is a yogini and retired teacher who owns a co-op in Jackson Heights and plays banjo in a jam band. The two of them are planning a trip across India together; neither one is married, nor feels they need to be. They are my heroes.

So I stay in New York, where the single people are. The walk home from a stranded subway train is long and cold, like something out of Jack London novel, but the people I admire are out here, in the thick gray snow.

In January, I go to a Superbowl party in Park Slope with Sketch, despite my hatred of the Superbowl. I hate how everyone is always yelling and I have no idea what people are yelling about and I feel like even more of a space monster than usual. It’s all his friends and family at the party; they like me fine, but they think the sun shines out Sketch’s ass. When I make a joke, no one responds; Sketch repeats what I just said, with more volume, charisma, and having a penis, and everyone pounds the table and falls on the floor howling. It’s annoying.  The party is filled with married people who are ignoring me.

I’m coming to realize: the sex addiction is really an attention thing, and that’s a fucking affliction I’ve had since childhood. When I was seven I was cast as the star of Bethlehem in the Christmas pageant, and afterwards at the spaghetti dinner in Fellowship Hall, I walked slowly and meaningfully past each and every table, to see if someone would stop me and tell me I did I good job. I kept count of my “likes,” not all that different from what I do today, thirty years later.

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