Addiction, Blogging, dating, essays, Hot Mess, New York, Recovery, Sex Addiction, Writing

Save Me From The Things I Love

restraintwithpen.jpgA woman passes on the subway platform and I eyeball her chest.   Not because of her tits, which are formidable, but because of the slogan on her t-shirt: Save me from the things I love. I mentally collect subtitles for this blog, and that is probably my favorite so far.

There are many things that I love in spite of the consequences of loving them; from difficult men to risky narcotics, my favorite pastimes are the hazardous ones.  Even this blog is dangerous; it’s seeded with some unvarnished honesties, and as my sponsor likes to say, the more you tell the truth, the less people will like you.

I started writing the material for WYSD in 2013, after Sketch moved out.   I hadn’t just been broken up with, I felt like I was breaking up myself, like a voice over a shitty cell connection.    The blog, live since December of 2014, was a basket to put the pieces into while I drifted vaguely around New York humping strangers. When I write the blog, I feel the things that I want to feel in a relationship—honest, real, connected to other people. So I’ve kept it going. Almost five hundred pages of material later, it’s helped me to pin carefully constructed narratives onto a messy series of things that have happened.   It’s cheating, and I know it; the stories I tell are always true, but they’re too neat, too linear, too one-sided.   I bury the nuance in unpublished footnotes, with all the things that don’t fit my version of events.

Here are a few things that don’t fit the story I’ve been telling you: that the person I used to be still kicks to be let out, that I sometimes feel homesick for the fetid, roachy apartment where my ex and I fought and fucked and loved each other, that yesterday I had a meeting in the building where Sketch works and it made me miss him until I felt like sinking to the sidewalk and howling.

I thought if I only could find someone new to love I would stop missing him, but that was a lie.   Yet when I say these things here and hide them from Connecticut, my new boyfriend, I feel like I’m talking behind his back, and I don’t want that to be part of the story. Because this is a story about finally being truthful with someone, and the blog doesn’t fit.  It feels disrespectful, not just to him but to my newly-formed conscience, even as I continue to merrily type, self-justifying with practiced ease.

Connecticut and I are a mess, the both of us. We go to the Astoria carnival and play that game where you punch the punching-bag as hard as you can for points and, ultimately, glory. I have an overinflated sense of my own strength and I drop confidently into a fighting stance and throw a right, but I don’t stand far enough back and the bag hits me squarely in the face on the rebound.   Actions, and their equal and opposite fucking reactions.

Connecticut steps up to the punching bag to avenge me, decides to do some sort of spinning kick in his flip-flops and whiffs it, ends up on his back, bleeding at the elbows.   We have the best of intentions, but we both end up scraped and limping, felled by a children’s game.

We match. I am so glad that I found him. And if I sometimes have doubts about things and if I have fears, and if I sometimes look at my yoga teacher and want to have secrets, the blog makes it too easy to air them, to feed them and to keep them alive.

I don’t want to have things that I am telling everybody but him.

So I am breaking up with this blog.  It’s not you, it’s me.   I want to tell you that this is just a break, but that’s cowardly, so let’s not pretend this is temporary. Let’s just split up and walk away. I loved you, I really loved you. Leaving doesn’t change that. I just don’t think that you’re good for me anymore.

I write this post, and when I get up, I expect to feel lighter, but instead I feel like I’m carrying a dead pet in my arms. Stricken. Lost. I lose my shit and cry on the F train on the way home from school, losing my composure MTA-style for the first time since Sketch left. Supposedly, the train is where most people get their grief-weep on, because there’s nothing else to do while the subway shunts you to your destination, nothing else to look at but those advertisements for summertime breast implants, and you feel anonymous behind your sunglasses. If you drip, no one comments.

I get off at Broadway-Lafayette so that I can walk around the pet store there; my class hamster needs food, and looking at a bunch of guinea pigs and tortoises usually calms me down. But all the tanks are empty, the bowls turned upside down. They must be cleaning them.

I get a text from Connecticut; I told him that the blog is coming down, and he writes that I can always come and post things on his website . I feel sick, like someone tried to take me puppy-shopping with the dead one still cooling.

It’s not his fault, but I need a minute. It’s the distance from awareness to acceptance that hurts like a motherfucker, and I don’t want to tell Connecticut any of this, because I don’t want him to feel bad.   You can’t complain to the person you love about having to care about his feelings; I get to care about his feelings. I am amazed that I even can. Sketch was mortified by the existence of this blog, and I never offered to stop writing it, even though I loved him, and love him still.

Sketch and Connecticut never asked me to choose between having the relationship and writing about the relationship, and I’m deeply grateful to them both, and to all the men and women that I wrote about in this blog. Even that one fucker who threatened to sue me. I learned stuff from each of them, and it was interesting to try to come up with their pseudonyms.   If I’ve offended anyone in pursuit of a good metaphor, if protecting your privacy came in as a second priority to telling the story of how we got it on, I humbly apologize. I’ve done, as always, my best, even as it becomes apparent now how insufficient that really is.

So now, how to turn it off?   I imagine taking off the shovel necklace I have worn around neck for the last year and hurling it dramatically into the river, right here by the snags and rips of Hell’s Gate. But those Viking-funerals always go wrong, rings and photographs and small pets ending up marooned on the rocks along the East River. I think about tearing the whole thing down with my bare hands; I could delete the blog and forget my password and erase the files. But that’s just the drama talking. I think I will let it stand. Besides, the blog is subcutaneous. It’s under my skin. It’s the best thing I’ve ever done, and the most honest. Writing this made me happy. So thank you for reading it.

But the story here has reached an endpoint.

There will be other blogs. You’re not done writing, my friend Gabby reassures me.  I have a rough time with endings, and always read books from a series in the backwards order. I’d rather end with Woodrow Call and Gus McCrae still alive and fighting Indians, with Roland and his gang still intact and dreaming of the Tower.

And as for me, the school year just ended, and all the other teachers are glad to see the backs of the retreating kids, to get on with their summer travels, but I just feel lost and alone and left behind.

But the bald fact that it hurts doesn’t make it any less right to end it. Because maybe that’s what this blog has been all about, really. I thought it was about Sketch and the breakup and finding love, and it wasn’t really, and I thought it was about finding my way back to writing because nothing sucks harder than being a something that doesn’t do that something. But that wasn’t exactly the whole story either.

Maybe it was really about finding the space to care about another person enough that I don’t need to keep this room of my own open, whispering my secrets to the walls. Maybe it’s a mistake, but love always seems to happen that way, by accident and with plenty of pratfalls, like a punching bag that hits you back on the rebound.   The challenge for me has never been embracing something or someone new. I’m good at that part. The trick has always been letting go of these other things: these things I can trick myself into believing I can not live without, these things that cost me so much. These things that I love.

New York, 2016

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“Writing is the only thing that, when I do it, I don’t feel I should be doing something else.”

–Gloria Steinem

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Addiction, Art, Blogging, Breakups, Consequences of Blogging, dating, essays, Getting Honest, Girls

Still Addicted: The “Ex” in Sex

images-77Sketch calls me. And he calls. And he calls once more.

If your sexy, charismatic ex calls three times, I think there’s some rule that you have to call him back before he appears in the bathroom mirror behind you, right?

In the messages, he sounds like himself: funny, affable, familiar. But there’s something just underneath: hurt and bewilderment and teeming irritation that I can see like something glimpsed moving beneath the ice on a pond.   In the last message, he tells me he doesn’t know what to do, or why he can’t reach me, and that he might just come here.

I live on the ground floor of my building, and I find myself peeping, heart kicking in my chest, out the windows.  Afraid, and also feeling the other thing that I always feel when my ex is around. Over a decade, and my pelvis still tilts at his signal like a satellite dish.

Sketch has never been the type to come battle the bushes to imprecate through the window, so I don’t know what to make of any of this newfound passion. To be honest, I didn’t think he was invested enough to get on a train and cross the East River. I figured in the fullness of time, I would have to explain why I vanished, but I thought I would have  months of head start before I had to introduce him to the new boyfriend.

My new boyfriend, Connecticut: sweet, available, clumsy as shit. He fell in my bathtub the other day while we were taking a shower and scared the fuck out of me. Bruised his ribs. It seems I’m no longer the only one around here losing fights with furniture.

It’s not fair to compare him to Sketch and I know it. There’s no decision here, I tell my friend Courtney. It’s like being asked do you want a horse or a unicorn. Unicorns are amazing but you can’t actually have one, because they are not real. Once I realized that Sketch wasn’t actually an option, it got a lot easier to pick.

Sketch texts me: I read your blog, he says. What’s going on? Who is Connecticut?  

He texts me a picture of a coffee mug I once gave him that says, You are my person. There’s nothing like having your own coffee-mug promises thrown back at you. The guilt feels like I’ve swallowed teeth and they are chattering now in my belly.

I’ve written that finally moving out and moving on from a relationship like the one Sketch and I had feels like watching your childhood home burn to the ground.   But this is worse. This is watching your childhood home burn to the ground with your puppy still inside.

And there is nothing I can do, not without undoing a lot of the things I have already done. I want to go and rescue him, but all I have is this flamethrower and everything I could say is incendiary. How is this possible, I want to ask him. I am astonished by his astonishment. He had no idea, my friend Courtney says. When you told him there was someone else. He didn’t really believe it.

Meanwhile, Connecticut, my someone else, lets me pick what we do on Saturday. Sketch never used to let me pick the thing to do; he’s still upset about that time I made him come with me to see 12 Years A Slave; he rescinded my picking-privileges indefinitely after that one. Which I didn’t think was fair, as we had just gone to see Tim’s Vermeer and that film is literally two hours of watching paint dry.

Connecticut lets me pick. We go to Figment, the big participatory art-fair and weirdo-fest on Governor’s Island. Making our way past a group of people getting married in Midsummer’s Night garb and a bunch of acrobats in body paint and a man driving a giant toad with a throbbing base line, he posits, I don’t think I’m cool enough for you. He is, of course he is, but it’s nice that someone thinks I am cool.

He lets me pick, even though the East River ferry makes him a little queasy and the sun will wipe him out for the entire next day. We eat trendy popsicles on a pair of old-timey porch rockers, and talk about everything and nothing. When we go home, he will make me come until I cry.

It feels honest, which is a great feeling considering the fact that I am a lying sack of shit. I tell people that I told Sketch about Connecticut, but this is a lie. I told him that I was seeing someone, and that I had feelings for the person, and I deliberately omitted all gendered pronouns. I let him think it was a girl; it was the same week I made out with that girl from yoga, and I gave him enough details about that so he would think that was what I was up to.  All the while telling myself that we had an open relationship, and that leaving him with these half-truths would be less painful to him. I am a self-serving asshole, because really it was about making it easier for me to leave. It was about buying time so I could make a slick getaway.

And it was about leaving the door open just a crack in case things didn’t work out with Connecticut. Let me just be honest here, if no place else. It’s hard to look behind you and see that you can’t go back the way you’ve just come. How do I know I’m going the right way?

But there is no other way for me to go now but forward. I read the blog, Sketch said. For months now, the blog’s been all about me falling in love with someone else.

He will never forgive me.

All the guilt is here now, a wall of it, and I can’t face him. This person I have loved longer than anyone– the phone rings with him on the other end and I handle it like a pillowcase full of snakes, carrying it from the room with my thumb and forefinger to go throw it in a drawer.

Eventually I text Sketch, saying exactly what everyone everywhere says when they feel guilty about hurting someone they love: I love you but I need some space. Because I can’t. I can’t talk to him, I can’t see him right now. I don’t trust myself with him, the way I don’t trust myself around someone else’s Xanax. I can list for you all the reasons why it’s bad for me and still want it anyway.

So I hold myself back, and Sketch is at the windows of the burning house that is our relationship, and I pray, hard, that someone else will come soon and rescue him.

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Addiction, Bad Things, Blogging, dating, Men, Queens, Relationships, Sex Addiction, Writing

Adulting is Hard

FullSizeRender-26I settle into my new digs like fog, my belongings dustily swirling around me. This newly purchased Queens apartment makes me feel like I’m in that movie where aborigines come into first contact with modern society; I am overexcited by the jetliner flush of the new toilet, and have made a god out of the dishwasher. I’ve always loved the sound of the dishwasher, it’s my favorite white-noise setting when I can’t sleep and need sounds to block out the terrifying podcast of my own thoughts. Now, I stretch out on the couch and listen to a machine wash all my plates. Where I once used the same toast plate and teacup over and over until they were too sticky to lift off the counter, I now select a clean glass each time I want a beverage.  It’s crazy.   I ride the elevator (the elevator!! It’s like getting a piggyback ride for you and your shit every time you want to go to the laundry room!) down to the basement to wash my blankets, and there are signs down here in 400-point font reminding me not to play in the laundry carts. I’m not sure how you play laundry carts, but now that they told me I can’t, it’s all I can think about.

Things are changing, but they also stay the same. Barely 72 hours of homeownership and I drop a decorative conch shell in the bathroom and manage to smash the ceramic toothbrush holder that juts out of the wall. IMG_3801.JPG  I have noted before that everything I own looks ready for a street rumble, dangerous and jagged. And yet it’s quiet here; my one-bedroom place faces the garden and there’s no one out there to fight but this one asshole bird that makes a mating-racket at one in the morning, and maybe myself.

I move in on a Saturday, Connecticut and these four dudes I emotionally blackmailed carrying my furniture down four flights of stairs, shunting everything out of the apartment I shared with Sketch for years and years and into a moving van. I feel like I should leave a message written in all the bedbug powder I’m leaving behind, some kind of warning to the next inhabitants: This apartment is haunted and also bugs live here. I run my hands over the murals that Sketch, my charismatic nightmare of an ex-boyfriend, left up on the walls; I kiss them on the lips. I love you, I tell the paint.   The ghosts, in return, say nothing.

Love him or not, this week I unfriend Sketch and his family on Facebook so that I can make the announcement that Connecticut and I are in a relationship; then I stand back a little to give the Internet the space to react to this weighty news, covering my ears and waiting for the blowback.

The Internet shrugs.

People are busy living their lives. There are adults here in my new complex, busily doing laundry and not playing in the laundry carts, and I feel disguised among them, clearly fraudulent and yet proud of myself anyways. I fix a mortgage over my head and blink out of the eyeholes. No one screams when they see me coming, although I do get a couple of odd looks as I pedal my piece-of-shit bicycle, dead leaves ticking in the spokes and the frame tacky with duct tape, down the sidewalk. My name is on the miniature license plate.

This is important, because this week I’ve been finding that I don’t exactly recognize myself. A week of living here, and this is the first time I’ve opened up my laptop. What if I can’t write here? What if writing was contingent on living in that sticky, haunted walk-up, a punk-rock Miss Havisham waiting for Sketch to come back for me? What if I have unwittingly traded in the place where the writing comes from for a dishwasher and a normal boyfriend?

Connecticut comes over, and the next day we drive to a Target to look at rugs for my new apartment, and I help him pick out a dress shirt for work, and inside, Tippy is screaming that she doesn’t even know what is happening here. Who is this adult and why am I wearing her pants?  I bike past the old place to drop off my keys with the super, who surprises me by giving me a stiff, one-armed Ukrainian hug and wishing me luck, and that’s it; I feel like there should be some ceremony here, some number where the entire ensemble comes from the last ten years comes onstage for a final song. But there is nothing. I look at my phone, because if Sketch was to call me at this moment, I would answer. I don’t know what I would say, but I would answer.

Instead I peddle away, wobbly. My adult self doesn’t quite fit. It’s stiff at the joints. Connecticut drives me to Bed Bath and Beyond, where we shop for a dustpan and a new garbage can. Get me the fuck out of here, Tippy internally rages. Connecticut and I go back to my place and fuck, and I talk him into peeing on me, because I need the bed, the bath, and the beyond. My inner addict and my inner adult duke it out for control, and when Connecticut and I go to Home Depot to buy the shit to hang my pots and pans rack, we also buy anchors for the bedroom wall to properly tie me down as a compromise.

I need to be restrained here for a little while. I’m not to be trusted, I want to tell everyone I pass. You can’t trust me to pay a mortgage like an adult. You fucking can’t trust me not to run. Sketch calls, and I let it go to voicemail, and I talk to Connecticut about the voicemail at dinner.  But I do not tell him: You can’t trust me not to hurt you.  But he does. Foolishly, the people here trust me not to play in the laundry carts, and it’s the trust that keeps me from climbing in and taking off.   It somehow staves off the impulse to ruin everything, before it all falls apart anyway, at least for the fragile moment.

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Addiction, Blogging, Breakups, dating, essays, Getting Honest, New York, Sex, Writing

Is It Love, or Is It Oxytocin?

imgres-24Connecticut is the last thing I think about most nights, and most mornings he’s the first person I text after I wake up. Yet still I warn him, Don’t get your hopes up, dude. I’m not girlfriend material. I can feel his thoughts pull together like storm clouds, and yesterday when I call him he lays it down: he’s not going to be OK with sharing me with Sketch forever.

I’m not sure if he has been reading the blog or just reading me, noting my hesitation and how often I disappear to the Upper West Side. I try to picture not going back to back to Sketch’s studio anymore, and all I see is a bank of gray nothing. Because what would I do without Sketch? For so long he has been the organizing principle of my life; I don’t know what I’d do if I didn’t have him to chase after, the way who is the Hamburglar if you take away hamburgers? No one. Some sad former felon with no sense of direction.

I am a person who is defined by her wants, and yet when Connecticut asks what they are, I am flummoxed. In an ideal world, what does love look like for you? Not these exact words, but this is how I understand them, and I wish I could remove my entire brain and hand it do him, so he could see how it drips and glows like radium in a cave. Oxytocin kicking through every line, making all my thoughts as loud and unreliable as some drunk asshole at the back of the bar who takes your drink by mistake and wanders off with it to go tell lies.   I wish I could just hand my brain to Connecticut: here, you try dealing with this for a while.

What does love look like? This is impossible to answer, because it’s never the same thing from day to day, and desire flickers through everything like a faulty circuit. There’s a cute blond girl, maybe 23 years old, at my yoga studio, and sometimes I want to push her against a wall and jam my hands down her yoga shorts. And there’s lots of people I look at this way, and so sometimes I think love looks like a tiger stalking through the tall grass, golden eyes fixed unwaveringly on something soft and delicious. Love looks predatory. Love looks like freedom. Love looks like doing what you want to do because you want to do it, and not because someone thinks you are supposed to.

And sometimes love looks like history; there is archaeology to my fifteen-year affair with Sketch. There are ruins. There are motherfucking eras, and within them our inside jokes have grown like stalactites; I would share them here, but it is impossible to report on the private language of couples without it sounding fucking stupid, the way when you break off a stalactite and take it outside, it just looks like a shitty spear of limestone, all the magic lost. But we have our own language, Sketch and I, and if we stop talking again, it will probably be lost forever this time. Or for like six months. Same fucking thing.

But here’s a secret. Behind a private door in my head, love sometimes looks just like what everybody else has. Going to buy groceries together and discussing the relative merits of spicy guacamole vs. regular (Spicy. Spicy is the correct answer). Walking into someone’s house and having someone’s hand to hold instead of it being awkwardly jammed in my pocket or grasping around for a cookie or a cigarette or a drink because I always need to put something in my mouth like a socially-awkward toddler.   Secretly, I sometimes think love looks planning a trip together and then actually taking the trip because you can count on still liking one another in a month or two. I’m sort of ashamed of wanting this kind of love. It’s not very original. And it’s risky, horribly, nauseatingly risky.

When Sketch first left, I swore I was never getting involved in anything I couldn’t get over in a month, not ever again. My dating philosophy: like refusing to get any pet that is not flushable. If I don’t ever call anyone my boyfriend again, I don’t have to worry about a breakup. Because that only happens to people who have boyfriends. Even the word boyfriend makes me blanch, like when you pass by a nail sticking out of a board at eye-level, malevolent and rusty.

And yet my Connecticut likes a label. He confesses to wanting something more conventional, which is exactly what I knew would happen. I told you from the start, I want to protest. But the thing is, I was honest is not an excuse for being an asshole. I knew he would want the normal kind of relationship other people have, and I went ahead and took his pants off anyway. Now I can’t just protest that I warned him, even though I did. I’m responsible.  I knew, and I did it anyway.

I have told him I don’t want to be his girlfriend, but the truth is, feeling secure enough to tell him this sort of makes me want to be his girlfriend. Because I’m a crazy person, but also because I realize that he is the first man in my life that I haven’t lied to. Every other relationship I’ve ever been in has been padded with lies and faked orgasms and excuses about where I’ve been and what I’ve been doing and smiles in the places where I felt like screaming. But I have been honest with Connecticut. And that’s what love looks like. It looks like when you’re afraid and you somehow tell the truth anyway.

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Addiction, Blogging, dating, Drinking, Girls, Sex, Writing

Love, Sort of

images-68When I was nineteen, I peer-pressured girls into sleeping with me.   Most of my friendships back then were predicated on aspirations of sex, and I craftily bided my time, confident that eventually you would get drunk enough for me to pounce. In a man, this behavior is disgusting and predatory, and it’s only slightly less reprehensible when you factor in my tender age at the time, my gender, and my collegiate adorability.   And then I met Smoke.

Smoke didn’t wear makeup or shave her legs or wear anything but baggy tee-shirts that were legitimately vintage, and spotting her across the quad she wasn’t the kind of girl I typically pursued, but when she talked to you, you felt like someone was really seeing you for the first time in your life. Everyone loved her, and I wanted her all for myself.

Of course I was living with my boyfriend Bummer at the time, which I believed did not disqualify me from pursuing another, totally separate relationship. Meanwhile, Smoke had started hanging around with this group of lesbians who disliked me at first sight. But I didn’t care. She had these full lips and the throatiest laugh I have ever heard, like she was congenitally missing that bullshit laugh that the rest of us have, and I loved to make that laugh come out. I followed her to parties and I waited for my opening.

It was weird, though, because it wasn’t really a lust thing, the way it was with other girls I knew and liked and tried to manipulate into positions where they would have to take their shirts off in front of me. I mostly wanted to have sex with Smoke because I wanted her full attention, and because I wanted to have something of hers that everyone else didn’t already have. I wanted to put my name on her. Mine.

We made out once, in the living room of my crappy basement apartment behind all the frat houses, with Bummer passed out in the other room. Everyone in the world drunk or high or both. Her mouth tasted like fall, her cigarette abandoned in the ash tray, and she laughed that laugh of hers, and I wanted to crack across the middle like a nesting doll so I could offer her the smaller, cleaner version of myself that was inside.

A week later, she told me she had started seeing one of the lesbians, a girl with naturally glossy hair and Doc Martens who watched me the way a security guard at the mall will watch a group of teenagers, certain that they are going to try to steal something.

Smoke was my friend, and I told her that I just wanted her to be happy and I meant it and was lying at the same exact time.   And I went home to Bummer, who I was too cowardly to break up with because I wasn’t on speaking terms with my own family back then and I didn’t know where else I would go for the holidays if not for him. I made it through finals with generous applications of Wild Turkey, and one of my friends took pity on me and let me take her to bed, probably because I was walking around looking like a cartoon character who had just stepped on a rake.  I would later repay this kindness by fucking her boyfriend behind her back.

Smoke and I stayed friends, but I knew her girlfriend didn’t like me, and it was strained, just being friends.   I got involved with other people and their interesting narcotics, but anytime I saw her, I had that same sure sense that she was the right person for me. I just wasn’t the right person for her.

Smoke and the lesbian were the ones who rescued me from my own bad decisions a few years later, when I washed up in New Orleans after graduation. She came and found me, walking into the grim little bar where I was taking off my clothes to that Portishead song. Smoke like a hallucination. The girls had a dog with them that they had found behind an Arby’s somewhere, and the whole thing was like a fever dream.

It was Smoke who gave me the news that Monster had died, and I remember how her face furrowed; I had never seen her cry before. It made her look like a different person.

After Monster’s nakedly horrible funeral, I kind of went to junkie shit and Smoke moved to Chicago to join one of those teaching programs for inner city kids. The next time I heard from her, she was calling because she wanted to tell me that she was very sorry to have to upset me, but she was receiving word from my dead ex through the bones in her head. Apparently, despite being long buried, Monster had begun calling her on the telephone.

She was relaying all this to me from the confines of a Chicago hospital, where she been brought by some police officers after a very public mental breakdown involving Smoke running around in the snow in a pair of boxer shorts, trying to open people’s car doors at the red lights and shouting things at them about the Marxist revolution. She didn’t seem bothered to be in the hospital, but she definitely thought I would be upset that Monster was reaching across the veil to call her instead of me.

Smoke was a person who used to make you feel like she saw you, and now she looked right past me, at visions only she could see; I didn’t really exist for her anymore. I saw her a few times after that in New York, but it wasn’t the same. She was jittery with revolutionary fervor, talking in double time about the Communist party and Che Guevara and power to the people. Sketch met her the last time she visited, and she slept unmolested on our couch. We’re Facebook friends now, although she never posts, and I have only her profile picture to squint at.

I loved her. I’m sure I loved her. But time passes, and that matters less and less.

These days, the way I feel about Connecticut, it reminds me of the way I felt about Smoke.   He and I are just friends, and I keep resolving to slow the battery of soul-baring texts we will exchange when I am home, alone and lonely.   The whole thing is deeply unsettling, because there’s not that familiar poke of lust, which is normally the only way I am able to motivate myself past my own social insecurities and leave the apartment. I’m more eager to nap with him than I am to sleep with him. I have a boner for, like, his companionship, a longing that is gross and weird and definitely not normal.   Sex: it gives things a solid shape, whereas this friendship feels like trying to carry around a handful of milk.  I don’t know what to do with it. Other people seem to be running around knowing what they feel and wanting only one thing at a time, but I blow around like smoke, filling whatever space you leave me.

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Addiction, Blogging, Breakups, Confessions, essays, New York, Recovery, Sex, Writing

Sex and Driving

images-65I love being in a car with a dude. Mostly. I made a single attempt at learning to drive when I was sixteen, rolling up on sidewalks with my stepfather shouting directions at me and learning that, under certain stress conditions, stop signs are completely invisible. And Bummer once let me drive his father’s car from Morristown to Teaneck, but when we reached our destination I couldn’t fit the car into the parking spot and, vexed with all the instructions I was being given and more than a little stoned, I plowed the car directly and purposefully into someone’s Cadillac.   A summer’s worth of waitressing tips squandered on a deeply satisfying moment of oh fuck this shit.

I never planned on being a driver, sort of idly figuring that there would always be plenty of more adult adults with cars and a working knowledge of what an alternator is to ferry me around.   As a teenager, cars were expensive-seeming but alluring, mobile bedrooms with cup holders, a place where you could listen to music and smoke pot and fuck people. Despite all the windows, cars always feel weirdly private, and that is probably why you can see so many people rooting around in their noses at red lights.

My junkie boyfriend Monster drove a red Volvo that we lived in for a while after paying rent started coming in a distant second to buying heroin. The landlord had changed the locks on our apartment one afternoon, and we were both too embarrassed to call anyone to let us in to get our things. That’s how I lost all these arty photographs I had of my sixteen-year-old self frolicking naked in the snow, but everything else in that apartment I didn’t care about. It’s kind of freeing, actually, taking only what you can fit in the backseat of a car. Of course the car was towed a few weeks later while it was parked illegally on Bowery and Monster and I were wandering around high, and that was the end of that. We never saw the Volvo again.

Since then, I’ve dated men with and without cars in New York, and while I will broadly purport to not to care about these big gassy symbols of American oil subsidies, secretly there is something enticing about a man who can give me a ride. I think about the fireman I dated, a big man who was into wearing women’s pantyhose, and who had heated leather seats that made my thighs prickle. I liked climbing into his behemoth of a truck, which he attached a plow to in the winter and had a permit to drive on the beach in Montauk in the summer, and I spun a lot of relationship fantasies around this truck, even if I ultimately wasn’t into the whole pantyhose thing. It’s interesting, really, how specific our kinks can be.

Living in New York, a bike and a metrocard are perfectly acceptable means of transportation. My bike is some kid’s discarded Huffy, slurry-green with bits of masking tape gumming up the frame and a little license plate with my name on it. I ride around at terrifyingly aggressive speeds listening to Tupac or Ministry, blowing off the red lights as suggestions. It’s a feral street bike so crappy that it lives out front chained to a pole and doesn’t get stolen; recently it was buried in a snowbank for about a month. That’s my ride.

So this driving thing might take a minute. A friend of mine, who shares a name with my stepfather but not his innate volatility, takes me to the cemetery to practice, trusting me with control of his car, and I’m all but of course. I slide behind the wheel on the driver’s side, adjusting the seat like I own the place, but under my sweater I am projectile sweating. I am pretty sure that after I fasten my seatbelt and carefully angle the mirrors, I will drive us directly into a pole and explode. Earlier I had texted him: Are you ready to go run people over? Why would anyone trust me with a giant rolling murder machine, ever?

The cemetery was a brilliant idea, though, because the people here are already dead, and no one laughs at me when I panic because there is an old holiday wreath lying in the middle of the lane and I’m not sure if you can run over it.   Also cemeteries are just awesome. When I was a kid, a cemetery was a place to hang out where no responsible person could see you and you could just hide behind a mausoleum and finger another teenager. I love cemeteries. The dead are so nonjudgmental.

Today, practicing my three point turns amid the graves gives me a rush of pleasure, which I didn’t expect. I always tend to think that other people can do things I can not do—own a home, drive a car, fix a problem, learn things.   But that’s changing.   I can drive myself places, and if the people behind me honk, I can handle it.

After I totally parallel park the car like a regular person in front of Starbucks, I text Connecticut to let him know about this bit of magic I have just performed.   We check in with each other a lot during the day, and it fills the gaping boyfriend-shaped hole I’ve been living with for these past couple of years since Sketch moved out. Connecticut and I make vague plans to road trip sometime soon (we’re talking Centralia, the mine-fire ghost town on both our bucket lists), but our plans are not about making out over the gearshift. It’s about driving with someone, that united feeling you get from having your eyeballs accelerate in the same direction as someone else’s. It’s about driving. It’s about finally getting a turn to fucking punch it.

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Addiction, Attention Seeking, Blogging, dating, Friendship, Writer's Block, Writing, yoga

No Off-Switch

imgres-22Scenes from this week are like a montage in a movie where an overgrown teenager finally begins to take adult control of her life. Driving lessons! Looking at apartments for sale! Organizing things into manila folders! Demi Lovato’s “Confident” is playing in the background of every store I walk into (I read messages into the pop songs that follow me around, the way other people read tea leaves; incidentally, if you hear “Uptown Funk” three times in a row, know it is a harbinger of satanic forces in your immediate vicinity, and get the fuck out of the Yogurberry).    Also, a thing that happened this week: the blog was featured on the Discover section of WordPress. This momentarily opened up the pipeline of attention I have so long and ardently desired that I needed to take an Advil and lay down. Apparently, wanting things is easier, in many ways, then getting them; I’m constantly trying to get people to look at me, but apparently I have no idea what I want to tell them once I get their attention. Cue panic.

My last post got two likes, so I’m kind of used to being a blog nobody who can comfortably and anonymously spout whatever she likes about her vagina, and now, for a moment anyway, it seems that the mic is on.   Fuck! It’s a lot for this attention addict.   I think about this guy I knew, years ago, who had a pretty hardcore crack problem; he found the transformer where the local dealers were stashing their curbside package for easier street distribution, utterly by accident, when he was cracking open pieces of city infrastructure to try to salvage the innards for copper scrap. He looked at all the shiny narcotics, neatly packaged for individual sale, and he thought I’m probably going to die. No off-switch. I relate, brother.

Balancing the equation, the thing I hate most is when someone ignores me. There are other things I hate, like when I see people dragging their dogs away from things they want to smell or when someone plays the bagpipes on the subway, but ignoring me is the number one way to make me lose my mind.

I’m not sure if Connecticut is ignoring me this afternoon or if he’s trapped in an abandoned mineshaft or if he forgot that we are supposed to be going to see Deadpool in an hour, but there is no word, and my texts are sounding increasingly strained, all prefaced with things like Don’t mean to sound paranoid here…   I’m a perfectly rational person until you blow off my texts or defriend me on the Facebook, and then: crazy time.

It’s my own fucking fault too, because I have a HUGE goddamned mouth. I could never secretly be a superhero; I’m way too attention-starved. I’d be all cryptically namedropping my Justice League pals or letting my utility belt just peep out from under my sweater or finding situations at work that accidentally show people how superstrong I am.

So I couldn’t resist telling Connecticut about the blog and the whole Discover thing and the brief spate of online attention and why I have my phone, merrily vibrating with notifications, out on the table where everyone can see it (I completely suck as a human being and am hoping modesty, and quiet dignity, and bigger boobs, are in the karmic roll-of-the-dice for the next go round).   And I send him a link, even though the last couple of months of this blog are chockfull of references to my infatuation with him.

Anyway, I send him a link and a Bluebeardy warning to ONLY look at the one entry and not to poke around at the others.   Which is basically like telling someone where you keep your diary, and what page your thoughts about them are featured on, and that there is free candy inside. And I haven’t heard from him since.

We’re friends, though, seriously.   I like Connecticut, even though we are completely different kinds of animals.   This is, after all, a man who is on a self-imposed hiatus from sex and relationships: a year of voluntary celibacy, as he puts it, which sounds to me more like a judge’s sentence then a life experiment. Us being friends is like one of those old unlikely-buddy movies. I’m thinking the one where they make Danny Devito and Arnold Schwarzenegger put on matching white suits.

And now I have probably screwed that up because I have an almost comical ability to be discreet about anything, ever.   This is why Sketch won’t tell me about anything anymore: you’re just going to put it in your blog.  Sketch is nowhere to be found, either. He’s just started yoga teacher training, coincidentally with that hot instructor who looks like him that I was stalking a couple of years ago. So he’s busy, and I am imagining that he has girls all over him, “adjusting” him with their hands and sucker-like yogi vaginas. Girls always like Sketch, and girls also love male yoga teachers, so I glumly fear I have seen the last of him.

I’m home, alone, and my phone is still going. It buzzes and it lights up. Attention. But not from Sketch and not from Connecticut, and I am on the Discover tab and I am still kind of totally alone.  But I’m discovering things on my own, such as the fact that I am not naturally such a terrible driver, and that I can learn to be better. Outside, from the stereo of a passing car, Bruno Mars promises to uptown funk me up. It harbingers a text from Connecticut, who was napping, and who wants to know if I am OK.

 

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