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   I bury the nuance in unpublished footnotes, with all the things that don’t fit my version of events.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, Alcoholism, Boys, Breakups, Grief, New York, Writing

Packing Tips For When You Finally Run

imgres-26I’m closing on my new apartment next week, and I’ve been procrastinating hard about putting my old life into these cardboard boxes. I have a ream of them, stacked and folded, and over the last few weeks they have gradually become invisible. I hang clothes off them. I set my phone down on them and that disappears too.

I guess it’s not surprising that this is difficult. After all, this is the apartment Sketch and I shared, and this is the place where he left me. I remember when we first moved in here; I had been living a few blocks away, and I didn’t want to give up my own space because I was still using a little, and I liked to eat dinner in bed vaguely stoned with no one watching. So Sketch and I got a two-bedroom apartment, complete with a room of my own that featured floor-to-ceiling bookshelves and a door I could shut anytime I liked.

I shut it too often, and now it’s been three years since he moved out. Apparently, this is how long it takes, for me to stop climbing in my ex’s pants and hanging out there where it’s familiar. After he moved out, I asked everyone how long it would be until I could breathe right again. It felt like my lungs were gone, and I was left to suck air ineffectually into the sour pit in my stomach, and I just wanted a number because it was reassuring to pretend that there was a clock ticking down on grief. I imagined a bell would ring, and I would walk out the door a free woman. Everyone had their own theories, like the people who told me recovery from Sketch leaving would take half the time of the length of the relationship divided by two. I love an arbitrary mathematical formula.

Yesterday, Sketch calls and leaves a message. I missed you this weekend, he says on the machine.   I spent the entire weekend with Connecticut: he finished the New York Times Sunday crossword puzzle in my bed, and he held my rabbit on the couch. I pulled weird things out of my closet to show him as I finally started packing—a light saber, a t-shirt of pugs doing yoga, an umbrella so oversized you need to stand in the middle of the street to open it safely. What am I supposed to do with this umbrella? It is ridiculous, the size of a swimming-pool cover, too large for me to manage, but it makes me sad, the thought of putting it in the garbage.

I can’t even let go of an umbrella, one that stands in the hall closet smug with the snagged hair and skewered eyeballs of innocent passerby; how am I supposed to delete Sketch from my life? His is the only phone number, aside from my parents’, that I know by heart. He’s the person I always called, if I got lost somewhere and I needed someone to somehow tell me where I was.

I found my way back to writing in this apartment. Sketch and I had stopped all the drinking and the coke (I claimed I just like the smell of it, and wanted to keep smelling it), and we remembered suddenly that we had other things we cared about. Sketch started to draw again, nervously at first: he drew cartoons on the wall and they are still here, keeping me company as I write this. After he left, I couldn’t bring myself to paint over them. Partly because they are his, and I love him. But also because it’s a fucking awesome thing, to watch someone come back to life and do the thing they are supposed to be doing. No one uses the expression finding yourself anymore. But that’s what we did. We found ourselves. It just turns out we found ourselves on opposite sides of the East River.

It was such a close thing, with Connecticut and Sketch. Fucking months of not knowing which one I was supposed to pick, making nerdy Venn diagrams and pro/con T charts in my notebook, and still ending up stuck, because love and lust each have their own metrics. Connecticut has no idea, how close I came to telling him two months ago, I don’t want to do this. I just want to be friends. Because it’s impossible to know the things we don’t know. We can’t feel the things we don’t feel yet. I looked at him, and I just couldn’t see him, because I didn’t know what I was looking at.

If I had known what I know today, I would have given him a name to go with his guitar. But they all seemed ridiculous at the time. Pick or Strum were wrong. I liked Noodle but it just seemed so flaccid. I settled on Connecticut because his family is from New Haven and I have a joke about how people from Connecticut don’t like me. And he didn’t like me. He still had his head up the ass of his own past. He liked some other girl, one who lived far away.

Back in December, before he liked me, I went to see him play a show. It was our first time hanging out, and I thought it was a date, and I wore the tank top that makes my tits look good and leaned over to touch him a lot before his set. He kept scooting his chair away a little, like he was crowding me and that was the reason I kept letting my hand rest on his arm. FEAR AND TREMBLING, the tattoo on his forearm read, residue from a major in religious studies. When he got up on the stage to play, he looked down the entire time, or out at some spot over everyone’s heads, and at some point I gave up.

Now, months later, Connecticut plays an acoustic show with his band at the same bar, and I go to see him play once more. This time we walk in together, fresh from dinner and a trip to a used bookstore where we tried to find the most ridiculous books we could to pose with for a picture. He gave me a quasi-pornographic novel about a robot, and I gave him a book called How to Read a Book and in the picture I’m visibly trying not to laugh.   At the show, he kisses me between sets . I sit in the front, order a cranberry juice and am served it in a ridiculously oversized goblet that I feel embarrassed about. I lift it in a toast when Connecticut looks up from his guitar. Doing the thing he’s supposed to be doing.

I must be gazing at him with great amusement and interest because people keep looking at me and then following my sight line to see what I’m staring at; people generally just watch the lead singer, who has a Civil War beard and dance moves that involve Godzilla arms.

I take it you’re with that one, a man grooving out in his chair near me says. I’m watching Connecticut, and my chest feels weirdly crowded.

Yep. I’m with that one. But there’s still one thing that needs to happen. I need to let the other man in my life know. I need to talk to Sketch.

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I call Sketch on a Monday morning. He’s at work, and I’m at work, and it’s not the way I thought this conversation would go down.   We should be on a luxury steamer that is sinking at sea. We should be climbing a hill to outrun a fire. Chasms should be opening up, entire homes swallowed.

It is the end of an epic romance, only not really. It’s just an ordinary breakup. He keeps asking me to repeat myself, because our connection is bad, and when I get to the part about how this isn’t working, he cuts me off because he already knows. I only get a few words into my prepared remarks before he fills in the rest.

Make sure it’s worth it, he says gently.

It is, but when I hang up the phone, it hurts like someone died. I never realize how big a part of me someone owns until they are gone, and they take all that real estate with them. And part of me wants to call back and say I didn’t mean it, to take it back, to take him back, to keep hoping that he and I will somehow figure out a way to be together.

I feel the way I always feel at the end of a long book series, Tolkien or Larry McMurtry: bleak and grief-stricken at the conclusion of a story that has taken so long to spin out. Horseman, pass by.

And at the same time, I’m well aware that mine is not an exceptional story, or even an interesting one, really. I fell in love with one man who I couldn’t really let go of until I fell in love, kind of accidentally, with another. I may as tell the story of catching a cold or growing older—this is shit that happens to everyone, and it’s only a big deal because it’s happening, in real time, to me.

So now I’m packing to leave this apartment next weekend, emptying closets and taking the pictures off the walls. It’s weird how your own possessions become invisible to you, camouflaged by their ordinariness. I didn’t notice, until I take each one down, just how dusty they have gotten.   There is one wall entirely devoted to taxidermied insects. Sketch and I bought them to mark occasions back in 2004. This Goliath beetle is for Valentine’s Day; that walking-stick marks when I finally made it down to fifty milligrams of methadone. There’s a scarab for when Sketch’s friend overdosed and died on his living room rug; when they found him, he had collapsed ignominiously with his ass in the air, and all the blood had pooled in his face and he was dark in the open casket. If you’re gonna be a bear, be a grizzly, he always used to say.FullSizeRender-25

What do I do with these specimens? I can’t throw them out, and I can’t take them with me. I wish I could just open the shadowboxes and let them go, the stag beetle and the cicada and the tailless scorpion and that creepy horror-moth filing out of this place to go alight on separate windows, fighting and fucking and spreading nightmares. Not ending like this, wrapped in newspaper and hidden in a box like a secret.

I guess maybe I’ll see you guys around sometime, Sketch says, while something in me howls and howls. I let him go. I’d like to keep him pinned in this shadowbox forever, but I let him go. Suddenly there is room, and there are echoes in the vacant corners of our place, carrying my own voice back to me, while I mutter a list to myself of all the things that still need doing.

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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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dating, Health, Men, New York, Secret Crushes, Sex, Writing, yoga

For Play

images-67When I am embarrassed, I take my phone out and stare into it, the way a cat licks its own asshole after it falls off a table. I have my phone out; now I can no longer see you or feel required to deal with you in any way.

And I’ve been feeling embarrassed a lot this week. I recently sent Connecticut a link to one of my posts about him, over the cries and lamentations of my own diminished sense of social occasion. I do it because I need to get some of this whole thing out in the open, this thing where it seems like there’s something going on between us only there isn’t really.  He then goes off to band rehearsal, leaving me trying not to check my phone every eleven seconds, and failing.

He will ultimately thank me for sharing, along with some other boner-killing texts such as the one proclaiming that the way he sees it, we’re platonically dating. Sweeping relief, just in giving this thing we are doing a name, even if it is a name of something terrible, because dating means introducing parts of our bodies to one another while also exchanging stories about what our childhoods were like or arguing about which cookie is the best.  Platonically dating: it sounds like something young Amish people would do. This is not their fault; they have so many buttons and so little Internet porn. But I’m not sure it sounds like me.

I am a sex addict, and after a few weeks without sex, I get shaky and start looking at men on the street the way someone who is drowning will look at flotation devices bobbing just out of reach. A couple of months without sex and my senses heighten, the borderline superpowers of the experimentally deprived. I am not a person whom one platonically dates.  I kiss people the way a baby puts things in its mouth—to learn things, to know them, to understand where I am in relation to them, where they end and I begin.

But at least now I know exactly where things are at; I’ve found if you tell someone the truth, they will likely return the favor. Even if you tell the truth by blogging at them, and you can tell they read it between their fingers because you scare them.

There is such a thing as too much talking. I once dated a man who would ask me, “Do you want foreplay?”   Ugh. Not anymore I don’t. Also, no one should use ever the word foreplay, which conjures up images of men with their dress socks pulled up halfway to a solid Republican boner, a copy of The Sensual Man on the nightstand.  Gross.

Sketch never asks me questions about what I want. He just does things to me. The first time he put his hands on me he said, I’m going to kiss you now.   He doesn’t ever ask me any questions. He already knows what I want.

 

imgres-23I get sick this week; the flu is very on-trend in New York right now, some virus that makes you burn at 101 and cough until you gag on your own lungs.   I, ever disciplined, attempt business as usual: driving lesson, a yoga class, making dinner plans I’m not terribly interested in keeping, until I am finally forced to concede that I am actually on fire and take a day off from work.

Being stuck in bed means one thing: I will watch porn until the Internet is disgusted with me.   It seems that anyone I spend enough time with I end up wanting to fuck, including, apparently, my own feverish self.   But it does start to wear a little thin after a while; it starts to remind me of coming down off cocaine, watching the same filthy VHS tape over and over again, trying to pry an orgasm out of the dwindling dopamine supply in my increasingly miserable brain. I think that VHS tape is still kicking around my apartment somewhere, maybe behind the box of Christmas ornaments. It’s like Jacob Marley’s ghost, only in tranny-porn form, reproachfully moaning.

Masturbation is a lonely pastime, but it’s being sick that makes me most vulnerable to wanting the kind of things other people have, like a car to drive to the doctor, or a husband who will go pick up the cough syrup and gingerale. I could take my bike to Urgent Care, but I’m pretty sure I can’t make it back home up the hill with my lungs intact, so I just google fever cough possibly dying before giving up, deciding to just spend the next 36 hours in bed.

Sketch Facetimes in twice, and I almost don’t pick up; I’ve got no makeup on and my hair is sticky.   But I do, and he is sick too, naturally, as I was just over there the other day licking things and leaving germs everywhere. We lay in bed, and we are together and separate at the same time, laughing at what our flushed faces look like, zooming in close to the screen before pulling away slowly, turning our devices around to show one another what’s going on in the background. He has no girls over there, unless they’re hidden out of frame. It’s just us, shimmering with fever, locating one another on our screens and marking each other for the next time.

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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, Awkward Moments, Blogging, dating, New York, Sex, Writing

Walk of Shameless

FullSizeRender-16One of my most dearly fondled anxieties about being unmarried concerns what will happen after I get hit by a cleaning van on Northern Boulevard and can no longer use my arms and legs. Maybe this is a thing all single people worry about: those cleaning vans are a menace, their mop-ballasted weight careening around corners and straight into bicyclists and dogs and forty-year-old single women.

Who will take care of me?

The thing is, I know it’s a scam: having children or a husband still doesn’t guarantee that you have someone to take care of you when you are old and fucked up. Being married doesn’t mean you will have lifelong companionship after you have reached the point where you pee when you reach for things. More likely it just means someone else to clean up after.

So I hired someone to do my investment planning and I figure when the time comes I will just pay people to feed/ bathe/ fuck me in my dotage. I’ll secure a team of monkey butlers or something. It’ll work it out.

Sketch comes out with me to somebody’s birthday party this week, a rare social appearance that makes the whole night easier. He is like my social-situations guide dog. I’m blind and groping and he steers me faithfully towards conversation topics that are appropriate (so not anal sex, then), making people laugh so no one notices that I have dropped a mussel in my lap and am now trying to figure out how to get rid of it. He does this thing where he will sit and tell the person on his left his favorite things about the person on his right. I especially enjoy this when I am the person on his right.

I do my best to flounder through interactions with other people most of the time on my own.   I am still exchanging texts with that guy from Connecticut, even though people from Connecticut don’t like me. I guess we’re friends? I’ve never really had an unmarried straight male friend before. Generally, if you’re unmarried and straight, at least one of us is wanting to wrap a leg around the other. Connecticut and I share a love for things like cannibal horror movies and punctuation; he introduces me to something called an interrobang, a question mark / exclamation point hybrid meant to denote sarcasm.   FullSizeRender-15Because I’m not quite done scrabbling for attention from him, I text him, Have you just interrobanged me? Have I been interrobanged? I don’t include the aforementioned sarcasm marks because I haven’t figured out the keyboard shortcut yet.

I have a copy editor’s itchy fingers. I used to work at this techie magazine, back when I was still on a shit-ton of methadone, and I could often be found at my desk with the stem of my neck broken forward in an unlovely nod. But I loved to fix the things other people wrote, smoothing out errors, emailing PR flacks at software companies to double-check the specs on some software package I didn’t understand. It was like proofreading in a foreign language, one where you know the grammatical rules but not the vocabulary.

And I still feel like that a lot of the time today. The bar down the street, a depot for drunks that spew contrails of urine and vomit as they taxi along my sidewalk, has a chalkboard sign outside that tells lets passerby know: the kichen is open till 11.  The misspelling is driving me crazy. The kichen? It sounds like what reindeer eat off rocks. Everyday I walk by, and it’s still there, still spelled wrong. Is it that no one else sees it, or that no one else gives a shit?

I try to remind myself that I want other people to be gentle and forgiving with my mistakes, so I should try to do the same.   Last week I accidentally published a post with a joke-ruining typo in it and until I could get home to my laptop to fix it it was like walking around with your sock half folded on your foot inside your sneaker.   I kept waiting for someone to derisively point it out, but no one did.

If I watch how other people act closely, I might eventually figure out how to act, like a language you learn from studying the pictures on a menu. Have you ever noticed that food and body parts are the first words people learn in any language? After dinner, Sketch comes back to my place, to apply his body parts to mine, and in the morning, I pretend I have lost all use of my arms and legs. I lay on the bed bonelessly, laughing while he rifles through my underwear drawer to find panties to put on me, picking out clothes for me to wear. The outfit he constructs is hilarious—tinselly legwear with this black micromini dress I might wear out to a club if I ever went to a club in my life.   It’s a dress for a person from a different life than mine, but I can’t bear to part with it in case someday I stay up past 9:30. He pairs this dress with silver thigh-high socks and a pair of Chelsea boots. I look like a madwoman. I tell him I will call this look the walk of shameless, and, spontaneously regaining the use of my legs, I throw my parka over the ensemble and head out with him. My hair stands out in eleven well-fucked directions, and when we go to the diner for eggs and coffee, I see a bunch of people I know.   My underwear is on inside out for the entire day, and, as with many things, I do not realize it, or care.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Addiction, Attention Seeking, Blogging, dating, Holidays, New York, Texting, Uncategorized, Writing

Screens

images-65My computer has nearly had it. It’s sticky and clogged and that beach ball of Mac despair spins and spins onscreen. I am frequently informed that my Dropbox is full, which is like telling me how all the world’s bees are dying; I feel bad, but what am I supposed to do? Start an apiary in Brooklyn? Begin backing up? The cursor dangles just adjacent to my last sentence, and refuses to go where I tell it to go, like one of those carnival games where you have to shoot a target through a crooked sight; you can learn, eventually, to compensate. These words, for example, need to come out all on the first go, like a typewriter, because of the whole feral cursor situation. It makes me think a little longer on what I want to say. I deliberate, for a change.

My IT gifts extend only as far as restarting the computer and mumbling at it angrily, Be less shitty. This whole situation is not acceptable, because I need my computer. I have a careful fortress made of screens and electronic alerts set like bear traps and I need them, because unsurprisingly, I am the sort of girl who would rather text someone than talk to them.  I would rather blog than go to a party.  People are scary and I’m afraid of balloons. If only every time someone walked up to me at a holiday party, they could hand me a pad with their name and their intentions on it and invite me to write back in my own time, I would be much happier with all my social interactions around the chips and onion dip.   The screen is a buffer, and a delightful one; I like myself so much better in electronic chat then in reality, the place where I am accidentally head-butting people when we both go to reach for the same item, where the hood of my coat got stuck in the closing door of the subway from inside of the car and I had to get off at a later stop that opened on that side.

Things are not working this week. My stomach is expressing profound dissatisfaction with the holidays, burping and growling and being a nuisance. Eating has always been a problem, and that sucks, because aside from drinking and fucking, what else is there to do with other people? In my head, I am still the girl with the steak and the doublewide basket of bread and the glass of Glenlivet, and I don’t know how the fuck I turned into this person who is bitterly drinking a horseradish juice and picking fussily at a quinoa burger, no bun.   It sucks.

When I was twenty-four, I went to some hypnotist-spiritualist-charlatan type person who told me that there was a demon living in my stomach.  On the metaphorical level, I still believe it: some sort of internal Krampus propelling me from place to place doubled over, dealing with the bad behavior of other people’s children, eating charcoal tablets to try to deal with it and burping black clouds.   Some dark minion has taken up residency, and it looks to punish.

And I maybe need punishing. I am getting my flirt on this week with this guy I met in real life.  Met IRL, and immediately fell back, retreating behind screens. I scroll through six months of his Facebook posts, handling them like sheets of glass, afraid of accidentally liking something from last July and looking like a weirdo.  We lob texts at one another.  I don’t know anything about him except that he is good at texing, and he writes and reads and does music, and this is a wonderfully blank canvas upon which to fling bright buckets of need.   Every time I see a text from him, my heart lifts.  Attention.  It’s a Christmas miracle.

And all the meanwhile, I am sort of dying.  I spend the night at Sketch’s, and we have the sort of gymnastic sex that makes your toes splay.   I bruised my shin on a chair that was brought into the bed; it’s the kind of sex that co-opts innocent furniture.  And it’s good.  But after, my stomach hurts so bad I can’t even make conversation.  When he asks me if I am OK, I nod, try to pull my white lips into a reassuring shape.   I could be drowning, pursued by underwater bees, and I would still tell you I’m fine.

Definitely a demon, one that isn’t on board with all the fucking or the holiday cookies people are trying to give me.  My stomach bows demonically outward, twinging on high-alert every time the phone hums.  There is a sort of laser-sharp focus thing that happens when I like someone. Normally, I walk around sort of vague and forgetful, but when I like someone, and the texting thing is happening, I am on point. I am awake. I can feel the double-vibration signifying an incoming text from the next room, the way animals sense other animals on the savanna through the vibrations in their hooves.

But I find the suspense almost unbearable. There is something about thinking I might possibly have sex with someone at some point that makes me want to immediately have sex with them, because I can not stand the suspense of not knowing. I’m the same way with presents; I just want the cheerful wrapping paper that stands between me and the next disappointment removed and gone.

But life, much like my cursor, doesn’t allow for revisions. There is no going back. Once the pants come off, like gift wrap, there is nothing left but to look pleased and pleasantly surprised. So I deliberate, and finally just text this man a half-dozen dead-eyed Santa emoji, hidden behind my glowing rectangles, peering out and cringing at the mistakes I haven’t made yet.

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Krampus: hates parties and is a terrible dancer.

 

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