Addiction, dating, Distance, essays, Love, Sex, Writing

Comfortably Kinky? Plus: A Guest Post by Connecticut

FullSizeRender-27How long does it take to get really comfortable with your new lover? The sort of comfortable where you can stop hinting and just flat-out ask for a dog collar, or for the angle you like the anal at, or for the names you like to be called? The kind of comfortable where you text a reminder to bring zip-ties over the same way you’d request a gallon of milk? I would argue that it doesn’t take that long to build a routine around kinky, but it does a few months to stop feeling a little weird about it afterwards, to ease up on all the hyper-vigilant monitoring and just enjoy the good fortune of finding someone who likes the same shit you do.

Last week I wrote about insecurities, thick on my hull as fucking barnacles; maybe this is how long it takes to start to shrug them off, to pee with the bathroom door open because we’re in the middle of a conversation, to be OK with being an imperfect person in an imperfect shell and still want to tell Connecticut that he owns me.

So here we are, after three months of applying my wriggliness to this other human, and it seems like a milestone. Maybe because, inured as I am in 12-step culture, there is a mythos that surrounds the 90-day mark. The recovery rooms give you a token after 90 days of not drinking (one that I hear certain predatory bars will accept as drink-payment for falling face-first off the wagon). After 90 days, you get invited to go up to the podium and talk a whole bunch about yourself .  Three months has weight. It has significance.

Some of this is probably rooted in the folk-science of it taking 90 days to forge a new habit. Supposedly, it takes less time to break an old habit than to make a new one; I’m not so sure. It’s been eight years and I still want a cigarette.  But this week marks three months since Connecticut finally crossed the vast distances of the couch to put his talented hands on me, and he has written a guest post for WYSD to help mark the occasion. I feel it’s only fair that he gets a turn at the mic.  You can read my version of the same events here.  They say all stories have three sides: your version, my version, and what really happened; this doesn’t mean narratives have to compete, just that it’s nice to let someone speak for himself once in a while.

So, guys, meet Connecticut, telling his version of the first time he kissed me.

No need for introductions, I suppose.

I remember sitting on a couch, perched on the edge. My legs were spread wide, elbows planted firmly into the meat just above my knees. I had fashioned myself into a pyramid of bones. It was unconscious, but looking back, I was attempting to both take up space and offer no softness: a defensive position. 

If you ever catch yourself using the term “man-spreading,” know that you’re talking about the posture of fear.

Two or three feet away—easily within arm’s reach—she was lying, all curve and happy slackness, dress creeping up to reveal legs I was too frightened to touch. Those two or three feet could easily have been hundreds of yards of minefield and barbed wire, the way I was reacting to it.

I had had some bad experiences. I did what I had been trained to do when I was a child: constrict. Control. Clamp down, dig in and stubbornly refuse to do anything that might open myself to harm. There’s a decent amount of hurt in my life-story, both real and imagined.

Perched on the edge of the couch, I begin to try to explain. After chuckling at me and throwing me her beautiful, slightly skewed smile, she pointed out the ridiculousness of my posture, my sweatiness, and mostly my use of air-quotes. I tried to tell her how I put my heart on the shelf for safe-keeping. I hid it in the back of myself, where the seldom-used cans of spices go in a pantry. Perfect spot for my emotional core, right next to the Dillweed. She didn’t seem to get what a big deal this is. And that’s alright.

I couldn’t tell her what a big deal it is, because to do so would be to acknowledge that I a) have feelings and b) have them in her direction. It would mean breaking down a dam, and letting all this… stuff spill out.

This stuff, roughly speaking, was an amalgam of stolen glances and perceived understandings. Intimacies. Secrets. Seeing her across a crowded room a long time ago, bright blue eyes under an Annie Hall hat. I remarked to a friend at the time that I thought she was cute. Not that I’d dare do anything about it. Then, months later, hearing her talk, sharing that I sometimes feel like a werewolf and her saying she knew what I meant. I shook her hand and felt a warmth that went beyond mere physical contact. Not long after that, seeing her in her own neighborhood, on her own soil. Telling her about myself, indirectly, as I addressed a room full of people. Watching her—and mostly just her—out of the corner of my eye as she laughed at my self-deprecating remarks and nodded sagely at the best understanding of myself I could muster.

And then, friendship. Long and slow acquisition of knowledge about one another. We shared coffee and the giddy joy of discovery. We were—and still are—sometimes like two archeological digs that happen to be next to each other. “Look at this weird thing I found from the Teenage-zoic period!”

All of this was rumbling around behind me, as she told me to sit like a normal person. Not long after that, I said “Fuck it” and managed to cross the two or three feet that felt like miles of wasteland. Turns out it was just two or three feet after all.

There’s been much since there. Maybe I’ll write about that one day. For now I’m just enjoying my good fortune.

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It’s really hard not to annotate, to add marginalia, to clarify with tiny cartoons.  But maybe 90 days is the right amount of time not to need to chime in every second with my own thoughts and opinions.  His side, my side, and we find a way to touch each other, in the middle.

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Addiction, Awkward Moments, Bad Influences, Boys, Confessions, Girls, Open relationships, Sex, Writing, yoga

How Open Is Too Open?

images-75I never know how I will feel about things until they actually happen.

While I’m no longer chasing an open relationship (as in sex parties, multiple partners, monthly STD tests) I still need an open relationship (as in communication, trust, those other pervy emotional things I’ve only ever heard rumors about), and it feels kinky and dangerous, telling Connecticut everything. Especially this week, when everything includes the stimulating fact that I made out with an epically hot girl from yoga in the bathroom of a Cuban restaurant.

Openness. It’s a theme this week. A few days ago, I found out something about Sketch. I can’t write it here, because it’s a secret. A sad sex secret. His friend told me because he thought I knew already, and then I had to pretend to be cool while we finished dinner with my heart kicking at my ribcage. Nearly fifteen years I’ve been walking around not knowing this grubby piece of information, and when I found out, it felt like when you think there’s one more step at the top of staircase, but there’s not, and for a half-second you feel like you’re plummeting to your death. Sketch’s friend, realizing I didn’t know: Oh. Fuck. Don’t tell him that I told you. I wouldn’t want him to think that I was a tattletale. I fucking hate when someone has a sordid secret and they tell you and now it’s your sordid secret. And I can’t even follow up the way I want to, which at some elemental level would basically consist of me pointing my index finger at Sketch while making disbelief noises.

Clearly, it’s not something Sketch is advertising, so the compassionate thing is to let it go. But I need to tell someone, and so I tell Connecticut, and even though we are talking about my ex, he is able to listen and suggest a kinder perspective than the one I was initially able to take.

This is one reason why I am in love with him. I love you, I say right into the phone, right where he can hear me. Holy shit, I love you, waking up next to him in the middle of the night and realizing that he’s there with me. Texting: I loooooove yooooouuuuuu, because I think it’s funny that I get to say it all I want, after wanting to say it so badly all these weeks.

A relationship of openness. It’s amazing.  Because there are some things going on, and I need to talk about them.

 

images-76And now for a dirty confession: I have a weakness for small, beautiful women.  Back when I lived in New Orleans, I lived in a rented room over a bar, and I would sometimes go downstairs and look for the tiniest woman in the bar. If she didn’t protest too much, I would carry her upstairs where I could kiss her and squeeze her ass a lot in private. Women this small and beautiful and willing don’t wander into grabbing range that often, especially now that I don’t hang out in bars and strip clubs anymore, so I usually am just nursing one crush or another at my yoga studio. I’ve written about it before as being a pastime akin to a dog chasing rabbits in the backyard—it doesn’t expect to catch one. The playful chase is the point.

Well, one got close enough for me to grab this week. Beautiful, tiny, all taut stomach and dewy skin, the kind of shapely legs you want to get your knee between. Gorgeous.   The kind of girl you know will taste good.   And looking for something.   Looking for an experience.

Now, I have to tell you: this never happens. NEVER. N-E-V-E-R happens. But this one time, the thing that never happens actually happens and after a few drinks, there is an invitation to go lock the door of the single-occupant bathroom at the back of the restaurant and make out for a few delicious minutes next to the hand-dryer. Grabbing tight handfuls of this girl, grinding myself against her, touching her body not only on my behalf but on behalf of former Tippy, who I am mentally elbowing. Check it out, I say to my former self. Get a load of this.

She is tight and sexy and tastes wonderfully like girl, but when I head home, texting Connecticut goodnight, I feel a strange emotion that is not my usual acquisitive glee. It feels like guilt.   What the shit? It was just a kiss, and with a girl. To not kiss a girl this unbelievably hot would be like this would be like leaving money on the table. Wasteful. Right?

But the next day, the feeling is still there. I think I might feel better if I could just show everybody a picture of this girl in full-split on Instagram.  I mean, Connecticut and I are officially an item now, but come on. This girl is sex in yoga pants, and I am a sex addict, for fuck’s sake. Who could possibly blame me for wanting to push her up against a wall and touch her body?

So that happened is an expression I sort of hate. It makes it sound as if the events we set in motion are like weather patterns, ungovernable and unpredictable.   When I think about what I want to say to Connecticut about what happened with this girl in the bathroom, I write it just happened, and then cross it out three times.

What did you want to tell me? he asks the next night. He and I are on the phone and it’s late and I’m sitting on the floor. I read him my prepared statement, trying to sound like I’m not reading a prepared statement. I just wanted to let you know what happened, and hear about how you feel, I conclude, increasingly uneasy at the mounting silence on the other end of the line. Men are into this kind of shit, aren’t they?   Don’t they always want the details? I mean, it was a girl, not some dude. Not my ex.

Sexist goddamned double-standards, and I know it, too.

I’m not OK with that, he says quietly. And I know that I have fucked up. And it’s weird, because all I usually care about, ever, is whether or not I am in trouble, whether or not somebody is mad at me. And there’s a lot of that now, but mostly what I feel is horror when I realize that I have hurt him.

And I say all the things: I’m sorry, it won’t happen again, I didn’t know, we hadn’t gotten clear on what our rules were, I suck, I’m sorry.   And still he is hurt.

So basically this week, I told him I loved him for the first time, called him my boyfriend, and immediately went out and cheated on him. I am literal human garbage.

So yeah. That happened. Now I’m waiting to see if we’re going to be OK, and when I wake up this morning at 4:30 because some alarm is going off down the street, I pull the pillows over my head like I want to bury myself.

Giving up, I get out of bed and make my way to the kitchen with a drag-footed gallows walk. And there is a text waiting for me on my phone from Connecticut, from the night before. I’m about to go to sleep and these are things you might need to read in the morning. Breathe. You’re okay, I’m okay. We’re okay and going to be great. I love you.

My goal now is to figure out how to actually deserve this man. You’re okay, I tell myself. You’ll make better mistakes tomorrow. I try to believe it. There is air in the open space between us, and I breathe it, nervously.

 

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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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Addiction, Attention Seeking, Blogging, Breakups, Confessions, dating, essays, Photography, Writing

People From Connecticut Didn’t Like Her

FullSizeRender-10I know this perfectly adorable couple. Their vacation pictures on Facebook look like an advertisement for Love, or possibly teeth whiteners.  In the Florida sunshine, her elfin face peeps over his shoulder, his lips pressed against her, the ocean vast behind them. Of all the fish in the sea, of which there are reportedly many, they have found one another and they radiate benevolent delight. It’s a Relationship, and from where I’m sitting, it looks enticing.

Of course, who knows what is actually happening when they are at home and no one can see them. Maybe they argue, pelting one another with garbage.

There should be a word for the vague sense of embarrassment I feel after going out for the night for other humans, clumsily attempting to connect with other people the way everyone else seems to be doing on Facebook. I go to see this guy’s band play, this guy I like. I must like him, because for the last week I have been curiously closed-mouthed about the whole thing; I am disinclined to even assign him a pseudonym for the blog.  Feels jinxy.

I want to see him all week, on high-alert for his texts, but on the train, en route to hang out with him in person, all I want to do is turn around and go back home. I just washed three weeks worth of yoga clothes and there is now an enormous bag of clean laundry in the hallway and that is a very comfortable place to sit. Also, I found a Raymond Carver book in the garbage. All I want is to stay home on my laundry throne and read my garbage-book. Simple pleasures.

Instead, I am forcing myself to try to reach across the fathomless distances that exist between me and other people, but it’s hard to sink hooks into him. This is a person who has solved the New York Times crossword puzzle for the last 23 days in a row. He is too smart for me.

All week I have been explaining to him about things like how I just want to stay home burrowed in laundry and how I can’t help mortifying myself at every turn when I walk out my front door.  My friend Court asks me to send her a picture of him and I text back: his awesomeness doesn’t translate in photos—kind of chubby and bearded. I am then 90% sure I texted this message to the guy by accident, and want to throw my phone and myself into traffic. I think of Sketch’s imaginary epitaph for his tombstone: Well that was long and mortifying. I have begun proposing my own epitaph: People from Connecticut didn’t like her. You know the people I’m talking about. Normal people, the ones who aren’t dying of embarrassment every second.

This guy, this guy that I am so drawn to, his family is from New Haven. He is a person from Connecticut. And yet I try. At the bar, I lean into his shoulder when I talk to him, my hand on his arm. He has a Kierkegaard allusion tattooed there. And still, he doesn’t touch me back. My entire spine is a run of flop-sweat.

“What did you want to happen?” Court will ask me later.

I wanted something. A moment. I wanted to feel that moment where someone looks at you and actually sees you, pronounces your real name, and is there with you, and likes you, even if they are from Connecticut and people from Connecticut don’t like you.

It doesn’t come out that way.  There is no moment, even though I am so nervous that my stomach lurches into full rebellion; it normally only gets that bad when sex is imminent, and nothing like that is going down. All that happens is I drink a watery iced tea with some of his friends, and I watch his band play their entire set, and I get a ride home in a crowded car where I have a conversation with the back of his head. As we flee Manhattan over the 59th Street bridge, this guy I like is telling us about his dentist. She is apparently stupendously hot.  Now, granted, I once fucked my dentist, but that is not the sort of detail you share when you’re into somebody, and I arrive at the depressing realization that while this guy might enjoy being under the heated lamps of my lusty gaze, he just isn’t into me.

I’m left feeling the way you do when you’re waiting and waiting and waiting and w-a-i-t-i-n-g for your coke dealer and finally he calls to say that he isn’t coming, and you’re not getting high tonight after all. It’s a particular type of disappointment, one where you know you are better off, and it’s still no consolation.

And outside it is cold and gray and blank in New York as we count down towards midnight and the New Year, and Court reminds me that just yesterday I had said I would be fine with just being friends with the smart man from Connecticut. That is in fact a thing that I said; there will be a couple of days of feeling disappointed and then I will lose interest, my addict brain casting about for a better fix. I’ll be vaguely pleased to see him in social situations—we have a handful of mutual friends.

And anyway, what about Sketch? You already have someone, Court points out, like that ever filled a void.

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This fucking dog is looking right into my soul.

The next day I text the man a picture of somebody’s gorgeous blond dachshund in a Starbucks because we recently had a whole conversation about my contempt for short-legged dogs. I love a good sweeping pronouncement; it’s just that I tend to make them prematurely. I don’t ever like short-legged dogs, I declare. Except for that one.

One of my favorite sweeping pronouncements about myself is that I am good with handling rejection; my brain very helpfully begins pointing out flaws and drawbacks the moment it senses someone not liking me back. And thus my brain now protectively reminds me: who knows how it would have turned out? Maybe in six months, I would have been blogging about the rotten sex, and missing Sketch. Most likely, he would have hated the idea of this blog. He would have made me miserable, probably.

Besides, as I have pronounced sweepingly: I am not a relationship person.   Or at least I won’t be, until I am.

And so instead Sketch and I go up to Boston to see the Vermeer/Rembrandt show at the MFA before it wraps, and we take selfies in front of grimacing sculpture, pulling matching horrible faces.   After a week of worrying about another man, I slide comfortably back into my spot under Sketch’s arm. We are not the most adorable couple, and I do not put the pictures up on Facebook, but it is plenty.   Once I accidentally call him my boyfriend, and he does not correct me, and we come back to 2016 New York with new inside jokes.

 

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