welcome to the new normal

May 19, 2010

oh look. a time machine. let us step into it.

Filed under: dating,relationships,sex — birdie @ 5:40 pm
Tags: , ,

February. Just after a rough, lonely Valentine’s Day. I answered an ad on Craigslist personals and this guy—an adorable, funny, and very animated sculptor—had lots of potential. From my growing confidence came the decision to put everything on the table right up front. My flexible views of monogamy, my taste for physical intensity—all of it. Like putting up a big sign that read, You must be this tall to ride.

He responded enthusiastically. After a couple dates, confessional emails and breathless text messages, came The Sex Date. Oh, the anticipation was delicious. I was ON. Set an incredible scene and had a lot of fun. The sex? Well, I thought we were off to a good start.

The next day, signs of trouble. I couldn’t get a read on it, but I knew something was up. We parted with the promise of seeing each other soon. In the week that followed, the pace, tone and intensity of communication dropped off precipitously. The following date was pleasant but went nowhere. The night of our next date…7:00. No call. 7:30. Still nothing. I decide that my cut-off is 8:30. I’ve been here before. It’s like a hundred paper cuts. 8:45, I left a message. 9:00, the phone rings.

“Yeah, I don’t think this is going to work out. I’m not ready to be in a relationship right now.”

Uh-huh.

“Thanks for understanding.”

It’s what I do.

This time, at least, I didn’t waste time wondering what the hell I did wrong. I was grateful for the piece that I got and didn’t complain because what was the point? It was short and intense and beautiful. And I knew that it was just one step towards something better. I sensed it coming.

Still. It stung.

In the midst of all this came a very handsome reminder of how much my life has changed in the past three years.

Set The Controls For The Heart of 2007.

He’s hot. Incredibly hot. And nerdy. I’m sitting across from him at a networking event for Web designers. I don’t recall getting much networking done because, well, I AM SITTING ACROSS FROM AN INCREDIBLY HOT NERD. And there’s beer.

I’m married. He’s attached. We keep in touch, become friends. One day, a year later, I stumble across a very, very juicy piece of information about him and that opens the door to a completely unexpected bond. Over the next two years, he becomes a lifeline in the slow-motion wreck that my marriage was becoming, as well as the subject of some extremely intense fantasies and dreams. It was a crush. And not the sweet kind.

He becomes The Catalyst—the person, the thing, the unbelievable circumstance—that sets off a series of decisions that lead me to where and who I am in the present.

Because I resolved then—consciously or unconsciously, I couldn’t tell you now—to become someone worthy of his attention. And that Someone had been laying dormant within me for a long time. Whether or not that got me anywhere with him didn’t matter. It was the spot on the horizon that kept me moving forward, forward, forward.

And Now Here We Are, Back In The Winter of 2010. At A Bar In A Ski Lodge, Of All Places.

I didn’t give myself the time to think myself out of it. I took his face in my hands and kissed him. I couldn’t have done that before. To be so bold? To expose myself that way? No. Not possible.

In that moment, I was thousand days away from the woman who sat across from him at the networking event.

I thanked him. Told him, not everything, but enough.

He knew all along, of course.

At Last, We Arrive At The Present.

I answer another ad on Craigslist. This time, in the “Casual Encounters” section. I KNOW. It’s that dark alley you’re not supposed to go down. But I’m horny and feeling confident. By now I know the drill. I know I can take care of myself.

Another sexy, dirty nerd. Right away, the situation explodes with intensity and promise. Once again, I put everything on the table and it is welcomed with a brand of enthusiasm I haven’t encountered before.

The sex? Amazing. Everything I’ve wanted. His sense of adventure and intensity matches mine. Explicit text messages. Steamy IM sessions. Naughty photos on demand. An evolving wishlist of sex acts and scenarios. I’m in a near-constant state of arousal. I can’t believe my luck.

And I realize…I have become the woman worthy of The Catalyst’s attention. In fact, I’d say I’ve surpassed that and become more. There’s still that spot on the horizon, the goal I keep working towards. But with all the things I’ve experienced over the past year, I’ve redefined that goal entirely on my own terms. I expect to fuck up. I expect to be surprised.

I expect to never actually get to the end.

May 10, 2010

permission.

Filed under: relationships — birdie @ 11:05 am

You can do the right thing and still regret it.

You can follow your instinct and let go of an amazing opportunity.

You can know that you’re wrong.

You can be stubborn and refuse to apologize.

You can use this pain and acknowledge the depth of its roots so you don’t make the same mistake again.

You can miss him. A lot.

You can be miserable about it.

You can pray that this heavy feeling in your chest will go away soon.

You can know that it will.

December 21, 2009

all or nothing.

Filed under: divorce,relationships — birdie @ 3:45 am
Tags:

The fact is, if I wanted a date I could find one. If I wanted to get laid, it wouldn’t be that hard.

But I just don’t fucking care right now. Really.

This post comes with a soundtrack: “Had to Go” by The Heartless Bastards

I’ve been reflecting on what I want. What I want is someone who reminds me that I’m beautiful and sexy on a regular basis. Someone who can’t keep their hands off me. Someone who’s touch is electrifying and soothing at the same time. Someone who believes in me and supports me no matter what I choose to do. Someone who wants to go along with my crazy adventures. Someone who loves me completely for who I am.

Then I realize…I had that. For ten years. She was the love of my life. I will never have a love like that again.

But it became corrupted. Turned into something toxic. So, as the song says, I had to go.

When I look back on this past year, this Year of Doing Things That Scare Me, divorce was not on the list. Uprooting my life was not part of the plan. But I see now that it was inevitable. I had been planning my exit, summoning my strength, for almost two years. I stayed too long for the right reasons, and I can honestly say we tried very hard to remain together.

I have regrets, but they’re the right ones to have, I think, under the circumstances.

So here I am, adrift. On purpose. I’ve had time to be reckless with my heart and my body. I thought I was running out of time. Now I see that I have so much of it. As much as I can make. I can slow down. I can take care of myself. Me. Myself. Not anyone else.

Now the question is: What’s next?

The message I’m getting is that it’s time to take all that love and care that I’ve poured into other people and pour it into myself. To figure out exactly who it is I’m supposed to be. On my own.

I also need to go easy on myself. I’ve come so far in a short time and accomplished so much.

But. The loneliness. I know I should see the positive. Try to transform it into something constructive. I will, eventually. For now, it just really, really sucks and I just have to let it suck for a little while longer. I admit that sometimes having a misanthropic edge to my day just helps me get through.

My lovers, my distractions, they’re tending to their own lives, where I am not a priority. I expected this. I knew what I was getting into. And you know something? I’m kind of fine with it.

Unfortunately, in their absence, thoughts of Like Bear creep up to fill those empty spaces. By now, I’m smart enough to understand that it’s not him. It’s the idea of him. I’ve hung the shape of my Perfect Relationship Fantasy over his frame. It may be a waste of time and energy, but at least I have some perspective. At least I know what to do with it, where to put it. I’m trying to use it, trying to learn from it.

But sometimes it becomes overwhelming enough to make me want to start dating again just so I can project this energy elsewhere. It’s a strategy that I know works for me. I used it to great effect all summer.

I know it’s not the answer. And I’m just not in the mood. Instead, I’m spending a lot of energy making my bedroom the perfect refuge. I’m catching up on books and movies. I’m taking myself out to see live music. I’m writing. I’m making art. Just keeping busy with building the life I’m supposed to have.

Still, I think about that perfect love, especially on a day like today. How nice it  would have been to stay in bed all day with someone, just watching the snow fall and making love.

I’ll have it someday. And it will be better than anything I’ve had before or could imagine now. Because I will be better. I’ll be stronger. And I’ll have so much more to share.

December 18, 2009

friday night, pity party of one.

Filed under: dating,relationships — birdie @ 4:51 pm
Tags: , ,

The Blur? M.I.A. since Thanksgiving.

M.? Not answering my email.

Like Bear? Out of reach. Out of bounds.

Funny thing is, I’m finding it difficult to care.

Really, I’m just ready to burn it all down.

December 8, 2009

drawn.

Filed under: sex — birdie @ 7:43 pm
Tags: ,

The Blur agreed to get tested and so did I.

It’s something I should have done a while ago. I figured that since I was monogamous for 10 years, I didn’t have anything to worry about. Even after my summer of fun, I still don’t think I have anything to worry about. I’ve been as safe as one can be.

In preparation for the screening, I got to thinking about the last time I had an HIV test. I was in my early 20’s. I had been dating a young musician for about a year and a half and we wanted to be, in current parlance, fluid-bonded. The results took two weeks, and let me tell you, when you’re that young and stupid and obsessed with your own mortality, that two-week wait is an eternity.

Why did it take me this long to get another? I can think of a few reasons:

  1. I was a serial monogamist who practiced safer sex with partners who I knew were d/d free so I assumed I wasn’t at risk.
  2. I was afraid doctors, nurses, etc, would judge me.
  3. I chose to be ignorant.

What’s different now?

  1. I’m an ethical non-monogamist who practices safer sex but I can’t assume I’m not at risk even if my partners tell me they’re d/d free.
  2. I don’t give a shit now what doctors and nurses think of me. If I’m being judged for doing the responsible thing, then clearly I’m seeing the wrong medical professionals.
  3. I can’t afford to be ignorant.

So this time, as a wise woman of 35, I wasn’t afraid to ask the questions and be honest about my situation (as much as would be appropriate). I’ll admit I was a touch crafty. I said I was there for that reason because I had a new partner and wanted to do the responsible thing. Which is true…ish. While having my blood drawn, I satisfied the nurse’s light-hearted curiosity about “the new guy” by essentially presenting a composite of two lovers. Oh, yes, well he lives in ________ (M.) and he’s a ________ (Blur). And he’s getting tested, too, but _________________ (Blur), which I find interesting because he ____________________(Blur). Actually, I’m nervous about getting the cultures because ___________________ (M.) and will that affect anything? Yes, I know, I really need to talk to him about _________________ (M.), but we were in a bit of a hurry. No, we don’t see each other very often because he’s __________________ (Blur).

I found it very entertaining.

So now I can dust my hands and cross this off my list. Now, for my own peace of mind and for the benefit of my current and future lovers, I can say that I’ve been responsible and got tested. And I mean tested. The whole enchilada. I have been swabbed, people. Pro-tip: don’t get a speculum shoved up your girly bits after a night of rough-ish, lube-less sex. I have a pretty high pain tolerance, but that was pretty uncomfortable. Oh and there’s nothing like having your Friendly Dad of a gynecologist root around your cooch and remark on the size of your perineal tear, then explain in detail how to avoid that in the future. Yeah, thanks.

Results in a few days.

December 2, 2009

‘love story’ it ain’t.

Filed under: dating,relationships,sex — birdie @ 6:48 pm
Tags: , , ,

My wife used to tease me when I watched chick-flicks. I knew they were the cinematic equivalent of empty calories, but I just couldn’t resist. They were so damned appealing. The heroines, who are virtuous and smart and good-looking, always get their man in the end—the man who, after the central conflict of the plot unfolds, suddenly realizes that he absolutely cannot live without the woman and makes an impossibly grand romantic gesture like running across Manhattan in the rain to deliver a breathless monologue which wins her heart. And they all live happily ever after. Cue the uplifting Motown song and roll credits.

If I were to cast myself in one these romances, it would probably play out more like a bad episode of Sex In The City—minus the designer clothes and Manhattan pied-à-terre. And if the thought of that makes you retch, believe me when I say that I am retching also. Because, in my opinion, there are no good episodes of that show.

Anyway. The serial dating. The camera-ready sex. Is he/she The One? And according to Candace What’s-Her-Name, when what seems like a promising affair comes to an end, I’m supposed to draw my catty girlfriends near and lament over cosmos. “It just didn’t work out,” or things just “ran their course.” Worse: “He’s Just Not That Into You.”

Really? That’s so unsatisfying. Aren’t I better than that? Aren’t I different? Don’t I deserve more?

I do.

I disabled my OKCupid account. Again. Since Like Bear, I resolved not to log on but I’ll admit that I’ve peeked. I get curious and look around. Then I immediately remember why I don’t want to be there in the first place. Getting messages used to be thrilling, and now it’s just annoying. Someone chose me on QuickMatch! Someone sent me an Icebreaker! He saw my profile and I seem interesting! She writes, U r hot! I wont 2 lik yr pussy and make u cum! He’s 19 and looking for an experienced woman like myself!

No. Thank you.

Surprises

I’ve been exiling myself. Lots of alone time. Some of it is really good and healthy and necessary. But I get lonely. Really, really lonely. Despite the sadness, I’ve come to trust that The Universe is giving me exactly what I need, including the occasional angel who rescues me from feeling too sorry for myself.

Like G––, one of my oldest friends, who after years of being out of touch, has reached out to me via long, lovely emails and I have responded in kind. Such affinity, in so many ways.

Or B––, who called me out of the blue last Saturday night and invited me for a drink. And of course it was a wonderful evening full of conversation and laughter. I can tell him anything, and he always gives me great feedback.

Then, on Sunday, I met with my dearest friend, S–––, for breakfast. Again I was reminded that love and care are all around me. I don’t have to hunt it down.

And I definitely don’t need to sleep around to find it.

Which brings me to the biggest surprise of the weekend: The Blur. He’s not so blurry anymore. Crystal clear, actually.

So there I was on Thanksgiving. Alone. As I planned. Well, as I ended up. I only wanted an invitation from a certain ursine someone, but that was never going to come. So I made sure I had one interesting possibility lined up. I sent Mr. Blurry an invitation the day before. Don’t ask me why I did it. I guess I thought he would be game. And, surprisingly, he was. So at 3:30 Thursday afternoon, I came home from walking the dog to find him naked in my bed.

I needed attention. I needed to be touched and kissed. I needed to be held.

And then. He gave me what I needed most.

“So, how does Non-Committal Exclusivity sound to you?”

Offers

About three weeks prior, I met with M––– and made him this offer: We would meet once a week for sex. I’m done with “traditional” dating for now and I just want something regular that I can count on with no strings attached. I know him. I trust him. And I like the way he fucks me. Also, he’s married. I can’t get wrapped up in the notion of A Future with him.

He was flattered. He agreed. Seemed enthusiastic. But there are logistical challenges, and it has yet to come together.

So imagine how delighted I was (and shocked, quite honestly) when, naked in the fading light of my feast-less Thanksgiving, The Blur made the same offer to me.

Of course I agreed. What followed was the most honest and comfortable conversation about sex and expectations I’ve ever had with a lover. Everything was on the table. Likes and dislikes. Preferred positions. Things we’d like to try. Safety and health.

As far as a relationship goes, I don’t want him to be my boyfriend. I don’t want to be his girlfriend. I want the lines drawn, the boundaries strongly maintained. I don’t want to take care of him. I don’t want him to take care of me. I expect him to treat me with respect. I expect him to show up and be mine for a few hours every week. If he wants more, it’s on him to make that happen.

He can have my pussy. But he can’t have my heart.

Pass the popcorn

They don’t make movies about a woman like me. I’m not the heroine. I’m a minor character. The sexually adventurous woman is relegated to the role of comic relief or cautionary tale: Either the randy best friend who cracks wise, or the horny, single-minded vixen who gets her comeuppance in the end.

So I’m giving up my rom-com habit. From now on, I will gorge myself on suspenseful horror, trigger-happy thrillers, overblown sci-fi/action epics. I need a good dose of nihilism and visceral thrill to counteract the years of fluff I’ve consumed.

That, or porn. There’s always porn.

November 19, 2009

never mind the broken chickens.

Filed under: relationships — birdie @ 3:00 am
Tags:

I took a chance. Something that Old Birdie would have never, ever done. But New Birdie is in charge now. And New Birdie doesn’t listen to The Committee anymore. New Birdie tells The Committee—that useless din of negative thought and self-sabotage—to just shut the fuck up already. I’ve got a life to live.

All I did was reach out to him. I could see that he was in pain. I was in pain, too. Maybe it was the right thing to do, maybe it wasn’t. But it seemed natural and appropriate at the time. At the end of the night, the pain didn’t seem so bad. At least for my part. All I can say about him was that his eyes weren’t as sad and dark as when I arrived.*

I’d like to say that my act was selfless. But I missed Like Bear**. I missed our wildly tangental conversations. And oh! God! I missed laughing with him. I really ached for that.

I also missed his body, his warmth. So I was grateful for the small amount of comfort I could take from it then.

Helping him (if that’s what I did) helped me. Whether it was right or wrong, given my current state, doesn’t matter in the long run. I did something bold, and maybe a little dramatic. It made me realize that I don’t have to kill my heart in order to kill the pain within it.

Which Leads Us To The Big A-HA Moment.

For weeks, I’ve been on the rack about why Like Bear seemed to have “checked out” at a certain point. He just wasn’t fully present. He smiled less, seemed less eager to see me. He stopped making plans. And, without notice, the sexual connection just…dropped. I thought it was something I did (or didn’t do) or something I said (or didn’t say). I must have been seeing things, making it up. Because it couldn’t be true. Things were going so well, weren’t they?

I got cautious, and become someone I disliked. I should have confronted him and expressed my concerns. But I didn’t think I had earned the right and I couldn’t bear the thought that it really could have been something I did (or didn’t do) or something I said (or didn’t say). So I hit that panic button. I let him go. Said I wasn’t ready, and it was true. And if I hadn’t been overwhelmed with an avalanche of other, unrelated emotions, I probably would have handled things much better. Now I see it was the coward’s way out. Now, after this week, I see clearly:

It had nothing to do with me. 

Which is not to say that I don’t factor in there somewhere. Just not to the degree I imagined. No, Like Bear is just as broken, if not more broken, than I am.

I really wish things had played out differently.

I wish I weren’t so crazy and neck-deep in my own garbage.

I wish we had met a year from now, when most of this pain and grief will be behind us.

But that’s how things are. You take a chance. Maybe it works. Maybe it doesn’t. Either way, you learn something from it.

You carry on, adapt.

And maybe you get closer to becoming more whole.

* It occurs to me that you, Dear Reader, might conclude that this is about a pity-fuck. I assure it is not. Sorry to disappoint.

** Let’s call him that, shall we? It’s a bit of an in-joke but just go with it. And when you read it, you should do so with a stock Russian accent in mind.

November 12, 2009

I will write about this. Or, new resolutions.

Filed under: relationships — birdie @ 3:34 pm
Tags:

I woke up Monday morning and my first thoughts were:

  1. What the fuck was that all about?
  2. Where have I been for the past 6 weeks (and why does it feel like it’s been 6 months)?
  3. Fuck. What now?

I woke up Tuesday morning and my first thoughts were:

  1. Wow. This really sucks.
  2. But all the noise is gone and now I can think.
  3. I’ve come back to myself.
  4. I know what I need to do.

And what I need to do is not fight this. ‘This’ being the leaden sadness, the sinking into depression. I won’t pretend that everything’s OK and I have the answer. I won’t pretend that I have any amount of control over what’s going on within me or around me. This is grief. And grief, like passion, is chaos. I can’t reason with it. Best to just let it run it’s course.

I mourn not just the loss of this affair, but also my marriage and family. I wouldn’t allow myself to feel that before because of its unfathomable depth. Now I think I can.

I will be honest about my current state, even if it makes others uncomfortable. I will not be afraid to ask for help. And I will not apologize for doing so, either.

I will wake up in the morning. I will put on clothes. I will go to work. I will see friends. I will keep myself busy. I will do things that bring me joy, even if it that joy seems dulled and swathed in cotton. I will learn, again, how to enjoy being alone. And I will channel this heartache into making art and smithing words. Perhaps even music.

I won’t be dating. I’m officially done with OKCupid. For all the reasons I’ve stated before, and then some. I’m not going to find what I want that way. And as much as I crave all the wonderful things that come from an intimate relationship, I’ve learned that I’m just not ready. Not until I can hold on to myself.

I already have someone in my life that I can rely on for a sexual outlet. Someone whose heart is elsewhere so I can’t get wrapped up in assumptions and unrealistic expectations. Someone I can trust and can be direct with. In return, he is direct and honest with me.

I will be gentle with myself. I won’t tangled up in “shoulds”. I won’t be afraid. I will be OK.

I will be OK.

November 3, 2009

boom.

Filed under: relationships — birdie @ 11:20 am

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about that last scene in Fight Club, where Tyler Durden says to Marla:

“You met me at a very strange time in my life.”

I am living this moment now. Or, at least it feels like it.

Because it’s true. This is indeed a very strange time in my life, and buildings are collapsing around me, done in by explosives that I set myself.

October 13, 2009

the procedure.

Filed under: relationships — birdie @ 6:59 pm
Tags:

Last week, I had an MRI in order to diagnose the cause of my neck and back pain. I’m mildly claustrophobic, so an open MRI was ordered and I was prescribed a single Ativan, which I was told to take when I arrived at the appointment because it would take some time to check in.

Because it was late on a rainy Friday evening, I was the only patient in the place. So they took me right away.

After some paperwork and a brief questionnaire, I laid down on the table, was locked into place and slowly rolled into the center of a big ring. 

The Ativan barely had time to kick in.

The lovely assistant placed a bulb-like object in my right hand, explaining that all I had to do was push the button to end the procedure and they would wheel me out as fast as they could.

Oh shit. This was really happening.

But. I was fine.

So far. 

They started my music selection. Indie-folk.

I was fine.

Then I heard the rhythmic pulse of the machine, and I thought, this is the worse German experimental techno I’ve ever heard. And I was amused with myself as I considered what a great Tweet that would make as soon as I got out of that machine.

I was fine.

For about ten minutes. When, after I heard the frequency and location of the pulses change, I could actually feel where on my body the magnetic pulses were aimed. And it was traveling up my torso.

I suddenly wasn’t fine. Very. Much. NOT. FINE.

I felt the panic rise in me. Intense. Yet I was frozen.

I considered pushing the button. Checked to see if my finger was still on it. It was.

But I didn’t push the button. Either the Ativan kicked in right at that very moment, or I somehow managed to convince myself to relax, that I wasn’t going to be hurt, or, y’know, DIE. To stay. And fight.

And I got through it.

I didn’t push the button.

Resonance Of A Different Sort

A few weeks ago, I met this sexy teddy bear of a man and we hit it off. He’s comfy and easy to be around, is an expert hugger, makes me laugh, and ok I’ll say it: he’s got a fabulous cock.

Ahem.

Anyway. I’ve grown very fond of him and we’ve spent a lot of time together in the past few weeks. I’ve stayed at his place a couple times. I like it there, and he seems to like having me around. We are in the exact same place in life—extricating ourselves from our marriages, figuring out who we are, where we’re going. Both of us trying out this casual dating thing for the first time in our lives. It’s fun. Relaxed. In so many ways, this is exactly what I need right now. 

So. I’ve been fine.

Then. This weekend. When in the wee small hours of the night, we found ourselves sharing deep, ouchy things in the near-dark. I told him how special he has become to me, and that I’m grateful for him being in my life. That we’re together here, now, in this time for a reason. He pulled me close and held me tight, told me he didn’t believe in coincidences. I didn’t want to leave that place. Not for a long time.

I just need to pause here for a Public Service Announcement: Kids, do NOT drink alcohol within 24 hours of taking Ativan. You will become staggering drunk on a single martini and unexpectedly ill in your new gentleman-friend’s bathroom, possibly on the only shirt you have to wear for the next 24 hours, setting off a comical and slightly hallucinatory series of events. But your new gentleman-friend will be patient and kind and make light of it despite how mortified you are. Still, best to avoid the interaction.

Monday comes. Magnetic pulses of my actions, the clanging vibration of my words. Suddenly I’m not fine. Very. Much. Not. Fine.

The panic. It’s rising in me. Because getting so close to someone…yes, it’s exciting and exhilarating but also frightening. I’m terrified. My mind, my heart. They’re racing. This isn’t supposed to happen.

I want to flee. But I’m frozen.

I’m checking for the button under my finger.

 

It’s there.

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