Saturday, October 20, 2012

The authority grab and the precision junkie

I've been thinking more about work language lately, and less about personal life. Here's a thought.

As I advance in my career I spend more time at conferences, it seems. And there are definite patterns of language at conferences. I'm not in the academic world, but I have a feeling that if I was, I would see this all the time, since it is frequently academics who do these.

1. Why didn't you mention [my thing]?

So, a presenter gives a talk at a conference. The presenter does a good job or a bad one, but let's say a good one. Clear, concise, interesting, novel presentation on something of importance (suppose it was on, development in west africa or something). Question period. Someone puts up their hand and the question is:

"This presentation was very good, I thank you for it. But I am amazed that in the entire presentation there was absolutely no mention of [whatever]. How you can talk about [your topic] without talking about [whatever] is beyond me. It seems to me that [whatever] is completely crucial to this discussion, and needs to be incorporated into all discussions of these matters."

The speaker, if polite, usually acknowledges the importance of [whatever] and moves on to the next question.

I think of this as a kind of authority grab. The questioner is asserting the importance of [whatever], and [whatever] is usually the issue or research topic of the questioner.

2. What you said is not precisely true.

Some people you work with are what you might call precision junkies. If you say that something happened at the beginning of 2009, they will say "well, it happened in March 2009, which is not exactly the beginning". If you say that there was a man-sized hole, they'll say "well, it would have to be a small man."

The precision junkie might be doing an authority grab, or they might be contrarian, but most of the ones I have met are literally junkies. They can't help themselves. And you can't do much about them.

Neither of these people/tactics are dangerous, so I wouldn't worry about them. Just knowing they're there and knowing their names will help them irritate you a little bit less.

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Harm reduction and porn

Every so often, I feel like my mind is being attacked, by images and plans, scenarios in which I could cheat on my woman. If I have the privacy to do it, I scan websites that review escorts, I look up online escort services, I look at strip clubs as I walk past them, I look up massage parlors. I imagine, in great detail, how I would go about evading getting caught and arranging a sexual encounter in one of these places, with one of these strangers. Thinking about these scenarios causes me to zone out for hours, and it's very sexually exciting. This is what addiction felt like, and I think it's no different than a drug. I lose time, I waste energy, I can't focus on what's important. I get stuck in a fantasy world, I sit, undignified, at the computer, wasting hours.

Odysseus tied himself up to the mast of his ship so that he wouldn't run to the sirens. My method is a little bit more prosaic. When I feel these - for lack of a better word - attacks coming on, I masturbate, using porn, so that no matter how much I am tempted, I could not physically pull off cheating. I am not sure if this is necessary or if it is excessive, I realize it is cheating in a way (though not nearly as harmful as cheating with another person).

When my woman is away, I do this even more. I feel like I am beating my brain, or my body, at its own game. It is demanding that I destroy my relationship and my future for anonymous, meaningless sex. I am responding by wearing it out through the most meaningless form of sex available (masturbation).

I would prefer to not use porn at all, and to just be free of this little voice in my head, these addictive cravings and compulsions. I think a combination of distraction and willpower can ultimately work. I want to free myself. I have tasted freedom and it is so powerful, so good, I want it again. I have it now, partially.

I am describing a classic porn addiction. The problem is that the porn addiction is the lesser of evils. What I think I am trying to do is the opposite of the gateway drug idea. But am I fooling myself? Am I actually, instead, heading in the opposite direction?

The one thing I have going for me is that, unlike with drugs, you need to be in a certain physical state - as a man, anyway - to actually engage your sex addiction. You can smoke or snort at any time, but you can only have sex if you can get an erection, and if you have beaten yourself to submission, you can't get an erection. So that's what I do.

I repeat, it's not my first choice. But it's my harm reduction method, like the methadone they give to heroin addicts.

Another thing I zone out on: creeping Music and Voice on the internet. I'm not as bad as Zuckerberg at the end of the Social Network, but I am not that far off. Voice is getting more and more famous, so there's more and more to see of her on the web. Music isn't, but she loves every new social network tool, especially involving photography, so there's always chances to see her.  Why do I do this? I don't want anything with these women. So, what am I doing? What is this behaviour? It also steals my time and energy, turns me into a criminal sneaking around. Why do it?

Maybe I need to sneak around? Is that the real thrill? Not reliving the sexual memories (which I do), but the need to have secrets, the need to have a secret life? A psychoanalyst might have a field day with this one, a pseudonymous blogger - who loves superhero movies and comics and shows like Dexter that involve secret identities - wondering, stupidly, if he gets off on the thrill of having a secret life.

My goal is integration - to lead one life, all above board, all clean and open. Is that goal generating these counter-drives, these counter-urges for secrets and sneaking?

Monday, May 28, 2012

Her sexual personality

I have been thinking about why sex fascinates me so much, why I re-live sexual memories so often and so much. It is not just the visual. Sure, we males are visual creatures and I am strongly affected by even subtle sights of female beauty. But I think that what is amazing about intimate relationships, even rocky ones, even bad ones, is the chance to get to know her sexual personality.

I think about Music, for example. She had this mischievious energy. She liked to be coaxed, a little bit. Even when she was eager to make love, she would suggest it very gently, like a question. We'd be in bed in the morning, and she'd sit up, and ask: "Do you want to get up? Do you want to get down?" Leading question. Predictable outcome. Or she would be on her laptop, pretending to ignore me, while I came up behind her and started massaging her. She would purr, but keep her attention away from me as long as she could. She was adventurous with blowing me, too, always trying to see how far back she could take me, and then reporting it back to me proudly. "You were all the way back here," she would tell me after.

But when she was really hot, she would become much more serious, and much more submissive. She would still want me to take her, but she would be very quick to move to whatever position I moved her to, quick to do whatever I wanted her to, and vocally very responsive. When I miss making love to her, when I fantasize, I miss these things about her. As much as the way she looked, and smelled, and tasted, and felt, I miss these things about her personality, things that I only learned after we'd made love dozens of times.

Voice was different. She was always hungry. Our sex life was limited only by my endurance. If I was ready, she was ready. If anything, she was more flamboyantly submissive than Music. It was a wild, loud surrender, lots of screams, lots of "please take me".

Music and Voice were such intense experiences, and so different from Soulmate, when I was younger, or Princess, today. Soulmate was finding herself, back then; Princess is finding herself, now. I realized, Princess is the last woman I will be with, and neither of us know her sexual personality yet. Shakira sang about a she-wolf being in there, and I think there's a she-wolf inside Princess too. I've caught glimpses of her, but I am looking forward to when she comes out and we can spend a whole afternoon together.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Time to change up...

Four more months of real, grownup, married life later, and I am rethinking what I do with this blog. I started this when I was lonely and dating and looking for something, and now I've found it and the world is very different. Maybe I'm living a journey not too different from Neil Strauss, who went from The Game to Emergency - learning how to pick up women, then learning how to protect himself and his family in case of the world collapsing. Well I've been around the world and seen that it's collapsing. Collapse is nothing new to me. But other things are. Like, responsibility. Not being able to risk my life so casually. Thinking about saving money and resources.

But it occurs to me that these, like my previous concerns about pickup and loneliness, addiction and nostalgia, are also concerns people have. Along with my abiding interest in pop culture and novels. Not to mention that there is still just as much need for a sharp tongue now as ever, in my life.

So, perhaps there is still a place for this blog.

Having said that, my blogroll is hopelessly out of date, so I think I am going to change it up. Goodbye Suzette, I loved you. Bad Man, you emailed me back when I was close to rock bottom, and now you're gone from the web. Naked Loft Party, you guys left too. Tim Ferriss, I will continue to read everything you write (and thanks for 4HB, I am using your protocols to help recover from both back and ankle injuries), but you certainly don't need any of the trivial traffic I would send your way! I do seem to be following you in life though. I am just now getting into cooking - me and Princess are becoming expert chefs. So, of course, I'll be getting 4HC... although for now, Jamie Oliver's doing a pretty awesome job.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Married life, trust...

Welcome back - more for myself.

So much happens in a year and a half.

I have been married to the Princess, almost a year now. I have got a modest bestseller and am transitioning to becoming a full-time author, transitioning from the humanitarian work that would be taking me away from Princess and my future children. Voice is long gone. Now a very distant work-colleague, literally oceans away. Music is a distant memory. Soulmate, a best friend. Princess is my world now, and I would trade it for nothing on earth.

From trying late to learn the skills of pickup, I am now in a totally different world. I am now trying to be a good husband. From trying to learn how to get and keep a girl's attention, my mind is now focused on how to manage constant demands for my attention and balance them against work, friends. It is amazing how things change. A few years ago I would have looked at Princess and strategized how I could get her to talk to me. How I would make myself interesting enough.

Now my life is characterized by her complete trust of me. Her life has been characterized by betrayal after betrayal, from family to early mentors on. She met me disillusioned. Thinking she couldn't trust anyone, knowing that you can do very little in this world if you really can't trust anyone, wanting desperately to trust me. And now she does. For every little thing, for every answer, for a role model, she looks to me. Her annoyance with me is always when she thinks I am not paying enough attention to her.

And I have trust in her, too. The idea that she might cheat on me strikes me as preposterous. And her trust in me is what makes me not want to cheat.

I have fantasies though. She has a best friend, who's almost as hot as her in a totally different way. Tall, athletic, big blond curly hair, very submissive. I imagine what a threesome would be like. We could all live together, maybe. I imagine showering with the best friend while Princess is doing her work in the next room, we all lay down together at night, I come home to find them in bed together laughing. I could teach the best friend a lot, the way I've taught Princess.

But when my temptations and fantasies run away from me, I imagine how it would shatter her world and it's almost like a protection from my own selfishness. She trusts me. I fear screwing it up. But her trust in me makes me want to live up to it. I think maybe this is how people grow. We grow because others believe we are better than we are. She thinks of me as her little god, and now I have to earn that.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

I could learn to like this whole sex thing

Toronto is record hot for this time of year. Princess stays with me to escape her non-air conditioned apartment. We're legit now: she's met the parents and the Soulmate and all that. We're still deciding whether we'll face her parents head on or escape from them.

Princess is a strange combination of shyness and awareness of the fact that she looks like a supermodel. When I tell her I like Christina Hendricks better than Zhang Ziyi, who she resembles, she turns to ice - she thinks I'm saying I like curvy girls better than her ectomorphic beauty. Not the case at all. But a strange kind of proof that whatever her insecurities (she also thinks she's flat chested) she's also well aware of what she does to men. To me.

She's a virgin, but as I take her clothes off and kiss and hold her, she has this worldliness and acts like none of this is any surprise to her. It takes a few times to learn her but I am a good student and I learn how to please her, and she turns me on like no one ever has. I never thought I'd say that since Music. I never thought I would find anyone to equal her, but Princess excites me more. Princess makes me feel more certain, more aligned, more true.

So, at 5am, for the second time in the night, we make love. She doesn't like fingers. She takes a long time to come from my tongue on her, and she does so in a very low key way - a quiet little shudder, not the rapid breathing and rhythmic moving and sometimes screaming I'd gotten used to - though as she gets past her shyness and realizes what turns me on, she's getting a little louder. I'm on top of her, and behind her, and then she's on top. I slide down: "What are you --" and she moans as I put my mouth on her, her above me on her hands and knees. She comes like that and I go back behind her and take her again. "Mmmm... that feels good."

I whisper in her ear the whole time, that I love her, how beautiful she is. She just moans. "I love you too," she whispers. She's a little obsessed with cleanliness and thinks her body is dirty. I explain to her that I'm not attracted to the way her soap smells, which is very nice, but to the way she smells. After I've gone down on her she won't kiss me. But now she's sweaty and hot and a beautiful mess. "Can I come, or do you want to do it longer?" "Just come," she says. I do. I take the condom off, wrap it in a tissue, and collapse next to her.

"I like this whole sex thing," she says, smiling.

"Well, if you ever want it, you know who to call."

"Thanks," she says, rolling her eyes.

I miss no one, I think of no one else, now. I can feel Voice's absence and it's a very good thing. I don't feel uncertain about myself. I don't walk on eggshells. I don't fear the future. I don't fear a future of never knowing if she's with me. I trust the Princess when I open my mail in her presence or get a call in her presence, when either of those things with Voice would lead to a fight with her interrogating me about who was calling and why. I trust the Princess when she gets texts or calls in my presence and don't wonder if they're another secret lover like me. The amount of energy that went into holding my sanity (barely) in that situation - I am only realizing how much energy it was now that I am slowly getting it back. I am going to marry this girl. I have never felt so ready or so sure. I already belong to her.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Secret relationship, secret breakup

I'm babysitting and watching 'Dreamgirls', falling in love with Beyonce again. Eddie Murphy's character is about to go on stage. His girlfriend, played by Anika Noni Rose, gives him a kiss for each year that's gone by with her as a mistress and him still married and promising to leave his wife. 8 kisses. I would have given 4.

An interrupted 4. A 4 with several periods, including one a year long, where I saw a lot of other women. But in those years, even when we weren't talking, we both knew that we loved each other. We both knew that we were friends.

So this time, when I tell her I've fallen for someone else, and she goes in for hostility and defamation, it's a surprise. It's painful. A surprise for her, since every time I left over the past four years, it was not real. And this time it is.

"I can't wrap my head around it," I tell Roommate. "We're supposed to be enemies now? After everything?"

He shrugs.

I'm the kind of guy that would want to be able to get a coffee with her, or a dinner, and hear about her latest relationship adventures. I don't put borders around relationships. I've suffered for my inability to do so, certainly with her, probably in general. But I can't do it any other way. So the realization that my dream of friendship isn't going to happen is slow, and painful.

And I miss her. I watch videos of her songs. I check her twitter site, which she's been using to send coded messages of hostility my way. She tells our friends to tell me she's over it and doesn't care, now she sees I'm really pathetic.

The scandal protects me. She can't defame too much without revealing her dirty secret - me. So we both have to suffer in silence while we pretend indifference.

She tells me to never email or call or contact her again. She recently bought me an elaborate gift from five different stores in the mall. She tells me she wasted money she didn't have on it in our last conversation.

I go to each store, return each gift (the DVDs, the electronics, the clothes...), get a receipt, create an itemized ledger for the full amount, get cash out of the bank machine, bundle the receipts and ledger into an envelope, and leave it for her with the last of her stuff that I had. Money you didn't have, I write. You have it now. Thanks for the tweets, I don't write. That would be to tell her that it affected me.

Four years of friendship, four more of love, and it really comes to this? Could I not have hoped for better? Or should I, as everyone warned me, have known all along that this was all it was ever going to come to, because this was all it was? My body can't believe it. But my body came to fear her rejection and her contempt and her lies more than it longed for her. I really did hope for better.