Friday, November 28, 2008

Touch my head

I did a day trip for a meeting in London (Ontario) - took the train there, did the meeting, took the train back. The seats all face the same direction but on each car there are two sets of seats that are made for conferencing, where two pairs of people sit facing each other. They get more leg room too, so it's plum seats. When I got on to my car there was a really beautiful girl alone in one of them.

"You're not having a conference here, are you?" I said.

She smiled and said no.

I sat diagonally across from her.

I violated the 3-second rule though, because it was a 2+ hour train ride. In the event, when I did start to chat her up, it was a half-an-hour into it. I also knew that once the chatting started, it couldn't really stop until we got there. Which was how it went, and we ranged over things like school, travel, restaurants, different parts of North America, career plans, movies, and music. It was all very low key and not intense, but I had a good time and she held her end of the conversation when I missed a beat or two, she would jump in with a thought or an anecdote. But I missed something, because when I asked for her number she gave it to me, but with this kind of strange sinking look on her face, and I knew she wasn't going to answer if I called or texted her. I am not sure what I missed. We had been making restaurant recommendations back and forth so I did end up sending her a text on one in London whose name I'd forgotten and found out at my meeting, but she didn't reply. If this were sales or school, I would be asking her for feedback to find out what went wrong. But I don't know, so I can't really ask you either.

Today my mood was lightened though. I went to meet an incredibly sexy lawyer friend of mine (married - sigh!) for lunch, at her office. She was with a client so I waited on a couch in the lobby for her to come out. The doorway was right next to where I was sitting. So she just popped out, a long river of hair, jeans and a pullover. She looked down at me and smiled, and said: "Hi Verbal." And then she ran her fingers through my hair. Now that's a greeting. I purred, and got up and hugged her properly. At lunch she touched my arm repeatedly while we talked about weighty events (like the terrible Mumbai bombings! and the craziness in Canadian politics today) and when I walked her back to the office she wrapped herself around my arm. Lovely. There are enough of these married women that I could totally fall in love with and that like me that I think all I need is to meet one of them before they marry someone else.

(That's when it occurs to me that I already did, a few times. But I just need to meet one more, if I can figure out what went wrong).

Another old friend of mine and I are corresponding using ancient technology - Post! We're writing letters to each other. It really is different than shooting emails back and forth. He's in Japan and wrote me out of the blue. I wrote him back and told him some of the things I've been writing in this blog, about how I am trying to figure out what I really want and what is stopping me from getting it. And he said what I think is a brilliant thing. He said, don't think about what you want from a person, think about what you get from her. What you get, he said, might be even better than what you think you want.

Thinking about people that way has already made me a little more relaxed.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Do they make masks for verbal toxicity?

Coming back from an interesting meeting where I met a lot of very competent and clever people, learned a lot just by watching them work, I was riding the subway.

A woman sits right across from me, on one end of the seat. Her legs are crossed.

A guy, about my age, carrying a newspaper, fashionably dressed, sits down next to her (it's a 3-seater bench, there are plenty of places to sit, the train isn't crowded at this time of afternoon) and basically stomps on her foot.

"Excuse me!" she says.

He leans towards her and says: "You were taking up way more space than just one seat." His manner is very aggressive. My body starts to respond and I am wondering if I am going to have to stand up and flatten him (which itself wouldn't be very smart, but that's what's happening). She gets up and goes to the door, and he mutters, "fucking cocksucking bitch."

Then he pretends to read his paper. I sit there, leaning back, glaring at him.

She is at the door as the train pulls into the next station, and turns around. "Is that any reason to attack someone? You stomped on my foot."

He leans forward. "You are talking as if you were right, but you have no idea how stupid you look. Buy a clue, Miss."

She gets off the train. He goes to his paper. I'm two stops away. I glare at him for two stops. I suppose I am hoping he looks up and challenges me. I am thinking about physical violence, which would be inappropriate in this situation, but might have been appropriate if he had continued to escalate and actually touched her. But in fact it wouldn't have.

Nor can I think of anything to say. On the walk home from the station I thought of what I might say in a situation like that. He didn't continue to hector her, so there was no need to intervene. I just wanted to impose some kind of cost on him for doing that, but I couldn't think how.

In retrospect I think what I should have done was threaten to press the emergency button. I think I should have said something like: I would testify in court that you just assaulted that woman. If you keep behaving like that, someone is going to press the emergency button on you. Or, more simply, something like one day you will stomp on the wrong person's foot, and then proceed to threaten to pull the emergency button if he got belligerent.

I'm not physically or verbally fearful in most situations, and by that point I would actually have been relieved to be fighting that dude, but nor have I ever gotten into a physical altercation of this type (except in a couple of instances where I had to intervene in actual, ongoing assaults, which I did as part of a team without much physical or legal risk as the authorities were right behind) and it would have been stupid to do so. My instincts were to get physical, when they should have been to get legal, so to speak. But I left feeling very frustrated, like the bastard got away with it, and we all had to suffer from his disgusting behavior.

Monday, November 24, 2008

How do I get to such a party?

I read about the sex blogging party in NYC at Lex's blog. I'm jealous! But I won't be sitting on the sidelines, no! I will be... well, sitting at my desk, blogging.

And out doing things in the world, I think. I am no wallflower. But I think I might be too much of a sap for the sex blogging community. Too early to tell, with a month's worth of posts and a half-dozen readers. Surely it must take all comers... no pun intended, I swear.

But since I'm at my desk a lot these days. Email archives are a marvelous thing, aren't they? Especially since so much of my romantic life feels like it is, was, conducted through correspondence. I was re-reading correspondence with Voice. I lost her for more than a year before figuring out that I needed her in my life. During that year we sent these notes crackling with pain and love to each other every few months. I would get a note from her and feel angry for a day before writing back. She would get my reply and feel like I'd slapped her face, she says now. But as I read our notes, I realize how neither of us knew what was really up with the other. What we wrote makes so much more sense now than it did then. I wish I could go back and give the old Verbal advice. He would have handled things better. He did as well as he could given what he knew. Well, he could probably have done a little better than he did. But if I could go back three years, I would have so much to tell him.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

When your heart's not in it...

I met Painter after coming back from a dangerous assignment. She was headed to the same country to work there and wanted some advice. I'd gone for a few weeks. She was going for several months. But I had useful tidbits for her. And some language tapes, which weren't easy to get (there's pretty much only one set of tapes for this language).

She looks like a victorian statue. Smooth pale skin (a novelty for me, I'm about as dark as they come), tall, built like a waif. Thin brown hair. I'm not good at remembering eye color, I'll admit it. I think hers are brown. In repose, she's totally gorgeous. When she moves, there's no economy or grace, though. She's no dancer. And when she tells a story, she laughs at her own jokes, before she even finishes the story. She's beautiful. But she doesn't make my switches fire.

She comes to my office. We go out for lunch. I give her the rundown of things to watch out for. She thanks me, takes my stuff, mounts her bicycle and rides off into the sunset.

We repeat the ritual a season later when she comes back. She's done interesting things out there, and her stories boggle my mind. So I try to open some doors for her, as much as I can.

And that was it, for a good while. Six months after Music and I broke up, Painter was back in town. I'd heard she'd broken up with her boyfriend. She was having dinner in my neighborhood, and invited me out. We had dinner, and she ended up at my place. She was staying a few blocks away. We chatted here, her and me and my roommate, and Guitar, who was visiting and couch-surfing. At midnight I offered to walk her to her friend's house where she was staying. We have tea on her couch. She asks me about my breakup. I ask her about hers. An hour passes on the couch and I'm sleepy, missing signals, not sure what I'm doing here. "I should go," I say. At the door, she says "You don't have to go if you don't want to."

I look at her, surprised. "Oh... oh, Painter, that's really... a surprise."

"Really? You didn't know I had a crush on you since before I left?"

I laugh. We're standing in her doorway. "I really didn't."

"Listen, just stay."

I sigh. "Painter, I... I can't. I'm not over her, I'd be thinking of her, I think. I don't think it'd be right."

She smiles, undaunted. "Kiss me goodnight then."

I do. And then my arm slides around her waist, she starts fiddling with my shirt... and then I leave. "You're really sweet, Painter."

Her eyebrows dance as she smiles.

A year later, she's back in town on a day that I'm flying back from another assignment. I answer her leading email with a leading one of my own.

At dinner, we laugh about our leading emails. She's perfectly confident about where this will end. She's right. I bring her home. She leaves my lamp on, and my light off. We're standing in front of my bed. She puts her hand on my chest and kisses me.

My hands move through practiced routines. I lift her to the bed, I take off her clothes very gently, moving my mouth down her body as I do. She makes moves of her own, takes me in her mouth, licks her hand and jerks me off, slurps while she blows me. She looks good naked, she looks good in my bed. "You're gorgeous," she says. I go down on her until she comes once. "It would be fun to fuck," she says. I don't want to look in her eyes while we do it, I don't understand how to do this, how to fuck someone I don't love. I tell her I'm close to coming, and she moves under me so that we can come at the same time.

She's leaving town in the morning. We run into my roommate in the kitchen. He plays it straight. They know each other. Just three friends hanging out and making coffee. She's brought her toothbrush and toiletries. "I don't want to leave," she says to me. I smile, but I don't feel the same. She hesitates at my door. But in the end, she does go.

Later, I'm telling a curmudgeonly friend, one who I almost went there with but never did, about it. This friend is a much better match for me than Painter. She also knows my type. She's a little bit puzzled, maybe a tiny bit jealous, to hear about the encounter. "What's the attraction?"

"I think... that she was leaving the next day..."

Her eyes light up. It makes sense. But it all hurts, too.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Human nature

Here's a dilemma I am trying to resolve.

I believe in self-improvement. I believe that people can change. And grow. And learn.

I also believe that people are what they are. And that part of being a good friend, or lover, or partner, or parent, is accepting the other person for who they are.

Music once told me that she didn't understand who I was, really. She said that, I think, because I am always trying to learn.

Lots of the self-improvement stuff out there, including pickup stuff, contends that you can change your fashion, your body language, the way you dress, speak, your job, your social circle, all to get what you want. Shit, you can even change what you want, reprogram yourself. And I think that's true.

Except that I don't. The saying goes that attraction is not a choice. So how much can I change, how much should I accept I'm stuck with?

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Winter fashions, high boots, baby doll dresses

Whimsical post.

Last winter all the girls were wearing short suede boots with fur along with their jeans (as immortalized in FLO Rida and T-Pain's song). The video doesn't have a girl with such an outfit in it, which is too bad.

And I didn't mind that. Indeed, I spent a lot of time with Cell last winter who wore that everywhere and had no complaints. BUT...This winter I am in heaven.

Boots

I don't know what it is, but almost regardless of the girl, if you put her in a pair of jeans and a high pair of boots, she turns into a sex goddess for me.

I think maybe this winter's eye candy is the payoff for having suffered through last summer's baby doll dresses.


HALLE BERRY photo

Halle B is gonna be a beauty no matter what - and ladies, so are all of you - but it was cruel of you to deprive us of the sight of your glorious waists for an entire season (which is another point, which is that we think you're way more glorious than you think you are most of the time, and we would love to see what you think you should hide). The previous year's tank tops and low cut jeans, I have no argument with at all. Feel free to break those back out this summer.

Meanwhile, thanks for what you are wearing this winter. You are making the world a better place.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Motivations...

I found myself wondering why I'm writing this. Since I have no readers yet, I must at least have some internal reason for doing it. And as perverse as it may seem, I think I am doing it because I want to try to integrate some disparate threads of my personality. There are things one can say pseudonymously that I have not reached the level of feeling comfortable saying even to a therapist (and I had, I think, a pretty good one for a while). I talk enough that if you took everyone I talk to, they would know pretty much everything. But it's pretty fragmented. So maybe I can say everything I want to say knowing that I'm saying it to everyone (or, as of now, no one). And get some of this stuff out of my head and into the world.

I had a nice couple days. Yesterday I went to the Hart House Library and read the day away. Hart House has long been an important place for me. The aesthetics of the place were important in my decision about where to go to school almost 15 years ago now. It had been a long time since I'd done that, and it brought back all kinds of different memories.

Though the most potent one was of when I brought Music to Hart House. She fell in love with it, the same way I did, and for the same reasons. People like us aren't used to being in places like that. And the idea that it's just a public place for anyone - or close to, at any rate - blew her mind, the same as it had mine. She sat in one of the windowsills, just to be there.

People like us? The children of immigrants can't be guided by their parents into the ways and norms of a society the way that other children are. Their parents are learning these norms too. To some extent, we guide our parents. Music did hers. I did mine, though to a lesser extent. The result is that our knowledge of our own society is a little uneven. We seem like we know everything, but some ordinary things are exotic and strange to us, just like we think we're ordinary but seem exotic to others.

I met a very good friend of mine at the Pearson airport today. She was flying back home through here from a trip to Europe. Lives in California. She had a couple of hours at the airport so I went across town to meet her there. She looks tough, dresses tough, lots of piercings and bits of metal sticking out from her clothing. She's a beauty, and I've seen her in a dress and she looks as out of place in one as I do in a suit (emotionally out of place, I mean. I think she rocks the dress just like I rock the suit). There's a piece of her soul that is just like mine. We both take infinite responsibility for what goes wrong. We both wrack ourselves with guilt. We both manage conversations well and tell stories, entertain groups and then suddenly crash and become awkward and silent when we feel out of place. But we were both pretty mysterious to each other. I was very intimidated by her, and I suppose it took me three or four years before I figured out that she was intimidated by me.

I don't want to describe what I do here, on the chance that someone might read it at some point. But it can be genuinely traumatic at times, in the sense of seeing and experiencing things no one should. I met this friend of mine (I think I'll call her Artwork) through the work. I met Voice through the work. And Music too. Once, after the worst trauma that I had, Artwork decided to come across the continent and visit me. Before the trauma, I had just broken up with Soulmate and was torturing myself with guilt over cheating on her. I had come back from abroad with some critical incident stress. I was more alone than I had been in a while and was trying to throw myself even deeper into work to avoid the problem. Artwork came to my city, brought me back to the world, helped me soothe my guilt, told me to move on, told me I was worthy of love, and slept with me. It was nice. Not earth shattering like with Music. Not overwhelming like with Voice. Not like coming home like with Soulmate. But just, nice. She really did it, saw it, as an act of friendship. In the end it did help me I think, and I am grateful for it, though when we did it a few more times over a year I ended up getting attached to her in ways that she didn't need or want to be dealing with at the time, and our friendship suffered for a while. That was many years ago, and since, she's counselled me on Music and Voice and Soulmate and myself, and I've been there for her too through her relationship ups and downs. We shared a moment today, at the airport, taking the new train between terminals and sitting in one of those coffee stands that could be anywhere in the world. We talked about how we both feel like we're waiting for something to happen, in some kind of in-between. It's a different, better in-between than I've been in in a while.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Maybe the grief isn't still too raw...

Years ago now. She's kneeling. Naked. Small. Bronze. Perfect. She's in front of me on the bed. One of my arms is around her waist, my hand on her belly. My other hand is on her boob, I've reached around under her arm. There's a mirror in this room. I've never noticed it before. But our eyes are meeting in it. I have never seen anything so beautiful.

"You're beautiful," I say.

"We are," she whispers. And turns her head and kisses me.

She's small. Her skin is a little lighter than mine. It's like silk. She has these tiny, fine little hairs all over her ass and leading from her belly down to her pussy. I play with her like a toy. I pick her up and put her down, I turn her over and lick her ass and her pussy from behind. She can be fully clothed or naked, in front of me or just a voice on the phone, and I am fighting a constant urge to devour her. She hardly talks when we make love. Or only a few words. "You're wonderful." "I need your mouth on me." "I love you." I match her. Whisper to her only a little. "I love you." We would fall asleep at midnight and wake up, naked, making out, at 2 or 3am, and I would be inside her with neither of us making any effort. She prides herself on how far she can take me down her throat. We have phone sex. We're forced to stay in separate rooms at times, and nights she sneaks into my room. She rubs my arm to wake me up. We kiss for a while, then she tells me she wants me to go down on her. I go down on her and then I put her on her knees and fuck her from behind, in the dark. I'm naked, but her pajamas are still around her legs, her shirt pulled up above her breasts. It will never be like this with anyone again. My body will never want anything like it wants her.

She knows her effect on me. On anyone. She sends me photos of herself. She likes photos of herself. She'll take them herself or have others take them. I've thrown some out, the hard copies. The digital ones I keep, encrypted on my computer, so they're not easy to access. They are there, ready to break my heart any moment. Like googling her name, which I do too often. I stay off of facebook to avoid wondering who her friends are and who she is with now. I have that much discipline. Or listening to her songs. She made me mixes of songs. I never made her any until it was too late. But I made myself several, about her, since. Music.

When we broke up I didn't believe it, not really. We'd broken up before and gotten back. I believed it when she told me she'd been with other men. She told me who. Something broke inside me then. I stumble on their names sometimes, too, online. They still hit me like a punch in the stomach. I didn't think I was a jealous man. I want her to be happy. I don't like this feeling I have when I think of her. I don't like thinking of her with others. I hate it more than I understand. I'm not supposed to. If I loved her I should wish her the best. Now I think of the man she's been with and see signs of him online, I think of him as an idiot and it helps me to want her less: if she wants him and not me, she's a fool. But this is rationalization too. Rationalization or not, it's probably a good idea to stop wanting something you can't get. When will I stop wanting her? Until Voice every woman I have touched since has made me think of her, I've measured everyone relative to her and they've all been found wanting. My failure. My Music. Not mine any more.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Catch and release...

I was at a work lunch with five colleagues (all male) weeks ago. One of them is a roguish, tall, freckled fellow with a reputation for picking up women (let's call him League). Another was telling a story of unsuccessful pickup on a recent vacation. "I should have got advice from you, League. But you probably don't do it any more, you have a girlfriend."

"I do catch and release," League said.

A few more jokes about having the relevant fishing/wildlife licenses followed.

So here's my catch and release story.

I'm waiting for the bus at the subway station, heading to the pool for a swim in the morning. I notice a very pretty girl, probably a few years younger than me, brown hair, very stylish clothes, waiting for the bus. She gets on, I get on behind her. The bus is not empty, but it's not full. She sits by a window and I sit next to her. She pulls out a series of papers - printed out emails, memos on letterhead, and is working on them with a pen. I read fast, so I see a bit of what she's working on after a few glances.

"You can get work done on the bus?"

She laughs. "Well, some."

"I always find I can do work on the subway, but the bus is too jarring, too many turns, too much motion."

She shrugs, alternating between her papers and looking straight ahead, smiling.

"You're a lawyer."

"No, I'm in sales, and events."

"So, you plan events? So like, if there's a big party, you book the venue, order the balloons?"

"Well, we only do events outside the country, actually." She's starting to look at me.

"There's a team that goes around, from place to place, doing these events?"

"That's exactly right."

"And what are you selling?"

"Well, it's party supplies."

"So, a team of Canadians travels the world selling party stuff? In China, Latin America?"

"Mexico, mostly."

"Then you must do weddings!"

"Not too many... we should get into that market, actually."

I've lost her. Her body language screams of wanting to return to her papers. I go into my bag and pull out a book - one I'm actually really interested in reading. I read a few pages of it and laugh at an insightful comment the author made (this is real, by the way, I react emotionally when I read or watch a movie). She looks at the book and at me from her papers.

"I'm getting out at Dundas," I say. Not a false time constraint, but the real thing has the same effect. "I just read this part about obstacles to success. It says that some people are afraid of failure but sometimes people just fear change. Especially if you grew up with a deprived or difficult childhood, you might learn to fear any kind of change because you think it's bad."

"What's the book?" I show her. "Nice," she says. She looks me up and down. "What kind of work are you in?"

I tell her. She asks for more details. I tell her. I tell her I'm not going to work but to the pool. My stop comes up. I get off the bus.

I think to keep the fishing analogy going, this was less catch and release than dangling bait and getting a nibble before packing up the fishing gear and moving on (to the swimming pool, but that's neither here nor there). But another frame for it is that it was a conversation I struck up that went where it went. No one was rejected, and some small fun was had. I really like the way Lex put it at the Naked Loft Party in his post "There is No Such Thing as Rejection." (That's also where I found the Bad Man's blog, so I can thank Lex twice over).

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Without (much) pretense

"Do you want to meet for lunch somewhere? We could do the Chinese place or the Thai place..." I have Voice on the phone. We haven't seen each other in months. At that time we (well, I) had decided to discontinue the relationship and I'd avoided her and her entire social group (which meant spending more time alone and more time with people I don't like as much). But I went away for a few months, came back, and missed her. Not like an emptiness I wanted to fill with anything that came along. Like a Voice-shaped hole in my heart that I could stand to leave empty, but that would also never be filled by someone else.

She hesitates.

"You could just come here. Why don't you just come here first and we'll decide."

"Okay, I'll just come over."

I have a day's growth of stubble. I shave. I change out of the clothes I wear around the house and into a good pair of jeans and a well-fitted long-sleeve t-shirt.

The doorbell rings and she's on my porch, facing the street. She's been to my house a million times. When I get to the door her back is always to me. I open the door and she turns around slowly, like she's dancing. She never smiles when she sees me. The smile is always a reward for something I say or do. She walks into my arms though, I hold her for a little longer than I would a friend.

She walks in like it's her home. I watch her take her shoes off. Which she's done many times here. She leaves her jacket and bag in my room. Like she's done many times.

"Tea?"

We go to the kitchen and I remember having her here. How I like having her here. How since we were estranged four girls have come through my place and my bed and how none of them meant as much to me as a single smile, or shit, even text message, from her did.

She's chatting about the million things she's doing, all the projects, what she's writing, what I missed when I was away. We take our tea to the living room, where she's always hated the furniture. I sit apart from her. I don't think I'm testing her, but maybe I am.

"You're far. Why are you so far?"

I sit next to her on the couch. I tell her stories from my travels. She complains about the couch. "Let's just go to my room." At each step, with each failure to find a new routine, we slip back to our old habits.

I close my door behind me. We put our teas down and she crawls into my bed. She puts a pillow on the wall and props herself up. I sit next to her. Our voices have changed. We are talking softly, sitting close, I can feel her warmth. I've been thinking about her body since I saw her. She says something, leans into me, puts her head on my shoulder. I put my arm around her and our cheeks are touching. I turn my head a little. She does. And her mouth is on mine.

She has a beautiful mouth. When she talks, I'm torn between her mouth and her huge eyes and her big boobs. She's always complained that I pay more attention to her ass than her boobs. She doesn't kiss so much as invite kisses, and take them from me like she was waiting for them.

Now that she's in my bed and our mouths are together, we both know the rest of the choreography too well. My hands wander up and down her back, to her ass, under her shirt, to her breast, down to her knees, in her hair. We move down the bed. I undo her bra with one hand, while her shirt is still on. As I unbutton her jeans, she pauses, as she always does.

"What what what what what what are you doing?"

"Taking your jeans off."

"Oh."

She wears tight ones that don't come off easily. So she takes them off, while I pull her shirt off behind her.

"I'm naked," she says.

"I know," I say, kissing her again, my hands wandering, my finger finding her pussy. She moans.

"But you're not."

That has always been her way of undressing me. To blandly call attention to the fact that I am clothed. I've told her she could feel free to undress me herself, but there is still a shy side to her. I remove my clothes quickly and while I do, she pulls the covers over her. Shy. She sighs when she looks at me. She laughs like a little girl. "Yay, Verbal is naked!" She likes my body. She doesn't hide that, even in public. Certainly not in bed.

I crawl in next to her and she is soon on her back, I'm on top. I move my mouth on her, down her neck, to her boobs, back up. I suck one nipple, then another. I start to move my fingers inside her. She's wet. She's always very wet, very fast. She moans and gasps, "Verbal, baby. My baby. My baby I missed you."

I move down to her belly, and lower. She panics again, moving her hands under my arms to try to pull me back to her face.

"Baby baby what are you doing?"

"I'm going to lick your pussy."

"Oh."

And I'm on her. Now I remember the smell of her pussy. It is clean and bright and the strongest of any woman I've been with. And that's like her. She's a fire that burns brighter than anyone else. This part of the dance is easy for us, too. But she doesn't like to come with my mouth on her pussy. She wants to be held not just after, but while she comes. So as she's coming she starts to yell, "Verbal verbal baby come here get here please..." and I have to stop what I'm doing to hold her. She puts her hand on the wall and looks at me, and to the sides, gasping, shuddering. "I'm still coming" she says, writhing. I grab her hair and kiss her hard.

"Baby why aren't you inside me?"

I'm hard now, so I answer by entering her. She cries out. Then she's crying. "I'm home. Baby I'm home."

"I am," I whisper.

Voice can lose herself easily but when we're fucking she becomes very concerned with my pleasure. "Please take me," she says. She means she wants me to come. I have to stop (which she hates) to put the condom on, but she forgets quickly when I'm back inside her. "Verbal baby take me, please take me."

"I'm going to come now."

"Yes baby please come now please please..."

I keep my eyes on her when I come. She says there's a moment when I'm coming when I smile and she can see that I love myself as well as her.

She hates when I have to get out of her and remove the condom. "Where where where where are you going baby?" I remove it quickly, wrap it in a tissue, come back to lying next to her. "That was beautiful," she says, drawing it out. "My baby my baby my verbal I love you." She's like this, after. Always. "I missed you soooo much."

Our tea gets cold. I have her sweat on me and I can smell her on me. Eventually, like always, her phone rings. She dresses in a hurry. She uses the hairbrush I bought for her. She checks herself out in the mirror for signs of sex. I walk her to the door. She turns away, then turns around to kiss me. Does that a few times, before she finally goes out into the street.

I go back to my room. Take the tea cups and pour out the tea into the sink. Take the tea bags and throw them into the composter. She calls from the street.

"I really love you," she says.

"I know, babe. I love you." I just wish...

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

It's all in the frame

The frame, the frame. I think it's probably a metaphor from physics. Theories of motion have speed always relative to a frame of reference. Then in rhetoric and NLP, there's framing the discussion. Perception is more important than reality. Or rather, in social matters, perception creates reality.

For the past couple of days I've been thinking about a different frame for me and Voice. Her choices are her choices. Mine, mine. That's not the give and take of a partnership, but I guess that means we're not partners. Which stands to reason, since she's with someone else. So can I reframe it? Can I think of her some way other than as a girlfriend? It's easier when she's gone, when she's busy or on the road, for weeks at a time. I remember that I'm actually a busy person myself, with not just more interesting work and accomplishments ahead and behind than I could ask for, but also someone surrounded by friends and by love and, actually, by romantic opportunity too.

So why do I find myself watching my phone, hoping she'll find two minutes to call me, for one of these monumentally unsatisfying conversations? When she unloads her stresses, tells me she's miserable, and then "has to" go?

I don't *have to* do that. But nor do I have to cut her off, I don't think. I think both of those are not taking the power that I do have in this situation. I can relate to her on my terms. I can seek what I want, from her and from life, and if I don't get it, make changes.

Framing helped me today. She was on stage for an event. Ferried to it by Auto. Management running around in the crowd. I had to go to it in any case, and have my own friends there. So I spent time with them, didn't seek anything from her, and didn't get anything. I had to go to the thing in any case, I reminded myself. If I frame it as, this is my lover and she won't even acknowledge me in public, I could let it ruin my day. If I frame it as, I went to an event, saw some friends, and left to get on with the rest of my day, it's better.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Beyonce's 'If I Were a Boy' video

Beyonce's If I Were a Boy is now one of my favorite videos of all time. Watch it now so I can spoil it in discussion below.

The brilliance of the video is in the concept, but it could not be done without absolutely perfect acting. The video runs as follows. We open with Beyonce getting ready in the morning. Her boyfriend's made breakfast and is obviously excited that they might eat together. She snubs him and leaves the breakfast. You watch him and your heart sinks with his. She goes through her whole workday with her (male) work partner, flirting heavily with him, while her boyfriend spends the day at work rebuffing (light) advances from attractive co-workers and purchasing a gift for Beyonce online. They go to a party together where Beyonce again flirts with her co-worker and her boyfriend looks on like a loser. Then the song breaks with a tiny snippet of dialogue between Beyonce and her boyfriend where you realize you've been taken for a ride. It's at 3:37:

"I don't think you realize when you act like that, how it makes me look. Or feel," he says.

She turns around, her body still facing forward. "Act like what? Why are you so jealous? It's not like I'm sleeping with the guy." She says this laughing a little, the implication that her boyfriend is being stupid and irrational for feeling how he is feeling.

"What?" he says, stunned that she would bring up sleeping with another guy.

"What?" she says, with the same expression.

Then the video switches focus. And he repeats, laughing at her, now, using the same manner that she had:

"I said, yo, why are you so jealous? It ain't like I'm sleeping with the girl!"

And we're back to the beginning. You realize that Beyonce was the chump, that her boyfriend was the one blowing her breakfast off, leaving her at the table, chasing after other girls. Your sympathy goes from her boyfriend to her, and it's so much more with her because you were more sympathetic to her boyfriend than you would have been if she had been the chump all along.

What gets me so much about the video is that I've been on both sides of this. I also see the expressions on their faces and have worn them all. When he's just staring into space, or calling her phone having her not pick up, or watching her flirt with someone else. And even, I wish it weren't so, but even after the switch, when he was the one hurting her and laughing at her. I've felt trapped in these fights like I couldn't find a way through them without hurting my girl. Especially with Voice. When I watch the party scene, I wonder if I'm watching my future. If I were her boyfriend, I wouldn't be looking on helplessly. I'd be having a good time myself. But before too long I would start to wonder why we were even together. With Voice, we're not together. But if we were, would it be like that? Maybe. Am I watching my future, or maybe my present? And am I really as helpless as I feel? I don't believe I am.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Her power

Because they inspired the blog, I went straight to Bad Man and ozarque to let them know I'd started it up. As you might expect, both were wise. Bad Man with the kind of wisdom that I sometimes have myself, that of a thirtysomething dude who's been around the block a few times, and Ozarque with a great deal more than that. Bad Man said he wouldn't judge my relationship with Voice, but I had to ask myself whether I was getting what I wanted or needed. Ozarque said good for me for trying to fix what's broken.

I realized that it would be more unfair to her if I only resort to this blog when things are bad with us.

As a writer I'm supposed to show and not tell. So...

Six years ago... I am the curator at a panel of authors. The room is full. Stuffy, even. The energy is high. The topic is controversial and intense. The audience is engaged. Voice is supposed to open the event. I've met her a few times (I'll write a blog about the first meeting another time), but I know her only casually, by reputation and as a part of an admired couple (her and Management). She is late. I start the show without her, juggling the panelists. One after another, they tank. All are good readers. All have good writing. They just don't hit the right note for the night and don't hit the right note for the audience. The audience is looking for hope, for possibilities, for a connection. The writers give some mix of self-promotion and despair. As the third author steps up, Voice comes in. In jeans and sneakers and a T-shirt. Most people don't know her yet. But I find myself watching her, not just because everyone is sitting and she's coming in. She slips in and sits next to me in the front row.

"You're late," I say, smiling. I've always been smiling around her, it seems.

"How's it going?"

"Not good, so far. You're going to have to save it."

The third reader might be the worst. Voice, silent in the chair next to me, radiates frustration. Is that body language alone? Why are some people able to make us feel their feelings?

I get up to introduce her. Middling applause. People are frustrated by now, and she's another unknown quantity. But where the other speakers sat on a stool, she stands in front of the mic. She plants her feet, and sings a few bars of a song, acapella, and brings everybody back. From that second on I can reproduce the tune from memory.

She introduces herself, and talks for three minutes, and in three minutes says all of the things the audience needed to hear, that they hadn't heard for the previous hour.

She sings another two songs, and the night is saved. You can just feel it. Everybody can. Even the authors who she was supposed to introduce and, instead, upstaged. They feel more rescued than resentful.

"Well, you did it. You saved it."

"It did need saving."

Where does it come from, this power? It's partly skill or talent, to be sure. But in her case, it's just real. Her words come from a place deeper than most people can go, but when they come out that rawness and realness has been worked up by a master of the craft. She feels it, and makes you feel it too. And even when we fight, I don't believe she's being manipulative. I get dragged into the dumps because those around her just feel whatever she's feeling.

Maybe that night is where it started, for me. Not for her, so she tells me. For her it was earlier.

And is that it, am I just impaled on her power (I thank Colleen McCullough for the phrase)? No. There's more. I'll tell you.

To stop a rumor

I was in a meeting yesterday night, work-related, a somewhat high-stakes situation. The president of the organization I work for is taking a hands-off approach. One of my colleagues was talking about the president's decision to stay above the fray, and as a sidebar she said: "He also doesn't have much regard for women." She then told an anecdote that I thought was very ambiguous: he questioned the credentials of a woman subordinate. It was second hand, in other words.

I know that sexism is ubiquitous and that power plays are common. I know that part of sexism is putting the burden of proof on the woman to prove that sexism happened. I also know that reputation means a great deal and that maligning someone's reputation this way shouldn't be casually done. I know the president a little and have never gotten a sexist feeling from him. Of course, I'm a man. The other thing about the president is that he's a man of color, and men of color get accused of sexism by white people more readily then white men.

Calling a man sexist is either a serious accusation or it isn't. If it is serious, then maybe we should be trying to get the president fired. If it is not serious, but something everybody is, then he shouldn't be singled out in stories to be told in such meetings. I think it is serious, and so such accusations should only be made with extreme caution.

There was a moment when I thought I could have stopped the rumor if I had spoken quickly. But I did not want to add more tension and I did not know how to speak up without attacking my colleague. I wanted to say: "You shouldn't accuse him of that without evidence." Or, "that has not been my experience with him," matter-of-factly. And then transitioned to the next topic, or asked a question. That might have been the best move, but if I had blurted it I think I would have sounded harsh.

So, the situation is this: something is said that you think is destructive. You don't want to let it pass. But the social situation is tense, and you don't want to attack the person who said it, or at least not very harshly. What is the best move?

Saturday, November 8, 2008

A phone call for punishment

Does every conversation contain within it the entire background of the relationship? Does every word then have more meaning if it is spoken between two people with a history? And if so, then how much use is it to analyze what is said and how it is said?

The basic problem between Voice and me is this. She sees me as her boyfriend and expects me to act that way. In public, I am friendly and fun, sometimes the entertainer of the group, other times the host, other times enjoying a side conversation. I like women. I don't hide it. I don't hide it even when I'm with someone, though I do respect that person and stay by her side. But I'm not with Voice, and I'm not going to bust through a phalanx of Auto and Management and whoever else to beg for her attention. I am going to, as the PUAs would say, live in my own reality and have my own fun. That means talking to women, and not just as asexual beings. Voice hates this, and gets jealous, and it consistently wrecks our private time.

One friend, not a close one, but one I flirt with some, I'll call Cell. For months, Cell and I have been pretty close. I think Cell is damned hot, but for as long as I've known her the thing with Voice has been going on. So real feelings for Voice have always held me back from making any moves on Cell. The other night I heard (from Voice, who's her friend) that Cell was seeing some dude. I wasn't upset, I didn't feel like I'd missed an opportunity. I was happy for her. The next time I talked to Cell, I asked her about the dude. That was my mistake. I didn't realize it was a secret, and I should have more discretion. So she figures it out, goes to the source, and then I get the punishment call from Voice.

"When I tell you something in private, it's private."

That was legitimate, I thought. I had miscalculated - I didn't realize it was a secret to anyone. "Okay. I'm sorry."

Then the punishment part: "Are you going to tell her about this conversation too?"

Now, maybe she was legitimately afraid I would, but I think it was a rhetorical question, one she didn't need to ask, one that was just to cause a little extra hurt. Because for the past few days - and, indeed, in much of our conversation for years - she's been talking about being stressed to her limits, busy with work, strained by her other relationships, and taxed to the bone, without the energy to fight, I then have to just absorb the attack.

"No, I won't," I said, as straight as possible.

"This is stupid. I should go do my work." Here, too, a set of implications chosen for punishment. The word "stupid". This is all beneath her (not so far beneath her that she didn't call, but beneath her when it's time to hang up - on her schedule).

"Okay" - I let irritation creep in to that. I didn't have much of a defense anyway. If there had been any doubt, I should not have said anything.

"Bye."

I hang up. Now I'm cold and angry, feeling like I've just been slapped around. The only things I could have done were to

* escalate, and call her out for the attack explicitly. She would have defended herself, we would have fought, and it would have ended with her reminding me that she doesn't want to fight me.

* take it completely and be apologetic. But I don't feel that and don't want to build resentment.

Was there another move? Was there a way to defend myself without escalating? To turn the conversation in a more productive direction? To reassure her that her secrets are safe with me, explain how I didn't realize this was a secret, without having to take what felt like a gratuitous hit?

Or, does it go beyond the language and the conversation to the fact that our whole relationship is fucked up to the core? I think there are ways to navigate these situations better, but I also don't want to start thinking language is magic, and forget that some situations should just be avoided.

Here's the biggest

"You'll always be a cheater", Guitar was telling me years later (and years ago). "The question is whether you'll act on it or not."

I haven't, unless you count what's happening with Voice. In my own mind, being "The Other Man" is not morally equivalent to being a cheater (question for others: is it in yours?). I'm single now. I'm not going behind anyone's back except Voice's boyfriend (who I've decided to call Management), and that's for her to deal with. Since Management isn't really my friend, it's not really a breach of loyalty to him. It is a form of disrespect, and I'm not proud of it, but there it is.

Back to Guitar and me. We were talking about the biggest mistake of my life, which happened 10 years ago, when I cheated on my grade-school sweetheart, best friend, who came to be a girlfriend for 7 years. I think I'll call her Soulmate. I loved her. I don't think there was anything missing from our relationship. I truly think we should have been married by now, and would have been, had I not cheated on her. The person I cheated with, who I'll call Alabama, was not at all a soulmate. I was more attracted to Soulmate, she was a better friend, a better person, we related better, we had better conversations, we had better sex, we had known each other from children and built our personalities together. But I still cheated. For years I took all the responsibility for what happened. Then I gradually decided that I got manipulated and I blamed Alabama for a lot of it. Today I think it was a lack of experience and I got pulled into her world in ways I wouldn't today (so I say, but here I am in another screwed up situation with Voice).

When Alabama came into my life I wanted her as a friend. She was interesting and, more than anything, she was verbally clever. We bantered well. That was rare - but it was something I had with Soulmate too. The thing I couldn't resist was this feeling of an intelligence that was focused entirely on me. In retrospect I could dismiss it as obsession, but at the time I was disarmed by the amount and quality of attention. Because the connection between Soulmate and I was based on a friendship that grew and grew into more over years and years, when Alabama made sexual moves and basically accused me of being half a man for not accepting them or making moves myself, I didn't know quite how to resist. It was the difference between a chemistry that just happens, which I had experienced several times before, and someone deliberately trying to seduce me, which I hadn't (but have since, with both Music and Voice).

The thing with Alabama was always bad, but grew steadily worse until I flew to visit her when she was in a suicidal state (for lots of reasons, but that was another part of why I felt I couldn't leave), stayed at her place, and she had a breakdown before she was supposed to drive me to the airport. I missed my flight home and ended up having to take a taxi to the airport for another flight. That was the last time I saw her. But she wasn't done with me: she found Soulmate, called her, and told her I'd been cheating. That was how my girlfriend found out her boyfriend was cheating on her.

In 10 years I have been told that I need to forgive myself many times. I don't think I have, even though so much has happened since. I like to think the guilt protects me from doing such a thing again. Things with Soulmate are repaired. We have returned to something like the best friends we were before we got together. But the damage that was done to the relationship is permanent. We will never be together, and that is because of what I did. I have loved since, real, burning, powerful, earth-shattering love, and so has Soulmate. But that does not change the fact that cheating on her was the biggest mistake of my life. If I could go back and not do it, and also lose my right arm or something, I would, in a second.

Guitar warned me that I'd need more than guilt to protect me from cheating again. He said I'd need to recognize that I had it in me to do this and would have always to be aware of it. Another friend I've known since childhood, a little older, I'll call him Mentor, likened it to being an alcoholic in the AA sense - you're one whether you take a drink or not. I don't like the thought. I don't like the idea that there is something unchangeable in my character waiting for a chance to get out. But if that idea can help me to prevent repeating what I've done, I will use it.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Nice guys, or, orbiters

Before my second post of the day, I want to say a word acknowledging the two blogs I have linked to so far. The Bad Man is a recent find of mine. I can thank him for putting me on to the world of 'pickup', where I have found more than meets the eye. His three points, especially (talk to women, treat them like they are people, and be sexual) are so sensible that it's amazing that I had to read them to realize them. The other thing I can thank him for is the idea that I could pseudonymously blog my own life. I had wondered how I might put these thoughts out into the world. I had thought about novelizing them, but under my own name it wouldn't quite fit. I could just bury them in a journal, but then I wouldn't be able to have the give and take of being part of a community. The Bad Man gave me the solution. I also like the names he gives to people.

The Bad Man also emphasized something that I've come to agree with: that social skills are skills that can be learned. And in that, he agrees with Suzette Elgin, whose blog I also have linked to. Suzette created the Verbal Self-Defense system to teach people how to "clean up" the language around them. She also analyzes language and power, especially in relationships between women and men. Like 'pickup' as taught by Mystery and Style, the GAVSD (Gentle Art of Verbal Self Defense) cries out for field-testing, and further analysis. I'd like to try to bring some dialogues from the field here to take them apart and see what I can learn.

The Bad Man describes pickup as a kind of response to feminism. Style calls it the beginnings of a men's self-improvement movement. I think Suzette is a feminist, and I am influenced by both.

Now to the post.

Let's call my current girlfriend Voice. She would insist on that title. I'd be happy to give it to her. We talk that way. We certainly have sex that way. But the world doesn't know. That's because Voice is a pretty well-known singer and media personality and has a well-known boyfriend. People cheat all the time, I know. There was a time when it would have grated my conscience. It doesn't, so much, these days, though I don't know how long I can keep it up.

Here's something I have long observed about ladies like Voice: they don't just have one man, they have a team. Voice has her public boyfriend, she's got me, and she's got other men as well. In PUA language, these guys are called orbiters. For nonspecialists, they're sometimes called "nice guys". When she decided she wanted me, these men all seemed to disappear into the background. For all I know, they might know about us. What's interesting is that, while I think Voice likes having them around, and they do things for her, they are also a drain on her.

Take Auto, for example, the most frequent of her men. Auto's advantage is his car. He drives her places, and is all over her life because of that. Voice needs to get around, and doesn't drive. Neither does her man. Neither do I. But Auto does. For driving her around, Auto feels he has rights to her time and to her loyalties. He confronts her about the time she spends with others. He tells her it hurts his feelings that she has fun with others. He has made his life to be available to her at all hours. And when we're not in bed, I don't think I've seen her without him.

I wonder what it all has to do with me. My strategy is to treat him like the backdrop that he is. Her thing with him is her business. Her thing with me is mine. I think she gives him signals she shouldn't. I think he disrespects her boundaries. But I can't control any of that, and telling her will only create more fights between us.

If I were to embrace the pickup community I would immediately be accused of serial 'one-itis'. So be it. I want these tools to better live in the situation I'm in, not to do some other guy's thing. I have it bad for Voice, and I think she loves me, in some way. Someone clearer minded might tell me what I need to do is let go. But I don't want to do that. So help me to do what I do want to, which is love this girl who is surrounded by stage props.

Three years ago...

I was breaking up with the love of my life (I will call her Music) on the phone from my office. She was in her office in another city, in another country. We were engaged. The weekend before we had been together in Boston. But we didn't spend a night together. We never kissed properly. We didn't make love there. We hadn't touched each other properly for a month before that, and hadn't spend a good long time together for a month before that. That was how distance, and family, and the fact that neither of us were independently wealthy, had arranged our lives for us. I'd gone there so we could figure out whether we should try to stay together or not. The feeling was wrong, for both of us. When I got home we broke up. On the phone.

"I think it's clear what we have to do", she said. But she left it open to me to not do it. But I did it.

"You're what I love most in this world," I said. I was crying.

Today I think that if we'd made love on that last trip we would still be together. I think that I should have not left. To make a life with someone, to get married, it's always a leap. There are always second thoughts and doubts. That's what makes it a leap. I was hoping for an uncomplicated feeling. It was not there. There was only the whole complicated mess of feelings: the strongest desire I've ever felt in my life, a fear I'd disappoint her somehow, a fear I would get bored and leave her and ruin her life. Now I know she felt all those too and was ready to leap anyway. But I didn't get that that feeling was as good as anyone ever gets.

I used my office phone. The long distance bill came months later. The minutes on each call are recorded. This one took 44 minutes.

Months later, before we stopped talking on the phone.

"Let me ask you something: do you think you made the right decision?" She was curious, but in no way re-opening the door to us.

"I don't know", I said. I didn't think so.

A few months after that, I did know. I knew I'd made the wrong one. But it was too late. She'd moved on, more than once, and made a point of telling me so. What a feeling that was. My warm guts were replaced with ice, that I had to carry around in me for, I don't know, months at least.

The only thing that can make good on a loss like this is learning. What have I learned? To make the leap, I guess. That relationships are not made for creating complete inner serenity.

I spent most of the past three years alone, at some low level of misery and dull pain. It was the second, or maybe the third, biggest mistake of my life.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

If I could just say the right thing.

I have loved three times and screwed it up each time. I have felt desire out of control. I have tried hard to master my emotions and, at times, succeeded. In all these times I have felt the power of words. I know for a fact that if I had said different things at different times my life would have been different.

But this is not about just regrets. This blog, because it's pseudonymous, means I can say things I can't elsewhere. It means I can ponder, perhaps with your help, what these daily interactions mean and how to do better. It means, maybe, I can talk about sex. Perhaps even explore a style I wouldn't normally. What I think I want to do is talk about my internal world, one of sexual desire, messed-up relationships, nostalgia, loss, and pleasure, adventure, and hope, too.