26 January 2007

suffering from the symptom "ebony jacquelyn"

Forgive me. I am distracted. Sense may not be completely made, mostly because I’m still in the process of making it.

Last night, I did a shamus on Donny’s phone and I found an improbable name programmed into his address book. My spidey sense was tingling, a sense invariably impregnated with a nail-biting frisson,  One does not ferret about in the detritus of a lover’s world and have one’s worst suspicions confirmed without some small pleasure. One has a strangely displaced sense of solipsistic shadenfreude. One feels joy at one’s own dear heart catastrophe. It is a peculiar fucking sensation indeed.

Last night, spidey sense tingling, ferreting about, I found the improbable name “Ebony Jacquelyn.” “Ebony Jacquelyn” is not precisely the  implausible name in question, but it’s close enough to the one I found to raise legitimate credulity in anyone reading this. I knew, knew immediately, knew uncontrovertibly that Donny had been talking dirty with this woman, that he had lied about his availability to her (or to me, if in fact he’s in his heart single), and that he wanted me to find this piece of evidence and cold hard bust him.

I didn’t bust him, not immediately. Immediately, I had sex with him. Long, elliptical and theatrical sex that I interrupted about twenty minutes in with a conversation that would allow him, with no pressure attached, to tell me what had been going on, should he want to unburden his bosom to me.

He did not.

Donny and I have not shared an uncomplicated history. No smooth sailing, our love. It has felt a lot more like one of those off-road endurance trials. It took me just under a year and a half to commit to us. And I take full responsibility for it taking then another six months for me to sometimes choose behavior that wasn’t occasionally dramatic, that wasn’t at times histrionic, that wasn’t from time to time dictated by my history of abandonment and all the attendant cut-and-run habits that a lifelong history of abandonment usually engenders. I have, to my credit, been standing very still for almost the past year. My posture has not embodied a static, stagnant stillness; rather, it has been the Zen quiet of the meditating. I have waited without waiting; I have been patient without condescension. I have been a woman committed to her love.

Donny, however, has not shared my lotus composure. Instead, I’ve seen a subtle relaxation of his Heismann stance, a bending at the elbow, a welcoming in with his arm. He has slowly relaxed his posture of resistance. When we grew too close, he used to just dump me. Then he would act tetchy, show up late, cancel at the last moment, and be resentful of our time together. He would mistreat me in small doses, just enough to keep me on edge. The next stage was his chatting online with the phantom females, a practice I don’t love, but after discovering his having done it over and over again, I told him that I’d endeavor to be ok with it as long as he didn’t actually talk to them or meet them. I considered it a symptom of his intimacy issue that given enough time and space and therapy would just go away.

Apparently, not so much.

So my spidey sense was tingling. So I ferreted. So I found. So I fucked Donny, and every time he said to me, “Your pussy feels so beautiful,” I thought, Really, more beautiful than Ebony Jacquelyn’s?

“I love fucking you,” he said.

Really, I thought, more than you love fucking Ebony Jacquelyn?

We’re fucking and EbonyJacquelyn, EbonyJacquelyn, EbonyJacquelyn ran through my mind.

Donny between my legs and EbonyJacquelynEbonyJacquelynEbonyJacquelyn.

Donny above me, his bare thorax bobbing up and down framed by my juicy thighs.

EbonyJacquelynEbonyJacquelynEbonyJacquelynEbonyJacquelynEbonyJacquelynEbonJacquelyn.

After an eternity—not pink, not floating, not sweet, but rather churlish and charred around the edges—I came, and somewhat later, Donny did too, leaving a lavish load of jism on my sternum and at the hollow at the base of my throat. We showered. I left the shower first. I turned on his phone. I checked when he and Ms Jacquelyn had talked. Wednesday night at 10:29, Donny called me. 10:34, he called Ebony Jacquelyn.

I walked to the bathroom. I asked him if he was having an affair.

“No,” said Donny.

Then who is Ebony Jacquelyn, I asked.

She is, as I knew, a chat buddy. She, he tells me, lives in Brooklyn. She thinks, as I knew, that Donny is single. She has been lied to, and so have I.

My schadenfreude dissipated in the fluorescent light of his resigned acknowledgment. We talked, and I felt at turns angry, frustrated, bored, loving, annoyed and exhausted.

At this point, today, I am a bit raw with not knowing how to feel. I know that this symptom with the incredible name is a sign of his struggle with intimacy, with his fear of disappearing into our union, with his anxiety about being dependent on me, with his haunting worry of loss, with the devil of his feeling inadequate. With his worry about commitment. With all of that, and more.

I know all that, and I feel compassionate toward this man I love so much, and I also just don’t care. I know only that I don’t want any spidey tinglings. I don’t want to ferret, no matter how pleasurably. I don’t want my assumptions validated, however gratifying. I don’t want any Ebony Jacquelyns.

And beyond that, I just don’t know.

PS. A few readers have written me to point out an unusual number of typos in this post. I wrote it in a crimson emo rush. I think I've caught all of the errors, and if I have not, let's just please forgive and forget them.

24 January 2007

so you wanna write a sex blog...really?

Almost two years I started writing my pretty dumb things, which I don’t call a “sex blog,” but a “blog with sex.” And yet this identification is a petit form of self-delusion. Looking at this writing in a cold, clear light of unobfuscated analytic light, this blog is a sex blog, or it has become one, anyway.

This post is my 444th. I can’t even begin to estimate the number of pages, of sentences, of words that comprise those hundreds of posts. I can’t imagine how many times I’ve used the word “cock,” employed the adjectival phrase “fat-bellied,” or summoned a metaphor of birds taking flight, balloons on the rise, tsunamis crashing or fjords dropping to describe my orgasms. I can’t fathom how many synonyms I’ve found for “pink,” or how many times I’ve said “spelunk,” while not referring to actual caves. I have, on these pages, yowled, yawped, ululated, screamed, gutter-uttered and howled like a banshee. (I have, however, never, ever used the term “cum,” unless I was employing Latin or being sarcastic.)

The point of my piling up the virtual metric tons of my things, pretty and/or dumb, is to point out this fact: I know a thing or two about writing a sex blog, however reluctantly I came about writing one. In the past two years, I have seen my readership go from a slender handful of people to a great burgeoning swell of thousands daily. I have the readership of a nice-sized small town daily. It’s a testament to my writing, I like to think, as well as a testament to how many people Google “how to deep throat” and come here for instructions.

I like to think I make it look pretty easy. Good artists do that, make difficult things look easy, and I like to consider myself pretty good at this thing I do, all hubris aside. Let me tell you, especially those of you who think you want to write a sex blog: it’s not.

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09 November 2006

little miss spank-me-not

I haven’t been spanked in, like, forever.

It’s not as if I haven’t expressed my desire for Donny to take hand or hairbrush or spatula or flogger or belt to my ass. I have, in terms both forthright—I’d like to be spanked, Donny—and roundabout—Donny, don’t you think I’ve been a little bit…naughty? I have asked, I have stated, I have insinuated, I have implied, I have queried, demanded, requested, intimated, averred, and simply said that I want to be spanked, and I've said it for months now.

And yet not a spank. Not a tap. Not a pat. Ok, sure, there has been the tease spank, the quick flick of Donny’s open hand on my upturned impertinent ass. But just one or two quick blows and before I know they have begun, they are over, like a teasing rainstorm on a parched plain.

I miss it. The blind uncertainty. The pause before the hand falls, the sound of the leather swooshing through the air, the fluttering air pushed quick before the descending hairbrush. The sharp smack! The deerhide's snaps. The flat crack of the open palm, the muffled snap of the belt. The sunburst of pain, some small solar flare and slow fade. The synesthetic red burst with each fall. The heightened sense of air on the flesh, now welted like corduroy. The burning that builds and flows, that grows and doesn't ebb until, fleet indecipherable hours later, I am keening a great banshee wail, my pussy a pulsing anenome, sweat sticky and drippy between my breasts, pinpricking with a pointed precision the tender pink flesh of my sweetly punished ass.

I’m wondering what a nominal girl has to do to get punished like the slut she used to be. I have considered mailing Donny an earthworm, or placing a large June bug on his pristine pillow, but most likely he’d miss the reference and I’d have to explain it, which I hate doing because if a bit has to be explained, it’s lost the beauty part.

Obviously, I’ve been giving this matter quite a bit of thought, in no small part because it beats thinking about my dissertation by an eighteenth-century mile, and I think this dearth of kink stems in part from Donny and my being always crushed for time, in part from our being a bit healthier both individually and collectively, and in part because his dog barks whenever he spanks me.

The dog, bless him, is a problem. His bark is loud; it’s a sound that cuts the air and then hangs there in space. It’s impossible to shut him up. Any physical altercation sets him off—even one small play tap. Clearly, before the dog came to live with Donny he’d been in a home filled with violence, and he’s never gotten over it. It took a while before the dog would let us hug and kiss. Now he doesn’t bark when we make with the smoochies—or thankfully when we fuck—but one gesture into flagellation, and he is a complete canine buzz kill.

We’ve tried putting the dog on the other side of the apartment, two doors and an L-shaped hallway away; he still hears. We’ve tried hiding ourselves in the bathroom and running the water for additional sonic cover; he still hears. The dog has a supernatural hearing for the sound of a hand hitting human flesh, or anything else for that matter. It’s a problem.

The time factor absolutely puts a crimp in the flogging. When you know you have limited time with your lover, and you want to be able to eat, talk, cuddle, and fuck, you triage the acts. Somehow the preparation required for spanking me, the warm-up and the mindfuck, the ropes and the blindfold and the ball-gag, take precious minutes away from the ticking clock of our other activities, or so it would seem by Donny’s choices in how he uses our connubial time. Personally, I could do without food if I new I’d be sitting gingerly for the next few days.

But it appears that it’s not my choice. If it were, I’d have some lovely lavender and pink striping my generous and good-natured, and at this moment rather lonesome, ass.

Finally, though, it seems that we’ve been enjoying the spicy vanilla sex lately. Donny still fucks me hard, harder than I think I can stand it, and he still murmurs Vivid-scriptwriter worthy phrases about my pussy and his cock as he fucks me hard. And he still places his hand or hands around my throat as he does so, sometimes causing my eyes to go all delicate lace and silver pricks. And he still talks a blue streak about wanting to watch me suck another man’s cock.  But pretty vanilla, aside from that.

We fuck, and facing each other, our foreheads close as greeting Maoris, bodies improbably and inelegantly joined, we fall free of the world and the time. It’s definite love that we make, and it is beautiful.

But I still want to be spanked.

04 October 2006

sinus infection bonus friction

It's the first sinus infection of the season for me. Even though I need recuperate and revel in the inexplicably dull joy of staring into space, I feel there is no reason for you to have to do the same. Below the fold is the story I've sold to Audible.co.uk for their upcoming lesbian and bisexual anthology (it will be published under the name "Chelsea Summers" if you want to look for it).

It's, you know, fiction for friction. Enjoy.

kissykiss,
chelsea girl

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02 July 2006

spencer t. jones

Spencer2_1 Three years ago on 3 July 2003, I euthanized my dog, the Legendary Spencer. I quail a bit at the word “euthanize”; I find my chest contracts at it. It’s an ugly word. To my mind, though, the euphemisms are worse: put down like an insult or put to sleep like a child, as if there is a time when he, my furry eternal toddler, will rise again.

Three years ago Spencer and I took our last walk. I leashed him, and he looked at me with dying and hopeful eyes because he loved me and because he loved walks. He unquestioningly went with me; he stepped gingerly down the stairs of my apartment for the last time. For the last time, I watched him pee, him no longer able to lift his leg. For the last time, I saw him pause outside Bang! Bang! because one upon a time the store had been another store, a store that unfailingly had provided Spencer with biscuits, and he never, not even in his slightly addled dotage, forgot a place that gave him biscuits.

For the last time I took him for a walk and for the last time he trusted me.

He was, unquestionably, ready to die. His kidneys were failing, and his lung cancer had progressed to a point where he hacked and coughed often and with a painful rawness; just breathing, for him, was difficult. He had ceased to eat, even yummy treats like liverwurst. I had, a few weeks earlier, had him shaved for the summer, something I had never done before. I felt he was old and uncomfortable in the heat, so I had brought him, also for the last time, to the groomer’s, which he hated.

I bid adieu to his beautiful caramel sundae hair, the first bits of him I said good-bye to; the rest would come later.

And so three years ago for the last time, I brought him to his vet’s, where she put us in a quiet room and then injected him with some kind of preliminary downer, to get him to sleep before she gave him his lethal dose of whatever.

He wouldn’t sleep there on the vet’s floor. He couldn’t. His body, dehydrated from his failing kidneys, and his mind, nervous from being at the vet’s, wouldn’t succumb to the soporific drugs. His eyes remained open and he remained restive. Finally, unable to wait any more, the vet just came in, and kindly and gently injected him with a series of shots. He died in my lap.

I held him and cried, and then I clipped tufts of his ear hair, which I have saved in a box. I also took ink prints of his left front paw on rice paper. (I would, about a week later, walk back to the vet's to pick up a white bakery box that read " Spencer, the loving pet of Chelsea Girl." It still contains his ashes.)

I walked home from the vet’s alone. Alone I spent that night and the next day, 4 July. The following day, I took the prints I had made of Spencer’s paw after his death to a tattoo artist, and I had him tattoo me with Spencer’s paw, his name and his dates on my right deltoid. It’s not a very good tattoo—it wasn’t my usual artist, and I knew I’d regret its ham-handed scarring depth—but I will never remove it.

Spencer1jpg I have lost friends, I have lost family members. I have never in my life felt the keening grief I felt over losing my dog. I sobbed with animal loss—deep, heaving, inarticulate moans of loss. I can’t even write this today without tears. And I think that this grief is due to the fact that people have disappointed me. People have created conflict. People have given me qualified affection.

My dog never did. Sure, he made me angry. Once he ate the corner of my then-roommate Becky Sue’s mattress. It was not a good day for either of us. But Spencer was always unequivocally happy to see me. His love for me was pure, and steady, and unqualified.

I was his God, he was my dog.

I remember in those first few weeks of insane grief, in those days when all I wanted, all I really wanted was to be with him, how I felt his fear of being removed from me, how I worried that no one would take care of him wherever he was, and how I had a dream. In my dream, he and I were out on a beautiful summer day, in a park that wasn’t a park, and somehow we got separated.

I saw him across a wide expanse of very green grass and I called him, but he didn’t come. He stood there, his long blonde and white hair rippling in the breeze as I called and called, and then he walked, his big Aussie butt twitching, away from me. In my dream, I remembered that he was deaf, that he couldn’t hear me, but then I woke and I realized that he had left because he was dead. He was gone, and I could never call him back.

Spencer3_1 I don’t have a religious background. I don’t have a clear idea of an afterlife, of a heaven or a hell or even a reincarnation. However, in my hopes, if I live a good life, if I’m moral and take responsibility for my mistakes, if I treat my neighbor as myself, and apologize when I do not, then I shall at my life’s end be reunited with Spencer.

In a perfect world, dogs like him would never die. In a perfect world, I would never have known this loss. But in a less perfect world, I console myself, I would never have known his love.

Spencer T. Jones 11/27/90-7/3/03

11 April 2006

no cat-man-don't redux

For a variety of reasons, I decided to take down my "cat-man-don't" post of yesterday. In its place, I give you a comment from a reader.

Yeah, hmmm, why would he dump you? Let's see.

The lack of anything resembling a career?
The financial disaster and pending bankruptcy?
The meager existence in a hovel of an apartment?
The excessive emotional neediness?
The psychological instability?
The inability to relate like an adult?
The tantrums and screaming proclivities?
The history of self-destruction?
The misplaced sense of martyrdom?
The bitterness and inability to let go

Nah, you're right...you're a real catch. How could any man in his right mind walk away from you. It MUST be the cats.

Go ahead and censor away. This blog is too insecure to let anything but the pretty comments stay.

And there you go, Pink, in all its glory. No censorship of you here.

(This Pink should not ever be confused with the real Pink, who has always been very lovely to me and who is not a chav.)

Due to popular demand, the "cat-man-don't" post is back, after the fold. I have removed all references to the gentleman in question. You will have to use your imagination now. Enjoy.

Continue reading "no cat-man-don't redux" »

02 March 2006

bummer of a birthmark, hal; or why there's no HNT for me

It’s HNT! W00T!!!

Not for me; I won’t be getting naked, or nekkid, on the Internet. Not now, not ever again. (And, yes, I recognize there's a bikini shot of me just over there to the right, but it's been up there since I began my pretty dumb things, and having been crawled to immortality, it seems pointfree to take it down now.)

Intellectually, I understand why people do choose to put pictures of their semi-unclothed bodies on their blogs. I understand that it’s liberating to shed the inhibitions with the garments and to unapologetically brazenbare some flesh. I get that it’s a creative outlet, especially for people who enjoy the automatic click on their digital cams and their Adobe software.

I see too that if writing is sharing one level of intimacy, then posting pictures deepens that intimacy; giving pixels to the imagined self pushes open the door to the person just a tiny bit more. And finally I can understand the appeal of being part of something bigger than oneself in the HNT blogosphere—it’s a big, happy, nekkid group hug out there, and it has to feel supportive.

But HNT’s not for me, and not merely because I’m not a joiner (I was kicked out of my Brownie troupe the second week, and that was the last time I willingly put on a uniform), and not merely because I run with scissors.

But because I, for reasons just beyond my comprehensive grasp, gather the haters.

I know that I’m not unique in this—I imagine that everyone who has ever posted a self-portrait on the Internet has received at least one hurtful comment, one excoriating e-mail. Even those of us bloggers who only write words attract the trolls, those people with too much time, and not enough decency, and the need to be mean just because they can.

I, however, seem to gather the haters like venomous moths to a flame. Rarely does the week go by that I don’t receive letters or comments from people who seem to have no impetus other than the deepdish desire to denigrate me. Most often, these people say something mean (like my breasts look like the smashed ears of dogs, or that they want sit back and watch my boyfriend dump me, or that I’m just a fat chick who first got off in my thirties and that I need to get my fat ass back in the gym) and then they invariably finish with the direction that I “need to get some self-esteem.”

Self-esteem is the dead last thing these people want me to have. I find this directive ironic, because if I threaten them now, they would be quaking in their socks if and when I fully embrace esteem for myself.

The thing is that this kind of lashing out from strangers is nothing new to me. In grade school I was mercilessly punished by my peers. In middle school too. I remember in high school one of my friends telling me that at her family’s dinner table one of her sisters said, “That Chelsea Girl walks through the cafeteria like everyone is looking at her.”

To which her brother replied, “That’s because everyone is.”

I have always been different. I have never gone with the crowd, even as much as I wish I could. Growing up, I wanted nothing—nothing—more than to be exactly like everyone else. By the time I hit middle school, I started studying the popular girls, seeing what they wore, how they did their hair and what color mascara they wore. I’d go out and buy the same things, do the same curling wand magic, coat my lashes with the same navy blue, and still I was different.

Eventually, I learned to accept my difference, even if I haven’t entirely gotten to like it. And the truth is that I do have self-esteem issues. But this admission hardly separates me from the rest of humanity. I was abused as an infant. I was abandoned by my father. I was raised by parents who didn’t take much care of me. I have self esteem issues. I’m working on them.

And those people who feel the need to hurl pointy cruel javelins in my direction, those people living their tatty lives, unraveling at the edges like a hand-me-down sweater, they too have self-esteem issues. We all do. Every one of us, at one point or another, if not always.

They do hurt me, these people. As big as I am, this collective arsenal of pointless cruelty hurts me. I can’t honestly say I’ve never been a hater—I have thrown those barbs at people I didn’t know well, if much at all. Afterwards, I felt bad. Afterwards, I recognized that I did it because my perception of them made me feel badly about myself. Something about them made me feel fullforce my failings, and so I lashed out.

I can only hope the haters who have hurt me recognize something useful about themselves. Something positive, like gaudy tulips sprung from dung, should come from their vituperations.

I am smart, I am beautiful, I am sexual and I am not going to apologize for it, not any of it, not now, not here, not there, not ever.

But I’m also not going to put my nekkid ass on the Internet. There’s no reason to give the haters a bigger target.

11 February 2006

tending to the hurty heart

Another in my series of public service addressings of issues. I've given you some things to do before you throw in the dating towel; an anal sex primer (parts one and two); loving things to say to make your lover feel loved; a songlist for spankers; help in finding a deep-throating chick and how to deep-throat with safe abandon. Here is my take on coming to healy terms with a hurty heart.

There is no pain like heartbreak. It’s awe-inspiring, really, how perfect is the somatic metaphor of heartbreak. Our hearts, of course, do not break, not really, not unless we have a heart attack, or something like it. And yet, when we lose the person we love, we feel it in our chests, there, just there, beneath our solar plexus.

It feels as if a metal fist squeezes our heart in its relentless grip. It feels as if the heart has fractured, as if it has been rent in two, as if it has been impaled. Or it feels as if it has just been ripped out of our chest cavities and what remains is a bloody, pulsating, echoing absence.

We can’t breathe. We can’t think. We can’t escape the pain. We curl fetal and sob loss inchoate into and from our bellies. We mourn and we pine. When we lose that person we love, we feel that pain beyond pain, that loss beyond loss, that emptiness beyond words.

We have all felt it, most likely, this loss, this break. And yet, as with physical pain, we have a hard time recollecting it in all its exquisite sensation once we’ve healed. So each time it happens, it catches us somehow unawares; we and our delicate organ that symbolically beat beat beats the tattoo of our love live in willful denial of the pain until it’s undeniably there: There is the loss and in its place there is the pain.

Which means that as much as we can’t remember what it’s like to feel this loss, we also can’t fully remember how to cope with it. To this end, this dealing with the pain, I give to you a reminder of things to do when you’ve lost your lover.

Tick Tick Tick, Time is on Your Side: My parents almost divorced when I was in my early twenties. My mom confessed to cheating on my father and he left her. I remember he told me that he’d gone to his therapist; “I can’t sleep. I can’t eat. I’m in pain. How long will this last?” he asked his therapist in anguish, and my dad told me that he’d expected an answer along the lines of “as long as it needs to” or “until you nurture the loved one within,” or some other ooh-wah response.

“Eighteen months,” the therapist told him matter-of-factly. Studies show that in general it takes us eighteen months to cope with loss. Get a calendar. Mark the days. Eighteen months, and you’ll be OK. Really.

Go Ahead, Get Fetal: Which doesn’t mean that in the meantime you have to be stoic. You don’t win any points for shoving your pain to the side and pretending it doesn’t exist. You want to cry? Go ahead. Want to curl up and sniff your lover’s last dirty t-shirt until you can smell no more? Knock yourself out. Want to revisit every place you’ve been, touch the panes of glass of that French restaurant, this divebar’s bathroom stall, those toes of the public statue? Fine. It’s your heartache and you can be just as self-indulgent as you need to be.

No Man (or Woman) is an Island: One thing that women do when we hurt: we talk. We talk and we talk and we talk. We’ll talk to anyone who will listen until they tell us to shut up and have a Cosmo, already. We talk to friends; we talk to strangers; we talk to anyone who will sit still long enough to listen.

This is one thing men should learn. Men, heterosexual men at least, tend to not talk. This is bad. Not talking leads to festering. Heterosexual men tend not to talk much because the person who they are most used to expressing their feelings to is the very person they have lost. Therefore, the loss becomes compounded. There is the loss of the person, the loss of the person to whom they would confess all of this emotional stuff, and the loss of the release of saying the emotional stuff. You men who don’t talk: talk. Just find someone and start talking. It will help unpack that complex bricolage of loss.

Music Really does Soothe the Savage Beast: I’m a big proponent of musical therapy when it comes to heartbreak. Sometimes I just listen to one disc compulsively—the Tom Tom Club’s disc with “Man with the 4-Way Hips” got me through a bitchin’ heart-ache in the early ‘80s. Sometimes I’ll make a playlist of extreme Emo songs and listen to them until I can’t stand it anymore (Jeff Buckley’s “Hallelujah” is the crown jewel of this weepy genre). Sometimes I’ll make a playlist of angry songs, or empowering songs, or vindictive songs and listen to that compulsively (Cake’s version of “I Will Survive” is particularly good. So is any AC/DC). Figure out what emotional notes you need and then make the songlist that will fill in that void.

The Movies Rule: I definitely use popular culture to heal my heart, and you can too. The first rule about movie-watching is there should be no romance. When I’m feeling heartbroken I watch films that fall into one of two categories: Films in which Things Get Blown Up, and Films in which Dudes are Friends. The incomparable Fight Club clearly falls into both categories, and, yeah, there is the questionable romance between Tyler Durden and Marla Singer, but really the real love story is between a boy and his rage. 

The second rule about movie-watching is watching them goes on as long as it needs to. You are in pain; you are therefore mildly to moderately insane. If it makes you feel more functioning to watch Papillion or Saving Private Ryan on infinite repeat, do it.

The third rule about movie-watching…oh, there is no third rule. Popcorn is optional.

The Cup Just Might Be Half Full: There is good in singlehood; find it. Once you can see beyond the obfuscation of your pain, you can begin to enjoy the things you couldn’t when you were with your Other. She didn’t like your impromptu poker parties? Have one. He wasn’t so into your slutty clothing? Trot out the hot pants, mama. The Other mandated that holidays were spent with the families? Enjoy your Thanksgiving at a strip club. The Other didn’t support your love of ferrets? Get yourself one of the furry rodential motherfuckers. In other words, reëxperience the wonder, the power, the glory of your own interests. Revel in them. Find out who you are on your own gritty terms.

Get the Hell out of Yourself: take the time to wallow in your pain, but also know when to say when. Get physical and exercise—it’s good for you inside and out. Volunteer to help someone do something you can do and they can’t. Do something outside your head and your house; it will make you feel something other than pathetisad.

Let There Be Light (Eventually): at some point, you need to learn what this relationship said/did/responded to about you. But this epiphanic process is many, many months down the road. Don’t hurry it. At some point, you will need to reflect, but the time isn’t Now until you’ve felt the pain you need to feel. Starting asking what did I do wrong oh god oh god early on in this heart-healing process is a form of punishment. Don’t punish yourself. Maybe you did do wrong—you probably did—but punishment doesn’t really lead to understanding or change. Usually it leads to binge drinking. And that is a fine coping mechanism for most of us in extreme moderation, but in the long run, it’s expensive, painful, sick-making, and unhealthy. Don’t punish. In time, you’ll have the presence of mind to learn stuff about you.

Have Some Fucking Fun: This advice comes in two parts, as it were. The first part is this: If you’re not ready to be with someone else for a while, be with yourself. Relearn how to fuck yourself. Get some toys. Get some videos. Get to experiment. As my mother said, it’s ok to touch yourself as long as your hands are clean. Have at it with yourself until you can have at it with someone else.

The second part is this: Sex does not have to be wound up in love and marriage and white picket fences and monogamy. At some point, do some dating. Kiss someone. Be fingered. Fuck, if you want to. I don’t advocate relationship surfing—riding the crest of one Other to the next without a break—and I don’t advocate immediate sex after a really wrenching break-up, but I do advocate recognizing that at some point you need to embrace your needs. Moreover, you’re going to have to learn what it’s like to get naughty-sweaty with another body. There are other people in the same exact predicament you are in—newly single, frisky and fearful. Find another honest person—or two or three—and have some safe, physical fun.

Everyone Makes Mistakes: Finally, my last piece of advice is this: recognize that you’re going to fuck up in taking care of yourself. You have made mistakes; you will make mistakes again. Don’t beat up on yourself for them. Learn from them and move on. At the end of the day, the only person we will be with every moment from the cradle to the grave is ourselves. Treat yourself with the love you want to be treated with and you will know love, inside and out.

Take care, you of the healy hearts. And if any of you readers have words to add, please do. We are none of us alone, even when we feel we are.

And two more things because they came to me in the course of the night:

Let the Anger Go: It's not that you shouldn't feel angry; it's that you need to let it out. Magdelena comments below on the necessity of expressing anger, and with weird synchronicity this is something that I woke up thinking at some point in the middle of last night. You don't have to confront the person you've lost, but you owe yourself the release of your anger. You can scream, as Magdelena suggests, or write vampire stories or letters, or make collages, or fingerpaint (one artist I know made a quilt of twelve panels portraying her ex-husband's new girlfriend as a cat being killed in twelve creative ways). Whatever, just recognize that anger is a normal and even healthy emotion and let it go out. Anger held in can make you depressed, sick, fat, or cancerous. Anger released in productive ways makes you cleansed.

Give Yourself a Gold Star: recognize when you do something well. Give yourself some freaking props when you handle a difficult day, situation, or moment in a healthy way. Even if it's just taking a second and saying, wow, that was hard and I was Grace Kelly under pressure. You've got enough pain on your plate at the now, so when you handle something with aplomb, give yourself a plum.

There you go. Carry on.

Kissykiss,
chelsea girl

23 November 2005

stage 2

This post isn't hott. If you want to read hott, then check out my Zero Boss (not)-memorial (he's not dead yet) Smut Index, or my Rumpy-Pumpy index in honor of O, my blog bitch-goddess.

If you're here for emo rather than eros, read on.

I have been seeing Donny for over a year and a half and we appear stalled at Stage 2.

And now I must make two disclaimers.

Disclaimer 1 is this: I don’t want to be the girl blogger who complains about her relationship, but I’m going to be that girl today. Feel free to avoid this post altogether if vaginal whinging is not your particular cup of lemmings. Especially as this whole situation is patently obvious to even a person with Helen Keller perception.

Disclaimer 2 is this: "Stage 2" is not my idea. I stole it from this Fox television show Bones, which I am really rather fond of. First, I’m fond of it because it stars David Boreanaz whom I like because he was Angel and because he looks like a Siberian Husky. I like men who look like wolfy dogs.

Second, I like Bones because it’s a smart show that centers on a smart and analytic woman character, possibly the best smart and analytic character since X File’s Agent Dana Scully. And the show boasts a fairly diverse, if ridiculously good-looking, cast, including this hott chick of no clearly discernable ethnicity who appears to be bisexual. And I like it because the lion’s meat of the show’s improbably hott women are also amazingly analytic. Being a smart, hott analytic woman myself, I like seeing them on screen. Analytic women often have a tough time of it because we come off as masculine. I like having me and my challenges, albeit a much better dressed, improbably hotter version of me and mine, represented on screen.

Bones orders relationships into these seven stages:

Stage 1: Casual dating
Stage 2: Weekends together
Stage 3: Sexy weekend away
Stage 4: Exchanging keys
Stage 5: Extended vacation as a trial run for
Stage 6: Living together, itself a precursor to
Stage 7: Wedded bliss, or its counter-culture equivalent

Donny and I are at Stage 2, weekends together, and we have been for a year and a bit. Now to be factual, Donny and I have not been together solidly and uninterrupted for that whole period of time. Our relationship is more like a dotted line than its smooth, unbroken counterpart. We have parted and gotten back together more times than there were threats of apocalypse on Buffy (and similarly when I announce that we are breaking up, my friends’ response is the same as Buffy and Co.’s to Gile’s solemn pronouncement of apocalypse. “Again?” they say with exasperation).

But we always get back together, Donny and I. Our relationship may be like a strobe light, but it’s a strobe that ends with the lights on, rather than off. We can’t seem to get it together, and we can’t seem to stay apart.

In a completely unpremeditated move, while at Donny’s local high-end market, I asked him if he wanted to come to my house for Thanksgiving. This was at the beginning of November. It took until this past Saturday for him to decline.

“I want to spend Thanksgiving with my family,” he said.

He has not asked me to come with him.

Which to me, rightly or wrongly, is a pretty clear sign of lack of commitment. If you’re committed, you go with your boyfriend or girlfriend to his or her parent’s. Or you have the holiday together, alone or with friends. If you’re not, you don’t.

We are not, apparently, because we don’t.

I’m tempted here to treat Donny’s reluctance to commit himself to me as my problem. I’m tempted here to enumerate my issues and my virtues and counterpoint with his. But that’s a really pointless exercise because it’s not about the parts or the wholes; it’s about the fact that he refuses to commit to me, really. He gives mouth service to commitment—he talks about talking about marriage—but he also continues to talk about how unsure he is about me, how much he feels he doesn’t trust me, how he doesn’t feel he can make the commitment I want.

And what is the commitment I want?

I want to be committed enough to figure out whether or not this is the person I want to make a  legal and potentially life-long commitment. I don’t know whether I want to marry Donny, because he hasn’t let me close enough to find out.

And here’s where the Helen Keller comes in: clearly I already know. A year and a half relationship, however much it has been a relationship interrupted, is probably long enough to figure it out. He’s never going to say yes to stages 3, 4, 5 and onward.

Not to me, anyway.

The answer then is the question: how can I turn the lights off?

And why do I keep them on when no one’s home?

17 November 2005

9 haiku to sexual misfunctions

1)
Long lithe tennis pro’s
Cock exits my pussy and
Leaves condom behind.

2)
Imagining the
lush lips of Angelina
Jolie, I’m not wet.

3)
My tongue sweeps, tasting
Your dusky, dark nether plum.
Ok, ick! What’s that?

4)
Your turgid cock
Burrows deep in my throat, so
Deep. So fast. I puke.

5)
Soft as summer rain,
Tender as an unopened
bud, this flaccid cock.

6)
This surly bead in
Oil will not respond to hand
Or mouth. Naughty clit.

7)
Oh! Crap! All careful
Preparations matter not:
Anal sex gone wrong.

8)
Bound by desire and
Hemp, I am turned over and
The buttplug squirts out.

9)
Rabid dogs fucking
Have far less passion than us
Until dread quaffle.

03 October 2005

the vampire

This is an urban dating nightmare.  This is a story that I should be telling in the dead of night with a flashlight under my chin. This is a story that is just that bad.

Last year at the tail end of SlutFest 2004, while still enrolled on my sleaze dating site of choice, I received an email from a man who seemed interesting. He did not, at the beginning, seem too good to be true. That came later, the too-good-to-be-trueness, and as you probably guessed from filling in the adage blank, if he seemed too good, he probably was.

He was indeed too good to be true. But at the beginning, he merely seemed good.

Continue reading "the vampire" »

11 September 2005

it's 9/11 and i'm a new yorker

World_trade_center_towersI’m terribly sorry. I’m going to have to join the madding herds of writers who are merely people and acknowledge my loss on this day of loss.

I am at loss for words to share.

I have tried several times to write something meaningful and I struggle to find meaning. Perhaps it's just not there to be found.

Four years ago I watched a plane hit a tower. I watched two towers burn, impossibly. I watched emergency medical teams ready themselves for more patients than the number of people who would survive to be admitted.

I watched a great white tide of people walk shell-shocked up Eighth Avenue, covered in dust, white as Japanese mourners, walking like ghosts in the wake of an incomprehensible experience.

I watched a woman holding a cell-phone collapse and fall to her knees, sobbing,

I watched convoys of military trucks move into my neighborhood and had armed soldiers demand to see my I.D. when I crossed Fourteenth Street to go to my bank.

I watched people, just people, be immeasurably brave.

I watched two friends lose their father.

I watched a lot of loss and I felt it, and four years later I’m feeling little ripples of that loss when I read about the loss caused by Katrina. (Though the two are not the same. There is nothing analogous between a terrorist attack and a natural disaster, nothing but the loss. The loss remains the same.)

I have a reader with whom I correspond occasionally who is a government official of some level in the state of Louisiana. This reader has written me terse, compact emails to reassure me; these e-mails, brief as they are, give me some slender idea of how much I cannot even imagine the swirling, vertiginous conflux of emotion my reader must be coping with every waking moment.

(This reader admits crying copiously. And though I don’t know my reader, I don't imagine that this person is given to bouts of weeping.)

My reader first wrote to me to let me know that there had been no immediate loss to life or property, and later wrote to reassure me that people were working to take care of the lost and abandoned pets because of reading my post earlier last week and because of knowing that we share a love of dogs.

At the funeral of 9/11 we New Yorkers—and those people connected to the Pentagon and the downed Pennsylvania plane—were the immediate family; the rest of the world were the guests who knew us, but who did not experience the death with the same keening acuteness. It is always a bit uncomfortable to try to give comfort to the mourners, for there is no real comfort one can give. Everything one does is a kind of half gesture, a kind of incomplete utterance, a kind of kind and tepid platitude. One feels hollow, when one tries to comfort the grief-stricken. And when I traveled around America after 9/11, I could smell the waft of my fellow Americans’ stew of discomfort, embarrassment, futility and pain.

I feel this emotional stew myself, right now, when I think about the people uprooted, the city submerged, the tidal loss of property and life, the ecological ramifications, and the tortuous series of bad or untimely or merely unlucky decisions that led to the possibility of this loss in the first place.

I told my reader that we here in New York feel a bit futile, right now; right now we feel a bit embarrassed and useless and embarrassed about our uselessness. It is, I imagine, the way the rest of the country felt when we were wracked with our pain, our loss, our incomprehensible moment.

My reader responded, “I have never cried so much in my life and half the tears are for the good people who are helping, not just in the zone, but the people giving, the people praying and the people thinking good thoughts,” closing the e-mail, “We feel them all.”

I do hope that is true.

Those of you who read my pretty dumb things regularly know that I am not easily given to mauve fits of maudlin feelings. I tend, usually, toward the sardonic, if occasionally purple.

But I’m going to diverge from my well-trammeled ground of irony today. Today I’m going to let the cynicism lie. Today I’m going to request you to think some good thoughts, pray if you can, give if you will, and love someone.

Anyone, really.

Just give a little love to someone. Or give a lot. Just give.

Sometimes, no one says it better than The Beatles:

And in the end
The love you take
Is equal to the love you make
 

31 August 2005

down time

I think my mojo is broke. I think at some point in the past week and a half the windshear of the emotional turbulence buffeting about in my little pretty dumb life broke my mojo. I tried to masturbate in lavish fashion today--toys and lube aplenty, hot fresh fantasies rising in the warm oven of my mind--and all's I got were two meager orgasms.

It was sad, really. Two tiny little orgasms that barely made my lips circle the wagon train and go "o."

My mojo is broke, but that's no reason you should leave empty handed or, worse, empty headed. Here are some toy surprises at the bottom of my stale box of CrackerJacks.

I like this link because it has all of the aggression and none of the jail time. Ankle bracelets are so not my look: upload a picture of your X's naughty bits and go here.

If you think semaphores are for pussies and you want to write your message more in a what Angelina Jolie did with that masterSkank Billy Bob Thornton's vial of blood kind of way, this is your website. Now every email can be a little piece of you.

We all need compliments, no matter how inscrutable. Feeling down and in need of a da-daist pep talk? Your nasal hair speaks volumes concerning the Isle of Wright.

Still need to stride the earth as a colossus? Take a hot trip to Ant City, pop: You.

Here's one: I dated him, but I dumped him because he eats his own feces, not for nutritional value, just because it's delicious. Really, it's a fact.

And now, because I got Goosed, here is a song meme that I will not tag anyone with. I picked it out to be good for the Goose and not for the Gander because he has never, not once, ever, stopped by and given me any pretty dumb thing. Not even a song meme.

For Goose, a Song List that is Black and Blue All Over (or 10 Licks with a G-String)

  1. "Submission" by The Sex Pistols
  2. "Pledge of Allegiance" by Louis XIV
  3. "Rope Legend" by Pussy Galore
  4. "The Dominatrix Sleeps Tonight" by Dominatrix
  5. "I Wanna Be Your Dog" by The Stooges
  6. "Under My Thumb" by The Rolling Stones
  7. "AA XX" by Peaches
  8. "Master and Servant" by Depeche Mode
  9. "Let it Whip" by The Dazz Band
  10. "Slave to Love" by Roxy Music

And that's it, my dear pretty things. Let's all hold hands and hope for the speedy recovery of my poor achy/breaky mojo. I don't think I could get my meat on even for Adrien Brody...

Maybe George Clooney? He's looking nicely gray these days. What color is his pubic hair, do you think?

12 August 2005

i (heart) my freudian

Just about zero sex here and a lot of soul searching. If you're here for fun read my faves, and if you're here for smut, read, well, smut.

My therapist is also named Chelsea, which is to say that neither of us is named “Chelsea,” but both of our names that are not “Chelsea” are the same. My therapist, Chelsea, is a Freudian. A post-critique Freudian, so she doesn’t buy into all that freaksome stuff of the vagina dentata or the whole “gosh darn it if I only had a penis, my life would be ever so much better” stuff.

She sells Freudian needs and development, but not the Freudian misogyny, in short.

I’ve been seeing Chelsea for around two years, or it will be two years this coming November. I see her on Fridays, at noon. Petite and sporting varying shades of red hair, my therapist has a deep affinity for pointless hair accessories that kind of make little animal bunches on the sides of her head like tufty ears; maybe she’s really a Jungian, and these are the nascent stirrings of her anima. She also is prone to rather whimsical flights of sartorial fancy and has no problem mixing patterns and palettes.

But I don’t bring these visuals up to her because, if you know anything about Freudians, that would mean we’d have to talk about them. I’d have to discuss her head bunches and my feelings about her barrettes and clips, her ankle-length tapestry skirt and its relationship to her baroque tunic, and, frankly, I have too many problems to really go there yet.

We do, however, talk about why I am late to my therapy, which I often am. I hate therapy. It’s no secret to her. I don’t tapdance or do any kind of evasive linguistic maneuvers around my dislike of therapy. I think anyone who likes therapy is nuts. And should be there until they come to hate it like the rest of us relatively sanish folks.

I was late today. In part I was late due to having a truly magnificent wank to a fantasy that I will lay out in Technicolor precision soon. In part I was late because I justbarelymissedthetrain. As in the doors were closing in my face when I got to train A and then again at train B.

But mostly I was late because I hate going to therapy. Today I hated to go because I had a recent realization that I was feeling pretty content with my life.  Earlier this week, I had a short email exchange with this woman, and in the course of it I realized: wow, I’m actually feeling pretty whole. (As a side note, I think I offended her in some kind of boneheaded move. I apologize, Shylah. I’ll send you an email extending my apology as well, but let this parenthetical aside be a beginning to my apologies.)

I told my therapist all of this, except for the lavish wanking bit, and especially I told her that I thought I was late because I felt freaked out about my contentment. That I felt, perhaps for the first time in my life, that I was ok, and while, sure, I’d like a few hundred dollars more a month, and maybe health insurance, and definitely a couch, that I felt pretty whole.

“Wow,” she said, “so you didn’t want to come to therapy because you thought, gosh this therapy thing is actually working?”

Sarcasm duly noted, I said. Is that your addition? Or do they teach that technique at The Psychiatric Institute?

She claimed the sarcasm as her own.

But she has a point. I do feel scared by my own successful process. I feel whole, pretty much, and I don’t want to talk about it.

Wholeness, I realize, is like purity: both are absolute states. That Ivory soap claims to be 99.9% pure really only attests to the fact that it is not, in fact, pure. That I say I’m feeling pretty whole suggests that I remain fractured. And I am. There is still a lot of healing to do here, in this here subconscious, a lot of reintegration to do, a lot of love left to find.

But when I hold this vessel of myself up to the light, I see pinpricks, cracks, a barest chiarroscuro of light. A year ago, or two, I had whole Malaysian puppet shows playing in the fractures of my psyche.

You would not have recognized me a year ago. A year ago, I was still rolling in the shallows of SlutFest 2004, still trolling the depths of cyberspace for lovers old and new. I was still taking chances, still distracting myself, still being reckless, not reckfull. Two years ago I was a shattered mess. I had, in the course of three months, dumped my live-in boyfriend of a couple years; had my dog, the Legendary Spencer, diagnosed with lung cancer; watched him die in front of me; and had my wallet stolen. 

My mentor, the director of my dissertation, turned to me one day and gently said, “You’ve suffered a lot of loss recently. Why don’t you try therapy?” And I did. I found Chelsea, and eventually I found my psychopharmacologist.

I am not one who would have ever thought I would wave the big foam finger for psychology or for psychopharmacology either. I spent many, many years in intense pain, several of those while under the care of one therapist or another and they all unequivocally sucked. Some outrightly did harm; others just did no good. In the end, I remained in deep, deep pain and the best did little to alleviate it, while the worst actually added to it.

I have written shreds here about my suicidality. I have talked about the scars on my wrists. I have discussed briefly my stay in a psych ward. I have written about my sister’s bouts with schizophrenia (she is out of the hospital, supporting herself with a job that happily for her does not require her to interact deeply with other people. She calls my parents and sees them regularly. She sometimes leaves me messages. She is ok, she is holding on; she will most likely never, ever be whole). I have not really told the brutal facts about my will toward death.

And they are these: when I am in a moment of stress, killing myself is the first thing that pops into my head. I don’t make plans, exactly. I make fantasies as pleasurable and tactile in their own ways as my fantasies of sex are. I imagine hurling my body in the path of a train, and I make eye contact with the train’s driver. I imagine holding a gun to my mouth, and I hear the dull clink against my teeth, feel the coldness of the metal under my breath and its weight in my hand; I taste its acrid oil. I imagine checking into a hotel with fistfuls of barbiturates, and I imagine the coolness of the sheets, the play of the light on the carpet, the muffled noise of the city outside my windows, and the slow reluctant slide of the capsules down my throat.

I have done none of these things. I do not own a gun; I have no barbiturates. I do have a MetroCard, but as of yet I’ve never gotten closer to the third rail than your average commuter. The point is this: suicide for me has always been the fallback plan. Plan D: death. And I used to be so dogged by these final solution thoughts that I recall telling a friend of mine that I thought it was something I would just have to live with.

I have found out it is not. Neither my pain nor my desire to end it all is something I have to live with. And it’s been fucking hard work. So many months of tsunami-esque anger as all those so successfully repressed emotions started to hit the surface with the force of an underwater volcano. All those forty-five minute sessions stacked like cordwood into hours, so much pain, so many revelations, so much so many; it makes me weary to contemplate. Yet contemplate it I did, and more: I also spoke it.

The thing about the Freudians is this: at their core is a belief in the raw and transformative power of narrative. When you tell your story to a Freudian, you tell your own story, and you also tell a story that fits into larger archetypes of narratives. We are all interlocking narratives in a Freudian’s leather-couched mind. And I have spent my time supine on the timeshare of that couch telling my stories, and it has paid off.

I used to feel as if I lived my life balanced on the edge of a knife. I was a knifewalker, and one uncertain step would seal my fate, while each exacting step caused but a few lacerations. There were no good choices, being caught as I was between the knife of my daily pain and the abyss of my depression. Then after some time in Chelsea's care, I felt as if I were on a balance beam. Still not entirely stable, perhaps, still aware of the looming distance below, but at least the steps didn’t cut so painfully and at least I had a plank under my calloused feet. Over time, that beam has spread, and now I can stand with my arms and legs akimbo, and even if there are ripples in the floor that catch me unaware, and even if I stumble, I will not fall too far.

It amazes me, this change. And it scares me. Because it is different from the rest of the way I have lived my life; enough time spent and even knifewalking seems normal. I’m liking the feel of the floor beneath my feet; I’m just not accustomed to it yet.

I go to therapy, I see my Chelsea, I tell my stories, she responds, or she does not. It’s a lot like writing here, actually.

Thanks for listening. Our time is up now.

29 June 2005

fantasies of deliverance

(If you're here for the sex, and I encourage you to be, might I suggest scrolling down and clicking on the link for the Smut category. Either that or enjoying one of these fine blogs. This post is not about sex. Forgive me or spank me, either way.)

A few people have been writing/IMing (that’s right: IM the verb)/calling me about the Chelsea Girl Date-a-Thon 2005.

How is it going? They ask.

You must be inundated with offers, they say.

How do you manage, they query.

You must have taken on a personal assistant, they hypothesize.

Let me give you an update:

  • As of now, I have received three rueful offers of wished-for courtship from three separate married men who live in areas of the country and/or globe inaccessible to Gotham but by plane.
  • I have received two offers of datage from single men who live if not halfway then one third around the globe.
  • I have received one dirty story that included such incendiary points of hotness as having me tied to the legs of a desk with a computer cord, bent uncomfortably and memorializingly over a Xerox machine, and bracing myself against a filing cabinet whilst the writer of the story, who I might add parenthetically is a temp in a law office somewhere in the Northeast, had his ways with various orifices of my body. I think, but I’m not entirely sure the following steno-pool accoutrements were also inserted in the story if not in my orifices: a water cooler, a staple remover, binder clips and a ruler.
  • And I have received one email asking if I have naked pictures of myself. (Yes, of course I do. No, you may absolutely not have one.)

In short, my dear friends, not much actual action has been had by me.

And here’s the weird thing: I’m ok with it.

The other day, shortly before my period, a time when traditionally I get weepy at commercials for long distance calling plans and at the sound of children singing, I was thinking about having babies. I don’t have a baby, I’ve never had a baby, and honestly, the baby lust left me about five years ago, a strange and residual hazy rosy-glowed nostalgia taking the place of the baby lust’s dreamy passion. But what I was thinking about was not so much actually having a baby, but the change that being a mother would have on my life.

And I recognized that this fantasy of being a mother—and I realize that my feelings were just that, an utter fantasy, as far removed from the real blood and tears and fingerprint paintings of being a mother as it could be—relieved me of some certain burdens. The idea, for example, of having to finish the tasks at hand to have a profession. The necessity, for example, of having to take meticulous care of my body in order to remain attractive.  The drive, for example, to have to find altruistic work in the world.

Consciously I know that being a mother does none of these things. In fact, motherhood makes it exponentially more difficult to achieve professional accomplishments, physical attractiveness and altruistic deeds; it does not make these drives go away.

And then I started to think about how my fantasy of motherhood was just one fantasy of deliverance in a long, long series of fantasies of deliverance.

The earliest being a man who will make everything bad go away. And this one, given my absent father, and given my being raised in a society that peddles such cruel and disempowering pabulum as Pretty Woman as entertainment, I can hardly be blamed for. As much as I hate it.

Another being my fantasy of money. That somehow, somewhere, in some way I’ll be showered with enough cold, hard American cash that my ceaselessly meager eeking existence will be replaced with one of lavish abundance.

And other, darker deliverance fantasies. When I get depressed, and I do, I have had fantasies of just losing my mind altogether. Just bidding reality a bittersweet good-bye. I know, in reality, the old lady who suntans herself compulsively on the corner of Hudson and W. 12th Street with her shorts tucked into her old lady panties probably isn’t happy, but when I’m mired in the morass of my own bad brain chemistry, her insanity looks like relief. I have gazed at her with envy more than once.

I remember once, too, early on in grad school while I was stripping and tutoring writing and taking three courses, slogging my time on a Stairmaster and imagining how nice it would be to have a full-fledged drug addiction. I have been close enough to those with drug addictions to know it isn’t nice at all, but all I wanted was something to make the pain stop. Thus the fantasy of chemical dependence.

And the ultimate fantasy, death. When I’m really, really down what I want more than anything is to be the one the sniper gets. I yearn for some painless act of random human frailty like the cartoon death of a dropping safe, anvil or piano. With this unexpected act of oblivion, my pain ends and no one has to be angry about it. In my fantasy, it’s win/win.

And finally not so apparently dark, but in reality, it is dark, dark as death, I have the fantasy of love, this love being of course a man, but less a the father figure of  my childhood fantasies, and more the all-empowering, all-embracing, all-consuming, all-needs-meeting romantic fantasy of that single perfect love.

It’s galling to have to admit I have that fantasy. It runs counter to everything I think I think about myself, yet if I dig deep and am honest, I find it lurking there, half hidden under a pile of Valentines Day roses I thought I threw out years ago. It sickens me, but there it is.

So here’s the weird weird thing: today I find I’m oddly zen. I don’t have a man. I don’t really have a job, or at least not a career, not yet. I truly don’t have any money. I don’t even have a couch, now that R2, my long-suffering roommate, took apart the moldering crack couch with a hammer and a Swiss army knife.

And I’m ok. I’m not depressed. And I’m not anxious.

But more to the point of Chelsea Girl Date-a-Thon 2005, I’ve never felt complete without a boyfriend. A boyfriend—or a fuckbuddy, or two or three—has always been like clean underwear to my late Grandmother: something I wouldn’t want to be caught without.

And now without one, I’m finding I’m fine.

Weird.

And those other fantasies, those other dark darlings I have held so close to my childish breast for so long, they’re pretty much gone too. Sure, occasionally there’s a vestige, an apparitional limb that haunts the dark corners of my head. But mostly, gone.

Weird.

Still, though, I might like to be a mom. Maybe.

Or not.

24 June 2005

read this now

Take ten minutes of your day and read this now.

16 June 2005

surrender, dorothy

(Oh, yeah, we're talking NSFW, full-on, multiple penetration adult activities here, friends. Feel free to ramble through some of my more PG-13 fare, wherever you can find it. Might I suggest either this one  or that one? They're both about dogs. Mostly.)

Fuckit.

Things have gotten heated over here in Chelsea. I have found myself awash in a hot city of glowing breasts. Like oranges they hang, like peaches, like mangoes, they sway around me as if this urban environment had transformed into some kind of weird Eden.

Today this customer came in, she was wearing a little, thin grassgreen t-shirt with three delicate buttons, the first two unbuttoned, rounding into a gentle vee neck exposing her globey glories.

It was mesmerizing.

All I wanted was to lift her shirt over her head roughly, abruptly, exposing her exquisite Asian tits. I wanted to slap them with my palms, to press them against my cheeks, and to rub my face against her erect mauve nipples.  I longed to kiss and bite her with my unbridled self.

Instead I sold her a dog toy.

Dang.

I want to talk, however, not about my Sapphic desires but about my submission. I was enjoying Bliatz’s blog, sent to me by my friend the Zero Boss, reading one of her early posts where it seemed she was just beginning to explore her small, curvy essness. She was concerned, in researching the D/s scene, about the legitimacy of her submission, wondering if it was hardcore or just "fluffy" submission.

I haven’t read the sites that raised Bliatz's anxiety levels, but I’m guessing “fluffy” D/s is comprised of the people, such as myself, who play the homegame with our D/s accoutrement. We have blindfolds. We have bondage tape. We even, perhaps, enjoy being spanked. We, if females, enjoy having our hair pulled, used as a rein, a guidance system toward our, presumably but not exclusively, man’s crotch.

After all, spanking, as one of my new D/s friends has said to me, has become vanilla.

I have documented some of my marshmallow fluff D/s stuff here, but what I haven’t disclosed is the one time I was Dominated by someone who’d done it before, done it for years, owned all the gear, read the manual, watched the training videos, and collected the action figures.

His name was Les.

It’s hard for me to separate that name from Les Nessman of WKRP in Cincinnati, but since at one point in my life I looked like Loni Anderson (a picture I won’t be showing you), I guess in some bizarre way it’s fitting.

A willing supplicant, I went to Les; I journeyed the town in the tri-state area where he resides. We’d spent a very long time IMming each other and chatting on the phone, so we were very clear about what our expectations were. He knew that I was a sub wannabe, and I knew that he wanted me to get on my knees and call him Master.

Les met me at the train station. I was wearing what I call my “magic dress.” Brown and with a deep vee halter neck, it makes the most out of my breasts, especially when I wear it with a cornflower blue push-up bra that peeks Sex in the City-style out of the neckline.

Les—he looked like one of my uncles. Less than good.

I clearly made him nervous.

Imagine.

At lunch, where I wolfed my salad and Les barely ate his gazpacho but quaffed his white wine, we talked about his D/s experiences. It was pretty standard stuff, from what I had read, and what was shockingly lacking, now that I recall it all, is exactly how unhot the whole thing was.

Not hot. Tepid.

I could not have been less enamored of this man. But I wanted the full rubber jacket experience, I needed to find out how I felt about it, I was driven by some unknown force to find myself in shackles, and so I went with him to his house.

In his defense, he was perfectly nice. He was polite. His house was immaculate. He kissed me.

Which I thought weird.

He undressed me in the living room and had me climb the very middle-class, family-picture-lined staircase to the bedroom.

There he had me strip completely.

He fitted me with a collar, with handcuffs, with shackles, with a spreader bar, with nipple clamps. At every turn, he asked me if I was ok. I assured him I was. I was game. I was down.

Literally.

Face down and ass up. Les flogged my ass, my thighs with a soft deer-skin flogger. He swatted me softly, he swatted me hard. He worked the flogger so that it stung the inside of my thighs, flicked my pubic mound, kissed my clit with its leather strips.

“Are you ok?” he’d ask from time to time.

Sure. I answered.

And he had his way with me. He inserted toys, in my pussy, in my ass. He face fucked me. He pussy fucked me. I think, though I’m repressing it, he fucked my ass.

I felt as if I should have been wearing a white coat and carrying a clipboard.

  • Collar: check yes
  • Handcuffs: check yes
  • Ankle restraints: check yes
  • Spreader bar: check no
  • Nipple clamps: check yes for aesthetics, no for sensation
  • Weird acrylic double ended wand thing: check yes for g-spotter, no for bumpy anal probe
  • Flogger: check yes. Yes, please.
  • Flogging marks: Oh, yes. I love the aesthetics of the post-flogged ass.

But on the whole, I found the experience oddly…lacking. Lacking in emotion. Lacking in sensation. Lacking in passion. Lacking in intellectual stimulation.

I kept on thinking of that scene in Margaret Cho’s I’m the One That I Want when she recalls her foray into the leather and rubber world of BDSM, and remembers being in a fetish club in San Francisco, spread on a cross, a dildo up her ass, a blindfold on her eyes, a large German woman in latex standing in front her and thinks, “This is not me.”

This woman, in the black leather collar and cuffs, checking out her stripey ass in the mirror in Les’s bathroom was I. It just wasn’t—me.

On the trainride home, I felt much more exposed than I had at Les’s–-bound, shackled, with toys in my orifices and a near total stranger penetrating me. I felt more cowed by the inappropriateness of my attire, the crashing weight of my disappointment, and the deflation of my expectations than I had by anything this man had done.

Was I ok? I was not.

I felt like a whore.

And not in a good way.

Getting off the train at Penn Station, I immediately called Donny, whom I had been seeing less than a week and who was fully apprised of the situation. He could hear I was upset. He invited me up to his house. I went, shaking and vulnerable.

I told him about everything.

I told him how I felt riding home.

He held me and he kissed me. And then he fucked me. And while he was fucking me, he had me tell him again what Les did to me, how he clipped my cuffs to my collar, how he clipped them to my ankles, how he fucked my face, how he fucked my pussy first with toys and then with his cock. How he fucked me in my ass.

And Donny’s fucking got more urgent, as I told him again and again and again what Les had done. He turned me over, looked at my bruise-covered ass, and came, a long, urgent and tidal orgasm, splattering come all over the bruises, like salve.

Like a benediction.

In the morning, Donny stood me against his windows, bent me over, and fucked me hard again. Slamming my sore pussy. Sore. Sore as hell.

And I took it willingly.

I remember the first book of erotica I ever read; it was Anaïs Nin’s Delta of Venus. “The Veiled Woman” was a story within a story—an experienced cocksman telling about a time when he was poor and had been paid to fuck this beautiful, but cold, woman in a room lined with mirrors while her husband watched. 

The woman showed no sign of enjoying herself, she didn’t get wet, she didn’t move much. She was polite, compliant, but not aroused, until at the end when she sees their bodies interlocked in the mirror in a way that looks as if they weren’t fucking. At that moment, when she has the visual image of her own passionlessness, she becomes excited, and orgasms violently.

I bring this story up because for me it’s easy to give pleasure. It’s easy for me to be compliant, even spectacularly so. But if you want me to accept pleasure, that’s where the challenge is. Either it’s something I want and will take, or it is my surrender into pleasure.

I don’t give it up easily.  Not the pleasure.

For it is easy for me to accept physical pain, because I can take myself out of it. It’s easy for me to accept humiliation, because I think it’s a joke. It’s easy for me to expose my body, because it’s just the outside.

But my inner core? That’s where the pleasure lives. And for me to show it to you is a gift—either a quick release like masturbation it is a gift to myself, or an attenuated process like surrender it is a gift to you.

So you tell me: where’s the fluffy submission? In giving in to Les’s arsenal of toys and gear? Or in surrendering to Donny’s urgent fucking with a great yowling orgasm?

Submission is a lot like the beauty/the eye/the beholder, to steal from Sappho. For me, submission is in the body of the surrendered.

But I could be wrong.

03 June 2005

thin girls & thick questions

Yesterday, this woman, Pink, wrote a blog about anorexia/bulemia/eating disorders. While I do take some exception at parts of her content, the purpose of my post is not to refute, challenge, or criticize her take on the issue. Rather, she got me thinking again about eating, or, actually, not eating and the connection between anorexia and sex.

The painful fact of this culture is that for the most part, we are getting fatter. It is no secret to anyone who has access to a television that we have what the media, the government, and the medical association is calling an “obesity epidemic.” It might seem ironic, then, that at the very same time that Americans are getting larger in ever larger numbers there is a more visible ascetic populace who is getting smaller—in ever larger, and more visible, numbers.

Or it might just seem logical.

Here’s my take on it: when a woman is thin she is performing control of her appetite. She looks as if she monitors, calculates, and manages the food she puts in her body, as well as presumably the amount she exercises.  A thin woman has the semblance of power over one of the most ruling passions of the human: her body’s hunger. Her physical presence embodies restraint.

And that control of this appetite reads as a metaphor for control of other appetites.

It is my contention that a thin woman doesn’t merely perform control over hunger for food; by being thin, she also performs her control over hunger for sex. And this subject is too large for this post—it should be a book—so please forgive my rather overhasty thumbnail headlong rush through one hundred years of physical culture: that is, girls, undergarments and sex.

I look at the last hundred years of history, American history, fashion history, as evidence for my assertions. In the first oughts, the 1900’s, the Gibson girl was in vogue. GibsongirlCharacterized by an ample bosom, a waspy waist, and a full skirt, the Gibson girl had a very hour-glass figure, due in no small part to the corsetry buttressing her breasts and constricting her waist. She was all curves—often portrayed with bare arms, even her elbows were softly rounded and dimpled. From her sweeping up-do to the little feet delicately poking out of her voluminous dress, the Gibson girl was tortuously curvy.

American culture at the turn of the century, still steeped in Victoriana, was wicked repressive. Women, like tables, did not have legs; they had limbs. Female sexuality was an oxymoron. Good women, like the Queen of England herself, did not enjoy sex.

It was the calm before the storm.

W.W. I changed culture seismically. Like participants at a drunken wake, the roaring 20’s celebrated the death of the repression that so characterized the preceding society. Jazz dancing tipsily on this grave was the flapper.Flapper

For the first time, hemlines hovered above the knee, and women scandalously showed off their stockings. But this shocking sartorial behavior was ok because the flapper was thin. Thin and flat-chested, she would seem at home arm-in-arm with Mary Kate Olson today. Thin girls look less like hootchie mamas in tiny clothing because they have fewer wobbly bits to churn about in that jiggly-jangling fringey fringe.

Thin girls in thin frocks are suggestive. Thick girls in thin frocks are commanding.

The flapper was not merely thinner than her Gibson girl predecessor; she was also sexually more free. She drank. She smoked. She partied. She did not, apparently, eat. In fact, much like the heroin chic of today, she affected dark circles around her eyes to advertise her enervated state.

Marilyn_and_janeBy the time the 1950s rolled around, the zaftig woman was back. We think of the 1950’s pin-ups—Marilyn Monroe, Jane Mansfield, and Jane Russell—and we think of big breasts, big booty, and big curves. But it was safe to have these sweater girls oozing through our sexual imaginations like so much Wisconsin butter because the repression of the 50’s kept it all in check.

Like the undergarments. Nothing was moving.

It was safe to have women rocking the big curves in a society that castigated female sexuality, that cherished women in the home (unlike the decade that preceded it when Rosie the Riveter made it not only acceptable but downright patriotic for women to work), that in short limited women to narrowly prescribed gender roles.

And then, like an echo of the roaring 20’s banishing Victorian constriction, entered the psychedelic 60’s chasing away 50's constraints.The 60's: drugs. Protests. The pill. TwiggyFree love. Bra burning. And Twiggy.

Are we seeing a pattern here? How thin does a woman need to be to perform control of her appetite in an excessively liberal society? Twiggy thin. (Interestingly, Twiggy is replacing Janice Dickerson on the next rotation of America's Top Model.)

It makes a kind of logical sense that in the face of all that permissiveness, our culture demanded that our young women engage in a daily act of denial. If she can say no to food, she can also say no to…what? Pot? Acid? Sex? Sex on acid?

CheryltiegsBy the 70’s, the hot flash of the 60’s psychedelia had smoldered to a slow burn organic boil, and we got Cheryl Tiegs. Healthy-ish. Thin, oh yes, but with a hardened bit of long muscle under her very tan skin. She looks fresh, not drawn like Twiggy, like poor Edie Sedgwick. Cheryl looked as if she knew when to say when. And to what.

The 80’s brought Regan and the return of moral conservativism. More importantly, it brought AIDS. And the threat of AIDS rightfully scared people. Republicanism in all its right-wing glory seemed to permeate the very air we breathed. And so as a reward, we got Cindy Crawford.

CindycCindy Crawford looks fleshy, ample by today’s standards. She has womanly hips. She has booty. She needs undergarments. As a mirror reflects its opposite, she mirrored the the “just say no” ideology of the 80’s in her bounteous rounded loins. Cindy didn’t need to announce her No, for we as a culture were already freaked the fuck out into saying it for her. Her body said yes as our lips said no.

Until once more we began to say yes. We saw Clinton in the White House getting oval office hummers, we saw that AIDS does not spread like feared wildfire through the middle and upper middle class white heterosexual population, we saw that permissiveness was a much more fun alternative to iterating and reiterating no, and we started looking to thin women once more as our standards of beauty. (It is also when we see Cindy C. lose weight, but I run short of space...)

I like this picture of Bridget Hall, the top-earning model of the late 1990's, because of the mirrors. It makes me think of what girls see when they look in their mirrors, and what they see is not Bridget Hall. Bridgethall1034410What they see is the antithesis of Bridget Hall. And it makes them angry. Bridget Hall pretty much advertises having her appetites in order. She is thin thin thin. And she is successful. And she really doesn’t need those undergarments she’s wearing.

She is our very permissive cultural postergirl, Bridget Hall.She looks like she says no like a muthah.

If you ever look at pro-Ana, Mia and Ed websites, and I have, one thing that all the girls aver is that their disease gives them some control. It gives them power—over their bodies, over their families, over their worlds. And that’s what makes me really sad. To be a girl in this society—in most societies, really—is to be divested of power. You might be patronized, patted on the head and bestowed with a bit of illusionary hegemonic power, but you don’t really have much power that’s real.

People don’t see you, unless you are pretty, and then if you are and when they do, it’s uncomfortable. For them and for you. People don’t want to hear what you have to say. People themselves feel uncomfortable about the feelings you create in them—feelings like lust, and envy, and fear—feelings that you did absolutely nothing to inspire—and they transmit their discomfort on to you.

We as a culture like thin girls because one appetite stands in for another; food, sex, it's all the same, really. We, the culture, feel less fearful because they, these girls, are curveless, sexless, and performing control.

They are saying no when we are afraid that we cannot. A skinny girl embodies restraint, and her restraint shifts the burden from us.

We can’t blame the media. We can’t blame fashion. We can’t blame men. We can only blame ourselves. It is we who make these fragile others say no when we cannot stand the idea that they might, given the chance, say yes.

20 May 2005

7 soon to be 8

I am tattooed in seven places. I got my first one almost twenty years ago. And while I have seven tattoos, it’s more like I have twelve because three of them have been redone and two of those have been covered over with new, larger and more audacious tats. I am also importantly crossed with scars. I have the two fat slug scars on my wrists I did to myself. I have a thin silver line under each breast where my implants were inserted. I have one on my forehead from a childhood injury and I have another traversing the space above my pubic mound from an ectopic pregnancy.

And I have multiple piercings: nose, ears, navel, clitoral hood. Although, really, only the nose, the navel and the clit rings are still in place. I used to have my tongue pierced, but that’s gone too.

The landscape of my body may be a wonderland, but it is also text.

In the past decade or so much has been written on body modification—we live in a culture where society doesn’t immediate see tattoos and piercings as inherently tasteless and vulgar. Now we are only shocked by excess. We used to be shocked by presence.

We are a people who, like little kids with markers on a rainy day, like teens in love, like the harried and the hurried with a pen but no paper and some urgent need to document, mark their bodies.

Writers of various ilk have theorized why it is we’ve taken ink and metal in skin in such numbers (statistics are hard to find, but some folks say that as many as 15% of all Americans have tattoos, and as many as 30% of Americans age 25-29; piercing statistics are even harder to find, but one need only to think of how belly rings are as ubiquitous today as pierced ears were in the 70’s). Lots of their reasons boil down to the idea of being cool.

No huge surprise there.

A nation of willing subjects, we kowtow at the black monolith of cool.

And I can’t say that my decision to get marked up was devoid of this devotion to cool. It was. Especially in 1989, when I got my first three tats—three black and white bees, two on my left lower abdomen and one on my left ribcage, right under my breast.

But cool isn’t all of it. 

There was a guy in Burlington, Vermont whom I’d kind of known for all of my post-punk new wave indy music fluffy miniskirt wearing adulthood. I say kind of because he had been a heroin addict—one on Burlington’s few visible ones in the early 80’s, though now there are enough to require not one but two methadone clinics—who cleaned himself up into a not so scary but very cool artist guy.

He retained the tall, skinny Iggy Popesque look of his addiction, but addiction-free he had found a warm smile and a quick sense of humor. He also had gotten a chain of five iguanas crawling up his left arm, in part to hide his track scars, but also to document his years of addiction as well as celebrate his freedom from it.

And I thought that was very cool. The visual of the tattoo as well as his impetus to get it.

I liked the idea of decorating, documenting, and desecrating, all in one.

Because a tattoo is in many ways a desecration, a defamation, of the flesh. I look at children with their rosy pore-free skins, and I imagine, like the Rolling Stones who want to paint their baby black as the night, that skin imprinted with a big, garish flash rose.

I do it, this imaginative work, because I it makes me more aware of the marks on my body and the psychic scars that made me put them there.

First I decided that I wanted a tattoo; then I decided what it was going to be. I had spent time looking at images, symbols, runes, trying to find something I wanted to wear for my life. Finally, it came to me: bees. They communicate by dancing, I thought to myself, have a socialist organization, a female leader, honey is yummy, and I like them.

Bees it was.

Then sitting on the train to Derby, Connecticut (tattoos were still illegal in New York in those days) to meet Spider Webb, the man who broke my cherry flesh with his needle, I remembered that when I had been very young, and very lonely, the summer my mom and I moved from Chicago to Vermont and I’d known no one, I had fantasized that my body was covered with bees. They went everywhere I went, and I felt comforted, protected, and not alone.

The bees were my tattoo to remember that I was not alone.

These bees were followed by two more bees—one on the back of my neck and one on my right sacroiliac—and were colored in with yellow and black. Then one day a few years later I felt down and I got a large Victorian illustration of a moth with skulls in the wings on my right Achilles tendon. That one hurt the most.

It was my tattoo to history and to scholarship.

Then I had to take out my tongue ring, and so I consoled myself with the two bats on my lower abdomen, their bodies covering up the vestiges of the decade-old and worn bees. I like bats; I give to  Bat Conservation International  every year.

These were my tattoos to being misconstrued.

And finally, after I had to put down the legendary Spencer, I got a tattoo of his left front paw on my right shoulder, circled by his name and his dates.

My tattoo to loss.

Now I’m considering an eighth tattoo, which is a problem because I like odd numbers on my body. And I’m thinking about the last eight words of James Joyce’s Ulysses: “and yes I said, yes, I will, yes.”

Only like this:
and yes I said
yes I will
yes
.

My tattoo to better choices.

14 May 2005

supermanning & coffinning

In an earlier post this week, I dropped the quiet bomb of my boyfriend, Will, who was a drug addict. For a number of reasons, including the waft of catharsis emanating from that earlier post, I’ve been thinking of Will a lot recently. Foremost of those reasons is that he died ten years ago 30 March from his drug use.

I remember well the night that Will and I met. We were both at a party given by his sister, whom I did not know, and her roommate, whom I did. We talked about the movie Rush that had just been released. I had no idea that he was a recovering addict and alcoholic; I was dead certain, however, that he was attracted to me, and by the end of the evening, after I’d shown him my tattoos, we were discovered making out in the bathroom.

We more or less became instant boyfriend and girlfriend, just add soda water with a squeeze of lime, Will’s bevvy of choice.

Will and I had a pretty tumultuous relationship, but that was pretty much the rule for me those days. We fought; we broke up; we got back together; rinse; repeat.  In between apartments, I and my legendary dog Spencer stayed a few months with him in his studio in Yorkville, where it feels like a lot of people walking around are already dead, yet they carry on not quite aware or accepting of their moribundity.

We fought and I moved out. Then we got back togther and we ended up living together the spring after I’d started stripping, renting a sweet apartment on West 14th Street in a building his real estate corporation affectionately termed “subway gunman plaza” on account of Bernard Goetz once having lived there.

I loved that apartment. And I loved curling up with Will every night.

Will had a twitchy wound-tight aspect to him. He cleared his throat a lot; he smoked Marlboro Lights with adolescent abandon; he shook his black forelock out his eyes with a nervous toss of his head.  He seemed a tad overcaffeinated, in short, and probably because he was. Will had been in AA for about five years when I met him. One thing they do in AA: drink a lot of coffee.

Not only was Will in AA, but also all of his friends were. And not merely the friends whom he’d met in the rooms, but all of his high school friends. Every. Single. One. There was Cliff, who was twitchy much in the same way Will was and after his drop-dead gorgeous girlfriend dumped him spent his pain by running ten or so miles every day. There was Connor who was Will’s roommate when they both decided to hang up their crack pipes and go twelve-stepping and who later became a cop and married a lovely though dull as gingham girl. There was Carl who had been in and out and in and out of AA for years and who gave me goosebumps. And there was some high school friend whose name escapes me who we once saw pushing a supermarket cart full of bottles and later heard he’d entered Covenant House. There was some chick who was hot and intimidated by me whom Will played when he was bored.

All of them had grown up on the Upper West Side of New York. The boys, Will told me, used to ride those long, long West Coast skateboards down the hills along Riverside Drive. They would ride face down, Supermanning, they called it, as the pavement rolled out fast and rough inches below their noses. Or they would ride face up, wide eyed at the blip blip blip of the lampposts as they thundered down unseen curves. Coffinning, they called that.

In either case, they were high. They had progressed in the textbook just-say-no slippery slope of drug addiction, trading in alcohol for pot pot for speed speed for coke coke for crack crack for heroin. But not trading in exactly. Because they never left the other drugs in the dust. Rather accumulating than trading, really.

And one by one they became Friends of Bill. And they were good close friends. It was cool to watch them interact because they had such humor, such history, such love.

And such fragility.

Will had a wretched childhood, unsurprisingly. And he always had the feel of being on edge. Not merely edgy, but edgeful. He always seemed to be looking over his shoulder, sometimes in excitement, sometimes in paranoia. He carried himself on the balls of his feet, as if about to sprint.

We had a lot in common, Will and I. Not the drug thing. Drugs have never done it for me, and thank god because I certainly had everything in place for a world class drug addiction, except I wasn’t wired for it. Will was. But we both had a lot of pain, and a lot of dark places in us, and we recognized that in each other and were compassionate to it.

He was a very good boyfriend. Will sent me thirty roses at the stroke of midnight when I turned thirty, and the day of my birthday he took me to lunch at Tavern on the Green and on a carriage ride around the park. Then he laid six white layer cakes on the floor of his apartment and I walked through them barefoot, which was what I’d asked for.

It felt very good.

He took me on vacations, took me out to dinner, and took me on the back of his Harley to Vermont when I wanted. He tried his level best to be there for me, and I don’t know that I appreciated it. I don’t know that I saw his trying for what it was; with the distance of time, I’m feeling like I probably took it for granted, at least for some of the two years we were together.

We talked about marriage, that time when we lived together in Bernard Goetz’s building. We’d gone to two weddings—a cousin’s and his sister’s—and it seemed like the thing to do. Then, somehow, he got distant. Weird. I remember one day I went into his drawer to find a t-shirt and found instead three empty beer bottles.

He’d always said he felt sad that he’d gotten sober before the micro-brewery explosion.

Then one night I came home from work and he smelled like alcohol.

Then one day I went to visit him at work and his pupils were this .  big.

Then one afternoon we tried to fuck and he was limp. And I sucked him and he was limp. Limp limp limp.

Then I went to one of his friends and I told him that I thought Will had been having a relapse. And Michael, his friend who looks like the lead singer from Journey, still even today, said if I thought it was something, it was probably much much worse.

We packed him off to a rehab and I hired a lovely drag queen to come and clean our apartment, instructing him to throw out the drug paraphernalia he found; he found a lot. And then I did what I usually do when I’m feeling abandoned; I acted out.

I had an affair with a guy from the dogrun. In our apartment. I didn’t fuck him, but I did suck his cock lavishly. It was a stupid thing to do, but I felt that whatever promises Will and I had made to one another were null and void the moment he got a physical and stole syringes from the doctor’s office so that he could shoot up 8 balls while locked in our bathroom.

Plus, I think, I wanted him to be as mad at me as I was at him. I was uncomfortable with being in the right.

When he returned from rehab, we broke up. We stayed broken up for a while too, and I never told him about the dogrun guy. Then, predictably, we got back together. But the relationship was over for me. I could accept a lot from my boyfriend, but drug addiction was beyond me.

And I tried, but it wasn’t in my heart.

So I broke up with him. Just in that sweet spot between Christmas and Valentine’s Day. And then I met C, the heretofore love of my life.

And Will was gone from my heart and my life. I never saw him again, after that very civil conversation I had with him when I told him it was over. Though I did see his Harley once.

I remember C and I were sitting around watching a movie when I received the call from Michael that Will had overdosed. I remember feeling numb and weird; the idea that a person I’d loved and fucked and fought with and lived with was dead was alien.

I went to his wake. It was a beautiful May day, not unlike the weather has been recently, and held in Central Park, the wake was verdant and romantic. There was even a couple getting wedding photos taken nearby.

Will’s wake was populated by drug widows. All these girls who had been with him in the year and few months that I had not. And yet over and over again person after person came up to me and told me that I was the one he had loved. I was the one he’d wanted to marry. I was the special one.  It was surreal. I did not feel the same.

I wore this black straw Maddhatter hat with a giant yellow sunflower to his wake because we’d bought it together in Baltimore and I knew he’d loved the hat on me. It hangs above my desk right now, its sunny flower a bit wilted and dusty with time.

It is a piece of what I call tender debris: the detritus of love left behind. I have too a silver pendant Will had made for me. He’d laid on a copier, Xeroxed his tattoo, brought it to a silversmith and had it made into a necklace. I’d given him a silver ring with a bee on it, bees being three of my tattoos.

I never got the bee ring, though it was promised to me by his family—that and a bunch of semi-nude photos of me that he’d taken on Bear Mountain. These photos had been seen by some of his friends when they’d cleaned out Will’s addict’s nest—his body had been found by his roommate slumped against his closet door, needle still in his vein. The friend I’d first met pushing a cart had successfully cleaned himself up, and I didn’t recognize him when at the second wake—the family wake held at St. John the Divine—he told me with a sly grin that I’d looked slammin’ in the photo on the Harley.

I’d very nearly been banned from the second wake. I’d been blamed for Will’s slide into drugecstasy because through a strange it’s a small small small world after all confluence of events he’d heard a graphic narrative of the florid extracurricular head I’d given during his stint at rehab. From the dogrun guy.

Apparently, some members of the family saw this blowjob as being behind Will’s addiction, despite the fact that I’d never really done drugs. It was this act, they felt, that kept treatment after treatment after treatment from working.

I had no idea I had such power.

Probably because I had not.

Will died one month and two days before his thirtieth birthday. He always said he wouldn’t live to thirty—and certainly had lived life in a way that would seem a commitment to that, riding his Harley too fast, jumping out of airplanes, nightriding skateboards down poorly lit citystreets.

He left a significantly marked up copy of Herman Hesse’s Steppen Wolf outside his closet door when he took that needle in with him. He had gone to the movies with his friend Michael—they had seen perhaps mordantly, perhaps ironically, perhaps meaningfully the movie Kiss of Death—and he had said good-bye in a way that lingered in Michael’s mind.

I’m left thinking Will wasn’t miscalculating that last shot at all. I’m thinking he knew well what he was doing.

In a little less than a month, 2 June, is Will’s birthday. He would have been forty.

11 May 2005

a ways away

This post isn’t really worth reading, but, hey, you’re an adult. You decide what you want to do.

The woman two seats over chanted “o Jesus o Jesus” for the entirety of the two hour flight back to Gotham. She would stick her arms straight out and down to one side, alternately left and right, in the Superman flying position, mumbling, “Jesus o Jesus praise Jesus Jesus Jesus” over and over and over and over and over again.

Then she started touching her feet.

At first I thought it was just a pre-take off ritual. In these days of high anxiety air travel, I know more than one otherwise sane person who feels intense trepidation about flying—the well-heeled gay man seated next to me on the flight down to Florida was on Valium, his partner explained to me.

“I hope you won’t have to get up much,” the partner said as I crossed them to get to my window seat, “he’s totally on Valium.”

My tranquilized seatmate on the trip to Fort Lauderdale fell asleep while we were taxiing down the runway. He probably would have remained asleep for the entire trip too, if we hadn’t been sitting directly in front of a two year-old boy who kicked the back of his seat with a remarkable precision, energy, and single-minded purpose.

Halfway through the trip, the presumably non-drugged partner turns to the heavily blinged-out father of the relentless toddler and asks him to get his kid to stop.

“What can I do?” said the dad. “He’s just a child.”

Gosh. I don’t know. You could make him behave.  Wacky concept, but hey, you could try, uh, parenting.

So that was the trip down to Ft. Lauderdale, or Ft. Liquordale as my friend Mattman refers to it.

The first time I went to Florida, I got my breasts, so going there makes me imagine my implants are like salmon swimming upstream to spawn. And spawn, it would seem, they did. Florida is ImplantNation. You can’t swing a golf club without hitting a pair of perfect or perfected tits. Granted, having been a stripper as long as I was, I have an eye for spotting the post-surgical, but even without my expert’s vision, it’s a noticeably Chesty LaRue state.

In Florida they are fond of the theme license plates. You can get a save the manatees plate, a choose life plate, a children are our future plate, a DevilRays or Bucaneers or Marlins plate. They should have a plastic surgery plate too, just in case people don’t recognize your expensive body for what it is.

In fact, what is most interesting about Florida, perhaps, is that in many ways it’s a microcosm of this culture—the big, ever-spreading fat ass and presumably lower middle to lower economic class American ugly bumping up against the shiny, tight, and ever-spreading fat wallet of the upper middle to upper class American.

Mattman’s condo is nice, in a pre-fab and Stepford personality kind of way. It also, he tells me, was offered to him at the low low price of a paltry $300,000. Which is crazy. It’s in a neighborhood of Ft. Lauderdale that until recently was bad, and it still shows all the signs of being exactly what it is: a dodgy neighborhood being encroached upon by yuppies.

There is no food market, for example, in walking distance of Mattman’s condo, but for a bodega type place that scared me.

And I’m from New York. Rats, to me, are wildlife.

Not that anyone walks in Florida. Ever.

In fact, as I walked, I felt alien. People stared, It was freaksome. I had never really taken walking for granted before, but as I was the only person I could see outside of the insular, insulated, isolated environment of car or home for blocks and blocks, I realized I had.

What did I do in Florida? I reconnected with my friend Mattman with whom I’d been out of touch for a long time. I sat on the beach and was adult enough that I didn’t get sunburned. I read. I drank too much and ate bad food. I idly thought about finding a lesbian bar and picking up a chick and licking her undoubtedly shaved pussy until she called out to some higher power. I bought Donny a ball gag to say thanks for taking care of my dog. I had a few epiphanies.

Oh, yeah. I did.

I realized in getting away some things I’d had to put in order, private stuff, stuff I’m not willing to share…yet. But I will.

And I realized that one of the great things of getting distance from your life is getting distance from your life. I realized that the overwhelming issues in my life are actually totally whelming. I can whelm them, if I give myself the time and space to do so.

I can whelm them like a motherfucker, I thought, lying on the beach, feeling my body untangle its psychic and emotional yarn.

And I felt relaxed. Bored, even. Ready to return.

But as I sat on the airplane in my leather seat, the woman next to me chanting and touching her naked feet and then her earlobes and jiggling, her bible next to me on the seat separating us, my Legs McNeil porn book resting beside hers as a token act of rebellion on my part, I felt intense irritation.

For the love of god, please stop touching your feet, I thought. Aware of the irony.

And I wonder, now that I’m here in my messy home, can I deal? Can I find my own happy spot betwixt and between, not bothered nor bewildered, neither the tranquilized yuppie nor the chanting hoi polloi, and be ok with it?

28 April 2005

if the apocalypse comes, beep me

I don’t watch much television. In fact, I think I’ve turned on my t.v. to watch something other than a DVD about once in the past year. Where I grew up in Vermont, we got one channel: CBS. Sometimes, if we moved the t.v. around the living room, we would get PBS or NBC with a lot of snow. But that was it.

So I’ve never really watched a lot of t.v., which is not to say I don’t love it. I do. I’m a big phat pop culture whore, and what is more popular than television. Absofuckinglutely nothing.

Pop culture makes me feel better when I’m feeling bad. Like ice cream, my other panacea for what ails me, the rapid, rabid consumption of pop puts a big psychic band-aid on my pain du jour. And like ice cream, I’m not convinced it’s good for me, but I realize that the occasional pop binge isn’t going to be that deleterious to my overall health.

So that was the wind-up and here’s my confession: I have a Buffy problem. I can sit down and watch DVD after DVD of Buffy, season one to season seven, skipping over my lesser loved episodes, or not, and be happy for hours. Days, even.

When I’m feeling blue, and I am, nothing makes me feel better than a little trip to Sunnydale and the Hellmouth.

I am not going to talk about how well written it is. Much. But it is. I never watched the series when it was in production. Friend after friend would tell me, you should watch it it’s really good you’ll like it you really will. And I dismissed them. It’s really well written, they’d say. Uh-huh. Whatevs.

I just didn’t see what could be compelling about a group of preternaturally good-looking teens dealing with the supernatural. I mean, ick.

Dawson’s Creek with the undead? Who gives a fuck?

Frankly, teens, teen drama, teen comedies, teen dramadies bore me to freakin’ tears. I was a teen. I hated it. There is no power on earth that could make me willingly relive my adolescence. I would rather suffer the fates of the heretics in Dante’s hell, be buried head down in flaming pits of sulfur and have demons stick my bare feet with pointy tridents for eternity, than be a teen again.

So why, I thought, would I want to watch Buffy?

One day a few years ago when I was sick with the flu, I rented the first three DVDs of the first season. This is really rather good, I thought, as I blew my nose and watched a very young Sarah Michelle Gellar make vampires go poof with a stake. It was funny and it was sly. It was self-aware and it had a fully formed sense of irony. All good things.

But what was really great was it was metaphoric.

I love metaphor. I live my life seeing things in the shapes of other things. I think that because my childhood was so painful and so lonely that I couldn’t cope with things as there were—combined with the fact that I read like it was going out of style, and it was—I see the world as symbols.

Yes, as Freud said, sometimes a cigar is just a cigar. But Freud died of oral cancer from smoking. So do you really want to believe him?

Buffy is all about metaphor. What better metaphor for high school is there than being on a Hellmouth? High school, in fact adolescence, is hell. There are those who pretend, and pretend successfully, that it is not, but let’s be real. All those hormones? All that pressure? All those new hairs? All that desire to leave the nest paradoxically combined with a fear of the world? Hell, my friends. Hell with blackheads.

When Buffy falls in love the first time, she falls for a vampire, a good vampire, Angel, a friendly vampire, kind of “a CareBear with fangs,” as one character puts it. What better metaphor is there for not understanding the opposite sex? He is almost exactly unlike you. And then, when they finally finally finally fuck, he turns evil and leaves. And Buffy is heartbroken.

Girl, you are singing my song.

And yet, Buffy is empowered with strengths she doesn’t even know she has. Again with the metaphor, this time for growing up. Through the seasons, she shoulders challenges ranging from averting the predictable apocalypse (“What,” Buffy and friends say in one episode when warned of the upcoming end of the world, “Again?”) to the death of her mother to raising her sister. Buffy is girl power embodied. What’s not to like?

Actually, a bit. She’s too thin. Too blonde. Too well-dressed in her Dolce & Gabbana tank tops. Her hair is too improbably coiffed, even when she too vociferously protests she looks like a street urchin. The show, sometimes, lapses into the stereotypical and hyperbolic. But, again, whatevs.

It rocks.

And it makes me feel better. Because Buffy is not alone, I can remember that I am not. Because Buffy can kick ass, I can embrace the pugilist within. Because Buffy can provide a witty remark at inopportune times, I can appreciate my own funny. Because Buffy can find solve her crises, I can find my own solutions. Because a slayed Buffy returns to life repeatedly, rising from her own ashes, I can remember that I too can recover the self lost to pain, to depression, to whatever.

And I can remember that this hell, like high school, will end. And when it’s over, I’ll be the better for it.

24 April 2005

a fucking month of muthafucking sundays

I don’t like Sundays.

Let me rephrase that: when I am single, and I am currently, I don’t like Sundays.

I hate them.

Sundays, when I am in a couple, are much beloved by me. Nothing, nothing is better than fucking followed by a high-fat meal, a walking of the dog, and more fucking followed by a nap. I love the luxurious permissiveness of Sunday to be deeply and unapologetically sensual.

But not when I’m single.

Sundays are unofficial national couple day. Especially where I live, the land of brunch and tasteful home decorative items, Sundays give couples a blank cheque to perform their couplehood. Everywhere I look are the happy loving couples, holding hands, kissing, canoodling, standing with their arms entwined around one another like some symbiotic organism. Like lichen. Like Spanish moss.

Inextricable and interdependent.

I have fantasies, on my worst Sundays, of climbing to the top of the building opposite mine, setting up a high-powered sniper rifle next to the bed-sheet sized American flag, and picking off the shiniest and the happiest of the shiny, happy couples.

Girl/boy, boy/boy, girl/girl—you’re all a fair target in my book if you look happy. My sniping bitterness knows no discrimination, nor would my sniper’s rifle.

That would be wrong, and I would definitely feel badly after, especially when I returned to my right mind and read about what I’d done in the Daily News, and saw the full color pictures of grieving relatives, but the fantasy is immeasurably gratifying.

I talked with Stevie about this tyranny of coupleness, and she said that she’d been talking about her single status with another friend.  Her friend had asked her, did she want a boyfriend? Or did she just want everyone to be single?

“I realized,” said Stevie, ‘I just wanted everyone to be single. Yup. Like me. Single.”

I can relate. I realize that our survival as a species depends on people hooking up from time to time, but that is what alcohol is for. Why, I want to know, must we be like geese and not like dolphins. Why must we go in pairs, and why must we not just mate indiscriminately and then move on.

At least I don’t hope to emulate the insect world and be like the praying mantis, or the arachnids and be like the black widow spider.

Being single, in this culture, is a lot like being fat. Or, apparently, like having a small dick. I can’t surf a webpage without seeing ads for dating services, weight loss, or male enhancement. To be single or to be fat is to be not quite a valid person in this culture. There is something wrong with you, all the propaganda would suggest, if you are either one or the other. Woe, apparently, to the single, fat, short-dicked man. But then evidence suggests that if a man is fat and short-dicked but is wealthy, he doesn’t have to worry about being single.

So my singleness: Donny and I parted ways a week ago. It was just too hard. I found that in our relationship there was honesty, there was sexual compatibility, and there was love. There just wasn’t intimacy and there wasn’t commitment, or there just wasn’t enough.

I love Donny. But I found that every move I took closer to him, the more he Heismanned me. When I was little, my uncles used to play a game with me where they would palm my small blonde head with their hand while I tried as hard as I could to run towards them, but their stiff arms would keep me a couple of tantalizing feet away.

This is what happened with Donny. Every step I took closer to him, he seemed to take a step back. And it hurt a lot.

There are myriad reasons why I pick men who won’t bend their elbows and let my small body run full-tilt into their arms, but I’m not going to go into them now.

Right now, I’m just going to lick my wounds, watch some Buffy, search for some music that will heal my hurt, and fantasize about a couple-free world.

14 April 2005

what it feels like for a boy

On first dates, or long car rides, whichever comes first, I have three games I like to play. The first is “who would you rather kiss?” and it goes something like this:

Me: Who would you rather kiss: Yeltsin or Gorbachev?

You: Yeltsin.  (Or Gorbachev, but you have to pick one.)

You: Who would you rather kiss: Marissa Tomei, Geena Davis, or Mira Sorvino?

Me: Hm… Mira Sorvino. No. Wait. Marissa Tomei. Who would you rather kiss: young, handsome Elvis or young, handsome Jim Morrison?

You: Elvis. (Everyone picks Elvis.)

Me: Ok. Fat, drug-addled Elvis? Or fat drug-addled Jim Morrison?

You: Ew. Neither.

But you have to pick one—you always have to pick one—so you do. (Let me guess: Elvis.)

The second game is “spot the irony,” and that can happen anytime. Basically, you look for something—person, place, thing, or action—that is kitschy-ironic, hipster-ironic, or ironic-ironic and make the other person look at it and spot the irony. A permutation of this game is “yes, but is it art?” where you do the same thing and look at it as art; this one works very well at the beach. Both of these games take a certain French poseur attitude. But they’re fun in a beret and with a Galoise. Because that’s not ironic, and it’s not art.

The third is to name your top five favorite films. No blast of originality there, but I find that a person’s list says volumes about him or her.

The following films are not my top five. Well, not consistently. But each of them helped me stay alive on this wet blue planet we call home because each of them I watched incessantly when it seemed like all I wanted to do was roll over and die.

1) Dazed and Confused. Richard Linklater, 1993

I found this movie the summer between my first and second year of my Master’s. My first year in graduate school had been incredibly grueling. I had broken up with the first great love of my life the year before and was mourning his loss with an acuity that still surprises me. I had been going to school full time, stripping two or three nights a week and working in the writing center fifteen hours a week.

I was also in the gym two hours a day, five days a week and not eating any carbs. Oh, and I hadn’t had sex for about eight months.

Depressed and stressed doesn’t even begin to cover how I was feeling.

I got paid to go to grad school, but the amount was laughable in Manhattan—one of my professors said she’d made the same amount in Madison, Wisconsin, twelve years earlier, so I had to work to save for the school year. One of my few nights off in the middle of the summer, I stumbled to Blockbuster and serendipitously rented Dazed and Confused. I watched it. I watched it again. I went out and bought my own copy.

I think I watched it thirteen times in a week.

Why? It’s a good movie, definitely. It’s funny and interesting and it has a fantastic ensemble cast, but that doesn’t explain why I was totally obsessed with it (I also bought both soundtracks and the book, ate the cereal , and played with the action figures. Not really, well, not the cereal or the action figures.)

What got me was the line Matthew McConaghey’s character, Wooderson, says to Jason London’s character: “You gotta do what Randall Pink Floyd wants to do. You just gotta keep livin’, man, L-I-V-I-N. Livin’.”

Somehow my brain latched onto that line and it became my mantra. Whenever I got stressed, I’d just say, “You gotta do what Randall Pink Floyd wants…” And somehow it gave me permission to get through grad school without the wicked high pressure I’d put on myself.

It wasn’t important that I finish well; it was merely important that I finished. Because I just had to keep L-I-V-I-N.

2) Fight Club. David Fincher, 1999

Like most New Yorkers in September, 2001, I was reeling in the aftershock of the Trade Center attacks. I only knew one person who died, my friends’ father who was the only photojournalist killed in the collapse of the buildings. But I did see the second building get hit, and I did walk home fifty blocks that day against the uptown current of white ghosts who had somehow survived.

I have always been troubled by apocalypse dreams. I can’t tell you how many exactly, but I’ve had enough dreams where I’ve been in the middle of a crashing city landscape that it is one of my theme dreams (others, in addition to the wet dreams I’ve discussed include dreams in which I’m a vampire, dreams where I’m being chased through a house with ever-smaller rooms, and dreams about leaving babies in odd places).

2001 was also the year my sister went seriously schizophrenic and I had my Ph.D. orals. Stressed again. Depressed again.

So what gave me odd comfort? Fight Club.

David Fincher is a very clever filmmaker, and I believe Fight Club to be one of those rare films that’s better than the book. But what helped me in watching the film—again, obsessively—was the weird tension between anarchy and control. Indeed the film is all about controlled anarchy, and the subtext—hell, text even—that we might be better as a species if we were stripped of our duvet covers, credit cards, couches with the string-bean stripe pattern, fancy-assed soaps, and so forth (“Your things are owning you,” says Tyler meaningfully, if not plagiaristically) and just had to relearn how to survive on our own in the wilderness of crumbling cities made sense after 9/11.

To watch, over and over, as Project Mayhem sanely, safely, and humanely reduced the buildings containing America’s credit history to dust made a kind of logic in my mind. It felt like pieces of a broken and valuable ceramic magically came together every time the high rises like synchronized swimmers slid down into a black abyss behind Ed Norton and Helena Bonham Carter, and it felt peaceful.

Especially with the Pixies playing extradiagetically in the background.

3) Ocean’s Eleven. Steven Soderburgh, 2001

I know, I know, Brad Pitt again. But I’m not a huge Brad Pitt fan. It was, for me, all about the great couples in this movie: Brad and George. George and Carl. Scott and Casey. Plus I love Don Cheadle. Don Cheadle could pretty much chew celery and I’d be good with that. And Brad Pitt’s wardrobe was the bomb, baby.

A little over a year ago—the fall before I started my cyberdating feeding frenzy—I was in a serious funk, and not in the good Macy Gray kind of way. I’d lost the love of my life, and I’d kicked my boyfriend of over two years to the curb. The love of my life was my dog, Spencer. And I could not even begin to deal with his not being beside me.

Ocean’s Eleven is not a very good movie. It’s entertaining. It has some great lines—“Ted Nugent called. He wants his shirt back” is classic. But it does not, in any stretch of the imagination, deserve being watched obsessively.

For me it was the group thing. I just felt so all completely alone that to watch a bunch of guys being cool with each other helped. In watching, I became one with them. And I became cool like them, and coolness was something that mired in my hot grief I aspired to. Watching Ocean’s Eleven felt like a cool hand on my fevered brow.

Now what is really weird about these three movies is not so much that I watched them obsessively. What is really weird is that in all of them women are ancillary. They are not protagonists. They are girlfriends. They are trophies.

Nope, these films are about what it means to be male in this culture.

And one of the things it means to be male is to be alone but in a group. Even if, as in Fight Club, that group is you alone. And another thing it means to be male is to be angry. Randall Pink Floyd, Wooderson, Tyler Durden, Danny Ocean: they’re a bunch of angry dudes. And I think that unlike most women’s movies, male movies feel comfortable dwelling on anger that is not the Karen Silkwood/Erin Brokovich righteous anger. And in all the times I’d used these various films to buttress my sagging spirits I had been alone, and I had felt totally pissed off about it. These movies, then, did something no chick flick could do: they made me feel as if what I was experiencing was legitimate and finite. It was real, but it would end.

And finally, what these films say it means to be male in this culture is to be a person who just deals—to just accept, pick up the meaningful rubble and the useful detritus, find humor when you can and move on. A lesson I needed to learn.

Never underestimate the healing power of popular culture.

You just gotta keep livin’, man, L-I-V-I-N.

Thanks, boys.