Category Archives: Relationships

Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Dukes…

20150719_143550

Jennifer Weiner has an interesting op-ed in the NYT celebrating sex ed via the romance novel. I’m ashamed to say that I’ve never read any of Ms. Weiner’s novels and I want to change that soon. I’ve put her memoir Hungry Heart on my wish list and will be grabbing some of her older novels as well. But in the meantime I enjoyed her article in the NYT, even though I didn’t agree with all of it.

We’re on the same page with the idea that “what goes where” sex ed is necessary but not sufficient for young peeps and of course they will be curious for more information. They will search for it relentlessly. I definitely agree with Ms. Weiner that romance novels give a woman’s sexual satisfaction equal priority to a man’s. No fantasy duke or pirate or spy or CEO ever forgets to please his heroine in the bedroom (or wherever), multiple times. Ms. Weiner makes a good point that, unlike pr0n, romance novels describe complete scenes, including birth control (in contemporaries), various other awkward moments, and follow-up conversations.

Talking is important!

But romance novels, like so many forms of entertainment, focus mostly on fabulous looking characters with beautiful faces and perfect bodies. These are the kinds of people deserving of soul mates, true love, fantastic sex, and happily ever afters… this is the message insidiously drilled into our minds as soon as we’re able to read a book or watch a movie. Ms. Weiner quotes Jennifer Crusie in her article, and Ms. Crusie has given us plus-size heroines in several of her novels, but still they are gorgeous overweight women with great legs, lips, and hair, not the ordinary fat chicks you find shlumping around the supermarket. This is not to criticize ~ I lurve Ms. Crusie’s novels and they’re among my favorite romances. I am… JUST SAYING.

[I know some of you go into a peevey fit when peeps just say. Sorry about that.]

Point is, there’s a downside to young people (aka women let’s be honest cuz young men aren’t going to be reading Crusie et al) consuming the emotional content of their sex ed via romance novels. I should know. I was one.

On the bright side, people are still reading books.

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Prophetic, More or Less

My dear friend Peggy joked on the Book of Face that she had just seen a poast of mine from 1989 (FB newsfeeds have been weird lately), and I asked her if it was a pome about my hair. She said it was. The reason I asked is because I wanted an excuse to remind myself to share another blast from the past. I wrote this when I thought everything would last forever, in the Spring of 1989…

the day my hair went flat

permanents aren’t permanent:
they fall out in six months. i had one
the week before my wedding–got married
with hair as full as miss america’s,
skinny blonde highlights dancing up and down my head.
but soon i noticed
my head was getting smaller,
which made my body look too fat,
and after that
the color went.
i screamed at my reflection,
but that Golden Glow
just disappeared.
and so did
my husband–
the day
my hair went flat.

The Meta Conversation

Boston Creme

Or what we talk about when we talk about talking. [hat tip to Raymond Carver]

Some people dislike “small talk,” the meaningless howareyas, haveaniceweeekends, coldenoughforyas watercooler type of chitchat. I never minded it. To me, it’s part of the please and thank you polite currency that smoothes over the transactions of our workplace relationships. Are we merely pretending to care about each other? Maybe. Maybe not. Do we always care that deeply about the answers to all the questions we pose to our friends and family, or is some of that merely filler as well? I don’t even mind when strangers ~ cashiers, waiters, neighbors ~ say this stuff to me. So what?

Why is filler conversation bad? Filler can be delicious, like the custard in a donut (mmm donuts). I’m part of a group where the leaders ask many “meaningless” questions, some of which I skip over, and some of which I reply to. I read other people’s answers when I have time, and often they’re interesting ~ first jobs, favorite writers, hobbies ~ and occasionally one of those poasts inspires me to write a longer piece myself, such as this one, or even a pome later on. Some of the group questions aren’t filler, but too personal to answer and I ponder them silently. I admire the brave folks who do reply. If I can think of a joke or a response that isn’t too revealing, I’ll put that. It may appear as though I’m an open book, but perhaps that’s just sleight of hand. You’ll never know, will you?

I’ve told you everything you know about me, but I haven’t told you everything I know. [hat tip to General Boris Alexandroff ~ yabbut rando site says so]

Most convo though is like shadows on the cave wall. We create definitions of words so we can communicate (table, cat, apple), but the whole endeavor quickly gets so tricky (love, loyalty, patriotism) that we assume a shaky base of mutual understanding in order to proceed, and often our assumptions turn out to be false. Oh, that’s not what I meant by love. Hah, fooled you! Or people can say that’s not what they meant even if they did mean it, and this becomes a totally legit way of squirming out of something because we all know conversation is just like this, even when it isn’t.

How conveeenient!

Now we make a new friend, bonding over shared heartbreak. Two people who’ve been burned by others deliberately (or so it seems) misunderstanding definitions miserably commiserate. Isn’t that nice? But wait…

~*~

The Daily Prompt: Conversation

Fuzzy Atheism

Prism

Ten years ago today I wrote a woo poast in my secret blog, the one I was keeping while my mom died of cancer. I’ve never been a super duper militant atheist like some, maybe because I wasn’t rebelling against anything at home. I simply didn’t  believe, that’s all. My nonbelief was never a huge deal to me, or to my parents, though I realized early on it was shocking to others, especially when we moved to the midwest in the 1970s. So, I mostly kept quiet about it. Back then, you didn’t blast your personal beliefs all over town as you do now. No Facebook, blogs, instagram, Twitter, etc.

There have been many times my lack of belief gets fuzzy. I want to believe, like other people do. It seems to be so comforting. Why shouldn’t there be more? A greater thing, a purpose. Why do connections have to end with death? Why can’t we be with our loved ones again in some way? That all sounds good. Sometimes it sounds too good, especially when I’m sad, and I start to imagine it could possibly, maybe, be true, somehow. Well, why not?

Ten years ago today I wrote that my ex-husband and I had worked everything out and were getting along better than ever. I called him my “soul mate” in that blog poast. But we split up about a year and a half later. I also wrote about the hallucination I had of an angel when I was sick with a very high fever in 1996. And finally I wrote of an earlier time when I was depressed and asked for a sign that things would improve, closed my eyes, and opened them to see rainbows in the room. They were prisms from the sunlight hitting my glass animals at certain angles.

Maybe I was trying to cobble together bits of evidence for some sort of belief-cake, idk. I’d have to read more entries ~ and it’s possible I dropped the topic altogether. I’m not re-reading every entry of the death diary now, not that there are so many. I may at some point, or not; they aren’t going anywhere. I’m busy lately with various projects and have finally stopped forcing myself to do things in my free time that make me unhappy. Happiness is a choice, as “they” always tell us.

I do enjoy keeping up this blog, though lately rather sporadically. Thank you for reading!

Countdown of a Sort

Cupcake

Today is 10 years exactly since my mother told us of her pancreatic cancer diagnosis. Shortly thereafter I began the private blog, where some of you listened while I poured out my feelings. Thank you for that once again. It was a little over four months between her diagnosis and her death, less than “average,” so every day between now and April 13, 2018 will be a 10th anniversary of a day of mourning.

In my other blog I see I was angry that day, angry that she tried to be cheerful on the phone when she said she was coming over to talk to us. I knew then. Because if her scan had been fine, she would have said so on the phone. I like remembering this ~ it makes her come alive in my mind. Moms are so annoying! I want to remember her exactly how she was, not in some false idealized way.

Sometimes I feel very insubstantial lately and I have to relocate the essence of myself from wherever I’ve drifted apart and off to while I forgot to pay attention. Part of that process is remembering Mom.

~*~

The Daily Prompt: Relocate

Nest

2 birds

I may be slightly different from other women in that I don’t take much pleasure in either being needy or being needed. I find both sides of that coin rather suffocating. What gives me the greatest pleasure as a mother is seeing my chicks fly free of the nest and become the awesome superstars they were meant to be. This year has been extremely satisfying for me in that regard. Yesterday was the birthday of my eldest. Twenty-seven years! Passed in the blink of an eye. I love them both more than any words can express. Again, happiness and gratitude.

~*~

The Daily Prompt: Nest

More Than This

The first time I heard Roxy Music was at Stacey’s apartment in downtown Chicago, in the spring of 1983. I was a classic rock girl and Bryan Ferry was club music. I didn’t go to clubs; I listened to the Beatles and Stones alone at home. Actually, nothing has changed… but that’s beside the point. I don’t remember why we went to Stacey’s either. We were both taking a computer class and broke for lunch or something. She lived nearby. What I do remember is that she turned on the stereo and fired up her bong. It was the first time I’d seen a bong too. I lived a very sheltered life, in the middle of Chicago. I declined her offer of smoke, but I did get intoxicated with Roxy Music and bought an album soon after.

The only reason I’m even bringing this up is because I was listening to RM’s greatest hits the otter day in my car and I thought, holy shit, I’ve been telling peeps the wrong thing all these years. I always say I moved to California because my parents said they’d buy me a car, which they did say, but that’s not why I left ~ I left because my heart was broken.

Stacey and I were talking about men that day, of course, and I confessed I had a crush on Mark, who was also in our class. Mark and I regularly created outrageous fictions about adventures we had together and no one really knew what was going on between us (nothing), and the rest of the class thought we were very entertaining. Sometimes I would create my own individual stories for Mark, so he wouldn’t think I was such a boring boring. He had his own individual stories for me as well that I didn’t know what to make of ~ they were wild and crazy, occasionally verging on the sad.

Eventually we became lovers, in the summer, though I knew it wouldn’t last. My heart broke the first time we were together, as it always does when I know something will fail, and I floated off into that strange limbo of soaring dreams mixed with crushing despair. It’s a potent drug. I never turn something like that down; I simply wait for it to disappear because I know it will. Each time might be the last, so each time is incredibly wonderful, like I imagine it might feel to be on X, though I never have been. What writer would turn this down? How many chances do you have to experience this in your life? You wouldn’t be able to describe it otherwise. I might have only had the once… but as luck would have it, it’s happened a few more times.

Our relationship ended mundanely ~ I had to work, and Mark wanted to go camping. He asked me to go with him, and I couldn’t, so he took another girl. That was in August and I kept working as my parents planned their move out West. I vaguely said I might stay and find a place with a friend, but I made no plans. My job consisted of formatting disks, all day long. I sat at a reception desk and did that, crying silently.

In September, my mother said, you’re not really staying in Chicago, are you? My father said he’d buy me a car if I moved with them. It sounds amusing to say I left for a car, but I would have left in any case. Chicago is nothing but a big frozen heartbreak; that’s why I’ve never gone back, not once. I like to leave places that remind me of bad times; I like to throw everything away. If I can’t, I gather it all together for an emotional bonfire and a story is born. Sometimes the story lies dormant for several decades, apparently.

~*~

The Daily Prompt: Dormant

Windsong

I can’t seem to forget you…
Your Windsong stays on my mind.

Remember that commercial for the Prince Matchabelli perfume from 1980? I thought about it tonight when I unexpectedly ran across someone online from years ago and remembered him, but he had no memory of me at all. It was so vivid for me too, that connection we had during a time that was intense and painful for both of us, about a decade ago, and yet… it clearly meant nothing to him. Nothing at all. He apologized for failing to remember me, but it’s happened before, many times.

When I messaged this man, I was so… buoyant. I think that’s a good word for the emotion I felt earlier today. I had to shop at Target, and the whole time I was a bit floaty, thinking to myself how wonderful it would be to chat with someone who knew me from the time before… before the divorce, before my mother was gone. Why this is important to me, I don’t know. But it is. And so for a couple hours I felt light and happy, certain that my life would take a new direction as the man and I renewed our friendship.

I came home, put my stuff away, fed my kitty, fed the feral kitties (all three were around tonight!), got a snack, logged back on, and after a little while a message arrived. The man did not remember me. Oh well. Then that old commercial jingle popped into my head and I wondered if it would be possible to find it on YouTube. Of course… first hit.

Image

Happy Birthday Mommy

Mommy

4AM

I watch from my window
While your tail lights vanish in the rain.
The streets smearstain
Into a red and green fingerpainting,
Flickering with the traffic signals,
As fickle as your interest in me.
Blurred and tearstreaked,
The wet masterpiece
Stays illuminated
By a cold lemondrop moon.

I know I’ll never see you again.

All the frothy promises
And cottoncandy plans
Dissolve in the morning mist.
My lips still hum from your kiss,
But I feel your vague disappointment,
Your perpetual darkness
Guarded by barbedwire.

I wander outside to feed the ferals—
Two slinky shadows, silhouettes cut from coal;
Crunchy nuggets clink into the cats’ dish.
How I wish I could make a wish,
But there are no do-overs here.
I always fail with a complicated man;
I don’t respond well to the tortured genius soul
Who needs the perfect femme fatale,
A Marilyn to his Al.

I fail with the uncomplicated too.

You told me I was nothing like her,
The ex who depressed you—
I thought that was a good thing;
But now I imagine you search
For her likeness,
In hopes of recreating some sick
Woody Allen type lobster scene,
To find catharsis
And absolution.
And though I sneer and snark,
I want to play a part
In this execution.

I gaze up at that judgy stone face,
Unflinchingly—
In my disordered state:
Jammie pants, damp coat,
Tangled mass of bedhead.
“Is it something I said?”
Yes.
I ponder this relationship chess;
I might just be on the precipice
Of finally understanding
Something,
Anything,
A small piece of this
Jagged, glassy, bloody puzzle.

“Is it something I didn’t say?”
Also yes.

~*~

The Daily Prompt: Precipice