F is for Flagging, Fatigued and Finished

F

F is for Flagging, Fatigued and Finished.

Today is day 6 of the AtoZ blogging challenge and it is a day that has kicked my butt. I am exhausted, so for today please accept my apologies for no new story. I can’t believe I’m missing the opportunity to use “fetish”..I really am done.

As a thought let me put this forth, F is also for Family and Friend, but what if they are one in the same? I have frequently lamented the lack of language to denote the importance of found family. Many people I know have people they consider family that share no blood, but there are no words that I know of to get that across. Friendship is often dismissed when confronted with the idea of “family”, they are not on par with one another when it comes to triageing time spent and obligations . I have run into this issue, because my partners have had family that always took precedence, and I have had friendships questioned over bad over because somehow that was allowable. I would never question someones loyalty to a loved one, and I have never understood this idea.

How do you define the indefinable? What do you call the Aunts and Uncles to your children,  that are your sisters and brothers by heart, if not blood? I bet there is a German word for this, there is always a German word…

Just a thought. I hope all of ya’ll are having a great time with this challenge. When I can keep my eyes ope, I love doing it. Have any of you made friends and connections from it?

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PS Recently I have been able to refer clients to one of my oldest friend’s law practice and she has done right by each one. That’s all great and stuff, but the point is we are grown-ups and have been friends since age 10 and every time we do some grown-ass shit, I feel like we’re gonna get caught out and someone will call us out for playing at this whole grown-up thing. When I have to send her official legal documents, I try to put Winnie the Poo stickers on the envelopes because i know it will make her smile. Most days I am still surprised I’m an adult.

 

 

 

 

 

Part One, Step Two: Making a List and Checking it Twice

One year ago I signed a new lease. Yeah this was a literal lease for a new apartment but also the more obnoxious and harder to articulate, new lease on …my life.

How trite does that sound? Quite enough I think, lets move on.

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My keys are defiant.

I was looking for a new place in winter, with no time, few options and a decent list of requirements. Like anyone else looking for a new place to live, I had a list of needs I couldn’t compromise on; distance from my daughter’s school, rent,  number of bedrooms (2), decent neighborhood, something that didn’t make her feel like she was seeing the utter wreckage of her mother’s life in the form of an unacceptable living space. Normal stuff.

It occurred to me while I was checking online, making calls and visiting the few acceptable options in the area, that I put more conviction and sense into finding an apartment than choosing a partner. Sad but very, very true.

Why didn’t I have the same list regarding my own requirements and needs? Options that had to be met before I was willing to do a walk-through or waste the gas? I wasn’t going to look at an apartment I couldn’t afford or fit into, that required too much travel or was in the ghetto. Why was I willing to accept the equivalent of unacceptable lodging, in a human being?

Why don’t we have the same kind of list for relationships? Each of us should have a list of nonnegotiable needs that stop us from getting in the car, driving over and “accidentally” forgetting our underwear…I mean, never mind about that, you know what I mean. You and I know better, we need to stop looking where the rent is too high,  where there isn’t enough room for us and the locale doesn’t reflect where we are or where we want to go.

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I decided to make a list because 1) I love lists and 2) I realized I had never articulated my concrete needs to anyone, myself included.

I was surprised at both how hard and how easy this task was. On one hand I knew what I needed. I am old enough to understand what I can and can not accept. On the other hand, paring it down to absolutes seems like cutting my nose, to spite my face. I mean..I/they might change, love is all we need, RIGHT?

This is the short version of my list. I recommend the exercise, if only to see yourself a little bit clearer.

Work It

Yes have a job, absolutely, but this is about more than that. This is about having a work ethic and needing to take part in the world. Give a shit about what you do, have a purpose; please be a contributing adult that is self-reliant and independent.

Be Honorable

I want to believe in you, be honorable. Say what you mean, mean what you say. Whether this is taking out the trash, keeping a date or doing that really important yet difficult task you said you’d take care of, it’s all about trust and belief. Don’t make me have to ask if it got done, I want to believe your word no matter how small the task you have committed to. I’m not your mother and I have no desire to fill that role. If you cannot follow through, take ownership of your actions and deal with the consequences, this isn’t going to work. We’re all going to fail but it’s not the failures that define you, it’s how you deal with those failures.

Get a Hobby

keep-calm-and-get-a-hobby-4Have something you love, that you have a passion for. This keeps you interesting, and growing. This also means you love something other than me and my attention.  I have things to do, and you should too. The time we spend together should be important, not all-consuming. This eventually gets boring. Leave the house, go do something, bring it back and tell me about it.  I want to learn from people who are passionate about things, so please be one of the people I learn from and I will try my best to do the same.

Have a Village

If you are 20, you should have non-family members that have been around for at least 5 years, by your 30’s a decade, so on and so forth. It’s a giant red flag when someone doesn’t have long-term friendships in their lives, it means they can’t maintain them. Friends are the people who hold your story inside of them, they are your living history. They remember you at your worst, best and most silly and they still want to stick around and learn the rest. I should not come before them, if I do I will have less respect for you. I don’t understand discarding people, I see it as dishonorable. Who abandons the people who support them for a new thing, just because the sex if fucking amazing? I mean I get it, but we’re getting sidetracked here. The friends you have are the people who were there before and they will be there after, they are your support team and you need them. They deserve your loyalty. I cannot fulfill every role nor should I be expected to.  I don’t want to be your reason for living, or to be needed at all. I want to be appreciated and wanted, loved even, but not your everything. I want someone stronger than that.

Bring the Sexy Back

Sex is about intimacy, touch, caring, joy and exploration. I need all of these things. I have seen so many relationships die in this arena. We all need intimacy, but being clear about the form and function of my needs is often where I compromise and therefore make my biggest mistakes. I don’t believe in monogamy. I need someone who understands what the term “consensual non-monogamy” means. I need someone who is kink aware and can teach me a thing or two. Be open-minded, curious, self-assured and allergic to jealousy.  Sex is  (very) important but, the best quality version of it, is found along clear communication and trust.

12240888_10154469558055752_8896729158956311971_oThis is my list and I think you should make your own. Your needs are, and should be different. Keep in mind that there are “extras” we would all like. In an apartment it may be hardwood floors, an extra bathroom or a larger backyard. In a person it may be physical traits, or a love of cooking. These things would be great, but aren’t necessary.

What are the things you need? The things you think you can compromise on, but can’t?

When are you going to stop yelling at the 1 bedroom for not being the 2 bedroom you knew you needed in the first place? I mean, really that’s rather silly isn’t it? Yet that’s what we do and maybe this exercise can be the first step towards being responsible for our own bad choices and starting from a better home base.

Location, location, location. Now take out your pens, find a mirror and get to work.

 

 

 

 

Q is for Quirky

Q

quirk·y
ˈkwərkē/
adjective
1. characterized by peculiar or unexpected traits.

My friend had a girlfriend. She started bringing her along to events and I learned something really unpleasant. My friend was a total asshole. She had chosen the girl based on a set of criteria she had for dating.

  • Higher level education; multiple degrees preferred
  • Beauty and skinniness
  • Family connections

I didn’t know this about her before, she was not a super close friend, but someone I hung out with occasionally and definitely didn’t date, therefore I wasn’t privy to the criteria needed to romantically associate with her. I found this out because I asked, after seeing her treat said girlfriend with an obnoxious, heavy-handed misogyny, which I didn’t realize could come from a woman, but have learned is pretty common sinse. She commented on her weight, figure and pedigree routinely, in front of people…it was upsetting. Despite the honking chip I carried about privilege, I started to realize that anyone can be reduced to the sum of their parts and not seen as the whole human they are, and I couldn’t play witness.

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I started to speaking to the new girlfriend and found out she and I were much better matched, not romantically but as people. I told my “friend” that I had a criteria for friendships and she did not meet them, I chose the girlfriend instead. Thankfully she left my idiot “friend”,  as she deserved.

She was quirky and a dork, but so was I.

Have I mentioned my unhealthy love of all things NPR? If not, well, now you know. I know more NPR and WNYC names than I do popular Buscelebrities. She knew more than me. We traded stories, and unfinished craft obsessions. We wandered around Ikea for hours and bought nothing. We smoked American Spirits and drove for hours to nowhere often and to derelict buildings on occasion to sift through lives long past with cameras in hand. I do not how many hours have been spent over coffee at diners playing Scrabble.  She wore highly starched skirts, button up shirts and penny loafers and I was in loose jeans, hoodies and Vans yet we somehow found out we were a perfect match.

STP60255_zps95e4da36She and I talked for hours and never ran out of words, stories or adventures. We found something within each other, someone to be naked in front of. There are not that many people you can truly be exposed to in the course of one life; someone for which it does not matter what you disclose, whatever peccadillo, shame or heartbreak, will never judge you harshly or with malice. We each had plenty of these hidden recesses, things too dark and painful to let the world see. We hid behind different masks, came from very different places and on paper had little to nothing in common, yet we found kindred spirits in each other. You never know where you might find them or what circumstance will be an opportunity.

Over the years we have changed, each of us has moved, broken and been put together again. We have been apart and found each other. I think that any life that has held a lot of trauma lends itself to many forms of rebuilding, it’s a necessary part of growth.

We have only fought in the sense that we have both been afraid of that closeness and run at times, but neither of us could ever close the door.  I hope neither of us ever does, I need her to fill my hand of true friends at the end of this life, so I know I lead it well.

 

“The truth is, everyone is going to hurt you. You just got to find the ones worth suffering for.”

― Bob Marley

L is for Line

L

line
līn/
noun
1. a course along which someone or something moves.
~ the course that must be taken in order to reach a destination
~ a general way in which someone or something is developing.


I came home from Orlando and full immersion in motorcycles and got a new job, at a bookstore, obviously. Lets call said bookstore N&B bookstorebooksellers and call it a day. I love bookstores of any kind, they are like the ocean for me, I feel more at peace and like myself when in their presence.  

When I lived with my grandparents, it was a hot and cold kind of situation. They were in turn the worst and best things for me. I learned to function in the kind of community I wanted to be a part of, educated, intelligent and lacking in the day-to-day kind of violence my earlier years had made me dull to. There was a lot of bad there too, but what I have always been an excellent mimic, trying on behaviors, speech patterns and attitudes like hats, trying to find what worked for me, what I wanted to be. At some point my grandfather told me that Knowledge was the only thing that couldn’t be taken from me, no matter what I had lost or would lose, I could keep whatever I was willing to learn and I took that to heart, I still do. I am like a magpie with shiny bits mixed in with the mundane, of information.

Working at the bookstore surrounded me with this kind of nest, and one day I found another magpie, sitting by the windows reading a pile of magazines and books. He was the kind of exuberant person that I am both attracted and terrified of; I have never been able to be so outwardly passionate. It always feels as if I might be sucked in to their passions and lose myself. I honestly can’t remember the first conversation or how we got there but eventually he offered a room to rent at his apartment, which was just down the road. I had been staying with the ex which  I had wanted to escape from in the first place, this seemed ideal so I moved in.

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Mahlon had a beautiful three-legged cat named River, about 15 guitars, 10 bass guitars, a saxophone, flutes, a multitude of tribal instruments, a Wurlitzer piano, a stand up bass, a violin, acoustic and digital drum sets, a handful of oil paintings in progress and one couch.  Oddly enough he worked in the tech field. He was scattered, driven, passionate, pragmatic, moody, kind, selfish and superfluous all at the same time, possibly in the same moment. Perhaps people like Mahlon make me nervous because I suspect the same behaviors are just below the surface of my control, and it is a line I am afraid to cross.

bassHe convinced me he couldn’t make eggs properly so I would make omelets, he played guitar while we sat on the stoop and discussed bigomelet and small things. We downloaded and watched every episode of Daria in front of his computer, smooshed together to get a better view. We would lie on the floor and talk about anything and everything and I would try my non-musical hand at various instruments floating like flotsam around us. He let me play his beautiful white Fender bass and taught me my first cords. He refused to buy cigarettes on principle due to the rise in cost but bummed mine most days. We regularly went to diners and pretended to be an older argumentative but loving Jewish couple from Queens for the duration of any meal. He told me that an artist is someone who shits in their palm and goes about showing it to everyone saying “Isn’t this shit lovely? Doesn’t it smell sweet”.

I have a life peppered with these friendships, this is the only way I know how to make them. I am like a small child that meets someone and immediately declares them their bestest friend in the world. I want nothing else than to immerse myself in them, to love them passionately,  to OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAspend the kind of time most only dedicate to new lovers, I want to be in love with them. I want to know what they are afraid of, what makes up their day-to-day life, what brings unexpected joy and can cut like a knife to long-buried sorrow. I want to sleep with them, so I know what they are at their most base and naked, I want to sing off-key on long drives and argue over the minutia. Each of these people shifts my life, changes my perspective and the lens I see life through and I crave it like a drug; more when I was younger, but it is always there. Mahlon and the bookstore were these things for me, at a time I consciously changed direction. . Eventually I can take a break but afterwards, they are a part of me, they are the relationships I have kept , they make up the family I have chosen, and that in turn, chose me.

Another piece of wisdom my grandfather bestowed upon me was this:

The mark of a good life, a life well lived, are the true friends you have. Not how many passing acquaintances, they mean nothing in the scheme of things. The people who you would not only trust your life to, but your loved ones lives to. The people who you do not have to ask for help, because they will already be there. When you die, if you can fill one hand with true friends, you have lived a good life.

I never learned it well with my romantic life but I have done pretty well with friendships. I have learned that the people you love should always help you be the best version of yourself, which is a hard lesson learned.

Mahlon would eventually slip out of my life but I only make friendships that can be picked up like an old, much-loved book and turned to any page, because it doesn’t matter where or when you left off.

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“There’s such a lot of different Annes in me. I sometimes think that is why I’m such a troublesome person. If I was just the one Anne it would be ever so much more comfortable, but then it wouldn’t be half so interesting.” 
― L.M. MontgomeryAnne of GreenGables

I is for Intent

I

in·tent
inˈtent/
noun
1. intention or purpose.
2. resolved or determined to do (something).
3. (esp. of a look) showing earnest and eager attention.

hacklebarney_map_v3I picked up Kor and we headed to Hacklebarney Park.  two to three days a week, this had become part of our personal ritual. Kor was someone who I met via a lover, but our friendship quickly eclipsed that relationship in its importance. He taught Kung-Fu and Tai-Chi at a local martial arts studio and had a good time living life in a way that I always envied. He was always in perpetual motion, with 2 to 15 plans/scams/otherwise unspecified goings on, up in the air. Yet that wasn’t what our time together was about.

I am excellent at doing nothing; or more accurately I am an excellent person to hang out with if you can never sit still. I lend myself towards books being read under trees, coffee at the kitchen table and long walks with no goal in mind. I think the part I played for Kor was quiet but necessary. My relationships have always been  the one on one type, insular but passionate. What’s the point if it’s not passionate? Our friendship was a seperate thing from the rest of our lives, taking up morning before we got a chance to mess up the rest.

hacklebarney stairsKor and I drove out to the park, found a spot and began our trek down the path. There are a few paths but we normally took the steep rocky stairs down, across the little bridge and started parallel to the Trout creek. One day we decided to walk the creek bed instead and Kor showed me how to jump the slippery stones. It really wasn’t any kind of fair, he practiced Kung-Fu  and taught Tai-Chi! He better have some balance…

He said it was all about intention, connecting one step to another without so much thinking, choosing and fear.He said you can’t fear the next step or what will happen if you miss it, you just have to take the leap and then the next. I went from wet feet to sure footing when I actually listened and took his advice. He knew I needed it this morning. Balance.

We ended up at the Black River where the creek met the deeper faster water, and hiked its banks until we found a spot that Hacklebarney waterfallssuited. We sat crossed legged in the sunshine and breathed in, breathed out and tried to find center. This is what we were good at together, the quiet places in between the breaths. My life was a mess, filled with fools and my own bad choices and it was beginning to wear on me. Center seemed so far away from where I was.

I had just received an envelope with pictures of The Boy and a letter about what was going on up in Maine. They sent these packages regularly and I both longed for them and feared their coming. Pictures of naked kids in tubs out in the yard, pumpkin picking, and quiet moments at home. Words about milestones, dance classes and performances. The words and images crashed together inside of me like a tempest while I tried to breathe, tried to not worry about choices, my broken heart and the chains that bound me to a life I wasn’t a part of. I kept trying to breathe and leap without fear.

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