vendredi, février 03, 2012

Gently, firmly and possibly forever: you are gone

I learned a long time ago, as I assume that many of you did: sometimes belief follows action.

Aren't sure that you can stick to an exercise program?

Just get up from the table and go outside for a walk.

Eventually, those walks add up.

Worried that you are a procrastinator who can't stick to a schedule? Sit down, my dear, and start working on that project.

Or stand up and find the hammer.

Sick of dealing with men or women who are not the stuff of what good dreams are made of?

Walk on by, babe.

This past week, something in me has changed.

Rhetoric is becoming reality.

I enjoy male attention -- but I've decided that I can have that attention without taking it too seriously.

In other words, without expectations. Without getting my hopes up.

I'm just going to take it for what it is -- the marshmallow in the fluffernutter sandwich.

Sweet -- and eminently forgettable (except when I'm writing about it!).

Unbeknownst to me, my unconscious has been working overtime to come to grips with a few friendships that went south this past year.

I grieved a lot. I don't want to deny it. It's really tough for me to give up on the hope that eventually relationships will be healed.

In cases where I suspect that I've done something wrong, it's actually simpler.

An apology may suffice. Or it may not. But at least, it's worth the effort. I am prone to accept the blame, sometimes too much of the bitter brew.

It gets more complex in cases where the other person is the chief actor, and I have to admit that perhaps she or he wasn't the person I thought they were.

In those cases, distance can start to feel like a relief -- the end of a season of self-delusion.

I'm relieved. After all, if the "other guy" has no regrets, and has gotten on with his or her life, why should I agonize alone? Life isn't a romantic novel.

Her loss.

His loss.

Get off the couch.

Buy those nails.

Shoot, balance your checkbook!

Sometimes the best way forward is to square your shoulders, put on those sneaks, and move on.

mercredi, février 01, 2012

Smart men, goofy choices?

Before I jump in here with both feet, I'm going to give myself an escape hatch.

This doesn't have to be a post about men -- it could as easily be one about women.

But since I haven't dated women, or gotten to know their dating stories, I'm gonna go with what I got.

As I look back over my history of not-so-close encounters of the Venus-Mars kind, I've been struck by how many lovely, sincere, and genuinely nice guys have made some really eccentric choices in the luuv game.

A while back, a man I truly respect in other ways got involved with a woman who turned out to also be a drug addict and needed extra money for her habit -- and it didn't end well, as you can imagine.

Another guy continually yearned to be with the "real" love of his life, a bipolar lady who at one point deserted him for six weeks when he went to visit her in Texas. He's still with her, as far as I know.

He and his many children lived (still do, as far as I know) in this general area.

Spectacular, dramatic, and kinda sad.

Men who have fallen in love at first sight and quickly moved in with the object of their affection, only to see it all go up in flames.

Guys who drag their children in and out of multiple relationships.

Fellows who date women considerably less intelligent, or without an ounce of emotional intelligence. What do they talk about in the evenings, I'd wonder.

Or does just one partner do all the talking?

I want you to read this as narrative, not criticism.

None of these guys were mean, or evil, or even overtly screwed up.

All of them had previous relationships, sometimes many. These were, apparently at least, the pick of the crop!

If you met them for a glass of wine or a cup of coffee, you'd probably like them too.

But somehow their love lives have been rather disastrous -- or they've had to make incomprehensible compromises, crushing various dimensions of their lives, to stay engaged.

Of course, any one of them could say the same about mine.

Generally, I've avoided getting involved, for a number of reasons.

Primary among them was the fear that if I got drawn into something similar, I wouldn't have the emotional wherewithal to be the kind of parent my children need.

Nay, the kind of parent they sometimes demand (yeah, I've spoiled them).

Many of the men I've chatted with didn't have primary parenting responsibilities -- perhaps they had more energy to devote to domestic drama.

With a sixteen-year-old girl at home, I've got a surfeit of this, thank you.

A guy recently told me that he hoped he could persuade me of the benefits of falling in love. Sure, give it a shot.

I can't say celibacy is more fun. It ain't.

But I do prize my sense of balance. And I do a lot better putting bandaids on various scrapes than being the scrapee.

Perhaps it is my lot in life -- an empathetic Florence Nightingale, with keyboard nearby.

mardi, janvier 31, 2012

Libertine studies 101

My son has to talk to his father and mother about sex for a family life badge from the Boy Scouts.

I told him tonight that I thought we already had. And though tonight wasn't the first time, it was one of the more raucous.

Perhaps it's because my friend Randy dropped off the table around which we'd had so many family dinners in Brooklyn.

It's huge and lovely, a behemoth with carved lions (?) toes -- now the gorgeous wood shimmers under new layers of polish, and the reupholstered chairs await a "Downton Abbey" dinner party.

(I'll share a picture soon.)

At any rate, our conversation was decidedly peculiar -- focused on alternative ways of saying that someone had "lost" his or her virginity.

It quickly devolving into an ongoing subject -- when it's appropriate to have a sexual relationship and when it's not.

Like...not for a long time, either of you. Maybe when you are forty.

Topics which I believe that I handle with much greater comfort than my parents did -- not that I made it easy.

Shy and a little naive, I really didn't want to talk about sex.

Yet I was constantly exposed to flagrant expressions of a sexually permissive culture.

The books we read in high school, the rumored exploits of some of our high school teachers, and the fact that we grew up on the heels of the "sexual revolution" made the topic impossible to ignore.

Lust is lust, whether it's depicted through the eyes of Homer, Charles Baudelaire or Mick Jagger.

You'd think Maroon 5 had invented Mick Jagger and his sexy hips!

Somehow I got through college relatively untouched by all of the hijinks going on around me.

Yet it left a mark, I think -- a deep curiosity about what I'd missed, and an ability to talk comfortably with my children about the thorny issues of sexuality. After all, I'd been talking about them, in one way or another, since sixth grade.

Last night, on a drive home from getting a new notebook, I asked my son about his new girlfriend. They sit together at lunch, in music, and in the band room (they are band groupies).

But she's leaving for Queens in a few months, I said.

Aren't you sad?

He wants to keep it casual, he told me from the back seat. In a long distance (mostly Facebook) relationship this past summer and fall, he is ready not to get upset and frustrated because of the distance.

Also, he added, he's got a lot of other things he needs to focus on at the moment.

That's for darned sure.

I'm a big proponent of the rhythm method where matters of the heart are concerned.

Get the rhythm right, and the melody (or melodies) will follow.

I don't know where he got his commonsense from, but I'm assured that whatever the clamor around him, this child will make a thoughtful, caring and good choice.

When the time comes.

Thankfully, it doesn't seem anytime soon!

dimanche, janvier 29, 2012

A tease (he said)

Someone once told me I was a tease.

He wasn't talking about it in the sexual sense, although it was part of the banter between us.

It was more the way (I believe) that I deliberately let little pieces of information dribble out, withholding the main point.

Who, me?

I confess -- no point in not confessing, it was obvious.

And when there's a healthy energy between two people, as there was with us, it's all rather innocently playful.

Although I'm not a huge fan of email or messaging, I do believe that it is particularly malleable for that purpose.

But there is a darker side to virtual conversations.

Sometimes it's easy to assume you understand what someone else is saying, when in fact he or she could easily have meant something rather, quite, very different.

A rather demure flirtation can take an unseen turn -- and one partner in it finds that he or she is playing alone.

Sometimes people use the language of a second life when they can't quite manage direct communication in the first one.

Then there are the occasions when being a female online makes one feel vulnerable.

"Hey, sexxy lady," someone texted me over the weekend. When I politely asked the texter to identify themselves, I got back a few anatomically ridiculous but clearly obscene messages.

As I walked through our local glades, I was torn between fury, fear and a reluctant amusement.

Here's a guy (I assumed it was a guy) who can't even get obscenity right!

I know, that's a little kinky on my part -- but it goes with the territory of being a writer with deep interest in human behavior (and grammar).

A writer from New York who went to a prep school where sexually permissive behavior was common coin among certain faculty.

A writer who thinks that in an online world where people spill their guts all the time, maybe just a little discretion isn't a bad thing.

A writer who knows where to stop.


If you want to know more...send me an email, and I'll tell you -- a little at a time.