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Archive for the ‘contemplation’ Category

sadie says: she’s ready

Friday, November 22, 2013 AT 11:11 AM1 comment

Would you like to go to the BedPost Confessions show on Thursday? I asked my 13 year old daughter, not expecting her answer to be delivered with such alacrity …

“YES!” she declared. And with that the decision was made.

I wouldn’t have asked her unless I was certain she was prepared for entry into the realm of sex storytelling, of course. I had not extended the invitation heedlessly. No, it had arrived upon the heels of one of our discussions about her sex education class, the class where she had just been informed that “abstinence is the only way to prevent pregnancy and STIs, although only if practiced perfectly.

“Perfectly?” She had challenged, with a snort that indicated more irony than inquiry, “Like perfect ever happens.”

Indeed. My kid’s too smart for a Texas-sized indoctrination of abstinence to ever take root. In fact, I’d venture to guess that most teens know that abstinence education is inherently flawed. But many fall prey to systematic shaming by adult bullies and end up buying into the assumption that not only is premarital sex dangerous, it will fuck up your reputation: chewed up pieces of gum and dirty toothbrushes and all that. Amazing really, that an adult drew these parallels. And we wonder why kids can be so mean.

I digress.

I will say that my daughter’s class which under Texas law MUST promote sexual abstinence is (thankfully) taught by the folks from Planned Parenthood and therefore includes not only units on sexual anatomy and reproduction, but also birth control education  typically ignored by abstinence-only programs. And once a week, the students are sent home with written questions for parents that must be answered and signed. Questions like “Name 2 kinds of hormonal birth control” and “Can you get pregnant from oral sex?” These are meant to spur conversations between parents and teens that might not otherwise take place.

Planned Parenthood rocks.

One of the pamphlets that she was sent home even includes a section called: Guidelines For Sex Partners. It is on the very back of the pamphlet, but it’s in there nevertheless, and it talks about the importance of consent (and not pressuring someone to gain it.) It also highlights honesty, treating each other equally, being attentive to each others pleasure, protecting against physical and emotional harm, practicing safer sex, expressing, maintaining and respecting boundaries, and accepting responsibility for your own actions.

It was in reading this section that I understood the comprehensiveness of her sex ed program (which does declare abstinence-only as the “safest” solution, but doesn’t force-feed it) and I felt deep gratitude that it wasn’t rife with anti-sex dogma (not that she’d accept it anyway.) But it was because of this that I was encouraged to extend to her the opportunity to see a BedPost show, to offer her an adjunct to what she was learning in school (which was decidedly a supplement to what she had already learned from her father and me.) I encountered a little bit of push-back from a well-meaning family member, “Are you sure she’s ready for that?”

I was certain of it.

Because here’s the thing: sex is not a taboo. It is not banned, proscribed, forbidden or excluded (except under certain circumstances) but we hold these ridiculous cultural attitudes that say that it is, which is at great conflict with what our bodies tell us. We ignore, forget, minimize, closet and shame sex and sexuality when it is a defining and essential part of who we are, and should thus be regarded, exalted, respected … celebrated.

Keeping my daughter from BedPost a show that I have co-produced for the last three years would only perpetuate the stormy taboo looming ominously above her head (courtesy of abstinence-only teachings and the slut shaming that it generates,) and those of teens her age across the country.

The one that tells them that despite what their bodies say, sex is not meant for them.

I will never teach my daughter to ignore her body. Instead, together we will listen to the stories of others where we can find them. Because it is inside of these stories that wisdom lives, where pieces of others’ experience are extracted as information and carried forth for dissemination … and the actualization of new wisdom. Where conversations begin and where question marks not definitive,  resolute periods punctuate them with the eagerness and enthusiasm of teens themselves.

And there were questions, MANY questions that my daughter had for me last night after the show was over, but the very first one was my personal favorite:

“Can I go again next month?!?”

We’ll see, baby. We’ll see.

 

 

Sadie Says … That night

Tuesday, May 21, 2013 AT 07:05 PM5 comments

Are you monogamous? Poly? Open? Weighing your options? Going with the flow?

The way to structure one’s relationship has become a choice, hasn’t it?

Not too long ago, Monogamy was the assumed structure of relationships. It is still the default structure, meaning most people in committed relationships are monogamous (or at least claim to be,) but now there is more awareness about the existence of open relationships and responsible non-monogamy. Responsible non-monogamy, or ethical non-monogamy for those who don’t know is where romantic partners openly practice non-monogamy (meaning sex and intimacy with other people) and they do it with honesty and integrity and within the best interest of everyone involved. And while it can be difficult to practice this, since people are complex, sex is complex, and relationships are complex, it can be done. I know many people who are successful at it, and those that are successful have to work VERY hard in order to maintain that success, so to them I say Rock the Fuck On.

That’s not to say that monogamy doesn’t present its own set of challenges. Relationships in general are challenging. But we negotiate them anyway because it’s our biological imperative.

Plus, they make us feel good.

I know a little bit about non-monogamy and open relationships. I am a polyamory consultant, I consult with people in open relationships about how to navigate them ethically and responsibly. I wrote a memoir called “Open all the way” about the open relationship I had with my now ex-husband. And for 5 years I wrote about the subject extensively, so much so that I was once referred to as the “most prolific writer on the subject of open relationships on the internet today” which sounds quite nice but probably just means that sometimes I don’t know when to shut up.

But despite my history of non-monogamy, these days I am practicing monogamy.

When I tell people I am doing monogamy they always go … WHAT? You?

Yes, me.

I get that probably most people don’t feel compelled to emphasize the fact that they are monogamous – “Hi, this is my boyfriend and we only have sex with each other”… but that’s just because, as I said, monogamy is the default structure of relationships. It’s pretty much assumed that couples that are together are monogamous. But when you have done non-monogamy for a long time, and have been quite vocal about it like I have, then the expectation gets re-set. And so it was assumed that I would continue to have open relationships. Assumed by friends, family, co-workers … and even to an extent, it was assumed by me.

This is the story of how I challenged that assumption ….

I peered at him across the table. Our waiter had brought us an offering of crostini with roasted tomatoes. He hated tomatoes, I had just learned, but he sampled it anyway, careful to contain his disdain for the texture, the taste. He looked so damned cute over there, but he felt too far from me; the table was a sea, it seemed. A long, vast expanse where too much could get lost between us, could become swallowed by waves of misunderstanding.

With my hands in my lap, fingers folded over knuckles for assurance, I pleaded with him, “Please, please don‘t assume that just because of my history with open relationships that an open relationship is something I need. Or want. I would actually do monogamy for the right person.”

I surprised myself with this announcement. I hadn’t pre-meditated this proclamation, wasn’t exactly sure where it came from; but I was certain that, regardless of its genesis, it was as true as anything I’d ever believed.

Before this date, we’d had a pre-date (you know the pre-date, the let’s meet for coffee and check each other out date?) On this pre-date we had determined that we were steadfastly in sync in important areas – like religion and politics … but here on our date-date we just had found a place of divergence. In the realm of relationships, he is traditional. And, traditionally …. I am not so traditional.

And so I felt like I was asking a lot when I pleaded with him not to make assumptions about me based upon my previous relationship history. He had not googled me (in fact, he never has.) He didn’t know much at all about what I do at BedPost Confessions. All he knew up to that point was what I had just told him – which was that I had an open marriage and wrote a book about it.

Perceptions, such as the one that I was worried he was crafting about me upon hearing this information, are difficult to break free from. And I have, quite admittedly, painted a pretty specific (and sometimes salacious) picture of myself by being so outspoken about my relationships on the interwebs. And because I wrote about open relationships I understood that I was, by default, perceived as an open relationship advocate. But I am actually not an advocate for open relationships. I am an advocate for honesty, always. And more specifically, I am an advocate for designing the relationship of your choosing – be it monogamous or non-monogamous – I advocate for people creating the relationship that is right for them and their partner (or partners) and whatever that looks like, irrespective of what anyone else expects it to look like.

So there I sat, at a table with this adorable man I had met on OK Cupid (because contrary to what seems to be another perception, I don’t get asked out very often) … and I was asking him to not make assumptions about me based upon my either my past relationship history or my present work (because I tell ya, I have said to people “I co-produce a show called BedPost Confessions where we tell sex stories on stage” and they have run away from me, literally run away from me like I had Leprocy or a Billy Ray Cryus mullet.)

Yes, I asked this man to instead craft an opinion about Sadie the person, regardless of all the sex-related stuff, but without blocking it out completely because talking frankly about sex and relationships is a part of who I am after all.

So, basically, I said, “Here, juggle all of this!”

And it is difficult to do that, isn’t it? Juggle the different pieces of who people are? When we begin to see someone we see all that they have allowed us access to. Shit like their job, their interactions with their children if they have them, their previous relationships and how they were impacted by them, we see their social skills, their bathing habits, how their parents treated them, the way they dress, what their ideals are …. the faces they make when they come if we’re lucky … and after we have viewed them for a while we discover whether or not they match us to enough of a degree that they will fit into our lives.

And ultimately it is difficult to find someone that fits snugly next to us in that way. Someone who can meet our rough edges with corresponding ones, whose intentions can’t help but smooth the contours of who we are; where we connect so viscerally, it is as if they were always there.

I was pretty damned sure that the pieces of who I was would be a difficult fit for just about anyone.

But there I sat, hopeful and pleading, as I threw my pieces out on the table between us … along with a piece I would be willing to construct – monogamy for the right person.

And the sweet, sweet man sitting across from me agreed not to make assumptions. And I imagine that took a little bit of work.

But I had some work of my own to do. I had to re-evaluate my own perceptions of monogamy, which had been adjusted to accommodate my own choice to be non-monogamous. I had lived in an open marriage. But I wrote about it in order for others to understand the concept … in the hopes that one day it will be a relationship structure that is accepted instead of condemned, or even better, celebrated as a choice arrived at by consenting people.

Condemning people for their relationship choices is so passé.

But doing non-monogamy and writing about it meant that I had to kinda rebuff the concept of monogamy as a possibility for myself.

A quick aside here — My ex and I had lots of reasons for choosing to have an open marriage – too many to go into in this context – but I will say that we designed our relationship together, the way we wanted it to be, and I take fierce pride in that. And because we did it our way, committed to its success while understanding the risks and defining our own expectations of the outcome, we bonded in ways that would not have been possible had we not taken that particular journey together. And I feel very strongly that creating our very own custom-designed relationship template served to unite us so that when it came time, we could part ways as friends. Which is what we are today.

But back to my recalibrating my attitude about monogamy – I had previously viewed monogamy as limiting. But in reconciling it (or perhaps rationalizing it to support a new choice) I saw that open relationships/responsible non-monogamy can be limiting as well, since people who are willing to engage in open relationships are a much smaller segment of the population and are often difficult to find because they are closeted (and that’s due in large part to the lack of awareness and understanding about them, and thus subsequent judgment.) And, sorry to all the poly folks out there because I know you are all spectacularly wonderful at poly, but the people who do non-monogamy really well are an even smaller segment of the sample who practice it – although this will likely change as more people open up and learn to do it ethically. Also, open relationship drama can be HIGH drama, lemme tell ya.

Yeah, you know.

And then I had to think about what monogamy is actually about.

Is monogamy about sex? Is it about commitment, about respect, about upholding a social obligation, creating emotional safety, implementing boundaries? Is it simply about making a promise not to fuck other people?

I think it is probably some or all of these depending on the couple … but ultimately it should be a choice, an honest choice – not a default choice – that feels right for both of the people involved.

And for me? If I am gonna do monogamy for the right person … the sex has gotta be really good with the potential for it to be even really gooder. Because while sex might not be the entire component of monogamy, it is a BIG piece of it.

And if I am being truthful, there at the table that night, a seascape of lonely between us, I had an inkling that this man who I had yet to even see naked might be the right person, the one for whom I’d do monogamy, which I know now is why I announced it in the first place … but I wasn’t quite ready to fully indulge that notion. It was a first date-date after all and I was busy pleading.

Even if I had known that night that he was the right person, what I could NOT have intuited was how open-minded this traditional man would be about us designing a relationship of our choosing, together, the way that works for both of us, even if it doesn’t follow the traditional long-term relationship trajectory of date, fall in love, move in, get married. That night I could not foresee how great a listener he would be, or discern the sincerity and thoughtfulness he would willingly, excitedly extend toward the people he cares about. That night I didn’t know he’d want to see Sadie the woman who sometimes feels like a little girl instead of Sadie the sex lady who stands up on stage and says cock and pussy and throws coy looks at the audience for effect.

That night I had yet to discover that navigating our many differences and divergent viewpoints would be easy peasy lemon squeezy compared to every single one of the relationships of my past.

Yep, maturity, kindness, reciprocity and the ability to not take shit personally – I would later discover – makes being in a relationship exactly what it I think it should be … fulfilling and fun. And it turns out that each of these beautiful, captivating characteristics along with my own aching, abiding intuition, is what determined that the right person had indeed, been sitting in front of me that night.

And that is when it stopped being about “me doing monogamy” and became instead a choice that we arrived at together; a place where we can both feel safe, comfortable, and stabilized inside of it.

The table between us that night might have charted my jagged relationship journey. And looking back it was a critical point, a juncture, where a decision to ride the same old wave I’d been riding just might throw me off course. It was time for me push up and over my own attitudes and limitations. And so I did. And charting a brand new passage with this man feels exactly right … right now.

And ya know, it is truly comforting to know that it’s only the two of us at the helm.

And ever since that night, whenever we go out, we sit right next to each other at the table rather than across from each other so that there is nothing between us to block our way. And so that my hand can drift up slowly, from the small of his back and up over his shoulder to find the soft place on the back of his neck, while his hand finds the place on my leg just above my knee, and together we grasp each other lightly yet securely … for safety, for comfort, and stability.

And we hold on.

Sadie Says … See Me.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013 AT 02:03 PM2 comments

“See Me” it read, once it was finished. I hated how it looked aesthetically so it later went in the garbage. The process had been the important part ….

It was a mixed media piece that I created Christmas Eve 2011, naked in the loft, candles burning a circle around me, canvas stretched out underneath my feet. Paint dripped down my leg and glue bits dotted my bangs. The cat pushed paws around ripped up pieces of printed photos – muted memories clinging to tomorrow.

I conjured up this particular desire, the desire to be seen as I worked on the painting. Not as a woman whose marriage was failing, whose Christmas Eve was the first she’d spent alone. Not as a blogger who had for years sought attention from whomever might pay it by divulging intimacies generally reserved for close friends. I wanted not to be seen for what a google search would turn up or a rushed conversation after a BedPost show might indicate about who I am … or who I am not. Perception is a squirrely area, a place within whose walls we hover with calculated trepidation. Social media asks us to present ourselves. And we do, while continuing to hide who we really are. We want to control those perceptions.

And as a woman who writes about sex, speaks about sex, produces a storytelling show about sex and sexuality, I understand that assumptions and perceptions don’t always match the person being perceived. And I have come to terms with this. Mostly. Until that Christmas Eve when the craving was white-hot and the need to be understood was deep as black night. It was so intense a desire that I mistook the advance of a lover the very next night as witness of the Sadie who is. I was certain that the many hours of sheet-swimming that had ensued meant my asking to be affirmed, seen, had been answered – and so quickly! But I was too mired in denial to be astonished at such a serendipitous Universal turnaround.

Goddamned denial.

Because, in truth, he hadn’t really seen me. No, not at all. He didn’t see the Sadie who feels so deeply that the pain often transcends the physical, leaving a cold quiet nothing in its place. Or the Sadie who cries often – because she has to – the release of it bordering on orgasmic. Or the Sadie who is still capable of feeling the sting of rejection just as she did when she was 13 and every last one of her friends ostracized her the entire summer. Or the Sadie who likes nothing more than to curl up on a comfy couch and watch really bad television with someone she loves, who likes to nap there, nuzzled in sweaty cotton and warmth. Or the Sadie who is quite afraid to go on a roller coaster but will do it anyway, just because her kid wants to. He didn’t see these pieces of me.

Because he wasn’t supposed to.

And, it seems, I didn’t know how to be seen. Until now.

Now …. I am being seen, bit by bit, piece by piece, by someone entirely new. By someone entirely different from (yet strikingly similar to) me.

By someone entirely awesome.

And even more importantly, I am seeing. Seeing him for who he is, seeing me for who I am, and seeing how we can fit together while remaining separate, individual pieces.

Because that is ultimately how we see people, isn’t it?

When we are just far enough apart to be able to look their way.

Sadie Says … Test

Wednesday, December 19, 2012 AT 06:12 PM7 comments

I know better than to make rules for myself, rules such as: No more men for a while, Sadie, while you figure out not only what you have to give, but what you need in return.

I know better than to create such restrictions. Why? Because doing so only invites a test.

And I suck at tests.

It wasn’t an hour, perhaps two at the most, that I had agreed to commit to this No More Men resolution before such a test had indeed presented itself. The test subject was cute in that approachable way, although I likely would not have even noticed him had he not noticed me. I had quietly erected blinders in order to keep any possibility at bay – effectively cock-blocking my own self. My mind had decided on going on this man-diet and my body was following dutifully along. But wouldn’t you know? It was only moments before I had begun the ardent task of removing them. All it took was a smiling voice from behind me, asking what I was drinking.

See? I really suck at tests.

But how could I resist his interest, especially given the timing? How could I resist the enthusiasm of a sweet stranger wanting to know the stories of me? How could I resist quiet contemplation? What about compliments and long stares and shared philosophies? How could I resist a lack of pretense and an eager curiosity?  Or the beautiful vulnerability of really being heard?

Being seen?

Being understood?

I could not resist. So I did not resist, even though I tried. Okay, I lied. I did not try very hard; just enough to assuage any future guilt. Just enough to reconcile my desire against my need to be true to my own word.

But, ultimately I failed the test.

Two naked bodies, one bed and zero expectations. We failed that test together, happily. Easily. Without care of the outcome. We were two people, strangers no more, pursuing the simple pleasures of the self while soothing the crooked, jagged lines of loneliness.

And since I was capable of giving that to him, and he to me, needs were met… all the way around.

Which means that maybe I passed the test after all.

Sadie Says … Memories.

Thursday, December 13, 2012 AT 09:12 AM0 comments

A life-long blessing for children is to fill them with warm memories of times together. Happy memories become treasures in the heart to pull out on the tough days of adulthood ~ Charlotte Davis Kasl

I sat down to take a brief respite from the over-stimulation of the museum. Apart from one other guest, I was the only one in there,  slowly shuffling through the galleries filled with Mexican masks, European ceramics and mid-century beaded couture. I must either walk through museums slowly – taking my time to stop and digest – or quickly, ramming it down like one might a sandwich on a quick shift break; without really thinking, without really caring.

I was on a leather bench, back straight, legs crossed, coat and scarf in my lap. I stared toward the vase that was directly in front of me, the vase that was encased in glass, the vase that was being illuminated by 100 watts of white incandescent light. What the fuck am I doing here, I thought to myself and the vase… and perhaps out loud. Not at the museum. I knew why I was there – I was there because I had learned that it was their monthly “free night” and who can say no to free art while on vacation? No, I had been in Charlotte for approximately 24 hours and I still didn’t understand why I was there. What the fuck was I doing in Charlotte, North Carolina?

What are you doing? A voice asked me then. It was the voice of the one other guest in the museum that night, the voice of a guy. His question was an appropriate and timely punctuation of my own. I told him the truth, I am wondering what I am doing here … in Charlotte, I said. He accepted my answer without hesitation. Nodded. We all consider what the fuck we are doing, even as we are doing them, don’t we? Even if it seems as if we are doing nothing at all.

I spent only five years in this town as a child, from ages 5- 10, and that was more years ago than I care to consider. Yet despite the fact that this very brief interlude (in the scheme of my life thus far) was so very long ago, I have been inexplicably pulled back here ever since. But why? I did not know. Not then.

It wasn’t until the next day, as I drove silently up the winding and tranquil roads of the Blue Ridge Mountains that I understood. Or at least decided that I understood. Charlotte (and in fact the entire North Carolina region, where my family camped and hiked and day-tripped every spring, summer and fall during that time) holds the bulk of my unspoiled and idealized memories. It is the place where the word idyllic might aptly apply. And so much that occurred in my life after that time (and perhaps even before it) is tinged with chaos and tumult; as life is. Before I traveled here to N.C. from my home in Texas, I had thought that perhaps it was here where the chaos had originated. I had thought that there might be memories locked tight, in search of discovery. And maybe there are. Probably there are. But perhaps, just perhaps … they don’t want to be revealed. Perhaps this short sliver of time cares to remain protected, pastoral … perfect.

And so it is.

I remained seated on the bench while the guy and I chatted for a few more moments, before he walked slowly away from me toward the exit of the museum. I looked past the vase and up at the ceiling and I wondered where memories go once they’ve served their purpose of reminding us where we came from. Of reminding us that at least once upon a time everything was just fine. At the exit, he turned to say that he bar-tended at a place Uptown, I really hope you will come and see me there, he said.

And then, just like everything before, he was gone.

Sadie Says… Quiet.

Monday, November 5, 2012 AT 09:11 PM3 comments

I lie in the tub, the cool air teases my nipples as they peek out of the water. The grey tabby sits on the edge, batting at the surface, lavender-scented drops move from paw to tongue. My daughter appears, sits next to me, softly recites poetry she wrote in class. I relax further into the tub. I am steeped in slippery warmth and closeness, and boundless gratitude for the simplicity I had craved for so very long.

These beautiful, stark moments of quiet I relish completely. Short days filled with tasks of my choosing, organized so that it is I who presides over its delegation. Long nights of documentaries and hot tea, an over-sized bed, alone but for the whiskered beasts that laze beside me – purring reminders that such decadence is necessary; ensures vitality. Occasional evenings with friends, where conversations are dwellings of understanding, where I discover who I am.

Today at least.

Morning workouts with no agenda.

Afternoon strolls along the blue water, remembering my youth.

A midnight guest, come for a moonlight swim in the crisp white sheets of my bed.

Work.

School runs.

Homework.

Dinner.

Dishes.

Reveling in the ordinary. Because I am tethered only to my own ordinary. It is mine to make.

As is everything else.

Sadie Says … Wings.

Thursday, September 27, 2012 AT 07:09 PM0 comments

I saw him, briefly; wings flapping, nose diving towards, it seemed, the cold blue steel of the hood. His intention was not clear. What was clear was the weight of my little car crushing his bones as I drove over him, before I even really understood what was happening. I gasped, covered my mouth. Issued a silent apology.

Had he done that on purpose? Do birds commit suicide? I asked these questions of no one.

It wasn’t until my rear-view mirror framed a somber vision of sentimentality that my eyes began to fill – the two winged friends my melancholy bird had been flying gracefully along with had circled back and stopped in front of his lifeless little body. They were watching him. Poking at him with their beaks. Exchanging glances, as if to ask of no one – What happened?

Part of me wanted to join them, to ask the same, it felt so very familiar. Grief grasped tight of my insides.

It is a question I have asked of myself and no one a thousand times in the last year – What happened? The death of my marriage and the life that accompanied it lay in bloody ruins right there in the middle of the street before me. I have no answers. Only more questions. I could analyze, certainly. And I do. But what good does that do after all is said and done? Processing the past keeps one stuck in the past. Accept and move on, I respond when the question arises for the 1001′th time. It doesn’t matter, it is over and you are alive.

And I am, after all. My grief will eventually plummet and, when the sun shines just right and my chemistry accepts the change, it will turn into gratitude. Until then I just have to wait out the weight.

Because I know that once I’m stabilized, my wings will be healed. Clipped no more.

Sadie Says … All Mine

Thursday, August 2, 2012 AT 01:08 PM6 comments

I walked into the apartment, looked around for a minute, maybe a trifle longer, and then announced - This’ll do.

I’d never, ever. Ever. EVER. In my life, in my 43-almost-44 years of living … ever made a decision about where I was going to live without consulting/consorting/conferring with someone else. And yes, by someone else I mean the Ex. And before him it was roommates. I’ve always had someone else to consider, and still do of course, because I have a daughter. But this decision? This was my decision to make.

All fucking mine.

Two bedrooms? Check.

Clean? Uh huh.

Washer and dryer? Yep.

A pool to beat this insufferable Texas heat? Yessir.

Fitness center? You betcha.

A place that I can call my own, a place that I won’t share with anyone (‘cept the kid of course, half the time) and in which I can run around naked and scream loudly like a blood-lusty vampire IT’s ALL MIIIIIIIIINNNEEE?

Checkity Fucking Check.

One night I actually did exactly that, sort of. Ran round my house at 2:00 am proclaiming to absolutely no one in particular, except for maybe myself and my cats, that it was finally ME time! Time to do whatever I wanted! My time! Time to do whatever my little Vampira heart desired. So ya know what I did? I ate cheetos in bed and watched the Tudors until my Tylenol PM kicked in, whereby I proceeded to slumber, wholly uninterrupted, until almost 1:00 the next day. Yes … decadence often comes wrapped in packages that may appear rather humdrum to the casual observer. Cheetos and sleep as the definition of decadence? Really? Yes!

Sometimes sticky orange fingers and non-bleary eyeballs are the stuff of which personal victory is determined.

The need to find an apartment appeared on the heels of this announcement by the Ex – We must sell the house.

Well, fuck, was my first thought. Then it quickly turned into acceptance – Okay.

He’s right of course. It’s too much house for just me, the kid and the cats. But it was my house and dammit, I’ve enjoyed living here. But divorce means division of assets (and Cheetos in bed, apparently) and the time has come that we split this one into two remnants and leave the memories that accompany it where they belong – in the past. I will miss it here. There has been a lot of history made in the 3.5 years I have inhabited this home. This is where I quit drinking, where I finished writing my book, and where our daughter has grown so into her own that she is barely recognizable to me (who are you, kid?)

It’s where I have entertained a few lovers. Where my ex did did, too.

This house is where I said, “I will love you forever” as well as, “I want a divorce.”

Yep, inside of these walls is where all began to delicately dissolve between us – where we witnessed the beginning of the end, where we followed its path with purposeful yet frightened fingers until we reached its crucial and inevitable pivot point. We’ve gone as far as we could go – this house bearing witness all the way.

So, we will sell and then I will move – break free from the confines of the past and eliminate the burden of this 2,300 square feet enslavement to it which also continues to connect me to the Ex. I shall soon have my very own place, where I will swim in the pool, run around naked and perhaps even create new relationships – while relishing my independence and freedom.

And yes … how it will play out remains to be seen. But one thing’s for certain -

It will be mine.

All mine.

Sadie Says… Make Some Noise

Wednesday, July 25, 2012 AT 05:07 PM4 comments

Don’t let anyone tell you that you’re not strong enough

Don’t give up

There’s nothing wrong with just being yourself

That’s more than enough

So come on and raise your voice

Speak your mind

make some noise

And sing – Hey! Hey! Make some noise

Use your voice. Make some noise

So in case you couldn’t tell, that was a song lyric. Not a terribly sophisticated song lyric but a song lyric nonetheless. But it’s a pop song that is sung by a chick whose audience is primarily teens and tweens, so there you go. And yes, it does sound somewhat trite. But its context has, I believe, some intrinsic social value. The message in this lyric is, to me anyway – Don’t be afraid to stand up for what you believe in” and its directive is, essentially this –  “Be vocal about what you believe in as you cultivate authenticity within yourself and extrapolate sources of meaning as to why you are who you are while intently searching for fundamental links between yourself and others as you remain loyally committed to your core beliefs, and develop your individuality, as you pursue social harmony devoid of intolerance.

But that’s not as easy to sing along to as “Hey, hey. Use your voice, Make some noise.”

It just doesn’t have quite the same ring.

Do you recognize these lyrics?  Well… I would forgive you if not. It is from a song that was recorded by Disney’s Hanna Montana.

Miley Cyrus, who once played Hanna Montana, has caused a bit of ruckus lately because she is 19 and recently engaged. The media uproar to her engagement is compounded by the fact that Miley succumbed to that inevitable post-pubescent biological imperative … she had the audacity to grow up and grow into her sexuality.

How dare she?

Miley’s influence on her impressionable demographic – the tween set – has been called into question by the conservative media. How can she possibly continue to be a role model in her current manifestation as a pole dancing, pot smoking, cleavage-baring slut?

When she recorded the song whose lyrics I just quoted, which is called Make Some Noise, she was but a tween herself, and no doubt had to grapple with many of the same issues that other tweens contend with. Having to find the answer to questions like –

  • How to get lip-gloss to stay on until at least third period.
  • And what the hell do I do now that I have …. My period?
  • And what color to paint the dollhouse.
  • And whose house will I live in after my parents split up?
  • Or what to be for Halloween.
  • And how do I learn to be comfortable inside my own skin?

And I discovered that some of Miley’s music, as poppy and prosaic as it appeared on the very slick and stylized surface of it, actually reflected some social issues.

Whether or not Miley is or was a role model is not an assumption I care to challenge, but I will say that her music has had some personal influence.

By the way, this story is not about Miley Cyrus ….

I was deluged by the tween torrent that is Hannah Montana exactly the way any woman is – I have a daughter. And for the better part of her 7th year, my daughter was positively obsessed with Hanna Montana. We’d get in the car – What do you want to listen to baby? I’d ask. Hanna Montana! she’d announce. We listened to her music constantly in the car, at home, and as such, I learned all her songs. We sang them together as we drove around town or made dinner. She had Hanna Montana dolls. Hanna Montana Hairpieces. Hanna Montana lunchboxes and backpacks and notebooks. Pajamas.

On my daughter’s birthday I created a large framed picture of the lyrics to the song and presented it to her, regally in fact … as if she were my queen and it was The Sovereign’s Sceptre. I might have even kneeled and bowed before her with it –

For your majesty.

And I even signed up for guitar lessons with the express purpose of learning this song so that I could sing it with her. Yeah, I was a little obsessed too.

Here’s a little back-story – My daughter was once painfully shy. She couldn’t talk on the phone to relatives, she was unable to place an order with a waiter at a restaurant, she had difficulty just making eye contact with anyone in a presumed position of power outside of her immediate sphere – which meant most anyone over four feet tall was deemed threatening. But, despite this shyness, from a parenting perspective, she was an easy kid. She still is. She’s laid back, super sensitive yet strong willed, whip-smart, and extremely creative. She also is very tuned in to others, feels what they feel – empathic to her very core.

In addition to her shyness, when she was little she had a very difficult time expressing herself with words – when she became overwhelmed, she’d clam up; she wouldn’t cry but she couldn’t say how she felt. So whenever that happened (and anyone who has kids knows how much inner turmoil they contend with) I could practically see the disturbance inside of her, whirling around with no outlet, no avenue for expression, no container in which to put it. When she was five or six, I gave her a sketch-pad that I told her was to be her “Feeling Book.” In it she could draw pictures or whatever she wanted to – a place to safely express her emotions. And she did. She filled it up with pictures of butterflies and wind blown flowers when she was happy, and fire breathing dragons and big grey scratchy monsters when she wasn’t. She wrote poems and songs, and drew self-portraits that had big bulbous speech bubbles hovering above, filled with sentiments like,

 “I’m angry but why?”

and

“I don’t like feeling sad”

And since then, I’ve witnessed some steadily dramatic shifts inside of her. Slowly she’s opened up, and as she has she has started speaking up.

She has learned to use her voice.

So, while she once had difficulty looking authority in the eye, now she challenges it. And she doesn’t accept complex concepts at face value. She asks questions, and more questions and then she comes to her own conclusions … and she is vocal about what she believes to be true.

So I guess that Hannah and I did a pretty decent job? Because even if it might take her a few minutes to feel comfortable doing so, my daughter will almost always speak up and speak her mind.

And she has a lot on her mind these days – she is having to confront that inevitable shift from childhood into womanhood and the change which accompanies it – periods. And she has had to adjust to the divorce of her parents and having her home be divided into two separate places.

But she’s still just a kid, she turned twelve last week and since it’s summer, everything is really good in her world; or, according to her, it’s majestic. Majestic is, apparently, the descriptor that is replacing awesome; at least in her circle of friends.

Like, OMG, This donut is Majestic, mom.

And,  Gah, I really I loved that movie, it was so sweet. Totes majestic!

About a month ago, she came to me intent upon speaking her mind. I could tell by the way she tapped her fingers along her thigh that it was …. important. And it was. It was so important, in fact, that she temporarily tabled the label majestic.

Mom? I have something to tell you.

She stared at me for just a moment and then sat down on the couch, back straight, hands on knees. I fell in beside her, kinda casually, attempting to announce with my relaxed demeanor that she could be easy with me back. Our legs were touching, and I could tell she was slightly nervous; and because she’s my little girl and I pretty much feel what she is feeling, I began to get a little nervous too. In fact, the entire room began to feel rather weighted with a dark forboding; my overactive mother-mind’s almanac flipped quickly through its vast index of alarmingly fatalistic stories while she just sat there staring ahead, eyes wide, unable to speak. The longer she took to reveal what it was she had to say, the more I thought I might jump right out of my fucking skin.

But I didn’t. Instead, I rubbed her hand, then her arm. Kissed her head, reassured her that she could tell me anything. Anything at all. I resisted the natural urge to pull her into my lap and rock her. It’s good, though, that I didn’t, because I think that she needed to stay disconnected from me so that she could have a place to reach towards.

I love you, I said. I know, she replied softly.

Then, after a moment, she found her words ….

“Okay, (exhale) …. I’m bisexual.”

I just looked at my sweet, darling daughter and, after exhaling a MAJESTIC sigh of relief at this news that was nowhere close to fatalistic, I said

“Goddam, I love you so much! I know that was hard to say. How do you feel?”

“I feel really good!” And she did, I could tell. She was glowing.

And so we sat and talked. I asked her if there were any particular circumstances that lead to her identifying as bi and she told me that she had been having some strong erotic feelings towards a girl at school. I remember being her age and feeling the very same way about a girl at my school. But I didn’t have either the language or the self-awareness to identify myself as bisexual – which, honestly, would have helped me navigate my own erotic feelings so much better. I was convinced that I was some sort of freak because I felt the exact same way for both Jackie and Craig. I wanted to sneak them both into the art closet and get busy among the tempera paints and the butcher paper. But I was ashamed of this desire, simply because I didn’t know not to be. But my daughter, at twelve years old, knew better than I had at her age. And because she knew better, she had successfully bypassed this torturous self-condemnation … by coming out and coming into herself all at once. And this filled me with such transcendent joy that, as I was writing this story, I was totally unable to string together a sentence that could accurately describe it.

Believe me, I tried. Respect, Fulfillment, and Peace are all words that I might have used, though. And words like Adulation. Adoration. Shiny. Reverence.

And maybe even majestic.

Later on that night when I tucked her in bed I asked her if she thought I’d be angry at her, or love her less, or react otherwise negatively. She said – “Nah, I know what you’re about mom…” and then she continued, “But isn’t it really awful that there are parents who don’t accept their children’s sexuality? I’d like to see that change.”

And there they were …. The tiny buds of activism beginning to bloom inside the residence of her 12 year-old psyche.

Now that was majestic.

Throughout the following weeks my daughter periodically asked me things pertaining to my bisexuality (she’s known for a very long time that I am bi) –

Does your mother know you are bisexual, mom?

Yep, she sure does.

Do you talk about it?

Yes, sometimes we do. But not very often.

What about your dad, does he know?

No, I don’t think so. If he did, we definitely wouldn’t talk about it.

She got pretty clear on why he and I wouldn’t discuss my sexual identity, as we were leaving a restaurant with him recently. It was mid-afternoon in Dallas, concrete-jungle, hot as hell outside. My dad asked her if she had a boyfriend. No, she replied readily, while looking at me for moral support. I reminded my dad that she goes to an all-girls school and so she doesn’t see boys very often.

This news registered and then tripped one of my dad’s circuit breakers, his wiring can be dodgy sometimes – Oh, right. That school goes through high school, doesn’t it? Well, I hope that doesn’t mean that you are going to have … girlfriends. And then he said, as if to affirm his stance … Nah, you wouldn’t do that.

Yeah.

I looked at my kid, suddenly feeling extremely protective … I put my arm around her neck and pulled her in to me, and we walked through the warm Texas air that had begun to feel much hotter at the sudden confrontation with my own father’s passive aggressive intolerance.

We had both, she and I – in an instant – lost our voices.

And there are other people, open-minded, forward thinking people that I have told about this who have exhibited their own brand of … not necessarily intolerance …. but ignorance.

With this question – Well, how can she know she’s bisexual at her age?

I think this question stems from the inability for to people to grasp the fact that children are sexual creatures. Which I don’t get. Weren’t we all kids once? I know I was horny all the time when I was her age. Kids are little bubbling cauldrons of sexuality; completely capable of having erotic feelings and sexual desires for other people. They can even have orgasms.

Hmmm, maybe I shouldn’t say that out loud. We wouldn’t want anyone to know.

But my answer to that question, how does she know that she is bisexual, is this -

She knows she is bisexual the same way you knew you were heterosexual when you were 12 years-old.

But that is easy for a straight person to know, because heterosexuality is (according to some feminist theory) the default sexual identity. We have been cultured to possess ingrained assumptions that we are all straight until those of us who aren’t “figure it out”.

Which is, in my opinion, bullshit. We are who we are, regardless of whether or not we’ve acknowledged it. What we have to “figure out” is how to navigate the cultural minefields of ignorance and shame and determine how to speak up about who we are – how to speak up to ourselves and how to speak up to others. One day my daughter will be able to speak up to my father.

One day maybe I will too.

Back when I was12 years old and I fantasized about kissing Jackie in the art closet? I was bi then. But it wasn’t until I was 18 and in college watching Patrice Pike play that I finally started to pay attention to the twinge in my cunt when she sang and I finally acknowledged the urge to introduce my tongue to the side of her neck after I’d thrown her up against a bathroom stall (apparently I have a kink for confined spaces) … it was then that I could accurately identify as bisexual. But it took me that long to reconcile these embedded expectation of straightness against my natural inclination to desire both boys and girls. It wasn’t a phase. And it wasn’t a stopover on the way to being all the way gay like it may be for some.

But who knows if it is a phase or a sexual identity waystation for my daughter (as Dan Savage suggests it may be.) Only she will know the answer to that, and the truth is that it doesn’t really matter so much.

What matters is that my child has the audacity to grow up and grow into her sexuality. And that she is strong enough, at twelve, to be simply, herself.

And I have to say, I can hear her voice right this very minute …  she knew I was going to be telling you this story and she wanted to make sure that I let you know that while Miley Cyrus’ music was fun back then when she was young … she’s totes outgrown her now.

Now she’s obsessed with majestic music of the band Gorillaz, and their animated characters; specifically Noodle, the badass tomboy guitar player with the cyborg clone.

Yep, my little girl is growing up.

Time to make some noise.

 

 

 

 

 

 

She says I migrate towards younger men because I have a “youthful spirit”. I think it’s because -on some subconscious level that is beginning to beckon my recognition- I desire to re-live the days when I was younger; impetuous and insatiable … in all things.

Good therapists, like mine, will oblige us these affirmations, won’t they? The truth is though, that I honestly don’t feel 43, whatever 43 is meant to feel like, anyway. I remember feeling much older back when I was in my 20’s, and I hear my younger friends echo that sentiment regularly – I am only 25 and I feel like an old woman/man. Well, that’s because twenties are the gateway to adulthood, darlin’, and all that such passage entails – supporting oneself financially and emotionally for perhaps the first time ever, negotiating intense relationships that have the potential to be long-term, and finally coming to the deep understanding that life is hard – its difficulty existing on that vast and overwhelming continuum. Learning to operate within the knowledge of that is damned exhausting. I was tired all the time back then. Now I know that being knocked down just means I have to get my ass back up again. And I know that relationships won’t last forever like we think they will.

My divorce was final last Wednesday, and if you follow my Facebook news feed you might have seen my posts regarding it. I surprised myself by publicizing it the way I did, I tend to keep such personal announcements personal – well, until here, of course, where I might air grievances and personal narratives like cool-crisp, lily-white sheets on a breezy spring afternoon.  Seeing just what my friends had for breakfast never really trips even the quiet recesses of my brain’s pleasure center, but one of my most recent posts is of a pic of a cup of fucking coffee. I am certain that the number of “likes” I receive at my divorce status updates have little to do with the fact that my friends are happy for the shift in my relationship’s status as it is a reflection of whose offering a show of support for me and my situation. Which is pretty cool to know.

The ex and I had been sitting in the courtroom for a little less than an hour last Wednesday. It was hot and muggy in there, our knees were touching. I was texting with a cute (young) guy from Houston who was coming in that evening and wondered if I was available. I happened to be. We made plans for his arrival – he with a mere 26 years behind him and I with my youthful spirit.

Periodically the ex and I would speak to each other as we sat and waited. The mood was jovial considering the circumstances and at one point he asked me in a whisper if I thought the judge would mind if he read the declaration – the standard announcement of a divorce hearing, about the marriage being irreconcilable and whatnot – in a deep-woods Southern accent. I thought it would be funny. And apt. The ex’s strongest suit is his wit, and was what connected us even in our most vast instances of disconnect. When it was our turn to approach the bench, second to last as it turned out, he began to do just that, beginning with “Your honor, this marriage…” and continuing into unrecognizable sentences until the two of us were hunched over in laughter. “I usually see people crying in front of me” she said with a sideways grin, “How refreshing this is.” And it was. Truly. Not only for her but for us, too. Well, for me at least.

And when we were done, we had celebratory drinks at a local coffee shop near my house, and afterwards I went to the gym and worked all the sadness out of my bones, poured it like liquid concrete; a psychic cast of past. And then that night I had my date with the 26 year-old.

And it is true I have a youthful spirit, yes. And yes, the idea of beginning my life after divorce in bed with a man the age I was before I got married rings very reminiscent of someone attempting to re-live her past. But I am fairly certain, as certain as one can be in such instances, that my past will remain just that, and that whatever the rest of my life holds for me will be relished with the wisdom of a woman of my years and the energy and enthusiasm of … someone younger.

But not too.

I’m off to a good start …