I went to yoga tonight and we were in lunges, bending into our front knees, figuring out where our stomachs and pelvises were, raising hands over head, pushing shoulders down, opening heart – “Stable core, vulnerable heart.” Basic, physical advice on holding the pose and not falling over and also the biggest coolest thing I learned about myself over the years.
I used to think that lovingkindness had a lot in common with doormat. You can see how I’d make the mistake, what with talk of forgiving and letting go. I had a yoga teacher in 2006 who told me if enlightenment was what I’d described it as – people wandering about unattached to anything or anyone, unwilling to stand up for themselves or have their needs met – we’d have enlightenment wards in the hospitals.
No, it turns out lovingkindness, vulnerability, whatever you want to call it, is something I find at the end of a lot of work. It’s something I’m still easily knocked out of, if I’m scared for example, or stressed, I have to remind myself and sometimes I forget to remind myself :-) But it turns out that vulnerability is actually born out of learning how to create safe, stable, sustainable core spaces in my life. It’s not in lieu of having my needs met, it’s not about putting other people’s needs first, it’s about feeling grounded enough that if I swap someone else into the center of my universe it doesn’t negate my feelings or remove my ability to have my needs met.
Maybe it’s a type of feeling whole. I don’t know. It feels really new still…like when you almost but not quite yet understand a math problem.
It’s about this post by Timoni about her love for the Internet, which I read in the same week as Dangerous Lilly’s post about the history of sex blogs. It’s about my worlds colliding, and “I was there” meeting “what happens next?” It’s about missing San Francisco so bad that it hurts. Physically. But leaving still being the right thing in that moment in time.
It’s about that moment, in 2008, when someone I knew from the Internet met me in person and took me to Google – the physical place that provides the infrastructure for our most random questions. I loved that moment. I still love it because it made the Internet real and physical.
I treasure it like my memories of smothering the dial-up modem under a pillow so I could get online in the middle of the night without waking my parents. As an adult I find it a little funny that the incredible power of the Internet was so very lost on me. I took for granted talking to people on the other side of the world, it just seemed normal. Of course it did, right? I didn’t have a before time. I just had the beeping of the dial-up and ways to get around it.
But what does happen next? This blog, this experience, maybe even this format – it’s played out. I’ve learned so much from it, but it’s not what I’m passionate about anymore. I want to spend my time learning about how better understanding the data we generate can teach us about ourselves, unlock hidden patterns, and allow us to make conscious decisions about privacy and sharing. I’m not sure where that happens, but I don’t think it happens here.
So goodbye for now. Thanks for reading, responding, engaging, and letting me be a part of it. I will miss you with the same longing as I miss sipping Blue Bottle on the Embarcadero, but I am very excited about what’s to come.
I haven’t written in a really long time, I think because I’ve had a hard time untangling where to start and where to go from there.
I’m thinking about game theory and the underpinnings of trust and generosity. I’m slogging through Buy vs Rent math and realizing that in my indecision I am doing both the work of finding a condo and that of finding an apartment. I’m having a house warming for the house I’ll be moving out of shortly…because if life has taught me one thing it’s that everything is sufficiently unpredictable that the perfect time will not come.
But I had some thoughts on trust, which are that building trust is fundamentally about taking a risk and waiting. On the company or community scale it’s about giving users something of value and not asking for a lot back right away, and on a company scale that’s just dandy. But on an individual scale it gets hard, in order to trust you have to get some goodies, have a nice experience of that, have that be reliable in some fashion, and then, ok, you’ll trust the other person. But to be trusted you have to blindly give others goodies (stuff, snacks, time, attention, etc) ask for nothing back, and after a while they’ll trust you.
Somehow, despite sounding like opposite processes, people manage to trust and be trusted all the time. And often it just works. Magic. So I’ve been thinking about that, and about how to be open and giving without being a doormat and what the context for all this looks like.
And then spring sprang.
I walked out of my house one morning and it was in the 50s and sunny. And suddenly my entire experience of San Francisco made sense. I was happy. I trusted the universe and I believed, from the bottom of my heart, that people are good and that an app could change the world. I was in love with everything around me. Things started to click into place. I stopped to ask myself, “why am I struggling?”
People talk about leaning in, or the wisdom of no escape, but what I really want to talk about is intentionality. If I am doing something I want to do it fully, deeply, and honestly. I don’t want to compromise. I can embrace what the universe offers, and approach it with curiosity and openness, or I can go do something else entirely. But I don’t get to stay and struggle. I don’t get to “put up with” or “make do.” That’s not the life I’m going for and that’s not fair to the beautiful, amazing people who share this world with me.
Every time I see “you’re not queer enough” or “you’re not kinky enough” all I want to is put up another sign on my proverbial front lawn that says “have the sex you want, with the people you love, and if you have the energy create the space for others to do the same.”
Sometimes I also want to stand on my front lawn and scream “who the hell cares!” But I don’t, because sex is actually really important. And group belonging can be very important. So this whole thing breaks my heart from all directions. And then I remember that time a friend and I had an argument about it, and he was sitting on the stairs later, trying to pacify me I think, and he says “it’s bad for everyone but for some people the good outweighs the bad.” And that’s true, but what he missed was that my heart broke in that moment. Sex is powerful and intimate and beautiful. It has the power to connect us and make use feel whole. People risk beating and jail time for the right to have sex they want with the people they love. And you want to take this precious, beautiful thing and put it in a place that’s “bad for everyone”? No. We can do better.
That friend was defending the BDSM scene. But then I see people who realize that the BDSM scene is sorta a cult of personality, or it’s broken in some way. Specifically it’s broken in that it hides abuse and puts itself out there as the only place to have safe kinky sex at the same time. So people try to break away from that, but then they police their new borders even more thoroughly. It’s the lavender menace all over again.
So I guess what I really want to say is that people have been trying to tell others how to have sex for 5000 years. Just because they are a leather title holder or they are a radical anti-bdsm queer fairy, doesn’t give them any more say-so about what you and your partner do wherever you do it.
Another friend told me a while back that “there is no such thing as radical sex.” You can work for cultural change, you can try to change social views such that everyone feels accepted and open about their sexuality. You can work to educate people about consent and change the frameworks we use to talk about it. But when the bedroom door closes, whatever you do, it’s about you and the person or people you’re with, and it’s normal and perfect.
I’m thinking about the ways I’ve changed, and the things I notice now too. Yesterday I went to a small experimental electronica dance party – it was lovely and perfect. Hope you all are having a good weekend :)
“I want to be whatever you need me to be.” I ground myself in this thought, allow it to shape my approach to you. Wait for whatever subliminal cues I create from this to form. Wait for you to read them in my body. I know how you like to have sex, I am waiting to see if you tell me again. If you will own your secrets and let me give your fantasies to you. Do you trust me?
I want to curate the things you thought were hard to find, and lay them out before you. I don’t really care what those things are, I’m just here to facilitate. Believe it or not, that turns me on.
It used to be confusing as well – you, in this scenario are usually submissive. The things you want – painful, embarrassing, perhaps unfair. For the casual observer, I am taking, not facilitating. I get off on taking too, but that is different. This is about creating the space you thought could not exist. This is my healer mood.
I’m shy about it, because the healer requires hurt to exist.
I watch him watching him tie her up. We are talking, I think, about marketing. He isn’t making eye contact with me, he is watching a scene he wishes he was a part of. I am bored.
I didn’t expect to be bored. Having resurfaced the healer, used her to find what’s core to the sex I enjoy, I was hoping to keep that energy. To roll this thing that was going well forward, and use it to spark something fun. I thought perhaps this wouldn’t work and I would find the event as a whole deeply upsetting. This too didn’t happen. I am simply bored. The kind of bored that sometimes happens at cocktail parties organized by professional conferences. After you’ve caught up with your colleagues, said appreciative things to the day’s speakers, and had a pleasant chat about Big Data with…someone. You just look around, drink in hand, and wonder “would anyone notice if I slip out to watch a bit of porn in the hotel room?”
I ask myself if I would like to have a sexual experience with someone in this space. Perhaps the young man who works in publishing. Or the other gentleman who did make eye contact while discussing ad placement. I don’t. I don’t in this space. This space is not designed to support the way I want to have sex. This is fine, it is designed to support that way people who like to have public sex like to have sex.
I want to have sex with you, with the scary secret parts of you, behind closed doors. I want to create the space we inhabit with intentionality and purpose.
I’m not sure what to do with this space, so I prepare to leave. I run into people whose company I would enjoy over a beer in some other context. I look for a diplomatic way to answer “will you be here tomorrow,” realizing eventually that those asking don’t much care – I can just smile, say “maybe,” and move on.
The next day I buy myself a fancy coffee and wonder as to what sexuality and sensuality look like in private, away from those public sex spaces I’ve been taught to think of as the pinnacle of sexual empowerment.
I suspect you’ll be able to read it on my body.
I wrote a ton about suicide, but I put it all in a notebook I can’t find because I moved cross country. The piece I remember best is this idea of concentric circles of grief. I did not get to mourn, in a direct sorta way, for Conor. I got to hold his daughter and wash dishes for the person who was not washing dishes because she was talking to his widow. And because I was washing dishes for the person who was talking to his widow my friends finished my packing for me, and so it went in ever expanding circles of impact. I held the people I love. The person I was most worried for called me and we sat on the phone silent, him in Philadelphia and me in Maui, unsure if the other knew, not wanting to be the first to say.
Someone wrote a behind the scenes piece about how depression is a disease and most of us aren’t doctors, which I read, and reread, and watched my friends read. We shared lists of mental health resources with the people who were left who probably weren’t the people who needed them. I tried, and probably failed, to not ask personal questions – tried to give Conor and his family the privacy and dignity they deserve. I thanked the person who came over when I was at my lowest, and reflected on how very lucky I was to pull out from depression. I had a fight with an ex about the nature of suicide and how I relate to it. I had a fight with an ex who thought I was wishing it away, when I was, sadly, preparing for it to happen again.
I moved my stuff, and carried boxes, and rebuilt furniture, and missed – and still miss – my tribe.