Archive for the ‘memories’ Category
Boston had a historic storm yesterday* and I got to practice my emergency preparedness. How prepared am I? Very. I didn’t have to buy anything (I did end up buying icecream and steak, but had enough other food that this was entirely frivolous). We had enough flashlights, batteries, candles, blankets, medical supplies, water storage devices, food, and books to be snowed in with no power for several days before needing to do something about it. In short: this is a test, this is only a test.
But I forgot one thing – you need to put the snow somewhere. In my head when you shovel it, it just…dissipates. In reality, when you shovel it, you make big piles somewhere. So when the neighborhood kid came to clear the drive with his father’s snow blower his first question, pointing at a nearby pile of snow, was “put it here?” What would we do without the neighborhood kid is unclear, but please be reminded that community networks are a high predictor of survival during an emergency.
In other life updates, I’ve been thinking a lot recently about my early 20s. This is generous, I’ve been missing the wild wild west days of my early 20s and finding myself eerily envious of college co-ed in the local café. This is perhaps entirely predictable as my real life is, well, in exactly the kind of settling down trajectory I imagined I wanted a couple of years ago.
I remember in the midst of a particularly challenging alternative poly arrangement talking to my metamour and saying something to the effect of “I don’t know! I think I just want, you know, the status quo. Like I want a nice house with a big kitchen and dinner parties with other couples!”
Well, I have a very nice kitchen, I have had several dinner parties since moving in, and I have a partner whom my family seems to adore. My grandmother called me to say that she and my mother liked how he looked at me. I have had to sadly inform my buyer’s agent that this nice young man has put a wrench in my tiny condo for one plan and would she please send me 2 bedroom condo listings in my area.
All this to say the universe gave me what I asked for, and I am, predictably, freaking out. In an effort to remind myself that I did not “miss” my early 20s but actually enjoyed them fully, I thought I’d make a list of highlights. This is what I did with my early 20s:
· Lived in Thailand for a year
· Had two book chapters published
· Moved to San Francisco with no job and no place to live
· Went to grad school and spent three years having a loose schedule that allowed for spending my days in coffee shops
· Organized an alternative sexuality unconference in a hacker space
· Dated two people long distance and clocked more than two-dozen flights in one calendar year.
· Dated two other people in a completely serious could have gotten married but was too young to know what hit me way. (And learned a lot.)
· Went to Morocco alone and had to hire a chaperone
· Went to Israel, Spain, Italy, and France mostly alone and did not have to hire a chaperone
· Learned how to rent an apartment. Pro-tip: you need a check book
· Had a handful of weird quirky jobs and then landed in my real life grownup career job
* Note: I wrote this post after a storm 2 weeks ago, but I guess we’re getting another one now so it’ll still be relevant, right? 🙂
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.
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 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.
A little more than a year ago, I was sitting in a beer garden with some friends, a couple of people I was dating at the time, and maybe even some new kids I didn’t know well, and we were talking about, academically, marginalized youth. Actually we were talking about traveler kids, punks, and different ways of being poor or in poverty. And what it meant to be “in” with an out group.
Someone mentioned facial tattoos. In the early days of punk rock, when things were more radical, and probably still today for people who are much more radical than I will ever hope to be, a facial tattoo was a way of affirming one’s commitment to the edge. You have not only opted out of the status quo, but you have effectively shut the door on ever being able to access it again. This made sense. In fact, I had always wanted a facial piercing, but hadn’t gotten one because I had also wanted a job.
The day after that though, I was in the bathroom, looking in the mirror, and I realized I had reached a point in my career where no one will ever question my competence or right to be there based on a facial piercing. So I got my eyebrow pierced. I joked that it was my job security piercing and I adored the cross-signals it was sending.
Unfortunately, today I had it checked out, and sure enough it is growing out. Eyebrows are surface piercings so this is not entirely unexpected. I can re-pierce it after a few months if I’d like, but before I leave the west coast – and my piercer – I have to get it removed. I’ll miss my little symbol of not-belonging. For both reasons actually: as a celebration of my career and as visible deviance. For now I’m thinking about what role this little bit of surgical steel plays in my identity.
I’m also thinking about what it might feel like to be so sure of a thing, so passionate and committed to it, so as to close the door on all the comforts and privileges of a past life.
Be kind. Be kind to yourselves and to each other because there are plenty of people who will be unkind. Spend that extra afternoon with a friend who has had a hard year. Listen. Listen past people’s anger and find the root of their pain and then find compassion for that. Or if their anger upsets you, walk away. Know that their anger isn’t about you, it lives entirely within them as your anger lives within you.
Most of all, have compassion for yourself and know that there will be better days.
And if this hippie massive contributed to your feelings of depression, email me, I will make you cookies :-p
They say your 30s is when you do your 20s right. I think they’re right, either that or your 30s is a magical space where due to a confluence of personal development and societal shift you end up with many of the benefits of adulthood (independence, financial stability, autonomy) without all of the responsibilities of family life/children/mortgage debt/etc. Of course I live in a bubble, many people have debt and children by age 30, but this blogpost happens to be about me.
So, 30s. Actually late 20s, not late as in my 3rd annual 29th birthday party, but late as in yeah, I can see why some would do that.
Something happened in the last few months. It’s been building for years, I remember 3 years ago I was at a party in my hometown talking to someone I’d known since college “you’re different,” he stated…I remember it was a matter of fact statement. “How?” “You’re confident.”
Confidence is the thing that happened. In a multitude of little ways I grew into my own skin. It’s taken years (almost 30 of them) but the last few months have felt like a toggle. As though someone came by and turned off the sense of urgency switch in my brain.
I don’t even know how to explain it, it’s as though nothing is an emergency anymore. I think I noticed the change in May, about a month after I’d gone through a breakup that made me sad and had the usual stages of grief but ultimately just wasn’t an emergency. It wasn’t a testament to my being unlovable or not pretty enough, it didn’t mean I was bad at being a partner, it just meant this wasn’t the right relationship for us right now, so it was sad but also right.
And then my best friend and I had some really really freaking personal conversations. Good but hard ones, and you know, in the past I’d expect to be worried and pining and really adrenalized over this. But I wasn’t. In fact I remember telling another friend about it and adding that I’ll just wait 6 months and probably it would have sorted itself out by then.
I sent my best friend a note letting him know I was gonna take some space after that talk, probably 3 or 4 days but that we’re fine. He replied asking me to promise that we’re still close, which I did with no reservations. All in all, it was the most rational “where is this relationship going” conversation I’d ever experienced. What made it rational wasn’t facts and figures, it was that I had the utmost confidence in him, in myself, and in our friendship. We can do hard things without being threatened because we earned that individually and through the relationship we built.
Also: knowing what I want and being in it for the long haul, if its not confidence that’s new then it must be this. I don’t know how I know, I just know. And I am also shockingly comfortable with the idea that something new and unexpected might come along and be right. I know that I have location crushes all the time (in the last 18 months I’ve considered living in Seattle, Munich, and New Mexico) but more importantly, I also know that I actually only want to live in Boston and San Francisco. I know that while its really inconvenient as a requirement, submission is something I want in a partner, and I know that there’s a bunch of other stuff I just don’t care about (we have to only eat vegetarian kosher food in the house which is btw located in Munich, ok, we can figure it out). I want what happens when you build something with care and intention. I want the community that’s about the barns you raise. Just because you want something to grow organically, and I’m sometimes a fan of this, doesn’t mean you shouldn’t, y’know, water it.
I said earlier that my best friend and I earned the right to do hard shit without feeling threatened, that’s what in it for the long haul looks like to me – we spent enough time making space for each other, showing up with soup, learning when to press a point and when to say “I’d rather like you than win this argument,” that when shit happens, real shit we actually have to talk about, we trust each other. And we know how to talk to each other. I used to tell people to practice communicating about sex early and often because when you have a hiccup is not when you want to have to learn how to communicate too; this is equally true for platonic relationships.
So anyway, it’s been a trip and I’m excited to see what’s around the corner. In the mean time, I hope this trend continues and I’d like to get better at being present, letting the future evolve without too much worry in its direction, and rewriting my first response to frustrating situations to be empathy not anger.