Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Day Seven: Fumbling

I breakfast with Beautiful Girl, two days in a row. Sunshine, patio, internet, business, boyfriends. She knows me. She knows nearly everything. I have written her paeans, she has been my favorite girl to flirt with.

The flirting is gone - we are deeper friends than ever, we can say anything, but we no longer say that. Perhaps it's the way I've shrunk while she's expanded. Maybe it's that we're both wrapped up in Boy Troubles. Maybe it's that I can barely juggle whoring and wifing and dying inside a little every day, let alone adding another orange to the pattern. Mill's Mess, indeed.

The first day, I realize, she is right. I should be moving on. The second day, she sits across from the table and sends me this. Yes. That is how I feel.

I speak to Be-My-Real-Friend. I wonder if he feels left out, that I haven't written yet about our last time together. It's on a napkin, it's in the notebook. Many things are in the notebook. Big City Lover - an hour's pleasure. A musician and a video chat (he's emailed twice, just the sort of thing that makes my ego beat a little faster, I cannot bring myself to answer). Folk Rocker and the writing block and how it passed.

And I lie next to my husband, ostensibly napping, and I wake weeping because I realize this is it, it's not fun any more. Writing isn't fun any more. Whoring isn't fun any more. Fucking isn't fun any more. Even the challenge of thirty days has been mired in work, work, work - it's been 21 days without a day off, 21 days of bed after dawn, wake before noon, manage and boss and lead and take on one more job because running and bossing and struggling and resenting the load are all better than thinking or feeling.

The blog is in its throes. I've no call to write the bits of flesh rubbing together that make everyone happy, give us all a wank. It's tripping sadly down the path of the lame little diary, whining about my life, come and share the pit with me, I can't get out.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Day Six: Small Comforts

Free-associating. Late.

And Power Girl is out dancing at a dive bar (In the car: "Now, what do you do, Third Friend, if someone asks to buy you a drink?" "I giggle and say nothing!" "No, you ask for something nice and give it to me if you don't want it!"), Hairline Boy is asleep in the next room and I am bumping slowly, slowly down dial-up road. That is to say, when I want to video-chat in my schoolgirl skirt with yet another musician, it has to be done in the parking lot of the coffee shop down the road - but that's tomorrow's post.

The first night I spent here, I slept alone. And then the next night Hairline Boy and I talked into the night, both of us a little wounded right now, and I asked him to share his bed given up to me. He said, "All I can do is sleep." I said, "I know."

He is faithful, as faithful to his distant girlfriend as he is to the choices and ideas that have kept him at a lower level of success than makes him happy. He is constant as penury, honest as paper plates, truthful as sloppy guitar playing. He is kind, universally so, even when kindness lays his heart on the table for the cleaver, ends his relationship, breaks up the band. He is exactly the sort of man who believes the woman he left his partner for when she says, "No, we can't openly see each other right away, and I have to see this other guy as a cover..."

He doesn't want anything from me. We flirt - a very little. His eyes sparkle when he looks at me. And each night we hold each other a little less tightly, grading down from drowning outside our depth to now, merely close. I still wake each time I roll over, surprised to find him there. His hands behave, his mouth stays shut, his heart is uncovered, but not in that way.

And that is why I advise when I know it will not be taken, that is why my expertise in his field is unwasted even if unreceived, that is why I pay him with two checks to be certain he will pay himself. Custom for me is payment in kind, base currency, the attitude of prayer, and that custom is unwelcome here.

I ask him, "Do you not have kitchen things due to circumstance or because you don't want them?" I think I will get him some knives, or nice glasses.

He says, "Like what?"

I say, "Like plates."

No, he does not want kitchen things. I can't give him what he wants. My usual band-aids are all wrong, don't cover a burn unless you have to. His wounds are drying out. I use my hands to wipe his face in the night, thumbs gently taking the tears from his eye sockets, asking if I can kiss his cheek with closed lips.

I can't fix it. I can't fix anything. So I change in the bathroom and come to bed in t-shirt and leggings, lie in his arms and wish him more like me, me more like him.

Day Five: Fun With Math!

1) Word Problem
Mandy plans to fly to Eastern City to be driven by Ex-Lover to his home for “friend time”. Ex-Lover writes that she should instead fly into Midwestern City where her car is parked and drive to meet him, but he’s not sure if he will be coming home Sunday or Monday. If Mandy’s home is North of Midwestern City, and Ex-Lover’s home is South of Midwestern City, how many hours should Mandy wait in the airport for Lover to decide at the last minute whether he will leave Eastern City and meet Mandy at his home?

Bonus: By what exponential factor does Ex-Lover’s classiness decrease when he informs Mandy of this plan via email?

2) True or False?
Ex-Lover has actually told Cute Girl that Mandy has been invited to spend a week with him in a distant city, which has been planned for more than a month.

3) Graphing.
Using a standard graph, plot a parabola to represent Lover’s feelings towards Cute Girl. Plot another, opposing parabola to represent the number of conversations per week between Mandy and Lover. Label the intersections of the two lines, “I really miss sleeping next to you.”

4) Multiple Choice.
Beautiful Girl tells Mandy, “He’s not worth it, get over him.” A wise friend whose advice Mandy trusts tells her, “He is being incredibly selfish by continuing to engage with you in this way.” Power Girl tells Mandy, “Get over it already.” Mandy thinks to herself, “He wants to have the wonderful friendship we always had, but he had it when he was treating me well and now that is no longer the case. It feels good to be comfortable with him, but afterwards I’m a wreck.” Mandy will:

a) Get a fucking life, count her blessings and get over it.
b) Delete him out of her email address book, phone, Myspace and Facebook, tell him not to call, text, email, message or poke her, and try very hard to mean it.
c) Enjoy only the company of friends who do not expect her to be totally okay with being betrayed and lied to on a fundamental level that violates everything that has come before.
d) Think that anyone who describes his time with her as being a “bad person” while describing being with the new girl he lied to Mandy about and betrayed her with as a “fresh start” is a clueless puddle of insulting slime who is pretty much flat out saying that Mandy’s trash.
e) All of the above.
f) None of the above, Mandy has the self-respect of a walnut.

Extra Credit: Describe your most memorable, triumphant break-up moment.

When finished, turn in your papers and ask for a library pass. Make sure all your work is in number 2 pencil and that you have filled in the entire circle with a dark mark.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Day Four: The Kitchen

(Just a moment)

Young Turk, yet another musician, is fussing with food and the fridge, he's asked if I'm sated and I'm not, but I'm not hungry for food. We've come from our respective work days, our projects overlapping and coinciding, our friendship growing, his flirting evenly spread between every girl on the team.

I ask him, "Any luck finding a well-heeled cougar who needs a pool boy?"

"It's an ongoing process..."

"I'll let you know when my financial statements come in."

"I'll look you up when I'm tall enough to ride this ride."

He touches me each time he passes, his hand on my shoulder or in my hair. I type away, must write, must write, thirty days. Another long post? Another angst-y piece? The porn was made last night but isn't finished being written up...

Young Turk is an excellent cook. He sets out his tools on the counter, I hear the click of the cutting board, the slap of a filet of something thin and wet. A drawer, a knife unsheathed and the sound of the blade in the air and the sharpener.

Every hair on the back of my neck stands up and my nipples harden.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Day Three: Postscript

We sleep back to back, pressed tightly against each other. 5AM and lobby call for us both.

Folk Rocker goes to the door, still damp, still wrapped in a towel, and peeks out to see if there’s anyone in the hall. Clear, and I step past him, one more kiss and water drops in my eyelashes. I head down the hall towards the elevator, and as I lean in to press the button, I hear “psst!” He leans into the hall, blows me a kiss, and I smile all the way through the lobby and the cold to my car.

Day Two: Little Postcards


Also, there is a paragraph in here that has previously been posted, but this story is where it belongs. Indulge me.

* * *

I go to a big city and meet Folk Rocker. It’s been a year. We have exchanged photos and flirty emails, texted occasionally, finally we end up in the same city at the same time again, both for our respective jobs, though I am fudging, my job is technically over, I have other reasons to want to be here.

I pick him up at his hotel, the lobby sleek with stripes and overstuffed chairs, the breakfast room at one side. We both need the same bank, we plan to “hang out” at my hotel. He has been so equivocating in email, so sometimes taken aback by me, that I am treading carefully. I have no plans.

The phone rings, I always take Husband’s calls. I drive and chat, Husband’s ill, I suggest a cup of tea, a hot shower, I tell him it will be alright. I worry that I sound like I’m speaking to a child, that I’m being rude to my passenger and rude to my husband, having a private chat and trying to wrap it up reasonably quickly at the same time, worried that I sound like a mom. Soothing is done and I press the button. As I fold my phone, Folk Rocker says, “I’d give anything to hear my wife speak to me like that, so tenderly.”

I can’t imagine any other way.

* * *

My favorite hotel in Big City, a suite, brand new, lucked out on Hotwire. He pulls my suitcase while I check in, we go to the room, explore the possibility of room service. He draws me to the bed, we make out a little, his mouth large and open over mine. He’s nervous, he’s not comfortable with cheating, I am happy with anything, I am happy with nothing. I have no expectations. I have surprised myself that after a long hunt, I am honestly, truly, delighted just to spend time, I have no desire to push him or nudge him or draw him into one single step that betrays himself. He is over me and under me, gentle, sweet, hesitant, and in my head I write off sex and content myself with a cuddle, just as he puts his left hand on my wrist and presses it over head and his right hand on my throat begins to squeeze. And then I have been rolled over without knowing how I got here other than the heavy fingers in my hair, and he is behind me and above me, his mouth on the back of my neck and his hand coming around to my breast.

* * *

I am learning a new language.

It takes him awhile to get hard, which I prefer. I am used to younger men, I am used to older men popping pills, taking my sore pussy a second time, a third, ready to go again right after the bang. This fortnight I have been with four men and each time there was a moment where they slowed. I am puzzled, and then Folk Rocker says, “don’t want to come yet, feels so good…” and it all falls into place.

* * *

I suck his cock, bent over him, kneeling beside his hip, mouth warm and wet, him warm and smooth and slick on my tongue, the head his penis velvet-textured like the skin of a blueberry, the little drag of skin on taste buds every time. His hand reaches, holds back the curtain of my hair. I put my hand on his, gently, it’s ok to pull a little and he takes the cue, tightens his fingers on the back of my neck (so primal, so hindbrain) and pushes until I gag. I come up for air –

“I’m surprised. I didn’t think you’d like it rough.”

“I like it all ways. You seem like you’d like it rough.”


And then his hands are on my shoulders, pushing me on my back, prising my legs open and his cock thrusts into me hard, catching a little at the entrance of my pussy, that first thrust that speaks of virginity every time.

* * *

He’s fucking me from behind, first standing while I’m on the bed, then kneeling between my calves. I hear a noise, I feel a sensation and realize he just spit on me. Spit. On my ass. Holy shit, this man watches too much porn…no, wait, it was actually…kind of nice. Close. Like the time I took Lover into the bathroom, took his hand and held it against my pussy while I peed, so very intimate…

* * *

His room, past midnight (I agonized a little over whether to come at all this late), he’s packing for the next leg of his journey. I curl on the bed, watching him pack, watching his rituals so like and unlike mine, so hard to feel at home on the road unless you fight for it to an absurd degree, I have pictures of my cats and Husband, a light blanket that feels the same on every bed.

“I want to hear you sing “I’m On Fire” sometime.” He already does a little Springsteen occasionally.

As he picks up things from the desk, the bedside table, the coffee table, lays out tomorrow’s shoes, pants, he sings it softly, his voice husky with late and drink and the show:

Hey little girl is your daddy home
Did he go away and leave you all alone

And right now there is no place better in the world than being up too late, listening to this song, listening to this man.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Day One: Aftercare

There is the blank page.

There is the empty notebook, the block of time constantly rescheduled, filled in, replanned. No time to write, so busy! So busy…

I have been having a writing holiday. Taking four weeks to travel, restore my spirit, see the world with new eyes –

(that’s a lie)

Not much has happened around here, the sex has been marital, the adventures limited –


I haven’t written because I have been focusing on my marriage, on my husband, exploring Amsterdam, Paris, my sacred city Bruges, reveling in the Northern European cold, the white and startling snow that followed us from city to city, “I don’t know whether to say Merry Christmas or Happy Easter” from our tiny gay host—

(also a lie. Fact, but a lie.)

I’m debating whether to continue whoring. Continue sleeping around. Continue blogging. Continue writing—


I am afraid. For the first time in my life, I am afraid to write, afraid of what will come out – this from someone who used Columbine as material, triumph coming at last from the memories of the days when I would have done the same. I cannot eat, it is dangerous to open my mouth. Telling the first word means telling them all; I don’t know if I can stop. The poison dissolves me from the inside, wracking my guts, destroying my sleep, calling me to the Dread, the lure of the medicine cabinet, the icy road, the rope, the knife, the gun.

There is something in BDSM called aftercare. It’s when the parties involved calm down, come back to “normal”, release each other from their roles. Mostly, it’s the dominant partner bringing the submissive partner back to a place of equality and comfort, soothing their wounds, their ruffled spirit, their mind.

Ex-Lover used to be very good at this. “Good girl,” he’d say, and I felt approved, that my efforts to please him, to scream when he wanted, to fight against screaming when he wanted, were well-received, pleased him as much as they took me down the dark hallway of terror and release. For four years, he cut me open and sewed me up, told me when to do the job myself, put me back together. Not just with my clothes off, but in my head, my daily life, tormentor and refuge, hell and hope. I fucked no one else without stepping outside my body, recording the scene for him. Lately for you, too, Gentle Reader.

I debate for three and a half weeks whether to see him in Europe as we planned. There is the pleasure of making Cute Girl uncomfortable, the worry on what the time together will be like, the sense that this is senseless, there is no friendship to be had, no going back. Finally, I weep with my best friend in her foreign city, I weep with Beautiful Girl via Skype, and I change one plane ticket. I will go only to the city that finishes my trip, wait in the airport, get the next flight home I can. I tell this to Ex-Lover, first via text, then phone to be polite.

He meets me in the city, taking a train some six hours to be there. We share a room, a bed, a walk through a street festival, oranges, chocolate lemon rind, meals he orders in the language I do not speak. We sleep on separate sides, we dress in the bathroom. We see the church. We decide to go to another city, where we meant to spend time. And there we take long walks, hold hands, share candlelit dinners, look at views, have conversations. Everything is as it always was, except we do not fuck. Or kiss. And in the night he says to me, “roll over and I’ll hold you,” like he always did. He wraps his arms around me, so tightly one of us is drowning, one of us cannot breathe. Three nights next to each other, three days side by side.

And still, there is his girlfriend nervously texting, trashing my company (for which she works) on her not-so-private-as-she-thinks blog, snarking at me in email for business decisions I made after weeping and then clear-eyed asking my partner to choose, to be even-handed, to be fair fair fair enough to cut off my own finger lest she think I’m pointing at her.

And still, there is everything there always was. Right down to

I love you.

I love you, too.

And in the night his hand reaches across my body, he mumbles in his sleep,


His hand on mine, my hand on his cock,


We ride together on the train, he sees me to the bus. I lose my head, I’m nervous, I say, still yours, just a little bit. Still mine, just a little bit.

He turns three times as he walks away.

I am happy. I think I am happy. And then there is the long ride over the ocean and I pour out into emails what I do not even know is in me, I realize I am shaking in the corner, raw and beaten and the man who is excellent at making the hot girl writhe beneath his hand has no time for the bloody creature at his feet, there are new games to play, a fluffy new puppy to pat and love, and I watch everything that should have been mine (all anger comes from should thoughts), everything I need to come down, unspool, release, be let go, let out, told that was enough, that was good, it’s time to go now, watch it all be given away.

I am waiting to come down. I am waiting to be released. It’s not enough to walk away, to be my friend, to plan things that feel like dates and thread me on. I have spent four years learning to stay wired until he fades the dimmer and it is not enough to simply flip the switch.

He texts:

I feel like once you’re serious about another lover things will be easier with us…I keep hoping for simple solutions to complex problems, and that one would require nothing from my lazy ass

I can’t come without weeping. I can’t touch anyone else without remembering his hand on me, starting the recorder in my head. I don’t see another serious lover in this picture.

He is not worth it, and I know this. Beautiful Girl knows this. My best friend knows this. He knows this. I start a phone call, “Maybe we shouldn’t be friends any more.” The call finishes with plans reaffirmed, plans to talk again soon, a request for my schedule to make that happen.

So I will write. I will hide the limp and swallow back the poison and open up the vein to dip the pen. I will write for you, Gentle Reader, and for me. There are things in the notebook waiting to be shaped, notes from time with Be-My-Real-Friend and Secret Scientist and Folk Rocker and Big City Lover and Zurich. Some of them are lovely, full of drippy porn and happy laughing faces.

Thirty days. Every day. An obligation to you and myself.

And then - ?

Perhaps I will be done with him.

Perhaps I will be done with me.