And then there’s the friend thing.

couple

Love is a fascinating thing.  Love is all its forms, sibling love, love for family, older and younger, romantic love, friendship love.  Like goldfish in a bowl, we are not alone nor do we act in a vacuum.  We are influenced all the time by the people we spend time with.  What’s interesting is how often we do not choose the people who will become a significant part of our lives, we are thrown together by circumstance.  So it was interesting to read this article on friendship, and how to be selective as we get older, while also nurturing the ones we have.

We all long for connection, and “love” is a good word to encompass all that.  I’ve now had some friends for 10-20 years, and it is great to still have these friends in my life.  As a working adult, many of my friends have come into my life because of the job choices I’ve made–so I didn’t specifically choose them.  Over time we got more comfortable with each other (oh, and giving each other shit).  But it’s easy to be with them.  It’s easy to pass the traffic test with them.  I can come over with my hair in an untidy hair clip and shapeless sweater and we still have fun, even if we are doing nothing.

I have been feeling a bit lonely lately, and I know what that means.  I need to work on my friendships and get out more.  I love dating, and it can be many things.  It can be dating for fun, dating for sex, dating for an activity partner – but dating for love takes time and patience.  It can take time to find the right match, but fortune favors the brave.  After all, you can’t change people, you can only either accept what they have to offer or move on.  In the reverse, what you have to offer may not be what they’re looking for either.  And in the meantime, I don’t want to ignore the great things I already have in my life.  I know me and my lustful feelings when I smell an attractive man.  Sometimes it’s just annoying that though I’m not going to be having any more kids, damn pheromones are going all crazy.  Yes, yes, stupid ovaries, I know you think we’d make good babies, but I am done with that.  Genetic compatibility of offspring is not a main goal of mine.  Making rational decisions while feeling less than rational can be a challenge some days.  🙂

My goal for 2015 is to concentrate on that connection; true friendship, with a romantic element.  What I am looking for is the man that smells good, laid-back, and easy to be around.  A person whose presence brings out the best in me, and I in him.  An easiness of good-nature, fun, and respect.  I think this will be a good year for it.

I love sex and I cannot lie.

mansex

This is my song of solomon.

I love being a woman.  I love the wolf in a man.

I do not wish to tame you, I only wish to embrace you.

I love my divine femininity, I love being the yin, the dark river,

waiting for the yang, the light.

I love being the valley, I only wait for the worthy mountain.

I love the weight of you upon me,

I am only satisfied when you are in me,

and if that makes you blush,

that is only because you have never known someone like me.

I love all of men.

I am who I am.

I make no apologies in the midnight of our souls.

I can be naked in front of you,

Can you do the same in front of me?

Changing stories

book

I love old stories.  When I was a teenager, my father had a collection of the Brothers Grimm, and I read them over and over.  The real ones, where Cinderella’s sisters cut off their toes and heels to fit into the slipper, and have their eyes pecked out in the end in justice for their cruelty.  The stories of the Brothers Grimm are a part of history, of a time long ago, and should be kept as they are.

But it begs the question, what are stories for?  We all know the stories of Snow White, Cinderella, Little Red Riding Hood, and the like.  Going farther back, there is Beowulf, The Illiad, and The Odyssey.  These stories had a purpose at their time.

When I was a young adult, I went and saw Disney’s “Beauty and the Beast” in the movie theaters with a friend who really loved Disney movies.  I had a beautiful book rendition of “Beauty and the Beast” that I had grown up with, and loved the art and that particular retelling.  So Disney’s version, with no selfless brothers and no shallow sisters, left me cold. I remember thinking, Why is she an only child?  Why is her dad a dimwit?  What was with the books?  Yay, I’m all for reading, but what does that have to do with anything?

But that is the changing of stories.  My daughter, Rowan, no longer lives in a era where being married to an old rich man is probably the best choice for her future.  I want stories that encourage her to be the best she can be.  I want stories that encourage her to educate herself, to determine her own destiny, to pick a mate that is a complement to her.  Humans love stories, in books, in tv, in movies, in videogames.  We love being swept away–but what we consume does change us.

As an adult, I figure it is up to me to determine what kinds of stories I will listen to.  But for my kids, since they aren’t adults, I am more discerning.  I don’t want historical stories changed, stories that show a slice of time, to be edited in any significant way.  I think the Illiad should be kept as it is; and Tom Sawyer, too, n* words and all.  But I also don’t have a problem with new stories that use old ones as their basis.

My girls and I own “Frozen” and we still love it.  It is only *loosely* based on “The Snow Queen.”  I love it because it is about two sisters, and that is particularly applicable to my family.  I like that it has a moral about Hans–that you can’t romantically know someone right away.  But is it not particularly faithful to the original story.  I also found it interesting that one of my male friends got a bit frustrated with the movie.  His problem was that all the men were either not very bright or evil.  He said he was sick of men being characterized as superfluous.  Which I can get, I am still looking for the story where people, men and women, are at different stages.  Shallow and deep, good and evil, selfish and selfless–this is not dependent on gender.

But I think we as a society are still figuring this out, and it depends on your experience.  For example, I have had close female and male friends.   At different points in my life, I have either had predominately female friends or predominately male friends.  For me, I interpret this as simply what I’m supposed to experience at the time. Even my story changes from decade to decade.

I don’t want history changed–that is too dangerous.  It is dangerous if we forget the time and unfairness depicted in “Huckleberry Finn.”  It is dangerous if we listen to people who deny The Holocaust–because that is history of humanity’s cruelty, not a fable.  But if we’re looking to educate our kids, I don’t mind changing the stakes.  I don’t mind a black James Bond.  I don’t mind Barbie including people of color as her friends–I want that to appear as normal, what we should all aspire to.  I think stories should be changed to match the current time, because they predict our future.  Look at Star Trek–all races were included, because it was assumed that in the future, all would be equal.  I want that.  I want my kids to take all people as they are–that their actions show their worth, not any stereotypes on their race.  We have power in what we write and what we retell, though we often forget it.  What we laud and what we despise can change the outcome of things that happen in the real world.

Christmas and memories

boxofteeth voltron

I’m at the age where I enjoy Christmas for getting together with my family and eating delicious food far more than I need presents.  That being said, however, it is always nice when you get gifts from people who know you *so* well.  This year, my favorites were a box of teeth and a big ol’ book of Voltron.

A gilt box of human teeth may seem a bit macabre, but I love bones.  It is an ode to “Berenice,” a short story by Edgar Allen Poe, and to the PC game, “The Dark Eye” based on Poe’s stories.  In my early 20’s, I played through all of that game the same way I devoured the “Choose Your Own Adventures” books when I was a kid:  every time there is a choice, take the first one (or the left one) until you reach the end.  Then backtrack (or redo) everything the same, except for the last choice, where I would take the other path.  Then I would continue this until I had experienced all endings.

“The Dark Eye” had a great feel and art design to it, including clay animation figures.  But what I liked about it is that you could choose whether to be the victim or the murderer, and you could change your mind by looking into the eyes of the character you wanted to switch to.  You could be Berenice, fainting and then waking up buried alive, only to have Egaeus open up the coffin and extract all your teeth.  Or you could be Egaeus, waking up in the study to find your clothes covered in mud and gore, and the accusing box of Berenice’s bloody teeth scattering on the floor.

Of course, many of the stories that showed up in the game were well known, like “The Cask of Amontillado” and “The Tell-Tale Heart.”  Even knowing what the stories were about, it was still neat to play through them.  I played every character, did every story, because I wanted to experience every cut scene.  I even started some digital art pieces based on teeth, which alas, are stuck in the limbo of old Zip disks.  (I think I may still have them somewhere, but they are relics now of a different age!)  I may have to do a new painting based on teeth.  They’re just so interesting.  In a mouth they are always half hidden, but apart, you see their long roots like phalanges.  I like them.

The Voltron book goes back to my childhood.  I really loved that cartoon.  I look back at it now, and it’s terrible.  Terrible animation, the same story every episode.  But it had my first cartoon crush, Prince Lotor.  I loved that dude.  He was evil, and obsessed with the Princess.  I wish I could claim I was cooler, but as a kid, I ate it up.  I loved his voice too.  Sometimes things that get to you at a young age manage to keep some of their appeal.

Of course, it’s interesting to look back at all that stuff and wonder how it colors you.  I do still think giant robots are cool.  I really dug the first Transformers movie when it came it out.  I have a thing for really good voice actors.  I like long white hair on guys (Raistlin, Prince Nuada, etc).  But Prince Lotor should have been named Prince Stalker, because in real life, his nonstop pursuit would have been creepy.  In the original Japanese version (Go-Lion), Prince Lotor was obsessed with the Princess because she reminded him of his murdered mother (a slave in his father’s household).  In Go-Lion, he was supposed to be a creepy psychopath.  In the US version, he ended up more like the romantically-obsessed bad guy.  Luckily, that’s why there’s fanfic for when you want to change the ending.  Well, in any case, the book can go right with my Voltron Omnibus.

In the story between breaths

sun

I’m on staycation this week and next, hanging with the kids on their break.  Kids–man, I love them, I really do.  They’re really cute, Rowan is still cute at 10, though I can see the inkling of the beauty she will become.  She has those dark brown eyes where you can’t see the demarcation of the iris.  The scientific part of me wonders if any studies have been done on dark brown eyes–after all, we interpret interest (and arousal!) by a dilated iris–if you can’t tell where the pupil ends and the iris begins, does this mean that her type of eyes will be seen by her future boyfriends as more interested than say, a peer with light blue eyes?

But then there is her 4, almost 5 year old, sister.  Nova continually makes me laugh and wonder.  I made them go on a walk with me today–to get some exercise, fresh air, and vitamin D.  We stopped at the amphitheater at Rowan’s school and stayed for awhile.  Nova was trying to run up some stairs and tripped up, hitting her shin.  She cried for a little while, and then we continued hiking.  As we walked, Nova said seriously, “I should’ve hit my femur instead of my shin.”

“Really,” I asked, “why is that?”

“Because the femur is stronger.  It wouldn’t hurt as much.”  It shouldn’t have surprised me, such a comment from her. She is old beyond her years.

Last night, she found me to come sleep by me, but tossed and turned.  She would sit up, and I could see that in the dimness she was silently crying, wiping away her tears with no complaint when they reached her mouth.  It started to freak me out.  Was she sleep walking? (or sleep crying?)  Was she having a nightmare?  I wondered if the new book of Grimm fairy tales had been too much.

“Are you okay?” I asked.  “Are you having bad dreams?”  But she wouldn’t answer.  She would just look at me, still crying, no words, no sound.  Finally, I took her to the bathroom, I was afraid she was sick.  But she wasn’t, she just needed to pee.  So strange, she fell right to sleep afterwards.  But in the night, everything seems different.  Things seem strange.

And this is my story, from my point of view.  Nova may not remember much of these days.  Rowan, perhaps more.  These years seem almost more for me than for them.  My happiness, my memories.  Though I hope the love I show them will seep into their souls, so that they will recognize it when it comes for them in the future, whether as friends, or lovers, or both.

We are defined by what we love and what we spend time on.  I wonder sometimes if our materialistic culture is an avoidance of pain.  Loving people, even children, is no guarantee of happiness–loving things could seem more stable.  And it is a vulnerability if the people we love are taken away or disappear.

A while ago, I was driving home in the dark with a friend.  We were speaking of children, and she confessed to me that she worried about her kids were killed by serial killers. She knew it wasn’t likely, but still.  Ah, middle-class humanity.  We may be fortunate that we longer worry about sickness or famine, (because they don’t seem as real), but human beings themselves are always unpredictable.

Even if for scientists, where certain fears are not always statistically probable, it doesn’t necessarily mean we fear it less.  So I asked, “And if that happened, what then?  You believe in souls, right?  Even a serial killer couldn’t touch the soul of an innocent and baptized child.  He could maybe make your son suffer and die, but he cannot touch what is within.”

I was thinking of Hindu mythology and Alan Watts.  The age-old question of if you were a god, what would you do with your immortality and powers?  It is conceivable, is it not, that you would get bored of getting everything you wanted?  You could revisit the same story of luxury, money, sex and hedonistic pleasures all you wanted, any way you wanted–but eventually, isn’t it possible that you would get bored?  Bored with having everything?

And if you knew it wasn’t real, then you could play around with the darkness.   Just like me in my 20’s, playing Resident Evil and Eternal Darkness and Silent Hill–because it was fun, and it wasn’t real.  And what if life is just that?  A story you decided to play, and you can play good or evil or in-between, because at the end, it doesn’t really matter?  White robes or black or red?  Choose the story you want to experience.  Die and come back, like a ride at Disneyland.  If there’s a favorite movie or life arc, you can revisit it.  And if you want to try something different, that’s okay too–because in the end, it doesn’t matter which story you choose.

And if we are shards of a common experience, if all we are are individual stories of humanity, it makes sense that there would be spectrum of tales.  I’m not sure what my tale will be at this point.  I feel grateful that it probably won’t be ordinary, but then again, that’s just my rebel yell talking.  I hate to be predictable.

We’re not all like that

stone

I was reading an interesting article on Thought Catalog entitled, “This is How We Date Now.”  It was about frivolous connections, frivolous dates, and that such aggressive romantic screening can screen out real possibilities.  I think the beginning part might be true for some, but not much for me.  Perhaps because I am older, perhaps because I am geek, perhaps because I used to be a gamer–but that appears to be an article about the woes of beautiful people and how impatient some can be.  However, I do agree that we adopt a public persona that sanitizes the sad parts and bad parts that we don’t want to talk about.  And I agree that we all want true connection.  Connection is a very powerful word for me.

I like Facebook for notice of births, weddings, and death.  I don’t expect it to give details.  I don’t expect to have deep friendships on there – but it can provide an introduction, which can grow offline.  I like too much of the senses.  I like the sight of a person not filtered by a screen.  I like to hug and cuddle people.  I like to hear a true voice and I like to smell the whiff of someone’s cologne, or shampoo.  That requires an investment of time. . . my favorite memories are often of people visiting me at my home, or me visiting them at theirs.

Time is one of the most precious resources we have.  It’s why with romantic relationships, I never do long distance because I need the physicality of presence.  And it’s why with platonic relationships, the ones who I am closest to are often close to me in location.  We just never know how much time we have.

Last year, when I used to take Rowan to her old school, we would have some time in the car together in the mornings.  One morning I was driving behind a semi-trailer from a safe distance, and as it approached a curve ahead of me, it suddenly put on the brakes and drove off to the side.  A cloud of dust came up from the gravel on the encroachment.  I slowed down, and prepared to stop.  I was thinking maybe a tire had burst, so I let the car creep up slowly.  But as we got closer, we could see a couple of smashed up cars beyond the semi.  At that point we turned around and took another way to get Rowan to school.

After dropping her off, I went home a different way.  It passed within sight of the highway, and I could see it was already cordoned off.  When I got to work, I was curious about the accident.  I found out that heading east, a man was trying to turn left into a residential driveway on the cusp of the curve.  A woman came up behind him, but she wasn’t expecting a stopped car, and the eastern sun was up and came into full view right around the curve.  Momentarily blinded, she hit the car in front of her.

He was already partially turned, so when she hit him, it catapulted him into the opposing lane–where the semi saw him too late and crashed into him.  He died on the scene.  He was a 40-something from Mt. Horeb, had a family, two boys.  Liked to coach their sports.  Just like that, on a day like any other, he died.  It was an accident all around that turned into a tragedy for that family.

And that’s the way it goes, doesn’t it?  No money can bring that life back.  His kids had him for a little while, not long enough.  All of us, like him, can remember the past, but we don’t know our future.  We never know when it will end.  And maybe like me, you wonder about your purpose.  It’s an ironic thing for me that I spent so much of my younger years thinking about hastening my death.  Now I expect I will live to be a ripe old age, barring accidents.  But of course, the price for living a long time is getting to witness the death, and sometimes sufferings, of our friends and family.  I expect I will outlive my brother–I don’t smoke and he does.  I certainly hope to die after my parents and not before–both for their sakes and sake of my children.  It just seems more natural that the earlier you were born, the closer to now you will die.

I guess that owning up to your mortality can really cause a person to go into two extreme directions.  One is screening your life for perfection, but then nothing is good enough.  Nothing gets through.  Or the other, being so open to potentiality–and fantasy–that nothing really good comes through.

It’s a balance.  What is it that you really want?  And is what you really want attainable?  Or worth what you would have to give in order to get it?

Then sometimes, what you really want just sort of happens.  In August, I went to a Conscious Life Workshop hosted by Steve Pavlina.  I’ve followed his blog for years.  The purpose of the workshop was to get clear about the kind of life you want to lead, and then you can screen what you accept into your life based on that.  For example, an 80 hour week corporate job is not a good fit for me–I have too many other interests to devote that much to one thing.  But my current 40 hour week corporate job, with a boss who never gives me grief about child care or sick days, is an excellent fit for me.

In the workshop, we also talked a bit about relationships.  What is it that you really want?  What is a dealbreaker?  A divorced man is not a dealbreaker for me, but a man who would want me to have his “own” kids would be.  In fact, I would probably prefer someone like me, divorced, who would get where I’m coming from and understand that journey.

Steve also talked about how he broadcasts his desires and is very open that he is polyamorous and a cuddleslut.  So the first day, I emailed and sent a cuddle invitation.  I can honestly say I’d never done that before – and was a bit afraid I would get rejected.  After all, this is a guy I’ve only ever known through his blog, not the real deal, not the real presence, and he might be different in real life.  Or, though I hate to admit it, I was bit afraid I might not be good enough.  Not intelligent enough to match wits, not pretty enough to pique his interest, or not evolved enough to be a good match.  I know I still have hangups sometimes.

But we exchanged phone numbers and planned to get together the last night.  And the workshop was great, so inspiring, so full of great people at all stages of their lives.  One day at lunch, going out with some new friends, one of the guys looked back and me and another woman I was chatting with and smiled.  “What are you smiling about?” I teased.  He replied back in all seriousness, “It’s just wonderful to be out walking with two beautiful women,” still with a smile on his face.  I knew he was sincere.

Being open like that, to compliments, to connection, to understand that sure there may be a sexual undercurrent, but it doesn’t mean that we can’t be friends, took time for me to develop.  I no longer believe like Harry that “women and men can’t be friends because the sex always gets in the way.”  Sex only happens if there is consent on both sides, but personally I like the friendships that have that extra flirty layer.  Why deny it? People are attractive.  I’m never going to sleep with all the people I find attractive–that’s not the point.  The point is accepting what is–what is now.  Maybe it will be something else in the future, but it doesn’t mean that today can’t be enjoyed just as it is.

And as for that last Sunday night, I had a great time.  I had dinner with Steve and bunch of people, and then we went walking down to my hotel.  We would bump into other workshop attendees who would ask, “Oh hey, what are you guys doing?” and I would answer, “Oh, we’re just going back to my hotel room to cuddle.”  I had the most insane grin because it was truthful and just not what one would normally say.

So we headed back and spent a few hours cuddling and talking.  That’s it, no sex, no weirdness–though I felt a bit astonished that it was just that easy.  It was two people, enjoying a physical intimacy and an emotional one.  It was, to be true, a fantasy of mine, to have a little bit of Steve time all to myself.  And then he left and it hasn’t been anything more.  Doesn’t need to be anything more.  For me, it was all about being honest about what I wanted, and also being open to the idea that someone who could be my equal could feel an attraction on multiple levels to me.

Dating after being married for a long time feels a little like being in a time capsule.  Who I was then is not who I am now, but there are still some fears.  Am I still that awkward dorky person who says all the wrong things?  If I want someone, does that automatically mean they won’t want me?  And the people who want me, I won’t want back?  Am I still really dumb about men?   How come people think I’m attractive now?  I was never an attractive teenager.  Of course the great thing about men is that if they didn’t want to at least have sex with you, they wouldn’t even try to date you.  Horribly crass, but refreshing in that you always know where you stand.  I am at least attractive enough to screw.   Good, good, at least I have that going for me.

I am feeling better these days about the balance of how I spend my time.  I love my kids, and damn, they know they are loved.  I love my friends, and I hope they know they are loved.  I love my job, though some days, yes, I just throw my hands into the air.  But hey, I have been given the opportunity to work on something I truly care about, so I’ll take the frustrations with the satisfaction of doing my best.  I am working on accepting myself more and more–I have made a lot of progress, certainly.  Though certain people can still undo me sometimes.  Is it mature to admit that?

Being open to what you want, admitting what you want, can also bring more of what you ask for.  The night of my cuddle date, I had three other invitations for cuddling.  Alas, just not enough of me to go around. 😉

Missing my dead friend

mossy-headstone

What a weird day.  I was talking to someone about my past, and somehow my thoughts strayed towards Katy.  I’m not moody, just pensive.  Thinking about the choices we make to live our lives. . .or to screw it up.

Two decades ago, watching her in her downward spiral and going through her many suicide attempts and realizing the cold certainty that she wouldn’t outlive me.  Listening to her call me on the phone, asking “How did you do it?  How come you aren’t depressed anymore?  Do you cut yourself anymore?  Do you think about killing yourself?”  Being at an art opening on campus, swirling champagne, my watercolors of skulls on the walls, and someone finding me to tell me there was an emergency call for me.  Calling me again, talking about the last attempt where they cleaned out her gut with liquid charcoal, her husband coming home to find blood smeared across the walls in hallway, the bathroom–because when you both slit your wrists and overdose, you flail around.

Her shocked voice as she relayed, “He ran up to check on the baby first, as though he was afraid I would hurt her!” and me holding my tongue.  Oh my dear friend, if you can do such damage to yourself, can’t you see that an outsider can’t possibly tell where your boundary is?  Maybe you will only hurt yourself, but maybe you will take your child with you as you court death? And the final call at my work from her husband, a call I knew was coming, just not when.  “She’s dead.  This time she did everything. . . overdosed, and slit her wrists, and threw herself in the river.  There’s video footage of her leaving the last store with rope.  And no offense, but I can’t talk to you anymore. . .I know you were friends, but I can’t do this.”

That was over a decade ago.  He sends me a picture of their little girl every year within a Christmas card.  She’s 14 this year.  I wonder what her dad tells her about how her mom died.