Sunday, November 11, 2018

A Brief Gilmore Guy Revival: Part Two (Concern-Trolling Is Gentle Voter Suppression)

We didn’t talk much, at least not in the fun/deadening let’s-discuss-all-of-our-interlocking-relationship-dynamics poly way. After three hours of easy bliss, we lay in the afterglow. I was holding him tenderly as he started to talk, first about his day and then about the then-four-days-away Midterm Election:

“I want to believe there’s going to be this big, sweeping Blue Wave, but I just don’t think it’ll happen. I think we’ll pick up a few seats but…”

He went on to talk about how bleak things were going to be over the next few years. When he got to the part about how the Democrats didn’t have any strong candidates for 2020, my body went from being a sparkly cloud of bliss to being an angry spring. I disentangled from him as if I was disentangling from the entire last three years.

“Who do you want it to be then? BERNIE?!”

“No, actually I don’t really care for Senator Sanders…”

“WELL, you’ve got that going for you.” I hissed.

Part of my reaction, I have to admit, was good old-fashioned daddy issues. Gilmore Guy’s erasure of Kamala Harris, Amy Klobuchar, Corey Booker, et al felt too much like the anti-Gillibrand conversation I still felt trapped in with my dad. (OF COURSE dad didn’t acknowledge the letter I sent. OF COURSE he didn’t.)

It was also too much like the role-flipped therapy session I’d had earlier in the week, comforting a clearly-not-a-match therapist by trying to convince her that the Resistance does, in fact, exist and have an impact.

I’m so happy to have the election results to back me up as I continue to un-gaslight myself about this!

It frustrates me so much that they can’t see it, that they can’t see US or our work, even as it slowly but surely lifts the country out of our mess. I realize that as a member of the Resistance, it’s part of my task to HELP people see it, but having my own reality denied so often really hurts—it’s too much. The time theft is too much. The emotional labor is too much.

I’m not here to try and convince anybody of my existence, to convince anybody that the movements I love are not helpless or worthless or stupidly hysterical. (I’m all about reclaiming the word “hysterical” but that’s another post for another day.)

(My off-script textbanking exchanges with Republicans earlier in the Midterm process have really gotten to me as well, but the right is clearly not the only problem here.)

“I’m just worried about voter suppression,” He said. Of course! We all are. We were both up off the folded-out couch and I was angrily putting on my clothes.

“You’re DOING voter suppression when you tell us we can’t win!”

Concern-trolling is definitely not as evil or insidious as governors who purge voter rolls, exact-match laws, or Native Americans suddenly having to root out street addresses from obscure bureaucratic labyrinths, but it IS part of the problem and definitely should be voted most likely to keep me from snuggling.

I argued probably not very well. He said:

“Let me explain why Kamala Harris can’t…”

Perhaps realizing that I will be having some version of this conversation until she is elected, I fucking SNAPPED.

“I told you I don’t want to have this conversation. Do something about it or Shut. Up.”

(That may have been mostly for dad, sorry. But also yes, shut the fuck up.)

“Don’t scream at me in my own house.” He said, apparently out of arguments. My voice was raised, but screaming was an exaggeration.

The saddest thing about writing down that moment is realizing that he was happy to have me raise my voice in all of the sex-wails that I wanted, but not to stand up for myself, not even to defend my own worth.

“Have fun SITTING ON YOUR ASS and criticizing everybody who’s doing the WORK!” I hollered as I grabbed my purse and umbrella from the kitchen and headed for the door.

“Get. Out.” He said in that annoying I’m-the-reasonable-person tone that I know so well from back when I was married to Sweetie.

After I’d splashed through the rain to my car, the dash clock read 12:06. I’d aimed to turn myself into a pumpkin by midnight and he had (inadvertently, I hope) helped me along.

I wish I could say that I feel righteous and free after that, but I just miss him. I feel lonely about it, and sad. I’m glad I blocked his number and deleted his texts, because I keep wishing I could reach out, somehow repair the connection, somehow be in those arms again.

But even causally, I can’t be with someone who doesn’t live, at least mostly, in the same reality as I do. America has changed so deeply since 2016, and I’m one of the lucky many who can see the underlying positivity: The networks of activism, the interlocking movements full of loving, fiery momentum. Resistbot, Pantsuit Nation, Solidarity Sundays. THE MARCH FOR OUR LIVES KIDS, for god’s sake. The way PEOPLE ACTUALLY CARED about the Midterms!

I want a partner who, no matter how bleak and scary things get, can see the goodness and care that’s growing every day. I wish, in that afterglow moment, I’d mustered the empathy and strength to convince him, to bring him into that hopeful view and keep him safe there. I know I can’t keep him safe, can’t keep anyone safe no matter what. So I run when my body tells me to run, fight when it tells me to fight, and I hope for the best.

Thursday, November 8, 2018

A Brief Gilmore Guy Revival: Part One

When I got his text, I was in a good mood. It was Friday and I’d just stopped at the bank to make my deposit, then took a rainy stroll in a nearby twinkle-light-filled, very window-shoppingy neighborhood. My life was just so perfectly my life. I got home, got in my PJs, lit all the scented candles, (hygge!) made some tea and settled in for some Gilmore episodes.

After a friendly back and forth about what episode I was on (Season 2, Episode 7: Rory gets Puffed because there’s no Reading and Walkman-Listening Club at Chilton.) (Lorelai and Emily mother-daughtering in the Booster Club fashion show is one of my favorite moments of the whole series.) Gilmore Guy asked, “How would you feel about seeing me?”

When I told him I wasn’t ready to be friends because I still had snuggly feeling for him (I did? I do? Honestly, I thought I’d moved on.) he made it clear that snuggles were what he was after. My body filled with hopeful light and heat. Okay, I said. A treat.

I brought him the painting above, it doesn’t really seem like street art anyway. He made me a gin and tonic, remembering that the fancy Bombay was my favorite from his collection. (“A gin-clear mind…” says The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina in my head for no reason.)

“Should we kiss?” he asked as we settled into Season 2, Episode 8. (Jess is the WORST. Team Wookie forever.)

“Should we? Probably not.” I said, already kissing him.

I’m fascinated and mystified by the way that our bodies were so SMART together. Making out on the couch, we fit together so smoothly, easily, power trading back and forth between us in such a seamless, joyful way. As we made our way horizontal, the closeness I felt to him was startling. Sometimes I held him so close to me like this was something romantic. I guess in my head, it always will be.

Hours later, when I asked him to hold me down, I felt such pure, uninterrupted happiness as I giggled and struggled. The instinct of our bodies together is a monument in my heart, a shiny obelisk of mystery. I know, I know, I KNOW it’s just sex, but I can’t understand how our bodies seemed to know each other so well. Creating such beauty together, and then not, I don’t think I’ll ever understand it. I’m more than happy to keep trying, though sadly not with him.

Tuesday, October 16, 2018

Snuggles in the Time of Kavanaugh, Part Four

            Part of the reason the Kavanaugh hearings were so painful and traumatizing was that Dr. Ford’s testimony recalled my own teenage rape so clearly. I felt protective of Gilmore Guy as he helped me navigate those feelings, mostly by being wonderful and adorable and nice-smelling and superhot.

            But when, after several increasingly tense attempts at PIV sex, it started to slide into place, I could feel his focus on his penis’s performance. His determination and fixation made me feel like I wasn’t there, like he wasn’t there either. I slipped back from this safe, celebratory moment to that decades-ago drugged, mouth-covered, trapped, lost teenage feeling. I lost the battle against panic and told him so. He stopped, of course, looked scared and concerned. I felt all of my OWN pressure to get back to cheerful so we could fuck, my own increasingly futile determination to not be so scary with all of my feelings.

            “What do you need?” He asked again and again, in a voice that was at once scared, caring, and businesslike. I apologized for panicking and he said something understanding about “emotional labor” which struck me as a sad phrase to have to use on a second-or-third date. Nonetheless, he cared for me and treated me kindly, to the point where I wanted to return the good-listener favor. I asked him what was on his mind and he said:

“I miss (Gilmore Lady).” I just couldn’t help it, I started to cry. It wasn’t cute crying by any stretch—lonely, hurt, sad tears, empty and heartbreaking. It was a moment of inescapable honesty and I lost all attempts at being I-love-sharing-modern-open-relationships lady.

I cried and cried and confessed and confessed. I told him how much I want to be someone’s sun and moon and stars (“Not YOURS. Not on the second date. I’m not CRAZY.”) how what I really wanted was romance, how I’d already told him in the woods that I’m not a secondary.

“Do you want me to go?” He asked delicately.

“No. You can think I’m crazy tomorrow. Just… don’t go.”

“I don’t think you’re crazy,” he said forcefully, climbing back into bed and wrapping me up in his arms. As kind as he was, and even as he didn’t mind me playing a guided meditation to try and get to sleep, I couldn’t settle in next to him. I went downstairs to the couch and almost immediately, exhausted and scared (not of him) I fell asleep in my own personal space.

When I woke up in the morning and, after my morning writing, meditation, and Spanish practice, went upstairs to him, I saw all over again what a gift he was. He was just lying there on his belly checking his phone, locks in a grey bandanna and fanned out over his naked back and shoulders, looking like a perfect treasure of a man, and I told him so. I really didn’t want to let him go, and we made the VERY most of the morning until it was time for me to get ready for work.

We made plans for the weekend. We texted and texted and texted. I sent him long, fretful, feminist paragraphs and he sent kind and thoughtful responses back. I could send him fraught texts in the middle of the night without scaring him away, that does not go unappreciated. He was a champion. He really tried, and so did I.

When it came time for our third-or-fourth date, a NO rose up in me so strong and goddessy that it felt like it was coming from the center of the earth. I said rather more than I meant to about unicorn hunters and the treatment of secondary partners how I might LOOK less-than, but wasn’t.

He looked regretful and sad as he left, and I was sad too. But more than sad, I was SURE. I was brave. I could see and admit what I wanted, even though poly norms and society in general would tell me to expect and accept less. I was embarrassed that I’d said so much, but mostly I just felt proud.

A week or so after that, Gilmore Guy and I exchanged kind goodbye/thank you texts, and I’m glad. I couldn’t be more grateful for his visit to my life, and I’m glad I got to tell him so directly instead of just hoping that he reads this.

I feel like I am a new and different person in a post-Dr.-Ford world. Her bravery is a new resource that empowers me to stand up for myself in the screaming-at-the-Supreme-Court way but also in the smaller, more daily, even in the more snuggly ways. I can’t say enough about my gratitude for Dr. Ford and for all of the women who came before her and with her. My childhood self had Anita Hill, my present day self has Christine Blasey Ford, and we both have Murphy Brown, so I think everything might be okay.
            After I said goodbye to Gilmore Guy, I changed my “Relationship Type” in OK Cupid to monogamous. I’m not sure that’s exactly right either, but there’s no “sun and moon and stars” option. So far, it has the same trials and indignities as it did before, but also the same hope. Steven and Gilmore Guy kindled a good flame in me, and I’m going to take care of it.

Monday, October 15, 2018

#metoo Letter: Dear Dad, STFU About Senator Gillibrand

Dear Dad,

            I’m going to need you to stop complaining to me about Kirsten Gillibrand. While I obviously agree with you about global warming being an important issue, your repetitive complaints which only target female politicians, echo your 2016 “I go easy on you about Hillary” comment. All these comments sound, at best, like low-key sexism and at worst, like a gentle continuation of a lifetime pattern of abuse, both on a national and personal scale.

            When you tell me, over and over, that the senator who is most vocally in support of the #metoo movement isn’t doing a good enough job (For YOU. After one donation and one survey response. Are you KIDDING ME WITH THIS!? I know you see how much work I do very day, why do you feel so entitled not to? And WORSE why do you expect ME to do your work FOR you? I pour countless hours into justice work and I have my own senators to nag!)

            ANYWAY, when you complain about Senator Gillibrand, you are also dismissing the work that I do, both personally and politically, Every. Single. Day. You are dismissing the power and courage of not just me but of every single rape survivor who perseveres although life feels like a constant attack on our bodies. When the sea levels rise, do you imagine we will somehow be LESS vulnerable? Less raped? Do you imagine WE are somehow the ones endangering the planet, by rising up and insisting that---GASP---we be treated as humans?

            But there are a couple of more insidious reasons you should not be low-key trolling me by running down female leaders, particularly Gillibrand.

            When I was in third or fourth grade, I overheard you at least try to rape Mom. You’d both been fighting about sex for weeks and I was WAY too up to date about what was going on in there. I heard Mom scream “No! Don’t! (his name!) Stop! Stop!” and it scared the shit out of me. I started to cry really loud and she said “See? Now you made (me) cry.” And then things seemed to calm down in your room. I don’t know how I understood what was going on, but I did.

            After that, the world changed for me. I became darker, less hopeful. Though Mom denied it to me when I asked a few years later, I know what I heard. You took something profound away from me that night—my trust for the world, my trust for love. I’ve been fighting like hell ever since to get those things back. (Senator Gillibrand?! Also fighting for those things.)

            Fast forward a few years to when I was drugged, raped, and beaten at a party. A few days later, you beat the shit out of me too—just pounding and pounding away and saying “You brought this into our house! You did this!” Meaning, I guess, that that I’d somehow made you and Mom violent by getting raped, even though you’d been that way my whole life.

            That night my friend Bethanne came and got me and I stayed with her family for the night, but I had never felt so deeply and horribly alone. Over the years, that feeling of abandonment and betrayal has come back to me over and over, causing me more panic than any of the original violence. “You are alone, the panic tells me, and the people who say they love you are only waiting to attack and blame you.” You taught my panic how to speak.

            And yet, here I am with the optimism you keep trying to undermine. I did not get this way by accident. It has taken me HUNDREDS of hours of therapy, writing, self-care, activism, and many other kinds of work. I am optimistic and productive by both sheer force of self-creation and as a tribute to the people who have helped me build, thread by thread, vote by vote, scream by scream, the person I am today.

            And not only can you not write ONE GODDAMNED LETTER to Congress, but you have the callousness, cruelty, and entitlement to give me a hard time about how YOUR SENATOR CARES TOO MUCH ABOUT WOMEN’S RIGHTS? PLEASE.

            I have loved you and done my best to forgive you for all of these years without asking you for anything in return. Now I’m asking for two things:

1.      Acknowledge that you got this letter.

2.      Stop retraumatizing me and trying to put me in my place by running down female politicians.

I am not going to give up the fight to own our own bodies. We are not going back and there is nothing you can do about it. If you EVER crap on Senator Gillibrand or any other female leader to me again I can’t promise I won’t FLIP THE FUCK OUT. And NO ONE will get an apology letter.


Friday, October 12, 2018

Snuggles in the Time of Kavanaugh: Part Three

Once I had tied Gilmore Guy up, my self-consciousness about giving blow jobs faded a little. I started to remember the rhythm and taste, to settle back into those sensations. I felt like I could trust him to tell me if I was doing it wrong. He tentatively and gradually worked out how to be forceful with his untied hand, pulling my hair and pushing me to take him in deeper—gagging is a nice expression of affection sometimes.

(It’s hard not to think about porn when I’m doing this, though. I hardly ever indulge anymore, but the images of wide, overly-made-up, tear-streaked eyes are burned on my brain. I wish I could go back in time and rescue during-blowjob-eye-contact from its awful fate.)

Next, I decided I needed to be spanked, so I lay across his naked lap and untied his wrist. Oh. Yes. He’s such a natural at this: the smack, the giggle, the squirm, the relief.

“You can hold me down while you do that if you want…”

“Okay. do I do that?”

“Just put your hand near the top of my back and press down.” I took his hand, put it into the right place, and let him take back over. He did as he was asked.

Oof. Aaah. What a relief to feel the submissive switch flip, to feel all of the tension leave my body and my soul, to be held and mastered and cared for.

But not too long after that delightfulness, the tension came back, and not just the good kind. P.I.V. sex wasn’t coming together, and I could see him getting nervous and frustrated about that. I think maybe he’d bought too-small condoms or maybe just the mood wasn’t right for that part. This was a problem for me ONLY inasmuch as it was clearly making him feel bad. As a queer kinky person, I see intercourse as one WONDERFUL medium in a vast palette, but it scares me how much meaning (and maybe even self-worth!) some guys attach to hardness.
I feel very hesitant to talk about this because I can only imagine how vulnerable this aspect of things is (I can hear Charlotte York going on and on about “We don’t want to upset the penis!” as I type. ) but I think it’s important to think about how objectifying this focus on performance is for both of us. I wouldn’t blame any individual man for this fixation—as with so many sex-troubles, I think it comes from the deep, rotten heart of heteronormativity.

For a while, the worry didn’t overtake the pleasure. We played, we snuggled. We layed around looking like a painting with our fancy wine glasses. He called me “Titianesque” and I was impressed with the art history reference.

But eventually, it wasn’t okay, and I’m going to give myself time to breathe before I write about that part. I’m okay, he did nothing wrong, but that fixation needs to go.

Wednesday, October 10, 2018

Snuggles in the Time of Kavanaugh: Part Two

I still consider it such a miracle that that Walkout Monday ended like this: Me leading Gilmore Guy upstairs to fresh sheets and fluffy pillows. My cat, the shyest little cat in the universe, letting him pet her and hold her before running away to her spot behind the dryer. Me trying to undress Gilmore Guy and finding out what shirtstays are—I told you, he’s a little dandyish.

It felt so comforting to welcome him into my bed, all kissing and warm and ready. His skin was so gorgeously soft and he had an earthy, minty smell like natural soap. Sooooothing.

And finally, I had the chance to do what I’d been fantasizing about the most.

“Get on your knees next to the bed,” I said, and he complied.

“How do you feel about calling someone Ma’am?” I asked. (A flash of fear went across his face in the middle of that sentence…)

“I feel…good.”

“You feel good…what?”

“Ma’am. Yes ma’am.”

            I spread my legs in front of his face and pressed him to me, pushing his shoulders down with my hands and then with my legs. I lay back in ecstasy and power, dissolving into joy. He did a very good job and I told him so as I pulled him up onto the bed and held him prone.

“It’s just…will I always be calling you ma’am?  I don’t think I would like that.”

“No. I don’t like anything all the time. That’s why I’m a pansexual switch.”

“Oh, okay, good.”

“Oh, okaaaaaaayyy…”

“Ma’am. Okay ma’am.”

(Writing this part down really makes me miss him and wish it had worked out. I really like the way it felt when he called me ma’am.)

Since he’s so new at kink and I’m sooooo far removed from any rope practice, I tied him up very gently (and pretty unconvincingly) with the pink fuzzy belt of my robe. I only tied him by one wrist, but it was such a thrill to be over him, his body warm and vital and delicious beneath me, playing this game and feeling my own strength against his. Though the title of this series might connote revenge on men, it could not be more opposite. This was a loving power, a kind exchange of equals. This night, I’ll say again, was such a gift and a miracle in the middle of so much bodily and national turmoil.

“What will I say if I need you to stop?” he asked.

“Just say stop.” I answered, in what felt like a new kind of commanding voice. I felt such power and peace, such connection. I felt grounded in my body and in my soul, in pleasure. He was so sweet and kind and such a gift, and in that moment, he was mine.

Monday, October 8, 2018

Snuggles in the Time of Kavanaugh* Part One

*Gabriel Garcia Marquez was also a rapey garbage person.

Before I write elsewhere about my adventures at the Supreme Court protests last Saturday, (Short recap: Screamed at a couple of Trump supporters, got in a cop’s face when he wouldn’t let me take my sign up the steps, screamed at a Franken apologist, helped take the steps of the Capitol, didn’t get arrested, went to the botanical garden) I want to keep honoring my time with Gilmore Guy, which is both related to and so sooooooooothing about the national misogynist mess.

After our wonderful time on the twenty-first night of September, Gilmore Guy and I set our next date for the following Monday. I was sooooo excited for the date that I even went shopping for cute new PJs, a lacy new bra, and underpants that were decidedly NOT the Bridget Jones kind. It felt wonderful to think about lace and ribbon and general girly adventurousness—I hadn’t felt that way in a long time!

Unfortunately and fortunately, that Monday was also the day of the National Walkout to Support Dr. Blasey Ford. It felt tricky to hold both that massively important moment and the wonder of this gorgeous, cuddly new man in my life at the same time.

I did NOT like wearing black. I would do anything for survivors, but in the future, I may not do that. Without my jewel tones and happy, sparkly jewelry, I felt armorless, marked as a victim for all to see.

I stopped at the library to pick up my holds, and the librarian complimented my NARAL pin that says “feminist” in six languages. She then felt moved to tell me that her brother had been molested by a man in the Sixties while hitchhiking. I felt equal parts sympathetic and annoyed, equal parts solidarity and irked by himpathy.

I text voters as often as I can to support the #bluewave, but I maybe should have skipped it on that day. Or maybe I’m glad I didn’t. Every time (okay it was only two times) somebody told me how undignified the Democrats were being at the Kavanaugh hearings, I came out as a rape survivor and told them why their support was important to me. It was good work, but also so discouraging and WILDLY triggering.

So after that, I was jangled. I was scared both physically and about the election. I also sometimes get a feeling from guys that once you’ve had sex with them once, it’s assumed for the rest of time. That’s maybe unfair, but it’s where I was at. I texted Gilmore Guy all this, and he understood, but wasn’t very wordy about it—taciturn. I felt like I had done something wrong, but I might have felt that no matter what.

Still, I liked the idea of just cuddles and episodes, and he even agreed to bring some Prosecco, my hero. (him AND the Prosecco) The idea of bubbly wine and introducing this cutie pie to Steven Universe got me back to myself and on with my day.

After work, even more of the fear and strain fell away. My job is very restorative these days, thank goodness.

So I got home, lit candles, got happily into my pretty new undies, awake and full of anticipation.  He was a few minutes late but when he got there and popped the cork, it felt like the moment was charmed. Plus, I got to use the fancy champagne flutes that Sweetie and I got at our wedding way back when. I gave him the pink glass and took the green, thinking (BUT DEFINITELY NOT SAYING) oh, heart chakra colors!

It’s a good thing Steven Universe episodes are only like fifteen minutes long, because Gilmore Guy’s arms were so warm around me, and this apartment sure as HECK has an available bed.