Sunday, October 26, 2008

cyberlovers 3

(this article is one of a series about online dating correspondences in which the couple never meet, despite conspicuous outlays of time or emotion)

To a large extent, i have no one but myself to blame for the prolonged wound-scrape that was my relationship with B. When we met online, i was looking for healing...for the truth of touch to salve my weary spirit. At the time, i was in love with a woman i couldn't be with, and battered by a lack of physical healing in any relationship i'd had in years. To be held with unconditional acceptance and love...it had been over a decade since i'd felt anything like that. And my experience with C had made me wary of any kind of online emotional involvement prior to meeting.
It took me the better part of a year to discover that B's needs were almost the polar opposite of mine. Her own path had been one of harshness in physical intimacy, and she needed spiritual love and acceptance more than she actually needed to meet someone. She did want to meet me eventually, for in time my resistance gave way and our spiritual love was secured. But ultimately she was so afraid of rejection, or of our love not measuring up to the intensity of the dream, that my year-long pleas for contact were an isolated howl into the winds of time.
It was one of my own ads that began our tale. I posted a poem of mine, and she was so taken with it that she responded, even though, as a devotee of makeup and heels and fashion, she wasn't the natural woman i had written about. Her intelligence and spirit touched me, and we were off. For a year, we wrote almost every day, and shared our poetry (one of my more resonant poems, "Sanctify", was inspired by her). She had lived through a loveless ten-year marriage, in which she had once been raped. She had been born in the Caribbean, and was taken with my light skin and long blonde hair. We sent each other very naked pictures...in most of her photos, her face was turned away, and i learned this was because she didn't like her eyes (and because i didn't like makeup). Sometimes she would pretend that a picture she had sent wasn't her, just some island girl for me to dream about. This was a little cute, but eventually honesty became a problem for her. In most ways though, she was possibly more open with me than she'd ever been with anyone.
The profoundness of her growing love for me was intense. I tried to hold back, but with limited success. Even at a distance, we affected each other physically. She affected my breath, and made my chest tighten. We would have long back and forth conversations. A few times, i became spontaneously erect while writing with her. She would sit on her bed to write, and one night she was stunned when she experienced a spontaneous orgasm under her warm laptop. My insistence that it was unhealthy to not hold a woman who just came because of you, fell on deaf ears.
After about a year, she told me that she had to leave New York for Texas, and we made one real attempt to get together. Strangely, i had a little rush of uncertainty at the last minute. I asked to re-schedule for the following day, but it never happened. She left, and i asked to break off contact. In the year or two that followed, we were intermittently successful at this. Occasionally we would write, and once there was even a strained phone call. Throughout, she did a number of things to destroy her credibility and be less than gentle. She threatened to hook up with blonde men she met. Once she answered another ad of mine, and carried on a conversation with me for several days, pretending to be someone else. There were other untruths, but my self-preservation has blocked the memory of them.
She also revealed at one point that she was dying. I told her it didn't matter, and that i didn't understand how dying wouldn't make her more willing to meet. In meeting, the only promise i made was that she would be held. Perhaps she needed the "ever after" part so much that any less would be too much to bear. She did finally visit me on a trip to NY. Unfortunately, she didn't tell me in advance, and went to my old address.
I know that perhaps i've been a tiny bit ungenerous, and that her version of the tale might leave you feeling more sympathy for her. During our Texas time, she accused me of cruelty for sometimes refusing to acknowledge her letters. But in the years we wrote, i still searched in vain for the simple physical healing i'd been needing...so that colors my story, to be sure.
I do love her.

Friday, October 24, 2008

cyberlovers 2

(this article is one of a series about online dating correspondences in which the couple never meet, despite conspicuous outlays of time or emotion)

I responded to a forgotten online ad by F, and when she wrote back i was quickly taken by her assertive energy and bright intelligence. Adorably, her name rhymed with the African country she had been born in. The picture she sent pressed almost every visual button i had...she stood alone under a palm tree next to a volleyball court, her dark skin and hair the picture of natural beauty, her physique a complement of my own. She was looking for more than a hook-up, but she was all about freedom and multiple lovers. Although we shared some wonderful letters for a week or so, she decided that i was too monogamously-oriented to risk pursuing. The fact that i both agreed and disagreed was moot.
A month later, we resumed our letters. She opened up her life to me. She had been raised in Germany, and shared the most beautiful tale of sexual awakening with the German girl she had lived with. She had known many lovers. She was a painter, and her paintings were beautiful and moving. She told me about the two great loves of her life, a Brooklyn artist and a French businessman. The artist had been her first, and he had promised her she would never find another love as physically satisfying. She and he were still occasional lovers, and she was on friendly terms with his live-in mate. The businessman and she had been involved for a year or two, whenever he came to town. She explored submission with him, and related tales of degradation that were quite stunning (one of them either made him a freak of nature, or on viagra). I myself had never indulged in dominance/submission, but a part of me was so taken with her spirit that i closed no doors. When i told her about my taoist training, and separating orgasm from ejaculation, she was unhappy. Ejaculation was such a huge part of her enjoyment of sex, that this was almost a deal-breaker for her. I eventually told her that if i loved someone, i would never fully deny something so precious to them. For all her libertine ways, she had never had multi-partner sex. She told me there was something psychologically fearful about it. A lifelong devotee of fear-facing, i fantasized about making love to her with other men. There was something intoxicating about the kind of lover she wanted in me. She liked to devote entire days to making love (her "fourteen hours", she called it). During the months we wrote, the specificity and intensity of the fantasies i had about her were profound...the things i would do for her which i had never done, and the things she would do for me...
She told me all about her childhood, and sent pictures of her African home, where her family still lived, and with whom she was close. She told me about the ways her home life had damaged her spirit. Abandonment issues. She continued to send pictures of herself, and a couple of them literally took my breath away. She occasionally wore makeup and heels, but i felt that this wouldn't bother me like it would with other women.
She shared poems she had written, and one of them was among the most beautiful, heart-rending things i've ever read, and ultimately the straw that broke our back. It was a poem that ripped past all her surface strength, and revealed, in a tiny voice, her profound fear of never being loved. All along i had been dancing around the idea of being with her without having access to ALL of her...but when i read her poem, i knew that i needed to love her, without walls, beyond time. Even though i held on to the idea of meeting her (i suggested we could hold each other from time to time, in simple asexual love), she was ultimately too afraid of the self she had revealed to me. She wrote that in another time i might be the fulfillment of her most sacred dreams, but that she couldn't reconcile me with her present world. She asked me to walk away. I knew that to do that, i would have to wipe out every physical connection...delete every poem, trash every picture, take her e-mail address out of my computer...else i would never be able to let go.
I did all this.
A couple of times in the years since, i've had a moment of weakness in which i've sent a tiny e-mail to the address time won't let me forget.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

cyberlovers

For the past six years, i've dabbled in online love connections. Prior to that, i had always thought personal ads were a touch pathetic, but when i began using craigslist for job purposes, i discovered the "platonic only" personal section. This seemed an admirable evolvement in the genre, and i browsed. I occasionally answered an ad, and made some new friends. I realized after a year or less that i was only answering ads by females, and that whenever i met a woman, it almost invariably became romantic. I embraced the obvious and began browsing the romance section. In the years since, i've answered many ads and posted some of my own (being a male and off the beaten path, i've met almost no one from my own ads). I often answer the ads which seek opinions, or offer questionnaires. I try to keep an attitude of fun. Craigslist is the only site i use, as paying money for a dating service invokes a level of neediness that's not me.
I rarely look at ads which don't have a picture, as i believe pictures do tell a thousand words, particularly for someone off that aforementioned path. In a similar vein, most men don't need the words of an ad to know whether they're interested in a woman. Which is not to say that men don't care about personality, but sex is sex...or stated a little more generously, the average male can glean enough of a woman's personality from a picture to know whether he wants to meet.
I would estimate that at least half of my NY love life has come through the online world.
This article isn't about that.
This article (and the following two) is about online lovers who never meet...and three women whose lives became a part of mine, but never in the material world.
Being fond of the written word, most of the online connections i make are with atypically literate women. I can be game for flurries of back and forth letters. In general though, if there's a connection, i prefer to meet sooner rather than later. C was one of my early connections. I suspect we met in the "platonic only" section. For a while we wrote increasingly tender and revealing letters, sharing our poetry and lives. She wrote beautifully. She and her lesbian partner lived outside the city. She had only ever been with a man sexually once, when as an adolescent her father or step-father raped her. To this day, one of my cherished possessions is a poem she wrote about that experience, and i will sadly ever keep my word to not share it with the world. Over the months we wrote ever-increasingly intimate letters. She finally became convinced that she had found in me the first male lover of her life, and that making physical love with me would be the most important step in her long journey of healing. I felt the same...her words affected me viscerally, and i was sure that i was who she believed me to be. I honestly can't remember whether we ever shared pictures of each other.
Strangely, considering that she is the lead woman in this memoir, C doesn't fit into the parameters, for we did meet. After about four months, we met at a Manhattan Starbucks. It was faintly surreal, as we sipped and talked. After an hour, she headed back to the station. As we said goodbye, i think we both knew that something we had been so sure of, was not to be. Our physical connection was gentle and friendly, but the spark that would have made real all those months of build-up, just wasn't there. I think it was so obvious to both of us, that we didn't even speak of it. We just smiled and hugged each other goodbye.
We exchanged one or two more notes, and faded out of each other's lives.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

economy burn Burn

The single most important feature of the current economic crisis is a reality most people don't grasp.
There is no economic crisis.
Ask any one of the millions who are running about in fear of the sky falling, a very simple question. In real terms, how is the world different from one month ago? You'll get a million babbling priceindexfidiciarynasdaqpurplepeopleeater answers, but very few will look you in the eye and say, "The world is no different, actually".
The world of shared ideas and social constructs has changed, but those things have no tangible reality. Tangible reality is this: how many life forms are on the planet, what resources do we have, and what is the state of our environment. Those three things pretty much cover reality. And they're statistically identical to what they were a month ago. Weevils didn't destroy the planet's wheat supply. A volcanic cloud didn't shroud North America. An overanxious mother in Maryland with way too much access to fertility pills didn't suddenly drop a billion babies into our laps.
All that has changed are human perceptions. I'm not saying that human perceptions don't have consequences...human perceptions are responsible for genocide, The Great Depression, and "Project Runway". But the choices we face in how to distribute our resources and care for our world, these choices are just as they were a month ago.
In more pressing matters...some time ago, one of my brothers stumbled across the question, "Did you burn Burn?" He was referring to cd copying and a Deep Purple album, as i recall. "Did you burn Burn" is a funny sentence, and it quickly became one of our favorites. We tried to think of similar grammatical constructions.
We were stumped.
This morning, over a year later, biking home from Manhattan, a similar grammatical construction finally hit me. I offer up this new sentence, for your edification and enjoyment: "Did you burn Burn while you saw Saw?"
Thank you...thank you. No no, you're too kind. Thank you.
And, good reader, i now include you in our quest. Can we top this sentence? Is there a third such grammatical construction waiting for us out there? If any of you deliver up such a beast, an impressive prize packet of soup mix awaits you.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

"It's a Very Muppet Christmas Movie"

2002
-directed by Kirk R. Thatcher
What am i doing here again?
I thought my Muppet movie musings were gone, gone, gone. The small handful i hadn't seen were of the straight-to-video ilk. "It's a Very Merry Muppet Christmas Movie", a love nod to "It's a Wonderful Life", was supposed to be unwatchable. The post-Henson/Oz years had prepared us for nothing less. But for the first half, this film was very nearly Muppet perfection. Somewhere in the creative team of Tom Martin, Jim Lewis, and Thatcher, is a childhood fan who forgot that this movie was supposed to suck. What's missing is as auspicious as what's here. Missing is the overdose of Gonzo/Rizzo. Missing are the newer characters who fall flat. And yet in the sweeping away of the new, Pepe the Prawn is somehow exempted. And well, Pepe kicks ass.
Returned are all the old-timers, including for the first time since forever, Rowlf and Scooter. They don't go overboard with them, just have them happily present. In a nod to the magic of Oz, Yoda makes a fun cameo. Fozzie is adorable as an accidental Grinch. And more stunningly, the human actors are wonderful. Even those who are often annoying even in non-Muppet productions (David Arquette, Matthew Lillard, Joan Cusack) manage to hit the right notes. Triumph the Insult Dog's skewering of the post-Henson era is cathartic perfection. Yes, the music is tepid, and Statler and Waldorf sound like nobody you've ever heard, but at least they're reading good lines.
That said, the second half of the movie is, in Alzheimer's parlance, a very long goodbye. The final forty-five minutes runs about two hours. It's so soporific i debated whether to write this article at all, and whether to now keep the film in my collection. My best guess is that Thatcher had an obligation to make the movie a certain number of minutes, and simply ran out of quality ones. And the sad reality for this TV film is that a "director's cut" will never come to be.
But come Christmas, watch the first half.
And be happy.
3 stars.
POSTSCRIPT: I just watched 1987's "A Muppet Family Christmas", and "Emmet Otter's Jug-Band Christmas". The former isn't overly inspired, but it's sweet. It's most striking feature is bringing together three universes: virtually every puppet from Sesame Street, the Muppets, and the Fraggles (with Doc, too) are here. I don't know whether that ever happened before, or after. The sweetest moment is at the end, when we see Jim in the kitchen cleaning dishes as 500 puppets in the next room sing the closing song. "Emmet" is also sweet. A 3-star effort that pushes the boundaries of 4, it is most striking for Paul Williams' songs, which come closer to capturing the musical magic of "The Muppet Movie" than any other post-Muppet Show effort.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

boobies?

Last night i read a bedtime story for Tarlik, the semi-verbal tot with whom i live. After the story, i held him while he played with a new Barbie-type doll. She wore a gold, one-shouldered shirt and bell bottoms. Tarlik was completely focused, and the nature of his curiosity was quickly apparent as his nimble fingers searched for a way to take off her top. The velcro soon gave way, and the object of his desire lay before him - boobies. He touched them for a minute or two, looking up at me once or twice as though inviting me to partake of his joy. I smiled, and said affirming but noncommittal words. Finally, he kissed the boobies. For a few seconds i wondered whether his fascination had to do with breast-feeding (i'm pretty sure he's already been weaned).
His fascination did not have to do with breast-feeding.
He began to single-mindedly work and tug at the pants. They resisted his efforts far more than the shirt. After a couple of minutes, he turned to me for help. I told him it didn't look like they were coming off. He kept at his efforts, then asked for help again, handing her to me. That he was seeking male bonding seemed an inescapable conclusion. I faked an effort to get her pants off, and handed her back. He continued to try. After succeeding in revealing only the top third of her hiney, he finally gave up.
Fascinating.
I couldn't help thinking that this scenario would be acted out by Tarlik someday with a real, live, "lucky" girl...and frankly, i'm not sure whether i want him to call me when he has trouble with the pants. At the very least, i hope for the girl's sake that the time units involved are a little more generous.
A semi-verbal almost-three year-old.
And all the groundwork has already been laid for a large part of his perceptions of, and interactions with, females.
Where did he learn his behavior? From the unspoken gender attitudes of all the people in his life. And from TV, as i know he has seen grownup shows. His fascination has also been shaped by our attitude toward the body in general...if we were a society at all comfortable with our naked selves, i doubt whether he would have been so thoroughly entranced. I remember being a child and disrobing a female doll in almost the same exact way...i may have been a little or a lot older than Tarlik, but that seems hardly relevant.
Is there also an element of instinct in his actions? Possibly, but the more we learn about genetics, the more we learn that the "purity" of genetics is a fallacy...that our genetic expressions are not set at birth, but that they shape and are shaped by our ongoing life experience.
Though raising a child takes years, don't ever doubt that by the time we're three, most of our general behavior patterns (and many of the specific ones) are well-set. Get to know a child of three, and you will surely be watching the thirty year-old he or she will one day be.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

no mirrors!

I have a pimple.
A rather impressive one. Perhaps not quite classically "visible from across the room", but impossible to miss in close quarters. It's between my mid-nose and my right cheekbone, a location that's high on, but not at the top of, the conspicuous scale. It's a deep pimple, one with a life cycle of at least a week...it started out four days ago as a subcutaneous entity to be ignored. By yesterday, a yellowishness had surfaced, necessitating a decision: lance and squeeze, or not. I chose the former. The first draining was sadly not the last; hopefully that will be tonight or tomorrow. No regrets, let's move ahead. Fortunately, today and yesterday have been hermit days. Tomorrow however, i must do a P.R. event for my peanut butter job. Ah well, the pageant of life. It will be a character-tweaking reminder of the nonsensical miseries we all face.
Pimples struck in my teens. The low point was when i returned to school after having mono. One of my concert band friends asked whether i had chicken pox. I tried one of those little makeup sticks, and i allowed my folks to take my stoic self to a dermatologist, bless them. The biggest point that the dermatologist made was to leave pimples alone, when at all possible. Good advice, but yellow pimples simply must be dealt with (there was a girl on the subway the other day so in need, it killed me to not take her home and take care of her). Once a dermatologist has maintenanced you, you pick up on the technique of pricking the skin before squeezing, to reduce collateral damage.
I would occasionally get pimples elsewhere, but mostly on my face. If you've ever had a grand nose pimple, you know a special kind of misery. The only unforgettable pimple of my life was at my side forehead hairline; its placement made it inconspicuous, but it was so large and deep that the pressure of it actually hurt, and when i squeezed it, a string of yellow goo came out that was measurable in inches.
As an adult, pimple frequency has gone down enough that i've been complimented on my great skin. This is nice, but personality scars can last longer than the blemishes themselves. Pimples didn't dominate my adolescent psyche, but they tried, how they tried. Staring at the mirror, longing for the day when they would be gone...oh my god, i would tear up the world when that day came, talking to any girl, free of fear! Free! On particularly bad days, i did my turtly best to hide from society.
When i did finally pass the prime pimple years, i found that the path to freedom from social fear was something i still had to work at. The human psyche in this damaged society is usually far better at creating obstacles than overcoming them.
Around the age of thirty, pimples began to frequent my derriere, but that's not so bad.
In a perfectly healthy world, mirrors would be rare. In our world they are like clocks, everywhere. In a perfect world, we would all just unself-consciously be who we are. In our world, almost all of us finds a source of misery in the images that stare back at us...pimples, freckles, unwanted hair, fat face, yellow teeth, wrinkles, a scar, big nose, kinky hair, eye bags, thin lips, skin color...most of these sources of misery are pure silliness, and none of them have anything to do with our true beauty.
Imagine a world, a world of no mirrors...

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

15:3:1

Dear Flower,
I love the Vonnegut quote.
I've told you most of the reasons for the giant thumb pinning my head. Remember those daily kicks? For the past fifteen years, my little daily kick has been "you will lie down tonight unheld". Not that i haven't had moments...i once slept with four different women in the space of five nights (mostly asexually, i'm a cuddler). But in the big picture, i've been held maybe 1-2% of the past fifteen years. For the past fourteen years, i laughed off this almost-daily kick. You'll be hard-pressed to find someone possessed of more perspectives than myself, when it comes to what's important and the singular joy of being alive. However, imagine a light kick that lands in the same spot every day. It eventually becomes tender. After more than a decade it's a pain you're begging to land somewhere else, anywhere else.
I'm dying from being untouched and unrubbed, Flow. If that sounds overly dramatic, remember that lambs who are unlicked often die. I understand the healing power of touch...it gets inside our being in ways we're only beginning to understand, including the correlation between touch and anti-social behavior. In studying people who are inflictors of pain, you will uncover a profound dearth of touch.
I've been a champion of touch all my adult life (which has been a source of heartbreak in this non-tactile society, which has become increasingly moreso due to the heinous, baseless pedophile witch hunt). Having worked with children and the mentally retarded, i've at times been one of the most hugged people on the planet. And the thousands of massages i've given...yet due to my too-giving nature, i've received only the tiniest fraction in return.
I'm so far beyond the catharsis of talk. Your endorphin exercise advice is the choir talking to the preacher. I bike close to two hours a day 3-6 days a week, and do an hour of yoga calisthenics every other day. I eat very well. I do everything right for amazing health, except be held.
A sadness equation popped into my mind this week, 15:3:1. 15 years since i've been really held. 3 years ago i fell in love with a woman i couldn't be with, and only now can i feel myself emerging on the other side. 1 is the turbulent past year, in part because of a relationship with a woman who will be amazing years from now, when she's worked through her neuroses and self-love issues. We broke up for about twice as long as we dated, and my head was exposed to a new kind of almost-daily kick. This in a year when i know that all i need is the simplest of physical healing.
hugs and hugs,
wrob