Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Another Quiz

WAY better picture of her here.

What Classic Pin-Up Are You?

You're Lili St. Cyr!
Take this quiz!

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Monday, November 27, 2006


Yesterday in the car, I found myself telling G a story about my Mom taking me to a gymnastics class, to see if I'd like it. To make a long story short, it didn't work out, and when we got home, my Mom and Dad started screaming at each other, not really about me, but kind of about me. I don't remember what they were saying, but I trudged upstairs to the playroom and tuned them out while I played with my toys. Like I always did. I did that so fucking often.

When neighborhood girls would come over to play, they would make their stuffed animals and dolls talk, and they'd have conversations with them, right there in front of everyone. I never did. One even asked me "Aren't you gonna make them talk?" I was silent. Part of me was afriad that if I exhibited that kind of creativity, I'd get made fun of like I did at school, and I was damned if I was going to be made fun of in my own fucking playroom. But I played silently when I was alone too. I'd put music on, a record or a tape, and play quietly. The only noise I made was if I decided to sing along, and I did that a lot. No wonder adults loved me. What a well-behaved child I must have seemed to be.

There was something deeper going on - a need for quiet. I didn't want my parents to remember that I was up there, so I stayed quiet. I didn't want to be pulled back into the yelling, or worse, become a target of the yelling. I cocooned myself in my playroom with my stuffed animals and dolls. I was still doing this into my teens - it didn't stop until I was in high school - about age 15. At that point, Kristin and Lisa pulled me out of my room and into life. It took two people - one alone never managed to do it.

New York City is the ultimate manifestation of my childhood images of home, with all the noise outside, all the yelling and danger and uncertainty. My apartments became my new playroom, where it was quiet and safe and I could sing along with my records. Except that in New York, when I went outside, I never saw the same people twice unless I chose to, so I didn't have to fear being made fun of every day by the same kids on the same playgrounds anymore. New York was the macro-sized Home, but with escape routes and better hiding places. No wonder I never minded hearing noise from neighboring apartments! In New York, the screamers never said my name. The fighting wasn't about me, wasn't even remotely, in any possible way, my fault.

Balance all that with loneliness, with being overly sensitive, wanting people around, but being afraid of them and hurt by them. I didn't want to be alone, and I didn't want to be around people either. It's much the same today. New York is the perfect balance of these fears, and these needs. Millions of people everywhere I turn, but they mostly leave me alone, and I still have a quiet playroom to disappear in when I need to.

In some ways - and he'd kill me for saying this, but I think it's true - G had a self-centered mom and a semi-absent dad too. I think that's why he, more than any guy I've ever been with, really understands me. Sometimes I wonder if he doesn't love me, in part, because of my baggage. Maybe he recognizes something in me that mirrors something in him.

I think that's fine.

The hardest part of therapy - for me, anyway - is making these connections. It is a continuous process of self-discovery. I could have related these memories at any time, but the connection between the playroom and my apartments is a huge "a-HA" moment for me. I never wanted to leave my playroom, and in my adolescence, it became my bedroom. I made it my own in every way, until Earl ruined it for me. Another story for another time. But I have such wonderful memories of feeling safe in that room. And I felt safe in my apartments. Which explains on another level why leaving my last apartment ripped me up the way it did, and why I am so addicted to New York City. These kinds of realizations give me great perspective. They help me to forgive myself.

No, actually, making the connections is the second hardest part of the therapeutic process. The hardest part is forgiving myself - or realizing that there is nothing to forgive. I shouldn't have to be forgiven for feeling guilty, for feeling afraid, for being weak. I'm human, and it's human to be afraid sometimes. The guilt I feel is really empathy, a wish to be able to help someone, make my parents happier. I take the responsibility on myself to make the fighting stop, somehow thinking I might have that power. I wouldn't have done that if I didn't love them, and it's good to love people. Maybe if I didn't love my parents so much, I wouldn't have felt so worthless, so powerless, so insignificant. Like such a disappointment and failure. If I didn't love them so much, maybe I would have loved myself more.

I'm getting better at that last part.

All I Have

Maybe, just maybe, the most precious gift you can give someone, is to always be with them.

Monday, November 20, 2006

Baby Got Book

Christian Humour. Freakin' Hilarious.

Saturday, November 18, 2006

See. This. Film.

When G got home last night, I was all set to see Casino Royale. (I am a closet Bond lover.) At the last minute, we decided to see something else, as we realized that G's parents would probably want to see Casino Royale the day after Thanksgiving, and it would be a nice family thing for the four of us to do. Almost at random, I chose to see Stranger Than Fiction instead - and only by process of elimination. I didn't want to sit in a theatre full of kids, so Happy Feet was out. I wasn't up for gore and grisly, so the Prestige was out. G's not interested in Babel, neither of us are the least bit interested in Borat, and Candy's not playing near us. Dustin Hoffman and Emma Thompson were in Stranger than Fiction, so I picked that one.

I had just finished writing this. I was so. Freaked. Out.

Stranger Than Fiction is beautifully acted - Hoffman is delightfully irritating, Thompson is deliciously crazed, Queen Latifah is impressively reserved, and Will Ferret (sorry, Ferrell) can actually act. I never thought I'd be able to stomach that man onscreen, but Ferrell's Forrest-Gump-like portrayal of an IRS agent who realizes the inevitability of his imminent death was sympathetic and honest. I still can't believe it was him. It was like... seeing Jim Carrey in the Truman Show, or Robin Williams in Awakenings. He won me over.

Mostly, the film is about, well, as Emma Thompson puts it, interconnectedness. It's about the amount of control we may or may not have over the events in our lives - much like what I was writing yesterday. It's a good script, with good acting, and a good message.

When we got home from the movie, I made G read yesterday's blog post.

Later, in bed, I told him, "I love how you don't think I'm crazy. How you've never thought I was crazy."

"No more than everybody else is," he laughed.

And we slept.

Friday, November 17, 2006

Growing Up

Many years ago, I asked a shy, geeky friend of mine if he ever felt that he was being watched as he moved through his life, the decisions he made, the places he went, things he said, etc. I asked if he ever felt that he wasn't really in control of the things that he did, as though he were a puppet, and someone else was pulling the strings. That the things that pop into our minds are placed there by some higher being, that the things we do and the choices we make are actually dictated to us.

He said he understood the feeling of being watched, but he never felt that he wasn't in control.

I said that I often felt myself doing and saying things that seemed to come from nowhere, things I couldn't remember saying or doing even a few minutes later. He looked at me very strangely. I said that sometimes weeks would go by when I felt that every move I made, from brushing my teeth to stubbornly refusing to do homework, was being dictated to me by some higher being. It was almost like hearing voices in my head, only it wasn't voices, it was just a feeling, a feeling that I needed to do this thing, that I should say this and not that. My friend stared at me long and hard. We changed the subject.

Not too long after that, I told my therapist about that conversation. I had been hoping that my friend, whose childhood had been as socially miserable as mine, might have felt the same way from time to time. I was disappointed that he didn't. I was hoping someone might understand.

My therapist told me that this was a type of dissociation. It might have begun when I was a child, hearing my parents screaming at each other in the living room, while I played upstairs in the toyroom. I was bullied a lot at school, and there was a lot of conflict at home. Teachers were indifferent, children were cruel and fickle, and my parents were unreliable - supportive one minute, screaming at me or just not there the the next. I didn't have a "safe place" or anyone I could trust. Both my grandmothers and most of my neighbors were very religious, so the concept of God was planted in my mind very early. I created a protector, what everyone said God was supposed to be. I was told that we were supposed to let God run our lives. At seven, which is as far back as most of my memories go, I took that literally. The habit stuck.

I worried for a long time that I was delusional, that I was really seriously crazy. Since I never committed any crimes or tied to hurt anybody, nobody worried. Outside of a few broken hearts, I didn't do much damage, although those broken hearts were pretty dramatic at the time. Everyone I talked to, every therapist, every friend, everyone, told me I was fine, I wasn't crazy, I'd just been through a lot, and I needed to just talk things out and move on.

All these years later, I know they were right, but I also now see that people treated me with kid gloves. Nobody had the courage to say "Your parents were difficult, you were abused at school, you were raped in high school, you felt abandoned when your grandpa died." Nobody would use those words - nobody had the guts to tell it like it was. Everybody was so precious with me. Did they think I would break? Snap? If they didn't believe I was crazy, they must have thought I was on the brink.

Nowadays, I do feel that I am in control of my life... sort of. I know certain this-world things are out of control. I can't affect the weather. I can't hire myself. I can't cast myself. I can't make people like me. I can't change the past. However, I can monitor my speech, and I am in control of the choices I make. To say "no" instead of "maybe later." To say "I'm sorry" instead of "let me explain." To wear the warmer jacket, to keep my wallet in my pocket, to walk past the shoe store without looking in the window. Little things, that can have a big impact. I have that power, and I use it every day.

I still, however, feel that God is watching me. Except now, I think she's not so much worried as she is amused. Maybe I'm God's favorite TV show? Maybe I'm just what I was meant to be - one of millions of beloved daughters.

That's ok.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Not bad for a 35-year-old

Another Quiz from Dalila. Although I hate that stupid cheesy-assed picture. As though weddings were the be-all, end-all of existence.

You've Experienced 80% of Life

You have all of the life experience that most adults will ever get.
And unless you're already in your 40s, you're probably wise beyond your years.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

In Other News...

I have a job interview Monday. Very hopeful.

Semper Fidelis

I made a list this morning of all the people I've slept with, and I only came up with 34 names, including "bouncer guy." I know there are around eight more significant encounters that I've forgotten. I first counted names in about '95 or '96, and got as far as 40. I was including people with whom I'd fooled around heavily but never crossed the finish line with, so to speak. I decided at that time that I should probably quit counting. Since then, there have been ten more, ending with G.

It's probably good that I can't remember all of them. I know they can't possibly all remember me. With my new conservative estimate, that's 44 total, a good number of whom were one-night stands. When I think back on some of them my stomach churns with shame. I can't believe how sad and defeated and worthless I felt back then, and what an ineffective drug sex was.

G and I have been engaged for nine months, and I have doubts about our relationship. I don’t know if I’ll be happy with him forever. I don’t know if I’ll ever get over New York, if I’ll resent G and blame him for my never being able to live there again. (G hates the city.) I’m not entirely convinced that the Jewish issue won’t be a problem in the future. There are other concerns that would affect any couple – like child-rearing, and money – but it’s the G-specific things that I’m angsting. I thought we had worked through all this. I have this awful feeling that G hasn’t been completely honest with me about something. I feel… distrustful.

That angst is bringing back an all-too-familiar feeling of panic. I’m a powder keg.

I was at my most depressed when I was in college - during the “slut years.” It's not an excuse - it was a factor. Sex became a powerful anaesthetic for me. For a few hours, the world went away. I liked it wild and rough, because it was more work that way, and required all my concentration, and my partner's. Sometimes a quickie was enough to help me sleep. Sometimes I'd thrash around with someone for six or seven hours, trying to get rid of the self-loathing voices in my head. It worked most of the time. The next day, I'd try and forget about what I’d just done. That was the hard part.

I never kept track of my lovers until many years had gone by, and I'd moved to New York. I counted them because a friend was curious. I was pretty shocked at the total. She was impressed more than shocked. So was the guy I was dating at the time, who at 21 had only been with four girls. The fact that they didn't judge me helped me to not rush to judge myself.

I like to let people think I was a happy slut, but I wasn't. These were my college years. I was plagued with horrific nightmares about falling through the floor of a church, about an old evil witch who used to make me kill people, as though I were a marionette with no power of my own. I remember waking up at 2 am, 4 am, 5 am, my heart pounding in my chest, terrified that there was - no kidding - a demon under my bed, wondering when it would drag me off to hell, kill me horribly, whatever demons do. Some manifestation of a nebulous terror whose origins I never could pinpoint.

During the days, when I didn't have to go to class, I would sit in my dorm room all day writing poetry and short stories, watching TV, and seeing how long I could go without eating. I was never able to go longer than two days without eating, and I felt frustrated by that. I was angry with myself for that.

I also remember forcing myself to walk out of my dorm room, scuttling as fast as I could to the Student Counseling Center with my head tucked into my chest, hoping nobody saw me, not wanting to see the rest of the world. I told the student counselor about never wanting to eat, knowing it was dangerous, and about being afraid to leave my dorm room. I told her how I felt that people were pointing and laughing at me everywhere I went, and that I knew this probably wasn't true, and that these were crazy thoughts. I told her about being in love with a guy who wasn't good for me, and how I wasn't able to disengage from him no matter how many times I slept around.

That counselor talked about STD's and AIDs. I pulled a package of condoms out of my purse. I proceeded to rattle off all kinds of AIDs statistics, highest-risk groups, means of transmission. I told her when I’d last been tested and when I was planning to test again. The counselor said "as long as you're protecting yourself, and not using IV drugs, then I think it's good to explore your sexuality." She completely missed the point.

She tried to talk to me about homesickness. I informed her that I was an hour-and-a-half drive from home, and that I saw my family several times a month, and went home often. Next?

She asked about the not eating thing. I told her about being in the ballet company, and how evil the girls were to me, and how for a couple of years in high school I would only eat when my parents were watching, and how I'd throw up my breakfast every morning. I told her I'd seen a lot of girls with anorexia and bulemia. The counselor asked if I was hiding food, making myself throw up, taking laxatives. I wasn't. She asked how I felt about my body, and I replied I was one sexy-ass mama. I don’t remember what she said about all that, but the subject was dismissed.

I talked about the demons and the bad dreams. She asked if I was homesick. No, I said. I'm scared of the demons under my bed, and I'm scared that I'm going crazy. The counselor suggested I come back some other time.

I went a few times. We never talked about the dreams. We never talked about sex, just about how to keep from getting STD's. We never talked about the nature of infidelity. We never addressed the real reasons I was there.

In 2001, I dated an MSW. I talked to him frankly about sexual addiction. He seemed to feel that I wasn't truly a sex addict. He said if I was, I wouldn't be able to LIVE without getting it all the time, from all sorts of random people. That wasn't my behavior pattern. I was more apt to maintain several long-term relationships at once, with an occasional one-night stand if I was having a particularly bad day, and I was particularly drunk and/or stoned. A year or so later, after that relationship had ended, I considered seeking a group for sexual addiction, but I never followed through.

In 2003, after my marriage ended, I thought I had made a real breakthrough, when I dated someone without cheating, then broke up with him before starting to date someone else. That someone else was G.

A few nights ago, I dreamed some really awful dreams, about one of my ex's, about being paralyzed, about being used like a puppet to steal things from people.

I talked to G. I told him I still, at times, don't trust myself. We are engaged and planning a wedding. I told him that I was terrified that I might slip and screw this up.

"Is this why you've been wanting to spend more and more time with me lately?" he asked. I nodded, and cried.

We talked for some time. He did not get impatient or angry or suspicious. I was expecting a simple "If you love me and you're committed to our marriage, you won't screw this up." Nope. He didn't say that, and thank God, because that kind of guilt-trip usually pushes me over the edge. Instead, he just held my hand, and listened. I told him sex for me was like a bottle of bad whiskey – I think I’m going to find what I want, but it’s never there. I told him I’d had an opportunity recently, and was badly tempted, and that it scared the hell out of me. I told him I didn’t know what was missing from my life that would make me go to that dark place again, after all this time. He held me and kissed my forehead and let me cry until I fell asleep again.

The next morning, we talked about infidelity in general, and how I've always had a laissez-faire attitude towards it. I’ve always believed that a mindless transgression from time to time was not a statement on the primary relationship. I actually told G that if he had a fling on a business trip with someone faceless and nameless, that I'd chalk it up to being human, because I don't feel I have a right to judge anyone for that. I also said that it’s easy for me to say these things, but who knows how I'd really feel if it happened? He ruffled my hair and laughed. He has no interest whatsoever in cheating. He talked about condoms breaking and accidental pregnancies, and how it's just not worth taking those chances, never mind the whole concept of hurting me. I said that my attitude toward infidelity could easily be an effort to make myself feel better about my own sordid past, but I’m not sure that’s the case. What I do know is that this so-called need of mine, this compulsion, is not completely under control.

I have to grab hold of myself and remember that I’M in control here. That a wild, secret tumble in the dark doesn’t fix anything. Anesthesia wears off. I don’t want to lie or cheat or steal or hurt anyone – not even myself. I don’t have to punish myself for my past anymore. I’m better than my nightmares. The person holding my puppet strings is me.

I can trust G. I need to discuss my fears about our relationship directly with him. I need to face these things head on, rather than lashing out against my fears through a rebellious act. I’m worth it. I deserve it. I’m strong enough to do it. I’m not alone. I’m loved. I don’t need that drug anymore. I never did need it. I don’t even want it.

I can. I will. We will.

I do.

Saturday, November 11, 2006

My Hard-Won Diploma

Originally uploaded by MzOuiser.

It's official. I have graduated from Massage School. I am now eligible to sit for the New York State Licensing Exam on January 20th. Until then, I can still work legally if a Licensed Massage Therapist hires me on sponsorship. I have a couple of opportunities out there already, so I might be working sooner rather than later. We'll see.

I wish I felt like raising the roof, but frankly, after all the crap my class went through to get here, it seems anticlimactic. No matter. I didn't go into this for the sake of a graduation party. I went to the school so I could get the piece of paper I'm holding there, which will get me another piece of paper. So I can earn money doing something semi-meaningful.

I already miss some of my classmates. I had a group of women to hang with, and we all sort of bonded, especially in the last few months. We talked all the time. I didn't realize how much I had come to see them as a support system until I knew I wouldn't be seeing them anymore. Oh, we all have each other's numbers, but it's like work friends, or theatre friends. The job ends, the show closes, we don't see each other anymore. I'd like to think I'll stay in touch with a few, but time will tell. Maybe we will.

I'm mentally exhausted, but physically I'm in better shape than I have been in years. That's the nature of massage - you have to be healthy. Giving a one-hour swedish massage is a workout. I'm hoping this flush of health I'm in right now will help me get off my ass and look for work.

This whole housewife thing I've been doing for the last few weeks has been surprisingly agreeable. I don't see myself that way, but I can't deny how much I've enjoyed having no responsibilities outside the home. Maybe I just needed a rest. It's hibernation time anyway. I normally nest this time of year.

So, for now... yay, I made it! I did it! WITH HONORS, I might add. "W00t." And the first massage since graduating went to my fiancee - his birthday was last Wednesday. If he hadn't been supporting me while I was studying - in all ways possible - I'd never have been able to do this.

Thanks, G baby. Love you more 'n my luggage. Let's go get married now.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

I'm not completely out of the loop

I did try to vote yesterday, but somehow I'm not registered in my district. I thought I had taken care of that when I got my new driver's license last January, but apparently not. No matter. I just sensed that this particular time, things would be ok without me.

According to the papers this morning, I was right. Things are looking pretty sweet. Granted I'm a cynic, so I see all this and say, "ok, this is a step in the right direction, but we still have a lot farther to go," but I admit, it's cheery to read the paper this morning.

My accompianist called me at 11 or so this morning and launched into this amazing liberal diatribe on what we need to focus on in this country. I listened dutifully for around an hour. He's a very smart guy. It was really great to hear him so enthusiastic and upbeat about things. He comes from a family of conservatives, with plenty of bigots, so I know he needs people to talk to about this stuff. But after awhile, from my seat in the choir, I get bored with hearing the same sermons over and over. I told him he should write a book, or start a newsletter or something. He really should.

Politics is something I care a lot about, don't get me wrong, but frankly, I'm sick of listening to the rhetoric. I do my research and I think I'm pretty well informed on the issues. I vote, I accept the results, and I donate to the causes I belive in when I can. When Chimpy Rich finally gets out of our white house and takes his dad's cronies with him, I'll probably open a bottle of champagne, but I just can't focus on this stuff for too long. I always feel like people think I don't care. I do care, but I get headaches after awhile. I don't want to listen to any more screaming and shouting. Or preaching. Or "Don't you think...?" Yes, I think. Can I go now?

This guy's post today, however, almost knocked me out of my chair. Now this is something I didn't think I'd see. Fabulous.

Let's just keep reading, keep thinking positively, KEEP READING, and keep voting. And hey - for those of you who are doing the shouting, don't take it personally. I make not feel like listening, but a lot of others clearly are. Keep up the good work. The country needs you. I'll do my part, and keep voting.

I dropped off the voter registration forms in the mail today. I won't miss another opportunity.

Update:I received a very nice letter from MoveOn.org which included this snippet of dialogue from one of those people who went calling folks and reminding them to vote yesterday:

When I called, it was late in the evening and the woman I was talking to had less than an hour to get out and vote.

I told her who I was and why I was calling and asked if she had voted yet. Long pause. She told me that she knew this was an important election, and that she had criticized others for not voting, knowing how important it was that we find a new direction.

Then she told me about her work, and taking care of her young child after work. About how the polls close so early that working moms have a very hard time voting. "Can't they allow the polls to stay open later for us to vote," she asked me. I told her, why not go down there and show the poll workers what real life is like, what being a working mother is like, and bring your child with you.

She said she'd do it. I was happy for her and for the rest of us whose country's direction lies in the hands of voters, single mothers trying to make ends meet and still exercise their power to vote.

And then I got this phone call, later tonight. She had found my caller ID and called me back. "Hi," she said, "this is the lady you talked to wanting to go vote. I was the one who was talking about my baby and it being 6:21—40 minutes til closing. I just wanted to say that I did make it, and thanks for the encouragement."

That's how we won our democracy back.

I have already railed against politicians who actually tried to telephone-solicit votes from me. If there's anything Americans hate, isn't it telephone solicitors? Why would that make me want to vote for you? Well, I guess this telephone solicitor - granted, not for any specific politician, but for the process in general - made a real difference. I'm humbled, and impressed.

Monday, November 06, 2006


(From Dalila's blog)

The Stiletto
Deliberate Brutal Sex Master(DBSMf)

Edgy. Physical. Devastating. You are The Stiletto, of all types, the most likely to be a dominatrix and the least likely to apologize.

Sex is your object, and you have a LOT of it. Doubtless, you've figured out how easy it is for a dominant, assertive woman to have as many and whichever partners as she chooses. You're in control, you know what you want, and you get it, right there. It's highly likely you have a nice body, and it's even more likely we're getting all turned on right now writing this.

Your exact opposite:

The Window Shopper

RandomGentle LoveDreamer

You're generally careful with your actions and words, but your test answers indicate you've hurt some people, drawn some blood. This means one of two things. Either you're calculating, and pain is just part of your game plan, or hurting the occasional guy is just the unfortunate, but natural, byproduct of your liberated sexual existence.

Our tendency is to believe the latter: you're willing to engage men on a basic sexual level, and clearly they're attracted to you. It's understandable that a few might get overly attached, and sometimes harshness is the only way for you to escape: you've got to cut your way out. After all, it's not emotional bondage you're looking for right now.

ALWAYS AVOID: The Slow Dancer, The Manchild

CONSIDER: The 5-Night Stand, The Bachelor

Link: The 32-Type Dating Test by OkCupid - Free Online Dating.