So much has changed since the last time I wrote earlier this year, but what hasn’t changed is that things are equally intense, confusing, shifting, painful, growthful. ML and I broke up in April and it has been freeing and devastating both at the same time. What was clear to me was that I was forgetting about me, about myself, about how to take care of myself and how to make decisions for myself, and I felt, inside, like I was failing her all the time because I also loved someone else and because I knew that that hurt her and I knew that she didn’t really want to have that kind of relationship even though she went back and forth on whether she would be willing to try or not. I blamed myself for falling in love with J even as it also felt unstoppable. ML never blamed me, she was so kind and still insists that it went both ways, that we both failed each other in different ways, and although there were things that she did or ways that she was in our relationship that made it hard to feel like I was growing, it is still hard for me not to feel like the failure was mostly mine, that I could have and should have done things differently. And while it’s not totally clear yet that we are done for good, this break that we are on has been excruciating and hollowing, and has also been good for me because it is pointing out in glaring neon flashing signals the places where I need to figure shit out and the places where I was unhealthily leaning on her for my well-being. For example: I don’t take care of myself for my own sake. I forget to cook and eat, I let my to do list grow and grow without checking things off of it, I isolate and stay in bed and do nothing. I know it’s been a long time since I’ve posted about depression here but I think that what happened was that in that relationship I eventually forgot to keep cultivating my own ways of coping with my mind and now that it’s just me again I’m like, oh, right, this, I need to deal with this.
I think it’s also been a difficult time mentally because of the ten-year mark of my rape and that I haven’t ever had any kind of therapy for that is becoming increasingly difficult to justify to myself any longer. I need to start doing that work. I need to be able to face the world on my own without falling apart just from mild exposure and I need to be my own care-taker. During high school I was just getting by. Early in college I was figuring out how to have friends again after having isolated myself during high school, and I was studiously repressing any complicated shit out of fear of, what, being too much maybe? And then I had my first major relationship and then pretty soon after that got together with ML and in both of those relationships I think I lost myself in some small way, or I oriented myself more towards the other person and derived my sense of self from them, or I prioritized the health of the relationship over my own health and didn’t quite grasp the connection between the two. And that’s just not working, that’s not healthy and I don’t want to continue that way. I need to ground myself in my own body, feel my own emotions from within, and care about making healthy choices for my own sake and not someone else’s. And I think that what comes up most for me in realizing this is that, all along I think I’ve internalized this sense of not being entitled to take care of myself kindly and lovingly. I feel faintly embarrassed as I type that, uncomfortable with that acknowledgement, and it sounds absolutely idiotic. But I think there’s truth in it, that I measure my value according to how useful I can be to someone else, how loved I can be by someone else. And I reject that! And I need to be careful with myself, moving forward, and make sure that whatever relationships I have, I am in touch with my own desires, capacities, priorities, goals. And the messiness of the past six months of my life (personally, medically, financially, logistically) shows that when things get complicated I’m not super in touch.
I left my job in May and have been taking time off (until the beginning of August) to do various travels. I went to Cincinnati in May for a week for a conference, and then I went to Texas for two and a half weeks to do political organizing work/research at an army base. Now I am heading to New York and Boston for two weeks and then Berlin with several friends until the end of July. I’m hoping to clear my head, spend a lot of time with friends and equally important time by myself, and come back to the bay area in August ready to move forward, whether it’s going back to my old job or finding a new one altogether. I’ve been semi-seriously considering nannying; I’ve been watching a few children this year and I just love them, I love them so much. On the other hand, the benefits of an office job are appealing too. Or something else altogether…
I got a pink triangle stick and poke from a few friends a few days before Pride (which was this past weekend). I don’t have any other tattoos. It’s right under my left collarbone, just above my heart, and under the triangle now is a yellow-purple bruise the size of a sand dollar. Who bruises from getting a stick and poke tattoo?!
What else do I want to say? I feel like I have SO much to talk about and I don’t even know how to start.
I know it’s been awfully quiet around here and I’m so grateful to have this space to report back to when I can, when it feels okay. Thank you for being around.
Today, my friend told me that they marked me as queer right away. I asked what it was that made them think that, and they said they couldn’t place it. Something about posturing, or something.
Score! I’m queer-ifiable!
And then I went home and told ML and she was dubious. And spent twenty minutes messing with my hair to try to see if she could make it look “more queer.” Apparently it needs to be “piecier.”
Evidently, whether you “look queer” to someone is entirely subjective. Who knew?!
I can’t believe I didn’t post at all in April – at all! I thought I was on such a roll at the end of March; then, classes resumed after spring break, and here I am now – it’s the last week of class, I’m sick in bed for the third time this semester, and I am utterly overwhelmed. But also okay. I’m okay.
J, C, ML and I have all hooked up a bunch more times since the initial time back in February (that post is password-protected; just email me for the password!). It’s been awesome and lovely. We’re cooling it for a bit now; largely because J and C are going to be in New York all summer but also because we all want to focus a bit on our primary relationships. Also, another classmate of mine, K, is someone that ML and I are both excited about and for different reasons than J and C. I’ll write more about her in the future, I’m sure, because I hope something will come of it. She’s smart and open and sexy and curious and really mindful. She lives way outside the city now, but is probably moving into SF this summer so hopefully there will be more time to spend with her.
Speaking of moving, ML and I may be moving into Oakland this summer. We wouldn’t have come up with that on our own; the short version of the story is that a friend of ours lives in a 3-bedroom house in Temescal and his two roommates are moving out at the end of July. It would be $1000 for both me and ML for the two bedrooms. I.e., $500 each. For a house, with a yard, and two bedrooms, and a living room/dining room/kitchen, our own bathroom… two blocks from BART… And did I mention $500 each? That is an absurdly good deal. So we’re seriously considering it. It would mean living with a roommate, which would be different for us and I’m not sure I’m that excited about that. So we need to have conversations with him to see what his living habits are, etc. I do know that he spends about half his time at his boyfriend’s place anyway, so there’s that.
Another reason why this would be a prudent move is that we are getting a kitten!!! Our current place is tiny and has no easy access to safe outdoors for a cat. A house with a yard would be a much better situation. The kitten we’ll be getting is one of a litter of 4 that our friend’s cat gave birth to on April 15th. We’ll get to take it home with us in mid-June. We haven’t actually identified yet which one we’ll take home with us; we figure we should get to know all of them a bit better through frequent visits and sooner or later we’ll figure out which one we have the best relationship with (or which one seems the best behaved!). This semester has been rough for me in many ways and one night, when I couldn’t stop crying, angry about the world because of street harassment (which will be another post…), ML said, “I know what you need… kitten videos!” and for half an hour we watched kitten videos on youtube and it really did make me feel so much better. I’m looking forward to having something to love like that, something so removed from the hard stuff in the world, something to care for uncomplexly.
I’ve been sitting here for a bit trying to figure out how to write about the things that are on my mind: my summer practicum, drama in my grad school program that I’ve somehow been swept into, gender identity and street harassment, showing up. Showing up especially. This semester has brought up a lot for me and sometimes showing up is all I can manage and sometimes I can’t even manage that, such as the several times I’ve gotten sick. It’s like years worth of pent-up rage and sadness and internalized sexism are oozing out of me out of my control, infecting me with their toxicity. Right now I’m tired, too tired to write about this in depth. But perhaps classes ending will be a chance for me to catch my breath; maybe seeing the kittens again this week will boost me up.
In the meantime, I need to go make myself cayenne and garlic soup to try to kick what seems like a nasty sinus infection. Any other non-medical sinus cleansing tips…?
Gulp, it’s already the middle of January… whooops. Classes start on Tuesday, and I’ve been working and catching up with various friends the past week and a half since getting back from the east coast. Also trying to get in a lot of pleasure reading, since my books for this semester have started tumbling in and it’s veeeery clear to me that I will not have any time to read things of my own choosing this semester! So. Many. Books. ANyway, last year at the beginning of January I did a sort of year-in-review and some intentions for the coming year, and I decided to revisit that this year and see where I was last year, whether I did the things I’d been planning to do, and then look ahead to this coming year.
From last year’s post:
[I]n 2010, I hope to:
- continue to fall in love and deepen my relationship with ML. I’m looking forward to more great sex, more power play, even better communication as we learn each other through and through and more and more, mini-retreats (that hopefully won’t be too expensive), accompanying her to her sister’s wedding where she’ll be outing herself to all of her extended family and family friends, and maybe even moving in together (!) (but we’ll wait to see what my grad school plans are before we really talk about that seriously).
Well, I certainly had a functioning crystal ball on this one; this has all happened, and more! We’ve really fallen in cozy with each other, in a good way — we have had very few big fights this year, and the fighting has gotten easier as lurking questions like “will she leave me over this?” have faded away. While the frequency of our sex has decreased somewhat, it’s still great, and we did do some interesting work with power play this year. Mini-retreats… we went on a few I think? We went to Palm Springs in March for her birthday, and to Cazadero for Thanksgiving… That might be it. But two per year might be enough given our busy lives. Her sister’s wedding in August was lovely if also somewhat challenging, and I felt a bond with her through and after that that I describe in that post. AND, we moved in together! At the beginning of June. So we’ve been living together now for seven+ months and it’s fantastic. We both have such busy independent lives but we almost always manage to end the day together, in bed, with a bit of time before we have to go to sleep.
- start graduate school (speaking of).
And ever! I started the MA degree program in anthropology at CIIS here in San Francisco, and it’s got to be one of the best decisions I’ve ever made for myself. I fucking love it. I can’t wait for classes to start next week (even if it does mean less time for pleasure reading…).
- leave my job (which should be concurrent with grad school, but in case I don’t get into any of the programs I’m hoping to enroll in, I STILL would like to leave my job).
Yup, I left my job at the end of May, and continued to work somewhat part-time during the summer but with very flexible hours. The summer was nice, I had a lot of time to cook and plan and read and think and do fun stuff… but I was also ready for it to be over when it was over. Too much of a good thing :)
- continue to take care of myself and be strong enough to seek help in taking care of myself, from medication and therapy, but also from intellectual, spiritual, and physical mentors, as well as friends and family.
I think that this past year, especially this fall, I have really figured out how to be at my mental and emotional best: be busy with things that I care about. It was really that simple. As soon as I started graduate school, so much of my stress and anxiety and existential ennui and co-dependency tendencies just … started to evaporate. I’m doing my thing, and it feels right.
- come out to my grandparents. There. I said it. I made it a goal.
Uh. Whoops. I forgot that I’d made that an intention this past year. We’ll see if it happens this year. I’d love to make it an intention. Problem is my grandma’s in early stages of Alzheimer’s, and I’m just not sure what coming out to them at this point would accomplish. But it’s a possibility.
- continue to write here and use it as a platform for airing my relationship-, life-, and self-processing, and continue to strengthen my internet bonds.
I did continue to write here, although with less frequency. As I’ve said before, that’s been for lack of time, not lack of motivation. But I’m still here, and I hope to figure out a way to write weekly.
So, you see, I did alright in 2010. As for 2011, I’ve got some intentions for the record as well:
- continue to fully invest myself in graduate school, worrying less about social aspects of it (which totally have been falling into place) and knowing that the more I bring myself fully to the table there, the more things will continue to open up for me. This year I’ll have to figure out a practicum and a research focus, so one of my intentions here is to think that through and carefully weigh my options. And also, I want to start ironing out post-MA plans: Ph.D.? Here, or elsewhere? Work? I’ll be meeting with my academic advisor early this semester to start talking about that.
- continue to prioritize friendships and relationships both in my graduate program and outside of it. I adore my grad school cohort.
- with ML, continue to communicate well, to set aside time to do fun things together, to leave San Francisco every so often for a breath of fresh air, to love her and appreciate her with intention. We also want to continue to grow and expand our sexual life, and though we’re not quite sure yet what that’s going to look like, we’ve got some hopes and intentions: set aside time and boundaries to work more with power play, specifically with figuring out a way for her to push through topping insecurities and me to push through subbing insecurities; push more against boundaries of monogamy/non-monogamy, and play with how we can approach those explorations as a team and make it something fun for both of us; go to sex/play parties and increasingly take our sex life out of just our own private and exclusive domain. Very excited about all of that, and I imagine I will be writing about all of that at times throughout the year.
- travel at least once out of the country. I will have so many opportunities for that this year: my sister is living in Vienna, and wants me to visit this summer and travel to Poland and Croatia with her. One of my best friends is getting married in Paris in August. And another mutual friend of ML’s and mine is getting married in Japan in the fall. Not to mention, I would love to get back to Germany, Berlin specifically, and then there’s always the possibility that my master’s work will take me out of the country too…
I think that’s a pretty good list of intentions for this year. Of course there will be surprises too, and that’s as it should be. But I will just state for the record: I am excited about this year. And I intend to continue to make this space somehow a part of it all.
Happy New Year <3 xoxo AF
PS: I will be doing a pin-up modeling shoot in a few weeks. I’m thinking I might share some photos… :)
ML flew back to San Francisco on New Year’s Eve, and I’m still here on the east coast, flying back tomorrow. That means she’s spending three nights there without me. Here are a series of texts I woke up to on New Year’s Day, received from her in the middle of the night:
ML: I miss you it’s so hard to be in our house and bed without you. It doesn’t feel the same. It doesn’t have the same life. Can’t wait until you come home.
And then, two minutes later:
ML: The only thing that is fun is getting to leave my clothes on the floor.
…Gives you a little insight into our relationship, dunnit? ;)
Yesterday, ML and I celebrated having been together for two years. Two years! It’s so strange to think about that. Two years was about how long my previous relationship was (two years and a month, actually, to be precise), and that one was starting to crumble well before the two-year mark. And here we are, rock solid, living together, supporting each other through our respective endeavors, fucking our way through our busy lives :)
I wrote her a letter yesterday, a love letter I guess, and emailed it to her. It’s not particularly poetic or articulate, but it’s the way I feel I guess.
I thought of writing you a handwritten letter but I know handwritten stuff is something that I’m more attached to than you are… and typing is easier than writing, anyway ;) And I don’t know if this is supposed to be a love letter, or what, but I knew that I wanted to write something for you today, it being two years now that we’ve been together and all. I can’t believe it’s been two years already; two years and this is still the best relationship I’ve ever been in and it still feels rock solid and I increasingly can’t imagine my life without you. It’s scary, you know, but there’s something so comforting and expansive about it too. Expansive meaning, I don’t know, that it just doesn’t feel constrictive to me. Some people talk about feeling stuck in long-term relationships but to me it feels like the opposite, it feels like I’ve got something that enables me to live my life more fully and supports me along the way. You do that for me. You make me feel loved and supported and unconditionally appreciated and all of that has helped me become a more confident, more loving and trusting, more self-aware person. And you? I love your clutter, I love how your mind that utterly baffles me is able to focus so intently on what you’re passionate about and care for, I love how you look at me with your big, dark eyes and how you fall asleep with your body pressed into mine. I love that you try so hard to accommodate my tidy streak, and I love that you remind me–daily–that a bit of mess is perfectly ok. I love that you let me cook for you and fret over you, and I love how you indulge my weird whims. I love your body, your skin, your posture, your head tilting to accommodate your hair, your smile. You’re so fucking beautiful. I love your music and how much you want it, how it drives you. I love how loyal you are and loving, not just to me but to everyone. You’re so patient with me and kind and I couldn’t be in better hands. You really take care of me, you make me feel beautiful. I love you, baby, I am so incredulous that here we are two years in, no signs of stopping. Here’s to two more, and then some :) Love, me
During the day yesterday, she sent me an email telling me to meet her at 7:45pm at 2695 Mission Street, but I wasn’t to look up what it was, just show up there. So I did, and as soon as I hit the block I knew where she was taking me — the Mission Bar, where we met. It was so sweet. She had flowers for me — not roses, since that’s cliched, but pretty wine-red flowers (I’m horrible with plant names). And then we went and got dinner at this Turkish restaurant on Guerrero, which was yummy and supplied ample leftovers for lunch today. And, of course, we had sex. I *almost* didn’t let her actually fuck me, in the spirit of the anniversary and all, since two years ago, the first time we hooked up, I wouldn’t let her get any further than the waistline of my pants (though I did assure her at the time that I was sopping wet ;) ), but in the end I gave in. After *much* persuasion ;)
I’m still here, you guys, promise. I know I’ve been hardly around, I’m still trying to navigate my time with a new job plus school and it’s hard!!!! But I have no plans to abandon this space. Just be patient :)
Midterms, y’all. I forgot what it’s like. I’m coming up for air.
I’ve been thinking about a lot, lately. I’ve been thinking about queer as a politicized identity: what does it mean to me to identify as queer? In what ways is it more than just a sexual orientation and is, in fact, in many respects a way of life? What are ways that I resist heteronormativity in my queerness, other than just by “happening” to be partnered with a woman?
I’ve also been thinking about: femininity, specifically my femininity. (Are you surprised?) What I claim as feminine, what its history is, what it’s a resistance to. How so often the presumption is that femininity is something imposed on women, by men, as if men were actually creative enough to invent femininity from scratch, as if femininity weren’t something that many folks feel inside, and figure out ourselves or as community how to express.
In relation to femininity, I’ve also been thinking about ways that women are constructed consumers in our society, and how there are many ways in which femininities in the US are compulsorily consumerized. How that’s a class issue, because it renders working class/poor women who can’t afford all of femininity’s trappings less feminine, or even un-feminine. I’ve been thinking about the ways in which I participate in this (make-up, shoes, grooming, home-prettifying stuff, kitchen gadgets…) and about how I can be in resistance to this without relinquishing femininity itself, without even necessarily relinquishing make-up, shoes, grooming, etc.
I’ve been thinking about how much “visible” queerness is marked by class, whiteness, gender non-conformity, age, location. And how privileging visible queerness as the only way to be truly “radically” queer renders marginalizes so many folks who live queerness in many multi-faceted ways.
I’ve been thinking about how it’s necessary for transmasculine/masculine-of-center/butch/genderqueer folks and transmen to be allies to ally against misogyny, against the massive trivialization, sexualization, objectification, and derision of femininity. But how it’s also so, so important for cisgendered feminine women to be allies to our gender-”transgressive” partners-in-crime.
I’ve also been thinking about fun stuff: about sex, and ML’s and my forays into Master/sub-type dynamics, which I still really want to write about. About Thanksgiving, and how ML and I are, like last year, going up north a few hours to celebrate together and also to celebrate 2 YEARS together, this time to a little cabin in the woods with a hot tub (what else could we possibly need?). I’m counting down the days… I’m thinking about making pumpkin bread and mulled cider this weekend and having classmates come over for “study group.” I’m thinking about making butternut squash soup tonight for dinner… mmmmm…
So, you see? There’s quite a lot going on in my mind. I’ll be back in short order to turn some of it into something of substance. <3
Last week, ML and I fought almost every night before sleeping, a result I think of generally feeling somewhat disconnected from each other. I know that most (if not all) relationships have an ebbing and flowing of connection, meaning that there are times we’ll be super connected to each other, in sync, in tune, responsive… and there are times we’ll be not so in sync, operating on different frequencies, different schedules, preoccupied with other shit in our lives, and for us, lately has been one of those times. Clearly, we’re both busy: she with work, with her band releasing its demo and playing shows and rehearsing a lot, with working on compositions for her graduate school applications, with music biz networking; me with grad school, with work part-time at the law firm, with crisis center work. We’ve had house guests two weekends in a row, with more this weekend and the following weekend. So it’s not all that shocking that we’re both wrapped up in stuff other than each other, and initially I was mostly okay with what I knew to be a temporary “ebb.”
But as the fights have gotten worse and the effects of them more lingering (tired the next day, crankier, short with each other), I’ve been starting to feel insecure. Disconnect tends to make me feel insecure in general, and though I do feel okay with temporary ebbs, as they draw out past a week, anxiety starts creeping in and I start to feel weepy and clingy (in addition to feeling distracted and cranky and disconnected)… Not a great combo. And that’s when the fighting starts to escalate. It’s really not fun. We’re going to bed, I, in my hypersensitive-to-everything-she-does state, feel anxious that she’s far away, ask her if she loves me or something equally vague and annoying, she gets frustrated and defensive, I get upset, she gets mega-bitchy, I get worked up in a frothy tearing mess, she gets even more frustrated and defensive, and we both start accusing each other of ”always doing this” and “why can’t you blah blah” and yeah, it’s ugly. And increasingly we’ve both been getting worried about what-the-hell-is-up with us.
And then Saturday night we figured it out.
A few weeks ago, ML was diagnosed with carpal tunnel. She works too much, at a job she really dislikes, in a field she can’t stomach, and in a high-stress environment that is taking its toll on her body. She’s committed to getting out by next summer (she’s applying to MFA programs for music/composition), but in the meantime, she’s having to deal with carpal tunnel and try as best she can to keep it in check. She ices it several times a day, has various stretches that she does, is starting physical therapy, sleeps on her back with her arm raised…
SLEEPS ON HER BACK. She sleeps on her back. Which means that we get into bed, turn out the light, kiss good night, and then lie there on our separate sides of the bed, maybe shoulders touching and hands brushing against each other but that’s about it and that’s supposed to be enough contact to get us through the night? Yeah, right. The entire almost-two-years we’ve been together, we’ve slept (or at least started off sleeping) in Sleep Position: her big spoon to my little, pressed up against and curled into each other, hearts beating front-to-back, her breath light on my shoulder and her arm wrapped around me. No matter what we’d been up to in our separate daily lives, we ended the day by curling up together close, connecting our bodies as we drifted off to sleep. Sleep Position brings us together, (re-)connects us.
It was two and a half weeks ago that she was diagnosed and that dates back to exactly when I started feeling the disconnect expanding, my wakefulness at night thinking “where is she? what’s going on? why does she feel so far away?” And Saturday night, after the worst fight all week, when we were both tearfully apologizing to each other, accepting our own responsibility in the fight, messily trying to articulate what it was that we thought was going on for each of us, she said “I think it’s Sleep Position. I feel far away from you at night rather than close to you.” And I knew right away that she was right. I was so relieved, relieved that she’d hit on it, relieved that she felt the same way I did, relieved that there was a reason that was so simple and a solution so simple: “We can just start out in Sleep Position,” she said, “we don’t stay in it all night anyway, and I’m sure 20 minutes of being on my side won’t hurt my arm.”
Obviously, lacking Sleep Position wasn’t the only source of our disconnecting over the past few weeks. I’ve already laid out the real main sources: being busy, stressed, and um can I reiterate busy and stressed? But not closing out the day being physically close to each other in a way that has come, through time, to also be symbolic of emotional closeness was taking its toll. So Saturday night and then last night too we curled up together, two spoons, to fall asleep. And you know what? It was that simple.