Woman Like a Man.

I have been having fantasies. I don’t remember when that happened the last time. I think one of the catalysts was driving. Traditionally, long drives are times when my brain wanders. My imagination sinks its teeth into all kinds of things. I have had times when it’s gone into fantasyland and I’ve nearly driven off the road. Good times… 🙂 Today it wasn’t quite like that. It was good, though. Some anger. I have a little bit, honest. Whee! Fantasies are something I’m torn about right now. I am glad for them, in that, as I’ve said, it’s been a while. I like feeling naughty and dirty and inventive. However, I want to be naughty and dirty and inventive with someone. It’s been a REALLY long time since I have. I miss that. I’m good at it. But, not having a suitable partner (victim?), fantasies are a bit inconvenient. Yes, the basic itch can be scratched, but the real itch goes deeper. That requires a partner. That requires the exchange of power, and immediate response. It requires the senses. Ahh well, save it for later. It’s been saved this long.

One thing I am finding interesting and strange and sad and intriguing and whatnot is to what degree people I know have personalized my breakup. They relive their own breakups; they project their own issues, or want to know details that aren’t really any of their concern. Or, suddenly, I am qualified to offer up all kinds of advice, or share all kinds of commiserations. It’s interesting. However, it’s also at least something refreshingly different from all the people I know who’ve gotten engaged recently…

Another day in paradise.

Dear Ancestors,

This morning I went to the gym. It’s a place with lots of equipment that allows you to simulate physical exertion, like cross-country skiing, running, or bike riding. There are weights and classes and whatnot, too, to allow you to burn off calories and work your muscles. A lot of the food you buy at the store is pre-processed and pre-packaged. Some of it tastes really good, but has a lot more calories than the average person can burn off in a day of working. You can bring headphones along to the gym and listen to music or watch tv while you exercise, because it tends to be boring. I pay money to them every month to use the machines, since I don’t really have room in my apartment to buy them and keep them at home. I need to exercise via machines sometimes because my job is very sedentary. I sit in front of a computer screen and create programs or write down instructions about how to do things on other computers. Strangely, even when you get very fit at the gym, when you go out and do real exercise (walking, running, biking, gardening) it tires you out much faster and makes different muscles sore. A lot of people don’t have jobs that require physical work, and very few people live on farms anymore or do jobs like woodcutting or blacksmithing.

This afternoon I went for a walk with a friend of mine. We got gelato (it’s like ice cream) and wandered through Waterloo and out to the park and beside the lake. It was quite a warm day so we stopped and bought bottles of water. It was Aquafina, which is one of the brands I prefer because it’s filtered by reverse osmosis, which makes it taste better. I’m not a fan of bottled spring waters because they taste like soft tap water to me (I’m not convinced they’re from any spring). At home I use a Brita pitcher to filter the tap water so it tastes less like chlorine and whatever else is in it. There aren’t really any springs in Waterloo.

This evening I talked to some friends online. We used Messenger, so we can talk by typing messages to each other on the computer. I’m not a fan of talking on the phone (plus sometimes reception on the cell phone isn’t great – I don’t have a land line). Most of them live in other cities, so we can’t get together all the time. I wrote in my blog, too. It’s like a journal, except on the computer, and what I write is on the internet, where anyone can see it. I have a few friends who read it, but that’s mostly it. I write about whatever I’m thinking about. It’s good to get thoughts out of your head. They’d drive me nuts otherwise. It’s cheaper than therapy. (Therapy is when you pay a professional to listen to you talk and help you figure out what your problems are and how to fix them.)

So what’re your days like?

This is not your best.

How very strange it is to hear someone who knows you very well, understands you better than most people, and whose thoughts and opinions you respect say, “It really surprised me that you…” It’s jarring: not in the same way as having your mother say, “I’m really disappointed…” Jarring especially when you have only begun to think about the things that surprised the person. Jarring when the person mentions one thing, and you know there are many things tied to The Greater Issues. When you have only started to realize that, perhaps, those things weren’t how life can be, should be. But how they were, for you. What you accepted. Jarring because, unlike many other friends and those-who-mean-well, you cannot hide from this person’s opinions. Not someone whose advice you can write off because the person doesn’t know you, or makes all kinds of bad choices, or has constant trouble in life. Like the project you didn’t do your best on, for whatever reason, but you put a last minute effort into a snow job polish to try and hide it, and that one teacher, that one professor, that one boss, says, “This is not your best”. Except it’s not a diorama, or an essay, or a piece of collateral. It’s your life. When it comes from a friend, there is surprise, and some disappointment, that you accepted that, but there is also a compliment. This is not your best. This is not what you deserve. This is not what would make you happy. Because not only are friends qualified to know you, they are qualified to know, based on the vast cosmic balancing act of life, what you are worth, and what is worthy of you, even when you don’t.

Realizing that you have been content with a life that, just maybe, has not been worthy of you, is very humbling. And a little bit shaming.

Gregor Mendel, it’s all your fault.

I was on my way home from Guelph this evening, and passed a sign for Belgian Nursery in a field. I’d never noticed the tagline at the bottom before. People and plants need each other.

Uh, actually, no. In fact, plants in general would be much better off in the world without human intervention. Vast parts of the world wouldn’t be deforested and unable to grow any significant plant life. We wouldn’t have to spray chemicals to protect plants against bugs and diseases against which we stripped them of their ability to develop immunity. Plants would be allowed to rely on their own devices to grow and change and wouldn’t be limited by unnatural levels of genetic modification and chemical enhancement and selective extinction based on what is pretty or useful to people and what’s not. Yes, the pretty, controlled, eunuch plants one buys at a nursery are, most certainly, in need of people. But in post-apocalyptic movies, the plants they show reclaiming “civilization” aren’t exactly topiary.

Watched the first four episodes of season one of The Amazing Race at Rena’s today. I only started watching in season six, after listening to my junkie friends going on and on throughout season five. Of course, presumably due to syndication deals or whatever other network shenanigans, none of the show has come out on DVD. It’s amusing to see how much less polished the show looked back then. How goofy Phil’s hair was, and how infrequently he showed up. And people played with… sportsmanship. Having never seen the first few seasons, I didn’t truly get why some people were so irked when people started to play like they play in other “reality” shows. Rob and Amber, anyone? Yes, there was conniving and manipulating and all that, but there was also this definite “we’re in this together” vibe that seems rather quaint now. Apparently Outdoor Life Network in the US has begun showing season one of Survivor. I’d LOVE to see that. (Not enough to buy it, but you know what I mean…) I imagine it would seem naive and wildly amusing now. After all, that’s where it all began… 🙂

Uninvited.

My body and I have been spending a lot of time together lately. No, that statement is not as ridiculous as it may sound. It’s amazing, when there’s nothing really notable in your life, how much you just don’t pay attention to, how much you let slide. However, in the last while there’ve been the acute emotional upheavals, accompanied by any number of physical experiences. Changes in shape are taking place, as are changes in… consistency? I showered a little while ago, and every now and then get a whiff of my body wash. I felt hungry when I got home, but I don’t now. Last night after I worked out my not-great mood swung hard, and I was positively manic. It felt incredible. A little worrisome, but I’ve experienced it before. I wasn’t sure if I’d be able to get to sleep. I am getting used to knowing what spending 30 minutes with my heart rate at 170 or above feels like, and how it affects me. When I get back to a mood to do weights again, I will be acutely aware of my muscles’ shape, strength, conditioning, and toning. I can’t wait until I have one of those epiphany moments when I experience something my body can do that it couldn’t before. Like run for several minutes straight, or make it up a hard uphill mountain bike climb after I’ve been out for a while. Not yet, but those will come.

There are other things I’m not so welcoming towards. Moments of desire, for whatever reason, are unwelcome. Desire makes me think of Andrew, and makes me want to do things with him to heighten and slake the desire. Not an option. Highly ironic, given that the sex had, quite often, become rote. (My fault. His fault. Comfort’s fault.) Now I can’t have him, but I can think of the most wonderful, naughty, inventive, tingly things to do to and with him. Minds think they are very funny, I’m sure. It will be better when enough time and space has passed that desire is not inextricably connected to him, per se. I don’t remember if the body cravings are any easier when they’re not for a specific body. At this point, sex in general is not of interest, in any of its myriad permutations. A roll in the hay? No thanks. “Scratching the itch”? No thanks. Fantasizing? No thanks. Being hit on? No thanks. Porn? Erotic writing? Dirty talk? No thanks.

Interestingly, massage has come up a couple times recently at work. This is potentially a dicey subject, given my history with Dan and the fact that I’m the only woman on the team. Doesn’t bother me, though. Kind of lame, that it’s pretty much guaranteed to have some erotic overtone, even if the people involved don’t have the slightest erotic intent. It’s vaguely amusing, given that my massage abilities at one time pretty much had Dan wrapped around my finger. Perhaps my paycheque would benefit significantly if I still did. 🙂 Poor boy hasn’t had one since we stopped seeing each other. Today Mark stopped by my desk to chat while waiting for Dan to join him, and he was being strangely complimentary, so naturally I asked what he wanted. He threw out, “A shoulder massage?” I laughed. He said Gwen (his fiancee) tries, but is very bad. I smiled and said that I am very good. I’m sure he knows. I’m sure Dan’s told him. We shall see. It’s dicey to engage in such activities at work, but the guys have been working insane hours on the current projects. And they all have terrible posture. Even Rob, with his robo-spine. Rob would never let me lay a finger on him. It’s something I miss. I’m sensual. I’m tactile. I like to learn. I enjoy doing it. It was never something Andrew was into. (As a result, it was never something he was particularly good at, either, but he did his best when I had particularly sore areas and requested it.)

I wonder what problems non-corporeal beings have?

In which we learn more things we have to learn…

Another down/up day. How unusual! However, some good conversation helped. A hard bike ride at the gym really helped. I don’t know why I’m so stupid and don’t just go every day. I’d probably increase my “ups” exponentially. And get all buff.

Got talking with the wife of the electrician we hired to upgrade the service at my brother’s house, and it has opened a whole new kettle of interesting. They might potentially be interested in buying the house. And another option, which my parents brought up – what if we could get as much money as we need/want, but could sell them the house now, without finishing all the remaining work.

Potentially good opportunities all around. I just need to do some research into finding out what the house is worth finished and unfinished…

It’s vaguely amusing to me how much I’m learning about renos and real estate, seeing as I have little interest in being involved in either at this point. 🙂

Inefficiency.

Today we had a tour of our new office. We move in this weekend and start working there on Tuesday. It’s not done. It’s REALLY not done. I feel bad for the IT guys. They’ve been working insane hours, and are going to be there from Thursday evening all the way through to Tuesday, but I’m pretty sure there’re still going to be tradesfolk there when I arrive for work. The parking lot may still be a giant mud pit. Yikes. Oh, and it’s ugly. The decor is awful. Cream and burnt orange and avocado and brown. Welcome to 1976. They did retro, but they didn’t do it well. And the areas that aren’t carpeted are sealed concrete. Nice in theory, like on countertops, but this appears to be the original floor, and all its repaired cracks and refilled sections and stains and whatnot are visible. It’s shiny, but it doesn’t look finished.

After work it was Humane Society time. I didn’t do any dog walking today, though things were pretty full, since the sky looked like it was going to open up any minute, and the humidity was awful. So I cleaned kennels. And spent a good 15 minutes trying to get a St. Bernard to come back in from his run. A St. Bernard with diarrhea, whose kennel I’d just finished cleaning. Ahh yes, one of the more glamorous days.

Then I came home and got my computer and headed over to my brother’s. I am quite tired and didn’t feel like working, but I took my work clothes anyway, just in case. I took the computer because the guys want to see the pictures Chad’s friend took the other weekend. Except neither Chad nor his housemates seemed to be around (though two of their three cars were). So no picture viewing, and no work. I left and went around the corner and was going to drop off the cheque at the electrician’s. Except it was in the bag I took out of the car when I got home from work. Fuuuuuck. Okay, fine, just come home, then. I’ll do it tomorrow. And now I am tired and sad and should go to the gym or make some supper or something, but I don’t feel like it. Perhaps I’ll try some reading and see how the evening goes. Blah. And tomorrow I have to work overtime because I have to leave early on Thursday to drive up to Harriston to drop off my car. Whee.

Written on the Body.

Rough day today. Yesterday and today were Bad Ones. No matter, there were moments of good, and that’s what you focus on. (Easy to say now, rather than earlier today when I was losing my mind again and Dana kept talking me down, talking me down…)

Anyway, I’ve said/written a lot today, and there’s not enough left that needs to be spilled here. And so, I will post something I wrote yesterday. Interestingly, it neatly mirrors something an acquaintance wrote in her LJ today.

Over time, I learn more and more the extent to which our bodies, mine in particular, obviously, are scrap books, journals, records of life. Our skin bears witness to our experiences and injuries. Our eyes are the windows into everything. We feel pain from limbs we no longer have. Our muscles have their own memory. But it goes beyond that.

Back in high school drama class, I remember our teacher referring to the belly as “the swamp”. We keep emotions there. Memories, pain, nostalgia, longing. It is not uncommon to be able to make someone cry by rubbing that person’s tummy. Think about it, what a basic, early life thing to do – just what mommies do when you’re crying or sick. What an intimate thing for someone to do.

Think about where you keep your stress – neck, shoulders, back, stomach. For several years I was afraid of massages. When stressed, I tense up through the neck and back down to about the base of my shoulder blades. The first time I booked a professional massage was when we were going through layoffs at work. Now, layoffs were an annual tradition. I don’t remember if these were the first major ones I’d been through or what, but I was TENSE. What resulted was quite possibly the worst pain I’ve ever experienced. Now, let’s clarify that. I am a person with a ridiculously high pain threshold. I was a very clumsy child. I have been cut, burned, have fallen, and have had digestive issues my whole life, which often feel like someone with red-hot pliers is trying to shred my intestines. I have been tattooed four times, on several locations noted for being more painful than others. I have been pierced through an area that has one of the body’s higher nerve ending concentrations. But this – this woman prodding and kneading my muscles, nearly brought me to tears. I couldn’t believe that was how it was supposed to feel, that you had to go through that to relax. My God. Afterwards, I felt like I’d been hit by a truck. Sore, aching, and bruised. I was covered in bruises. There were finger marks on my arms and neck. No, this is not how it’s supposed to be. A couple/few years later I had a head and neck massage. I honestly don’t remember how it was. It was on the last day of our “Sales Kickoff” for work, and I’d been getting two hours or less sleep each night for a week. I was no longer human. I was delirious. When I got home I threw up and then slept for 17 straight hours. So, yeah, didn’t really help me much.

Since then, I have learned to appreciate good massage, though my experience with professionals remains very limited. I have very sensitive skin, particularly on my head and neck and around my shoulders – the most common areas someone goes for if they intend to massage you. I have to make sure to tell people what’s good or what’s too hard. It is true that women touch men how they want to be touched, and men do the same. I have been told, however, that I touch like a man, which is why my back rubs have typically been very popular with my lovers. (It’s something I missed a great deal with Andrew – an intimacy we were denied, an opportunity to learn his body lost.) However, most men react very badly when they realize they’ve visibly injured you unintentioanlly (which is unfortunate, because sexual nipping is fun sometimes, but once they see a bruise, they basically swear off touching you). It’s ironic that lovers tend to become averse to touching me in certain ways, particularly in the neck area, because touching me there is probably the best way to relax me, to start arousing me, to allow me to sink into the sensual, to give me a fully sensual and sexual experience.

One kind of massage I’ve been curious about is lymphatic drainage massage. The point of it is not so much muscle relaxation, but draining the lymph nodes, where toxins and such build up, swelling occurs, etc. I’ve been losing weight rather rapidly recently (somewhere between 15 and 20lbs in less than three weeks), and I am cognizant that a lot of fat-soluble crap is and will be released into my body – pharmaceuticals, hormones, toxins, chemicals, and who knows what all else. It will affect my mental and physical state, I’m sure. Exercise, lots of water, and plenty of fresh fruits and veggies will help, but the lymphatic draining massage is something I’m considering. I’m told it will make me feel like crap for a couple of days, until the toxins are released from my body, but that it feels great afterwards. We’ll see.

Exercise has been very good for me the last while. It gives me something to focus on other than emotional misery. It distracts me; it gives me control. I can push my body hard and make it feel good. Make my heart and muscles stronger, shed this blanket of fat under which I’ve existed for so long. That’s something else my drama teacher talked about one time – body shape, size, and image. How we come to be at weights and sizes that are comfortable and safe. We may be overweight, but that might be just the amount of padding we need to hide behind, to keep between us and the world. For me, the idea of shedding this padding is, to a degree, a statement of control over my body, and I will have to be careful of that sentiment, since that’s how eating disorders get started, and I’ve been, to some degree, down that road before. It is also a shedding of the comfortable, though, which is going to be very complex for me to work through. “Comfortable” is what doomed my relationship with Andrew. Comfortable is why I wouldn’t bother shaving my legs for weeks, or didn’t do anything with my hair even though I didn’t like it, or whatever. The thought of he doesn’t care and it won’t make any difference in our relationship is powerful, and dangerous. And so now I need to care. I need a face and body I like. I have felt beautiful. It’s powerful. I haven’t felt it in too long. I need to be attracted to me, so I can feel others attracted to me. I will need that attention to heal. To grow some hope. Self-loathing isn’t something I have a lot of experience with, and I don’t like it. It also grew out of a time of relationship stagnation and problems that were never addressed, so I have even more incentive to conquer it.

This is not to say, however, that I will not wallow from time to time. And that my swamp will not store for me the memory of this time years down the road. To quote Sherry, “I am what I was”.

Not yet.

My brain is trying to help me deal with the breakup while I sleep. I guess I got a bit too far away from it in feeling pretty good last week, so now I have been brought back to the hard part where I don’t feel okay or normal and am desperate for more time to pass, or something to be different.

For the past… lots of years, every time I had something wrong in a relationship, or something wrong in my mind related to relationships, I would have an “Eric dream”. He was a guy I was nuts about through high school and into university. They’re not necessarily sexual, but he’s there, and they are never… enough. The One That Got Away, kind of. Anyway, I’ve been wondering when an Eric Dream would show up. Needless to say, as much or more than at any other time in my life, something is wrong on the relationship front. I had a brief moment of wondering if, since the Eric Dream hadn’t shown up, things really weren’t as bad as I thought. I knew it wasn’t true, but the thought popped up. Anyway, the Eric Dream has shown up. It was more intense and worse than it’s ever been. That I was expecting. The sense of loss after it was awful. I won’t go into the details, since I don’t remember a lot of them, but it wasn’t something that would require much analysis. It was pretty straightforward. And it didn’t make me feel any better. I don’t want any more.

This morning I am feeling awful again. The dreams last night were about Andrew. From what I remember, mostly just us hanging out and stuff. And then there was a Generic Girl there, and he started being really mean to me, and then the “looking for something I can’t find” started as well. What’s worse is that my usual dream lucidity abandons me during these dreams. I can’t recognize them for what they are or control them. I am in them, and I’m stuck with the pain til I wake up. Again, this dream – not exactly highly sophisticated. Andrew hasn’t been mean to me. He’s been particularly kind. But he made me hurt. He makes me hurt still. That’s not ready to go away yet. I make stupid mistakes, too. Trying to be my “normal” self, and act like a “normal” friend, like making cracks about his weekend on Boston next weekend. Cracks that, being a “normal” friend, too, he replies to with equal jest. I do not want him to reply with jest. I don’t want him to reply at all. I don’t want to sit there with tears streaming down my face, either, but I do fairly frequently. And yes, some of it is my own damn fault.

I have entered this horrible Catch-22 as well. I am desperate for more time to pass, to heal, to feel better, to be ready to move forward, whatever that will mean. And yet, I have become frighteningly aware of how fast this year is going. It scares me. It’s almost the August long weekend. It’ll be an eye blink from there to Labour Day weekend, and then summer is gone. This year has gone faster than my year in Australia. I never thought that possible. Where is my life going?

I know my friends worry about me. Many of them didn’t know me when I went through the breakup with James. Would they understand better if they could have those two snapshots I still can’t bear to think about? That night of pain so acute that even screaming it out didn’t help. I wonder what the upstairs neighbours, clearly newlyweds, thought that night. There’s no way they couldn’t have heard me. That night. Even now though I realize I survived it, and many more, and now I am at a place where James is largely irrelevant to my life, the body memory of that pain is still there. That morning, after he left me, more or less, after he told me he couldn’t feel responsible for me anymore, going to church with him, zombie-like. Sitting there in the pew in that beautiful, cold, ornate place dedicated to a religion I have never understood, tears sliding silently down my face, trying to stop crying, and realizing that, more than just about anywhere else, it didn’t matter if I cried here. No, my dear friends, you’ve never seen me like this before. And I cannot tell you how desperately I’ve hoped I would never be here again.

I know you think I’m making mistakes, and I probably am. I know what you think of what Andrew’s doing, and going through, and I agree with you. It doesn’t make it any easier to agree with you. It doesn’t make me heal faster. It doesn’t make him realize certain things (who knows, he may never realize them). It doesn’t bring him back to me. I may be doing things that make it harder to heal, make it take longer. But it’s what I need to do right now. It’s what I’ve done before, and what I want to do. I need to sometimes not feel miserable. I need to sometimes feel like things are normal. Don’t worry, I know they’re not. I know things have drastically changed. But I am not convinced that what you think I need is right, either. So I give myself permission to make my own mistakes. And if I end up crying or worrying you more because of it, I’m sorry.

Things are changing slowly. There are other feelings mixed in with the pain and longing. The loneliness has arrived. The change in schedule where now at times when I had things to do, I don’t anymore. The times when I want to just be with Andrew, and I can’t. The times when I crave simple physical contact, and can’t have it. My mind and heart knew about the breakup already. Now it feels like my body is realizing it. It’s come out of shock, and is wanting what it always wants, and has become used to, and loves, and those things aren’t possible anymore. It hurts unbelievably. Like when someone you love is hurting and you can’t help. Except that I am hurting and can’t help. The worry and frustration and pain is there, but coupled with the fact that it’s my pain. There isn’t that slight degree of separation. There is nothing I can substitute. No one to just be there in the other room. No one to sprawl on the bed with and play with the dogs. No one to give me a hello or goodbye kiss. There is nothing, and my body starves. I had forgotten this, or at least pushed it away. This is the part that’s going to be the hardest, over time. Those nights when you would sell your soul for just something real, something tangible. Someone to be there, someone to touch you. But there isn’t. And you can’t go backwards, and there’s nothing yet in front of you.

I have good days, but I am desperately afraid of this pain. I have no confidence in my strength, my emotions, my physical self, my appearance. I have good days where I am okay in all of those things, and then there are days like today, where I am afraid of living through it. There is next weekend, of which I am desperately afraid. Stop it! Stop it! Stop doing this to me! But who is it that I’m begging?

I need a subscript X…

I tried mountain biking today. I have been wanting to for a while, and while we continue to shop around for a bike for me, today I rented a bike at Kelso and went out with Andrew, his friend Darren, and Darren’s friend Tony.

I’m not in great shape. I do alright at the gym, and enjoy physical exercise, but the gym is very different than “sporty” exercise. I enjoyed biking today, but I was in over my head for it being the first time I’ve been on a bike in a decade or two. Good to know for the future, though. My muscles are fine, which is nice, but I don’t have the cardio conditioning yet to keep my muscles going. That combined with heat and biking wore me down relatively quickly. I felt vaguely nauseated a couple of times. My apologies to my riding partners for holding them back. They were all very nice about it.

Probably the biggest detriment to my riding success was the seat. When you don’t bike regularly, saddle soreness is very real, and very painful. I couldn’t pedal for long periods of time, because I had to keep my weight on my butt, and it just hurt too much. When I could pedal a bit and then kind of prop myself up on my pedals and coast (yay for downhill areas), I had a great time. I even did okay on some rocky and root-strewn areas.

So for the next few days, things are going to be a little tender, little swollen. While I’m sitting I’m okay, but the transitions are rough, and I’m sure I’m walking a little bow-legged. Oh well, I’ll get there. It was wonderful being out in the fresh air, and the woods smelled wonderful. Can’t wait til fall.

However, I proved beyond a shadow of a doubt that I am SO not eXtreme… yet. 🙂