Shhhh…

  
Shhh…don’t tell anyone.

I have a long, torrid relationship with her, my mistress and master both. I submit to her daily, as she owns me now. Though it was not always that way. She once hurt me badly, my heart and body, which caused us to part ways for many years, close to twenty, in fact. But I realize now that she had something to teach me, a lesson I needed to learn about myself–and her–before we could be together, merge our lives seamlessly into the desire and need we are about today.

I met her as a teen with big ideas. I was sixteen then and drawn to everything and everyone I measured as cool, earthy, and spiritual. I read about her in a book I purchased second hand from a used bookstore, and I was immediately lured to her mystique. There was something there I did not understand but wanted to know more about. So I read and learned about her, imitated her every move to earn me my cool. Until one day, I met her.

She was all she was cracked up to be at that first meeting: sexy, lithe, strong and flexible. Muscular and compact, she appeared the picture of youth, while she breathed ancient wisdom, emitted it from her pores. I was astounded and flustered in love.

And though our meeting ended then, we met again, and then again…for awhile…until the pain. 

I had to learn the hard way, as I always have. I was arrogant and needy. Not one to be forced and taken, controlled and overpowered, she left me howling, bedridden for months, depressed and injured. The love affair ended in the slow drip of time it takes to heal a body and mind.

When we later met again, I had changed. She had not. But my approach to her differed then from the earlier times. I did not need her, merely wanted her. I penetrated her eye to eye, then bowed. That made all the difference between us.

We co-exist now, as one. Since our reunion five or six years ago, she has never left me. We live with and through one another.

When I am down, face down to the ground but hips high to the sky, she takes me, makes my breath grow steady and strong; she makes me weep sometimes like this, too much to hold, my arms arrested for the weight of my body. She buckles my knees sometimes, how she holds me in her grasp, in her heart and her embrace, me and all who love her, whom she loves. And she loves.

 
credit:  http://ih1.redbubble.net

Meraki

  
The therapeutic rewards of writing have long been touted even before Freud and “the talking cure.” Writers write endlessly about writing as compulsion, art, creativity, release, documentation, imitation, recording, reporting and life. But my scouring of the web today yielded very little about writing as a gift. Correction, writing as a gift to the reader. I read plenty advice to write as a gift to the self.

I teach writing. I have often wondered not only what every teacher has wondered (and Kurt Vonnegut wrote about in one smart anecdote he told in the New York Times “Writers on Writing” series), if writing can in fact be taught (which I think it can), but what can teaching writing teach about relationships. 

Just like all roads in creative nonfiction lead home to the writer writing about writing, all teaching should lead to life, and what is life but relationships? We live in the world with other people–most of us. Relationships are relevant. Teachers should teach relevant skills, especially in classes teaching craft.

So, I try to impress upon students that grammar is life and writing is a gift, if you write consciously and conscientiously. 

Grammar is life. The eight parts of speech comprise the basic elements, the core of the English language. However, what something is, changes in relation to what that something is next to. For instance, when is a noun not a noun? When it is up against another noun, side by side, in a sentence. Often the first noun acts like an adjective such as in the phrase “road runner” or “nurse maid.” 

Similarly, a student sits in my class as a human being, perhaps a particular gender identified to that human. Sitting in my class, that human is a student, an enrollee and a peer. At home, he or she may be a sibling, a daughter or son, or spouse. People are defined by their relationships, where they are in the world–just like grammar.

And grammar is the coded order of our language, how we make sense of things. When we write–even for our own health or need–we write to be read by ourselves and others. To be understood is to write for someone else, to paint pictures, to explain something, to teach how to do something or vent, to name a few purposes of writing.

The act of writing is a giving. To do it well, to make it beautiful, clear, precise or illustrative, we must turn our eyes from ourselves to others, see like an other. What will my reader understand? What will it mean for the reader? My great gut-wrenching desire to get “it” right–just the right word–is the desire not only to create something worthy of respect, not merely catering to compulsion, but to connect a mind to another mind in a shared moment of thought or experience.

  
Wanting to transport something from inside the self to another self is a longing to merge with another. The writer and reader are lovers, always longing for being one.

credit: 

jarretfuller.com and illuminology.tumblir.com

The Morning After


“He was such a creeper, he made my skin crawl.”
She spoke with squinted nose and eyes sucked in tightly drawn to the center of deep disgust.
“Where did you meet him?” I sipped lemon water.
“A place called ‘After Hours’ on Beach near Central.”
She shuffled the boot leather sole of her left foot underneath the quaint table dressed for two.
Its mate was folded up underneath the back pockets of her 501 Levi’s firmly squat into the padded seat.
We used to meet at this corner cafe often; she was married then.
“He spit when he talked too close to me and had a dripping smile, loose grin spun widely–and loud.”
I conjured up with a shudder the stale beer, punishing electronic drum beats and the glint of a greasy stare too close up inside the parameters of my circle of heated breath.
“He thought he was hilariously funny wishing me ‘good morning’ at 9:30 at night with a wink as if he could make it happen just by saying it.”
Sinking inside with an outward sympathetic half smile, I inwardly groaned at the enormity of it, like Sisyphus’ burden this giant gap of want, need, ties we seek just to sever, never have and don’t even want.
photo credit:  http://media.brainz.org/willmon

The Hunger

  

Silent morning crashed by knuckled knocking–

“Do you want breakfast?” he asks like clockwork.

A man who eats to fuel his quest for the next meal.
 

I remember the bed and breakfast crawl we made

visiting New England in late fall of the festival trees

the first snow of Vermont outside a barn-turned pub.

 
The magic peppered with the strafing questions like

“Do you want pizza? Are we getting soft serve?”

And we just finished breakfast not even an hour ago.
 

We laughed and sighed heavily too mocking the man.

Mom was herself then and could join in the jeering.

This man she married from birth delivering herself too.

 
Broken windows, airless in vomitous heat of rat breath

this sweat shop he worked in nearly all of his adulthood

feeding too many mouths that barely spoke to his image.
 

He convinced himself from so fateful a day–stay boxed

when only he tripped on the rug pulled under his feet

by friends joy riding days to sweet steals, jobs or dying.

 
A mind goes empty in the cabin of fear dank and dark

communing with foreign tongues, solemn shells of skin.

Like solitary confinement for 48 years, no one remains.

 
So we dwell on the asking, the feeding, breaking bread

we two who watch our center fold in on herself slowly

eking death out slow-steady for lack of a conversation.

 
“No, I already ate,” he hears expectantly but undaunted.

“Come on. You’re too skinny and you need to eat more.”

Words endlessly cut and pasted on a screen of our lives.

 
Other words fly scatter shot red-orange like those trees

the ones in New Hampshire that year we traveled miles

from my rage-ful grimace, head banging steering wheel.

 
Remind me of a father’s daughter teetered on seesaws

lifted by the weighted desire dreamed in obedient love

and grounded earth bound to shackled birthright chains.

 
Invisible strands heated like electric coils of metallic sin

knit our knotted ties seemingly eternal yet dust shallow

as we journey the branches we are and make complete.

 
The insatiable consumption of air heats the moving parts,

wills an engine movement to carry bodies across lands  

upon which fathers and daughters feed the mime of time.
 
  

Awakening

 
Credit:  http://vignette4.wikia.nocookie.net/jjba/images/a/a9/Vlcsnap-2013-01-21-00h58m20s23.png/revision/latest?cb=20130125202637

Awakening prompts a glancing checklist:

Same place as last consciousness–

Darkness or light–

Feel my bones collect, my eyes adjust–

First blink: lids dragged over gravel or oil?

First move: any pinches, aches or strains?

On my feet, the day’s first inhale, 

a wet finger to the wind.

Last night the pings of paranoia 

called through the curtained phone

closed down for good–for the night,

disturbed the blank peace of erasure,

electric muted screams of digging rebuke

nagging disappointment and broken rules

known only to those who hide them.

Ping: You don’t know…

Ping: You don’t have…

Ping: You are not…

Ping: You … 

The device pinged and dinged, 

begging me to bury sound deep in darkness.

And I did.

The morning checked in misaligned,

a misstep of hungover, awed silence.

Roaming the days hunkered inside me, 

downward dream-filled head of cotton

clear cuts paths of fallen dead trees; 

upright sight, moving back like Mercury,

the illuminating specks piercing a miasma

best trailed in side-step unresolved truth,

prick the skin like sand in a wind storm

abrading hope-possible of reconciliation.

Happy Belated Birthday Adrienne Rich

An honorable human relationship — that is, one in which two people have the right to use the word “love” — is a process, delicate, violent, often terrifying to both persons involved, a process of refining the truths they can tell each other.

It is important to do this because it breaks down human self-delusion and isolation.

It is important to do this because in doing so we do justice to our own complexity.

It is important to do this because we can count on so few people to go that hard way with us.

BrainPickings

  

Define Love

Curious about the love-relationship labels beginning with the prefix “poly”? Here is an amusing and informative Youtube video to answer some of the basic definitional distinctions between polyamory, polygamy, polyangyny, and other polys.  Enjoy.

A Parable of the Universe (Tell me if I am wrong)

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credit: chestofbooks.com

When all the stories of girlfriends and guyfriends collide and correspond, life unfolds in parables and tales of the universe. There are certain constants that run true in human behavior throughout time regardless of fashion, trends and technology. Listening to one friend over coffee yesterday and another few in email and text conversations, I awoke to a story of everyone, everywhere at some time, whether the relationship bespeaks love, career, worship, family or community. As parable, story figures take on symbolic feature to encompass the whole of humanity’s experience in some slice of its manifestation.

Today’s offering is called: A parable of the universe (Tell me if I am wrong).

I met a man when I was two thirds of who I had become that far. Too many rough years rubbed away the grit of my guts and solidity I had sewn together lo those many years prior, going to school, building a career and family–taking care of the world I had made and made securely well.

So when this man met me (I had gone looking for someone to top me off), he ministered to the two thirds left of me by being smart and witty, entertainingly soft and kind. The game of push the right buttons, turn the right knobs to nail the target and earn points had begun. He paid attention to me with admiring eyes that bathed me in light and filled missing space in the darkness of me. And he grew in me. He filled time and moment with his persistence and my quest for completion.

But then life struck again, and I lost another third. I was down depleted low. This gave urgency to him–to pour more into me, even more, to fill up that space as I, nearly eviscerated, crumpled to the ground at his feet. He saw opportunity and I felt lost. And he called it love and desire and support. He called it us and we and forever. And I fell back long, long with eyes closed until my body hit the sheets, which flew up from the force of the fall to cover me whole.

And when I awoke, I found replenishment–just enough. I could stand. I opened my eyes. The world was dull but constant. And one foot followed the other as it is wont to do. No meteor split the earth. No fire engulfed the city. Exhale followed inhale.

So when the flow of movement filled me up a little more, I found the man’s residence in me too much, too tedious and frantic. I would vomit. “Please pull back and rest inside yourself some,” I pleaded. But he could not hear. He had already made plans, made a home inside, expanded there to fuel his reason and his way.

Then the truth of the matter was plain. He was not a man at all. I had been fooled just as I had been all my life about what was life–doing hoops and carrots. I was wrong about that too. Separateness is an illusion. We don’t fill each other; we are one another. Only, some truly are tapeworms until they understand.

To Be or Not To Be…Friends with Your Ex

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credit: cnsnews.com

Lovers and madmen have such seething brains
Such shaping fantasies, that apprehend
More than cool reason ever comprehends.

― William Shakespeare, A Midsummer Night’s Dream

The question of whether ex lovers can ever be ‘just friends’ seems to be a non-unanimous ‘maybe.’ Researching the mags and rags a bit, I surmise that befriending an ex successfully is highly improbable but not impossible. Not surprising, it depends on the two people attempting the feat. Essentially, if the two had a good relationship while lovers, were mature, responsible and communicative, they probably could succeed in being just friends.

Several factors come into play, however. How was the breakup? If acrimonious and one sided, the likelihood of morphing into friendship is slim to none, especially if the ex is a cheating ex. Too many hard feelings carry over into the attempted new relationship that do not get resolved unless the one feeling victimized moves on and gets over the hurt likely to be re-inflamed by the person who caused it in the first place, regardless of time passage.

The one who breaks up with the other, always thinks that the other feels the same way. The “erasure of sincerity”, feeling as though you never meant anything to the other, is not something that we can control and makes us slightly hysterical. It is hard to believe that the one who just broke your heart honestly meant it when they said, “I love you,” and now they cannot even say hello to you. friendsandlovers

All articles I perused suggest giving any attempt at friendship the benefit of time. One article suggested no less than a month should pass before exes see each other as friends. I would think more time than that to let the feelings of resentment, regret, anger, love and familiarity dissipate. Familiarity is the most difficult one to completely dissolve, I imagine, as each meeting with the ex will bring up habits, sayings, tics and patterns both recognize and perhaps once found endearing or annoying. Those don’t go away just because the love does. And does the love go away completely? The comfort of knowing someone is available emotionally and physically–or so you thought–to hear your woes and worries, joys and successes, is a powerful bond hard to completely break. We need connection more than anything else from others.

All advisors agree that time is necessary to let feelings fade, mutual breakup is more likely to lead to a more successful attempt at friendship and confirmed open expectations or ground rules must be articulated and adhered to for any promise of friendship. When one has hope for rekindling the fire or the other coming around while that other is already moving on, there will be no friendship, just an extension of what was and worse–an extended breakup. Also, if the same habits and patterns in the relationship exist, for example, the confidential confessions, continual flirting, sex discussions, the friendship will not work, too confusing.

All agree too that the new mate poses problems of jealousy and the true test of friendship: Can you talk to your friend about your new excitement or disappointments or great sex with someone else without jealousy arousal or memories evoked of being naked with your ex? Unlikely, which brings back an earlier point of mutuality of intentions. If you don’t really intend on being friends but are just hanging on or hoping, then the best you can ever hope for eventually is a mere acquaintance. A good friend wants you to be happy and offers support with genuine motivations of giving, not self-interest. If it’s too painful to hear others taking your place or imagining yourself as the stepping stone to someone else’s growth, move on, forget about friendship and better luck next time.

With some, it will take more time than others to develop a friendship. It took ten years to eliminate all traces of emotion infused with memory for one of my exes, but now we are old time-tested friends. Though it rarely occurs, I could drink a beer with him any day and have a laugh without getting caught up in a web of what if’s and when we were’s. But when we have, the reference to some fun time is almost always with a warm wink and a twinkle in the eye–for both of us.

With others, the possibility ended with the ending of the relationship–the good riddance kinds. Some relationships you just know are toxic but are too stubborn or stupid to give up on them in time. They get frothy filthy lowdown with cheats and insults. By the time they peak in brutality sufficient to kill a nation let alone a relationship, one or both are craving the bullet, so that moving on has already occurred. These will never be friendships despite the cold, cold corpse of the relationship. There were too many hard feelings in the first place. Even in time, those will have you questioning what sort of atonement you thought you had to pay to suffer yourself such pain and humiliation.

And with others, regardless of the mutuality of intellectual knowing that “this is the best for both of us,” there will always be a lingering–the one that got away kind. That is the one friend you would love to have because friendship was such a strong basis of the relationship in the first place, but that friendship sat smack dab in the middle of great love making, lots of laughs, a little bit of chemistry and just the right amount of romance. The breakup may have been crushing or calm, but just how close you got to the right thing at the wrong time, or so you thought, is what will linger and prevent the curiosity of what could have been or should have been done. Even when the smell of him or her is long gone, you can still evoke at least the idea of having once had that scent drive you mad with desire, though the pulse of it is now missing.

You know what friendship is and you know what love is by the feel, smell, taste, sound and look of it. The gut knows the difference, but if your stomach doesn’t let you in on the secret, then lose your mind that leads you astray–in meditation. Don’t think long and hard about it, but simply be with it–your true desires and motivations–before you make any agreements to “just be friends” at the breakup, something tossed out by and for the benefit of the breaker, to make him or her feel better by making the breakee feel less abandoned.

It’s always best to clarify what you want before entering relationships, which is not easy and takes time and devotion. But in the end, that knowledge makes you less susceptible to capitulating to another’s needs in neglect of your own, one thing that was probably wrong with the relationship in the first place.

Should ex lovers be friends? Weigh in. Who has had the experience of trying?

References:

Can You Ever Be Friends with Your Ex? askmen.com

Sorry but this is why you can’t be friends with your ex psychologytoday.com

Can You Be Friends With Your Ex? bodyandsoul.com

5 Things to Know About Befriending Your Ex
huffingtonpost.com

Should You Really “Stay Friends” After the Relationship is Over? eharmony.com

Friends or Lovers friendsandlovers.com