Was I lonely or was I bored? Probably a mixture of both, which is why I find myself eating steak in the kitchen of some gentro-rehabbed West Oakland house with a boy that I would never even in a million years even entertain. Yet, there I was, entertaining. I knew I had no intention of fucking him, but for some reason his puppy dog attention had piqued my interest. Perhaps after two months of sitting in my house, not completely alone, but definitely not at a bar, whet my appetite for sad male attention. It’s been a while since I cut a man down sexually, and, oh, boy, I did really love that, didn’t I? Which was why I was sitting in his kitchen, drinking his booze, and eating his steak – I needed the emotional boost of knowing that I can still reject men, even in the midst of a pandemic. There’s something about being by myself for long stretches of time that has brought out my cruel streak. I’ll admit it – I’m not a very nice person. I get off on watching people fail. Humiliating people is a cornerstone of my personality. I cursed out my neighbor on Sunday, and, omigod, it felt so good. Which was why I was there – I can’t get enough of it these days. Also getting all dolled up and twirling around in my room alone has gotten pretty boring. So did I go over to this guy’s house simply because I knew he was going to pull a move on me and I knew I was going to reject him? Eh, yeah. Old habits die hard. And I had a great time! Will probably do it again soon.
I’m on the fake news again!
She’s fiddling with the keys on her key chain again. Slightly rubbing them together, almost popping them off the ring. Fidgeting. She’s just fidgeting. It’s a nervous tic, something that she finds herself doing often but doesn’t remember starting. Just passing the time. Trying not to look at her phone. She doesn’t want to see how many minutes have passed, or, rather, how many minutes haven’t passed. It’s still the same minute. She’s still waiting.
The bartender hasn’t acknowledged her yet. She wants to look busy, like she has a purpose for being here, but she doesn’t want to look so busy that the bartender thinks she’s not ready to order. She’s ready. Shot of tequila and a tequila soda, please. Hopefully the booze will cut through her nerves. She hopes no one strange approaches her. She hopes no one tries to talk to her. It’s part of the peril of being out in the world – being subjected to strangers who might impose their will on you at any moment. Although, that is why she’s here. To meet a stranger. Hopefully someone who will not be a stranger for long.
The candles in their little cups flicker romantically. This would be a great place for a date. Or, it is a great place for a date, but it’s hard to think of this as a date. It’s more like an exercise in putting herself out there. Practice. Fake socialization. Just to get back into the swing of things. Even though she knows she’ll be spending most of this date day dreaming about checking her text messages in the bathroom in the hopes that someone more interesting has texted. Well, not someone. Not *him* that’s for sure. Even though she does miss the frequent incoming text messages and the modicum of security that he brought to her life.
She smiles at nothing in particular. She hopes that the man who is coming to this bar isn’t creepy or annoying. Getting to know people is such a chore. It’s so tedious. Mostly because it’s always such a let down. It was the last time she tried to get to know somebody. Just…a total waste of time. Why can’t people put out the cliff notes to their personalities so she can make better decisions about who to date. For example, a little note card with past trauma, attachment style, love languages, and a rating on a scale of one to ten on how good they are in bed. It always sucks to spend a couple nights with a person only to find out that they don’t eat pussy, or they hate trans people, or they think that sex workers deserve to get murdered. It’s exhausting. It’s like a full time job that she’s not getting paid for. Which is why she closes her tab. He’ll be buying her drinks as soon as he shows up. If he shows up.
Oh, yeah. That’s me. I just learned about attachment styles last week, and, lo and behold, I have an avoidant attachment pattern. Fuck. I thought that I was being glamorous and feminist the whole time by treating men like shit, but it turns out its some form of mental disorder. *huge eye roll* God, why can’t my pathological tendencies just manifest them as cheeky cultural commentary rather than lifelong afflictions? That would be really convenient for me. I’m trying to rock the whole ‘dismissive avoidant’ thing as being ‘aloof and mysterious’ rather than ‘lonely and entirely shut off from the world.’ I like my mental health problems to be sexy, not pathetic. Ugh, I guess this explains so much. Sigh. I guess self awareness is the first step.
I’ve gotten used to it. Being alone. Staying inside. Not leaving my house. I never drive anywhere anymore. I don’t go to bars. I don’t see my friends. And I kinda like it. At first I was panic stricken by the possibility of being stuck here, alone, for a very long time. But now? It feels natural. It feels okay. It feels like I might be sad when things change again, and they will change, in a new way that will be strange and foreign all over again. I will be panic stricken, yet again, by the prospect of returning out into that big, scary world out there. It has been so kind to me lately, neatly at bay, away from me. I am no longer involved in it, and because of that, I have a new sense of calm in my life. Even as the anxiety of how I will survive from this point forward morphs and grows into something more sinister, I at least have the calm of not having to try. Not having to pretend to be nice to strangers in the street. Not feeling guilty for staying cooped up in my home all the time. I have been vindicated in my self isolation, and I know that as soon as it is taken away from me, I will be sad in a strange, new way.
Maybe I have always been like this. Maybe I could always do this. Perhaps that is the most frightening prospect of all – that this loneliness is not lonely at all.
“It’s just so…difficult for me.”
I look at my niece as we sit at the kitchen table. My mother is in the other room with the rest of my family – six kids, four adults and her. I can tell that my mother is on the verge of tears just by the quiver in her voice. It’s a quiver that I am well acquainted with. I’m most familiar with that quiver accompanying some sort of invective about how much I have disappointed her. Perhaps that explains my automatic reaction, the creepy crawl all across my skin, that sudden pang of anxiety.
Being here is incredibly uncomfortable. But I came here anyway because it seemed like the right thing to do. I come once a week to say hi to my nephews and nieces and trick them into getting exercise because this quarantine has been pretty hard on them. My mother and I don’t really get along, although we’ve put that behind us for the time being.
When I came here earlier, she was shuffling around her office, hunched over a bit. The sciatica must have been bothering her again. There were so many new accoutrements around the edges of her office: a foam roller, special cushions for seat, the cane. She is pocked with the other standard signs of aging: her hair is thinning. Her body is sagging. Her face is wrinkled. Everything that would give you the impression of feebleness.
“Having them stay here is very, very hard.”
My mother is talking about my younger sister, and her husband, and their four children. Five years ago, my mother let my sister and her family move in for six months while they looked for a house. Yes, of course they stayed longer because who doesn’t want free rent? And that’s what my mother would have everyone in that room believe, although I know the truth of it. I doubt that my sister can leave. My younger sister has never been able to leave my mother. On the other hand, I can.
As I hear her orating in the next room, I can’t help but remember why I stopped coming here for the past two years. It’s this shit. This bizarre, manipulative, almost unquantifiable bullshit that she pulls all the time. It’s insidious, or at least it probably is insidious to my sister. I see it clear as day.
My younger sister comes into the room. She cleared everybody’s plate and is now clearing mine, too. I don’t say anything to her. We don’t really get along. It’s a long story. She tried to kill herself and blame it on me. I wasn’t having it. So I haven’t talked to her since then, which I know makes me sound cruel. So what. I’m cruel. I know.
I wonder how she deals with it. Not just this, but everything exactly like this that my mother does to her in smaller, subtler ways. She goes outside. She’s probably crying. I do nothing, because this is none of my business. Sure, it was my business years ago, right when she turned 18, and I told her that she should come live with me. That she should get out of that house and away from our mother. She didn’t want to leave our mother. She made her decision. I did try to save her one time. Once was enough.
My mother has been drinking. I can hear the clink of the ice cubes in her wine glass. I need a drink, too, so I go to the fridge and pour a glass for myself. Like mother, like daughter.
Earlier in the day, my older sister and her husband came over. My mother had given my older sister’s husband a roll of tin foil. Which seemed fairly anodyne, but apparently it was a thing.
“He uses too much tin foil! He needs to use the silpats! Don’t encourage him!” my older sister shrieks. (Apparently silpats are an expensive, reusable rubber sheet. I don’t know. They’re into that kind of stuff.)
My older sister’s husband smirks, since his tin foil use has been vindicated by my mother. I, on the other hand, am horrified by this dynamic. I don’t even really know how to begin to tell you why. To me, it is a microaggression that is probably piling on top of all the other finely orchestrated microaggressions that my mother has committed over the years.
I should probably let you know that this is my older sister’s second husband. Her first husband got addicted to meth at the ripe old age of 41 and tried to murder her. All of this after they had four kids together and had been married for twenty years. Perhaps this is why I’m horrified. My mother loved my older sister’s ex-husband. Whenever my older sister and her ex-husband fought, my mother always sided with the (now) ex-husband.
Isn’t this just more of the same? Granted, this guy isn’t going to go out and suddenly get addicted to drugs, but, still. Didn’t my mother learn anything? Such as, perhaps don’t antagonize your daughter by fomenting discord in her marriage? I don’t know. Maybe I’m missing something. I mean, I am missing something. I’m missing the part where my mother is loving and nurturing to my older sister. Or my younger sister. Or me.
So I leave. Before things get too uncomfortable. Because that’s what I do. I’m good at leaving. It’s a strong survival instinct that I have cultivated over the years. As soon as things get abusive: RUN.
Of course, I wait and finish my wine because, oof, after today, I need that. I slurp it down, grab my bag, call goodbye to everybody, and scurry away.
My mother walks me to the door.
“Goodbye! I love you!” she says to me.
“You need to be nice to people,” I hiss at her.
She smiles and waves goodbye. She was too drunk to know what I was talking about.
I had to break up with my quarantine boyfriend. I wish I were sad about it, but I’m not. Instead, I spent 30-45 minutes thinking about the relationship, and now I’m on to thinking about bigger and brighter things. I guess in a way it is a bit sad. I had been hoping that quarantine would just be a giant fuck fest, and that we would lie in bed for 7 weeks and fuck and eat strawberries or some other corny shit like that. But when it didn’t turn into a 24 hour fuck-a-thon, I realized: this is so not my speed.
What I love about break ups is: how can my account of what happened not be one sided? I aspire to be objective when it comes to looking at my break ups, but I’m designed to act my own best self interest. Just like you are, too. In my mind, I outstripped him sexually, intellectually and emotionally, and he started to deal with it by being withholding. Like that was the only way he could maintain power in the relationship. It was really disappointing because I’m a huge fan of uncomfortable vulnerability, but, then again, if you’re not prepared to be outshone by someone in every aspect of your life, how are you supposed to react? It takes someone who is really intelligent and in touch with their emotions to admit that someone might be smarter, hotter or more loving than they are. It takes an even smarter person to figure out how to deal with that in order to maintain a functional relationship. For me, it was another lesson in partner picking. Although, you’d think I would have learned by now: I can’t date people who don’t meet me on my level of intelligence, emotion and sexuality. It’s a recipe for disaster, especially because I’m a woman and men are conditioned to think that they’re supposed to be the dominant partner in a relationship.
Although, speaking of ‘dominant partner,’ it’s not like I didn’t give him the opportunity to be dominant. Y’all know what I’m talking about. This guy had the nerve to tell me that I was being (and this a direct quote) “a brat.” A brat!? Fucking duh, I’m a brat. I’m lifestyle! That’s my exact kink! But he acted like it was a bad thing. Which was so confusing! Like, hello, just spank me or some shit. Instead, he was just mean to me about it. Having my partner be mean to me is not a kink. Sure, he said some stuff that I will 100% cop to. He also called me an asshole. Yeah, I’m an asshole. It’s the cornerstone of my personality. I’m pretty upfront about being pushy, needy, demanding, selfish and high maintenance. So it’s not like he was blind sided by it. I was very displeased that he wanted me to eliminate one of the fundamental tenets of my personality. I literally can’t do that without sublimating my entire emotional core and personality. I’d much rather by myself, alone, than spend time around someone who thinks that my personality is by its very nature unattractive. Also, in my defense – he didn’t even see the tip of the iceberg of my assholeishness. I wrote that mean blog post about him, and in a fit of mercy I took it down because that’s the type of caring, generous person I am. So, if he couldn’t handle me at my very nicest, he wasn’t going to be able to handle me when I started to get comfortable around him.
So, in response to his comment that I couldn’t “be an asshole just because I’m attractive” – well, buddy, welcome to the real world, because fuck yeah I can do that. I can be as much of an asshole as I want, and it has nothing to do with whether or not I’m hot or smart or funny. It’s just who I am. As a person. Love it or leave it. Or, rather, love it or else I’m going to fucking leave you. Which I did. I left him.
Cheers, everybody! Happy quarantining! I love and miss all of you ❤
All the news that’s fit to talk about on YouTube! I did a little guest spot on this TV show, News Television For All. Gast forward a couple minutes to catch ya girl. Also s/o to Nessa’s #MayDay ad – can’t wait for that 100% off sale! In fact, I’m not going to wait. Going to hit up that 100% off sale at Safeway tomorrow.
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In non coronavirus related news, I spend all of my free time these days doing tedious things that I hate, such as writing a query letter, searching for agents, and sending pitch letters. I. Fucking. Hate It. It’s basically just waking up every morning and opening your heart up to getting rejected by strangers on the Internet. I know what you’re thinking – that’s what men do for online dating. But, no, no! This is different. This is me, trying to launch a new career. I’m basically doing work, for free, with no guarantee of ever getting paid. I don’t get to go on a dates or hope and pray for the literary equivalent of a hand job. I’m really just starting my day, sending out 20 emails, and knowing that 20 rejections will come back to me over the course of 4-6 weeks.
I tell myself that this is ‘character building’ but I think I already have a lot of character, so why am I doing this to myself. Clearly I’ve succumbed wholly to the delusion that I am the next, great American writer. (Even though, see last post, and what is the point of being American anymore?) Man, I knew I was a masochist, but getting pissed on and choked out during sex is a lot more fun than pouring all this blood, sweat and tears into inevitable rejection. Also, a lot more rewarding.
Anyway, wish me luck, and hopefully in two years I’ll have a physical book that you can thumb through and then not read.