Purple Prose: A Reflection of Growing up with Prince

princeThere comes a time growing up when you become “aware” of music. An awareness where your musical tastes are not just “kid songs” or directly influenced by your parents, but when your musical tastes become your own. For me this awareness hit about 1984 when I was about ten years old. What a great year for this awareness to hit. That is when Madonna “Like a Virgin,” Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” was still big, and Prince’s “Purple Rain” came out. I still liked Duran Duran and Wham, and the other Top 40 hits of the time, but this was different. It was the 80’s and I was just a kid so my only source for music was the radio or my parents’ record collection that was mostly 60’s Folk music, some of my Dad’s CCR (Credence Clearwater Revival), and the soundtrack to “Flashdance.” Other than that, radio was pretty much all we had. I remember staying up late for the “Nine at Nine” on the radio and listened to “Jump” for the hundredth time just before “Thriller” played which seemed to be the number one hit the entire year of my fourth grade. I was a big Michael Jackson fan. I never owned an album but I wasted all my allowance to get his baseball styled cards with gum and smoothing out the staple holes from the mini posters in “Tiger Beat.” I did have a cassette tape I got by holding a tape recorder up to my friend’s Dad’s stereo to get “Thriller.” It was the 80’s. It was what you did.

Of course I was too young to listen to Prince back then. That is just good parenting. My mother did go a bit overboard and became very religious circa the summer of 1985. In a religious fervor, she threw out all her “secular” music including all her Beatles and Jimi Hendrix records. She never liked Prince, but I’m sure if she knew about him, he’d be in the pile. On that pile was all my Michael Jackson cards and mini posters, including my bootlegged tape of “Thriller.” I’m still mad about this overly pious gesture to this day. When I was old enough to have my own job, I spent a lot of my money from my McJob on getting those Beatles albums on CD as kind of a decade too late defiance, but that is another story.

I remember a friend I knew from Girl Scouts, of all places, had an older brother who had “Purple Rain” on vinyl. We listened to “Darling Nikki” sitting too close to the speakers on that scratchy brown shag carpeting in case the neighbors in those dingy apartments would know two kids were listening to that evil song that got the Christian Right all in a tizzy. I probably would not have even heard of the song at the time if it weren’t all over the news. Thank you, media and overly zealous Christians! We were too young to understand the lyrics but even at eleven we knew what sexy was, and Prince was sexy. Sure, to our too young Midwestern conditioning, he was probably too short and we weren’t supposed to be interested in boys, let alone black boys, but we listened anyway. Prince was sexy, but more importantly, he made the listener feel sexy. What’s more powerful than that?

Prince knew sex, but he also knew love. A soundtrack to an entire relationship could be from the vast catalog of the prolific Prince. In the beginning, love sounds like happy Prince songs like “I Would Die 4 You” and if it was really hot, “Sexy MF.” At then end of a relationship, you belted out “Purple Rain,” and “Nothing Compares 2 You” drinking boxed wine by yourself. He sang about every aspect of love, even when he got all spiritual with “7” he sang about the love of all peoples and a connection to a higher Power.

I never saw the movie “Purple Rain.” I was too young to see it in the theaters and MTV was blocked at home. My genius older brother knew a way to bypass that parent override on the VCR so we got to watch MTV sometimes even though secular music was considered the soundtrack to Hell in our household. But I still had the radio function on my brick red Walkman so I could still catch “Little Red Corvette” and “Raspberry Beret” on the radio. In a way, not being exposed to the visual component through videos made me enjoy his music in a more pure form. My mind conjured the imagery of his music and lyrics. My brother and I memorized the opening speech to “Let’s Go Crazy” when we should have been memorizing Bible versus instead. To this day when that song comes on either on the radio or at a party, I belt it out at the top of my lungs as a bit of a litmus test. Those who joined in and knew the words, they were cool. They were among the “dearly beloved.”

One of the first CDs I bought in the early 90’s, other than my one woman crusade to buy back all the Beatles albums, was Prince’s Greatest Hits and B-sides. I was pretty rebellious, but I didn’t want my parents to find out I had this CD so I tried to hid it and only listened to the CD on headphones. Sure, I was old enough to have my own money, drive to Karma (the coolest record store EVER) and buy a CD with the best marketing ploy for a teen “For Mature Audiences Only” without the half high guy at the register to bat an eye, but I still feared my mother’s wrath. I protected Prince by hiding him behind The Spin Doctors or an Amy Grant CD. Now thinking about it, Prince behind Amy Grant even in my CD carrier is pretty salacious.

To my budding rebellion and sexuality, Prince’s music was like an instruction manual. “Get Off” came out in 1991 when I was barely 16. I remember my crush and I listening to this song in his car. He was a good Christian white boy from the Midwest, so he wasn’t supposed to be listening to it either. I remember sharing this song with him was like sharing some deep, dark, exciting secret. The rudimentary sex education we got at our suburban high school could not have prepared us for the lyrics of that song. Unfortunately, even with Prince playing in the background, nothing happened. The magic of Prince can only do so much for an overweight, nerdy choir girl in the early 90’s. But all I really wanted was his tender touch and his….. KISS. Why couldn’t he be more like Prince who was like James Brown, “I like em fat, I like ’em proud, ….so move you big ass round so I can work on that zipper, Baby.” Sadly, he did not work on that zipper.

When I went to college something magical happened. Yes, I lost some weight, but it seemed like everyone could get a boyfriend/girlfriend, not just “The Beautiful Ones.” Matching up seemed less about social status and more about compatibility. Of course, Prince was playing when I sweated off my teenage awkwardness on the elliptical machine to songs like “Peach.” Prince was there for me again. “Let’s Go Crazy” and “1999” was played at like every party I ever attended. When a Prince song came on at a house party, the girls would all get up, dance, and turn any tiny student housing living room to a Roman orgy in a blur flannel and denim. I remember slow dancing to “Purple Rain” more than I remember who I was dancing with. It didn’t matter. The music was of love and longing and the boy’s hands around my waist could have been of any mortal as I ascended through the power of music and turned into some kind of woodland nymph with the other celebrants dancing to the enchanted flute of Pan. Only it was Prince and the the flute was an electric guitar, or any of the other twenty instruments that god of a man played. Hell, to this day if I have any influence over the music selection I play at least one or two Prince songs, still works, like a charm. I even got a Prince song on a mix tape from a boy. It was “The Most Beautiful Girl.” What is more romantic than a Prince song on a mix tape? I guess it depended on which one he chose.

Everything I learned about sex I learned from Prince. I liked Aerosmith too and they sang about sex… a lot. But their songs were more like how you’d talk about sex with your buddies after the fact at a rowdy, too loud bar. Prince’s songs were more intimate, closer. His music made you feel like those sexy songs were about you. He talked to you like you hoped a lover would. There is a lot of sexy music out there, and even more dirty and explicit, but Prince’s music sounds like good sex feels: raw, electric, addictive, other worldly, and transcendent. His music was so complex, ethereal, yet so raw that it made you believe that even these blunt instruments of our bodies could melt away making us both bare, exposed, hungry animals and co-mingling, satisfied spirits all at the same time. Good sex uses the body to transcend us to another place, another world where you mind slips away and clumsy bodies transform into sleek vessels of bliss rocket shipping you both to another dimension. Think about it. Some of Prince’s guitar riffs sound like an orgasm feels: all over the place, erratic, pounding, unpredictable, and yet so sublime.

Prince was not just the music of my youth and sexual awakening. Even in the recent past, I was sitting in a car with a man I had seen a few times and but he was definitely “friend zoned.” Then while we were just sitting in his car a Prince song came on the radio. I don’t even remember which one. Something came over me and I leaned over and kissed him right in the front seat of his car. We never made it to dinner that night. I think we ordered in. That is the power of Prince.

I am greatly saddened by his passing. I don’t want to know too much about what prompted his too early demise. It doesn’t matter. It won’t bring him back. It was never about Prince the artist, it was about how his music made me feel. Music transforms. It makes you discover a whole world that was already there if you have eyes to see, ears to hear, a heart to feel, and a body to dance. Having everyone share their experience with ‘s music makes us community. Prince music, whether listened alone in my room on headphones, listened to with a close friend or lover, at a party with friends, or at a concert or street party with strangers, we are all in on it. So, let’s party like its 1999 because “Life is just a party and parties weren’t meant to last. “

August 1986 --- Prince in Concert --- Image by © Ross Marino/Sygma/Corbis

August 1986 — Prince in Concert — Image by © Ross Marino/Sygma/Corbis

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What is in a Woman’s Spank Bank or What do women really fantasize about when we’re alone?

There has been a taboo related to women’s solo pleasure going way back to the dark ages of the patriarchy where men were made to believe that all women’s sexuality started and ended with a man’s desire for her. Well, fuck that shit. If men really knew what sexual dynamos we really could be, they would only try to repress us more. Don’t let this happen! Viva La V! To buy into the male fantasy of good girls to secure our place in society or even keep a roof over our heads, we had to be quiet about masturbation and our own pleasure. This repressed ebbed and flowed through the ages the worst it got was in the late 1800’s in the U.S. and England when women’s sexuality was so repressed it drove us mad and they created diseases for us like “Hysteria” where the cure was the invention of the vibrator. Oh, those silly Victorians and their gadgets. Even in all our liberation, masturbation is still something that we keep quiet about, as if there is some kind of shame about finding pleasure in your own body without someone else’s help. I have come to realize that each person has their own sexuality and they have a partner in which they share this sexuality together. Pretty enlightened, I know. This is a recent development. I grew up thinking that masturbation was dirty, indulgent, sinful, destructive, and only for males. I thought the only women who masturbated were lesbians or nymphos. I grew out of that belief, not everyone has (The Christian Right and Ted Cruz, I’m looking at you).

I actually Googled "Ted Cruz and Dildo" thinking nothing would come up and I got this image, among others.

I actually Googled “Ted Cruz and Dildo” thinking nothing would come up and I got this image, among others.

Still, there is a taboo, which is strange because we are the gender that can get away with it. There is absolutely no evidence of women masturbating at all: no muss, no fuss. If we are quiet about it, suppress our moans, and have a heavy comforter to drown out the buzz of the vibrator, no one is the wiser. Its not like we have tale tale signs of sticky socks under the bed, right? Almost every woman has a little device in her nightstand. If they don’t then either they are repressed as hell, have it hiding somewhere else, or have a personal relationship with the detachable shower head. Hey, those detachable shower heads are handy for washing those “hard to reach” places, washing the dog, spraying down the shower walls while cleaning, and put that puppy on “pulse” during a “bubble bath” and have Calgon take us away. We all do it, men and women, and no, we don’t need a vibrator or anything particularly phallic shaped to do it, so what is the hang up?

Mmmm... Bubbles

Mmmm… Bubbles

It is my understanding that most guys don’t have elaborate fantasies to get off. If they do have elaborate jack off stories, I do want to know all about them, slowly, in great detail. Most men just need a bit of lotion and download some free porn from the Internet. (Cheapskates, you know those girls are working HARD for their money and you should pay them accordingly). Women, even by ourselves, we need a good story.

So what do women fantasize about? See below for what usually makes the top of any list. Sure, I could be more scientific about it and reference my source, but they are so fucking obvious, I didn’t find it all that necessary.

Stranger/One Night Stand- Anonymous, no strings attached sex. Actually, sex with someone for whom I am not responsible for half the rent or have to pick up their dirty socks would do it for me.

Being watched/found out- What is sex without a bit of danger- I mean other than the danger of an unplanned pregnancy, an STI, or catching some feelings? Exhibitionism strangely makes it in my top five fantasies often. Maybe because I am a beautiful woman but in an unconventional way that it is kind of like my ego is saying “Yeah, I know you want to fuck me or watch me get fucked but don’t want to bring me around your friends, Huh? Whatever, I have your lust and that’s power.” So I have power trips, which brings me to women’s next fantasy.

Prostitution/being paid for it- Women are in the workforce in record numbers. We are paid to do the same jobs as men only 78 cents to the dollar. Is it any wonder that a fantasy would be for us to get paid top dollar for something we can lie on our backs to do and something they actually NEED for us to do, I mean other than take notes in a meeting or arrange the team potluck.

Domination/Submissive- Some people are really into this. I have experimented with this a bit, kind of a turn on. I personally have a hard time asking my life mate to pick up his aforementioned dirty socks while the swat from the riding crop is still stinging my ass. I really have to get better at compartmentalizing. Or maybe he can stop leaving his dirty socks everywhere.

I think this would fulfill my lesbian fantasy with my BDSM fantasy in one.

I think this would fulfill my lesbian fantasy with my BDSM fantasy in one.

Lesbian fantasies/threesome: That’s right, guys, porn isn’t always a lie. Yes, we women sometimes fantasize about having sex with each other. Are you happy now? Some women also have threesome fantasies in all combinations. Me, not so much. I’m a one at a time kind of girl, even in my dreams.

Rape/ravaged: I’m not going to give this fantasy too much space here. The rape fantasy might go into a power thing of how a woman is so attractive that a man can’t help himself (hackles up) or that she just surrenders her sexuality completely and lets a man think for her. I think this fantasy plays into the whole rape culture of this country. I don’t know why its a thing.

Role Play: Women love dressing up, even in our minds. This can be role reversal (love that) or in a different historical time. A favorite fantasy of mine is when I am a 17th century courtesan while the founders of this country wax poetic about democracy as I fondle their balls, but that’s just me.

Oh, Thomas Paine, do tell me more about the "Rights of Man". All this talk about Progressive Income Tax makes me hot.

Oh, Thomas Paine, do tell me more about the “Rights of Man”. All this talk about Progressive Income Tax makes me hot.

YOU: That’s right. We often fantasize about you. When my mate is on a business trip or away at work and I’m bored at home alone, I often think of him. I think of him when we first met, remember a time in the recent past that was particularly hot, or something that I would like to try in the future. Oh, and we might also fantasize about ex-lovers, friends, coworkers, and acquaintances but that doesn’t mean anything is going to happen. Give it up, bagger boy from Whole Foods!

Its good to have a dream.

Its good to have a dream.

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Love Second Time Around

Some of you will never feel what it is like to fall in love for a second time, and for that you should be grateful, because it’s awful.  It is heart wrenching and you can’t trust anyone and you can’t even trust yourself.  You can’t even trust your own senses.  You’ve been there before. You have felt love, you have been loved.  You know the feeling, the rush, the closeness, what it’s like to feel safe.  To feel what it is like to bond yourself to another knowing you are his and he is mine and we will take on the world together.  You are just old enough to know the world is a treacherous place, but together you can handle anything.  After divorce, that safety is gone.  Your balance, your partner, everything that was right and beautiful in the world is just gone.

It doesn't have to be scary to ball or lose your balance.  You can fall right into the calm water...where I'm sure there are no eels or scary bacteria.

It doesn’t have to be scary to fall or lose your balance. You can fall right into the calm water…where I’m sure there are no eels or scary bacteria.

Then you learn to deal with it.  You figure out how to make it on your own.  You limp off licking your wounds, but not with your tail between your legs, but your head held high.  “I have made it on my own.”  You are proud of yourself.  You learn to trust yourself.  You get your shit together.  You work on your professional life, make new friends, you learn what is like to be on your own.  You begin to like it.

Sure, you might go through a stage of dangerous promiscuity just to “prove” your attractiveness.  Congratulations, you are are over the age of twenty-five and can still get laid.  Here is your medal, and you might want to get tested.   Or you go through a stage of false piety and swear off men/women proving that love is all false and you are “saving yourself” like you are some kind of “reborn virgin.”  Both extremes are stupid and come from the same place: hurt and self punishment.

When falling in love in your youth, you are betting on possibilities and it is all in.  You don’t know what that person will be like in twenty, thirty, fifty years.  You don’t know what you will be like in twenty, thirty or fifty years.  All you know is that you are in love and you hope for the best.  I know that I got up before God and everybody on my wedding without a doubt in my mind.  I loved him, he loved me, and we were in this together for the long haul.  I was deceived.  Just because he came into the relationship under false pretenses did not mean I did.  I promised I would love him forever.  Just because we are not married anymore does that make it any less true.  It was not just a promise made and because “my word is my honor” or anything like that.  I have broken many promises to myself and others, but true love is forever.  I truly loved him even if he did not love me back.  But I had to let go of him.  I had to let go of the dream, and a bit of the hope that we would always be together.  I had to force myself not to be in love with him in order to trust someone to love me.  Love me back for real this time.

When you fall in love a second time (or third or fourth) and you are not so young or so innocent, you know more what you are getting into and hopefully you know more of who you are and what you want.  There is less of gamble but no less potential for pay off.  And it is still “all in”.

mature-couple

After age thirty, thirty-five or so, people have lived up to their potential or let it pass them by. Not that there aren’t great second acts.  I believe I am one of them.  I squandered a lot of my potential because I was trying to make the one thing that could never work, my relationship, work at the cost of my professional success, my relationship to my family, friends, God, and even my sanity.  I had to give up on that dream to wake up to myself.  Now I am sane, I am somewhat successful, and I have better relationships with my family and new friends, even with God.  All my relationships are better because I am an authentic person now.  I am no longer pretending to be someone I am not in order to get someone who could never love me to do so.  I gave him my heart and my life and he never really wanted it.  How the hell are you supposed to trust again?

I tell you how.  Lose every material thing you have ever had, start over at the bottom professionally, move half away across the country leaving behind everything and everyone you have ever known and loved and start brand new because you are brand new.   You are not “damaged goods” you are probably more “you” than you have ever been in your life. You are not Ms. Somebody’s husband or  “Mrs. So-and –so.”  You are Charlotte, Susan, Ashley, Erica, Dave, Michael, Anthony, or Josh.  You are your own person because no one is in your way.  No one is shouldering the burden so you know exactly how much weight you can bare. It is a lot more than you think, but no more than you can take.

So when that NEW special someone comes into your life.  Not just the sexy guy/girl that makes you feel young and frisky again. That can happen to anyone.  Not the “sure bet” that you think will “take care of you” or give you the lifestyle you know you can’t have on your own so it never feels like yours.  Nor is it the good “cover” that will keep your secrets even from yourself.  The second time you fall in love can be the most authentic, rewarding, and scariest thing you will ever experience.  That feeling of falling, when you don’t know which way is up.  That’s understandable.  Whether it is the first time, second time, or the last time you fall in love, it is always disorientating.  The heart always feels the most lost just before it finds its home.

Posted in Dating, Divorce, Reinvention | 2 Comments

It Happens to the Best of Us

I am not the first wife have her husband “turn gay” on her.  There are also husbands who have lost their wives to the Sapphic allure of lesbianism.  Of course, I do not believe anyone really “turns” gay.  There is not some magic homosexual wand that turns people one way or another.  I think that people are born with a preference and their life experiences either nurture or suppress their natural tendencies.  In my husband’s case, his life experience suppressed his natural tendency and so he chose to fall in love with a woman, marry her, and did the best he could to “cut it” as a straight person.  He did his “best” for himself to keep his so-called status in the community and his family but also I believe he did his best to make me happy.  He knew I loved him and did not want to hurt me.  His love for me (he contends) kept him in the closet for so long and he did try his best to make his homosexual feelings go away.  He sees that “I left him” but I see that I “set him free.”  I knew that he would never leave me, but I also knew that one of us was going to cheat on the other because we could not do without the love and affection we used to provide for each other.  I decided to leave before we both betrayed the memory of us by cheating.  With the addition of moving cross country and changing my name, I really did us both a favor.  A lady knows when to leave.

A lady knows when to leave

In the early part of the process of leaving my now ex-husband I often asked “Why did this happen to me?”  I am exploring this very question through my writing, introspection, therapy, and prayer.  I believe I was complicit in the continuing of the marriage after we both “knew” the truth.  I am an accomplice to my husband’s closeted and repressed homosexuality.  I continued it because I loved him and I believed he loved me.  If I were honest with myself and the world I would have to admit that I was also afraid to be on my own, no one else would love me, and I had grown very accustomed to the lifestyle the two of us made together.  But really, I loved him and thought I could love him out of his same-sex attraction.  He believed I could love him out of it too.  But I am not Jesus.  I cannot save him.  I could only save myself.

When I finally “came out” to a few of my friends about the truth of the divorce (with still protecting the ex) I was amazed at how common this situation was.  Many people I talked to had known someone who had “lost a spouse to the homosexuality” or it had happened to them.  I think most straight people at sometime in their lives have dated and/or slept with someone who was or eventually batted for the other team.

Maybe Kinsey was on to something.

Hey, Straight People, it happens to the best of us.  Gay Men and Lesbians can be very attractive and seductive, how can you blame yourselves?  Besides, just because they preferred their own sex over your sex does not mean you failed as a man/woman.  It does not mean that you are sucker, a loser, or bad in bed.  You were and are probably quite charming and probably great friend material.  Stop wincing, it is not a death sentence.  Consider this, you kept their attention for a time.  They fought their “true nature” to fuck you for awhile, didn’t they?  Besides, think of the mad skills you picked up in bed to keep them as interested in you for as long as you did.  Mad skills, Baby, mad skills.

There are two men that I know that lost their wives to The Gay.  One is an old friend from high school the other is an old friend of the family.  Until recently, I had not talked to either man in years.  It is because of the wonder of Facebook that we had become reacquainted.  My old high school buddy alerted to me that something was perhaps “wrong” with my husband.  He saw the signs before I did.  I will never forget what he said that alerted me to my husband’s “issues.”  “Damn, Girl, He’s either gay or dropped on his head not to want you.”   What a ringing endorsement of my hotness.  Really, it was quite flattering.  Even when I felt fat, old, or in otherwise unappealing because my husband did not want me, he reminded me that it was my husband that was mistaken.

This is what my friend from high school look like...in my head.

This is what my friend from high school looks like…in my head.

The other situation is of an old family friend I became reacquainted with through a rather bizarre coincidence I will not go into right now.  Weird.  In later discussions with him he volunteered he got divorced for the same reason.  Sigh…. Like I said, happens to the best of us.

Do not get me wrong, these two men are quite cute.  One in a very traditional American standard of hotness.  He is in the military and his body is our tax dollars at work.  He looks delicious.  The humidity goes up when he walks in the room…in my pants.  The other has a quirky kind of cuteness that is nonetheless appealing.  He is the kind of guy that would help you with your chemistry homework and then you end up making out on the couch while listening to Weird Al.  Stranger things have happened, at least to me.  I wonder if it happened to them, why should I be surprised it happened to me?  Both of these men are handsome in their own way, they are perfectly fine specimens of manliness and not the least bit effeminate.  So, what the hell?  I am kind of cute, or so I am told, and have very feminine features.  It is not my fault.  It is not their fault.  It just happens.

Did these two men’s sexiness factor drop a notch or two just because their wives turned out to be lesbians?  Not at all.  In fact, I imagine if I were single, given the right circumstances, and if the moon were in the seventh house and the moon aligned with Mars, I could see myself sleeping with either one of them if they would have me.  I might have even imagined what it would be like.  In an attempt for “fair and balanced” fantasies, I imagined scenarios with both individuals.  No threesomes, just one and one, mind you.  I imagine that perhaps together we could somehow fuck away the memory of our exes with the added benefit of reaffirming our attractiveness to the opposite sex.  It would be a win-win-win.  We would have matching wounds.  Would a romp in the hay with Ms. Charlotte J really undo all that damage?  Probably not.  Just like there is no magic wand that turns men into fairies (pardon the term, it is just a joke) I do not have a magic pussy that heals hearts.  I can only do so much.

But… still… it might be fun to try.

Maybe if I looks more like this I could have been more magical and turned him straight.  Nope.  Still would not have worked.

Maybe if I looks more like this I could have been more magical and turned him straight. Nope. Still would not have worked.

 

 

Posted in Gay Ex-Husband, Sex | Tagged , | 5 Comments

Back in Indiana and Back on Track : An Update on my Weight, My Career, and My New Beau….. Because I Know You are Dying to Know.

A lot of things have changed for the better since coming “home.”   Here are the highlights.

My Weight

I haven’t been writing about dieting lately because it just wasn’t my focus. I was working on my career, moving cross country, establishing new relationships, fostering old ones, and letting others go. It was rather time consuming. Through all that uproar, my weight remained amazingly consistent. Of course, consistent considering they about thirty or so pounds I gained in Florida.

I could give excuses as to why I gained weight in Florida, being recently divorced being the major one. My ex-husband’s weight fluctuated some, not as much as mine, but we still attempted to eat healthy and we always had a gym membership. My dog was a lot younger and we went on walks a lot. Oh no, am I about to blame my weight gain on my aging, arthritic dog? Maybe. Also, I lived in a resort town, I was depressed, angry, lonely, and it was too damn hot and humid to exercise and I couldn’t afford a gym. That’s enough of excuses, right? Honestly, I was going through a lot and food was my comfort. I also kind of picked up a minor smoking habit. Bad, Charlotte. The thing is, I have been this heavy before back in 2001 when the first signs of my husband’s homosexuality emerged and I had a hard time keeping a job in the teaching field, which I had no business being in the first place. I was miserable and my weight reflected that misery and mounds of unappealing flesh. Let’s not even talk about the kind of men you attract when you are a mess like that.

I have adopted a more “plant based lifestyle” which is NOT becoming a vegetarian.  There is so much polarization in our society, let’s not polarize on food.  I don’t eat any red meat any more, but I do have the occasional organically raised chicken, turkey, or fish about two or three times a week.  I am walking more and have really begun to slim down.  I am feeling so much better.

This is what I look like when I look for my Prince Charming

This is what I look like when I look for my Prince Charming

My Career

I was hired over the phone for a pretty good job. It is still a little too “entry-level” for a woman in her thirties, but times are tough and I am happy to have it. I have shown great promise and I believe I will go far very quickly. Its about time I got my shit together professionally. I have some good friends. Strangely, now that I am more secure in myself my need for constant companionship has waned but my ability to make friends has increased. Friends in your late thirties and forties can be difficult because everyone is so busy with family, careers, or both people can hardly squeeze in a barbecue every once and awhile. Good thing I don’t need friends so much.

Dating and New Beau

I did date some. Dating is still exhausting and I am just over that bullshit. Online dating, office romances, friends of friends, been there, done that, no more. I think I am in a good place professionally, emotionally, and physically that I am ready for a real relationship. Before I thought so poorly of myself that I kept seeking men that were my opposite to make up for my imagined shortcomings and then wondering why it didn’t work out. I like myself more so I am naturally attracted to someone more like me.

I met someone nine days after I got back to Indiana. I had no intention of dating him. He was a friend of some friends. He’s a part-time photographer at some local events that my some of my friends are into and he just kept showing up to places I wanted to go anyway. He had all these cool friends and knew all this artsy stuff that I definitely wanted him as a friend. The first night I met him after some Facebook flirting he was photographing a local burlesque show a couple of my friends were in. No really, it wasn’t creepy at all. Some of girls vouched for him and we took me to the after party and the after after party and then he drove my drunk ass home and was a perfect gentleman even though I was too drunk to be a lady. I “friend zoned” him pretty early on because first off, I wanted to play around when I got to Indy (short for Indianapolis in case you didn’t know) and had some pent up wild oats I felt obligated to sow, and the second is that I was concerned about his health. I figured he was older than me, but not by much (turned out to be only a year) but he looked so much older and he walked with a cane. No forty year old should walk with a cane. I was concerned for his health. How could I be serious about someone who looked like he was trying to kill himself one cheeseburger at a time? Of course, I was not much better. I was trying to kill myself one fried chicken sandwich and cigarette at a time. We were a mess and had no business seeing other romantically….guess what happened next.

He was “dating” me for a few months while I was “seeing” him and “seeing”other men too. I was always up front about it and he knew it. I was never out to hurt him. I might write more about this later, but long, romantic story later, I kind of fell for him.

I did not fall in love with the photographer like I had for any other man before. It wasn’t a “love at first sight” or a long pining for a man in which he finally submitted through sheer attrition to give me the time of day. Neither was it a “you’ll do” kind of Mr.-Right-Now kind of thing. It was a slow, gradual waltz toward love instead of the highway to Hell all my other love affairs turned out to me. He courted me like a gentleman, bided his time, until finally it occurred to me that we were meant to be.

But then there was still the weight and health issues we both had.

I am realizing that I might want to build a life with this man but the way we are both going, that life might only be a few years. It just seemed like there were two very large coffins in our near future instead of little winter condo along the Gulf Coast in our distant future. Something had to be done.

His getting a better job and losing weight was NOT a condition of us dating, it just turned out like that. When I met him, he had a shitty schedule. He worked every weekend 3pm-Midnight Friday-Tuesday for like ten bucks an hour. That kind of pay and schedule is not conducive to courting. He was working on getting a better job anyway, and he did. He has a better schedule, not a 9-5, Monday-Friday kind of deal, but neither do I, but its better and the pay is a lot better. He is happier and he feels he might finally have a career. When you don’t have to worry about your livelihood so much, the rest of your life can flourish too. He works from home now doing tech support and can make better food choices. He has already lost a lot of weight, I’d say easily thirty pounds and all though he has a lot more to lose in order to free himself of the health risks associated with obesity, he is well on his way.

I too have been losing weight. I will give more specifics in a later post, but it my weight loss started almost accidentally. The first thing is that my new job has a shitty health plan and getting a day off work for sick time or vacation time requires a pardon from the Vatican so being sick was just not an option. I have struggled with migraines off an on for the past year or so to the point I have had to miss work from time to time and required a prescription. Well, that was just no longer an option . SI could not do that much about stress or my menstrual cycle. Moving cross country and starting a new job would make cause anyone lots of painful stress. My periods were troublesome and PMS was manageable but I was and still am unwilling to go on birth control pills so I had to manage my symptoms in other ways. I did my research and tried to remove as many environmental factors as I could. What that meant was pretty much not eating packaged or prepared foods anytime especially right before my period. I also eliminated diet soda and sugar because of the chemicals in diet soda can trigger migraines as well as the sugar spikes and lows that sugar can cause. Well, hell, you eliminate soda, prepared convenience foods, and sugar and you will lose some weight.

I also wanted to help my friend. Let’s call him “Andrew” for now. I did not want to make him feel bad about his weight, but I didn’t want him to lose his sight or a foot to diabetes. I didn’t want to walk around with a man who was barely forty who was so heavy he had to walk with a cane. I saw so much potential in him that I don’t think he even saw in himself.

Now, conventional wisdom would advise that you cannot “change” a man and it is disrespectful, futile, and even kind of cruel to see anyone as a “fixer upper.” But hey, I’m a fixer upper. No one WANTS to be fat and anyone who is fat sure as hell knows it. They do not need to be reminded. What they do have to be reminded of is that they are loved and that they can get healthy again. Shame or conditional love will not produce real change in anyone.

The truth is that I do love him. I would love him even in the state he was in and if that never changed, it would be okay. He loved me for the mess I was in. I still would have occasional crying fits over my ex-husband whenever I had to go to the old house to get some furniture or deal with the dogs in whom we still kind of share custody. I was kind of homeless when I moved up here and I was pretty broke. The “savings” I had for the move went really quickly and I still had to borrow money from the bank for a deposit and first month’s rent on my apartment. I could have borrowed it or received a gift from my family for the expenses, but I rather answer to the bank at 6.5% interest for the next two years rather than answer to my family with 100% guilt and obligation forever.

It was very brave of him to take a chance on me, but he saw potential in me like I saw potential in him. He saw my homelessness and my struggles as temporary. He saw that I had a plan and the means to make my dreams come true. I had a fast approaching start date for a new job with a major financial firm, even if it is near the bottom. He saw that I did have an apartment in the works and my couch surfing would lead me to shore soon enough. And maybe he saw that my weight was not as problematic as I saw it. He did not even keep himself from loving me even though there were no guarantees that I would love him back. When I asked him why he still fell in love for me even though I was clear we were just “friends” he said, “because I couldn’t help it and I would have kept my distance just to be near you.” How could a woman not fall for that?

Health wise we are both doing well. Neither of us have weighed ourselves, but I know I have lost a size in clothes and looking less “fluffy.” It is hard for me to notice how much weight I have lost because I never accepted my heavier self. I just know that my body is looking more like I think it should and my clothes are fitting better. Some clothes are fitting so loosely like are falling off my shoulder and off my waist. But, of course they don’t “fall off” because my boobs and butt are as prominent as ever, just the areas around them are smaller making my curves even that much more noticeable. Not a terrible thing, mind you. “Andrew” is looking a lot slimmer, especially in his face and tummy. He walks with a walking stick for balance when we go hiking, (Yes, we hike) but he doesn’t keep it as much because his balance is better because he is slimmer and his joints don’t hurt as bad carrying around all that heft. You take a fit person, pile on eighty to a hundred pounds on them and they are going to be winded and their joints are going to hurt. Any physical exertion done by an obese person takes considerable effort and it does hurt, but its the only way to get better. Thin people just don’t get that.

This is exactly what my beau and I look like when hiking. Not really...I'm not blond.

This is exactly what my beau and I look like when hiking. Not really…I’m not blond.

There is so much I want to talk about in regards to the transformation Andrew and I are going through. So many things in my life are going well. I feel like my life was so unbalanced that it should be no surprise I had a weight problem. Weight is more of a symptom of physical and mental disease which in turn causes disease. It is a vicious cycle. If we remove the shame from weight and obesity, then maybe we can do something about it. It is not a joke any more, its an epidemic.

You have read so much of my story so far: the funny, the sad, the sexy, the tragic. Right now, I think we are getting to the good part. We are getting to the happy ending.

 

Here is what we will look like when we lose all our weight.

Here is what we will look like when we lose all our weight.

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What I’ve Learned in my Thirties

Even as I was living it, I knew that I would look back at my thirties and know that this would be the most interesting, fun, difficult, and freeing time of my life. So often a woman in her twenties, with notable exceptions, is wrapped in family and societal expectations. You barely know yourself let alone the world yet you have to make decisions that can impact the rest of your life and all you feel like you can handle is matching your lipstick to your nail polish. There are so many pressures of doing “the right thing” and it feels like you have to do everything RIGHT NOW. There is such a sense of urgency to get married, start a family, start a career before you know what the fuck is going on. For me, I was in the wrong career, the wrong marriage, and I wondered why I was so unhappy. In your thirties, you know yourself a little bit better, you know a little bit more of the world, you start to care less about what others think of you. With this self and world knowledge, you can start making better decisions. Its not too late.

In my 20's this was all I could handle.

In my 20’s this was all I could handle.

 

Career

  • The first thing you have to let go of is that on the back of your college diploma says “for deposit only.” Education is always valuable. You have to keep telling yourself that every time you pay that student loan. So your degree is in marketing and you are a retail store manager. So what, its a paycheck and its kind of in your field. My degree is in English with a minor in Speech Pathology. My second degree is in Education. I worked in the classroom, if you include substitute teaching, for about five years. I worked for an education company developing and grading tests for about four years. I have worked in insurance and finance for the past about seven years and am so much happier. I am also paid a lot better. I have a career path in finance even though I still consider it my “day job.” People give English majors such a hard time, but knowing how to communicate effectively is a very valuable skill. They can train me on the finance stuff, but talking to people about their money is hard work and it is not for everyone.

 

  • Let someone else say something stupid in the meetings, it doesn’t have to be you. There is always someone in the meeting with no filter or internal dialogue. Let that person hang themselves, but you don’t have to give them the rope. Stay out of it and do your job. If you feel you just have to disagree or take up a cause at work, either talk to your manager or an HR representative privately. The whole world doesn’t need to know that you are disgruntled or that a policy sucks. There are a lot of policies in a lot of companies that suck. Its work, suck it up. In your thirties you realize a roof over your head and food on your table is more important than a misguided cause. Sure, if you feel very strongly and it is justified, be a whistle blower. There is enough corruption in the corporations that we need some whistle blowing, but understand that you will most likely just hurt yourself. You can be a sell out, but you don’t have to buy in.

 

  • “Don’t get you honey where you get your money” a country radio DJ said that once. Its true. There are so many sayings about this that you’d think people would learn. Sure, you are with that person all the time and will probably have shared interests, but this could be career suicide and an HR nightmare. If you HAVE to date at the office, be sure that you are up on HR policies and still ask yourself, is online dating that hard?

 

Keeping Up with the Jones

  • Stop. Just stop. Generation X especially has had to weather many a recession dating back to our infancy in the 70’s, the crash of 1989 when we were teens, and the Internet bubble of 2001, and the home mortgage and bank crisis of 2008. If you have a job and can pay your bills, good. That is an accomplishment in itself. There are some lucky bastards out there that seem to be untouched by market trends and other disasters. I bet their shit don’t stink too. Good for them. If you are barely making it, at least you are making it. Stop worrying about social media updates of anniversaries, promotions, new jobs, new houses, and new babies. This is hard for me, especially the anniversaries and babies bit. Try to be happy for them. We all want praise and recognition but, don’t compare your life’s story to someone else’s highlight reel.

Family

  • This is a tricky one for me. I am a divorced, childless adult who is nearly forty. My dreams of motherhood are pretty much dashed. Sure, it is still biologically possible, but that doesn’t make it a good idea. I have pretty much decided that ship has sailed and have suffered enough about that fact for one life time. Remember, people often will try to justify their lifestyle choices by judging yours.
  • Because I am a divorced, childless adult nearly forty, I have no status in my family. None. Although I used to host the occasional holiday, no one is coming to the trendy Northside to my cute, but small one bedroom apartment for a meal no matter how gourmet and delicious the food is or how much the wine and conversation sparkles. Sure, the pressure is off and I clean my apartment mostly for my own sanity rather than the threat of guests. It still hurts that I have to hope I get an invite to my brother’s house and be an addition to his family rather than having a family of my own. It hurts, I won’t lie. But then again, I have consider amount free time and I answer to no one and that is about as awesome as you imagine it to be. I can be a role model of a happy, successful woman, single or otherwise.

 

  • I still want to get married again. Why lie? I loved being married even though my husband literally drove me crazy. It is nice to have a partner and have someone on your side. Of course being single is WAY better than being stuck in a bad marriage. Being in a bad romantic relationship feels like you can’t breathe. I can be a good wife for the right man. I think men who get serious about a woman knows that this is the end game for most of us. If they knew how much they benefited from marriage, perhaps they wouldn’t be so shy about it. When I get remarried, I am not going to be one of those older, second time around embarrassed brides. So, I’m not a virgin. I look bad in white anyway. My next wedding is going to be to a man worthy of me and there is going to be cake, food, booze, flowers, my nieces will be flower girls. There is going to dancing, belly dancers, music, and even fire throwers if I can pull it off. The man in the running to be my next husband knows a lot of creative people. I’m not embarrassed I will be getting married again. I don’t even regret being married the first time. I did nothing wrong. But this next time I’m going to do it right and it will be forever. And there will be cake.
Doesn't this look lovely.  This, a nice dress, the right man... what else do you need?

Doesn’t this look lovely. This, a nice dress, the right man… what else do you need?  A girl can still dream.  You can be a feminist and still want to be someone’s bride.

Body Issues

  • My weight has varied widely in my adult life. I have gone up and down seventy to hundred pounds at least twice in twenty years. I am going back down. I have been as small as a size 14 and as large as a 24. Right not I am about a size 20 which is my default setting, apparently. I am losing weight now just to avoid diabetes and heart disease, but vanity is still a major factor in my passing up temptation. Only, now I am eating so much better gravy looks and tastes disgusting and pretty much every dessert tastes cloyingly sweet. Gravity and time have been amazingly kind to me. I love my breasts although I am sometimes embarrassed by how big they are. My curves and tiny waist are enviable. My ass is big, round, shapely, like the stuff of rap songs. I don’t like my stomach and I’m working on it but I don’t hate it. Why hate the body which is the lovely, healthy, functional vessel for my soul? I still have a lot of weight to lose and I am trying to give up smoking. I so regret starting in the first place. It is the hardest habit I’ve ever had to break. Now that I like my life, I’d like to be around a lot longer if only to make up for the time when I hated myself, my life, and tried so hard to end it both actively and passively. There is still time to make up for lost time.

 

Sex

  • Sex is so much better in your thirties than in your twenties and I don’t blame my partners for it either. Even though my ex-husband was a closet homosexual, or really, kind of more towards bi on the Kinsey scale when we first met, I’d like to go on record that he was a good lover and he tried his best. Women give points for effort, a lot of points. I am sure there is some biological and physiological reasons for why sex is better for women in their thirties and our much rumored and documented sexual peak not withstanding. But here are some things I have learned about sex in my thirties I did not know before.
  • Although the first orgasm takes a bit more effort and more direct stimulation, I am not as afraid to ask for said stimulation and the orgasms after that initial orgasm are stronger and more frequent. Earth shattering is not an understatement.
  • There is such a thing as internal and external orgasms, although I don’t think all women know about it but I think most are capable. I think we just tell women not all of us can have vaginal orgasms to make those that haven’t yet feel better about it. Yes, the clitoris is the source for all orgasms and the “G-spot” is not all that elusive and is just the under side of the clitoris. I am physiologically lucky in the my G-spot is not especially deep and is accessible with just one finger or even a modestly endowed partner.
  • As far as male size is concerned, there is a point of diminishing returns. There is such a thing as too small where it barely feels like he’s in at all or positions are somewhat limited. But really, if you really love him or want him, you can work with what he’s got. Do not underestimate the power and creativity of fingers and a well placed tongue.
  • Swallowing is not necessary.
  • Internet porn as ruined just about every man under the age of 35.
  • Men over the age of 35 tend to have less “dick-centric” sex, are more giving, and way more appreciative in bed. Instead of keeping score with how many women they have had, they keep score with how often and how well they can satisfy you because they have figured out one women is hard enough.
He's waiting just to make you happy. (Yes, that is Johnny Depp)

He’s waiting just to make you happy. (Yes, that is Johnny Depp)

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Disadvantages of Not Being a Pretty Girl: The Funny Fat Girl

Disadvantages of Not Being a Pretty Girl: The Funny Fat Girl

I have written earlier about the advantages of not being a pretty girl.  Having time to develop one’s own personality independent of romantic entanglements certainly has value.  But let’s face it, being ugly sucks.

Now I do not believe that I am not ugly and I would believe that society would agree.  People have always said, even as a kid, I have “such a pretty face” which we all know is code for “such a pity that you’re fat.”  So, for the sake of argument, I was not ugly but rather just fat.

The thing about fat is that it can be (hypothetically) fixed.  You can’t fix ugly.  But fixing the weight problem often seemed insurmountable.

The history of fat:  As a baby and a young child I was in the 70th percentile of height and 60th percentile for weight.  Then there were some unfortunate events one when I was seven the other about ten that really jump started the weight problem.  I will address these triggers at some later point in time.  The events that led to the weight gain are immaterial for this particular topic.

I was not THE fat kid.  There were always one or two other kids that really took the cake in the obesity department.  I would categorize myself as just “heavier than normal.”  I was normal, but not quite.  I was never freakishly obese.  I was never so obese that I could not participate in physical education, walk up a couple flights of stairs, or break furniture or anything.  But I was too fat to be considered really “normal” or acceptable.  And as a young teen, every kid wants to be more than anything is to be normal and acceptable.

Before I get distracted by my own history of fat, let’s get back to the topic.  What is so bad about not falling into the sometimes unfair and unrealistic standards of beauty?  It comes down to trust.

It is hard to trust in anyone’s love, desire, or even like.  If a person has known little more than rejection over and over again, how can a person do anything but expect that reaction?  I am not saying that ugly and or fat people do not have friends.  I was often the “funny fat friend.”  Even though my friends would have never said (out loud) that was my role.  Sometimes I felt like I was the comedian opening act to warm up the crowd (that being single men) with jokes and witty banter before my more beautiful rock star friends would come out and be the real show.  I resented how my girlfriends did not have to do anything to get a man’s attention.  They didn’t have to be funny, smart, or hardly even talk.  All they had to do was be beautiful.  Not that these girls were not funny, smart, and could talk their freaking heads off, but they did not HAVE to be anything to get a man’s attention.  Men would be completely captivated and falling all over themselves trying to get the mute pretty girl to smile at them.  When minutes before I had her in stitches getting ready for a night out.  In fact, I had the guys laughing and having a good time just before the blonde or brunette bombshell walked into the room destroying any hope of any guy falling all over himself trying to make me smile rather than the other way around.

But at least I got to work on my comedic timing.  While we are on the topic, how many truly attractive stand-up comedians do you know?  I believe much of comedy is a defense mechanism.

So being fat taught me to be funny.  Great.  Put that on a resume or a dating website and see how far that gets you.

 

I am rereading this myself and thing, “Um… bitter much?”

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What I Really Want Say (A Going Home Poem)

What I really want to say
is this

You are the one I hate
The one I want to leave,
to lie to, and to commiserate
the misery you create
with your selfishness and sloth
you make me feel so wrong
and not in the right way
you make me feel the shame
we share
thinking you’re not good enough
for me
for life
for love
but you are
but you won’t try
and you don’t even
care enough to lie
and say you love me
when you do
for all the things I am and am not
and for all the things you are and are not
because you dare not
dream
that life can be better
better with a woman like me
and you hate me too
you hate me for loving you
and I hate me for that too.

What I really want to say
is this

I loved you
I loved you for all the wrong and right reasons
but you were a love for one season
of summer
of an affair to remember
and discard for winter clothes
and coats because you made me hot
but you could not keep me warm
through cold nights and drudgery
that a  man and woman share
when they are are in love
not strong enough
for every day life of work and bills
for building a life on more than thrills
but you made me happy
When the sun was high and bright
you made love to me like we were young
but you were much to old to play games
with a woman like me
but you made me feel like a girl
in love, a crush from high school
and you held me like a child
when I cried when I lost you
when I needed to
because you could not stay
even though you wanted to
I wouldn’t let you
because I had to grown up
and leave you behind
like the teddy bear I’d hide
under the bed when you took me from behind
I wanted to be a wild
to be beast
and you were the man
not to tame me
but to unleash
me from the chains of tradition
of lost love and broken dreams
and you held my hand
as you’d lie in my lap
and lick me like creamthe fool
sweet on the tongue
Oh yes, you made me come
until I couldn’t see straight
through you and see what a
merry minstral you were
the jolly fool
the grasshopper to my busy bee
but you were the tool
to fix me
and like the Scarecrow,
I will miss you most of all
you were my Oz
but I’m clicking my heels
and I’m going home.

RubySlipper

 

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Casual Dining

I’m too early.

Sitting in my car

Hair perfectReview Mirror

Make up pristine

There is nothing to adjust

Nothing to fix.

Just me

As I am

Or at least the more

polished version.

Hoping that who I am and what you want

have some kind of happy convergence

Hoping the Venn Diagram of lovevenn of love

has less curves than I do.

More spherical

Like the Fullness of that woman’s tummy

checking her phone on the bench outside

the restaurant waiting

for the father.

Beautiful pregnant young womanShe probably put her name in

But I won’t.

Don’t even want the hostess to know

that I’m here early

that I’m so eager

that I don’t have anything better to do

but bet on you.

Even if I did I’d drop it all for you.

I hate having so much skin in the game.

But I do.

I have my skin

my blood

my heart

all on the line

for you.

When I thought I just got all my shit together

five minutes before I met you.

 

I flip the channels on the radio.

Hoping to hear a song to match my mood

to match us.

But everything is too happy

too sappy

too sad.

There are hardly any songs about casual romance

They are hardly worth the ink.

Because it takes two to make a harmony

two separate melodies, no matter how lovely

make noise

even when they are in the same key.

 

But we get along

Me, singing to the beat of my own drum.

You, whistling “Dixie.”

 

And its not that you are not satisfying.

Its just that I know I’ll still be hungry.

You are interesting, flavorful, and I crave you

like a drug

but I do not need you, like sustenance.

 

Tonight we’ll eat, we’ll laugh

I’ll be charming and you’ll pick up the check.

You’ll take me home

But I know I’ll wake up in my own bed in the morning

Hungry, waiting,

and my hair will be a mess.

woman in bed sad

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Coming Home

Thomas Wolfe famously said what we always have known, but have to relearn over and over, “You can’t go home.” I know that line. I know it to be true, but I did it anyway.

Florida was a trip. At times I felt like I was on vacation. An extended vacation with few responsibilities, plenty of good times, sun, sex, and sand, but it always felt like there was another world going on without me. At least it makes for a good story.

Summarization of the Last Three Years in Florida.

Let’s sum up the last three years, shall we? I moved to Florida after my divorce and I quit a job about five minutes before I was fired. I was friendless, about to be homeless, suicidal, and my romantic mistakes would be comical if they weren’t so dangerous. I lived with my father and step mom in Perdido Key close to the Alabama state line. I worked retail for awhile. That was a joke. I lived with a horrible man and his moody pre-teen son because life with my Dad and stepmother became unbearable. I thought he’d get me a job or get me started in online publishing. I went through a lot of savings with him, lost more than I earned, and he still never got me that job. I left broke but not broken.

Then I had a delicious summer affair that lasted about a year and a half with an older musician from the coast of Alabama. We were both divorced, but our relationship had all the passion and the transience of an affair, but it was love. He treated me like a princess. In my thirty-nine years, he might have been the only man to have ever loved me. He cured me. He healed some recent wounds from my marriage, and some old emotional scars from my childhood. He taught me how to love. He also taught me how to fuck. God, I had no idea what I was missing not being with a straight man for so long. Our affair was illicit, but I believe it was a Godsend. Who knew that angels came with such big cocks?

Male Angel

After I left that the mean Alabama man and took up with the musician, I got a shitty customer service job with a shitty cable company and finally got my own place. I lived in what I called the “concrete cave.” It was this little duplex made of concrete blocks and tile. It was a dumpy little place, but it survived many a hurricane. I all but hosed it down when I left. It was originally built as a “fish camp” and it was obvious that this dwelling was not designed for permanent residence. I called it a “non-bedroom” apartment because it was an “efficiency” where I put up a Japanese screen to separate the “bedroom” from the rest of the house. The only doors were to the bathroom and a tiny closet. It did have its own washer and dryer and they didn’t require a security deposit. Good thing because my credit was still pretty much fucked after the divorce. It could have been very depressing, but it was hard to be depressed when you live across the street from the beach, sail boats with Christmas lights on the mast, and $1000 a week condos. Every sunset was visual poetry, and my musician lover was a bit of an astronomer and we would look up at the stars. There was hardly any industry in Pensacola and I lived far away enough from the “city” that the stars sparkled in the night sky like my eyes for my lover. Besides, he would take me out for steak dinners, we ate fresh coastal seafood, and he would fuck me until I couldn’t walk straight and then buy me cookies. So, I gained a few pounds. They were happy pounds.

My actual house in Florida.  "The Concrete Cave"

My actual house in Florida. “The Concrete Cave”

But then, I had to get all ambitious. My Midwestern work ethic would take a break for too long. Besides, I got really sick that spring and really needed some health insurance. I got a good job at a bank in their customer service center and my career was back on track. My Midwestern self does not feel comfortable unless I have a certain amount of work drudgery. I also did not trust love that came so easily or love with a man who could bring me happiness, but no real stability or “build a life together.” We finally parted ways and I took up with a fellow Midwesterner.

I thought this Midwesterner was like me: down on his luck after a divorce and having to live with family until he got his life together. I only lived with family (or with that horrible Alabama man) for about six months. It turns out the Midwesterner had lived with his mother in Florida for more than three years. For some reason, this was not a deterrent. He wasn’t a bad man. He was also super handsome. Handsome men make women do stupid things. I believed him when he said he’d get promoted, finally get legally divorced, and we’d start a family. I once again tried to save someone. I moved off the beach into town and we ended up moving in together. I did get promoted at the bank and I thought I could support the two of us on $30,000 a year. I was wrong. Although I had agreed to it, I resented working so hard just to be broke. He did work to pay his own bills but did not contribute to the household unless I begged. I was short every month. I never did anything, I had no friends, and I began to hate him. It was a foolish mistake. My love for him turned to bitterness and I had pretty much checked out of the relationship way before we officially broke up.

I went “home” for a high school reunion in the summer of 2013. For the record, I HATED high school. I was an overweight, overeager, underachieving smart choir girl who’s only friends were fundamentalist Christians who only befriended me because they were contractually obligated by their religion to allow me to hang out with them. So, needless to say, you can imagine what my teens years were like. Once I went to college, I lost weight, started hanging out with more “artsy” people, and became more “reasonable” about religion. I became Episcopalian. Even at my high school graduation I remember saying to my angst-ridden self, “I hope never to see you people again”. But for some reason, I still went. I missed my baby nieces and it seemed like a good time to go home for a break.

The reunion was something out of an Eighties teen movie. It was like I emerged this beautiful, confident woman like a Phoenix from the ashes when all those people knew of me was the nerdy worm. I was unfaithful and kind of made out with a classmate in a parking lot. I was bad. I know it. I do not justify my actions. Judge me if you so choose, I deserve it. Although I was wrong, that experience taught me that my high school trauma was over and I was miserable in my current relationship. I was a capable, beautiful, independent woman who could have any man I wanted. I broke up with my boyfriend immediately upon my return. I ended up having to break up with him a couple more times for it to stick.

I looked just like this girl... Yeah, just like her.

I looked just like this girl… Yeah, just like her.

Besides the hook up, which was more innocent in retrospect, I also met up with some good friends who turned out to really love me and supportive of me. I started networking and working to get back home. I fell in love with my baby nieces on that visit as well. They were only 18 months and four months at the time. I vowed to not miss anymore of their precious babyhoods. It is amazing how children make you grow up, even when they are not your own.

I sent out resumes, came up for an interview, and did several interviews until finally, after the first of the year and hiring budgets are reopened, I landed a phone interview with a prestigious financial firm on their banking side. My ambition and will to return was greater than my low self esteem and I went for it. I had never worked harder to get a job in my life. I was hired over the phone. My start date was delayed because of the awful winter, but that was okay by me. The universe smiled upon me, got me a good job that was a significant pay raise over my current job, had career potential, and would bring me home. I also got to miss the “polar vortex” and return in March. I temped for a few weeks. Couch surfed at a friend’s and my mom’s house and then started on with my new life.

I left the boyfriend off at his mother’s house from whence he came. He probably still hates me and is chalking up our relationship as a major fail. I deserve it. I feel badly about it. I did love him, but it just was not going to work out. Our relationship reminded me a little too much like “Fast Car” by Tracy Chapman. My experience proves that whenever your life resembles a 90’s folk or alternative song, its time to make a change. Because, as the 90’s songstress Sheryl Crow will tell you, “A change will do you good.”

Fast Car

So I’m home….kind of. More on that later.

 

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