Measuring Intimacy

Text messages from this evening:

Phil: Long time no see

Me: Indeed.

Me:  I think I am falling for Seabiscuit.

Phil: Huh? 

Phil: Who dat? Specs. You date so much I can’t keep track.

Me: Lol, you have heard about him. The older guy, photographer.

Me: We have exchanged 90 emails now in 33 days.

Phil:Your metric for intimacy is rate of text/email exchange. I’ve always found that interesting. Not in a bad way mind you. Just interesting.


He is right though. I do seem to think of intimacy in words exchanged. With Caleb it was texts. With all these men from Craigslist, it is by emails (and soon recordings–Lord, I can’t wait to hear Seabiscuit’s voice! But Lord Byron may particularly make me swoon with that special fondness I have of British accents and their effects on me.)

Despite Patrick being an idiot, he did get a few things right. He said once about me having an ethereal mind: “For you, words are real.” It is very true. They mean very much to me; it was always disappointing when I would ask J to write something for me and he never would. So it goes.

Now I’m just measuring intimacy in words–and how much variation there is in the quality I receive!

Thoughts of You

Seabiscuit and I have exchanged 90 emails now. What happens when we cross that 100 mark? Will we finally get to meet face-to-face? Will we finally have dinner and go out on a date?

I have mentioned it a few times, but he always seems to talk about some other thing. I wonder now if he has the same worries that I do: what happens next? What if it doesn’t work out? What if the spark only lasts behind the veil of email? What if we lose this friendship we have started? It is a marvel to realize we have exchanged so many words in a little over a month. It was exactly one month three days ago.

In his last email to me, he said he liked the idea of reading to me and that “it seems intimate, like sharing a photo.” I wait now as he decides what he should record for me. He asked me for a few ideas. I said it could be a song (he has mentioned enjoying singing) or some of his favorite poems. I even told him it might be funny to hear him read the poem I wrote for him read back to me — surely, he would read it differently. It would be fun to hear the tones and inflections, what he would emphasize. It could have a completely different reading.

He mentioned one of his favorite poems is T. S. Elliott’s “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock”, and that is one of my favorites too. I am very excited about hearing his voice. I want to hear it before bedtime, before I sleep. He has already started to fill my head at that late hour…

Would I be a woman you would have an adventure with? Would I be a woman you’d enjoy sharing your time with? Could we be more than friends? I already feel myself falling — but then there is Lord Byron, who I still am getting to know, whose age remains a mystery, but is rather handsome in the photo I managed to peek at from his book. For all I know, he and Seabiscuit could be the same age.

I have written another poem while thinking about him; it’s titled “Thoughts of You”, but I keep this one, and its inspiration a secret. He will hear the poem eventually, provided I finish this poetry-CD project and send him one… will he know? Will he suspect it was written with him in my mind?

The Seabiscuit of San Francisco

Having hidden in the background for so long, at last he has finally made his opening to the forefront. That stud, that stallion pacing so softly but steadily, has raced his way to the head of the pack and is ahead by so far that it’s hard to imagine there could be an upset at this point. It should be an easy win, for the closest competitor is behind by a few leagues.

Seabiscuit has clinched the number one spot in the race. The score is 79, now 80, and Lord Byron, the most promising of the recent horses to join the race, is still at 12. However, Lord Byron did this morning send his completed manuscript of a novel that, while he had a literary agent, never found a publisher, so that ought to boost up his stats a few compared to the other leaders left on the scoreboard. I am looking forward to reading his work and laughed out loud once, just upon the first page. He sent it to me to keep me entertained while he is off to London for a week regarding a new publication of his (not the novel) and won’t be online.

I wrote a poem on the bus ride home today. I titled it, “San Francisco” and recorded it when I got home. I emailed the poem to both Seabiscuit and Lord Byron. I asked Seabiscuit if he would want me to send the recording over as well, as he did very much enjoy my voice before when reading his poem. He responded quite quickly; of course he did.

There is something wonderfully attractive and alluring to have someone enjoy my voice so much. He has been quite playful in his language back to me. I do believe we call this “flirting”. Still, I think both of us might be hesitant to go too far. We’ve had some lovely exchanges in the course of a month, and I’ve felt very comfortable talking to him more than to all the others. We’ve discussed a lot more variety of subjects than I have with others from Craigslist: race and racism, politeness in restaurants, others on Craigslist, and ourselves.

I was very touched by his thoughts on race and racism in his email to me this afternoon, responding to the thoughts on that topic I had written to him. It was a very thoughtful recognition of being a white male. (It could not have been any more different than Patrick’s email where his logic boiled down to “I have black and Asian friends and dated a Mexican girl once so can’t be racist.”) It was very understanding and acknowledging the issues that he is blind to by his own privilege as a white male. I appreciated the sincerity of it. I have found it is hard to talk to someone on the other side when it comes to race; hell, I even have moments where I raise an eyebrow to something my own mother says, realizing she has no idea what challenges her children face by only being half-white, and only one of us (not I!) passes for white.

Could this be going somewhere, besides circles in my head? I am very curious to hear his voice too. How attractive would it be? Would I find his voice as alluring as he finds mine, and hear that call of the Sirens in it? Would there be whispered words exchanged by phone?

I have been wondering and entertaining the thought for a while now of doing recordings and including them here, short podcasts of a kind, whether tales from Craigslist or reading my own poetry. But what is the proper length of a podcast? Can it be the mere introduction and reading of a poem? “San Francisco” is only about 30 seconds on its own. Would people listen to a podcast series that was only poems read aloud? Seabiscuit is all for it and says he would certainly listen to any podcast of Craigslist stories so that I can prove there are real women on Craigslist (ha!), and I’m sure he would as eagerly listen to only poetry too-whatever the Siren of San Francisco reads across the waves.

The Siren’s Spell to Summon

There have been two strange occurrences this week. The first I have written of already: how I wrote to Seabiscuit about David and, no sooner was that email sent, I received a message from David.

The second happened only yesterday. I emailed my new British penpal, an older gentleman and scholar of Lord Byron. (Henceforth, I shall write of him as “Lord Byron” because, let’s keep things interesting, and I’d hate to append “the UK one” all the time when others are likely to have the same name.) I wrote about Glen to Lord Byron.

What should show up in my inbox an hour later? An apology from Glen! If I may summon a man by invoking his name, I hope Chris T will soon rise from his grave…

Is this typical? Do men of Craigslist rise from the dead anywhere between 7-21 days post-last email? If so, oh dear. I might have a lot of zombies on my hands. The incubation period of the virus has not passed 21 days yet for them all.

Curiouser and curiouser

I had written to Seabiscuit earlier today, mentioning my exchange with David that fell into oblivion. It was such a shame, I thought, that things were just getting interesting and exciting with David, and then work called him away. Our long email exchanges, reduced to a few sad scraps of sentences that felt closer to texts than any significant exchange. And all of it to fall apart just as I started to think maybe I could date a 48 year old.

How funny that this change led to my posting my own ad, a response to David’s in a way. I made it as elegant and well written as David’s original post. The title even reflected one of the significant things we did exchange: music.

Alas, he was lost as driftwood to the sea…

So imagine my surprise when, no sooner had I finished my email to Seabiscuit, I saw a new message appear–from David.

Now things are really starting to get interesting around here.

Lo! Listen to the Siren who speaks!

I am happy. I thought that, having not heard back immediately from Seabiscuit, the chances were good that he never saw my recording because it might have been filtered to junk or spam on account of the file. I sent him a quick note yesterday afternoon letting him know he should check there if he did not see another message from me because I had sent him a file.

He listened to it almost immediately and responded back within 15 minutes.

“You are a siren and a poetess! And so good to hear the actual voice of the siren on the rocks.  Perhaps good that I am tied to the mast here in the North Bay. … Lovely gift. I am honored and awed.”

 It is a present of its own to have a poem, and the performance of a poem, so well received.

In my head, I am all kinds of confused

I’m feeling it now–the loneliness has gotten to me, and it hurts.

It has been 3 months since I broke up with J. I miss relationship stuff, but not in a way that makes me miss a relationship with him. Anytime the thought of getting back together passes through my head, I immediately remember how hurt I was when he made me feel neglected and rejected, and I vow to never go back.

I am feeling lonely. I want a relationship. Hell, I want friends. Friends! Why is it so hard to find people to share life with?

I am sad to remember that C never finished “digesting my email” from June. I emailed him a week ago to ask if he finished it and if he were playing Pokémon Go now like everybody else, but only silence has followed. 

He did not wish me a happy birthday and missed that date. I am especially sad when I remember C saying he would be my friend because he knew my best friend, Guy, is moving abroad soon. So much for that. I will stop trying.
And the loneliness gnaws at me. Fuck it! I don’t care about a long term relationship! Let me just find friends I can share my life with, who will enjoy my musings, who I can exchange delightful letters with. Why should this be so hard?

Why must I keep feeling alone?

I felt inspired this morning to write Don his poem. It came to me that I should write him a ghazal, and I set to work. 

I liked what I came up with tremendously, working on it during my commute to and from work, it felt finished by the time I got home. I got my mic and recorded reading it aloud; most poetry is meant to be spoken, and especially a ghazal needs a performance.

I had asked him his birthday, but was disappointed to learn it is so far away. I can’t wait that long to give it! I emailed him the recording this evening as a belated / very merry unbirthday gift.
Will it scare him off? Will he take my poem and vanish into the night? Will I once more find myself with no one left to write?

I cried in bed earlier. I haven’t done that in a long time. I just wish I didn’t feel so alone.

Thoughts on a Don Juan named Seabiscuit

I went back through my exchange with Seabiscuit, rereading every email he sent. I think there was some romantic interest that I failed to pick up on. I find it terribly amusing that I missed it. How did I miss it?

I think perhaps I was always so focused on the others in the lead that I missed the underdog of the pack making his steady gains on his competitors who fizzled out in the first few laps.

Also, I realized that I may have misinterpreted one of his lines early on which led to my missing the signs later. He wrote he found a girlfriend on Craigslist–and I took that to mean he was currently with someone. I wonder now if he might have meant he found one previously through CL but that they were no longer dating. That would make a difference now, wouldn’t it? But I assumed he was with said girlfriend and approached our emails as just a friendly getting to know each other exchange, with no hopes or expectations beyond friendship.

While he is a photographer mostly, he does have some nice lines in his prose. He asked me to write him a poem a few weeks back, and I brushed it aside as friendly banter–is it as significant of a request as it feels it might be?

I have shared with Seabiscuit the many haiku I have exchanged with others. He has enjoyed them very much and always lets me know which lines he likes best. But it feels too late to write a haiku for him. Another form of poetry seems to be required.

But what shall I write, and what form shall it take? Sestina? Ghazal? Pantoum? Free verse?

It is a fine line to tread now. I like him–I like having a friend who writes back and enjoys my writing. Does a poem risk it all?

Craiglist email exchanges (my top 10)

How much do I write when I do find someone I find engaging? Quite a bit. It is all the more disappointing when the exchange stops. Here are the top ten of the men I have exhanged the most emails with (# of emails exchanged in parentheses):

1. Patrick (66) – that 60-year old who might have been in my graces still if he would have just apologized for not telling me that photo was 14+ years old, he resurfaced to wish me a happy birthday but still was his unrepenting self.  Last email received July 10, 2016. 

2. Seabiscuit (56) – is the only man left who still writes me back and the one who sends beautiful photographs. Shortly after I had given up on him, he wrote me: he had a particularly busy and bad week at work (I can relate). He responded not to my usual Craigslist ad, but one I posted about how nice it was to meet so many interesting people on CL. Things seem platonic, and I hope we will continue to at least be friends. I would be honored to have his friendship for many years to come. Last email received July 18, 2016 (this morning).

3. Kevin (41) – the Irishman from Wales, an architect or engineer of sorts, was supposed to confirm a date with me for last week and did not. He apologized later when I followed up a week later and said it was no fault of my own that he failed to respond, just busyness at work, but that he does think I sound lovely. He suggested a phone call instead; we will try to schedule one this week–assuming he responds. Last email received July 15, 2016.

4. Glen (31) – appeared in the ad I posted on the eve of my birthday. His writing was very seductive, minus the “sent from my iPhone” signature. But his writing style quickly devolved into a tale of sadness without paragraphs the more personal he got. Then he just stopped responding. I do wonder if perhaps my comment that his exes all sounded batshit crazy, or maybe he drove them all to be that crazy was not taken as humorously as I thought it. Last email received July 13, 2016.

5. Blaise (23) – a divorced Frenchman living in Idaho, he had two cats with Egyptian names. He wasn’t pretty remarkable other than that. Not sure if he stopped responding because I sent a photo, mentioned I broke up with my ex over my email, or something else.  Last email received June 17, 2016.

6. David (19) – ah, David! The one who makes my heart feel a pang of sadness for not exchanging contact information sooner. He will always have a special place in my heart and make me feel that sadness. He was the one whose CL ad I first responded to and who inspired me to write my own, setting off my CL adventures now. I really enjoyed our exchange. Why the hell did I ever doubt I could date a 48 year old? Last email I received June 10, 2016.

7. Sean (17) – the wandering seafarer, a naval architect, with whom I went out twice. No chemistry, I’m afraid, and he’s really into musicals whereas I am not. Last heard from June 19, 2016 (when we went out to a fair together).

8. Chris [Stanford] (16) – a grad student whose idealism made it clear to me that we could not be romantically compatible, I still found him interesting and thought friendship might be a good thing to share. Alas, he never got back to me after the fourth of July weekend. Last email received June 30, 2016.

9. Chris [Mumford] (15) – oh! The other one who makes my heart ache with regret in not exchanging contact info sooner. I found our exchanges as meaningful as the original one I had with David. No idea what made him vanish forever into the abyss, but I panicked when the CL relay service said my messages could not go through. I was greatly saddened. Last email received June 2, 2016.

10. Christopher [Woodelf] (12) – provided the flirtiest and most hilarious exhanges of them all. Sadly it all ended when I mentioned GoT, to which he responded: “you lost me forever with your Jon Snow statement. It’s an outrage.” His photo did remind me of a fat woodelf (Bosmer) from The Elder Scrolls, hence his appended title to help me disinguish all the Christophers. C’est la vie. Last email received July 6, 2016.

Pokémon in a meeting

Me: I can’t believe you are still playing Pokémon. Do you just sit and play all day when you’re in meetings?

J: No, I turn my phone off when I am in meetings, but then I find myself spending the whole meeting wondering if there’s a pokémon in the room.