2017: A Year of Many Changes

I realize that the year is only a little more than half over, and it has been a tumultuous year so far. This is my life recap:

January
Work: I began working overtime constantly. My strict adherence to trying to maintain a healthy work-life balance became impossible with the work demands. 10-11 hour days became a new a norm.

Love: My one great joy was a long weekend with Seabiscuit for his birthday: Point Cabrillo was beautiful. We went naked hot-tubbing together in Mendocino. We saw whales spouting off the coast. I had never been so happy as that special weekend with him.

Home: Chaos. My ex-boyfriend still refused to move out even though we had broken up roughly 9 months ago.

February
Work: The overtime continued. Fellow coworkers on my team began to leave the company, adding more to the workload for me and the few left behind.

Love: Seabiscuit confessed he loved me, but two weeks later he broke up with me, saying he needed to fix things in his life first before being in a relationship. I was devastated and only had consolation in that he said he still wanted to remain friends, see plays together and wanted to see a Monet exhibit together with me. I think things had gotten too serious for him (neither of us expected our relationship to become so serious so quickly) and scared him. I still think that. He also announces he is most likely going to be taking a job in Texas. A double heartbreak.

Home: After a nightmarish drama (including threats and calls to the police), the ex finally moved out the last day of the month. He took the three cats with him, and I am still sad, even now, that I never got to say goodbye to them.

March
Work: Still craziness as the team shrunk. The burnout began as I felt more and more unappreciated. My boss told me we all have to make sacrifices; her inconsistencies in her directions began. I became very unhappy with work.

Love: Heartbroken and still trying to navigate what it means to be friends now. It was a sudden shift from daily emails to maybe an email or two a week. A great light in my life was no longer there to comfort me. I cried a lot. At the end of the month, he decides against the job in Texas. I wonder then if that was also partly why he broke up: to not have me be a deciding factor in the job decision.

Home: My parents moved in next door. Literally next door. We share a wall. I begin trying to clean the mess of the apartment to make it my own home.

April
Work
: The burnout continues. I no longer know who my boss is anymore as she has become someone I don’t recognize. Our team continues to shrink. I become the sole person on the team as the only other team member left comes down with shingles. When I describe how overwhelmed I am to my boss in a one-on-one, she tells me: “What I’m hearing is this is a role fit issue for you. Maybe you should start looking for work outside of [Company].” she also tells me, “You don’t seem alive anymore.” I realize then that this place I felt was my second home for over 3 years is now a hostile environment.

Love: It is my first time seeing Seabiscuit since February. We see a play late in the month, Dog Sees God, with a couple of my friends. Before he leaves, he hugs and kisses me on the lips. I am happy about that but more confused than ever and still brokenhearted.

Home: I have ripped out cheap, built-in particle-board closet cabinets in order to remove a smelly old strip of carpet (about 60 square feet). It reeks of cat, and no carpet cleaner can get through to the strip of padding straight out of the 1960s that has been glued to the uneven concrete floor beneath it. Fun. Lots of home improvement fun. And chaos as I destroy cabinets. It’s also weird getting used to parents next door. We put in tile to replace the carpet.

May
Work: It’s all downhill. Resentment builds along with the burnout. I feel my boss throws me and the other member of our team under a bus. Despite telling me we all have to make sacrifices and that I need to work now, now apparently it’s my fault I’m burnt out and working more than 8 hours. She used to care about our team, but that care has been MIA for a while now. Our team grows, but it’s a too little, too late effort. By the end of the month, I begin considering other jobs and looking.

Love: Still struggling to understand my relationship with Seabiscuit. It is hard feeling I’ve lost him. I keep asking about when we shall see the Monet exhibit together as it ended that month. At the second to last weekend of it, we tentatively set a date to see it together. I am then heartbroken when he announces Friday he shall see it with his daughter instead but I also realize I can’t be angry with him. He wants to spend as much time with his youngest daughter before she goes to college. It is a double pain. I go to the Monet exhibit separately with a friend instead. Unbeknownst to me, the same painting that is his favorite of the exhibit becomes a painting that inspires a poem when I see it.

Home: My parents offer some comfort, but the boundaries between my apartment and theirs need to be set. While I am grateful for their help, I also feel overwhelmed by constant presence. Sometimes I just need peace and want to be alone. They help with repainting the apartment. The apartment is chaos as things get shuffled around and I haven’t replaced the cabinets I destroyed.

June
Work: At this stage, I’m having multiple moments weekly where I think to myself, “Why don’t I just get out of my seat and quit this job RIGHT NOW?” I feel it is important I quit soon. I know that I will not be able to keep giving 100% any more. The resentment is building, and I don’t want to be that asshole who quits and leaves a mess behind. I will give 100% up until my last day. I apply to a job that opens up and land it by the end of the month.

Love: Still confused. I see another play with Seabiscuit, As You Like It, and am nowhere nearer an answer to our relationship status. We kiss, hug, and hold hands while together. It is very confusing. While our email contact is still distant from what it was, he pulls through during important moments, like especially bad days at work and to help me prepare for the job interview I had. I read the book Sex with Shakespeare and am convinced Seabiscuit is my lost other half. I cry while reading the book. It is the most important book I have read in all of 2017 and might be one of the most meaningful ones in my entire life. (I am grateful for Dan Savage having mentioned it in one of his columns as well as column’s wisdom.)

Home: It is still a neverending work in progress. Painting is still underway. The apartment feels like it will always be chaos.

July
Work: The first week of July, I’m in Alaska on a cruise. Work since then has been chaos, but I know my boss is supportive and will help me grow in ways I’d never expect. Long days, a long commute, and lots of work piles on. Despite how hard I have to work, I know things will get better.

Love: When I realize it is 5 months since Seabiscuit broke up with me and that our relationship lasted just a week or so shy of 6 months, I am very hurt and sad. One friend, whose wedding I will attend later this year, tells me to get over “Seaface”. I am more hurt. I feel people do not understand why the relationship is special. I got to see him today for our play, The Glass Menagerie. We hold hands almost the entire time. I want to talk about us, but as he tells me about his daughters, I hold back. While I am sad to not get more time with him, I am happy for him in seeing how happy he is to spend so much time with his daughters.

Home: I really gotta set boundaries with the parents. It feels intrusive, even though I know they mean well. I feel like I will always be alone if they do not give me space. And after a long day at work and a long commute, I just want my own space. Painting is mostly done but still in progress.

So as we get closer to just 5 more months left, I wonder what’s going to happen next?

Fathers and Daughters

It’s hard to love someone who is much older than yourself.

It is hard to love a man who has grown daughters closer to your own age than he is to yours.

I fell in love with someone 24 years my senior, and when we were together, they were the happiest moments of my life. Every moment felt precious, every minute. Just being able to hold his hand or feel him squeeze mine was feeling as if I were whole.

Some friends have said it’s time to move on. It has been over 5 months since he broke up with me. He had other things in his life to figure out.

But we still see each other occasionally. My feelings are still as strong now as they were then.

I wanted to spend more time with him today after seeing The Glass Menagerie with him, but he planned dinner with his daughters.

He will be an empty nester soon, and he is enjoying all the time he has left with them. Who can resent that? It breaks my heart, but not because he won’t have dinner with me; it breaks my heart because I will never know that: I will never be a parent. I will never have a daughter.

The Craigslist Well

The Craigslist well of correspondents has dried up a bit. My folks across the pond have faced bad circumstances; Lord Byron will be out of contact for a full month. DJ MF has gotten so caught up in a nasty custody battle with his ex that I don’t hear much from him not. Prufrock is MIA, and I suspect something awful has happened as he used to write me multiple times a day. Lancelot hasn’t written in about a week (has something terrible happened or just busy with work?), so this leaves only Richard the Lionheart as an active correspondent. 

Richard and I have exchanged letters now. He finally received mine yesterday, and I await to see what he shall think of his nickname, for in my letter I told him what I shall nickname him. He dreaded whatever mythological nickname he suspected I had come up for him, but it’s a good nickname. I should hope he would be pleased, and I look forward to his next letter.

I recorded myself reading the poem I wrote most recently for Seabiscuit; the title is “Departures”, though it was previously untitled. I have sent it to Richard as we wrote about being curious about each other’s accents. He also has shared poetry, not his own, but some of his favorite poems by poets previously unknown to me. I have enjoyed the two he has shared so far.

I would say that perhaps it is time for me to post again on Craigslist, but I will be busy for the coming months and don’t feel I will be able to respond to people as quickly as I would like. Where shall I post next when I do have more time? Germany? Greece? Japan?

Our Next Adventure

Because of our adventure, I had to change the date of my theater tickets for Othello at the CalShakes theater. On a whim, I picked this Thursday. I have never tried to go midweek, but why not?

In the emails that followed our last adventure between me and Seabiscuit, I mentioned having the tickets and how I’d like to take him to the theater, but I thought he likely already had plans, and my family would be in town (and I don’t think they are ready to hear about Seabiscuit.)

To my delight, he actually is able to make it tomorrow. He shall meet me there, and we will get to see Othello together. Then he will take me back to SF and spend the night. He will have to take off midmorning on Friday.

So my parents will have to wait to see me until Friday, but I do have work as an excuse. I am very excited about Seabiscuit staying with me and being able to see him again. Even though the time will be short and far less than 24 hours together, I am very much looking forward to being able to hold him close and lie side by side.

Stirring blue waters

The photograph of the two trees in the original photograph sent to Lord Byron was taken in late winter. Their branches were bare and twisted, leafless. The grass around them stood bright green and tall while fog cast a veil over the sunrise palette in the sky.

Seabiscuit had scouted out the location the day before and sent me photos. How different it looked! The grass was dried and yellow, and the intertwining of branches could not be seen as the oak leaves were still nearly covered all branches. I decided I ought to wear blue for a contrast to that landscape, and if I am the Mistress of the Sapphire Seas, then blue seems all the more appropriate. I rarely wear dresses or skirts, but this was a special occasion, so I wore a long-sleeved tunic and a long lacey blue skirt.

I reread emails over and over on the trip there. What does it mean to be a Domme? To have a sub? I told my friends I felt I needed an introductory guide. To my coworker M, on Friday afternoon, I even showed Seabiscuit’s email for advice. M said: “He’s essentially telling you he wants you to order him around, so you can say ‘Eat my fucking pussy!’ and he’ll do it.”

What a foreign thing it seemed to know I would have so much control. I still felt like I needed a handbook. My first venture into the world of BDSM–all the control would be mine.

Well, maybe not all of it. After all, the bus I was to take decided not to turn where it was supposed to, leaving me and 5 others stranded as it never came for us and the next bus was an hour later. Determined not to be left behind with the next one, I hurried in the Saturday heat (wishing I had not worn long sleeves after all) to the Transbay Terminal to catch the bus where it starts (leaving no opportunity to be missed).

When I finally got to my destination, Seabiscuit was running a few minutes late. It was hot–more hot than it had been in San Francisco. It was in the 90s at least, and not a good temperature for long sleeves.We finally spotted each other on opposite sides of the street–him in his red car and me on the corner. He pulled over and got out as I waited for the light to change to let me cross. The sun was in my eyes, so I had to hold my arm up, but I smiled as I peeked at him.

We hugged. “It’s good to see you,” he said, and he opened the door for me. Both of us were nervous and excited. He said he thought we could get me something to eat and drink, rest a little maybe, and then have our photoshoot later near sunset when it was “the golden hour” best for photography.

So we drove to his apartment. He took out some crackers and a plate of three cheeses (a well marbled blue cheese, Humboldt fog, and a hard cheese of some sort) and offered me water or juice. We both drank apple juice while chatting and eating cheese and crackers.

After we finished off the plate, he said, “So what would you like to do now? I can show you around town, or we could go get ice cream, or–we could cuddle.”

I tilted my head to consider my options for a few seconds, and then exclaimed, “Let’s cuddle!” and I grinned.

Don’t fall in love

I wrote Seabiscuit yet another ghazal, titled “Good boyfriends”. I asked the questions I asked here: what it means to be a good boyfriend, and what monogamy means.

He replied, “That gave me a nice warm feeling in my heart. I do feel like we have a strange and wonderful hybrid relationship, both platonic and erotic; virtual and real.”

We are both in the same world questioning things after being unhappy in our previous relationships. So we began our exchange last night, asking about each other’s fantasies and desires.

Later in the exchange, he replied that if we were to take things further in person, we needed ground rules: 

First, you must not fall in love with me. I came into your life on the winds from the Sapphire Sea and will go the same way.

Since when does making it a rule ever make it so? And why is falling in love forbidden? Why is that a terrible thing? How can love of someone you respect and care about be terrible? Even unrequited, it should be flattering but not a thing that tears a relationship apart and sends people away.

Also, is that rule a warning for me or for himself?

I have been writing another Brit (no nickname yet) about me and Seabiscuit. He has made some astute observations in the little information I have provided. He said it seemed both of us seemed to be holding back, but he couldn’t tell why. As I waited for Seabiscuit’s reply to my latest email, I wrote my unnamed British fellow that I suspect both of us are scared to lose this special, precious thing, whatever it is.

So a few minutes later, it seemed Seabiscuit and I were truly channeling each other. I received Seabiscuit’s email with the rule of not falling in love, and at the end of his email:

PS: Another fear I have with taking our erotic connection to IRL is that it would affect our e-connection. I like it. I sound like such a scaredy-cat with all this. But there it is.

So I find myself asking once more, is the warning to not fall in love for himself or for me? Or to us both?

What does monogamy mean to you?

I ask myself that question.

I don’t know if I have an answer. Stability perhaps. I am sure some will same commitment–but only in one sense: sexuality. Is commitment in other ways more important?

I found myself falling heavily for DJMF, but is it just a raging-teenage hormones type of relationship? Could it be anything more? I so very much would like it to be, but it is hard to tell if he likes me as much as I like him. And there’s the whole long distance issue, which is not insignificant. The practical one and the romantic are always at war with each other.

With Seabiscuit, I don’t know how to describe it. Is there a word in English to describe this? I don’t think there is. I keep thinking about it, but words fail me.

He says that he probably would not be a good boyfriend for me. Why is that? Is it just monogamy? But do I care about that? And what is a good boyfriend anyway? Why the label? Technically, my last boyfriends were not good either.

Sure, there is an age difference: 32 and 55. But that does not bother me. I like him. We have had fun together in person when we went bird watching. He inspires me. He excites me. We have had meaningful conversations on hard topics. If I were to die today, I would want him at my funeral tomorrow. I feel close to him, and it’s different from other relationships and friendships that I have had. There is silliness and great maturity, honesty and great kindness.

But we both know you want and deserve a boyfriend.  Maybe DJMF or maybe someone else, probably not me.”

Why not?

Njála – part three: Setting the Bridge on Fire

So, you ask, where did it all go wrong?

We swapped photos, which probably would have been fine except, I mentioned how some men stop responding to my emails shortly after I send a photo. (The photo I usually send is only of my face, and I attributed the end of communication as a statement on race–people assumed I must be white and don’t fit the profile of who they expected was writing to them.)

However, Njal assumed I sent them the same photos I sent him, even though I was clear in my email that it is not usually the photos I send.

Read more

Njála – part two: An Abogado’s Avocados

When I initially wrote part one of Njála, things were getting quite steamy with Njal.

He did call me that morning, and I was quite touched. I’m a sucker for posh British accents, and he has one. We talked, and things were cleared up. I was very happy he called.

He wrote me soon after our phone call: “Your voice is beautiful, you have a deep, sexy laugh, and I can’t wait to see you.”

I responded, “And your voice is lovely. I am so glad you called, and I am in much brighter spirits now than I was this morning. Thank you. I look forward to seeing you too.”

To which he replied (and again, I felt especially touched):

“F-

You should email or text me whenever you feel down. I’ll call you as soon as I can.

Love, N”
Our correspondence continued while I was on my way to my aunt’s house where they were celebrating her 86th birthday. It got more erotic and steamy with each email. Even while I was trying to mash avocados for the family gathering, we were still furiously emailing and flirting with each other.
F: I think of you as I mash these rock hard avocados. I wish I had yours–I am sure they would be ripe.
N: Full and ripe, especially when I’ve had no release for days.
NWhat would you do with this abogado’s avocados?
That last line made me laugh. It still does.
And so that erotic exchange continued for some intense 24 hours… I’ve never felt such an erotic intensity before. Passion or reckless ardor–I know not what best describes it. It was the stuff that makes people do crazy things–leave spouses and kids, abandon jobs and all responsibilities. It was wild. And frightening. Both of us felt it and talked about feeling it.
But before I could write this second part, that fire had long burned out. The bridge between us wasn’t just set on fire: he soaked it in gasoline, lined it with TNT, and took a flamethrower to it.

Growing Apart

I know, I know. I’ve been neglecting this thing. Too much work and overtime these days. I hate when my work-life balance is too heavily weighted on the work side. I feel exhausted. I need time to unwind for me. Last Friday, I worked for 12 hours in the office and 8 hours on Sunday. My head felt like mush. I felt unable to do much, writing-wise, and lucky to be able to string a subject and verb together.

The last two weeks have been hard. It’s not just work. It’s still living with the ex.

We are strangers sharing the same apartment. As much as I had hoped we’d still be friends, the number of times where I feel that cannot be continues to increase. We don’t know important things about each other. Our lives are separate. We lead different lives. We don’t know what’s important to the other. Conversations feel forced.

He has no idea of my adventures online through Craigslist. I have no idea what he does after work. He goes out to classes, and if I ask, he’ll tell me. Raspberry Pi, 3D printing, etc. Sometimes he’d be gone for 6-7 hours at a time.

I realize it’s a good thing. It’s good he’s being productive. I’m hopeful it means that he’s overcoming his depression. Good for him.

But then it gets complicated.

He gave me short notice (less than two weeks) that his friend, W, was coming to visit and would stay with us for a week.

W is blind. There was a time, long before we were dating, where they had some sort of a relationship. I didn’t know much about it, but I did distinctly remember asking him about her when the two of us were friends, and I asked if he’d ever consider moving to Japan and living with her. He said yes.

I had always tried to inquire about their relationship, even when we were dating, but he kept pretty quiet and didn’t want to talk about it.

So I soon realize that all his efforts, his classes, his long hours away and, when present in the apartment, are all in effort for making 3D maps for her. It’s a noble cause, but it hurt. It hurt like hell. It hurt because all I could think was how I never saw him spend a fraction of so much time and effort pouring himself into something for me in all 6 years of our relationship. Damn.

This evening, they come back to the apartment together. He had gone to take her around in the south bay with another friend she was staying with for some time, and stayed down there for a few nights. We go out to dinner.

As W fiddles with her wallet and cash, Jacob makes a joke about how she can give him all her 1000 bills (yen).

“Oh, you can hold on to them for when you visit me in Japan,” she says and hands them to him.

He takes them and puts them into his wallet very matter-of-factly.

“When are you going to Japan?” I ask. It’s the first I heard of it.

“We just talked about it,” he says, avoiding the question.

One of the other complains I had about the relationship was never getting to travel. We could never travel anywhere together. I wanted to travel, but he got too much anxiety. We could never do anything together.

I didn’t think it could still hurt. I’m hurt. It hurts.