I’ve been staring at Mr. Gorgeous from across the cafe for approximately six minutes when he looks over and catches me in mid-stare. A few things come to mind:
1. O shit.
2. O shit.
3. Damn, he’s good looking.
I go back to writing. The thing is, I have a problem with concentration. Did I mention he wore argyle? I’m a sucker for argyle, and gorgeousness behind glasses. I think I’m over the last thought when, he smiles. His eyes look like wide almonds, I’d like to catch a grenade for him, lol. Am I shallow? And then I laugh at myself. I have three hundred things to do in one day, I cannot sleep most nights, and here I am waiting on inspiration when I wouldn’t know it if it hit me on the back of my fat head in slow motion.
The guy looks at me again. I stare at my computer screen like I’m writing the bestseller I hope I’m writing. The waitress with the blonde hair that doesn’t look naturally blonde, her overly-heavy mascara—she is kind—brings me my omelette. It has avocados in case y’all didn’t know. Later, I find a hair in the omelette as I’m on my third to last bite. The manager comes over to apologize and thinks I don’t want to pay for it. She tells me that the waitress was crying. Funny, I’d already eaten it, I had every intention to pay for the hairy eggs I just devoured. The waitress overhears her tell me that she’d been crying. She says
“Did she just say I was crying?”
“Yes” I smirk.
And she laughs. It’s a funny thing what people do when something goes wrong.
Mr. gorgeous met up with some other man. They are talking, he has mentioned me because the guy he is sitting with has looked over at me, trying to disguise the fact that he is trying to see me.
1. Is he checking me out?
2. He must be selling something.
3. I’ve had enough bad luck for this month, ignore them both.
And so I do. I finish my homework assignment like a good girl should. I take my crazy meds, lol. I drink my chamomile bread and sip my warm toast, and I ready myself to leave. As I am packing my stuff up, the heavy make-upped waitress leans over and tells me that the men across the room (the delicious one and his buddy) were checking me out and joking about there being no ring on my finger.
*The man in the picture above is French accented Willy Monfret. Lawd have some kinda mercy on my soul. Lol.
~Maggie Nelson, Bluets
I once slept with a man who was falling out of love with me at the time, or had already fallen.
It must have been the most painful encounter I’ve ever had. Maybe, at least close. I believe in the mental, physical, emotional elements all melting in sync and when someone isn’t there, well, they just aren’t there. I will tell you, it was sunshiny when I went into that pretty hotel lounge to have him for drinks (pun intended) and it was a slow cyclical dripping of rain when I ran out and away from him the next morning.
Fucking leaves everything as it is. Fucking may in no way interfere with the actual use of language. For it cannot give it any foundation either. It leaves everything as it is. —Maggie Nelson, Bluets
The next time we spoke was on Valentines Day not very much long after when I was with my new boyfriend at the time in San Francisco. I pretended to be overly happy for my ex love when he advised me that he was getting married, to someone else. When I hung up the phone, I cried in the bathroom so hard I shook the bathroom stall. I walked out of the bathroom like it never happened.
A warm afternoon in early spring, New York City. We went to the Chelsea Hotel to fuck. Afterward, from the window of our room, I watched a blue tarp on a roof across the way flap in the wind. You slept, so it was my secret. It was a smear of the quotidian, a bright blue flake amidst all the dank providence. It was the only time I came. It was essentially our lives. It was shaking. —Maggie Nelson, Bluets
Last night I met Maggie Nelson, author of “Bluets,” and more recently “The Art of Cruelty.” Maggie read from her latest TAOC at the Redcat Theatre at CalArts’ Downtown Center for Innovative Visual, Performing, and Media Arts. It was beautiful. A stunning and intellectually provocative showcase indeed.
I’ve loved Maggie since she wrote “Bluets” and have also read “Something Bright, Then Holes.” With much thanks to Douglas Kearney (my workshop leader) for prescribing her to me after the aforementioned engagement gone awry. It blends the nonfiction/poetry lines, as does Wayne Koestenbaum in his new book “Humiliation.” Wayne was there too reading from his masterpiece, as was Jack Halberstam encouraging us all too fail big. How big and lightbulby I felt after digesting the reading of their work. The Q & A was heavily laden with words and references I need to look up and remember, lol.
So after the show I stood the painfully stalkish wait for Maggie to sign her book for me (The Art of Cruelty), and I even had the old one on me (Bluets) and I asked her to sign that one too. There aren’t many people I can say “SAVED MY LIFE,” (because that’s so huge) but her book did. I attached a picture because it’s such a big deal to me, and this is all about me y’know. After a 7 year breakup which I’ve coined “all my good twenties goooooone,” her book put things in perspective and since it is written in a way that interjects her retrospective voice with her story in numbered elements of prose poetry; I couldn’t help but tell her (that it gave me hope and that I may have contemplated a slow medicinal overdose if not for it, actually, really, I sorta did anyway, or did less because of needing to finish her book), she gave me her email address and said we should talk later. I love it when writers have big hearts. I was in near-tears (paused behind fear of course) because it takes a lot to go up to someone and thank them for the impact they’ve had on your life—through their writing, especially in such a personal way. I’m thrilled to be starting her book of criticism and will devour it soon enough.
And so, what is it with empty sex? The kind of loving that leaves less to be desired, but more and more until you can’t fill enough of yourself up? The kind you write books about. The way Maggie speaks about the man she fucked for six hours straight (please read page 46, I can’t keep quoting) only to find him with another—only to find she would have to give up such a love. I guess for me, to find that what matters most isn’t the physical act, but the time and efforts around it, the expectations that surround it, the things you give up for it. The balancing act of, and with a person. Are they not only willing to show you, but rather go out on the limb, of a shaky tree, in a snowstorm, after unfortunately having forgotten a jacket and put their hand out, for you?
One of my best friends (who doubles as a comedian at times) likes to debate with me about emotions and sex. He said to me the other day something along the nerve of “sex is like getting something new from the store, as great as it is when you bring it home—a week goes by and you cannot remember it, not hardly, unless it reinvents itself, unless it is particularly sentimental for some reason or another (love-ish?) or it glitters in gold or shimmers (new partner).” Sometimes we can be satisfied and still need more; we can be happy, but still want happier; we can be fucking but still want love. I want a man that loves subtlety all the way through me; a man that kisses me so intensely that to hold back would be an orgasm in itself.
What about it?
I wonder of it.
There is something that happens when you look over at a person and it stops your thoughts. I know—it’s happening right now. The way you lose your momentum mid-sentence, the way you squirm—the way you sit still. The way you have to admit, to someone, out loud, that you:
“Can’t remember where you were going with whatever you were saying,” or thinking, or doing. Poetic right?
It’s what I like to call fail-safe. But it’s actually the opposite.
It is when you are lying on your stomach , reading, writing, thinking, yes, lying down next to someone and they softly place their hand on the top of your thigh and dozens of sparks begin blinking inside your bloodstream and all you can think of is if there was ever anything better. It gives you the illusion that all in the world’s alright and cannot fail. That all is safe and well.
Makes it easier to dream big enough to fail in the morning—I’ll tell ya.
Then there’s this armor. I’m guilty—I wear it—that I don’t need sentiments. That I don’t need little love notes, white chocolate-covered flowers, concern and compliments. Fine, I’ll do without, at least as long as I can. But when it’s right, like not—left, like ball bouncing from court to court, tickles when I’m smiling—right… the one thing I can’t seem to fall asleep without is, the cuddling.
To be forced to sleep without cuddling, is the cruelest most unusually awfully-painful and saddening punishment no one deserves! I mean drink the last of the soymilk without saying anything, but do not refuse to snuggle with me before we fall asleep!
Yes, I want him to hold me like we are teleporting into another dimension, and if we don’t hold tight enough one of us might get left-locked into another year. Yes, I want him fiddling up my back, hands upside my thigh. I want him to hold me, at the very least, until I fall asleep. And if it gets too hot, I understand. But if it does not, I want him to understand that I look forward to it like Lucky Charms and Tetris.
I want to open my slow eyes to his hands dancing along my pantiline, his breathing medium hovering my neckline, his body heat ingeniously saving me from needing the extra space heater.
So, how does it feel guys, do you like to snuggle?
I regret “spooning,” I regret his over-excitedness about daily regurgitating tasks, I regret the handholding—the squeezing, I regret all the big dreams about French doors and ponytails. I regret going along with it all by thinking I’d grow into it.
I’m 28 years old and I’ve never been in love. I’ve only been in regret.
I can explain. You meet someone and you fall impeccably, dancing around lampposts “in love” with them, their smell, the habits they have that you initially think are cute. Wait for it…
You meet their Mom and you’re sold. She’s nice, which is the best word to use about any man’s mother you just met. You meet his kid(s). I once fell in regret with a man who had two little girls. Prettiest peaches ever. No, I mean impossibly, selflessly, itching under my skin to be around him and his kids. It wasn’t as hard as some claim to get children to “like” you, but again, this was only one experience, and only my experience. I was pushing the four year old on the swing and the seven year old was coloring with me at the park in no time. Cake. The issue is, the moments you remember most—like a movie, those moments that incessantly replay, aren’t the moments of fancy dinners or dotes, but are the moments you had to catch your breath with overwhelm, the moments you’ve said to yourself “I want this.”
Thing is, when you fall, you fall hard for their families too. I recently watched “How to Lose Your Lover” on Netflix. A funny chic fling movie about a writer convinced he’s over LA life, so he does everything he can to rid himself of excess LA baggage, including women. He goes off about pissing everyone in his corner off. He shoves his love interest into uncomfortable positions such as meeting her parents and his friends on the first and second dates. An interesting concept indeed. I think this way now. I’ve realized that so many people wait the three months, six months or years before they meet the friends and family of their significant others only to find it plops. People don’t realize that when you date a person (for the most part) you date their loud ass mom, their overprotective dad, their sneaky sister, their ignorant ass friends, and their horribly annoying children.
If you think you can handle it, you should know sooner rather than later about the people you might love regret.
Case in point: when you love, you love the bad about a person sometimes even more than the good. This wanes and regrets once it’s over, often while it still is. Gretchen Rubin says in “The Happiness project” a book I’m currently reading “I knew that my combativeness and pedantry in this conversation came not from petty irritation but from a desire to protect myself against false hopes.” I completely agree with her. False hopes.
I regret not learning how to “fight right,” as in, pick my battles. I regret not loving myself enough to love anyone else. I regret having to admit that I went crazy before I got this half-right. Only half. I regret the growing up process and all the short sticks I give and get. I regret the shit out of not getting to know a person enough not to regret the whole damn thing.
I’ve never been in love, only regret. Funny what you regret is what could be what you’ve loved the most. Funny what you regret is what you’ve learned the most from.
I tend to read out loud. Now, whether or not you’ve heard me or not is a different story.
I’ll say a “subconscious-unconsciousness of” — too damn much. For instance if the person in front of me says he doesn’t like women who shop… all of a sudden I’m a thriftily shopping mo-fo. He doesn’t like tea? O, I only dabble in tea sipping, pinky finger flailing, honey sticks, and lattés, just dabble, lol. Similar to Julia Roberts in Runaway Bride when it was all she could do to match her counterparts, she forgot herself.
I read, a lot. I read people. I speed read. I read attachments. I read magazines, marketing material, interviews, the internet, but mostly, I read out loud. I tell a person what’s wrong, generally, like most of us do — before telling them what’s right. I’m proud to recognize this, and acknowledge myself as a work in progress.
I write my toot off. I stay up wee hours of the night reading. Studying. I put it first when at times it should come second to some things like taking a few minutes to make the people I love happy. Ma calls me up the other day, exhibit #1:
“Where da hell you beeennnnnnnn?” Her southern accent, a cheerily bit ghetto. She asks of why I haven’t called her.
I go on explaining and rambling off about deadlines, genre workshops, reading group, and submissions and halfway through my summary of absence, this broad is not listening. At all. I’m talking about not only not listening, but in full conversation with my niece in the background.
“Maaaaam, did you hear me???? You not listening! You never listen, how you gon’ ask me a question then go all off talkin’ to someone else?!” I shriek.
“Awhl, shiiiiiiiit, leme call ya later honey, these children are on my nerves.” She hangs up. I laugh and shake my head. Like I said, I read out loud, no one listens.
Example 2: an ex of mine came over about nine maybe ten one night o clock a few weeks back to listen as I read a few pages to him for proofing. After all, I can credit him for catching a lot of my run-on sentences, verb tense issues, and grammar ridiculousness. He also fully believes in my work and I love that. This particular time no sooner than shortly after his arrival did I read into about the fourth page, and I found that he had apparently took the drug opposite of No-Doze. He was full-on asleep, light snore and all. Naturally, I’m human, I was hurt.
He exclaimed that he was tired, which I believe he was, and that if he’d only had the pages in front of him (like his own copy) he would have stayed up. The issue is, when someone gives an über quick reason for falling short, the explanation loses its weight. A simple “I’m sorry, it won’t happen again” would have sufficed. Practice with me: “I’m sorry it, won’t happen again,“ the most important words in language, since “I love you” is overrated and everyone loves everybody. I’m really sorry, I won’t read a damn thing to you, ever again. HAhahaha!
Him actually using those words might have gotten us on the same page. Simple acknowledgement and reassurance that it (hopefully) won’t happen again. Although Ma still hasn’t said a word about her tangents of rudeness, and my ex and I no longer talk, I still feel I’m learning how to better express myself, and I continue reading out loud. I just wish the right people would listen.