Transition Girl

Why transition girl?... Best answered by a quote from the Iliad....."The soul was not made to dwell in a thing; and when forced to it, there is no part of that soul but suffers violence."

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

strumpets and leeches

I made the decision to start dating again on May Day last year. While it has only been a little over one year, it seems like forever ago now. Mainly because my experiences with the social internet dating services has been rather mixed. As a first time user of these services, I was not expecting anything beyond a meat market, though it did seem a logical way to dip my toe into the water with the safety of anonymity and without having to drink myself into a drunken stupor at a bar. I am not known for my “quality” choices when my judgment is impaired by alcohol.

On the plus side, I have had no shortage of people seeking to make contact with me. I haven’t had to lift a finger. This surprised me a little given I am starting to get long in tooth so it goes to show that a pretty smile goes a long way to attracting interest. It got to the stage where I had to start keeping a book to remember who had made contact with me and what their names were. Pithy little three liners served as more than just memory jolts, they were designed to identify all the alarm bells that would help me to judge their worthiness for a first or even a second date.

Here’s one that did not make the cut: “metal emo graphic novel dude who could be a gambler – who is stupid enough to suggest a casino for a first date. Snuff film buff – freak”.

My filtering system improved exponentially after these early encounters. I certainly will not be listening to my girlfriends again about how boys who listen to heavy metal are really “sensitive” guys again anytime soon. I still am disturbed about anyone who would confess to being interested in snuff films – certainly do not want to find myself in a starring role in one!

I have also been incredibly surprised that there seemed to be "quality" people on the sites – smart, capable and easily able to converse on all manner of topics. I suppose I should not be surprised by this – there seemed to be so many people just like me, established in their careers with busy lives struggling with meeting people through traditional means.

On the minus side, I have been annoyed by the huge number of people seeking to contact me ignoring my clearly specified exclusion criteria. I want to talk about just one of those today that related to the nature of commitment.

One of the statements I have made in my “what I am looking for” blurb is “do not waste my time if you are looking for a strumpet on the side”. Seems pretty obvious to me (though I accept a lot of people would not know the English old language word for whore, but the smart ones would at least look it up)! For those who know me well, my ten year marriage ended when my partner cheated on me. So, no prizes for guessing I carry a bit of baggage when it comes to people who “look” for intimacy outside of their existing relationships. If you are looking, it begs the question, what is missing from your existing relationship and have you tried to fix the problem? And yet so few seem to look within before looking out. People are intrinsically lazy.

I have been gob smacked by the number of married men seeking mistresses. It is embarrassing. In one of my darker moods, I decided to role play the role of a dominatrix for one such asshole who was looking for some S&M action outside of his wife with kids marriage. I spent an afternoon on MSN working him up to an anticipatory frenzy with my written word only to cut him loose at the end of the evening with a simple statement “you can never be good enough to meet me because you could never be at my whim given your other life”. I was rather angry that day. No Atonement film library scene re-creation for him.

Intimacy. Commitment. Cheating is not only about physical gratification. It is about searching for this or other forms of intimacy outside of an existing relationship without the other partner knowing. It is duplicitous. That is not to say that a partner can offer you all that you need. That would be nirvana. I think it is impossible. But, in an open and honest relationship, partners will allow some leeway for allowing their other half a way of fulfilling the needs they cannot fulfill themselves and doing so in a transparent way.

Beyond that, the process of dating over the last year has expanded my definition of “strumpet on the side” in a quite unexpected way. Among the dates over the last year, I dated a single man whose main commitments outside of the time he spent with me were two children from a previous marriage and work. At a first blush, he seemed normal, quite charismatic, and intelligent enough to manage articulate conversation. It was easy to be attracted to him.

Turned out his life was pretty much focused exclusively on two things - his kids and work (that and what seemed like unnecessarily complicated messy dealings with an unregistered builder doing some renovations for him). By the second month, I was already feeling like I was being treated like a lesser priority, based on his excuse that he wanted to be cautious and take things slowly. The time he spent with me was limited and in between the usual date stuff, I spent most of my time listening to his life’s’ woes.

His negativity was sucking the life out of me. Leeching. By the eigth week, I lost my patience. I saw no value in being treated like a part time lover and pseudo-therapist. Particularly given he was demonstrating no real commitment to me. Being treated as a lesser priority was not a good feeling at all. I realised it was like being a mistress. There only for convenience. Illuminating. I broke it off after that epiphany. I was relieved the moment I made that decision.

Genuine connections, even the non-intense ones, never involve being treated like a whore.

Makes me wonder if the dating roller-coaster should continue…

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

white noise

I had a few strange dreams this week. Perhaps it was the last bout of jelly belly that contributed to this outcome. Admittedly I was relieved none of the dreams were of the waking variety. Chicken curry will do that to me.

In the wee hours of Monday morning, I found myself inside a burning house that someone had deliberately lit. While I managed to escape the burning timber, the intense heat left me worse for wear. Just before sunrise on Tuesday morning, my dream involved running water. I stood under a shower - freezing water spearing down upon me, beading over my skin, as a strange man put a razor to my legs. Left me smooth, yet frozen through to my core. Fire and ice.

Think the dreams are sending me mixed signals. Think some people in my life are doing the same thing.

White noise.

After the second dream, I had trouble sleeping on Monday night. Well, it was that and the nausea from the jelly belly. Found myself at my computer at the time when I am often inspired – some time during the witching hour - in the middle of a conversation with a relatively new person in my life about emotional connection. It occurred to me after that chat it was in the realms of possibility that perhaps I send mixed signals too.

At times I think I have chameleon leanings – people experience me they way they want to. I am not saying that those I spend time with define who I am. I am also not saying who I spend time with merely reflect who I am at the time. At least I do not believe so.

I am all and none of the things that people see in me. The only thing I can say with resolute certainty is that I am fond of camouflage. I will be whomever you want me to be - just don’t ask me to be myself.

I reflect upon that witching hour conversation realising that I sometimes struggle with emotional connection no matter how much it appears externally to be otherwise. I can be in the moment so completely with such radiating warmth that any person experiencing it with me can easily judge my feelings to be intense and real. But I can be cold and distant too, a person so difficult to reach that any person experiencing that sleet piercing their skin will wonder if I am touchable at all. And, if I am not sure of the validity of those feelings, then how can the person experiencing them with me be? Fire and ice.

White noise.

And in that cocooned darkness, in what seemed like a lifetime before the dawn's rebirth, I penned the following words:

White noise -
surrounds me,
engulfs me.
Sometimes in the background;
where it should be.
Sometimes so loud, so clamouring,
it is deafening.
Drowns out all other sounds.
Cannot hear or distinguish
what is real.
And what doesn’t matter.
Hidden in the static and debris.
Any desire to make a choice.

Friday, May 14, 2010

as good as

A friend of mine is getting married in the next little while. A small part of me prefers wakes to weddings as the former seem to me to be happier occasions when measured against a benchmark of celebrating life. Though the friend who is signing the piece of paper will also be giving birth shortly, so perhaps this time around my psyche will be swept up in the joy of the occasion.

Perhaps not surprising weddings do remind me of my ex. Though the date of his birth is also rapidly approaching and I suspect the combination of the two is sparking some reflection...

I am going to return to a moment in time, which also coincided with a birthday.

I will be the first to admit the essence of my relationship with my ex was physical. We had so little in common. And I did not really try to change that. I seriously suspected, on my thirtieth birthday, that my deliberate actions to disconnect my mind and body were possibly not the best approach to a relationship.

Out of mind, out of sight? Maybe a distance away but never safely so. I penned the following piece on that day, while on a train to Boston.

Staring out the window of a train.
Half way through a six-hour journey
that falls (coincidentally) on the day
I turn a year older.
Having just seen one of
the seven natural wonders of the world
and I am struck by a sense that
the sheer scale of what
I have witnessed
has failed to make an impact on me.
Not even sure how I was supposed to react.
I have no feeling of inspiration.
No feeling of pure awe
despite having seen one of nature’s miracles.
No feeling at all.

A moment’s reflection on the last few weeks
and then the last few years reveals
I have been sleepwalking
through my existence.
What of the weeks and years that are to follow?
I can’t even recall any moments of rapture
that might have made
the long spaces of void in-between
I’m sure there were some moments.
Were there?
There had to be.
But any exhilaration lasted
just the blink of an eyelid.
Long since faded from my memory.
No feeling at all.

Is this life?
What if another 30 years pass me by
and I look back and wonder why
I was here at all?
Is this the best that I can hope for?
A handful of random flashes of joy
otherwise nothing but
an all-encompassing emptiness
to fill my days and nights?
This numbness is engulfing
every fibre of my being.
No feeling at all.
Have I set my standards too high?
Should I be expecting so much out of life?
Should I be content that this is
as good as it will be?

My ex was sitting next to me on the train that day. I committed pen to paper like a woman possessed, while he read quietly, occasionally looking up to stare out of the window as I did. Every now and then he would reach across and take hold of my hand, interlacing his fingers in mine and, with his Peter Parker lopsided smile say nothing at all before returning his gaze to his book.

My moment of crisis simply passed him by. This is a price I paid for never revealing my real self to him.

It was one of my life’s most profound lessons. I am a different person now. Mind, body, soul? If or when I fall now, I will be an open book.

Friday, May 07, 2010

still procrastinating (moment number 23 for today)

I am unable to concentrate on anything at the moment. It’s going to be one of those days. Filled with a bustle of activity seeing friends in the morning, friends in the afternoon, and friends in the evening. I’ve baked, I’ve cleaned, and I’ve been for a walk. Some might say I’ve had a very productive few hours so far but the truth is my mind is drifting in and out of lucidness that comes with my procrastination days.

Don't usually count my procrastination moments - if I did I'd be spending my whole day counting.

Some procrastination highlights from the week that was…

(1) I'm actually a Cristina - anglocised it to get over my aversion to the letter H...always think I'm in trouble when my name proper is used. My middle names also are proudly H free. Not a H in sight.

(2) My "day job" work puzzle for the next few weeks is figuring out how to do more with less. My team of crack commando pen pushers dwindled in numbers with a restructure. Resilient Gen-Yers - taking it all in their stride. And in the meantime I just can’t bring myself to take a short break because I worry about the impact this change will have on their longer term stress levels. Stress has a way of building up over prolonged periods of pressure and when it reaches critical mass it is not pretty. I will do all that I can to avoid putting people in this situation.

(3) Children, like animals, seem to like me (animals can tell when someone is a soft marshmallow - it's just an instinct thing) but I wish I had better skills to deal with them. Spent 24 hours with my 12yo nephew once and I have never experienced exhaustion like it. My friends Know best to seek out other baby sitters to avoid industrial accidents with their toddlers. I can manage better when they are not so fragile.

(4) I have been mistaken for a spy (mentioned scuba diving to a fellow sitting next to me on a plane and he just Assumed and I ran with it as you do), have worked for an ex-spy, and have lived with a spy (flat mate who was SO plain vanilla shared a house with him for six months before we realised we shared the same birthday)...but alas NO i am not a spy. Besides, if I was, I couldn't tell you...we call ourselves spooks - seriously - and prefer wearing beige trench coats. My cover is a mild-mannered opinion maker. I like talking about rational behaviour in people and then point out that the real world is nothing like politicians. They are apparently evil.

(5) I do like the mornings. ALOT. City smog somehow makes the sunrise pretty. I can pretend it's not pollution that is doing that – sometimes. I like the fish - I want them to stay in the oceans - birds need them. Balance is important.

(6) My personal favourite interview question to ask is how many hairs are there on a dog? You can tell much about a person by the way they answer it. Apparently.

(7) I do not have an iPhone. My choice of phone was based on a poem I heard:
"there's a thing in my pocket, but it's not one thing - it's many. it's the same as other things, but exactly like nothing else. it has an eye and an ear, and shares what billions hear and see. it's not a living thing, but if you feed it, it will grow. if it rallies the masses, it can silence a crowd. it can speak a thousand words, but it has no voice. it can find you the places so you can get lost, and it can let others feel what you've just been touched by. there's a thing in my pocket, but it's not one thing - it's many."
Some advertisements influence me. Like I liked the giant blue plasticine rabbit forming to a Rolling Stones song...didn't care whether the product was any good, the bunny sold the TV for me. Rational. Not. Pick the brands.

(8) My taste in movies alternates between B-grade action and movies about redemption. In the latter category was the film Let the Right One In - Swedish child vampire flick. Lots of snow and darkness and lily white skin. Blood contrast every now and then but not horror. Whimsical. I liked it.

(9) All my Gen-Y friends have iPhones - they say the things are good for everything except actually using them as a phone. I'm a traditionalist - I like my phone to be fit for purpose (though I do like being able to look up the weather radar before I walk out the door each day - only because I like playing chicken with the storms...). Not a big phone user - prefer the written word and actual face time. Something to be said for being able to touch the person you are engaging, literally. I am a wee bit tactile - like to get my hands dirty. The phone selling the poem was a Nokia.

Well that’s enough diatribe for today. I have to focus now...