I don’t eat pork

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G texted the other guy telling him she was excited for dinner – he was cooking, and he was waiting.

For some reason, before heading to his place, she had agreed to meet with someone else – someone persistent and at the same time mysterious. F was slightly older, and it was perhaps his pursuit alone that piqued her curiosity. She could never see, though, that he was truly interested in her, but believed he was interested in the conquest. Not necessarily a sexual conquest, but instead, the breaking down of the barrier that had kept her in a polite outer orbit. She ended up at F’s apartment, a penthouse overlooking the vast city, where he instructed a cook to prepare something for them. He said something about hoping she was not a vegetarian, but said it forcefully, as though he expected her to disavow any idea of being a vegetarian, even if she were lying. Throughout the evening, on all counts, she was reserved, quiet, and to this non-question about her carnivorous habits, she only nodded, quietly saying, “No, I just don’t eat pork.” He laughed too loudly for the circumstances, exclaiming his relief.

Somehow this sitting down together did not reveal much information about him; the only reason she’d let herself be led there in the first place was to satisfy this curiosity. He was as mysterious as ever, with only context in place to reveal or assume certain things: he had money, he had a cook on staff, he was intense and focused at the same time as seeming to be entirely indifferent to her company, to his surroundings. He never asked questions but freely answered them.

She had no reason to do so, and did not have an interest in doing so, beyond curiosity, but she ended up having sex with F after a whole evening sitting at a long table on benches across from one another, talking (or listening and nodding) but never learning anything. He led her around the apartment, showing her all the rooms, explaining how he had come to decorate them the way they were. He seemed as disinterested in this as he did in all other information. This bemused disinterest continued right into his invitation (which, again, was no invitation but an expectation) to bed. It was, it seemed to her, a kind of conquest, but not even one about which he would feel any excitement for having achieved it. No, it was just something fine but forgettable to do. At one point during this cautionless and oddly awkward interlude, he stopped, looked at her and said through clenched teeth, frustration and a hint of threat creeping into his voice, “I was hoping I would not be able to hear you breathing.” Alarmed, she thought she should get up and leave. Nevertheless, he resumed, and she assented, with nothing more being said about the sound of her breathing, and eventually it was morning.

And in the light of day F seemed like a different person. He still did not ask (many) questions, but now he was open and personal, revealing that he had five children. (The only questions he asked were pokes and prods into her desire to have children.) He lay on his back, propped on a pillow, arms behind his head, smiling and warmly inviting all the questions she felt too nervous to ask the previous evening.

She thought, while lying next to F, propped up on one elbow, looking at him, still feeling nothing but curiosity, that she never made it to the other guy’s dinner. In fact, she never talked to him again.

The next thing we knew about her was that she moved into F’s apartment six months after this strange dinner, although she moved into her own room. It was a veiled fact that she didn’t fully grasp until in residence, but he had a girlfriend already. She was in the periphery all along and was the mother of two of his children. She had her own apartment in the same building. G was expected to become a part of this ‘extended’ family. Again, it was posed like a question to which ‘no’ could not be the answer.

As time went on, G realized that F was like a composite of every man she had ever known or been with. Those who would not cut off former girlfriends or those who insisted on open or polyamorous relationships. F was dispassionate but interested in the pursuit. What took time to realize was that F was deeply insecure, despite seeming like the most secure person on the surface. He made a lot of all-or-nothing pronouncements but did not believe fully in any of them. His insecurity led him to be a minor tyrant at times, which grew worse with age. You just don’t know or see what you’re getting into in the beginning, especially when you are young and think you know everything.

She wanted to escape after several years. And after years of F’s household management, it was like an escape. The freedoms had eroded so slowly that she did not realize fully how much her life resembled a prison. She got word to her estranged brother that she needed help. Her brother came from across the country and brought her a car – by this stage in her experience living with F, she did not have unlimited freedom. She had a career and a seemingly lavish lifestyle but could not socialize as she liked, and certainly could not “get away”. Her brother parked the car in a lot near F’s apartment and stashed the key in her office building. When she finally saw a brief window of time to escape, it had been snowing for a full day, and there was no way – not enough time – she could get out and shovel all the snow away from the car without being noticed or missed. She frantically phoned her brother, begging him to help her with the snow. He was already gone.

G collapsed in the parking lot in the snow, leaning against the front of the car, not knowing if she could get away. She waited, worrying that F or someone acting on his behalf would turn up at any moment and drag her away. Closing her eyes, flakes of snow falling on her tired eyelids, she remembered a moment in Mexico, long before she knew F, when she was inadvertently served pork at a roadside taco truck after saying she’d eat anything but pork. Suddenly she realized that so long ago, that first night, F had laughed so long, loud and inappropriately because, after shyly telling him she didn’t eat pork, he served it to her anyway, calling it something else. And that, if only she had realized, should have been the first sign…

Kill switch / Hold on hope

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“Tell your stories. If people wanted you to write warmly about them, they should have behaved better.” -Anne Lamott

Feb 2017; Same old lessons, different day:

  • Be the adult: Don’t sit around and wait just to see what happens. Be the adult; be responsible and just hit the kill switch immediately. Do not give someone else the chance to jerk you around with their indecision and inability to find or voice their feelings. This is difficult if you have fallen in love or have more feelings than the other person. Someone jerks you around, runs hot and cold, shuts you out but gives you mixed signals and words, and behaves in an unhinged way; if they hem and haw, make premature declarations and backtrack or ‘aren’t sure’, you have your answer. Instinct and experience have handed you the hard-won answers: use them, heed them.
  • Acknowledge your own real feelings:  Just walk the fuck away when you know logically and through evidence exactly where you stand and where this goes. Be connected enough with your own feelings to know when you’re trying to convince yourself of what does not exist and are faking it to justify satisfying morbid curiosity.
  • Scrap the three Cs & adopt three other Cs: Don’t stick around out of curiosity, courtesy or compassion… or some rancid mix of all three. Look at context and content to see if someone is being a cunt (or whether you need to be one) and go from there. (And ‘cunt’ here is the strictly English way of using it…)
  • Turn around and run from flashing lights and sirens: You see flashing lights and red flags ahead and choose to ignore. In fact, you run right into the fire. DON’T! You hear the alarms and sirens going off and think maybe it’s just your fear. No: don’t wait; don’t give the benefit of the doubt; don’t make excuses on anyone else’s behalf; don’t ‘be noble’. Just run – fast – in the other direction.
  • Turn off the projector: When you have a whole shitload in common with someone, don’t overlook all the things that don’t connect. Don’t project attributes or feelings you possess (and imagine you share) or wish the other person has onto him/her, hoping s/he will embody them just because everything else is shared in common. It doesn’t matter that you were led to believe these things were shared at some point: don’t assume that it is real or will stay that way.
  • Tune the fuck in: “Goddamn, girl, you don’t gotta be psychic to know the truth. That boy don’t love you. At all.”
  • Remember that silence speaks volumes: Silence might not be permanent; it might not signal that someone is pseudo-“ghosting”; however, someone who cares is going to talk to you – whatever is going on – even if s/he is not sure quite what is going on or how s/he feels.
  • Kill the curiosity before it kills you: It’s very tempting to watch the whole movie even when you know it’s not gonna be a happy ending. It’s an extension of acknowledging your own true feelings – sticking around because you’re curious is a waste of time. It’s not good enough – that is, you are not being good to yourself – to tell yourself you weren’t doing anything anyway, so it won’t hurt just to watch all of this unfold. It will hurt. And if you’re not careful it could lead to something worse – ending up in a situation you really don’t want. (You know what I’m talking about here: you cannot even figure out why you want to be wrong because if you were to get what you tried to convince yourself you wanted, you would be miserable.)
  • Keep your eyes (and ears) open: It IS clear what is happening – on every level. But you want to believe it is going to turn out differently no matter what harbingers of doom lurk around every corner. It’s clear. Embrace the truth your eyes show you and ears tell you, not the misleading song of the heart. But don’t be so open that you become a sponge absorbing all the misery and anxiety of someone else while getting/feeling/experiencing nothing in return.
  • Refer back: When in doubt, when bending to someone else’s will or charm or even carelessly letting them dictate all the terms and conditions, the way you relate to each other: refer back to this list. In fact, print it out. Laminate it. Carry it around with you everywhere.
  • Identify triggers and patterns: It’s not anyone’s fault: period. But it is also not anyone else’s fault. You have triggers and patterns. Certain kinds of people appeal to you; learn to recognize the ‘signs’ that you have met one of those types. Recognize and put a halt to your own ‘enabling’ and ‘deflecting’ behaviors (similar to ‘absorbing all the misery and anxiety and getting nothing in return’ listed above). You have to be open to taking it to receive it – all this kind of shit takes two to do.
  • Hold on hope: Okay, so you don’t hold onto hope about a hopeless situation. Face reality and embrace it for the often hopeless dead-end it is. Nothing is ever surprising in that way. But it doesn’t mean you should declare hope dead. There are fragments of it floating around everywhere.

“Every street is dark
And folding out mysteriously
Where lies the chance we take to be
Always working
Reaching out for a hand that we
can’t see
Everybody’s got a hold on hope
It’s the last thing that’s holding me
Invitation to the last dance
Then it’s time to leave
But that’s the price we pay
when we deceive
One another/animal mother
She opens up for free
Everybody’s got a hold on hope
It’s the last thing that’s
holding me
Look at the talkbox in mute
frustration
At the station
There hides the cowboy
His campfire flickering
on the landscape
That nothing grows on
But time still goes on
And through each life of misery
Everybody’s got a hold on hope
It’s the last thing that’s holding me”

-Guided by Voices, “Hold On Hope”

more words of wisdom from the sea’s ugliest creature

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