Smashed, sex, skunk, smashed, serenity

I should have known when my horoscope suggested the hell that would erupt from three planets being in retrograde. But what does one do when they only kinda-sorta believe in astrology? Stay in bed for a month? Not an option.

It has been A WEEK! What happened to me was enough to put most people in hospital. I’m shaking my head trying to understand why I am still standing—with a smile on my face, no less. I have truly, never felt more grateful to be alive, healthy, with most of my mental health in tact.

A day after dancing to Stevie Wonder in a field under the super powerful Blood Moon, I had a fairly busy day. I picked up the adorable dog of Zofia and Lars (of the Peaches), whom I had offered to watch for a week while they travelled around Europe. Saw the movie Eighth Grade with my “cinema gay,” a dear friend for almost two decades whom I love going to see art house films with. Then ended up going to see a Chicago House DJ I was a big fan of…

The women I went with (my Witches crew) were all doing E or M or whatever the kids call it these days, because the late night house music scene does pair nicely with a lick. I have not touched the stuff since 2003, and with all the fentanyl-laced horror stories I’d heard of the current stuff going around, I decided not to chance it 15 years later. Also, I’m a 40-something mom, and given I’m already playing in enough spaces that would make my children shudder, I decided to pass. Instead I got stupidly, embarrassingly drunk; the kind of drunk where you don’t realize you’re drunk or how much you’ve been drinking so you keep going because you’re in a social situation that makes you feel a bit out of your element.

I was so drunk that I picked up a HUGE Georgian man with a thick accent, but not so drunk that I gave him my real name and number. But drunk enough that I left before the Chicago DJ came on, because I’d puked in the bathroom and had the spins.


The following day, I convalesced in my “convalescing chair” (AKA a zero-gravity chair). I knew I had to pull it together eventually, because I’d offered to make Mr. Saturday Night dinner. I am getting used to the parameters of this relationship: We meet, we have a toast and share stories over food, and it’s often book-ended by seriously hot sex.  Every. Other. Week. There is some sporadic texting in between, which we’ve established is not his A-game.

BUT HELLO! I have an attentive lover with a cool job and an incredible mind. He is gorgeous and makes me laugh and literally asks nothing of me. He still doesn’t hold my hand, but to be honest, we’re not walking down the street so much these days. I can’t recall what it was that I asked him a few weeks ago, but something along the lines of, “How come we haven’t gone to X together?” And he replied, simply, “Because we are doing this at the moment,” and then proceeded to make me have an orgasm that shot out the top of my head.

I AM HAVING HOT SEX.

And yet I am not able to stay there, in the “I am having hot sex” zone. I’m constantly wondering if we’re veering into a relationship, or what that looks like, and what my people would think of him, and, and, and. Why? We’ve already established that this current affair is all I have space for at the moment. Are we so programmed by society to try to turn every encounter into a “RELATIONSHIP”? I am truly trying to be mindful of this and reprogram myself. This is so good right now. Enjoy it, Maria.

I will blame my hangover on the stupid decisions I made that night. We were in the midst of insanely hot sex, in between sex courses, if you will. And so it wasn’t a “condom on” moment and somehow he slipped inside me. And I didn’t immediately jump off. Instead I had a beautiful, shuddering orgasm with him unsheathed and inside of me.

We had had a discussion about birth control, namely that I feel like I spent too long taking synthetic hormones and didn’t want to do that again. I have done my duty for procreation and avoiding it, and I don’t want it to be mostly my responsibility anymore. Also, everybody is fucking everybody in this brave new world and I don’t want a disease. And yet, it happened. And I didn’t stop it.

Condoms protect you against pregnancy and disease, but what I didn’t account for was that condoms also protect you against FEELS. Everything about the experience felt so intimate. I suppose firsts always are. But this subtle act, whose impact could be HUGELY disruptive (or even deadly), changed the nature of “us,” leaving me so vulnerable and tender, that when he left I could feel myself falling.

AND I FREAKED THE FUCK OUT.

If I was falling, was he falling too? Should I allow myself to fall? Should I, instead, consider dating other people to prevent myself from falling? I made a panicked call to Dr. X the next morning, who reminded me that I’m an adult, who is smart and— when grounded—is not going around subconsciously choose another version of my ex. “Give yourself a break!” she admonished. And she’s right, I’m too hard on myself, and my childhood patterns of being made to feel like I shouldn’t trust myself, my own gut, because I’m too sensitive, too romantic, too trusting rear their ugly inner voice. A lifetime of being gaslighted. I second guess myself. I forget that no one can know me like I know myself. I forget that I, too, am trying to choose what is best for me, what will protect me from getting hurt again.


Later that week, reading out on the back deck, adorable dog at my feet, I caught the faintest whiff of skunk musk and decided we should come in. I tried to coax my sweet charge in. He made it to the threshold, looked into my eyes and was suddenly off like a shot. It took a moment to understand what he’d caught by the neck in the back bushes, until the overwhelming stench took over. This sweet little, maybe 18-pound dog had just viciously murdered a skunk. What. The. Fuck. Was. I. Supposed. To. Do. Next?

I have little experience with dogs, and frankly dogsitting was an attempt to see if we could manage adding a canine love to our family. But now I was in over my head. What do I do? Tomato juice? No that’s a myth, I think. Uh, uhhhh, uh… I called Theo. Out of habit. He was just about to go to bed and offered to Google it for me. Um, thanks?

I hung up and called my pal Blanche from up the street, who has lots of experience with dogs. She had all the stuff and drove over, helping me to bathe a dog for the first time, one who was covered in skunk musk, no less. I bathed him again the next morning and decided that if I’ve experienced one of the worst things a dog owner can live through, then maybe I could hack being a dog owner after all.

(I made Theo come over to deal with the skunk carcass and bought him dinner as thanks.)


I put the rotting skunk in several plastic bags and out on the curb for the city to pick up. Then I passed it, stinking in the flaming hot sun, while I packed the car for a week away at the beach with the kids. I was so proud of myself, covered in bike grease, tits sweating, for doing it all by myself.

On the way up, I decided at some point to stop using GPS navigation and to teach my kid how to use a map instead. But GPS had rerouted us to avoid traffic and we were on unfamiliar roads. My kid got distracted and we missed a turn onto another highway. I was so eager to get up there and to start the holiday (especially after the week I’d had), that I turned into a farm house driveway to get back to the missed highway. I perceived a break in traffic and proceeded.

BAM!

An SUV was approaching and I’d somehow failed to see it, as had my co-pilot. In milliseconds, the front of our car was shaved clean off. My children were beside themselves with fear and panic. I felt beyond terrible. What had I done?

Fortunately, by a complete miracle, no one was hurt. The tow truck driver said that even a second difference in the collision, our car would have flipped. The officer was incredibly kind and compassionate. (And hella handsome. In fact, I considered trying to find him after to ask him out.) We were a short drive from a key landmark by the cottage we were staying at, so the tow truck driver took us there, where family members met us to help us take our things to the house, before our car was towed away. We are incredibly lucky. We were on the beach two hours after the incident. I had to check if I had a horseshoe shoved up my arse. I have never been more incredibly grateful to be alive.

I wasn’t distracted by a device, but my mind was so focused on the future, on the destination, that I completely missed the present moment of the journey.

BAM! Life has a way of teaching you the lesson you need to learn.

I am on a journey with Mr. SN. He is a gift, a miracle of sorts. He is building me up sexually and in some ways spiritually. Whether by what he does, or what he doesn’t do, he is teaching me about boundaries, about choices and decisions and consequences. He is teaching me that some things that I’ve prioritized in the laundry list of things a man should bring to the picnic matter less than I once would have thought, and that other things—ones I hadn’t even considered—matter more.

The universe does not give us what we want. The universe gives us what we need. I clearly wasn’t paying attention to that, and BAM! If you’re reading, I hope this is a reminder to be gentle with yourselves and to be mindful as you go about your day to day.

I have to stop focusing on the destination. I have no spot on a map that I’m trying to get to at the moment, and even if I was, it would be irrelevant, because the future does not exist, except in our minds. By the time we experience “the future,” it is the present. Be present. Be careful. Look both ways, multiple times, before crossing the street. Enjoy the ride. Don’t become obsessed with the seconds, minutes, days, weeks, months where you have to wait before proceeding. Proceed when the time is right. Proceed when it’s safe to do so. You will get there eventually, even if you don’t know where “there” is quite yet. In a mindful life, it’s the road shows you where you need to be.

I’m getting ready

Why do we always rush the ready? Is it fear that we’ll wait too long and miss an opportunity? Do we lack the faith that another opportunity will come along?

I think there’s something in there about faith. It’s a big theme in the book I haven’t been writing because I’ve been here spinning yarns and trying to process what is happening in my brain and in my heart.

I’ve been listening to a lot of Michael Kiwanuka this week, and so I’ll take my inspiration from him. Listen along here.

Oh my
I didn’t know what it means to believe
Oh my
I didn’t know what it means to believe

Do I still believe in love? And what kind of love is it that I believe in? Eckhardt Tolle says that “true love has no opposite” but how many married couples believe that they love each other, yet can also feel a deep resentment bordering on hatred when their partner does something as offensive as putting the toilet paper roll on the wrong way? (YES THERE IS A WRONG WAY! It’s OVER not under, fuck off already.)

My friend Gryff often asks, “What do you believe?” We’ll be in a meeting trying to solve something complex about our business and he will always bring it right back to beliefs. I don’t give beliefs enough credit or brain space. What do I believe?

My favourite belief rant of all time is performed by Kevin Costner in the film Bull Durham. I will leave it here for you (he kicks in at about 1:04).

“Well, I believe in the soul… the cock…the pussy… the small of a woman’s back… the hangin’ curveball… high fiber… good scotch… that the novels of Susan Sontag are self-indulgent overrated crap… I believe Lee Harvey Oswald acted alone. I believe there ought to be a Constitutional amendment outlawing Astroturf and the designated hitter. I believe in the sweet spot, soft core pornography, opening your presents Christmas morning rather than Christmas Eve, and I believe in long, slow, deep, soft, wet kisses that last three days. Goodnight.”

If I had a similar sermon it would be as follows:

“Well, I believe in the soul… that men and women are deliciously different but deserve equal rights… homemade granola… good bourbon… libraries… the curve of a man’s hipbone as best exhibited by Brad Pitt in Fight Club… that Big Bang Theory is indulgent overrated crap… I believe in eye contact that makes the hairs on the back of your neck stand up… I believe that life is too short for cheap shoes and crappy champagne. I believe in celebrating the over-the-topness of Celine Dion and the Spice Girls, but that indie singer-songwriters offer a path to enlightenment. I believe that your heels may never touch the ground in downward dog, that it’s about the journey not the destination, that Montreal is the most romantic city on earth. And I believe in seizing the moment via long, slow, deep kisses that happen in the 30 seconds before a movie starts. Goodnight.”

Needs work, I’ll admit.

But if I hold on tight, is it true?
Would You take care of all that I do?
Oh Lord
I’m getting ready to believe

Religion and spirituality have long given us an all or nothing approach. Either you believe in what they are selling or you’re out. But my book offers an alternate path for those seeking for something to help them feel tethered in a storm. So many of us shy away from admitting to some kind of belief system, because saying you believe means you’re either a bible thumper, an extremist or a new-age-y fluffernutter. Believing isn’t cool anymore. Unless it’s in a sports team. In true patriarchal style, the last bastions of belief are either extremely rigid or involve a score. Fuck that.

Oh my
I didn’t know how hard it would be
Oh my
I didn’t know how hard it would be

If I’m honest, I’ve been apprehensive to talk about the subject of my book for that exact reason. And it’s been hard to write it. Because the format of writing a book is nothing like writing a blog post or a magazine article. But also, because maybe I didn’t believe that I could do it. And maybe it’s time to have some faith.

But if I hold on tight, is it true?
Would You take care of all that I do?
Oh Lord
I’m getting ready to believe

I’m-a-gettin’ ready to believe. To believe that I’ve got this. That the love will come when I love myself, all of me, even the ugly parts. I posted a super unattractive selfie this morning when I was feeling my lowest. I’m so good at sharing the funny or the fun, but I wanted to see what would happen if I posted the other side of me, the one that plagues me with loneliness and self-doubt. The one that’s full of worry that she’s unlovable, that finding someone worthy of her time is so much work and the task seems impossible.

The response was immediate, an outpouring of love followed by quiet DMs from people suffering in silence. In loving what I perceived to be the unlovable in me, I was greeted with love. Pretty sweet.

And hey, there are parallels! Journalling through your grief allows you to find them. It’s wonderful! What do you do when a task seems too mountainous? You break it down into smaller chunks, into milestones. And writing a book and finding someone to love will both need goal posts to look towards, something to measure oneself against to understand if the achievements and work being done is leading somewhere meaningful.

This involves lists, and I motherfucking LOVE LISTS! Lists I can do. I think. Nah, I BELIEVE.

Then we’ll be waving hands, singing freely
Singing standing tall, it’s now coming easy
Oh, no more looking down, honey, can’t you see?
Oh Lord, I’m getting ready to believe

So I’m getting ready. I know I have to deal with my debt. I’ve been spending stupidly to fill holes in my heart. I need to face that beast before I can consider sharing a life with someone else.

There are a few stragglers from the reno I did around the time that Theo left. I need to complete those and make keeping my space wonderful and inspiring part of my daily practice. To lovingly put things in their homes once I’ve rid our space of ghosts and goblins, AKA the bits of Theo that still hang about the house. I need to mindfully make my bed, like it’s a prayer to have someone great sleep in it, next to me, my hand on his chest, my ear to his heart. That’s a goal worth mindfully pursuing.

I need to practice a morning routine that feeds me. Which means I need to practice a meaningful bedtime routine. I’ve been nagging myself about this for a while, but I want to really try to achieve it. It’s a worthy goal, because it sets me up for hygiene habits that help to ground me and balance my mind.

Then we’ll be waving hands singing freely
Singing standing tall it’s now coming easy
Oh no more looking down, honey, can’t you see?

Spring is technically here, but it’ll be a month before the weather makes me feel like it’s aligned with the calendar. I can’t wait to take my bike out, and maybe I’ve been stalling on that because of the weather and just need to suck it up. I’ve been going to the gym, and need to make exercise a habit, because it sets me up for feeling sexy and wanting to have sex with men who are not going to be my life partner, but are going to teach me a whole lot of things about myself.

I’m not saying I can’t be with men before these list items are tackled, but I can’t seek out someone truly meaningful until I get my house in order, my inner house and my physical house. I’m not ready for the big show yet, but I’m-a-gettin’ ready.

Mr. Saturday Night left me with that breadcrumb about his dog and I decided (with some feedback from my inner council) to leave it there. Because fuck. I don’t want breadcrumbs. I want a meal. I want the fact that I kissed a man in the front seat of his car to leave him slightly breathless with anticipation of where that kiss might go. I want him to be considerate enough to tell me I’ve crossed his mind when I have. I want to believe that he’s not so much like my ex-husband (though so far, signs point to yes). I want him to believe that I could be a lot of fun, and that I’m mature enough to not get carried away imagining that we’re in love when all it’s going to be is a summer of fun.

I want to learn how to be that person, frankly. I want to not go into a tizzy every damn time a dude doesn’t text. I want to be strong enough to walk away, because that’s not for me. Fuck yes, or no. I gotta start saying no to guys who are skim milk. I want cream. Come full fat or fuck off.

Oh Lord, I’m getting ready
Oh Lord, I’m getting ready
Oh Lord, I’m getting ready to believe