A watched pot never boils

A few days after my last visit with Mr. Saturday Night, I felt a sharp pain on my right butt cheek. A closer look revealed that an ingrown hair was screaming at me, angry and red. I washed it, put some cream on it and went to bed. The next day, it had grown bigger, but I went about my day anyway. Having just injured my foot in a bout of mindlessness a few days earlier, I figured ignoring would be better for my mental health. I was having a WEEK!

That evening, I went to a book launch with my friend Champers, and I was in SO much pain. The bump had grown SIGNIFICANTLY, bigger than a marble in size. It hurt to sit or walk. So during the launch I stupidly went to Dr. Google to read up on boils (a malaise I thought died with my favourite nun on Call the Midwife) and promptly had a panic attack. Was I going to get sepsis? Necrotizing fasciitis? Thankfully, Champers acted like my therapy dog and got me home. I got Dr. X on it the next morning, went to the doctor’s office for visual confirmation that I wasn’t dying and then spent a weekend on the couch, getting up only to do warm compresses on my new third ass. 


Everything with me is metaphysical. I know that this is an unpopular theory, because it can have a victim-blaming feel to it, but allow me dig in here a bit. I had seen Mr. SN on Saturday night, and I was feeling a bit guilty about it, because part of me was sending warnings about how going was akin to not honouring myself. I knew I was going there to have hot, dirty sex. I knew the chances of finding toilet paper were 50/50. I also knew I’d just met someone who flipped everything on its head and I wasn’t being totally honest with either of these men, nor myself for that matter. I felt entitled to have both men in my life until someone asked me to settle down or be exclusive, because I felt it protected me from getting too excited about either option. I’m a modern woman, dammit! I can date all the men!

Except in my heart, I am not that person and have never been. I am not one-night-stand girl. I am not casual lover girl. My overthinking brain prevents me from actually detaching my emotions from pretty much any activity I do. I even get the feels while brushing my teeth. It’s who I am. This is my curse – I HAVE ZERO CHILL. I’m working on it, I swear. Meditation, mindfulness, exercise, coaching, journaling. I get glimpses of a quiet mind, but it doesn’t last. It’s going to take a LOT of practice. I’m addicted to chatter and conversation. I’m addicted to text messaging with friends. I know this. 

I am hoping that through new chapter with Monsieur Magique I can build the practice of exploring that. You see with MM, there’s a cool confidence, a trust that if this is meant to be, it’s going to happen. I mean this sincerely. He almost fell from the sky into my lap when I first met him. When he’s with me he is crystal clear that I am the person he is curious about and wants to be with. We are ridiculously compatible. I am trying to avoid him becoming a story, so I don’t like even writing about him. With him, I just want to BE.

MM compartmentalizes his life. It’s something I’m having to get used to. He has work mode and dad mode and fun mode. Work mode means he also travels a ton when he doesn’t have his kids. And fun mode has friends in there too, so if I want to pursue this, I have to accept that he’s a man with healthy boundaries and I might get an eighth of his time for starters. He doesn’t check work emails when with me and so I imagine that he doesn’t think about me when at work. This is healthy. I need this in my life. As a lifestyle writer for most of my career, everything always bled into the other. Life was content and so work became life. I need to work towards more separation of work and life. I need to learn the value of separating the public and the private. Or not. As my bestie suggested last night, “Maybe you just need workarounds.”


I am not new to men who don’t text or call at the cadence I would like. Mr. SN was also very busy. We would only see each other once or twice a month. I think at most we made it to three times in a month. The difference is, Mr. SN didn’t want to see me more. He wasn’t puzzling over how we could make time for each other. I could not see a path to a time where he might ask me to spend the night, or go away for a weekend together. There was no opportunity for a future there, because he was so guarded, like Patrick Swayze/Johnny telling Jennifer Grey/Baby, “This is your space, this is my space.” And yet I kept trying to see one. I kept wondering, “Well is he just not going deeper because he’s waiting for a signal from me?”

The Sunday after the last Saturday with Mr. SN, I dropped a very heavy wooden barstool on my foot in a moment of mindlessness. Have you ever mentally poured the coffee while you’re still reaching for the mug? That’s the headspace I was in. I almost puked from the pain but shook it off, only to find that after hours of ignoring the foot, I couldn’t walk on it. Dr. X cured me to the point that I was just left with a bruise. But then three days later, the boil. My foot and my butt, the two points of groundedness and also two points from which one can move forward. Having a hurt foot can certainly keep you stuck in a place, and even if it’s uncomfortable, you know it, you’re bringing it upon yourself. The plateau is fine, you tell yourself, because you don’t know what’s ahead and going it alone is scary. I knew, deep down, that I had to end it. I’ve known this for MONTHS. But me being me, I crowdsourced how best to tell him. Did I have to do it in person? Would a text suffice?

The butt, the boil, was my body trying to purge itself of this toxic stuckness. Couldn’t sit, couldn’t walk. Stuck and uncomfortable. Something had to give. So Dr. X pushed me. “You need to tell Mr. SN that it’s over.” Sigh.
There’s nothing that makes you stop thinking about the great sex you have with your bohemian lover like a flaming injury in your lady parts region (not to mention doing first aid in the work bathroom to prevent a staph infection from spreading!). She was right. It was time. I had to put on my big girl panties and do a hard thing. The sex and the fun are not worth the emotional toll of me trying to be someone I’m not. I prefer to leave most parties on a high note, just when they are at the precipice of good and bizzaro-world.

I texted him to see if I could call him. We have spoken on the phone once in 10 months and that’s telling. I called and his voice and charm were immediate, so I blurted it all out before I could chicken out. “Hey, so I, uh, met someone and it was quite unexpected. And, uh it’s been really casual with us and we’ve put a fence around what this could be, and I didn’t think I was ready for more but I am as it turns out, and I want to go explore this new relationship and can only date one person at a time.”

Mr. SN sounded surprised. I don’t blame him. Our last text exchange had been 10 days prior, when I’d asked him if maybe he’d given me and STI (JUST A BOIL, THANKS) and then said, “Just to be clear, you are the only person I am sleeping with.” To which he responded, “Just to be clear, you are the only person I am sleeping with.” And that hasn’t changed… yet. But what’s changed is that I’m listening to my heart, and it’s whispering what it has been afraid to say out loud. “I want to be someone’s girlfriend!”

His only questions were, “What does this mean for you and me?” (Or something like that. Answer: “It means I don’t think we can continue as we have been.”) And, “Can I ask how you met them? Was it online?” No, I told him, at a party before Christmas. Quite unexpected, I repeated. I told him our friendship over the past few months has meant the world and that my time with him was one of the best experiences of my life. “I’m going to miss you,” I said sadly. “I’m going to miss you too.” And that was the only emotional sentence he uttered over the whole call. “Keep me posted on how it goes and let me know over text if you want to hang out again sometime.”

It was lovely, Mr. Saturday Night. But I have to hop in a cab before they start playing “Rhythm is a Dancer” and doing bumps off the TV set. I have to go home to roost in my own heart for a while, before I go giving it to someone else.

Mindfully speaking

Here’s to going with the flow this week. Going to start posting more regularly and also sharing my experiences through presence and mindfulness.

  1. This book and its author. I could read When Things Fall Apart over and over. I listen to Pema Chödrön’s beautiful talk, Coming Closer To Ourselves: Making Everything the Path of Awakening, on Apple Music on repeat. She is not your average Buddhist nun. She’s been married and divorced twice. She swears. She knows what a hangover feels like. I can’t endorse repeat readings or listenings enough. Go fill your heart with truth and peace.
  2. My homeopath and dear friend, Dr. X, is a real human who helps countless people get well and move closer to themselves, which can be an uncomfortable process. (Pema says, “Get comfortable with being uncomfortable.”) She has literally saved my butt this week (story forthcoming.) Dr. X believes in using homeopathic remedies to support your transformation and I just love having her on my team. If you’re interested in seeing if homeopathy could work for you, message me dreamingofmariacallas [AT] gmail [DOT] com or leave a comment below.
  3. I am trying to reduce my drinking. My last official drink was Dec. 30th and I decided to aim for “Dry January,” but I did have a toast to my friend Janet on her bday, split a beer with Mr. SN on our last visit, and shared a bottle of wine with my French romeo. So this is what happens when I STOP drinking. I just wanted to see if I could try it and notice my habits. When do I reach for it? (Pema says, “Be mindful of what you reach for in times of discomfort.”) How effing much was I drinking before? More than I imagined, because I wasn’t doing it mindfully. It’s amazing how our society is built around drinking. “We should go for a drink!” It’s also shocking to me how much we enable ourselves. “You EARNED that glass of wine!” With the new health regulations suggestion that drinking is a health risk for women, I’ve mostly given it up and friends have been surprisingly supportive. It will be interesting to see how my French sweetheart reacts. I love a good sparkling water these days!
  4. When you take one crutch out of the equation, you will see that you have power over your cravings and impulses. Two weeks after I (mostly) stopped drinking, I suddenly wasn’t so exhausted in the mornings that I was jonesing for a coffee. In fact, I’ve reduced my coffee consumption (without even really trying to), by 75%, by replacing it with herbal tea. I’m not a masochist (well I’m a writer, so maybe a bit), but again, in paying attention to what I reach for in times of discomfort, I realize I was drinking 3-4 cups a day, often buying at cafes and getting double Americanos. That’s a lot of caffeine. Coffee’s great but have you tried boiling ginger and turmeric and then adding honey and sipping it mindfully?
  5. When I took out the alcohol (and then that took out the caffeine), suddenly I was making better choices about what to do with my time (meal prep? Read with intention?). I’m eating better and it’s not actually a struggle. When I decide to eat something crappy, it’s a mindful choice and I try to enjoy every chew. There are subtle shifts happening and I don’t know if they’ll last, but I’ve decided to make peace with my body this year, so here’s hoping it sticks.

Got transformative stories to share with me? Leave your acts of mindfulness, favourite books or podcasts, and attempts at caring for the body that houses your spirit in this world of form in the comments below.

Mr. Saturday Sometimes

So you’re probably wondering about Mr. Saturday Night. I mean, I’ve been seeing him for nine…? ten months now, and it’s been delightfully challenging in terms of learning. But didn’t we always know this wasn’t ever going to be the real deal?

I don’t know why for certain. When we are together we are thoroughly engaged in one another’s company. But perhaps it’s because from the beginning, it was always just for me. I didn’t want to see this relationship through the context of the eyes of my cherished friends, because that would burst my romantic Bohemian bubble of an affair.

I ADORE him. When we’re together, when he has energy to give and is full of stories and curiosity, I drink him in. I ENJOY him, his company, his stories, the lines in his face, how his hands seem impossibly small for someone who can do so much with them. How his mind is always jumping to creative projects, how he’s passionate about his work, about what he can contribute to this fair city, his impact. What a devoted dad he is… but… well you’ve read various iterations of this hemming and hawing for months now.

I didn’t want to assume that a 56-year-old lifelong bachelor would not be ideal for coupledom. The thing is, until recently, I wasn’t sure I wanted I even wanted coupledom. There’s a difference between companionship and partnership. I had a companion and while I never got the chance to test out this theory, I still believe that if I had a +1 to an event, he would be lovely to take with me. He could charm the pants out of any room.

When we started out I’d asked him over text what exactly he wanted out of a relationship. He’d said something along the lines of, “If a person wanted something casual, I’d be into that. But I’m also open to the possibility of magic.” And that’s just what it’s been. It’s been casual AND magical. And while we are both kind humans who offer each other support, there’s been nothing, NOTHING, to suggest that the opportunity for partnership is there.

I get into these strange thought patterns where I wonder if he’s assuming all these things about me and that’s why he’s not able to talk feelings or give an generous compliment. But then I go over the facts. He has not shown himself to be someone for whom romantic generosity comes easily to outside the bedroom (where he gives his ALL). He’s in love with the history of our city and his telling of it. He has space in his heart for his adult child, his adorable dog, but does he want to make room in there for me?

And if he did, wouldn’t it just freak me the fuck out, because I know this isn’t right in the long run? But is it not right because he decided that, with a look, when we first met? Or is it not right because it’s just not and it’s time to let go?

Sigh.


I have other single mom friends who are now partnered up, and they all have a longing look in their eye when they talk about that one certain lover. “Ah, my Turk,” says one friend, recounting nights spent smoking pot and talk serious pothead talks about existentialism and the theories of the universe, before making love on his mattress on the floor.

So please don’t judge me too harshly that I went to see him on a Saturday after a month of only random texts. That I went to see Mr. SN, even though I’ve met Monsieur Magique and would like nothing more than to spend the rest of this gloriously new year exploring what that could be. See, I’ve spent a lifetime being taught to be monogamous, and while I do truly believe that I’m inherently monogamous, no one has asked me to be exclusive yet…

…But a boy did ask if he could hold my hand while we crossed the street to a bistro on one late December night, causing a shiver up my spine. And I do REALLY, REALLY want that to be more than just the most magical first date I’ve ever experienced (and a pretty great second date in January). But in the meantime, I’m guarded, I’m cautious. Is Mr. SN like a lottery ticket you know probably isn’t a winner, but you keep in your wallet anyway, just in case it might ferment into a winner the longer you hang on to it?

How do I say goodbye? All my past breakups were messy, teary dramatic affairs. And usually someone had really wronged me. But Mr. SN is a dear friend now. I hope he is always in my life in some way. I feel so blessed that I’ve gotten to know him a bit. He has done SO MUCH, without realizing it, for me on my road to self-acceptance. To embracing my sexual self free of past scars, free of patriarchal religious ideals.


There was a time in the recent past, when Mr. SN really needed a friend. I was someone he could confide in, so I couldn’t kick a man while he was down. But at the same time, staying put in this limbo relationship (where we’re not FB friends, we don’t ever hold hands, and I’m only ever introduced as a “friend”) is subconsciously keeping me from fully moving forward into the present and into the possibility of a future with Monsieur Magique.

I’ve been trying to “optimize my life” to such a point, that I’ve been head down and focusing on a lot of unsexy things like, “Make your bed every day,” and, “Pay off your credit cards by January.” Sure, these tasks will make me a more responsible human, but in talking to Dr. X I realized that I’d stopped dreaming. That in an attempt to stay in the present moment, I’d stopped truly imagining what my future could be.

Part of that is that I am a hopeful romantic, and I don’t trust myself. I worry, as do lots of my closest friends and family, that I will end up choosing another version of my ex-husband, another Peter Pan. I don’t trust that things are different now; that I’m not a 20-something this time and in the two decades that have passed I have learned a few things and have become a more fully actualized individual. Shortly after I met Monsieur Magique (MMmm), I wrote in my journal, “It’s too soon to tell if what I am feeling is truth or imagination, but something in me says that my sunny heart sees the sunshine of MM’s heart shining back. I’m curious about it.”

So I’m spinning a bit, which we all know I do. A friend asked whether I shouldn’t just “stop spending energy looking for a man at all right now. Why not spend the energy getting into the headspace you want to be in, then seeing clearly the kind of partner you deserve?” (Clearly some friends are getting tired of all the questioning… as am I, as I edit this weeks after first drafting it!)

The thing is, I’ve spent two years trying to get grounded, centred. I’m ready to explore groundlessness. Giving up on the idea of getting ground. As RuPaul says, we’re all just the universe pretending to be humans for a time. I don’t want to get hung up in my identity any longer. In labels and definitions and in using my great taste in ALL THE THINGS to define me. When I wrote all those paragraphs above, I wasn’t grounded. I can see that clearly now, two weeks later, after going through some major things. (A WHOLE ‘NOTHER POST).

I’ve lost the ending to this a bit, which is fitting, given I’m trying to determine how to close the chapter of Mr. Saturday Night. Even the super fun, super delicious in life gets boring if there’s no substance. If you decided to eat nothing but hipster donuts for a week because you felt entitled to that experience, you’d not be wrong, it wouldn’t be bad really. But in time, you’d probably be craving something healthier, something with sustenance that could fuel your body better. My next post will deal with the metaphysical more directly, because it matters to this story and where I’m at in my journey. In the meantime, I’ve decided not to reach out to Mr. SN at all and see what happens next. More to come.


Reflecting on fear

Dr. X is a dear friend and also a homeopath. But she’s not a regular pill prescriber, but more of a therapist that uses homeopathic remedies to help you get to where you need to go, healthwise. The researcher in me knows that I can’t sway any skeptics here—the science doesn’t hold up. But anecdotally there is magic that happens, and I know because beyond my own experiences, the two therapists in my family’s life take their families to her too.

I got a UTI two weeks ago, from getting too cocky (pardon the pun) and forgetting that I should go pee after fun sex with Mr. Saturday Night. So I called Dr. X to help, because she has in the past and I hadn’t had one in a decade or so as a result (and while my marriage was broken and I felt we didn’t have sex enough, we still had sex more than lots of couples, so don’t try to pin that on abstinence). After prescribing something that worked almost immediately, I called her to check in about the weird sensations I was still experiencing. There’s been a dull ache in my lower back, on the left side, and it feels like energy is stuck there or something, or maybe it’s actual back pain. But my panic and anxiety is back after maybe 18 months of nothing. (And so, I’ve got an appointment to rule out anything more serious this week.)

In Traditional Chinese Medicine, the kidneys are affected by fear. So the belief is that any issues with your kidneys are impacted by deep, prolonged fear. I’ve been anxious my whole life (though anxiety lives in the lungs in TCM), but there’s something deeper in me, a fear that makes me make decisions that aren’t in my best interest. Dr. X said I should use the Jewish holidays to reflect on my transgressions (I’m not Jewish, but we often joke that I’m “Jew-ish”). So I’m going to try to meditate and journal for the 10 days between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur.

So this is a meditation on fear. (Those who come here just to read about the sex might want to move on.) What exactly am I afraid of? The same things as everyone else: death, endings, making wrong decisions, getting sick, missing out. But what fear and anxiety have always robbed from me is the ability to live fully. Now, I’m getting better at living fully, for sure. But every time I think I’ve got it, fear creeps in to remind me that it’s going to take more than an eviction notice to get him to move out permanently.


Saturday was an evening where I was crushed by epic grief. My daughter asked if I could host her birthday party at my home, even though it was her weekend with her dad. We all agreed that it could work, but as parents we were mindful that the transition back to his place after the party could be tough.

Theo and I collaborated on the party, though of course I did most of the planning as I am the planner. I gave him things to do and he did a lot to help out. And after the guests all left, the four of us hung out for a bit. I hugged Theo a beat too long as we congratulated each other on a job well done. Suddenly my men were dancing in my dining room, the way they used to when my son was small, and I felt the fissure in my heart (that I could swear was healed) erupt. I was overcome by a desire to have them all stay.  This was exacerbated by our daughter quite vocally announcing that she couldn’t bear to leave her home to go to his place. It was painful. But then I remembered she’d been given new books and used those as a way to get her excited about going to dad’s. They said goodbye, I closed the door and I wept.

There was a knock on my door. My mom! She’d missed the party (because they are terrible at timing), but showed up right when I needed her. I hugged her and revealed my sadness. I don’t like putting that burden on a woman in her late 70s, but I needed to and she was there, just enough, short and sweet before her comfort turned to unsolicited advice. But then she left and there were Anxiety and Fear, best buds, hanging out in my head.

The thing is, they are so damn convincing, that I believe I am at death’s door. It’s always been this way. But because I don’t actually trust myself to make a true judgment call on a health issue, I don’t do anything about the ideas they are presenting, except wallow in the fear. Conceptually, I know that my ego wants to make me feel so important, that my fear around death is that I’ll miss out on important stuff and that everyone who loves me will be so terribly sad, especially my kids who may never recover. Isn’t that really what everyone fears about death? Missing out on stuff, being missed yourself and being forgotten over time?

Conceptually, I know that there is no future, only the now, and that there is no death, that dying means only the death of the human form and that the spirit returns to the ocean, the master spirit, the life force and so I should not fear it. But try explaining that to a brain that’s irrationally afraid in that moment! Hoo! Good luck! I know it, but I don’t know shit. And that’s the practice, my friends: remembering that you don’t know shit about shit, but that you can get there with plenty of curiosity, a clear head and an open heart. That’s what the Buddhists call Samsara, I think. (But as I don’t know shit about shit, don’t quote me on that.)

So, my curious mind now wants to know why I’m so afraid of dying. But also, why am I so unable to accept joy in the moment it’s offered? Finally, the clincher, why can’t I just stay in my discomfort? Why can’t I watch it, without judgment and just wait for it to pass? Not always, but often, in my quiet moments, I take something that’s mostly good and THINK IT TO DEATH. Kinda ironic.


On Sunday, I ended up scheduling a yoga date with a girlfriend. I knew I needed yoga to set me right (in addition to a homeopathic remedy to support), but I knew myself enough to know I needed the buddy system to get me there. The yogi spoke of the new moon and of deciding what we wanted to invite in. I asked for Peace, Confidence, Serenity and Love. I started to feel greedy as my list expanded, but then she asked us to move to our right/masculine side and talked about how our masculine energy supports and defends our feminine energy. I realized that I am afraid of men and masculine energy, and that comes from a mix of childhood physical and mental abuse, and the sexual assaults I’ve written about in the past. There is so much to explore in this one little fear nugget, but it’s getting late and I’ve committed to sleeping better in order to get my anxiety back in check.

The yogi then asked us to move into fetal position on our left sides. “Your feminine side is your receiving side,” she noted. “Women are often taught that they are the givers, but giving is actually masculine energy.” In order to support our natural nurturing tendencies, we need strong masculine energy (not necessarily in the form of a man) to offer strength and support, so that our feminine side can receive love. It was interesting to consider receiving as nurturing, as loving, as a gift. So often we don’t think of ourselves as worthy of receiving, because of messages we’ve received from childhood to present day, but we must remember that these are just stories that have hardened, and they can be worked out like a kink in one’s back—with gentle perseverance.

At the namaste bit, the yogi remarked on the power of the new moon, of the unknowns in the complete dark of a new moon sky. We should be curious about all dark matter, I thought, it’s the majority of our universe and it’s expanding (which is the only thing we really know about it, because we don’t know shit about shit). We should be curious about the eternal dark and the darkness within, because it’s all connected, and I’ll bet if you followed it through it would lead you to divine light. And that’s not a bad thing. I piped up and reminded them all that it was Rosh Hashanah, also. A Jewish New Year new moon was surely extra powerful. It was for me.


On that mat I realized that in the times in between seeing Mr. SN, I freak out because I’m trying to control something. And that surrendering control is still something I’m working on. He’s driving it with his distance, or by just being a guy who is giving what he is able to at the moment and me being a woman who wants more, but can’t articulate it, because the truth is she doesn’t want to turn her whole life upside down to make time for more. Not yet.

I realized I’m looking for a Swiss Army knife, and missing the value of a tool that does one or two things really well. I have a full tool box of friends and loved ones. Why can’t I savour the orgasm tool? Why do we expect one person to be all the things to us? How unromantic and not-sexy does that become over time? I don’t have these answers yet, friends, but they are coming, in small increments. But what do I know? My desire to push him away and out of my life completely, my desire to retreat into myself because it’s nearly fall, that all comes from fear. Retreating into myself is about protection and control. It’s not necessarily out of love for myself.

In TCM, the seven ruling emotions are: Joy, Anger, Anxiety, Pensiveness, Grief, Fear, Fright. There is only one happy emotion here, people. The other six are unpleasant ones. So it’s safe to say that the majority of human life is spent in one of the bad places. Joy is not a given or a constant. Instead it’s a gift we must receive and when we lose it, we must remember that it will appear again. Often, if we stay with the uncomfortable feelings and watch/observe them rather than judge them, joy appears as the reward.

Too much joy can also cause problems, and in TCM overdoing joy can affect the heart. Overstimulation, insomnia and such, can come from too much joy.

So how to find balance? I welcome your comments.

Limit to Your Love

Another enchanting evening with Mr. Saturday Night… swoon. We made love in the late afternoon light, to the sounds of tango music that floated into his bedroom windows from the street festival below. He read me chapters from the novel he’s writing. I brought him funky beers from my neighbourhood and we chugged them when we’d good and earned them, washing down salty chips to get our electrolytes back up (it was hot and we sweated, a lot). We walked his adorable dog and then he made me dinner in his kitchen. He laid down on his kitchen floor and we talked until I decided to join him on the floor to kiss his handsome face. We made each other laugh out loud. And then he drove me home.

YEAH. IT’S LIKE THAT! FOR REALS! Sigh.

But parking for a moment the joys of sexual ecstasy, the history lessons received while snuggled down in the pillows, and the countless hours of delightful conversation, there are these moments of complete cloudiness for me. And in those uncertain seconds, I go to a dark place. I get frustrated by what’s NOT happening, instead of tuning in to what IS happening. But after stewing in my discomfort for a bit while alone in his kitchen, I got a little clarity into it as he walked me to his car (to drive me home) and told a story about a family member and her expectations.

Clouds part
Just to give us a little sun

There’s a limit to your love
Like a waterfall in slow motion
Like a map with no ocean
There’s a limit to your love
Your love, your love, your love

It’s too soon to even use the word “love.” That’s not what this is, and I’m often so certain that that’s not even where “this” is heading. But I’m using one of my favourite Feist songs as the inspiration for this post. Because if anyone knows the realities of love and pain, it’s Leslie Feist. If you’ve never listened to her, go and seek some of her music out now. She’s a national treasure.

There are times where Mr. SN is so closed, and if I focus on those infractions, then I miss all the times when he tells me something really personal and intimate. He can go five days without texting me, and then I think he’s just not that into me, but he always re-emerges and when we’re together I don’t get that feeling at all. He’s into me. He wants to spend hours with me. It’s in between visits that trouble brews, when there are these long lags where I don’t quite know what’s going on or where his head is at, and the writer in me is very good at filling in blanks with nonsense.

There’s a limit to your care
So carelessly there
Is it truth or dare
There’s a limit to your care

There are moments where it all feels so vulnerable and exposed that I want to leave and say this is over. I am still longing for him to truly HOLD me, for example, and when that feeling comes over me while we are naked, I want to run. And I think I want to run because I can’t seem to ask for what I need in that moment. I’m still wondering why I can’t say, “Do you mind putting your arms around me?” Sometimes it’s actually not so exciting, or the conversation lacks honesty where honesty would satisfy my curiousity, and in those moments where I feel one of our walls up, I want to leave. But I’m missing the bigger picture as a result.

I can’t figure it out, what’s holding me back, or what’s holding him back, but each time we’re together, eventually it’s like a tiny piece of the puzzle reveals itself. We each give the other a clue about what makes us tick. Two passionately curious individuals who are (maybe?) both wondering which one of us is going to expose themselves first. And often, during these moments of honesty and vulnerability, there’s a little window where I think, maybe, just maybe, we could fall in love. Which is bananas. Or is it? Am I fast forwarding rather than letting things unfold? Yes. Am I letting what others think, based on data I’ve given them (which I’m learning that I need to keep to myself) influence my thinking?

I love, I love, I love
This dream of going upstream
I love, I love, I love
The trouble that you give me
I know, I know, I know
That only I can save me
I’ll go, I’ll go, I’ll go
Right down the road

My friends and loved ones don’t want to see me get hurt again. They believe I need someone to take care of me, financially, emotionally… but I’ve gotten pretty good at taking care of myself. And truly, even *I* know that I need to find someone who is at my level. So when I do find myself wondering whether “this” is “anything,” the universe has a way of snapping things back in focus.

There’s a fake Kurt Vonnegut account on Twitter (actual Vonnegut is deceased) that posts some great life insights, in honour of the late writer. I read this today before heading out to see Mr. SN.

And isn’t there something profound in that? Should we not just be loving the aliveness we each see in the other? What does that look like?

Now the key to that quote is in “whoever is around to be loved” — this does not mean the person next to you, but it implies that someone is present and ready to be loved. I know, after today, that there are some pretty big heart hurts in Mr. SN’s life, ones that cause him to put up walls or give me a small sandbox to play in. Ones that make him wince and shut down if I ask something that brushes up against his pain.

There’s a limit to your love
Like a waterfall in slow motion
Like a map with no ocean
There’s a limit to your love
Your love, your love, your love

But no one controls our emotions but us. And if I do “fall” then that’s my choice. It doesn’t mean he has to love me back, though from experience that gets painful in a hurry.  And what I love about this slow, steady pace is that events and feelings can just happen, in their own time, like the flame of a candle rather than a bonfire.

No one knows the right path, because there isn’t one singular “right path” for any of us, especially couples. Instead there are a million opportunities to grow and to tune into the “now.” The key to a long relationship, if I reflect on it, is in the choosing of the partner. But it’s also in our expectations. If we continuously focus on what’s NOT happening (as I often did in my marriage and STILL DO in any interactions with Theo), we will miss what IS. Full stop.

I know I’m not “supposed” to fall for the guy with the roommates and the boho lifestyle. I know I’ve been advised against it by countless women whom I respect and love. And so I’m pacing myself, but trying not to miss the fact that every date we have leaves me with a HUGE smile on my face. I may not be spending time with someone who is filling up my heart, but I am sharing an experience with someone who is feeding my mind and, to some extent, my soul. There’s personal growth happening here, via this path I’m choosing to be on, and that should not be discounted.

I can’t read your smile
It should be written on your face
I’m piecing it together
There’s something out of place, ooh

On his end, I don’t get a lot. I have no idea what he’s thinking about all this. But I do know that in the moment, there is a mutual pleasure in being in the company of the other. I’m not going to spend much time agonizing because he never says I look beautiful (I KNOW I do) or because he never says more than, “I had a lovely time, thank you.” I’m not going to get an “I’m thinking of you,” but I might get an “I read this thing and think you might find it of interest.”  He doesn’t speak my love languages, but do I actually NEED him to right now?

And then, BOOM. My horoscope came through on Chatelaine.

“It doesn’t need to be perfect, or even what you think it “should” be in order for it to be exactly what you need. This week will confront you with a pretty simple situation that feels really complicated. Don’t confuse potential for reality, or the past with the present, Moonchild. Accept things as they are in the present moment and do what you need to in order to grow. Nothing stays the same, nor is it meant to. Actively co-create your life, my love.”

If I can stop my mind from spinning, and I can stay focused on all that he brings to the table RIGHT NOW, then I think I’m good. And for those who are doubting that I’m making the right choice, I hope some of this writing leads you to see that this is all from a place of clear thinking. I don’t want another man to makeover. I don’t want to get ahead of myself. Even if this thing with Mr. SN is not a forever-ever thing, I’m completely OK with the fact that it’s a “delicious for right now” thing. And if that leads to feelings, that’s OK too. I want to explore who I am as a woman who is not afraid to take emotional risks.

Yes, I’m in love with love. Yes, that may get me hurt more than the average person. Yes, I should choose wisely when I finally decide to lay roots with someone. But dear reader, please understand that I am completely accepting of the impermanence in all things. I am no longer afraid of a man who may not be able to show he loves me in the way I’d like him to, because I truly love myself.  The end of a relationship doesn’t upset me anymore in the way that it did. Sure it will hurt, but I have survived it before and know that no matter what, I will rebuild and keep moving forward, until I have no life left to live. I surrender, completely, to what each moment will bring.

I love, I love, I love
This dream of going upstream
I love, I love, I love
All the trouble that you give me
I know, I know, I know
That only I can save me
I’ll go, I’ll go, I’ll go
Out on the road
Because there is no limit
There’s no limit
No limit, no limit, no limit to my love

Songwriters: Jason Charles Beck / Leslie Feist
The Limit to Your Love lyrics © Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC, Universal Music Publishing Group

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.

Cecile and Valmont

cecilevalmont2

I’ve begun to think of Mr. Saturday Night as Vicomte de Valmont (John Malkovich) to my Cecile Volanges (Uma Thurman) in Stephen Frears’s brilliant film Dangerous Liaisons. After our last encounter in the bedroom, I joked to some girlfriends that having sex with me is probably like fucking a 17-year-old, because dammit, I’M SO NEW!

Now let’s be clear, Valmont is an evil character, prioritizing his own game of power and desire over what’s even in his own best interest. He destroys nearly everyone in the story, just to try and win a game with the Marquise de Merteuil (Glenn Close). But there are these moments of levity and hotness, when he seduces the young, virginal Celine, awakening the desire within, teaching her the ropes in the bedroom, that I find compelling in my current circumstance.

Mr. SN is an incredible lover. All that actor training means he reacts IN THE MOMENT. He is constantly reading signals and changing up strategies and moves accordingly. A lifelong bachelor, he has probably had dozens of lovers (I’m at six sexual partners at this point) and clearly knows the female body and how to give it pleasure. But what’s more, he revels in giving a woman pleasure, over and over again. He is rough in all the right ways, like he knows just what I need for sexual healing right now. “You’re a gift,” I told him last Saturday night, revelling in the beauty of what occurred between us. “YOU’RE a gift!” he replied and that’s all I needed to get to fireworks. BOOM!

So as I’m writing, I’m realizing what’s standing in the way of all of it IS ME. Me thinking, “What is a beautiful man like this doing with a big-nosed weirdo like me?” Me thinking, “Oh this is never going to work because…” I’m trying, desperately, to stay in the moment, stay grounded, but I can’t help but think, “Would my parents like him?” WTF?! I’m not looking to bring someone into all that again just yet! But traditional dating norms are so ingrained in my psyche, that I can’t shake the romantic fantasies of something that needs to be, to quote Outkast, “forever-eva?”


OK here are the things that bug me about this relationship. Let’s get them all down, shall we?

  1. Lovers, he’s had lots of them, and that’s intimidating for a girl like me. He talks about them A LOT. So I’m having to work through some feelings of insecurity there. We went to dinner in between sex courses and I caught him looking at our young female server with interest. And I couldn’t tell if this is part of a game that he’s playing with innocent little me. Like was he leering intentionally or absent-mindedly. But I DID NOT LIKE IT.
  2. He doesn’t hold hands. Or spoon. Or kiss the top of my forehead affectionately the way Ali does. I get that everyone is scared to catch feels in this brave new world, but sheesh! And I can see it, clearly, how we start out not speaking the love language of the other and how I change and bend to fit the person I’m with, rather than advocate for what’s going to work FOR ME! To his credit, he does ask me a dozen million times, “What do YOU want?” But it’s in a way that makes me nervous, because I’m not used to speaking those things out loud in a relationship. Is this even a relationship?
  3. He kinda tells the same stories over and over, and it kinda works for us, because I have memory problems and can’t retain a lot of the details he so easily spits out. He can recite poetry from memory, give detailed historical facts and dates, and I barely remember them because my brain is funny from 20 years of working on the internet. But while I don’t remember the finer points, I do remember that he’s told me this stuff before, and I can’t help but wonder if that’s all there is to him. If he’s nothing but these perfectly polished stories, worn into pretty beads from years of honing the telling of them.
  4. I’m stuck on the fact that we are not financially in the same place. He lives with roommates, “to help with the rent.” I live with roommates too, but I’ve birthed them. I don’t NEED someone to make as much as I do, but it definitely helps to take the awkward out of who pays for dinner and whether we can do more than meet in a bedroom. If there was a future here, I’d long for travel and trips to the theatre. I also have lived in an income inequity situation, where I made 70% to Theo’s 30%, and while I think that Mr. SN is a more evolved human when it comes to ideas around gender, I really think that most men do not like when their women make more than them.
  5. He ignores texts when it suits him. He has this particular affliction especially when I say something too forward, or send a selfie. He’s controlling in the bedroom, which suits me very well as someone who has to have her shit together in all other areas of her life, but I can’t help but wonder if this non-response is a subtle control technique too. It was really bugging me, but I decided this morning that I would not give a fuck, because at my age, one only has so many fucks to give and if I want to send a selfie, I damn well will. Deal with it. I would, however, really like a dude that texts to say he’s thinking of me. I want someone who sends links with, “Saw this and thought of you.” Between this and the no-PDA, Mr. SN does not have longevity with me, and I have to remember that before I fall for someone who is just going to make me angry over time for not being who I want them to be. Been there, done that.

Holy fark, you guys. Writing it all down so concisely really helps to slay the demons that are plaguing me. Right now I’m in a small beach town on a giant lake, and the ENTIRE COUNTY has the same name as Mr. SN. The museum is named after him, the county roads, the local bakery specialty. It’s not a good place to get thoughts of him out of my mind. There’s even a sign a block from here that has the same word that’s tattooed over his heart, along with http://www.exploreHISNAME.ca under it. It’s torture. I think (?) he knows this. So his silence over text is extra tough on my soft Cancerian heart.

But it’s my last day in my early-forties and the heat wave finally broke. I’ve got a solid bike ride with my kids planned today and a lot of doing nothing. I’m putting a reminder on my phone that says, “Men ain’t shit” (saw that here) to remind myself that I don’t need some dude taking up my valuable brain space. Show up for me in the way I need or fuck right off. That’s what being in my mid-forties is going to be about.

When reading about Viconte de Valmont now, having not seen the film in many years, it’s clear that he raped Cecile and that in the novel that is expressed as a way to seduce an inexperienced woman. I’m writing that point down because memory and the mind are funny and are often not to be trusted. My fantasizing about this older, experienced conquistador taking control of my body is flawed. You can imbue any relationship or experience with the lens of your choosing. I must be vigilant to ask, “Is that true?” of any idea I concoct around these relationships and my thoughts about them. Because it would be so easy to manufacture something that’s not there and then wake up a decade in, wondering how you got there. Wondering why this person is not the person you fell in love with. And I’m just not willing to fall into that trap again. I’m worth too much for that.