Friday, February 16, 2007

How Do You Mend A Broken Heart? (The Friday List)

Readers. I made a right mess of everything.

Here's the short version: last weekend The Australian was into me but also a self-centered prick, The Puppy was lovely and slightly elusive, as usual, and The Longshot and I had the most amazing four hour phone conversation -- the first time we'd ever spoken directly to each other.

The next day I freaked out a little. The day after that, I realized I really, really am falling for The Longshot, distance be damned. The day after that, I told him so, and asked him to meet me in our halfway point this weekend, sane mid-March plans be damned. The day after that, he dumped me for The Teacher, because she's, y'know, in his area code.

That was yesterday. Last night I took the high road by going out and getting completely smashed drunk on tequila and finally sleeping with The Puppy (!).

Now I am massively hung over and have had under three hours sleep. I have to get my ass up so I can get to a work-related meeting and then plow through a day at my place of employ.

And then it will be the gaping, unstructured weekend. The weekend I only a day ago had hoped I'd be spending with the truly spectacular Longshot, a person so awesome, so extraordinary, so insanely well-matched to me on so many levels, that just knowing he exists has blown the curve for anyone I may date from here on out. And I can't even blame him for making a sane decision on his own behalf and communicating it to me in the most sensitive way possible.


So, readers, I turn to you. I don't even know how I fell this hard this fast, but I guess I did. I've been handed back my heart and I now have no idea what to do with it. And so, this Friday List is dedicated to any and all suggestions on what to do with this fragile, raw, open, wounded, still-pumping muscle.

Besides tequila and The Puppy, because clearly I've got that one covered.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

On The Other Hand...

Here's a fun way to find meaning in the day:

Straight People: Go In The Closet!

A Couple More Strikes Against Valentine's Day

1) Those roses could be killing you or the workers that harvest them.

2) It brings out these assholes (although also, WIMN's Jennifer Pozner, who is in the plus column):

Monday, February 12, 2007

I Hate Myself For Loving Valentine's Day (The Fri(Mon)day List)

Oooooooooooookay, kids. I have had just about one of the most overwhelming weekends of my romantic life that didn't involve a breakup. Certainly the first time it has involved three separate prospects, each upping the ante in some way. And, ironically, absolutely zero sex. Not even a kiss. Though it did involve a significant loss of sleep.

While I am trying to keep my emotional circuits from shutting down entirely, and sorting out what the fuck to say about it all, let's return to the familiar comfort of The Friday List, which I had the foresight or something to postpone for my use in this very moment.

Obviously, we must discuss the imminent arrival of Valentine's Day. I've had a love/hate relationship with V-Day since I was in elementary school and 2/14 was one of the days you had your social status measured (via how many valentines you got from other classmates).

You would think, given how I ranked at the very bottom, that would make me just hate/hate the Day, but I always really liked the idea of a day in which you're encouraged to express feelings you might have been holding back the rest of the year. I always hoped maybe someone secretly liked me, but was too scared to say it (given that I was a social pariah), and would use the day to break the silence. This actually even happened once, in fifth grade -- I got a handmade "secret admirer" valentine, which turned out to be from the heartstoppingly cute Israeli boy whose family was in the States for the year. He liked me! For a minute and a half before my pretty friend L. turned her attention toward him. But still, it gave me a dangerous taste of the possibilities of V-Day.

Since then I've had some fantastic Valentines (I still remember my high school boyfriend taking me out to a fancy restaurant on a double date with his parents one year. I know that sounds weird, but we were pretty serious and it felt oh-so-very-adult and intimate. Also, I tasted lobster bisque for the first time that night. I can picture the bowl of thick reddish soup with a demure white swirl of cream in the middle, and how rich and intense it tasted. But I digress.). I've had some disastrous valentines (like the time in college I sent a guy I'd been dating for just a week and a half a written invitation to dinner through the campus mail, trying to be cute and romantic, and he broke up with me before it arrived in his box.)

Mostly they've been unmemorable (as in, I literally can't remember them) or unpleasant, a clash of pressures and expectations and realities, not infrequently ending in tears. Add to that the nasty capitalist shadow-side of the holiday, and the fact that it's basically a day for people who are already happily in love (which -- why do they need a holiday?), and you'd think I'd be done done done. But still I can't manage to properly hate V-Day the way I should. Maybe it's just how much I love roses and chocolate and grand romantic gestures and the color red. Maybe it's because, whatever evidence I may have posted here to the contrary, I'm generally optimistic about people. Maybe it's because I keep hoping to have an experience that erases all those years of getting the fewest votes in the ILoveYou Olympics. But as the stores fill up with hearts and flowers -- even this year, when I'm not (really) with anyone and will be getting nothing myself -- I try to scowl but I just can't suppress a little smile. Maybe I'm just glad to think that someone, somewhere will be taking this all as an opportunity to express a good but scary feeling they've been holding back too long.

And now you know I'm a big, hopeless sap. What about you & V-Day? Love it? Hate it? Or stuck in the middle with me?

Thursday, February 08, 2007

The Longshot

[In response to commenter demand, we interrupt the regularly scheduled Friday List for this Special Report.]

So, there's this guy. And he's smart and thoughtful and funny and interesting and articulate and curious about the world and doesn't take himself too seriously yet is introspective and has this irresistible shy charm and cares about finicky semantic issues like the difference between "hard on me" and "hard for me." Um, and he's pretty cute. Also: a feminist. A real, actual, thinks about it in his daily life & on a deep level feminist. And not even the kind who wants a gold star for being a feminist and a man at the same time.

And he lives about four hours away from me by plane. Yeah.

Also (and those of you who read the comments thread as well as the posts will have guessed this by now), he reads this blog.

Gentle readers, I present to you: The Longshot. (Hi, Longshot!)

I "met" The Longshot a few weeks ago when my friend M. decided we would really like each other and put us in touch via OK Cupid. This seemed like a doomed and somewhat stupid idea at the time -- what's the purpose of meeting someone hundreds of miles away when I can't even get something off the ground here? But OK Cupid said we were RIDICULOUSLY compatible and M. is generally the opposite of stupid and I didn't have anything better going on, so I sent a little email saying hi.

And now I am so crushed out on him that I'm having trouble focusing at work. (Hi again, Longshot! Is this awkward yet?) And I'm suddenly feeling shy and vulnerable about saying more. Let's go to the bullet points:

-Constant emails (this week we have hit several times a day) in which we are always bemoaning the fact that there's not enough time to say everything we want to say.

-We are developing a plan to meet on a weekend next month in a small city we've identified as equidistant between us (and therefore drivable for both of us).

-He gives his niece gender counterprogramming toys, like a Mr. Potato Head with all Mrs. Potato Head accessories.

-Obviously, him reading this blog is in multiple ways hella awkward. He actually volunteered to stop reading if I preferred that, but that seems pretty unfair and I don't want it anyway, at least not right now. (And obviously he's consented to me writing about him here.) But just in case you feel bad for him reading here about The Puppy & The Australian, know that he's got a date with some kindergarten teacher coming up, and he's being all kind and open and wishing me good luck with my megadate but all I can muster (and I haven't even said this yet to him) is to wish him a pleasant time. I hope she likes him, and he likes her, but not as much as he likes me. Which I'll openly admit is kinda ass, since best-case scenario for us is some tortured long-distance thing involving a lot of shuttling back and forth (or to the middle city) on weekends and no real idea of what we'd be like together on a day-to-day basis, whereas maybe he and The Teacher could have, y'know, an actual functional relationship. But I'm committed to staying fully honest here even though he's reading, so there you have it.

-He promises he's never sported a mullet or worn a leather jumpsuit, so we can only assume he's not this guy.

I was about to ask y'all if you think this whole thing is ridiculous when I remembered that The Longshot & I have already explicitly agreed that This Is Ridiculous. But also: it's still kinda great. And now you know.

A special V-Day edition of the Friday List on Monday, I promise.

A Puppy & An Australian Walk Into A Bar...

So, y'know how I said I have a blind date this weekend? Well, it's more of a setup than a proper date -- my friend H. is bringing The Aussie with her to a social event so that the two of us can meet & hang out. It's nicer that way -- more low-key.

And y'know how I got that lovely email from The Puppy and mentioned in the comments that of course I'd write back and confessed to still harboring a secret hope that we'd start to be in touch again and things might be rekindled from there? Well, I did write him and we've since exchanged a few mildly flirty emails (which probably mean nothing more than we're both flirts. Just so you know that I know that.). And last night he asked me if I'd be at this thing this weekend, b/c he's going and it'd be nice if I "said hello."

The thing, of course, at which The Aussie & I are set to meet.

(Did I mention I haven't been in the same room with The Puppy in over two months?)

I feel two ways about this:
1) Like I'm going to throw up in my mouth a little bit.
2) Perhaps having two people to flirt with will take the pressure off any one interaction going well?

And to think two weeks ago I was more or less without prospects. I haven't even told you about The Longshot yet...

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Postcards from Craigslist

It's come to my attention that our very own ruby has a story out in the latest issue of Instant City. Turns out she's been writing her very own postcards from Guyville -- more specifically, from the Casual Encounters section of Craigslist.

I'm not someone who's found the stomach to do Craigslist's Casual Encounters, but I'm sure glad she is. These stories are pretty fab (even if some of the men she Encounters are jaw-dropping assholes). Check out a tiny selection:

Dreamy Mama's Boy, 27.

I could not believe my luck when I met this one, he was so totally my type—skinny, curly hair, glasses, seemed kinda queer. Oh, and way messed in the head. But I didn’t know that yet when he walked into Mission Bar with his knitting project (“I wanted to have something to do if you were late,” he explained) and bowled me over with his sweet, smarty-pants, self-deprecating manner. When he asked me if I wanted to see his sublet, I was touched by the earnest euphemism, and further charmed by his breathy admission, after the kissing started, that “I’m so glad you like me.”

We went to second base and I slept over; by morning I was so crushed out I was almost too nervous to ask if I could see him again. I was even undeterred when he said he would have to consult with his therapist. Lucky for me she gave the go-ahead, and I entered full-on compulsive-e-mail-checking, holding-evenings-open-for-unconfirmed-non-plans, thinking- about-touching-his-hair-when-I-should-have-been-working mode. Even though we were getting progressively more naked each time we hung out, and trading flirtatious e-mails in between, I sensed ambivalence, and it made me nervous. When I brought it up, he wrote, "I'm trying to tease out how I feel about physical appearances versus personalities. But, that said, what went down the other day was pretty fantastic in a way that I'd never experienced before.... We can be friends. Or ambiguous friends." Translation: I’m not attracted to you but I really loved it when you stuck your finger in my ass, so I’d like to reserve the right to mess around when I feel like it. When I ran my interpretation by him, he corrected me: “Actually, you physically resemble (a young version of) my mom. And it turns me on. And scares me.” Yeah. Okay. Bye.

Perfect Technique Man, 34.

Man made me realize that I might be even more messed in the head than the Mama’s Boy. He was interested in hanging out once or twice a week; could hold up his end of a conversation very well; made it clear just how very attracted to me he was; and was honest, straightforward, and self-aware. The cherry on top of his cake was that he loved giving head more than anything else, and he was damn good at it. So why didn't I think he was dreamy? I don’t know, but perfect technique only gets you so far. There were lots of orgasms, but no sparks. I had to end it before it made me feel totally dead inside.

The One Who Licked My Face When He Came, 33.

Needless to say, I did not see him again.

You can buy the ish with the story in it right here.

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

On Fight Club

On Roy's suggestion, I read Fight Club this weekend. Now, the first thing you have to know is that I don't usually even watch violent movies, and these people are intentionally destroying themselves and each other as a… spiritual exercise? It was very, very hard to read.

That said, I certainly don't think Palahniuk is saying this is a good way to be, this is the way to redemption or freedom, which I know is the way many people took it (perhaps the movie had something to do with that? I've certainly never seen it and don't plan to). But my problem is that the condition he's describing stems from class struggle and economic oppression, but he's making it about gender, and making gender invisible at the same time.

Palahniuk clearly doesn't see his own whiteness and maleness, so he doesn't consider why women who are in the same class position as his hero(s) react differently. Think of Marla's violence – it's all against herself. But she is never given any agency, and her own rage at being an anonymous bolt in the capitalist machine is never considered. Ditto people of color, queers, etc. Which is exactly how the people who are really in power want it. In the meantime, women are Tyler's scapegoat and Palahniuk's deus ex machina (it's Marla's "like" which redeems our hero at the last moment), but never are they agents of change in their own right or on their own behalf. And the book comes to be about "maleness," when really it's about a white male reaction to a struggle and and oppression shared by the majority of people in industrialized nations.

It also – and this may even be the greater flaw – posits the "fight club" response to oppression as the only response. In the world of the book, people either accept the conditions of their oppression, or they join fight club. The world he's created is agnostic of all other movements for social change. Maybe Tyler thinks the ways oppressed peoples have been fighting back for centuries don't work as well as his method – but if that's the case, I'd like to hear his argument. Instead, it's as though he (and, by proxy, Palahniuk) invented the very concept of revolution, erasing the work of billions of people across time.

What's even worse, the edition I bought has this afterword in the back in which Palahniuk totally disavows any political agenda in writing the book, claiming it was just a little short story exercise for which he needed to make up some rules he could use as transition points to make jump cuts more clear in the narrative, and that it could just as easily wound up being called Barn Raising Club or Golf Club (these are his examples, not mine). To which I say: fuck you, you fucking disingenuous millionaire hypocrite. Easy for you to say now that you've got all our goddamned dough. Perhaps some nitroglycerine is in order?

Monday, February 05, 2007

And Sometimes You Actually Get Closure

Got an email last night, the way you get any email. Just logged in and there it was, nestled among the spam and the social invitations. An innocent, inconsequential little email. From: The Puppy.

My heart began gently to pound in my ears. What could it say? Had he finally come around? After nearly a month since my last email, what could it possibly say?

What it said was this:

Thanks for the message, it was really nice. Sorry it's taken me so long to get back to you. You're probably one of the sweetest most genuine people I've met [where we live] and I want to apologize for flaking out and sorta just not calling you, cuz that's a pretty ass thing to do. Not that it's an excuse, but I was fairly rapidly losing my shit for a good while with life being as crazy as it can be...

Anyway, I hope you're doing well.

-[The Puppy]

Can I just say, awwww? I don't know about you, but the longer that passes where I should write back to someone, esp. about something important, and I don't, the harder it becomes to actually write back. He may be effed up, but that Puppy sure is a good egg.

Friday, February 02, 2007

Blinding Me With... (The Friday List)

I've got a blind date coming up next weekend, arranged by the fabulous H. Here's what I know: he's cute, he's supersmart (postdoc, I think), and he's from Australia. Oh, and he loves femmes. I'm thinking of calling him The Australian or The Theorist, but I think I'll know for sure once I meet him. (Of course, he may not even prove nickname-worthy, but I sure am hoping he is.)

Anyhoo, in honor of the impending commencement of what I hope will be my next dating adventure here in Guyville, I hereby proclaim this week's Friday List: Best and Worst Blind Date stories. You know you've got 'em. So spill 'em -- whatever happens with me and The Yet-To-Be-Named, I'm going to want to know how it all measures up!

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

I Don't Want to Think About Boys This Week

I know, that makes me a lame blogger. But I don't. Just for a week. I want to think about friends and politics and work and fresh food from the farmer's market and the book I'm reading (Suzan-Lori Parks' 365 Days, 365 Plays) and going out into the sun for a walk and starting my next creative project and watching Sherrybaby and Ugly Betty and basically nothing that I can post in this here fine blog without being way off topic.

So let's call this an open thread, shall we? Talk amongst yourselves. I'll be back with a Friday List and write you lots (or at least, some) about boys next week. Promise.

Friday, January 26, 2007

Reading Men (The Friday List)

So, that's that, I suppose. No Puppy, no Charmer, though I do have a few vague prospects I'll tell you more about if they become more specific.

In the meantime, this seems like a good moment to do a little research, no? Strengthen my theoretical foundation while waiting for my next experience in the field?

Which brings us to this week's Friday List: good books on men & masculinity. Jeff suggested bell hooks' The Will to Change last week, but I know there's lots more out there. Could be essays, theory, memoir, fiction, anthology, poetry - what books have helped you frame a productive and complicated understanding of what it means to be a "man"?

P.S. This may already be clear but I know it's going to come up, so I'll just say this up front: this blog opposes gender essentialism and supports the destruction of the gender binary. Please refrain from asserting that men and/or women "can't help" being a certain way, b/c it's in their "nature." Sorry. It's a blog, not a democracy.

Response to The Charmer


[Warm response to your inquiry about a detail of my life.]

[Breezy continuation of an intellectual conversation you mentioned.]

Listen, there's no great way to say this so I'm just going to dive in. I don't think you and I are as well matched as I'd hoped. I'm really glad we had a chance to meet and get to know each other a bit -- you're pretty excellent and it's been a lot of fun. But I've been at this dating thing long enough that I've learned to follow my gut in these matters, and right now that means this isn't something I want to pursue further. I really wish you the best and thank you again for spending some lovely hours with me. I hope you find yourself living in a house with [lyrical detail about your dream house] sometime soon.


Thanks, y'all. Thanks especially to the girl who let Roy down easy -- I hope you don't mind I stole a few phrases.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

On Telling

Oy. Ruby asked in the comments of my last post how I'm going to tell The Charmer that we're through, but honestly I'd hoped not to have to -- it's been a week and still no direct communications (group emails do NOT count). Until just now, when he emailed to see if I want to do something tonight. Dinner and bowling, perhaps, or pool. Or there's always a movie at his house.

It's totally clear from his email that he has no clue anything is less than hunky dory between us. Which makes it totally clear that I now have to tell him. I'm almost always a fan of kindly telling the truth in situations like this, but I'm not sure there is a kind way to say "Sorry, you're hot and smart and occasionally charming and basically a decent person, but you're just too self-absorbed and clueless to risk getting herpes over."

So, via the giant tubes of the interweb, I turn to you, gentle reader. What would you tell The Charmer if you were me?

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

The Final Straw

Can I first tell you how awesome it is having my love life focus-grouped by a group as smart and kind as y'all? If I'd had this blog for longer I might have avoided some pretty heinous romantic disasters. (But then what would I have to write about?)

Anyhow, after reading your thoughts on The Charmer, I was leaning toward cutting my losses and cutting him loose. Truth be told, it became less and less about The Herp (which research and your insight have shown to be a pretty small and manageable risk, given the circumstances), and more and more about the self-absorption, lack of deeper desires, and mediocre sex. But still -- he's a nice guy, sexy as hell, smart, and more honest than most. The temptation of the bird in the hand remained.

And then this afternoon I got an email from him. Mind you this is Tuesday, our date was on Friday, during which we had sex for the first time and it was so rushed he had to apologize afterward. And this is the very first communication I've received from him.

And what was it? A group invitation to go see a burlesque show. Meaning, I was included on a list of his friends. To go as a group to see a burlesque show. One he has not previously mentioned to me. Nor has he any idea of how I feel about burlesque, nor do I have any clue the context in which he enjoys/consumes it.

For the record, I feel about burlesque the same way I feel about most kinds of commercialized sexual expression, which is that some of it is hot and powerful and some of it is misogynist and exploitative and some of it is somewhere inbetween. It depends on a lot of factors. Which is why you don't just casually mass email some chick you just slept with for the first time an invitation to go see it with your buddies. Especially when you haven't spoken or written a word to her in the four days since you kissed her goodnight. No matter how pretty your penis is.

In other words: NEXT.

Monday, January 22, 2007

I'm Against Forced Birth Because... Duh.

So, it's Blog For Choice day, and as a girl newly reacquainted with penises, I couldn't help but chime in. But before I get to my personal views on the matter, I have to lodge an official complaint against the language of "choice."

Everyone is pro "choice." Some people believe they should be able to choose whether or not they themselves give birth, and others believe they should be able to choose whether or not other people give birth. The second type of people are in favor of forced birth, which is my preferred term, not only because it's more accurate and specific but also because it makes you sound like an asshole if you support it. Which you are.

Now, I've always been against forced birth on principle, because women's bodies are not machines or property and women are not slaves. Or, perhaps I should say, because women should not be enslaved. Even in the decade and a half I've spent on vacation from the threat of sperm, I've done what I could to protect women from forced birth. In the aftermath of the Salvi shootings, I even volunteered for a while as an escort at my local Planned Parenthood clinic, helping women navigate their way through the gauntlet of forced birth advocates and the pro-choicers who'd come to "defend" the clinic.

But now that I'm sleeping with men again, and once again know what it feels like to be relieved to see my period, the issue has come back into full focus. It's terrifying to imagine sleeping with men in a world where abortion is illegal. I honestly think I wouldn't be doing it -- why would I risk having my life turned upside down and my body hijacked when I can just sleep with women and transmen and avoid the risk? (Think about that, forced birth advocates. Think of all the bisexual women who'd turn lesbian if you had your way. The horror.)

Many moons ago, back when I was an undergraduate, I had a pregnancy scare. I had fallen hard for this guy who had dumped me a month and a half later in order to return to his ex. A day or two after the breakup, I started spotting, and I was nowhere near due for my period. This had never happened to me before. As it was summer and the campus health center was closed, I called a gynecologist's office in town to ask what it could mean. I described my symptoms to the woman who answered the phone, who said, "It sounds like you might be pregnant. Can you hold on a minute?" She then left me on hold for what felt like eternity (seriously, it may well have been three to five minutes, which is a long time), and then she got back on to say that since my period wasn't due for like two weeks, there was nothing they could do for me until it came or I was late.

Which is all to say that I've stared abortion in the eye, personally, while believing that a new life was growing in my uterus. I know it's not an easy answer to anything. But forcing women to give birth against their will is not an answer to anything at all.

I'm against forced birth because why would anyone want to be brought into the world that way?

I'm against forced birth because it prevents women (and disproportionately women of color) from finding a way out of poverty (not clear on this one? Do your homework on the Hyde Amendment).

I'm against forced birth because in America my religious beliefs are none of your business, and your religious beliefs should be none of my concern.

I'm against forced birth because I like sex and I refuse to be punished for that in ways men never are.

I'm against forced birth because I relinquish control of my body to no one.

Try me.

Saturday, January 20, 2007

Please Smack Me...

...the next time you hear me worrying about whether I'm good enough for someone.

Date Report!

The first thing I'll say is that, sadly, that exclamation point is an overstatement.

The second thing I'll say is that I'm unclear on the laws governing blog content, but I suspect you must be 18 or over to read this post.

Um, yeah. We pretty much got down to it as soon as I arrived, making out in the living room and then, as things heated up, deciding to postpone dinner and adjourn to the bedroom. Where he sits on the bed and says, "I have to tell you something first. I have herpes."

[insert sound of screeching brakes]

Many props to him for telling me upfront. Good sign in the honesty & communication department. He patiently answers all my questions: He got it from his ex-fiance, is taking medication for it, rarely has "outbreaks" and has no symptoms right now. Still, it is possible to transmit it skin-to-skin even without symptoms, though that risk is minimized by the meds. [How much? I don't know. Does anyone know?]

Properly juiced on hormones & anticipation, I decide to take my chances, but not before taking the opportunity to drop my own little infobomb about my dyketastic sexual history, which he is so completely fine about. Asks me a few questions, listens to what I say, and then, midsentence, just as I start to descend into insecurity about how it might all sound, he jumps my bones.

And that's when it all went downhill.

Now, he did not lack enthusiasm, nor was he selfish. He was just... in a really big hurry, I think. He paid only the most rudimentary attention to my breasts (which I'm just going to say is not something that happens to me that often), and then went down on me with great energy but not nearly as much skill. He also used his hand some. He did not seem familiar with Spider Man. Don't get me wrong -- it was hot, but it was sort of all over the place, like he was just manically trying a bunch of things instead of taking his time to see what I liked best.

After a few minutes he came up for air and then I wrangled his jeans off him to reveal, I kid you not, the most beautiful penis I have ever seen. In fact, until I saw his penis, I didn't know that they could be differentially beautiful. It's definitely on the large size, and just the perfect ration of length to girth -- the Platonic Ideal of a penis, curving up regally in the most graceful arc and sporting a very masculine cowl at the top (my very first encounter with an uncircumcised cock). It was also an astonishingly beautiful color, the redness of the erection glowing through his coffee-brown skin like the embers of a fire. (Am I embarrassing myself here?)

I immediately put my mouth on it, remembering all your fantastic advice: taking my time, special attention to the underside, hands roaming, exploring with my lips and tongue as though it was the most mouthwatering delicacy. (It was.) He made some fantastic noises, which for me is the best part. Honestly, I have to say I think I was pretty damn good at it, and it was definitely the highlight of our sexual encounter for me. So thanks for all the tips and encouragement!

After a few minutes he just couldn't wait anymore (and I was eager enough, too) so he got a condom (again, points to him) and climbed on. (Actually, he tried at first to maneuver me into a face to face kneeling/sitting up position, but he was so much taller than me that I couldn't find my balance and kept falling over.) He started off slow, more grinding than thrusting, which is not what I prefer, especially now that I can get off with PIV intercourse (see comments section here). But I figured he was just getting started, so I didn't say anything - it sure felt good, and I was in no hurry. And then he came.

After some awkward silence he apologized and confessed that it had been a really long time for him (which surprised the hell out of me). He started pretty immediately kissing my face and touching his hands all over me, clearly intent on making sure I got some more attention, but I stopped him because I had just had enough of the manic pace and wanted us to catch our breath. We talked about why it had been so long (he thinks American women just don't get him) and some other stuff, and then we started kissing again but by then we were getting hungry and decide to put a bookmark in it and go for dinner.

The rest of the date was fine, though not mindblowing. Dinner was fabulous and as last time, we couldn't stop talking about culture and food and politics and our jobs and he told me some about his family. There were even some goofy moments that could be categorized as sweet and dorky. Then we picked up a movie and went back to his house to watch it. Unfortunately, the movie we picked was too serious for making out, though there was some nice cuddling on the couch and handholding (the kind where your fingers are lazily active), and at one point during the film he spontaneously gave me a really great head massage.

On the flip side, I noticed a couple of things that have really been bugging me:

1) When I asked him what he would do with his life if money were no object, he said he would basically be like the main character in About a Boy. In other words, he'd read, watch movies, hang out, do nothing in particular. Not exactly inspiring or deep, and as much as I regret saying this, I think it's a dealbreaker when it comes to getting involved with him in any long-term way.

2) He doesn't really complement me. It's not like I need to hear a steady stream of how great I am, but aren't you supposed to tell someone you're trying to seduce that she's beautiful or a great kisser or fascinating or something along the way? I can't remember him saying anything like that to me, even once. I realized it when we were having the conversation about why he hasn't been dating in the U.S. and I was going on about what a catch he was, handsome and smart and worldly and suave. From him: crickets.

By the end of the film it was late and we were both yawning tired. He asked me if I wanted to stay over but I just opted to go home and sleep. We left it in the "we should do this again sometime" place.

Basically, the date was far from a disaster, but coming on the heels of Date #1, it was a serious letdown and pretty confusing. It comes down to this:

1) I don't want herpes.
2) I don't think we're well matched for the long term.

If either one of those two things were not a factor, I'd be unequivocally wanting to see him again. I'm pretty sure we can learn to have much better sex with a little practice and communication, and we have a really nice time together generally. He's a nice guy, hot (I'm sorry, did I mention that he is built like a GREEK GOD?), and still pretty fascinating. Plus, he's the opposite of clingy.

But what's the risk of me getting The Herp from him? I need to know. Because sadly, he's just not worth me getting a lifelong disease that is going to seriously complicate my sex life and force me to take a pharmaceutical drug every day forever. Anyone know what "low" risk means? 1%? 25%? Anyone?

And why can't I find someone I can just DATE for a little while? This is the third person I've slept with since the end of my relationship last May, and, if I decide the risk of herpes is greater than my desire to see him again, I'll have slept with each of those three people exactly ONCE. Is it really that hard to meet someone I can get to a third date with?

Friday, January 19, 2007

Dirty Little Secrets (This Friday List is Not Worksafe)

Well. Now we're talking aren't we? (Don't know what I mean? Obviously you haven't read the comments thread for the last post.)

Inspired by your collective skillz & desire to talk about 'em, as well as my performance anxiety about tonight's rendezvous, today's Friday List asks the question: what's your best move?

Specifically, what's your favorite technique for sex or seduction? This could be a technique you enjoy doing or receiving. It could be completely physically technical (I put my finger in X place and do Y with it in a Z manner) or it could be social or emotional. Basically, it just has to be goooooooooooooooooooood...

(Bonus challenge: give me something I can try out tonight and I promise to report back in detail about how it worked with The Charmer.)

As is only fair, I'll go first:

Some of you may know that one of the effect of testosterone on the nominally "female" body is that the clit becomes enlarged. Many FTMs and their lovers call this the "trannycock." My ex's grew to be about the size and thickness of the top of my index finger (above the highest knuckle). Maybe a little longer and a smidge less thick. (There used to be a very helpful website showing pictures of trannycock but I can't find it anymore, sorry. You'll just have to imagine.) The best thing I've done in bed possibly ever is to stop stroking & swirling it and instead take it firmly between my thumb & forefinger and stroke it like the shaft we both imagined it to be. Not particularly tricky, but let me tell you, it WORKED. The perfect storm of physical and emotional gratification. My fingers are tingling just thinking about it. Plus, I love anything you can do and kiss the person at the same time.

Er, hold on a second, I need to take care of something...

OK. I'm back. Your turn.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Since greenyQ asked...

...I have Date #2 with The Charmer on Friday night. At his house. Ahem.

I'm completely psyched, and more than a little nervous. There's the normal early-dating jitters, as well as the likely-first-sex jitters, plus, because of my life being as it is, the still-totally-awkward- around-the-penis jitters. Which are of course compounded by the how-should-I-bring-up-the-dyke-thing jitters. And let's not forget the dating-has-been-pretty-brutal-to-my-ego-so-this-better-go-well- because-I-can't-take-more-bullshit-or-rejection jitters (or is that just part of the aforementioned early-dating jitters?).

But under all that I've been catching a whiff of the men-frighten-me jitters. I'm sorry to smell them, that's for sure. I hate being frightened by a whole gender of people. It's ridiculous and reductive. Most men are safe and some women are scary (and the same holds true of trannies, etc.). But there it is. Men frighten me.

To be sure, I've got my reasons. Yes, I was sexually assaulted by a man in college, but also my father abandoned us when I was very small, and boys were my primary torturers on the playground and in the hallway. The ones who spat on me and made games out of sneaking up on me and knocking me over without anyone seeing.

Sure, there was also plenty of Mean Girls aggression, but here's the catch -- I've since gotten much better at getting "girls" to like me. Not just sexually; generally. Socially. But boys? I dropped out of "boys" altogether. It's my clearest memory of coming out. One night I was kissing a girl for the first time during a gender-blind game of spin the bottle, and the next day I was leaving my office in my department building (where I shared space with another student researcher, whom I had been flirting with for months and who would soon become my first girlfriend), thinking "Do you know what this means? This means I don't need men for anything!" and floating off to fetch my nearly-girlfriend a diet coke.

That was a little more than fourteen years ago, and I only started dating boys again this summer. In total, since dipping my toe back in the world of factory-direct men, I've had dates or date-esque encounters with 5 of them, only one of whom I saw twice. And that, my friends? Was The Man/Child.

Which is all to say that I haven't had a chance to work through my fears about men the way I have about women. They're stuck back in 1993. I don't know what men want from me, but I do expect it's something bad. (Which again, is ridiculous, because men as a whole entity don't want anything from me, b/c they're not a monolith. And also: I'm a big girl and have agency now. Whatever "they" want, if I don't like it, I don't have to do it. I know this stuff. I really do. Sort of.)

All this leaves me with weird worries. Not of physical violence - I'd like to think I'm a better judge of character than that, and if I'm not, I'm quite capable of defending myself. It comes out more sideways, like how I keep steeling myself for what I'm going to say when he refuses to wear a condom, even though I know in my head that he seriously probably won't and even if he did it would be such a totally asshole thing to do as to be doing me a favor. Alternately, I keep wondering if somehow this is all a joke he's playing on me, like the time The Popular Boy in school not only came to my birthday party, but asked me to go into the basement with him. And then told me he'd bet his friend he couldn't get my bra, a la Sixteen Candles. Like all The Charmer's attention to date is the setup for some elaborate joke of which I am the punchline.

The good news: none of this is keeping me from freshening up my pedicure and shopping for some very sexy panties. After all, we must prepare for the worst, but hope for the best. And I suspect the best in this case may be very, very good, indeed...

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

An Important Question (and Some Other Stuff)

The question: do you, gentle reader, not want a Feminist Hanky Code, or do you just not have ideas to contribute toward the creation of it? Ruby and I were a bit discouraged by the lack of interest in Friday's conversation, but will forge ahead on our own and share our creation with you and the wider feminist blogosphere -- but only if you tell us you'll use it. We've already established (ruby & I, that is) that we're not going to date each other.

In other news, you'll notice that I've spiffed the place up a bit, the better to foster conversation and find new readers. (I've also added stats tracking, and discovered that in the last 24 hours, I've had not one but two readers in New Zealand! Welcome! Can I come visit you?)

I've also added a few folks to my wee blogroll, some of whom I found when they had the good sense to link to PFG. Welcome to The B List (home of the fab performance poet Cheryl B.), Feminist Allies (a lovely blog for feminist men), Chaos Theory, and The Hathor Legacy, two most excellent feminist-leaning pop culture blogs.

In completely unrelated news, did anyone watch the Golden Globes last night? I was so pleased to see so many of the female awards won by women who were, in at least one but sometimes two ways, not young, white and skinny. America Ferrara, Jennifer Hudson, Helen Mirren and Meryl Streep all beat out their more conventionally starlet-y competition. Plus, Grey's Anatomy & Ugly Betty both won in their categories, both shows with diverse casts created and produced by women of color (Shonda Rhimes & Salma Hayek, respectively)! It's enough to give a girl a glimmer of hope for the world.

Sunday, January 14, 2007

Can I Just Admit This To You?

So, The Charmer and I texted some on Friday (nicely flirty & friendly) and the sitch at the mo is that he's away visiting friends this weekend and will call when he gets back. Which has left the weekend for the post-date glow to wear off and all my insecurities to kick in.

Which is why I was lying in bed this morning wondering what this smart gorgeous worldly sophisticated guy is doing with short chubby awkward pedestrian dilettante me? What will be the detail he discovers that finally horrifies him? That I know more about American Idol than I do about [fill-in-the-blank canonical author]? That I'm kinda a slob? That the weight I'm at right now is the low end of my range? That my passport has expired? That I like to spend a lot of time alone? That I really am too radical a feminist for him? That I'm a total amateur in the ways of the penis?

Or does he already suspect all these things and is just using me until he gets bored b/c he thinks I'm an easy target?

Friday, January 12, 2007

This Friday List Could Change Your Life!

Well, it really could if it helps you meet a potential love(r). As suggested by the brilliant ruby in response to last week's Friday List, today we are creating our very own feminist version of the Hanky Code, the purpose of which will to be to signal that we are feminists looking for some sort of love, sex, or romance, thereby encouraging other feminists or feminist allies to flirt us up even if we're at a Very Important Rally or Talk or somewhere else where you wouldn't want to just randomly flirt up a feminist b/c you don't want to suggest that you don't take her political commitments seriously.

Got it?

Some thoughts before we dive in:

-What should the base signifier be? I personally think we should use something other than hankies, so our code doesn't get mistaken for the original Hanky Code. It should be something wearable on the person which can be worn easily by people who like to dress feminine, masculine and inbetween/neither/blur/whatever.

-Consider attributing meaning not only to color but also to where and how the object is worn. But don't be limited by left/right/top/bottom -- our code doesn't have to address that dynamic (or it can).

-Should the code indicate the gender(s) of the type of date/mate you're looking for?

-We should probably keep it simple to start with, to make it easier for it to catch on. We don't need twenty or thirty submeanings.

Once y'all contribute your excellent ideas, ruby has offered to synthesize them and present The Code right here at PFG. THEN we'll hit up the feminist blogosphere to help us spread the word.

Then we get our flirt on...


P.S. The Goths seem to have already developed a code of their own...

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Charmed, I'm Sure

Date Report!

These seem to work best with bullet points:

-Lasted 6 hours. Covered three venues (bar, restaurant, second bar). Alcohol units: ummm... hard to say b/c we ordered sparkling wine (NOT Champagne, that's a region in France, got the whole speech which I mostly forgive him for b/c he's actually French, and also b/c he's actually HOT) and he kept refilling my glass while I wasn't looking. But let's just say I was nursing a lovely little buzz the whole night without crossing over into drunk. Over 6 hours, that's an accomplishment I think.

-Topics discussed included: The relative merits of Vancouver vs. Seattle and NYC vs. LA. The oppressive way masculinity is policed in the U.S., esp. through the use of homophobia (he brought this one up). My complex relationship with my dad. Why American women love soccer. Our mutual skepticism about marriage. His called-off engagement. The strategic fear culture underlying people's lack of willingness to challenge authority or get into political debates with people who disagree with them. The merits of Clint Eastwood's directorial ouvre (what do you think?). What the people sitting across from us were celebrating and what exactly was their relationship to each other...

-He seemed fully unfazed by the feminist stuff, agreeing with me at several points when I added a gender analysis to whatever we were discussing and sometimes adding his own. He also did this impressive thing where he rattled off numbers of countries who are way ahead of the U.S. and Europe when it comes to women in political power -- something I couldn't have done as well as he did. He did say at one point that sometimes he has a problem with "extreme feminism," though when I pressed him for an example of what that looked like he couldn't quite form one, though he mentioned a French group which translates to "The Guard Dogs" that he considers extreme -- anyone know anything about them? [UPDATE: They're called Les Chiennes de Garde and their site is in French, of course -- can anyone parse it? I see some defense of Andrea Dworkin, something about "the porn war" and something about lesbianism, but I can't really get the tone. The English site is sparse and old and certainly doesn't seem overly radical, but is clearly not the whole story) I told him we'd have to find out as we go along if I fall in his "extreme" category, but I definitely didn't seem to last night and I wasn't holding my tongue. Quite the contrary -- he was an excellent sparring partner with a lot of strongly held and well-thought-out opinions, so I brought it on and he really liked my directness. I suspect the "extreme" thing is a product of the media environment (beware of the scary, irrational feminists!) and not a reality he actually comes up against very often if ever.

-I did manage to work in that my ex is trans, as part of another conversation about trouble crossing the US border, and he really had no reaction to that at all, at least none that was visible. I didn't manage to tell him that, aside from a couple of one-night experiences this past year, I haven't interacted with penises since college.

-Oh, you want the good stuff? Here's what I'm willing to tell you: We're sitting in the post-dinner bar, knees touching, talking about how I can love the romance of weddings but not the realities of marriage, when he runs his forefinger through the salt on my margarita and holds it up to my lips. After I lick it off, he offers me some on his thumb. And before I've even finished with that he is kissing me and kissing me. In the middle of the bar. He tastes surprisingly sweet and clean, like soap and musk and iron, and smells faintly of good cologne. He does come on too fast with the tonguethrusting, but manages to tone it down a bit on my cue. And then we're talking again, and then we're full-on making out at the bar, and then talking and then making out and at some point he undoes my bra, one-handed and with one quick motion (this is a four-hook bra, people) and in the middle of everything, and I am stunned and pleased and also a little mortified and I start to hook it back up again and he does it again and I tell him he really has to stop b/c it's making me uncomfortable and he doesn't understand why so I explain and I'm not sure he got it but he did stop. [UPDATE: For more on the bra thing, check the comments]

-Basically, he's smart and interesting and beautiful and political and sexy and pretty damn suave. I'm not sure if he isn't a tad more arrogant than I like people to be, though it's a fine line with me since I really do prefer someone with confidence and strong opinions who'll test me a little bit. I'd like to see more of a sweet, dorky side, though. I can't do without a sweet, dorky side.

-After I convinced him that I really, really wasn't going home with him last night, I drove him home and told him he should ask me out again, and that specifically he should invite me over to his place, make me dinner, and show me a movie (he's a big movie buff). And that he had much better odds of seducing me on date #2. We shall see...

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

If You Love a Puppy, Set Him Free

That's probably very bad advice if you have a pet. But I think it's the right thing to do with my pretty young trannypunk.

As if the month of silence weren't enough (which: it wasn't, since I recently learned that The (Ex)Girlfriend isn't moving out until the 15th, inspiring new hope that he might still get in touch when she finally does amscray), he recently posted an entry to his livejournal about how he's realized that casual sex makes him feel like the person just thinks of him as a sex object. Considering that I basically offered him no-strings-attached-sex on a platter, well... ouch.

So I wrote him an email. Which went thusly:

Read your post. I'm not narcissistic enough to think it was actually about me in any way, but it did make me think, shit, did I make him feel like that too? So I thought I'd just take a minute to tell you that as much as I did try very hard (in my pathetic way) to seduce you, I figured out early on that you're more than a pretty boy I sometimes can't avoid.

Actually, the fact that you're smart and talented and radical and a little crazy and surprising and sweet and thoughtful and actually kinda grounded and self-aware for someone whose life is as chaotic and confusing as yours, is all part of why I made my pathetic attempts to seduce you in the first place. If all it took was pretty to get my panties damp I'd be having a lot more sex than I am. A lot. (Seriously. You might be surprised at how much sex I'm not having.)

Which is all to say, I very genuinely like you, as a person, even if you suddenly had a hot-ectomy or whatever. And I want good things to happen for you. And I'm glad you're getting some time to slow down and think about shit. And I hope you do whatever you need for your own self. And I've got no agenda in writing this, btw. I'm no longer trying to get in your pants. (Which isn't to say I wouldn't still welcome an invitation to your pants, but I get that I'm not going to get one anytime in the predictable future.) Just wanted you to know.

Not Shakespeare, but I feel much lighter. Like I can now just bookend the whole experience and file it under "Ones That Got Away (Subcategory: Bad Timing)" Which isn't to say that I'm not nursing a tiny hope that the email itself will inspire him to call me up and rekindle things. I'm not superwoman. I'm just no longer giving that more than a 5% chance of happening.

Meanwhile: date with The Charmer tomorrow night! Wish me luck...

Friday, January 05, 2007

Where the Boys Are (The Friday List)

So The Charmer finally called yesterday, and I must say he was kinda adorable, rambling to my voicemail about how sorry he is it's taken so long and he's been sick and we could do coffee or drinks or how about this film fest tomorrow night if I'm free and generally being transparently nervous and interested and lovely. And then texting me two minutes later because he forgot to ask for my email so he could send me the film fest info.

I called him back later in the day (he called while I was swamped at work, not sure what he does during the day), and got HIS voicemail, and told him the film fest sounded great but I was busy tomorrow night (which is now tonight) and drinks next week might be the best option for me. Which is all to say that it's looking increasingly likely that we may actually have a date-like encounter. Which is further to say that now I am really starting to worry.

If we do manage to meet, and I'm not reading the tea-leaves completely wrong, it'll be my first date since college with a "bio" guy I didn't meet through the personals. I'm not splitting hairs here in order to create another "first" -- the personals, while often hateful, have some real advantages for a girl like me. By the time I actually meet someone in the flesh, they already know I'm an opinionated feminist progressive whose exes have vaginas. And I know how they've reacted to that information.

Instead, The Charmer and I will have to tiptoe through that territory tete-a-tete, and that has the potential of going wrong seventeen different ways at least. And before you point out that he's the friend of my friend and therefore can't be that far off, let me remind you that I don't really even know the friend at whose party we met very well. She's more of an acquaintance I'm starting to become friendlier with.

Don't get me wrong, I'm thrilled he called and I'm up for the adventure. But that doesn't mean it doesn't make me want to throw up a little bit, too.

In honor of this tiny drama, I hereby proclaim today's Friday List: The Best Ways To Meet Feminist or Feminist-Friendly Men Who Are Available and Appealing for Dating. Spill it, everyone! Enquiring minds want to know. I want to know.

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

In Other News

-I told an entire room of (mostly) queers tonight that I sleep with "bio" men. I haven't really talked about being in the closet to my queer community about the guy thing, but I have been. And tonight I decided to start 2007 off right by trying to just be myself and let the chips fall where they may. Obviously there was no collective gasp or mass fainting spell, but it'll be interesting to see what the gossip mill in our very small, insular community does with the news. I'm trying not to care, but falling short. Still, it felt powerful and I'm glad I did it.

-I wound up with the perfect opportunity to invite The Puppy along to a social plan that's developing tomorrow night with some mutual friends and discovered that I really didn't want to anymore! Not that I wouldn't be psyched if he came on his own (if someone else invited him) or if he texted me or otherwise showed some kind of initiative. Because I'm pretty sure I would. But I've finally crossed over into Can't Try Anymore territory, and it is a sweet, sweet relief.

-In (possibly related?) other other news, two friends have already offered to set me up with two different guys this year! And it's only the 2nd. Looks like the pool may be expanding after all, but I'm not going to count my dates until they DATE ME (I'm looking at you, The Charmer, who still hasn't called two days later...).

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

I Kissed My Ex.

As in, tonight. So hard to explain how it happened, because it has turned my head incredibly fuzzy. But I will try.

We were at this thing, this public social thing which I can't say too much about for the sake of both of our anonymity, but suffice it to say that we both were involved in making the event happen, and it went really well, and afterwards we wound up alone together debriefing and I told him how much our working well together made me want to kiss him.

Now you will at this point surmise that this statement caused the kissing which followed, but in honesty, I say something like that to him practically every time we see each other. There just remains this crackling chemistry between us and it winds up feeling like the elephant in the room and I just can't stand there being an elephant in the room and not speaking of it. So I do. I don't expect anything to happen, I just have to acknowledge it. I find it actually often makes whatever the thing is feel less charged. Ha.

So tonight I said what I said and we wound up discussing what would have to happen for us to get back together. We had very different visions of this. He imagined we would return to our couples counselor and do a ton of processing and discussion at the end of which we'd decide whether or not to re-commit. I figured we'd have to go on a few tentative, no-strings dates and see if that made us want to see each other more or less.

The topics then progressed thusly: why we broke up (him: communication issues. me: not enough intellectual challenge) and whether those factors can change (both of us: erm, maybe?). Who's more optimistic about us getting back together in the forseeable future (both of us: him) and why that makes me want to sleep with him now more than he does me (because he thinks there's more to lose if the sex messes things up between us).

It was around then, though I couldn't tell you exactly what we were talking about right when it happened, but somewhere around then he leaned over and kissed me, softly, with closed lips. Twice. At first I almost pulled away because I didn't think he would really kiss me and I didn't want to pucker up and feel foolish when he veered to my cheek at the last moment but he didn't and I breathed one of those jagged, hitched breaths you do when the thing you've wanted for so long seems to be actually happening, and especially when that thing involves kissing. Twice.

Then he backed off a little and we talked more (don't ask me what about) and later I leaned in and we kissed a little more, and a little more open-mouthed. And then we talked a little more and then he left.

And now I feel so fluxy that I don't know how I feel, but it's not how I would have predicted if you'd told me I'd kiss Bob tonight and then not sleep with him. I feel like some emotional ice floe is breaking up and moving all around and I don't know where it'll end up. I feel more in touch with how much I love Bob as a person and want to be gentle with his feelings (and with mine, too) and less urgent about fucking him. Which is not because the kissing was a turn-off. Far from it. It was more a turn-on, in the turning on the emotional spigot kinda way. I didn't even know I'd closed it up so tight.

Monday, January 01, 2007

Happy New Year To ME!

Three things happened this weekend to make it a good Shiny New Year Transition:

1) I listened to This American Life's Christmas Spectacular episode (finally, considering it first aired a year ago, and it's already a week after Christmas this year), and heard David Rakoff's transformative "Twas The Morning After", the most beautiful and realistic ode to going it alone during the holidays that I've heard in a very long time, if ever. You can hear it here. (It's the first "Act" of the show. Hang in with it -- it sounds at first like it's going to be sad & pathetic, but I promise, it's totally worth it.)

2) Thus inspired, I decided that I wasn't in the mood to go to the party I'd been invited to, since I'd likely know no one there but the host, and I just wasn't in the mood for a bunch of strangers. Instead, I realized I'd much prefer to rent a movie and stay home with my knitting and my self. (Dear Host Of That Party: um, sorry, I should've called. Hope it was fun!)

3) En route to the video store, I received a text from The Charmer, which I'll quote in its entirety: "Hi [LadyRed], just back from a trip out west, on my way from airport. Got your msg, will call soon to meet sometime this week. Have a great new year's eve! [The Charmer]" My friend (and legendary wingwoman) H. and I agree that either he is wonderfully unafraid of letting me know he's into me (texting en route from the airport?) or the biggest playa evah. It should be fun to find out which (remind me I said that, 'kay?).

As for the moment itself, I'll admit that while I had a lovely evening avec moi seulment, I was a little sad as the clock approached midnight. I decided to meditate through it, which proved a good thing to do, but didn't keep me from wanting to call my ex as my first act of 2007. I can at least report that I successfully resisted.

How were your festivities?