The best mistake I’ve made in years.

I suppose it was inevitable that I’d eventually come right out and pull a dick move on myself. I’m really good at them, and I know so many ways to piss myself off.

A few nights ago I made what seemed to be a very wise decision.

I was to quit writing and focus on what seemed far more important at the time– everything else. I am not even entirely sure what that meant, and how I could refocus creative energy outside of what I am doing now. I was getting to the point where I wanted to free my mind of the constant need to commit things to paper or text.

At least the fire was pretty.

This was the result:  My firepit filled with every notebook I could find, every scribble of a story, and all the writing from probably the last three years. A mistake? I thought so, at first. Now, I think it was probably the best thing I could have done for myself.

In those books sat a lot of awful things I thought about far too often. I filled them with great ideas, yes, but sometimes it was just a venting spot for all the stuff I could never find myself getting over.

Now, they’re gone. I intended to stop writing, ended up feeling more of a desire to do so, and removed unneeded stress from myself all at once. When I realized that I had done something I needed to do unintentionally, I was relieved. I spent perhaps only an hour upset with the loss. I don’t regret anything.

So, like most people, I found something different to do with myself this year. Instead of the usual ideas of quitting smoking or eating less, I’ll write more. I will stop keeping myself away from the situations I should be in in order to get it done properly. Needing to go out and find inspiration isn’t as dangerous to my lifestyle as I originally thought. There is so much I feel a need to say and do that denying it would be very cruel to myself. I have no right to do that to myself.

Just as much as I would hate it if someone held me back, why should I do it? I thought I was acting out of self-preservation in the burning of what seemed like an unhealthy desire. Losing something is a great way to learn the difference between a need and a want. I don’t want to write like I need to write. Not for anyone else, not for some weird desire to be seen around the world for some book I’ll never write.

Nah. It’s just there, sitting in my mind, ruling over me. I can’t quiet it, and I shouldn’t have a desire to.

All of those little overlooked details belong to me for tomorrow’s writing. Every conversation I hear becomes part of me. I watch people interact and find a source for something new in it. Everyone is my muse, and I refuse to let that die off.

It would be too much to try and silence my own mind. I’d probably go mad (more than I already am?)

I’ve run out of excuses.

I even broke my own supposed end of writing mere hours after the fact, and this was the result of it.

 

It’s 5am. The 30th. Very close to New Year’s Eve. I’ve just come out of a cluster headache haze, making it the perfect time to sit and think.

I burned the notebooks yesterday. I had a plan, then.

I was told by someone once that you may have to pretend you never wrote before to learn how to do it all over again. I had no intention of writing again, though– which lasted less than 24 hours– since I was hit with a barrage of “WHAT THE FUCK MORON NO” messages from all sides.

Alright, I get it. I was an idiot.

It occurred to me that, despite my best interests, I can’t stop. My mind was writing for me the moment I decided I had to quit. I realized why a bit after: I am useless otherwise. Extremely.

Not in that I can’t work or breathe or walk or shit.

I can certainly keep those things going.

Especially shitting.

Yes.

I’m not myself without it. I don’t care if it doesn’t always make sense, or if my sentence structure doesn’t fit perfectly, or even if the subject matter is nothing anyone cares to read. I do, and that’s why I started in the first place. It is as much a part of me as thinking. I felt liberated at the idea of stopping, but I quickly realized that liberation fed straight to a void.

My ultimate partner in all things writing is gone. His creator is, too. Yet still he pesters me relentlessly, just as he used to between 2 and 5 am when neither of us could sleep. We passed the time playing Wordscraper and bullshitting, often just needing to vent. It would turn to writing on a regular basis, as that was his sort of thing.

All the little trivial things I tried to ignore– nope, parts of a story. He’d insist.

It’s his fault I can’t stop. I can truly blame him for getting me out of a rut where I refused to believe my writing was going to do anything for me. He is at fault for being the ultimate mentor and even the occasional muse. He is the reason I am a ruined person– in the best possible ways. It took having it utterly beaten into me for the truth of it to sink in.

I blame him, and it’s wonderful.

He’s gone, but not really. It’s like a replaying audio file stuck in my head.

“You’re a writer, so act like it.”

“I bet I have more empty notebooks than you.”

The list goes on, because he could talk. A lot, and then some.

I spent nights proofreading. Debating. Cursing. Not my own things, but his. I helped to go over student papers when he felt like his mind had exploded. Thinking on all of this made me go over other memories, mostly recent ones.

I realized something.

This year brought forth so many odd turns and alterations, things falling apart and perfectly falling into place.

I aided some in betterment, probably led a few to damnation.

I managed to marry someone terribly beautiful and intelligent.

I traveled up the country to see the most amazing people in the world.

I stuck by my morals and self-preservation abilities to a fault.

I watched as people suffered, wishing I could do more.

I lost and won and failed and got my ass back up again.

All of this caused by pointless decisions of mine or others that didn’t matter at the time.

Every. Single. Little. Damn. Thing.

All of the life events you wish didn’t happen, wish could happen again, wish for them to disappear– they happened. If not to me, to someone close enough that I could feel it. Experience it by proxy.

Oddly enough, I can trace so much of it back to a few (seemingly) small decisions I made along the way.

Seeing how those events intertwine and undulate along through time to create where we are now astounds me.

I am not the kind to pray, but I pray to never lose my memory, so that I can always recall how I shape my own world through every single step. I watch people enough to see how they got there, too.

In the last few years, a five minute decision to take a weekend trip gave me a husband.

One poor choice of food landed me in the hospital in time to walk out hours before my friend never did.

One conversation cost me a friendship, and they still don’t know it.

One thought caused me to question everything I know, but especially what I don’t know, reshaping my mind.

One person moving across the country gave me peace.

One person moving across the country destroyed my peace.

One idea became a life goal.

Deciding to talk to someone I always intended to but never had the chance to led me into cultivating a relationship for them.

One person I’ve met but once changed how I view myself completely.

All the small, supposedly benign things that people overlook are more important than we give them credit for.

That stupid thing I said could come back in five years. Ten.

One false move, or one wise move, can make or break everything.

2012 is rapidly approaching me. Us. Everyone.

I decided I can:

Consider those steps. Rationalize them. Forget rationality, throw it away. Do what feels good. Rationalize them again.

Agonize over it, every single thing. Every detail. Feel miserable. Get emotional. Never do anything.

or.

Know that each and every minute detail makes a difference at some point. From the food you eat now to where you go to buy that shirt, it can do something to you. For you… or maybe even against you. Think, but don’t stop.

Never stop. When life becomes to terrifying to try something new, it’s lost the magic. Bad things happen, and always will. You can’t know what they’ll be until you get there.

Don’t let the horrible things fool you. There’s a fine chance that the risk you’re afraid to take might be the best thing you’ve ever done. Maybe it’s the worst for a while. It doesn’t matter. It all leads somewhere, and that place is filled with options. Even the threat of death.

It’s cold out here, so early. Quiet. In my head I am holding court with a dead man, and still his advice stands strong.  I think of what I never would have had if I never took those carefully executed, or hastily thrown together, risks.

If not for myself, but for those that rely on me in some way, I’ll keep listening to those mental recordings.

There’s no longer room for the what if or fear of getting in too deep.

I accept my little details, from their inception to the moment they change my life.

am a writer, good or bad.

am myself, good or bad.

This last year tried to take that from me.

This new year I’ll take for myself, for those I love, and for what I believe in.

All because I listened to one man living only among memories.

 

I’m glad I only lost myself for a short time.

 

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Sex and Sin in South Florida

I have no images for this topic, so here's my bunny.

Years ago, I sat in a local bar with some friends, relaxing and talking about nothing and everything. Out of nowhere, one of the girls started tearing into her boyfriend for something that had occurred weeks before. It was a rather tense moment to be caught in. I was watching two people implode in front of me, over what was a seemingly innocent moment.

Girl: “She sat on your lap.”

Guy: “She’s my best friend! She didn’t do anything.”

Girl: “I can’t trust someone that just blatantly allows other women to violate my territory.”

That was the word that set him off: Territory. He had been claimed, and no one else was allowed on that particular area of real-estate. He admitted later that his reaction was a bit out of hand, but he was at a loss.

“I met her when I already had two girlfriends. She knew, and knows, that I’ve always been non-monogamous. Then she jumps in and says I have to change– fine, I did that. I loved her. But then everything I do is wrong…”

They didn’t last very long from that point. He loved her dearly, but her constant jealousy was too much for him to handle. It became a battle to even leave the house alone, and he couldn’t take it anymore, especially since he had mostly female friends. Some he had been involved with, which incited her further. He insists all of his multiple relationships ended when she asked, but it wasn’t enough for her.

Watching numerous couples break up over infidelity is fairly common, especially down here in South Florida. Temptation is around every corner, and some people feel justified in doing so. They can come up with a plethora of excuses for their actions. Ones I’ve most often heard, though there are many, include these gems: I was drunk/My father did it, so I learned from him/I don’t get it at home/What they don’t know won’t hurt them/It didn’t mean anything.

None of those really mean much to the person being cheated on. In the end, they are still betrayed, and not much will change that for them. Some people move on and manage to salvage their relationships (and some even come out better for it) but it will often end with a split. Trust is broken and lost, which is one of the hardest things to ever get back. Others have a more novel approach to things, by taking it in a direction they consider more realistic.

Open relationships are nothing new, but people are starting to be more vocal about them than they used to. Swingers clubs became a staple of the party life in some cities, especially down here, before AIDS showed up to close down the festivities. Polyamory and polyandry are still widely practiced in some cultures, but in the United States it is still regarded as an illegal practice if multiple marriages are involved. Some people just choose to marry one and allow for sex with others, so long as they aren’t told about it. And then, you have the ones that know just from intuition but say nothing. There are a wide variety of levels of non-monogamy, but all of them still have ways to cheat.

One couple openly has side boyfriends/girlfriends, but adhere to a set of rules: The first spouse always comes first, there rights to veto a relationship, all sex is safe and everyone must be tested regularly, and warning before the other has sex with someone else. At one point, the husband had gone out for a drink and ran into one of his girlfriends. Things managed to get out of hand. They had sex before he had told his wife, who was expecting him home. Despite all their freedoms, that night nearly cost them their relationship.

“I became so used to it that my mind slipped on me… I felt awful. I actually called her, crying, knowing this was going to be terribly hurtful to her… and it really was.”             They managed to save their marriage, but he had to ditch the girlfriend. They stopped seeing others for a while.

“She [the ex-girlfriend] was not very understanding of it all, and even tried to get me to leave my wife. That’s when I really noticed how bad she was as a secondary. I still have my wife that I love, and my other girlfriend that I love. I’ll be more careful in the future, that’s certain.”

If you hunt around enough, you can find many websites dedicated to maintaining any level of non-monogamy that you desire. There are dating sites for it, and sex-related swinger sites too. There’s even one strictly for cheating spouses, though it’s denounced as a shady place to be.

I’ve know a few people that once lived a life of open relationships, only to find someone that didn’t see it the same way. They decided to become monogamous for the sake of that person, even if they still feel the desire to be open very strongly. It’s a hard task for some, and one man I spoke to struggles with it daily.

“People call me selfish. They think that because I have the capacity to love more than one person at a time means I just want too much. I think it’s the opposite of selfish… I want them to be as free as I am. I would love to see her go out and find someone that gives her things I don’t… what if he shares interests with her I could care less about? Thinking that one single person can fulfill every need isn’t always going to happen.”

He has remained faithful, but calls it a hard decision.

“I feel like I’m robbing myself of something. She’s worth it, sure, but I still think about it. I understand why she feels that way… not everyone is like me. That’s fine, and it’s not a bad thing at all. Some people are monogamous, some aren’t.  But it’s still hard.”

Some couples try to open things up on a sex-only basis, and only together, in order to spice things up a bit. Some men find watching their wife with another man or woman to be the most arousing thing they’ve ever seen, and gladly open the door for such encounters.

One friend identifies as a swinger, and says it all started in his college days.

“My first threesome did it for me, right there. It altered how I viewed sex entirely, and it’s hard to come back from that sort of thing without wanting more, and more, and more. I also discovered my bisexuality at that point. People think it’s slutty or greedy to be like this, but I’m extremely choosy and careful of my partners and of using protection. I’m clean, and I expect the same. I don’t keep anyone to myself, either. Besides… who wants to be the monogamous guy that marries a bi, swinger person and expect a normal life?”

There’s a process to successful open relationships, including making sure everyone gets tested. Each couple is different in what they expect and require, but safe sex is almost universal. Nobody wants to find out they managed to get a disease from a partner, especially if they pass it on to a wife or husband. Because of this, it’s harder to find a good side lover– some people become very offended at the idea of being tested before anything sexual occurs.

“I don’t care if they don’t like it. They can move on. I refuse to bring home a disease because they can’t play it safe. No lover is worth that kind of risk, no matter what.”

More trust goes into the swinging lifestyle than it does polyamory. Usually in a poly relationship, the person is considered a steady lover, and testing is expected. If you walk into a swinger club where you don’t know anyone, you can’t expect everyone to have a recent test on hand. Most places will provide bowls of prophylactics for use, but those don’t guard against everything, so the risk is still there.

“Once, this couple came in and the girl had an obvious herpes sore on her. She was thrown out the moment her clothing came off and we saw it. That didn’t go well at all. We’re like a big family and don’t need that shit.”

There’s always a risk that comes with allowing for multiple loves. Some people have ended up being left behind for a new person, but sometimes it makes sense to them. People grow apart, times and loves change. They will still have secondary relationships to lean on, hopefully, and recognize something that was part of the basis in the first place: Love comes and goes, in abundance, if you’re lucky and know where to look.

Despite the general willingness of western culture to start embracing alternative lifestyles, some people have found themselves under fire for their lives. There are complaints ranging from being unable to list various loves on social networking sites (they limit you to one in most cases,) having communities go against their living arrangements, to being unable to go out with more than one people and openly express affection in public.

Monogamy is not inherently a poor choice. For many, it’s the only choice. It makes sense for them and their lives, and nobody should try to tell them otherwise. Everyone has a choice, and a different way of loving or viewing sex. Either way you choose to live isn’t necessarily wrong. While the alternative lifestyle communities try to find acceptance, though, many groups shun them. Some monogamous people find it simply abhorrent,  and will try to convince someone out of it very emphatically. The same works the other way, too, if an open person finds a need to try and change a mono person. It doesn’t usually work either way.

Television shows such as Sister Wives and Big Love have opened some eyes to the situation, as well as many articles, books like The Ethical Slut, and documentaries. While the shows are often ridiculed for displaying polygamous relationships in a poor light, some have at least seen a little merit in them.

“At least it doesn’t just show them as whores that don’t give a crap. The people there seem to show love, which is a nice thing.”

I myself do not subscribe to monogamy. I’ve done it, and while I haven’t had issues with keeping to one person, nor have I cheated, it isn’t my preference. Not just for myself or selfish purposes– but out of realism. I have been in the position of having someone cheat on me. After discussion, we opened up the relationship. While that relationship ended, it wasn’t for that reason. At the time it kept us going, though I only acted on that freedom once. There’s a big difference between sitting home worrying over where your loved one is versus knowing exactly where they are and feeling secure about it.

Assuming your loved one will not be attracted to, care for, or want anyone else in their lifetime is a pipe dream at best in some cases. While there are plenty of people that easily and gladly remain utterly faithful, some just rather not, often lying to obtain it. This does not mean I support cheating in any fashion. I find it disturbing and extremely cruel to the other person, at the least. For me, I find it hard to even be friends with someone I know that has willingly cheated on a spouse, though there are some exceptions. I may hate it, but I am generally forgiving. I have cut ties with some that bragged about it behind their lover’s back– there’s no honor there, and it’s uncalled for.

I, like many others, find myself caring for others strongly when I make a solid friend. Does this mean I want to have sex with everyone? No, absolutely not. But limiting who I care about and at what level (or limiting my spouse) is a bit absurd. I do know that I won’t love or care for someone like I do him– he’s my number one, and always will be. I love him more than I thought possible, and nobody is going to come around to change that anytime soon. I do acknowledge that I find myself with small infatuations or lusts towards some, because I’m a human. We tend to do that. Why should I pretend otherwise?

Because of the fact that I am how I am, when we’re sitting downtown and watching attractive people walk by, neither of us will ever be afraid to talk about it. We gladly point them out to each other, and we both have free flirtatious reign. There’s no fear involved that either will stray, because we have nothing to hide at all. It’s freeing, and removes the need for lies or explanations of wandering eyes. There are many attractive people out there, so why should we pretend we don’t notice? I have my limits like anyone else (lying, sneaking, and being in situations that could lead to cheating are unacceptable to me in any fashion) yet my ideas of what makes up a relationship are different from many. Should my spouse approach me and tell me someone else is interested in him and the feeling is mutual, I just want to make sure she’s not a psycho.

There’s something to be said about the bond between two people that know they can say anything to each other. So many insecurities and fears are lifted, though it takes a lot of talking, planning, and assurances when it first comes up. Some couples start that way, some end up there after many years of being together. Some can’t even dream of it, and that’s fine too. Everyone should have the freedom to choose their own path in how they love and with whom. As long as nobody gets hurt and everyone involved is fully aware of the circumstances, relationships can turn out beautifully.

I like lists.

Look, an anhinga. I have no suitable pictures for this post...

So, I thought screw it, I’ll make another.

I had a mental one going in my head last night, noticing things that drive me nuts. I’m sure a few of these things might apply to others. Some may not make much sense to you, but we all have those little dislikes.

Chewing with not only your mouth open, but tongue action in there as well. It’s like you’re making out with a slice of pizza, hoping nobody will notice the pool of food forming at your feet. And it’s not the lack of manners or ability to function that bothers me. It’s the sound of it. I cannot fucking handle the sound of someone sloppily eating. It makes me lose my appetite for anything but blood and shame. Yes, really. I want to harm you.

Facebook posts accusing someone of being a dick, but never mentioning names. Sure, calling people out on their shitty ways in a public forum is unkind, depending on what they did. I’m sure that if they are a serial cat rapist, it’s best to let the world know not to let him babysit Mr. Fluffles. But if it’s a private matter, keep it private. Instead of freaking everyone out (“is it about me?!”) or just looking like a tool (“zomg ppl that talk shit beind ur back R DA WURST U KNO WHO U R”) just… talk to them. Give ’em a phone call? Or just be like everyone else and make your status “Today sucks.” then give no explanation.

“You look busy. Let me discuss this dust mote with you.” This just happened to me, and I am still perplexed. Granted, he wanted to discuss Android vs iPhone (don’t care) and Mac vs PC (don’t care) but prefacing your random conversation with exactly how it is you’re annoying a stranger probably isn’t the best way to go, it simply reinforces to me that you are well aware of how you’re bothering someone.

“Why don’t you smile more? You always look so EMO.” Just because you don’t have the concentration necessary to be familiar with the face of someone thinking doesn’t mean that person is “emo.” I just don’t need to smile maniacally while I mentally consider if I want a cigarette or not.

Asking someone how serious their relationship is when trying to woo them. It’s a wedding ring, so I’d say that’s somewhere in the serious scale between volcano and a very sudden need to poop. So, pretty serious.

Here's another useless picture.

People that spell chihuahua “chiwawa,” or shih tzu “shitsu.” That’s pretty obvious. If you own it, you ought to be able to spell it. If not, just get a cat. C-a-t.– “Why don’t you drive? That’s so weird.No, no it’s not weird. It’s a choice, for both my safety and other drivers. There’s public transportation, my legs, bicycles, and unsuspecting friends.– Trying to guilt or force introverted people to quit that shit. It’ll just scare them right back into that safe little hole they built before you started making them extremely self-conscious. Stop doing that.– Telling me to get off of my computer and interact with everyone. All of my friends are currently buried in iPads, laptops, smart phones or any other manner of electronic crack. We’ll talk on Facebook like real friends do, damn it.

When I get off my computer and do something else, ask why I’m not online. WHAT DO YOU WANT FROM ME PEOPLE?

Massive dumps of duckfaced bathroom photos or self-portraits with your cell phone. I’ve hidden your feeds. I give up.

Writing lists. I always feel like a douche writing lists, even though it’s fun.  I’m so sorry.

The mind is a terrible thing.

Around me, every single night, I watch the minor collapses in people as they struggle to keep up with themselves and everyone else. Relationships have crumbled, minds have caved and individuals have snapped from existence. I hear what they have to say, and I try to be as liberal as I can with assistance and advice, should they desire it. I never, ever mind listening to the problems of another, even if it’s not someone I am particularly familiar with.

This is probably a bad problem solver.

What I don’t like is seeing the same patterns repeated in different people, supposed “fixes” that don’t do anything but cause more problems.

I can hint, pester or harangue anyone about their misinformed choices, but in the end, it’s never up to me. It’s solely up to the doer, and they don’t always make the sound decision.

Take the perpetual drinkers. If they have a bad day, it must be fixed with a drink. Then another. Maybe just a few more?

Some people are truly alcoholics and need help. That much is true. Some place themselves there, finding something else to cope for them. Why develop abilities to survive when you can smoke it away? The drug-centrism of this area doesn’t help, and you end up with droves of people falling into anything but facing a problem head-on and just dealing with it.

Then you are led away and eaten.

One person jumps on a drug or drink, suggests it, and it flows through like water. Even the kava bar I posted about before has that sort of ripple effect, with people coming back night after night to just feel that calm it provides. It’s a replacement for something else, as always.

One of the routes that distresses me most is the relationship hopping. I’ve been in the situation myself, but some make a hobby out of it. It’s one thing if you were already unhappy and happen to stumble upon an individual that gives you the feelings you crave (though I never advocate cheating as an alternative) and you go from one to the other. It happens, as much as it is hurtful to the other party. But to dive from one to the next proclaiming them to be the ultimate lover, the only one, THIS IS IT! … every few months. Not a safe plan for anyone involved.

I worry often about the people I know, wondering if they will make X mistake again, or go back to X bad person. I gravitate towards people that are having a hard time– which has put me in very hurtful relationships, so avoid that much if possible– and want to see them do well. I’m tired of seeing the nearly there, the almost, the so close. I know not everyone can get their lives together, but it is a nice thought to me.

The dependence on chemicals to keep sanity is habitual. I wish that wasn’t the case, but also realize that some people just need it. Anyone that has suffered massive panic attacks or mental illness can tell you as much, and the ideas of self-control go out the window. There are some less invasive ways to go about it, but not everyone has the time or control to handle them. I know I can’t just will away a panic attack, so why should I expect anyone else to?

Underneath it all is this deep interdependence on each other, a need for approval and acknowledgement. If upon walking into a favorite place to be nobody greets you, you’d have a paranoid fit inside.  It’s a natural tendency, but harmful in large doses if it consumes you.

EVERYONE MUST LIKE ME ALL OF THE TIME FOREVER!

Not everyone gets along. In large groups, that is very obvious. You can fake it, but that will only go so far as buttons continue to be pushed. There are always limitations to a person’s ability to remain neutral.

So as I hopped from one person to the next last night, their problems amplifying in my head as they spoke, I wanted to stop time. I wished to place them in the right situations, remove the unsavory things, wipe the bad memories away. But I knew, even with that ability, I wouldn’t. Learning is the only way. They either survive and grow, or they’ll flounder. That’s never up to me, and never will be. All I can do is try to be there.

To my friends in the hard times, I’m sorry. I don’t know if it will get better. I won’t lie and just say it will, because that’s untrue. Some things can’t be fixed. I can’t stop a relative from dying, or your mental illness. Nobody can. It’s unfair to give false hope in any situation. But the only thing anyone can guarantee is that it won’t always feel the same, and things change. The way you handle it changes, and how it will impact.

Now a bad word.

I’m simply glad to have some intelligent, witty and wonderfully broken bastards around. I just wish there were less almosts, and more finally. Maybe we’ll get there someday.

Maybe.