Category Archives: Live

User Manual, Part A

I just finished “Eight Things I Wish I’d Known About Polyamory: Before I Tried It and Frakked It Up” and the author mentioned writing your own user manual to “showcase your self-awareness and communication skills.” Some of you who know me well might chuckle a bit knowing the organized, critical-thinking German in me would love this idea – and you would be correct!

The author suggested writing it in three parts: Family background and history; How to turn me on emotionally; and How to turn me on. Each part includes a series of questions to think about and answer. I shall tackle these in three posts starting with the obvious.

Part A: Family background and history.

  • Do you have any brothers and sisters? How would you characterize your relationship with them?

Yes, I have an older sister, 8 years older than me, and an older brother, 6 years older than me. Both are married, each with two kids ranging in ages from 18-25. My sister still lives in NJ and my brother in DE. My sister is Catholic and my brother Evangelical. My sister’s family doesn’t really practice although she goes to church every week. My brother’s family is faith-focused with the kids going to religious school and heavy involvement in church and the church community.

My relationship with them is at a pretty surface level, and because I was so much younger than they were growing up, it’s been that way my entire life. I fly home once a year for Christmas and talk/text with each of them every few weeks or so and it’s pretty much always about family logistics or work.

Since PhD and I broke up though, I have gotten a little closer with them. My sister calls more regularly to talk about life, family and job stuff. My brother helped me with financial advice when I bought my house. Still surfacey-level, but it feels just a little deeper.

  • How would you characterize your childhood and its effect on you now?

I call myself the happy accident. My brother and sister were two years apart and then I came six years later. They grew up together. I grew up as an only child, in effect. I was daddy’s little girl and still love to be spoiled, but I also spent a lot of time by alone.

My parents divorced when I was 12. At that point they had two of three kids out of the house in college. I got fucked in the process. My mom started dating, met a man and in three months they were engaged. He came to live with us when I was 15, and from then until I went to college I was a total and utter bitch to him. I do love him now, but at the wedding reception, held at the house me and my mom were living in, I spent the evening in my bedroom crying.

My dad had a girlfriend by the time I was 13. I hated her at first too, but since my dad lived out of the house and she had her own house, I had time to get used to her. By the next year, I loved her. They didn’t marry for ten more years because she wanted to get married in the Catholic Church and they had to go through an annulment. I like to joke now that I’m a bastard. My dad also had a difficult time with her oldest son who was schizophrenic.

In school, I was a nerdy, shy, jock. I didn’t have a ton of friends, no boyfriends, more girl acquaintances with the exception of my former best friend who would throw me under the bus for the slightest whiff of popularity. We knew each other since we were babies and she lived a handful of doors down from me although our parents weren’t friends. We spent a lot of time hanging out and her family affected my upbringing as well.

Her dad worked and her mom stayed home. My friend was the oldest with two younger brothers. Her mom verbally and physically abused all of them and there were very strict rules about things in the house. For example, she grew to be a big girl with big ass tits like her mom. Her mom was always on a diet and therefore so was she. In order to avoid being caught eating between meals, we would never open a package of something or finish one.

I was very active growing up too. I started dancing when I was 4, sports at 9, and have kept myself in-shape my entire life. My physical appearance is important to me. I take pride in it. It’s the only body I have after all and I want it to last – along with my brain, of course.

My parents raised us Catholic for a period. My mom, who grew up in KY, met my dad one summer at the Jersey shore, and they married within a few months. Her family had a long history with alcoholism. She raised us Catholic hoping my Polish Catholic father would take an interest in church. It didn’t work out and neither did they so as their relationship began to fall apart, my mom went back to her church roots attending a baptist church. My brother and I were baptized out of Catholicism at ages 15 and 9, respectively, but my sister stayed Catholic.

I think my childhood taught me self-sufficiency since my siblings were older than me. I can entertain myself. I spent countless hours in the basement listening to my mom’s old records while trying to teach myself to sow or make paper or write code on my Apple IIe. I have the determination to do things myself. I’m self-reliant. I’m fiercely independent. I don’t like authority. I question everything. I want evidence. I’m empathetic. I need attention and affirmation. I now don’t like to be alone that often. I also tend to not be as verbally expressive. I have high expectations and can be judgmental and snotty. I have a healthy sense of self-esteem. I’m very critical of myself. I’m shy in social group situations. Alcohol is my drug of choice.

  • What is your family like? How would you characterize your relationship with them?

I have a blended family. My step-dad has two daughters – one married living in Germany with her husband and two sons, another divorced twice with no kids living in Jersey. My step-mom has two sons – one married living in Jersey with his wife, daughter and son, another unmarried living in Jersey with a schizophrenic diagnosis.

My brother-in-law’s family is also blended because his mom married three times. He has one blood sister who adopted a son and they together have a half-brother who is a recovered drug addict as well as a step-brother. There are many aunts, uncles and cousins on his side of the family that I still have not managed to keep straight. My sister met him at a Bruce Springsteen concert when I was 14 and they married when I was 16.

My sister-in-law has a twin and their parents died young. Her twin has never been married so it’s a small family. My brother met her at church and they married when I was 25.

As I mentioned above, my relationship with my family is cordial, but not deep. We all love and care about each other, but I’ve never felt I’ve showed them the real me and I’ve never felt they have showed me the real people they are. And although they all live close to each other, they don’t see each other but for holidays and birthdays throughout the year.

  • What word do you often use to describe yourself? Why?

The happy accident, the only child, the baby, the black sheep all come to mind. I think that really describes my childhood and relationship with my family as well as how I am as an adult.

Part of me never grew up because I didn’t have to so I’m silly and childish (I used my childhood blanket until I was 30 and only retired “Mr. Blankey” because he was falling apart.). Part of me is spoiled, snotty, attention-seeking, needy, and vain. Part of me feels grateful for my life and everything in it. Part of me also feels like if I wasn’t tall with a big nose and a mole on my stomach in the literally exact same place as my mom’s that I would question whether I was mixed up at the hospital. Most of my family is deeply uncurious about life. They did everything by the book and in the appropriate order – college, work, marriage, house, kids. That is completely uninteresting to me. I want to learn, explore, experience.

  • What word do others use to describe you? Do you think it’s accurate?

Hmm, I don’t really know. A new friend recently told me she had a hard time describing me to someone else. Not sure if that’s a good or bad thing?? Maybe I’m unique?? I kinda think so, but that probably wouldn’t surprise anyone who has read this far in this post.

  • What are your key emotional issues a partner might bump into (anger, abuse, abandonment, name-calling, condescension)? Tell a story summarizing why they exist.

As much as I portray outwardly that I’m confident and independent, there are triggers that can turn that foundation to sand and I can quickly wash out into the ocean.

My mom says it’s because I’m sensitive and have a big heart, which I think is partly true. But I also think because I wasn’t reassured and affirmed as a child (owning to my family’s lack of emotional intelligence and communication as well as the break up of the family when I was pretty young), I can break at the smallest criticism. I spiral down quickly, become depressed, quiet, anti-social, and throw a pity party for myself. Usually being left alone to think, some wine, and getting a good night’s sleep refreshes my mind. I develop contingency plans or plans to fix the problem and put it into action. Sometimes talking with someone about the problem can help, but because I’m not good at verbalizing it is extremely difficult for me to reach out and ask for help.

Also the three past relationships I’ve had have all revolved around either me cheating or being cheated on or with some heavy focus on cheating. So I tend not to trust very easily or quickly. As I said before, I need evidence, and to me those aren’t words. That’s time and behavior that I watch silently like a hawk making mental notes. If you don’t follow through, I may give you one more chance, but if you disappoint again, I’ll cut you off and discard you like mold on cheese, and I’ll never look back. It’s a matter of survival and protection.

  • What do you value in a relationship? Tell a story summarizing your embracing of that value.

I value trust. If you tell me you will do something and don’t, I begin to lose trust and start backing away. Words are nice, but I want to see your actions back that up consistently. You need to manage expectations with me because my mind is a steel trap.

I value curiosity and exploration. Whether that is in the bedroom or out in the world, I want to do new things with you. I want you to teach me something new. I want to do fun, silly, childish things. I want to explore your mind. I want to learn something new from how you think and act and from what you’ve done with your life.

I value touch. Up until six months ago, I thought touch was silly and sappy. Now I’m a world-class cuddler and notice every gentle, unspoken touch you may give me – from the pat on the butt as you walk by to your knee touching mine as we sit next to each other at the bar to hands running all over me to a simple touch on the arm when you tell me a story.

I value self-actualization. Kind of a cheesy, self-help book word, but I remember learning about it in college. In Mazlow’s Hierarchy of Needs, self-actualization was at the pinnacle. After your basic and phycological needs were met, this was maximizing your existence – getting everything out of it, having no regrets, sucking the marrow out of life. I don’t care what people do for a living or the personal choices they make. I respect you if you are living up to your full potential. If you leave something on the table because of fear or letting other obstacles get in your way, my view of you is diminished. I maintain the same standard for myself and judge myself just as harshly. I don’t believe in regret and I don’t believe in right and wrong. You try, you learn.

Ok, on to Part B: How to turn me on emotionally…

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User Manual, Part B

How to turn me on emotionally

“This section shares a few basics of how you operate on an emotional level. The goal is to lay out your emotional groundwork so a partner will be aware of your land mines.”

I am not sure I care for the negative approach this section takes to the subject. Rather than sharing details about how to turn me on emotionally in order avoid land mines, I’d prefer to think about it as sharing your emotional turn ons so a partner knows how best to connect with you and care for you emotionally.

  • What small gestures carry extra meaning for you? Tell a story summarizing a small kindness that touched you. (Repeat as desired)

Thinking back over all the various relationships I have had, intimate or no, I can point to two very important small gestures that carry extra meaning for me: Touch and Personalized Thoughtfulness.

TOUCH

This is for those intimate relationships.

If I have gotten to know you, I know how you feel. I can pick your body parts out of a line up with a blindfold.

I know the firmness of your booty. The softness or sharp feeling of your hair as I run my hand up the back of your head. The firmness of your pecs. The silky smoothness of your wide chest. The coarse curly hair on your chest. The girth of your biceps. Your clean shaven face. Your sharp, stubbled face. My hand being engulfed by your long, lush beard. I know many of your marks, your scars, your moles – because I have run my hands over them a million times. I know the feeling of my mouth pulling on your lower lip and running my tongue across it. I know the angle of your nose. The bushiness of your eyebrow and its coarse feeling under my index finger. I know the touch of my lips to your neck. The striation of your hamstring when I attempt to put my hands around your thick thigh. The valley of your lower back. The curvature of your upper back rounding to your shoulders.

I also know your touch very well. Enveloping one of my breasts in your hand and giving it a good squeeze. The brush of your hand across my ass as you walk by. When you slide your hand up the back of my neck, fingers through my hair, and you pull me in to lock lips. Running your rough, soft, wide, slim, long hands over the curves of my calves, twisting across my knee and up along my inner thigh. Your tightening grip on my throat as your cock slams into me. An unexpected hug from behind. I can feel your lips on my neck, your boney chin on the top of my head – and the warmth of feeling safe. Being jerked back as I walk past, by the belt loop, by the arm, for a passionate kiss. I love holding your hand. I love when you fill up your hands with both of my ass cheeks. I love on the rare occasion when the butterflies in my pussy flutter as you kiss me with passion. I love the feeling of your stone cock sliding in me the second after I’ve climaxed and my pussy becomes an ocean.

PERSONALIZED THOUGHTFULNESS

You’ve taken the time and interest to get to know me. You are noticing the little things I do, wear, and talk about – and you care. Big gifts are always welcome, but I pay most attention to the small gestures that show you’ve been observing and want to express your interest in and feelings for me.

I like any door opened for me. The chair pulled out. Help getting my coat off. Help putting my coat on. A small compliment about how my hair looks today. I like a pause of whatever is going on because you need a kiss right then. I love a handwritten note with tender words. When we are walking through a store, I casually mention something I like, and then you secretly go back, buy it and surprise me with it a week later.

Ok, maybe this isn’t personalized thoughtfulness. I guess I’m just a regular, squishy, sappy girl…LOL.

  • What gestures increase intimacy for you? (reaching out in time of need, holding you while you cry, etc.) Tell a story summarizing this gesture that was meaningful for you. (Repeat as desired)

Touch absolutely increases intimacy for me (as described above). I think it’s because my family members weren’t big on it when I was growing up. You got a hug when you arrived and when you left, that’s it. I crave it now.

Hugs. Being all wrapped up together on a couch or in the bed. Feeling your skin on mine.

Similarly, small expressions of how you feel about me carries a lot of weight. It need not be a soliloquy of forever devotion, but I didn’t hear many positive affirmations growing up. Not about my appearance nor my intelligence.

While I crave them, not surprisingly, they are hard for me to communicate about you to you, so please be patient as I get comfortable with you.

I love a random text about anything or nothing – just that you are thinking about me and want to connect. I love talking for hours about anything or nothing – intimacy for the brain is sexy af.

  • What kind of communication do you prefer? Tell a story of an instance of good communications.

I have a lot of opinions about communication. Not to belabor the point, but verbal and physical communication in my family has been mostly non-existent. It’s all nicey nice, the hug when you arrive and depart, gossip and drawing conclusions in between the lines of someone’s behaviors, but rarely addressed directly.

It has taken me work to be more communicative verbally and physically. I’ve never been so cuddly and touchy feely as I am now. As a point of reference, physical touch was so bad with PhD that in a king sized bed we had each separate sheets and a comforter – that’s one king sized sheet and one king sized comforter for each of us in one king sized bed. We never touched each other. Now, Nerdie and I squish up together sleeping like spoons in the utensil drawer under one set of queen sized blankets in one queen sized bed.

I’m still working on the verbal communication. It can still be hard to put the words through my lips outside of my brain. Even when I know the person waiting to hear the words will accept me no matter what and wants to hear my thoughts and feelings. Work in progress.

Overall I do prefer direct communication – even if I’m not always there myself. I am from the northeast after all. Too much of the nicey nice or indecision frustrates me.

  • How do you react to conflict? How would you prefer a partner react?

I’m not a screamer (except in the BR 🙂 I won’t say mean things. I don’t do drama.

It took a fair number of hard conversations to get to this great place where Nerdie and I are, but we did them all. Sometimes we didn’t agree, but we never gave up. We found our place where we understand, like really understand, the other person, their needs, wants, desires and are comfortable, confident, reassured and loved there. It was a long process, but we put in the work. We were both committed to hearing and understanding where the other person was at and how we could support each other. It didn’t always go smoothly, but at the foundation, our commitment to each other was always there and so we talked for as long or as many times as needed to find a place where we both felt safe and supported.

My history was three back to back monogamous relationships spanning 20+ years. I still want variety, adventure, new people, new experiences.

Nerdie had an on and off again, drama-filled 10 year relationship interspersed with lots of adventurous dating. He wants stability, acceptance, and to pour his love into one person that would reciprocate just as hard.

It took us a minute to figure all this out about each other – through lots of conversations – lots and lots!

For the first three years of our relationship, he didn’t date at all. I was sowing my wild oats. Now he’s been seeing the same woman for 2+ years. She’s been over to dinner, and to Christmas dinner at his mom’s (as a ‘neighborhood friend’). I’m FB friends with her. Generally, my lovers come and go every 1 to 2 to 3 to 8 months. Nerdie hasn’t met many of them.

I want my partner to react to conflict as I do – calm and communicative – no matter how hard it may be. Maybe we won’t be able to find a pathway forward, but I hope to part civilly as adults. Did I mention I don’t do drama? I’d sooner walk away.

  • What is the best way for a partner to build trust with you?

This one is easy for me too. You build trust with me by doing what you say – over and over and over and over again.

I have a sort of lover right now, let’s call him Mr. Motorcycle. For the past three years, he’s appeared and disappeared. He’s busy with business across the country and is a single father of two twin girls he commissioned a surrogate to produce. He texts with no regularity – gone for months before reappearing requesting my presence at his country home 40 minutes away generally at 11PM.

I would like for him to be my primary secondary, but I’ve only seen him twice in all that time. We do have wild physical chemistry together even though we’ve never had sex. I think I would fit into his lifestyle well. I’m very understanding about his life and its constraints and commitments. I just want to know what he wants and needs. Just let me know you’ll be away for work for a month or on vacay or whatever it is. It shows you respect me and my time and effort.

He’s not building any trust with me despite my giving him all the opportunity and space to. Yesterday, I sent him a very honest, straight forward text about what I am looking for with him. He will respond, eventually, and it may be the beginning or the end or perhaps I just realize he’s just going to float in and out as usual (which is honestly most likely). I just need to decide if I’m ok with that.

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Detour

My oldest niece recently turned 25. After the HBD texts on her birthday, I waited a few weeks to check in on how she was feeling. Twenty five was a particularly difficult birthday for me.

I feel a little silly looking back at my 25th birthday now 21 years later, but I was really sad thinking I had nothing left to look forward to. I felt like I had done all the things – got good grades in high school, went to a good college, got two undergraduate degrees for fuck’s sake, started a career in the nonprofit sector raising money for at-risk youth then adults with mental illness, had a serious BF going on 3 years.

All I saw ahead was adulting, work, responsibility, routine and getting old.

It scared the shit out of me and made me depressed.

In the last 21 years, yes, there has been a lot of adulting. From time to time, however, I still get depressed about the boredom of routine, of responsibility, of work. But I also could never have imagined where I am today, which is partly why I think I have been obsessing over this song (of the same title as this post) by Maren Morris.

The first time I heard it, I was immediately connected to the lyrics. I just described my straight path – school, career, boyfriend. I was going somewhere – I went somewhere. By all accounts, from the outside, I was there. I had arrived at the destination I sought – I was successful, productive, self-sufficient. But the only things I saw left to do were marriage, house, kids. And actually maybe that’s why I didn’t do the marriage and house until more recently (kids are still a hard pass for me). Then what possibly could be left?

The place I was in had its blue skies. The puffy white clouds were floating by. But the view was disappointing. After all the hard work, this place was disappointing.

So I moved to Manhattan. Then to California. I quit my job. I went to culinary school with no plans to be a chef. I threw the map away.

Before I could enjoy the new blue skies from all that excitement and adventure, it became night. My BF, of then going on 16 years, cheated and it exposed broken pieces in our relationship that had there for years.

My detour became lost.

When I first heard the song, it naturally felt like my life story and finding my way home to Nerdie (who is now my husband of 2+ years). I took the straight path, it made me unhappy, I threw away the map, I found Nerdie and it didn’t matter that I had to take a long ass detour to find him.

I kept listening to the song – sometimes three or four times in a row. It felt emotional, familiar, validating, but the puzzle pieces didn’t fit quite right. Then on one listening my eyes opened and I saw that the song was not about finding my husband, but rather about finding myself. (God, that makes me well up every time I read that.)

I quickly hit the restart button on the song and heard the words completely anew. I burst into tears. This song is me talking to myself.

I was disappointed at the view when I was 25. I threw away the map. I created a detour, but then became lost. After years of pain and struggle, I dug myself out of the darkness and into the skies of not just blue, but of red, yellow, orange, purple, pink. I unlost myself. I brought my heart out of the darkness. I ‘stumbled’ into you – meaning the real me.

I am more proud of my accomplishments in the past seven years than of any seven years previous to that. I am mine now. The detours I created, and the ones created for me, forced me to decide whether to stay lost or find myself. Oh believe me, my pity party did not get shut down for well over a year, and it was the fucking scariest thing I’ve ever done to unloose myself. I was totally unprepared. Sometimes I didn’t have enough energy to worry about what was around the corner, sometimes I was excited to discover it as it came.

I am now home in that I found myself – the real me – the me I always thought was there even when I was lost in the dark. But I am not truly home. I have more wrong ways, more long ways, more detours, but through it all, I get to be mine.

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Let Relationships Be Where They Are

Over the last seven years I’ve developed what I call <insert my real name here>-isms – long thought over, sometimes painfully learned, life lessons distilled into a mantra I consider and try to live by as I move through life. Let relationships be where they are was partly born out of my conclusion that monogamy was not for me – maybe for now, maybe forever.

I had cheated. I had been cheated on. What if there was a different way? A more honest way. A way where there was no reason to hide or lie. A way where I could be myself.

I found ENM (ethical non-monogamy) to be the answer – for me.

If practiced properly, and well ethically, you would be honest with your primary partner (or partners – whether primary, secondary, tertiary, or beyond) about your other intimate relationships, about your emotional, intellectual, sexual and physical desires and needs. There would be no reason to lie or cheat because your partner(s) understood you and even supported you in your other relationships – in some cases also getting excited emotionally and sexually about those other partners, or even still, meeting your other partners and developing their own friendships and relationships with them – whatever that may look like.

I have not been monogamous since 2015 when I separated from PhD.

Becoming non-monogamous, in practice, I have found, is not as easy as I describe above. You cannot flip a switch from monogamy to non-monogamy and everything is unicorns and rainbows. It definitely takes work, and communication – a lot of open, honest, sometimes painful, hard to talk about, stammering to find the words and then actually say them hard ass work. But so very worth it in my experience.

Nerdie, my now husband of 2+ years (together for 6), is my first non-monogamous relationship and we continue to do the work – although it isn’t as hard ass as in the beginning.

The other end of all that work in the beginning (and maintenance work continues) has been that I am myself for the first time ever. I am loved, supported and I won’t say ‘allowed’ to explore myself by dating outside our marriage, but rather in a safe space with Nerdie where, with time, trust, communication and a few agreed-upon boundaries, we can now safely explore ourselves, wherever that exploration may take us as individuals, and feel good about it. (NB: Please do NOT get me going on men who say – “Wow, it’s so cool that your husband lets you do this!” Deuces and fuck all the way off to that!)

To me, ENM is an approach to sexual and intimate relationships with partners outside my marriage. But these partners and relationships are not always about sex. In fact, for me, they can’t be just about sex. I’m too old to fuck and run, and I was never good at it when I was younger besides. Plus there is a lot more to do sexually than inserting a penis, or penis-shaped object, into a vagina.

I want something connected, intellectually stimulating, adventurous, silly – and sexy. I also want to care about my partners.

But instead of just seeking out these relationships on a dating app, what if I turned all my relationships from monotone to grey? Not black or white – you are fucking or you aren’t – but grey – letting the relationship be where it is. Letting it evolve organically without categorizing and stuffing it in a box.

Here are two examples in my life.

My best friend that is a girl (not girlfriend) I met on OkCupid. Our first meeting was a date. She’s super cute, funny and irreverent (like me). She loves to drink and eat and laugh. She’s got beautiful big natural tits that I love to grab. She’s emotionally intelligent in a way that I am not. She’s spiritual. She challenges my way of thinking. I love her smile and that she tells me she loves me.

We didn’t go out on a second date, but rather became very close friends – with sexual tension.

Five of us went to Cabo for her 40th. After a long day of day-drinking, we got sappy while sitting on stools at the swim up bar, and started crying at how much we loved each other, how amazing it was to have our friendship. Shortly there after, I’m guessing, we were standing in the pool discussing whether we should make out. Of course, an absolutely natural flow to the day.

“But maybe it’ll mess up our five year friendship.”

No discussion that we had just cried, been drinking all day, and, god forbid, that we were in a public pool in the daylight!

Nope, we just went for it. Add she’s a very good kisser to that list above.

After that, nothing weird happened. Our friendship didn’t implode or explode. The next time I saw her she asked when we were going to make out again.

Let relationships be where they are. That’s where that one is.

My best friend that is a guy (not boyfriend) I met in the wine industry. A friend of a friend of a friend. The valley is small. I knew he found me attractive the first time we met. He’s smart, generous, funny and irreverent (may be a pattern here). He loves to drink and eat and laugh (yup, there’s a pattern). He’s well-dressed. I love his smile and his laugh, that he says fuck a lot and that it is a zillion percent judgement-free zone while drunk.

He introduced me to the owners of the winery I now work for, and then taught me a shit ton about the industry. I will forever be grateful to him.

Our MO now is 3-4 hours of heavy drinking, usually 3-4 bottles, sometimes more, gossiping about people in the industry, listening to music, sometimes he’ll grill up a snack. If his son isn’t home, we invariably end with a make-out sesh – on more than one occasion before he’s heading off to an evening date.

Let relationships be where they are. That’s where that one is.

Earlier this week I was contemplating what I was going to write about for this Sunday’s post. I have a list of past lovers I may write about scribbled down on a piece of lined paper, listed chronologically since 2015. Many I’ve already written about. I folded it in half and taped it to the wall in my office. I have a second list of posts most likely destined for the LIFE category kept as a note on my phone.

While thinking about a proposed topic, I was on a plane so no access to the written one taped to the wall. I opened the note in my phone and read through the list. Of all the topics I read through this one resonated. Let relationships be where they are.

As I walked through the terminal on the way to baggage claim, I had a fucking duh, look at palm and slap one’s self in the forehead moment.

I recently met REO – the Recently Enlightened-Emotional One. When he walked up to the table for our first date over lunch, I didn’t feel much about it – not excited, not immediately impressed.

We ended up talking for over three hours.

He’s extremely thoughtful, intelligent, and his thinking challenges mine. He’s on an emotional, sexual and intellectual journey of self-exploration. He’s generous, expressive and selfless – sharing everything he has in life, or had, even when he didn’t seem to have much, with the people he cares for. I love his smile, his insatiable curiosity, his height, and his white hair. We can easily talk for three hours. Left without time constraints, I feel like this could easily be three days or more.

He had a late-night FT recently. After about an hour, I was listening to him tell me that he doesn’t think one of the women he has been seeing, that he had hoped would be someone long-term, is going to work out.

I started crying.

I had already started feeling scared about my new relationship with REO – really just another way of saying I am starting to feel vulnerable because I care about him. It’s not a place I want to be right now after two painful break-ups this year.

He had told me he wanted me to be someone long-term. Would he one day decide I wasn’t going to work out?

It was 2AM and I was drunk and exhausted and also crying so we said good night. The next morning I wrote him.

“I had fun talking to you last night, as usual I feel like I could talk to you for days…it was super nice to see your face…I just kept thinking how cute/handsome/attractive you are to me, in so many ways.

That’s why I got upset at the end. You scare the fuck out of me. I’ve put my heart in to several people who walk talk and act like you – genuine caring really into me fun an intellectual equal – everything I want. But then I get fucked and not in a good way – get my heart stomped on for one reason or another.

Tbh I want to love you…eventually with time, but I can easily see it happening. I want all the LT things you describe. But again scary as fuck so…I guess I’m just scared to do it. Not rocket surgery…but that’s why I’m keeping you at arms length.”

Walking through the airport terminal that was my fucking duh moment. Let this relationship be where it is.

That doesn’t mean necessarily that I jump in with both feet, but I also need not keep him at arm’s length or put up unnecessary walls. Create the space for us to let our relationship happen organically. I have been preventing that out of fear even though I’ve done this before. I have two best friends because I lived true to let relationships be where they are.

A wide grin came over my face and I audibly laughed while walking my bags to the car. I felt immediately relieved and lighter that the answer was right there in front of me, and it was familiar.

Not that it’s a flip a switch scenario. However, I am now confident that that space will be created and that we will both feel safe in it. First, I have work to do to let it melt away – all the baggage and boundaries I’m carrying into the space we share. Sometimes it doesn’t come together until it breaks.

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I’ll Most Likely Kill You In The Morning

Remember the scene in Princess Bride when Wesley and Buttercup are walking through the Fire Swamp and he tells the story of how he became the Dread Pirate Roberts? The then Dread Pirate Roberts takes Wesley on as a valet and every night says:

“Good night, Wesley. Good work. Sleep well. I’ll most likely kill you in the morning.”

As much as I say I’m the happiest I have ever been in my life, and I absolutely am the happiest I have ever been in my life, still non-monogamy isn’t all fantastical tales and happy love endings.

I look back on all the various relationships I have had outside of my primary one and that sentiment from the Dread Pirate Roberts now resonates with me strongly. It has only just come together in my head. As if after each date my lover says:

“Thank you for a fantastic evening. So fun and sexy! But I’ll most likely need to get rid of you pretty soon.”

Maybe I’ve just become cynical about dating.

I think until the two recent difficult break-ups this year (I have not yet wrapped my brain around writing about them although one of them is mentioned below), I approached meeting someone new with excitement and an open heart, just waiting to see where the adventure would take me, not looking to see what was around the corner.

I say in dating app profiles, and often in person, that I want to care about my partners. While sex plays a strong leading role, I want to enjoy the time I spend with someone outside the bedroom. I want to be intellectually challenged, playful, comfortable, enjoy activities together, and genuinely caring toward a partner. I want to know about their lives, history, challenges, aspirations, passions.

I want to connect.

I have since learned that connection can be dangerous. It requires vulnerability. Vulnerability, in my experience, often leads to pain and disappointment.

I suppose I could simply call myself naive and that I need to get tougher. You would think I would have a thicker skin being from the fuck you East Coast. I often walk around like it’s old, worn leather, but it’s really just an act. As much as I don’t like to admit it, I have a liquidy candy center.

Maybe this in just par for the course from non-monogamous dating. I AM married and can only offer so much to someone else. Our relationship can only progress to a certain point. A certain point I am happy to live in forever, by the way. But I cannot go on vacation with you. I cannot move in. I cannot come for Thanksgiving dinner, and I do not want to meet your kids, your friends, your colleagues.

I also have wondered if I attract a certain type of older man who is in transition in his life – just looking for a fun attraction to ride while on vacation from figuring out the rest of his life.

I’d like to recount some of the more notable, or I suppose painful, ways I’ve been killed in the morning.

In the first year, I was mostly ghosted. That sucks, but I learned to choose slightly more mature, sophisticated and reliable men.

With that has come more sophisticated ways to die.

I dated one man for nearly 10 months. We met just a few months before COVID began and we maintained our own little love pod, seeing each other several times a month at his house. We would enjoy walks through his vegetable garden, birthday suit dips in the hot tub followed by birthday suit dinner making complete with lovely old wines. Often dinner had to wait as naked cooking became naked groping and then pushing the beautifully set tableware aside and fucking on the dining room table.

It turns out he had been seeing someone abroad for over a year and decided to move her across the world and into his house.

I unknowingly was invited over for one last romp and then to take home all the lingerie he had bought me. I got killed.

I dated another man for only about four months. I was hesitant when he told me in the beginning that he had a fiancee in Europe and they would be married. But it wouldn’t be for two or more years because she wouldn’t move to the US until her precious, old horse that she loved so dearly passed away.

He would come to my town several times per month either finding a location with a kitchen so he could show off his Italian cooking skills or take me out to a nice dinner before enthusiastically hitting the sheets. He was generous, communicative, caring.

Until she decided she didn’t want to wait and wanted to get married within several months. She set a date and had bought a wedding dress in Europe. I got killed.

I found a kind, mid-Western man who lived in my town – amazing! He was single – amazing! He spent a lot of time traveling for work so would want to see me a bunch when he was here and then we’d have weeks go by while he was out of town – also amazing!

While not so sophisticated about food and drink, he actually introduced me to a new gin made in New England from botanicals that included honey. I still enjoy this gin and have shared it with friends.

We enjoyed watching porn together and talked about a threesome with a trans woman (on my bucket list – getting fucked with tits in my face? YES PLEASE!). My favorite session of ours was in his living room. Porn on the jumbotron above the fireplace. Me riding his cock reverse cowgirl so we both could watch. It was so fun to be in control and grind on him. Quite a thigh workout too! Hear him moan. Hear the TV moan. Feel the grip of his hands on my hips pulling me back and forth. Rising and rising until everyone exploded.

He was generous too. Then told me he started seeing someone new and felt it was wrong to be also seeing me on the side. I understand, but I got killed.

Then I thought I had found the prefect man with the perfect scenario. He was married, but they lived apart. He in the city and she in the country about two hours away. They would see each other on the weekend. He enjoyed cooking, mezcal, baseball and long conversations. He was painfully shy, but I thought with time we would become comfortable with each other. We were both very excited about this match.

After about 4-5 dates, he mentioned he was taking a 6-week unpaid sabbatical from work and planned to travel to various retreats and camps across the country. He wasn’t sure if he would go back to work or retire. He wanted to explore what the third chapter in his life might look like.

Perhaps I had no right to ask at such an early stage of our relationship, but I inquired where he thought I might fit in to this scenario. We had both been excited by this stable duo-marriage pairing. He didn’t have an answer very much as if he didn’t even consider it. I was killed yet again.

There are many other stories of fits and starts eventually falling apart for one reason or another.

Today, I have several new men in my life. One I have been dating for a few months – England is from near Oxford. He is divorced with two teenage children. He has told me he absolutely believes he was a woman in a previous life – he feels his sensitive nature is very feminine. He has been quite enthusiastic about me recently making a joke about celebrating our three months together, a three-month anniversary or something to that effect. I asked has it been three months? He quickly laughed and said he didn’t know. I checked back and our first date was three months ago.

I have felt myself being pulled in emotionally with England as in previous new relationships. Opening my heart blindly without a thought to the future on my radar screen. Just skipping down the path that we create.

He is fun, sexually exploratory, patient, generous, genuinely loving, genuinely caring.

I want to try not to be killed.

During our most recent date, he made a quick, under the breath comment about one day there being pain when we stopped seeing each other. That pulled me to attention and the future possibilities started making bleeps and bloops on the screen.

Rather than wait to be killed I thought A-HA! This is the opportunity to practice emotional restraint. But could I do that? Could I halt my feelings for him right there where they were, care about him but not let myself grow to love him and still enjoy my time with him? Could I be slightly colder and less emotionally enthusiastic?

The Dread Pirate Roberts did tell Wesley every night that he would most likely kill him in the morning. Wesley didn’t know when it may come, and in the end it never came. I’m not sure I believe the end never coming is a possibility anymore – I once did.

So rather than be blind-sided when I do get killed in the morning, could I simply believe that I will be killed at anytime, enjoy the moment, protect my heart and not be so upset when death comes knocking?

I know this may sound completely antithetical to my recent post Let Relationships Be Where They Are. It’s probably accurate that it is. I never claimed to not contradict myself. This is a journey with very few maps to rely on for guidance. So I am just out in the world trying to create a successful pathway, and not to get killed.

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Regret

It’s a noun. It’s a verb. It’s Death Row.

“Feel sad, repentant or disappointed over (something that has happened or been done, especially a loss of missed opportunity).”

Oxford Languages

I am not an ‘everything happens for a reason’-type person. When one door closes, another one opens. God has a plan. And the worst for me, when friends say ‘mercury is in retrograde’ so you have no control over the shit that’s about to pop off.

I guess I don’t like thinking I have no control over my life even though I know I don’t control a great many things about my life and what happens in it because, well, there are people in my life. We are all unpredictable.

When regret came knocking as my relationship with PhD was falling apart, I succumbed to it – that Death Row of the mind that keeps you imprisoned in a Groundhog Day-like mental wheel of sadness, disappointment and loss. I hated the loss of control – of my own fucking thoughts, of the place someone else put me in. I clearly recall loathing what I called the ‘cliche’ I had become – left for a younger woman at work after years of a sex-less relationship, and oh yes, I was middle aged.

But the definition of regret is cemented in the past. It’s about something that has happened or been done – past tense. Reread the definition above. There are several -ed’s.

Besides the regret I was feeling from the failure of my relationship with PhD, as I look back, I could regret a great many things in my life:

  • I cheated on my very first boyfriend, twice.
  • I tortured myself and wasted so many years trying to find a flavor of Christianity that fit me.
  • I refused to forgive one of my best childhood friends (cannot recall what she did that made me mad). She called to apologize, I didn’t forgive her. And not only did I lose a great friend, but she became very popular in high school, while I was a shy, nose-in-the-books, part-time jock with few friends.
  • I choose a career in the non-profit sector, and while it was mostly fulfilling to help and serve, I wish I had gone off in to the business world. My bank account would have thanked me.

But those feelings keep me in the past on a loop of misery and self-loathing…ie Death Row. Regret implies that I fucked up, I’m stupid and likely, I’m a bad person for making a mistake that may have hurt myself or someone else, or even worse, for a mistake that someone else made that hurt me.

One of the most freeing realizations that got me off Death Row was that my thoughts are actually something I can control. In fact, they are, as far as I can tell, the only thing I can reliably control, and, furthermore, no one else in the fucking world can control my thoughts. They are mine all mine!

When the power of that realization washed over me, I felt like I could float, the lightest I had ever been in my entire life.

I control what I think, and therefore….wait for it…what I feel.

I decide what I think (and feel) about everything – from the sweater I see in a store to the weather to when someone cuts me off on the highway.

And the latter is the most important.

Because no one can control what I think, no one can make me think (or feel) anything. This is in my control, my brain, my thoughts, my feelings are my power.

But just as with any power, you need to hone it, focus it, train it.

The end goal being (well first, getting off Death Row!) you being in control over what you think and feel about everything that happens around you, how other people act toward you and treat you, how you act toward and treat yourself.

When PhD cheated on me, I had a self-loathing, pity party on Death Row for about two years. Woe is me. What did I do wrong? What did I do to deserve this? (I actually had an answer to that one – karma from cheating on my first boyfriend.) I should have done this or that. Going over and over and over it in my brain. Death Row.

I let his choices, his behaviors toward me create the thoughts and feelings in my brain.

I felt regret.

Then when I realized I had control over my own thoughts and feelings, it was all in my power. What he did wasn’t making me feel bad, feel regret…I was doing that.

PhD acted the way he did. My reaction was the Death Row, the pity party, the regret, the sadness for the loss, the disappointment over what was and what would never be. But when I took back control of my thoughts and feelings, I said to myself, “Fuck that shit!” I’m tired of feeling bad about what someone else did to me, about the regret. I’m tired of Death Row.

So I fucking seized that control and began what ended up being a nearly seven year journey to the happiest place I have ever lived in my brain. With the simple realization that I have the control of my thoughts and feelings, no one else.

I no longer believe in regret, fucking waste of time and brain power.

It is not to say that I don’t get sad or upset or mad or frustrated when I feel like people treat me poorly (or when I treat myself poorly), but I realize I have control over how long those feelings last, and now they generally last a lot shorter than they used to.

I have a pity party every once in awhile, for sure, but subtract any regret I may feel for making the bad decision(s) that went along with it. I am human and I make fucking mistakes.

The key to eliminating regret, for me, is to be self-aware enough to realize you don’t have to feel bad for making a choice that you maybe shouldn’t have. You are human. The very important part of the equation is that you learn from your mistakes and make better choices in the future…because that’s what you have control over.

You have absolutely zero control of the past.

And guess where regret is…in the past, past tense, remember?

After cheating and being cheated on, it was very important to me that I not be in a relationship again where cheating could be a possibility. So I researched and read about relationships and found Ethical Non-Monogamy (ENM) where transparency is the foundation. You don’t have to cheat because you and your partner build an open, honest space together. This is not to say that this type of coupling is without its own challenges, but honesty is at the base and that was what was important to me. I could handle the challenges (boundaries, jealousy among them), and yes, I’ve made lots of mistakes with Nerdie in the process, but we work through them. That openness and honesty about our sexual desires doesn’t stop at the door of the rest of our relationship. ENM requires exceptional communication, which gets extended to the entirety of our relationship.

Freeing myself from regret, accepting myself as a human who makes mistakes and tries to do better, and, at the pinnacle of it all, realizing I have ALL the power and control over my own thoughts and feelings, and no one can take that way from me keeps me floating far away from Death Row.

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Our Planet

When work wakes me up in the middle of the night, I know exactly what will settle my brain and put me right back into dreamland…David Attenborough. If you don’t know Sir David Attenborough, you really should take the time. I have no idea what he did as a young man, but now, most certainly in his 80s, he narrates the most beautifully calming nature shows. Of course the cinematography is mesmerizing, but his voice is the soothing white noise I need on those nights to turn my brain right off.

One recent restless night, I started his series called “Our Planet” and the first episode included several minutes about rainforests. He talked about one area being so lush that female birds can raise chicks on their own so the males spend 100% of their life attracting mates. You may already be aware that the males of most bird species are the pretty ones – brightly colored, fancy feathers, barreling chests. But these particular birds Sir Attenborough mentioned, called Manakins, native to Mexico and South America, have quite an elaborate dance routine for attracting females.

In particular, the Golden Collared Manakin first spends lots of time clearing the forest floor of leaves and sticks. When a female arrives, he dances from branch to branch in his pristine home showing off his colors and then does a back flip to really impress. She checks out every detail before deciding if he gets the tail.

The Blue Manakin practices such an intricate dance that it involves three other males. They practice on the daily. One of the males plays the female and watches on as the other three take turns flying to the front of the line, making a short display for her examination and then moving to the back of the line for the next male to show off. They continue until the lead male performs a final move, then he flutters and waits. If she doesn’t immediately fly off then…boop boop sexy time.

On another sleepless night a few months later I made it to the second episode about the jungle. The focus was on New Guinea. It is so isolated there that it has evolved some very strange and curious creatures, including the Western Parotia. It is one of 40 species of Birds of Paradise.

The male is truly unusual. When not on display for a mate du jour, he has jet black plumage with a stunning golden-green iridescent chest and black ‘wires’ darting out from the top of his head.

In preparation for a female, he turns into the most OCD cleaning guy I have ever seen! However, I suppose you could blame the female, who visits only the tidiest of male homes.

Every morning, he clears his area’s forest floor. Not just a light sweeping, but rather he moves every single branch, leaf, and tiniest piece of debris. One rogue leaf may ruin his boop boop chances. She inspects, he continues to try to impress not only with his spotless abode, but his dance routine must also be flawless.

First, his blue eyes flash bright yellow. He fans out his feathers, gives her an affirmative head bob, and then presents his iridescent chest patch. He’s not holding anything back! She continues to be coy turning her head from side to side to continue the inspection. If she is satisfied with his cleanliness and dancing display, you know what comes next…

Now the last time I looked in the mirror, I wasn’t a male bird – no bright colors, iridescent feathers, head wires nor particularly clean home. Although I would say I have a dance move or two that may attract the opposite sex.

But every day I prepare to host a private wine tasting at our wine country tasting room or travel for a wine event, I feel like a Western Parotia.

When guests visit wine country, they are on vacation. Yes, they are more than likely coming to taste and buy wine, but for them it’s fun time – no risk, no real skin in the game. The same holds true for wine events on the road.

What all these guests (aka female birds) don’t realize is all the time, effort, OCD cleaning and personal grooming I have put in to preparing for their arrival. Just like those male birds, I didn’t wake up like this. Yet it must be flawless if we want the boop boop (aka wine sales).

Right now, I am sitting in a hotel room in Dallas preparing for a wine event this evening in fact. First, back at home, I decided which wines I would pour and calculated about how many bottles I would need for three events with about 20 people each. It’s not an exact science. I have attempted to communicate with my host my desire to invite guests that collect wine and have the means to purchase at my winery’s bottle prices. I have encouraged my host to put me in touch with their caterer or chef to put together dishes that will pair well with the wines. Please no pickled items, asparagus, vegetables from the cabbage family, spicy flavors, strong herbs or sauces. Chefs aren’t usually wine-trained and my hosts aren’t professional wine sales people so these are delicate dances.

I lugged a 12-bottle hard case filled with wine into the car and through the airport. I also shipped myself wine and picked it up at a local Fedex shop. I then moved these boxes and case of bottles in and out of the rental car and then onto a hotel cart and in and out of my hotel room every night because I don’t want the car to get broken in to. Also, it’s warm and humid here – not good for wine.

Once in the room, I cleared out the min-fridge to fit bottles of white to chill. I have a queue of red wines on the desk waiting for their turn in the decanter. Stuffed in my suitcase I have printed out order forms, a list of large format wines, a display large format dummy bottle that I had carefully wrapped in a tablecloth in my bag brought to inspire and encourage large format sales in advance of Christmas coming up. I have wine keys, pens, decanter, funnel, black napkin, a black outfit for me (in case I get red wine on myself), wine club information – all which I packed with my clothes and then load into the car for each event.

I arrive about an hour early to the event – typically the hosts’ private home, but sometimes a private dining room in a local restaurant or their country club. I never exactly know what the layout will be so I find an area – corner of the kitchen island, counter in their bar area, side table – and begin clearing my forest floor. I display the large format bottle with an updated list of available bottles for sale. I put order forms listing the wines we will taste that evening either at each place-setting if a sit down, coursed dinner or several in a clipboard laid around the event space if a heavy app reception. Don’t forget a pen with each form! I get the whites back in an available fridge or ice bucket. I check the reds to see if they need more decanting time.

(Momentary pause to swirl the decanter in the hotel room.)

Then now that my area is clear of debris and looking sparkly, the guests begin arriving. I flash my brown eyes blue, put on a wide grin, turn on the charm and puff out my chest. I do my very best to impress – talking about the fancy vineyards, barrels, our winemaker; sharing details about the winery’s history, how we are special. I listen to the comments on my initial display and pivot to capture and keep their interest. I subtly layer in talk of small, limited production, difficulty in getting the wines, the order forms, the large formats, the wine club, visiting the tasting room in wine country – whatever will get me that tail!

This goes on for several hours and only when I observe people picking up their pens and beginning to write on the forms do I know my display may indeed work. Cautiously optimistic fluttering and waiting. When they motion me over to ask a question, I get a whiff of excitement at their interest. When I see several bottle quantities circled, my excitement grows. But the deal has not yet been done.

Not until I receive the completed form…

A case order, a multi-case order, wine club membership, large formats or library wines included – that’s the sexy tail I want. Then I know all those hours of work cleaning every branch and leaf from view, my plumage, my dance moves – they worked!

This is a hard way to live.

Sir David Attenborough didn’t mention the stats on these male birds’ boop boop success, but I imagine it is rather low. Just like in wine sales. That’s not to say I never sell wine – I do pretty regularly after people taste and I dance.

But most sales are just a few bottles and some people attend events (more often than not for free where the host bears the venue, glassware and food costs), drink and leave. These are the rudest kind of guest that, if karma lives, I hope will go straight to a special circle of Dante’s hell reserved for leeches.

The amount of work hours that go in to wine sales is extraordinary, but then there’s the emotional impact. I don’t know how the Western Parotia feels when he doesn’t get any, but when I don’t sell wine or just a few bottles, after all that physical work, emotional commitment and business expense I’ve made to display and impress, it gets me down. Now I have to pick myself back up, somehow recharge, and get back out there for the next opportunity – usually the following day. It’s exhausting, especially when travel out of state is included.

Yet when I am successful, like a recent trip to the south, where everyone bought cases and joined the wine club, it’s just the drug I need to energize me for the next display. It’s what keeps me coming back. It’s what keep me motivated to clean my forest floor. It’s why I practice my dance moves. It’s why I’ve been in sales for nearly 25 years.

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No One Can Make You Feel Anything

When this statement solidified for me mid-way through my pity-party, break-up year after PhD, it was so powerful it shot me lightyears ahead in my progress toward moving on and rebuilding my life. It gave me my power back.

I choose how I feel about what other people do around me. So simple, yet so fucking genius!

Think about a situation right now in your life that is making you feel something strong. You feel sad. You feel frustrated. You feel excited. You feel mad, annoyed, scared, happy, worried.

Here are a few current ones for me.

SAD

My step-mom recently sold the house she and my dad were living in for the past 20+ years. My father died suddenly in 2008 at the age of 66. This was the house they shared for the 7 years they were married. My dad was retired then and quite a handy guy so he renovated the upstairs bathroom. He also enclosed the screened-in porch so they had another room to entertain with the family. Even though my dad has been passed away for so many years, I took comfort in visiting her in that house. A place my father had been. A place where I had good memories of him. A place he touched, worked on, enjoyed with my step-mom and the family. She downsized and moved in to an apartment. I don’t blame her, I’m not mad at her for making the choice she thought was best for her. But I’m sad, like really sad that there are no more places I can go where he was. Just a stupid apartment where some of his things or their things are. I recently had a catch-up call with my step-mom. She is looking forward to me and Nerdie coming back east after Christmas, and naturally invited us to come see the new apartment. I told her that I don’t think I’m ready yet to come over. She paused, then said, “Really?” I said, “Yes, really.” I feel sad that their house together is gone, but my step-mom didn’t make me feel sad – that was my choice. She just made her decision to move and is living her life. She didn’t sell the house to make me sad. How would she even know that would make me sad? She did stuff, sad was my reaction – my choice to feel it.

WORRIED

I have been worried about money for as long as I can remember. I started a retirement account at age 23 even though I was working at a nonprofit organization making $22,000 and money was tight (that was 1998-9). I have always been afraid of not having enough money to live a comfortable life or to pay for healthcare if I or someone I love gets sick or hurt. The worry has continued for the 20+ years since then. Today, my specific money worry is about the economy and where the wine business will be next year. I thought this year things would rebalance and get somewhat back to normal port-Covid. Unfortunately instead of visiting wine country, many people took those European vacations that got put off two years ago. The winery is still having its best year to date, but just by a small margin. I recently talked to a private driver who books wine tasting appointments with me for his guests and has become a good friend. He said the same – it was his best year to date, but by $60.38. I don’t know what to think of what is going to happen next year. Will things get more back to normal? With inflation, will the winery’s buyers start pulling back on unnecessary, luxury purchases like $200 bottles of wine? I am worried about paying our business bills, but also about the possible hit my commission may take if people do not buy, if people don’t visit the tasting room, if Club Members skip wine shipments. But again, this is my choice to feel worried. The world is just out there being the world, spinning around with people making choices. I decided, in this case, that I am worried about the situation. No one made me feel that. I did.

DISAPPOINTED

As I look back on my 17 year relationship with PhD, now that we have been broken up for 7+ years, I am left disappointed. I am now the happiest I have ever been in my life and I definitely do not want to go back, but I am disappointed that I believe he just gave up on our relationship because he didn’t want to go through the hard work of talking about it, dealing with it and trying to see if we could repair it. It was easier to continue running in the other direction with the new, shiny lady from work he started bedding and leave all the difficult stuff behind. That’s my opinion of the situation of course, and I choose to be disappointed by it. PhD just made his choices, did his thing, fucked that girl and wanted to keep doing it. All this time later, I have decided to be left disappointed. He didn’t make me feel disappointed, I did and will continue to as long as I let myself.

Sad, worried, disappointed. These are all my feelings. No one made me feel them. No one can make me feel them. These are all my feelings. The powerful thing about that realization is since they are mine, I can change them if I want to.

We have all heard someone say, “You made me mad.” “You made me sad.” “You pissed me off.” “You annoyed me.”

Those statements don’t exist. You, dear reader, cannot make me feel anything. You don’t have the power. And I can’t make you feel anything either as I do not have the power.

I behave in a certain way. I make choices. You do the same. Then I decide what to feel about the choices you make and your behaviors. And vice versa.

This mindset can be applied to anything and everything. Someone accidentally, no let’s say purposely, steps on my foot. It’s going to hurt physically probably. My reaction will also likely be mad. What the flying fuck did you do that for?

Maybe someone just stepped on their foot. Maybe I had a scorpion crawling on my shoe. Maybe a choice I made resulted in their feeling hurt so they sought revenge and stepped on my foot. Whatever it was, I could get mad. I could start yelling at them. I could then be pissed off the rest of the day.

Or I could laugh. I could walk away (hopefully the injury still left me ambulatory 🙂 and forget about it. Think they must have had a bad day and not let it negatively affect me. I could actually be grateful. Maybe I did have that scorpion crawling on my shoe. Whatever my reaction is, whatever I feel about it, it is my choice.

My feelings. My choice. My power.

Fuck if I wanted to be happy about getting a speeding ticket, I could. If I wanted to be sad about selling a case of wine because it wasn’t two cases, I could. It’s all in my control.

Just before I made this internal breakthrough after PhD, I let my sad, disappointed and mad feelings hold me down and hold me back. I was depressed and felt like a fucking cliche. I let all those feelings rule my thinking and control my behavior. Woe is me.

Then I realized I was in control of my feelings. All of them – the ones that made me feel good, and the ones that made me feel bad.

It was like a zillion pound weight was lifted off my shoulder, imploded right in front of me and then disappeared.

I just decided to stop feeling bad…period. That’s it.

Of course it is easy for me to say I just stopped feeling depressed and everything after that was sunshine, unicorns and barrel gin, but we all know it wasn’t that easy. I still have negative feelings I don’t want to have – I mentioned them in the beginning of this post. The point is now I am self-aware to know my feelings are my choice. So if I want to feel sad, I do and I realize that’s what I’m doing. And the self-aware part means generally my negative feelings don’t last as long because I have the control over them, they don’t have control over me. Not that I exactly decide when to stop feeling sad, like I can snap a finger and I am not sad about whatever it is I’m sad about. But instead of feeling stuck and mired I know I am in control.

It is a tremendously powerful feeling to be in control of one’s feelings, and I have found that it also often results in less negative feelings overall. I can more easily say fuck off to the person who stepped on my foot (if it indeed was done with malice) or who was rude on the phone or angry about a late wine shipment. Those minor negative interactions generally roll right off me.

We are all survivors of our circumstances, our environment, our upbringing. I’m not sure I like that descriptor though because I have more than survived. I’m actually better having gone through the hard parts. When it was hard, I worked harder.

Your feelings. Your choice. Your power.

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User Manual, Part C

How to turn me on

“This section details some basics of flirting and your known sexual preferences. Share as much or as little as you are comfortable with (Responses assume consent.)”

  • What is the best way to flirt with you?

A big smile, direct eye contact and a soft touch on the arm or leg.

Also making me laugh is a big flirty turn on. After a few years into my dating journey, when I didn’t have a good first date, I asked myself why I didn’t. As I thought back over several experiences, I realized the common thread was I didn’t laugh on those dates.

  • What kind of flirting will always get your attention and bring a smile?

In addition to the above, confidence gets my attention. Not over confidence, bragging, showing off or being a bro having to act out how cool you are. You shouldn’t have to if you are really confident. Calm, cool and confident.

But also again…laughing!

  • What kind of dates do you especially like?

Not surprisingly since I am into food and wine, I like dinner and drinks dates with great conversation. I also like activity dates – hiking, baseball games, exploring a new town, walking around a city – and even silly, childish dates. Let’s go bowling, rent scooters, play video games at the arcade, ride roller coasters and eat junk food. And Netflix and chill (literally and figuratively) cuddled up on the couch is nice as well once we get to know each other.

  • What kind of light physical touch do you enjoy?

I definitely notice a light touch! A gentle tap on my arm or thigh while you are making a point in your story. Also when our legs touch at a crowded bar – so hot!

  • What does a good date look like to you? How would someone leave you walking away feeling that wonderful?

This is an interesting question for today as I have a first date in a few hours. We are meeting for a mid-afternoon drink at a local pub-restaurant.

I’d leave feeling wonderful and wanting to see him again if we had great conversation. Yes of course laughing must be involved, but a connected conversation is a turn on. It doesn’t need to be about all the things we have in common. I also enjoy learning new things about people and topics. Just a nice flow where it’s natural and not a struggle to find things to talk about.

If he smiles a lot at me, gives me a few light physical touches, and moves in closer. He shows me he is confident in himself and his own skin.

Also I am definitely attracted to someone who puts themselves together well. I don’t mean flashy, expensive clothes and jewelry, but please don’t wear clothes with stains, wrinkles, or be otherwise disheveled. You would think especially on a first date that you’d want to make a good impression. Some guys don’t have a clue.

  • And particular flirting pet peeves to be avoided?

Definitely my number one here is talking about sex too much and too early. A little sexy flirting is nice, but let’s keep some mystery for if and when we make it that far. I’m guessing this is a number one for a lot of women. And don’t EVEN get me started on dick pics!

In a recent chat with a guy online, mind you we had not even met yet, we were flirting a bit and, what seemed completely out of the blue, he told me my butt wasn’t safe. No thank you…NEXT!

  • What kind of pace do you prefer for dating/intimacy?

Usually if I like someone, I’m DTF on the second date. I want to know fairly soon if the physical and mental energy that we established on the first date carries over well into the bedroom. I also like that second date to just evolve – see how we are together naturally without a lot of talk ahead of time about who likes what. Let’s just get naked in private and see what happens.

After that, if mutually agreeable, we can discuss sexual explorations and adventures together. I do enjoy trying new things with a partner. Maybe it’s just something we haven’t done together yet, or maybe it’s new for one or both of us.

  • What is “sex” to you?

This is an interesting topic for me. Before Nerdie, I thought sex was just the physical act. Love was outside the bedroom where you show someone you love them through the things you do and say to and for them. At 40 years old, Nerdie was the first person I ever made love to.

I know I went off on a tangent there. That answer was more about what is “making love” to you, but it describes my belief that sex and love can be the same – a new phenomenon for me. For me, there can also be sex without love – could be sex with like or sex for fun. Actually I’d say I would have to like you to have sex with you. Doesn’t make any sense to me otherwise.

So back to the question! Sex is so much more than penis in vagina or even penetration for that matter – although I do love to watch penetration! Sex is all the physical and mental pleasures between consenting adults – not even necessarily behind closed doors, not even just two people. It’s a temporary physical and mental connection.

  • What are you into sexually?

Well that’s a big open ended question!

Generally, I like to be dominated in the bedroom. Tell me what to do. Tie me up. Hold me down. Tease me.

I also like to dress up in lingerie and sexy costumes. I have an entire dresser drawer devoted to my outfits organized in ziplock bags. Now that I think about it, I should label them – the ultimate organized sex drawer!

I like to watch so a well placed mirror is always welcome.

I like porn that includes, you guessed it, penetration! Not all penis in vagina, although that’s nice. I like gay porn, trans porn, lesbians with dildos, girls masturbating with dildos or other machinery – generally anything where a hard something is going into a wet hole repeatedly.

With one exception…blow jobs. I enjoy giving them, but in porn, I really can’t stand all those gagging noises – ugh!

I also call myself bi-lite. I like women – they are beautiful! Take me to a strip club ANY day of the week. Well maybe not any. The best girls are there on the weekends.

I like big boobs and I cannot lie. Mine are small so I love to grab, caress and motorboat some biggins!

Also you must be able to give me an orgasm with your mouth. Because I cannot climax through penetration, this is a deal-maker or breaker.

  • What is your take on casual sex?

Is DTF on the second date considered casual? LOL!

I’m totally fine with casual sex, although I prefer not to have a ONS. It happens sometimes though. Can’t win them all.

I think Americans are too uptight about sex. In my opinion, if we were all having more sex, we would have less violence, less stress and be more happy. It’s just sex – there are ways to do it safely. Just go have some safe fun for christ’s sake!

  • Why did you chose your last few sexual partners, and what did you enjoy about them?

I’ll start at the top: Nerdie. If you haven’t already read about him, you can search by Nerdie on the LTD homepage and read our origin story over a few posts. He makes me laugh, we talk about all sorts of topics where we can teach each other new things, we do a great Netflix and chill cuddle time – we got the mental connection down.

Physically, nobody does it better! He is always grabbing and hugging and kissing me. He likes to dominate in the bedroom and see me in sexy outfits and lingerie. I should also get insurance on his tongue – the absolute best from the first time it ever touched my clit!

Diamonds I have been seeing for 5 years now perhaps?? He and I have the mental thing on lock too. We can sit and drink and smoke and listening to music for hours talking about anything, everything and nothing. This year, we also got in the kitchen together to cook. It was a ton of fun and made me feel even closer to him.

In the bedroom, I enjoy that he is tender. We actually watched porn together for the first time this year as well. He said it was the first time he had ever watched porn with a woman!

Our vibe in and out of the bedroom is just very chill. We have a jersey connection and find an escape in each other. We are each other’s vacation islands – with cocktails, great food, sun and surf.

Besides Nerdie, who is 4 years younger than me, and Diamonds, who is a year younger than me, I tend to date men at least 10 years older. Generally, I like their maturity and experience in life and in the bedroom. At those ages, they know what they want and don’t really intend to change. As long as we fit together, I am cool with them just being who they are.

Thinking back over a few of these older men, I chose them for their love of food and drink, wisdom and experience in life that they can share with me, their sexual confidence and desire for exploration in the bedroom, their conversation, and their sensitive nature. They also tend to be more attentive and much less flaky than the young ones.

  • What are your known sexual turn-ons?

Kinda redundant with ‘What are you into sexually?’

  • What are your know sexual turn-offs?

Besides what I mentioned above, I am not into anything going in to my butt. You can admire, smack, grab, and squeeze the cheeks, but the rest of it is exit only. And for fuck’s sake, you will NOT be able to convince me otherwise. Just move on and find someone who enjoys anal sex and leave me alone!

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My Teenage Erotica

I was cleaning out the garage recently and found a stack of old journals and notebooks from my teenage and college years. I wrote a lot of poetry back then. It was my outlet because I didn’t feel like I had anyone in my family to talk to. By the time I was 12, my parents were divorced and each back on the dating scene and my sister and brother were both already off to college. Needless to say, I spent a lot of time alone from age 12-18.

I started my first journal in 1991 – my sophomore year of high school. I find some of the entries absolutely hilarious filled with who my crush-of-the-week was, tales of sports adventures and the usual overdose of teenage angst. I imagine the entries would be quite boring to anyone else so I’ll spare retyping them here. Although if I do find some particularly funny ones, I may post them.

In between the entries was all the poetry. Again, filled will all the who-cares teenage drama, but one thing I didn’t remember from more than 30 years ago – I started writing erotica back then – at age 14!

Some of these I WOULD like to share with you.

I had quite the imagination, especially for someone that hadn’t even had sex yet. That came the year later at age 15.

Rereading these myself I am transported back into my teenage brain – emotional, chaotic, very much not fully formed and for sure trying to seem clever with over complicated word choices. So you may read these and think they are cheesy, and yes they are, but I can also see a flicker. This light that has developed into what is now my Big Bang of sexual and emotional awakening that started nearly seven years ago now. So silly or not, I hope you enjoy reading the erotica of a 14 year old!

Poem #6
With half-closed eyes, my mouth drops
I wait for the night to fall
As your creeping hand drips down my leg
Actions dance on my mind
Your liquid melts me
Now it’s easy to forget my fear
The dark hides me from reality.

Poem #17
Your sun illuminates my body
And I feel so warm
When you shine
That my body glistens
As droplets slither down my neck
And run past mountains
Of spirit and desire.
And your image
Haunts my daily thoughts
And nightly desires.
To touch my moist lips to your chest
Is an ever-growing fantasy
I wish to fulfill
During a nightly encounter.
You have been torturing me for too long.
You have bound me with your chains and shackles
Taunting me with your hands.
Yet you never get close enough for me to…

Poem #32
I ache for you to clench my shoulders
Within your fists hard
And slam me against a wall in agony
My urges being executed.
I want to get next to you.
I know what is in your mind.
I want it, pain.
This desire eats my insides
Like an acid your might
Pour down my throat.
Cleave me bare.
Madly run your hands over me.
I can feel you hot inside of me.
You blind me with fire
Burning me to a pinnacle
Working your natural fetish.
I glisten from this thing.
A droplet snaking over the cliff down to the plains.
There is no turning back
After your words and acts.
Tomorrow I’d like to be you.

Poem #46
You know my guts.
I’m so full of you
It runs down my chest and over my ribs.
The more you’re wrong
The more I want you.
When we’re alone
I can’t talk
For fear you would say a word
That would make my longing body
Explode.
Everyone says I can’t have you.
I know I shouldn’t.
I have to have you one night.
Alone.
Tomorrow.
Don’t talk to me.

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