Category Archives: Love

The Power of the Pole

You may have heard this term ‘power of the pole’ mentioned by go-go dancers, strippers or other sex workers. I actually was a go-go dancer for a brief time in the summer of 1996. It WAS powerful – mentally, physically and sexually. Sexy clothes, dim lights, tantalizing grooves, seductive dancing. The eyeballs on me vying for my attention, waving or throwing dollar bills hoping I’d come over, talk to them and let them have a grab or two. I felt like everyone in the room wanted to fuck me.

For me, though, the power of the pole goes way beyond all this. It is really the power of confidence in my sexuality.

I think sexuality is a tricky word to define. It’s so personal – a blender of thoughts and feelings you have about your sexual interests and desires, sexual orientation and sexual self-awareness. I checked a few online dictionaries for assistance and found many didn’t quite capture what it was to me.

The Oxford Dictionary said this:

“The feelings and activities connected with a person’s sexual desires.”

Sort of, but not very wholistic, so I kept looking.


“The quality or state of being sexual:

a: the condition of having sex
b: sexual activity
c: expression of sexual receptivity or interest especially when excessive”

What? Sexuality means just sex? And WTF is “…especially when excessive”?

To me these miss the mark because they only address the part of sexuality focused outside of one’s self mostly as it relates to others. They totally overlook the concept of how I think and feel about who my sexual self is, my sexual confidence, my body confidence, my sexual power. Sexuality, to me, isn’t defined solely in relation to someone else and what I may or may not do with them sexually. It is my sexuality – not yours or ours.

Looking back I believe I first started building a sense of my own sexuality pretty early in life when I began dance classes at age 4. For five or so years, I learned my body – its rhythm and how to move it and how to move it with confidence. At age 9, I discovered sports and continued, without self-awareness mind you, to learn performance, how my body was, how it worked, and how it was changing.

This gave me a connection from my mind to my body in an entirely new way, but still, I was slow to understand this connection and slow to feel comfortable and confident with my body. As many youth are, I was also self-conscious as I was growing up.

In my angsty teenage years, I hated my body actually. I had a big nose, small boobs and ribs that didn’t lay flat along my torso. I was uncomfortably taller than everyone else. I grew fast – about 5’8″ when I was 12, 5’10” in high school and then 6′ in college. I didn’t experience growing pains, but I did get stretch marks on the outer sides of my upper thighs. I thought I must be fat because only fat people have stretch marks.

My mind went through very chaotic and sometimes very dark years with my body.

When I was 16, I received my first body compliment and that helped me link the feeling of connection to my body with feeling comfortable and confident in it. It’s not surprising that that had to come from the outside – I didn’t have the perspective and self-awareness within me yet.

The compliment was about how nice my legs were. I was so surprised and also beyond flattered. I hadn’t consciously thought of them as sexy – more that they just were long, muscular, and helped me run down the strikers on the soccer field as the sweeper.

Then I started looking at women’s legs. Wow – mine were really nice! Long and muscular was sexy. I gained body confidence in the awareness and my sexuality began to bloom.

By 19, I was taking revealing pics to mail to my first BF who went back to London after a year abroad at my university. Me in my single dorm room working some suggestive poses dressed only in a thong with my face very visible. This was the 1990s back when I had to take them to a place to get developed. I actually didn’t care. Lucky photo developer – I hope I was material for a good wank!

The next summer I wasn’t making enough money waiting tables so I got a job as a go-go dancer. Topless with thong. The power of my more mature sexuality prancing around on that stage was intoxicating. It was fun to feel so sexy, so powerful and get paid for it. When I go to strip clubs now, I think even at 46 that with a few days of clean living I could easily get back on stage. I may need to take pole dancing classes to update my moves from 1996, but I look just as good, sometimes even better than, those 20 and 30-somethings that I see up there now.

But unfortunately my evolving sexuality suffered for the 5 years that I lived in NYC in my late 20s. I saw lots of beautifully thin, fit people and I became obsessed. I worked out every day. Road my bike everywhere instead of taking the subway. Kept my daily caloric intake during the work week to 1000. Binged on the weekends and became depressed on Monday if the scale said anything over 152 pounds. (Today, I range between 153-156, exercise about 4-5 times per week and eat healthy with a good balance of French fries, cheese, pizza, cookies and mayo. What a fuck of waste of time all that was!)

My developing sexuality, including my body confidence and sexual self-awareness hit pause after that – all through my 30s. I don’t think my sexuality really became a full adult until it all came together in the last 7 years. It started at age 38. PhD and I were separated. He was cheating at that point, but it was unconfirmed. A guy 9 years younger than me (Wino BTW) started flirting with me one night at a local bar near my culinary school apartment. I hadn’t felt sexy or sexually confident in a very long time.

That night I felt powerful. I felt my sexuality. I felt like myself – not repressed or weighed down by past baggage. Again, it came from an outside source, but it whipped me back to focus. It was all inside me – being sexually self-aware and body confident.

A year later I broke up with PhD and decided to get on some dating apps and have fun. I got all kinds of perspective then – just read through the FUCK posts! This was the time my sexuality finally graduated – over those years I learned the last part that made me complete – my sexual interests and desires. You would think at 40 YO I would have known that stuff by then, but I didn’t. I was in three back-to-back monogamous relationships from 19 to then and shit just gets routine and boring after awhile. This is why I went on lots of dates with lots of different people, including women, guys totally opposite to what I was normally physically attracted to, older men, foreigners, every shade of color.

Today, I own my sexuality and its inherent power. I am sexually self-aware, sexually confident, body confident, and I know my sexual interests, desires and orientation – although I’m always curious to try new things. I actually think the self-awareness and confidence that comes with knowing all this and loving it about myself gives me more power, but I also might secretly have a little dictator running around inside my brain.

Even if you’ve never gotten on a stripper pole in front of a bunch of randy drunkies, you can develop your own power of sexuality. You made not need the outside perspective to give you sexual self-awareness and sexual confidence in who you are. You may not yet fully understand your sexual interests, desires and orientation. But I hope if you haven’t found the power of the pole, you’ll go seeking. And if you have already arrived, I hope you’ll continue to walk with fierceness in your own secret super power.

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Ands, Not Ors

I have been dating a new man for just shy of a month. I am naming him Duke because we both have an insatiable love of mayo. He so much so that he orders Duke’s online and keeps a healthy stash in his pantry. If you don’t know Duke’s mayo, it’s a Southern institution born and raised in Greenville, SC.

This isn’t really a story about Duke, but rather about my surprise at where my brain is with regard to relationships.

I was jolted on a recent date with Duke – well they are all recent really – we’ve only had four of them! We had just had a fun romp in bed and were lying there afterward chatting. Even though it’s early days, I have found that now that we are long-time adults serious relationship conversations can start happening pretty early in the association.

So we were lying there naked on our backs next to each other and somehow the topic turned to ‘us’. I can’t remember how it got there, but only what he said.

“Well this can only go so far because you are married.”

At that moment, I was overwhelmed with both sadness at the comment and relief that it was pitch black in the room because my eyes started to well up.

Part of it was for sure baggage from a previous relationship that broke up about a year ago. I haven’t written much about him – it still makes me sad and I haven’t quite processed it all, but essentially that guy had the same line of thinking. If I can’t have all of you to myself in a monogamous relationship then I don’t want you at all OR the only thing to work toward in a romantic relationship is marriage.

Those thoughts have haunted me since that break up. He threw away a deep honest love because he couldn’t see any grey or didn’t want to because he thought it would be too complicated or he couldn’t see a way he could get all his needs met. Well fuck that – sometimes things don’t come to you in neat little packages and they are hard – I would say especially the worthwhile things. In my (angrier) opinion, the weak MF just gave up because it was too hard.

The implicit idea of possession within monogamy always pisses me off. My husband isn’t mine – I am not his. We are still independent people – for me, the two did not become one when we married. We are not assets, possessions or trophies of the other. I have heard this statement too many times to count and I’m sure I will again.

“Wow, it’s so great that your husband let’s you do this.” [implied: date other men]

You can fuck all the way off with that!

My husband doesn’t “let” me do anything. I don’t “let” him do anything. We have a connected, communicative relationship where we really listen to the other person’s needs, wants and feelings – and really care about hearing what they have to say. Then we create a path or a space together so that the other person can feel comfortable and supported and confident in pursuing those needs, wants and desires. Each person is heard, validated and respected. It takes continuous communication, honesty and above all the truest love that comes from a place where you, with all your being, want the other person to be happy and fulfilled in whatever they want to pursue.

Back to the bedroom: I also realized in that moment just how much I had unwound my brain in the past 7 1/2 years with regard to all types of relationships, but particularly intimate ones. My thought patterns don’t have two lanes – black or white. I see infinite possibilities – a beautiful grassy plain in front of me with no worn paths, no trees or rocks defining the way. I can walk in literally any direction.

This obviously took conscious work I wanted to do. Sometimes I forget I live in a monogamous world. My brain just doesn’t think like that anymore. With everyone who comes into my lie, I assess in the beginning how and where the relationship/association is or where I can see it may be going or just go with the flow and don’t think about it all. But always with the idea to “Let Relationships Be Where They Are.” Not to force or push in a direction, but rather try to be open to receive the person as they are and vice versa and see how we naturally fit together. The fit can also change over time – friends become lovers, lovers move to the friend zone. Some friends become make out buds without intercourse. Some lovers are just fun acquaintance hook ups.

The monogamous world we’ve all been brought up in doesn’t allow for all this grey area. It once did a long time ago, but I don’t want to get into a history lesson.

Why couldn’t Duke and I have a long-term relationship? We are prisoners of our own thinking sometimes.

Instead of confronting him with that question, I expressed just a sliver of what I was looking for. Maybe he would start to see things differently over time. It is definitely too early to tell, but I’m just putting myself out there.

I told him I was interested in one long term relationship with someone, and then I stepped out on the potential plank just a bit. I added that I could see the possible…maybe…potential in him for me – not knowing of course if he saw anything remotely like what I did. He’s 70 years old, a semi-retired pilot, widowed for 20 years and never remarried, no kids. He had had a long term girlfriend before, but they never lived together. He’s got a very active social life, including four planes and is always flying near and far to visit friends and fly in airshows. He’s still besties with his ex-GF – they even share one of those planes together. All of this is exciting to me that we could be a complement to each other’s otherwise full and fulfilled lives.

But will he be open enough to see the potential? I can see the challenge – 70 years of thinking like a monogamist.

I am also not in any way disparaging monogamy. I hope none of this comes across that way. I just truly believe that if people were exposed to the possibility of ENM, learned how it could work successfully, ethically and with respect and then given the freedom to pursue their true heart and mind, the world would be a more magical, happy place. Some would still choose monogamy, some wouldn’t.

Before we left the bed, Duke said, “You are really pulling at my heart strings. I really like you.”

Well I hope with time, talk and trust, I can help bring his mind along with his heart.

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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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The World Will Catch Me: Pre-Explosion

A little over a year ago, I blew up my life.

I was in a rebound relationship with a very nice guy, who I haven’t introduced but should. Let’s call him Mechanic. I’ll tell his story another time.

That summer I was still so depressed after having broken up with PhD the previous fall. I drank. I smoked. I didn’t eat. I cried until I got headaches. I cried myself to sleep. I maintained a false normal state during the day. And I tried to have a relationship with Mechanic.

But I was tired. Tired of feeling stuck in a cycle of pain. My brain hurt so bad.

I was on MediCal, free health insurance for low-income people, because my only income was about $1,000 a month working part-time at a winery. I called about seeking mental health care. There was one therapist, and, unless it was an emergency, you couldn’t make an appointment, but rather had to wait first-come, first-served.

Plan B. I went to the library and scanned the self-help section. I took out ten or twelve books. The first one I read changed my life. The Ten Things to Do When Your Life Falls Apart.”

It asked me to think about how I got here. How my genetics and environment and experiences led me to this place. How my emotions and feelings evolved from childhood to adulthood. Not what was wrong with me. Not it was my fault my boyfriend cheated on me. Not that it was his fault either. Just think and examine and ask how I got here.

Then, count my blessings. I may feel like my world fell apart around me, but there was still good things in my life. Think about them, count every one of them up, cherish them, hold them tight, use them as a foundation to build on.

It then asked me what I wanted to change or improve about my life, myself. What would make me happier, more fulfilled. What would help me rebuild my foundation in a new way. An opportunity to put the pieces back together with a new look, new design, a better design that I create from scratch.

Then it challenged me to take some steps. Do something about it. Put myself out there. Start building what I want.

One of the things I realized through this process was that I was scared of being alone. I grew up the youngest of three, and, what I jokingly say, as an accident. My sister is 8 years older than me and my brother 6. I basically grew up as an only child. That meant no one to play with in the house. For example, when I was 7, my brother was 13 and my sister 15. They didn’t want to hang out with me. And they were both off to college by the time I was 12.

So I made my own adventures. I was creative, curious, exploratory. But also lonely. I had some friends, but at home the house was empty. My parents divorced when I was 12, and I lived with my mom, who was trying to rebuild her own life. She did the best she could, but I was left alone a lot during my teenage years. I became shy, introspective, introverted, desperate for human attention and connection.

My first boyfriend came in college at age 19. I met PhD as we were breaking up. I met Mechanic as PhD and I were breaking up. In sum, I had three back-to-back, monogamous relationships lasting 20 years – from ages 19-39. I didn’t want to be alone, and I made sure I wasn’t. I didn’t even realized it until this book asked me to reflect on myself.

Fuck, this is some scary shit I’m thinking about doing. I hadn’t been single since I was 19. I didn’t even have any girlfriends in the area. They were all over the country.

I decided I wanted to go away by myself for a few days to think and read. I also wanted to try something new. I decided on Half Moon Bay for two nights and to take a surfing lesson.

I got a room in a big Victorian within walking distance of restaurants and the water. It was nice to be in a place full of people, kids, dogs, chaos.

I arrived in the late afternoon, checked in and then went walking. I climbed on the rocks by the water, and felt the cold sand between my toes. I immediately felt calmer.

I wondered upon a local brewery and stopped in. I sat at the bar a little nervously. I couldn’t think of a time I had ever gone out by myself. The bartender chatted with me, but briefly. I stared at my phone, texted with Mechanic.

Two guys, one with a wedding band, struck up a conversation with me. We chatted about baseball, their lives as teachers, mine working at a winery, living in our respective towns.

I gave them both my winery card and said if they ever wanted to visit Napa Valley, they should get in touch. I was simply being polite. Wasn’t flirting. My mind was far from all that. I really wanted to just be with me.

An hour later, the single guy texted me asking if I wanted to grab a drink while I was in town. I was surprised and flattered. I turned him down nicely explaining a little bit why I was there by myself. He wished me well.

I went back to my room for a nap, got dressed and walked down to an Italian place on the water. I prevaricated a bit. Maybe I should just get something to go and go back to my room.

I grabbed a seat at the bar next to an older couple. I started chatting with them. They were visiting from Florida. They bought me a glass of wine and I gave them tourist tips for Northern California.

Next to me on my right was a gap in bar seating for people to walk up and order drinks. I was interrupted talking to the couple by a tall drink of water with a wide smile, cowboy boots and a thick Southern accent. Let’s call him Bluegrass.

He was here on a conference with co-workers, and was buying drinks for the table. He asked me what I wanted. Red wine.

He said he saw me walking in front of the restaurant even before I came in the door. Then watched my long legs in black cowboy boots cross the room and had been watching me at the bar ever since.

There’s more to Bluegrass’ story that I’ll tell later.

When I woke up the next morning, I got breakfast, grabbed my book and sat outside to read. Pausing from time to time, I looked up at the ocean. Heard the seagulls. Felt the crisp chill in the grey air.

I was scared to be alone. But in one day, with my mind as far from men as possible, I attracted two of them. I think I’ll be ok on this front. I think I’ll be ok.

The world will catch me. If I just put one foot out in front of another, the world will catch me.

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A Church, A Court Room and then Good-Bye

If you are a Patsy Cline fan, like me, you probably know this song. I’ve loved her since I was a teenager. I found my mom’s old records in the basement, and listened over and over again while entertaining myself with some crazy art project like sewing or making paper.

When I met PhD in the city recently, this song haunted my thoughts, and still does. We didn’t get married nor divorced, but this was the sentiment I was left with. 17 years went fast. At the end, it all feels so empty.

Since December 2013, when I had the first inkling that something was wrong with him, through pain, separation, break up, grief, recovery and lots more pain all over the place, we had been uncoupling. It was the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do in my life so far. I’ve cried through writing this entire post.

After the official break-up in October 2015, we’ve been separating our lives. First, since I managed the money, it was shared accounts like our credit card and his retirement accounts, and I had to refinance the car so I was the sole owner. Then he came to our apartment in St. Helena and went through his stuff. I don’t know why, since we had been together so long, but it was surprising to me how much there was to unwind.

At different points along the way, it was hard to separate even trivial things. He didn’t want to stop sharing our Netflix. I had to eventually ask him for a password to how I log in to the audio in the car.

But a month ago, we were down to literally the last item. We had to go together to the bank so we could take my name off of his checking account. I made an appointment at a branch near his office in the city.

I was worried he’d create an excuse to cancel. I hadn’t seem him in-person for more than a year.

I got to the city early, went to a bar near the bank branch, texted him I had arrived. He asked if he could come over and meet me to catch up over a drink.

He looked the same, perhaps a little more white in his ginger beard. Same Giants baseball cap, skinny jeans, cowboy boots and buckle, whiskey neat.

We behaved as we always had.

He showed me pictures from his niece’s first birthday. I told him about my consulting work.

It felt comfortable. There are no words to describe how desperately I missed that familiarity.

We went to the bank, sat with an account manager in her office, signed our names on some forms. I started to well up. That was our court room.

We walked out to the street. He turned to me and said awkwardly,

“Talk to you around.”

He hesitated to touch me, but I knew this was likely the last time I would see or talk to him. Now there was absolutely no reason to stay in touch.

I reached up and put my arms around his neck and gave him a tight hug. Laughingly, I said,

“Yeah, talk to you around.”

We parted ways. I walked a few steps, and turned. I watched his black shirt disappear among the crowded city street. That was our good-bye.

Sum of the Parts

A few weekends ago depression hit me like a ton of bricks. Maybe it’s been the day after day of rain here that put me into a funk, but it was one I couldn’t seem to shake.

I was driving to Nerdie’s house on my way to spend Saturday night with him and celebrate Super Bowl Sunday the following day. While driving on the winding roads between Napa and Sonoma Counties, I was enjoying the sights surrounding me of rolling green hills dotted with cows and flanked with vines. I then had a sudden, painful pang in my gut of missing PhD. Just completely out of nowhere. Maybe a memory of a fun Super Bowl past spent together? Maybe because I was driving west toward SF? I’m not really sure, but it hit hard.

Then I reflected on Nerdie, the five others I was currently dating locally, Diamonds across the country and those on the fringes popping in and out of my life periodically.

Were all these men simply pieces of PhD, that when added together, was me somehow trying to recreate him? Or had I been with PhD so long that these types of guys were the only ones I would or could like?

I did a run down in my head of similar characteristics between my current guys and PhD…

  • Nerdie: Well, Nerdie…into Star Wars, video games, fast cars, loves sports
  • Diamonds: Well-dressed, well-quaffed, works out, big man, big muscles
  • Frenchie: Who I haven’t introduced to you yet, but is actually French-Canadian; tall, intellectual, challenges my brain, loves good food and wine, handy, smart, creative
  • Limey: Also haven’t written about him yet; well-traveled, bearded, well-dressed, well-quaffed, stylish, loves good food and wine
  • Somm: Gosh, wow! Realizing right now I have a lot of writing to do because I haven’t introduce him either! Tall, cute, funny, of course loves good food and wine, fun to get shit-faced with
  • Porno: And it continues with the haven’t-yet-written about…a guy on the newer side – we love to watch Porn together, hence the name; funny, loves good food and wine, creative, easy-going, handy, loves sports
  • Burgers: Well an even newer guy; loves good food and wine, fun to get shit-faced with, funny, easy-going, loves sports, music and movies

These are generally all the same characteristics PhD had. Do I enjoy them because of PhD or because that’s what I enjoy? The thought of the former made me cry myself to sleep two nights in a row.

It made me contemplate whether I had really gotten as far as I thought I had in the last year processing and moving through the pain of our break-up. Maybe I was just fooling myself, and deep down I hadn’t moved an inch – that what I really wanted was PhD back. And I’d forever be trapped in Dante’s inferno swallowed up dozens of levels so deep I’d never escape.

In the end, I still don’t know. I snapped out of it on Monday afternoon. On my hour-long drive home in the rain back to Napa County, I cried it out hard in the car. Knowing that when I got home I had consulting work to do, I had no time for wallowing in a pity party. I had already done that for the past two days.

I’m still curious to perhaps spend some time reflecting on it, but the truth is in the end I can see it anyway I want. I make my own truth and my own reality. If I wanted to be miserable and depressed about it, yes, I could just focus on the question and be sad thinking I hadn’t moved forward. But I choose not to be miserable and depressed.

Yes, there are similarities with each of them and PhD. I spent 17 years with him – very formative years in my 20s and 30s – so of course as I grew up I grew up with him, and loved all those things, mentioned above, about him – or grew to love them over time.

But I don’t think that’s point. The point is, fine, I like similar things between PhD and all these men. So what? Then what it becomes is what new things can I learn from these men? What new adventures can we share? How can I better open myself up to what they have to offer and the experiences we can have together? What new ways can I share and receive love and sex?

Basically, how can these new relationships teach me, challenge me, bring me joy and love, and be places I can safely share parts of myself that together make me whole?

Is Orgasm the Point of Sex?

Well, you might immediately answer babies is the point of sex, but I’m referring to sex for pleasure. Heck even if you are trying to make babies, sex is pleasurable.

One of my new lovers, whose fun tale I will tell in a later post, recently confronted me about not having an orgasm through penetration. In fact, he suggested I was letting my past sexual experiences, basically not coming through penetration, hinder me from being open to even trying to have an orgasm through penetration. Furthermore, he said I should sign up for a three-day seminar called the “Landmark Forum,” where, it seems from all the reading I did, hundreds of people are packed into a room and forced to dig deep into their pasts. Then they are encouraged/forced, depending on where you read about the seminar, to face those things that have been holding them back and deal with them so they can emerge free of them. And then, I guess, I would miraculously orgasm by penetration?

His strange conclusions and suggestions aside, all of this really got me to question what I get out of sex. What makes it pleasurable for me? Is it just to orgasm? Are there other things going on? And to his point, should I be pursuing having an orgasm through penetration? It sure sounds nice. It actually happened to me once when I was in college with my first boyfriend so it must be possible. But does that make is possible with anyone, or was the shape of his hard cock some magic key that unlocked me? Fuck! Am I just overthinking this??

Take Nerdie. What makes sex pleasurable with him? Well for one, I can’t recall a man that ever got me to orgasm the first time he went down on me. It was, and continues to be, just perfect. Most of the time when a new guy attempts, it takes a few rounds and some good amount of instruction, which is totally fine, as long as he is willing and able to take instruction.

But beyond the orgasm, there is so much more I get from having sex with him. I enjoy giving him pleasure. I enjoy having his body next to mine. I enjoy his touch. I enjoy the feeling of his lips.

I enjoy sex with him when we aren’t even having actual sex. We flirt. I send him sexy pics of me and even, once, an audio of me masterbating (creative and naughty!). I enjoy that we talk about and explore toys, sexy outfits for me, and locations outside the bedroom.

Does the pleasure of sex only have to be when you are actually having it? I don’t think so. All of those things I just listed, in and out of the bedroom, are sex to me and they are all pleasurable.

So back to the orgasm through penetration question. It does sound nice, but to me I have to decide, like anything, is it a goal I wish to pursue? How important is it to me that I come through penetration? Are there other sexual goals I want to pursue?

I think one day this may be a goal I’d like to pursue, but right now I have others. Here they are:

  • To have varied, creative, first-time sexual experiences, such as with a woman, in a threesome, using toys, wearing sexy clothes, and being open to different techniques and activities. Because I was monogamous with each of my three boyfriends over the past 21 years and the sex was never really adventurous with any of them, I want to open myself up to exploring myself and others to discover what is pleasurable to me.
  • To explore all the various types of relationships out there. How do people related to each other? What works and doesn’t work for them? Listen to or read about their stories. Think about what I think about them. Maybe monogamy isn’t for me. Or maybe after a period of exploration, it will be again.

I feel like, at this point, while one-nighters aren’t the goal I still learn from them. I am learning from every interaction I have, actually, even if I don’t have sex with them. So thanks to this new lover, who when he gets his own post will be called Scandi (shortly for Scandinavian), for making me think.

Heartache is

Heartache is. I never knew it was.

It has lessened over the past two years when it first made itself known in my life. That’s when I knew something was wrong in my then 15 year relationship with PhD.

6’2″, 44, ginger, balding with hair trim close, big gym muscles he’s proud of making, wicked smart, artistic, creative, well-read.

We met in Richmond, Virginia just a few months after I finished my undergraduate work at the University of Richmond. Soccer was my favorite sport growing up, and once I finished college I wanted to play again. I joined a co-ed summer soccer league. His techie company didn’t have enough women and so I got placed on the company team to round it out.

He said he noticed me right away.

He was emerging from a divorce after one year of marriage in which his wife cheated on him. I was emerging from a three-year relationship/engagement in which I had cheated on my boyfriend.

The team went for beers after the games. We started talking and by the end of the summer he had asked me out. I happened to move into an apartment directly across the street from the one he and his sister and brother were moving in to.

We spent every day together.

After six months, we got an apartment together. Four years later, in 2002, we moved to Manhattan.

We spent every day together.

In 2005, after 10 years as a website designer and project manager, he decided he wanted to pursue a PhD in physics. When it was time to apply to graduate schools, we decided California would be a fun place to live since we were both from the East Coast. He attended UC Davis and I worked on campus.

As he was finishing up in 2013, so was I with my high stress fundraising job on campus. With some inheritance I received after my father’s death in 2008, I decided to quit my job and go to culinary school in St. Helena.

We moved from Davis to St. Helena with our two cats on December 31, 2013 to a crappy apartment right in town. He started looking for jobs in the Bay Area, and much to our surprise landed one that started the following March.

He found a furnished studio in SoMA and we moved him in. We saw each other every weekend either me driving to the city or him coming by ferry to Napa Valley.

In June 2014 he officially walked for his PhD, by November he was cheating on me with a young, blond from work. I didn’t find out for sure until six months later.

In December, we went back to the East Coast to visit our families. That was the first time I knew something was wrong. Since we were spending 24/7 again together, I could see more obviously there was a problem.

He was more agitated and quick to anger. He and his brother usually have some sort of big argument during the holidays owing to the fact they are both smarty-pants PhDs. But this year it was epic. At one point in the middle of the night, I got out of bed because the passion in their tone of voice made me think someone was gonna swing at any moment.

We also had sex nearly everyday, a quantity highly unusual for us, and it was rough, like borderline rapey rough.

When we came back and restarted our typical routine in January, he began wanting to leave early on Sundays to get back to the city. Excuses of running errands and doing laundry.

That was the beginning of the heartache. I missed him so much and didn’t know why or what was happening, just that something was wrong.

He didn’t want to touch me. He didn’t like it when I touched him.

A frequent time for sex for us was after the gym and a shower. I approached him from behind while he was in his towel, grabbed him and started kissing his back. We moved to the bed, and he was barely hard.

I started sucking his cock and that didn’t improve things. I sat on his cock and nothing changed.

He got made at me and told me he was tired and wanted to take a nap. I went downstairs and watched a movie in complete shock and confusion.

An hour later, he came downstairs and said he wanted to pack up and go early. I confronted him asking if he still loved me, did he love someone else, was he seeing someone else. Nothing in reply.


I’ve been single for the past six weeks now – a status I haven’t had since I was 19. Like pretty much all middle class, educated white girls from the burbs I thought a monogamous relationship was the thing to strive for. Although I never wanted to get married nor have kids, I didn’t think there was any other option besides monogamy. What am I saying?!? I didn’t even have a thought about it – monogamy just was – without thought, examination or question.

But after three back-to-back monogamous relationships and 21 years past, I’ve started what I guess I’m calling a journey of sexual and relationship exploration. I just don’t know what’s right for me anymore except for what feels right right now. And right now I don’t want monogamy.

That may be because of those 21 years 17 was spent with a man who cheated on me. I know that’s a logical explanation and pendulum swing reaction in the complete opposite direction.

However as I talk and go out with new men, I am more and more convinced that no one person could ever fully meet another one person’s needs. Not only that, but our needs change over time, don’t they?

Were we meant to be with one person for all our lives – ’til death do us part cause the Bible tells us so? I was on that path, without the actual marriage part, but I did think I was going to be with him forever monogamously.

To disprove the marriage paradigm, I could point to divorce rates, how my married friends complain about their spouses, the number of men on online dating sites looking to cheat, the fact that perhaps this site will gain traction if only to live vicariously through my life…

I already didn’t think traditional marriage was a good way to go for me because I never wanted to get married. Partly because I didn’t see the reason since I didn’t want to have kids. Partly because, at the time, my gay and lesbian friends didn’t have the same rights as me to get married. Partly because somehow I thought I’d be lost as an individual. Partly because I don’t see that heterosexuals treat marriage with any respect whatsoever yet wanted to prevent others from joining in their misery/happiness. Can we please let homosexuals be happy or miserable married people too?!?

I know I’m at the beginning of this journey, and who knows how my thoughts and feelings will change over time. Maybe casual relationships work now, but one day I’ll want monogamy again. Or maybe I’ll practice a polyamorous lifestyle – something I’m learning about from dating men in open married and non-married relationships.

It’s an amazingly fascinating journey, which I hope you come with me on…and share and comment about!

Why do we cook?


I survived midterms, and with those tests, two of my classes actually ended. Food Safety class prepared me for a successful ServSafe Food Safety Manager exam. It’s good for five years, and allows me to take a management role in any restaurant nationwide. Not that anyone would give me such a job considering I have now nine weeks of culinary school and four days back-of-the-house experience under my belt, but the key is the five years.

My Food Safety class has become Nutrition and the other class, Product Knowledge, has become Gastronomy. Both extremely fascinating, but Gastronomy more so. Last week, we started the conversation with some very elementary, but little thought of topics, such as ‘what is cooking?’ and ‘why do we cook?’ We got into a long classroom discussion about the application of heat, seasoning, chopping, marinading, and how, at its most fundamental level, cooking is the transformation of food into energy and nutrients. Somehow we even ended up talking about the 50 ways to cook and eat carrots.

Of course in these discussions, there are no wrong answers. I agree with these assessments and everything everyone said was valid, but somewhere in there I tuned out the back and forth between my classmates and the teacher.

I don’t cook to eat.

I’m not good at communicating my feelings, and neither is anyone in my family. I’m not sure how my sister and brother knew they were loved, or how they felt it, but for me, it was through food. This is a surprising statement because no one in my family is particularly passionate about food. Nobody’s careers have even remotely touched food in anyway. Unlike many of my classmates, I didn’t grow up in a restaurant or on a farm.

My parents divorced before I had self-awareness, so my memories are with them separately, and for some reason they are all about food. This is the only reason I can possibly point to for why I’m so into food.

I felt their love for me through food.

Crystal clear childhood memories of when my parents still lived together; me and my dad on the back patio in front of the grill. It’s summer, after work, sun is going down, humid as hell. Thankfully, I wasn’t quite tall enough to be towering over the grill so I escaped some of the additional heat. On the grill were Oscar Meyers, and if I was lucky, the kind with the cheese piped through the middle. Processed foods in those days were so simple and elegant. Not like today. Case in point: Jimmy Dean Chocolate Chip Pancakes and Sausage on a stick. I can’t even come up with anything to say about that so I’m moving on.

Back to the dogs. They were burnt to black, crispy perfection on all sides. Toasted bun with sweet as candy, green as neon relish. But the best part was standing next to my dad, grill utensil in hand, and every so often I’d get a sip from that cold Bud can in the faded cosy.

With my mom, it was all about Christmas cookies, and ‘Merry Christmas Johnny Mathis.’ We’d start out on a Saturday and bake all damn day. When it got dark out, I remember the twinkling multi-colored Christmas lights from the fake tree in the front window when I’d go to flip the record over. In our house, the fake tree went up right after Thanksgiving. Oh, we’d still buy a real tree – from a farm right down the road (see Fierce Jersey Pride post). Walking through the rows of fresh cut trees smelled like Christmas. To this day if I get around too much rosemary, those tree-picking memories come flooding back – Christmas at home in Jersey. We’d bring that fresh tree home, and care for it in the cold garage until Christmas Eve when we’d bring it out and decorate it together.

The cookie baking with mom was epic. Spritz cookies from an ancient cookie press gun from the 1960s, I think – anyway, it was puke green so I’m guessing ’60’s. It jammed a lot, but we pressed out zillions of shapes and sprinkled food coloring-dyed sugar on top. Then there was Peanut Butter Balls. These no-bake guys were just peanut butter, powdered sugar, butter and Rice Krispies mixed together, rolled into a ball, then dipped into melted chocolate and frozen. When you bit in, the chocolate layer pleasantly cracked and froze your mouth at the same time. Oh gosh, we must have had a dozen more kinds of cookies and bars going – too many to remember – but we were careful to lay a big plate out for Santa Claus on Christmas Eve after the tree decorating. And P.S. I still love Johnny Mathis and have seen him in concert a bunch of times – makes me feel so young!

When holidays or vacation rolled around, my dad always wanted to let loose and gave me money for candy, and bought huge gallon tubs of ice cream and boxes of junk cereal. My mom, on the other hand, was all about no preservatives and healthy foods, which in retrospect, was pretty cool for the ’80’s. Somehow, though, this didn’t seem to rub off one bit on my sister or brother. When the candy came in, my mom always solicited me: candy for shiny silver dollars. I bargained and gave up some of it, but never all. Candy high was the only high back then.

So that’s why I cook – to show love – and that’s why I’m deliriously happy in culinary school. Sure my pants are still on fire, but I love it! Cooking is how I communicate with people I care about. I love you if I cook with you and/or for you. Sorry if I don’t say it often enough – that’s part genetics and part my childhood environment – but now you know family and friends!