Drifts

I fear having nothing to say.
M loneliness has eased into an urge
to connect, to understand someone
and be understood in return.
But what is there to talk about?

Fragments drift through my mind.
I try sifting through them to find words –
and not just any words will do.
I want to find the right ones.

But every time I fish something out,
it turns out to be
just another soda ring in the ocean,
and I am left on the shore again,
fingers dripping,
trying to grasp something meaningful.

Copyright 2014 by Shannon Dennis

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Quote of the Day

“Closure is something that we cultivate on our own, like a Chia pet.”

   Anna Pulley, sex columnist

I came across this quote a while back, and it’s the first thing that gave me some peace about how my last serious relationship ended. We had dated over the summer. I liked the way he could go into long, impassioned tangents about history, look out for my stop while we were on the bus so that I could rest, and make up stories with me where we could geek out and build our own fantasy worlds. The last time we really talked, right before I started school, we were making plans for his birthday.

But after that conversation, I suddenly couldn’t get a hold of him again. He emailed me once to say that he was having problems with his phone and laptop. That was it – he didn’t say anything at all about our plans. After that, I never heard from him again. I was worried that something bad had happen to him, or that I had done something to offend him. I tried a few times to ask him what was wrong and if we could talk about it. After a week of silence, I sent him a final ‘if I don’t hear from you by x date, I’ll assume it’s over’ email, and when that date rolled around, I threw in the towel for good. I saw him on the bus a few weeks ago, so I know he’s not dead. I consider him dead to me emotionally, though. Since he didn’t even bother to break up with me properly, I don’t consider him worthy of the title of ‘ex. In my mind, I just think of him as ‘ghost.’

I have dated around since then, but I have been a little nervous about getting into a relationship again, because now the possibility is always in the back of my mind that whoever I’m with might drop off the face of the earth on me. It makes it difficult to relax and enjoy a relationship. I want to work on my abandonment issue so I can move forward with my life. This quote really helped me start the process. It made me laugh, and the worst of the pain has subsided. Now, every time I think about it, (or any other situation which makes me wonder why it ended the way it did) I imagine myself watering an Chia puppy instead. It actually works, sort of like a Patronus charm. I might just get one to put in my room!

Poem of the Week: This is Just to Say, by William Carlos Williams

I have eaten
the plums
that were in
the icebox

and which
you were probably
saving
for breakfast

Forgive me
they were delicious
so sweet
and so cold

This is an imagist poem where what you see is what you get: a passive aggressive plum pilferer, probably scrawling this as a note while licking the plum juice off his fingers. The plural, “plums,” bugs me because he could have left her at least one, and still indulged his temptation in a halfway decent way. Some people say that this poem implies a level of intimacy between the narrator and his wife since he could predict what his wife would do with the plums. I personally think it implies the opposite. He may know her motivations and desires, but I think the intimacy from that is canceled out by the fact that he would sabotage a simple pleasure at the start of her day and then offer this smarmy, mocking apology. If this was written in the age of Twitter, he probably would have added a “Sorry Not Sorry” hashtag at the bottom. As annoying as it is, I still felt compelled to highlight this poem because it makes me smile at the same time. I have a thing for poems that can cause that kind of tension.

Source: http://www.poetryfoundation.org/poem/245576
Photo: Plums, by Andy Price via Flickr Creative Commons

Quote of the Day

“We are all a little weird, and life’s a little weird, and when we find someone whose weirdness is compatible with ours, we fall in mutual weirdness and call it love.”

          Dr Seuss

I think that the happiest couples are also the weirdest ones. In my experience with dating and relationships, if we weren’t acting a little weird, something was wrong. When the talk turned to normal things – on dates, things like the “What do you do for fun? Do you have any brothers and sisters?” routine, where the conversation stayed on that level, or in relationships, the “How was your day?” “Oh, it was fine,” routine, that seemed to be a red flag that the connection wasn’t there or that it was weakening. Every time the staleness would set in like that, I would get a sinking feeling, and sure enough, the other person would tell me that they don’t feel chemistry, or a spark, not long after. I think part of the elusive “spark” that our culture alludes to comes from unpredictability and authenticity. It’s no guarantee. Some of the most fun and spontaneous dates I’ve been on never turned into anything more. But, overall, my best memories from dating involved people who I could have a little mutual weirdness with:

The one who would say “tally ho!” when we were leaving for another place, and I would always respond, “Let us venture forth!” or “Let’s flee the village!” It was fun having someone to flee villages with.

The one who talked me into talked me into going on a skyride despite my intense fear of heights. I was quaking with fear, but I enjoyed seeing the waterfall from up high.

The one who took me to a toy shop where we dropped marbles into a wooden marble run and talked to each other through stuffed giraffes. I love people who can channel their inner child. Actually, I really love people with kind of an ageless quality to them, who have an old soul and a sense of wonder at the same time.

The one from OkCupid who wrote several paragraphs to me about how much he likes the sound of rain, while most people would say something like, “Hey how r you? Interesting profile. Would you like to talk?” It was very refreshing.

It seems like when a date or relationship is going well, we can do or say things that would make most people go, “What the what..?” And when it’s not going well anymore, it somehow reverts back to a place where we say things that could be said or done with anyone else; the connection becomes less specific, and more general.

I am a hopeful romantic, and I hope to someday have that sort of connection with someone, where they can say “Yeah, I get her, and she gets me.” In our society there’s a narrative about being strong and independent and not caring so much about having a relationship. In all honesty, I really do want one. I wouldn’t say that I’m necessarily happy about being single, but I am okay with it. I would rather be single than be in a bad or mediocre relationship. I raise a toast to all you hopeful romantics out there. Rock on with your bad, awesome selves, and happy Mutual Weirdness day!

Poem of the week: The Journey by Mary Oliver

One day you finally knew
what you had to do, and began,
though the voices around you
kept shouting
their bad advice–
though the whole house
began to tremble
and you felt the old tug
at your ankles.
‘Mend my life!’
each voice cried.
But you didn’t stop.
You knew what you had to do,
though the wind pried
with its stiff fingers
at the very foundations,
though their melancholy
was terrible.
It was already late
enough, and a wild night,
and the road full of fallen
branches and stones.
But little by little,
as you left their voices behind,
the stars began to burn
through the sheets of clouds,
and there was a new voice
which you slowly
recognised as your own,
that kept you company
as you strode deeper and deeper
into the world,
determined to do
the only thing you could do–
determined to save
the only life you could save.

 

I found some solace in this poem because I’m trying to do exactly what the narrator is doing – saving the only life I can save. I feel that the wind has been prying at the foundations of my own life as I have begun to question what I hadn’t questioned before, what I had just taken for granted as the path set before me. For years, I had assumed that my life would follow a certain pattern, including going to college, marrying a man, and having children. But I have come to realize that college may not be the right environment for me right now, I’m also attracted to people of other genders, and I’m not sure anymore if I want to get married or have children. Just like in this poem, people shout their bad advice: “Oh, so you want to work minimum wage the rest of your life?” “You’re not bi, it’s just a phase.” “You’ll change your mind.”

I’ve been charting unexplored territory here. It’s been invigorating, and I try to focus on that instead of letting other peoples’ reactions make me feel small. This poem challenges us to break away from society’s expectations and take care of ourselves. It’s heartbreaking to read about the narrator having to turn away from people who are also suffering, but I think that by making our own self care a priority, we will become wiser and stronger and ultimately more equipped to help others.

Source: http://maryoliver.beacon.org/2009/11/new-and-selected-one/

Ask vs. Guess Culture

This post on Captain Awkward illuminated some really important truths for me that I will remember for a long time. The idea is that there are two basic kinds of communication, called Guess Culture and Ask Culture. In the former, people figure out meaning mainly from observation. If they want something, they can drop hints and wait for an offer, but asking directly may be considered rude or imposing. In Ask Culture, people can ask directly for what they want, as long as they respect that the answer might be no.

I generally prefer Ask culture because it eases the anxiety of trying to decode hidden meanings. Then, I saw that some of the comments mentioned friends/significant others/etc. who walk way ahead. I suppose, in this case, I’m more of a Guesser. As a slow walker myself, due to chronic pain issues, I hope for the people in my life to take that into consideration. I hate having to choose between lagging way behind, struggling to keep up, or repeatedly asking them to slow down. I was uncomfortable with the idea of Guess culture when I first read about it. Now I see that at its best, it’s about having empathy for someone else, and that’s pretty awesome.

Do you consider yourself more of an Asker or a Guesser?

Sexual Assault Myths

[Content Note]: sexual assault, rape

A while ago, I was looking forward a date with a sweet, dorky guy who loved animals, video games and travelling. I couldn’t wait to try sushi for the first time. While I was fumbling around with my chopsticks, he launched into a story showing a terrible view of women and sexual assault issues that is still pervasive in our culture. He told me that a girl, who he described as “really weird, and into furry kink stuff” had accused someone she had dated, who he knew from his dorm, of sexual assault, and that “he didn’t seem like the kind of guy to do something like that.”

Just minutes before, I had been laughing at a funny story he told me about the time he volunteered at a Halloween haunted house for kids; now I saw him in a totally different light, and I was angry and uncomfortable. I had no idea what to say. Finally, I replied, “I’m not cool with you talking about it like that. Whether she was into kink or not has nothing to do with it, and anybody could be a perpetrator. It could be someone who seems totally normal, even a friend or a boyfriend.”

I wish I had been able to articulate myself better. I was completely caught off guard, and it triggered me to hear him talk that way – or that he even brought up the topic at all, when I wasn’t prepared for something like that on a first date. I have been sexually assaulted before, and sometimes the perpetrator was someone I considered a good friend or even someone I was dating – more often than not, someone I trusted. According to R.A.I.N.N (the Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network), 73% of sexual assaults are perpetrated by someone who the victim knows. Perpetrators don’t just skulk around in long, dark coats, waiting in bushes and alleyways. They are can be ordinary looking people who act seemingly normal. They might commit a sexual crime and then fly under the radar because “He couldn’t have done something like that, he plays football!” or “He seems really nice, though.”

There is also a myth out there that women accuse men of rape or sexual assault out of regret, or to get attention or revenge. However, women are much more likely to suffer an assault and not report it than to make up a false report. Only about 2-8% of rape reports are false. Even then, there are some situations in which victims change their report to ‘false’ because they are crushed under the psychological pressure, or they are pressured into it by the police. Victims of sexual assault need to be taken seriously. Skepticism makes it even harder for them to find justice as well as support for what they’re going through. The lack of respect for survivors’ experiences is a sign of the rape culture problem we have in America, and that needs to change.