Reunion – Part V: Bipolarity

The hardest part of organizing the reunion was getting a headcount – there could be as many as fifty attendees.  It was impossible to pin it down until the final weeks.

Since she’d have to fly into Knoxville to attend, Hurricane T was one of the last to confirm.  Her partner, TK, travels a lot on business, so it wasn’t clear that she’d be able to attend even if Hurricane T decided to go.  Their concerns about making an appearance at a family reunion as an openly gay couple were sitting squarely on top of their decision as well.  She was also waiting to see if DQ and her clan would be there.

DQ, for her part, was waiting to see if any of the cousins of her generation would be attending.  And also waiting to see if Hurricane T would be there — she was willing to defer to Hurricane T if that would allow Mom to have a chance to see her for the first time in two years.Yep.  Another “Trailer Park Mexican Standoff”.

Hurricane T and DQ decided to attend almost simultaneously – and i booked the third cabin shortly thereafter.

Despite her concerns about showing up as a lesbitarian amongst family of indeterminate tolerance, TK decided she had to be there — because Hurricane T needed her.

They’ve been together for about five years.  And been through a lot.  Last year, they did a “soft product rollout” as a couple when they purchased a home together.  It was a rough year – as the renovations to the new place dragged on and on, Hurricane T had a significant bipolar meltdown.  It was gruesome, but TK stayed.

i was blown away by her degree of commitment.  My sister is an extraordinary woman – managing a degree of bipolar disorder that would have most people on full-time disability.  She is not easy to live with, let alone love unconditionally.

And yet TK is there…

On Saturday morning – after the “snake/hospital” incident – i rolled off the sofa around 9:30 am.  Mom was still sleeping in the bedroom, and TK had gone out for a run.  Hurricane T had just gotten up, and was attempting to make coffee as quietly as possible in the kitchen to let me sleep in a little longer.

We filled our mugs.  She asked how BJ was doing.

daisyfae:  It was scary, he was in a good bit of pain, but he’s going to be ok.

Hurricane T:  Damn!  How bizarre!  We weren’t sure what happened – Mom came back and said something about him getting bit by a snake, but she didn’t know what was going on, either.

daisyfae:  Wasn’t his fault.  Filed under “Shit Happens!”

Hurricane T:  How did I do last night?  Did I behave?

daisyfae:  No.  You got pretty drunk and said things in front of DQ that were out of line.

Hurricane T:  SHIT!  I was trying.  But I was really nervous, man!  I haven’t seen these people in decades, and I can’t stand being around DQ.

Just as TK came back from her run, i went through what had happened.  TK backed me up, saying Hurricane T had been rude.

Hurricane T:  I’m sorry.  Should I do something? What can I do to fix this?

daisyfae:  Let it bounce.  And lose the drinking — for the rest of the weekend, we only drink HERE.  This is the bar.  No need to be nervous — everyone’s cool.  Relax and hang out…

She headed for the shower.  TK and i grabbed coffee and went outside to enjoy the rocking chairs and cool morning air.

TK:  Now that T is done with the high-stress job, and the renovations on the house are complete?  She’s bored!  And driving me CRAZY!

daisyfae:  She’s been used to being busy.  Has to be a tough transition for both of you.

TK:  I work from home, and she CONSTANTLY follows me around, wanting an opinion on this or that, or looking for something to do.  I tell you – we’ve been through a lot, but I don’t know if I can take this!

daisyfae:  Is she exercising?  Maybe train her up for another half-marathon?  Find a new hobby?

TK:  She’s going to get SCUBA certified.  My nephew is an instructor, and she can do it in our pool.  And golf lessons.  I need to get her hooked up with a teacher.

Best of times.  Worst of times.

Is it harder to stick around when life is good?

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Wargaming

A series of messages exchanged with a friend today, helping pass the hours as we both slogged through work stuff.  We kinda sorta almost briefly dated, but it quickly became clear that he likes small, attractive and normal women and i prefer men who are a little bitter, very twisted and somewhat broken we were both looking for different things. 

We remained friends, and spent more than a few happy hours commiserating about our troubles with persons harbouring opposing genitalia.

Our conversations included a lot of questions, ball-busting and throwing of the bullshit flag as necessary.  These kind of friends are invaluable.  Having an honest broker, representing a completely different point of view, who questions “Why?” can do wonders for your thought processes if you are drilling down to the center of your beliefs. 

Well, up until the point you want to slap him…

An attractive, intense and relatively conservative man, he spent a portion of his career in the cockpit of military jets as a weapons system officer.  Fairly messy divorce, with the ex-wife moving his kids to the east coast.  He left town a couple of years ago to get a job on out there, closer to his three teenaged children.

HotStuff:  Hey, daisyfae!  How goes it?

daisyfae:  Life is good!  How are things out east?

HotStuff:  Pretty good!  Building a house, closer to where the kids are.  Haven’t missed the associated yard work for the past four years, so it will be an adjustment.  How’s your collection of boy toys coming along?  Do you have a complete set?

daisyfae:  Entertaining, to say the least.  Two new ones since we last talked.  One?  About 60 miles east, and the other lives about 60 miles south!

HotStuff:  You don’t like those boys too close, do you?  Same town does have advantages, though.

daisyfae:  i get cranky when they get too close.  They get all up in my bidness and want to actually get to know me…  That’s when it stops being fun – for everyone involved.  Geography is my friend!  You still seeing that gal who works back here?

HotStuff:  Yes.  And we’re reaching a decision point soon.  The distance is making it tough.

daisyfae:  Committment is hard, but apparently can be worth the effort. So i’ve been told.   i hope it works out for you!

HotStuff:  Too bad I can’t wargame this…

daisyfae:  You can flow chart it.  Analysis of Alternatives.  Eventually, you can at least identify the options you can’t live with, and perhaps a few paths that get you closer to where you want to be.  But that relationship crap is smelly – people are the worst kind of unknowns.

HotStuff:  You aren’t serious, are you?  Flow charting won’t work with relationships.  It just gives you an excuse to get out.  It is only as good as your assumptions, so really all you end up doing is picking your answer and rationalizing it with science.

daisyfae:  i usually just work through a range of “best case”, “worst case” and “probable case” scenarios.  Until i get bored, or realize “Nah, i really don’t want to do that…” and quit.   You’re right, though.  It just provides pretense of logic.

HotStuff:  Wargaming. That’s far more rigorous!  Now, I just need to look up the parameters for a standard woman…

Expectation management

In line at the floral department of the Mega-Hardware Emporium*, the man in front of me was buying a gorgeous plant – blasting a nearly blinding riot of pink-purple flowers.

daisyfae:  What is that?  It’s gorgeous!

him:  An azalea.  I’ve had pretty good luck with them…

daisyfae:  i love it, but have had no luck with perennials.  i’ve killed cacti.  Suffocated an air fern. 

him:  It’s mostly about location.  Find the right soil and they take care of themselves.

daisyfae:  i stick with annuals.  i know they’re going to die at the end of the season.  Since i know the outcome?  i’m not devastated when it happens…

* No, i did not stop by the paint department seeking that Studly PaintMan.  Thought about it, though…

my body, my choice?

At a dinner party about a month ago, i was ambushed by a woman i’d just met over a simple statement of fact.  Tonight, during “happy hour” with friends, i encountered a similar sentiment and am now at home – finding myself swimming in a gentle pool of bewilderment and bourbon.

What is it about the human mind that compels us to judge the behavior of others?

Last month, i was invited to an informal dinner party –  i was excited to have a chance to get out and play with some new folks.  i’ve known Joe for over two decades, and have always found him to have an enticing circle of friends.  If he invites me to dinner?  i never decline!

Just seven of us, we got started with the forensics of friendship – “So, how did you meet Joe?”.  Tom was a friend from childhood, and was there with his wife Gail.  He works in building maintenance and she is a surgical nurse.  Jim and Nancy used to run an art gallery, and she is a recovered Special Education teacher.  Peg is his next door neighbor, and she and Joe are the last two remaining homeowners on the street – preparing to take a stand against the city as they lay claim to “Eminent Domain”, forcing them to sell in the interests of an urban renewal project.

Dinner conversation was lively as we worked our way through film, local politics, the arts and a host of other topics.  i knew early on that Gail would be fun, as nurses at the dinner table are easily engaged in all manner of graphic and bizarre medical stories – but i waited until dinner was a happy memory before asking “What’s the strangest thing you’ve ever encountered at the hospital?”.

Shortly thereafter we all agreed that “Prolapsed Rectum” was a better name for a band than a restaurant.

At some point, the conversation turned to my circumstances.  Divorced, two grown children, professional geek – and enjoying a grand set of adventures in the current phase of my life.  Gail said “Well, I’m sure you’ll find a nice engineer to marry someday!”

In hindsight, i should have just said “Yep.  Reckon so…”  But that is not my way.  i explained that i’m pretty happy being single, have plenty of male companionship, and that i am not, in fact, looking to re-marry.  At least for the time being…”

This didn’t seem to register.  “Don’t you worry about being alone? What if you get sick?”  This drew out the “Ummm… not really.  i had cancer three years ago, got lucky and managed to get through it pretty well with support from my friends and children.  Not something that keeps me awake at night…”

It then took a rather ugly turn – although in hindsight i’m not sure how – when she said “So you’re just fuck-buddies with these guys, and that doesn’t bother you?”  Thankfully, her husband stood up and mentioned that they really needed to get home to let the dog out soon… The rest of us said our goodbyes, and continued on with pleasant after-dinner conversation.  Wasn’t really sure what to think of that, but let it go…

Tonight at happy hour, yukking it up with good friends from the office, stumbled into a similar quagmire.  Just like the last time, i really didn’t see it coming. 

My pals were justifiably giving me a massive ration of shit for the resort-business trip to the Caribbean last week.  The Ninjaneer threw a few targeted jabs about ‘cabana boys’… Nope, no ‘workshop nookie’, other than an unexpected platonic kiss from a rather charming European researcher.  Whom i later found out was not only independently wealthy, but married.

Female science friend immediately chided me – “Not again!  You’ve got to stop giving it away, girl.”

(sigh)

her:  Don’t give it away!  Respect yourself more than that…  There has to be something for you in return.

daisyfae:  But i’m not looking for anything in return – other than companionship, intimacy, adventure…

her:  Don’t you want to be in love?  It’s better when you’re in love.

daisyfae:  Not really.  i honestly don’t want that.  This is what i want… at least for now.

her:  Then maybe you just shouldn’t tell people what you’re doing.  I’m worried they’ll think badly of you.

daisyfae:  But i honestly don’t give a shit what other people think.  It’s my life.  Let them judge me.  So what?

We agreed to disagree, and i know that she cares about me, and certainly cares a great deal more about what others think of me than i do.  It’s genuine, not malicious.  We’re just coming at it from very different places in life…

Crunching it over, as i sit at home on a Friday night in my pajamas, while enjoying the last vestiges of the bourbon in my blood… 

Do we all have to live the same life?  Who decides what is moral?  Is my chosen lifestyle that threatening to others?  Women in particular?  Does a man in my position get the same reaction, or the ‘nudge, nudge, wink, wink’ treatment?  Should i care what other people think?

i’ve been pretty direct with others regarding my circumstances, usually handling all inquiries about my status with a response of “i’m dating aggressively”.  That usually gets the point across. 

In the future?  i think i’m just going to shut the fuck up.  Apparently that would be much less stressful for others.  Without a doubt much less annoying for me…

Overcoming the Dinosaur Brain

The workshop ended at noon, and after another hour lazing by the Atlantic, i wandered into the poolside restaurant for a late lunch.  Ordered a Mediterranean tapas plate, glass of pinot grigot and settled in with my book at a table with an ocean view.

Slow, late lunch crowd.  Other than an older couple at the bar and a chatty pair of women across the restaurant, the place was virtually deserted.  Sitting alone in a restaurant doesn’t bother me much, so i returned to my book.

They wandered in, looking a little lost.  Him?  Late 20’s, dark, frothy hair, smart-boy glasses and a chin that was inexplicably recessed and strong, with a cleft covered in 24 hours worth of stubble.  Just a shade short of handsome, he looked pretty average. 

Her?  Natural blond, porcelain complexion and a perpetual scowl on her face.  Fine features, high cheekbones – she’d be almost beautiful, except for the slight ‘pan-face’ structure.

Attractive enough couple that i’d watch their amateur porn videos for free, but probably wouldn’t pay for it…

Seating themselves at a table near mine, they snuggled over the menu and placed an order with the barkeep.  Having chatted up this barkeep previously about varieties of Puerto Rican rum, he stopped by to bring me a fresh glass of wine for free.  Nice buzz developing…

One of five restaurants in an extensive resort hotel complex, the service hasn’t been particularly swift.  i returned to my book.  Out of the corner of my eye, i noticed that she had sprawled out on the long bench seat, resting her head in his lap.

He draped his right arm over her neck, reaching back with his hand, gently stroked her blond hair.  Cradling her head in his lap, he picked up his book in his left hand – a 3 inch thick Tom Clancy brick* – and began to read.  He continued to stroke her hair in an absent minded manner. 

Like a lightning bolt from a clear blue sky, there it was.  An alien thought appeared in my brain – so striking in its abnormality that it flashed brightly, demanding my attention like a high definition billboard.

“i want my head cradled like that.”

What?  Where the fuck did that come from?  Me?  Her Royal Highness, The Ice Queen?  She Who Doesn’t Cuddle?  Ms. Independent “Boy Toy Collector”?

i was startled enough to almost drop my book.  Yep.  That very thought appeared in my head.  Couldn’t deny it.  Trying to get my head back in my book, that pesky little thought nugget wouldn’t let go…

At the moment, i have no interest in being half of a couple.  i like flying solo, have sufficient companionship to keep me entertained – and non-cranky.  Life really is good.  But, despite rumors, and my own violent protestations, i have to admit it:  i am, in fact, a human animal.

Biology is a powerful motherfucking force.  We are driven to couple – despite the fact that my eggs are on the verge of becoming dust particles, the limbic system still says “MATE, MATE, MATE”. 

Thankfully, the bartender delivered a plate of olives, hard cheeses, bread, prosciutto and tomatoes – along with another glass of wine.  Dinosaur brain is no match for copious amounts of alcohol…

* Had to look it up.  Executive Orders.  1376 pages, 1.2 pounds, dimensions: 6.9 x 4.3 x 2 inches.  Not quite 3 inches thick, but close enough…

Eureka!

Since my divorce a few years ago, i’ve been quite comfortable with my decision to “stay flexible”, not committing to any exclusive partnerships.  i like living alone, not being accountable to anyone – just my own conscience and my dog.  At the moment, i “hang out” with a few special gentlemen*. 

But what to call this?  Who are they?  As humans we have a pesky bent toward having names for things, so our overloaded pea brains can comprehend where everything fits, and we can get on with life.  Not happy with tags such as “boyfriend”, “friend”, “man-friend”, “significant other” – or the overworked “fuck buddy”, “friends with fluid exchange benefits”.  None of them truly apply.  And each of these friends are unique… serving different roles in my life, so no one tag would apply to all…

Leave it to xkcd to help me sort out at least one of these situations.  There’s one local gentleman that is my closest friend, and we’ve struggled to “name it”.  i like this… because i’m a huge dork, among other things.

But does that qualify me as a tax deduction?

But does that qualify me as a tax deduction?

*the actual number is a state secret… they all know that there are others… but the details are mine, thankyouverymuch.