acting · community · connection · intimacy · love · theater

"It’s not about the applause."

I’m doing it again. This “auditioning” thing. 
It makes me nervous, giddy, excited, daunted, and happy, underneath all the neurosis. Seems I’m the perfect image of an actor, then, eh?!
But really. I was thinking about it when I was in To Kill A Mockingbird recently, about tweaking the title of Lance Armstrong’s memoir, “It’s not about the bike”: It’s not about the applause. 
At the end of the show, the performance, onstage, when I come out for my bow, I don’t really hear it. Adrenaline in my ears, it’s part of a wall of sound crossed with Charlie Brown’s teacher’s voice: Wah Wah Wah. It’s the briefest moment. Shorter than an orgasm. It can’t be why you do it. 
It’s not about the applause. 
Because in the moment that the audience is able to reflect on what they’ve seen and pass judgement positive or negative, they’re already out of the moment — and that’s not what this acting thing is about for me. 
Not that I have much experience! But from that which I do, I realize that it’s more about what’s happening in the moment of performance with the audience, the experience created with them in real time. Whether that’s engagement, boredom, emotional stirring. 
For me, those moments of connection are what it’s about. To create a space and an environment for others to have an emotional experience they otherwise might not have had that evening. 
For me, it’s always been about that. From poems written years ago that highlight my desire to incite a revolution or evolution in people through performance. 
You can hear it from the stage. Whether the audience is holding their breath, gasping at a sudden revelation. Or crying, you can hear the sniffling. Or laughing, or that one person in the audience who laughs harder than others, or is trying not to laugh because no one else is. 
It’s this petrie dish of human experience. How will they respond, react, be moved, if at all?
I love it. I love being a part of it. I love having a small hand in moving people, of allowing them the moments of anonymity in the dark theater to be moved. That intimacy, even though I will never see their faces. That authenticity they get to experience, even though they paid for it. 
Isn’t that what Aristotle spoke of when he said theater was a catalyst of mass catharsis?
So in those few moments when I’m timing when to step out and down to the apron of the stage, and for a moment be Molly instead of character, it’s like stepping out as the man behind the curtain in Oz. Like seeing how a magic trick works. 
It’s lovely and I won’t fein that it isn’t bolstering to get applause, but I rush that part in my head, braced against it somehow, not really hearing it, just trying to bow and let the next person have theirs. 
Sure, it’s gratifying as we, the whole cast, stand there hands clasped over our heads, knowing that this sound is a show of appreciation and gratitude and approval. 
And I won’t say I don’t like it or hope for it. But. 

It’s not about the applause. 
authenticity · faith · fear · intimacy · letting go · recovery · sex

Icarus at the Bus Station

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There is an adage I’ve heard: A new bus can’t pull into the
station if there’s one already there.
The point being, unless you let something go, you can’t grab
hold of something new.
This often comes up when people are talking about relationships,
but it can be sagely advised around anything. Today, though, it does mean
relationships.
There’s a second category of folks that I need to amend my
relationships with, after those who I’ve fallen out of touch with for
self-preservation. This is a category entitled: Men I intrigue with but don’t
want a relationship with. (“with whom I
don’t want a relationship,” yeah, I know.)
But. This list, when written earlier this year comprised of
6 or 7 names. Now, there are only two left outstanding. The rest have fallen by
the wayside as I’ve changed the electrically charged way I interact with them or have
expressly stated I want to change the nature of our lovely, but ambiguous
flirtation.
It’s exciting to
flirt. It’s exciting to know that with a few taps on my phone, I can spark the
interest of someone. It’s a boost to the ego — and it’s totally unfair to us both. It’s a lie, really.
Sure, it’s fun, and I’m not saying that it’s wrong; it’s
just not truthful for me, when I know that these are men who I don’t want to
date or pursue a relationship with. For whatever reason.
Some, I just “don’t feel it.” We were never more than
friends, to either of us, but there’s something nice about that extra “like” on
your status update or the comment posted somewhere down your page, where you
know they’ve had to dig to find it. Yes, most of these “intrigue”
relationships (meaning, flirtatiously undertoned interactions) are acted out virtually,
and that enhances their ease, their prevalence and the reluctance to “break
them off,” since, who are we really hurting? Everyone “pokes” each other,
right?
But, for me, I know it’s not right anymore. It’s distracting
from what I really want, and using someone else as a tool to bolster my
self-esteem. Neither of which get me to the healthful relationship (with myself
or with someone else) that I’d like.
Some of the men on my list are simply fucked up and/or
unavailable, and strangely(?), the last two remaining are in this subset.
It’s not that they’re just my friends who I flirt with; it’s
not as innocent as a few extra “likes;” these two are possibilities in
relationship-land, except that they’re not. At all.
And these are so hard to let go of, because they’re the most ambiguous, the most possible, and the most delicious. Delicious Evil: the curl of the lip when you think about them,
your flirtation with them, what you’ve done with them,
because these are not Rated G acquaintanceships you have had.
You like the thrill, the quickening of the pulse, and the
slight tensing of your thighs.
Who.Wouldn’t?
But.
Here is where my current work comes in. I don’t want to stop
these flirtations/more than flirtations, but I know this bus is not going to
get me where I want to go. These are not available people. And despite the
purring coo my body radiates when I consider them, my brain and heart can’t
really take it.
I do want a relationship, with someone available to me. It’s
nice to get the milk for free, but I’m ready to invest in a cow.
I’ve spoken to a friend of mine who has similar patterns
with men and relationships, and I asked her honestly if there was the same kind
of Icarus-style pull in her marriage. If there was that same forbidden, lustful
quickening. If there was that, We’re going to blot out the sun with the heat of
our passion. 
And, she told me, Honestly, No. It’s different.
You’re not going to get a cocaine high when you’re sober.
That doesn’t mean it’s not worth being sober; it just means, No, there are some
experiences that won’t be replicated in a healthy relationship.
Sure, it’s just one woman’s opinion, but I trust her, and I
understand her analogy.
No, you won’t blot out the sun, but you won’t go down in
flames either.
It’s up to me to decide which life I’d rather live, and
which course I’d rather take. I know where this current “intriguey” bus leads –
right back here, again.
So, I’m going to have to make a choice to be brave, and let
this bus drive on without me, and trust that if I do, there will be a different
one coming. (pun intended.)

intimacy · poetry · relationships · sex

pome.

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Tour de Coeur
Here.
  Place your
fingers — Here.
   Lower your
head, breathe and

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  press them in.

Do you feel it, soft and
  warm and — I’ll arch my back 
  pliable. How
the muscles shift around you,
learning you, too.
  Here,
Lay your head here, and I’ll
  breathe, not freeze
  as you
explore the hidden
edges and ridges.
I will try 
  to
keep my eyes open
while you read my collarbone like Braille.
8 6 14

abundance · adulthood · determination · fear · intimacy · perseverance · recovery · relationships · self-love · self-support

Manic Panic.

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It’s what the junior high and high school kids
were using to dye bright streaks of their hair in the 90s. There was one store in the
mall that sold it (Nature Works? – The Nature Company! that’s it.),
and if you said you were going there, you meant that you were going to dye your
hair a brilliant shade of rebellious.
I never bought Manic Panic. I was as straight an arrow as
they come until the end of high school. There was too much order to maintain,
and too many rules to follow, for me to diverge any bit off the path I was
expected to walk.
And so, as I am very apt to do, once I hit college, the
pendulum swung so desperately and frenetically in the direction of “off the path,” that it
swung right around and hit me in the now-pierced face, like a rogue tetherball.
Obviously, this wasn’t the “way” either. This wasn’t
my authentic way, at least.
I had a therapist tell me a long time ago that if my mother
had killed herself when I was young, as her behavior threatened she’d do, that
I would have probably gone down with that ship. I’d spent so much time and
energy attending to the needs and expectations of someone else, there wasn’t
room to explore or attend to my own.
Years later, I had another therapist tell me that this life
was my own, that I didn’t have to make
choices anymore based on whether I thought my dad would approve, or disapprove
and retaliate anymore. That this life was my own was such a novel concept, I’d
rejected it for years. That I could choose now to dye my hair, pierce my face,
be alone, reject the world, participate in it, smoke, not smoke, date, not date – is still a
concept I’m adjusting to, but the marination of this understanding and
awakening has been long underway.
The idea that I am a master of my own fate … well, it seems
just as rogue! That I can choose the kind of toilet paper I want; toothpaste I
like; friends I call. That I can choose how I want to dress in the world; what hobbies to pursue; … job to have … partner to love.
Fulfillment, is the end game, or the suspicion of the end
game. Am I happy in my path? Note, Molly: this is your path. There is no mother to care for, no father to
obey. What is it
you want in
life? And do you feel free and brave enough to pursue those desires?
Do you feel free and brave enough to apply for a new job? Do
you feel free and brave enough to wear clothing without stains? Do you feel
free and brave enough to accept that you want a partner whose clothes are also
without stains?
Do you feel free and brave enough to accept that you want a
good life? A job you respect? A partner
you admire?
Do I feel … stable enough, secure enough, self-supporting
and self-worthy enough to not only admit these “taboo” desires, but also to
express them to the world, through action?
Do I feel ready to tell you, world, that I want in? That I
want in on the goods, on the joy, on the self-respect, on the intellectual
stimulation, on the bed-rocking sex, on the critical, yet specious-seeming ease?
Well, I guess I’m telling you. I guess it’s been long enough
that the tetherball has hung limp and impotent, and it’s time to begin playing
again. I no longer am… tethered to ideas of being and living that aren’t my
own. The cord is cut, the apron strings untied. The life, really, is my own. 
And though today that may not mean dying my hair
green or copper, as I wish I’d been able to do a dozen years ago, it means I now know that I could. And that I would be awesome besides. 

acceptance · adulthood · beauty · faith · intimacy · letting go · loss · love · relationships · self-love

Because I’m your Mother, That’s Why.

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The last song on Anticipate Thisthe mix CD I’d made for him, is Dave Matthews’ Say
Goodbye. It includes the refrain, “For tonight let’s be lovers, and tomorrow go
back to being friends.”
The line from Alanis’ Thank You has been repeating in my head: “Thank you, Disillusionment.”
And, finally, if I was “craving cupcakes,” well, a cupcake
isn’t a sustainable meal, is it? It’s never actually intended to be, and so you’ve got to enjoy it while it is there, savor, relish, cherish it, and then you let it
go. Then you move on.
We had a “debrief” conversation last night, during which most of the
above sentiments where shared by us both. Acknowledging the loveliness, the heights, the
calm, the titillation. And yet, that it was what it was. That it was a moment
in time that we’d both signed up for, participated in, and get to let go, get
to allow its sanctity, without marring it with all those Whatifs that spun in (both) our heads.
To allow the sanctity of beauty, to allow it its singularity
is a challenge and a lesson of adulthood. To be disillusioned, to know that
moving isn’t right for either of us, that fantasy can overtake reality and
crumble it. To have had the hard-won experience of knowing that selfishness and
possessiveness can suffocate a beautiful thing, is perhaps not “romance” as we
think of it. But it is, in itself, a mercy.
Relinquishing the ties to future, to “meaning,” to purpose,
we can allow it the simplicity and integrity of its joy.
I wrote a poem once about trapping a moment away in a mason
jar, locking it deep inside for fear that the moment would get marred by time
and eventuality. But the problem was that I forgot what that moment smelled like anyway; in my possessiveness and fear of losing it, I forgot what
made that moment so precious to begin with.
The same is true here. And, smartly, maturely, rightly, and a little wistfully, we both, or at least I, have to allow the experience its
autonomy and “string”lessness.
I called my mom yesterday. I’d spoken to several friends
about my conflictedness, and my sadness in letting the moment go. In knowing,
surely and deeply, that I would have to. This knowledge all the more
painful since it was such a thing of beauty, since it was, for me, a lesson in
intimacy, vulnerability, and ease that I haven’t felt with anyone in my past.
As we spoke, I told my mom it was like tasting ice cream in a shop
for the first time, and having to realize that ice cream is available
elsewhere, all over the place, in fact. That I don’t have to go to this one
place to experience it. That I’d be missing out if I thought this was the only
wellspring of deliciousness.
Part of the beauty of it at all, is that I get to see that
ice cream is in fact available to me.
(Ice cream! Cupcakes! Sheesh, can you tell I don’t really eat this stuff
anymore!?)
But, I did. I got to experience, savor, relish, and cherish,
and I get to decide to believe—DECIDE TO BELIEVE—that I can have similar dishes elsewhere. Somewhere a little less
complicated.
My mom told me that of course it was available to me. That we all deserve to have the kind of love
we want in the world. That we all are worthy of finding it, searching for, letting
the non-fits go, and working toward creating in ourselves a person deserving of the highest order this life offers.
Why? I asked her.
Why? Why is that so? Where is the cosmic contract we’ve all
signed that says that we’ll get that kind of love? Where is the agreement that we
sign as humans that says, Work and open and heal and (for)give, and you shall receive?
Really, honestly, who the fuck says that any of us get any of that?
It was important for me to play my own Devil’s Advocate. I’m the one with all the woo-woo affirmations posted
around my apartment about abundance and light and love and serenity and
security and radiance. I’m the one who’d easily and believingly tell a friend that
things work out. I’m the asshole who believes all this muck.
And for once, I needed someone else to tell me it. I needed
to be the petulant asshole who says, “Yeah, Says You.” I needed to allow my
disillusionment of that kind, too. I needed to allow that it sucks and hurts,
and is disappointing, and hard fucking work, and that we (I) do this with
absolutely no promises whatsoever of any kind of “reward,” or change.
There is no rule that says, Thou Shalt Not Toil Until Death.
There isn’t.
So, I need, sometimes, someone else to tell me. Because,
truly, somewhere (a little out of reach at the moment), I believe that we all
do deserve the precious and gorgeous things in life. I believe that none of us are meant to toil and suffer and be beaten by
life. I truly, somewhere, have a faith that is unalterable. A
place inside me that has never known fear or scarcity or sorrow.
But, despite my friends’ ears and wisdom and empathy, I
simply needed my mom, former Miss Cynic of the Universe, to tell me, Molly, It’s
going to be alright. There is ice cream
elsewhere. There is love, abundant and resplendent. Not that it isn’t without
its own challenges and lessons and compromises, but there is love, and I am
worthy of it. That I “deserve” it.
Despite the “adultness” of letting go and loving detachment
and equanimity and allowing what is… in these moments, in this one, I simply needed
the maternal “all knowing” assurance of that which I actually believe.
Dear Egregiously Gorgeous Moment in Time: Thank you.  

adventure · beauty · courage · intimacy · romance · serenity · sexuality · vulnerability

I want to tell you everything.

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I want to tell you how gently he kissed my forehead, and how
warm his body felt as I shifted in the night. I want to tell you how natural and
serene it felt to twine my fingers into his and lean my body against him as we
waited for the stoplight to change. I want to tell you it was a good thing his
roommates weren’t home most of the time we were, and about quietly resting my
foot on top of his knee while he told me a story over the sunlit kitchen table.
I want to tell you everything. But, it’s not only my story.
And this one is still being written, still has a few more “Choose Your Own
Adventure” plot twists available, and the ending of it could be sooner or
farther than we know.
So, I’ll try my best not to tell you that it was only when I
was finally unpacking my suitcase in Oakland that the tears that had surged and
abated in airports across America finally fell. Or the relief I felt stepping
into the open air of the BART platform and looking around at the hodge-podge of
people I’ve grown so familiar with. I’ll try not to tell you about the dull and
persistent ache of withdrawal.
He’d said, “escaping the world” once when we were planning
this.
I’m sure all vacations have their hangovers. The return to
grim reality, and also to familiarity. The return to my own coffee pot and car
and a toothbrush that doesn’t fold in half. There’s a relief and a longing.
Like finishing a delicious meal and finally placing down your fork, overfull,
yet wishing you could savor it all again.
You remember the small moments. The ones where you took a deep, satiated breath. The angles of the New England homes you drove past on ancient winding
roads, and the spray of the Atlantic, blue today, over the rocks. You remember
playing with his pinkie finger while you waited for your pregnant waitress, looking, still self-consciously, out the window by your table, since it
was only day 2 and you felt new and strange and uncertain.
You try to remember everything. To etch it into
consciousness, since it will certainly fade, the exact tightness of
his arms around you while you lay naked against him; the exact way his chest hair curled while you fiddled with it musingly; the exact timbre of his echoing laughter under the short
kitchen ceiling.
I’d told you before I left that I imagined being held
delicately and protectively and surely by him, and that for once, I wasn’t
frightened of it. Well, friends, it was true. And though we’ve taken fantasy
and pulled it into the realm of reality, with all its attendant Yeses and Finallys
and Contentedness, … we also both took the courageous move to explore the exact
shape of reality’s rough edges and Almosts and Not Quites.
And should it be once again with the man this time was spent
with, and should it be another person completely: I am buoyed to know that I
can rest in the arms of a man, with no thought of escape.

authenticity · community · confidence · courage · encouragement · intimacy · laughter · vulnerability · writing

But We’ve Got The Biggest Balls of Them All!

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When I was living and teaching ESL in South Korea, I earned
a nickname: Ballsy Mollsy.
It was not uncommon for me to approach a stranger in a bar
and ask inappropriate questions. Or, maybe I was with a group of friends, and
wanted to steer the conversation in a more exciting direction, and would pose a candid question to a group that would earn laughs, but few answers. Maybe I would just stumble out to the next bar in search of new conversation without
telling anyone, but that was more stupid than ballsy, fyi.
As chance would have it, one day last month, I attended a
play my friend was performing in, and I ended up sitting next to the 25 y.o.’s
mother. “How did it even come up?,” he answered via text. When I told him, he
replied, “That’s right, I forgot you talk to strangers.” (Indeed, how we met.)
I do. I talk to strangers. I mean, how are we ever to meet
anyone new if we don’t talk to them? Like the other day, waiting for my
burrito, I ended up waiting on the bench next to this guy I see
around my neighborhood a lot, who I’ve seen working at the café on the corner. We
struck up a conversation, turns out he’s a nice guy, we had a pleasant chat about movies,
and he went off with his burritos for himself and his girlfriend.
It’s not always about “meeting dudes;” in fact, it’s more
than often not about that. I just like to find out about people, not walk around like
the Ants that they talk about in A Waking Life who, unseeing, run into one another and then walk around and continue
on their way, antennae down. I mean, that’s what New York is for. 😉
I suppose I learned this from my mom. My mother is
notoriously gregarious. To the point, growing up where it was embarrassing, and
not a little evidence of her manic tendencies. But, still. We’d be in a store,
she’d exchange more than a cursory Thank You with the cashier or salesperson. We’d be on a
bus, and she’d ask the woman next to her about the museum she’d just
visited, based on that metal entry pin tacked to her lapel.
Sometimes, she’d flirt with the cashier or waiter or
whomever. There was a base note to her conversation that wasn’t just cordial or conversational. Pre-divorce, this was a little unnerving.
But. A few years ago, she recounted a story to me that she
held as an exemplar of growth and self-aware change.
She was in Zabar’s (Manhattanites will know), and was in an
aisle next to a couple. She could overhear them debating which of the cream
cheeses they should get. If the tofu spread really tasted like cream cheese, if
the chive was better than the dill?
My mom. Had an opinion. She always does.
The success came when she didn’t offer it. She reported to me that she realized they were not
asking for her help, they didn’t
need her help, and she picked up the chive tofu cream cheese she loves, and
went on her way.
Trust me. This is a big success. To “mind your own business,
and have business to mind” is a very important boundary to learn. I was amused
at how proud she was of herself, too, like she knew that she was learning
something, that she was changing something.
I mean, it’s part of the reason our relationship has been
able to grow where the one with my dad has faltered: she really is trying to
change. And it shows.
Like all of us, change and growth takes time, isn’t simple,
and sometimes means taking contrary actions.
But sometimes, how we behave in the world influences others,
too. How she interacted in the world helped to inform how I do. Now, sure, I’m
not Holly Go Lightly everywhere I go. Sometimes I wish I had a burka. But
sometimes, the purchase of a burrito is transformed by the simple act of
connecting with another human being.
I leave you with this: I received a card in the mail this
week from a friend. In it, she thanks me for what I write here and on my
Facebook; that reading “me” helps to buttress her flagging spirits.
I told her how much that meant to me. How much it means to
me that my interactions with the world are making a difference; that I’m not
telegraphing into deep space for purely selfish and masturbatory reasons. I
never really know if how I’m choosing to express myself here is “too much” or “too honest,” and
I have to trust that those of you who choose to click on the link to read me
do so because you find something here, even if it be self-congratulations for
not being as bipolar 😉
To hear that how I behave in the world influences and
affects people for the better is one of the greatest gifts of having big balls. 

adulthood · authenticity · fun · intimacy · joy · relationships · sex · sexuality

Not Vanilla

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So you might as well know now, since it’ll come up
eventually: In April, I’m going to Boston for a booty call.
It’s probably one of the most forethought and conscious ones
I’ve ever had, since it requires, you know, plane tickets.
But, my dear friend is a flight attendant based in
Seattle, and invited me to see her for a few days. I have a few days off around
Passover next month, have never yet seen the Pacific Northwest, and said, yes,
oh please, travel yes.
In the meantime, my long-time flirtation with a former SF
resident began to pick up speed—well, as speedy as text or messaging or
emailing can be. There were more “like”s, a few more texts, and not undesired
flirtation.
God. We can flirt!
Holy shit. It’s pretty much what we did together for the half-dozen years or so
we knew one another in SF before he moved to Boston. We went on one date once,
but it didn’t really take off, and we remained a flirtation.
So when the Seattle trip came up, and I saw that it was only
a few bucks more to fly through to Boston, I asked him if he wanted to pull
this flirtation from out of the clouds and onto the ground—or at least, into
bed.
We both had reasons and justifications why this was a bad
idea. For those of you playing along at home, this was my Cupcake Conundrum. It
could be a disaster. Awkward, too much pressure, a lot of time spent with
someone you don’t really know that well, all texting and emailing aside.
And then my friend told me, Life is meant to be lived. And I
believed her.
So, ticket bought, the flirtation has taken on a new edge of
anticipation and intrigue. And holy shit, is it F U N.
One of the wonderful things about this one in particular, is
that we do have a basis for being pretty open and honest and vulnerable with
one another about other stuff. I wouldn’t exactly say we were friends before,
we never called one another up to bitch about stuff or hang as platonic pals,
but we’ve developed a foundation of communication over the years that enables
me, at least, to feel a little more bold in our new iteration.
I get to be sexy. I get to be saucy, and not a
little eye-brow raising in my replies.
And something interesting is happening for me. In the same
way that yesterday’s blog was about music reminding me of a greater part of
myself, and opening me up to something greater, this whole level of sexuality
and sensuality I’m getting to explore in relation to him is doing the same. I
feel radiant, is what I wrote in my morning pages today.
Because the flirtation remains in the realm of words and not
bodies, I get to be and write things I might not otherwise say. I get to push
envelopes, and in doing so, I’m pushing a door open within myself. I love to feel this part of myself in a way that is safe,
connected, supported, and reciprocated.
It hasn’t always been that way. My ex was decidedly vanilla.
I mean, pretty much everything about him was vanilla!, but so to in the bedroom
department. Which is fine. But it’s not
going to change anything, open anything, explore anything. I mentioned some
things to my ex that I wanted to try, and he wasn’t into them. I mean, god bless
him, he tried a few times, but it was obvious he so wasn’t into it, or was so
out of his element that he was more just doing it instead of enjoying it.
Despite my public comportment (which shall remain), I am decidedly NOT vanilla. (Nor am I triple swirl chunky monkey supreme, but.) It’s something I know about
myself, and until this recent flirtation, have not really gotten the chance to
share in a way that feels esteemable before. Sure, I’ve had dalliances where
some of my wantonness was explored, and boy
were those fun. But those were nothing sustainable, and one-offs, unfortunately
(or fortunately).
So getting to express and open and reveal a side of myself
that is rarely unveiled is thrilling. It feels so good to say something out of the box, then follow it up
with, “I feel insecure that I said something out of the box,” and have him
respond in a receptive and reassuring way. It’s novel, man.
I mean, I am a Libra.
(I just felt all your eyes roll!) My sign is ruled by Venus. The planet and
force of sex, sensuality, desire, beauty, luxury, charm. In all my chasteness
and celibacy, there has been something missing. Like all of the parts I’m
struggling and striving to claim and reclaim, all the passions I’m diligently
unearthing and revealing to you, sexuality is a critical piece of that
excavation.
It’s sort of a sex-positive thing, I guess! Which, it is
important (to me) to note, does not mean that I’m going to throw it around or
be “easy” with it – that’s the only reason why I think this is happening in
this organic and esteemable way: because it’s safe. Because I feel heard and held
and reciprocated and appreciated. Because this person knows much of me that
rounds out the view. This isn’t Molly as Sex Kitten (but hey, Yum). This is
Molly as multi-faceted, self-possessed woman. And isn’t that sexy. 

adulthood · authenticity · change · intimacy · sex · sexuality · writing

Eat, Pray, Sex

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“If I understand you correctly,
this whole year is about your search for balance between devotion and pleasure.
I can see where you’ve been doing a lot of devotional practices, but I’m not
sure where the pleasure has come in so far.”
“I ate a lot of pasta in Italy,
Felipe.”
“Pasta, Liz? Pasta?
“Good point.”
Eat
Pray Love, Elizabeth Gilbert
Unless you choose to live a life of asceticism, you are
bound to come to a point when you have to attend to your body’s needs. There
are so many ways to go about this, and we all probably have our own patterns
for doing so.
There’s serial monogamy, adultery, the hands-on approach.
There’s serial hooking up, prostitution, polyamory, and even the somewhat “normal”
approach of having an intentional monogamous relationship.
In this age when sex outside of marriage is often par for
the course, we really do have a buffet of options. And chances are that we’ll eat
from one tray or another at various times and emotional states in our lives.
There is no handbook for this. There really are no rules. As
the saying goes, “You can do anything you want—as long as you’re willing to
accept the consequences.” Sometimes, consequences of actions are marvelous; not
all consequences are negative.
I remember the first time I had sex in adulthood sober. I
honestly hadn’t had sober sex since I was in my teens, if then. God, it was awkward. I
was so aware of everything: the way the
room looked, the sound of our breathing, the exact touches. And also, very
aware of the intimacy of the act.
That is something that drunken sex does not allow for. You
might get off, but you are so far from present; this is not an intimate act.
SURE, it can be and was fun; as Dr. Seuss puts it,
It is fun to have fun
But you have to know how.
And I’m not sure I ever really knew how. I mean, I lost my
virginity while I was drunk. Which isn’t uncommon in many of the women I
know.
So, to exist, sit, breathe, be in the intimacy of sex with
another person – well, it really is no wonder I was celibate for so long! Though,
I can admit, too, that distanced/detached sex is also very possible sober.
Which is usually how it’s been for me. Like I told you earlier this week about
the two-way mirror: I may offer you entrance, but I’m not giving you anything
in return. Here’s part of another poem I wrote during that celibacy time:
every inch closer you come toward
me is
every inch farther from myself
that I am.
so by the time your cock is pressing
against
the putty of my cervix,
i have found a home inside your
wall.
(And that was with a boyfriend!)

I suppose part of my reason for sharing these poems with you
recently is to normalize the experience for me, as I think I’m bringing these poems
to my Writer’s Group today – my all male
Writer’s Group. Though there’s absolutely a titillation factor to my work, the
reality is, this is my writing, this is what I’m working on, was working on
when I wrote them, and I guess, if there is feedback on how to improve my
craft, I want it. But, I also know it may be hard (forgive me) for people to look
past the word “cock” and get toward the structure and craft.

We’ll see. I haven’t decided yet if I’m bringing these poems
there. It feels exposing, but then again, sharing any of my writing feels exposing.
And I guess that’s what I’m getting at – showing up without
retreating. To know that I am safe and thereby be able to show up with vulnerable work, to show up physically and
emotionally during sex. To let myself be present with the cacophonous
heartbeat of it all.
I have little experience being present in flagrante delicto; but, by
escaping it, I do think I’m missing out on some of the fun.

adulthood · change · intimacy · sex · sexuality

Sex Ed.

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There is more right with you than wrong.
I had a therapist once who used to tell me, “As long as you
can take a full, deep breath into your lungs, there is more right with you than
wrong.”
Today, on the most gorgeous day we’ve seen in the Bay, I finally succumbed to the pseudo-strep throat thing
that’s been passing around work, and this afternoon, I’m performing a preview scene of
the play I’m in that opens at the end of the month.
So, I take homeopathics, vitamin Cs, a heavy dose of
over-the-counter Western, and The Show Must Go On.
And I’ve been thinking about sex. Because, who hasn’t?
I’ve been thinking about the unintentional self-imposed
celibacy I was in from August of 2011 through October of 2013. You can do math,
and understand that’s more than two years
without sex.
And, it’s not like there were some clandestine, but
ultimately PG-13 moments in there, either. It was pretty much a white-out
period.
Granted, about 8 of those months I was bald and a sallow
shade of green, but, the year prior to cancer was not a wanton, robust one.
It was sort of intentional. I’d broken up with my ex in the
early months of 2011, had two rounds of rebound sex that left me feeling more
empty than fulfilled, and a few months later, found myself back in bed with my
ex in a misguided attempt to see if we could pump (pun intended) life back into
our relationship.
We couldn’t. And I finally realized that giving the milk for
free was wearing me down.
And so began the Great Celibacy of my 30th Year. The year
women are purported to have the greatest libido. Probably because our bodies
are sending Morse Code messages through our hormones, stating, Get on with the
baby-making thing, lady, Time’s a marching.
I began sending texts to two girl friends as each month
passed: Two months, no sex. Six months, no sex. A YEAR, no sex. It was
appalling but also, I wasn’t about to jump into the sack with anyone just to
get my rocks off – because, honestly, you can’t ever be sure that your rocks
will get off with someone you don’t know that way. It’s a crap shoot, and is it
worth it to have lackluster sex with someone who you know you’re not that into?
Hm.
It’s not as if I denied myself the pleasures of carnality; I took
matters amply in hand. But it wasn’t the same. It’s never the same—as good sex, at least. Sure, you’re pretty sure you’re gonna
get your happy ending, and don’t have to think about what you do afterward, how
long you wait for him to leave, or if you cuddle or not. But, part of a poem I
wrote during the celibacy goes:
i only ever imagine the weight of
you
when i’m alone with myself at
night
i can find folds that you can’t
and pace myself as you won’t
but alone, i can never press
myself into the
evaporating softness
                                 or grip the muscles of your back
as if you were my life preserver
I once read a story that included the line, “At night, she
masturbated herself to an unsmiling orgasm.” What a waste.
I broke the celibacy last Fall with a very pointed and mutually
understood bootie call with someone I’d been on a internet date with twice, but
who wanted to just hook up, and though there was certainly physical chemistry,
I didn’t want that and we parted amicably. A year and a half after that date, my hair grown back to something I could pass as feminine, I
asked him if he was still interested in something “casual,” and he was, and I
was, and we were, and it was…Awesome.
But, that poem of mine concludes:
how does this alchemy work?
lead returns to lead as
i bolt the door behind you
the moment gimped
by an awkward exchange of
‘see you’s
what tangle the sheets are in,
still warm,
i climb back into them as if
i could coax them into being
you
and you were something else
So sometimes, celibacy is the better answer, isn’t it?
“Life is meant to be lived,” has been going through my head, though. And my body is still one of a woman in her early thirties receiving and
extending messages that say, Virile and Viable. And sometimes, it’s worth the
awkward exchange, and sometimes it’s not. Sometimes you eat the cupcake, and
sometimes you don’t. And sometimes you take a full, deep breath and remember
that there is more right with you than wrong. And perfection is an illusion,
“really.”