Wednesday, October 29, 2008

HNT: Old School

... literally.

This photo is from my freshman year... at my first college. I know, I know HNTs are supposed to be current photos, but I figured I could get away with it if I acknowledge that it's an old photo. And as I've mentioned, right now I'm not feeling overly sexy (thanks to the still-healing bedbug or whatever the hell ate me alive this weekend bites all over my body), so I thought I'd give you all a throwback. I also debated not posting this, since this is undoubtedly the most of my face you've seen, but I (obviously) decided it would be OK.

This was taken towards the end of my second semester freshman year - I was 19. Some friends and I were partying college-style in a dorm room... the theme was "underwear party." Creative, I know. The rules were simple: As soon as you entered the room, you had to strip down to show at least one piece of underwear.

I think this might have been when my love affair with wearing jeans and a bra started. To this day, wearing my favorite jeans and a sexy bra is my favorite outfit... I actually wish this bra still fit, because it was adorable. (Now I have to settle for boring black or tan bras. What genius decided women with tits bigger than a D cup don't need sexy bras? Isn't that kind of counterintuitive, anyway? Weaksauce.)

The photo was a fluke, but was a fantastic confidence-booster. I was a bit smaller then than I am now (hence the bra no longer fitting), but I actually am pretty sure the jeans still fit, although I've worn them to shreds.

So, there you go friends. An old school HNT for you... in every sense of the term!


Tuesday, October 28, 2008

she loves me not...

And the "she" I'm referring to is me.

I've just realized recently that right now, I'm not in love with anyone. Maybe that sounds like a strange thing to say, but being neurotic and overly analytical and what not often leads to me thinking I have stronger feelings than I do. Or maybe, it's just that those feelings don't always last. I don't think that necessarily invalidates those feelings, because I certainly believe them when I'm in the midst of whatever obsession it is at the moment, but I suppose it isn't quite the same in hindsight. Which, I know, is always 20/20.

But I was thinking about it today... I miss a lot of people. I miss my friends back home, I miss my family... I know this has been an overarching theme since I've been in Spain, but I'm cutting myself a little slack given the shit that's happened while I've been away. Not that any of it would have been prevented, or even easier, had I been home, but I do believe I wouldn't have felt quite so isolated. And I likely wouldn't be so paranoid about trusting anyone.

But while I miss those people, and I do indeed love many of them (some romantically, some platonically, familially, so on and so forth), I'm not in love with any of them. There aren't even, at the moment, any particular feelings of longing for closure, or missed opportunities. Certainly, things would be different were I home, but that's the whole reason one leaves home, is to change things, right? It's a strange sensation, though... realizing I'm not in love with anyone.

In some ways, it's kind of freeing. Even after he left me, I spent a long time being in love with Ex. He was, after all, my first love. And I do think that's something you never get out of unscathed. But the fact that I'm no longer feeling that longing for him, regretting where things went wrong, wishing I could just have another chance... that's very freeing.

In some ways, it's a little bittersweet. Being in love can be a lot of fun. It's nice to know someone (or someones) feels that way about you, to feel it back. *Insert here more romantic sentiments that sometimes make me uncomfortable and so I tend to avoid them of late.*

While I don't know that I'd call it being in love, I often have loose ends that I haven't tied up. I'm terrible at ending relationships, and combining that with my belief in FwB, it can sometimes lead to uncertainty, or confusion, in my love life. But I'm not even feeling that right now. Don't get me wrong, I've already got plans to get some much-needed-lovin' when I get back home, but besides the desire for company and physical contact (which are not always joined), I'm not feeling like I'm LACKING anyone. I don't NEED to see someone to try to sort out how I feel about them, or to set things straight or right or anything of the sort. Even with the one person who I'm basically ALWAYS doing that with (we can never seem to have the same feelings for one another at the same time, thus I'm pining for them or they're pining for me), it isn't much happening right now. It's like we've reached a stalemate.

But thinking about how I left things back home, maybe this makes sense. Back at school, the woman I was casually dating and I stopped doing so simply because I was leaving. We weren't quite dating, although we did tend to go to dinner/for drinks, and she spent more than a few nights in my bed. I should write about that sometime... I don't know that I really ever have. I'm not even really sure people in my life know about it. But there were no brutally severed ties there. No hard feelings, and we've been in contact on occasion since. I'm sure I'll see her again when I get back to school next year.

Then over the summer, I basically dated two people. One at the beginning of the summer for a few weeks. Pleasant, but he wanted something serious and committed, and I told him that I wasn't looking for that, and he decided to leave. I told him that was fine, and we had the "We'll-still-be-friends" (although we were never more than acquaintances to begin with) conversation. He recently got in touch with me again, asking when I'd be home and if I'd meet him for a drink. I'm considering it. Shortly after that ended, things began with nonboyfriend. I've written a little about that, and won't go into much more detail at his request. But things were good, and he made me feel fantastic about myself - physically, sexually, intellectually. I like to think that we were good for one another, for the most part. Some people might differ (in fact, I know they do, but that has little to do with anything that ever actually happened between nonboyfriend and I), but I was happy and as far as I could tell and he told me, he was too. Again, ending things was made easier since neither of us were planning on pursuing anything particularly long-distance or long-term. Perhaps things would have been different had we both stayed home, but we weren't. So that was the end of that.

I had a little bit of a hard time letting go of him for the first few weeks here. Sometimes he still crosses my mind. I'm looking forward to seeing him again when I get home. But I, honest to god, have no expectations. It's kind of nice, actually. I'm not nervous about seeing him again. We were friends before, I'm sure we still will be. We very much agreed on that part, which was nice.

There's Friend, who I still talk to regularly, and who I am excited to see, but again, have no expectations. Aside from the conversation and company, which I am sorely missing, I'm not hurting there.

And as for Crush, well, he's a fun distraction. I like seeing that his eyes light up when he looks at me, that he finds silly reasons to talk to me, and always lingers a little longer than he needs to at the end of our conversations like he's trying to say something else. If nothing else, because I do the same thing. But in love? I'm not. In like? Sure. With a little lust tossed in, for good measure.

I just think it's interesting, and surprisingly validating for me that the ties pulling me back home are relationship-based. It helps me realize that I really do just WANT to be there. For me, and for the people around me, sure, but more than anything, it's where I feel like I should be. And that's nice to know.

Goodnight, dears.

Monday, October 27, 2008

I can has banner?

So. Here I am, at 1:30 am, my roommate is sleeping restlessly about five feet away from me, and I'm not the littlest bit tired. So, in addition to sending rapid-fire emails back with a fellow blogger, I've updated my blogroll, written my O lessthanthree your blog post, and have been contemplating my next post. I'm thinking it'll be about hypocrisy. Regarding relationships and sexuality, specifically. Shocking, I know. But it's been getting to me lately. I'm trying to give it a day so that it isn't just an angry rant directed primarily at my roommate. Somehow, I'm upon midterms again (what genius decided to give TWO midterms AND a final in this program? NOT. COOL.), and am up against a deadline for the magazine here, so I'm a little bit extra-high stressed. So what am I doing? Messing around on blogger.

Anyway, in updating my blogroll and just generally stalking all of you awesome, awesome bloggers, I noticed the particular presence of sweet banners. I started writing this blog as basically an extension of my sex column, but it's become so much more important to me, that I'd like the layout to reflect that, at least to some degree.

And I've been having some shitty body-confidence issues as of late, in no small part due to some unknown bugs that feasted on my body a few nights back, making me feel all... yucky and covered in red spots. So (in addition to more hydrocortisone than any person should ever use) this is what I've decided to do. I'd love to make a banner with some lovely photo of my body as the background for my blog title. Think something along the lines of Jake and Marianne.

Here's the catch... I don't have any kind of photo-editing software on my computer or here in Spain. Also, as a writer and less of a designer, I'm not overly savvy in said programs. (Proficient, sure, but that's about it.) So since you all have been so wonderful, I'm asking for your help. I need a new banner. I'm open to it saying/having just about anything on it... You all read me, you know what I like.

While I don't have cool sex toys to give away like Essin' Em does (dammit), I can offer you my undying appreciation, shameless linkage here on my blog... oh, and pictures. I mean, you gotta have something to work with, right? Just like HNT, they won't exactly give me away, but past and future (and some unpublished) HNT photos are all full-game. Maybe even taking requests?

So all this boils down to: Do you like reading my blog? Do you know how to work some kind of photoediting software? Do you have too much time on your hands? And do you want to see more of me?

Then comment here or send me an email at sashasappho at gmail dot com and let's get this thing going.

Besos y suenos dulces.

I (lessthanthree) your blog.

I'm making a concerted effort to get OUT of the habit of saying I "heart" things by the time I leave Spain, so I've resorted to using lessthanthree. Also, it's a phrase rather dear to me as it's an affectionate greeting between P and I. Depending on how much less than three we write, that's how much we love/miss the other. It's silly, but fun. But I'm digressing.

My dearest Essin' Em was gracious enough to list little ol' me in her I <3 your blog entry, and I figured it's time I return the favor.

First off, the rules:
1. Link to the giver.
2. Nominate up to seven other fabulous blogs and link to them.
3. Leave comments announcing their rise to greatness.
**Note - You may have been given this already, so that means you are a GREAT blogger.

And so here they are, in no particular order.

Essin' Em, I lessthanthree your blog! My dear, where could I even begin? I love that we've known each other basically forever, lost and regained touch so many times, and still we've ended up so close in our identities and intellectualism and lives. You are, absolutely, my inspiration in so many things, and I'd be lying if I said I wasn't a little proud to tout you as one of my real-world friends. I can't wait for more Mexican food and sex chat as soon as I'm back. And maybe some hottubbing, too... Sans awkward friends this time? :)

Amalthea, I lessthanthree your blog! Darling, we've gone over this so many times in comments and emails back and forth, but I absolutely love what kindred spirits we are, even though we've yet to meet in person. (I say yet because I fully plan on remedying that one of these days!) I love how your voice comes through in your writing - I know you think it's scattered, but I just think it's fabulous. I also love reading as you see how blogging can be so beneficial for you and your life and your self-esteem. You most certainly deserve it. (Also, I should let you know that as a child, The Last Unicorn scared me shitless. You have very nearly changed my perception on that.) Also, I'm loving you participating in HNT... gives me more to look forward to. :)

Fat Controller, I lessthanthree your blog! Your words are beautiful, you and Heather are beautiful, and I love being able to be a fly on the wall (well, with a more comfortable seat, I feel like a pampered voeuyer) in reading about your relationship. You are so real, and honest, and talented - more than a few times, your words have had physically affected me. I love that you're just vague enough to leave us wanting more, without once leaving us wanting. You and Heather are another pair of bloggers I hope to meet in person someday.

Roland Hulme, I lessthanthree your blog! I just got done commenting this on your latest post, but truly, I love the intellectualism and wit I get with each entry. I'll admit that I still can't quite wrap my head around your political positions, but that's part of the fun. You're one of the few non-sex bloggers I read regularly (quiet in the peanut gallery, thank you), because I'm so hungry for the snarky, smart commentary I miss so much since coming abroad. Also, the photos of your son are just ridiculously adorable. And I love your comments on my HNT posts, even if I suspect that those are sometimes the only posts I can count on you to read. ;)

Jake of Facts and Friction, I lessthanthree your blog! Of course, it goes without saying that I LOVE your HNT photos, Jake. *sigh.* But you knew that. Aside from the obvious hotness (seriously, dude, those abs? Not even fair...I'm digressing.), I love your not-quite-sarcastic tone. I get the impression you know more than your 19 years let on. And I've told you that your writing reminds me of Friend, which is always a good thing. I get the impression you and I would be good friends - and I always look forward to your emails. I know University keeps you busy, but I do so enjoy hearing about your escapades and conquests. And remember, it should always be a walk of fame.

Merlin, I lessthanthree your blog! Your words are poignant, stunning, and incredibly powerful. I can feel the connection you and Nimue have for one other through your words and both your recounts of your time together. If I ever had any doubt that an affair could be as loving, fulfilling and important as a "traditional relationship" (which is questionable if I've thought that since I started having sex), you have banished every trace. You are both so eloquent and I so admire your writing that I am always genuinely flattered when you comment here. Here's hoping there are more reunions (and reading material for us!) in the near future.

Wilhelmina Wang (of Heartbreak Nymphomania), I lessthanthree your blog! Wilhelmina, you are another kindred spirit in the blogosphere that makes existing here so much more fun and exciting. I love seeing you exploring everything that accompanies blogging, and it's genuinely fascinating to see parallels in your experience abroad and mine. It does help me feel not so alone. Also, I must admit I'm sufficiently jealous of your sexploits of late. Damn living out my top fantasy. I'm always looking forward to the next post. And I should add, I adore that your HNT posts always reveal something more than your body, as well.

*pants* That's a lot of love. Of course, I couldn't include everyone I read regularly, especially considering how many of you I do read on a very regular basis. But do know that each of you has made this whole blogging experience something so much more than, and have added to the addiction that this thing has become. (Don't worry, it's a good thing.) Perhaps it's because I'm away in a strange place, but it really is nice to know there is such good, smart, sex-positive energy floating around in literally every corner of the world.


Thursday, October 23, 2008

HNT: Chilly weather...

..has arrived in Spain.
Which means I have to retire my much-favored tank tops and strapless dresses for long-sleeved shirts and heavy coats. I don't much like the cold. I think it's partially because I don't feel anywhere near as sexy in the kind of clothes I have to wear. Nevertheless, here's one of my standard tops for this time of year...

I think it almost looks OK.


Wednesday, October 22, 2008


I apologize for my absence of late. I've been busy making up missed midterms, trying not to discount people before I even give them a chance, stressing over the rest of my life, visiting Ireland, then debating whether to ever come back. Somewhere in there, sex kind of fell by the wayside.

Sex in every context, really. I haven't been doing much thinking about sexuality lately... I haven't been to my sexuality class in two weeks as I missed one while I was in Ireland (it's a once-weekly, three-hour long class). And Crush has been hot and cold, and I don't know what to make of it. Sometimes I think I simply overanalyze every interaction he and I have (which is very much like me) and sometimes I think he's just as shy as I am, because I catch him stealing glances at me and making silly excuses to talk to me. Which makes me feel a little less silly for doing the same, but doesn't help me in deciphering what the hell I should do about it. I know how to seduce people, for the most part. I know how to take friends to the FwB level. But starting this all blind, with someone new? I'm lost. And my self-confidence issues won't let me believe that maybe he is interested.

Even so, I don't know what I'd want out of it. I've already written that I don't think I'll be having sex before I leave Spain, because I don't think the one-night stand is what I need right now. Granted, someone to cuddle with, and be obnoxiously adorable on the Metro with, and to make sure I got home at night would be wonderful, but I don't even know if that's an option. Do people even do that anymore? Have my standards just deteriorated to the point that I don't bother considering things like that, let alone requesting or expecting them? Does that make me.... I don't know. Something? Anything? Nothing?

And to top off the non-sex, I haven't even been horny lately. I usually operate at a somewhat elevated level, arousal-wise. (Somehow, talking and writing and thinking about sex all the time will do that to a person. Who knew?) That hasn't been the case as of late. I haven't even wanted any me-time. I don't know what's going on with me. I feel like my body is acting separate from my head. And I don't like it.

In unrelated news, I spent five days in Ireland last week. It was, without question, one of the most incredible experiences of my life. I hope to write another post about it soon... But I did get myself a new peacoat. From a store called Sasha. No joke. And this coat replaced the since-discarded heavy black wool coat from Ex. This is the exact opposite. I'm thinking it will be the subject of a future HNT post. I also found the rest of my next tattoo in Ireland. That sounds strange, I know, but when I get inked back home, I'm sure that will be an HNT picture, as well.

Travel-wise, I've also just booked a flight to Denmark. I'm excited about it, as it will be my first time back to my native homeland (well, my father's - Far's - native homeland) since I was four years old. It should be a good trip, although likely really damn cold, as I'm going in mid-November. *shiver.* My Danish relatives are taking me to Tivoli (which I have numerous ties to anyway), and around Copenhagen... my cousin has an old 1940's truck that apparently is a popular thing to rent out for high school graduations and drive around the city, and they promised to tour the city with me in that. If anyone else has been slash lives in Denmark and has suggestions... I'll be there for four or five days, so there is plenty of time to check things out... and I'd love the suggestions!

I suppose that's all I have for now. Today was a hard day. I have those a lot. Granted, there are also days where everything is glorious and perfect. It seems to be one extreme or the other these days.


Wednesday, October 15, 2008

HNT: Letting go

As I accept a challenge to quit bitching that no one would jump into the ice-cold Tajo river unless I'm willing to do it myself.

On a side-note, I think I look kind of like one of those Troll dolls. With the hair that stands straight up? Anyone?


Sunday, October 12, 2008


I spent a LONG time talking to an old friend online a day or so ago. We're talking multiple hours here. I've written about him before, but he doesn't have a nickname here. Perhaps he'll get one, although this post isn't so much about him as it is the conversation we had. And how it got me thinking. (Not that that's something unusual for our conversations.) He and I have discussed in the past our mutual tendency away from monogamy and our dislike of the automatically supposed imposition of the concept.

Through the course of our conversation, we started talking about three-way relationships. Not necessarily threesomes, sexually. (Although there was some sufficiently hot verbal visualization of such encounters, which will absolutely be fodder for the next time I get some me-time. God, I'm a sucker for well-written words.) Instead, the conversation focused on establishing a long-term, three-way relationship. We both agreed that the idea of having TWO people to give and recieve that love, affection, and attention from and for sounds like an genuinely appealing idea. Obviously, this can only work in very specific scenarios, and we differed a little on what kind of things we would each expect from such a relationship. I said I think I'd want two people who knew me as well as he or some of my other dear friends do, whereas he pointed out that some learning and exploration can be a good thing. I'm fascinated by the idea of really making such a relationship work.

I think it could remove the stress that I've felt in other open relationships, where, even with permission, there can still be a nagging feeling that I'm doing something dishonest. In my experience, more traditionally open relationships are generally on a "don't ask, don't tell" basis - in that neither partner wants to hear details of the other's extra-relational affairs, but needs to know that they're going on, and that everyone is being safe, etc., etc. But I think, were there three people involved in the relationship, mutually, that would, on the one front, satisfy the desire to have sex with more than one person (which, who are we kidding, is something I most definitely have to consider with myself), while still build the kind of connection that I think is increasingly difficult to establish outside of some kind of emotional relationship. Not everything would have to be done together - people could pair off for events, take nights off, basically do whatever they wanted, of course. I do think it gets a little sticky there, though, because that's the point I start worrying about jealousy. If boy and girl (he's straight, so we were discussing FMF scenarios, but I'm open to other combinations as well, of course. Granted, there seems to be a shortage of bisexual men in my life. Which makes me sad sometimes. Anyway, back on track...) want to go out to dinner, but I have other plans, well, then, no big deal. By the same token, if I'm really feeling that I need a woman's touch that night, well, then girl and I take some time to ourselves sans boy.

But, Sasha, how do you know they wouldn't establish a stronger connection and eventually push you out? I don't, of course. At the same time, I tend to not get particularly jealous once I know how someone feels about me. It's the time before I'm sure that I'm fiercely protective of my time with someone. Take the current obsession, for example - I'm not sure how he feels about me, but when he invites me out with him, and then some drunken trip-mate steals him for an hour to ramble at him and dance with him, my face flushes and my eyes get greener. (A sure sign I'm angry, upset, or, as those of you who've been with me know, turned on. In that case, it was the former, obviously.) At the same time, the idea (or reality) of non-boyfriend being with other girls, talking to other women, spending time on other people, didn't bother me. I knew he liked me, I knew he wanted to spend (at least some of his) time with me, and so it didn't matter what else he did.

Of course, all this was discussed with Friend. We talked about how people go about avoiding jealousy, and about what jealousy actually is. Here was his idea: "Jealousy is a result of a breach of contract, but in this case, there's no breach, and therefore, no jealousy." Yes, I realize it's never that simple, but it is a strikingly reasonable way to look at it. And I think there's some merit to it. Because, yes, I get most angry and hurt when someone doesn't do what they've promised me they would. When they go back on their word. But in this scenario, if their word involved loving me AND someone else, as it would for me and for the third person, well, then there really isn't much to be jealous of.

There was more exploring of the idea. (Literally, we spent an ENTIRE night discussing this.) Trying to figure out if this would be any harder, or easier than a "traditional" relationship. And came to this conclusion: Relationships are inherently hard. It doesn't matter who is involved, or how many people, or how queer or straight or kinky or vanilla any of the participants are, relationships of any kind, and certainly those of value, take work, maintenance and compromise. So I don't know that I'd believe that this kind of relationship would be any harder than any other. Granted, it might not be any easier, either, but Friend and I both acknowledged that it might be more honest to ourselves than trying to make our trangularness fit into the round hole, so to speak.

Basically, I don't think there is necessarily some natural human tendency towards pairings of two. I do believe that humans are social creatures, and that we desire love, affection, companionship. But I don't see why that precludes getting those things from more than one other person. It's a founding reason of my views on monogamy, and since I embraced that, I've had generally better relationships. I just hadn't thought to apply it in a broader sense until this conversation.

Of course, there's the public perception. Every once in a while, I've stumbled across stories about or from people in triads, and they've mentioned that society at large isn't used to seeing three people walk down the street holding hands, or snuggling together at a movie. I suppose that's true. At the same time, I've kind of stopped trying to live my life making other people happy. Nevertheless, I think people tend to get particularly nervous about group sex (which, I feel, is almost always considered more prominently than group relationships). Friend said it best. Upon asking him if he could teleport himself across the Atlantic to come hang out with me, this was his response:

Friend: suborbital rocket could get me there in 25 minutes, no new physics required
Sasha: oh! That'll work.
Sasha: so I'll see you in a half hour?
Friend: if only I had an ICBM lying around
Sasha: icbm?
Friend: intercontinental ballistic missile. the aforementioned rocket
Friend: sans nuclear warheads
Sasha: ah. yeah, probably a good plan to leave those in the garage.
Friend: they do make people nervous
Friend: like, again, group sex

But sometimes it's fun to make people nervous. Especially if it's by doing something that makes you happy. Or something that might be what you've been looking for.

By the end of the conversation (at 3am my time), we were both very seriously considering this as a viable relationship option. Of course, we were still stuck on how to go about bringing this up to potential partners. Hey, I like you, he likes you, and we're pretty sure you like us... whatcha think? just doesn't quite cut it for me. At the same time, I don't know that it would happen without some provocation... I said perhaps as the consequence of a goodthreesome (as opposed to a badthreesome where someone feels like an outside intruder on an existing relationship), but those seem equally rare. I even wracked my brain for hypothetical matches among those people I knew, and had a hard time finding two people who I'd want, who also might want each other, who might also want me. (Not that I'm about to run to any of you and propose this, I promise. Just trying to see how feasible finding something like this might be.) Obviously, there are other avenues to look for this if it's something I actually pursue. I don't know that I will, for sure.
But I do know, for now, that I'm very much enjoying the idea of having two people to love, and touch, and laugh with... two bodies to lay down with each night, that many more hands and fingers and lips and tongues...

on NOT having sex.

EDIT: Re-reading this, it's terribly scatter-brained. Ah well. I assume you've all come to expect nothing less from me, right?

Obviously, I spend a lot of time talking, thinking, and writing about sex. It's something I enjoy doing - Foucault would most certainly peg me as one of those people convinced that discussing sex is taboo and by doing so I'm being subversive, though I don't necessarily think that. (Maybe because I've spent too much time reading Foucault...) But I haven't gotten laid recently. Which, I actually believe, given everything that's happened lately, is a good thing. Although it does make it a little difficult to maintain a sex blog. Or so it would seem through my lack of posts with any kind of substance. I'm reminded of a scene in the final season of Sex and the City, when Carrie thinks her column is being cancelled:

(To Samantha) These are troubled times, my friend... People with REAL jobs are unemployed - this is not a good time to be whipped cream!... I'm not getting laid, so I'm getting laid off!

But here's the thing. By NOT having sex as of late, I've actually had a little more time to clear my head and, ironically, think about sex. Perhaps more in the relationship sense. I suppose it's an unintentional consequence, but I think, for the time being, I'm done with one-night stands. I'm not about to say that I've suddenly become monogamous or anything like that, but I think I'm going to stick to sleeping with people I know. I've been talking/emailing with friends, and especially those at home have expressed some really serious concern that I'm going to get hurt if I open myself up right now, being vulnerable and what not.

I've received emails and messages from a few friends, and recently had a conversation with P about all this. I have a hard time trusting people, especially here. I'm hesitant to do so, because I first assume that everyone doesn't like me. I know, that doesn't speak well of my self-esteem, but that's my default. I either assume that people actively dislike me or simply don't notice me. Which, yes, is why I was so taken aback when this happened. But as I was talking to P about it, he mentioned that it sounded like my pessimism was starting to border on paranoia. And I think he has a point. I always feel like I need to prove to people that I'm not a bitch, that I'm actually smart and worth spending time with. The paranoia aspect is perhaps most prevalent in regards to my fellow program-mates here. I went out this weekend and ended up running into most of them who were on the pre-semester seminar with me. I ended up talking to one of the guys, who reminds me of an old friend who royally fucked me over, emotionally, and he asked me several times why I don't come out with he and his friends (the seminar-mates). I told him, first and foremost, that it's because they don't invite me. But I also pointed out that more importantly, I feel out of place in the group. I feel like they don't like me and that I'm the weird, quiet, "curvy" girl who everyone thinks is kind of a bitch. He insisted that he's never heard anyone speak badly about me. That people, when they found out about Kirsten through the grapevine, were amazed at how well I was handling it, felt bad for not knowing... And that even before, though, they wanted me to come out with them on the weekends and didn't know why I didn't.

I'm hesitant to believe him, because I think it all sounds like just telling me what I want to hear (or what he assumes I want to hear). But talking with P about it the next day, I was able to step away a little bit and analyze that thought process. I'm actually incapable of believing he was being honest. I have so convinced myself that people here hate me that I can't even fathom any other option. I think that's officially paranoid. And I don't think I like it much.

So I'm going to try to do something about it. I still don't think I'll be going out with giant groups of Americans, but this weekend, I experimented with letting people in, just a little bit, and I was incredibly richly rewarded. In fact, there's a chance I'm crushing on someone here in the program (woah!) a little bit... But I'm holding off on writing about it because I really, really don't want to jinx anything. But hopefully expect a post soon gushing about how all that is going and how calm I feel around him and who he reminds me of and how he's different at the same time.

And now, in an effort to bring this full-circle... I think the crushing might have a little bit to do with this renewed drive to NOT have sex. It's a strange effect, in my opinion, because usually when I start liking someone, the first thing I want to do is jump their bones. The idea that I just want to spend time with this guy, want more hugs, want more late-night conversations, is something new for me. At least in recent memory. It's not exactly that I'm saving myself for him or anything like that, but maybe I'm realizing THAT is what I need right now more than a quick lay. Which is also kind of a mindfuck. My mind is getting fucked a lot lately. But basically, to those of you who were/are/have been worried... I promise, I'm proceeding with caution. Maybe a little too much, sometimes - something even P agreed with me on. (And, of course, I trust P more than just about anyone in the world and he knows me, in all seriousness, better than I know myself.)

In closing, and in an effort to put people's concerns at ease, I smiled this weekend. A lot. I wasn't quite so up in my head. I still find it rather difficult to get images of Kirsten out of my head, and I'm absolutely still processing, but I think I might have really realized that I am allowed to be happy, even while mourning. And maybe it's sinking in that I KNOW she would want me to make the best of this experience. As a good friend back in New York (and my only outside friend who personally knew Kirsten) told me, Kirsten would kick my ass if I went home now.

"Sometimes it all still feels like a mass of dots. But more and more these days, I feel like we're all connected. And it's beautiful... and funny... and good."
(Bonus points to anyone who can name where that quote is from. WITHOUT imdb'ing it!)

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

HNT: Shut me up...

...if you can.

Yeah, that might do the trick.


all up in my space

I've had more than a few problems with personal space while I've been abroad. I know I'm in a vastly different culture, where people kiss upon first introductions, where you push through people on the Metro, regardless of whether they're actually in your way or not, and where the private and public spheres are very much blurred. For the most part, I try to go with the flow. But as of late, I've been incredibly cautious - frightened, really - of anyone getting in my personal space. Physically or emotionally.

I purposefully didn't tell anyone about Kirsten's death. Well, I told my professors, so they could understand why I wasn't in class or in case I had to leave to take a call, but I really only told my roommate and my one other friend in this program. Until I went on this damn field trip. My one friend, who came on the trip as well, reminded me that on Friday night, I had a little too much wine to drink and told several classmates about what had happened. I called for a toast "a mi prima," and then answered questions about why we were toasting to the memory of my cousin. I regretted doing so as soon as I got back to school.

I love and very much need my friends. I'm a highly social creature, bordering on codependent. I want nothing more these past few days than to see my old friends, feel their embrace, curl up in bed and watch a movie with a certain person or other. But none of them are here, of course. And since I haven't really connected with anyone here in such a significant way, I haven't wanted anyone to touch me. At all. That was my primary motivation for not telling people. I don't want pity hugs. I don't want people who spend most of their time making an effort to ignore me to suddenly pretend they're concerned with my well-being. I don't need that kind of attention. I don't want that insincerity in my life, now or ever. So I've simply been going without. I literally hadn't touched anyone for a week and a half. Until today.

Here's the backstory. I'm the editor in chief of our program's newspaper/magazine. I organize articles, edit them, and, of course, keep on top of writers (students) to make sure they're on deadline. One of those deadlines was last night for the first round of copy. Writers were to have sent their completed stories to my personal email by midnight. I got about half the stories, and the majority of the others featured elaborate explanations about why this story or that story would be late. (Usually, this would drive me crazy, but unsurpisingly with my recent re-prioritization, it doesn't matter much.) Among these emails from writers was one from a fellow program student who attends a university back in Colorado. He and I have talked twice perhaps, since I'm from Colorado and he goes to school there (while I go to school in his home state, ironically), and he's on the paper, and we have a class together. We're facebook friends, but have never had a conversation outside the school building or academic subject matter.

There was an email from him. Here's how it started:


How are you? I was so terribly sorry to hear about your loss. I can't imagine what you're going through right now, and that such an awful thing has happened to you and your family. I've been wanting to tell you in person, and I will, but please, if there's anything I can do to make this easier on you, don't hesitate to ask. Really, anything at all...

And it made me smile, partially because it seemed sincere, and partially because it was unsolicited. I didn't tell him what happened, he wasn't on the trip... he just heard what had happened and was writing to check in.

Then, this morning, he pulled me aside in the hallway. Touched my arm, (I don't know if I was visibly taken aback by the physical contact), asked if I got his email. I said I did, and thanked him for it. He asked me how I was holding up. Told me he was impressed that I was at school, and about how strong I was being. Then he told me he'd read some of the things posted online about Kirsten, and mentioned specifics about the work she was doing. Said I should be proud to call such an incredible person my relative. Asked if I was really doing OK. I confessed that I'm a mess, and he asked, again, if there was anything at all he could do to help. I politely declined. We chatted for another moment or two, me avoiding his blue eyes which weren't moving from their focus on mine. Shuffling a little awkwardly as he placed a hand on my arm, and stayed there, less than an arm's length from my body. It was the closest I've been to anyone in a long time. As I looked down at the ground one more time, he asked me if I was really sure there was nothing he could do. I met his eyes, and stumbled over my words.

"Maybe this is weird, cause I know you don't me very well or anything, but, I mean, can I... can I have a hug?"

He smiled warmly, without a hint of irony or mockery. He hadn't finished saying "of course" before his arms were wrapped around me. I buried my face in his shoulder and neck as he tightened his grip. I took a deep breath in, for the most part of him.

As I pulled away, I felt a smile at the corners of my lips. "Thank you," I managed.

"Anytime," he said. "Really, I have an unlimited supply of hugs. If you need more, or someone to talk to..."

"You'll be the first to know," I finished his sentence.

He stayed standing close to me, still very much in my personal space. But for the first time in two weeks, I didn't feel nervous, being so close. I didn't mind him being there. Nor did I mind when he touched my shoulder as we walked down the stairs together after another class.

I'd very much like to think he was/is sincere. The hug felt real. It was warm, and comforting, and like what I'd expect from a real friend. And the fact that he took the time to not only write me, or find me in the building, or talk to me, but also to (maybe via Facebook stalking? I'd posted a link) read what's been written about Kirsten, to absorb it, to be able to talk to me about it... I hardly know what to make of it. I'm not used to people, especially here, being so compassionate.

And maybe that means I'm jaded. I wouldn't be surprised. But it also, thus far, has kept me from getting hurt. Or so I've felt. But now, well, I hate to prove my teachers right, but maybe I should let people here surprise me. Cautiously.

And who knows, maybe I'll take him up on his offer to talk. And for more hugs. It can't be a bad thing, right?

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

My apologies

But I can't make myself write. I can't do much of anything. I'm trying desperately hard to be productive with school, and to stuff my emotions down deep inside me until a more convenient time... a time when I'm not tens of thousands of miles from home (ok, tens of thousands of kilometres, maybe), a time when I don't have midterms to take, a time when I'm not so utterly alone. A time when I don't have a feature article due in two days.

I still can't make myself write. Nothing I have to say seems important. Or relevant.

At the same time, I can't pull my eyes away from the computer. I'm clinging desperately to the messages I've received from friends - old, new, and yet-to-meet. Family and I are exchanging daily messages reminding that we love one another. The remaining cousins (god that sounds awful), along with Kirsten's fiancee/boyfriend/partner, who we're calling our newest cousin, are all coming to visit Colorado in the winter, when I'll be back.

But that doesn't help for right now. And virtual hugs can only go so far. Although I very much appreciate them, and all the support I've gotten from you, the blogosphere as well.

And even though I may return
To empty places on my own
Where I remember everything you want me to forget
And you provide the parachute
When I am falling like a stone
But I remember there's a life that I have not lived yet
OceanLab, Breaking Ties

I just want to be able to function again. But I can't make myself do anything. Except sleep and cry. Eating isn't appealing, and everywhere I look reminds me of her. Reminds me of how far away I am.

I'm trying not to miserable. I really am. I went on a field trip this weekend. I had fun for a few minutes. I jumped off another cliff. But I didn't speak to anyone on the trip. Not about anything of consequence. Then again, nothing seems of consequence to begin with. But I solidified my position as the weirdly quiet loner girl in this program. Which is ironic, because any of you who know me in person know that while I'm weird, quiet and loner are not words generally used to describe me. If anything, I'm usually overly chatty and I hate being alone. I'm hyper-social with my friends. But not here. I don't belong here. I don't want to be here right now.

I'm trying not to think about that. I know she wouldn't want me coming back, giving up this opportunity... but I'm really not sure I can keep going here. I really don't know. I don't think I'm strong enough.

Because, shit, when there are no words left, what do I have? Where does that leave me?

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

HNT: Your shirt

I still have it.
I didn't mean to keep it this long.
I just needed something to wear to work.
And now it's across the ocean
Like I am.
I really meant to give it back
But somehow never found the time.
That happens a lot
With you and I.
So for the time being
Can we pretend
You didn't know I kept it
Or brought it with me
Or noticed that it
doesn't smell like you any more?
Or that I wear it
When I want to feel like something
From home still embraces me.
Then I can bring it back to you
With me, as well.
If you want it back,
that is.