Wednesday, February 24, 2021

The thing about guilt

I find it annoying when people say they feel guilty.  People who say that often say it a lot and often about the same topic or supposed wrongdoing.  When I hear that moan, I want to go full-out Moonstruck Cher, just slap them in the face and tell them to "Snap out of it!"  Because guilt is an utterly useless - well, what is it really?  A feeling?  An emotion?  A state of mind?  A decision?  A declaration?  Whatever one would call it, it is useless, and worse than useless; it is pointlessly debilitating, while also being something of a scam, a way of announcing that you are punished for some transgression by how bad you feel about it, while letting yourself off the hook of having to do anything about it.

Here's the thing about guilt.  Supposedly it tells us that we've done something wrong.  So if you feel guilty, look to see if you've actually done something wrong: betrayed, gossiped, lied, stolen, neglected, etc.  If you have, don't spend time on the empty breast-beating.  Do something about it.  Correct your mistake, atone or apologize for your transgression, and then get on with your life.  If you haven't actually done anything wrong but only did something someone didn't want you to do, or didn't do something they did, then dispense with the guilt, because it doesn't do you or that person any good whatsoever.

So many of life's problems and challenges have the simplest solutions.  You want to lose weight?  Eat less, eat better, move more.  You want to be a better conversationalist?  Listen more attentively.  You want to accomplish something but keep putting off taking the first step?  Make a promise to someone about starting and ask her to hold you accountable for keeping that promise.  Or, even simpler, just start.

I know, I know, this is all much easier to say that to do.  The problem usually isn't that we don't know what to do, it's getting ourselves to do it.  I struggle with that, too.   So we, you and I, have to figure out what it will take for us to do what we say we want to do - whether it's going public about it, or creating a chart, or getting a coach, or whatever it is - and then do it.  That's all.  And if we don't or won't, then we should just drop saying that we want to (lose weight, exercise, be a better friend, contribute to society, whatever) and accept that we don't want to as much as we want whatever else (potato chips, more TV, fewer obligations, longer naps, etc.).  But to look at ourselves in the mirror and think "I'm too fat" and then head for the cookies is just a ridiculous way to live.  Either love your body as it is or do something about it.  Whatever you're grappling with, accept it for what it is, or for what you are, or do something about it.  If you do something someone doesn't like but it's what you meant to do, own it.  But the guilt thing accomplishes nothing and it annoys the people around you.  Cut it out.


Friday, February 19, 2021

The Holy Grail of sex

WARNING: This post contains content of a highly sexual nature.  Yippee!

A ninety-year-old man goes to a priest.  “What can I do for you, my son?” the priest asks.  The old man says, “For seventy years I’ve been married to the same wonderful woman, and I have been faithful to her the whole time – until last night.  Last night I was in a motel making love all night long to a couple of buxom blonde stewardesses.”  The priest doesn’t know what to say, so he says the one thing he can always fall back on.  “I see,” he says.  “And how long has it been since your last confession?”  “Confession?” says the old man.  “I don’t go to confession.  I’m Jewish."  The priest asks, “Then why are you telling me this?”  And the old man says, “Are you kidding?  I’m telling everybody.”

There is something I want to tell everybody, and it seems inappropriate somehow but also I think important to share and basically I just can't hold it in.  So here it is.

Last night, I had multiple, and Sweet Hubby and I had simultaneous, orgasms.  And the reason I want to tell everybody is, first of all, because it's just SO COOL!!  I mean the best sex of our lives, and so far outside the expected that I had to say soon after "Let's agree we're not ever going to try to top that."  I swear, I'm still quaking.  I keep bursting out at odd moments in shrieks of glee.  And SH is looking mighty proud today, as well he should.

But even more than that, I want to share this shattering event because I want people to know that us old folks can still have astounding sex.  (I'm so glad my Mom isn't around to see this.)  SH is 70, I'm 69.  I'm at an age when I can already tell how dismissible I've become, how seemingly irrelevant, how easy to ignore or patronize.  I'm here to tell you, we old folks, some of us a least, perhaps a lot of us, perhaps even most of us, still have fire in us, and passion, and juice, and desire.

I also want to share this because when SH and I first got together, we had almost no sexual chemistry.  Affection, yes.  Love, yes.  Warmth, yes.  But no sparks, no jittery butterflies, no rush of hot water, no jelly legs.  To have gone from that to last night shows what is possible, I would hope for all of us.

I know this probably seems like boasting.  Okay, it is absolutely boasting.  I really do want to shout to the world about this amazing, mind-blowing experience.  But not just because it was so good for me.  I want this story to maybe open a door to what's possible for everybody.


Sunday, February 14, 2021

How to have a superb marriage

 Q: So, Granny Owl, you're always boasting about having such a great marriage.

A: That must be annoying.

Q: Kinda.  But it's also got me wondering: What is the secret to having a superb marriage?

A: Be with the right person.

Q: Okay, that makes sense.  What else?

A: That's it.

Q: Oh come on.  There must be more to it than that.

A: Not really.  If you're with the right person for you, not much can hurt you.  If you're with the wrong person, or the almost right, or just good enough person, it might be good, but it won't be superb.

Q: How do I know if someone is right for me?

A: Now that's the real question.  The most important way to recognize her/him is this: Can you be your whole, entire, complete self with him/her?  Are you safe to reveal those parts yourself you want to hide?  If you feel judged, if you have to tiptoe or pretend or be guarded, this is probably not the right one for you. Second most important factor: Do you share values?  For example, if he thinks Trump is a hero and you think Trump is a mountain of crap, your marriage may survive, but will likely not thrive.  

Other questions to ask yourself: Do I trust her?  Do I respect him?  Do I find her conversation interesting?  Am I comfortable sitting in silence with him?  Do I want to change her?  Do I find his foibles adorable or maddening?  Can we talk about money?  Can we talk about sex?  When (not if, but when) we fight, is he a bully?  Is she fair?  Do we fight to win or fight to figure out how to navigate a situation or difference?  Can he say "I was wrong"?  Does she say "Thank you" to kindnesses?  Is she pissy at waitstaff?  Is he generous?  

The right person for you doesn't have to be a saint or an ideal.  I wasn't the right person for an awful lot of men, but I certainly am for Sweet Hubby.  All of us are like complex jigsaw puzzle pieces.   Finding the right person is just finding the person who fits your particular shape.

There are lots of perfectly fine marriage between people who are close enough to being right for each other that they are willing and able to make the necessary concessions in order to manage those place where they don't really fit each other.  Remember, I'm talking specifically about a superb marriage, the kind where you continue to swell with love year after year, where you just adore the himness of him, the herness of her, where (and this is true about me) you love this person so much, you even want to protect her from your own sharp edges, instead of blaming him for them.  (I can see why the neutral 'they' is so popular as a singular pronoun.  This him/her business is a bit tedious.  But I am of my time and not as fluid as I might be.)

Q: Okay, I got all that.  So how do I find this right person for me?

A: I'm afraid I can't be of much help there.  I don't think it can be made to happen.  The only way I can take any credit for finding - or being found by - Sweet Hubby is that I never closed myself to the possibility of love, no matter how many times romance didn't work out, no matter how discouraged and frustrated I was.  I never tried to convince myself that I didn't want what I wanted.  I never stopped looking and trying, dating as many different kinds of people as would have me.  Certainly it's important to be your most authentic self, always, so that when someone is interested in you, she's interested in who you truly are rather than in who you want to be, or who you want people to think you are, or who you hope will attract others.  Also important is to do those things which are interesting and stimulating to you, which increased the chance of meeting someone who is interested in similar sorts of things.  But really, I don't know how the universe works, how it happens that some people connect in fourth grade while others of us have to wait until we're in our 50's.

I wish I had known all of this a lot sooner.  If I'd really understood how to recognize someone being right - or not right - for me, every one of my previous romances would have been a lot shorter.  I may not have found Sweet Hubby any sooner, but I wouldn't have spent so much time and energy on people who were wrong for me, hanging on until we broke each other's hearts.

However, it never pays to make the past wrong, because the past was the path which brought me to where I am right now.  And where I am right now is superb.  For me.

Friday, February 12, 2021

Food and feelings - could there be a connection?

I know how to eat well, but I usually eat want.  Sometimes I'm vegetarian, and sometimes even vegan, but mostly I eat pizzas and hamburgers and brownies and I'm simply mad, simply mad I tell you, for salt and vinegar potato chips.  I eat when I'm not  hungry.  I eat too fast.  Food, in short, is both a pleasure and a problem for me.

At the first of the year, I asked Sweet Hubby to support me in not having snacks after dinner.  (Except on Sundays, when I can eat what/whenever I want.)  That seemed like a simple enough way to start getting a handle on eating more wholesomely.  One step at a time and all that.  Well, it's a month and a half later and I'm still struggling with that one thing.  I'm not breaking my promise, but I still find I want to head for the crackers and chocolate chips and herb rolls at night, even when I'm not the least bit hungry.  I guess I have to say that I have a food addiction.  Yuck.

I think I must be stuffing an awful lot of feelings with all this eating.  And feelings are running high for the past several years.  There's my anxiety about all the anger and enmity and rigid righteousness in this country these days, and the disbelief and outrage that so many people still support the nakedly odious Trump.  There's the scary awareness that I'm going to die and, even worse, so is SH.  Missing Mom, who is gone forever.  Missing friends and family, who are within digital reach but too, too far away.

Most of all there are my conflicted feelings about, my love/hate relationship with writing.  Why on earth do I go on trying?  What do I think is going to happen?  Am I really going to turn 70 with all my ridiculous Tony and Oscar fantasies intact, all those imagined acceptance speeches still lodged in the back of my throat?  Why don't I just give the fuck up?

I think I use food to avoid my fierce, passionate, miserable feelings about all of that.

It's possible, of course, and just as likely that I overeat simply because I'm lazy and self-indulgent, more interested in the gratification of the moment than in actually making something of myself.

Either way, yesterday I bought no chips when I shopped  and ate no snacks after dinner.  And I wrote for hours, and I think wrote well.  So there's that.  Not really victories but, as with so many other parts of life, a whole lot better than nothing.


Friday, February 5, 2021

Spotting

Not that kind of spotting.  Not that kind either.  Unless you're a dancer, in which case, yes, that kind.  Spotting is a dance term, a way for a dancer to do a fast 360 turn without tilting or getting dizzy.  The idea is to look at a spot and keep looking at it while the body is turning, then whip the head around and find that spot again to complete the turn.  I was never very good at it when I took dance classes (and I've taken just about every kind there is, including West African, contra, tap, jazz, country western, etc.  I love to dance!).  My neck isn't very flexible, and instead of spotting properly, I would whip my head around wildly and not always be able to find my spot again.

Recently, as I was dancing my ass off in the living room, I was doing some turns, and discovered that it's possible to spot in intervals.  Instead of trying to go from Point A back to Point A, I found Points B and C as I turned, and it really made a difference in steadiness and no dizziness.  No one in all my classes had ever mentioned that spotting could be incremental like that.  Of course, I wasn't turning as fast as a professional does.  I mean, have you seen Ann Miller or Eleanor Powell doing dozens of turns in a row, always with a smile, always coming back around the face the camera, never toppling nor staggering?  I suppose if one is turning fast enough, incremental spotting isn't possible.  But for me, it was a revelation.

I just know there is a life lesson in there somewhere because there's always a life lesson.  Is it that it's okay to be incremental even if it means never being best at anything?  Is it that what is a great discovery for me is something other people do naturally and I'm just slow to learn?  Maybe it's that I like to do things the easier way, which accounts for why my successes are so minimal?  I like to think the takeaway is that I'm still capable of learning, which is a good thing, because circumstances and the body are always changing, so it's always going to be necessary to adjust, amend, revise, redo, learn anew.

Maybe it's just that it's all right to do something in whatever way works best for me and not always be comparing myself to the Eleanor Powells of the world.  I mean, I'm not even trying, have never tried, to be a professional dancer.  Sometimes I think I spend more time in fantasyland than in my own life.  Is that true for everyone, I wonder?  Do we all go through our days thinking "I made a nice stew, but it's not as good as Julia Child's" or "Here's how I would handle the paparazzi" or "I wonder if I'll ever meet Johnny Depp or Dolly Parton" or "Am I too old to be an astronaut?"?  Does everybody have this rich internal world occupying more than half her brain pan?

But I digress.  This is about spotting.  Really, I think the life lesson is "So what?  Big deal.  Stop thinking so much about the mechanics of turning and do something important."  Something like that.

Monday, February 1, 2021

Yes, Virginia, Trump really was a horrible President

I have an acquaintance, whose name I am too discreet to divulge, who is a Trump cultist.  She would absolutely drink literal poisoned Kool-Aid if he asked her to.  We both belong to an online community, and an email thread has revealed that she is currently just as blindly devoted as ever, which has got my Outrage Meter all fired up again, solidly in the red.  She is the very kind of person I have such a hard time understanding, and it drives me crazy.

Now, I understand what it is to adore a public figure, or a set of ideas.  We all plant our flags, and sometimes in ground others shun.  Well and good.  But to do so blindly, without investigation, without reconsideration, when that ground is revealed to be sodden and swampy, or arid and devoid of nutrition, I just don't get it.  

I suppose all there is for me to do is simply accept that she and so many others see Trump as a heroic, righteous figure, and leave it at that, for my own emotional health if for no other reason.  After all, if the petty little nicknames he gives out; the way he has made the public distrust the media, distrust anyone but him; his demonization of the entire Democratic party; his boorishness and tedious, bumbling speeches full of mistakes, lies, and trigger words; his part in inciting the lethal havoc of Jan. 6 - if none of that could dissuade her, then why would I think anything ever will?  And because of that, I fear for this country, because she is one of many people who have been roused by this puny man into a state of righteous-feeling rage, and a lot of those people have guns.

I want to say to her "Doesn't the loss of sixty court cases and a rejection by the Supreme Court for lack of evidence (about the election having been stolen) mean anything to you?  Doesn't evidence mean anything?  Do you think everyone is corrupt except Trump and his toadies?  What is wrong with you?  The Emperor has no clothes.  Stop giving him a parade!"

I first learned she was a MAGA hat-wearing Trumpist at a party a couple of years ago.  "Oh good," I said, "maybe you can help me understand what it is people like about him."  She immediately, almost before I'd finished my sentence, said "The economy", because pre-COVID that and immigration were the two areas in which Trump seemed to have made progress.  But from there, she began jumping all over the place in a good imitation of Sean Hannity, saying the Obamas had left office richer than they'd been, and something about the Clintons being corrupt, and wind turbine fans killing billions of birds and coal now being clean.   I had promised just to listen, not to debate, but I did stop her at that point to say "Coal is still coal, it's no cleaner than before", but she just kept rattling right along without pause.  I asked "Are you concerned about the lies he's told?"  "Name one lie" she answered happily.  "That Mexico would pay for the border wall, for example."  Her response was pure Fox, something about tariffs saving or bringing in so much money, it was the equivalent of Mexico paying.  Really tortured illogic.  I finally had to say "You and I clearly get our information from different sources" and left it at that, although, obviously, there was an awful lot more I wanted to say.

I don't get fired up as often nor as easily as I have in the four years past; that began to shift and soften the moment  Biden was sworn in without being assassinated.  But still, my internal rumblings are clearly still active, still ready to burst through to the surface in a rousing chorus of "How is this possible?????????"  I wonder if I'll ever understand.  

Saturday, January 30, 2021

Sweet Hubby and me - Part Four

                                                         NAKED BUT LEGAL

March 11, 2006

Sweet Hubby-to-be had been doing research (I've since learned that SH does a lot of research before making decisions about where to go, what to buy, which doctor to see, etc.  Days, weeks, sometimes months of research.  I, on the other hand, will look at options and say "I like that".  Then, if my choice doesn't pan out, I either deal with the consequences or just make a different choice.  To me, time spent doing research is time that could be used writing, or dancing, or playing games, or reading, or being with friends.  You know, fun stuff.) and had learned that, in Colorado, two people can solemnize their own nuptials.  There has to be a marriage license, of course, but the two can sign as both participants and witnesses.

And so I came to Denver to be married.  Mar. 10 we spent skiing, something he was quite good at and I'd done only once before.  I took a class while he was on the slopes, and I really got the hang of it, enough to go off on my own for a while on some of the gentler hills.  I loved it.  (And we've never done it since, too bad.)  Mar. 11 we drove to Estes Park in the Rockies and rented a cabin.  It was glorious.  Our cabin had a big picture window looking out over a creek.  Snow had begun to fall, and elk passed by from time to time.  I had asked that our wedding date be March 12 (I don't know, I just like the sound of it better than March 11), so we stayed cozy with takeout Italian food and a nice fire in the fireplace.  There were 3 video tapes available in the cabin so, to pass the time until after midnight, we watched Disney's Pollyanna.  It made both of us weep - further proof of compatibility!

March 12, 2006

After midnight, we sat in the cabin's big hot tub, which we'd ringed with tea candles.  We drank champagne, and talked about the future.  Thus, miracle of miracles and did I ever think I'd live to see the day, we were married.

I really enjoy telling people we got married naked in a hot tub.  It's fun to watch people silently wonder to themselves "Where exactly was the minister standing?"

No one in my family had met Sweet Hubby at this point, and it must have been kind of freaky for them to know I'd married someone, a stranger to them, and so very fast.  I mean, we'd only met last August, and didn't start being a couple until November, and all long distance.  We'd only actually been together a few times, and now here we were, married.  Everyone in my family had gone through so many of my break-ups and heartaches and disappointments, I can understand if they were a bit anxious about this new, big, fast step.  But somehow they seemed to pick up from the way I spoke about SH that this time was different.  This time there was genuine promise and possibility.  This time I sounded relaxed and calm and consistently happy when I talked about him and about us.  So they steeled themselves for a possible fall, and also opened their hearts and their arms to this new member of the family.  They've always been pretty terrific that way.  And, of course, when they met him, the absolutely loved him, first for who he is for me, and soon for who he is.  Marrying SH is the greatest gift I have ever given to my parents.  At long last their love-hungry daughter was safe and happy, adored by and adoring of a worthy man. 

Something I noticed soon after coupling with SH was that my old hurts, scars, resentments, and bitter stories about past relationships just dropped away, disappeared, became memories with no sting.  I could see almost immediately that the only problem there had ever been with any of my past loves was that I simply wasn't with the right person.  And I could see my own role in those difficult, ultimately hurtful partnerships, how I'd put up with what wasn't good for me, tried to change him, tried to change myself.  Until SH, I had no idea that love can be easy.  So easy.  So easy and right.  How lucky am I?