Reading posts from as “early” as 2013, sometimes I can’t believe what an asshole I was. That’s not to say that I didn’t feel that way at the time, and I had good reasons to. I went through some fucked up shit that influenced my feelings about relationships. I’m not sure why I was so angry about other people’s life choices, but mmkay. Plus, I was younger. I’ll examine it further at a later date. But my point is that redactions may potentially be forthcoming.
Putting up the tree is one of my favorite parts of the year. My family always made a big deal of it, with a crackling fire and hot cocoa and Nat King Cole. Last year I got my first apartment and my first Christmas tree, and I was so excited about carrying on the cutesy traditions in my own home.
But last December was awful for me. I was very depressed, in an abusive relationship and trying so hard to convince myself and everyone else that we were madly in love. Reading my blogs from last fall and winter–not early summer, because that was still genuine–I can’t believe how fake it all was. I’m not even sure I realized it at the time, though. I was deceiving myself, insisting I was happy even though I resented him so much for refusing to leave my apartment no matter how much I begged.
Again, come this time of year, I was very excited to give my new Christmas traditions a second try. And then, ironically enough, he came back into my life in an unexpected way, terrorizing me again a year later. But, this time, even though it’s been emotionally excruciating, it’s still for the best. No regrets at all. It has been painful, but it’s progress.
Anyway, what I wanted to share was not all that pain and disappointment, but how I was pleasantly surprised last night, when I forced myself to put up all the Christmas decorations even though I was sick to my stomach when I started.
Colin and I built the tree together (yeah, it’s a fake tree, but stop judging me for my need for convenience), but then he accidentally got too stoned and had to sit down and veg for awhile. For some reason, I was really intimidated by the idea of putting the lights on. It’s silly in retrospect, but I’d never put lights on a tree before, and my dad always bitched and moaned about it, so I was worried. But, I did it! I strung all the lights myself, while Colin DJed and gave a stoner-grin of approval.
I explained to him which ornaments were most important to me, and why I valued them so much, as I placed them on the tree. He watched me and really listened. Sure, it was partly the weed, but I felt a real sense of peace and happiness that I hadn’t expected to feel. It was the best I’d felt after an emotionally grueling week.
Then, it was like a movie. Love scenes in romance films are always so contrived and fake, and most people never have those kinds of experiences, because they’re not usually realistic. (Again, in terms of our experience, I’m sure the weed factored in.) But he came up to me next to the tree and gave me a peck on the lips, and that peck immediately turned into making out. I pulled his body against mine, kissing him deeply and running my hands through his hair as I felt him get excited against me. We groaned and kissed and fell into bed (pretty literally, since it’s a small apartment), and it was like the main sex scene in every rom com–clothes flying, stealing kisses in between unbuttoning jeans, nails dragging across each other’s backs. We proceeded to have the kind of unbridled, screaming sex that the whole neighborhood can hear. What we did, I’d always thought of as a movie cliche. And maybe it is, but it happened for us, for whatever reason.
Instead of basking in the afterglow, though, he picked up the laptop right away and put on a song, Queen’s “Love Of My Life,” and he belted it out to me, even louder than the wild sex we’d just had, and I thought it was so silly and cute. This was immediately followed by simply making funny faces at each other and laughing until our abs hurt, because we were stoned and giddy and in love.
Then we finished decorating the tree naked.
For my first international travel experience, I went all in, taking a solo trip to Greece. I flew into Athens, where I spent my limited time at the Acropolis and wandering the touristy markets of Monastiraki Square.
From Athens, I took a five-hour train ride from Larissa station up to Kalabaka. I stayed in the small town of Kastraki (so small, they don’t even have addresses there!), for the purpose of visiting the monasteries of Meteora.
The train back was terrible, as I had to stand the whole time in a small hallway without air conditioning. But eventually I got back to Athens, where I spent the night in a hostel and got up early to sail out to Santorini.
I got a high-speed ferry from Piraeus Port to Fira. The ride wasn’t bad, although I’m glad I had prescription-grade motion sickness patches. It was nighttime when I got to Fira, so I splurged on a shuttle to take me to my hostel.
In the morning I made my first venture to the caldera, and it was stunning. It looked exactly like I’d seen in so many photos. Most of it is private property, so I couldn’t wander around much of it, but I did wind through the streets and alleys in the city center, taking in the views and spending a lot of money on souvenirs.
The next day I went to Perivolos Beach, a black sand beach with a string of bars serving up delicious cocktails.
That evening I took a bus ride to Oia, the most picturesque town on Santorini. There, I sat on a stone wall among countless other visitors, watching the sun glint off the white houses as it set. It was the most beautiful manmade sight I’ve ever seen.
Greece was an amazing experience, but I was also glad to go home. I never got lonely, but I felt a lot of stress trying to commute and stay on schedule in a country where many people don’t speak English. It was well worth the effort and the money, though. The world is huge, and there are so many spectacular things to see and do!
I wasn’t expecting to travel internationally in 2016, but my sister is talking about going to Johannesburg, South Africa, so I might try to join her. If not, I hope to visit New Orleans next year!
It’s kind of out of nowhere, but I think I’m ready to talk about the time I was sexually assaulted, even though it’s minor compared to what other women have experienced. Inspired by this Feministing story, I decided to just go ahead and share it. The more we talk, the better the world may become.
I was already asleep in the bedroom and had been for awhile. My then-boyfriend Kevin was in the living room, presumably binge-watching Netflix or channel 11 and growling profanities at my pet duck. I woke up when he opened the bedroom door, and I saw him standing there, just his dark silhouette in the doorway. He loomed there looking at me for a moment, and then suddenly he threw himself on top of me, pinning me down with his weight. I shifted under him as he started kissing my neck, telling him politely, “No, Kevin, not now. I need to sleep.” He didn’t stop, but grabbed my hands and held them down so I’d stop trying to push him away. “No, stop, I have to work tomorrow.” He was pulling my pajamas off and I started fighting, trying to push him and protesting, “Stop, stop!” But he wouldn’t listen. He said nothing, just held me down under the weight of his body, tearing at my pajamas, swatting my hands away when I tried to grab or shove him. I was crying hysterically, protesting louder and louder, and we fought progressively harder. It continued on, in a violent struggle on the bed, as he used his strength to try to get me naked and force me to compliance.
Then suddenly, the look in his eyes changed. The animalistic passion disappeared and they became clearer. It was almost like he suddenly remembered that rape is bad. He stopped, rolled off me, and said sorry. He fell asleep, and eventually after I’d calmed down, I admittedly went back to sleep next to him.
Worse things have happened to other victims of intimate partner violence. I’m lucky that the lightbulb went off in his brain and he stopped trying to rape me. But in those five minutes or so that he attacked me, I felt what it’s like to be a helpless victim of a physical assault. Fortunately that was the extent of the experience. I’m also lucky that he was my boyfriend, so I consented to sex with him many times, though not that particular time. It would’ve been much worse if it was someone I never consented to sex with. Regardless, it was not at all consensual by any stretch of the imagination.
People question why women stay with men who hurt them, and the reasons are usually very valid and important: financial dependence, fear of further violence, protecting the children. But reasons of that magnitude are not why I stayed with him. I stayed because I was so physically (though not very emotionally) attracted to him, and I stayed because I wanted to see where his music would go. I also stayed because I felt sorry for him, for what a wreck his life was. He still needed me. But even though I stayed, things did change after that incident. I saw a glimpse of the abuser he really was, underneath the charisma and charm. My rose-tinted glasses came off, and what I saw was scary. I should’ve explored those feelings further, but I didn’t at the time.
I didn’t tell anyone about it for almost six months, and even then, I only told a couple of my closest friends. I was embarrassed, I guess, and while we were together I still wanted to protect him. I didn’t want people to know he was capable of being violent. But now I think it’s time for me to be open about it, because silence helps no one. What happened to me is on the low end of the scale of intimate partner violence, but it was real and it was scary, and I have much sympathy and empathy for other victims.
So why speak out? Just for awareness. To remind people that these things happen, and they can happen to anyone. Anyone can be a victim or a perpetrator. Anyone can be hiding this secret. Trust victims. Believe them.
Here’s the thing about dating musicians: it’s only as fun as they are. I’ve been accused of being a groupie just because of the lifestyle, not the music, and there’s truth to that. After all, I’m not an artist. I love music, but lots of people love music without that influencing the way they live. The point of being a groupie is to be part of a certain lifestyle, a certain scene.
My new boyfriend isn’t a musician, but we have more fun together than I’ve had with any other boyfriend on a consistent basis. We thrive on the same things–going to shows every Friday and Saturday, drinking and taking speed, and staying out till sunrise. We’re so compatible in our interests and hobbies, because we both choose the same lifestyle.
Then again we’ve also talked about selling all our things and eloping to Ecuador to live off the land, so ya know. Options.
I’m going to Greece soon. Very soon. I’m going alone. I’ve never traveled alone, or overseas, but I’m taking off for a foreign country where I don’t speak the language, for ten days, by myself, because I’m crazy. And because I need to see more of the world, with or without companions.
Last winter I wanted to visit my sister while she was in London, but I couldn’t because I had an adult dependent. I promised myself that I’d leave the country in 2015, one way or another. Plans of traveling to Spain with my friend didn’t materialize, so I chose Greece on a whim. I can’t really afford it, but I’ve at least booked the flights and B&Bs already, so I’ll figure out how to make the rest work.
I’ve done a lot of research in preparation, but I’m trying not to commit myself to too many plans. I know when I’ll be staying in Athens, Meteora, and Santorini, but I’m not locked into any activities. I’ll be sure to explore the ruins of the Acropolis, scour the shops of the Plaka, hike around the clifftop monasteries of Meteora, and watch the sunset over Oia. But, I’ll also have time to wander fields and side streets, write in open-air coffee shops, and drink at local dive bars. I’m especially curious about the local rebetika music scene.
Sex tourism is a thing, according to my travel research. Not necessarily in Greece, specifically, but people travel the world with the intent to have sex with as many foreigners as possible, usually prostitutes. It really is a shame that privileged people exploit poor sex workers in third world countries for their own amusement. Obviously that’s not okay. I could see sex tourism with locals as an interesting hobby though, in situations where money isn’t exchanged and power dynamics are removed. The fact that I enjoy variety is no secret, and maybe if I were wealthier, more adventurous, and not dating someone I don’t want to give HIV to, I would consider a world sex tour a valuable cultural experience. Honestly, having sex with new people teaches you a lot about yourself. Why not combine that with solo travel?
I want to blog while I’m in Greece, but there are so many travel blogs out there, and I’m so inexperienced. I don’t have any tips or advice. I’m not even all that confident I won’t get kidnapped. People are telling me to join all sorts of group tours and activities, but really, what I want is to sit on an oceanfront terrace sipping tea or a cocktail and tapping away at my keyboard. I just need to know what to say.
They rule, don’t they? Such wonderful little experiences. They’re extra fun to have with a partner, too. I’m lucky enough to be having them with a partner again myself, for the first time in nearly a year–back in the early days of my last relationship when my ex was still willing to endure the incredible struggle that is touching my clitoris a couple times a month. I digress.
I’m tough to get off though, so I’m very appreciative of the time and effort a man has to spend to make me come. It requires a lot of communication, persistence, and pretty good lighting so we can both see what’s going on down there. Most men aren’t as dedicated as my special guy, and I’m grateful for it. He’s willing to spend significant periods of time massaging my clit like his life depends on it, and he’s very open and receptive to suggestions. A lot of women aren’t as fortunate in that regard, because a lot of men just don’t care enough.
There’s much more to sex than an orgasm, too. There’s all the glory of passion, degradation, vulnerability, power. When I’m getting a good fucking, I’m not concerned about coming, because I’m having too much fun just being ravaged. Still, it’s a special kind of wonderful being spread-legged on the bed, laying back and letting someone go to work on your parts. Or, sitting up and getting in there yourself, showing them where and how it feels good, and looking into their eyes when they finally bring you off. If only everyone could be so lucky.