Tuesday, July 19, 2011

be the tiger, not the zebra

"how are you jmac? what's been going on in your life?"

"oh nothing, nothing. nothing has changed. everything is the same. i really have nothing to say. it's all so boring and mundane. now tell me about you. i am dying to hear." she says softly in that mild unaffected southern drawl of hers.

i love my jmac. hanging out with her is like an easy sunday morning. soft cotton candy. easy peasy. smooth whiskey. a delight. her personage unassuming. her demeanor attentive and present. "oh me? little ole me? i am so boring. let's hear about you!" and talk you do. about yourself. your life. your problems. and listen? she does. well.

what i love about the jmac is that change abounds but it is an imperceptible, subtle, shifting change rather than the sort of chaotic chop chop change that i seem to put myself through.

in the few years i have had the privilege of knowing her she has created and was granted a copyright for the monster tee shirts. have you seen t-shirts with felt sewn onto the front to form cute, tactile, furry and fun monsters? that's because they knocked off jmac's designs. during her time running dishy duds i swear she has creatively sewn together more impossible fabrics into funky, fun new designs than anyone else i know. tonight my son is wearing some king kong pj's of her doing right now. giant 3 inch orange buttons adorn the neckline and turquoise knee patches pull out the flecks of blue that contrast perfectly with that orange.

but, she's not by nature a clothing designer. nope, she received her masters in ergonomics. and not just simple ergonomics. she went and earned some fancy specialized ergonomics degree. with it she went into factories and set up people who sewed mattresses or splayed fish or spun nuts on how to do it without incurring permanent injuries. and from there she went and started her own consulting business.

she had two boys but found herself wanting a girl. and as a planner she began to consider adoption. she began a voracious reading frenzy about africa. she began campaigning about the horrors occurring in darfur. she sent them monies her small business earned. and then, 3.5 years ago she flew out to ethiopia and adopted a baby girl.

oh so BORING.

during the economic downturn her husband, who was the bread and butter man, lost his job. she met him in a factory in the south. he was that hot manager. she was the young, nubile ergonomist in a factory comprised mostly of males that employed assembly lines to manufacture their cars or trucks or something metal and massive. the affair was sizzling.

i look at pictures of jmac in her wedding garb with the long white train flowing behind her, her blonde locks spilling down her shoulders and i can smell the magnolias and the heavy alabama moisture hovering in the air around her, barely moving in and out and around her. she made a fantastically perfect bride.

she was hired by a nameless corporation and gave up her clothing design business, participating in craft shows, sewing, talking about her craft to make money. and each time i saw her she would say "oh you know, same old same old. nothing new for me to tell. just making sure everyone has their gel pad properly placed. sigh."

so this past friday when we gathered for taco night and and those crafty ladies were lining up their perfectly concocted tequila sunrises in glass mason jars with slices of lime scooched up just this way and that on the side rims; well it was of no surprise that after not have seen her for a month she once again reports that there is nothing, absolutely nothing of interest going on in her life. "come on ladies, let's hear about ya'll."

uh huh. so we talk and talk and eat and drink. crazy diesel thief across the way whose rig is specially crafted to siphon tons of diesel from slumbering truckers. an end to crocheted hats. kids. haircuts. halloween costumes. skirts. this and that. schools. boyfriends and husbands and dating. craft shows. friend drama. rats and rabbits. richard and horror films. a new shirt jmac's been sewing out for jen n.

and then it's getting later. we are all sitting on the floor near jen's piano, the big kids are singing crazy songs in the basement on jen and trent's karoke machine. the voices merge with the sounds of connect four pieces being released and spilling onto a table top by the smaller children.

and jmac starts talking.

"well i have to take off too. i am so tired. been getting up so i can get to work by 6 am to help manage all the construction workers. you know, motivate, inspire them."

what? i ask. what construction workers. what are you hell are you talking about jmac?

"well you know they are building like crazy out there so sometimes in the early morning before they start, i will go to the tent and give an inspirational sort of speech. i stand up in front of oh, around 1200 construction workers and talk about some safety topic."

WHAT?!!! we ask. you have got to be kidding.

"yes, well all that building that is going on and so many teams of crews. so before my last speech i had seen some pbs on baboons and stress. it was really quite interesting. you see most creatures in the wild experience high, intense levels of stress but the stress is short lived; either the creature escapes and whew or dies and whew. but there is release from that stress from either outcome. while we humans, our stressors like mortgages, bills, traffic jams, unpleasant bosses are long lived so our bodies and brains are continually coated in these stress created hormones which wreak havoc on the body. so i went for the inspirational speech on how to cope with daily stress."

you give inspirational talks to 1200 stressed out males? i ask astounded.

"yes. and because i had just seen that pbs special i somehow managed to end that particular speech with the line "be the tiger, not the zebra."

we all started laughing hysterically. half of us were drunk. actually i think everyone was drunk except me. but, regardless, it was exceptionally funny. either jen or rebecca piped up "but jmac, don't tigers live in china and zebra's in africa?"

"YES" she exclaimed.

more hysterical laughing.

"as i was walking off the stage someone whispered to me "hey, you know tigers live in asia and zebra's are from africa, right?" of course i hadn't really thought about it but duh and of course the line developed a life of it's own and followed me wherever i went. turned into a bit of a company tagline. and it was asked that posters be created with this imagery on it."

Oh My GOD NOOooooo we all screamed deliriously and at this point we really were delirious.

"it gets better ladies" jmac stated in her understated way.

"i was responsible for approving the posters that were to go out and i received some graphics from some designer and they looked just fine to me. a tiger chasing down a zebra with the line don't be the zebra, be the tiger so i gave it my approval and they went into print. and of course after i approved it a coworker walked my desk and said "you didn't approve that image, did you jennifer?" well why not i asked? "look at it! look at what the tiger is doing to that zebra" and sure enough staring me right in the face! if that tiger wasn't nearly standing upright on it's rear haunches, reaching it's giant paw out and touching that zebra's ass. crap."

there is no way i can describe the point that all four of us ladies had reached in our shared giggling fit but let's just say the image of fish out of water, spastic bodies flip flopping, lips pursing in and out, gasping for air does come to mind.

we need that poster jmac. we want that poster. we chanted. we demanded.

"well, unfortunately nameless corporation banned them. they were removed from all work sites and are no more. the only thing i have left is the graphic."

and after we had all calmed down a bit we each agreed that this story would not be forgotten. we sat in a circle, held out our pinkies, joined them together and swore that we would never, ever let jmac forget that there was always something she could share with us about her life.

oh so BORING?

uh huh....

Monday, May 23, 2011

sex at dawn

a friend lent this book to me and although i am only 100 pages in, what little i have read struck an ah ha chord with me. the author's gist (so far) is that humans sit as close to bonobos as they do to chimps and in fact, have a bit more in common with bonobos. female humans and bonobos copulate throughout our cycles as well as during lactation and pregnancy. we both enjoy various position (chimps only like the rear entry). our vulva is located more to the front of the body. bonobos and humans are hypersexual animals and they use sex for tension reduction, bonding, entertainment, conflict resolution while chimps use it primarily for reproduction. bonobos are also a very peaceful, communal, sharing group of primates. chimps are mean.

this little morning monologue is just me trying to reconcile human's hypersexual nature in a society that is structured around a nuclear family.

people have asked me what i am looking for in a relationship and i have always responded that i am searching for my ideal partner. he is my best friend whom i have the best sex with, we make each other laugh all the time, we are both madly in love with one another and when we are ancient we are still getting it on. we stare into each other's eyes for all eternity. hold and support one another throughout life. yup, this is the vision i left my husband for.

right before i left my husband i heard the siren's call beckoning. i asked the advice of an acquaintance who appeared to have one of the most solid marriages i had witnessed. they were so loving and supportive of one another and doted on one another in public and on fb. she told me that YES indeed, this ideal did exist because she in fact lived it everyday with her husband. ten years later they are still staring into each other's eyes. they are perfect partners and she had just been with the wrong man throughout her first marriage.

It did exist! my ideal. so i left my husband because we were for the most part miserable together. our home was a war zone with little affection shared between the two of us...except when we had sex which was about twice a month. and then for a couple of days we were madly in love with one another again making promises in order to find a way back to what we had in the beginning.

I found out a year later that this woman cheated on her husband a few months after our talk and he is still unaware. so much for my ideal partner. perhaps it is all a twisted little fantasy we women hang our hopes on when in reality we are just wasting away waiting in vain...? or what if their relationship allowed for exploring an infatuation or two? he wouldn't be disrespected and maybe their relationship really would be ideal.

The truth is i can't really imagine myself pleasantly cohabitating with anyone. each and every time i have lived with someone i feel forced to change. we fall into roles. we fight. so much compromise. so little time alone. if i were a bonobo i would surely be that surly little one off hiding in a tree. my ideal living situation with my ideal partner would be two houses side-by-side like frida and diego had set up.

a couple of years ago i read the funeral party by ludmila ulitskava and in it there was a minor relationship that i felt drawn to. the man who is dying is briefly held by a friend who he also had an affection sexual relationship with over the years and throughout his marriage.

i also noted the relationship between blomkvist and erica berger in the girl with the dragon tattoo. they were close friends and over the years (with full permission from erica's husband) they still got together and had sex every once in awhile. it sounded so beautiful!

i tried to create a similar type of relationship with an infatuation i had with someone in a different city. i imagined we would just see each other when our paths crossed, would care for one another, would communicate regularly and continue to have other primary attachments. only problem was i realized that it was only an infatuation and not rooted in any real affection because we lived in different places and never actually got to know one another so that didn't work out so well. but i was extremely drawn to this set up.

i came away from this experience recognizing a difference between infatuation, feeling affectionate and tender towards someone and falling in love. falling in love, real love, happens very rarely and it should be protected and nurtured but i don't know if being monogamous is really the best way to protect love. if you are really in love then an infatuation with another is a passing and two people in love don't need to be terrified of an infatuation really taking anything away from their love. in fact, the experience may just make you realize how much in love you really are! nor is having sex with someone from your past you feel affection towards a threat to two people in love because it has already been determined that it is affection/tenderness and not love. plus, i believe that any woman or man who tries to usurp a loving relationship and is successful at it is just going to get the same in return. not because of karmic retribution or any such nonsense but more because if it is easy to draw a person away from a loving relationship perhaps they are not capable of really loving someone and for one to think that you are different is narcissistic.

i guess what i am getting at is that i think my ideal setup in life is to have deep affections with people and still be able to get it on with them when it strikes the both of us. because maybe sex is just a natural extension of affection. and, if i should ever meet my ideal i would want to build a home (side by side) with him and continue sharing my affection with other men in my life that i have grown to care for.

i can think of five men from my past that every time i see them i reminiscence about the intimacy we once shared and certainly wouldn't mind sharing a couple of days with them. and maybe i am not a horrible person for feeling this way. that it is natural. i don't want to take them from their partner. i just want that connection between us to still exist.

thinking of my current situation with a man i dated for a couple of months i feel a similar draw. the sex was mind blowing but we both knew before we even started that we weren't meant to be that long term couple that walks off into the sunset together. and it ended because he was in search of his wife, the mother of his children and i was not her. and i stopped having sex with him after the split not because i wanted to stop but because i was afraid of getting hurt. because if we continued to have sex and then he found his wife not only would i be out a sex partner but most likely i would be out a friendship as well. and i found it preferable to be out a sex partner (even a very, very good one) than both a sex partner and a friend. because how many girlfriends are eager for their new boyfriends to hang out with their ex-girlfriend whom they were having sex with just before she got together with him?

but imagine if we were bonobos and it was just a natural extension to continue those affections with past partners even while mating with new partners. there would not be any jealousy on the part of a new partner or fear of losing that connection by the old partner.

although i must qualify that statement. i think that when i meet someone new that i am really into i don't have any desire to continue having sex with my old lovers but this only lasts for a year at best and i believe it is the period of time one needs to develop a deep affection for that new person. perhaps bonobos don't have this need to temporarily cut out old lovers because they already have well developed affections for one another. they grow up together, forage together, eat together. the bonobos copulate with those they feel real affection for. they share ALL resources.

there might even be a tremendous amount of affection shared between the females. when i met my best friend she was sleeping with the man who later became my boyfriend. he cheated on me with her. yup, i found her panties in our bed. but, there ain't a woman in the world i feel closer to. my ex-husband has had a new girlfriend for a year now and over this time (admittedly both relationships had a rough start) we have gotten to know one another. i find myself liking her immensely. i want her to be happy and i am happy she is happy with my ex-husband. we go out together and talk for hours about our lives. i think him a lucky man to have her in his life.

i don't have sex with her boyfriend (my ex-husband) because we are not bonobos and in our society we just don't know how it would pan out. plus, what we all have together right now is amazing and to muck it up would be stupid. but i do wonder if it would be all that horrible for her if he did have sex with me every once in a blue moon. and i wonder if it would be heart breaking for me if the love of my life (should my ideal ever find me) should lie in bed with his old girlfriend, hold her affectionately, stare deeply into her eyes and have sex. if i knew it made him happy? if i knew i could do the same and not be thought of negatively? if i knew it wouldn't hurt our relations? if i liked her? jealously comes from feeling threatened with loss. what if there was no possibility of loss?

is this just weird? to want continued sexual affection over the years from those you once felt close to? and to also want new sexual partners because god, isn't that the best feeling in the world? i find it bizarre how people in our society break up. once two people who felt incredibly close figure out it isn't going to work as a long term thing they sever that tie with a cleaver and delete one another from their lives. how horribly painful. how unnatural.

but i have only been single for a year now so perhaps i am glorifying this set up in my head.