Also finished Nina Kiriki Hoffman's Past the Size of Dreaming somewhere in there. Not as coherently fabulous as the previous book, A Red Heart of Memories, but satisfying finding out what happened to the characters next. Somehow it was oddly lacking in dramatic tension. But pleasurable anyway.
Okie -- must shower. It's hot and intensely humid here today -- every time I step out of the hotel I get incredibly sweaty...and inside isn't so much better. Will shower and relax a little and then go to party. Think I've had enough alcohol for the night, though. I'm such a lightweight! Very sad.
I'm trying to remember where I left off -- probably last night. This morning, we went down to the riverfront and had cafe au lait and beignets ($1.25 for 3!) at Cafe du Monde. Very lovely. Nice walk back through the Quarter. Hung out at the Quarterly West table for a while, then went to two panels -- the first on building creative writing programs (MA's, MFA's, PhD's, advantages and disadvantages, etc.), the second on South Asian women writers. The first was fine, if mostly not so relevant to me yet -- I *am* interested in how such things are built, though, for the future. Someday, I may be trying to put one of those together...
The second panel was fascinating; several South Asian women were in the room, and there was a vigorous discussion of the pressure to write a certain kind of traditional narrative -- generally centered on arranged marriage and all that. Which, of course, I'm doing, at least some of the time. And we talked about ways of resisting or confounding that narrative. Much fun, and I hope to be in touch with some of these women again. I also tried to get them to submit to Strange Horizons; fingers crossed. :-)
Gonna go back down and man the table (though I may grab a piece of fruit first), and then this evening, we're planning on trying to go to Nola's for dinner (fancy food, Emeril-style). If that doesn't work, we'll try Bayona. And if that's full too, then we'll just find something fun. There's plenty of fun to be had in this city, no doubt. Afterwards, party with the Florida State people, I think. It's go go go around here. Very distracting. We approve.
I did pick up some beads tonight. I'll let you guess what I did or didn't do to get them. :-)
But I should back up a little. Lessee -- much travelling on Wednesday, relevantly innocuous (though the in-flight movie, Hope Floats was not worth the $2 for my set of headphones). Got to the hotel around 3-ish (the Radisson on Canal Street) and registered for the con, dropped bags in my room, etc. Then I took a long walk through the business district to Kinko's, made flyers. The business district was mostly pretty dull, but a few interesting observations:
- the further you go into it, the whiter the population gets (dramatically so)
- in the midst of staid buildings, you can glance up and suddenly notice bare-limbed trees absolutely covered with shiny plastic beads
We ended up somewhere else entirely after all the walking, sitting in a bar and listening to a pretty girl sing and bang a drum. She was actually pretty spectacular on the drum -- I have no idea how she got so many different sounds out of that little drum. Very cool. Around midnight, we wandered back, and I (having only gotten 1.5 hrs of sleep the night before, plus maybe a half hour nap on the plane) crashed hard.
Slept just about eight hours, woke up still tired. Dragged myself out of bed and to a panel on web publishing (fine, but nothing I didn't know). Took my SH flyers down to the table that Quarterly West and Western Humanities Review were sharing; they kindly let me borrow a corner. In return, I manned the table off and on in spare moments through the day. Went to a memoir panel (generally vaguely interesting, really impressed by the editor of Fourth Genre, who said quite interesting things about what they're looking for, most of which I've already forgotten). Went to lunch with Sam and Jeff. Went to a panel on women writing sex -- met Kim Addonizio, who I've been wanting to meet for a while. So that was very good. She did a little strip tease at the beginning of her presentation; really made some people uncomfortable, I think. Interesting! More watching table, and a nice chat with a guy who turned out to be a friend of Nick Mamatas, one of the SH authors!
Eventually, the Utah people gathered (it's so nice to have a bunch of grad students to hang out with at this thing) and we tromped off to dinner. Took a cab to the Garden district, which has just stunning mansions. Very beautiful. Ate good food (and great desserts, esp. the strawberry shortcake) at Copeland's, got too full. Walked for half an hour or so back towards the hotel, pausing often to enjoy the fabulous homes and churches and mortuaries (really, we passed a gorgeous mortuary), and generally enjoying the weather; it was just slightly cool, perfect walking weather. When we got tired, we hopped on the the St. Charles Street streetcar, also fun. Wandered down Bourbon Street, got more drinks, ended up in a bar with a nice outdoor patio and a piano guy going. Lafitte's Blacksmith Shop. Very pleasant. We sat outside and just chatted and gossiped for a while, then came back here. Somewhere along there, I collected a few beads.
I find the whole bead concept fascinating. I think I'd be more comfortable with it if it were less gendered -- if there were just as many guys flashing body parts in order to collect beads. I think I'd also be happier if it were more mellow -- some of the guys throwing beads were very directive in what they wanted in exchange. Made it seem more like actual prostitution, and less like fun exhibitionistic silliness. Odd dynamics.
But overall, I'm really liking this city. I've never been to New Orleans before, and there's a relaxed pursuit of pleasure here that I find utterly refreshing in contrast to Salt Lake. I think I'd get very little actual work done if I lived here, though. And the racial segregation is a little disturbing. Still -- there's a lot of loveliness too, all around. And charm -- beautiful old buildings, utterly gracious...that have a string of plastic beads wound around the balcony. It's just too darn cute.
Feeling better, oddly enough. Really, if we skip some artificial highs in the last few days, I'm just buy kamagra paypal uk where I was a week ago, plus some good news. That's an okay place to be. Of course, I'm going to New Orleans, which is another place entirely. But that's okay too.
I'll probably be mostly absent until I get back Saturday night, munchkins -- high connection costs from the hotel. Don't fret about me. Will be fine.
Something kind of funny happened to me the last few days. I started out in Chicago, being glad to learn that some things were better than I'd thought they were. Much better, really. But I knew that they probably wouldn't change the overall outcome, so I was a sort of muted happy. Happy despite. Something like that.
When I got back to Salt Lake, there were a lot of people I needed to talk to. A few had known that there was a "talk" scheduled for Sunday, and wanted to hear what it had been about, how it had gone. Others just hadn't talked to me in forever since I'd been on the road since the end of January, and wanted to catch up. In the last twenty-four hours, I've spent a significant amount of time on the phone with Jed, Kirsten, Karina, Alex, Roshani, David. Usually when I should have been sleeping.
The funny thing, is that as I talked to these people, I got more and more optimistic about Kev and me. I'm honestly not sure why. Maybe it was telling and retelling things. Repeating bits of conversation. Getting further away from the truth and closer to the way I'd like it to be. I'm not sure. Somehow, by the end of the last conversation, I had almost convinced myself that everything was going to work out. Somehow. Magically. I was floating on a cloud so high, I couldn't even see the ground.
It couldn't last. The cold light of reason shone through; romantic daydreams gave way to sad facts. A long conversation with Kevin then confirmed the key points -- that though we love each other tremendously, we still really haven't figured out a way to be together. We could just do it, of course. But there are reasons why it's a bad idea, probably a very bad idea, unless the problems get resolved. Which is why we need to stay broken-up. Why I need to continue to think of us that way, and keep making decisions about my life based on that assumption. Continue to expect that I'm not moving to Chicago. That kind of thing.
I get on a plane in a few hours and go to New Orleans. I'll attend a conference, wander through the French Quarter. Hopefully, it'll be distracting. Right now, I can't sleep, I can't read, and I can't even cry. I just lie in bed with my body feeling awful. With my mind racing in useless frantic circles. With my heart sore.
My flight to New Orleans leaves at 8 a.m. tomorrow morning. Which means getting up at 5. Which means going to bed by 9, in theory. Which means...I don't know what it means. It means doing a hell of a lot in the next nine hours.
I am running around like a lonely puppy whose owner just came home, knocking things over as I go. And at the same time, I'm still giddy from Sunday's conversation. Floating. Confused. Having a hard time concentrating on mundane stuff when I want to just stop thinking and ignore all potential pitfalls and trust in true love conquering... I probably shouldn't have re-read that McKillip The Tower at Stony Wood on the plane yesterday. Even though it's the best thing she's done in years and just a lovely lovely book.
Our heroine (I'm your heroine, aren't I? :-) was last seen waiting patiently for Kevin to wake up. Around 3, she got cold (because she cleverly had forgotten that to turn up the heat in his apartment it was necessary to turn a little switch as well as raising the dial on the thermostat) and tried to sneak into the bedroom closet quietly to borrow a sweater. Our heroine is not very good at sneaking. Kev woke up, and she ended up climbing into bed with him (much warmer) and having the impending conversation o' doom. No longer impending. Not so doomful either, as it turned out.
I'm not sure exactly what to say about that conversation. I guess the key points were that a) a couple of issues that I had thought relatively immovable have somehow dissolved into mist and sunlight, which is a cause of a remarkable amount of happiness, even though b) there remains one issue which has so far continued to prove immovable. Well, it moved, but it's still blocking the road. It's a double-wide issue with a big fat ass, and we're going to need a crane, at least, to get it out of there.
So we're still broken up. Which is a bit...bewildering, I suppose, considering how we feel about each other. But we can't think of a way around this. Pretty much the only solution is for one of us to change our mind on this particular fat issue...and the thing is, one of us might. We really might. But we can't predict it and we can't force it and we really ought not to hang around waiting for that change to happen. I know that. He knows that. It's a little hard to feel that at the moment.
I'm going to get on a plane and go back to Salt Lake and try to get a little of the work done that I slacked on all weekend (I think I really needed a vacation -- three days of tv-watching and eating good food has made my body and temperament a lot more stable, aside from everything else). Then I'll get on another plane and go to New Orleans on Wednesday. Then I'll do conference stuff all weekend, and mostly try not to think about this relationship thing. I'll let you know if anything changes.
So I picked out my sugar bowl, and I went up to the counter to get my colors, and the girl (seventeen or so?) told me that I couldn't paint it. Because they didn't have any tables left. And all those empty tables? Those were for a big group that had reserved the place for 5 p.m. But it was only 4:30. It would take me longer than that, she was sure. I really didn't think it would. She was insistent -- she knew how long it took the paints to dry. I should come back tomorrow, she said. But I was leaving town tomorrow. She was very sorry. Before I could completely lose it and start yelling at her, asking her why she hadn't bothered to move her ass over and tell me that I wouldn't be able to do anything in the forty-five minutes I'd spent looking at white ceramic in her empty store, Kevin had gently steered me out. I was ready to cry. Not for any good reason -- just 'cause I couldn't stand the frustration of the whole experience. He gave me a hug. He fed me dinner and took me to a movie. I had cheered up by the end of the evening, but I held a grudge against those stores.
Several months later, it was my birthday. Or perhaps Christmas? My birthday, I think. Among other things, Kevin gave me a little box. Inside it was one of the ceramic dragons, the ones I'd thought were too expensive, that I'd reluctantly put aside in favor of a practical sugar bowl to give to someone else -- he'd gone back and gotten it for me, and painted it himself, green skin and yellow spots. I could imagine him in that little store, ignoring the snide sales clerk, carefully painting one layer of color, waiting for it to dry, adding little yellow spots. I was totally charmed.
So many years later, just the thought of that little dragon still makes me smile.
I probably never really made clear why I decided to come visit. About two weeks ago, Kevin called and we were talking (while I was staying at Jed's). The topic of my getting seriously involved with someone else came up (fairly hypothetically). He got kind of stressed; of course, he knew it would happen eventually, that that was part of the deal when you broke up with someone. Not that we've been so strict about the break-up...which is part of the problem, of course. Oof -- it's difficult talking about this without needing to backtrack over and over and over again, because most of you know almost nothing about the break-up. Quick recap with relevant details:
We dated for nine years. In that time, we lived together for three years, here and there. We lived down the street from each other for about two years, off and on. We were long-distance the rest of the time...sometimes very long distance. We saw each other pretty often even then. We talked erratically -- sometimes almost every night, sometimes not at all for a week or two. Some of those conversations lasted all night. Our record phone conversation was somewhere around eleven hours. We love(d) each other lots. We had all the big conversations -- marriage, kids, work, time, etc. A little conflict here and there about poly stuff...but mostly not. The last couple of years of our relationship were marked with growing stress due to some pretty different plans for our separate futures. We couldn't seem to find a way to make them mesh, despite the best will in the world. I spent May of 2001 living with him in Chicago; he'd bought a condo, and I helped him pick new flooring, buy furniture. I was planning on doing one more year in Utah, finishing up my classes, and then moving in with him. In June I went to California -- he was about to head to France for six weeks to do math. In early June, we had another long conversation on the phone...and realized that both of us had serious doubts about the wisdom of my moving in with him with all the long-term stuff unresolved. By the end of the conversation, we'd decided we really ought to break up.
Oof. It's funny, I can recap nine years in a paragraph, but it gives you no real sense of us, of him, of our relationship. You'll just have to take my word for it that it was something. Something worth fighting for. You know that line in The Princess Bride, about true love? Like that.
If you've been reading my poetry over the years, you probably have some idea.
I spent most of June and July alternately crying and coping. I found that I didn't really want to talk to anyone about it -- and that I couldn't, that when I tried, I just fell apart. I've never been so purely sad. By August, I was talking to people, and when school started in September, I threw myself into work. Or tried to. I didn't do so well at it; by the end of the semester, I was losing it again. Kev came out to visit twice -- the first time, we came *this* close to getting back together...just because it hurt so much being apart. The second time, we only discussed it briefly -- just long enough for each of us to make sure that the other person hadn't figured out a solution for the long-term stuff. (I'm sorry to be vague about the long-term stuff, but I'm already skirting the edges of feeling like this is an invasion of Kev's privacy -- just take it that there are a couple of big issues.) They were both wonderful visits; I was intensely happy when with him -- and wrecked when he had to leave.
The holidays were horrible. I kept myself as busy as I could with relatives and friends, and I survived, barely. My sisters were great.
I came back to Utah, and started this new semester on fellowship. I had lots of time to read, to write, to catch up on old projects. I started feeling a little saner, a little more in control. I went on a few dates. The idea of having Kevin as just my best friend...it wasn't what I wanted, but it sounded manageable. I still wasn't happy about how things had worked out, but I suppose I was becoming reconciled. That's where I was two weeks ago, when we talked, when he got upset, when he said that he'd really rather finish discussing it in person. So I agreed to come out.
I was worried about what it would be like, being here. I thought being in this condo, where I'd planned to live with him, might be too upsetting. But it's been okay -- I hadn't really made so much impact on the place last May; it doesn't feel like it had started becoming my home. I do envy him the high ceilings and the hardwood floors. Kinda miss those. Chicago's been fine too -- kind of miserably cold, but Utah was too, so it's not so bad. Mostly we've been staying in, getting used to being around each other again. Putting off the conversation we're supposed to have. Enjoying each other's company, maybe pretending a little that we're a couple again, maybe fantasizing a little about the way things could have gone... It's insanely good being with him. It makes me so blissful that I can't think straight.
We figured we'd wait 'til today to talk; I did want to spend some time with Roshani and her family (and wanted to do it while I was still relatively mellow, so *before* I talked to Kev, rather than after). Most of yesterday was given over to that. It would have been a good plan, but it got waylaid by some bad luck. Kevin sometimes has trouble sleeping; last night I went to bed at 3 a.m., which was bad enough, but he ended up not being able to sleep at all. I woke up tired and cranky at 8 a.m., and came into the tv room to find him sitting up, watching old MASH episodes. I finished that mystery I'd been reading, and then we watched an old Next Gen double-episode together, Time's Arrow. Good episode. By that point, I was getting hungry, and he was finally a little sleepy. He put himself to bed (around noon) and I headed off to Artopolis for lunch.
I suppose we could have tried to talk this morning, but he would have been exhausted -- didn't seem like a good plan. And now I'm not quite sure how things will work; we usually try to avoid serious relationship conversations at night, because my thyroid levels are usually dipping by then and I'm much more prone to irrationality and weepiness. Maybe we'll put it off 'til tomorrow morning -- I'm not flying out until dinnertime. But that seems a bit chancy. We'll probably just talk when he wakes up, and risk the weepiness.
I'm not actually expecting our talk to change anything. I haven't changed my mind about the things I want long-term, so unless he's changed his mind, I don't really see any solution other than staying broken up and working on being best friends. In poly terms, we could theoretically try to have a secondary relationship -- romantic, but clearly non-serious. But in practical terms, I'm nowhere near emotionally ready for that. There's no way I can be romantically involved right now without being head-over-heels for him...and I appear to be constitutionally incapable of feeling that way without needing a sense that we have a viable future together. It just drives me too crazy otherwise. Maybe someday, years from now.
Right now, it still feels like it would take years. But then again, last July I couldn't imagine what it would feel like to not be constantly miserable. And here I am. Still often sad, but it's no longer a constant tearing at the heart.
I guess I've been wanting to lay all this out for a while now -- I couldn't talk about it for a while, that's all. Thanks for all of you who listened when I called you up -- and thanks also to those of you reading this who respected my request to just leave it alone for a while. I really appreciated it. Some things don't heal if you keep poking at them. This visit -- it's probably mostly a form of poking at it. What can I say? Sometimes the temptation is just irresistible. But eventually, you learn better. Right? So I'm told, anyway...
Ain't love grand?