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I don’t know how many of you can remember the day you “got it,” but I can. Clearly. I don’t remember the actual “date” of course, nor ever really what time of year, but I think it was Spring of 1983.

I was sitting English class with the rest of the pseudo-brainiacs of my rural, country, shit-kickin’ high school. The truth of the matter is that we were quite a diverse bunch because some people’s parents lived in the country because they were quite wealthy and could afford a hundred acres of luscious horse farm; some were so dirt poor they couldn’t afford decent screens on their trailer in Hog Valley. (Yes, there is a Hog Valley, Florida.) We had about a 49/49 black/white ratio with the other two percent being various shades of whatever. But skin color alone would tell you nothing of our diversity; you’d have to factor in, among many other divisions, rednecks vs. potheads, horse farmers vs. dairy farmers, simple country folk vs. those destined for the Ivy Leagues.

In English class that day were one or two smart jock types, several cheerleaders (I wasn’t one), a number of nerdy but wickedly funny guys, and lots of band members (yes!) in the “advanced” classes. We had a mix of the popular and the not-so-much but this group of kids, for the most part, always seemed to have the same classes.

Now, we were smart, but pretty typical kids, and today we were studying poetry. Squished into our 1940s style slide-in wooden desks, books tucked under the seat, with the appropriate amount of slouch for the guys and side-ways curl for the girls, we read aloud, stanza after stanza of 19th century British poetry. Yep, poetry. Mrs. Unold (real name, folks, and it’s pronounced “mizzez you-nold”) was sitting in her own 1940s desk, the top scattered with decades of carved initials and sanding where the more, ahem, inappropriate remarks had been removed by the custodial staff or the offenders in detention. And here it is, the poem:

TO THE VIRGINS, TO MAKE MUCH OF TIME.
by Robert Herrick, 1891


GATHER ye rosebuds while ye may,
    Old time is still a-flying:
And this same flower that smiles to-day
    To-morrow will be dying.

That age is best which is the first,
    When youth and blood are warmer;
But being spent, the worse, and worst
    Times still succeed the former.

Then be not coy, but use your time,
    And while ye may go marry:
For having lost but once your prime
    You may for ever tarry.

The glorious lamp of heaven, the sun,
    The higher he’s a-getting,
The sooner will his race be run,
    And nearer he’s to setting.

 

Imagine, if you will, a class of unsophisticated, heavily Christian, hormone-hyped, basically bumpkins reading aloud Mr. Herrick’s words. After the last line was uttered in the halting monotone of a 16 year-old voice, Mrs. Unold stared at the class. We stared back.

“Well?”

Silence.

“What does it mean?”

Glances exchanged, looks of confusion, and still, the silence. Ten seconds pass, twenty, thirty.

“What point, children, is Mr. Herrick trying to make?”

Ms. Unold holds our collective and slightly stupid gazes till she’s had enough of our dumb-asses.

“It’s about sex!” Her hand slams down on the top of the desk, “It’s about getting it on!!” Slam. “It’s about ‘what are you saving it for?’!” One slam for each syllable.

And the light bulb went on, the darkness disappeared, and I got it.

Not the sex part. No, Mrs. Unold and Mr. Herrick could not overcome 16 years of Reverends’ Chapman, Henry, Walker, et al reigning down hellfire and brimstone in regards to normal, healthy biologic functions. And I was still way too young to realize I was, in fact, living under Damacles’ sword – time.

I got the words. Language. Meaning. Rhythm. Meter. Beauty. Emotion. Love. Fear. Joy. In an instant, it all made sense. Words on paper transferred one person’s intention to another person across time. Mr. Herrick was talking to me. His message had meaning — relevant, real meaning — to me, personally, and I felt it like a lightning bolt.

Moreover, like a giant puzzle that magically formed a perfect picture, I saw that words were the pieces. I think I must have read that poem a hundred times. The sense of “getting it” was so strong. Soon, I was reading Shakespeare’s sonnets and understanding the meaning behind them:


LX

Like as the waves make towards the pebbled shore,

So do our minutes hasten to their end,

Each changing place with that which goes before

In sequent toil all forwards do contend.

Nativity, once in the main of light,

Crawls to maturity, wherewith, being crowned,

Crooked eclipses ‘gainst his glory fight

And Time that gave, doth now his gift confound.

Time doth transfix the flourish set on youth,

And delves the parallels in beauty’s brow,

Feeds on the rarities of natures truth,

And nothing stands but for his scythe to mow;

    And yet, to times, in hope, my verse shall stand,

    Praising thy worth, despite his cruel hand.

 

And when I went to college to study theater and acting, my mastery of language grew so that when Roger Rees (of Royal Shakespeare fame) conducted a master’s class he whistled in appreciation at my ability, at the age of 20, to nail in performance this particular piece of the master’s work.

I got it.

And as I started making a minor living as an entertainer I was able to read scripts and instantly go to the meaning of the words. Like one of those pictures that make no sense until you stare at them just right and a 3-D image “magically” appears, I could look at the words and in seconds see the meaning in stunning reality. I was, and I think still am, a rockin’ good sight-reader.

I got it.

And as I grew in the craft of acting, using words to create new life, I started to see how both the writing and the intent could be shifted and manipulated to vary meaning and outcome. Change this word for that you could completely change the imprint left on the reader’s soul. Move a word from here to there, and what was benign could become sinister and vice versa.

I got it.

And as I aged off the stage and started writing words as opposed to performing them I realized that I — little ol’ me — could have the same effect across time as Mr. Herrick and Mr. Shakespeare. Now I’m not so vain as to think my efforts are quite to their standards, but I’m also not so modest as to think it isn’t pretty damn good. I write for this blog, which is mostly for myself and I’m lucky that some of you folks seem to enjoy it, and find it entertaining and maybe even enlightening on occasion. And I write for clients, who are trying to impart something worthwhile to their visitors, customers, and other strangers.

Words are not only my joy but my living. I write for pleasure and for profit and because I’m reasonably good at it I enjoy the fruits of this labor. With my Beloved, our company also spreads a little wealth around; I hire other writers and performers, buy goods and services, and certainly give a good percentage to Uncle Sam.

It was you, Mizzez Unold, who made it all possible. One day in maybe the Spring of ’83, you connected two dots for one little Redneck kid in a nothin’ little town in jerk-water Florida… and the world unfolded. And my life changed forever and for the better. I hope over the past 27 years I’ve applied this moment of clarity in positive ways and used my humble powers of prose for good and not for evil.

And so, to you Mrs. Unold, I want to leave you with this – Thank you. Your beauty, your skill as a teacher, your willingness to get to the meat of a matter, your daily commitment to the often ungrateful, unwilling, and oh-so-unknowing teenagers, and certainly to this one, has transcended time and place. One day I may be able to do better, but for now, I have to steal from my main man, Mr. Willie Shakespeare:

And yet, to times, in hope, my verse shall stand,

    Praising thy worth, despite his cruel hand.

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So we continue on with last weeks Project 365 that I’m combining with a little of the essay writing I want to accomplish. By God, I’m going to get this stuff on pixels!!

Moving on…..

Tuesday, Feb. 16, 2010 – More than the eye can see    

So I spent Monday with my head in the old books, working on a post that isn’t quite ready, and realizing how much of who I was (though I’ve moved on from and discarded much of it) still impacts who I am in, I think, I very positive way. When someone talks about sexism, racism or religious dogma, I never tell them they don’t know what they’re talking about or worse that it doesn’t exist. I also have a tremendous compassion for the sexist, racist, and dogmatic religious “nut” because I have a deep understanding of how they got that way. Moreover, I fiercely love those very same sexists, racists, and dogmatic nuts. Then I realized I hadn’t taken a photo and started looking around my house. I didn’t make the connection until I chose the shots but here it is — my house (like my life) is much more than it seems when you know a little more about the pieces and how I got them.    

The grand piano is on “permanent” loan from my mother, the art hanging on the walls was a second-hand find. The candelabra on the piano were a wedding gift from a friend of my mothers who was the pianist in the first church I remember as a baby and my first piano teacher. The photos in the frames are (on the left) my father’s parents and family and on the right, Mike’s father and grandfather. I think, like me, it all works pretty well together. It certainly is “my style.” But is, in fact, pretty much a representation of me, a collection of ideas and things, modified and redefined to hopefully create something warm and beautiful.     

You’ll also notice there isn’t a lot of clutter. I’m ruthless about getting rid of things that are ugly or serve no purpose, that clutter up my home and give the place a cramped or oppressive air. I’m apparently the same way about ideas, and in fact, even people. People that bring ugliness into my life are out or at least limited in the amount of time and space they are allowed to take up.

I am delighted to receive plenty of compliments on how my home looks and feels; I also get plenty of positive encouragement from friends about who I am, the me they see, and the person I try very hard to be. My favorite of all, though, are people who come into my house and say “Wow. It’s so beautiful and so comfortable. I just feel great here!” But it’s understanding the back story, knowing how and why it got that way, that gives the space (and people, IMHO) depth and meaning.   

47-365_Not what it seems_Tues-02-16-10

 

  Wednesday, Feb. 16, 2010 – I miss you G’anny   

My father’s mother (G’anny) was quite different than my mother’s mother (Granny). Where Granny was active in the church, G’anny was pretty much a recluse. Where Granny held vices like smoking, dancing, and high-falutin’ TV shows in great contempt, G’anny smoked like a chimney and whiled away her nights watching Lawrence Welk or reading The National Inquirer. I wrote a post about her here.   

She was sad and morose and it wasn’t until long after her death that I started to get to know her though her diaries and long misunderstood family stories. As a young woman she worked, danced, and partied. After she married she amputated that part of herself with alcohol, drugs, and self-isolation.   

In this photo, from left to right, are a small cigarette holder (with a pink rose); a green perfume bottle along with an embroidered pocket ashtray, and a compact/lipstick combination set on a vanity mirror. Behind it is a brass ashtray. continuing to the right is a collection of her Zippo lighters, including one in a box that belonged to her brother, Uncle Buddy, that he carried in WWII. Reflected in the blown glass of the china hutch, you can see my mother’s piano and the candelabra.  

Like Andrew’s dual image painting from yesterday’s post, this is a dual photo that represents dual people. G’anny — who she really was vs. who I was allowed to see, but also her life — stifled and isolated, wanting glamor and experience but ending up with a form of benign self-destruction — and my life, that I believe was, prior to the Dogged Pursuit, on an oddly on a similar path. Not the self-destruction part, but the isolation. It was sneaking up on me as daily I had been letting go of or cutting off the things that brought me joy (like dancing) or filling my house and life with people and things that didn’t lift me up, but rather brought me down.
 
48-365_I Miss You Ganny_Wed-0-17-10

 

Thursday, Feb. 18, 2010 — Just Dance  

So the next night we went to listen to a new band that Mike is playing with to check out the location. Loved it!! We got dressed in our sexy attire and headed out. This band is fantastic, uber-professional, and Mike, awesome rock-god that he is, is gonna be first sub on lead guitar.  

The song playing when I snapped this pic was “Just Dance,” and within moments the dance floor was so crowded I wouldn’t have been able to take the picture any later. I love the blond woman in the upper right. She looked like she was in her late 40s or early 50s. In fact, there was a dance group there that night, people who can REALLY freakin’ dance, whose ages appeared to range from mid-30s to 70 or better. And these people got down and rockin’ to every song from hip-hop to hard rock, Madonna to Santana, Prince to Lady Gaga. Those people haven’t given up on the sexy, touchy, funky life.   

But here’s the thing — I spent the whole night watching the band, watching people dance, watching, watching, watching. I mentioned my G’anny earlier. In her youth she went to juke joints, she got out there, she DANCED! The she got married, and she quit; hell, for all I know she never even went to watch anymore.  Her spirit shriveled and died long before her body gave out and God knows she was doing everything she could to wreck her body too. Her life wasn’t easy either. She was institutionalized, she received electric-shock treatments, she was ostracized and isolated. In less charitable moments people have suggested she was just a bad, selfish woman, a drunk and a druggie. When people are remembering her with a little more compassion they say maybe she was depressed, maybe she was an addict, maybe she was bi-polar. 

Personally, I think maybe she just wanted to go dancing. 

49-365_Just Dance_Thurs 02-18-10

 To be continued…..

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[Jan. 4 2010 — Odd thing just happened. This post disappeared from WordPress so I’m reposting it. Apologies to all of you who already read it and commented. I’ll try to find the comments too.]

And 2009 is….. outa here!! Enter 2010! Not to slag on ‘09 or anything, but damn! But before I get into all of that — an update on Daddy

The good news!! – He appears to be recovering some of the usual thought processes but also his sense of humor. He even jokes about it, “Let’s head over to church and see who else I don’t remember.” Names and past events are a problem but he is certainly able to engage. 

The bad news – The personality shift is very apparent and, if not permanent, will take a while to recover. He will engage in conversation but only if you engage him first. Otherwise, he’ll sit in silence. His curiosity and desire to explore and expand his understanding of people and places is simply gone. He’s “Daddy-lite” so to speak. 

And that’s part of the problem with wrapping up a year on such a crappy note. You look back through a haze of negatives and the only things that seem to stand out are more items that match it. 

Well, to hell with that. 

On New Years eve, as my Beloved and I sat on our back porch, drinking vino and otherwise recovering from the week and year, I decided to focus on only the good things that came out of the year and I must say, it was quite a cool list. And since I’m not much of a “resolutions” kinda gal, I decided that my plan was to identify what really worked for me last year and to do more of it all the while making note of those things that I realize no longer serve a purpose, and cut that shit out wherever possible. 

So with that in mind, a few highlights: 

Oct. 2009 -- Testing for my Green Belt in Karate. Yeah, I passed.

I conquered a demon last year — body image. After four decades of self loathing, I’d had enough and discovered I didn’t have to wait until I was thin happy with my body to start enjoying it. I still don’t think I can accurately describe the positive change this even brought to my (and Mike’s) life. With that in mind, in 2010 I plan to remain vigilant on this. It’s possible this monster isn’t dead but just resting will creep back into my life. I will not let that happen in ‘10. I will visit more nude resorts when I have the time and write about the experiences; I will buy and wear attractive and sexy clothes; I will flirt shamelessly and will welcome the attention that it brings. I’ve earned it.  

SIDEBAR: After the body-image epiphany I actually lost about 20 pounds. Yippeee! I plan to lose another 20 – 30 in 2010. But here’s the thing — in 09 I discovered the only way it works for me. 1) Total caloric intake daily average:  1000 – 1200. 2) Total caloric expenditure per day [exercise and base metabolism]: 2200 – 2400. 3) Gross average weight-loss per week: 1/2 to 1 pound. You read that right, cowkids; it takes having an AVERAGE caloric deficit of roughly 1000 – 1200 calories per day for me to lose almost a pound in a week. Sucks, doesn’t it?  

I also realized that event did more than conquer fat-fear, it proved to me that I can conquer any fear, any self-imposed limitation, without any help from anyone. Mike and I’ve talked at great length about how much it hurt that he can’t or won’t embrace something that finally works for me. He says he’s ambivalent about it. But I don’t want to go explore this new and awesome experience with an ”ambivalent” companion by my side so my option is to continue on alone or to forgo it altogether and once again wait for someone else’s “approval” to live my life fully. In his defense, he says he’s perfectly fine if I go solo but I’m not sure how well that will stick if I start to develop friendships, spend money, and otherwise create a separate life from him. I’m also pretty sure it won’t work for me. He is my Beloved, and to know that he doesn’t want to be with me sucks the joy out of any activity. It’s a fuckin’ rock and hard place and I don’t know how it will resolve in 2010. 

Another highlight was getting published. Now I’m a writer/producer by trade but my work doesn’t show up in print magazines. However, I wrote an article for “N” Magazine (FYI – for some reason the formating on this article is awful. I swear, I didn’t write it that way!) based on my trip to Cypress Cove and was even paid for it! (A whopping $50 but who cares?! I had a byline! Wheeee!!!) In ‘10 I plan to write more and expand beyond my work and blogging life.  

Speaking of blogging, the Dogged Pursuit is a major highlight of ‘09. The feedback I get is fantastic (who doesn’t like to be told they’re wonderful?) but more than that is its effect — on my and on others. For me, I’m clearer. Writing here helps me focus, plan, and place a critical eye on the bullshit that espouse every day. I think I am a better writer. I know I am a better person. But that’s small potatoes compared to the effect it’s had on others. For those of you who’ve found something useful on these pages and have let me know, thank you. I’m so very glad you found something of use here beyond just “Hey, did j’a see what Stasha said this time! Da-um!!”  If something I wrote here resonates with you, I’m glad I was able to give it a voice. I’m also glad when it helps us both see that we are not alone. I’m going to continue with the long form format and am going to revise my target number of posts down to just one a week. I’d originally planned to do 3, but that’s too much for your humble  servant. (Curse your productivity, Joan!) 

Speaking of productivity, I realized that while I did a lot of things last year, I could’ve done a lot more. I spent a lot of well-worth-it hours reading blogs, reading books, learning and generally exploring new concepts and ideas that for reasons explained in other posts, I’d missed most of my life. But in ‘10 I think it’s time for a little more action. I’m not a TV watcher per se (except for a couple of favorite Tivo’d shows) and there’s no reason I can’t get a few more things done.Reading and learning is swell ’n all, but doing is sooooo much better! So, in addition to more writing, organize my damn photos! They’ve been in plastic bins for years. Also, now that all of my grandparents are gone, I’m going to do the same with the mountains of old photos we’ve found around the houses. If I can accomplish this in a year it’ll be a freakin’ miracle but my work in museums has taught me much about the importance of archiving your history. Wish me luck on this one. 

Moving on, I also had some fantastic individual days last year and several stand out — too many to detail here — but they did have a couple of things in common. 

April 2009_ A refuge in Wyoming. What a day.

First, they were all spent getting to know people. One day in particular I spent on a wildlife refuge in Wyoming with an uber-awesome park ranger. She took me on a 5-hour tour and it felt like we were the only two people on the freakin’ planet. In that time we chatted about life, nature, work, art, etc. and it was time well spent. By far one of the best days not only of the year, but of the past several. More of this please. I also expanded our local circle of friends. We had more dinner parties and I invited people we wanted to know better; we attended regular parties (one group in particular — Nutsy, anyone?), we met more friends and neighbors for drinks at our local watering hole. I’m also making a wide range of interesting discoveries in the blogosphere –fascinating and wonderful people. Some are old friends I never really knew until I started reading their blogs, others are folks that have reconnected with me and we send private emails back and forth now, still others are new and growing friendships with people who are at the same time radically different but remarkably similar to me. More, more, more please!! 

Jan. 2009 Hancock Shaker Village Massachusettes. Beatiful! But cold!!

The second thing about most of the aforementioned ”great days” was they included my camera. Now I’ve never been great at taking pictures; not because the shots don’t turn out, but because I forget to take them. But I’ve gotten some fantastic images this past year and want to take more. My beloved was going to get me a new camera for my birthday but we can’t find exactly what I want to I’m going to continue with my old 4 mega pixel Kodak and iPod but I’ve decided to follow Hubman and Emmy’s example and participate in Project 365 this year. I may do a post a week here with the week’s shots all at once rather than once per day. I’ll still try to upload daily on the Flicker site, but we’ll see how that goes. 

The second to last most wonderful thing about 2009 was the intensely increased communication between my Beloved and me. Though a complicated series of events, we became closer, discovered what real honest marital communication feels like (both good and bad) and consequently have become much closer and more committed than ever before. That’s not to say that all is hunky-dory fairy-tale story perfect around here. In what marriage is it ever? But I certainly want this part of who we are to continue growing. On the more challenging side, it is intensely difficult and frightening to share your inner self with someone, even someone you love and trust. The potential for hurt magnifies right along with the potential for understanding. It’s worth it, but it still hurts. It also means laying bare your innermost desires, dreams, hopes, and fears before someone to ridicule or be repulsed by. It also means offering them an oportunity to help you make them come true. And for you to do the same for them. What an awesome responsibility. What a frightening sense of vulnerability. 

And finally, full circle, to Daddy’s stroke and Granddaddy’s death. The latter was a longtime coming, and his passing was life-changing but also a relief. The former was a bolt out of the fucking blue and I’m still reeling. But both are a continuing reminder that our lives are short and unpredictable. That memories and the people and events that make them matter and are very, very fragile. That relationships are everything. The experiences make up the sum of your life. That now matters more than then; and that you (me, you, us) matter more than them — those who would limit us, those who mock our dreams, those who embrace ignorance, those who peddle fear. 

July 2009 Mt Airy, NC - On the road of life, how can you beat this?

So in 2010, I am not resolved to do any more than to simply do more of what seems to work. I will work harder, play more, be more aware in my travels, more eager to embrace all the good that comes my way. I will deal with challenges in the only way I know how, one day at a time — and be more attentive to the beauty and grace that appears to follow me around. I will love my friends more and will continue to hold my Beloved close to my heart as we journey on together. 

Happy New Year! 

Stasha 

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[NOTE – this post is a little longer than usual but only becuase I was given so much to think about by some very cool people.]

I’ve been having a bit of an identity crisis lately. (No, I’m not.) Yes, I am.

I don't know what this photo has to do with this post, but I took while working in WY. Bare bones and cloudy sky. It just seems to fit.

It’s not easy, you see. I try — and try very hard — to be “authentic Stasha” all day, everyday, but since creating my blog I’ve been running into problems. When I first started writing I included my first and last name as well as links to my work blog because (I didn’t have anything to say) I really didn’t think anyone would read it. I was wrong.

Next thing I knew people were not only reading it but commenting on it so I became (swelled with pride) a bit more confident and started telling people about it, including friends and a family member. I included a little “Family Warning Label” in one section and believed that would prevent any hard feelings or family misunderstandings. (Ah, not quite but also, not too bad. Not yet.)

Soon, emboldened by my newfound (carelessness) confidence I was writing about my trips to nudist resorts, my tattoo, my issues with fatness, family, sex, Brazilian waxing, money. But I also wrote about a particularly painful incident satisfied that not using the person’s name (and the fact that I hadn’t discussed the incident with more than three fucking people) would allow me to write about what I’d learned but also protect me and them from further hurt. Again, I was (stupid) wrong. Shortly thereafter I received a six-page, single-spaced letter detailing my shortcomings, listing the many ways how I’d hurt the person, and to sum up was really (quite a fuckin’ bitch) very thoughtless.

In the meantime, in addition to people reading my blog, I’d started to follow a number of blogs of people I find fascinating — you’ll find some of them listed on the right side of the screen — not all of them, ahem, safe for work.  I loved the perspectives, the mind-stretching, the challenge (Oh for Christ sake, just say it!), the titillation of their words. I wanted to engage back, to comment and question, but I didn’t dare because “what if.” What if someone reading MY blog clicks through to this blog and thinks I, like Goose, am a polyamorist? What if they click through to this one and assume I’m like Figleaf, a sex blogger? God knows what they’d think about this one(So what if they do? Fuck ’em, I say!) I can’t just say to hell with people. I can’t.  People know me. (Do they?)

Actually, I know plenty of people who would probably think poorly of me if they knew what I read (let alone what you do!) on a regular basis. (They most likely don’t like your perceived politics either. Idjits.) They’d make assumptions, take positions, and generally engage in speculative condemnation based on whispers of misinformation and unverified interpretations. I wonder though, if these same people would elevate their perception of me based on some of my other regular reads. You really can’t go wrong with Joan, Louis, or Kelly. Nothing controversial, not really, and still very thought-provoking. I mean, how outrageous could it really be? These people blog under their own names. Just like me. (Exactly. Just because they don’t write about the intimate details of their sex lives doesn’t mean they don’t have them.)

I find myself starting to split in two — an outer voice or “okay-for-public-consumption-Stasha “and (“keep-your-fuckin’-mouth-shut-Stasha”) and an inner voice which is exactly what I didn’t want to do when I started writing. You see, I don’t really know these “public” people any more than I know the anonymous ones. I know what they’ve each chosen to reveal and nothing more. All else, is purely speculation on my part.

My anonymous blogger friends (Really? You think you can call them friends? A bit presumptuous, don’t you think?) — OK, so I’m a fan! Shut it! — like Goose, Sadie, Figleaf, and Hubman among others reveal intimate moments of their inner and outer lives with a body of work that in some cases spans years and are created and presented through their “inner voice.” I’ve seen pictures of them half-neckid, read smokin’ hot excerpts from real life sex-capades along side of heart wrenching emotional revelations that in some cases make me ache with their pain and loss. By choosing to remain anonymous they have the freedom to reveal their souls, if they so desire. But I cannot touch or see them so it is hard for them to be real. Without the mundane context of daily life, it’s hard sometimes to see them as more than fictional characters in their own stories. As one wrote when I asked about their decision to blog anonymously she said “… anonymity was freeing but lonely, [] the impact of outing was powerful but more inhibiting.”  She went on to add “How free can I be if you can see me? How real is it if you don’t? How safe are we regardless?”  To say I’m developing a love for this fierce woman who is both phantom and spirit would be an understatement (and fuck you if you have to take a prurient view of that just because she lives her life differently from you.) Hey! Back the hell up, inner voice! You don’t know what the heck people think! (Okaayyy. I’ll be quiet.)

Sorry. I’m back.

But the issue of safety is crucial. In fact, the need for folks to conceal their identities is directly related to being able to work and finances, social acceptance, being considered “good parents” (Dr. Phil, you’re an idiot), and in general to live an unmolested life. Another behind-the-curtain blogger wrote that some days he’d rather not be anonymous and that there are things “I’d like to talk about or comment on, but doing so would give away too much, so I refrain. That being said, as friendships develop with people I meet through my blog, I do let my guard down and have shared my real name, occupation, and even face pictures with those I trust.” (Emphasis added by your truly.)

I trusted the three people I  mentioned previously, the ones to whom I revealed my friendship ending post. One of them was my Beloved, who I’m certain maintained the confidence, and the other two were close friends of mine as well as the person I wrote about. I don’t know who told the woman about my post (Shit, she couldv’e stumbled on it quite innocently. Hah!) but I doubt (No, you choose not to believe) the information was not revealed maliciously but revealed it was; and the damage is irreparable.

So there’s the rub. Words can wound and things said cannot be unsaid. (And people — friends, family —  haven’t hurt you, on purpose or because of their own bullshit? Isn’t that exactly what your writing about? Isn’t that the freakin’ point of learning lessons and how you propose to grow?!) In some cases, as with the more risqué material, the risk to financial security is enough to warrant an iron curtain approach. But relationships are more precious, more fragile, so the discretion is not just advised, it’s required. In some cases, you just don’t want to drag someone into your lone version of a shared history. Figleaf, an erudite and prolific critical thinker, makes a wonderful case for not bringing former lovers into his musings while my friend Joan — a powerful, funny, and insightful writer — looks a little closer to home. She wrote “I don’t think I regret using my own name, although I admit I have made the internal commitment NOT to address certain subjects that would upset family members who will undoubtedly read it.  I have been absolutely truthful with everything I have written thus far, because I’ve just avoided the stuff that I would LIKE to write, but I know will be hurtful.”   

I don’t want to hurt anybody (not on purpose, anyway) but I don’t want to avoid writing about what I want to write about.  But that’s just a bit selfish and shortsighted isn’t it? It isn’t just that my brother reads my words on occasion, apparently his co-workers do as well. And while it may not be too much to ask him to cut me some slack — after all, he did throw me out of a treehouse once — but to require people who don’t know our shared, fucked up, and in so many ways eternally bonded past to get that image out of their heads is just unrealistic. (Oh, and for fairness sake, I once bit him so badly I took a chunk out of his arm. Ah, sibling rivalry!)

However, Joan has something in common with a woman with whom she has almost nothing in common — Britni. Oh. My. God. That Britni’s shameless. Not only does Britni write about her life in BDSM she uses her own name and posts face pictures, nude pictures and, great googley-moogley, explicit SEX pictures of herself on her site. She’s admittedly “open, honest, blunt, sexual, and inappropriate” but her reasons for being “out” are… (fuckin’ fierce) elegant in their simplicity. After having an anonymous blog discovered and revealed and then a former, spiteful and determined  boyfriend (asshole) “eventually found it, printed out a bunch of shit, and attempted to ruin my life with it. At that point, I decided that if people wanted to find the blog that badly, they would. And so, I said fuck it. And I decided to just be me. The content didn’t change, the only difference was that I showed my face.” But Britni, when asked if her family read her blog replied, in her deliciously succinct fashion “Haha! Hell no!! They know I’m sexually open but wouldn’t get the BDSM stuff.” Protection from hurt and rejection, as well as of the heart and feelings of our love ones, runs deep in us all.  

Whether you’re on the jagged edge of “polite society” or its poster child, whether your family history is dark and painful or enviously open and supportive, it would take a special kind of person (bitch) to actively or thoughtlessly bring them pain. The question is, around what do you circle the wagons? For some, immediate family is the limit. For others, engendering ill-will in people you don’t like, who apparently don’t like you (and certainly behave as if they don’t), who aren’t even factors in your life, and whose “love” is so tenuous is requires complete suppression of your true self and the default abdication of your own happiness is simply too much to bear.

Another excellent point was added by Kelly.  Like Joan she blogs under her own name and works hard not to invade the privacy of friends and loved ones as she navigates the life of being a modern-day Bachelor Girl. She adds “I don’t usually write about dates unless they’re horrid, and I know I would never want to see them again or even be friends with them, which is rare. But I can’t imagine that if I had a steady boyfriend, I wouldn’t write about him with some regularity. It’ll be interesting to see how the future Mr. Bachelor Girl feels about becoming blog fodder.” Yeah. Nobody asks to be blog fodder and there’s definitely a clear line between honest conveyance of people and events and just being downright fuckin’ rude.

So lately I’ve been giving some thought to starting another, anonymous, blog (Yes! I gotta be me!!) but I don’t have the time (Nooo!!! You idiot!!) and quite frankly, the interest. You see, I found the person who spoke most directly to me, who seemed to reach into my chest, grab my heart, rip it forward and show it to me, was a man I haven’t seen in 25 years. Louis and I were children together with nothing in common other than geography and the band. He, too, blogs under his own name (and not regularly enough! Get on it, soldier!) and he added this to the conversation. I included the whole thing; all emphasis added by me.

  • “While I understand the urge (and need sometimes) to blog anonymously, I get a certain amount of self-satisfaction and therapeutic satisfaction out of blogging under my own name. Also, I am opposed to the notion of feeling “cowardly” by blogging anonymously. [(Did I mention Louis is a Marine?)] I always want to feel that I’m unafraid of the controversies that may arise from posting articles under my own name. My thought is that people will think what they want about you anyway; so why not tackle the taboo issues that affect our everyday living? Sex, violence, racism, etc., are REAL. So, why not allow a REAL person to express their feelings about it. You are a GREAT writer — a helluva lot better than I. You have a talent — a gift, no less! [(Blush)] Your subjects and your style are as unique as your fingerprints and it would be a crime (Did I also mention Louis is a lawyer?) for you not to associate your writings with your personality and your identity. I hope this has helped and encouraged you — but mostly, I hope that you are prompted to expand into areas where your sense of discretion has arisen in the past. DO YOUR THING!! Venture out of the “safe” issues and dive headlong into the cynical, controversial and down-right gritty if necessary. Whatever! As long as you stay uniquely . . . “Stasha.”

I have spent way, way too much time worrying about what people think, a lifetime in fact. Like so many of us, I have hidden my thoughts, hopes, dreams, desires, fears, failures, and triumphs from those who I would like to get to know (and who I would like to get to know me) and then sat around pickle-pussed and pouty-faced because “no one understands me.” I have lived my life to avoid pain (to myself and others) rather than embracing opportunity and adventure and respecting the rights (and obligations) of other to do the same. I have courted the high opinion of morons, and eschewed the company of those who were different, not of me, but different from what other people thought I should be. 

So Stasha will remain “the Dogged Pursuit” though I might create a little nom-de-guerre for my more private comments (That’s right. I ain’t goin’ nowhere.) which might invade the privacy or have the potential to cause undue pain to those I love. I’ll let my anonymous friends know what it is so you’ll recognize me when I show up in your comment fields.

Finally, thank you to everyone who answered my little query — Goose, Hubman, Britni, Kelly, Joan, and Louis. Thank you all for sharing your thoughts, and most importantly, your stories and your hearts with me. We are, indeed, all in a dogged pursuit.

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PROLOGUE — When you’re on a dogged pursuit, sometimes —  heck, most of the time! — you’ve got to get INTO it if you want results. Some of the “advice” and research I’ve found out there on the subject seems OK on it’s surface, like this one with tips and tricks to make your life better combined with pithy sayings about “happiness,” but in the end these ideas are really just about managing symptoms; sorta like sayin’ if you don’t want to have the flu don’t sneeze. But if you really want to get to the bottom of something, you — or rather I — have to dig deep to find the infection.
So with that in mind, today’s post…….
 
“You know, our friends are so nice. Nice people. I don’t have time for people who aren’t nice. Life’s too short.”
  
A totally unremarkable statement. Really. But once again, context rears it’s ugly head. The above set of short sentences was uttered by my neighbor, with whom, I was visiting yesterday. A couple in their late 60s, married 35 years; he a retired football coach, she a teacher. And he was just diagnosed last week with advanced pancreatic cancer. The prognosis is not good. (more…)

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So I’m walking out the back door heading out for my standard, daily bike ride when I notice I’m doing my “jock walk,” — my thighs roll out from the hip joint slightly, making my stride a little wider; my weight seems to rest more forward in my hips and there is a swagger, but not a typically feminine “swish”; my back and shoulders are lifted and squared, but not tense; my chin is a bit dropped. When I stop moving, I’ll usually stand with my weight on my left leg and my right placed a bit in front, pigeon-toed, arms akimbo. I catch myself doing this a lot when I’m working out or at Karate.

It’s a very manly stance and apparently I am — or rather, can be — a very manly girl. (more…)

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Most of you are well aware that I am, in fact, a word nerd. I like the way words sound. I like to understand their meaning. “Semantic” arguments are worth having. Understanding yourself and the world a little better is a result of studying words.

So I was pleased and delighted to come across a word I’d NEVER heard before — compersion. Say it out loud. Roll it around your tongue. It’s just sweet! Cuhm-purr-szun. Lovely. Even lovelier though, is its definition: “the ability to take personal and sincere pleasure in the pleasure that your partner derives from either someone else or something else that is unrelated to you.” Joy from someone else’s joy; happiness at someone else’s happiness, not because you are a participant in the joy, but simply because you know that they are experiencing joy even if you yourself don’t share in  it.

I discovered this word on a blog jaunt, where I find a cool blog and then start riffing through the links, one to another.

WARNING – Some of the above links are adult sites and yes that means you may find neckid pictures and “sex talk.” One of the above links is written from a very out of the ordinary point of view, one usually judged very harshly; definitely NOT for anyone insecure in their relationship. Another has great stuff scattered throughout but also a few things that may be complete bullshit. I don’t know. There. You’ve been warned.

But here’s the freaky thing — I can’t find the word in the dictionary. Nor on MS Word, nor in my trusty Webster’s or Roget’s. The only place I’ve found it is on-line and in reference to polyamory, the idea that you can truly love more than one person at a time. (more…)

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