Free Association – Day 3

Man, I really don’t want to write right now. It’s only day three and this exercise feels like exercise. Don’t wanna do it! And I’ve been putting it off for much of the day.

When I first started blogging, I tried to post something, anything, everyday as a way to get established. This time, my objective is slightly different. I actually want to develop a greater facility to write. This isn’t what inspired the idea, but I have a recollection that Jack Kerouac, in the days before he wrote On the Road, used to write in a freely associative manner in order to develop the fluidity he needed. In fact, journal keeping is something of a mainstay in writing courses. Of course, I did that way back when. A writing course was required of all incoming freshmen at my college. We arrived about a month before the regular year started and spent everyday in an intensive writing course. Overall, I think it was very effective in teaching us how to write.

It had some rather unfortunate social side effects, at least for me. In most other similar intensive courses you find yourself with very intense friendships. This was no different in that regard. However, unlike other similar situations, we didn’t part afterwards. We were the second incoming class to be subjected to this program and the older students complained that there was less fluidity among classes. It was a small school and they were used to all classes socializing together. The writing program, by bringing freshman in ahead of time, created division that had not previously been there. This would become a little bit of a problem for me when my social life blew up in my face and I lost all my friends. I was alone in a school of eight hundred students, but my peers in my class only numbered two hundred.

Well, this is a rather fucked up situation, because I’m now thinking of an incident I didn’t really plan on discussing today. Free association sort of sucks.

That brings me back to the intensity of the original writing program. Some intensive workshops are more intensive on an interpersonal level than others. Writing is especially… especially… well, I’m not sure of the right word here. It’s especially conducive to these sorts of bonding experiences. When you’re writing in a journal, you’re supposed to write whatever comes to your mind. It winds up being very revealing. It’s like you’re telling everyone your darkest secrets. Even if you don’t happen to write anything particularly surprising, you still have the emotional feeling of having opened up to people. You’ve made yourself vulnerable.

Of course, after reading the journal, there are critiques and discussions. I think that was one thing that I got out of that course even more than developing my writing. We all really developed our abilities to read other people’s writing and to critique them in a productive way. That’s a harder skill to learn.

I’m not sure where else to go with this. For a time I was in a critique group with a group of artists and I didn’t think it was very productive. It felt less helpful. When you show someone some representational paintings and the response you get is that representational paintings are passé, it’s not helpful. It might be true, but it’s not a criticism that helps me be a better artist in any way. That’s really the point of that sort of critique, unlike the impersonal kind that one might find in a newspaper or journal. The reason you participate in a group like that in the first place is to improve your work. If people are just going to use the opportunity for intellectual posturing, then it totally defeats the purpose.

Dang, I really need to not look at the clock. Perhaps next time I should try setting an alarm.

So, right now, I’m feeling as if I’ve been used and screwed over by a man, but I have too much pride to tell him that. I’m really angry and I haven’t told him that either. I don’t think he much cares about me, but he’d kind of hate to think I was angry. Again, that’s not out of any concern about me, but only due to his own self-regard. Like most people, he probably likes to think of himself as a “good guy” and wouldn’t like to know that he might not be seen that way by me. That he basically used me, led me on and lied.

And if he read this, he’d probably briefly wonder if I was talking about him and decide it couldn’t be because he hasn’t done anything wrong. However, I’ve only had anything even vaguely resembling sexual contact with one person in the past couple of years, so there isn’t anyone else it could be.

The desire not to be that crazy woma. So, I’m angry at someone and I can’t tell him all the ways in which he’s hurt my feelings because I don’t want to be the crazy woman.

I remember a few years ago, a man I was dating said, “Did you ever notice that when a relationship ends men always say that the woman was crazy and women always say that the man was an asshole.”

There are things you don’t do because you don’t want to be “that” type of woman. In my case, I never press for a relationship. I never press for monogamy. I never press for a commitment. I don’t want to be the type of woman who “traps” a guy into marriage, that twists his arm into a commitment. So even if I want more from a man, I don’t say anything.

Of course, I’m single, so obviously this hasn’t been the most effective approach.

There’s a big element of pride to it, too. I hate the feeling of being a supplicant. I just hate it.

“I ask for nothing… nothing.” “And you shall receive it — in abundance.”

That’s pretty much my entire romantic history summed up in a nutshell. I attract a lot of men, but it goes nowhere.

I’m kind of feeling a little bugged about being lonely again. Not bugged. Antsy. I’m specifically talking about romantic loneliness. I kind of want to meet a lover. Unfortunately, I’m still not emotionally strong enough to put myself out there. That’s the thing that has been really, really awful about online dating. You have to be willing to open yourself up to emotional abuse. People tell you how much you suck to your face. There’s no way around it. In the past, I’ve tried various ways to filter those people out, but somehow they get through. Or I say so many negative things about myself people think I have some weirdly low self-esteem. Quite the opposite. I just want to say if you don’t like x, y or z, don’t bother contacting me. Or course x, y and z are negative things. We all have some negative things.

Jeez, I’m on the verge of whining now. I actually think my positives outweigh my negatives. For a time I dated a guy who said that his ex-wife would regularly keep him up all night yelling at him and telling him what an asshole he was. I asked what “regularly” was. He said it was several times a month. Really? And she was the one who left him! I never do anything like that, yet somehow I seem to never be good enough for men.

That’s a problem I tend to have in relationships. I never feel good enough. I always feel like I have to try to please. I never look good enough. I need to try harder. Lose weight. Dress better. Never dare show up without make-up even if the guy wants to drop in unannounced.

Be more successful in work. That’s the real killer. It might be the thing that really keeps me from trying to date again. I’m scared to death to talk about what I do for a living. I’m okay until the guy really begins to understand just how unsuccessful I am. I’m smart. I’m culturally literate. I have good enough taste that I can fit in with an upper middle class group. Sure, I might not be wearing any items with obvious logos, but most people aren’t at any given moment anyway. I look like I have more money than I do.

I was a trompe l’oeil painter, dammit! I know a thing or two about illusions.

I think I really embarrass men, sometimes. It’s received wisdom that women are concerned about the careers of their male partners. That may not always be true, but it’s generally accepted. Men I know with, ahem, career problems, know it’s a drawback when dating. It’s widely acknowledged, too. What people don’t acknowledge is that it’s a drawback for women. It’s not good enough to possess all the feminine virtues and look good – which I don’t anymore, but I once did. It’s subtle, because men don’t really expect women to earn quite as much as they do, especially if the woman is younger than the man. Yet they still sort of expect you to be earning at least half to two-thirds of what they’re earning.

I went through a period in my thirties when I would date a man for about six months or so. Towards the end, I’d find he’d be asking more and more probing questions about work and money. Then there would be statements like, “You’re so smart. I’m surprised you’re not more successful.” Shortly after that, it would be over.

I’m not complaining about not having money. I never really chose to pursue it, so that I don’t have it shouldn’t come as much of a surprise. What I didn’t know when I was younger is that if you don’t have money, you won’t have love either.

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