From the Archive: Kripalu & Date Night

*this archive journal of my dad’s last weeks and months is coming to a close, is getting down to days left in his life and the most intense period of caregiving, caregiving that began a decade prior. I wish every caregiver or parent of young children in this country and world were getting the support they needed, but we in the US with our “bootstraps” libertarian streak cannot seem to get it together to support caregivers, and families, or those who have a hard time getting out of poverty. I’m glad we’ve got a (knock wood) deal on raising the debt ceiling, but the GQPs demands re: work requirements for SNAP only serves to get people out of applying for assistance, and where I live – rural America – 70% of those using SNAP (food stamps) are the disabled or children, with another 15% the elderly poor, and the rest – the group they’re going after – are people who work but make less than could possibly cover the cost of housing, food and transportation in a county the size of Rhode Island, where we have almost no public transportation, and that for senior citizens only…don’t get me started. 

April 25, 2010 Kripalu and more…

Back from 2 days at Kripalu which is a yoga retreat and training center in Stockbridge, Mass. The area, which I cannot believe I have never visited as the drive was so easy and so gorgeous, is absolutely stunning. New England charm meets the Berkshires in the spring and I must go back for more. I loved that I could take a road out of my Catskill Mountains (Route 23) all the way across the Rip Van Winkle Bridge through Columbia County, New York into the Berkshires and Mass., ending only in Great Barrington. From there another country road (how I love them) a very short way to Stockbridge, which is a long-time center for the arts (Tanglewood and Shakespeare & Co. among others) as well as new age getaways (Kripalu, Omega and, less new age but all spa, Canyon Ranch). 
Kripalu was once a Jesuit Monastery and the views from the rooms are spectacular, looking out over the mountains and a lake whose name I never found out, bad tourist that I am, although I was there to retreat, not tour. I met my best friend from college there and gabbed like mad as planned despite my little illness, which is almost cured. What is it about talking to an old friend – and laughing uproariously (she is hilairee– us!!) that is so deeply satisfying and restorative? Who cares; I am just very thankful. 
Today I had a two-hour massage (life is tough) with a “master” masseur – Ericka. I am a big fan of massage, and this was a good one, and just what I needed. I returned refreshed and ready for whatever is coming. My dad is struggling, and his legs continue to swell. I told him tonight I am relying on him to tell me when he can no longer be alone at night in the house. I told him that I want to be with him when he dies. He said that’s no fun, watching someone die. I said I thought it would be an honor and I just want to be of service to him (and yes, I was crying, in case you were wondering). We’ll see. I love this man, my dad. We’ll see. 
And before I forget only about ten minutes after I left Kripalu as I was doing my usual “which house would I love to live in/tour the inside of/renovate” game, I looked to my right at a farm and there, walking very calmly up the driveway with a grouping of cows watching, was a big old black bear. In daylight, around 1:30p.m. and I think I only saw it because the cows were oddly not focussed on the grass; what the hell are they looking at – what the hell is – holy cow, a bear!! – all in five seconds. Very cool.

April 27, 2010

I refer to an actual, non-movie, date night. I have not seen the Tina Fey (genius) and Steve Carrell (luckiest man in Hollywood, imo) version and probably won’t unless I get a strong recommendation from a friend I trust once it’s available on Netflix, that is…back to the real story here: date night at my house is Mondays and so on Tuesdays you will, generally, find me rested and relaxed. Ah, the multiple benefits and pleasures of spending time with a main squeeze, even one who is far, far from ideal. Last night, although we spoke at length about my dad and his situation, was the first in many nights during which I have not spent at least ten minutes crying. This is good as my body – my tear ducts – need a rest. 
I remember being in the hospital as a kid and crying because I felt terrible physically, on top of which I was lonely, sad and a little lost. I was perhaps 6 or 7. Crying, the nurse said, would only keep my temperature up, which would extend my stay. Now you don’t want that, do you? We watch as the camera slowly turns back to the little girl, me, who is still crying, only more quietly. Idiot (not me, the nurse, who undoubtedly meant well, although I wonder if that was the day I decided one thing I was never going to be was a nurse…). My point is that crying, as I have been of late – deep and long, is exhausting and my temperature does go up. I needed a break, a break that I did not succeed in getting this past weekend although yes, the Berks and my BFF were a tonic to the soul. And I am almost well, almost myself, almost cough and stuffy nose free. Oh joy, oh rapture! Soon, too, the temps will get and stay over 45 and I will be able to put away all this pesky outerwear. 
Date night last eve included some very yummy gin, Wet?, distilled by who knows who, but it has a lovely tint to its flavoring. My FWB and I went over his presentation for this weekend which, 15 minutes long, no more, no less, will get him the votes needed to win Marketer of the Year. Am I feigning my enthusiasm? Perhaps. Definitely. Still, life is good. Every time I felt as though we were getting bogged down in the sadness of my dad’s failing health last night, I said tell me about the future, tell me about your kids (he has seven, that’s right, seven). Now that’s a lot of future, dontcha think? Ya, ya. Holy shit, it’s snowing out. 

On Living, and Spending the Holidays, Alone

On Living, and Spending the Holidays, Alone

I have lived alone for all of my adult life. Yes, there were times I had roommates, but those times were few and far between, and far lonelier in many ways than actually living alone, as anyone who has had an incompatible roommate or partner can attest. There was one boyfriend who was going to live with me in the mid-eighties, but he confessed he was screwing his ex behind my back forty-eight hours before he was scheduled to move in; he said I didn’t need him the way she did. I said well, you’re not air or water or shelter, Bill. Or food. He said he knew I would eventually cheat on him. Whatever, although he was not the first or last man I was involved with to say that, to make that claim – each one of whom cheated on me as a kind of preemptive strike, I guess was their thinking? I have never cheated on a partner, it’s just not in me to do so, but – all’s fair in love and war, or so I’ve heard.

In my twenties and thirties, I suffered living alone, and being partner-less (though I much prefer the term ‘partner-free’) while all around me people, men and women, were constantly seeking to pair up, were pairing up and getting engaged, getting married, including numerous friends and acquaintances who divorced and paired up again, and so on. During those decades I was not a happy camper generally, but I definitely suffered from deep loneliness, as well as depression, neither directly caused by the other but as two lanes running parallel to one another. I dreaded the holidays spent alone, and dreaded holidays even more spent with my ‘nuclear’ family, where I felt misunderstood, judged, unloved, and more alone than when I was alone. Oh, the joy of getting back to NYC after a Christmas or Thanksgiving spent with my family of origin, especially if I went straight to Studio 54, where I could lose myself and all of my troubles, big or small, in the music, on the dance floor, surrounded by others doing the same. 

Creating my own family was an option, but I didn’t want to parent, felt no need as so many women and men seem to do, to have and raise children. Plus, I was afraid of the parent I might be: too angry, too much pain stored inside waiting to come out like that creature in the film Alien. I was cautious, too much so, perhaps, scared to try, and dated too many assholes, eliminating them as potential co-parents one by one. I also knew single parenting wasn’t for me, believing that children deserve both parents on their side, especially as one parent (me) might be annihilating or nuts like my mother. No thanks. I knew women who married men or partnered with men they didn’t really love, to make children they very much wanted. Some of them stayed with these men regardless of the disconnect, regardless of no or bad sex, or barely concealed contempt. Others divorced and railed against their exes for not understanding they were glorified sperm donors: how dare he demand half, half of my apartment, my money, half of my child’s time. How dare he. 

And men I could’ve created families with were always, always in relationships with other women, even if I became involved with them not knowing this initially, because men lie like dogs all the damned time, and the mess, the mess, the stupidity, the dishonesty, the rationalizations – it was all too much. It probably didn’t help matters that during those decades I had peeping tom after peeping tom, was constantly harassed and flashed on the street, was being stalked, and was – until I was almost forty – thinking about killing myself daily. I remember two men I was involved with running out the door the moment I spoke honestly of my mother, and how much I hated her, hated her, and loved her, and loved her, and hated her. They were probably very wise to run, but it seemed I was being punished for my honesty, and that didn’t inspire a sense of being safe to share anything about the life I had led and was leading. 

I hired therapist after therapist, did drumming circles, and a past life regression, had my tarot cards and astrological chart read, took risks I should not have taken, and prayed for divine intervention I didn’t ever believe would come from a deity I thought was pure bullshit. In my twenties I read about and tried to believe in reincarnation (how wrong can a jillion Hindis, Jains, Buddhists and Sikhs be?!), if only out of the hope that I would get another chance, a second, third, and fourth chance, at living a better, happier life – a different life. I participated in sweat lodge and during one I was sure I was going to die, and welcomed it, until I realized I had never lived, or had lived my entire life to that point under a dark cloud, or, more apt, a slab of granite, and that it was up to me – and me alone – to change that. I was thirty-eight, and was only then able to envision a life where I might be happy, truly happy – yet, always, the imaginings were of me on my own, alone. 

Having a sense of humor helps, more than helps: it kept me alive. Surviving is key. I knew women who created from pain, created family, fought for it, and some of them did well, many of them. I could not, perhaps because I am so goddamned stubborn, and my standards are so fucking high, which is another way of saying I built a wall so impenetrable no one could get over it, around it, under it – in. And I struggle, still, to ask for what I need, because for almost forty years I had no needs, other than to survive that day, that hour, that moment of life. Air and water. Shelter, food. And sure, a fella if he wants along on this ride, mostly on my terms, because I know like I know like I know that my independent streak, which is wider and deeper and broader still than any wall ever built, runs me ninety-nine-point-nine percent of the time: ‘Oh, give me land, lots of land under sunny skies above, don’t fence me in!’ 

Perhaps if I had allowed myself to love and be loved by that boy from high school, the one who I dreamt of recently, a dream in which we were both old, as we are now, and lay in one another’s arms naked and old and kind to one another, as we never were in life. Who knows. We were both surviving families that were rife with pain and shame in a small town, a place where preserving the public illusion of happy family often felt like all I (I cannot speak for him) had to hold onto. For my part, there was simply no way I would expose him to my family, my mother, by bringing him into the fold, into the house, my lived experience. I regret this. Bessel van der Kolk wrote of the healing power of love while the brain is still developing, as a teenager, in his 2014 work The Body Keeps Score, a book I wish had been written when I needed most to read it, but that’s the way it goes, eh? 

I have friends who live surrounded by family, including a beloved friend who is also in business and vacations annually with her husband’s family. I shudder at the thought of all that, although I acknowledge how well it works – for her. Everyone must find their own way, their own comfort, their own level; we are all like water. Spending holidays alone can be rough unless you love your own company, which I would argue is important every single day, and hour, regardless of holiday status, and – somewhere around forty, I found myself loving it, loving myself, finally, loving and giggling at my stupidities, my quirks and false starts, my life-saving humor, my ass-hole-ery, my fears and tears, my inconsistency, my humanity. 

Expectations – and convention – being what they are (an oppressive force that is very hard to overcome), it isn’t necessarily easy to live alone, to live single and child-free, yet all paths – every one – have rocks and twists and turns, compromises, rationalizations, swamps, bogs, periods of loss and despair. Anyone who tells you their marriage is perfect is lying, and – in my experience – most likely of all the couples you know to be on the direct route to divorce, and soon, although stasis, fear of change, are as powerful as convention. Anyone who tells you raising kids is or was a breeze is also lying. I have found that, for me, living alone is a great gift, and it means I have to do the work of reaching out and making plans possibly more than others do – and, I know too, now that I’m in my seventh decade (holy fuck, how did that happen?) that if I have a bunch of social engagements in a twenty-four hour span, and by bunch I mean two, I must have a day, or more, of recovery. Must. Yes, introversion and introverts are real, and I’m one of ‘em. 

Deep breaths. Gratitude, and curiosity about what’s next. All these are important while the vast mass of peeps celebrate whatever TF holiday it is. Because no one, no one person, has a perfect, trouble-free life, and loving what you have right now- whatever that is – is a muscle, a skill that needs work. For me, for me, for me. I try, I truly try to undertake to do that work joyfully, to do the hard work. Whatever I do, I also try not to suffer over my occasional suffering, the familiar scar and pain of loneliness; I observe it, acknowledging the sometime throbbing scar, and let it go. And so, while others parade and grill, I write, and then write some more, and read, and call friends, maybe, and dig in the dirt, and attempt stillness for a least five minutes, and walk – repeatedly – my miniature pony-sized dog.  

The Mending Wall

Something there is that doesn’t love a wall,

That sends the frozen-ground-swell under it,

And spills the upper boulders in the sun;

And makes gaps even two can pass abreast.

The work of hunters is another thing:

I have come after them and made repair

Where they have left not one stone on a stone,

But they would have the rabbit out of hiding,

To please the yelping dogs. The gaps I mean,

No one has seen them made or heard them made,

But at spring mending-time we find them there.

I let my neighbor know beyond the hill;

And on a day we meet to walk the line

And set the wall between us once again.

We keep the wall between us as we go.

To each the boulders that have fallen to each.

And some are loaves and some so nearly balls

We have to use a spell to make them balance:

‘Stay where you are until our backs are turned!’

We wear our fingers rough with handling them.

Oh, just another kind of out-door game,

One on a side. It comes to little more:

There where it is we do not need the wall:

He is all pine and I am apple orchard.

My apple trees will never get across

And eat the cones under his pines, I tell him.

He only says, ‘Good fences make good neighbors.’

Spring is the mischief in me, and I wonder

If I could put a notion in his head:

‘Why do they make good neighbors? Isn’t it

Where there are cows? But here there are no cows.

Before I built a wall I’d ask to know

What I was walling in or walling out,

And to whom I was like to give offense.

Something there is that doesn’t love a wall,

That wants it down.’ I could say ‘Elves’ to him,

But it’s not elves exactly, and I’d rather

He said it for himself. I see him there

Bringing a stone grasped firmly by the top

In each hand, like an old-stone savage armed.

He moves in darkness as it seems to me,

Not of woods only and the shade of trees.

He will not go behind his father’s saying,

And he likes having thought of it so well

He says again, ‘Good fences make good neighbors.’

~ Robert Frost

*Among the reams of poetry my mother had memorized, this was one of her all time favorites, and as I contemplate the many broken fences currently existing in my life, and boundaries in general, I come back to this classic poem time and again. Happy Sunday. 

Are You A Decorative Plate on the Walls of Mens’ Lives, Or Are You a Human Being Inherently Worthy of Value?

Are You A Decorative Plate on the Walls of Mens’ Lives, Or Are You a Human Being Inherently Worthy of Value?

Recently, I told a friend the truth. We have been very close friends for six years or so, after knowing one another for over a decade. We are the same age, go for walks together, give one another leftovers, text daily, advise one another on whatever the issue of the day or week is, and were once neighbors; she lived down the road from me, and I from her, about half a mile. Another former next-door neighbor of mine, and near neighbor of hers, a man who is an acquaintance of mine more than a friend (let’s call him Bill Earl), has met my close friend Pat (we’ll call her Pat as that’s her name) many times over the years, in at least seven or eight instances, in various venues, and always with me, which makes sense as she’s my friend. When these encounters occur he always, without fail, asks her, or me, her name, and basically says the following, ‘Hi, I’m Bill Earl. Who are you?’, or “What’s your name?’ And every time, after the encounter ends, she turns to me and says something along the lines of, ‘I have met that guy so many times, and he always forgets my face, and my name. He forgets we went through the exact same introduction before. He forgets having met me, period. What is up with that, Mahhhhhj?’

In the past, I have not ‘shot for the pin’, telling Pat in response to her Bill Earl query, ‘Oh gosh, Pat, he’s an asshole, who cares’ (we’ll call him an asshole because he is), or ‘He might be one of those people who never remembers anyone, just fuggedaboudit, move on’ (major truth-y caveat in a moment). These are not lies, they’re obfuscations, foggy half-truth answers. But this time, this latest time they met, and did the dance of his forgetting, which clearly hurt, and hurts, her feelings, I decided to tell Pat the un-foggy, hit the pin truth, or at least my version of the truth as I see it, and as I have experienced it: Pat, you’re not his type, ergo he doesn’t want to fuck you, and he’s one of those guys who can’t and won’t remember any woman he doesn’t want to fuck. You could change that, by being (by his definition) important or rich – but basically, absent that, you’re not his type. It’s not personal, and, quite frankly, lucky you, stupid him, because you are gorgeous, smart, kind, and any guy over fifty who turns his nose up at dating a nurse, a woman who can literally restart his heart, is a fool. 

Bill Earl is definitely a fool. I know all this because Bill was my neighbor, and he asked me out, because I’m his ‘type’ (more on that later). Bill E. is about a decade older than Pat and myself and I’m his ‘type’ in part because he was looking for, and was very open about looking for, a younger woman to marry, one who would be able to take care of him as he aged. He shared this with me over a mystery meat and soggy veggie-filled buffet supper at a truly crappy restaurant he took me to called The Colonial, a dinner I paid for because no, just no, I am not letting this guy treat me, not a chance. Not only was I uninterested in Bill Earl, it is actually not possible for me to be less interested in changing the diapers of a Boomer Boy, any Boomer Boy, although I guess he gets snaps for honesty. Maybe? 

About two years after this ‘date’, Bill married a wealthy, younger than him by at least a decade divorcee who had once dated his older, richer, more successful brother, an aspect of the situation I’m aware of because he gleefully shared it with me on more than one occasion, which I personally found a bit gross, because why is this dude competing with his brother in this gross way and why, why, why the fuck is he telling me about it?! At one point during his marriage to this woman, he admitted to me that he knows he is a dilettante at heart, a dabbler, who was happiest being taken care of by those who are worker bees, like his new wife. Ouch. She has since – wisely, although I don’t know the details – divorced him, and one supposes he has had to go back to work, at least working to find another busy bee to take care of him. He does have two daughters as back up, I guess. We’ll see.  

Bill Earl is what I call a lookist male. Lookist males are those who require beauty, standard issue beauty, in their female partners, and often in their female friends as well. Standard issue beauty is defined as (mostly) young or much younger than said lookist, thin or curvy (not ever fat or fat-adjacent), tall but not taller than he is (short only if very thin, uber-feminine, and entirely unthreatening), with even, open European facial features. Great hair is also a plus, as are big boobs, even if they’re fake. Think Fox News female anchors, with D’Trump as the best/worst example of a lookist. These criteria exist because male lookists see women as, basically, arm candy, as a reflection of themselves, their egos; to them, women are decorative plates on the walls of their lives, not individuals with hopes, dreams, aspirations and desires – and even walls of their own. There are a lot of lookists in every institution and profession, and a whole lot of lookist goons on line, trolling women with regards to their appearance, women who, if they’re smart, grounded, and mentally healthy, do not give one half of one fuck what these assholes think, feel, or say about their looks, or anything else.    

My former neighbor and good pal Pat is a gorgeous woman, a wonderful friend, a beautiful human being who is constantly extending herself to take care of others. Was it true, what I said about Bill Earl never being able to remember her (maybe, my opinion), was it kind (no, I could see it stung her, as did his continual inability to recall her face or name), was it necessary (not really but after trying to answer without telling the truth for a decade, FTS), was it an improvement on the silence (oh hell, probably not, but honestly fuck that guy)? Anyway, it’s done. And, because we’re close friends, I will follow-up and talk to her about it, apologizing for my tactlessness, no matter how true I believe it may have been. 

Yesterday I finished an okay, not great book of fiction that had several pearls of wisdom, one of which was that much of our lives is defined by the consequence of either making what we know is the easier but probably wrong decision, one that is inevitably also easier to identify, or making the difficult, hard, possibly, maybe right decision, but isn’t it all so uncertain – because hey, who can really tell! – a decision that goes against the tide, the tide of easier. Making the right choice, making the right decision, oftentimes requires hard work, and sacrifice, means swallowing our egos, our pride, our desire to be right, or snarky, or clever – it even, sometimes, means giving up the idea we have about being nice (especially true for women), because nice people never hurt anyone else’s feelings, which is ludicrous. It can mean, those harder choices, being unkind, inconveniencing others, calling off the move, the wedding, the promotion, the trip, the need to go along to get along. It can mean change, and blowing up what is because what might be, might be better.

At times, like family weddings, for instance, I have had to eat a lot of shit to get through the fucking event. What’s that British saying about ‘lying back, turning your head into the pillow, and thinking of England’? This saying was coined as a coping mechanism for women, as a way to get through having marital sex with one’s unappealing partner, and that’s pretty much what being human often requires. And, sometimes, facing the pillow or eating shit is simply not possible, and the truth will out, must out. Sometimes, the shit that happens as a result needed to happen, needs to have consequence, be consequential, is long over-due, because burying our truths is too high a price to pay for niceness, for tight smiles, and letting whatever it is go for the hundredth or thousandth time.

In a time when women, and women’s stories, are increasingly more likely to be believed than in the past, a time when men – conservative white men especially – are freaking out because they’re facing a world that is more diverse, more female driven, and much more likely to be consequential for them – as in they are more likely to face consequences for behavior men have been getting away with for a millennia – resisting the pressure to be nice, stepping into the risky space of change, of disruption, of ‘un-likeability’ and into full-personhood is essential for all women and girls, who have been conditioned to be decorative for just as long – a millennia – at the expense of our humanity, and often our lives. Embrace your full-personhood, women, and tell dudes like Bill Earl to his face, ‘Look brotherfucker, we’ve met like nine times, you asshole! Remember this face, because this face, this body, and millions of others just like it, are the future.’ 

The First Time: O.P.

Posting this again, original poster and post (O.P.), urging you to write for the project, or spread the good word and get your friends to do so in your stead… with my deepest gratitude. 

The First Time – A letter, brief (?) tale, and request to a few of my dearest female friends and acquaintances, and theirs!

Everyone remembers their first time, right? Loving, traumatic, quick, painful, joyous, funny, violent, drunken, stone cold sober, silly, too young, too old, overdue, in a truck, a car, a field, a motel room, the marriage bed ~ all of this and more makes up a slice of our, women’s, first experiences of sex. If you’re experience was anything even remotely like mine, growing up in rural America during the 60s and 70s, ‘the bases’ were attained slowly or quickly over time, and there was constant discussion regarding who had ‘done it’ or not, beginning – as I recall – in middle school. And, by the time I’d ‘done it’, at the ripe old age of 19, I’d certainly visited first, second and third base and also fought off not one but two of my ancient seeming, gross, married with children male teachers, so maybe it was time to hit a home run. And, for the record, I hate sports metaphors, but until we feminist language, here we are – playing fucking baseball, and given one of those two men was my former high school softball coach…but I digress. 

So, there I was on Nantucket Island, chambermaiding at a bed and breakfast, sharing a sloped, cramped attic room with my best friend from college, my twentieth birthday looming on the horizon (I could not, not, not still be a virgin at twenty!!), when along comes sweet, horny, handsome Raoul, which was his actual nickname. We’d met near the end of my 1st semester sophomore year at Syracuse University, and the attraction between us was powerful, but – and it was a big but – he was leaving for law school in California in 5 weeks, cramming in as much partying and academic wrap up as was humanly possible, with no time left over to court a skittish nineteen-year-old. But, big surprise to me, he kept in touch. His letters, as I recall, were long and funny, full of looping curvy words written in thick blue or black ink on page after page of white paper. Raoul was lonely in California, was having trouble settling in, making friends. He visited over Christmas, driving to the Catskills from northern New Jersey for a night. What a champ! Dinner with my family?! Jesus Effing Christ he was brave. He tried to get me into bed that night, but I was so terrified of ‘doing it’ – of my mother, and the roof of our house blowing off if I were to do something so transgressive (thanks Catholic purity culture, which gives evangelical purity culture a damn good run for its fucked-up money) – I shook, literally shook with fear, and it didn’t happen.    

Fast forward to a warm June, on gorgeous Nantucket Island, and a house literally full of available beds for romping and humping, and here he – my hero(?) – is! We finally – I finally – did it. But not in one of the many rooms available, nope. We did it in that cramped, sloped ceilinged attic room, in my twin bed with – at my insistence – my best friend in the other twin bed, pretending to be asleep. More on that later.


It was great. I absolutely loved it. I still do. Sex. Yummy. So much fun. Best thing you can do with your clothes on or off, in my opinion, with someone, or alone. Where-ever the fuck you want to do it, with whomever you can convince to do it, within reason! Consent is everything. Everything. And please for-fucks-sake don’t be fucking animals or anyone under 18 unless you are also 18 or less, again, within reason. But I digress. Sex. So much fun. Co-ed wrestling, more fucking sports metaphors, was my new favorite sport – with a lovely big bang along the way, if your sparring partner knows what-the-fuck he is doing or if, though not always, like some lucky females, you’re just naturally orgasmic. 

So, of course, the very next day glowing with triumph (the girl who lived!) I called the boy I actually loved back in the Catskills, to tell him I had had sex, finally, that it was so much fun, and that all I wanted to do now was to have sex with him, and that I loved him, whatever I had said, and lied about, months before, but his wicked step-mother picked up, bit my head off as per usual, saying he wasn’t home (liar!), and I hung up the phone never to try again. And, yes, I was actually going to tell this sweet young man I had already injured that I’d had sex with another man, that it was so much funso great, which would have gone over like a lead balloon, right, so she did me a favor even if she was a total, nasty, cock-blocking bitch who’d hated me for a decade by then for who knows what reason other than women, women my mother’s age, including my mother – although not all of ‘em! – seemed to hate me in general. But I digress. 

I write this, and share it with you because I wonder if any of my friends were brought up, as I certainly was not, to think about sex positively? To love, really and truly, love their bodies? To celebrate their curves and planes, their hairy legs, or clean shaven ‘pins’, their impending or current cycles of menstruation (‘you know this doesn’t make you a woman’, my mother said, when I got mine), and the power and profundity of menopause, as well as the hot flashes, which – for many of my friends – continue for years and years? I wonder if any of my friends or friends of friends, were raised to be curious, in a good way, about sex, or cautious on a logical, sensible sliding scale, curious too about their own sexuality? And I wonder if my friends and theirs were able to examine ubiquitous images and representations of female sexuality, and if, additionally, anyone was able to see female sexuality as partly or wholly positive, or at least not as negative or necessarily, inherently manipulative, vulnerable, weak? In my family, female sexuality was the unspoken white elephant in the room, a virgin elephant who was also, somehow, required to be eminently desirable, sexy without being sexual, gorgeous without being too gorgeous or threatening, a sexy-nice-not-too-sexy girl objectified into unattainably attainable by marriage alone status. I’m exhausted just by writing that, my own experience in this area was so fucked up, and complicated. My father openly admired women’s bodies, loved them, and he loved, loved, loved porn, but – he was married to a morbidly obese woman who clearly hated her own body, hated it. They, don’tcha know, were both virgins when they married at twenty-seven. And, the story went on, their wedding night was glorious! Amazing! Perfect! As was their marriage, only – well, there’s always more to the story, ain’t there? Among numerous other crazy-ass role models and complicating factors.

Tell me. Tell me, if you will. Tell me what happened, to you. How it happened. Where. When. Write it out and send it to me; write about your first time. For those of you who are unfamiliar with it, it’s meant to be ‘Post Secret’ ( but for women only, for the purpose of telling our stories in a safe, 100% anonymous (or not) space for eventual publication, yes, publication – initially on line, via wordpress – to demystify, clarify and expose what women and girls actually experience via anonymous (or not) true tales of how, where, and when we experienced our first time. From our perspective, sans romance novel bullshit, and with a truckload, boatload, stadium full of compassion for the vast messy panoply of what women and girls’ actual lived experiences are, and were, and very probably always will be.  

Because. Ignorance is not bliss. I know this. So, think about it. Or, toss this in the garbage those who are receiving by snail mail, ignore it, fuhgeddaboudit, or – pass it along to a friend who you think might want to participate, or delete it, burn it, forget it, leave it in a drawer or unopened email for years and then respond, or not. Up to you. Your choice; consent and willing participation are essential. Send me whatever you write and however you choose to write it via snail mail to PO Box 331, New Kingston, N.Y 12459, or better yet for transmission and reprinting purposes, via email at, and I will treat your tale of joy, woe, or some combination of the above with the respect and generosity you deserve. When and where and with whom did you have sex for the first time. Or the first time with loving intent? Or the first time sober? How was it? Did you enjoy it, or was your own enjoyment not a part of the equation? Was it great, embarrassing, hilarious, ridiculous, awful, terrible, or none of the above? What else – context, family, culture, religion, history – made it as impactful, or not, as it was?   


The truth is, I asked my best friend to stay in the room while Raoul and I ‘did it’ in the summer of 1979 on that gorgeous island in the Atlantic Ocean, an island that was as far as I had ever been from my family in my entire life, because I thought I was going to die. Not that I could tell her that, explain myself, not at the time, and not for many, many years to come. I thought I was going to die because I wasn’t a virgin at all, even if I had to believe I was, because my mother and my church told me I had no value unless I was a virgin up to the moment I was ‘deflowered’ by a man, the man: my eventual husband. And, if you’re not one of my friends, but rather a friend of a friend of a friend of a friend reading this, I still ain’t married to that flower-picking, plucking, inherently heroic and entirely mythical creature. Oops.   

My actual ‘first time’ was as an eight-year-old child, when my cousin – who was sixteen – had sex on me and at me; he raped me, in a field on the farm where my dad and his concurrently, and he and I sequentially, grew up. Endless View farm. A part of me, a former version of myself, died that day because he, my cousin, chose to kill me, to kill my child self, kill my trust, murder my faith in family and in love, by forcing his fucking selfish fucking desires on me. I kept and buried that secret for decades, only – I couldn’t quite keep the corpse of that little dead girl underground. It was she who shook with literal fear the night Raoul visited over Christmas break; it was she who lied and told the boy I loved I didn’t love him; it was she who put herself in danger time and time again for years thereafter hoping to die for real, big time death, or to somehow breakthrough, back to life in full. She remains with me today, and it is for her and the thousands of girls and women like her, living and dead, including my poor fucked up mother, that I initiate this project, this experiment, this attempt at leveling the playing field of fucking, of sex, of fuckery, and of love, and love, and love, which field has been, for most of history, limited to, dominated and defined by, narrated, mythologized, had its lines drawn by, and ruled – – by men. 

Perhaps you have a similar story. Perhaps your first time was magical, amazing, glorious like it was for my virginal mom and dad*, and in the telling, and living, that is enviable, and worth letting your daughters and granddaughters and anyone out there in this increasingly connected world who is wondering how it – the first time, or any time for that matter – can be. Perhaps your first time is best captured by poetry, Haiku, or limerick, a text chain, a short song, a fable, a novel, or a quick confession on the back of a postcard – just be aware that I will be editing for length, and clarity, while doing my utmost to respect every nuance, word and syllable of your lived experiences. Women and girls, including trans-women and non-binary folks, are all invited, are all intrinsically a part in and of this experiment, this quest of mine, including our lesbian sisters, mothers and daughters, because we know that men’s gazes, and dicks, aren’t so important they define all sexual experiences by virtue of being present, even if they’re omnipresent in our lives because – well, because the patriarchy.

Thank you for reading this, and thank you for considering participating. I believe there is immense power in story, and story-telling, in sharing our tales, and I hope you will take part. Deadline? I send this out at the beginning of 2023. If you’re interested in participating, see if you can get your contribution back to me at PO Box 331 New Kingston, NY 12459 or by January 2024 or – if it gets to you late – June of 2024! With my thanks. Or, burn this, and forget about it, also with my best wishes and good cheer. 


* My dad was not a virgin when he married my mom; he visited several prostitutes in NYC before being shipped overseas to France during the Korean War. I found this out when I was in my mid-forties, when I put my increasingly demented mother in a nursing home, and my dad came clean. 


If you decide want to share your name, your age – or any other information that you deem pertinent – as a part of this experiment, that also works for me, in fact it adds to what I hope will be the collective power of the project. If you don’t mind sharing via email, do so – as well as send along any questions – to but those who wish to submit anonymously should do so via snail mail. And if you want to tell me, literally tell me your story, while I listen and listen, and make notes, email me and we’ll work it out. Thank you.   

– Moj