When I was at BEA, I saw this guy I had tried to have this long-distance relationship with (okay, almost all my relationships are long distance, but anyway…) and it was so weird. It wasn’t that that long ago, but long enough, and yet something he said really stuck with me. He said that I was “overwhelming,” and you know, that’s a judgment call. Was I? To him, yes, and I felt like if I could be “overwhelming” from 3,000 miles away, then I had a problem.
After that, I did my best to be the opposite. To be all carefree and casual but…that’s not really my style. I can be self-absorbed, certainly, and am in the middle of what one might call a career crisis, or just, uh, deadlines, but I also love to (and live to, I guess) dote on people. The thing I miss most about my relationship with S. isn’t the sex but the stupid little stuff, like getting him vitamins (even though he insisted he didn’t need them) or a thermometer when he was sick. In retrospect, that was me pushing that on him, and that’s not who I want to be either.
I have to tread really lightly in that area lest people find me “overwhelming” and yet I realized for like the millionth time recently that I am really sensitive to rejection. Any whiff of it and I feel stupid, like I am wasting my time, like my desire is just too much. And in the non-sexual arena, I know that part of my desire to be a mom is that then my job will be to dote on someone, who will need me in a way that I want to be needed.
In contrast to all the people who might find me “too much,” perhaps, I found out that sometimes the least likely scenarios wind up finding me just when I need them. I don’t necessarily see myself as the PDA type, hence my massive blushing when that happens. To find myself wanted in a way that was both sweet and sexual, that was the exact opposite of the sleazy, gross, make me want to puke come-ons that I get in my inbox, the ones that feel soulless and slimy, that make me regret my choice to ever write about sex, was a treasure. It was like a vacation from both everyday life and from that land of rejection. It was something I couldn’t have, and didn’t prepare foræI’d have primped at least a little, washed my hair, gotten my nails done. But I also know you don’t need all that to connect with people.
I’m not here to give you the blow by blow details, cause it wasn’t like that. It was sweet and hot and silly and fun. For all the surprise of it, there really wasn’t any awkwardness, at least on my part. It both made me feel like I was 25 again, but also let me know that I deserve to have fun sometimes, pure fun, the kind where maybe you wake up in the morning and wonder if it was all a dream, but you’re not alone, so you know it wasn’t. The kind of fun that’s the opposite of what you have giggling outside a bar. I think I was trying to prove something to myself the past few weeks, to be this girlfriend approximation, to lull myself into something that is real but untenable. I’m not one of those “omg, I hate being single” girls, but on some level, well, I do hate it. Or at least, I don’t want it. But the kind of relationship I want is something, or rather, someone I’m still looking for. I’ll know it when I see it, and until then, well, there might be a walk of shame or two more in my future.
Kerry Cohen writes about being an attention whore at Powells.com:
But being seen, I mean really, truly seen, for who you are is the ultimate fantasy. Who doesn't want this? Who doesn't want to be known, to be understood? What better expression of love is there? Can we ever really get acknowledged, though, for who we are? We must follow prescriptions for almost anything we want to be in the world, especially as women. We must be pretty, thin, sexy, and smart, but not too much so. We must work hard to make others desire us, but we mustn't let them know how hard we worked. We must never reveal how badly we need to be seen.
I have that too, and I admit that I used to channel that into sex. I wanted to feel liked or pretty or special or just not alone, but I fucked things up a lot because my heart got too involved. The thing is, I can’t tell my heart which direction to go in. I can’t help those things. My friend last night said that we wind up loving a lot of people, but just because you love someone, it’s not necessarily who you’re meant to wind up with. I soaked up her advice like she was the font of knowledge, and it made me feel kindof old and spinstery, ‘cause she’s younger and married.
Fast Company recently wrote in “How Emily Gould Turns Us On::”
"It's fundamentally gross, of course, but the apparatus of contemporary media and marketing is such that life and love are treated more as commodities every day—you might try asking Tila Tequila about that or Emily Gould —and Richards' show is just another indicator of the broader cultural decadence. No privacy, no decency; no surprise," he wrote.
I don’t know that it’s fair to lump writers in with reality shows. Because how can we write about such topics as love and sex and relationships and not go there, not go to the personal? When writers do that, I tune out. I can’t quite engage with them because I have no idea where they’re coming from.
At the same time, the idea that life and love (and sex) are commodities, and only commodities, is appalling to me. I don’t write about those aspects of my life just for the money (and obviously since I’m not a sex columnist anymore there really isn’t much money there anyway), but to make sense of it. Because sometimes things happen that I don’t fully understand until I write them down. Because it’s part of what I’m thinking about, what informs the rest of what I do. I feel like such an ass when I’m like “I have a new book about ____” when inside I feel like the least sexy person alive. To tout the former without sharing the latter seems false to me. And yet lately it's like “overshare” is the new writing sin du jour, like the mere accusation is enough to punish someone for daring be so bold as to use the wicked first person. So I share, but in my own way. It’s easier for me to weave these things into fiction, the rejection, the wildness, because I can manipulate it better. I can do it justice. In the real non-fiction world, I have people to (try to) protect. Their lives aren’t mine to share. But this relentless hatred for those who do share, who write because that is who they are, is disturbing to me. I’m private about plenty of things, but others I’m not. There are plenty of gossipy emails and fervent whispers I will be engaging in tonight, because that’s just what I do, as I rock my pretty new dress that now will always be attached to a history of one special night.
I wish I had a photo, but not of the sex. To me, the snapshot image, one for which words will have to suffice, was of pretty hands, different sizes, different colors, in a cab, piled atop each other, so pretty, fingers pressing against each other, curling, squeezing, waiting, while sighs echoed in the back, ready for an adventure, and me knowing that no one was going to find me overwhelming.