Saturday, 22 April 2017

Familiarity is not Intimacy

Familiarity is not intimacy.

Lying awake one night recently, that line popped into my head.  It explains much.  I've had two long-term partners in my adult life, one for 7 years, one for 13.  I thought each was permanent and considered myself as good as married.  But each relationship was lacking fundamental elements that I always took for granted were part of long-term relationships.  As I attempt to vet and select a third life partner, something I never expected to have to do, I've been considering what was missing in previous relationships and evaluating if it's important in my next one. The answers have been somewhat surprising.

With the perspective of hindsight, I have concluded that there was no true intimacy in either relationship, but I did not realise that at the time because I mistook familiarity for intimacy.  When you live with someone for years—especially in a tiny studio apartment—when you hear all their stories about the big and small humiliations of their childhood and learn, in post-coital conversations, how each scar, physical and emotional, occurred.  When you've seen everything from their baby photos to their primary school report cards and the refrigerator art their mother saved.  When you've met the exes they are still friends with and their childhood best friend.  When you've seen their full emotional spectrum, not to mention seen them with food poisoning.  When you know their habits and preferences so well that you can order for them and shop for them and be spot-on every time.  When you can finish their sentences, and know exactly how they will react to situations and events.  When you have seen them naked, and seen them cum, and explored every inch of their body.  When you have watched them become disillusioned as they self-sabotage themself out of their dreams and ambitions.  When you know their demons, and how and why they are slaves to feeding them.  When you have travelled with them, endured rental car breakdowns in foreign countries, lost luggage, inopportune illnesses, the odd concussion or a few stitches, not to mention a miscarriage, or the death of a family member.

When you have lived in – proximity – to someone through years of life events, good and bad, and they have asked you to pop that zit in the middle of their back, it's easy to assume you are intimate with that person.  But that's not necessarily the case.  Intimacy is more than familiarity, it is a connection that must be forged through love.  It takes empathy, patience, understanding, some form of trust and caring, to build intimacy.  Intimacy is a much deeper bond than familiarity.  You can have familiarity without intimacy.  Is the reverse possible?  Can you be truly intimate with someone with whom you are not extremely familiar?  It doesn't sound probable, but I can't say for sure.

Why were my relationships lacking intimacy?  The easy answer is that it was not something that my partners understood, valued, or sought in a relationship.  Intimacy requires self-esteem, a deep-seated belief that you are worthy.  It was not something either was capable of.  Am I?  I don't know.  Is it important then, when online dating, for me to find a man who seeks intimacy and is capable of creating it?  In my twenties, I would have replied yes, of course, that such a connection is the essence of true love and the secret to long-term contentment with a partner.  But then, in my twenties I was blindly hopeful about so many things in life.

Now, I don't think that I would pursue any relationship if I had financial stability and the means to have a child on my own.  Taking care of a child is so demanding that I don't see how any woman can take care of a man as well.  I don't want to waste my time cleaning up after some asshole, I have things to do, life to live.  It seems like a drag, to have to deal with someone's issues and messes—I have enough of my own to deal with.  Not to speak of the expense.  I've always paid more than half the household expenses and done 100% of the housework, and relationship work.  It's draining and costly and what's in it for me?

So, to be brutally honest about it, if I wouldn't be seeking a relationship if I had money, is intimacy something I really value at this stage of my life?  It is always difficult to conjure a counterfactual in the real world but, it's possible that I am wrong in my belief that I would not be looking for a partner if I were rich.  I tell myself I only want a man for the financial stability and the baby daddy aspects of a relationship.  Why would I take on the headache and the hassle otherwise?  I'm too set in my ways to live with someone and I find myself less and less willing to compromise on anything.  It's my way or the highway.  People make adjustments, sacrifices, concessions to fit a partner into their homes and lives.  I can't imagine any reason to do that if I were independently wealthy; I can't see any positives to a relationship.  That's not normal; most people want a partner because they are lonely or bored.  I don't think I've ever been lonely or bored in my entire life.  I live for solitude and down-time.  That signals that I must lack a craving for intimacy.

But, the truth is, I simply can't think past the practical things because they loom so immutably.  I can't hear anything else for the increasingly deafening tick of the biological clock, or think of anything but juggling which utilities I pay each month so I don't accidentally not pay the same one two months in a row.  So, it may be that I would still put up an online dating profile if I were rich, I'd just have the freedom to look for other things in a partner than his solvency and desire to procreate.  I think one of the reasons I haven’t found anyone permanent yet is because I hate this focused, targeted dating, the weeding out of anyone who seems intellectually compatible but is poor or is certain he doesn't want kids.  It feels calculating but that doesn't bother me as I am calculating by nature.  Could it be that, deep down, I do want intimacy in a relationship and balk at settling for another relationship without it?  If so, I need to get past that.  This is a time in my life to be practical, not ask for the moon.

Monday, 10 April 2017

Tires or Testicles (Part I)

Ain't that the truth.
 Tires
The day before I left on a road trip to farmsit for a friend several states away, I asked my garage if they'd listen to an abnormal noise my car was making.  I expected that I was being overly cautious, that they'd tell me it was nothing.

Well, "nothing" turned out to be a dying water pump that would have left me stranded roadside, undoubtedly halfway between Shartersville and Outer Bumfuck.  With no loaner car available, I was stuck waiting for 4 hours and left $400 poorer.  But at least my 26-year-old car was content with its new water pump and made the long trip stoically.

On Friday, for the first time, I made the 500 mile round trip to see Silas in one day.  My friend who boards him for me is willing to let me spend the night but I don't like to put her out and I can't afford to take that much time every visit.  I used to have a friend who lived about halfway but she moved in November.  I also used to be able to stay with City Boy's relatives.  So, it's now harder to see my baby.  This was an experiment to see if I could handle the drive in one day.

Saturday was shearing day at the farm where I have a sheep share.  I'm not that fussed about seeing the shearing itself, to be honest, although I do like examining the fleeces and learning about quality and variations in the wool.  But mainly it's an excuse to see the lambs.  However cute and cuddly you imagine newborn lambs to be, I assure you they are cuter and cuddlier.  They are also some of the gentlest, happiest, and most carefree little creatures on earth.  Watching them leap and gambol and rest in the sun is soothing to my chronically anxious soul.  They are peacefulness personified.  Also, after the shearing is done, everyone celebrates maple syrup season with lunch at a local sugaring house's restaurant.  (I skipped lunch and went straight for the maple ice cream.)
Baah, baah, fat sheep.  This sheep hasn't been missing any meals.
Baah, baah, black—yes, dammit, we'll have plenty of wool.
Finding the sunny spot. 
The sheep farm isn't that long a journey from my house—up the Interstate, across a state highway, and along some country lanes.  But it's about 60 miles round trip, a significant enough distance.  So, I was amazed at my luck:  When the exhaust system fell out of the car, it happened as I turned onto my own street.  It was only attached by the gasket at the tailpipe but I was able to get down the block and into my driveway with it dragging on the ground and making an obnoxious racket.

I'd had it spot-welded a few times as the salted winter roads had taken rusty nibbles here and there, and I could hear that it was getting louder.  I knew it would reach the point where it had to be replaced soon but I was hoping to make it at least through next winter.

Car is obviously not driveable so I will have to get it towed to the garage, when I can afford the repair.

The silver lining (or perhaps aluminium, under all that rust) is that by some stroke of luck, despite all these road trips, it somehow broke down within sight of my house.  What are the odds?  Also, I had a ticket to the monthly burlesque show for Saturday night.  I was leery of biking such a long distance in the dark and the cold but I was able to persuade an acquaintance to go.  I'd been trying to get her to come to the burlesque since last summer and she loved it.  So, I got a ride and she finally popped her burlesque cherry and can't wait to do it again.

Next instalment: Testicles.

Sunday, 2 April 2017

Kinky and the Friesian

I finally saw the live action "Beauty and the Beast".  Since the animated version is one of my favourite Disney films, I was sceptical when I heard they were attempting a live action remake, starring Hermione.

<Stop reading here if you want to avoid spoilers.>
 <Spoilers imminent.>
<Absolute spoilerificness from here on out.  You have been warned.>
Hermione may be the brightest witch of her age but she sings like a Muggle.  It's ok; no-one gets every talent.  But once upon a time films dubbed actors who could not sing.  That's a tradition they might want to think about reviving.

Gaston rides a Friesian.  And the carriage sent to take Maurice to the asylum is pulled by four Friesians.  Thanks, Disney—you embrace PC colour blind casting yet you go with tired stereotypes like putting the bad guy on a black horse.  Did you notice, Disney, that in "Ladyhawke", the film that introduced the world to the Friesian horse (to our infinite gratitude), the bad guy rode a white horse and the good guy rode the Friesian?

Philippe is a Lusitano rather than a draft horse.  He also appears to have been played by about four different equine actors.

They added a few songs that weren't in the first film and they were all unlistenably awful.  This was Disney's biggest mistake, though they also used the ridiculous movie trope of having someone ride away on a horse that has been harnessed to a wagon.  Funny how the surcingle, traces, and long driving reins mysteriously morph into a saddle and bridle.  Must be magic, but the castle ain't Hogwarts and Hermione doesn't have her wand.

There were some minor changes and elaborations on the backstory that made it more realistic, if that word has any place in reference to a movie about an enchanted castle:

Maurice is an artist, not an inventor, and it's explained that Belle's mother died of plague.  The one mystery left hanging is that Maurice fled Paris with the infant Belle when his wife was sick so she wouldn't catch the disease, but not everyone who contracted plague died, so theoretically the mother could have survived but had no way to find them.  Perhaps she will appear in the inevitable sequel.

Incidentally, Maurice is played by Kevin Kline.  When I heard he was in the cast, I assumed he was going to be Lumiere.  He would have been the perfect choice for that role, although he was a distinguished Maurice.  I am glad they decided to re-envision Maurice as an elegant Frenchman rather than a goofy one.

The prince is enchanted as an adult.  This makes much more sense.  In the original, it was never clear where his parents were.  Why was a small child in the position of answering the castle door and turning away the old woman on his own, and why was a child, whose morals were being shaped by the adults around him, punished for life for his behaviour. 

Even the question of why the innocent castle staff were punished along with him is lightly addressed here, although poorly:  They blame themselves for letting the prince's character be influenced by his evil father.  That's a bit of a stretch given that they were servants in an era when they could have been dismissed or even killed for the slightest disobedience.

His older age at enchantment means that the prince is literate ("I had a very expensive education" he quips to Belle when she is surprised he can quote Shakespeare).  Rather than Belle somewhat unrealistically teaching him to read, a love of books is instead something they bond over.  The prince gets to be a bit snarkier, teasing her about her taste in literature, which she returns in kind.  This gives more bite (pun intended) to their interaction.

LeFou is gay and infatuated with Gaston.  It's implied that they are butt buddies.  Not that Gaston is gay, it's more in the way that men in certain macho cultures believe that, as long as they are topping, casual homosexual behaviour is not emasculating.  When LeFou sings that Gaston bites during wrestling, he lifts his shirt to show a bite mark on his abdomen, and he dances with a man (earlier shown to enjoy dressing in drag) in the finale ball scene.  But the pièce de résistance is when LeFou changes the line "no-one's neck's as incredibly thick as Gaston's" to, you guessed it, "no-one's dick's as incredibly thick as Gaston's."  At first, I thought this must be wishful thinking on my part, that Disney wouldn't dare, but that is definitely what he sang.  Disney has always snuck in jokes and references meant to go above children's heads and amuse the adults but this took it to a more overt level.

The townspeople are not romanticised.  They are illiterate, anti-intellectual, superstitious, shallow, and easily misled.  Basically, the 18th century equivalent of Trump voters.  Belle's disdain for them is amply justified.

When the curse becomes permanent, the enchanted staff become fully inanimate objects, no longer anthropomorphic.  It's fairly dramatic and moving to see them losing their humanity, conscious of it slipping away but unable to stop the process.

The "Be Our Guest" segment contains a number of mistakes that are played for humour.  After all, the castle staff have not organised a dinner in eons, so there would be some flubs in their eagerness to go all out.

That's all that jumped out at me on first viewing; I'll augment this review after I have seen it again as I am forgetting a lot.  Oh, one more thing: When the beast lamented, "Who could love a beast?" it raised a titter from the Internet-savvy crowd.  Today, all he'd have to do is Google to find plenty of people who are into that.