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Monthly Archives: June 2012

“So what did you think of the conference today?”

I walk down the hall, my hands in my pockets, messenger bag over my shoulder, side by side with Pretty Grad Student.  We spent the day, as did most of our colleagues, at a small conference on management and ecology.  Unlike the massive conferences for which we typically plan for weeks, this was more directed, with an emphasis on the intersection between policy and ecology.

“It was disappointing,” I answer, continuing the inner monologue I’d been running for the past several minutes.  “It was like everyone wanted to be the keynote speaker, so hardly anyone presented any real science.”

“That one guy did.”

“Yeah, one guy,” I agree.  “I was expecting presentations on new findings and advancements in the field, not hours of proselytizing.”  I shake my head and sigh.  “Two days, wasted.  I could have made such headway on my analysis.”

“Quit overachieving,” she scolds me.  “You’re making the rest of us look lazy.”

“Quit being lazy and you too can be the department bitch,” I say with forced enthusiasm.

She snorts.  “Now you’re just whining.”

“Yeah, sorry,” I say.  “Just frustrated.”  I unlock my office door and step inside, tossing my bag into one of the empty chairs across from my desk.  I fall into my large work chair, an excessive expenditure I have never once regretted, and slump comfortably.

Pretty Grad Student shuts my office door and sits on the corner of my desk, silent.  After a moment, she asks, delicately, “Are things going better with your wife yet?”

I glance at her.  We normally don’t talk much about my and Ashley’s relationship.  It’s not like we purposely avoid the subject, but we always seem to be occupied by other things (usually our nether regions).  The only reason she knows we’re in a rough patch is because she stayed with me at my hotel, helping me make the most of my self-imposed isolation.  Her interest surprises me, and I say as much.

“I worry about you,” she says calmly.  “I don’t think anyone realizes how much effort you put into being happy.  I mean, I didn’t realize it either until these past few days.”

“I’m spending time with you because I genuinely enjoy your company,” I say calmly.  “I’m not using you.”

“No, and I’ve never thought you were,” she says.  Then a sly smirk crosses her lips.  “But, for the record, you can use me any way you need, baby.”

I smile at her.  “Thanks.”

Her smirk remains, but she furrows her brow as though concerned.  “Seriously though, it can’t be healthy for you to keep all this frustration bottled up like you do.  It’s great that you put on a stiff upper lip and all that, but eventually you have to let yourself be unhappy.”

“I don’t want to be unhappy,” I answer, annoyed, swiveling to and fro in my chair.  “I don’t have any reason to be unhappy.  I’m tired of being unhappy.”

She stands up and moves toward me, sitting on her knees in front of me.  She takes my hands in hers and locks gazes with me.  “If you want to quit being unhappy, then stop pretending that you aren’t.  Lying to the world about how you feel is one thing, but refusing to let yourself experience your own emotions is another.”  She smiles warmly, if a bit sadly.  “You’re the most amazing man I’ve ever known.  But even the most amazing of men can have bad days, and it sounds to me like you’ve been having an awful lot of them.  You deserve to let it out.”

I look at her and smile weakly.  “Thanks.  But I don’t agree with you.  The best thing I can do is try to keep positive and not let myself get overburdened by my own baggage.”  I squeeze her hands lightly, and she nods quietly.  She kisses my knuckle once before standing, leaning forward, and kissing me gently on the lips.

“Suit yourself, baby,” she says, more lightheartedly than before, but the concern is still there.  “But don’t think I’m going to let this go.  We’re going to talk about it tonight.”

I grin.  “Assuming you can get my mouth off of you long enough to get me to say anything.”

“If you’re not talking, you’d better have your mouth on me.”

“Now you’re just repeating me,” I say as I wave her off.  “Get to work, minion.  I’ll be ready to leave in an hour.”

She glares playfully and snaps her teeth at me.  (It’s much sexier than it sounds, especially coming from her), then turns abruptly, letting herself out.  I hear her voice from around the corner: “Yes sir, professor.”

I look at the empty doorframe, listening to her footfalls as she goes down the hall.  I smile, despite my frustration, and sigh.  Strangely enough, I feel a bit better.

I haven’t been myself lately.

I keep going over the past three entries here, and I find them to be decidedly depressing.  Almost bordering on what I would describe as “emo”.  Which is not something to which I aspire in my writing, or my life in general.

People comment on how I’m always whistling or singing or humming to myself as I walk, and how I’m always smiling, a characteristic my colleague describes as though I “know some grand secret the rest of the world would die to learn”.  I’m in good physical condition, and not unattractive (though, again, I still don’t see what women see in me).  I have a great career that feels more like play than work.  I travel and experience more of the world in a year than most people will experience in their entire lives.  I don’t really have much to be unhappy about.

I am a happy person, goddammit.  That really needs to come across more in my writing again.  Not this… whatever the hell it is that’s been seeping into my blog for the past couple of weeks.  I could have talked about all the free time I spent with Pretty Graduate Student during my separation from Ashley, about the publication I got accepted, about new classes I’m teaching at the university… but no, I chose to focus on the most depressing aspect of my current situation.

Not sure if that needs to change or not, but you have my apologies, all the same.  Perhaps after tonight things will begin to take a more positive spin here at Only Partly Erotic.

By the way, for some reason, I really dig this title.  If not myself, then who am I.  (There’s a lesson to be had there, but for the life of me, I can’t see it.)

I’m having coffee with Ashley tonight.

That’s such a strange thing to say.  “I’m having coffee with Ashley tonight.”  A perfectly unremarkable statement, carrying with it some weighty implications, as though it were an event that required planning, that having coffee with her should somehow be out of the ordinary.  It’s normal for married couples to have coffee together.  I see it all the time on television (and we all know anything on television must be normal).  But it becomes weird when you’ve been estranged from your spouse for over a week.

I haven’t seen her in ten days now, not since June 8, when we had our argument.  We’ve barely been in communication since then.  Presumably, she realized that I wasn’t just going to come home with nothing resolved, so there were a few days with no communication whatsoever.  Then today, I got an e-mail from her, asking if I wanted to have coffee at our favorite cafe.  I hem-hawed about it for a while, before finally texting her my assent.

So, after ten days of separation, I’m meeting Ashley tonight, to have coffee and catch up, and, I assume, to discuss the state of our marriage, why I left, and what it means for our future.  It’s not like we haven’t had this conversation a dozen times before.  We’re not breaking new ground here.  But, given the circumstances leading up to our meeting tonight, I have no idea how this is going to go.

…you know, I say that.  But it’s not entirely true.

I know that I’ll arrive fifteen minutes early, because that’s what I do.  I know I’ll be done with my first cup of coffee, likely with a shot of Bailey’s in it, by the time she shows up, perfectly punctual, as always.  I know she’ll look beautiful in her summer attire.  When I see her, my heart will skip a beat, my throat will catch, my stomach will turn in knots, the same as always when I see her the first time after any extended period apart.  And I know, despite how happy I will be to see her, I won’t hug her, or shake her hand, or anything, because I’m stubborn.  I’ll stand up while she sits, because that’s what a gentleman does, and I’ll ask how her day was.  She’ll tell me some brief anecdote about the day’s events, then ask me the same, and I’ll do the same.

By the time her first, my second, coffee arrives, we’ll have run out of pleasantries.  We will be silent for a little while.  I’ll ask her why she wanted to have coffee.  She’ll say she missed me, that she wanted to talk.  I’ll tell her there’s nothing to be said that hasn’t been said before.  She’ll agree, and her voice will catch, and she’ll try not to cry.  She will tell me she loves me, that she wants to be there for me sexually, but she doesn’t know how to change herself.  I will tell her that I love her too, that not a single day goes by that I don’t thank God for bringing her into my life, but unrequited physical intimacy is sufficient to destroy any relationship.  She’ll tell me she knows this, but she just can’t bring herself to be physically intimate as often as I’d like.  So I’ll ask her what she wants to do about this, the same problem we’ve had for years now, because something has to be done, because even though I thank God for her every day, there is also not a day that I don’t feel some level of resentment toward her for refusing to be intimate with me.

And this is where the future becomes cloudy.  It’s unlikely that she’s going to tell me that a permanent separation is in order, but given the state of things, I doesn’t strike me as totally impossible, either.  It’s just really improbable, because we still love each other as much as we ever have.  Ashley feels like she’s not enough for me (and let’s call it like it is–she isn’t), which scares and upsets her, but she won’t do enough to amend the situation.  However, that’s not enough to drive her away from me.  She wants me for the rest of her life, as she so often reminds me, in the most romantic, if still asexual, manner possible.

That means, if things go badly tonight, it will most likely be my doing.  And for all our problems, and despite my indiscretions, I’m not ready to say goodbye.  Being away from her always reminds me just how much I need her.  I acknowledge it frequently, but it’s her absence in my daily life that makes the need more palpable.  When we’re together, I crave her physical touch.  When we’re apart, I just crave her.

Anyhow.  This was intended as more of an update, and instead evolved into some kind of inner monologue about the state of my marriage.  My apologies.  Also, please forgive my absence in the past couple of weeks.  I just… haven’t felt up to responding to emails, comments, etc., which I hope is understandable.  I’ll be back soon, hopefully with something more positive to report.

Regards,
BimodalTendancies

I hate hotel rooms.  I like the service, sure, and the water pressure is usually something out of a wet dream (no pun intended).  But I hate how empty they feel.  Hotel managers strive to pack their rooms with all the comforts of home–fresh linens, a television with cable, a writing desk, wireless internet access, and a variety of scented soaps and lotions to make you look and smell as lovely as the room you’re staying in.

But everything feels artificial.  The bed is a little too firm, the linens a bit too abrasive.  The shower is too tight, even with the bow-shaped curtain rod, which is designed to create a sense of space–also artificial.  The television is grainy, the writing desk cramped, the internet too slow.  The soaps and lotions have the same smell across all hotels, clean and soapy, but uninspired, unoriginal.  And no matter how many lights you turn on, it’s never bright enough, always slightly more dim then you’d like wherever you’re working.

And it’s all just a little too cramped.  The desk is always shoved in the corner, out of the way, with a floor lamp above it (the one place in the room where you can get sufficient light, but it’s too bright on the laptop’s screen, causing eye strain).  Clearly defined walkways are narrow, and too angular.  There’s no flow to the space, no feng shui.  In their effort to make the place feel like home, they have stripped it of anything resembling the natural comfort of your personal living space.

And it makes the place feel soulless.  Every hotel is the same, regardless of its position on the star-rating continuum.  And as I sit in my hotel, I can’t help but wonder about the room’s previous occupants.  How many people have come through here?  How many have left their individual mark on the place, only to have it sterilized the next morning by hotel staff?  How many individuals have been homogenized by this place, their stories assimilated by the collective?

I’m just being bitter.  I know I am.  But then again, I have plenty of reason to be bitter at the moment.

My phone chimes, and the screen lights up.  I retrieve it from the desk beside me and half-heartedly activate the screen.  A text message from Ashley.

Please come home.

I consider the words, the implication.  It’s been four days since I saw her.  Since the last time she rebuked my sexual advances.  Since I reminded her that it had been a good month since our last sexual encounter, if not longer.  Since we argued about the role of sex in our marriage, and my need for intimacy.  Since I grabbed my gym bag and stormed out of the house.  Since I booked my hotel room for an unspecified amount of time.

I look at my phone, rereading the message over and over.   I imagine what it would sound like coming from her mouth.  I can hear her voice, straining through pain, struggling to hold back the sobs.  I can see the tears in her eyes.

I know she misses me.  Christ, I miss her too.  Being away from her hurts me at the core of my being, at the most fundamental of levels.  I love her more than I can explain.  I need her in my life, like I need food and water.  She sustains me, supports me.  She centers me.  I want to be close to her.  I want that intimacy, that sexuality, to feel her physically consuming me the way she consumes me emotionally, mentally, and hell, probably spiritually.

Christ, that sounds fucking crazy.  It sounds like an unhealthy infatuation.  Hell, maybe it is.  Ashley is my obsession.    She is the physical representation of everything that is good and wholesome in my world, and I want to be a part of it, in every imaginable way.  And to be constantly denied the sexual intimacy that I want, that I crave, from someone who is otherwise everything I could possibly want and need…

My phone blinks off.  I hastily reignite the screen, rereading the message, over and over, anxiously, obsessively.  Fuck, I’m so angry at her that I can’t think.  Four days later, and I’m still angry.  Does that make me juvenile, I wonder?  Am I a spoiled, immature brat?  Or am I justified, and this is righteous indignation that I’m experiencing?  I don’t have the slightest clue.  All I know is, I’m fucking furious.  I’m frustrated beyond words, beyond any hope of reconciliation.  I need something to change, but I don’t know how to change it, and that just fuels the anger.  It’s probably why I’m still mad, I think.  I’m a published scientist, a researcher, a theoretician, a programmer.  Hell, I’m a fucking genius.  And yet I can’t find a solution to the one thing that I need more than anything else in this world.

What good is intellect if it can’t give you the things you need, if it only makes you dwell on alternate scenarios, how things could be different but never are?

That’s my problem.  I’m dwelling.  I need to stop thinking about things.  I need to stop letting the situation get to me.  I need to immerse myself in infidelity, to find pleasure and satisfaction in my marital indiscretion.  Ashley won’t give me that, for whatever reason, so I should get it elsewhere.

But I don’t want to get it elsewhere.  I want what we used to have, and I’m afraid that in losing it, we’re about to lose everything else.

I don’t think my marriage is over.  I’m sure I’ll go home soon.  But isn’t leaving, for any amount of time, an indicator of what’s to come?  Is the ability to just up and leave for days at a time the litmus test for a failing marriage?  If so, where does mine fall on the scale?  Are we on the cusp of a major failure?  Am I about to become another divorce statistic?  The idea is heartbreaking.

And I realize now, I’m not bitter.  I’m just sad.

I reread the message.  I consider the words, the implication.  And I have no idea what to do.

For now, I put the phone to sleep.

I haven’t written anything recently because, frankly, nothing has happened.  My work has absorbed all of my attention since my last interaction with Pretty Grad Student.  In fact, this is really the first moment of free time I’ve had since then, and I only have it because I wanted to do something other than think about animal movement at different spatial and temporal scales.  I can only keep my mind in movement ecology for so long before I start producing equations for things that don’t need to be solved.  (For example, I once spent two hours writing an algorithm to calculate the most efficient route home, taking into account traffic lights, effort based on landscape characteristics, and my average walking speed.  A fantastic waste of time, to be sure, but I now have the optimized route for my daily commute.)

However, given that nothing has happened recently, and I don’t feel like sharing an old memory at the moment, I checked my e-mail for inspiration.  And it didn’t disappoint.  One reader wrote:

I enjoy reading your blog, and I think your stories are exciting and erotic.  But then I remember the truth of your marriage, and it makes me sad.  I don’t think what you’re doing has to be wrong because everyone has their own reasons for doing what they do, and I can’t judge you any more than anyone can judge me.  But I have to ask, how can you be so comfortable living so dishonestly?

I think this question might have offended me if the sender hadn’t been so polite and/or couched it in what strikes me as genuine concern.  So, firstly, thanks to the reader in question for giving me a certain degree of understanding/sympathy before jumping to conclusions.

Now, as I said, this question might have irritated me, but given the circumstances, it actually gave me pause.  I often consider what I do as a betrayal of trust, and I frequently talk about the guilt that arises from my extramarital activities.  I’ve also talked about being a good conman, on working the long con to make sure you can pursue sex outside of a “monogamous” relationship, and I think I’ve even mentioned that what I do is essentially lie to Ashley to get what I want.  But for some reason, when the question is presented so bluntly—How can you be comfortable living so dishonestly?—it stands out and makes me consider what I do from a perspective not wholly dissimilar from my usual approach, but with enough subtle differences that it changes things.

Am I a dishonest person?

I was prepared to write several paragraphs on this question.  I was going to talk about the continuum of honesty, and how I fall somewhere in the middle, not an honest person but not dishonest either.  But upon consideration, I’ve decided that would be utter bullshit.  There’s no sliding scale.  You’re either honest, or dishonest.  It’s pretty black or white.  I tell the truth here, and to the women I’m seeing, but I lie to Ashley, in words and in practice.  Therefore, yes, I am a dishonest person.

But, I posit the following: Who the hell isn’t?

Certain among my family are highly religious, conservative people.  (Strike that—most of them are.  Hell, I may be the only non-conservative in the lot.)  They strive to live according to a set of morals and values they identify as Biblically mandated, and admittedly, they’re good people.  They don’t participate in the backbiting so common in the church.  They take leading roles in its direction and organization.  They go on mission trips.  Hell, my family owns and operates a free medical clinic back home, where they treat anyone, with the understanding that they will also minister to the sick.  They’re good people.  Honest people.

But I’ve also seen these people do what I’ve come to call “The Hotel Shuffle”, wherein they rent a single room with a maximum occupancy of two people, then take people inside in shifts to make sure all six can share the room for the night.  Would I consider that being dishonest?  Yeah, I think I have to.  They’re effectively taking coin out of the hotel’s pocket, for their benefit.  They don’t want to rent three rooms, so they break the rules and stuff six into one room.  That’s dishonest, but it’s socially acceptable dishonesty, something that most people are likely guilty of doing.  (And it probably can’t help that they can say something like, “Oh, it’s a silly rule, we should be allowed to sleep in whatever manner we choose.  At least we’re still paying them!”)  That’s the distinguishing characteristic: the ubiquitous nature of the behavior.  Everyone does it, and if it’s saving you a few dollars while still giving some away, what’s the harm?

Now I don’t intend this to be a justification of what I do, nor a condemnation of the more harmless dishonesties.  I present that admittedly clumsy comparison to circle back to my point—everyone is dishonest.  No one is ever completely honest and virtuous.  The difference, then, is the level of dishonesty we’re willing to accept from our own behavior, and whether said dishonesty accomplishes some goal for ourselves.  In my case, I love Ashley immensely.  Her support and simple presence are enough to get me through just about anything.  But I’m weak, and I need sexual gratification to be completely happy.  So, to get the things I need to be completely happy in my life, I perpetuate the necessary untruth, that I am a happily monogamous husband.  It’s a level of dishonesty that I’m comfortable with.

That’s not to say I’m proud of it.  I’m not.  Just comfortable.

Alright, that’s enough moral prattle for one day.  Back to the ever growing mountain of GPS data.  I’ll hopefully be back later this week to divulge my latest shenanigans.