December 01, 2003

A Quick One

Sorry for the silence, but I had no internet access in Amsterdam all weekend.

I am now back in London for one night, back to Stockholm tomorrow afternoon. I promise to post a long one tomorrow night (European time) and give the full update. I am alive and well, and love you guys for being concerned about me. I am concerned about me, too.

In the meantime, all I can say is this-things are looking darker than ever.

That, and how do I erase (without chance of recall) all files from a laptop with Windows 2000 (hopefully, without incurring any cost)?

-H.

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November 27, 2003

Things Are Looking Up

First off-Happy Thanksgiving to all the Americans (and everyone else!). I have only had a few minutes access to internet at a time, so sorry this blog has been a bit quiet and my comments few, both on my blog and on yours.

Secondly- I HAVE AN INTERVIEW TOMORROW! They're a good-looking company situated internationally, but my local office would be in England (which will, indeed, complicate my life a alot.) Let's call them Company ? for now (suggestions for a new name are welcome (since X and Y are already taken)!)

Thirdly- met Mr. Y this afterenoon already. We met up, had coffee, and did a little shopping together. I have to be honest here-the good is, the magic is still there. The bad news is, the magic is still there.

I am now hurriedly throwing together this blog before beautifying myself for our dinner. Plans include: Biore, bubble bath, face mask, sit-ups, and a round of masturbation to take the edge off (or to give relief from the most highly-charged coffee-drinking experience of my young life thus far).

More from me later...maybe

If you don't hear from me soon, some interesting things have happened or we are (still!) having too good a time.

And did I mention he presented me with an early Christmas present in the form of a beautiful platinum bracelet? Mmmmm....

-H.

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November 26, 2003

Thanks

A short update from me: I am in Winchester (which made me giggle. I asked: Is this the place where the rifles came from? and got an: Right. Can tell where you come from). The weather here is cold and rainy, but I am just so happy to be here in England that I could care less if the rain is just throwing it down.

Wish I could do something about this hangover, though...

This year is the first year, in 29 years, that I will not be celebrating Thanksgiving.

Ironic, since Thanksgiving day is also my 4-year anniversary of the day I moved to Sweden.

No cranberry sauce and mashed potatoes. No turkey (especially not singe I am a vegetarian), no dressing, no oozy, lovely rolls. My house will not smell like the earnest and perpetual scent of pumpkin pie. I will not go, around midnight, back to the fridge and pick at the leftovers. I will not bask in the amber glow of football on the tv.

There is no Thanksgiving this year, and actually I am ok with that. I'm just not up to it. I hope to spend a quiet evening with someone very dear to me, and relax, drink wine, and talk.

I have held massive Thanksgiving dinners every year here in Stockholm since I moved. I have had many people over for entirely too much food and drink, and have outdone myself every year. For me, Thanksgiving is about sharing my culture and my home with others, and I have always enjoyed doing so.

Two years ago I had a colleague over as well, a sweet-faced American girl from San Diego that wore her innocence on her sleeve, and was constantly being shocked by the "European behaviour". Even though we were close to the same age, she was like my little sister to me. And she introduced something to my Thanksgiving table that I will carry forward every year from here on.

Basically, what she said was that she wanted us to give thanks for something. We could recite all the bad things that happened, that was ok, but we had to find something to give thanks for.

At the time, it struck me as corny. But we all went around the table, said something that we were grateful for. So for me, this year, here is my list:

First, a summary of my year:

- I lost my job.
- My relationship at home is sliding down a slippery slope.
- I endangered my relationship with Dear Mate for no quality purpose.
- I tried to kill myself.
- I was signed off of work sick for three months.

But what I am thankful for:

- I learned that Company X is not who I am. I am me. Not my job.
- I have learned the creatures that are my friends, versus those that aren't.
- I learned that I have a voice inside of me that wants to be let out.
- I learned how to blog. And have met so many wonderful people along the way.
- I survived trying to kill myself and learnt that my life is not mine to take. And that my issues need fixing.
- I started to believe in myself. For the first time ever.

And you know what? That list is enough for me. That's a hell of a list, in fact. What are you thankful for?

-H.

PS-bit of an update- I have two more things to add to my list:

- I have a bite for a GREAT JOB-keep your fingeres crossed!
- I am having dinner with Mr. Y on Thanksgiving. I know lots of people disapprove, but what do I have to lose, really?

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November 24, 2003

The Kindness of Strangers

Blanche and I would never have been friends. We have nothing in common. In her 'Streetcar Named Desire' world, she tells the attendant that she has 'always relied upon the kindness of strangers'.

Well, I haven't. "Pay It Foward" just seemed like a nice ideal, nothing that could survive popular application. I have never understood the motivation of people, and in my bruised and distrusting way I have always assumed (with the natural aggression of a hardcore pessimist) that anything that needs to be done must be done alone. In that way, I have made sure that no one around me is exposed to any slight vulnerability that I may have, no secrets that I harbor about my fears, secrets, dreams and hopes.

It's a lonely existence, but I get by ok.

I don't accept help from people, in general. I don't ask for it, either. But there is one occasion that stands out in my mind as an example that, although I want to delude myself and think the worst about people, there is goodness out there that someday I am going to have to accept.

When I left my husband, I had only my 1980 VW rabbit convertible, my clothes, and my two cats. Everything else was gone. I drove away from where I was living in North Carolina to Dallas, which was a town that I knew and figured I could find work in. I felt enormous pressure to get away, to get there, to leave that part of my life behind. I thought that my husband might come after me (and he did, shortly after, and not in a 'knight in shining armor' kind of way. More like a 'The Shining' kind of way). So it was that I drove like a demon possessed to try to get to my new life, to lead my life as quickly as possible.

I had finally made my way into the Eastern border of Texas, and still had several hours to go. I was dressed in shorts and a tank top, and had only $100 with me. My lunch was a packet of Twizzlers and a Diet Coke. I stopped at a small town a little ways into Texas, and got gas.

As I got out of the car, I noticed that the warm weather they had in Arkansas was not present in Texas. The wind was cold, almost bitter, and while the gas was pumping I got back into my car and slid on a pair of jeans and a sweatshirt. When the gas was done, I went into the station and paid for the gas. I got back out to the car.

And it wouldn't start.
I tried and tried and tried. But it wouldn't turn over at all.

I went into the gas station, and the attendant, a kind woman with big, bouncy dirty blond curls and a cigarette smoker's voice, told me her brother-in-law owned the garage in town, and could come get the car. He showed up in a few minutes with a tow truck, and I piled into his truck with him while he towed my little car.

I sat inside the service station with a Styrofoam cup of lousy coffee and a heavy heart. He came back in shortly, and sat down. His shirt said 'Billy' on the pocket, and he had a very dirty Dallas Cowboys cap on.

'Well, ma'am, I have to say that it's your alternator that's the problem. We have a spare alternator we can use on your car, but they tend to range into about four hundred dollars.'

I don't know much about cars, but I do know what an alternator is, and I know that they cost big money.

'Are you sure?' I asked hoarsely. 'Are you sure that's the problem?'

He smiled, and stood. 'I'll go check again, and then we can see what options we have.'

He left, and I felt the tears come down. This was all so fucking impossible. I had finally gotten the gumption to end my marriage, to escape into my new life, to become what I thought would be a better person, and look what happened. It was a sign, I thought. A never-ending round of life.

A long time went by, and finally Billy came back in and sat down on his desk, just across from me.

'I'm real sorry, ma'am, but it was indeed the alternator. We went ahead and replaced it, since your car was not going to start without a new one.'

I started crying again. I dug into my jeans pocket and removed the crumpled bills I had, a grand total of $87. I showed it to him.

'I'm so sorry, but this is all I have. You have to understand, I just left my husband. He took all of our things and all of our money. I am driving to Dallas to get away from him, I have to get away from him or he's going to wind up beating the life out of me.'

The tears kept coming down, and I took the cuff of my UTA sweatshirt to remove them angrily. I kept the money on my hand, exposed, my Scarlet Letter. I felt so stupid, crying like this. Like Billy gave a shit. I was a fucking hysterical woman in his office, a typical damsel in distress, and it made me so angry.

He got off his desk and knelt beside me.

'Ma'am?' he asked, removing his cap. I noticed the crease-mark his hat had left on his brown hair. 'Are you a Christian?'

Oh no. Now he was really going to lecture me.

'No, sir.' I replied softly. 'I'm not.'

He smiled. 'Well, I am.' He replied. He took my elbow and eased me out of the chair. With his other hand, he folded my fingers over my $87. He walked me towards the door, and as I got there, he took my hand, turned it over, and placed my car key in my palm.

I looked up at him, not understanding.

'What'¦?' I asked, tears still coming.

He smiled. 'Take care, ma'am. And God be with you. You drive safely now.' He replied, and turned around and walked whistling into the garage.

And I stood there and looked up at the sky. He had just fixed my car for free. At no small expense, either.

And so it was that I drove to Dallas, in a working car, and with $87 in my pocket. I don't remember the name of the town now, I only remember the cold chill and the kindness of the garage. And the reason that it came back to me recently was I saw, with my posts last week, the kindness that strangers from all corners of the bits and bytes world have. Strangers that come out and reveal that they are friends, and believe in you.

And it's then that I realize I can't live without kindness after all.

Blanche, can I buy you a drink?

-H.

PS-I am off to London and Amsterdam, so my blogging may be hit and miss for four days, but I will be around. I am visiting two good friends (and happily get to spend some quality drinking time with Dear Mate, who is there this week) in a "cheer Helen up" campaign.

Oh, and while in London, I aim to have my friend take a picture of me-I plan on joining the "Blogging Nekkid" campaign. Stay tuned for posted pics...

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Size Counting

'How do you measure a willy?'

'What?'

'How do you measure a willy?' Dear Mate repeated.

Yup, we do have conversations like these.

He actually said penis, but I am trying to not shock the locals. Cause I never get crude or anything on this site. No no no...

I instigated this discussion, when I text messaged him and asked what sizes he was. Despite the turn of conversation, I had actually meant his clothing sizes, since I was Christmas shopping. He decided to be a smart ass and instead replied via text: 'About 5 cm long when flaccid, and the rest of the time he's about 25 cm long.'

To which I replied: 'You're ambitious.'

So when we talked via phone a little while later, I tried to extract what his clothes sizes were. And I also needed to highlight that I was exceptionally dubious about his 25 cm estimation. Which takes us to the beginning of this post again.

DM: How do you measure a penis?
Me: With a ruler, I guess.
DM: Well, one out of one for the bleeding obvious. I meant which parts should actually be measured?
Me: Don't tell me you've never measured him.
DM: Of course I have, but I can't recall what the measurements were. It's not like they're tattooed on my arm or anything.
Me: Well, I assume that you should be measuring for length, not circumference, right?
DM: Does circumference matter?

I had to think about that. Did it? I had to track back to some former partners I had been with, and I had to go with: yes. Circumference does matter. I mean, I have been with a guy that had a very'¦um'¦skinny one. It made me feel awkward, like I was built like some gaping cavern, as opposed to the dainty creature I really am.

I also remember being with a guy that was extremely'¦thick. It was like having sex with a Polish sausage, the idea of which makes me want to take a long shower using antibiotic shower gel. That, intermingled with an ice pack, that is.

Me: Yes, circumference is an issue. You should, with that measurement, always aim for average. That's a good place to be.
DM: Why?

I told him of my Cavern versus Polish sausage experiences.

DM: Right. Ok. Now about length?
Me: What's the question again?
DM: Well, how does it get measured?
Me: I'm assuming tip to base, and only when he's at full attention. Otherwise there's no meaning in the numerical values.
DM: OK.
Me: Although it would be funny to know what size he is when he's sleeping. Or just after jumping into a freezing body of water.
DM: Shut up. I know I should measure him erect, but should you measure on top or on bottom?

It took me a minute to try to visualize this. This is a complicated visualization in many ways.

1) It's funny picture to imagine a man, naked, trying to measure it.
2) It's equally entertaining to imagine a guy trying to excite himself for the express purpose of measuring it.
3) It's even funnier to imagine a guy, mid-coitus, pulling out of the lady and saying 'Hold on, honey, I've been meaning to do this all day.' And whipping out a ruler.

DM: Have you ever measured yourself?
Me: What do you mean? You mean my little man in the boat?
DM: Is that what you call him?
Me: No, I call it my clitoris, but I'm worried about google searches.

Oops, too late.

Me: Have I measured him?
DM: Yeah. I mean, do girls do that?

I had to think about that, too. I mean, I never have. I suppose some can. I know some women have very small ones, in fact I had been with a woman previously and hers was non-existent. I know, I tried to find it. I even called two guys over to help me find it (this was the drunken college swinging experience) and they couldn't locate it either, so I know it wasn't that I didn't apply myself properly to the task at hand. I personally am blessed with a nice sized one. I'm not going to be mistaken for a hermaphrodite or anything, but a guy isn't going to need a compass to find mine. If he does need one, then he's truly clueless.

Or he's one of the many in a parade of useless wankers that I dated.

It must suck to be a guy and have to play hide and seek with some women. I mean, at least from a woman's perspective, we never have to go looking for the guy. He's usually right up in our face.

Then I think about the logistics of trying to measure it my favorite finger puppet. How would you do it, it's a triangle after all! I mean, it would involve using complicated weird triangular measuring sticks, and would I measure from fold to fold, or from tip of triangle to other tip? Images of hgh school geometry class start running in my head. It made my brain hurt.

Decide I will not be measuring my cute little twin after all.

Me: Back to you measuring yourself now. I would say that the numbers would be more impressive should you measure on top. I mean, you have the balls underneath to take away a bit from the numbers.
DM: I disagree, I think the numbers will be larger if you measure on the bottom. Then you can lift him up and measure all the way to the base.
Me: Why are we debating this? I mean, you have one, go measure it. I don't have one, unless you are referring to my Maestrobator, in which case I am happy to measure him but I think he will make you feel inadequate.
DM: Seriously?
Me: Yeah, he's hung well. With a vibrating stimulator, in case you're curious.

Silence on the other end while DM comes to term with the fact that although he may have a celebrated 25 cm, he does not have a vibrating bit, too.

So I challenge the men folk out there to dig the rulers out and have a measure. Let's see what it'¦um'¦turns up. And if you're truly brave, let us know what the numbers are.

Happy Measuring!

-H.

PS- I wrote stuff this weekend. Scroll down. Enjoy. And go say hi to Simon-his Wallabies lost.

PPS-Beth puts forward the idea of blogging nekkid. I get a mention as "probably the sexiest, most desirable woman in the Blogosphere". Cool.

PPPS - I am still jobless. You know. In case anyone thought otherwise. And in fact have received four emails that were "thank you but you're not good enough" responses to four of the perhaps 20 CVs I have sent out. If anyone needs me, I'll be drinking. Heavily. Fuck.

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November 23, 2003

To Dream a Little Dream of You

The doorbell rings, and I pad down the stairs, my bare feet cold against the wooden floor. My hair is rough around my shoulders, and as I look outside at the snowy evening, I wonder who could be calling. I sink my shoulders inside myself in a squaring event to ward off the travelling salemen.

And when I swing the door open, I am greeted by two things. The first is a gust of cold winter wind which snakes its way around my ankles and inside the buttonholes of my pajamas. The second is shock, as I see that it is him. He is here. He turns to me, his eyes meeting mine, imploring and questioning, and in one second he has flown up the stairs, his mouth on mine and his hand in my hair.

Somehow we stagger inside, my shock at him on my doorstep absolved into a heady response. He is here, in the flesh, holding me and kissing me as though he never left. His skin is warm, and I feel my hands guiding their way with a mind of their own. He captures them and holds them, and my fingers place all of their trust inside of that moment.

We run up the stairs hand in hand, clothing being left with abandon as we go. Within seconds we are in the bedroom, on the bed, finding our way through the familiar hills and valleys that we once knew without need of navigation. His hands grab fistfuls of my hair, and his fingers dig deeply into my back, edging the surface and causing blood to rise.

The words we say are not original, they have been said before and will be said again. But we speak them in our language, in the terms that we know and the meanings that we hold value in. He whispers that he loves me. That he cannot live without me. That I am the most beautiful woman he has ever seen. That he wants to have children with me.

I whisper back that I love him. That I wish we could be married. This draws us apart again for a split-second-it is not what he wants, I should not have said that. But he softly takes his body and my body and instead proves what we already knew-that all of this, every moment and every movement, all of it was inevitable.

And once the moment is over, he doesn't whisper that he was just passing through running an errand. He doesn't look sad or admonishing. Instead, he gets up and lights a fire in the fireplace by the bed. He goes downstairs and turns off the lights. He comes back upstairs, naked, and crawls into bed with me, lacing his fingers through mine and kissing the bridge of my nose, the arch of my jaw, the hollow under my ear.

In my dream he then lays down with me, curling his body around me and holding me close, sniffing the back of my neck. In my dream I allow my body to relax against the warmth of a man for the first time in a long time and I finally sleep, a dreamless sleep that wakes me up in the morning with images of lilac and blue painting the inside of my eyelids. In my dream, he stays that night, and the next, and the next.

In my dream, he never lets me go.

And in my reality, I am alone and missing him madly. I go to bed alone, save for the suitcase that I carry around our memories in. And when the sounds go bump in the night, I wrap my arms around that case, and try to breathe his comfort in.

For that is all I have.

-H.

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Weekend Round-Up

This weekend hasn't gone as expected thus far. The good news is I have showered daily, although my long hair (my picture on my sidebar is a bit older) hasn't been washed in 4 days, and may soon have its own heartbeat. The bad news is I just put the same pajamas on that I have been wearing since I lost my job on Wednesday.

But they're big, flannel Victoria's Secret ones, so I should be excused.

I must confess this weekend has not been easy. For example, witness the text message I sent Dear Mate on Friday night after a bottle or Perequita and three hours of "The Two Towers-the Extended Version":

"This is as good as it gets. I don't get to marry and live with the love of my life. I don't have a job. I don't have children, a daughter named Eleanor or a son named Matthew. I don't have anything I want or yearn for. I am alive, and that's as good as it gets. That's all life is. A constant fuck you."

Ooh...when Helen goes to the dark side, she really goes dark.

And I was planning on doing some Christmas shopping today, but the weather is miserable, and frankly I don't feel like going outside today. I have lost a bit of weight, and truthfully is the idea of food is thoroughly unappealing.

Hello Darkness my old friend...I've come to meet with you again...

All is not totally lost. The good news is I thought of a plotline for a new book. I have 2 and a half books written thus far, and this one is a totally new idea. Actually, the book is almost writing itself-it's all I can think about and am having problems pushing my ideas out of my brain fast enough.

It sure beats thinking about work.

I thought of it last night while on my second Grolsch and watching "Star Wars: Attack of the Clones" (now that's really depressed, if you sit there and watch that shit). An idea came to me, and it has me really excited (no, not that kind of excited). I am calling it "The Clock" in my head, let's see what becomes of it.

I tried to treat myself last night-I put fresh sheets on the bed. I usually change the sheets every Sunday, but wanted to feel fresh linens against my skin, to slide in under the covers and feel just myself against the cool sheets, to twist my bare legs in the duvet covers. I lit a fire in the fireplace in the bedroom, and read a book that always makes me laugh ("The Only Boy For Me", by Gil McNeil). I took three sleeping tablets, which only sort-of worked, and I had a nice round of relf-relations last night, imagining Mr. Y being face down between my legs.

I slept for a few hours, and then when I woke up, I tried another round of interfering with myself (orgasms make me sleepy. I'm like a guy in that respect, so I never bitch when the guy falls asleep just after sex, since I usually have beat him to the Land of Nod) but not only did it not make me sleepy, it didn't make me orgasm.

That's right. I'm so broken I can't even play with myself properly. Sheesh.

So I'm up now, and will go make some coffee, sit on the couch, and watch tv. And work on my book. And hate Company X and wish I. Could. Just. Get. Some. Fucking. Sleep.

-H.

PS-my web management skills have completely gone down the toilet (hmm...much like my career). If you are a regular visitor here and I do not have you linked but you would like to be, please let me know in the comments here (I had all the sites written on a piece of paper at work, which was purged along with the rest of my "Good riddance Company X cleanout last week).

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November 22, 2003

Luuk List

OK, Luuk has turned out to be one popular bear (and I wish I could have his frequent flier miles!)

Let's work it thus: I have a list here, and we will have this be the "shipping to" list. If the timing is bad or whatever, we can move names around. But otherwise, this is the order in which the little man sees the world. If he sees a town more than once, that's totally OK! It's about perspective-what is it that makes your town great for you?

That, and the bear is just so damn cute that of course people want to host him...

And I slept with him, so I can vouch for his coolness.

OK, so here's the list as I have it. And if you want to add your name, simply comment here and I will just tack you to the list.

Jean in Alabama
Simon
James
Joey
Kat
Erik
Brass in Colorado

David in Texas-Alamo, baby. You know what to do.
Pylorns in Austin-I see 6th Street drinking in Luuk's future!
Ted in D.C. - Everyday Bear for Senator!
Tiffani in Cleveland-Rock and Roll Hall of Fame sounds GREAT!
Jennifer in New Orleans-Luuk goes voodoo!
Sue in Indiana-take one of your gorgeous country shots!
Robert in Jersey (the island) - one of my favorite places.
Kaetchen in San Francisco-wonder if Luuk will go to a bath house?
Carlene in New Orleans - he needs debauching. Definitely.
Guinness in Sacramento- I trust you, Guinness, to get my guy drunk.
Suz in Kansas City-maybe a Chiefs Game? You decide!
Melodrama in Calcutta-damn this bear gets to visit India and I don't!
Michael in Minneapolis - that poor bear goes from India to Minn. Brrrrr!
Hilary in Halifax - Where the real bears play hockey.
Light&Dark on Canada's West Coast - my little guy will be a native Canadian in no time.
LeeAnn in...you know what, LeeAnn? I have absolutely NO IDEA where you live, girlfriend!
Beth Donovan in Ft. Leavenworth - Luuk on horseback, what a FAB idea!

-H.

PS-the next comment puts me at 1,000!

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November 21, 2003

Job Hunting

I know I should take it easy but I simply cannot function without having a job. I am so stressed about money that I almost don't want to buy food, but I know I am being a bit uptight, seeing as how I get paid until mid-May. That and I think Partner Unit would prefer not to starve.

I have already applied for about 7 or 8 jobs and log on to Monster, Jobbline, and a few more several times a day. Prospects in Sweden are very dim indeed but I will keep trying (mostly because I want to give the finger to Company X and take a massive payoff. Am I bitter? Oh yeah, baby. Do I hate Company X with a fiery vengeance? Yes again, even though Partner Unit, Dear Mate, and Best Friend all work there).

I came up with a new term with Partner Unit and Best Friend that you may freely steal. The term is "fucknuts", and it's a state of mind. It's the state of being beyond stressy/angry, to the point where the little things are pushing you over the edge of flipping out.

Example: If I have one more anxiety dream about the evil bitches that are likely crowing at my job loss, I will go fucknuts.

Example: Give Swedes the finger while you are driving, and they go fucknuts. Back in Texas, it sometimes was the demonstrative symbol for "left turn", but whatever.

You get the picture.

It's interesting being in the job hunting world (ok, that's just me being cheerful. It actually sucks a clown's ass, but I assumed you knew that I was just putting up a front). Since I was 15 I have been employed (hey-being a lifeguard counts as a job!) I am now facing a very large chasm in which it's true-I have to start my life all over again.

The truth is (and someone did say it in my comments) I guess a part of me did know I would be losing my job sometime. And you know what? In some ways, I am actually relieved. Two years ago I loved my job. Loved it, loved it, loved it. The past year and a half though, I have hated it. It's so much bureaucracy, politics, and all we talked about was processes and handling until I wanted to scream and rip the conference table apart with my hands.

Suck suck suck.

At the same time, if I am going to be falling off a cliff I would prefer to jump, rather than be pushed. So now I am free-falling and trying to figure out what to do next. Problem is my qualifications are all over the board.

Yes, I know the saying-whenever a door closes, a window opens. I find fault with this saying in the following ways:

- How do you know it's not a window-less room?
- If a door closes, you are Stuck. In. A. Room.
- I am not crawling out of a damn window.
- Does the room have a bathroom? Cause I have a small bladder.

It's stupid, I follow up job ads and get all the way to the end and then they fuck with me. Like: Communications Manager-must have 5-10 years experience, speak English and Swedish, and enjoy challenging environment. And then it says at the very end, in very small letters: must be willing to relocate to Cork (Ireland).

Right.

I was filling in my details in a job page yesterday and realized the weirdness that is me. An example:

Education: Bachelor of Arts in biological anthropology, with double minor in French and English Lit and the University of Texas at Arlington.

Translation: I had a lot of sex in college, wanted to be a doctor but found biochemistry to be something I couldn't be bothered with. So I chose something that interested me and made me think (while at the same time being very easy) and now I am qualified for any job that has the phrase "Would you like fries with that?"

Higher Education: 50% through my studies in a Master's Degree in the History of Ideas at the University of Texas at Dallas.

Translation: I moved to Sweden before I finished, and the only thing that this degree qualifies me for is a smack upside the head, followed by a "What the HELL were you going to do with a useless degree like that?"

Career History: Started out as a technical writer, then progressed to a technical trainer, which then led me to be a project manager. Then I made the big step to product manager, and finally a release responsbile.

Translation: I tripped and fell and wound up in telecom. I have no idea how I got there. But now I can choose to continue in telecom (since I have a 5 year background in it) or get the hell out (since although I learn very, very quickly, I am not an engineer.)

Reason for searching for a new position: It's time I broadened my horizons and explored my options in new market opportunities.

Translation: I lost my fucking job, what the hell else do you think happened? Sheesh. Stupid question.

Qualifications: Energetic, team-leader, enjoys strict deadlines and excellent and multi-tasking large projects. Extensive background in 2G and 3G mobile technology. Able to make fast decisions and tuned in to the demands to the market. Very comfortable and skilled as a public speaker and enjoys working in an international environment.

Translation: Yes I really can do all that. Plus I swallow. And am double-jointed. It tends to impress.

I hate this.

-H.

PS- I am home alone this weekend, since Partner Unit is off to China Saturday evening. The last time I was home alone for a weekend, I managed 5 rounds of self-relations. Jean has advised that I go to bed with a bottle of wine and my electric toybox. Well, my sex drive has somewhat dried up (my sex drive has dried up. Not my beaver. Please don't think like that.) but I plan on giving it a go. Will report fully on Monday.

PPS- If you don't hear from me this weekend, then I am curled up in my bed in the same pajamas I have been wearing since Wednesday, clutching a bottle and crying in a fetal position. But let's try to remain optimistic, shall we?

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Update

Short one from Helen the Insomniac (which has gotten worse due to job loss. Wonder how long a person can go without sleeping more than 3 hours a night...Hmmm...)

Luuk should now be in the strong hands on Don.

For those unfamiliar with Luuk, he is the Everyday Bear. He is a fabulous little teddy bear I bought in Belgium, have taken to France, England, the US, and Sweden, and now he is being shipped all over the world and hosted by bloggers and Internet lovers that want to show him their town and post pics. He was just hosted by Jim, who took him to a Native American tribal dance.

It was my goal to include a pic here, but since I am on a dial-up connection until I get my internet nightmare sorted out, I can just link it here.

He goes next to:

Jean
Simon
James
then Joey next
then Kat next

If you are interesting in hosting the little guy, just say so! It doesn't matter if he is going to the same cities twice-it's part of the fun. Show him something new! Leave a comment here if you are interested in hosting him. Just email Kat at Kat's Paws if you want him next!

My updated list of Luuk-babysitters:

David in Texas-Alamo, baby. You know what to do.
Ted in D.C. - Everyday Bear for Senator!
Tiffani in Cleveland-Rock and Roll Hall of Fame sounds GREAT!
Brass in Vail-one word: snowboard. Perfect.
Sue in Indiana-take one of your gorgeous country shots!
Robert in Jersey (the island) - one of my favorite places.
Kaetchen in San Francisco-wonder if Luuk will go to a bath house?
Jennifer in New Orleans-Luuk goes voodoo!
Pylorns in Austin-I see 6th Street drinking in Luuk's future!
Carlene in New Orleans - he needs debauching. Definitely.
Erik in Tennessee - Luuk totally needs riverboat-age.
Guinness in Sacramento- I trust you, Guinness, to get my guy drunk.
Suz in Kansas City-maybe a Chiefs Game? You decide!
Melodrama in Calcutta-damn this bear gets to visit India and I don't!

OK, that's me off to get some coffee now and cry a bit, then I will likely be back.

And a big thank you to Eric, who posted something lovely about me (a lot of people have posted really kind and lovely things about me, thank you to all of you-I can never express how much it means to me. This from a very verbose chick, no less). It made me feel strong Eric, and for that I owe you.

Plus, ironically, my real name means "warrior". Fitting.

-H.


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November 20, 2003

When You Break

Here now is the truth of why I started this blog to begin with. It's a long one, and maybe it will make you react differently to me (it has affected all other relationships in my life) but just know this, before you begin: since you started reading this blog, this site has always been me. This is what I have been for a while now. I hope you won't think of me any differently.

But events on Wednesday this week have rather brought it all to a head. Happier post tomorrow, I hope.

One year ago, Company X had an enormous round of redundancies. It was devastating. I lost people that I held very close to me, people that were incredible talented and very valuable. Somehow I not only survived, I got promoted. The whole face of Company X changed, and those of us that were left had a survivor's syndrome, a guilt that our jobs were left while good men and women were gone.

It was a very dark time for me. I couldn't focus on work, even though I was traveling a lot. I had masses of problems adjusting. I felt that although I was left and I can do a good job, I didn't earn it. I remember being on a business trip in Tel Aviv, and the although the Israelis were so kind and generous, I was unable to settle in, to calm down, to sleep at night in my hotel room overlooking the beautiful water.

One week later, on January 27, I had a phone call with Dear Mate as I was driving to work. He told me that a senior manager had told his wife (who also works for Company X) that Company X was extremely regretful that they had kept me. That I was an idiot, a waste of space, and that my name was on the top of the list to go in the next round.

(Side note: yes, I am trying to be big about this, but it fucking galls me no end knowing that those evil, bitter people have won. I have lost my job. They win.)

I was devastated. I went into work and talked to my 2 managers directly, who told me right away that it absolutely wasn't true and that they were extremely happy with my work. I know now that I shouldn't have believed it-to say that Dear Mate's wife and I don't get on is a horrible understatement. Even though my managers explained it away, I couldn't stop believing the rumors. All of my fears about being a miserable failure were public. I was sure that everyone in the hallways was laughing at me, convinced of my horrible worthless stupidity. I felt vile, lost, and alone.

It was the straw that broke the Helen's back. After all I had been through in my life, after all that I had fought my way through and made it, this was the culminating event for me. Stupid, isn't it? I survive so much, but the one thing that comes in and ruins me is something small and insignificant.

Hmmm....Maybe I should re-name myself Mrs. Dalloway.

I went home from work.
I walked the dog.
I started making dinner.
And then I tried to kill myself.

People take their lives for different reasons. Some are noble, or in trouble, in that they kill themselves for political reasons. Not able to express themselves under regimes which find the eloquence of the human voice instigates the danger of thunderstorms of unrest, the catalyst of change finds that rather than have a voice held under irons of restraint, they choose to have no voice at all. That suffering from the inability to speak their minds, the frustration of not being heard is far too great a burden to bear.

Some people do it because they simply cannot tell anyone just how badly they ache. They don't really mean to kill themselves, nor do they actually want to. But they take the odd measure in an attempt to let the people in their lives around them know that they are so unhappy, so lost, that the option of removing themselves from the scope is a possibility. My God, this group of people hurts so much that I bleed for them. They have surpassed the point of suffering, to the likes of which the normal human can never understand. Hey'¦they are trying to say'¦look at how much I hurt. What are you gonna' do about it?

Then there is the group I am in. I call this group the miscellaneous group. Why are people in my group opting out? Well, I can only speak for myself. I haven't taken a man-on-the-street poll, I haven't stopped to email the Health Administration. The real reason why I chose to end everything was because I was so tired. I was just so tired, deep down into my very bones, into every thought I made and feeling I was forced to experience. The pure and simple truth was that I didn't want to feel anything anymore.

I'm life's bitch, basically. And on that day, I had enough.

They say that people who commit suicide are cowards, that they have taken the easy way out. But is it really? It is so simple to down the bottle of pills, knowing that if you fail it means at minimum a stomach pumping and a check-in to the Daisy Hill Puppy Farm, at worst it could mean paralysis and a lifetime of looking forward to being a vegetable? And it's not so easy to slice veins, either. With the first scrape of epidermis, it's clear that this is not going to be the scot-free painless operation that you had wanted. And if you don't go deep enough, not far enough, then it's scars that will have eyebrows raised at you for the rest of your life anytime you reach across the table for the bread rolls.

Why are people who kill themselves cowards? Because they are tired of fighting, every day, and they concede the battle? Because they choose an absolute and final way out? Or is it because they leave behind a legacy of confusion and one absolute unanswered question'¦what if? What if they lived? Why was I not enough for you to live for?

Here's the truth-they say suicide is selfish, but I have spent my whole life worrying about others. Caring about others and trying to do what was best for others. At that moment, you're goddamn right that the only thing I thought about was myself. Perhaps what's saddest is that that moment was the first moment that I had ever focused only on me. When people try to take their lives, the only thing that they can see and think about in that one moment is themselves, so no matter what, if someone you loved has commit suicide, it was not your fault. Please, if you take only one thing away from this post, believe that. When that day comes, you couldn't have helped them. You couldn't have stopped them.

What happened that night, that horrible night, on January 27 was something I wrote about later that week. Here it is:

*****

Numbly, I washed some vegetables for dinner, feeling the awkward surface of the potato under my fingers, the firm weight cupped in the palm of my hand. I was just so tired, and no matter which way I turned my head around to, I couldn't see a way out of the prison that I had created for myself. Around my ankle, a cat curled her body and my skin twitched as I really didn't want the contact, I didn't want to be touched. I set the potato on the counter, watching a pool of dirty water form around it (isn't it impossible to ever truly get a potato clean?) and wipe my hands on my pajama bottoms. I turned and walked upstairs, to the bathroom.

The next thing I knew, I was sitting on the bathroom floor, a pool of blood around my hands and an empty pill bottle on the floor in front of me, and I realized that all hell was about to be broken loose.

The tears start at once. I stood up and saw, on the sink, a shattered razor head, which I had somehow managed to pry the razor blades out of. The sink basin had a rim of blood around it, trailing down to the floor. On the floor by my feet was a glass filled with water and a pill bottle spilled on its side. It was empty.

And it was that moment that I realized that I had slit my wrists open and taken an entire bottle of painkillers. And I didn't even remember doing it.

I got on the phone and called my Partner Unit, explained what I had done, and waited for him to come get me. And I sat there on the bathroom floor, bleeding and feeling tired. I was going to die, and I felt relieved.

At the same time, I was curious. All the things I had seen were going to die with me. All of the things that I knew were going, too. Things I have learned in life, lessons and hardships. The secrets I had.

Like the fact that red ants hate peppermint, and can be repelled with it. The fact that a man made me orgasm once just by kissing and blowing on the soft curve of my neck. That in the moments when I am able to hold still and be calm, and just listen to the sound of the snow falling, I can hear nothing else but the rumble of tranquillity. And the best taste in the world is the taste of the faint salt in your fingers after you have spent a day by the sea. The pregnancy test stick, as I watched it change color, to indicate that once where there was only me, now there was someone else too. The fact that I have been incredibly, deeply, and uncontrollably in love twice, despite all of the men that I have said those words to.


*****

But of course, I did not die. I spent that night in an acute psychiatric ward, which was one of the worst experiences of my life and which I will spare you from (I am saving it for "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Next Part 2-Jack's Revenge"). I insisted on being released the next day, and was. I was signed out of work for three months (and, on reflection, I should've stayed away longer). I spent endless hours sitting in an armchair in my home, looking out the window at the snowy cold and wondering what had happened to me.

People here have said I am so resilient. That I keep going, that I can handle anything. The truth is, I can't. I'm not Gumby (unless you are talking about in bed, of course, and then that's true.) I break too. And I did. And in breaking, I found out what I am made of. Work is not the center of my life anymore, which leaves me looking for a new one.

Will I try to kill myself again? Nope. I have an incredible group of supporters that I never knew I had before in friends and family (who have, for the most part, managed to forgive me for my actions on January 27). I am seeing a therapist.

Is losing my job a very serious catastrophe that I am struggling with? You betcha', and it's going to be a tough one to survive it sane. But I can do it. If nothing else, I will write it out, see if the written word makes sense of it all.

This is my life, and I get to live it. And I can't turn my back on that, I can't outrun it, and the memories and thoughts and dreams and desires that I place here, on my blog, are memories that I can't carry around myself anymore.

But don't for a moment think that you should treat me differently. Put those kid gloves away, please. I am no different than the Helen you have always known-rapacious, horny, happy, sad, scarred, and looking for a degree of pulchritude in life that makes it all worthwhile.

I am alive. Jobless. But alive.

-H.

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Where Did I Leave That Piece?

I have been trying to pick up the pieces. And those little bastards are everywhere, so it's not easy.

I have, as one can imagine, been spending lots of time in tears. Lots and lots and lots of them. I am also not very talkative. I am angry, I feel humiliated, and I feel extremely depressed. This is all so hard, and it is all hell. I know lots of others have been through it, too, but this is my first time. My life is about to completely change. The important relationships in my life may change, too. Last night I took an extremely strong sleeping tablet, but that didn't prevent me from waking up at 3:00 am in a fit of humiliation, depression, and anger. And it just continues today.

I went into the office late last night and cleared all of my things out. I will have my mobile phone and Internet links for two more weeks, then it is all gone. I can tell you it's one strange feeling to walk into the building for the last time. To badge through the doors, knowing that the badge will only work a short time longer. To know that I no longer belong in a place that was my single greatest motivator in life.

I packed all my stuff up, and with a heavy heart, I left.

Partner Unit had a heck of a time on his hands last night. I cried most of the day yesterday. The slightest thing would make me cry.

Him (standing by the doorway): Honey, do you want some coffee?
Me (burst into tears): Coffee. I drank that nasty work coffee every day for
almost five years! Now it's no more!

Him: Honey, do you want to go to the gym with me tomorrow?
Me (burst into tears): No more boxing classes for me, that's the company gym!

Him (walking into the room): Honey, can I call you often tomorrow?
Me (burst into tears): You might as well, soon we will have to pay for cell phone calls ourselves.

Him (turning on news and seeing Michael Jackson's arrest pending): Honey, are you crying because you feel that you are on trial soon too?
Me (in tears): No, it's Michael Jackson's nose. It's so weird, it upsets me!

And so it goes. Mostly, I am in a state of shock. Dear Mate and Best Friend have been phenomenal as well, and I love them to bits for it. Dear Mate has been sending me job links and helping me with logistics, and I think I would be lost without him. He also told me that although life is hell right now, me joining Company X to begin with was the best thing that has ever happened to him, since he and I then met. It now takes the cake as the nicest thing anyone has ever said to me. And yes, it made me cry.

I have chosen an unemployment program that will pay me until the end of May. I will not be allowed to return to Company X for a year, but then they have yet another round of cuts coming the first half of 2004, so it's not an issue anyway.

And in one final "fuck you, Helen", I got the minimum package from the work Union since I am not 30 years old and have not been working for Company X for 5 years.

I am 29 years and 7 months.
I have been working for Company X for 4 years and 9 months.

Nice.

Anyway, I know I should relax and enjoy the time off, but I have begun job hunting. I have to. There are many more people in the job market all competing for jobs. And as I have said in previous posts, I want to stay in Sweden due to my ongoing therapy, and if I leave, it is likely the end of Partner Unit and I. But if I cannot find a job here, then move on I will. The heat is on. In the meantime, I have dusted off the novel that I have been working on for a bit, and may give it a go again.

I simply have to try to hold it together.

To those that have emailed me: thank you so incredibly much. Your very kind emails have been so touching and they mean a lot to me. That, and thanks for the job links, Brass, you have me fantasizing about being a snow bunny (let's just hang on to that image for a sec....ah....nice). I will respond tout suite to your mails.

And to everyone who has commented here: I am overwhelmed. Your kindness, support, wishes for good luck, and concern have made me cry buckets (but the good tears, I swear). Ironically, it was something Courtney said-I am actually considering school again as a possibility. I loved learning new things, and if I get a position, I will try to go back to school part time.

But above all, it is nice to hear from my long-time commenters and friends, and all the new people speaking up for the first time. I can't believe so many people want to read about the ordinary rants of an extraordinary nutball, and you are making me tear up again just from my immense gratitude. Dammit.

I feel like Sally Field's Oscar aceptance speech. "You like me! You really like me!"

I can see it now in a Mitty-ism. I walk up to a grand podium, dressed in a long, black backless number. My hair looks good (that's a biggie), I have on lots of sparkly things, and I am crying as a thunderous blog audience gives me a standing ovation. As I get to the stage, Jim hands me a statue of Freud. Crying, I take it and hug him, then turn to the blog readers.

"You like me! You really like me!" I cry, throw a bunch of air kisses off, and then as I turn to walk away, I trip over the length of my dress and wind up accidentally ramming Freud's head in my mouth. I turn, and Jim looks paralyzed with both fear and amusement. As I haughtily remove said bust from my lips, I turn to him and say:

"Jim, sometimes a statue is just a statue."

Exit stage right.

-H.

PS- tomorrow's post is a "coming out" bit that I have been preparing for for a while. I think, in light of the job loss, that it's time to reveal it.

PPS-to Joey, Jim, Simon, Ron and Ilyka, who all have "revealed" who Company x is, thanks for the laughs. I guess it's obvious who Company X is, but I don't want to say the name here on this site since I don't want Google to be able to find my site. But all I have to say is this: my next phone will be a Nokia.

Gotta' go. Tears again.

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November 19, 2003

Judgment Day

I have survived five rounds of redundancies from Company X over the past three years.

I have watched many good people go.

Today, 2,000 people in Stockholm are being notified as to whether they have a job or not.

33% of my group is to go.

And due to the fact that I only had 5 years with the company, I am one of them.

I have lost my job.

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November 18, 2003

Happy Happy Joy Joy

Judgment Day is tomorrow.

Tomorrow, my entire life may be upside down. I may be unemployed. I may have to move. The whole picture of me may change tomorrow.

Work has gotten bad. The backlog of things I have to do could overwhelm even a Congressional committee, but when I sit down at my desk to try to do things, I just think: Why bother? I may lose my job this week anyway. And the newspaper this weekend reported that 48% of people that lost their job in telecom last year still haven't found jobs. Eek.

It's gotten to the point where half of us can't even come in to work anymore. I have started cleaning out my desk-just in case-and judging by the full bins all over the place, I am not the only one. Mails have dried to a halt. Meeting rooms are empty. Everyone is walking around with a look on their face like they have just eaten something sour, something which just won't sit right inside the stomach.

No one is laughing anymore. And as I commented on another site, work is like a lover. You lavish as much attention on it as you would in a new relationship, and then one day, the lover turns around to you and says in a haughty tone of voice: I never loved you as much as you love me.

And then you get dumped.

"But-I made love to you. I gave you my soul. I gave you the best of my life and all of my pleasure!" you could cry back, tears streaming down your face.
"Eh...I was just using you." the Company lover replies.

Work has been my constant lover for a long time. I have loved my job, worshipped the desire to continue to better myself. My job was my life. Yes, I know it's pathetic and sad, but it's the way I was for so long.

I have given blood, sweat, and tears for Company X and the two companies that came before them. For almost 5 years now, I would work 80 hour weeks for Company X. I would travel twice a month, never back down from a challenge, and had any man asked me to choose between them or my job, I would have chosen my job (in fact, I did bust up a relationship for that very reason).

I am not eating much. I am drinking, perhaps too much. I have gone through my entire roll of Hubba Bubba strawberry bubble tape in one week. That's a biggie.

I start to feel low, and then am reminded of a business trip I had a long time ago. I had to go to San Francisco, and then on to Boston (and the waiting arms of Mr. Y). It was my first time to San Francisco, and I was looking forward to it, so much so that I stayed a weekend there to take a look around.

I found the city to be marvelous. A little haven of hippyville, a place where one could blend in. I decided to spend one afternoon walking around Chinatown, orienting myself with the smells and faces of the Chinese foodshops.

While I was walking down one of the streets, admiring a carmlized duck carcass in the window, a Buddhist funeral procession went by, walking down the main street. It was dignified, respectful, but not at all the depressing somber affairs we know of. They were passing out fake paper money, some of their funeral party members carrying a large picture of the deceased. A band was playing. I was awed.

I continued on in a little while, the sun beating down on me and boosted by a sea breeze from time to time. The air was almost alive with scents, and I felt calm. I walked to a vegetable stand to touch the amazing vegetables under the watchful eye of a Chinese vendor. I went into a store and bought some Japanese rice candy, which I remember as a child and still love to this day.

Walking out, I noticed a man across the street standing on a milk crate. He was rather portly, perhaps in his late 50's, and had a sign on his chest which said simply: "Happy". He was beaming from ear to ear, and had his arms up in the air, shouting:

"Happy! Everybody happy! Happy happy happy!"

I smiled and watched him for a while (since I was in no hurry), as he continued to just grin like mad and tell people to be happy. I crossed the street, heading his way, and he continued to shout the same thing: "Happy! Everybody happy! Happy happy happy!"

As I got closer, he put an arm out and touched my shoulder, stopping me. His grin got wider, and I watched his lovely round face crease up so that his eyes almost disappeared, the sun reflecting off his nearly bald head. He turned towards me, moved his mouth to speak, and smilingly said, before letting me to walk on and think about what he said the rest of the day:

"We are all looking for a new god."

Amen, my brother. Amen.

-H.

UPDATE: Confirmed from Management that tomorrow is Judgment Day. We are to stay at our desks, mobile phones on. No meetings. When our managers call, we must report to their desks pronto for the decision. Almost everyone has gone home now. It's just me here, biding time until boxing class (which I think I will need tonight). And whatever happens, I will be drinking heavily tomorrow.

Thanks for the well wishes, guys. I will be needing them.

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November 17, 2003

The Story of Y

People have been asking about Mr. Y. The Mystery Man from my past, the one who took my heart and never gave it back, and the best sex of my young life. The second of the great loves of my life, and one of the things that made me who I am today.

I have loved two men in my life, both of them to levels of absurd incomprehension, degrees of fragrant liquid emotion. The first one was a gentle and kind man named Kim. Some of you who have been here a while have read about him and know about him, and basically, most of the biggest regrets in my life are tied up with him. The regrets are not in being with him, but in losing him.

The second great love is someone I will call Mr. Y. He is still alive, and has actually recently found my site. He is creeping back into my life, back into my head.

I would say back into my heart, but the truth is, he never left.

He and I met in what now feels like a lifetime ago. We actually met in a meeting, and weirdly enough, we both remembered a great deal about that first meeting, although we never spoke directly to each other. I noticed him right away-English with a cut-glass accent. Tall, brown hair and gorgeous blue eyes. Hands that shake (a big one for me, since Kim's hands shook too. I just love that.)

About six months later, we were with a large number of others at a business conference in Bangkok. It was an exciting time, my first trip to Thailand, and I found the place to be overwhelming. Turn one corner and you were assaulted by the scent of heady blossoms. Turn another, and you smelled some sizzling, amorphous meat cooking on a grill. It was chaos. It was brilliant.

The last night that I was at the meeting, there was a massive party. I was planning to settle into the jacuzzi bath with a bottle of wine and some room service, since the week had been so demanding. My phone, in the bedroom, beeped and I went to fetch it, dressed only in a towel. I had received a text message from Mr. Y, asking if he would have the pleasure of my company for the evening. I texted back and told him I was staying in. We had a ping-pong of conversation for a bit, then I got one more from him, saying simply: "Reconsider."

I threw on a girlie strappy dress, with a tiny thong underneath, and headed down to the reception. Upon entering, I was graced with a garland of orchids around my neck and a glass of wine firmly inserted into my hand. Mr. Y came up to me and we talked. He drifted off from time to time, but always came back. We drank more. The party raged on. At one point, I turned to him.

Me: Y, do you think I am attractive?
Him (looking closely at me, a slow smile on his lips): Well, I think you're an ordinary girl, and I am an ordinary boy.

An ice sculpture melted near us. People laughed. The room was a blaze of flowers, food, people, liquor, and mirth. But for me there was only his company, and only that time.

A group of people suggested we go to more bars, and we agreed. We all piled into cabs, Mr. Y and I riding together in the back of one cab. As we pulled up to a market place, with bars hiding in the background, whispering of decadence and sex, we got out of the cab.

Mr. Y reached out and took my hand as we crossed the road, his fingers wrapping gently around mine.
And it was a moment that changed my life.
Forever.

You hear cute elderly couples talking, reaching out for each other. They always tell you that at a certain moment, they just knew. They just knew that was the person that they wanted to spend the rest of their lives with. I always thought it was cheesy Hollywood nonsense, the type of media machine destined to make saps like us believe in that kind of love. No one could be touched by another person and feel electricity, it just wasn't on, they were just giving us false hope.

But I did.
I felt it instantly, all the way down to my toes.
He did, too.

And all I wanted him to do was keep holding my hand on that crazy, brilliant, wild Bangkok street, with my little dress and our garlands of orchids and all the time in the world. We drank a bit in the bar, but all we could do was sit there and stare at each other in awe, dwelling with wandering hands and licked swollen lips.

In no time, we were back at my hotel room, 20 stories above the Chao Praya River. We came in, kissing and touching, and he announced he wanted to shower. He was feeling a bit drunk and wanted to sober up, that this moment was important. So he got in the shower, and I walked to the window. I decided to join him, and walked back to the bathroom, padding my feet on the thick carpet. As I got to the bathroom door, he stepped out and towelled off.

And I was dumbstruck. He was all man, in every sense of the word. Strong shoulders, thick furry chest, deep ridged muscles on his legs, and although the towel he used to dry himself off with was hanging in front of him, I just knew that he would have a spectacular cock.

Never before had I honestly felt I was with a man. And Y was absolutely a man, a real man, a man who woke up feelings inside of me that I hadn't even known existed. He turned to me, and whispered "No regrets", just as his hand reached my face and the heat of his just-washed body hit me like a wave.

We didn't have sex that night. It took some time before we did, and he was one patient man. When we finally did, it was in a tiny European town whose name still rings in my heart and has carved an immensely special place in it.

I wrote this letter for Mr. Y. In it, I tell how we first made love. How we touched. How he made me feel. He was my first proper orgasm, and about five thousand ones after that.

Someone once told me something about how romance happens when we do not expect it-there is no right time to fall in love. He was bang on. Meeting Mr. Y was at the worst possible time in my life, but falling in love with him was inevitable.

We had it all. We had passion. We had fire. He was my best friend, my confidante. I trusted him beyond trust. Telling him the truth became a drug, one I couldn't live without. In return, he told me every inch of his mental attic, and we found true comfort in the idea that someone, in the big wide world, knew us and understood us.

All the feelings, secrets, thoughts and dreams that I had always bottled up were poured out into him, a ready receptacle that drank me in and seemed to always only want more. It wasn't easy, it didn't come naturally to me, but he never gave up on me. We would stay up for hours talking into the night. Things that had been bottled up inside of me for my entire life came out, as he kindly, patiently, lovingly coaxed them out of me.

We never got tired of touching, and sometimes we had to have sex four or five times a day, it was never too much, we always just had to get closer to each other. I loved him more than I thought it was possible to love someone, and it wasn't "newlywed love" or anything like that. It grew over the long time we were together into the type of feeling that is almost tangible in its strength and depth.

Sometimes, I was ashamed, as I loved Mr. Y more than I had ever loved Kim. How could I betray his memory like that? Kim had been surpassed, and in my memory, I held him special and close and felt so guilty that he was no longer the greatest love of my love. He was the first. Mr. Y was the second. And sometimes, the ones we love the most are not the ones we get to love the longest.

He wasn't perfect (and neither am I, in fact far from it). He could be stubborn. Resistant. He would sometimes commit a crime in the relationship and expect instant exoneration, only understanding the magnitude of the crime once I had committed it. He was sometimes unsympathetic to my paranoid mind (which I understand, since I can be a real management nightmare to deal with). He wasn't, in the beginning, overwhelmingly supportive of my career. And he could be jealous, but it was something I also loved about him.

With Mr. Y, I was able to explore it all. In college, I had had some pretty strange experiences, mere fumblings that were inept at best and drunken misbehaving at worst. But Mr. Y and I tried it all, and we tried them with organized style. Tying up, tying down. Sex toys. Spanking. Al fresco sex. Fantasizing. Above all, degrees of domination and submission. Sometimes, it was as if someone had poured the contents of "The Book of Sex" into us and pan-fried us to a crisp.

But then we got too brave. We ventured too far. We were so cocky and so foolish. One of us slept with someone else once on the side. Then the other, with the consent of the wronged party, slept with someone else in order to "even the score". We thought it would save us.

Instead, it became something that lay between us from then on. A hurt that couldn't heal. A betrayal we couldn't forgive, no matter how hard we tried. We had taken the one thing that made us greater than the average love and ripped it apart, and that thing was trust. I used to always roll my eyes at the Diane Sawyer specials where husbands and wives talked about trust with fervered suburban servitude, but finally it had a meaning to me.

Sometimes you can't get over the image of your lover's limbs tangled up with another, and you are nowhere in the picture.

It was that, and one issue from Mr. Y's life (since it is his personal issue, and he is present here, I really don't feel I am at liberty to discuss it) that tore us apart. We could never get over it. The ghosts of the two extra bed-buddies just couldn't be exorcised.

And I have missed Mr. Y every fucking day since. I have tried to lace myself into a conservative vanilla life with vanilla feelings and vanilla sex, with not even a cherry on top. I would give anything to have Mr. Y back (and perhaps will do someday), but before I ever have him back, we would need some ground rules:

- None of this extra bed-buddy business.
- Just one blanket on the bed.
- This time, we marry.
- Vacation again to Jersey, to that special place.
- Never go away again.

And, my darling, no regrets. Ever. And I truly mean that.

-H.

PS-3 more days to Judgment Day

PPS-my Guest Map is only 1 person away from breaking 100 (and I did pay for the upgrade)!

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November 16, 2003

A Little Night Music

Partner Unit and I had to drive to his mother's to drop off the dog, Ed the Evil One, since he is going to China for a week the end of November, and at the same time I am bunking off for London and Amseterdam. We were supposed to go Friday night, but I was clinging to the ceiling in a fit of depression over possibly losing my job next week, so we put the kaibosh on that.

Now, I really like his mother, but I hate going there-it's a nearly three hour slog to get there via car, we have to stop a minimum three times so I can pee (yes, my bladder is just that small), and they live in the middle of Sweden, basically. There is no cell phone coverage and only two channels. They do not speak English so I battle through with my Swedish. And if you go there in the summer, it's tick and mosquito time, baby. Which is why I call the area they live in "The Armpit of Sweden." Much like I call Newbury "The Armpit of the UK" and Iowa "The Armpit of the U.S."

The drive is made even harder by the fact that you lose radio stations towards the end, and thus must rely on CDs. Which is not a problem, if only Partner Unit and I remotely listened to the same music. I listen to mostly alternative (although am on a "chick music" kick right now, and I think the estrogen from it all is going to cause me to grow a third ovary). I can't stand Christian music because, well, I'm not a Christian. Country music makes me want to rip my fingernails off with my teeth and turn the little scraps of nail into weapons which I can use on anyone within a three mile radius. And I hate my Partner Unit's music, which I call heavy-metal vomit music.

We tried to discuss music in the car on the way there. We ran through options again, since I had brought what we call "neutral music". I had none of my Evanescene, Matchbox 20, or Good Charlotte. He had boxed his Metallica, Twisted Sister, and Green Day in the glove box. The discussion about neutral music raged.

Him: What's the point of Canada?
Me (daydreaming about Mr. Y): Hmm? What? Thought we were talking neutral music, not neutral countries.
Him: I mean, everyone is always going off on how the Swedes are neutral, but so are the Canadians.
Me: Yes, well, perhaps they are more quiet about their neutrality. And they don't actually say they are neutral and then secretly help the Nazis, like in WWII.
Him: We're not going to talk about THIS again, are we?
Me: No no. It's no problem.
Him: I mean, what music do you even know of that comes from Canada?

I look at him and wonder if a Canadian has been mean to him recently, and that's what he's on about. But then I decide to indulge.

Me: Celine Dion.
Him: FUCK! See? If that's what comes out of Canada, then they can keep her.
Me: Alanis Morisette.
Him: Oh. She's ok.
Me: Why is Celine the devil and Alanis is ok?
Him: Alanis was naked in a video. Was Pepe Le Peu Canadian?
Me: He was a cartoon dear, not a group. I think he comes from France. Or perhaps he is Quebecois.

Ahh...ok.

Me: Why are you picking on Canada? I mean, name a band that came from Norway.
Him: A-ha.
Me: See? You can't do it.
Him: No. I meant the band. A-ha. You know, "Take on Me".
Me: They were Norwegian?
Him: Yeah. You thought they were English?
Me: Yeah.

And so on. We tried to name musical representatives from more countries, but didn't use America, Germany, or England, since those were easy. But I was dubious about his stance, seeing as Sweden's best export for music is "Abba", and anyone that creates a song called "Mama Mia" has some work to do, in my book.

When we travel, we are limited to the following neutral music territory: The Clash (whom I can only take so much of without beginning to fight the urge to buy some bad ties), The Police, Queen, early Genesis (with Peter Gabriel or early Phil Collins), and Nat King Cole, who we both just think is cool. This time I also brought Billboard's Top Hits of 1970, mostly because I wanted to sing the Partridge Family's "I Think I Love You" at the top of my lungs repeatedly (or until he threatened to throw it out of the car) and also because I like to rub it in that I wasn't born yet then, and he was.

Music has a profound effect on me. Seriously. I know music can affect moods, but music wildly affects me. For instance:

- I have been known to walk out of shopping establishments if Destiny's Child comes on over the radio. That's not on, Governor. I fucking hate Destiny's Child so much that when they come on I want to club baby seals to death, which is really something since I am a vegetarian (one of those bleeding heart kinds no less).

- Opera, played at full blast on a beautiful day, makes me want to make love for hours. I'm talking candles, wine, full on love-making that makes your teeth tingle.

- Evanescence is a group I really like, and their song "Whisper" is something I cannot play while driving, or else I am full pedal to the metal and screaming down the motorway in my yellow VW Beetle at seriously unsuitable speeds. It's like the time I was driving while listening to the theme song from "Raiders of the Lost Ark". I'm surprised there were survivors.

- The sound of Scottish bagpipes (played well) makes me wetter than a Colin Firth and John Cusack sandwich. When I hear bagpipes, particularly playing slow songs, I go sex-crazy and want to fuck like a maniac. I'm talking the tie-him-to-the-bed-and-get-screaming-orgasms type of music.

Whew. Have worked myself up now. If you'll excuse me, since I am currently home alone I need to go get a battery operated toy and fuck myself rabid while listening to a rendition of some bagpipe music. Excuse me, please....

-H.

PS: 4 more days (I think) to Judgment Day. And for the record, it is killing me and almost all I can think about.

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November 14, 2003

Security Blankets and Greeting Cards

Simon has been asking a lot recently why people blog. Some people have political opionins to share, some want to keep up with their family. Others cater to specific groups-sports, Objectivism, religion, whatnot. And then there are some like mine-personal blogs.

I don't have masses of links in my posts-they're on my sidebar. I read them-maybe you'll want to check them out, too. If you have come here to talk about: sex, what it's like to be a stranger in a strange land, sex, how little Helen copes with the weird fuckwittage that is her life, or sex, then you have come to the right place.

The way I figure it is-I know my view on modern events and media, culture, religion and politics. I am happy to talk about them, but I don't see why debating it on my blog will change anything. Now, get us a bottle of single malt whiskey and a Friday evening chat, and I'm in. I started this blog in June 2003 at the urging of my stepfather (even though I skipped the whole chat room/ICQ emergence), who thought I was a decent writer with something to say. Mostly, he encouraged me to do it since in January of this year I had a breakdown and needed an outlet to let things out.

I found it.

Anyway, I have had a bit of a battle last night with Dear Mate about my site, since he wants me to clarify that I am not necessarily honest about all things here-I change some settings of situations and times of events in order to protect the real people in my life. He is right, and I should clarify that. Sorry. I am duly chastened.

But I never lie about my feelings here on my blog (although I do jealously protect the identities and specifics of those I talk about in my blog, since they are unwitting participants), nor in any of my correspondence with people that have mailed me. It's desperately ironic, since I never discuss my feelings in my real life. I just unleash them here. There is one, big, glaring lie here on my blog, and that is that my real name isn't Helen. I actually started to feel a bit bad about that, but a very kind e-mail from Rob said something which spoke to me:

"Your real name? It's Helen, isn't it?...And that's who you are. And that's your name. Helen. Right now, there's no more truth than that."

Thanks, Rob. That was what I needed.

My life is a train wreck, and I am often the hapless, drunkard conductor. There is always some crazy chaos going on in my life, but you know what? That's what makes life interesting. I can't imagine life any other way. I have a wild job, a whole lot of past, and a Scottish therapist that helps me get from point A to point B and actually talk about my feelings (I am rapidly coming to the conclusion that the Scots are very, very cool).

It's the reason why, next week when Judgment Day comes, I cannot leave Sweden just now if I lose my job. I have a great therapist that I respect and trust. This is my chance to help myself. If I walk away from it, then I am condemning myself to a lifetime of only being able to express myself through written words, instead of reaching out to talk to someone. I will be a walking example of the misappropriation of human funds. The inability to be anyone or anything other than a nice, helpful stranger (albeit the Everyday kind).

Last night I went to bed early and lit a fire in the fireplace. It's called a "brass kemin" here in Sweden, and the American troopers may know it as a pot-bellied stove, although it's sqaure and with a glass front. Anyway, I went to bed alone, a fire roaring in the fireplace, and laid in the bed watching the orange-red flames lick the glass, the warmth creeping in under the duvet, snaking around my ankles, legs, stomach and breasts.

And yes-I did play with myself. Um...who wouldn't? And once I had finished, in the warm hazy afterglow of an excellent session of self-relations, swollen labia and sedated brain, I started thinking about my security blanket, which is as un-security blanketish as it gets.

I have a card that I bought at Target almost 5 years ago. A greeting card. Like my cell phone, lipstick, pocket rocket vibrator and American Express card, it is something I don't leave home without.

Almost 5 years ago, I was living in Raleigh, North Carolina. I had to go to Target for some detergent, some shampoo, and a few other odds and ends. I was extremely low, and very, very stressed and sad. I felt like life was pointless, horrible. My grandfather had just died. Kim was very ill. I was working 80 hour weeks and on business trips two to three weeks out of each month. I wandered around with a shopping basket on my arm and sadness on my face.

Something led me to the greeting card section, and there it was. A card. The card.

On the cover is the famous painting "The Lady of Shalotte" by J.W. Waterhouse, of the red-headed woman in a boat, heading off to her death. The cover says:

"Every passage has its beacon. Every shadow has its light. We must therefore keep watch, my friend, keep watch."
-Captain Brenner Tate.

And on the inside, in simple letters, it says: "Everything is going to be all right."

I remember holding the card in my shaking hands, tears beginning to run. I forgot everything else I was going to buy then. I just bought that card. And that card saved my life. I carried that card with me from then on. Everywhere. It was an omnipresent part of my briefcase. When it started to get tatty from too much movement, I put it in a plastic envelope.

I still walk around, with that card, in my briefcase. Some people have teddy bears. Some people have habits. Me? I have a security blanket in the form of a greeting card. Whenever I hear the words "Everything will be all right", I think of that card, and some part of my brain remembers the hard feel of the paper in my hands, the stress leaking through my brain, and I remember that the card found me in a moment that I can never live without now.

And so it was that I fell asleep watching the gorgeous flame in the fireplace, the ice a lacy pane on the window, desperate to press itself closer to try see the fire, with the thought running through my head: Everything will be all right. Everything will be all right. Everything will be all right...

-H.

PS-4 days to Judgment Day

PPS-anyone seen Luuk?

UPDATE: a meeting this afternoon with our management team at Company X resulted in thus: Judgement Day will be delayed, and will now possibly be next Thursday. This means 6 MORE DAYS. If anyone needs me, I will be drinking myself into a violent stupor tonight. I have rented "The Hulk" and "The Hours" (now there are two films you generally don't see in the same sentence). Yup, they ought to help further the depression.

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One Correction

I know I said I didn't post about politics, but since this is about linguistics, I guess it's ok.

This has me furious. Bush, on a visit to the UK next week and amidst a fire-storm of protest, was discussed by the BBC. It says:

'Asked if he would be able to understand the Geordie accent in the north-east, the president joked: "My Geordie is probably just about as bad as my English.'

Christ, man. Listen-those of us that are Americans living over here in Europe already get blistered on a daily basis by those that sniggeringly insist that we don't speak English, we speak "American". Contributing to what we have fought tooth and nail to disavow-that we do speak English, just with a different dialect-does not help us any.

Or if you are trying to enjoy a bit of self-deprecating humor, please take my advice: don't. Just don't. It's hard enough sometimes to be an American over here. If the leader of our country comes over here and tears himself down for a laugh, it's only, at the end of the day, at the expatriate's expense.

Think before you open your trap, man. Just think.

-H.

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November 13, 2003

No Strip Dances For You

On Tuesday night Partner Unit, in a fit of defensiveness, joined Best Friend and I (I should point out that Best Friend is a 6"2 Englishman) for our boxing class. This, to prevent Volvo-Man and any of his "witnesses" from bumping into me. After boxing, it was decreed that we should all go into town and meet up with my friend Annika.

So after a particularly intense boxing session, we all clean up pretty and go into the centre in Stockholm for a meal. Best Friend has wife and child duties and so has to head home, so it's Partner Unit, Annika, and myself. We meet up at a little restaurant called the Metro, order some wine, and start to relax.

Half-way through the meal, Partner Unit turns to Annika and asks where her boyfriend Hans is. She mentions he is on a team-building exercise (team-building exercises over here in Europe are fabulous. They involve some castle in the middle of nowhere, weird physical exertion exercises, and then copious amounts of food and alcohol that generally culminate on people getting it on with each other in the evenings, only have to apologize with hangovers in the morning and hope to God that no one has evidence on film. Nice.)

The waitress comes up to our table and refreshes our wine glasses, smiling at us.

Partner Unit: So it's just you tonight? What are you going to do?
Annika: After this, I am going back to the flat, change into my pajama bottoms and sweatshirt, and veg on the couch.
Partner Unit (picking at lettuce garnishes on his plate and racing them around the edges) mumbles: Why can't you women just sit around the house after work and actually wear something sexy? Is it too much to ask that you not wear the pajamas?

The waitress nearly drops the wine bottle. She looks up at us, instant fear in her eyes. Annika and I slowly look at each other. Partner Unit is still slowly playing race cars with the garnish. The temperature in the air has dropped 10 degrees. It is a clear case of the hunter, in the jungle, suddenly totally unaware that the lions have picked up a discarded machine gun and are aiming for his testicles. The waitress doesn't even finish the pouring, she just runs away in horror, sobbing in fear, trying to escape the nuclear blast about to go off.

Annika (sweetly): Well, do you change clothes when you get home?
Partner Unit (still oblivious): Yes, I usually wear some sweatpants and a T-shirt.
Annika: And yet you expect us to wear a little Playboy bunny outfit when you get home?
Me: And should we have your martini ready when you get there?
Annika: And a fire going in the fireplace?
Me: And I could do a strip dance for you while I dance on the coffee table.

Partner Unit looks up, slowly, in horror. He realizes the complete and total error in judgment he has just made. His eyes become saucers, mere deer-in-the-headlights. He looks around at other tables for some male backup, but the men have their legs crossed, their hands folded protectively over their nuts, and they are looking at Partner Unit with a "You're on your own, man." expression as they hurriedly tell their girlfriends and wives that they are dead sexy in a torn T-shirt and granny panties.

Partner Unit is fucked.
Or will not be fucked, to be more precise.

Annika: So you want Helen to go home, dress up for you, and look sexy, while it's ok for you to dress in sweats?
Partner Unit: Um...I...ok, what's the right answer?
Me: So I don't look sexy in my pajamas?
Partner Unit: Um...yes, you do. Totally.
Me: But you just asked why it is I couldn't look sexy for you when you get home? Even though I have never once complained that you come home and change out of your suits and put on sweatpants?
Partner Unit opens his mouth to explain, but no sound comes out. He simply whimpers.

The truth is, I do dress sexy for work. Well, not for work (I do wear professional suits, skirts, and shirts) but underneath the work clothes. I prefer sexy lingerie. I like to feel that beneath the business clothes, I have a secret. Lacy thongs, stay up stockings. I like garter belts, the feel of a smart black lacy strap moving up and down the back of my bare thigh while I walk. Tiny demi push up bras, with fragile looking scalloped edges just preparing to spill me out. Satin camisoles and boy shorts designed to make men sweat. Underwire bras designed to fit snugly against the white fragile scars I have. I wear it all.

But when I come home, I take it off. That's the point. It gives me confidence since I know what is underneath my clothes, and no one else does. I am very aware of the lingerie I am wearing, often since it is a bit uncomfortable. And when I get home, it all comes off-I have to confess, I don't even wear underwear around the house. I rather don't see the point.

I am not saying that I don't want to look nice for partners when I am with them. I do. But what I don't want is to be expected to look nice and sexy when all I want to do is come home, cook some dinner, and relax.

Men-at least those I have been with-balk and hate when they are expected to do something. They prefer to have the freedom to come up with romantic gestures and thoughtful ideas on their own, instead of being pushed to do so. It's the same for women. Expect me to wear sexy lingerie at home as a treat? Then it won't happen, since I will feel obligated, as opposed to feeling sexy and given the opportunity to do something nice for you. Love it when I do dress like that and take it for what it is-something nice I want to do for you? You will get a repeat performance, indeed.

But it appears that Partner Unit would like to live in an environment where it is part of the plan for me to wear said clothes. To be sure to make his stay in the home as pleasurable as possible (I think this is called "The 50's") To make sure that I am a nubile and attractive female at all times.

Weird. I thought I already was that.

-H.

PS- 5 days to Judgment Day.

PPS-Not sure what is happening on Layne's site, but she has plugged me yet again, and for that, I want to buy her presents. Wonder if she will settle for a kidney or some other organ donation.

Posted by: Everydaystranger at 08:40 AM | Comments (23) | Add Comment
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November 12, 2003

Survivor!

Make sure you drop by the Survivor site and vote!

I am among one of the six entries. I cannot tell you which one, or Don will kick my ass (and I really only want him to kiss it. Wait, that makes me sound like I hate him. I only meant-oh, screw it. You know what I meant).

I can tell you that if you figure out which is mine, vote for it. Many times. Call your friends, family, neighbors, their neighbors. Heck, hook Grandma up on the web. Get her to vote for me.

Thanks!

-H.

Ps-I'm actually curious-anyone guess which one is mine? I can't verify until the winner is revealed tomorrow, but I am curious to see if anyone can spot me...

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