Sunday, February 27, 2011

Sexy Sunday, Sans Satisfaction

Late November, 2010
"Yes," I replied simply when he said he might have a few hours to spend before his Sunday evening plans. We were in a feedback loop that was sending nothing but positive signals - naughty photos, sexy replies, suggestive looks and lengthy strokes of palms over naked skin.

Will arrived for our third encounter, opening the door based on my email-issued open invitation. I'd left it unlocked, literally as well as figuratively, wanting him to take anything he liked. He greeted me, and Chienne, of course, waiting while I threw her a new squeaky - a fat cow that she pranced around to show him - and we settled close together on the loveseat. There was football on television and a fire flickered in the hearth, all lights otherwise extinguished in the foggy light of a late afternoon.

"I'm cold," I told him, shivering as I faced him and slipped my legs - clad in soft, black tights - over his lap. He rubbed them briskly, helping me smooth a blanket from the waist down and slipped underneath it with me. We talked, trading work stories and he'd occasionally glance at the game while I had focused only on him. The weave of his oatmeal-colored sweater, blue shirt peeking out at his throat. The stubble, impossibly appealing, on his jaw.

"I haven't shaved," he noted when I reached to touch his cheek and I imitated his sound I so love - a pleasured murmur, a sort of gentle hum of response. He would shift sometimes, adjusting the position of my legs and nudging his hands higher until I was nice and warm again. I nudged the blanket to puddle to the floor, absently pushing the hem of my dress lower out of habit.

I smiled when he lifted an eyebrow and lifted it once again, exposing more of my thigh.

"I don't know why I keep pushing it down," I told him, knowing I wanted his hands there - and everywhere - but was caught by habits much more reserved.

"I'll just keep pushing it up," he replied and I shivered and smiled. After several more trips of the hem up and down my thigh, he asked if he should just remove the whole dress.

"I'd just end up under the blanket instead," I decided, offering an expression of helpless apology and watched him nod with amusement.

I need to ask him what signal I give - how he knows when it's time to lean closer, reach higher, lift my right leg to rest behind him on my loveseat that suddenly seems much too small and move his chest closer to mine. I breathe faster each time, curling my toes and gripping his shoulders when warmth spreads throughout my system. I close my eyes when grips my hips to shift me closer, felt myself near orgasm when he lifted his body from mine as I was semi-reclined and moved his hands - such intensely sexy hands - behind my knees as he stood between my legs and yanked me to toward one arm of the loveseat.

"There's not enough room," he told me, eyes heavy-lidded and focused, and I may have told him he was viciously attractive, feeling my thoughts dissolve as I lost track of anything but my response to him. I remember staring at my legs when he eased them to rest on his chest, my ankles just above his shoulders.

"Are you flexible?" he asked, already deep voice husky and soft. "That's OK," he assured when I must have looked worried that I was inadequate. "You don't have to be." And his hands offered a reassuring squeeze to my hips after sliding firmly up the outside of my thighs.

He braced himself above me, perhaps asking what I wanted while I might have accused him of teasing me.

"How much longer?" I asked, knowing he had to leave and always concerned about timing.

"Fiften minutes," he replied as I yanked insistently at his sweater, responding with sighs and squirms when I felt this pressure of his body against mine. I forgot that my head was jammed in the corner of the loveseat. That he must have been uncomfortable with no room to put his legs. "Ten," he teased into my throat when I lifted my chin to give him room. "Five?"

"How is it getting so much worse so fast?" I replied, pressing against him when he rubbed between my legs - the pressure and pattern making me clench - until his hand moved and hips provided the pressure I needed and I breathed there, surprised when he echoed the word and pressed harder.

He didn't kiss me, but I listened to him breathe, my soft sounds and panting gasps providing counterpoint.

Just as I've no idea how he knows to begin in earnest, I'm lost as to when he decides to stop. I do know I tingled everywhere, throbbed between my legs, as I stood in the middle of the living room, staring at the fire while he was in the bathroom. I pushed hair back from my heated face.

"I should go," he told me and I nodded, swallowing my pleas for him to stay. To come upstairs. To keep doing things to me. I couldn't resist inviting him back, offering that the door would be open. He smiled, remaining non-committal, and I sat in arousal so sharp I was both baffled and fascinated that I was experiencing it. I slipped out of my tights and, fetching manicure scissors, snipped until the cotton panel was gone, replacing them over my legs and letting my hand drift shyly between, all heat and wetness now exposed.

I slept that way, clad in only a pretty black bra and the now-crotchless tights Will favors.

But he did not return.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Almost...: 2nd "Date"

Thu, Nov 18, 2010 at 4:46 PM

Real quick... I plan on writing more a bit later tonight - but are you feeling better? Also on a side note it looks like there is a chance that my appointments for tonight will reschedule so I very well could be free... hint hint.

Thu, Nov 18, 2010 at 4:56 PM
I am feeling better, thanks for asking, though I'm still sleepy and a little achy. Probably from napping most of the day.

If you do find yourself free tonight, I'd obviously love to see you if you're OK with doing something fairly low-key. But email works too if you find yourself professionally occupied. I'm around either way as I canceled my evening's plans since I wasn't up for being charming and professional.
As far as hints go, there's a chance I could have reacted a bit too enthusiastically to yours. I am now showered and "dressed" in very soft black sleepy pants and the white camisole in the photo I sent. My pillowcases are in the dryer and house is semi-clean.

Come over. I'll even dry and curl my hair.

Mmmm showered and dressed, now we're talking ;) and I suppose I could work with sleepy pants and the very nice camisole... seeing as you were not feeling good.


He arrived after The Big Bang Theory ended and my stomach flipped when I saw his profile through the front window just before the doorbell rang. I scampered toward the door, nudging Chienne out of the way, and zipping my black sweatshirt over my white camisole.

“Crisis of confidence,” I told him of my bulky sweatshirt and followed him to the living room where he greeted my ecstatic canine. We sat on the loveseat, reminiscent of our positions after our first date and I battled disappointment when he didn’t pull my legs on his lap. I finally reached for his hand as we chatted, relaxing as he appeared more sleepy than anything.

“Your socks don’t have patterns,” I gently scolded, touching his ankle with my bare toes and grinning with delight when he pulled at the hem of his jeans and showed me the design on the sides.

The discussion turned to sex, though the details of our conversation escape me as I was having an intense debate over when to invite him upstairs.

“I can feel the wheels turning,” he offered affectionately. “What do you think?”

“I think I’m ready,” I decided, both brave and excited. “Let’s go upstairs.” Nerves, of course, defeated me until Will reminded me of my script from one of our emails and I blushed when I recalled a detailed invitation that involved cooking and watching a movie in bed. “I don’t want dinner,” I told him, “and I don’t have a suitable movie for us to watch upstairs.”

“TV shows then,” he suggested.

“I’ll introduce you to The Big Bang Theory,” I decided, heading upstairs to start the first DVD of the first season while he was using the powder room downstairs. We coaxed Chienne out of the master suite and closed the door, leaving the room lit from the light from the en suite bathroom and glow of the television.

He was confident, having lost shoes and coat upon entering my house, and tossed aside the comforter and climbed in bed.

“Do you have a side?” he asked and I indicated he was on it even as I moved around the bed to enter on the far side. He scooted toward the center so I returned to my side and slipped in next to him, still clad from shoulder to ankle in black material. He was in jeans, shirt, sweater and socks though, I decided, and hoped we’d eventually shed some of the layers.

He pulled my left leg over his hips as I rested on my side facing his reclining form. He played with my thigh and the back of my knee while I wondered out loud what to do with my hands.

“How’s that?” he asked, being a bit cheeky, as he pulled up his shirts and placed my hand on his warm tummy.

“It’s good,” I murmured, positively thrilled to begin to explore the jutting angle of his hip and soft skin covered with silky hair. We stayed that way, smiling at jokes from the television occasionally as I relaxed into the experience.

“Be right back,” I told him as I moved to the bathroom and wished personal matters didn’t get in the way of more intimate personal matters. After washing my hands, I unzipped my sweatshirt and had it off one shoulder before hesitating and tugging it back together.

“I got it unzipped,” I informed him when I returned to nestle on his shoulder and moved my hand under covers and clothing to find his skin again.

“I saw that,” he replied and I nodded before breathing deeply and telling him he smelled good.

“I should have taken it off,” I confessed a few moments later and he turned his head to look at me. “There’s no easy way to do it now,” I explained.

“Well, that’s not true,” he said as he nudged one side off my shoulder and helped me from the bulky fleece. I immediately pressed myself against him, hiding the pretty black bow and barely covered torso. But he cuddled me closer and continued to watch television, leaving me free to mentally adjust.

“Could you take this off?” I asked, tugging at the collar of his sweatshirt and watching him sit up from the nest of pillows to remove it.

“This one too?” he inquired, motioning toward his button down and I nodded and murmured something about being efficient when undoing his buttons and pushing the fabric away from his chest.

I spent long minutes exploring, rubbing my palm over his shoulders and down his chest, feeling the soft hair tickle my hand. I slipped my fingers over his sides and onto his back, breathing against his chest and feeling my right arm fall asleep where it was located beneath me. But my left hand was so happy – smoothing the skin of a very cute boy – that I didn’t say anything when I felt him relax into my touch.

“OK,” I finally said. “What do I do with my arm?”

And he made this sound that I love – a thoughtful, teasing hum – and eased me to lie supine. He shifted and I caught my breath when he moved above me, eyes heavy-lidded and sensual, expression gentle and focused, all broad shoulders and long arms.

“How’s that?” he asked when he rested between my spread legs and I wrapped myself around him and murmured that it was perfect. He pressed against me, smoothing his hands on my legs and helping me raise my knees a bit higher around his hips. We pressed and held and I needed him just a bit higher but so badly wanted to be responsive and sexy that I just enjoyed the feeling of him thrusting against me, fully dressed, and felt a twinge of failure when he rolled from me and said, “That was nice but I don’t think you liked it that much.”

It sucks to be transparent. And he was wrong – I loved it – but he was correct in that I did not orgasm. It was just a lot to process and I couldn’t let go and I was struggling to push his shirt out of the way and my sleepy pants – though soft and thin – were bunching around my upper thighs.

“I want these off,” I finally offered decisively. When he requested clarification, his deep voice warm and almost amused, I indicated his shirt and my pants and we tossed both aside, he with a bit more supple grace than I displayed, before looming over me again as I arranged my legs around his knees and he covered me again. I don’t remember when he took of his jeans, but I smiled as I remembered rubbing a worn patch on his knee with my index finger when we were sitting downstairs. I was inordinately fond of the idea that the same pants were now lying in a heap on my bedroom floor and that his belt and the denim wouldn’t be in my way the next time I explored around the waist of his boxers.

We eventually paused and, noticing the DVD had ended, I stopped it and powered off the DVD player. Conan was on so I curled my legs underneath me as I waited for him to return from the bathroom. He returned to the center of the bed, long limbs and lean elegance, and we arranged ourselves under the covers again. We watched television – well, he did – I mostly watched him or closed my eyes to bask. It was kind of impossibly wonderful.

“I’m memorizing,” I told him once. I didn’t elaborate but whether I’m waiting for our schedules to align so I can see him again or whether he moves on and I’m alone again, I want to remember how his skin felt under my fingers or the pressure of his thigh between my legs. The scrape of stubble against my neck or his slow blinks and sidelong glances as we both grew sleepy.

I went to fetch him a cough drop when he couldn’t find one and there was a vague scent of cherry and menthol when he took one of the two I brought. I allowed Chienne into the room at the same time, finally tiring of her cries and scratches at the door. She mostly left Will alone, embarrassing me only when she almost stepped on his crotch before he successfully fended her off. I was eventually sandwiched between a familiar dog behind my knees and a novel human in front of me.

I asked if he had brought condoms, simply out of curiosity and nodded when he indicated he hadn’t.

“I didn’t think we’d have sex tonight,” he told me. “Not that I would have said no.”

“I have some,” I offered and he smiled and said he thought I might. We stayed silent for a few more moments until I said I was going to take off my camisole and subsequently struggled from it before hiding against him again. He let me, using the gentlest of pressures to trace intricate patterns on my left breast until I shifted to allow him more room.

“Really?” I asked as he tugged at the leg I’d rested over his and continued to nudge me until I was on top of him.

“Really,” he confirmed, shifting his position and sliding his hands to my hips. Just as I was growing concerned that I was too short or built incorrectly, we moved in the right way at the right time and connected.

“There,” I breathed and nodded when he confirmed, burying my face in the pillow beside his head as he lifted his hips and pressed at mine. The pressure was perfect – firm and rhythmic and sexy – and I left my hair fall around my cheeks as we rubbed against each other for long moments. Finally, gasping, I lifted my body from his and offered that I did, surprisingly, like being on top.

I don’t remember the order of the next two events, but I do remember him asking what I wanted to try next.

I think I asked if he’d touch me again.

“How?” I asked and he shrugged.

“How do you want it?”

“I think,” I offered after considering it, “I want you behind me. Will that work?”

“It will,” he replied, helping me get settled before slipping his hand between my legs to explore again. “You’re really turned on,” he said, fingers slippery on my flesh and I swallowed hard against another rush of arousal.

“Yes,” I agreed, closing my eyes and arching my neck and feeling him return the pressure of his head against mine, grounding me against the familiar feelings of impending orgasm.

[Redacted content. For multiple reasons.]

It must have been after that when my touch eased lower and I asked if I could do something for him. I touched and stroked for the second time – the first happening at some point I can’t exactly recall in the hours we spent in bed together. I remember saying it hadn’t felt slick enough after the first experiment and how he’d replied.

“That’s because it wasn’t. You’re the PhD, right?”

And because I do, in fact, have a doctorate, I told him I wanted to taste as I began touching him again and confirmed that he wouldn’t mind. He pushed the covers aside and slid out of his boxer shorts before I took them and tossed the fabric toward the side of the bed – I would later remember their location as he was dressing. I’m helpful like that.

I do like giving oral sex – something about the texture and temperature and focus just works for me – and I remembered his earlier disclosure about preferring attention to his shaft and wrapped my fingers around it even as I took the tip in my mouth. I paused to press kisses into the shaft, licking gently before returning to the head and slipping it against my tongue again.

The issue is that he is rather big and I am quite inexperienced and therefore not at all sure I’m doing it right but uncertain as to how to gain skill. I was relieved when he offered whispered compliments and thrilled when his hips began to move or when the hand on my back clenched. I wanted him to come, thought I tasted something new at one point, and was lost in fascinated arousal when I felt him grow harder, wider, in my hand.

We rested together for a bit and I listened to his breathing become deep and even and the occasional click of the cough drop against his teeth. I thought of the moment when he rested over me and said I should think of him like a shiny new toy, just there for fun and ready to be discarded upon boredom.

“I don’t do that,” I replied, more than a little sad as I thought of the future. “I have Care Bears from childhood down the hall. Once I like something, I want to have it for my very own and keep it.”

“I know,” he sighed, not at all unkindly and paused when I asked if he’d do me a favor. He agreed – he will tell me when he’s done exploring whatever may be between us – and I looked up into a face I’m finding increasingly handsome with each meeting and thought of his strong hands pushing my wrist into the mattress next to my head as he thrust against me, perfectly matching so many of my fantasies, and how he smiles and questions he asks and stories he tells. And the dread of any painful ending was drowned under waves of affection and arousal and happiness that – for now – I’m completely smitten.

Feb. 26, 2011 - I still smile and shiver to think of it, pleased that it happened, happy I wrote it out and mostly unconcerned that it's over.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Effortlessly Sexy: The Perfect First Date

[I am intensely busy at work right now and can't seem to think of anything other than my to-do list. But I do have some posts that I didn't publish with the goal of telling the dating story in order. I may not end up doing that, but I do like what I wrote here.]

November 1, 2010
"Oh," I thought when I opened the door to my evening's escort and made a brief but fervent wish that he'd heed my email instructions and kiss me goodnight. Intimidated and attracted, I decided I'd just avoid looking at him all that much at first and allowed him in to greet my prancing puppy while I slipped black flats over my gray tights.

He said something about the length of the dress I'd told him I was planning to wear. The belted black piece of fabric hovered around mid-thigh and I'd gone through a quick yet intense debate over changing into something a bit more demure. I firmly told myself it was fine and if there was ever an evening to wear the garment that had been hanging in my closet, lonely and unworn, it was this Wednesday with this man who offered conversation funny and flirtatious, thoughtful and tempting.

In fact, as I glanced toward the door while waiting for him to arrive, I felt an abnormal but fluttery anticipation rather than my typical dread of dating. I'd wondered if he'd stand me up, but decided that was fine as I'd asked him to pick me up at home. I'd just change into pajamas and work. But the doorbell rang and I tugged the door open, feeling an immediate sense of infatuation - when I find a person so completely compelling that every detail whispers perfection that I helpless against admiring.

Examples? Certainly -
- When I fumbled the opening (Something like, "Would you like a drink or shall we go?" Thinking frantically that then I'd have to look at him and get nervous and awkward and panicked, decided we must leave now. "Actually, let's just go - Chienne will jump on you and it's already dark and we should just go. Now."), I glanced up to see his lips curve in amusement before he acquiesced.
- He opened my door and waited to close it until I arranged myself in the seat and pulled my skirt down - one gallant action I find has an easy charm about it.
- Before entering the car, he draped his suit jacket over the back of the driver's seat. And I melted a little and had to take a breath to gather my thoughts.
- He arranged himself behind the wheel and fumbled a little with the key, giving me a blessed moment to smile and relax before I set about admiring how tall he was, the elegance of his hands, the sound of his voice, the subtle scent of his car. (Seriously - swamped with infatuatation.)
- He commented on my hemline which made me blush and smile and argue that it was, in fact, likely too short though I appreciated that he didn't think so.

"I'm nervous," I felt compelled to confess once we were seated at one of my favorite restaurants - an out of the way place divided into several small areas with only a few tables apiece. We'd argued amiably over politics on the drive - his fault by virtue of asking if I voted - and while I loved the way he thought, I didn't always share his perspective. But once we were out of the darkness and into the restaurant, facing each other across a small table, I kind of wanted to hide behind my menu and wondered if he'd lend me his so that I could build a small fort between us.

"Why?" he asked and I shrugged and tugged at my dress under the table, tucking my feet farther under my chair. He looked away for a moment to think before asking me a question. Grateful for the distraction and easing into conversation, I leveled out and relaxed a bit, pushing the sleeves of my cashmere cardigan up my arms and playing with the oversized, handmade ring on my left hand.

We drank wine and talked of topics serious and silly. I smiled and decided that while he was completely handsome, I was no longer desperate to find someone to love me and resolved to simply enjoy his company. As I settled, I followed habit and drifted into sweet and friendly because that's what I know how to do.

"I didn't tell you, but you look very nice," he offered and I believe I blinked at him, startled out of friendliness and back into infatuation. I hope I smiled and thanked him. I'm nearly certain I tugged at the hem of my skirt under the table.

"Would you like a bite?" he inquired after our meals were set before us and I indicated that I would. When I reached for his fork, he shook his head and leaned a bit further forward. "Don't be shy," he urged and after I made a face at him, I took a deep breath and leaned forward, taking the bite he shared.

My only other moment of bravery came after I returned from the powder room and recalled that I wanted to see his socks. (Email conversations can be randomly revealing.) I nudged his foot from under the table and smiled as I assessed the fabric around his ankles. And pulled my skirt back down to cover my knees.

We talked through dinner and I beamed at him when he agreed to share a dessert. I wasn't really ready to see the evening end though the older couple who'd had another table in our little room had come after we arrived and left before we did. We both had early mornings and I knew I should let him get home, but I found myself eagerly offering to show him around when he asked a question about my house.

"An after-dinner cocktail?" he asked and the hair I'd tried so carefully to curl bounced when I nodded. Newly confident when he accepted, I told him a story on the drive home, resting my arm against his on the armrest and taking comfort from the warm pressure, quiet interest and amused acceptance of something that should have been embarrassing and awkward.

"I'm glad I told you," I offered, handing him the bottle of wine when I couldn't quite open it. I poured two glasses and handed him one before walking from kitchen to loveseat and curling in the corner so I could pretend to watch the news. He sat next to me and we sipped wine for a moment and talked of things I now can't recall.

At one point, he turned toward me and I swallowed the concern that he was uncomfortable on my small furniture when his left knee found its way under my right thigh.

"I'm invading your bubble," he noted with a grin and I smiled back at him, flattered and flustered. We continued to talk as the news ended and Leno began. By the time he told me he didn't like Jimmy Fallon, he'd scooped up my legs and draped them across his lap and was slowly rubbing his hand over my soft gray tights. I have a particular fondness for men's hands and he women's legs so it seemed to be working out quite well.

"You have nice calves," he offered between a slow and easy volley of questions and answers. I think I thanked him - perhaps told him I was fond of taking walks - but my clear memory is watching the tip of his long fingers trace over the curve.

"I wanted to feel pretty," I murmured at one point, feeling warm and safe and happy while we discussed my choice of outfit.

"You are pretty," he responded and I looked in his eyes and reached for his opposite hand so I could play with his fingers while feeling the warmth spread inside me.

In what must have been hours but felt like mere moments, we slowly stopped talking as we shifted closer. I wet my lips and swallowed against the tingling tightness in my throat and squirmed with arousal as he urged my skirt higher and continued to touch me. Glancing tickles behind my knees and long, firm strokes from ankle to hip. Our foreheads touched as heads bowed and I found it somehow reassuring even as I wished I was forward enough to shift and kiss him.

It was so good though - the warmth easing into heat and drifting toward need - and I closed my eyes to focus on it, think through it, worry over whether or not to ask him upstairs, but would lose focus and flutter my eyelashes open to watch his hands - the contrast of masculine strength and elegance against feminine curves and softness.

"I like Carson Daly even less than Jimmy Fallon," he told me and I nodded, thinking I really, really liked what was happening, easily ignoring Carson Daly while sharing space with a man I found impossibly fascinating.

The backs of his fingers brushed my breast where I'd cuddled his hand against my chest. His right hand drifted up, bit by bit, until the tips of his fingers brushed between my legs when I parted them. My breath caught when he put my hand on his leg and I remember thinking - perhaps saying - that I was being shamefully selfish, but was too overwhelmed to focus on what I might do for him.

I can't recall the catalyst, bathed in a glow of arousal and anticipation, but he leaned forward at one point, tucking my right leg behind him and leaning his head toward mine. I bent my knees and pulled him closer and we kissed - a slow, gentle exploration of lips and exchange of breath - and despite my desperate desire to memorize every moment, I seem to have stopped being able to think.

He left around 1:30AM, far past my bedtime, after one last embrace in my foyer. I'd more or less made him promise I could see him again, knowing our schedules were difficult and a little terrified he'd change his mind about wanting to rub my legs and share kisses and conversation in the future.

I suppose I remain a bit concerned - I very much want to do that again - but I'm completely pleased with the memory. I fell asleep, body still tingling, and was late to my meeting the next day. Throughout a day of reviews, I leaned against the wall and curled in my chair drowsily and thought that a man - a smart, interesting, gorgeous, sexy man - had his hands on me. And my lips would curve as I slowly blinked and wished the hem of the dress I'd worn to work was just a touch shorter than my knees so I could tug at it.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Quiet Beauty

I glanced over at my kitchen table today and stopped to stare at the sunlight streaming through the sliding doors, glimmering in the glass vase that held a few cheerful daisies.

I felt a happy relief when Egypt and her people gained freedom. There is something stunning and powerful about the peaceful protests, the release of fear to demand certain rights. I so admire them. And so hope they find a way to balance change with stability.

My shoes made muffled sounds as I walked through the forest on the paved path. The thin layer of melting fluff muted the already quiet morning as the geese flew and honked overhead.

Sprout's whiskers catch the sunlight as he curls next to my pillow during a midday nap. I blink at him upon waking, reaching to smooth his fur before his green eyes turn to mine and he rumbles a purr.

I feel ever-so-slightly better at work. More settled and peaceful and hopeful that eventually I'll find my bliss once again.

Wednesday, February 09, 2011

It's academic.

I stared at the car, caught somewhere between befuddled and amused, as it began to honk at length at the gate that would not open. I knew the driver should back up and use the visitor's exit if he had no card to wave at the reader. The gate only knows it's supposed to open when it sees a card - as an inanimate object, said gate had no awareness of or sympathy for his honking demands.

The older driver looked disgusted with the very idea that the device would not bow to his will and rolled down his window as I approached on a nearby path.

"Hello," I said to him, standing back a bit and bending my knees so I could peer in the window and think that his little bow tie looked rather jaunty even on someone so angry.

"I can't get out," he told me, frowning darkly and I nodded.

"I think you need a card," I replied gently. "Are you visiting?"

"I don't have a card!" He glared and I blinked, surprised at his anger toward me.

"Then you should back up and go over to the booth," I offered more sternly. "The man there may be able to help you." And I frowned back at him because his supposed tenure, academic pedigree and jaunty bow tie were no excuse to be mean to me. So I nodded with what I hope was regal grace when he offered a gruff thank you.

Then I rolled my eyes as I walked in the building for the second afternoon of meetings.

In a room of 60 people, there were 3 of us who were on the young side of age 40. And while I've no doubt that I and my fellow youngsters are smart, the truth of the matter was we bought our way in. Invitations were granted only to the elite in this field, but industry representatives were included but individually uncontrolled. So there I was, representing a powerful company but with meager credentials of my own, taking notes and pausing to think and chatting politely with people whose papers I'd devoured in grad school.

"You," I thought of one man, "write like crap." His speech was as dense and indecipherable as his papers and I spent most of his talk glancing around to see if anyone knew what he was trying to say. But his lab does brilliant work and the conclusions I think I could draw were both relevant and interesting. So I reminded myself that some of the most talented speakers don't have anything of interest to say and sometimes the effort required to understand brilliance is worthwhile - different skill sets are quite important.

I looked around, observing squabbles and underlining points in my notes. And I thought of the people - the endless hours, countless errors and breathtaking feeling of discovery - who stood behind each of the figures presented or points discussed. And realized that until my fellow attendees retired or decided to delegate, subordinates aren't getting invited to these special events.

So I shifted in my uncomfortable chair and glanced around the ugly classroom where we'd met and decided maybe industry isn't so bad after all. Because I have no particular desire to join these meetings again. And wouldn't it have been terrible had I worked a lifetime to get in the door and then immediately wanted to rush out to honk at the gate so I could escape?

Saturday, February 05, 2011

The Illusion of Independence

I will admit it's a bit disheartening. Looking outside and seeing families bundled in bright colors, diligently working to clear snow from relevant surfaces. I work alone, frowning over my shovel and smiling proudly when my snowblower clears the way.

Adding insult to injury, Chienne enjoys hopping over her gate and running away, prancing around the neighborhood and greeting the families outside. See, I think to myself, even the most faithful of companions remains with me from necessity alone.

So while I didn't mind asking Doug for help after deciding the sidewalks would be far too hard, I did feel a certain sense of failure over my inability to handle the details of the life I've chosen.

We talked that night and he sounded tired. He agreed to help, of course, but noted it would have to be late the next day, after he handled the responsibilities of his own life and choices. I frowned at the very idea, bristling against the thought of adding my burden to his and decided I would clear the sidewalks alone even as I despaired at the depth of the drifts.

I worked from home again, taking calls and tending to tasks and steeling myself to face the cold. My mood was aided by the bright sunshine when I emerged and I squared my shoulders and made my most determined face and cheered above the rumble of the snowblower when we began to make progress through the waist-high snow. I returned to the house having finished 3/4 of the sidewalk, preening with pride but tired from the shoveling and shoving and snow.

Doug, I decided, could do the smallest portion by the picket fence. But after finishing more work, I set out again, walking the snowblower up to my neighbor's driveway and pushing downhill toward my house. It was slow going - rocking the bin up and down to break through the wall of snow- backing up and moving forward and leaning on the machine to add my weight to gravity as we inched forward, spewing snow.

I reversed again, deciding to get a running start at the immovable 5 feet that remained between me and the driveway and promptly fell on my bottom when the wheels spun. I giggled after deciding I was unhurt, looking around at the walls of snow that surrounded me, unable to see the street or my yard in my soft, white cocoon. Unable to make additional progress, I reversed up the hill and walked in the street until I reached my driveway.

"So close," I muttered, squinting what remained between me and victory. So I shoveled and dug and started the snowblower once again. And in my urge to finish - to win - I pushed too hard and the chute atop my friendly snowblower popped off against the presssure of the snow.

I nearly wept, so horrified was I to have harmed my only ally.

I brought the machine back to the garage and downloaded the manual, finally understanding how to repair my injured buddy. Once healed, we returned to the small mound that was left and completed our work. A person could walk down my sidwalk, surrounded by snow and without much room on the path, but I had completed a route. And though I panted with exhaustion and stretched against the ache in my back, I felt ridiculously proud.

Patting the snowblower fondly, I returned to my house. And the dog I locked inside.

After a difficult meeting at work on Friday, I felt like a miserable failure and came home to have a panic attack. My heart raced, hands trembled and I couldn't catch my breath. I frantically googled relaxation techniques and finally calmed myself with the realization that life can be hard. And I can move past it.

Today I felt tired and a little sad. But I walked the dog, smiling as she tried to peer over the mounds of snow. I ran some errands. I came home to do some work. Then I called my pastor to arrange a lunch next week. I read a beautiful sermon that brought me a sense of peace and purpose. And nodded upon reading a bit of 2 Corinthians. "The Lord told Paul, 'My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.'"

Wednesday, February 02, 2011


Chienne and I cocked our heads to the left as the garage door rumbled open and we beheld what was outside. She looked up at me and I glanced down at her, smiling at her expression of confusion, and patted her head.

"Wow, huh?" I asked and she turned her attention to our neighborhood, fully blanketed in snow. That part is not unusual. It's the part where it's taller than my dog and well past my knees when we stand inside and stare, somewhat bewildered.

I looked at the snowblower, red and happily waiting to be started, and decided the machine was not tall enough to handle the high drifts of snow. So I grabbed the shovel I rarely use and experimentally poked at the fluffy white mound nearest to me, tossing it aside and blinking as the gusting winds created a giant cloud of fluff. I tried again, accomplishing the partial clearing of approximately a square foot before following the dog in the house.

I closed the garage and emailed Doug, asking if he might have some time to rescue me from the snow that surrounds my house. Then I did some work. And took a nap.

Feeling guilty because my responsible neighbors were dutifully clearing their drives and sidewalks, I emerged once again and started the snowblower. Once I coaxed it through the first stripe, it was somewhat easier. So I chipped away at the snow, 6 inch columns at a time, and was delightfully proud until I reached the street and was unable to tackle the drift at the end of the drive.

Deciding I'd deal with it later, I had the drive mostly complete before I decided to take another break and decide on my plan of attack.

After some strategic shoveling and brute force shoves of the snowblower, I managed to stumble into the street and did a victorious wiggle in celebration. Then I shoveled and blew until I thought my Jeep could probably get out if it had to. It might have to hold its breath and suck in its sides, but it's feasible.

Then I looked at the sidewalks. Or rather the snow where the sidewalks should be. And I tried to make progress with the snowblower. And got stuck. And tried to shovel. And got tired.

So I came in. Emailed Doug again. And reported that I did the driveway! But could he maybe help me with the sidewalks?