Professional confidence trumps mascara

I received an impromptu invitation this morning to attend a dinner hosted by a former colleague (from almost 20 years ago) who is now a CEO and mover and shaker in my industry. The location? A swanky Beverly Hills award-winning restaurant. We’ll be joined by two of his colleagues, one I’ve met before.

I was thrilled to accept the invitation. I haven’t seen him in over a decade at least. And he is very connected in my industry. His name is one of the ones that appears on my list of references, based on my being a receptionist at the nonprofit where he was, at the time, an executive assistant. We’ve kept in touch, and even back then, he has always encouraged me to believe in my abilities and what I bring to the table no matter what my position on the hierarchy.

The problem? I left for work this morning thinking that it wouldn’t matter who I saw today and dressed accordingly. There is no time to go home and change.

The good news is that, since I’ve started going to the gym, there have been a couple instances in which I’ve accumulated clothes in the trunk of my car that I’ve been too lazy to remove. I found a pair of dark wash skinny jeans and a relatively flattering top that didn’t require any ironing. I even had two pairs of shoes that would appropriately replace the flip flops I had worn out of the house this morning.

In my dungeon bag I found a pair of earrings and a necklace that I’d removed before a rope scene months ago.

All I needed was makeup.

I mean, I look tired.

But…I am tired. I’d considered heading over to a nearby department store and seeing if I could get someone at one of the makeup counters to just apply a little glow. In the end, I decided to see what just adding a little bit of red lip gloss would do…

Y’know what? I look fine. I look more than fine.

Without a stitch of mascara or blush or tinted moisturizer, and my hair air-dried with visible roots, I look fucking fantastic.

It has nothing to do with my face or my skin or my clothes or the lipstick.

It has everything to do with confidence. Tonight I’m having dinner with one of the first people that ever made me feel confident professionally. What I wear doesn’t matter.

What I bring to the table does.

Addendum to the self-improvement manual

Are you trying to make a change in your life?  Acknowledged some bad habits and are doing the work to address their sources and make adjustments to overcome them?

There’s something that’s not in the “self-improvement” manual that I think you should know.

There are people in your periphery who are going to be hard-pressed to acknowledge that you’ve changed. I’m not talking about those closest to you who are witnessing your efforts, cheering you on, and providing support along the way…

…I mean the ones that you call “friends” but are really more like acquaintances.  These are people in your life you would not call upon if your car broke down at 3am, but you would have a conversation with them at a party.

They took a mental picture of you back when you first met, and filed it away in a folder with your name on it. That is who you are to them – no nuance, no complexity.  You may be a three dimensional object but you are static, not dynamic.

This is a normal thing.  You do it to people all the time. There was a woman when I was in my 20s who was in her late 30s that didn’t realize I’d overheard her when she said to a mutual friend “I don’t want phi to tag along, She’ll take all the attention away from us” when we were making plans to go out dancing in a group.  Later that afternoon, she feigned a migraine and told me our plans were cancelled. I filed her away as “jealous, petty, insecure, lying bitch.”

I’ve not seen nor heard from her in 20 years.  In that time she might have changed completely and become the sweetest, most charitable, and kind-hearted grandmama you’d ever meet – but I wouldn’t know it.  If I were to run into her today I still think of her as the woman who lied to me because she’d created a competition in her mind that wasn’t there.

“Ok, so people won’t believe I’ve changed.  Who cares? I don’t care what they think.”

Well, to an extent, yeah.  Except for a lot of us, our self-worth and self-acceptance is wrapped up in how others treat us. Many of us are programmed to seek validation from others in order to feel secure about ourselves.  What happens when there are a bunch of people who still treat you like you’re the town drunk when you’ve been six months sober?

You start to feel like that hard work you’ve put into self-improvement has no payoff.

THAT’S what’s not in the manual.

The idea of self-validating *is* in the manual; at least, it was in mine.  I was given that piece of information early on by someone who was a friend and is now in my periphery.  He said I had to learn to stop seeking external validation.

I didn’t understand why, or how to do it – but I did know that it was part of the changes I would have to make.  What I didn’t know is that nearly every one of my successes now can be traced back to my learning to self-validate.  To disassociate my self worth from the value set OTHERS placed on me.

It’s not the same as saying “I don’t care what people think.”  I do care. I take it into consideration when I look at myself and ask “are they right?”

If I believe they are, then I ask “am I okay with that?”

And if I’m not, then I’ve got a new challenge to take on.

My Vagina Has a Theme Song

And now, for a little levity.

Over on FetLife, I posted a “challenge” of sorts.  Here’s what happened.  I was chatting away when all of a sudden, the words “my vagina has a theme song” popped into my head. I thought it would make for a GREAT title for a blog post, but didn’t really have any message in mind for it.

So I asked people to …y’know, submit their vagina’s theme songs.

Eventually, I wrote one of my own and recorded it:

But so many of the other ones were so great, that I created a youtube playlist for your listening pleasure.  Just think, as you’re going through each of these tunes, that you’re listening to to the sounds of some stranger’s vaginal heartbeat.


Oh.  And one more thing.  My chicken pot pie was like, literal food porn today:

ctedpypumaefrwc

 

Mysterious Mikey

He’d known he wasn’t wired like his friends halfway through freshman year in college. It was three days after his midterms while they were blowing off steam when he admitted having had a threesome during a drunken game of “never have I ever” to his buddies.

“DAAAMNN MIKEEEYYY!” The chorus of hollers and high fives made him feel uncomfortable. He didn’t bother letting him know it’d been happening for weeks. His reticence (and later refusal) to reveal the names of the two “sluts” granted him the nickname “Mysterious Mikey,” with his friends, and from then on he allowed them to believe what they wanted about his sex life, using little more than shrugs and half-smiles to communicate on the subject.

There were so many times over the next few years that he’d wanted to say something. To tell them to stop calling the women he slept with “sluts,” and to stop making assumptions that he was the king of “hit it and quit it.”

But they were so proud of him. They were so happy for him. And part of him felt somehow responsible for having let it gone on so long. Then, during their senior year, the rest of the guys started pairing up with their girlfriends. One by one, they stopped rallying every Friday night to head out to to go “prowling” at the bar, playing their favorite game of “Whore or Horror?”

The game consisted of selecting an unsuspecting unattached female bar patron, voting on whether she was a “whore” or a “horror story,” and then sending off the player to try to take her home.

“Whores” were the ones who’d accept a drink, hand over their phone numbers, or put out, while “horrors” were the ones who would turn them down.

Mike hated the game, but the guys all thought he was incredible at it. “All the chicks are whores for Mikey!” they’d say. “Mysterious Mikey strikes again!”

The truth? He’d walk over to the women and tell them the truth. His drunk, obnoxious friends were pissing him off the way they were talking, and he just wanted to buy them a drink, talk to them for a few minutes, and then walk away.

More times than not, he’d end up chatting with them for a while before heading back, and several times it’d end in some sort of contact info exchange.

He made it a point never to leave with any of them or let his friends know if further contact resulted in sex for fear that they’d be branded as “sluts.”

Once the last of the group had coupled up, Mike was the only one left that wasn’t in a long term relationship. At least, not that any of them knew about. He was still seeing Jasz and Kerri from freshman year on occasion, but the two had transferred to another campus and were living with two other open couples in a rented house downtown. They’d begun making preparations for their wedding in the Fall after graduation.

He also had a fairly regular date night with Skylar, whom he’d met during a game of “Whores” junior year. Skylar and he had started off as just friends, and then friends with benefits, but Mikey had quickly learned that he had an uncanny ability to fire his heart out of his cock. She had quickly become someone special to him; but she’d been dating Jeff for years and after a few conversations and some scheduling arrangements, Mikey and Skylar had settled on weekly mid-week overnights and one weekend a month. He was an usher at their wedding last month.

But, as far as his friends knew, “Mysterious Mikey” was the last remaining bachelor of their original crew, and during their Monday night poker games, the guys would prod him for details on his conquests.

“Farrah doesn’t even shave her legs anymore, man. She’s so stingy with her pussy I don’t even fuckin’ mind that it’s hairy when I get it, know what I mean? C’mon, man. You’ve gotta be pulling some tight, hairless cunt still…those bar bitches are still trying.”

It was during one of those Monday night games when Mike’s phone began buzzing in his pocket. It was Skylar. She never called during poker night. Concerned, he picked up the phone.

“Hello?”

The chuckles, whistles and whispers of “booty call” faded into the background as he focused on her voice. “M…Mik…Mike.”

“Skylar, what’s wrong?” He put his hand up to silence the guys and shot them a glare.

They stared, confused for about ten seconds of silence before he spoke again. “Skylar, wait there. I’m coming over.”

He set his phone back in his pocket and put out his cigar. “Gotta run, guys.”

“Wait? Where are you going?” Richard asked.

“Yeah. Who’s ‘Skyylerrrrrr?'” crooned Paul.

Mike looked around the room at his so-called friends. These guys who he’d been keeping a whole world hidden from for nearly four years. Here he was, on the brink of graduating, and he’d been holding on to them like a security blanket full of holes that had started to smell long ago.

It was time to rip off the mystery.

“My girlfriend,” he started. “I’ve been with her for a year. She and her husband just found out his mother has cancer. His name is Carl and he and I play softball once a month. I’m also dating Jasz and Kerri from freshman year, and Brandon from the coffee house down the street and I have been talking about the possibility of hanging out more. In the time that you’ve known me, I’ve had over 20 partners, not all of them women and none of whom was a slut, or a whore, or a bitch. At least, not in the way you define it.”

“And I’m done here,” he added as he walked out the door.


With special thanks to a friend of mine for permission to include the line that inspired this story.

Afflicting the Comfortable

I heard a quote yesterday during a conference. The key note speaker called it out as his favorite quote. We “comfort the afflicted, and afflict the comfortable.”

I just saw a friend on twitter lament over a post on facebook asking “why does everything have to be about race?”

And…yeah. Because it is. But it’s a really uncomfortable reality, isn’t it? When you are the comfortable and not the afflicted and everyone wants to talk about the injustice that people who look like you perpetrate on people who look like them?

I wrote the posts about my dad a couple nights ago because I was really upset. I was really upset about the turn that conversation took. But, at the end of the day, I know my father loves me. I know that, for the most part, he’s a decent person. I was never abused or lacked for anything. I have had a very comfortable life with all my needs and most of my wants addressed.

So it makes me uncomfortable when I have to face the imperfections of my parents. When I have to face the fact that, as their daughter, my power to change them is limited. That my ability to cry and get what i want out of them stopped a long time ago.

i’ve had my dad unfollowed on facebook for years now. Started during the original Obama presidential campaign. He’s a conservative republican and a troll, so his posts hit ALL my buttons.

A cousin of mine likes to get into it with him. He’s like, the liberal version of my dad. Loves to get into the weeds of a political debate. My late husband was kind of like that, until there was a big family blow up that caused a rift and then we all decided never to speak about politics or racism again.

Anyway, so my cousin posted something the other day – about racism in America. Calling out the hypocrisy of people up in arms about a guy taking a knee during the national anthem, but seemingly unperturbed by the many guys getting shot by police without cause.

My dad commented that he took offense to the post. ‘Cause America is the greatest country in the world, y’all!

I sent my cousin a private message. I wanted to make sure he knew my dad mostly likes just getting a rise out of people and conveyed that I was impressed he (my cousin) put up with my dad’s bullshit so frequently.

My cousin wrote back:
“it’s funny because it’s exactly the same with my dad. Anyway, I think your dad and I still respect each other, we just have vastly different views. Most of that generation have bought into a political and cultural narrative [as immigrants]that they feel defines their love for this country. I think it’s possible to still love my country while recognizing its flaws and fighting to make it better for people who aren’t as fortunate as the rest of us. Your dad and my dad are good hearted and intelligent people, they’re just very much in a bubble and poking holes in that makes them very uncomfortable. So, we get on each other’s case sometimes, but I think we also both enjoy the reparte.”

Until …probably some time around the Pulse shooting in Orlando, I would nearly always run away from a fight. Until then, I would choose to disengage rather than engage with people who made me uncomfortable with their willingness to get me to the point of rage with their debate. I learned this from my interactions with my dad.

It is a lot easier to remember that i love him very much when we don’t engage in the conversations that make me want to use life’s “block” button on him. To paraphrase from my cousin, I think it’s possible to still love my dad while recognizing his flaws…I just stopped short of the fight to make him better.

Slowly but surely I’ve been a little more vocal on the topics that matter to me that are sometimes the very same ones I used to keep quiet on. But I guess I’d rather go head to head in a debate with someone on Fetlife than risk losing my relationship with my family. I don’t have so much invested here. I’m able to stay comfortable.

The turn the conversation with my dad took the other night definitely afflicted my comfort zone.

I still don’t know how I feel about that. Maybe that’s a good thing.

Dear Dad

Dear Dad,

I don’t know how well I can write this. Rather, I know I can write it well – I just don’t know if I could write it well enough to get through to you.

For as long as I can remember, I have chosen the path of non-engagement when it comes to discussing social or political issues with you.

The reason is this: You’re a troll.

I’ve known this for most of my life. When I was a kid, your trolling would be pretty harmless- except for the part where I felt like my concerns were dismissed. But yeah, before I could start forming my own opinions, the trolling was more like “teasing.”

You know, like how you used to take pictures of me when I cried and call me “trompuda,” or “Fabiana” after my cousin Fabian who was always sulky.

But then you started trolling in areas that undermined my confidence with my peer group. Like delaying the getting of deodorant after I hit puberty and requested it because it was funnier to pretend you didn’t know what “Secret” I was asking for.

I’m not sure when you started believing in your own bullshit. Or maybe you always have and you’ve somehow pulled the wool over mom’s eyes all these years. She says you don’t really believe the things you say. You just like to get under people’s skin.

But, no, Dad. I don’t think she’s right. I think you’re more than a troll.

I really hate admitting this because it’s a source of shame for me…

Dad. You’re racist. What’s more – you’re a chauvinist. And a victim blamer, but only if the victims are women, or black, or poor, or gay. The only victims you don’t blame are the ones you see in the mirror.

Do you have any idea how much that hurts me? Do you have any idea how disappointing it is to know that your father, who loves you and has given you so much to be thankful for, is the type of person you block on social media?

It really confuses me, dad, because you’re otherwise quite charming. Like, nobody would know you’re any of those things unless the topic came up. I don’t even think you know you are those things. I think you think you’re a good person, like…truly.

We had a conversation tonight- one that I should have known better than to broach because it concerned gender equality, harassment, and boundaries.

I was so angry with you when we said goodbye. You were laughing, nervously because you knew I was upset with you,…and you said “I love you,” before we hung up.

I should have ended that phone call long before I mentioned the thing my supervisor said that rubbed me the wrong way. I should have ended it with “yep, long drive home – long day tomorrow. Talk soon.”

But no. I told you what he said to me and how it made me feel.

And you told me my feelings were wrong.

And then the conversation went downhill.

Oh my GOD, Dad. I didn’t know. I mean, I knew, but I didn’t know you’d actually say it out loud. I didn’t know you would say out loud the things that people say who are called very nasty names by people I admire and agree with. I didn’t know you’d drank that kool-aid, too.

How our conversation derailed to the point where you uttered the words, “well if a woman is being groped by hundreds of men without giving them permission then she’s probably putting out the wrong message.”

Thud went my heart.

Dad, if anybody else had said those words, I would have gone into a raging rant the likes you would never have seen.

But instead, you broke my heart, Dad.

You broke my heart.

I love you, but I think I need a little space right now.

Your daughter,

phi.

Time and the Diamond Trade

When talking about polystuff, I’ve often heard (or read) that “time is finite; love is not.” When someone has multiple partners, the amount of time they can spend with any particular one is going to have limitations, because there is time they want and should spend with another one.

However, time is not a useful measuring tool for love. My partner does not love me less when he’s loving someone else. He doesn’t love his other partners less when he’s spending time with me. His love for all of us does not diminish when he’s spending time alone on the toilet.

Time is measurable. Love is immeasurable.

Now that I’ve said that three different times at least three different ways, onto the metaphor.

In a recent comment on a FetLife post in response to my post about the Poly Cookbook, I said:

Time is definitely a finite resource in any relationship, and time in a poly relationship is precious. We’re used to applying value to scarcity. Precious metals. Supply and demand.

But you run the risk of inflating the value of time and thinking that it’s indicative of love. Think of the diamond trade, I guess.

I wanted to follow that metaphor through a little more, but to do so I had to go do a little research on why people say diamonds have inflated value, and test if the metaphor holds water like a measuring cup (which time is not).

Ooh. A metaphor within a metaphor. It’s a metametaphor.

I found a blog titled “Diamonds are Bullshit” that did a decent job of explaining the whole thing in plain English, though I can’t speak to its accuracy because there’s a clear bias against the diamond trade right there in the title.

The bottom line is that diamonds are sold at a retail price, but are bought back at a wholesale price far below it. Sold as a premium, bought back as a discount, they are not the investment you think they are – not like gold or silver which has a very calculable market price and can be bought or sold based on that price (that blog makes this comparison very clearly). According to the blog, the “scarcity” of diamonds is manufactured because all the world’s diamond mines are owned and/or controlled by one company.

Kinda like how a person’s time is really owned and controlled by themselves.

Yes, diamonds do have some value, but when the apocalypse comes access to food and water will be a more valuable resource than a shiny rock.

Similarly, in relationships, time does carry some value. Like I said, it’s precious because it’s finite. But how many monogamous relationships do you know where the couple has nothing but time together and they still can’t stand each other? Time does not equal love.

So, what does? What’s the “food and water” of love? I think that’s probably a pretty personal thing. Different people, based on their personal experiences, history, and preferences show and receive love in different ways. You’ve probably also heard about those “love languages” …

But I think the food and water of love is somewhere in the realm of mutual respect, consideration, and (in the case of romantic love) desire (or at least attraction). I haven’t put as much thought into that as I did the diamond thing, so don’t quote me on that.

I think I’ve followed that thought through to the end now.


For another one of my posts that relate to time and love in a poly relationship there’s: When love is like a Netflix subscription, and here’s the link to the Poly Cookbook post I referenced above.