Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Things in Your Pockets

Gentleman, I have a request to make.

Could you please empty your front pockets before we dance? It is uncomfortable and distracting to me to feel your cell phone or keys or whatever brushing against me.

Thank you kindly,

Fledgling Tanguera

Asking for Dances & OBLIGATION

Mark over at Confessions of a Tango Dancer posted about women asking men to dance. He asked Is it Harder for Women to Ask Men to Dance? and then, in another post, offered suggestions on how to ask. These were wonderful and thought-provoking posts.

Here's why I don't ask men to dance, unless I know them relatively well.


Now, I know this stems from things completely unrelated to tango. It comes from being a nurturer, a mother, a woman in a society that sets expectations that I will do the right thing, that I will always have a meal ready if someone drops by, that there are always clean towels and sheets, that Of Course, I can volunteer for that (when really I want to stay home and watch a tv show).

And I made the leap to not do things from obligation anymore. To do it only if the inspiration strikes, to move with intention, to give my complete, and to say NO if I don't want to do the thing.

And I am conscious of how difficult that is sometimes. Which brings me back to tango. I have accepted dances I didn't really want to dance because I felt obligated, because I didn't want to hurt someone's feelings, because I was expected to. I would NEVER want someone to dance with me under those circumstances. NEVER.

So I don't ask. Which is ridiculous and silly for a lot of reasons.

However, I think I might work on this and ask. At least by cabaceo.


Many of you read my angst ridden post about tango eating my soul. Your comments, laughter, support and general understanding were wonderful and so appreciated.

And I am thrilled to say that I feel satisfied right now. Not satiated, really, but maybe satisfied. Satiated implies a sense of completion maybe, and I don't feel done. I just feel like I am sitting on the edge of the tango chasm, with a bottle of wine, the soft hum of the bees, the waning sun on my shoulders, with my feet dangling over loose and free. It's a nice feeling.

I had a dance last week that freed up a lot for me. He told me several times it didn't matter, we were just having fun, let's see if this works, and we laughed. I let go. I stopped caring if I "got it right", stopped worrying about how it all felt and just let go. He wouldn't be dancing with me if he didn't want to, right? Not four tandas in a row. Our last song was a milonga, and it The music told a story of coupling, of the dance and the drive and the desire, of pleasing the woman and her, in turn, taking care of her man. It was...intense. I think we both walked off the floor a little dazed. I'm not sure he heard the same story I did, but we definitely both felt the connection.

So I am here feeling more confident, more alive, more comfortable sitting with the weighted passion of tango in my chest. It feels warm, and sultry, and romantic, and loving and I wouldn't change it for anything.

It's changing me.

Saturday Night Gentleman

Saturday night I went to dinner at a restaurant downtown called Tango. It was my companions' choice, and I was satisfied with it. We sat at the bar and ordered there.

At one point a gentleman sat to my left, but it was stilted and awkward.

As he left, another gentleman sat. He took his time looking over the menu, and I could hear little coos and ahhs as he took in his choices. It was completely for his own benefit; he wasn't attention seeking. Just absorbed in his joy at the possibility of some culinary delight. I mentioned that the dish I had had was amazing and that opened the door for a wonderful exchange.

We shared some pleasantries and I got pulled back into conversation with my friends.

A polite tap on my shoulder, "This really is fantastic. You must try it. No, no, I know it's not the done thing, but this is too good to have to myself. I would share this joy with you."

It was so charmingly and disarmingly done, and I shared a few bites of his food.

We talked about his story, his life in Spain before moving to the states, his wife of 35 years (whom he completely adores and worships), his family (he carries pictures of his grown children), his incomplete love of the culinary arts, the artistry of the foods he was eating. He could not have possibly been a better dinner companion.

At the end of his meal, he asked if he could buy me a drink. I politely refused (I had already had one) and he clasped both my hands, told me he wished his wife had been able to join us for dinner because we would have loved one another, kissed my cheek and left.

It was the sweetest surprise dinner date I've ever had.

My friends never even noticed, so enamored were they in their budding romance. And that was perfect.

Thank you, sir, for the wonderful meal.

Seattle TangoMagic

I hardly know what to say. I returned home Monday night to life in full swing with children, work the next day, and my glorious full day-to-day stuff. I'm glad to be home.

My all time favorite moment of the entire experience was from the late night Sunday milonga. We were putting on coats and ready to walk out the door when my friend said there was a woman nearly in tears in the restroom, so overcome with joy from her last tanda. I couldn't pass that up, so I had to go see for myself. And it was true. She was lovely, and glowing, and had that charming glazed look that only comes from true satisfaction. It was beautiful, and my favored memory of the weekend.

But there were many others that were equally wonderful. Finding a wonderful new dance companion that I just "fit" with, seeing Tete do his airplane thing, feeling part of a community of people, a wonderful hug with a new friend.

There were some also not great things. I took a beginner level class that I left feeling mauled and traumatized by. A gentleman that smelled strongly of several days old fish. Getting hit in the head with a speaker casing.

But over all, I had a lovely time. I learned a couple of things! Oh, that's right! I did! I have been struggling with a posture issue. Ok, working on it. The whole Oscar and Georgina solar plexus thing. Sometime over the weekend it slipped into place for me. I found that delicate balance where I effortlessly could stand upright, chest open and out, shoulders relaxed, on my axis....and at ease. And now, it's there. I can just adjust into it with little reminder.

I did miss out on connecting with some fellow bloggers, but the trip was so full that there was little time.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Joys of Parenting HaHa

This post from blogger Kym is so funny and dead on about parenting that even if you think kids are snot-nosed wastes of youth, you'll still think it's funny.

Read her post. It's Titled: To the Person who found my blog by

Monday, July 21, 2008

Stop Motion Spaghetti

Thanks for pointing this one out, Alysse.

A Love Note

Dearest Tango,

I'm sorry. I don't know what I was thinking.

I Looovvvvvveee you. Really and truly and deeply.

Can you ever forgive me?

With Everlasting Devotion,
Your Fledgling Tanguera

Sunday, July 20, 2008

I Hate Tango II

Ok, so all those things in that other post are true. And,

Tango hurts me. Inside I feel this heaviness. I can't learn enough, take in enough, become it enough to satisfy this place inside me that wants it so badly.

I listen to the music and I hear entire stories that transport me to another time, place, setting, I don't know. Sometimes the stories are about tango, sometimes they aren't. Tonight I heard a Fall story so delicious that I had to pull over and close my eyes and just listen because it was so vivid.

This can't be normal and it scares me that I can have a breadth of passion so deep that I didn't even know existed a year ago. How can I have carried this around for so long, dormant? What else is in there that is undiscovered? Is tango the true passion of my life?

At class tonight I had to remind myself that people come because it is fun. But for me, it's not. At least not right now. It's driving, it's beautiful, it's intense, it's glorious, but fun? That feels too frivolous for what I am feeling.

And that is why, at least in this moment, I hate tango. And I love it.

I Hate Tango

Right this very minute I hate it. What right does it have to vals into my life and take over? I dream about it, I listen to it constantly, I take classes or practice or dance 5 days a week, I read your blogs. It's become obsessive.

And still, it's not enough.

And I resent this just a bit. I like being single, and it feels like Tango is a new relationship that is eating into all of my time and I can't help but love it because it whispers sweet things in my ear.

I used to do other things. I performed, I wrote, I sewed or knitted, I had friends. Now, it's all tango all the time. I still do some of those things, but you know what? They're about tango. I don't perform but I put the same kind of time that went into rehearsals into tango, I write a blog, I sew shoe bags and skirts that are tango friendly, and I even get knitting inspiration from a tango blogger, and I'm converting friends to become tangueros.

The other day I sat and had coffee and seriously thought about how you could tango on bikes. I even went so far as to begin some sketches on how to alter bikes to allow the embrace. (I think unicycles might actually be the best answer.)

It might actually be too much.


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Saturday, July 19, 2008

Tango makes me reconsider being a lesbian.

(This one's pretty personal for me.)

Tango makes me reconsider being a lesbian.

It's only for those few minutes and it's because of the way I feel in the embrace. I want to feel that way ALWAYS.

I've been single for a few years. And I am really happy being single. I am not lonely and I have wonderful friends, an active social life, a very full parenting life. Nothing is missing and I'm not ready to be partnered. Mostly because I am in a very selfish phase of life. I don't want to share my "me" time, and I absolutely don't want to share my parenting.

But when I am in an embrace that is heaven, it makes me miss that sense of relinquishment. I haven't found it with women yet. Not one of my female lovers has made me want to completely relinquish to her. It's a more hetero concept, I think; that sense of playful and sweet power exchanges.

Is any of this making sense?

I want to feel safe enough, honored enough, respected enough, known enough, to just let my partner take me over. To sense me and my needs, my wants, my fears, my boundaries. To not ignore my voice in it, but to know it so securely and intuitively and minutely that there is no reason for me to hold on to the fears that keep me in control. I want to dissolve for that person. And not in a weak, have no presence or personality kind of way.

And tango reminds me that this is possible. Reminds me that the desire I feel is normal. Reminds me that it's worth holding out for.

We Don't Fit

Why is it that there are certain leaders I just can't get comfortable with? I see that other people enjoy dancing with them, that they are sought after and respected, but I just don't like the dance.

Actually, it might not be the dance. I never get far enough to know. I just can't seem to settle into their embrace. I'm not comfortable and I just don't feel a connection. I've tried other ways of centering myself to their body, other ways of adjusting my left arm (where I get a LOT of communication about their movement), focusing and not focusing. Nothing seems to fix it.

For some reason we can't sink into eachother. It's not their fault. It's not my fault. We just aren't a good match.

But WHY? It just doesn't seem right.

I'm not going to dance with them anymore. I always feel yucky afterwards, and I think they do too. I'd love to know them well enough to ask why we don't match, and to see if we can experiment to remedy it, but I don't know them that well yet. Maybe in time.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Update on Meh

Here's an update on this post:

1. What was I thinking? I DON'T milonga well. How could I think that? At the very most, I might be able to sort of keep up with you without falling over. I'll love every second of it, and you'll feel that I love every second of it. But dancing it well? Yeah, that was delusional.

2. This leader and I? We're just not a good match. I've danced with him since. It was horrible. What was that definition of a fool? Someone who does the same thing over and over and expects different results? Yeah.

I guess I had a lot to say today.

Tango Zen

This is an excerpt from a post by Robert Hauk that I found here. The question was how to create the space for the follower to achieve the zen state.
The Zen like mental state I described is something I first encountered playing improvised music. There is a point, when the musicians are really connecting, where I have no thoughts in my head at all, and the music seems to flow out of me directly from my emotions. I am no longer worried about what I am creating, if it is good enough, where it is going, etc... It feels like there is a direct path from feeling to sound and the experience is very immediate. When the music is over Ifeel like I am waking up from a dream. I have played music for a few years for a group of dancers who do contact improv, and I always find that when I have found this place in the music, the dancers have found this place dancing. We connect across the space of the room, and we interract. The musicians respond to the dancers, and the dancers respond to the musicians. It is an intimate, immediate communication without words.

Imagine my surprise when I discovered that this could happen on the dance floor dancing tango. In this case I have to help my partner relax and really dance her to the music so she can let go. I dance smoothly, and without complicated steps, to get her into a groove. With some women I will dance a repetative sequence so that they know where I might be going so they quit worrying about the steps. When I feel my partner relax I begine to vary the sequence, and I don't know how I decide really, it just happens when we begine moving together well. If things stay smooth and we don't get bumped we just go deeper into this connected state, and the dance can go anywhere. Often I end up doing 'steps' I have never done before, and that I can't remember after the dance is over. I am no longer thinking in words at all. There is only the music, my partner, the movement, and the other dancers around me (I still have to navigate and not interfere with their dance).

The wonderful thing is that my partner doesn't have to be an experienced dancer for this to happen. I have felt this while dancing very simple steps with a relative beginner. It isn't a technique as such. If I can make a comfortable space for my partner, and give her confidence that she can do all the steps I am going to do, and I will dance with very simple steps if it is necessary, then she has the possibility. A beginner who listens to the music can do this even before she knows much about the dance. The main thing to know is that for me to get into this wordless 'Zen' mental state I have to first get my partner there.

There is no way to force this. My answer to Clifton's original question is that there is nothing he can suggest to his partner to make it easier for her, no technique to perfect. The leader first has to make the dance comfortable and safe for the follower. The follower has to feel that she/he will move where the leader moves. When the follower can feel confident with the movement, then it is possible to forget to think about where to step. Then it is possible to let go. When we give our partners suggestions on the dance floor we close the door to this place entirely. They will try to do what we suggest, and will be seeking aproval, or maybe they will just think we are idiots for suggesting something that, to them, sounds rediculous, or they will be hurt and no longer able to trust. The only thing I have found that I can say to really help is something encouraging. Something that gives a bit of confidence.

Having said that the follower has to know something as well. If the follower is trying to do the steps consciously, or worse trying to do 'embellishments' learned in a class, or anything that keeps the intellect engaged, the door is closed. If the follower is thinking about the dance then the dance will be a conscious, intellectual activity. In this case it could be a technically perfect dance and yet there is no possibility for the Zen state. I walk away from these dances hungry, feeling empty. This is most unsatisfying when it happens with a partner who has a lot of experience, and should be amazing to dance with.

When I go dancing the Zen experience is what I am after. It is nice to be able to dance well, and look nice on the dance floor, but if it stopped there I probably wouldn't be so crazy about tango. The Zen experience is really what I am after. This is the feeling I wouldn't want to live without. I think this is what the old milongueros in Buenos Aires are after when they go out dancing. Why else would a 75 year old man want to go out dancing every day until 5:00 AM? It can't just be about looking good on the dance floor. For a 75 year old man it can't just be about chasing women. I think this feeling is the magic we are all after. The milongueros all talk about it, often in very poetic terms.
Are there things you consciously do to encourage this state for your self and your partner?

Embarrassed by My Stalking of YOU

So, I'm a little embarrassed because I stalk some of your blogs. I find myself, since I entered blog land as a participant and not just a reader, NOT visiting blogs so much because I don't want to seem like the crazy lady down the street that you are pretty sure intercepts your mail.

But I don't want to apologize or be embarrassed. You guys make my day. I LOVE reading your blogs and people's responses, and laughing, and sometimes getting irritated, and always learning. I entered the tango world all by myself, and I'm a bit on the shy side, so I'm still building those friendships where it's ok to share every little tango detail. You all keep me from alienating my non-tango friends, and from that awkward silence that comes when I see them roll their eyes as I recount some spectacular feat from the previous night's milonga.

So, I'm done apologizing for reading. I might come by 2, 3, or 6 times in a day. It's because you said something that I want to read again. Or because I want to hear what others are saying about what you said.

Thanks for blogging.

Kym, I stalk yours too. Not only are your posts great, but your comments are even better. I don't know you IRL, but I wish we lived closer because I would stalk you in person too. Because you are great. And your husband is a better cook than I am.

You're Sweaty...

You're sweaty, and it's Ok. It's summer. We sweat. When you bring me really close and transport me to Magic Tango Land I don't care. In fact, when we come out of our tango daze and I realize we are both damp, it's almost a badge of honor, like sore muscles or a bruise.

I love that tango is so base chakra when we are in the dance that being sweaty together just feels *right*.

Disclaimer: This only works if you smell nice or don't smell at all. If you get me all sweaty and then I smell like ManFunk, it's not so nice. Remember the deodorant, and the bath.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Back to our regularly schedule TANGO program...

I received the nicest compliments tonight. I'm still blushing and all glowy.

Tonight I was told I have a wonderful embrace. That it is trusting and warm. Ahhhh.....that is about the nicest thing I could hear. I have really been working on creating a warm and responsive embrace.

And here's what the truth is. It was a good embrace because the leaders were wonderful! They drew me in, took their time to feel me, allowed me to feel them, walked easily and gently so that I could just sink into the dance with them, adjusted to my needs. I felt protected and secure, and well, embraced. It was gorgeous. It was so easy to love being in their arms.

Percal, Domingo Federico (1943)

I am hoping someone can help me find the source of a story I heard about this song...

I read a story about this song's translation and can't seem to find it again. It was something along the lines of an angry tongue-in-cheek response to classism and the fact the poor Argentines at the time couldn't afford to wear anything but the cheap percale while they were making the expensive rich fabrics for the upper classes. (I hope I haven't butchered that too heinously.)

There was also some commentary about needing to really understand the culture and the politics of the time to "get" the song.

If you know where that commentary is, could you please direct me to it?

Audio and Lyrics Here


This amazing essay was written by Christen Clifford and is the basis for the off Broadway show, BabyLove.

Before I became a mother, I believed that motherhood would change me: my maternal instinct would smooth me, balance me, make me patient, give me a nurturing generosity. I'd become a better person but I wouldn't lose myself. I'd breastfeed exclusively but still find time to write. I'd make homemade baby food but still fuck. I had it all figured out.

I bought all the new books on mothering that I read about in The New York Times and The New Yorker Bitch in the House, The Mask of Motherhood, The Myth of Motherhood, The Price of Motherhood, A Life's Work, Fresh Milk, and a book a friend recommended — Fermentation — the only erotic novel I could find that featured a pregnant woman. But no one else's narrative could prepare me for the next stage of my sexuality.

People always tell you that becoming a parent will change everything, but what I didn't count on was that it wouldn't change me. The problem is that I'm still the same person, a sex-obsessed neurotic facing a new reality: my husband and I love our son more than we love each other. It's like being in a permanent threesome, the kind where one person — not you — gets all the attention.

How do I summarize my sex life before the baby? Well, I had one. I lost my virginity at fifteen, had four partners by the time I was seventeen. I considered myself pansexual, theoretically as open to getting turned on by a coffee table as a person. I had boyfriends and a few girlfriends, some serial monogamy with lots of fucking around in between. I reveled in being provocative. I instigated group sex at parties, usually fueled by alcohol. I tried everything I could think of: oral, anal, BDSM and beyond.

I met Ken when I was twenty-five and he was thirty-four. What we had was probably typical: in the beginning it was all love and lust, fucking in bathrooms and trains, dancing all night, having sex all day, experimenting madly and believing we couldn't get enough of each other. Eventually, of course, we did get enough of each other and slowed down. We reserved weekend mornings to do nothing but fuck and eat and read the paper. Then weekend mornings became more and more about reading the paper.

When I hit thirty, we decided we were ready for a baby. Sex without birth control was hot. I hadn't fucked without a condom since I was eighteen, and the skin-on-skin friction was arousing, but so was the idea of sex as an extension of humanity, of something bigger than just us. I had one of those dream pregnancies — I exercised every day, felt great, and looked fabulous. It suited me, and I reveled in it. I had new tits that I absolutely adored. A certain type of man paid me a lot of attention. The hormones were like being on E all the time; my husband and I had sex every day. At parties I listened politely to the horror stories of couples who didn't have sex for four months after their babies were born and was privately dismissive: "That'll never happen to us."

But we were, in fact, just like everyone else: our sex life went down the toilet right away. It started with the birth, which didn't go as planned. Felix was premature, so I had him in a hospital with labor-inducing
It was quite a shock to be injured, and to be injured there.
drugs, not in a hot tub with a midwife. I was in diabolical pain and shat everywhere, including standing up on the bed while barking at the nurse, "No I'm not having the baby I'm just taking a shit put something underneath me now."

The worst part: I ripped open, requiring more than twenty stitches. I'd never had stitches anywhere before, had never broken a bone. It was quite a shock to be injured, and to be injured there. When I finally got the courage to look, it was a huge relief to see that my clitoris was still there, and in the same place. But I discovered a womb with a view. The rumblings I had heard from women, not in complete sentences even, just mumblings of "never the same again" — this is what they were talking about. A swollen mass of red flesh. A gaping hole where tightness had been. I swear I could see my cervix.

I felt disfigured and damaged. I didn't cry, I shook. This isn't happening, I thought. No one must know. I blocked any thought or feeling below my waist, wore cleavage-revealing clothing, encasing my milky breasts in black lace bras under ripped-open tank tops. I became obsessed with Kegel exercises.

Eventually, I felt around and masturbated, tentatively. As I became aroused, my breasts squirted milk. That was cool. I felt like a teenage boy trying to see how far he could shoot. When I told this to one of my mommy friends, she said, "You should try masturbating while breastfeeding. It's amazing."

I didn't want to miss out. I went home, got out my mini-massager and settled into the Glider rocking chair with Felix, then a month and a half old, at my breast.

Then the doorbell rang.

It was the FedEx man. I buzzed him in, but he couldn't get through the second door, which sticks. So I went to the door in my bra and yoga pants and signed for the envelope with Felix still nursing. When the FedEx man turned to leave, I realized I still had the vibrator in my hand, not my keys, and the second door had closed behind me. I was now stuck in the vestibule with a vibrator and a baby. I rang the bells to my neighbor's apartments and no one answered.

I started to cry hysterically. It was sleeting and below zero and I was barefoot and practically naked with an infant and where could I go like that and what the fuck was I doing anyway? Only a sick person tries to masturbate with a baby, for God's sake. And I'm locked out of the house and everyone will know what I was doing and . . .

Noticing my distress, the FedEx man rang the bell at the house next door. My neighbor — a blue-collar father of three fond of revving his motorcycle at eight in the morning — waved me over. I hid the vibrator under the rug and ran. He settled us on his couch with a blanket and asked if my kitchen window was locked. I whimpered "no," and he went to break into my apartment. I looked at his kids' Crayola drawings and hoped he didn't find the vibrator, or worse yet, step on it and break it.

He came back with one of my coats and asked if I wanted to finish feeding. I mumbled "No, thank you, thank you," still crying. I ran home, retrieved the dastardly vibrator, threw it in the back of my drawer and fed Felix tenderly from the other breast, apologizing to him the whole time. I vowed never to masturbate again.

But an hour later I was already thinking how hot that was of my neighbor — taking control and saving me, all knight-in-shining-armor-like, when I was so vulnerable.

That incident crystallized the whole madonna/whore thing: the feeling that as a mother, I wasn't allowed to be sexual. My black bras and obvious cleavage were meant to counteract that notion, and they may have fooled other people, but I couldn't trick myself into feeling sexual, or even sexy. I desperately wanted to subvert the image, but I was just like everyone else.
When Felix was two months old, I decided that my husband and I absolutely had to have sex. I didn't feel like it, but I was so paranoid about us losing our sex life that I started something. We fooled around on the couch while Felix took a nap in the bedroom.

I was terrified that it would hurt, that I wouldn't get turned on, that I wouldn't be able to come, that it just wouldn't work. I was scared that he was so turned off by seeing a baby come out that he wouldn't want to go in. And he didn't. He
I watched Lez Be Friends, but the close-ups just made me think of changing diapers.
found my clitoris and stayed there. We had a gentle session of mutual masturbation and regained some sense of intimacy.

But still, no intercourse. Despite my doctor's reassurance that I was healing well, I had convinced myself that sex would be unbearably painful. At the suggestion of my shrink, I gave myself a "sex hour" while the baby napped. The idea was to experience the pain I anticipated by myself, so I would know what to expect. While Felix gurgled in my arms, I got everything out and ready to go. I put a towel in my rocking chair. On the coffee table I lined up two dildos, a butt plug, some lesbian porn, three vibrators and two bottles of lube. I was nothing if not prepared.

As soon as Felix was asleep and situated in his crib, I put in Lez Be Friends. But the close-ups just made me think of changing diapers. I used a lot of lubricant and inserted the narrowest dildo carefully. It didn't hurt as much as I thought it would. I was determined to get turned on, and when I did, it felt like it was happening to someone else. I came, but not in that supercalifragilistic-Prince-song-sex-relief way that I used to. My orgasm was almost in spite of itself.

At a yoga class a few weeks later, I felt my muscles, my bones, my skin, for the first time in months. I realized that I literally don't feel my body anymore. Before I gave birth, every bump and bruise would send me to the chiropractor. Now I was sure my back was screwed up from hunching while nursing and carrying car seats and strollers, but I didn't even notice. My body was no longer mine.

I knew that no one has sex for months after having a baby (except teenagers, my doctor told me). I knew most of my mommy friends weren't having sex. Felix demanded my attention day and night. So why was I still obsessing over it? I had used sex to fill every possible hole in my life up until the day I gave birth (actually, even on the day I gave birth — I gave Ken a blowjob right before we left to go to the hospital). Now I didn't have any room left; I was full of Felix. The constant motion of early motherhood actually decreased my neuroses. I didn't have the time to worry myself sick by cataloguing my humiliations. I was doing something important: keeping this tiny human alive with milk from my breasts. My body was doing what it was meant to do. I didn't need an orgasm to slam me out of myself.

Still, I missed my husband. One night in bed, I said, "I think you need a non-sexual tour of the region, so that when we do have sex again, you know what you're getting into. Literally." I spread my legs and directed the reading light between them. I opened my sex with my fingers and showed Ken the ridge of scar tissue that stretched diagonally from the right side of my vagina to the left side of my anus. I took his hand so he could feel the area just inside the right wall of my vagina. "This still hurts. That great move you have will have to wait."

He was tentative. "I saw a baby come out of there, " he said. "It's not for fun anymore."
It was understandable that I didn't want to have sex, but wasn't he supposed to? My mommy friends were starting to complain about their husbands' libidos. Gisele told me she kept Ernesto happy by giving him a blowjob every three days. I knew that Ken was as busy as I was, as tired and cranky, and in shock at being a father and responsible for our little family. But I hated him for making me feel so undesirable. I hated myself for not talking to him about it. I hated that it was up to me to initiate sex. We occasionally talked about it, but even talking about sex was uncomfortable. Ken seemed completely turned off. Part of what I love about him is that he has a sensitivity that's almost feminine. Now I wanted him to be more of a man.

Seven months after Felix was born, the three of us came home from an afternoon walk. With Felix still asleep in his stroller, I said, "How about we take a chance he'll stay asleep?" We were both tentative. Ken undressed and got into bed while I went to the bathroom. I didn't want him to see my body, so I took off my jeans and socks, then got into bed and slipped off my underwear, T-shirt and bra. We didn't look at each other, just hugged hard and tight for a long time, then loosened up and kissed. I took his ass in my hands and noticed it was softer. I was glad that I wasn't the only one who was out of shape. I had forgotten that just the feeling of his cock in my hand could turn me on. He put his hand on me, opened me, found the wetness inside, rubbed my clitoris until I told him to fuck me. He put on a condom and entered me gently, missionary position. I kept asking him to look at me. I wanted not to be invisible.
It was a little uncomfortable, but not the body-wracking pain that I expected. I relaxed into the pleasure of being fucked. After awhile he came, looking in my eyes, then lay next to me and used his hand to get me off.

Afterward, I asked the million-dollar question. "Does it feel different inside?"

"Not really . . . maybe a little . . . To tell you the truth, it's been so long . . . "

We laughed. I realized I missed the afterwards as much as the sex: the hormone high, the smell. After that night, we had sex every week or two for a few months. Then it dwindled away again. Felix grew. He needed more; I had less. Our romantic little family was actually a small corporation. We were really tired. Familiarity breeds contempt. Resentment builds upon resentment. We lost our humor.

And I realized that I love my son more than I love my husband. I know Felix's body better than I know my own. Right now, his ear is exactly as long as my middle finger from knuckle to tip. He has a patch of dry skin on his left shin. His fingers still splay like starfish, hot against my skin. I lean in too close; I want to get a whiff of his breath. When I read him a book, I surreptitiously press my lips to his hair over and over, very lightly so he won't notice and bat my hand away. He knows I'm too into him. When I feed him, he pushes my face away. He wants the breast and the milk, not the mother. I'm terrified he'll grow up to be one of those boys in high school who only look at women's breasts, not their faces. I worry that I will be jealous of his girlfriends.

Sometimes I'm afraid I go too far. I linger a little too long when I look at his little dimpled ass. I enjoy it too much when I put lotion on after his bath. I know everybody loves a naked baby; I know children are inherently sexual; I know it's normal to be turned on by your infant. One fatherhood book has a sidebar that tells new dads not to get freaked out if they get a hard-on. But this is tricky territory. Is it wrong to encourage him to touch himself? Is it okay to think of my baby when I masturbate? Is that just a manifestation of his all-consumingness? Babies are like a gas — they expand to fit all available space.

But I worry that I'll subtly cross the line, that the sexuality I share with Felix will fuck him up. (My parents never talked to me about sex; my son may have the opposite problem.) In my mind, I can fuzzily see the progression from our innocent play to abuse.
People always say of breastfeeding, "It's sensual, not sexual." But it is sexual.
They are little, they are yours, you forget that they have their own wants and needs, you think you can do anything with them, for them, to them.
I would never abuse my child, but I understand a little those who do.

Sometimes when Felix takes his nap, I get out the Hitachi. I don't think about my husband. Nor do I think about Johnny Knoxville, or that butch dyke at the coffee shop, or being taken from behind by a faceless stranger. Right after the baby was born, I imagined mothers licking my wounds. Now I think about other men who are fathers. Sexy men, new men, but fathers. Tackily enough, my friend's husbands. They would understand the leaking breasts, the extra pounds around the hips, the moodiness.

But always, my thoughts turn to Felix. I have a hard time concentrating on my clitoris, even with all that roaring power on it. I start thinking of when his next doctor's appointment is, or how cute it is that "yellow" and "sausage" are his first multisyllabic words.

For someone who has, for better or worse, gotten strength and power from being desired, I am now operating unsuccessfully in two parallel universes. On one hand, I have never been so desired in my life. Felix ravages my breasts as no one else ever has. It's not sexual hunger, it's actual hunger. Even now, at a year and half, he runs from across the room at the sight of them, tackles me onto the floor or couch, climbs up my body until he's within reach, then draws back and takes a good look, grins and goes in for the attack. People always say of breastfeeding, "It's sensual, not sexual." But it is sexual. He nuzzles and paws at me, grunts, throws his head from side to side as he latches on, his pink mouth warm on my nipple. He tries to get as much as he can into his mouth as his whole body burrows into me, his little heels digging into my thighs and still-soft belly. He kneads the breast he's nursing from with his hand to get more milk, and uses his free hand to tweak, twist and pull on my other nipple. I wonder if he's holding onto it protectively, so no one else can get it.

Who would give up being needed like that? Not me. Because the opposite universe is the one in which no one wants me. I'm a mother; I have little to no value to the outside world.

In keeping with our Felix-centered life, two months ago my husband and I invited thirty-two babies and their parents to a Valentine's baby brunch. We bought cases of cheap champagne, and the parents we know from yoga and work and the playground ate quiche and bagels, got drunk and pretended it was a kids' party. I started drinking at two. By nine-thirty, after the last guests left, I slurred to Ken, "I love Felix more than I love you."

It was the first time I'd said it out loud. I continued: "And you love Felix more than you love me. What's up with that? I want you to love me more than you love him, but I still want it to be okay for me to love him more than you."

Despite my drunkenness, he was patient. "It's different, that's all," he said. "It's a different kind of love."

"It doesn't matter," I said, then passed out. Happy Valentine's Day, honey.

My husband and I are fully in the cult of the kid. Our culture now rewards long-term breastfeeding and spending $800 on a stroller. We are supposed to sacrifice everything for our children: certainly sex, even romance. But I want to have a romantic life with my husband. I don't want to wake up when Felix is in school, or going off to college, and not know who Ken is. I want to be a model of erotic love for Felix to learn from.

I'd like to be able to say that by applying the golden rule of threesomes — play with everyone and take turns — I could come to some reckoning, but I can't. I can't resolve my sexuality changing, nor the placement of my erotic longing onto my son, nor my worries about psychologically damaging him. My husband gamely says, "It's okay, it's just all about you two for now." I try out the long view and understand that this is just a phase. I will stop breastfeeding Felix eventually; he'll get older and more independent; our physical attachment will decrease; he will probably not turn into an ax murderer as a result. I'm not sure where that leaves Ken and I. Maybe we'll wind up scheduling sex, like the advice columns tell you to. It sounds more businesslike than bold. But as I recall, a ménage a trois is difficult to negotiate: all those jangling limbs and sensitive egos, desires and expectations clashing up against one another, all that excitement and disappointment keeping each other in check.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008


A few days back I received a letter from a child that I had to have removed from my home. I've stayed in touch with the caseworker and receive occasional updates about how the child is doing.

Dear ManyMom,
Hi!! How are you? I am typing this letter because I want to say something. I am sorry for what I did at your house. You treated me nicely and respectfully and I treated you like a jerk. I am sorry for not following your directions when you told me to do something. If I could have done the whole stay at your house over again, I would have followed your directions and treated you with the same respect that you treated me with. I wish I had made some better choices so I could have stayed in your home. If I would have known where I would be heading after I left your home, I would never have done any of this stuff. Two weeks ago I got all my stuff that you had packed and given to CaseWorker. In that stuff I found one of those cards that you had given me on respite. The one's you told me to open at night before bed. I read over it. While reading over it I started to cry because I felt guilty for what I had done to you and your family. I regret what I have done. I just want to say I am sorry and ask if you will forgive me for what I have done. I hope my next letter will be on a happier note, I just feel that this should be my first letter to you to tell you I am sorry.
Former Foster Child

Here's the thing. I can only feel apathy. The system totally and completely failed this child. By the time I got FFC, there wasn't much I could do. If it had been just us, I think we would have made it through, but there are other kids in my house and the situation was becoming dangerous. So FFC is somewhere else feeling guilty because FFC treated me poorly, when really? Of course FFC did. That's all FFC had to work with , the only tools that felt safe and reasonable. Push away, keep away, don't let ManyMom in, she might go away, she might send me away.


Google Reader

WHY does GoogleReader show me posts that don't exist? When I go to the actual person's blog, occasionally the posts are not there. WHY? It drives me crazy!

Sunday, July 13, 2008

My Summer Mornings

Better than coffee,
Warmed by summer's gaze

Thanks, Monquee

This Week's Allotment

I must have used the entire week's allotment of grace, poise and self-control at last night's milonga, because today I woke up with none. My hair decided to announce it's kinship to Medusa, none of my clothes seemed to feel right, my coffee spilled before I even had a chance to sip it, the first marionberry I bit into (fresh off the vine!) was sour, the first bite of my fried egg sandwich splooged yolk all over my skirt (though my children made it for me, how sweet are they?)...

And all of that is just fine because, well, last night's milonga was lovely. Really really lovely. The music was divine. There wasn't a single tanda that I didn't want to dance because of the music. Dancers came that I don't often see, and are of a caliber that make we wonder whether I want to dance or watch. I sat with some lovely friends. I had dance after dance, and I felt confident and comfortable in almost every embrace. It was lovely. *pleasurable sigh*

I did sit out a couple tandas because the floor got a little wild for me. Those dancers of a higher caliber, well....they excite the leaders and there were Wilde Boleos loose all over the floor. With sharp sharp teeth. And when they are loosed on the floor, their predatory nature is keen. They stalk through the ronda with the grace, speed, beauty and self-ness of a killer; sharp teeth and wicked claws flying. I had no intention of being one of the casualties. And, in actuality, there was little bloodshed.

Before I knew it, it was midnight and I was scurrying home before I lost my slipper.

Friday, July 11, 2008


According to my fortune telling fish, I am both passionate and in love concurrently. hmmmm...

What a Terrible Thing to do to Tango Shoes!

I don't think any commentary is needed on this one.

Courtesy of This blog.

Foster Kids

Today I have one moving out and one moving in.

The one moving on is the one that pushed me to the Tipping Point, the one that I had for Respite and fell in love with, the one that has finally made a decision for himself for maybe the first time in 19 years, and has decided to move out. I'm not crazy about how he did it, and I'm worried sick for where he will be in 2 months. But, at least he's making a decision for himself, and (for right now) feels really good about it.

I've had him since February, and the perseverance it has taken to let him know that he is wanted and loved and respected is exhausting. I can't tell you how many times we've had soul wrenching chats, where I think that all the plaque is flaking off, only to wake up the next morning and see that, actually, it's all still there. Which is ok. We start over. "Foster child, I'm not going away. I will still be here no matter what the problem is. I will still like you, and love you, and want you to be part of my family. You are part of my family." Over and over. And I don't think he believes it. I don't know if he can believe it. But I mean it with my complete being.

So last night he calls me from the place he hangs out, and I tell him he has an appointment today with his case worker, and I remind him he needs to move his stuff out of the bedroom. And I can hear in his voice that that tidbit went in one ear and out the other. So I say it again. "I need you to come clean and pack your room. There's another kid coming in, so I need you to plan on being here all day on Friday to take care of it." His response: "Well, do you have boxes yet?" At the same time I am pulling my hair out, I totally love the teenage sense of entitlement. Part of me wants to scream, "No! You are ditching my family in a yucky way. You don't call, you won't tell me where you are living, you break agreements, you blow me off. And you expect me to have boxes for you? Nuh uh, buddy. Figure it out yourself!" The other part of me just wants to hug him really really close.

I hope this isn't the last I see of him. I hope he comes by to do his laundry, to have dinner once in a while, to borrow some money, or just for a hug.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Chaco Tan

This one's for Elizabeth, and her toes.

Thanks, Slugglejug


ModernTanguera sparked a few thoughts... this borrowed from her blog post Observations:
An observation I just made: When I dance modern, or ballet, or pretty much anything choreographed, it always feels like the dance is over just as soon as it begins. It just flashes by. Even more so in a fast-paced, difficult piece like the modern one I just performed. But when I dance tango, I get so far inside the dancing that I feel like I've dropped out of time and am going to be dancing to that one song forever. I pretty much never have that "over in the blink of an eye" feeling with tango. I wonder if this is related to improvised v. choreographed dancing, or if it has to do with my inability to get so absorbed in other dances, mentally and emotionally. I'll have to ask my professional modern dance friends what their experience is.
There is a timelessness that happens in tango that I've only experienced in a few other places: When I am attending a laboring woman, when I'm lost in good sex, when receiving a massage, when my feet are dug deep in the garden, in the river. I'm sure there are more...

The common thread? These are all sensual exchanges that require me to throw away my ego. I have to release my ideas, thoughts, and immediate consciousness to feel the body, hear the underlying needs, respond with instinct.

With midwifery and laboring women, my entire being is listening to them and everything else floats away. For those few hours, when I am "with woman", there is nothing else outside of their reality that has importance (not even tango!). All spaces in my brain are engaged as I listen to her moan through a contraction, as I listen for fetal heart tones, as her body language tells me where she needs me to press, as I watch the partner to see how he or she is doing. It's a gift that they unknowingly give me: this break from life to become so part of theirs.

With sex, the exchange of wants, sensations...that delicious moment when I no longer know for sure when my body ends and my partner's begins.

With massage, the relaxation takes my total being and I enter a meditative state where the only sensations left are solely from my body. No emotion, no checklist of what has to be done; just the movement and release my body is experiencing.

The garden, and the river, require a consciousness expansion that includes connecting with things that are greater than, and beyond my control.

In the garden my feet and heart are grounded to the earth, and I all senses are engaged. I can see growth all around, feel the rich soil between my toes, smell the ripening tomatoes, taste the sharp sour of the sorrel, hear the sun baking the fence posts, and sense the wisdom and strength of all the others that have done the same before me. There's no thought in that connection.

The river takes it all too... sliding into a kayak and joining the flow. I'm not in the water, but part of it. We dance over rocks, flow away from banks, curl and jump and spray. I sense the motion and the feel and what is ahead and follow the request of the motion.

and Tango, ah...tango. The music, the embrace, the energy of a room of people. I have to listen to my partner, release my ego, focus on my body, feel the is the ultimate of living in sensuality. Every second of it is about releasing into the senses.

Where do you find timelessness?

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Tango IS fun!

Julio Balmaceda and Corina de la Rosa

All you tangophiles have seen this, I'm sure, but it never fails to make me smile and squiggle in my seat. I want to be them....

For the rest of you, my non-tango audience, I want to grow up and be these two people. Look at how much fun they are having, how lovely their connection, how charming his smile, how gorgeous her back, how they float and snap with the music...

Doesn't it just look like it feels amazing? Don't you want to tango now?

Sunday, July 6, 2008

More on the Cross

Ok, so I can't get it out of my head.

Here's why NOT to cross if it isn't lead:

1. It's scary for me to give my balance, stability and ability to move over to you. At the moment of the cross, I'm completely trusting you to protect me. If I cross and you didn't want me to, and you don't realize I've crossed, I'm in trouble.

2. Everything I do you tell me to do. Why wouldn't you tell me to cross? This is not an embellishment that I see an opening for, it is an integral move in the dance. If my job is to stop thinking and listen, it completely pulls me out of this to have to count, oh, right, that was two steps, now cross.

So, for those leads that are taught that I should automatically cross, what do you need from me in the moment after I've missed that cross? Do you need me to quickly attempt to correct and do a weight change, or do you want me to stay still and let you lead me out of the missed cross?

The Cross

I'm currently taking a class called The Playground of the Cross.

Tonight the sticking point moment was when the teacher explained that the moment when the woman crosses and there is a weight shift is "an exquisite pleasure" for the leader. That resonates for me. That slight pause is a moment of huge vulnerability. My balance is at it's weakest point. I'm solely balanced on the ball of my foot and my feet are entwined and if he makes a forward motion, I have to scramble to meet the movement so I don't fall.

My entire thinking on the cross was changed tonight. Instead of dreading it, I was able to view it as a beautiful and sensual moment full of heightened delight...taking my time to slide my left foot over and snuggling it in to the right, feeling the weight shift to the left foot, and the pause, right there....what will he ask of me? and then the movement.

That weight shift is exquisite for the follow too.

It's supposed to be fun...

Ohhhh, Right. Tango is supposed to be fun. I'm agonizing, and too in my head.

I consistently miss crosses that aren't lead. I know it is the only thing I am supposed to anticipate, but I consistently miss them. I just am not thinking that way about it in the middle of a dance. Oh wait, hey...why is he looking at me like that? oh right, he stepped outside of me, step, step.... ahhhh.... damn, I missed that cross. That's why he's looking at me like that.

And you know what?, who cares? (besides me. and I agonize over it.)

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Seattle TangoMagic

Who's Going?

It will be my first festival...

I'm giddy with excitement.

On Tango and Femininity

"Guys, if the woman has to spell it out for you, the emotion is going to be
frustration. If the emotion is going to be ecstasy, you are going to have to focus on that woman in your arms with every fiber of your being.
You must discover the dance she desires.

I'm not saying that I am any good at this, but I know that it really isn't the
woman's responsibility to even know what she wants.
It's the man's task to
discover the dance she desires and
to offer it to her in a magical embrace.

It's not easy, it's not fair, it's tango."
--Tom Heneghen

One of the things that I love about tango, about good tango anyway, is the innate respect for the woman as a powerful being. Women are viewed as something cherished, loved, protected. Not because she is weak, but because she is a precious thing and he is special to have those few moments with her.

This is something that is missing from our culture. We no longer have a culture that cherishes women. We view them in many roles, but rarely is it with true profound respect; the kind of respect we see in the eyes of young boys before they realize their mother is flawed, the kind of respect and adoration we see in the eyes of a lover when they are vulnerable from lovemaking, the kind of awe we reserve for spiritual experiences, or natural earth forces.

So, when I am in the arms of a man(or woman) that cherishes my role as the follow, who honors my agreement to dance their lead, who shares in the intimacy, who values, offers and receives vulnerability: that lead is singing to my deeper self and I feel powerful. I feel feminine. I feel gorgeous. And it is because that person is cherishing my time-honored role as a woman.