INTRODUCTION TO “I COULDN’T HELP BUT WONDER”
July 28, 2021
In Spring 2021 I wrote diary entries on Facebook, inspired by Carrie from Sex and the City, who is also a writer just like me.
But it didn’t stick, mainly because my other diaries took flight or I started new ones.
And it died out.
However, in 2020 I wrote a series I called It Took Me A Very Long Time To Get Here. And I called it Season One.
The idea behind It Took Me A Very Long Time To Get Here, was that I would write about my relationship with “my” Mister Big, for four seasons of each 11 episodes.
A project I did not pick up in 2021 for a season two…
Which is why I have decided to add the collection of diary posts I Couldn’t Help But Wonder,
and although it is only three posts –
will be my season two of It Took Me A Very Long Time To Get Here.
It is my 2021 addition to this annual series, where I reflect on my writing, my relationship, myself.
I think it’s an annual recalibrating of who I am.
I do have other diaries still going on, among which my 1995 journal and a project called A Sexual Odyssey.
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And then, without further ado, here’s my May 2021 diary
I Couldn’t Help But Wonder
THE ONE THAT ALWAYS FELT LIKE ME
13 May, 2021
I already have two diaries here on Facebook and they go on the blog as well (I m a bit slow on reposting/ bundling them, but they will get done!)
but neither of the two is exactly “me”.
One is the diary of 23 year old Lauren in 1996, where I translate my constrained 2021 Covid life to her age, and to 1996.
I started this series in 2019 (her 1994), so that was before the pandemic which was both a blessing,
– my escapism was not Covid induced! It had been my free choice to go into this experiment of seeing life through young, 1994 eyes –
but it was also a curse, because on top of having to translate 2.5 decades off of my age, I now also had to come up with a story line for my tethered twin in the 90s universe, when 2020 me was home bound.
It required imagination, and sometimes I just dropped out and announced I would stop writing because this was no life for 23 year old me.
That diary (you can find the one from first half 2020/1995 HERE) was and is fun, and almost two years up and running!, but it requires a lot of thinking before I can write a new entry.
My other diary here is a Covid inspired diary, where I am documenting the final months of Covid.
I intend to write until the final measure is gone.
Naturally this is also not a daily thing, because I don’t have daily things to say about it.
So today I decided I needed a low-key daily format, so I can share my work and myself.
And from all the characters I have used over the years to illustrate “me”, Madonna, Sharon Stone in Basic Instinct, Molly Ringwald (young me), Charlize Theron in Atomic Blonde;
Carrie Bradshaw from Sex and the City, was the one who always felt like Me the most.
Because she’s a writer, just like me. And also just like Sharon Stone in Basic Instinct, but I ve written soo much about her already!
But Carrie is more relatable!
And the moment I started calling my lover Mr.Big, I started feeling connected to Carrie. Identification with Sharon Stone/ Basic Instinct didn’t come to full fruition until recently.
These entries are not about Mr.Big or my sex life.
After all those years our situation grew increasingly complicated, which was one of the reasons I started diary writing as Lauren96/ Lauren 1994 when it started.
By transferring my life to the 90s, I had automatically added fiction into the mix.
If the men in Lauren’s life are inspired by 2021 men, is irrelevant.
But the identification with Carrie has stayed.
So here I am on Ascension (Christian holiday)
Not only do I want to write daily;
I also want to have a go at all those different topics and ideas that I have written down the past couple of months.
Things I could not write about in Covid diaries, not in my 1996 series, and not even to my coach Sara.
All new thoughts and interesting hooks, that I just can’t wait to get my head around.
Illustrated with a photo of Carrie Bradshaw.
“I couldn’t help but wonder…..”
That was her line, she always used it in her column as she was pondering over relationships, in particular her relationship with Mr.Big.
I couldn’t help but wonder;
What would Carrie’s columns have looked like, in times of Covid?
Let’s find out.
DON T LET PERFECT SEX BECOME THE ENEMY OF GOOD
14 May, 2021
In 2006 me and my boyfriend split, and the one thing I had in mind that I wanted to learn now that I was single for the first time in my adult life, was to “date”.
I never had that time of courtship and getting to know each other. I was always one of the boys and we just “hung out”.
Dating had always been the same as hanging out with the gang, just with two people instead of six.
And with sex after.
Although I had had relationships since I was young, I felt I had never “dated”.
Not just in the practical sense of what it is you do on a night together, but just the general notion of being in this in-between zone, where you have expressed an interest in each other simply by choosing to spend time together (entirely new concept!);
But also dating as a time when you practice being together, get to know each other, work towards your first kiss, first time sex, first weekend away maybe even.
“Dating” sounded like a process with so many things I had never done, but also like a lot less casual than what I was used to.
It seemed so determined compared to what suddenly felt like a Beavis and Butthead style of being together.
With a lot of “Uh uh okay”.
And I think one of the reasons I really liked my life as a single since then, is because I was so serious about dating.
I knew it was something special and really appreciated a man being with me. And him (or me) not having that excuse of being part of a group.
I felt more special, more chosen, when I dated than all the years I had just run into men because we hung out with the same people.
However, ultimately, I think when it comes to sex this started working against me.
Because I was so deliberate and conscientious with what it was I/we were doing (dating) I slept with more men than I would have than if we would have been in a hung out situation group style.
In a group, I would have been more passive. I would not have worked so hard to have a good time.
I would not have, as we say in the Netherlands, put up the decorations by myself.
I think because I was so invested in making our time together special, I failed to see that it was me working my butt off.
Now my behavior or enthusiasm did pay off: I always had great lovers.
Once we were in bed, they were always really great to be around with, and I do not regret any of them.
But after that?
It was so tough to get along. I felt I was walking on eggs, or could set off a trip wire anytime. And often did.
NOW it had become hard work.
NOW he was lukewarm, behaving oddly, and there was a passive aggressiveness that I had not seen before.
I had not seen it before; Literally.
Because if you hang out together and then become interested in each other, those situations of suddenly becoming lukewarm do not exist.
Neither one can afford to shit where they sleep.
So all in all, my eagerness for dating “like a real adult” and leave that student-esque way behind me, came with a few downsides.
But the upsides prevailed:
It broadens your horizons, you can date anybody you want.
It gives you a sense of freedom.
And of course the sex:
The sex had been outstanding!
And under those circumstances I learned to be flexible when it comes to sex. To not wait for perfect.
I think one of the main reasons sex becomes so stale in long-term relationships, or did in mine anyway compared to the fireworks of the beginning-
the reason is, you have the luxury of time. Of waiting for it to be perfect.
I think women in particular, are uncomfortable with the timing not being ideal.
When you re going steady or living together, you have the luxury to wait for a more perfect day, the luxury of choice.
But that takes the urge off.
If he came over from the other side of the country to see you, you know you only have one night.
Saying No because you’re in your period, or have an important meeting tomorrow, or whatever, is going to cost you.
Despite me putting in so much time and effort in the date itself, and being aware I was (am!) “working”;
I was hardly ever prepared for the sex that followed.
I, my body, the circumstances, were never perfect.
And even recently, 2020 and 2021, with every encounter coming with a chance to catch Covid and contaminate everybody you come into contact with;
Circumstances are still not perfect.
Because of Covid.
Because of periods.
Because of him being unavailable for more.
Because of feeling nauseous from loneliness and just the entire dystopian feeling this era has.
And yet, it really is Carpe Diem all over again.
It is Carpe Diem ALWAYS
I still date, but by now I ve learned to only go for men who do the work for me.
Who take the lead.
Sure it’s something we do together, but I no longer put in so much work on the “dating” side, and then need the sex to make up for it.
The dates would be perfect in their own right, even when there would not be sex at all.
But these two Covid years more than ever, every time I feel myself getting fearful, thinking of my calendar for the upcoming weeks and thinking:
The thought of the consequences of getting sick or all the drama of people getting tested and quarantined:
It’s so tempting to just postpone life itself, until we’re all vaccinated.
But then I remember all the years of dating, when I just put one foot in front of the other.
When all I had was one night, one chance.
And knowing that he was very likely to turn cold or impossible to deal with after.
I remember those times and just went for it.
And I never, ever, regretted it.
When it comes to sex:
I don’t let perfect become the enemy of good.
And I suggest you do the same.
I WRITE AND THEREFOR, WHAT EXACTLY?
16 May, 2021
One of my first blog posts, written in 2010, was titled “I Write Therefor I Cheat”.
It dealt with the feeling of how writing feels more like cheating, like a clandestine activity, than like neutral work that you can balance and that is quite easily separated from what you do in your free time.
Work can be separated from a relationship, or work can be kept out the door and doesn’t need to be discussed if you are living with someone.
But writing is a passion, something you naturally start doing, effortlessly, and before you know it you have spent copious amounts of time with your keyboard.
Time that has not been weighed upon a scale if it nicely balances out with your values, your goals, and spoken or unspoken agreements you have with your significant other.
You could even wonder how significant that other even is, judged by the matter of course you give writing your undivided time and attention.
Over a decade after that column I keep being confronted with the fact that I have not made any progress in that area.
That I seemed to have had the clearest vision right in those first years, but that I didn’t “perfect” my model.
Every now and then I am reminded by how scarily little I know about the way writing influences my life.
And how the little things that jump in your face and that you can’t possibly deny, point to bigger underlying differences between those who write, and therefor spend hour after hour day after day in their own heads;
And those who don’t.
Those who are not writers engage in:
Meaningful relationships, social activities, hobbies, learning new skills, watching Netflix series or movies, building a business, an empire, creating a home, raising children, raise them well.
And those who write:
Writing does not just replace the need to cheat, as my piece “I Write Therefor I Cheat” stated;
Writing replaces the need for e-v’ry-thing, that is not writing!
And what it does to your body, your soul, your life, is most easily described by what drugs or addictions do;
You prioritize writing and everyone who wants you to stop with it, moderate it, contain it, more strategically use it so that it becomes more of a tool for success and less like an all consuming monster that takes over your life;
Those are first greeted with understanding.
They are right.
Writing requires to be managed better so that you and your loved ones can enjoy its benefits, and no one gets deprived of attention or care they deserve.
And that you believe they should have.
Because in practice, just like an addict will throw out anything standing between him and his drug of choice;
Ultimately you always choose writing.
This weekend I tried to appreciate what being single was bringing me. Because I had signs that I was choosing this.
I always fall for taken men, not available men.
And, perhaps more importantly, I also do not dream of being in a relationship.
Sure: When I really like a man, I dream of spending more time with him.
Because I like him!
But I don’t have goals or desires to be in a relationship, or to live together with a man.
Other than that desire that is person-bound.
Everyday I have dreams for my life, from my income level to my art, fame, success.
And I fine tune my daily activities accordingly, so that everything I do is in line with what it is I want.
Yet none of them are focused on getting myself a relationship that has daily communication or is aimed at living together.
When it comes to a particular person I am interested.
But I do not have an “unbound”, autonomous, desire for a relationship.
It’s a bit like a desire to have children; It’s generic, and some of us do not have it.
Yet, like so many weekends I do not feel a happy single and I wondered why.
Why am I not enjoying all the possibilities of being single?
Why am I not dating, having fun?
Why do I both know I have chosen this life, without trying to find someone to spend my life with?
And also know I will never have that world traveler adventurer style glow, that really happy singles have?
And then it hit me;
Because I write.
Writing takes up so much space that not only do you not have time to build a life, a brand, a business, a family, a relationship;
You do not even have time to enjoy the carefree-ness of being without all of those responsibilities.
Writing, art, creativity, purpose, passion, are like an addiction;
With little room to wiggle.
Ten years after I thought I knew what it meant, to be a writer, I realize more than ever that I will never know.
I can just be.
An unexamined life is not worth living
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