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More, More, More! the story of a dynamic man

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Back by popular demand- Dating Stories.  This is actually more of an homage to one man I dated who became a really great friend. I will call him “M”.

In this post I am going way back to my college years as a dangerously energetic and naive Art Major at VCU.  It is 1984(?). The obsession of my young adult life, a man I will refer to as Lord Byron- LB for short, had unceremoniously dumped me the day after he has told me he wants our relationship to be exclusive. This was a fairly major event because we shared an almost psychic connection. The sexual and intellectual attraction between me & LB was so palpable that when we walked into a public space together, people would stop talking and turn to stare. We were young, good-looking people with magnetic energy that when combined, was simply arresting.

During the 24 hours in between the incongruent events of my heart leaping to new heights as I blissfully dreamt of eternal happiness with the most gorgeous, sensual, exotic and darkly interesting man I had yet met and the emotional equivalent of having my heart and dreams smashed to a bloody pulp like what remains after an arctic hunter bludgeons a big eyed baby seal, I had given my other boyfriend, Snarky Ass Artist (SAA), his walking papers.

It was all quite inconvenient because LB and I worked at the same place so despite the break-up we saw each other almost everyday.

After a month or so post devastation, I got back with SAA and moved in with him.  We spent a broiling RVA summer in his cockroach infested, un-airconditioned, railroad apartment. As the summer sweltered on,SAA formulated a plan  to move to California rather than return to school.

So at the end of August a bunch of friends and I throw a farewell party for SAA.  At some point during the revelry I decide to walk to a bodega a half block down the street to pick up a few bottles of champagne. As I zwoosh past the cash register to the refrigerated section as if on a mission from god, I call back to the spritely guy behind the counter, “I want six bottles of the best champagne you have. Do you have any cold?” His response, “I don’t know where you are going but wherever it is, I want to come along.” That was how I met “M”.

I went back to that store three or four more times that night and by the end of his shift, I had invited M to join the party. The next day I took SAA to DC to catch his flight to San Fran and cried all night feeling abandoned and untethered. In the morning M rang and invited me over to soak in the baby pool in his back yard (a popular thing for college students in Richmond in August at the time – the river was too warm to be refreshing but a baby pool filled with cold hose water was rejuvenating) where he offered me cocktails to remove the sting from my aching heart/ego and cucumber slices for my swollen red eyes. He listened patiently to my story of the previous months, about my soul crushing love for LB and my sadness of SAA leaving while periodically donning my eyelids with fresh cucumber slices and filling my glass with more frozen margarita.

The next day when I arrived at work, one of my sister co-workers discovered a long rectangular box tied with a fat yellow silk bow in the cold storage where we kept french pastries. “The card says they are for you,”she squealed looking directly at me. M, knowing that LB worked with me, had sent two dozen long-stem yellow roses to the workplace and had delivered them when LB would have been the only person to receive them. It was a wonderful moment as there was quite a bit of excitement generated by a bouquet of expensive flowers amongst a gaggle of young women and LB looked a bit chagrinned.

This is just one of a dozen stories of M’s generosity. Always a nurturer and ready to shed some sunshine on anyone’s rainy day, M is an extraordinary person (we are still friends). He is constantly doing nice things for people.  And to the soundtrack of Dire Straights, Brian Ferry, Prince and Big Audio Dynamite we have had many adventures -like a hilarious road trip to his family home, nights on the town in Manhattan, days lounging on the rocks in the James River, and just generally being there for each other through the tough times. He helped me find a place to stay when I first moved to New York, introduced me to his cool artist friends, helped me to get my first real job out of college, threw me a birthday bash for my 50th, and lent me money and an understanding ear at a low point in my life.

Through all the years I have known him he has always been: in love with his high-school sweetheart even though there have been other women in his life; plagued by addiction to drama and a variety of substances; possessed a penchant for obsession from orchids to jewelry making; loved everyone with his whole heart yet peppered himself with potshots of self-depreciating humor; been dangerously charming, clever and glib; had amazing good taste in all things; and generally been one of the luckiest blokes you might ever meet.

But probably the most impressive thing about M is that he is a survivor.  His childhood and young adulthood, though privileged, contained the kind of tragedy that would turn anyone into a bitter, hater type yet somehow, M survived and is able to love people powerfully.

Thank you, M, for being complicated, adorable,extreme, funny, supportive and an absolute love. It is an honor to call you my friend. Holding you and your family in the light.

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work on yourself

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Over the years I have heard many people complain about past or current relationships often blaming the actions or characteristics of another person for their unhappiness.  So many people have complained to me about their partners  or ex partners it sometimes seems like an epidemic.  What I have learned from all this whining is this:  I cannot help these people to feel better.  Indeed there is no one who can help them outside of themselves so now when someone complains to be about their partner or previous partner(s) I know that the only way they will ever get over the blaming disease to work on themselves.

How does one do that?

Get into therapy or a twelve step program, begin a real yoga practice including meditation, get regular massages, pursue some creative activity just for the pleasure of it, try something you’ve always wanted to do but haven’t allowed yourself to do, travel to a foreign country, start exercising if you don’t already (that could mean walking down stairs rather than taking the elevator – just get moving), clean out that junk room, overstuffed closet and/or junk drawer,  get some energy work done, shed guilt, start paying attention to who you are, what you like and how you like it, learn your communication style and change it if it fails to serve you, start telling the truth if you are a lier, assess your own actions, learn to forgive others and yourself, start adding healthier foods to your diet, assess your relationships and drop any dead weight, give up the idea that material things or money will bring you happiness, spend more time doing things that bring you joy and  with people who energize you, and most importantly learn to breathe.

If you must spend time with people who bring you down make an escape plan in advance, set boundaries and stick to them and remember that all people are our teachers.

It is only by improving you that you will improve you relationships because YOU are the ONLY person who can make you happy or unhappy as the case might be.  Other people are just other people who only possess power over your emotions if you allow it.  I promise you that once you love yourself and learn to make your own happiness, other people’s issues, habits, problems and actions will fail to trigger you.

Connecting with the Divine

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In the latest post I mentioned that I would explain how yoga and art make a powerful combination for manifesting something you would like to bring into your life so here it is:

The word “yoga”, literally translated from Sanskrit means to “yoke”- as in yoking the individual with the universal divine energy which is sometimes referred to as enlightenment. The Yoga Sutras, a sort of yoga guide book recorded by an ancient yogi named Patanjali, describe 8 yogic paths to enlightenment:

Yama :  Universal morality

Niyama :  Personal observances

Asanas :  Body postures

Pranayama :  Breathing exercises, and control of prana (life-force)

Pratyahara :  Control of the senses

Dharana :  Concentration and cultivating inner perceptual awareness

Dhyana :  Devotion, Meditation on the Divine

Samadhi :  Union with the Divine

I would argue that the creative process or “art” is another pathway to enlightenment. Now there is probably something about that in the Yoga Sutra somewhere but I confess, I have not studied the Yoga Sutra very thoroughly. If you know of a segment that condones the creative process as part of one of the 8 limbs of yoga, please feel free to share that in a comment. But just in case Patanjali omitted that section, my argument rests in the stories of creation found in just about every spiritual practice on earth. The rationale goes like this: In each creation story there is some divine force (or divine forces) that creates everything. In the Judeo-Christian tradition there is one creator who, over the course of 7 days makes the world and everything in,on and above it and frankly, produces some really cool stuff – think blow fish,T-Rex, rainbow, elephant, lavender, mangos, pink sand, sunrise, caves, etc. Looking at the world around us and all of the wonderful things in it one can easily see that the divine creator is an amazing artist.

When we participate in the creative process we are imitating the divine creator(s), tapping into that connection between ourselves and “god”. Think about how many great artists of all types have said that when they are painting, writing, drawing, preparing food, making music, etc have said that they seem to be channeling something greater than themselves as if they are merely the medium between a higher power and this earthly place.

If it were a mathematical equation it would look like this:

Higher Power + Creativity = Artist

Human + Creativity = Artist

Artist = Artist

Creativity = Creativity

Therefore when humans create they are channelling Higher Power.

Thus when we make art we are connecting with the divine – just like yoga.

So it makes sense that combining these two powerful means for connecting with the divine will make an uber connection.

More on how Mindful Visioning (a workshop that combines yoga and art to make a powerful tool for change) works in an upcoming post.

Namaste,

Mary

*this is a potential logo for a new business I am  co-starting with Art Therapist, Sigrid Eilertson.

The Rock Star

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When I first started this blog I made a list of some of the men I had dated like bank robber  but I carelessly omitted an important title – Rock Star.  OK, when I met Dave Brockie,  during our first year in Art School at Virginia Commonwealth University, he was not a rock star nor did his preppy button down Oxford shirt looks indicate that he might ever be one. But I, along with a collection of other arts students, punk rockers and club kids got to witness his transformation into his alter ego, Odurus Urungus, that lead the “punk” band GWAR to enough fame to go on world tours and garner two Grammy nominations.

It must have been the summer of 1984…or maybe ’85. The dates are irrelevant.  It was Richmond, Virginia and it was as hot and muggy as a Bikram class with 100 people. We were both in our early twenties and crackling with hard bodied sexuality. Most of our friends had left town for other adventures or at least the respite of air-conditioning in their parent’s comfortable homes in whatever suburbs from which they originated leaving us to discover each other with little notice by our social circle.

Brockie was already known in the local music scene due to his involvement with a band called Death Piggy which played local bars and Schaefer Court at VCU and was about to envision Odurus during a drug induced splurge of creativity.  By the next summer he and the original GWAR members would be squaters  in the Milk Bottle Building carving the first character costumes out of foam.

I was a fixture on the dance club circuit, marking my weeks by what club I was in rather than the actual day.  (If I was at the Bus Stop it must be Wednesday.) My wardrobe gleaned from almost daily visits to fan area Thrift Stores where store owners simply gave up selling stuff to me and lent dresses, shoes, jewelry and bags for the night with the understanding that I would pass out business cards to anyone who asked about my outfit.

I fail to recall how we became involved.  We already knew each other so there was not a moment of spotting each other from across a crowded room or anything as charming as that to mark the beginning of our little affair but there was an undeniable, tractor beam of physical attraction between us that resulted in insatiable, power-full sexual encounters. We could barely be alone for ten seconds before garments were ripping from flesh and raw animal passion engulfed us. I think many women may have had this experience of Dave, but I swear there was something different about the two of us. Some primal connection from a past life, maybe, but definitely something.

At any rate, we did stuff other couples did at the time, like talk on the phone, go to the movies and eat in restaurants. But anyone who knew Dave Brockie will tell you that he was intense, expressive and intensely expressive.  There was just something unique going on in that oversized head of his, a world that intrigued me but that I was pretty sure I did not want to dwell in.  He could be so endearingly sweet yet equally crass and thoughtless.  And, ohmygod, the violence in his art.  His paintings at the time were filled with sex and violence, blood and gore.  Cartoon like but raw. I often thought it would be amazing to be in his head for about 20 minutes but any time over that would be too much.

I remember one time we were out with my cousin, another woman close to our age, and she expressed an interest in him.  I told Dave that if he liked her I would be OK with them having a tryst and he became super indignant.  I asked him to explain why he was so angry and he just couldn’t and he stormed off.  We never agreed on that but we did make up only to end the relationship soon after.

Dave wanted to give me a painting and so we made a date for me to come to his apartment to pick one out.  When I arrived he was surprised (he was already stoned or tripping) we greeted each other in our own special way then he said he had promised some of his friends to drop some acid and break into the National and did I want to come along.  I said, “No” and expressed some dismay regarding the change in plans.  Dave said he really wanted to go with this friends but I could wait for him.  I said “No” again and left.  That was the end of our summer fling but not the end of our attraction.

A few years later, after I was married and had become a mother, my then husband and I went to the 930 Club in DC to see a GWAR show as a break from early parenting.  I went to the green room to see Dave and Don Draculitch (who was another VCU pal).  Dave was chatting with some major reporter from the Post or somewhere.  It was as though he could telepathically sense me because once I was fully in the room he stopped talking to the reporter, turned around and made a bee line to hug and kiss me.  “Mary Burruss, ” he beamed.  I introduced him to my husband then Dave sidled up a little closer and looking down into my eyes, a mischievous grin forming across his face, asked, in all sincerity, If I would come back after the show and go back to the hotel with him. I laughed as if he were joking but he really wasn’t. And to be honest, it took a great deal of restraint to ignore his request but I behaved and at the end of the show went home with my husband.  There were other incidents over the years were we would run into each other and I would detect that same twinkle in his eye and he in mine- not memory but gleeful possibility.

But of course it was impossible.  I could not cross the line into the kind of life Dave had chosen though I applaud him for making a living out of truly doing and being what he loved.

I was oddly touched when he died of a heroin overdose on March 23rd of this year.  I hadn’t seen him for four or five years though I had toyed with asking him for that painting.In  a profound way it was the perfect time for Brockie to check out.  He embodied youth and child-like wonder so at age 50, the precipice in time when our lives transition from youth to undeniable adulthood and pending limitation, it was right for him to leave  quietly.  I like to think he simply left his body as part of his drug trip, got distracted by something and forgot to jump back into his skin.

I cried rivers for the loss of my own youth that Dave symbolized but I didn’t cry for him.  He had an excellent ride, performing for crowds all over the world, making art, living his perverse dreams. What more could anyone ask for?

Three days after his death, he visited me in a dream to tell me he loved me and give me some advice -which I have now forgotten.

I don’t know if I will ever experience that kind of carnal chemistry with another human being again in this lifetime but maybe one summer with Dave Brockie for a lover sufficiently filled that quota.

 

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first shadows: a week of remembrances

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It has been a long while since I have been motivated to write.  Mostly because my dating life is nonexistent and work has taken over the hours of  life formerly used to muse about relationships. But this week a string of odd occurrences of firsts or triggers of recollection of firsts was so strange that blowing the dust off this blog space seemed appropriate.

All of you astrologists and numerologists may find it interesting that the events centered around the sixth of February – whatever that is worth- and  much of it has to do with addiction.

Here is what transpired…My mother called me on the 6th to tell me that a childhood friend had died the previous day.  Though, sadly as my life moves through its fat middle, this is not the first friend that has passed on to the next incarnation but some odd coincidences surround it….

My first close friend to leave this life for the next was Lynn Dozier.  I tear up even now remembering him and his tragic life.  He was a smart, good looking boy from a wealthy, loving family who in an effort to escape a pain I will never understand since he seemed to have everything going for him, got into drugs as a teenager, starting with pot (of course) and ending after a few attempts at rehab at age 23 with an overdose of cocaine and god knows what else.  His Birthday, February 6th, remains ingrained in my mind because for many years we celebrated our Birthday’s (mine being February 1st) by going to The Club (The Country Club of Virginia if you live outside of insular Richmond, VA) for a dinner of prime rib then off to the Circus which somehow came to town around that time every year.

Smith, the man my about whom my mother called, was my playmate as a young child.  He was my constant companion from ages 3 to 7, an instigator of mischievous play, co-builder of forts, fellow honey suckle taster and the boy to whom I gave my first kiss at age 4 at the coaxing of his older brothers. I ran into him in my mid-twenties and alcohol and drugs had him in their powerful grip.  I spent one evening with him which I cut short after he insisted on getting high and never saw him again.  Although I have no idea how he spent his days for the last 25 years, I can only surmise by the early timing of his death, that he lost the battle to the substances he abused (hopefully, I am wrong). The sadness that has crept over me is twofold.  First the thought that another friend is too soon gone due to some horrible pain from which they desired easy escape through synthetic mind alteration and secondly the obliteration of a piece of my own childhood. Sometimes knowing the beginning and end of one’s story is depressing. Once my mother asked Smith what he wanted to be when he grew up and his answer was, “Well, all I have is a Superman suite.”  The finality of the end  of that Super Hero potential has had me breaking down into periodic sobs over the last 36 hours.

This week also marked another sorrowful first- listening to the first friend to discover that their child is abusing and dealing drugs. The middle of life has shifted me to the other side of this issue.  I am no longer the untried teenager trying to understand a peer’s fascination with drugs and watching their parent’s futile efforts to change the situation.  I am now on the adult side listening to the desperation of a scared, confused father who lacks the support of other important parties. Adding to my heartbreak, I fear that this person, who has rolled eyes and mocked those in search of emotional and spiritual enlightenment, is completely unready to take this opportunity to grow as an individual and a family. I also know that dedication to emotional and spiritual growth is the only path that affords a snowball’s chance in hell of turning the child’s life around. It will take work.  Hard soul- searching, time-consuming, behavior-changing, faith-building, walk-through-the-fires-of- your-deepest-fears-and-learn-to-let-go- of -deep-rooted- elements-of-self-that-no-longer-serve kind of work that most people in our culture simply don’t want to bother with. In this situation, as in all situations, I could only offer to help when they are ready and drop the topic.

So what does this have to do with act of finding a mate?

These situations usher in the opportunity for self exploration.

It is interesting to examine how substance abusers have played important roles throughout my life.  Two alcoholic husbands, many dear friends- most of them amazingly talented artists or ridiculously wealthy and some close family members. I am grateful that my own spiritual path has provided the tools to recognize these people and maintain a loving detachment which best serves both parties.  Detachment from expectation is also a good tool when dealing with substance abusers or meeting potential mates.

My dear friend who will be called “Pat” for the purpose of anonymity, has just started dating again after the end of a 23 year marriage.  She is gleefully embracing meeting lots of new men via an online dating site in her new home town (she just made a cross-country move to fulfill a lifelong personal wish). I, of course, have trepidations about meeting people online (for those of you who are just starting this blog there are some doozies about my online dating escapades which make my feelings understandable – click here for first post, date 1, date 2, date 3 pt 1 and date 3 pt 2.) but my friend’s open attitude rather shames me.  She says, “I am just meeting people with no expectations and am having a blast doing it.” There’s the rub.  The expectations thing.  Perhaps online dating didn’t work for me because I had expectations or hopes that I would meet someone with whom I could have a long term relationship instead of just meeting people. Maybe when I pursued that avenue I was too raw, too needy or something.  Perhaps I was unready to just be me and release the pressure of finding “the right guy”.

Anyway…

There are two more firsts in this premier week of the year of the Horse:

I ran into the first man to ever  to fill my ears with the words, “My wife just doesn’t understand me.”  Those words, if you have yet to read my posts about married men and the pursuit of other women, are commonly used to introduce the concept of an extramarital sexual tryst. My reaction at the time of first hearing was one of verbal sympathy and no other action and  to his credit, the man did not pursue a physical relationship after that. But it was the beginning of a decades long trend of hearing that line from the lips of cowards who may or may not actually feel alienated from their spouses but are moved to see how far they can get with the woman in front of them.  Those words  have been so oft repeated by such a variety of married men that  the mere utterance of them ignites an inner amusement. I now understand the translation to be  “Since I am misunderstood at home, perhaps you could make me feel better by having sex with me,” and I am able to laugh at the commonality and simply offer up the name of a good psychotherapist.  During our conversation the other day, I noted the gold band still in place on Mr. Misumderstood’s  left finger.  “Well, she must understand something about him because they are still married 20 years later,” I though, happy to have dodged that bullet of certain misery so many years ago.

The last first is a pleasant one.  For the first time I noticed, with some prodding from a good friend, a handsome, single man with whom I have lots in common.  We have been Facebook friends for many years and yet, I was unconscious of him. I guess I just wasn’t ready to notice. Like the person who walks through a park every day for years and fails to see a beautiful tree  until the day they trip over its roots while messaging on their smartphone. Then, suddenly, a as they stare up at said tree from the viewpoint of the of  the ground underneath it, the magnificence of the tree is revealed for the first time.

We have scheduled a time to meet for tea and while I am excited to meet a kindred spirit, I am being careful to curb expectations of romance.  My feeling is that with so much in common I can,  at minimum, be assured of at  gaining a good friend- which is a  welcomed prospect.

Alright, Janice! Nobody’s Perfect

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I spent some time with a man recently who had the gift of making me laugh more than I had laughed with someone in years.  He is a great guy; good natured, well mannered, generous and sweet with just enough quirk to pique my interest.  But alas, he dislikes almost everything about which I am passionate.  I thought that maybe a relationship might be workable if we could find some mutual ground because I genuinely enjoy spending time with him but things just weren’t adding up in a way that was mutually satisfying.

Although I believe that laughter can get you a long way in life, there are other things that should be considered.  We must be able to at least respect our potential partner’s passions and ideally be enthusiastic about one or two of them in order to live together harmoniously.  That goes for foibles as well.  We have to be able to accept our potential mate’s foibles in the long run and know ourselves well enough to know when something is a deal breaker.

For example: A female friend, with whom I enjoyed a lemonade a few afternoon’s ago at a local coffee shop, described a dating situation she had to end because the man she had been dating for a couple of months was a homebody and she loves to travel.  Once he was very explicit about his dislike of new experiences and the effort of travel she knew she had to end the relationship.  It was difficult because this guy possessed several other great qualities but the travel issue was a deal breaker for her. (It is for me as well, so I can relate.)

So having said all that, I wish to share one of the funniest and perfectly executed commercials I have ever seen.  It is commonly known as the Blind Date Fart Commercial and is a great illustration of how something about an otherwise wonderful person can cause us to take pause and reconsider. (There are many other messages as well so have fun with it.)  Click here to see it.

Blind Date Fart Commercial

Blind Date Fart Commercial

Apologies for the long absence

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Dear Readers,

You may have noticed a lapse in new postings.  Apologies.  All I have to say for myself is it is summer and I have either been trying to work on a book project (unrelated to dating), spend time with my family and having some great traveling and dating adventures (Yes, I said “dating” adventures.  I have gotten my sorry arse off of my desk chair and actually spent some quality time with some charming men …and perhaps one man who is particularly charming….).

Ironically, during my hiatus Dating by Committee has gained several new fans for which I am very grateful.  Thanks to all of you who keep reading and continue to share the posts with friends, family and other responsive groups.

There are two posts I plan on getting up in the next week. One is continuing on the theme of spotting addicts before you get too involved and the other is about money and how it sometimes affects dating situations.  I will also have some interesting travel stories popping up on my arts and culture blog, culturenuts which is also on wordpress.

Looking forward to your comments as always.

Best,

Mary

Me in Lhasa, Tibet on a summer sojourn.

Me in Lhasa, Tibet on a summer sojourn.