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Disembodied Undersider Sex

Dispatch #7
Dating Me Digital Won't Cure
My Upcoming 9/11 Blues

So I am sitting here in my miss-buttoned strawberry print pajamas, the heat beginning to dissipate from the city and my bed, feeling a bit out of sorts. Perhaps its the arts festival I have been working non-stop on - August Art 2002 - on my installation, on curating the moving image genre, on dealing with a million little emergencies, on having stressed folks around me and trying to be the calmest of them all, avoiding a blowout freak-out meltdown that would end up with someone losing an eye. It's going well, really, but ignore the woman behind the curtain, because I am the great and powerful Osama of OZ! (Did I mention I have a bout of bronchitis/laryngitis going on right now too?)

Perhaps it's the Lavalife/Nerve/ date-a-thon that I have been on since my mid-May breakup with The Bill. The amount of dirty old men on these sites is amazing and depressing, especially when their pics show a tiny slice of the wife on one side and a wee bit of one of the kids on the other. They are all looking for "discreet" encounters. How fucking horrible! The internet becomes a place where these soulless desperate dudes troll for anyone as desperate looking for the hookup. I mean, they made a choice and instead staying true and honest, they slink around, looking for the sad and lonely of the herd to pounce on, like hyenas and jackals.

Perhaps it's having such a strange time writing, talking and eventually meeting these people - both men and women. I try to make it interesting - like the night I invite one of them to meet me at a screening of "Scarlet Diva" but he bails when he realizes the content of the movie is highly sexual - in a word, he's "afraid". And then there is Jordan Silver - yes, girls, I am naming him specifically because he is a total prick - he comes over for a date, supposed to hang out that night, check out this Mark Group thing (which actually wasn't that much fun), and see where the evening takes us. He freaks out, leaves and then calls back ten minutes later, asking if we could "just have sex". Ha! He continues to call, email, etc… and I drop polite hints that he hasn't a snowball's chance in hell. Somehow, dense Jordan just doesn't get it. When I finally, directly tell him I am not interested, he freaks out, calls me some weird name and hangs up on me. I call him back, tell him not to email or call me again, and does the same thing. Remember, this is a guy who called me constantly since backing out of our original meeting. So ladies, he's rude and predatory and really not that interesting to talk to. Not that cute either. And dense as all hell - but he's single - email me if you want his number.

Oh and then there's the sound engineer for "Lenny" as he likes to put it, who on our first meeting, gives me a huge kiss (not bad, but really, wait for the hello first, okay?), and then his interest fizzles during the evening. I am too "rounded" for him - this guy who gets to ogle anorexic groupies all day long. So I now have to be very clear to anyone I talk to online that I am curvy - that I have a belly, an ass, breasts, and fuck you if you don't like me that way. He continued to chat with me online, dropping hints he wanted me to come over, but I guess I just have too much self-esteem to be treated like a second choice entrée. Besides, there are plenty of men and women who dig my body the way it is.

There have been a few good meetings - I mean, I met my buddy Matt, the co-founder of the erotic film festival we are doing in October (SinCine 2002 NYC Erotic Film Fest - He and I are the best of friends. And there are a couple of guys that are sweet, funny and burn the sheets quite well from both Nerve and Lavalife. And the women I have met are fun, but strangely shy. I always hope bisexual and lesbian women would be more sexually aggressive and confident. I usually have to be the aggressor, which isn't bad but gets boring as a constant sexual persona. And I met a few wonderful bisexual men who I get along with like gangbusters - something deliciously sinister about the way we can snicker about both sexes, bitchy yet so much fun.

But lingering, in the back of my mind, which I become more and more aware of, as autumn comes closer, is this sense of getting it all in before a certain date. September is coming up faster and faster - in fact, by the time this is published, it will most certainly be here. I remember where I was last year - on the train, stuck underground for a while after the first plane hit. Getting to work and on our huge projection TV, seeing the planes hit over and over again. Going to the top of the SIPA building and seeing the puffs of smoke and concrete - not realizing the first tower had collapsed. Watching the second tower collapse on TV. Being stuck at work and the smell suddenly hitting us - all they way up at 116th street. Figuring out how to get home. The Bill was there, not really being able to relate to my sense of shell shock and sadness, since he was a recent transplant from Chicago and relatively new to the city. Our relationship was already on the rocks, so I didn't want to cry in front of him. I went into the bathroom, crawled into the tub and cried into a towel over my mouth, so he couldn't hear me. I think 9/11 accentuated the problems in our relationship. I was busy worrying about my friends, while he sat around, unable to do anything to help. I spent more time with friends and less with The Bill, because I might have lost some of the people I had cared about and I wanted to make sure I got in good quality time with them. He didn't understand, resented it, and ultimately, was jealous of the whole lot of them, citing strange infractions that eventually fractured my love for him irreparably.

So here I am, in the bosom of my friends, dating like mad, working feverishly on art and filmmaking, writing constantly, and each day I feels like I have to do more. I am running this kind of quality of life race right now, as I prepare for the NYC Marathon, for another film festival, a women's leadership retreat, projects at work and my own growth process. Therapy is going so well - I speed through levels of self-awareness and studiously work at making my life better. It has to be better and better every day, my life, in every aspect. But even I feel its now going a bit too fast and I see the speed bump in front of me - 9/11. At least this time I see it coming.

What am I going to do that day? September 11th is a Wednesday. It is in the middle of the week. My women's leadership conference follows on that weekend. I will have begun work on an emotional intelligence e-seminar that week. I am will be surrounded by friends and caring co-workers who I cried with last year. But I feel this panic welling up inside me and I think I just want to stay home, and avoid the whole day. Am I alone in this? I don't think so. Some friends have said they wanted to get drunk and pass out, the day a blur, tears explained by alcohol. Some friends want to go to a memorial, cry as a group, hold on to each other. Columbia University, where I work, will host some memorial events. The TV will blare all manner of facts and events and interviews with the survivors and loved ones. It feels as if all these sectors are reaching out to me to join them and I, strangely, just want to be alone, in silence, on a day that had so much noise last year. Maybe it's safety I am seeking, or just controlled calm.

Yes, some of the boys and girls from the digital dating world have wanted me to join them on 9/11. Somehow, I can't see that being a good date night. Perhaps some digital daters are banking on the strange twist in human nature to vigorously fuck in order to affirm life. I think that kind of affirmation will happen much as it did last year - after 9/11. I am hoping that day will soften a few hard hearts and make talking about anything easier. I am not looking to get off, unless getting off means getting off and out of the daily grind and stepping into a silence I create and control.

September will be hard, as much as we are straining to keep our hard earned smiles on our faces now. I will take a break from the dating world that week. I will talk to all my friends if I have to hunt them down in the outer reaches of Indonesia. I will visit my cats (currently in the custody of my ex-husband, with whom I share them - he: fall/winter, me: spring/summer, an ironic mirror of our relationship). I will exercise and prepare the marathon as much as my body can take of it, since it will be a great distraction and a good stress reliever. And I will write, listening to the whispers of what I am feeling and thinking, sorting it all out on the page.

God bless and stay safe. Love and be loved.

By Melissa Ulto
© 2002

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