On (not) manifesting a relationship

The past few months have felt exceptionally abysmal in terms of manifesting any type of romantic relationship.  Perhaps you can relate? Here’s what’s been going on:

1. waking up on a sunny Tuesday to find your 12 year old cat not eating anything even though you have left out 3 different types of wet food, canned tuna and rotisserie chicken the night before.  you drive to the yuppie grocery store and spend $17 on smoked salmon and prosciutto in hopes she will eat it even though all of the websites say don’t give cats human food.  your cat eats some smoked salmon but mostly the prosciutto.  you call the vet to make an appointment for the same day. 

2. you look at the Facebook page of a friend of a friend you have a crush on. You friend him two months earlier.  you go to his page and find that he has unfriended you.  “What the fuck?” you think.  You are not sure why since you have not commented or even liked anything of his in a month.  You try not to take it personally.

3. you write and revise a story about a boyfriend from long ago who now lives in NYC and who you tried to manifest something with in June when you were visiting.  You send him part of a different story you wrote about him last month via Facebook.  You see that he has read (or at least “seen it 6/17/14 at 9:36 pm”) it.

He doesn’t respond.

You try not to take it personally.

4. You see someone from the Fishtrap conference at a book reading that you might be remotely interested in. You talk after the reading for twenty minutes at your bike that’s locked up across the street. You talk about Jungian psychology and Joseph Campbell since that’s what you wrote your senior thesis on and what he is currently going to graduate school for.  You ask him if he’s on social media.  “No” he replies.  You hand him your business card hoping he will call or email or text.


You watch your phone like a hawk hoping he will call. You check email.

You check your spam files religiously for a week before giving up.

5. You get a text message from the guy you went on a few dates with six months ago.  “Kelly Wallace” he says in the text message. You have deleted his name from your phone but know it’s him because there are only a handful of people who call you “Kelly Wallace” and most of them live on the East Coast. His is a 503/Portland area code. He is the only person who has even shown any interest in a while.  You delete the message because he told you he was once diagnosed as a sex addict.  “Well actually, I’m closer to a love addict,” he said shortly after he told you he was a sex addict.

A few days after you delete his text message along with his phone number you think about going to the AT&T website to look up his number.  “That is crazy,” you tell yourself.  You don’t look up his phone number BUT you do go to Facebook and have a bizarre message exchange before realizing you might be a complete wackadoodle for trying to manifest anything with him.

You stop messaging him because it’s desperate.

You feel desperate.

You don’t know why you feel so desperate.

6. You have all kinds of awesome things going on: 11 years working in a (social work) field that has given you a tremendous amount of flexibility to write and travel.  you own a house. you own a car that you wanted many, many years before you purchased it.  hell, you wanted a house years and years you purchased it.  You have traveled to Sweden, Denmark, Iceland, Germany, the Netherlands and Korea all in the last 2 years. You are by all means successful.  You can manifest just about anything you want.

except a relationship.

This.  This continues to baffle you.

7. The only thing you can do, you’ve discovered in the last month is to laugh at yourself.  The only other choice is sadness.  And you are sick to fucking death of sadness.

It’s time to laugh.

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At the Multnomah county library main branch I return Tom Spanbauers latest book, I Loved You More. I walk up the stone stairs and it’s July 2014. I’m downtown to see my friend Heather, her daughter Leona who is 5 and son Sawyer who is 2. I’m in shorts, t-shirt and bike bag and it’s humid as fuck. Heather and I will sit on the sides of the busy downtown water fountain and watch the kids play and talk about our abusive childhoods. Hers: sexual abuse. Mine: sexual, emotional, verbal and physical. I have the whole smorgasbord to choose from.

I pull open the library door and its February 2002 and I’m with Tom before he moved to New York. Long before we were fucking in his apartment in Murrayhill. We’re walking up the stone stairs to return his Beat Happening seven cd collection. In five years I’ll go on an awkward date with the lead singer of Beat Happening at a Middle Eastern restaurant in Northeast Portland. But it’s February 2002 and Tom lives at the Beverly Alder two blocks away.  Tom puts everything on hold at the library. It’s no wonder a few years later there will be a news story about the Portland library system being #1 in the country for putting items on hold. It’s the age of CDs and DVDs and everyone in Portland is burning them onto their hard drives.  Tom is tall, Jewish and funny. He has brown hair and a Mohawk. The Mohawk is not tall. He works in a bank so he can’t look like a freak. I like him but he’s busy and I’m not as busy. Super busy people make me nervous because they don’t have time for ol’ Kelly.

I don’t tell Tom this. I’m too young. 25 and not enough self esteem or insight or courage.

Even though I do have courage. I fought back that entire family when I was eight. But at twenty five I don’t know how to tell Tom I like him.

I really like him.

Or that I think he doesn’t have time for me. So instead, we return the Beat Happening CD’s to the library, go back to his house, make vegetarian sushi and fuck in the kitchen. Tom sweeps the kitchen and wipes the counters down in the Beverly Alder apartment first though. He’s in a one bedroom that over looks 11th Avenue. In five years I’ll be contracting with an agency in the building next door and going to therapy two more blocks down.


It’s Heather, me, Leona and Sawyer on a step at the fountain. Heather lotions up Leona and Sawyer with sunscreen and I try and get comfortable on the fountain step. It doesn’t happen. Kids yell and play in the fountain. The MAX train goes by on its tracks. Slow and then that bell. That bell that kept me awake at Tom’s house. Leona and Sawyer run into the fountain. I shift on the step to get comfortable. Or uncomfortable.


Tom and I will go from fucking in the kitchen to his bedroom that’s decorating very sparingly; except photography equipment. There’s a lot of that. After we fuck, he’ll go into the kitchen and get a glass of water from the tap and set it next to his bed.

“I love going to bed with a tall glass of water next to me,” Tom sets it down and pushes his Mohawk out of his face. It’s floppy from the fucking.

I don’t understand the water but just go with it and crawl into bed with him even though it’s noisy outside and boy oh boy am I sensitive sleeper. I’m not used to the downtown banging and clanging and garbage trucks rolling up and down the street. We crawl into bed and its Tom asleep almost immediately. I’m a horrible sleeper and downtown I’m even worse. My apartment is not downtown. It’s 3 miles away and quiet. Outside the window the lights are on. It’s too bright even though it’s midnight.  I stare at the floppy Mohawk and his naked, pale chest. That water. I toss and turn and stare and finally at 1 am decide I’m gonna go home. I’ve decided. It’s final. Once I’ve made up my mind it’s hard to go back.

Tom wakes up and turns on the overhead light. I pull out a paper bus schedule and the last bus is leaving in 2 minutes. This is the age of landlines and no cell phones. No internet in two seconds or less. No way can I make that bus. I decide to walk home even though that’s not the real reason for leaving. It’s my way of not telling Tom how I really feel. The lights, the noise and the crap bouncing around in my head keeping me awake is all a distraction.

“Are you sure?” Tom asks as I put on my coat.

“Yep,” I want my own bed and comfy and quiet.

“I’ll call you tomorrow to make sure you made it,” Tom says.

I shut the door behind me and it’s three miles of walking downtown, over the Morrison Bridge and up Belmont at 1 am.

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The real Portlandia

“I’m just so impressed how you and your dad treat each other. You both have so much integrity. I really want you to know that,” Lauren said to my dad and I in therapy today.

It was me in a white oversize stuffed ikea chair, my dad across from me in the same chair and Lauren to the right of me in the same chair. My dad’s in a blue polo shirt that says “Cal” in the upper left corner and khaki pants. Lauren is salt and pepper hair, glasses, and ruddy cheeks.

“Do other people yell at each other?” I ask.

“Yes,” Lauren says.

Outside it’s division street and yuppies and tourists walk by looking for the best saltandstrawromancandle icecreampastry thing cause they saw it on Oprah. Oprah is god in this Portlandia version of Portland. The real Portland is disappearing. We are in the front room of a little house that’s been here a long time. Way before the yuppies came from beaverfuck or Idaho or where ever they came from.

Maybe I’ll move to Eugene, Medford or Ashland once Portlandia turns into San Francisco with 2500 rents for a one bedroom apartment I often tell myself. I’ll rent my house out for $5,000 a month to a Californian who watched Portlandia and decided it was time to watch the allergy pride parade live and in person.

Back on Division street my dad and I are hashing out what happened when I was 7. Thirty years ago when I walked into the kitchen of our duplex in Keizer and told my mom I was being sexually abused
Whatever you want to call it
She went one way, called the police and reported it.
She believed me.

My dad went some other direction I’m still trying to figure out.
But we are figuring it out. Even tho he won’t admit it happened.
I’m getting out the facts:
Kids don’t lie about being sexually abused. Or if they do it’s a tiny percentage.
It takes 7 times for a kid to tell an adult before it’s reported
Only 10% of all cases are reported.

“Why would I hold onto this for 30 years if I was making this up?” I ask him.
He doesn’t answer.
Lauren is impartial. She’s the conduit. Not the judge.

An hour before I meet with Lauren and my dad I’m at whole foods laurelhurst chugging a 16 ounce stumptown milk and coffee. Lightly sweetened. I paid a NYC price for that thing. Im in the fancy neighborhood where the boyfriend/non-boyfriend lives. Or at least I think he still lives there. He constantly talked about selling his house. The one on the busy corner where he would yell at the stupid motorcyclists or the diesel truck drivers even though no one heard him because he was inside his house. Yelling and complaining and being the boyfriend/non-boyfriend. I’m sitting in the seating area of whole foods after jazzercise. Chugging that delicious sugary caffeine. At jazzercise it was Jake, the tattooed instructor leading a giant class of jazzercisers. Me in the back getting my endorphins going before doing the real work. The hard hard work in therapy with my dad and Lauren and all the yuppies walking by outside.

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Let’s write…Friday afternoon style


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Sunday afternoons meant Jazzercise class at 3:30 pm with Audra, the uber skinny, red headed vegan instructor teaching.

The Jazzercise studio was a long room on the second floor of an older mixed use building on 18th/E. Burnside. Audra was on a raised stage with a microphone headset thing and a black sign behind her that said “JAZZERCISE”.  A Top 40 hit was blasting. Traffic on Burnside blasted by outside the windows.  She was in a green leopard tank top with “Jazzercise” written across the front, calf link black lycra workout pants, manic panic red hair and pale. I knew she wasn’t a full time Jazzercise instructor. She worked in the bakery of a Whole Foods to pay the bills.

“How’s everyone doing?” she asked.

I turned my head and in the class of 25 no one answered.  The woman with thick blonde hair down to her knees was behind me dancing.  She never put my hair up.  It was a mystery how she could Jazzercize with all that hair flapping around.  She was in her mid-50’s, tan and wore a knee brace.

We were beginning class with stretches, marches and toe-taps.

“Is this thing on?” Audra tapped the microphone.

I smiled. This was normal Audra behavior. She was so energetic it was like she had had 3 cups of coffee before class. When I first starting taking Jazzercise classes two years earlier she irritated the crap out of me.  I meticulously watched the online Jazzercise schedule so I wouldn’t have to take classes with her.

“Let’s try that again,” the music changed and we started in on a cardio routine. “How’s everyone doing?”

A series of “woos” belted out behind me. That’s how it was at Jazzercise.  The instructors asked a question and sometimes everyone yelled “woo!” It took me a long time to appreciate Audra’s style and the random “woos!”.  I learned that she was high energy for a reason. I always got the best workouts form her.  She was non-stop movement.

Just like me.

From the time I woke up in the morning, had a cup of coffee, went to my office and wrote, worked with clients, cleaned my house, biked to Jazzercise, ate dinner, took a shower, cleaned my house and went to bed it was go time.

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Spacemen Sundays

Sunday morning reading on the sofa
Spacemen 3 on Pandora floats from the home office
Reminds you of Sunday mornings long ago with “B”
Under the covers in the loft bed
With his Italian/Greek skin
Black hair
The relaxed feeling that would come from knowing he was there next to you even if you were a ball of anxious

You go back to reading on the sofa
The neighbor kid yells something incoherent
You hear it through the kitchen window
“Shh…” you say even though you know he won’t hear

No one really hears me
That quiet mixed with shame

The night before you go to a party full of other “writers” in a fancy building downtown
Start talking to another “writer” about your memoir.
“What’s your memoir about?”
You cough. Ahem.
“Early childhood trauma.” You’ve learned to code/hide your truth even though it’s your truth
You don’t want to make anyone uncomfortable
It happens anyway
Two women whisper to each other nearby. They have black hair. Curly. They look well put together.
So do you. You know the act. How to act but inside you’re a ball of uncomfortable.
“We have to get going,” the black haired curly women say.
You’re relieved.

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Today’s reality

Never gonna have kids
Never ever
I accepted that a long time ago.
My truth at age 10.
Motherfucking ten years old I knew.
Didn’t trust myself
Didn’t trust mom: too violent
Didn’t trust dad: too vacant/gone
Myself: didn’t want that mix of violence/insecurity/fucked up mess raising kids

Now this being alone thing
It’s new
Too new
No one made that decision for me
It’s just the way it is
Try and be all zen about it
But it just doesn’t happen
Pushing and struggling.
Struggle struggle struggle
Punch and fight and fight and punch

Where is that person to wake up next to on Sunday morning
The perfect recipe of fucking
More fucking
Watch a movie
More fucking

Then: You go on your merry way.
I start my day: clean the cat box, wipe the counters down, another load of laundry
Water the rosemary

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