A wide open valley under a thousand stars

I hate to sound like I’m repeating myself, but last night was intense.

Not the same kind of intensity of the intense day that came before it. A whole different kind of intense.

A few nights a week, I work at a really old, expensive historic inn in the Hinterlands. I love working there because, architecturally, it is so lovely, and because it also held very tender memories for Gus Van Sant, Sr, an incredible man with whom I worked for several years when I worked for Gus Van Sant Jr’s movie company.

It is the easiest job I ever had in my life and it pays good, so a few hours a week can help me pay the bills while giving me tons of time to write.

Literally 95% of the people I work with at the inn are younger than me and most of them, a lot younger than me. I love being around their energy, even though I am often really alarmed by how different their lives are, at such an awesome age, than mine was. If they are consumed with sex & art at all, you’d never know it because they always seem to be on their darn phones. For all I know, they’re texting one another and saying really filthy & profound things, but I kind of doubt it.

When I was in my 20s, I lived in New York City and it was the 1980s. just before and then during the explosion of AIDS. Our world was intense. To us, at that age, nothing was more important than art (music, writing, movies, film, painting, poetry, theater) and sex. The only phones we had were at home, attached to the wall, so what we did was interacted very intensely with each other, constantly.  And we were always having some kind of/any kind of sex, whenever we could, even during work.

One  crazy & intense restaurant in Times Square that I was the Manager of when I was all of 22 (!!), even had a tube of Vaseline in the top drawer by the time clock that the gay guys would grab on their way to a “bathroom break.” There were no cigarette breaks back then because you could smoke anywhere… The girls suffered most in that scenario, since we have bladders the size of a mustard seed. If you had to wait a really long time for the bathroom to become available, it usually meant a couple of guys were in their having anal sex.  Bang bang bang on the door. “Come on, you guys! I’ve gotta pee!” Then out they would eventually stroll and get right back to work.

I remember, when I worked at MoMA, disappearing a few times with my girlfriend, Valerie, into a bathroom stall in the bar next to the museum,  and making out really hot & heavy because we were killing time between work shifts and just ridiculously horny.  We would actually have orgasms in a public bathroom, then go back out and join our co-workers who were sitting at the bar; we’d drink straight bourbon and smoke cigarettes, chatter on like fools about every topic under the sun, and wait for our shifts to start again. The General Manager, our boss, a very serious-minded, Le Cordon Bleu-trained Executive Chef from Alsace, France, would sometimes walk by outside the bar and toss a polite wave at us through the huge plate-glass window as he headed back into the museum.  Once, he even had a particular sort of smile on his face so we assumed he’d been with a pretty woman who had an apartment near by. Nobody gave a shit because the work got done and the places made money.

Things are so different now. And not just the phones. For instance, the inn where I work has a policy of Zero Tolerance for sexual harassment — and it is staggering what comes under the banner of sexual harassment.  And any co-worker at all can file a complaint against you and you can be out of job in a nanosecond. It has already happened there twice in the past year.

I keep my private life and my career extremely private from everybody I work with.  It is too scary for me, otherwise. Several months ago, a 17-year-old busboy came into the kitchen and announced to me, “I found your Wikipedia page!” My eyes sprang open and my heart stopped, until he said, “I didn’t know you were ever a singer in New York! That’s so cool.”

Thank god.  Because if you look hard enough at that Wikipedia page, you can discover that, for most of my life, I was a pornographer. And a really well known one, at that. A wonderful career that spiraled down into something frightening when the Government began to get out of control. Not just the FBI popping up and letting me know they had their eye on me, but also the Attorney General of the United States. I went from being a really respected sex writer, editor, producer, web developer and art curator, to also being a book publisher, who was suddenly looking at a 10-year prison term and fines I could never have afforded to pay.  All because I had chosen, of my own free will, to publish wonderfully written filthy books that the Government decided were harmful to children (who hadn’t yet even discovered them) because they were sold by my own publishing company on the Internet.

Trust me, I was willing to close down my business and just walk away, but the ACLU gently, consistently, relentlessly asked me to fight it. My mom flew with me to the Federal Court in Philadelphia because I was so terrified. The Federal Prosecutor was gunning for my self-esteem. In the courtroom, he had a big screen set up. Projected onto the screen was an incredibly filthy extended passage of meticulously detailed anal sex that appeared in a book I had published, written by Michael Hemmingson. The Federal Prosecutor made me read it aloud in the courtroom to the Federal Judge — the Prosecutor stopping me early on and saying, “Why don’t you start again? And could you speak up, please? We want to make sure your Mom at the back of the courtroom is able to hear what you’re reading — this book that you think is such a valuable piece of literature, worthy of the Constitution’s protection.”

I testified. We won. But I closed down my business. And then afterwards I had a particularly scary encounter with Security Officials in a small airport in Exeter, England. They questioned me at length, wanting to know why I had flown in from Paris to such a small airport in England: What kind of writer are you? they kept asking me, over & over & over. And I kept lying through my teeth because I didn’t want to admit who I was; I was terrified. My friends in Bristol assured me that their Government was probably watching me, following everything I’d done since I left the airport in Exeter, everyone I spoke to or hung out with, on those Closed Circuit TV cameras that are all over England. After that,  I insulated myself. I withdrew. I became simply “a writer.” I tried not to make any more trouble. I vowed never to go back to Europe.

So things like a 17-year-old boy in a work place that has a policy of zero tolerance for sexual harassment, triggers all the wrong buttons for me, but I try to just stay calm, to keep going.

I think that because of the full moon and that lunar eclipse, the hormones among my co-workers at work have been sort of flying. I, of course, have my own hormones to deal with, regardless of any full moons. But it got intense in that kitchen, even for me. There is this really gorgeous guy I work with, who is really young, really smart, in a relationship. He did this thing that anyone working in a kitchen will do a hundred times a day, but I glanced over at him, doing this thing, and it suddenly struck me — a sexual submissive — as really provocative.  And I wondered, how come, right this minute, that looks extremely sexual to me? And I looked up at his face and he was looking right at me. I laughed nervously and looked away, walked away; I didn’t want to give myself away.

A while later, I glanced over again and he was doing that same thing, and, again, I responded in the same suddenly sexual way. And I looked up at him again and again he was looking right at me — like, in my eyes. I thought, Oh my god, he’s not really that young, is he? I think he’s a Top.

Then I was instantly wet between my legs, and really, really frustrated. I didn’t know what to do with myself or how to handle anything at all. The world is so different now. All last night, he was working right next to me and I was like Jell-O. Well, extremely frustrated, aroused, stupefyingly self-protective Jell-O.  I was really losing my mind. Every once in a while, I would steal a glance up at him to see if he was still looking at me, and he would be; he’d be looking right at me; in that relentless way a Top looks at a bottom and waits for her to tell him what she’s willing to let  him to do to her. I simply could not figure out if my mind was playing tricks on me.

At one point, he said, “I’ll be back in a minute.” I was secretly appalled that his energy was going to walk away from me for even an instant. I said, “Where are you going?” He said, “I have to go to the bathroom.” And I said — from somewhere primal and long, long ago — I said, “Which bathroom are you going to be in?” He kind of laughed and said, “Are you getting fresh with me?”

I could not believe I had said it. I was appalled at myself. I walked away, wondering, what is happening to me? what am I fucking doing?? He’s not available, he’s one of the supervisors, for godssakes,  and what about all this zero tolerance stuff? Not that I really think he would report me for sexually harassing him, but how humiliating: “She just acted really desperate and wanted to come into the bathroom with me.” Crap.

But I was totally swooning; aroused for the rest of the night. I had these pictures filling my head — thanks to that lovely Muse who seemed to have left my bedroom for once and followed me to work! He’s a man who is really into details; he wants everyone to follow the details, to do everything in a very specific way, even if it’s very complicated, because he wants a thing to be perfect. And I wanted to tell him, “You could come to my house, in the middle of nowhere, and think of some really complicated thing that you would have to teach me how to do, over & over, until I got it right; except that you would always change the rules halfway through it, so that I could never get it right, and then, of course, I’d have to be punished over & over for not paying attention…” That’s not cheating, I thought. That’s not sex. He wouldn’t be being unfaithful to anyone if he were just trying to teach me how to do something the right way and I was just sort of incapable of really learning… But of course, it’s cheating. I was just astounding myself with these crazy thought processes.

And then every time I looked at him, he’d be looking right at me.

At one point, he was leaning against the counter, doing some paperwork, and I walked up to him. He said, “Yes, Marilyn?” and I was going to blurt out, “I have a house in the middle of nowhere.” But, instead, I said, “Are you able to read minds?”

He said, “Sometimes, yeah, I can.”

I said, “Okay. That’s good.” And I started to walk away.

But he said, “Why? Do you want me to read yours right now?”

Surrendering, I said, “Yes, I sure do.”

Last night, when I got home, it was late and that full moon was shining down on that wide-open valley. The night for miles and miles was so black except for that moon, those stars, and I was outside of my house that is in the middle of nowhere. Out there in that crazy, quiet, ancient town, that doesn’t care who I am, where I’ve been, what I’m ever doing; that doesn’t pop up with some unexpected news that I might be going to prison for the thoughts that are in my head.

And I thought about that guy. That gorgeous, gorgeous guy who is so inappropriate for me in every way. And I thought about desire, how it can just spring up from who knows where and overpower me like that. I’m old enough to  know now that I will always be waiting for my Top, that man who can expertly cause me to submit and then punish me even when I get it right. That’s how I will always be and who I will always be waiting for, even though he never shows up.

I told the sky: my heart is an aching wound; my cunt is an aching wound, but my mind, with all its magnificent stories still bursting to get out of me– my mind is this wide-open valley, black as night, under a thousand shooting stars that are exploding all over the sky.  I will, indeed, hold out forever for Daddy to finally come and claim his little puta.


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