In early January of 2015, I unsuccessfully attempted to read a biography of Fyodor Dostoevsky. This marked the point at which my adult life was put on pause.
It all began in a studio apartment in Chicago’s Wrigleyville neighborhood just off Clark Street. I was sitting on my ex-boyfriend’s bed with the rather large book spread open on my lap, when my ex plopped down next to me. Said ex will hence forth be referred to as Randall. Randall kissed me and pushed the book away. I repositioned the book, and politely told him I wanted to read. Randall proceeded to throw a shit fit of epic proportions.
He flew off the bed and began to violently pack his gym bag as I periodically inquired as to what his fucking problem was (but, you know, considerably more politely than that and (frankly) more politely than Randall deserved). Randall kept saying nothing in a voice so whiny Nancy Spungen would say, “My God, he’s a bit much…” I had informed Randall, earlier that morning, I wanted to spend the night at my own apartment. Not okay. See, Randall had this thing about me having any kind of life, friends, hobbies, or interests outside of him. Female independence was a real pet peeve of Randall’s. Apparently, me wanting a tiny amount of alone time with my cats was the predecessor for the shit fit. As I would not be at Randall’s that night—as I had the audacity to deny him access to my body for an astronomically long 24 hours!—I owed him sex that morning. Of course, Randall did not say as much directly. Randall was very excellent at being a shitty person, so he could basically say anything but the shitty thing he was thinking. When you inferred the shitty thing, and called him out on it, he would snarl like a dog while pulling his hair and screaming, “You’re putting words in my mouth!” That morning, he skirted around the issue of me being obligated to fuck him.
“I thought we could have a fun morning,” he said, “Since you’re going home to read to tonight.” He said the word “read” with an extraordinary amount of contempt for a person who claimed he wanted to be a writer. (Randall very rarely wrote, and perhaps that’s why he was so very threatened when I wrote.)
Oh, lord-I-do-not-believe-in, was I in trouble with Randall that morning. It was a two hour argument, in which every indiscretion and flaw of mine was brought to the table as Randall bellowed, gasped, and grunted in rage. I tried to tell him, over and over again, how sometimes I’m just not in the mood, and there’s no particular reason for that, and it doesn’t have anything to do with him or how much I’m attracted to him. I just don’t feel like having sex sometimes, the way I don’t feel like eating or sleeping or watching television or making plush pigs out of scraps of felt sometimes. The fact a human woman was not a 24 hour sex toy was unfathomable to the brilliant Randall, who apparently possessed a libido on par with Lord Byron’s during a summer in Venice. After failing to explain to Randall several times that it’s actually possible not want to have sex sometimes, he began a half hour tirade about how personally insulting my occasional lack of sex drive was to him. My sex drive, like everything, was about Randall:
I’m never not in the mood. I can’t comprehend how you’re not in the mood. That’s crazy. That makes me so insecure. Don’t you care that I’m insecure? It’s obvious you’re not attracted to me, or not as attracted to me as I am to you. It’s really weird that you would rather read than have a “fun morning.” I think you have intimacy issues. You should see a psychiatrist. I don’t understand why you need so much alone time. Your need for privacy is off-putting. No one else would put up with that in a relationship. It’s not normal. You’re not normal. You don’t understand because you haven’t had as many romantic relationships as me, but trust me. I’m right. You are not normal. This is not normal.
I put with this. For two hours that morning, six hours when he called me to yell at me more that night, and for so many more months.
This behavior, and other similarly shitty behavior, was pretty much par for the course for the remaining year and a half of our relationship. I wish I had not stayed. I lack the terminology to put the draining and damaging nature of abuse into words. All I can say is it sucks. Abuse really, really sucks. Committing two years of your life to someone who is not cognitively capable of love sucks. Putting your dreams and passions on hold to please someone who cannot possibly be pleased sucks. Being with someone who is threatened, rather than supportive, as you become happier and healthier and more confident sucks. Feeling like a bad person for flinching in the presence of a 240-pound man (making him roughly 75 pounds heavier than you) with a hair-trigger temper who just chucked your laptop across the room sucks. He never hit you, not really, so you have no right to flinch when he screams at you, right? When I told Randall I was leaving, he gave a speech. He basically spelled out everything I knew he was doing wrong, everything I had tried to make him see over and over again, and he seemed so sincere, like he’d reached some kind of epiphany. I thought, maybe, he would come back to me, be the person I thought he was when I met him. I left anyway. I knew I could not forgive, even if he did change. Some things are not forgivable. But I left with hope. I mentioned to my cousin a week after the breakup that I was optimistic he would change in the future. Maybe losing me would be a turning point in his life. My cousin burst out laughing.
“No, no, no, no,” she said, “Oh, God no. I know guys like this. Change is not possible. Give him two weeks, and he’ll decide he was a victim in the situation. Give him two months, and he’ll have a new girlfriend to torture.”
Call my cousin Nostradamus because this is exactly what happened! I pray to the Lord-I-do-not-believe-in every night for the new girlfriend.
For almost a year and a half of my life, I was unable to have any hobbies. Randall did not like me to have interests that did not directly involve him, and some of my interests are quite solitary. I like reading, baking, and walking, and I like to do all of these things by myself. Once, I wanted to make cinnamon rolls on my day off. I told Randall I was going to run and get the ingredients for cinnamon rolls, and he grabbed me and started kissing my neck. I did not want to have sex with him. I can list a million things I would have rather done than have sex with him, including, but not limited to: listen to 7 hours straight of Billy Joel records, marathon watch Duck Dynasty with Ken Starr, argue with my dad about the proper pronunciation of celebrity names, and ingest large quantities of dark chocolate (I’m allergic to dark chocolate). Saying “no,” however, would provoke a shit fit that would last hours. Saying “no” meant I would not be making cinnamon rolls that day. I just closed my eyes and toughed it out.
What’s the god damn point of all this? My god, is she still talking? What the fuck?
Okay, let me explain! I am making up for lost time. I have always been a baker. I have a million wonderful recipes I’ve accrued over the years from friends, family members, and the Internet. I think it’s time I branched out. I want to try my own thing. I am going to try to make my own recipes. My math is terrible, but I have some super smart friends and relatives who are helping me figure out this whole mind-boggling baking ratio science shit. Every other week, I am going to attempt a new recipe.
Remember that whole slapping-the-book-out-of-my-hand-for-sex thing? I miss reading too. In addition to baking, I’m going to be reading and re-reading a variety of books during this time. I am going to make lists of books for you related (probably tangentially sometimes) to the baked goods I am creating. This week I am attempting to make cookies inspired by apple pie. My first list shall be Wisti’s American Classics.
I can’t do it alone. First off, I’m working on losing weight (aren’t we all?). Ideally, I would like Randall to be 90 to 95 pounds heavier than me rather than 75. Second, it’s going to be tough to keep generating ideas week after week. I am asking for your help. I want you to eat the delicious things I make and recommend list topics.
Here are the rules:
- The first person to comment will get baked goods mailed to them.
- In your comment, please give me a type/flavor of baked good you would like OR a list of books you would like me to make.
- As I’ve never attempted my own recipes before, and it’s complicated, I can’t do gluten free at this time. Vegan is an option.
Read, subscribe, laugh, enjoy! I have a lot of lost time to make up for, and a lot of love to spread. My love was held captive for two years by someone who foolishly believed love is a finite thing, and was frightened that if I loved someone else too much, or something else too much, there wouldn’t be enough left. As if you can ever love too much or too big or too strong! How ridiculous! How incredibly fucking sad.
Tl;DR: My ex is a piece of shit with legs that started walking around abusing women and I’m going to make baked goods and read a lot. If you give me attention, I might send you cookies.
 The first thing Randall told me about this mother was that she was “selfless.” Never date a man who describes his mother—or any female, for that matter—as selfless with misty eyes. Seriously.
 Guess who Mark Wisti is talking about! Winner gets a prize: Chef LaBow, Leonard DiCapricorn, Smith McFairchild, and MacDonald Jacobs! Bonus points if you can guess who my grandmother is talking about when she refers to Cecelia Silverstein!