Any text ladies out there

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Waiting, which renders everything provisional, which suspends progress or conclusion of any kind, is worse than clarity. Your absence has gone through me Like thread through a needle. Everything I do is stitched with its color. Merwin 1 1 x W. In the most memorable scene of the film Secretarynothing happens. The protagonist, Lee, sits as still as possible, her hands planted firmly on the desk in front of her.

She has been instructed by her lover, who is also her sexually sadistic employer, to hold this position until he returns. Lee offers up her violent passivity as proof of her love, and her physical humiliations are like religious devotions. Hoping to gratify her lover by depriving herself of food, she declines into hunger-induced delirium in which she experiences a hallucinatory vision of her therapist. The monks used to wear thorns on their temples, and the nuns wore them sewn inside their clothing.

Like centuries of monks, nuns, and mystics before her, Lee transforms her inertia and hunger into an active occupation through the performance of sacrificial pain. Hunger is a particularly intensified iteration of waiting: acute wanting directed toward a palpably absent object. The literal hunger of mystics like Catherine of Siena, who famously fasted for much of her life, corresponds to a greater hunger, necessarily insatiable, for communion with God.

But how exactly does waiting figure into contemporary romance? Distance is not a redistribution of presence but an evasion or a thwarted expectation, like a phantom limb. This image might seem to undermine the usual marital tropes: A sort of inverse Miss Havisham, Lee deserts her conventional lover at the altar in favor of a sexually deviant relationship.

She is the abandoning, not the abandoned, party, and her passivity is chosen, not imposed. But despite this, she represents yet another variation on the familiar figure of the woman waiting. Initially, this woman wove while her husband went off to war; later, she donned a wedding dress and waited at the altar for a man who would never come; finally, she settled behind her telephone or her mailbox, first analog, then digital, to wait for men who would probably never call or write.

As Barthes elaborates.

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Historically, the discourse of absence is carried on by the Woman…. It is Woman who gives shape to absence, elaborates its fiction, for she has time to do so…. A man is not feminized because he is inverted but because he is in love. The figure at the desk, with her tattered wedding dress, her throbbing hunger, her clenched hands, could only have been a woman.

At first, everything was good, as it tends to be in the early stages, after the first bouts of effortless intimacy, when your body fits so neatly into a foreign body that it seems to have returned to a familiar place. I received his day-after text promptly, approximately seven hours after I left his bed.

The text was a ritual gesture, and its content mattered less than its arrival within the allotted twenty-four hours, before the possibility of future interaction expired. In its immediate aftermath I did not wait. But as our conversation acquired momentum and settled into a comfortable cadence, I found the distribution of my attention shifting. Some part of it was withheld, repurposed, devoted to measuring the increasing lengths of his silences.

He was beginning to recede, and I was beginning to wait. As long as he was the unanswered party and I could imagine him in a state of painful expectation, I felt invulnerable. I fantasized about never replying, about savoring my silence and his pd anxiety for the rest of my life, but I never managed to go very long without answering and reverting to my habitual state of waiting.

In the library, I sat next to a young man with preternaturally red cheeks—they looked painful, scraped—who seemed to be conducting a survey of eighteenth-century botanical atlases. For hours, he sat hunched over his laptop, scrutinizing archival documents that somebody, perhaps he, had laboriously scanned. Sometimes he took notes by hand. Not once did I ever see him check his e-mail or Facebook, as I often did, only to find that no one had contacted me since the last time I checked, five minutes before.

The botany boy, to whom I had never spoken, was never in attendance. Maybe these sessions occurred when he did his laborious scanning.

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I lamely sipped sparkling water while my peers, who drank beer, speculated endlessly about the weather, which was so stubbornly noncommittal never torrential but never fully sunny that it left little to the predictive faculties. After I met him, however, I spent much of my time waiting for him. This was more engaging than one might imagine.

Immediately after receiving messages from him, I felt a sense of amazed, vertiginous relief that he had answered—yes, he had answered—and this lasted for several seconds at a time before it reverted to muted panic that soon he would answer at greater and greater intervals and then would cease to answer at all. I experienced a cumulative total of maybe five minutes of joy during the week before I saw him again, not counting sleeping hours.

There is an eroticism to waiting: Sexual fulfillment requires that one urgently desire what is necessarily, torturously delayed. Romantic waiting is, like certain shades of pain, delicate enough to hint teasingly at future gratification but never disagreeable enough to preclude it. What had at first been surprised delight that he existed was transformed, without my noticing it, into fear that his privacy would close back over him.

His silences began to stretch longer and longer, often for days. I wondered, relentlessly and futilely, what this portended. This shift tonal or otherwise in patterns of waiting represented a shift in power: Expectation is a form of subjugation. What is the opposite of waiting: the imposition of waiting on someone else? I wished it on him, ineffectually, like a curse. As his communications petered out, I felt increasingly powerless, besieged. I recalled the medieval conception of God as sustaining us, actively willing us into existence second by second, and I felt that his silence was at every moment draining me of myself.

Depression, too, is a form of waiting, for deliverance or vindication or a sudden onslaught of meaning that fails, devastatingly, to arrive. Smith exhorts the depressive to throw herself entirely into some proximate thing, to repopulate the vast stretches of undifferentiated blankness with something like events.

One tries to foist sequences back onto a slop of time that has come to consist in the recurring, harping note of absence. Why did I obey the unspoken imperative to wait? Was I trying, like Lee, to prove my affection through my mute endurance? Was my inability to revert my experience of duration to its former state, when his silence was not perceived as a continual laceration, indeed was not perceived at all, somehow masochistic?

Or perhaps I felt waiting was better than mourning. She was intentionally left up in the air about his intentions. One or two letters went unanswered. The woman waited and waited, in vain. It is waiting that keeps one captive at the desk, determined to see things through until he returns or one starves, whichever comes first.

It is that women wait for men: They wait for their Tinder matches to initiate contact, for men to propose to them after years of dating or to ask them on dates at all, for the decisive day-after text a custom that I realized with some surprise has antecedents in classical Japan; in The Tale of Genjinoblewomen anxiously await morning-after haikus in the wake of their nocturnal exploits. Can I say something yet? Should I call? My advice, ingrained in me by years of comparable counsel from comparably responsive female friends, is always to wait.

Waiting is the rule, the convention, tacitly enforced by men who retreat from female aggression and actively perpetuated by women who self-police. In the OdysseyPenelope awaits the return of her husband for twenty years, weaving a funeral shroud for her father during the day and unraveling it during the night to put off intermediary suitors, one of whom she will wed when the interminable tapestry is finally complete.

Penelope is the Any text ladies out there of an oral lyrical tradition that excluded women, and it is only fitting that a male authorship relegated her to the sort of maddening inactivity that waiting so often entails. Like Miss Havisham, condemned to tread the same obsessive mental routes over and over again, Penelope is doomed to weave and unweave the same tired des to no discernable end.

The woman who loves you. To the male narrator, the waiting woman is a comforting inevitability. Of course, waiting women have also spoken for themselves. By now I am so tired of waiting, so overcome by longing and by grief, through the so little faith and much forgetting of whom of whose return I, weary, am bereaved. But she turns deaf ears unto my plea, scorning my false and foolish thoughts, as he to his return stays also deaf.

And so with weeping whence my eyes are filled, I make piteous these waters and this sea; while he lives happy there upon his hills. This is what waiting is: the transformation of time into misery. The work follows a woman waiting for a telephone call not, we p, forthcoming from a man she loves:. I wish to God I could make him cry. I wish I could make him cry and tread the floor and feel his heart heavy and big and festering in him.

I wish I could hurt him like hell. The story ends inconclusively, as it must. Resolution would be too relieving: It is inimical to the uncertainties and frustrations of waiting. Waiting is sustained by the possibility of fulfillment yet to be decisively precluded. If she believed with any certainty Any text ladies out there the call in question would never come, then her orientation would change: She might grieve, but she would no longer wait.

The man who neglects to telephone is certain that a woman is waiting on the other end of the line, and this is why he is not waiting, why he feels no urge to confirm that she is still there with her hands placed, as instructed, on the desk. The woman waiting by the phone follows Penelope in performing activities that represent a particularly poignant kind of stasis. For every image she weaves, there is a countervailing un-weaving: for every advance, a retreat.

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There is no progression, just endless circling around the same fixed point of obsession. Waiting itself is her occupation and preoccupation.

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If women historically have been the ones who wait, it is at least in part because most cultures have confined them to state of involuntary idleness. Penelope is not permitted to leave home to participate in the war effort, and Lee is the secretary, not the boss. The gendered distribution of waiting assumes a hierarchy of time and activity in which men set the terms and fix the schedules.

One who waits is in a state of incompleteness and waits for completion. There emerges a metaphysical dependence: If togetherness is completion, then separation is fragmentation. The integrity of the lover is conditional upon the beloved, the eternally awaited. Barthes makes two suggestions, both radical. First, he suggests that love is a question of waiting, and second, that waiting is essentially feminine. The lover waits, speaks, entreats, but the beloved is constitutionally silent. To love is to be jolted out of the self by the strangeness of another person, and the beloved entrances precisely because of his unutterable difference—the most basic and insuperable absence.

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Maybe love is the recovery of some former, half-remembered unity, and what we experience is just the aftermath of a prior separation. Love and sex must honor difference: The beloved must continue to resist assimilation into the self, must remain apart, elusive, an adored, if tonally inconstant, mystery.

Waiting is consuming. At times it is terrible, a wound that cannot be mitigated but must instead be mutely survived. But waiting in some form is necessary. Stories require displaced elements, problems that plague us enough to keep us reading and caring. Investment is diffuse, and present enjoyment is predicated on the projection of future fulfillment. Just as delay intensifies narrative and deferral intensifies orgasm, difference intensifies love.

The alternative to dejected waiting, then, is patience, the art of elective waiting: a capitulation that women author, a passivity over which we assert ownership and which we might come to more comfortably inhabit. When we identify with it, even the worst of it, waiting becomes an end in itself. It can set in when one has waited for something for so long, without seeing any s of imminent fulfillment, that the object of expectation gradually begins to fade, and yet one does not stop waiting.

Waiting without expectation is like prayer, devotion undertaken without the expectation of immediate reward or acknowledgment. There is no true not-waiting, anyway. What seems like fullness is just an intimation of filling, a preview of a more complete dissolution.

What I want—to not wait, to converge—is impossible. I want everything, all at once, every part of myself touching every part of you at every moment. An intimacy as absolute as this could only be violent, a rupture. It would conceive of flesh as no more than barrier. It would hurt. I have wanted to admit you into my privacy: I have craved a feast of trespass and violation. And at times I have wanted you to wrench me apart and enter into me until the only life I remember is your life and the only word I remember is your name.

Any text ladies out there

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