Sunday, April 30, 2006

The Final Cut

Please note: The following is posted for entirely personal and selfish reasons. I'm not going to explain what they are. Not one word of it has anything to do with sex. It doesn't fit with the "theme" of this blog. If any of that will bug you, don't read it.

For the same personal and selfish reasons, I am turning off comments on this post. It is what it is. It wasn't written to foster group discussion, to garner sympathy, or provide anyone with any personal gain except myself. If it happens that you get something out of it or relate to it on an personal level, that's cool, but that's not what it was put here for.

If you feel compelled to share something with me in relation to this, you can use the email address. However, I don't want to hear any potential solutions, negations, or expressions of concern or sympathy related anything I wrote below.
The only thing I'd really be interested in hearing is if any of it looks similar to the stuff you keep in your own "secret room." If it's anything else, please don't bother to write. Thanks.

...I don't really want to talk about it. If we go out drinking after work, if I end up spending the night with her, maybe I’ll say more, as we talk afterward, as a way to explain something about myself, why I'm the way I am…

I don’t know you at all
, she will say, a few months into our affair, but if you ever want to talk...and I’ll smile a skull’s smile and one by one the lights will go off inside me.
--Nick Flynn, Another Bullshit Night in Suck City

What is to give light must endure the burning.
--Viktor E. Frankl


Things that are true about me


...all the time

Things that are not true about me


...but that I believe anyway

Every weapon you can use to wound me with

Things that I secretly believe render me unlovable

Things I don’t want you to know

Things I am ashamed of

The one room you'll never see

Everything ugly inside, now outside

In no particular order:

• I think I am inherently flawed and unlovable.

• At the same time, I’m incredibly narcissistic.

• My body is imperfect.
--I am fat
--I’m not pretty enough
--I am getting gray hair
--I am too hairy in general
--My skin is all wrong. It’s marked and scarred, but not in a sexy way—in ways I think everyone thinks are disgusting. When I was an adolescent, and not anywhere near pregnant, and a size 0, my skin gave me white stretch mark scars that will never go away, and now look like thin rivers embedded in the skin of my hips, stomach and breasts. And then to counterbalance, as an adult, my skin began to break out as if I were an adolescent.
--My breasts are big and have never defied gravity the way they’re “supposed” to
--No matter how skinny I’ve been, or how much I exercise, my stomach has never been totally flat.
--My feet are really big.

• I think too much.
Here’s how it will go. When you first meet me, I’ll tell you this; and you will tell me that’s impossible, that how intensely I think is what’s great about me. And then you will know me for a while, and then you will tell me I think too much, and that it’s bad and I should stop it. I won’t be able to. You won’t be able to keep up. If you manage to stick it out a little longer, you’ll get to see how I deliberately entrap myself with my own mind. You’ll see how I can deliberately trap you with it. You’ll hate it. You’ll probably grow to resent it. You’ll give up trying to “help” me with this. You’ll get tired and leave.

• I will verbally agree with you when you tell me that I think too much, and that this is a bad thing. But I won’t really agree with you. What I’ll really be confirming is you’re right to think there’s something—anything—wrong with me. But I won’t really think that thinking less is a good thing.

• I can’t accept a compliment graciously. Even when I pretend to, I don’t really believe it.

• Whenever someone tells me they like me, are fascinated by me, or love me, the first thing I think to myself is, “Just wait.” (Interpreted as, “Once you really know me, you’ll see.”) The second thing I think is, “What are they trying to get from me/get me to do by saying this?”

• I tell people I like them, am fascinated by them, or love them, and though it’s never completely a lie, it also somehow always feels like a lie, or that I mean it but only “to a point.” I say these things because I want to feel these things. And because I like how it makes the other person feel good. In other words, I’m saying it to get something from them. Generally affection. Sometimes other things.

• Therefore, I am selfish and manipulative.

• I’ve told people I was in love with them. But in truth, I have no idea what really being in love feels like.

• I worry I’m kind of dead inside.

• I can never fully give myself to anyone. Fear makes that impossible. I’ll only give you so much of myself, no matter how much I like you. I believe if I give you everything, it means you will use it to destroy me.

• I want to find someone who will push me to give everything to them and who won't destroy me afterwards. I'm too afraid to take the chance to find that person.

• In my public life, people tell me I seem completely together and almost intimidatingly competent. That’s because I’m terrified they’re going to hurt me or my feelings. I’d rather scare you away with my fake competence than take the chance you discover my real vulnerabilities.

• I secretly believe (suspect?) all men take at least some pleasure in hurting or manipulating women, particularly emotionally. I think it makes them feel powerful and sexy, even though they don’t like to admit it.

• I secretly believe no one—especially a man—can love (or even see) ME (whomever “me” is). At best, I think they can only love my love of them.

• I secretly believe all men think I am the “good enough” type one bides his time with until the “real” or "someone better" woman comes along.

• I am too selfless. I put everyone’s needs in front of my own. This may make you happy for a time. Then, you will find I am giving you so much of what you need that it will be overwhelming. You’ll never be able to match it in its intensity. This will make you feel guilty. It will eventually make you resent me, or just not want to deal with me.

• I am too selfish. I want everyone to give me too much of what I need. And even then, it won’t be enough. I’ll want more.

• I will resent you because you can’t match my level of giving. Even though I know it’s unfair.

• I think anything I do that is solely for me is bad and selfish.

• I’ll do things solely for me anyway.

• You can easily manipulate me and completely fuck with my head by telling me that my words or actions are hurting you, even if I know it’s irrational that you feel that way.

• I have an uncanny ability to intuit what you’re really thinking or feeling underneath what you’re saying or doing up front, without you telling me. Even when you don’t want me to know. This will bug the shit out of you. Sometimes I will tell you I know what’s going on. Sometimes I won’t, but will use it to my (or your) advantage, anyway.

• I’ll want you to intuit what I’m thinking even when I don’t tell you. I’ll know you can’t do that, but I’ll be disappointed and let down every time that you can’t.

• I’ll also think it means you don’t care to know.

• I will be able to tell when you’re lying most of the time. I will call you on it, question you on it. This may tempt you to lie to me just for the challenge of seeing if you can get away with it.

• I believe you will lie to me. I will always be on the lookout for when it will happen.

• Even though I will never say it, I secretly believe people lie to me not because there is anything inherently wrong with them, but because they think I’m not worth being honest to.

• I’m too proud to ask for help. I would rather suffer alone than ask for help. If I ask for help, I’m really, really far gone.

• I’m proud that I’d rather suffer alone than ask for help.

• I’m ashamed that I’m proud that I’d rather suffer alone than ask for help.

• If I hint around that I need help and you don’t pick up on it, I will think it means you don’t care about me. I won’t ever ask you again.

• I will never fully believe any compliment you give me, but I will want you to compliment me constantly anyway. I will fish for them in a way that makes me feel ashamed and disgusted with myself.

• I will fully believe any insult or criticism you ever say to me, big or small. I will pretend it didn’t hurt me, or that it didn’t matter. And it will hurt me and it will matter to me forever, and the rawness of its first sting will never decrease.

• I’m completely brimming over with love and emotion that I desperately want to give someone, but have no outlet for, and that I can't seem to let out even if an outlet shows up, for fear of overwhelming the person. It's a painful way to live.

• I’m terrified of being boring. I suspect I am.

• I’m terrified of being mainstream. I suspect I am.

• I’m terrified of being an untalented writer. I suspect I am.

• I’m terrified of being weak. I know I am.

• Even though I like solitude, I’m also terrified of being lonely. I fear this makes me come across as desperate.

• Because I’m terrified of being lonely, I keep people at bay so I don’t have to end up watching them abandon me.

• I’m certain I’ll always be alone.

• If you want me, and I like you, I will try to make you go away. Repeatedly. To see if you will come back. I don’t expect you will. If you do, I will be pleased for a spell, and then will get insecure again and will try to test you again. I have absolutely no idea how long it would take for me to feel there were enough tests. No one’s ever stuck around long enough to find out.

• I’m terrified of being manipulated by people.

• I was too stupid to understand that I was being sexually assaulted when it happened.

• I have had an STD.

• I think I’m beautiful, and that makes me ashamed of myself.

• I also think that I’m the only one who can see, or who will ever see, that I’m beautiful.

• I believe anyone who tells me I'm beautiful has an agenda.

• I deliberately uglify myself so no one will see me. And so I don't have to feel like someone's only paying attention to me because of only my looks or my body. And so that I can continue to confirm for myself that I truly am disgusting and unlovable. I may even be using this post right now to do this.

• I think any positive statement I make about myself in public, even if actually true, will be perceived as arrogance.

• I have not had sex with another person for somewhere around three years. This started out as a self-imposed choice. Now I don't know if it's still because it's my choice or because no one would want to ask me.

• But I have had phone sex occasionally in the past three years. Some of it with complete strangers, some of it with an ex-boyfriend who I know I won't get emotionally attached to again. I know that's probably not constructive. But I've done it, anyway. (See next item.)

• I am attracted to (I deliberately choose?) men who will leave me, cheat on me, or who can’t fully be there for me, whether emotionally, geographically, or both.

• I find men who are completely, overwhelmingly into me to be frightening, stalkerish, unattractive, and/or clearly lacking in judgment. (As in, I would never be a member of a club who would have me. As in, if you really like me, there must be something wrong with you.)

• I choose men who are unmotivated or emotional pushovers because I’m afraid of being controlled.

• What I really, really crave is someone powerful who can take control, who can call me out, and who is smart enough to see through my bullshit and diversionary tactics so that I am forced to break down and surrender myself in trust. Someone who has the power to break me, but chooses not to anyway. I’m dying for this person. I’m also terrified of this person.

• I’m jealous and needy. Not in the “I want to know where you are every minute of the day” way, or the “you can’t have any other friends” way. In the “I want you to tell me I’m the one you like best and I want you to show and tell me that constantly” way.

• Obviously, re the above, I’m totally insecure and often feel out of control of my emotions in relationships.

• Whereas, I’m rarely insecure or out of control of my emotions when I’m alone.

• Therefore, I choose to go through long stretches of “recuperative” aloneness.

• They never feel particularly recuperative.

• In the words of another woman of around my age: “I was punk; now I’m just stupid. I’m so awful.”

• I was born with a particular talent that I’m letting rot and go to waste because I’m too afraid to use it and fail.

• A good majority of the time, I feel like I’m playacting. Or faking somehow. Saying what I know people need to hear. Taking on roles and responsibilities that will make others feel comfortable, while I feel completely detached from them.

• I care way too much about what other people think about me.

• I can only judge my relevance or importance in the world based on how I affect other people, or what other people think about me.

• Other people’s responses dictate my actions and behaviors, rather than my own needs or any true sense of self.

• I’m not sure I have any true sense of self.

• I think you knowing these things will be the end of you wanting to know me.

• I'm terrified that maybe these things are all I am, or all I ever will be.

You gain strength, courage and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face. You are able to say to yourself, "I have lived through this horror. I can take the next thing that comes along." You must do the thing you think you cannot do.
--Eleanor Roosevelt

Update: When this post was first written, I had faulty information and mistakenly attributed the second opening quote to the wrong person. It's been corrected now. Sorry about that.

Saturday, April 29, 2006

Answer Lady/Ranter Lady

Okay, I've been fairly quiet because I wanted some time to recover from my cranky mood. Said mood is not perfect even still, but it better than it was on Tuesday.

Anyway, I was in the midst of writing responses to the very thoughtful people and mischievous scalawags (yes, Tory darlin', that means you) who left me responses to Tuesday's post. But my response was getting too ridiculously long to fit into that little box, so I'm making it a new post.

Disclaimer: I'm still a bit cranky, so in the end, my writing went a little rant-y. Note in advance that nothing I say, or no tone you might read in, is personally related to anyone's specific comment, but just expresses frustration with things in the world in general. All of you who commented rock my universe, and I'll give each of you a full-on tongue bath if I ever see you. So, now, be a dear and put up with this big ol' rant from little ol' me. Kisses all 'round.

I'm going to respond to general themes from the comments, not respond to specific people ('cept in one case, heh heh), since a few people said similar things, or talked on a variety of the same issues. So, on to my commentary.

Comment 1, on "just keep speaking out/using your blog as a forum/voting":
Many of you have said the only thing to do is to keep speaking out, using our blogs, etc. As this is the only solution I currently have, I do continue to do that. However, this doesn't feel like very much anymore. I've been speaking up for years, and things are getting worse. My ability to make my own, informed health (and other) decisions based on medical fact and scientific development are waning, despite myself and even large organizations screaming for people to pay attention.

As I said in my post, identifying the problem is not the same as creating a venue for change, or even a concerted attempt at one. The vast apathy of those who know these things are happening and say, "Just wait it out" or even those who, like me, just keep saying to others "Isn't this awful? Look how awful!" Simply isn't enough. It's a sad but true fact about humans that most people will not act simply because they heard a disquieting fact, even if they disagree strongly with it. Most people are lazy and don't want to think up a solution on their own to combat the problem. They want someone to say, "HERE is the fact, and HERE is what you have to do to change that fact." They wait for their Gandhi, or Martin Luther King, or whom- or whatever. Until then, they all talk to each other about how awful it is and sit around wondering who's going to do something about it. A bunch of us running around just saying "HERE is the problem, LOOK!" may build paranoia and less positive opinion polls, but it doesn't do shit in terms of change.

Ergh, I know my tone sounds like I'm angry at the people who said "just keep talking." I'm not. I'm just frustrated at the general malaise of the people in this country (and everywhere). And frustrated that the only solution that's ever given to me is to write my congressperson.

Comment 2, on religion/conservative religious convictions:
Though not particularly religious myself, I do align myself with a religious group--I am Jewish. I have absolutely no problem with people holding whatever religious convictions they have, and exercising those convictions for THEMSELVES in THEIR daily life, so long as they don't try to put them on me or into my government. This expectation I have for others is the same one I have for myself. I am able to understand my faith is not appropriate governance for others.

I am highly suspicious of any public official (or candidate) who feels the need to emphasize how his or her faith influences his or her political views--whether that person is of another faith than mine, or shares a similar religious faith to mine. This is why I would have never voted for George W. Bush. It is also one of many reasons why I didn't vote for Joseph Lieberman in the Democratic primary he ran in, and was very disappointed when Al Gore chose him as a running mate.

(And just for the record, despite having voted in the Democratic primary, I do not consider myself a Democrat. The state I live in does not require you to register with a particular party and also allows you to vote in any party primary if you want to.)

This country's founders, despite being both religious and mostly all of the same religious faith, understood the vast importance of the need for separation of church and state, and why emphasizing that couldn't just be lip service, but needed to be written in as a basic tenet of our constitution. If they could see it, at a time when religion played a far greater role in daily life than it does for most people now, and when they really didn't have any motivation to notice or be considerate of the needs of the tiny minority of people of other religions that existed in their world, it really ought to be even more evident to people in the modern day, with a greater amount of religious diversity in greater numbers around them.

Comment 3, on Tory:
Tory is a naughty, naughty little scamp of a troublemaker who is quite aware of what he was doing and the reactions he would get when he used the specific words he used, and for this he needs a good spanking. ;-P

Yes, Tory, I could feel you laughing when you wrote the first post. Be cognizant, though, that often for many people tone doesn't come across in print. Though I suspect you're well aware of that, and this is exactly why you wrote it the way you did. Now bend over and drop 'em.

Comment 4, on deceivers and the deceived:
However, Tory's point is well taken about the example I chose to excerpt from the Planned Parenthood action alert. This example was an extreme case, and whether you want to argue that the people who went in the wrong door were "stupid," "naive," "confused," or whatever, the more important point I wanted to make got lost by using that particular example. The real point is that these clinics do use more insidious, less obvious confusion tactics to lure women in, and which would make it hard for anyone to understand the center's agenda walking in the door. The names of the clinics imply they are health care centers, when in fact there are no health care professionals there. They often list themselves in phone books and other resources under faulty headings, like "women's health services" or "abortion services." They often claim to provide a full list of medical services that they do not provide. So, if, for example, you are a young woman with not a lot of experience or money who doesn't want her parents to know she's considering getting birth control or having an abortion or whatever, and you look in the phone book under "women's health" and see a center called something innocuous like "The Women's Center" that says it offers free medical and contraceptive services to women, you might just call that place and think it's legit.

The point is not who got fooled, and if they deserved to be fooled, but the deliberate use of behavior designed to mislead and get women to hear their point of view under false pretenses. If these people want to label themselves as an "abortion alternative center" or whatever, then I have no problem with them existing. Okay, I have a problem with them existing, but I recognize their right to exist. I just don't think they have a right to try to deliberately TRY to fool people with completely false information, even if those people happen to be the types naive enough to fall for it. That's like saying the mastermind behind a pyramid scheme, due to his/her brilliant ability to deceive, and despite breaking the law, shouldn't be prosecuted if he/she gets caught because he/she was smart enough to fool enough people. If being smart enough to fool or harm people invalidates crime, than there is no crime.

There's just simply no validity ever to saying if the person is a GOOD enough liar that someone believes him/her, that this then renders the lie acceptable.

Comment 5, on HPV:
Commenters made a number of both correct and incorrect assertions about HPV. I think I'll do an individual post on this topic, so won't go into great detail now. However, I will point out a couple of misconceptions or unclarified points that were made:
  • The only widely used method for detecting the strains of HPV that cause cervical cancer is the PAP test; however, this test does not always effectively detect HPV in women, as HPV can be latent for many years. Any woman who goes for a gynecological appointment gets a Pap. So they would not be "stupidly not asking for the test"--everyone gets one.
  • There is another test that has come out recently that in some cases can confirm pre-cancerous HPV infection. It is not regularly used in examinations. Doctors will usually not conduct this test unless the Pap results come back as irregular, indicating there is a need for further confirmation. See above re effectiveness of Pap as detection. Most women would not ask for this test, because doctors tell them that if the Pap looks okay, there is no need for follow up. Asking for this test would be like randomly asking for a chlamydia test, "just because." Of course, sometimes people will ask for random STD testing, but in general most women--and men--don't ask for it unless they are experiencing symptoms or, if they're responsible types, are about to begin having sex with a new partner. And even if they do take the latter preemptive approach, they certainly don't ask for a new round of testing every time they go to the doctor.
  • Both of these tests for women can only test for infection--the tests can not be used to proactively prevent HPV infection. So whether the woman was "smart" enough to ask for a test or not, all that test can confirm for her is whether she doesn't, may possibly be on the way to having, or has cervical cancer. So, therefore, though many strains of HPV do not cause cancer and may go away on their own, IF a woman takes the test and finds a particular strain of HPV has created cancer in her body, the test is not of much help. Therefore, a vaccination would be the only proactive way to successfully prevent infection. Right now the only potential vaccination that could be available for women is one that must be given pre-infection for it to be effective. In short: the pre-infection vaccination, as of now, would be the ONLY "cure" available--if it were available. Which it is not. Because religious lobbys are affecting the ability of the vaccination to get quickly tested and approved by the FDA.
  • Even if a man wants to be responsible in STD testing, there is no publicly used test for detecting HPV in men. The only way HPV is diagnosed in men is if their lesions or warts are visible to the human eye. Many strains of HPV are not visible to the human eye. As such, many, many men are infected with HPV and have no idea, no symptoms, and no visible signs. Therefore, in most cases there is no reliable way for a woman to verify if her male partner might transmit HPV to her until after the fact. It's a total crapshoot.
  • Penile cancer as a result of HPV is extremely rare. Men are more likely to get anal cancer as a result of HPV. But overall, the dangers of contracting cancer via HPV are far higher for women than for men. (Which, in this blogger's personal, paranoid opinion is one signficant reason that fuck all gets done about this STD in the medical community, and when something does get done that can help, it's so easy for certain groups to try to get it suppressed. If men were getting penile cancer from it in ANY percentage, even a tiny percentage, I think the response to preventing it and finding cures for it would be FAR different, financial pluses or minuses be damned.)
Comment 6, on money, hippies, and voting
  • Money is certainly a prime motivator for policy. But as another commenter pointed out, it is not the only one. Along with Kochanie, I also would like to see the evidence that abortion is a "billion dollar industry." (I have heard other rationales for why it is beneficial for the right-wing to NOT de-legislate abortion, despite always pretending to want to, but I'm not sure I've ever heard that one as being one of them.)
  • I am not a hippie, and I will bitch slap the living daylights out of whomever calls me one (so much for your "peace-and-love" theory, Mr. T)
  • You don't have to be a hippie to hate hypocrisy, stupidity, and extremism
  • I voted

Comment 7, on playing the Nazi card

I knew referring to the "Would you have been a Nazi" test was a danger of diluting my point; I was not specifically trying to call the current administration Nazis, because I also agree that gets people's backs up and nothing gets done. You'll not find anywhere in my post a phrase that in any way says the Bush administration, or right-wing fundamentalists who are trying to control the government are Nazis. You will, however, see me saying that I think right-wing fundamentalists ARE trying to control the government, and that the Bush administration seems disturbingly non-averse to this, which I think is an extremely dangerous thing, and indicative of things that have happened prior to the inception of other scary government regimes.

However, I realize that mentioning the "Would you have been a Nazi" test may have implied that I was saying these people were Nazis. This is not why I mentioned the test. That test was mentioned specifically to make my point about people who might choose to leave the country rather than fight the measures that were being used to change their country and limit their freedom.

And though I will not call anyone a Nazi, I DO feel perfectly fine in pointing out things that are happening that are similar to the political developments, legislative control, and disinformation campaigns that happened at the early stages of (to quote myself) "the Nazi era and other repressive regimes." If the word Nazi is the issue, well then, fine, delete that word. Replace it with fascist or totalitarian or just "other repressive." The one thing we've learned from historical analysis of the rise of these regimes is what the early warning signs were, and the importance of putting those early warning signs together and noticing what is happening EARLY, before it is too late to do anything. I see my civil liberties being taken away in a slow, quiet stream. I see my right to informed, unbiased medical information being taken away. I see my right to have control over my own body, health, choices, and voice to be in grave danger of being taken away. And, though I know this was not implied in the comments, I am not going to be concilliatory about having those things taken from me in any degree.

I don't believe in name-calling. I do believe in the power of calm, rational discussion. But I also believe in saying something when I see extremism beginning to get dangerously indistinguishable from government policy.

It may be true the "other side" sees me as an extremist. They are wrong. An extremist tries to block people's right to express any view or take any action that disagrees with theirs. An extremist tries to legally deny others personal choices and options that do not affect the extremist in any way, except for offending his/her personal religious or moral grounds. An extremist believes in limiting options.

I am not an extremist. My belief is that options, wherever possible, should be as open as possible, for people to exercise as their own lives dictate. I fully support an anti-abortionists right not to have an abortion, and to practice AND preach whatever religion she (or he) feels the need to practice or preach. I expect anti-abortionists to respect my right to have an abortion if I want or need one, and to practice AND preach whatever I feel the need to. And I expect ALL of us to not deliberately subvert and distribute deliberately erroneous public health or education information to serve our own personal agendas.

Comment 8, on Democrats, Republicans, whatever...they're all the same anyway
Okay, first let me indulge myself for a minute, as this thought reminds me of a joke that I heard Jon Stewart say once when I saw him doing the standup in his pre-Daily Show days:
You know, there's really no point in voting anymore. I mean, let's face it, the Democrats and the Republicans are pretty much the same these days.

...Except for the Republicans are evil.

...But other than that, eh, not much difference.

DISCLAIMER: Note this is a JOKE that once made me laugh (and still does), not my personal opinion. No one write me emails or comments saying the problem with the world is people like me who throw around words like "evil" in a political debate. If you need to get that off your chest, by all means, write to Jon Stewart.

Now, onto our regularly scheduled rant.

I understand the impulse that inspires people to make this comment. I hear it all the time. In recent years, the lines on both sides have certainly gotten blurred. Old-school Republicanism is no longer the prime directive of the Republican party. Old-school Democratic liberalism is disappearing from the Democratic party in support of more middle-ground candidates who won't seem "too extreme" to the moderates out there on both sides, and who might pull in more mainstream voters (good god, how I hate that rationale; show some fucking backbone--despite how much I hate the Bush administration, you can never say they don't have some major cojones.)

However, I don't think the statement is quite true. There are certain policy platforms you can still be certain one or the other party is going to keep solidly in their court.

Nonetheless, I don't think when people say this comment they REALLY mean there's no difference between the parties. What they're really saying is they're both letting us down. We're unhappy with how little they are paying attention to the REAL needs of the REAL person-on-the-street. We're sick of how incredibly partisan they've become so that nothing constructive can ever be accomplished. We're tired of all the corruption getting exposed all the time. We're tired of hearing the same old spin bullshit to cover for what's really going on. I think both parties are guilty of all these things. And I think it's no wonder that people are bitter and want to throw up their hands and say, "Who cares? They all suck, anyway."

Which brings me right on back to my original comment in the original post. If we think this is true--that our political options are so limited as to not guarantee us any satisfaction either way, why do we keep saying it and not DOING anything about it. And what should we be doing?

Comment 9, on my brilliant, gorgeous, sexy, luscious readers:
I adore you all. Reading your comments, and watching you engage in discussion with each other instead of only talking straight to me, makes my day. Thanks for being the, smart, expressive, thoughtful, opinionated, exceptional individuals you are. May we always live in a country that allows us to remain so

With all the evol in my heart,


Rant over. Someone c'mere and gimme a massage.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Territorial Pissings

Just because you're paranoid
Don’t mean they're not after you...
I've had a shit day. Which I wasn't expecting to happen.

Despite having written some fairly serious posts this month which may have led some of you to think otherwise, I'd been feeling fairly optimistic for quite a number of weeks. Call it spring fever, call it naiveté flashback, I don't know. But it resulted in me being restless, hopeful, smiley, ready to forge ahead...once I figured out what the hell to forge ahead into. Things seemed on a constant upswing; getting a little higher each day.

Anyway, whatever it was, I could feel it going into a flaming nosedive today, leaving me in a whirring blender of doubt, frustrated helplessness, and repressed anger. Not that there was any one, big event that caused this to happen. More just a collection of little, petty things that I let get to me. With the little, petty thing that frustrates me the most being--I don't know what to do about any of it. It's all there, I can delineate the problems, but the actions to resolve them are so fucking unclear.

I'm not going to get into any of the more personal stuff that contributed to this feeling of frustration, but I will get into a whole bunch of media-influenced stuff that got me there. The below all fell into my lap in the last 24 hours, and so, I present it all to you now, and I will let you look at it all yourself, and then, at the end, I'm gong to ask you a question. And I want anyone who's reading to start talking together until we figure out some kind of answer.

So now, in the case of Syl vs. Universe, I give you:

Exhibit A (click all exhibits to read in full)

The Bush Administration, its allies on Capitol Hill, and the religious base of the Republican Party are opposed to mandatory HPV vaccinations. They prefer to rely on education programs that promote abstinence from sexual activity, and see the HPV vaccine as a threat to that policy.

"I never thought that now, in the twenty-first century, we could have a debate about what to do with a vaccine that prevents cancer," David Baltimore [a scientist who has spent much of his life studying the relationship between viruses and cancer] said. "...this is religious zealotry masked as politics, and it runs against everything that I as a scientist believe in, that I have devoted my life to. We are talking about basic public health now. What moral precepts allow us to think that the risk of death is a price worth paying to encourage abstinence as the only approach to sex?"
Exhibit B
(with thanks to Bitch Ph.D. for the heads up; and note--pic with article shows naked woman's backside, if that will freak out anyone sitting around you)

"...religiously based social conservatives have direct lines to the powers that be within the U.S. government, the administration, Congress, and are influencing public-health policy, practice and research in ways that are unprecedented and very dangerous," says Judith Auerbach, Ph.D., a former NIH official who is now a vice president at the nonprofit American Foundation for AIDS Research. In fact, Glamour has found that on issues ranging from STDs to birth control, some radical conservative activists have used fudged and sometimes flatly false data to persuade the government to promote their agenda of abstinence until marriage. The fallout: Young women now read false data on government websites, learn bogus information in federally funded sex-education programs and struggle to get safe, legal contraceptives—all of which, critics argue, may put them at greater risk for unplanned pregnancies and STDs.

Exhibit C
(Extracted from an email from Planned Parenthood that landed in my inbox today)
An Indiana mother recently accompanied her daughter and her daughter's boyfriend to one of Indiana's Planned Parenthood clinics, but they unwittingly walked into a so-called "crisis pregnancy center" run by an anti-abortion group, one that shared a parking lot with the real Planned Parenthood clinic and was designed expressly to lure Planned Parenthood patients and deceive them.

The group took down the girl's confidential personal information and told her to come back for her appointment, which they said would be in their "other office" (the real Planned Parenthood
office nearby). When she arrived for her appointment, not only did the Planned Parenthood staff have no record of her, but the police were there. The "crisis pregnancy center" had called them, claiming that a minor was being forced to have an abortion against her will.

The "crisis pregnancy center" staff then proceeded to wage a campaign of intimidation and harassment over the following days, showing up at the girl's home and calling her father's workplace. Our clinic director reports that the girl was "scared to death to leave her house." They even went to her school and urged classmates to pressure her not to have an abortion.

The anti-choice movement is setting up these "crisis pregnancy centers" across the country. Some of them have neutral-sounding names and run ads that falsely promise the full range of reproductive health services, but they dispense anti-choice propaganda and intimidation instead. And according to a recent article in The New York Times, there are currently more of these centers in the U.S. than there are actual abortion providers. What's more, these centers have received $60 million in government grants. They're being funded by our tax dollars. (emphasis blogger's)

(This example seems particularly extreme, but even the more regular "crisis pregnancy centers'" practices would still be labeled extreme in their deceptiveness. Click here and here to read other details and what one Congresswoman is trying to do to stop such "clinics.")

Exhibit D

The South Carolina bill, proposed by Republican Rep. Ralph Davenport, would make it a felony to sell devices used primarily for sexual stimulation and allow law enforcement to seize sex toys from raided businesses.


Other states that ban the sell of sex toys include Alabama, Georgia, Mississippi and Texas...

Exhibit E (otherwise known as "the imbecilic icing on the piece-of-shit cake")

Pick one day, (Saturdays are best) and go to the abortion clinic of your choice. Just stand there 1 or 2 hours as a silent witness for yourself, your country and God[...]

The alternative if you don't is...watching more girls riding in limos, wearing high heels and short skirts marching into abortion clinics killing the next generation of our America. Tea anyone?

And that's just a 24-hour smattering of stuff that's been coming my way for many months now. And so, my questions:

Is it not clear yet we're in crisis territory in this country? How many more examples do we need? Glamour magazine is writing about it, for christ's sake.

It's been incremental, sure. You might not even feel the water's temperature rising on a daily basis. But do the math. Add it all together: There are zealots in the government, controlling policy, sending out false and dangerous propaganda that will harm a portion (if not all) of our population, posing threats to public health, scientific advancement, sexual freedom, and privacy rights.

Is this description starting to sound familiar? Does it remind you of anything?

Call me paranoid. I don't care. You know, last week, a whole bunch of bloggers were doing one of those meme quizzes called "The Would You Have Been a Nazi Test." I have my doubts about the validity of measuring your tendency toward fascism on, but the test supposedly showed whether you would fight, leave the country, stay and do nothing, or actively support the Nazi regime.

No, I don't think any of you reading would be a Nazi. On all the blogs I was reading where people did it, almost everyone came out "the expatriate." (Perhaps not surprising for bloggers, who tend to be outsider types.)

Well, I'll tell you what. Getting my papers in order and lining up a few potential single guys I know in other countries, just in case, sounds mighty appealing some days, and far easier than figuring out a plan to stop what's going down. But here's the thing:

I don't want to become the expatriate. It's my fucking country. I shouldn't have to leave in order to get to wear any fucking thing I want when I buy my birth control pills. I shouldn't have to leave to get factual health information from my government. I shouldn't have to leave to protect myself from dying of cancer.

And I don't want to leave this country just before the axe falls and leave all the people behind me to suffer who, unlike me, aren't privileged enough to have the funds or the resources to get out. I don't want to watch from a distance as people I know and love have their civil and human rights trampled on.

What I want is to do something to make this country change course from its current trajectory before it's too late.

So here's the big question. What do we do?

Yeah, yeah, I've been writing to my congresspeople. I've been volunteering for Planned Parenthood and anti-right-wing organizations. I've been marching. I've been calling people to get them out to vote. I've been posting stuff on my blog to raise awareness. I'm sending in my donation to the ACLU this week, damnit.

But I've got to tell you, none of that feels like very much. And you look back on history, and you think, when the water started rising, was there anything that those people could have done before it was over their heads? What could they have done?

The Nazi era and other repressive regimes have been studied ad nauseum. We all know what happened, how it escalated, how no one "did anything" until it was too late. But has anyone, anywhere, actually analyzed what "anything" could have been done to stop the wave of an extremely oppressive regime from crashing over the everypeople's heads?

Speaking out individually seems not enough. I feel something more concerted, something more powerful (and I'm not talking violence here) needs to happen.

But I don't know what. And I feel so fucking helpless. And pissed off.

Help me find ideas. What can be done?

(And don't think you can't answer this if you live in other countries. Ideas from anywhere are useful for troubleshooting solutions.)

Sugasm #31

The best of the sex blogs by the bloggers who blog them.

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The Driver (

First Time - Steaming the Windows in the Backseat of a Car (

Five Minutes (

How Would It Be? (

Illicit Liason (

Low-Carb Foreplay (

masculine/Feminine (

Stairs (

Tara’s Private Diary: Sucking Him Dry (

Taxi Cab Confessions (

Thoughts on Sex: Sex Advice, Sex Commentary, Sex News, Reviews, Interviews, Sexual Politics

Burning Rubber Interview (

CockBlogging Wednesday 22 + A Guest Review (

The Future’s So AdBrite, I Gotta Get Paid (

Hand-Jobs: Things You Need To Know, Part One (

High-Frequency Masturbation (

Maenads’ Mantra (

Sex in the News - Holla Back at Street Harassers (

BDSM and Fetish

All Tied Up (

C is for Cookie (

Dire Caning Technique (

Identity Crisis for a slave (

Tease and Denial with pastorpaul (


Allie Sin, Naughty Nati Dichotomy Exposed. Plus nekkid pics. (

Crystal Klein (

Cute Spring Babe Cody Milo in Full Bloom (

Exclusive - Justine Joli, Ball (

Front Seat Sexy (

Hair Goof (

Marathon Progressive House Party… revisited in pictoral (

A Saucer of Cream Please (

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My first wank (

Sean luvs goths: Part 2 (

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Photo of dreamy Jessica Daguerre from talented photographer (and longtime Sugasmer) Eddie Ostrowski.

Monday, April 24, 2006

Fact #70: My Wedding Fantasy

So, I'm adding one more fact about me to the list here, in the spirit of my other post here.

It's my personal wedding fantasy.

They say every woman fantasizes about her wedding. I suppose this confession lumps me into that stereotype. And yet...

I've never been especially marriage-centric. I'm not against it; I'd do it if I found someone I wanted to do it with. But I was never one of those little girls who wanted to play bride. I was one of those little girls who wanted to be Catwoman. My Barbies never went bridal--they went out for spins in their convertible, wore funky vintage clothing, had lengthy make-out sessions with Ken (sometimes in a threesome), and then killed Ken off when he got boring (a cliff was usually involved).

And as I got older, things didn't change much. "A diamond is forever" ads tend to fill me with rolling-eyed, sarcastic disdain rather than make me sentimental or wistful the way they're supposed to. I've never even had a passing thought about flower arrangements, or coordinated tablecloths, or china and silver patterns. I've never once dreamed about my perfect wedding dress, or what kind of setting the ceremony would be in. To tell you the truth, I've never even really fantasized what the guy would be like.

But there's one thing I've dreamt about for years, and if I ever get married, I want it, dammit, and no one had better tell me no.

It's my wedding song.

I have the whole scene in my head. The wedding ceremony is done, there's some kind of party just getting started, and then some guy with a microphone announces the entrance of the bride and groom to great applause, the way they always do. And then we go on to the dance floor, the way brides and grooms always do. And then the guy with the mic announces very meaningfully and sentimentally, like those guys always do, that the bride and groom are going to dance their first dance together as a married couple, they way they always do. And then everyone hushes up and waits for the moment of ultimate romance to begin, the way they always do.

And then they play our song.

(Lyrics here)

(Photo credit: Francis & Angie by kieron)

(Update: Apologies if the music link above isn't working right--will someone let me know if they're having any problems with it? If so, you can try the castpost link below as an also not great alternate. I really need some better hosting for audio. Any ideas?)

Sunday, April 23, 2006

When Talking Dirty Turns Ugly: Where's Your Line in the Sand?

Just as an aside...

It is absolutely stunning where I live today--the perfect spring day--sunny, not too warm, not to hot. It rained all day yesterday, so the grass smells fresh and moist, but everything is dry enough to walk and sit on, and everything is temperate and green and scented and full of vibrancy.

I live near a river, in a very old the part the city that can only be described as “Quaint,” with a BIG-ass capital Q. I'm sure the word "Charming" gets thrown around a lot, too. It's the kind of Quaint and Charming tourists flock to in great numbers. And to pander to the tourism, the town council has also generously decided to make the main tourist centre a free and open wifi hotspot.

So picture if you will:

Your bloganatrix, sitting on a park bench with her very sleek silver laptop, surrounded by low hanging leaves, tour boats, red colonial brick, and sluggish, smiling, overfed and overcharged tourists. They walk by her, encouraging her to smile at their precocious progeny as they run around her, while she types a piece about the foulest, most disgusting thing anyone has ever said to her in bed.

Bad, evil, woman, me.

The things I do for you people.

Anyway, just setting the scene. Here's the real post now.

Today's topic reminded me of an old cartoon from the brilliant book "Love is Hell," an early collection of comics from Matt Groening's Life in Hell comic (his day job before he became a bazillionaire by creating The Simpsons). I give you said cartoon to open the discussion:

(Click the image to get a larger, clearer version.)

Some things you just don't want to hear in bed. Which brings me to my point--talking dirty. Where's your line? What could someone say to you in bed that would turn you right off?

For me, well, it would be a very sizeable understatement to say I’m comfortable with dirty talk in bed. In fact, I don’t think sex is nearly as good without it.

Okay fine, I love dirty talk.

And there's very little you can say to me that would freak me out or that wouldn't turn me on. I love the basic, affectionate dirty talk (“I love how wet you are,” “You’re making me so fucking hard,” “Just hearing your voice in my ear makes me want to come,” “I can’t wait to be inside you,” “Oooh, yeah, just like that, that’s so gooood,” etc.) And given the right person and the right circumstance, I love something a little more hardcore, too. Want to tell me (or have me tell you) that I’m such a bad (or good) little girl? That you’re going to fuck me so hard the only word I’m going to be able to remember is your name? That you want me to swallow every inch of your hard cock? That I’m your dirty little slave-whore, and you’re going to show me what happens when your will is disregarded?

Please do.

You don't need me to go on, do you? You get the picture—you can say just about anything to me, and if I’m into you, it’s going to get me hot. And I’ll have no problem talking dirty to you, either.

But even an aurally fixated person like me has her (or his) limits. There’s going to be something someone says to you in bed that just grosses you out, or stops you cold and makes your libido come crashing down faster than the Bush administration’s credibility polls.

So I put the question out to all of you. What has been said to you in bed that made you cringe? Or, if it's easier or more fun, take it out of the personal context and just answer theoretically. What words or kinds of sex talk drive you up the wall and turn you off immediately? What would be the worst thing anyone could say to you during the act that would make it nearly impossible for you to recover and get back into it?

I’m going to tell you mine. But I’m still so cringingly embarrassed by it that I’m too shy to even say it in my main post. So I’ll do the equivalent of blushing and hiding behind my hair as I tell you by hiding the story in my own comments window. Click the comments link below if you want to expose me.

But if you do read it, you’d better to share your worst-ever sex talk stories/opinions with me!

To the person in Singapore...

...who just got to my blog by searching, "What would it feel like to have a bullet in your brain?"--whatever reason you're googling that for, trust me, it isn't worth it. Redirect your energies somewhere else. You'll be glad about it later.

Just a little scary.

And I mean, I'm clear on how all these googlers get to me from searching things like "cunnilingus tips" and "blowjob techniques," but how the hell does my blog get referenced as the eighth highest google hit for that?

Back to more regular posting later today.

Saturday, April 22, 2006

Miss Freelove '69

I've always meant to do one of these "100 facts about me" thingies to link to my "about me" section and now, given that my mind has been so restless that it's not allowing me to write anything heavier, and Hiromi's post yesterday reminding me, well, now seemed as good a time as any. But I'm too tired to do 100 right now, so a more apt number for a sex blogger instead...

Sixty-nine facts about me:

1. I’m a book junkie. If you were to walk into my home, you’d be hard pressed to say which I have more of at this point: books or sense. (Certainly, though, if I had any financial sense I wouldn’t have bought all those books.)

2. Some favorite authors: Don Delillo, Dostoyevski, Jane Austen, James Joyce, Irvine Welsh, early Tom Robbins, Margaret Atwood, Francesa Lia Block, Roddy Doyle

3. I also like graphic novelists/cartoonists. Some of my favorites: Daniel Clowes, Adrien Tomine, Neil Gaiman, Jessica Abel, Andrew Martin & Jaime Hewlett, and Art Spiegelman.

4. When I feel like things in my life (or my home) are getting too messy or too out of control, the first thing I do is cut my nails. I have no idea why.

5. I have the world’s greatest bed, and the best bedding in the universe. And no, you can’t have proof of this unless you earn it…and that is no easy task.

6. I’ve had a drag queen straddle me, press my face into her false bosom, and sing Prince’s “Sexy Motherfucker” to me in front of a live audience.

7. I am also a film junkie. I tend toward indie films, but not exclusively. It’s almost impossible to pick favorites but here are a few I never tire of: Trust (Hal Hartlely), Magnolia, Withnail and I, Harold and Maude, When the Cat’s Away (Chacun cherche son chat), Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, Head, just about everything Jim Jarmusch has ever made (until Coffee and Cigarettes), a bunch of early stuff by Mike Leigh and John Waters, Rock ‘n’ Roll High School (the original with the Ramones), London Kills Me, Hedwig and the Angry Inch.

8. At a show of his I was at, Iggy Pop once randomly stopped singing in the middle of a song and said, “Hey, how ya doin’?” to me and waited for me to answer before he started up again.

9. I like my wit like I like my vodka martinis: dry, dirty, and with a whole hell of a lot of olives.

10. There is no predictable rule for who I'll find sexy. In general, the more I like what you've got going on inside, the hotter I'll find you on the outside. Brains, quick wit, passion, a good heart, and a slightly mad-genius glint in the eye beat out stereotypical magazine good looks with none of the above every time. A tiny little dash of well-directed sarcasm and/or irony never hurt, either.

11. So, obviously, I would date Gene Wilder as Willy Wonka in a heartbeat. Assuming he wasn’t fictional.

12. I also have a thing for cool geek boys with glasses.

13. I could read books by the time I was four. Before that, I used to memorize the content on each page of my books and then recite it back exactly page by page, so people thought I was reading when I was much younger.

14. Before I could read, I thought “elemeno” was a letter of the alphabet. You know, sing it: H, I, J, K, Elemeno, P.

15. I also thought that in that old TV show Wild Kingdom the host’s name (Marlin Perkins) was “Mutual of Omaha,” because the voiceover always said “It's Mutual of Omaha’s Wild Kingdom,” and immediately Marlin Perkins came on the screen.

16. And, when they started saying “safe for the ozone layer” in deodorant commercials, I thought “the ozone layer” was that animated, pulsing layer of stank lining your underarm that they always showed the aerosol bottle spraying into oblivion.

17. For years I was terrified to drive through graveyards at night because of a scene I saw in the movie version of Fiddler on the Roof.

18. I read Salem’s Lot as a teenager and still have trouble keeping the shades up at night as a result.

19. I’ve run into three people from the original “Real World” series; one of whom seemed to have been really traumatized by the experience.

20. My secret shame: I love lame '80s and '90s teen flicks. I can quote just about every line from Sixteen Candles and The Sure Thing.

21. I am at least partially responsible for helping a now relatively famous comedian-turned-actor get his start at a nationally-recognized level.

22. At one point, I used to believe that long-term passion was not critical to (or even possible in) a mature, very long-term relationship, as long as continual, comfortable affection and respect was there. I now think that’s bullshit. And I also think it is possible to have all three.

23. I’m reasonably relaxed about misspellings over IM and email, but for some reason can not STAND how many people seem to be unable to spell “definitely” (Defanitely?!?!? Argh!), or who don’t know the difference between “loose” and “lose.”

24. This one never used to get to me, but now somehow it now makes me insane when people misuse “literally.” No, your head wasn’t going to literally explode, though if you say “literally” one more time, I’m going to wish it had. And it isn’t necessary for you to literally want to slap me for my snide attitude about your incorrect usage of "literally." Just want to slap me, period.

25. If it’s really true that when you have sex with someone, you are having sex with anyone he or she has ever had sex with, then I have had sex with Sinead O’Connor.

26. I have only one sibling, but a very large extended family.

27. I can’t stand really perfume-y flowers, or really flowery perfume. If I wear a scent at all (and I rarely do), I only like things that smell subtly spicy (vanilla, cinnamon/clove) or really fresh and clean (cucumber, grass, linen).

28. I see no need for a man to wear cologne, but I simply can not get into him if he doesn’t smell right to me. And that includes his saliva odor, not just his body odor. I've got a sensitive nose, and if I'm going to be smelling him on me all day after a good session, I want to enjoy what I'm smelling. On the other hand, if I really like your smell, I'm done for. You can pretty much make me your sex slave.

29. I have lived in seven states and one other country, and have traveled to 11 other countries outside of the US (not counting a one-hour transportation switch in Brussels), and visited a huge number of US states--but never Hawaii or Alaska, both of which I'd like to see.

30. My toes are really flexible. I can pick stuff up with my feet.

31. I actually like the sound of bagpipes.

32. I can sing the entire score of just about any successful Broadway musical from the 1940s-1970s, making me the perfect gay man’s companion to the theatre.

33. I like hard liquor better than I like wine or beer. I also would rather have single malt scotch or a martini over a frou-frou girlie umbrella drink. Alcohol and fruit don’t mix, as far as I’m concerned. The girliest I usually get is vanilla vodka on the rocks.

34. If you’re the entirely shy or silent type during sex, we’re not going to get along.

35. Of all the animals lovers have compared me to, the most frequent one is a cat.

36. The next places on the top of my travel list are Iceland, New Zealand, Japan, the Czech Republic, and pretty much all of Central and South America.

37. I have a goal to have set foot at least once on every continent except Antarctica before I die.

38. I spoke to Maya Angelou on the phone once. She was genuinely as nice as she appears to be only pretending to be in the media. I wanted to hug her in two minutes.

39. Most embarrassing concert confession: Chicago (dragged by friends), followed closely by Flock of Seagulls (an opening band for another, cooler band I really wanted to see).

40. I’m often more attracted to the sidekick than the leading man in films.

41. I’m a good cook, and can make all kinds of dishes, from fancy to plain, but in terms of my simple best: I make some wickedly good Indian food, amazing omelettes, and a kick-ass lemon cheesecake.

42. But it’s my guacamole that has made grown men fall to their knees and beg for more.

43. Oh and for all you MOTs (Members of the Tribe) out there, my mother’s noodle kugel (and now mine) will kick your mother or grandmother’s noodle kugel’s ASS. Don’t challenge me on this one. Others have and have been humiliated.

44. My name is on the acknowledgements page of several books.

45. I’ve listened to the Howard Stern show for over a decade and a half. Everyone I mention this to seems to be entirely shocked by this.

46. My all-time favorite children’s book growing up was Miss Twiggley’s Tree, a story told in rhyme about an eccentric recluse who lived in a tree house and was snubbed by the townspeople for her nonconformity until she saved all their asses in a flood. (No, it wasn’t strangely prescient. Ahem.)

47. I think of all TV couples ever, the most exemplary model of a functional marriage was that of Gomez and Morticia Addams.

48. I’ve actually been called "Morticia" as a nickname (see #52). Which is cool with me, because she’s been one of my role models since I was a kid (along with the Julie Newmar version of Catwoman). On the non-fictional front, I also admire Mae West (read up on her, she was amazing), and work every day to achieve Maevanna.

49. If I could be any female literary character, it would be Molly Bloom. (Or, on a slightly less literary bent, Death from the Sandman series.)

50. Fictional film/book character I’ve been compared to most by friends: Enid from Ghostworld.

51. TV character I think seemed most like me growing up: Lindsey from Freaks and Geeks.

52. I wear black far, far more than the average person, and have been doing so since I was a teenager.

53. I played piano from grade school through high school and then haven’t played it since.

54. As an adult, I’ve experienced what it’s like to be both small- and large-breasted (due to natural means, not surgery). And ladies, neither is better than the other.

55. I’ve always thought Santa was an asshole in Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer, and I could never understand why everyone wanted to work for him so badly. I thought Hermey had the right idea. But then I've always been a squeaky cog in the corporate machinery.

56. Though I'd read the book and been fine, I was so terrified of the animated Grinch the first time I saw The Grinch Who Stole Christmas on TV at age six that I never watched the cartoon again until I was 22 years old. And that old NBC retro Christmas special intro jingle they put on before the cartoons every year still gives me the creeps when I hear it.

57. Chocolate is my heroin.

58. Joey Ramone stood next to me at a bar once. I was too intimidated to say anything to him.

59. My voice has been recorded for radio and video.

60. Unusual things I’ve eaten: frog, alligator, snake, buffalo, chicken’s feet/heart/neck/gizzard, sweet breads, uni (not so unusual these days), emu, ostrich, some kind of animal testicle (I’m not sure which, it was in a country where the translation wasn’t clear, although the testicle part was made quite clear), cicada, squab, venison, various kinds of liver, haggis, snails, shad roe.

61. I liked all of the above better than I like green peas, the only vegetable I find repulsive.

62. I also don’t like beef. Not for any health or polticial reasons. I just don’t like the taste or texture of it.

63. I’m also a music junkie. Some favorite bands (though the list could go on forever): Bright Eyes, Radiohead, Pixies, Blur, Ride, Stone Roses, Suede, Jesus and Mary Chain, My Bloody Valentine, lots of other britpop, Ramones, Sigur Ros, Clash, Magnetic Fields, NY Dolls, Tom Waits, The Beatles, Patti Smith, Spiritualized, Luna

64. I’ve lived in a convent, though I was never even close to Catholic, and most of my housemates were male.

65. I’ve worked in a castle. It was less glamorous than it sounds.

66. Beatles ranked by preference, from most favorite to least: John, George, Ringo, Paul. Some days lately Ringo and George switch around.

67. Songs that always cheer me up: “She’s Got a New Spell” and “Sexuality” by Billy Bragg, “She’s Tight” and “Surrender” by Cheap Trick, and “Starfish and Coffee” by Prince.

68. The only song I’d be willing to sing karaoke to: “Papa Was a Rodeo” by the Magnetic Fields.

69. Song I’m most ashamed to admit I like: “Who’s Your Daddy?” by Toby Keith. (Yeah, the man’s a stupid, reactionary, right-wing asshole. But damn, does he have the whole unapologetic, come-hither, honky-tonk, alpha-male, mating call croon down. I can’t help myself. And hell, it’s just a damn catchy tune…stop looking at me! Okay, fine, fine…kill me now.)

Friday, April 21, 2006

A Petty Relationship is Like a Melody

So, I was messing about with my iPod today, and a particular song came on and it got me to thinking.

Now there are loads of love songs out there. And there are a lot of good breakup songs, too. But what about "I'm stuck in a miserable relationship" songs? You just don't see a lot of those. Guess it's not something that inspires most people to sing. Go figure.

But there actually are a few excellent examples of this rare and elusive musical genre. For instance:

Luna's "Slash Your Tires"

No point in screamin'
Cause I'm only dreamin'
That you came to pieces
And I came in peace
And in my dreams I slash your tires
And in my dreams I set these fires
And all your fears, it's nothing new
And all your tears, they won't help you

Dynamite Hack's "Anyway"

So here we are stuck in hell
Same old game we know it well
I don't mind...anyway
Spark it up and numb me on and off again
Oh what the hell
I don't mind...anyway

Been sittin' here have another beer
I'm drunk but I want some anyway
I just don't care enough about you
So fuck you anyway

[...leading up to the brilliant line...]

I just don't care enough about this to make the effort to show you that I care enough to try to get you back in bed with me

Blur's "Fool"

But I'm not really listening
I've got my mind
On something else
And sometimes I wonder if I'm here
If I'm here at all
I know that you want me to go
Don't you
But it's not as easy as it seems
I know that you think I'm not here at all
But I'm just as fed up as you

And the absolute, stunning topper of all "miserable fucking relationship" songs:
The Mountain Goat's "No Children"

I hope I cut myself shaving tomorrow
I hope it bleeds all day long
Our friends say it's darkest before the sun rises
We're pretty sure they're all wrong
I hope it stays dark forever
I hope the worst isn't over
And I hope you blink before I do
Yeah I hope I never get sober
And I hope when you think of me years down the line
You can't find one good thing to say
And I'd hope that if I found the strength to walk out
You'd stay the hell out of my way
I am drowning
There is no sign of land
You are coming down with me
Hand in unlovable hand
And I hope you die
I hope we both die

Ah, sweet, eternal love...

But that's about all I could come up with. Any others you can think of?

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Maenads' Mantra

The tiny, dark, dive of a club is filled, even though it’s a Wednesday night. No one knows it exists, except for everyone who matters. It exists only for us. It is our home away from home. We know every corner of it, every doorman, bouncer, bartender, DJ, musician, artist, writer, eccentric. We know the taste of every bottle glowing out at us from the bar. We know who to talk to to get certain things that will lift us up in certain ways. We know who to avoid to keep us from getting down in certain ways. We know every record and CD that can spin in this world, and we know every emotion that lies behind ever live guitar riff. We feel every opening note, every shake of the bass, every swell of a bridge with our very souls. This place, it’s our escape, our true family. Our refuge of freaks, our inner landscape made corporeal, full of sound and desire and madness and movement. And in it, we are safe. Safe from the outside world, the stares, the disappointments, the normalcy, the mundanity, the cruelty.

Dina and I walk up to the bar, which is three-deep in people waiting for drinks, but which somehow parts for us as the bartender gestures. Men shift their bodies to let us through. And they watch us, the men. And we know. We can feel it, all the eyes, pressing in, but we’re choosing not to acknowledge it. We know they’re watching as the bartender walks past others with their $20s fully extended and waving, watching as he ignores them all in order to bring us two free glasses full of expensive, hard something-or-other. They’re watching as we look knowingly at each other and lift our chins up to the sky, extend our sleek throats and pour the fire into us. They watch as we look back down, faces flushed, smiling radiantly—but never at them, only at each other—as the bartender comes back with two pints of something-or-other else to let us smooth it all out inside.

And then the song starts up. We hear the first little-girl/grown-woman wail, like we’ve heard it so many times before.

And Dina grabs me and we run, following the girl’s voice to the dance floor. We push into our little spot, the one that always is there for us, and the girl/woman is singing:

feel it burn
you stick in the knife
and i feel it turn
but i will laugh
sooner or later it’ll pass

oh it makes
it makes no difference to me.

feel nothing at all
We sing with her, in our heads. We close our eyes and move our hips in sultry circles during the quieter verse parts. We don’t have to watch each other to know we’re there, to know what we’re doing. We’ve sung this song, done this dance, many, many times before.
how many times
do I have to say
this is not for you
i push and i shove
without a hint of love,
this is not for you.

We ready ourselves as the tension builds…

oh it makes
it makes no difference to me.

We start moving faster, our hips keeping up with the increasing rhythm as the chorus kicks in as the girl moans, the music gets louder, keeps building, keeps pushing toward the pause as the girl whisper/screams:
feel nothing at all.
And then we gyrate insanely, our hair flying around us as the music begins to thrash and wail. Raise our hands to the ceiling as it ends and gets quiet again and the boys watch, waiting to see what we’ll do next as we sway in time with the girl, saying:
i’m watching you
there’s good and bad in everyone
and what I see
it makes no difference to me
And it builds again and I can see through the spaces between my hair whipping around my face that Dina has become a beautiful madwoman, and she can see that I have, too. And we both have secrets, we both have problems, we’ve both been hurt, and we know that somewhere inside. It’s what brought us together. But we never talk about that. What we do is dance together, madly, temptingly, daring anyone to enter our little circle of understanding.

What we do is pretend the eyes aren’t there. What we do is pretend we’re safe and that the whole world is like it is in here, where if anyone tries to hurt us, an enormous bouncer will be at our side in an instant, throwing that asshole across the room and banning them from our lives forever.

In here the staring, the cruelty, the status quo, the things that have made us into the freaks we think we are…in here, none of it matters. In here, we burn and shine so hot, no one can look at us for long. In here, we are Maenads, beautiful and dangerous, the drink and the music and the dance filling our bodies with an ecstasy so fierce that any man who crosses our path will be ripped to shreds.

And so they watch; they can’t look away. But they dare not approach. And as long as we are in here, as long as we keep dancing and the music keeps going, we know we are untouchable. We are fierce and formidable, we love no one and no one can get in, get under, or get inside. We are safe here, and strong, in the dark.

And we are mouthing the words together as the singer chants with us…
feel nothing
feel nothing
feel nothing
feel nothing…
We dance like our souls depend on it. And we pretend we don’t hear the shouts for last call. We pretend we don’t know they’re going to turn the harsh overhead bulbs on sometime very soon.

(Photo credit: The Melody, by DanCentury)


Though this one may not be as immediately obvious as the others, this is post #3 in an ongoing series I'm writing during National Sexual Assault Awareness Month. For those interested in reading the other installments:

Post #1: All That You Can't Leave Behind

Post #2: I am She as You Are Me and She is Me and We Are All Together

For those who have survived a sexual assault, or think they may have, and need someone to talk to:

In the US:
National Sexual Assault Hotline - 1.800.656.HOPE. Free, confidential, and open 24/7.

In the UK:
Rape/Indecent Assault Crisis Counselling - 0800 735 0567

Samaritins - 08457 909090

Man2man (for male victims of abuse) - 0208 698 9649

Victim Supportline (Nationwide lo-call service, 9am–9pm Mon–Fri, 9am–7pm weekends and bank holidays from 9am–5pm; Provides information and support to victims of all reported and unreported crime, including sexual crimes, racial harassment and domestic violence) - 0845 30 30 900

Thanks to Jules for the UK hotline numbers. If people would like to share hotline numbers for other countries, please add to the comments on this post and I'll add them next time. Thanks.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Bodies, Rest & Motion

Estimated time of arrival 9:30 a.m.
Been up before the sun and now I'm tired before I even begin.
(Now you're flying)
I got so much work in front of me,
(Really flying)
It stretches out far as the eye can see.
I can see.

Spend half my life in airports doing crosswords and attempting to sleep,
And when the bar is open then you'll often find me warming a seat.
(Now you're flying)
I never find a place where I can stay
(Really flying)
I'd rather be a thousand miles away.
A thousand miles away.

I’m back from my trip. Thanks to all you darling people for the comments and emails while I was out of commission. I was able to occasionally take quick peeks at them while I was away, but not much more than that. I’ve got me some catching up to do.

So, yesterday I spent most of my day driving back to where I currently live. Driving away from people from my past.

I do a lot of that.

I moved to the city I’m in now about five-and-a-half years ago. That’s a record for me—it’s the longest I’ve lived in any one locale since I was 18. But even so, I've moved house three times. And even now, I think about moving away from this place entirely at least once a day.

When some people want a change after a few years, they get a new haircut. Me, I move.

There are benefits to having a strong tendency toward wanderlust. You see things others never even knew existed. You learn new ways of seeing, speaking, tasting. Your personal lexicon continues to grow. You gather good stories. You meet people who make your life more than it once was. You grow more open, more sensitive to the world around you, and to its needs.

And you get to start over, again and again.

I’m the queen of beginnings. I love the start of everything. Opening a hardcover book and smelling that new book smell. Hearing the opening strains to your favorite song as it comes on the radio at just the right time. The first swell of the orchestra as it hits you at the in a theater. The feel of getting into a bed made with fresh, crisp, new sheets. Staring at a beautiful, mouth-watering dish that’s been placed in front of you, placing that fork into it for that first cut, raising it to your mouth, waiting for how good it’s going to taste. A new notebook, full of clean, blank pages to fill. The first rush of attraction to someone. The first time he touches you in a way that’s more than just a touch. The first time he moves toward you and you know that, after all the imagining, in only miliseconds you’re going to know exactly what his mouth feels like against yours.

And of course, I love moving. There’s something so amazing about packing up everything you want to keep, getting rid of all the crap you don’t need, and moving toward something new, light and hopeful, with new things to look forward to.

My family have never been big movers. When my parents chose to move an hour and 15 minutes away from the city of their (and my) birth, the rest of my extended family responded to the news like they’d announced they were moving to Siberia. Needless to say, my own mobility around the country and the globe is not genetically programmed. And most of my friends, though many were travelers at one point, have now decided to settle down and have families, and stay in one place. I don’t see this as a bad choice at all. Just not a choice I’ve been able to make myself so far.

Why do I keep moving? I’m not sure. Maybe I’m just into change, and as I’ve always told others, “I have a high stagnation rate.” I get bored quickly. I want new things, new sensations.

Or maybe I keep looking for the perfect place where I “fit.” I’ve not really found that place yet. I’ve found places where I fit with the people, but not the surroundings or my job. Places where I fit with my job and my surroundings but hate the people. Places where I fit in the spring and summer, but not in the fall and winter.

When I’m in a small town, I want a big city. When I’m in a big city, I want a small university town. When I’m in America for too long, I miss the rush of living in a new country and learning the culture. When I’m in a new country, I eventually feel I need to go home to be not so far away from other friends and family.

So I keep moving, and leaving places and people behind. I wonder if my friends who have chosen the long, long middle instead of the many beginnings are happier or feel more settled than I do. I wonder if I’d just decided to bite the bullet and stay still in a place that wasn’t perfect, but wasn’t horrible, if I’d be more or less happy than I am now. I honestly can’t say. The people I know who have stayed in place don’t seem unhappy, necessarily. They certainly have more sense of permanence and security, at least in terms of accruing property and possessions, than I do. But most don’t seem to be decidedly happier than I am, either.

The irony is, of course, this: You might travel to find that place you “fit.” And yet, as you’re doing that, you’re continually leaving all that is familiar to you. And while you’re away, those familiar places and those people change, too, even though they’re staying in place. So when you get back, nothing is exactly the way you left it, or exactly the person you remember. Which means you don’t quite “fit” there or with them anymore, either.

But still, even when you know this; even when it’s become perfectly clear to you that you’re exponentially increasing the list of people and places you will love and miss; and that when you go back to visit those people and places, you’ll end up missing the memory of them that you thought you were missing…even then, you will still yearn for the new beginning. Something new, something that won’t stagnate.

So you keep moving.

And sometimes you’re sure your life will be richer for it.

And sometimes you think maybe you’re just not built to fit anywhere, and that’s your fate.

(Now you're flying)
I'm told I'm going places - who can say ?
(Really flying)
I might arrive but I'll be gone the very next day.
I must be on my way.
A thousand miles away.

Promised to myself someday I'd take the time and try to make sense
Out of all those opportunities I've lost from trying to sit on the fence
(Now you're flying)
But right now I've got no time for yesterday
(Really flying)
Yesterday's a thousand miles away.
A thousand miles away.

(Photo credit: trainspotting by addie_reiss)