Friday, June 30, 2006

Is anyone who reads this blog single?

As in not married or seriously attached?

I just thought I'd ask. Seems to me sometimes the blogging world is overrun with married or LTR people.

Or is it just me?

(photo credit: Half Empty or Half Full by Justin/Leslie Shearer)

Please Help! Last-Minute Appeal from Planned Parenthood to Help with Legal Funds for Supreme Court Case

For those of you who haven't heard, the Supreme Court has just recently agreed to hear a Planned Parenthood case against the federal abortion ban, which Planned Parenthood has been fighting in the lower courts for a couple of years.

However, to afford the legal funds and expenses they need for the case, they need to raise a certain amount of money BEFORE MIDNIGHT TONIGHT, when their fiscal year ends. I encourage anyone out there who believes there should be no federal restrictions on abortion and who has the wherewithal to donate to please do so.

Their costs for the case are about $150,000, according to a recent email I received from them. They put out a call on Wednesday and have already received more than $50,000 and are doing a last-minute push to reach a goal of $100,000 from individual donations by midnight.

Even if you can't donate personally, if you want to help, please post this information on your blog or email it to people you know so we can make as many people aware of the issues and get as many donations as possible before the deadline.

To make a donation online, go here.

To learn more about the case, go here.

Thanks for listening, and for helping where you can.

"At Least Rocks Don't Taste Like DESPAIR."

I have a new god. And it is this guy.

The three best videos in that link, IMHO, are "muffins," "love letters," and the absolutely brilliant "shoes," which I've been singing constantly to myself since hearing it last night.

Those of you who live in LA, I say get the hell out of the house and go see this guy perform. And give him a TV show.


Found through a twisted path initiated by schmutzie and jaschu. Thanks, y'all.

Thursday, June 29, 2006

Different for Girls

When I was a high-school-aged teenager, I was vacationing at the beach with my family. Though I didn't know this then, I do now, and so I'm not ashamed to say it: At the time, I looked pretty damn hot, especially in a bathing suit. As a result, a swarm of teenage boys from my hotel would hover around me wherever I went. I was clueless, of course. I thought we were all just buddies.

Anyway, all of this is really neither here nor there. It's just a preface to set the scene for the memory I'm about to describe. I remember I was sitting on the patio that housed the hotel pool, me the only girl, surrounded by about seven teenaged boys. It was that time just before it's really sunset, where the sun's still up, but you can feel its heat getting weaker and the tourists have all left the beach for the night to clean up and you know soon that dusk will be there and the boardwalk rides will light up in the distance, luring you there.

But it was not quite that time yet. And so we were lazily waiting on the patio, me and all those boys, our legs hanging over a wall that dropped down to the mostly abandoned beach below, listening to the waves hit the sand.

Not surprisingly, considering my company and their age, the conversation gravitated over to girls vs. guys and how they were different, dating, and broad jokey teenage hints at sexual topics, and what have you. And suddenly, prompted by nothing specific in the conversation, one of the guys sitting closest to me said in this very solicitous, I'm-your-friend-and-I'm-just-trying-to-help-you kind of tone, "You know, Syl, rape is really bad. But I have to say that best advice I can give you if a guy ever attacks you is to not try to fight. Just let it happen and get it over with. Then at least he won't hurt you or kill you."

The boys around him all nodded seriously at this sage advice.

I'm sure I must have looked at him like he was insane, because he then said, "No, really, if I had a sister, I'd tell her the same thing. It could end up so much worse for you if you fought back."

I said, "Oh really? Okay, let's say a man was about to rape you. Would you stay there and just take it and get it over with?"

This prompted many protestations from the boys about how they'd never be in that situation. Not them. No. Still, I pressed the issue. I wanted an answer. Finally, the guy who'd initiated the discussion said, "Are you kidding? I'd do whatever it took not to have a guy rape me. I'd beat the hell out of him."

I said, "What if you ended up hurt or killed?"

He said, "I'd rather end up dead than have a guy stick something in my ass!"

I said, "So for me it's better to be raped, but for you it isn't?"

To which he said, "Come on, Syl, no guy could live with knowing that happened to him. It's totally different for guys. It's way worse for a guy."

And all the boys nodded again.

I know you're all reading that and thinking, "Idiots." And maybe, "They were just too young to know any better."

But you know what? Those teenage boys, they didn't spontaneously come up with that belief; they were getting it from somewhere. And those teenage boys, they're now grown men. And you have to wonder how many of them ever changed their minds. My guess is probably not many. They may have learned not to say it so stupidly, sure. But most of them probably still think rape is far more awful of a prospect for a man than it is for a woman.

You know it's true; because they're far from alone in this belief. You can see it in the way it's discussed in the media. In the reactions you get from people when talking about a male versus a female rape. In the comments about "how hard it must have been" for a man to come out and "admit" he'd been raped.

Admit it. Some of you out there probably still think that yourself. Measure the reaction you have when you hear a man's been raped on the news against your reaction when you hear a woman was raped.

It's time to lay this fallacious logic to rest.

This post and the memory I described above cropped up because I was just reading an excellent post on myths and misconceptions about rape called "Natural Victims" on Pinko Feminist Hellcat. PFH so simply and clearly sums the whole fucked-up logic behind this phenomenon, it's almost breathtaking:
"I have seen in the comments of different blogs and articles, and heard in conversation, that rape and sexual assault is worse for men because they are men. Men aren't supposed to be raped or victimized; being raped and sexually humiliated makes them feel like women..."
And I just want to say, brava. The woman is right.

And I want to stress what a fucking double insult that is to women. Not only does it minimize our own assaults, but it also minimizes us as a gender.

It's worse for men because being assaulted equates them with women. Read: it lowers them, lessens them; makes them less valuable, more the kind of thing that should "stay there and take it" than a full-fledged human being with feelings and worth who doesn't deserve that sort of treatment. A human being who has the right to value himself enough to feel he is worth fighting for.

Now, please don't misunderstand. I am in NO WAY minimizing the horror of a man being assaulted. That is indeed a horrible and reprehensible thing, and my heart and all my empathy (and I do mean empathy, because I've been there), goes out to each and every man who's been raped or assaulted.

But don't anyone tell me any man's assault is worth more consideration and sympathy, or is more horrible than any woman's. We are not lesser human beings, and we don't feel the terrible impact of assault any less than any man.

And don't tell me that social stigmatization of male rape makes it that much harder for the man than it does for a woman. Yes, stigmatization makes it hard for a man to admit to or talk about his rape. But stigmatization for having been raped is not the sole domain of men. Ask any woman who's been raped. Ask her how comfortable and unstigmatized she felt in trying to tell people what happened to her. Ask her how easy it was for her to admit to herself, let alone others, what happened to her.

Female rape is reported more than male rape because there are more female rapes than male rapes. It's not because it's easier for one than the other. Many, many, MANY women do not report their rapes. Ever. Why? Fear of stigmatization.

Just about every rape victim is subjected to the worst kind of behavior not only during their rape, but after. The blaming responses, the faulty assumptions (many described in PFH's post, so I won't go into them here). It doesn't matter if women hear them MORE OFTEN. They're equally as damaging to either gender. As a result, many vicitims choose to stay silent about it. Both male and female. It's for the same reason. The impact is the same.

And please don't tell me male assaults have more impact exactly because percentage-wise they're less common. That doesn't matter. As with a man, when you're one woman, alone, being assaulted, the percentages aren't there. You're a percentage of one. And percentages don't minimize the post-traumatic stress disorder you will personally experience after the assault. Percentages don't hold you and comfort you and make it all better.

The horror of rape is the horror of rape. Period. For any person, of any gender, of any sexual orientation.

Don't tell me to stay still and take it, you fucker. Don't you dare tell me your violation counts more.

Monday, June 26, 2006

Learning to Cope With the Emotionless Mediocracy of Day-to-Day Living

Love love love love love love love


Just about everything I am is a contradiction. Case in point:

As you know, I'm an only half-hearted girl, afraid of intimacy and sentimentality.

And yet I'm also passionately, poisonously romantic.

It's a dangerous and possibly lethal combination to have roiling in my blood every day.

Oh, last night, and's at a boiling point, and the fumes are curling all around me like vines of purple and red smoke, overwhelming me and making me swoon.

And it's at want want need need times like this, that I have no alternative but to pull out the big guns to help cope. I must conjur up the soul and spirit of the inimitable Daniel Johnston.

Oh baby, I need it bad. Do you need it, too? Daniel and I are gonna give it to you.

Need a girl singing you the most stunnigly simple, perfect love song ever written? Yes, I do. Yes, you do. It's here, covered by Kathy McCarty.

Need a boy singing you a song about how you'll find true love if you don't have it now? Yes, I do. Yes, you do. It's here, covered by Beck.

Now, c'mere and kiss me. Hard.

(Note: You can buy stuff by all three of these artists on iTunes. Or, you can get Daniel Johnston's art--like the piece "Voila!" pictured above--and music, books, posters, shirts, etc. directly from his website. Go do it.)

Sunday, June 25, 2006

Blow Hard: A (Somewhat) Detached Assessment of the Great Cocksucking Debate of 2006

[On opening: Thanks to the lovely and talented AlwaysArousedGirl for guilting me into writing this, and for sending me all this extra traffic. Here's the post, finally. Hope everyone who visits, both regulars and newbies, enjoys and can manage to slog through it. I seem to have gone for broke on this one.]

Okay, so should you be completely out of touch lately, there's been this huge blogtroversy going on that began on I Blame the Patriarchy. It's related to blowjobs and if this act is...well, let me allow the always opinionated Twisty to speak for herself:
Flame me if you will, but I posit nevertheless that no woman, since the dawn of the patriarchal co-option of human sexuality, has ever actually enjoyed this submissive sexbot drudgery. There’s a reason that deep-throating a funk-filled bratwurst makes a person retch.*

How dare I presume to impugn the sanctity of a woman’s right to the blow job? I do so mostly on accounta I will get a big bang out of the impassioned arguments defending it.

*Reason: It’s fucking gross.

WELL. The furor this set off! Which I'm sure delighted the author. Actually, I don't have to postulate, she says it herself.

Initially, though I did read all Twisty's posts and others comments on them, as well as many other reaction posts around the Web, I didn't weigh in.

I would have spoken up. But you see, unfortunately my mouth was too full of penis at the time.

Yuk, yuk, yuk. Okay, you gotta allow me one sarcastic, pseudo-grumpy joke (after all, Twisty got to have loads of them), and now I'll get all sincere and serious. Stick with me folks, and I promise another bad cock joke at the end.

Okay, seriously now, I decided I wasn't even going to bother to weigh in on the initial debate for a couple of reasons. First and foremost was because my response would merely be nothing more than an amusement to the author of the post. People, pay attention--despite whether at root the author believed her statements to be true or not, the tone screamed out "this is not a serious assertion" and therefore it didn't deserve a serious debate.

Credit where credit's due. Ya gotta hand it to Twisty for knowing how to tweak people's figurative nipples and get them all in a huff so they forget what they're about and just start screaming. It appears very few others managed to do this before reacting, but I actually read and paid attention to the whole original post. Twisty's sarcasm from the start shows it's not an issue she considers worth serious debate. I mean, hell, she SAYS it at the end of the post--she's only saying it because she wants to get a "big bang" out of the controversy she knows she'll stir up. Why other people have risen to this kind of baiting is beyond me. And also, it's amazing to me that no one noticed that the post itself is--I will assume deliberately, since Twisty is no idiot and a stickler for good writing--faulty in the structure of its argument. It's designed intentionally to lead people down the wrong path. I won't get into the mechanics of composition and rhetoric right now; but trust me on this one. Look closer and you can see for yourselves.

So. My primary reason for not weighing in was that I didn't see the use of contributing to a trumped-up debate designed to get women defensive and angry at each other so they start thumping their tits and yelling, "Me good feminist!" "You bad feminist!" at all the others around them. I've seen this kind of crap before, and I don't appreciate that type of holier-than-thou, divisive shit that can go on within the community--or those who delight in instigating it. Haven't we got outside problems enough to battle without deliberately trying to piss each other off and creating a whole bunch of in-fighting? We need to be fighting the inequities of a patriarchal system, not each other over stupid issues like blowjobs. If people would show HALF this much passion about what's been going on lately related to abortion or women's reproductive rights, we might actually be getting somewhere.

And by the way, no, Twisty, if you actually have the time to read the billions of response posts you've gotten at this point and are actually reading this, I'm not saying you should "shut the fuck up." I'm saying you should say whatever the fuck you want, but don't call bear baiting "radical feminism."

My other reason for not bothering with the original debate was that I'm a feminist who's straight--and also a sex blogger. It should be pretty obvious where I stand on the issue of heterosexual oral sex. I think oral sex is a wonderful part of any sex life, gay, straight, or other, so long as it is done with consent and done equitably. And personally, I see no need to defend that stance. Particularly to someone who states right in her post that she's only writing this to get a rise out of those who would defend it. However, if you want to know how I feel, Amber Rhea's discussion here pretty well matches my overall view on this, so I don't even have to do the work. Thanks for rocking the house, Amber. Update: Also check out O's great post here about the concept of calling any act "perverse" or "degrading." Her thoughts are also very much in line with my own.

So I ignored the brou-ha-ha. But--sigh--nobody else did. And since the first post there's been a second one, and a third, and people have been throwing around a lot of bile in the comments sections of all three, and writing about it around the blogosphere--and those people were taking it seriously. And I saw a lot of fallacious logic out there that wasn't intended just as an incitement to argument, so now I have a few things I want to comment on.

But before I begin, I'd like to state for the record that none of the following is an "impassioned argument defending my right to suck cock"--or anyone else's right to, for that matter. Twisty wasn't even debating someone's right to suck cock, so I sure as hell am not going to. Suck cock, don't suck cock, I care not. If you think keeping a penis out of your mouth is going to save the world, be my guest--keep your mouth cock free.

So again, this is not a defense, it's about getting the facts straight, and defining feminism appropriately. In short: I'm not angry; I'm just right. Read on.

1) A real feminist does not discriminate based on sexual orientation. ANY sexual orientation.

A number of people expressed sarcastic bemusement that women who do engage in oral sex with men would defend themselves so adamantly. Is this such a surprise? I'm guessing not, but just in case anyone is a little slow, here we go. If you talk about women who engage in oral sex with men, and then imply that this is "submissive sexbot drudgery," we all know which group we're condemning the actions of here, and it ain't lesbians. Whether overtly stated or not, the context of those statements implies heterosexual women are doomed to oppression by their own basic biology--and not only that, but their sorry asses are too damn stupid to even realize it. Or, stated more succinctly: Straight women's sexual orientation empowers the patriarchy, and is therefore wrong.

Unless you're generally surprised when GLBT folks take issue with being told their basic sexuality is a bane to society, I don't see how you can be surprised by the same response from a heterosexual woman when she's told the same thing.

2) Heterosexuality is not slavery; the overthrow of the patriarchy begins at home.

Some commenters compared straight women who said they got pleasure out of giving pleasure to their men to antebellum slaves who sang songs and told stories in praise of their masters. Ignoring the sheer insulting nature of such claims to those in healthy, egalitarian heterosexual relationships, let's move on to why such a claim is based on entirely shaky, pedantic logic.

We live in a patriarchal society, yes. This means, as Twisty says here:
We all know that in a patriarchy, (and by ‘patriarchy’ I mean a social order in which all women are subject, by universal agreement, to all men), on accounta the power differential, all relationships with men are inherently inequitable.
Yes, patriarchy means men (as a group) are more empowered than women (as a group) in toto. Including in the area of sex. Therefore, by this logic, any sexual act a woman performs on a man that gives the man pleasure, blowjob or otherwise, would be interpreted as being subservient and therefore contributing to her own oppression. Therefore, to be sexual or have a relationship with a man at all, regardless of how that particular man interacts with her as a human being, is invalid.

Ideologically, yes. In theory. It all sounds nice and tidy.

However, ideology is not based in reality. In reality, this theory is simply ridiculous. Here's why.

Assuming we want to combat patriarchy (and we do) and assuming the above statements are true (which they are in the abstract), there is only one solution. We must ask heterosexual women to all give up their basic biology and stop having heterosexual sex/relationships. Unless you're living in a dream world, it's pretty damn obvious this is never going to fly. People have been telling gays and lesbians to change their sexuality and/or just stop having sex for eons--it's never happened. It's not going to happen in reverse either.

So, in reality, we have to look for another solution, that accepts the continuing existence of heterosexuality. The solution is an obvious one: heterosexual women forge egalitarian relationships with men who don't agree with the current system, therefore subverting the system at the grassroots level.

There has never been a human or civil rights movement that has been advanced solely by the oppressed group itself without a percentage of other concerned, enlightened people who happened to have been born into the dominant oppressor's group contributing and supporting the oppressed group's goals. In every case, both such groups always work together at the grassroots level to forge change. This is exactly how slavery was repealed and how the civil rights movement gained the advances it has to date. And, yes, though some of us radical feminists may hate to admit it, it's also how the suffrage and early feminist movements advanced--by the work of both dedicated women and men. (And yes, I know the men were a much, much smaller percentage. That doesn't entirely negate their contribution.)

Saying that heterosexual women are enslaved by the men in their personal lives who love them and support their feminist principles, merely because those men were born men, is like saying William H. Baldwin and Booker T. Washington should have refused to work with Julius Rosenwald to set up African-American educational institutions across America, because Rosenwald was white and therefore of the oppressive race, and therefore an oppressor to all African-Americans--despite his full ideological and philanthropic support of their cause.

At first glance, shouting "enslavement" and "oppression" at any feminist-friendly heterosexual couple may sound logical. In fact, it's the direct opposite of logical. A heterosexual feminist doesn't choose an oppressive relationship. She chooses one with a man who, despite being part of the overriding patriarchy by default, rejects the suppositions that patriarchy was built upon, acts as such in his home and community, and serves, along with the feminists in his community, as a supporter of the cause and as a model of the way things should be.

If a woman has an egalitarian relationship with a man in the microcosm of her own home, or her own bedroom, that is not slavery. That is an important grassroots step toward the overthrow of the overriding, problematic macrocosm.

3) The rules keep changing as to what is "okay" sexually for women, on both sides of the political spectrum. Limiting choice and assigning blame and guilt on women for their chosen sexuality is a patriarchal behavior. It is not a feminist behavior.

All the derision and "it's disgusting" commentary that is being thrown at those women who enjoy oral sex with their male partners in this debate is decidedly anti-feminist. And we feminists need to be supremely careful of not falling into the patriarchal trap of instilling the same nonsensical, morally-based arguments to limit women's sexual choices. Feminists have always had a difficult time in this area.

Back in the even more extreme days of the patriarchy, women were considered sluts if they engaged in any sexual act besides the missionary position. Women were made to feel guilty and dirty and "wrong" if they enjoyed sex too much with a man, or enjoyed sex at all with a woman. When the second wave of feminism hit, women were told they were "wrong" if they weren't enjoying sex enough and/or if their sexual repertoire was too narrow, and they were told they "should" branch out. They branched out, grew braver, allowed themselves to try and enjoy new things. The result? Now being told they're "wrong" for having done so and having come to enjoy it so much that the heterosexual women among them might actually enjoy creating an environment of mutual pleasure with the man they're having sex with.

In short: Feminism should never offer "shoulds" when it comes to sex. It should offer openness, choice, and options--stressing the need for those qualities within an equal, supportive sexual environment (regardless of the sexual orientation involved). And we should be working to show all people how to create that sexually supportive, egalitarian environment where choice and open communication--not shame or guilt politics--is the operative factor. That's where our focus should be, not on who's blowing who, or rimming who, or 69'ing who, or who's sticking to nothing but missionary, or what have you.

4) "Pleasure" has been ill defined in this debate. Pleasurable sexuality is about choice, respect, and balance, not the particular acts involved.

Not everyone has to like giving head. Those who don't shouldn't do it. However, that you as a woman personally don't feel good about the act doesn't mean others can't.

Let's look at the concept of pleasure as it's being thrown around in this debate. If you assume that sensation due to physical contact/stimulation is the only definition of pleasure during sex, then yes, bestowing oral sex on another would not usually be defined as a pleasurable act for the person giving it. It would be done strictly to please the one who is receiving it. However, without trying to sound too judgmental, those whose definition of pleasure is based strictly on physical sensation have had a limited experience of sexuality AND a basic lack of understanding of the actual definition of the word "pleasure." Please look the word up in the dictionary. You'll see that the definition says nothing about physical sensation at all. It's all about mental/emotional states.

With this actual definition in mind, it is entirely possible for one partner to get pleasure out of giving another partner pleasure. It is a shared "happiness, delight, joy, glee...etc." And that, my friends, is not oppressive. It is powerful---a shared power--regardless of which gender is doing the giving and/or receiving.

The only time this would be untrue is if there is some inequity or lack of choice involved. If, for instance, one partner insists on receiving head, but refuses to give it to the other partner (assuming the other partner wants to receive it). This would be an oppressive and inequitable situation. And in a heterosexual relationship, if the woman was the one expected to give without return, it would be patriarchal.

And obviously, when any woman is forced to perform any sexual act, oral sex included, without her express consent, this is not just patriarchal subjugation, it's also rape.

Well now! I think that's about all I can manage at the moment, and probably more than enough for all of you to chew on. Thanks to anyone who made it through.

Again, my last comment on all this is that while I am all for open and honest debate on all topics, be wary of those who are more concerned with rabble-rousing that awareness-building. We women have got more important goals to achieve together than wasting time fighting over who puts what in who's mouth.

But then again, Twisty, blow 'em if they can't take a joke, eh?

(See, I told you all I'd get one more in.)

With love and cocksucking to all (even those who have a thing about bratwurst),


Thursday, June 22, 2006

Beautiful Ferocity

It’s not that the world is full of pain, or that it’s unjust. It’s not that timing and fate and biology often make us feel as if we were created to be the universe’s personal in-joke. Or worse, its whipping boy or girl.

It’s that there are sometimes these people in it. So many more of them than you realize.

Born with minds quick and clever and delightfully odd, hearts purer and more perfect than the most rarified air. Good beyond even the limits of even their own imaginations. Beacons of light, born into a world of dark mirrors and hulking shadows.

They start out, innocently, openly displaying all that they are, unaware of their own magnetically attractive qualities, of how darkness is drawn to envelop light. They’re not given a warning, a lesson; they’re put out there, untrained, unprepared for the desire and jealousy, the angry neglect and disregard their perfection can inspire.

And so it begins. They stand there, gleaming china figurines in a bull shop. Feeling the ground shake beneath them as hulking, brutish figures stomp by, reach out, handle them far too roughly, until the cracking begins. The chipping, the breaking in half and gluing back together. The shattering into many pieces and left alone to reassemble on one’s own. So hard to do, near impossible—resulting in their putting back their own pieces all mixed up, confused, so that they’re still there, showing some kind of resemblance to a whole, but one so jumbled and confused and so apparently unlike where they started that they begin to not even recognize themselves.

They forget where they began, who they are, truly, at the core. They begin to believe that they are ugly. And that it’s their ugliness that continues to allow them to be crushed and broken. They begin to believe their definition has only ever been ugly and broken.

So they revel in that. They glue themselves back together each time, a little more en mass, a little more confused and disordered, but in a way that appears to be more solid, less likely to allow for major damage. They deliberately make themselves more dense, more grotesque, to perhaps make it so no one will see anything good anymore; no one will pick them up again, call them beautiful, and then smash them into the ground. It becomes a matter of pride. Who can be the most grotesquely damaged? Who can be the hardest? Who gives a fuck? You can’t make me worse than I already am. Bring it on. Throw me. Break me. Just try. If you do, if you don’t…it means nothing.

And behind all of this, this callousness, anger, bravado, deliberate ugliness, pride, challenge…behind it all, only two real things: the fear of yet another rough, unlovely hand leading to rough, hard floor; and the painfully strong longing, despite it all, to be picked up, caressed, valued as the thing they started as, still hidden down there somewhere at the core. To have some observer hold them, look closely, gently, and say, “I see you. Love.” And lay them back down again, gently, like the rare, precious thing they are. To not let them fall.

Those people. The way they fight, despite only lingering memories of what was good and right in them, to not give that old, vague hint of their own perfection and worth up. That tiny glowing nucleus of intense power inside them, that makes them keep building themselves back up, despite the odds, just in case…maybe, maybe. That un-nameable thing that ensures, even should they be smashed into powder and stomped into the ground, that they push themselves back up from under the earth again, as something new, pale, wet, and green…always rising up.

That beautiful ferocity, the refusal to give up hope of recognizing themselves again; of being recognized. This, for me, is the closest evidence that the word “miracle” has meaning.

These people are all around you. You’re one of them. You’re that fucking beautiful.

And I guess by default, that means I am, too.

(Photo credit: Sapling, by scragz)

Monday, June 19, 2006

It's Just Wrong

And yet, so totally right.

Sunday, June 18, 2006


Pre-college, I had two best friends. Let’s call them Aiko and Marcy.

When we were just beginning high school, Marcy’s father suddenly came down with very aggressive spinal cancer, which quickly spread to other parts of his body. His chances for survival were not good, but Marcy’s family pulled out all the stops and did everything they could to try to keep him alive. They moved him out of state and into Sloan-Kettering in New York City, probably the best cancer research hospital in the country.

Unfortunately, however, despite all the doctor’s best efforts, Marcy’s father died. It was a horrible time for my friend, but she and her family did get through it, and in time they recovered, as families do.

For years, that was pretty much the basic summary I carried around in my head regarding this time in my friend’s life. That is, until years later Marcy and I were talking, and she mentioned something additional, which she’d assumed I’d known about, but which came as a complete surprise to me.

My father used to work in New York City, and he took the train in to work every day. When Marcy’s dad got sick, Marcy's mother sometimes used to catch the same train to go in to the hospital to be with Marcy’s dad. Marcy told me that often when her mother was taking the train, my father would see her and sit down with her to keep her company for the ride. It was a nice gesture, because although Marcy’s parents and my parents were friendly to each other due to their daughters’ friendship, they really didn’t hang out together socially, and my father didn’t know Marcy’s mom (or dad) very well.

At the time this was going on, my father occasionally mentioned to me that he’d seen Marcy’s mom on the train, so that wasn’t really a surprise to me. But what came next was.

Marcy told me that at some point during those rides, her mom explained to my dad that things were looking bleak for Marcy’s father, because due to whatever procedure he was going through, he needed some sort of transfusion (I can’t remember if it was blood or tissue), but he had some kind of extremely rare blood or tissue type that needed to be an 100 percent match or it could cause major harm. This blood/tissue type was extremely hard to find and Sloan-Kettering did't have any available and didn’t know when or where they’d be able to get any. Needless to say, Marcy’s mother was despairing of hope. My father couldn't do much but just listen and offer sympathy. When they got to New York, they parted ways.

Marcy told me that suddenly, two days later, Sloan-Kettering was informed randomly via their computer system that there was a blood/tissue bank somewhere that had collected a donation of the exact type of blood/tissue that matched Marcy’s dad’s type, and they were going to ship it to the hospital for her father’s procedure. The procedure was done, and her father was able to live for a few more months before he ultimately passed away. The family felt it was a miracle.

After the fact, Marcy’s family eventually looked into how this blood/tissue donation was found. And they discovered that my father had found it for them. My dad was a computer/IT-type guy, and he did systems support for a medical college/hospital. He used the college’s computer network to do a search of the entire country’s teaching hospitals to see if a donor for or reserve of the blood/tissue could be found. He found one place in the entire country that could help, he contacted them, and then sent the information to Sloan-Kettering. He never said a word about it to Marcy’s family, to me, or to anyone. The only reason they found out was because they asked the hospital. The only reason I ever found out was because Marcy told me years later.

It was only for a short while, it's true, but I can say this about my father: he saved my friend’s father’s life. And he never even thought it was worth mentioning to anyone. He didn’t need thanks or praise or recognition of any sort; he just knew he could help, and he did. It was an act motivated solely out of kindness and good will.

I love that story about my father. It’s probably the best story I could tell about who he is at the core, under all the complexities of his humanness (which we all have).

I talked about some of the negative aspects of my upbringing yesterday. I was in the mood to share one of the good stories today, on Father’s Day.

And it does make me think…what if the world had been less traditional back in my parent’s day, and my father could have stayed home and raised me and my sister, and my mother could have worked? It’s a situation my parents couldn’t have even imagined for themselves and one that I know they would have never chosen—it just “wasn’t done,” and my parents are big on following what’s “done.” But I wonder.

My dad was involved in our upbringing, but he deferred to my mother’s opinion as the primary caretaker. When he took care of us without her, though, he tended to be slightly less clued in to our every emotion. He assumed if we needed him, we would come to him. He also sometimes let us get away with things that my mother never would. And as a person who needed a lot of privacy himself, he wasn’t over concerned if we weren’t being constantly social. Clearly, the story above shows he wouldn't have needed the constant feedback, recognition, and gratitude my mother needed from us for every thing he ever did. My dad never had the impulse to play martyr, much.

My dad has a master’s degree. My mother, on the other hand, never got to go to college, something that I think she's always had a little bit of an inferiority complex about. I think perhaps to make up for what she saw as a “lack” that other women around her had, she may have decided to make motherhood her “profession”--something she had to excel at. She put all her time and energy into proving she could be the ultimate mother and wife--someone who everyone would acknowledge was much better at what she did than anyone else. She needed to show she was the most concerned, the most aware, the most involved.

That was hard on me, because to me it felt over concerned, aware, and involved. But it’s clear that really what it boils down to is that my mother wanted—desperately needed—praise and recognition. And we, her family, her kids, were the only source through which she could gain that praise or recognition; and so she used that source passionately to get what she needed. I wonder if she’d had another outlet for that passion, what she might have accomplished; if it would have allowed her to get the real societal recognition and respect and admiration she desired, and that unfortunately she had to use her kids as tools and conduits to get.

My mother and father shared many of the same values, and they both were pretty solid on thinking there was a “right” and “wrong” way to live, so I don’t know…but I wonder if my father (the low maintenance parent) had stayed at home and my mother (the high maintenance parent) had been able to have the career, if we would have all been able to maintain a more healthy in-between balance that would have made it so the post I wrote yesterday wouldn’t need to exist.

Probably not. But it’s an interesting thought, anyway.

Anyway, a good Dada Day to those who wish to celebrate it. To those who aren't, can't, or don't wish to, as an alternative, happy Dada Day. Either way, certainly lots to celebrate.

Saturday, June 17, 2006

Halfhearted, the Third Half

So this is the third (and for the time being, final) part of the posts I began here and here, in which I’ve been thinking about why I always feel slightly cut off from fully being able to experience the feeling of love. As in, not be able to quite. get. there. “There” being a place where I’m overwhelmingly sure I love the person beyond any reasonable doubt, or, in the case of romantic relationships, be able to say to myself with full certainty that I am “in love.”

I wrote at the end of the second post that I think in order to understand this, I really need to look back at the roots of how “love” was taught to me. And of course, as with everything, that starts with childhood and family upbringing.

Since some of the below may end up sounding pretty harsh, I will preface all of this by saying I wasn’t constantly miserable growing up (perhaps because at the time I didn’t know there was any alternative, so just went with what I had). I had a nice, comfortable childhood that many people on the outisde would envy. I laughed. I had good times with my family. I wasn’t abused by a long shot, and my family has done some wonderful, supportive things for me. In short: I do think my parents loved me, in the best way they knew how. I just think they had some faulty messaging about love, themselves, which it’s become evident they transmitted to me, much as I thought all these years that I was fighting it.

Okay, on with it.

I once went to a seminar where they were explaining how to utilize one of those personality assessment tools they often use in corporations. The presenter there said there were generally two types of messages people got from their families: 1) “You help the family by learning how to help yourself,” (be independent) or 2) “You help the family by learning help everyone else in the family” (be interdependent).

In general, I hate when things are boiled down to two options. (I like to say, “The world has two kinds of people: those who think the world can be divided into two kinds of people, and those who don’t. Heh.) But in this case, my family falls solidly into category #2.

In my family, “love” meant (and still means) giving. You were expected to think about what those around you needed, and how to give it to them. And if your individual need meant that you were inconveniencing someone else or everyone else, you were supposed to give up that need for the betterment of group unity. If you insisted on seeing your need met despite the other’s inconvenience or discomfort (whether actual or merely imagined), you were “selfish,” “ungrateful,” or were subjected to hearing things like, “We do so much for you, and you can’t do this one thing to make us happy?” The fact that my parents “lived first for their children” was pointed out fairly often in word and deed. We kids were expected to give recompense for this sacrifice by making my parents happy via behaving “well” (as defined by them). In essence, we were supposed to be model children.

Love was most freely given out when you achieved something toward this goal--when you performed well, and according to expectation. Though it was clear my parents never stopped loving me or my sister regardless of what we did, there was nothing that was rewarded with as much affection in my home as excelling publicly in the areas that my parents felt would raise the worth of the family “profile” in the eyes of those around them. Doing well in school. Having neighbors praise my parents for us girls being so smart or responsible or pretty or “good” or “nice.” Having lots of “appropriate,” "nice" friends. Getting into a "good" colelge. Getting a “respectable” career, that paid appropriately. Getting a “respectable” boyfriend, who also had a respectable career, and who would eventually ensure you ended up respectably married. Having children. You get the picture.

When we followed the path of what my parents had defined as the “right way” to be, and succeeded at some marker of significance they’d set up in their minds, we were rewarded with much affection and celebration. We were publicly praised and held up for admiration. When we deviated from their idea of the norm (a.k.a., “did poorly”), the information was hidden from others as if it was shameful if at all possible, and if it was too obvious to hide, it was presented to others with, "Of course I don't think it's right, look at how misguided she is/how she's hurting us" eyerolling or sadness, depending. We'd also be questioned incessantly about our "bad" choice and why we'd made it/continued to do it, and were often criticized incessantly about it as well. We were told about others’ children who were doing better by taking the other route. In general, we were made to feel guilty, until we felt entirely miserable. And then, once that was achieved, we were told, “See, the way you’re choosing to live your life is making you unhappy. We just want you to be happy.” (And yes, at times both my sister and I have given in to this on some significant decisions, because it got to the point where it did feel as if just to have the pressure stop would be easier than the constant judgement and guilt.)

So, lots of love and affection for being the perfect, 1950s-style clever but obedient, sweet, pure, blandly attractive, compliant, perfect middle-class girl. For anything else, "Well, you know we love you no mater what you do, could you do that? What is wrong with you? How could you do this to us? Do you know what people will say about you? used to be so pretty; why did you do that to yourself?" Etc., etc. So no, they never said, "bad choice = no love," but you see how subliminally, a kid might start to think deviation from the mold meant blame and witholding of love. And how these kinds of judgmental questions could be used as manipulative methods of getting the person to leave behind the choice they made and get back on the "right track."

Along with that, there was a weird inequity going on in that we as kids were told (primarily by my mother, who was very emotionally needy) that love meant having no secrets. My mother set it up from early on that she was The Family Confidant who everyone had to come to to get their emotional needs met. Every emotion we ever felt needed to be shared with and processed through her. She stressed how important it was for families to help each other, and to tell each other everything. She was hyper aware of everything we were doing at all times, so that in a sense, even if we were in a closed room in the house, we never really had any privacy. She knew where we were and who with all the time when we were out of the home. And the minute an emotion crossed our face, it was leapt on and we were asked what we were feeling.

From the outside, this seemed nice to a lot of my friends, who often felt their parents didn’t really notice them and their needs all that much. And it was nice to have a mother who cared. To an extent. But in my mother's case, it just went way over the line. For me, and I’m only beginning to realize the depth of this, it was often sheer torture. I had no mental privacy. At all.

(I feel both guilty and selfish having said that. "My mother tortured me by loving me too much." I know it sounds bizarre, and that some people who are reading this who had inattentive or emotionally absent mothers will say I'm a whiner and I don't know how good I had it. And I also know hearing this would hurt my mother and make her cry; and she'd be horrified I was saying this in public. But I'm sorry, it's true. Sometimes loving too much is damaging, too.)

And yet, even as I was always getting this constant message that people who love each other share everything, my mother certainly didn’t do the same in return. She kept plenty of her emotional stuff to herself--which was appropriate, seeing as she was an adult and I was a child. But nonetheless, you see the inequity here. "Share everything" meant my brain and heart were up for ownership; hers were not. And as such, she knew exactly what made me happy, sad, insecure, willing to help, unwilling to participate, etc. And, when she deemed it necessary (when I stepped out of line), she would use that knowledge to get me to do what she or my parents needed or wanted; or, as I got older, to at least make me feel horrible for doing it so that I couldn't enjoy it. And, it being imbalanced, I could never get enough ammunition to fight back in kind.

So you see what I was left with in terms of messages about love, moving into adulthood. Love meant:
  • Meeting or exceeding expectation; if you aren’t perfect, you’ll never be fully loved.
  • Always thinking of the other person before yourself.
  • Giving up everything to that person should they need it, whether or not they requested it, and without expectation I could get full return.
  • Giving up all secrets and vulnerabilities, which could then be used to manipulate emotions and behavior.
None of these definitions of love were EXPLICITLY stated during my childhood, of course. They were just instilled through learned behavior. Punishment and reward.

It’s really quite shocking how deeply such messages can get wired into you, even when you think you’re negating them.

These days, I’m asking myself, given this list above, is it any wonder, that I can only see people's behavior toward me in relationships as either punishment or reward--confirmation or negation of my loveability and value? Is it really all that surprising that I’m suspicious of ever letting myself be fully vulnerable to anyone? The whole mythology of giving all of yourself—sacrificing the core of your being—to the one (or ones) you love is very romantic, very noble. But is it actually really a loving act? I mean, in a way it’s a bit like emotional terrorism. If you want the kind of love that means each person must surrender themselves to the other; give up all that they are to make some kind of holy, spiritual fire-bond…well, isn’t that asking your lover, child, or friend to erase him or herself from being for you? Aren’t you in essence dehumanizing them?

In any case, that list sure as hell seems like one reason why I might have a pattern of picking out people who will fuck up, lie, cheat, or be unavailable to me. Choosing those people allows me to always be a little unsure, a little suspicious or worried; and that gives me a reason why I can keep a little distance; why they can't demand I surrender myself because they have. Oh, I'll still feel sad that I can’t fully connect, too. But I think secretly maybe I don’t want to fully connect, because that would mean surrendering myself to someone; and disappearing.

I’ve often said I’m far happier and saner out of a relationship than in it.

Now I realize why (I think). It’s because I don’t know how to fully love emotionally without loving sacrificially. And I don’t know how to accept emotional love from others without expecting sacrificial love from them to prove the emotional love.

Because, yes, despite having thought I’d beat the pattern, I see now it’s beaten me.

I did things I thought would stop it. I eschewed the kind of traditional relationship my parents had, in both type of partner and in setup. I made friends with people completely outside of the types my family thinks are the “right” people. I’ve made choices for me alone that they still give me shit for even now, and I stuck to them.

BUT. Now I’m looking closely at what I do. And what I see is shocking and disappointing. Even after all that running away and trying to change, after years of hating how love had been defined in my household, after telling myself I'd never be like them, it’s suddenly obvious that I’m still playing out the roles I’ve learned. When I’m in relationships, and even to some extent friendships, I over-give. It makes me ashamed to acknowledge this, by the way, because it seems so base and manipulative, and makes me seem so fucking needy and I HATE that. And I didn’t realize all this time, and that makes me feel stupid.

I don’t consciously over-give to manipulate or fill a need. In my head, I'm doing it simply to show the person I like and value them. But often, people tell me I give so much that they feel overwhelmed and can’t possibly keep up or match my level of giving. They feel guilty; as if they OWE me, though I've never SAID they did. And yet, this sounds all too familiary to what I described above. I'm doing something that my parents did to get something in return. Am I subconciously doing it for the same reason? To be able to say, or MAKE the person to say to him or herself, "She does so much for me, how could I not do for her?"

So I may be doing it to get someone to give me something.

Looking back to how I was raised, I see this over-giving stuff is a dual-edged sword: I give because I’m afraid the person won’t give me the full measure of their love if I don't. And I give because I want to manipulate the person into giving me the full measure of their love. And yet it's a trap, because I’m making it so they CAN never equal up—which of course, once again, is also what was done to me. Ask for everything from the person, but never be satisfied with what they give, because it doesn’t meet your vision of how it “should” be given, or because there's always another thing that needs to be met. Appear to sacrifice everything, but don’t share all of your emotional information, lest the balance be toppled and you lose power and lose yourself.

I’m thoroughly ashamed I’ve been so blind. In love, I’ve become my parents; and the people I love, I’ve made the child me. I felt so confined as a kid; so trapped. Trapped by fucking love. Smothered. Unable to breathe. Unable to relax and be myself. Not even time to think about who "myself" was; because the other person needed me so badly. And this is what I’m doing to other people. It make me want to hurt myself, it’s so awful to recognize. And it’s no wonder I’m such a fuckup at relationships. What rational adult would put up with that kind thing for long, regardless of how charming I may be on some levels?

So I'm playing the parent love role to others. And then, on the flip side, I choose men who will keep playing out the parent love role for me. I find men who will tell me they love me, will move the moon and stars for me, think I'm the hottest thing on the planet, whatever, but when it comes down to it, they just…can’t…commit. Too scared, too far away, too already involved with someone else. Or they tell me it’s been the best relationship they’ve ever had, but they’ve decided they really need to be with this other woman, who they always assumed was “out of their league” and they’d never thought they could ever get, and by the way did they mention they’d been fucking her already? Or they need huge amounts of help or nurturing or emotional support, and they suck all that out of me, so I’m so busy helping them fix their lives and succeed at their dreams, I can ignore ever dealing with my own—and they never notice I’m doing that, or that I even have any dreams they ought to be supporting. And then once they’re “fixed,” they realize they're more "marketable and need to go out there and see if they can find someone who is, in their minds, more socially exciting and validating than even I am.

I’ll choose anyone who I have to give and care for until I disappear, and/or who will validate that I didn’t come up to standard, wasn't quite perfect enough to win his full measure of love and admiration.

Does all this feel like a trap inside a trap inside a trap, and I’m doomed no matter which direction I turn? Oh yes, it sure as hell does.


How to love emotionally without loving sacrificially, and how to be able to accept the same in return, and believe that is love. That seems to be the solution.

I have no idea how to get there. Yet.

I am going to try to figure it out. But it feels so late to be realizing all of this. I’ve been holding off on getting involved with anyone until I feel more clear on how to love more healthily and more completely. But all these messages have been so deeply woven into my being. Looking at it all, everything I’ve been doing to's so twisted and complicated. It just looks like there's this huge knotted mass of yarn where my heart should be. It looks exhausting to take on and unravel. It feels like it will take ages to undo all the knots until the yarn runs smoothly. And I don’t want to wait that long to have some emotional connection with someone. It’s already too fucking lonely. Much longer, and I'm afraid I'll forget how to feel altogether.

I hope to god there’s someone out there who IS emotionally, physically, and logistically available to me AND who has enough patience and affection for me that they might take me on before I'm done. And who might stick around and love me for who I am, even if I sometimes slip. So far, I’ve not had much evidence that person exists. But you never know.

I have no idea if anyone's going to get anything out of this morass of verbage. But if you do, comments most welcome.

Now, That's My Kind of Ambivalence

To lighten up the mood and divert attention away from the "post'o'gloom"--which I can't stand seeing at the top of the blog anymore--I bring you:

Dr. Rajkumar.

Come, friends. Join me! All you can say is "Aaahhhh"! [sic]

Very sic, in fact. Hit play and jam like the fruit is in season, people. Listen to the brilliant chorus; and then let me know which of the four options you're voting for.

P.S. I will "do" the first person who memorizes this song, takes me on a dinner cruise, and sings it to me in front of a crowd of frighteningly anemic looking white people.

Thanks to Screenhead for the heads up.

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Horror Head

Disclaimer: If you're not a fan of self-pity (and you'd be smart not to be), stay the fuck away from this post.

I don't even know how to write what I want to say.

I want to talk about being completely alone in struggling with something, and how hard that is. I want to talk about shame, and what it feels like when it's eating you alive, from the inside out.

I have no words for these things, which is only making me feel worse, because it means I'm an utter failure at even the one thing I'm supposed to do well.

I'm not good at allowing myself to be vulnerable. My greatest fear is I'll let someone know my weak spots, and they'll use the knowledge to destroy me. That they'll treat me like a subhuman speck of filth.

I revealed something today, said something out loud in the presence of others, that I'd never said to anyone, and that I thought would help me. I think I thought it would free me, bring me release. And maybe, as a secondary impulse, I thought sharing it would somehow make me feel less alone in struggling with it. Maybe I also secretly thought my bravery in revealing it was going to get me points and draw people to me out of admiration. I don't know.

It didn't work. Instead, what it ended up doing was make me feel even more utterly alone than I'd felt before I'd said it.

And then I had to walk away from this group, alone on my little path of shame and humiliation. Or rather, they absorbed themselves with each other so they conveniently didn't have to notice what I was doing, so I had no choice but to walk away, or stand there alone and ignored, like an idiot. So I walked. No one said goodbye. I was avoided. I felt like a big, hulking monster. Quasimoda. The Elephant Girl. Repulsive.

I went home, completely mortified, and cried the way you do when you're four. That loud, wave-after-wave body-wracking kind of crying--the way you do before you've learned it's not okay to cry like that anymore. That kind where every time you stop, you can't catch your breath before another wave is smacking you. I haven't cried like that in years. I thought maybe that would give me some kind of release. But it doesn't.

And I thought, I need to talk to someone; call someone. I just need one person out there to let me give them the full-on blast of my humiliated misery, the depth of who I am with all my flaws and disgustingness (and goodness), and have them love me anyway. Tell me I'm good and pure and that I light up their life.

And I just had no one to call who'd be able to do that for me. I mean there are people, but none of them can give me what I need in this particular situation. Or, I just can't bring myself to subject them to what I need. And anyway, if I tell them what I need, then it won't count. They'll be saying it to make me feel better, but they won't mean it. They'll just be doing it because I asked.

I don't know.

I've never been in this situation before. What do you do when there's no one you can turn to?

I guess you write a sorry-ass, non-specific, completely loserish post like this one. Because at this point, this is all I've got left.

Which makes me feel ashamed in and of itself.

If anyone out there has anything genuinely positive to say opinion-wise that would help me to see that this whole enterprise I call myself isn't completely useless, now would be the time to say it. As ashamed as I am to ask for this, again, it's all I've got.

But for god's sake, no pity comments.

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Just. Right.

Every morning, in the first moment of waking, I turn my face to the other pillow…and you are lying there next to me.

And I get to reach over, warm and still sleepy, languorous and cat-eyed, and lightly cup my hand against the roughness of your cheek, run my thumb against your always surprisingly soft lips. And the white, clean light of morning spills all around us like the fire from some sacred halo, and I can feel how any moment, you’re going to open your eyes and look at me. A look that says, “Baby, everything is just. right.’

And then you’re gone.

I want you to stay. I want what comes after.

Abre los ojos.

(photo credit: In bed by Xena B)

Sunday, June 11, 2006

Exercise: Connecting to the Evolved Observer

(View larger)

This is less of a post and more of a marker--a reminder to myself of something I need to keep with me. Something I want to try. Feel free to try it too, if you like.

Look at a space in the room where you're sitting where a person might stand and be able to observe you.

Now imagine yourself standing in front of you as the fully evolved person you've imagined you could be. Not the person who you think (or have been told) you "should" be. I mean the real, ultimate ideal for you--the dream person, who you imagine, in the deepest parts of your soul, you could be. The true person you know yourself as, if you could get past all the crap and negativity. The you who would exist if your world were without fears, worries, any of the outside or inside motivations or needs that hold you back or push you forward.

Imagine it all, what your ultimately evolved self looks like, feels like, is wearing, does with her or his days, all of it. Imagine that person as if she or he is corporeal, standing in front of you. Imagine she or he is looking right at you--calmly, affectionately, and without judgment--just looking at you, connecting with you, as you look back. Imagine this person taking you in visually as you are RIGHT NOW in this moment, whatever you are doing, wherever you are sitting, whatever you look like, wherever you are in your life; absorbing you so you are each sharing the other's thoughts and feelings.

Now connect to what the evolved observer version of you is seeing and feeling towards you as she or he is looking at you, and what, right now, in this moment that version of you would say to you, and/or do. How would that evolved person communicate or interact with you, looking at you at exactly this moment, with only affection and the desire to make the best, warmest connection with you possible as you are right now?

Whatever message that person has for you, whatever they feel compelled to do for you or tell you right now, do that for yourself or tell yourself that for the rest of the day.

When you wake up tomorrow, do this exercise again. Do it every day. Hourly, if you want. Until you are both the same person.

A connected reminder: You are not bad; or good. There IS no good or bad. There's only you, as you are, working toward your vision of the fully evolved you. There are no good choices, action or thoughts; there are no bad choices, actions, or thoughts. There are only choices, actions, or thoughts that will or won't get you closer toward being that evolved version of you who you dream of. When a thought goes through your mind or a choice comes up, don't think about if the thought is good or bad; don't think about what other people will think or say, or if they'll be critical of if you make that choice; don't think about if that choice is smart or stupid, possible or impossible. Ask yourself simply, "Will this help me evolve to where I want to go/who I want to be?" Then respond accordingly.

And if a choice turns out to not help you evolve as expected, don't spend time beating yourself up that you made "a bad choice" or "always make bad choices." Simply recognize that choice turned out not to help you evolve, and now you know. That's all. And then go on and try a new choice. Keep trying. Don't hurt yourself because every choice won't always bring you forward as hoped. You didn't do bad. You didn't do good. There is no score; there is no judgment or evaluation. There's only you, evolving as you go.

(Photo credit: Evolving Planet by sgtpepperzl)

Friday, June 09, 2006


In the real world, I tend toward monadoramy. It's my new phrase, to substitute for monogamy. I want to adore someone and be adored by him, and I don't want to share. Mine, mine, mine. In the blogging world, however, I'm polyadoramous. And I've come across a few new bloggers recently (new to ME, that is) who I've been selfishly enjoying all to myself; and now I feel it's time to reveal my secret trysts and share the love.

(Stands up nervously in front of the room, straightens skirt, pats hair, adjusts sexy librarian glasses, opens mouth and says:)

I am the goddess of hellfire, and I bring you:


Let's say the "B" in the acronym stands for "blogs," but y'know, if any of the people I'm writing about prefer to substitute the word "blogger," who am I to object? A shortlist of all my current blog-reading obsessions, each of which is pretty much a daily read of late, but which I've been too damn lazy to move up to my "daily sustenance" list yet.

None of these are "sex blogs," by the way. Reading only sex-themed blogs can get a little boring and repetitive, don't you think? I like people who mix it up and branch out.

So, they may not be sex bloggers, but all of them are smart, funny, lovely, talented, and built for pleasure, regardless. I'd do each and every one of 'em. And let you watch.

1) Neil Kramer at Citizen of the Month. Reasons why:
  • Because he makes me laugh almost every damn day, and on the days he doesn't, he makes me think. And then some days he makes me laugh AND think, and then I laugh to think of how surely, he must be destroyed, because to be able to unleash a firestorm of thoughtful-funny is the most dangerous power on earth. Isn't it? Well, it slays me, at least.
  • Because he is a MOTWA (Member Of the Tribe With Attitude).
  • Because he's the kind of guy who likes his women to have real bodies, and his goats to have full rights under the constitution.
  • Because he lives in LA and yet isn't an asshole (I'm beginning to discover this is more common than I once thought).
  • Because he didn't get insulted when I suggested his penis should be part of a roadshow.
  • Because he writes things like this:
Babies are like homeless
They beg and beg for more
They don't pay any taxes
They puke all over the floor.

2) The Communicatrix (aka Colleen Wainwright). Reasons why:
  • Because I wish I had thought up such a cool alter-ego.
  • Because she can do irony without doing bitter
  • Because she's another woman who understands how to do sexy librarian glasses right
  • Because she thinks about how to get to happy, and seems, despite some occasional setbacks, to be actually accomplishing it, which I find heartening.
  • Because she has a "Cheering the Hell Up" series, and she couldn't be more right. It'll slap you into perspective. In a very sweet slapping kind of way, dontcha know.
  • Because she writes things like this:
Anyone who doubts the multiculturalism and quick wit of small town America has not worn pigtails, walked down a main street and had two brothers in a bright yellow TransAm yell "Pippi Longstocking!" at her out the window.

3) Schmutzie at milkmoney or not, here I come. Reasons why:
  • Because when I read her I just, y'know, like her. She's cool. She's the kind of person I'd hang out with in real life. If anyone like her lived where I live now, that is, dammit.
  • Because in just one post (yesterday), she: 1) said she had an "inner goth teen," 2) used the word "ginormous," 3) included the phrase "proof that the world is not solely populated with trolls in human clothing," and 4) admitted one of her favorite things to do is to respond to people with, "Twat? I didn't hear you." I mean, really. How can you not love this girl?
  • Because she is yet another woman who knows how to wear her some sexy glasses, and she collects others who do.
  • Because I like the way she does photography, and the way she designed her blog.
  • Because she seems to have found an actual good relationship, with a cool guy who has a blog of his own and knows who Chris Ware is, all of which gives me hope that my quirky indie-girl-mixed-with-"nice"-girl-mixed-with-secret-sex-kitten ass will eventually be able to do the same. Plus, she's not annoyingly kiss-kiss, lovey-love, rub-it-in-your-face, protests too much about the fact she has a Happy Relationship™. Which leads me to believe she actually does have one, rather than is pretending she has one, like I sometimes suspect is going on with some bloggers.
  • Because she writes things like this:
People are not always sociopathic robots with crossed wires. Sometimes they are thoughtful and sweet and remind me that I, too, can be thoughtful and sweet. We can spread this shit around, people.
4) Ducky (aka Brando, aka Brandon) at One Child Left Behind. Reasons why:
  • Because the blog's name is enough of a reason alone
  • Because he's got a Journey boxed set, and he's not afraid to use it. Or ashamed to admit it.
  • Because he has a fine quarter of a face and has only one interest: wicked awesomeness.
  • Because he's been published in McSweeney's, making me insanely jealous...and yet the same time. Oooh, McSweeney's. Oooh.
  • Because it's mysteriously difficult to figure out where his archives are, and this makes me want him more.
  • Because he can write beautiful shit that's sentimental without being sappy, like this post yesterday.
  • Because he can write other fucking amazing, too-damn-clever shit like this:
I would like to burn in hell for a little while (NOT VERY LONG), so that I might arrive in Heaven refreshed and appreciative. Like cooking with whiskey. You boil off the alcohol and what remains is evocative. I would like to smell ever so slightly of my horrid deeds.
(Ed.: Though "beautiful shit" maybe sounds not-so-nice to some, rest assured that when I resort to calling out obscenities to say how good something is, it's good.)

5) Brooke at The Babbling Brooke. Reasons why:
Brooke's newest to me, so I don't have a whole list for her, but I keep finding myself back at her blog lately. She's a teacher, and she cares about being one, and I find that encouraging. She's also a good writer, and clever-smart. And most importantly, Google sends you to her blog when you search "tattoos, bitches, and bikes." 'Nuff said. I'll be back at her place again.

Finally, I'd feel remiss somehow if I didn't mention two other blogs. I'm separating these two out because one's quiet at the moment and the other's in flux, and though they are more recent obsessions of mine than some, neither is a "new find" the way all those listed above are. But regardless, I just want to give them a nod, because I love them and read them constantly, and I don't think I've ever articulated that.

So, continuing my adoration of all clan Moronosphere:

First, I want to point everyone toward Buck Daruma, my ass, which has LONG been a daily read but which I am heartily ashamed to say I've taken far too long to switch over on my blog list. Buck's a fabulous writer and thinker, and he's all Zen and stuff, too. Buck's ass puts my over-effusive ass to shame. He may or may not be continuing the blog at this point (I'm rooting for "may"), but in any case the archives are muy interesante and give you plenty to hold onto, and I'd encourage you to check 'em out so long as he keeps them up.

Second, I want to point ya'll to The C Word, the blog of that smouldering avianatrix Circe. She, like me, runs on the effusive rather than Zen side, and so she helps me overcome my shame after reading Buck. And she writes about what it's like to be a freaky indie girl/woman in a conservative place, and to feel really damn alone as a result--and boy do I know how that feels. Another femme too smart for her own damn good, and yet, if the world were fair, that phrase would never even exist. When I am queen of the universe, I will change all of this, of course. Her writing style is light, fun, funny, and somehow not depressing even when it's sad. Not sure how she does that. Breezy. That's her word; that's what she writes like.

WELL. That's enough BILF worship for one day. Enjoy yourselves. And of course, avail yourselves of all the other wonderful people listed to the right. The blog world is an odd and beautiful place, full of odd and beautiful people. Go get you some BILFs of your own and send 'em my lustful way.

Thursday, June 08, 2006

Yoko and Me

Yesterday, I received an email from a reader chastising me for not having been able to answer every comment that was made on my blog. Though I was already intending to address the particular post the reader was referring to in my own time and in my own way, now is as good a time as any to clarify a few things for anyone who reads this blog. Note I say this is a clarification, not an apology.

The main point: I like my readers. I'm glad you comment. But. I can not and will not always be able to answer every comment, no matter how good or erroneous or insightful or personal or etc. that comment may be. I have never promised to do so, nor should you expect that I will.

Your choice to comment on anything here, or to share any personal experiences, is just that—a choice. I am grateful for those of you who do make that choice, and for each and every comment, but that doesn’t mean I “owe” you or any other commenter anything for you having made that choice—in the same way I don’t think just because you’ve read a post of mine that you “owe” me a comment on it. I’m pleased when you do. I hope you will, if you feel you have something you want to share, and if you have the time and inclination. If you don’t, I understand and I don’t take it personally. Feel free to feel the same about me in reverse. But don’t expect I’m here to take care of you or that there are “rules” I have to follow on my own blog.

A second important point: I want to make one thing very clear. I sometimes choose to share personal, and sometimes difficult, emotional experiences here. This often results in others choosing to share personal experiences of their own. When anyone who comments make this choice, understand that what you are doing is the same as what I am doing when I write my posts—you are sharing it with ALL the readers of this blog including myself—you are not sharing it one-on-one with me. I am NOT a therapist and it is NOT my job to take care of anyone’s emotional health. If you have written something here and you feel upset that it has not been addressed, recognize this means the issue is bigger than something I am capable of addressing for you anyway, and please go find someone qualified who can help you address it. If you see someone ELSE has written something you feel needs to be addressed and you feel I haven’t addressed it the way YOU would like to, by all means, respond to it yourself and say what you feel needs to be said.

This blog was created for three reasons:
1) To encourage me to get in the practice of writing for me more regularly
2) To talk about issues of sexuality and other things that are important or interesting to me
3) To foster group (not one-on-one, blogger-to-reader) discussion.

I never intended this blog to be one where I talk to each individual reader, but one where we all talk to each other. The whole point was for this to be a community discussion, so whether or not I answered, discussion was happening. I happen to enjoy answering comments, so when I can, I do it. But I refuse to make this an exchange where either side is obligated to the other.

There are many reasons why I may not be able to respond to a discussion, which should be obvious. If I don’t, it’s not due to any disinterest, but things like the fact that I have a life outside of this blog that needs to be taken care of, that I feel you are all doing a good enough job on your own, or even that for personal or emotional reasons, I don’t feel like joining in the discussion that’s happening. Maybe I haven’t solidified my thoughts yet. Whatever the reason is, it is, and that’s that. I may give you an explanation. I may not. Please don't think you're owed one--I don't ask you for an explanation of why you don't comment on a post if I know you've read it. And in line with that, in the same way that when you read something I write and aren't inspired to comment you mean nothing personal by it, be aware my not reponding to any comment isn’t a personal commentary on you, any other person, or the quality or importance of comments made.

And if you find that annoying, please look around at other blogs. It’s extremely rare to have any blogger respond to every single reader. Most do not respond anywhere NEAR the level, or at the length, that I do. So again, I ask you to be happy I’ve been able to do it as much as I have, and leave it at that. And realize that as time goes on, it will probably be that I’ll have LESS time to do individual one-to-one responses instead of more. My hope is that even if this becomes the case, you will be able to carry on the discussion as a group. However, if you simply can’t accept that you or others may not always get a personal response from me, of course your other option is to stop reading the blog (or stop commenting). I hope that won’t be your choice, but everyone must do what works best for them.

And finally, please don’t send me emails telling me how I “should” write, manage, etc. my blog. “Should” is a very judgmental concept, and it says more about your own needs and issues than anything about me and my actions. This blog is for me, and I’m running it in the way that’s right for me. If you think I am--or this blog is--doing something wrong, by all means, start a blog of your own and write and run it the way that’s right for you. And I can promise you this: I may read it, and I may comment on it, but I won’t expect you to be me, and I won’t expect that you are responsible for me, or owe me or anyone else anything.

Thanks and affection to all,


P.S. I'm keeping comments open as a matter of habit, but the above is not up for debate. And though you never know if I will be able to respond or not to any comment, I can tell you for certain that I will definitely not be responding to anyone who tries to make it a debate. I may even choose to delete such comments, though I generally don't like to do that.

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Halfhearted, the Second Half

So this is a continuation of yesterday’s post, examining my detachment from fully being able to feel the sensation of love, as I assume others feel it. I likened my experience of trying to fully connect to love to having sex but never reaching orgasm. It’s nice; you can have fun, you can feel good, you can connect, but you never fully get ALL the way there, exactly.

And I mentioned that I often work hard in relationships to make up for what I’m not feeling, so much so that the person on the receiving end is certain I must be feeling something strongly. In short, I fake my “love orgasm.” Why do I do this? It may be because I don’t want the other person to feel bad or inadequate, or to feel like I’m not doing enough for them. It may be because I want to feel the orgasm so much, I desperately need to pretend to myself that I do feel it.

I wonder about that last one. Some days, I think maybe the way I feel love IS the way everyone feels it, and I just think there must be more to it. But we all know what we think when someone inexperienced says, “Well, maybe I did have an orgasm, and I just didn’t realize.” No, darlin’, if you only think you had one, you didn’t. If you had one, you would know.

I’m guessing it’s the same with the love thing. I’m not really feeling it. If I were, I would know. Or would I? I wish someone would tell me. Getting people to describe what love feels like, what makes them certain they love someone, is--again--like trying to get someone to describe what an orgasm feels like.

Anyway, this whole faking it thing is ironic, because during sex, I absolutely refuse to fake an orgasm. I don’t believe in it. I think it’s unfair to both sides involved. One person thinks they’re having a better connection than they are, and the other person gets cheated. Resentment builds. And then think of the crushing blow your partner receives when they finally are told, or finally come to realize on their own that they’ve never made you come and you’ve been faking for the whole time. It’s crushing, it’s demeaning, it’s relationship ending.

And yet, what I just described above is a pattern I repeat over and over again in romantic relationships. In friend and family relationships, the pattern isn’t quite as obvious—but that feeling of slight disconnectedness is almost always there. And I fake it for as long as I can convince myself and the other person that everything’s okay. Until it’s not, and everything falls apart, and we’re both angry and disappointed, and I get to reinforce to myself one more time that I don’t know how to love anyone, and I am incapable of being loved.

It’s the worst thing you can say at the end of a relationship, isn’t it? You see it in movies. The last, cruel line no one has a comeback for—“You never made me come! I faked every orgasm!” It’s a power play. We all recognize the explosive significance when the actor throws out that line. It means, “You never really got all of me. I never really loved you. You never made me FEEL. No matter what you’re doing to me now, no matter if you have the upper hand in this breakup, walk away knowing that you were the failure—not me. You were the one who couldn’t perform, not me. You can’t hurt me, because you never really made me feel in the first place.” And the person is defenseless against this. They can’t prove you wrong. They can’t win. They lose the upper hand.

So maybe that’s why I do it. If someone leaves, or disappoints, I have the ability to say, well I never cared that much, anyway.

You know, I have to stop mid-post and say I’m writing this, and it’s true, and yet I also realize it’s total bullshit. This whole thing is total bullshit. It’s all so conveniently neat and tidy, all spelled out for you, isn’t it?

Faking it is total bullshit. It’s true. I mean, faking it is acting. And then continuing to reenact the pattern itself is bullshit—I know what I’m doing on some level, and I’m doing it anyway. Why? Clearly, because it serves some purpose for me. I’m getting something out of it. God knows what. I’m sure as hell not getting anything good. What could I possibly stand to gain by perpetuating this kind of thing? My ability to continue to feel victimized? To believe everyone is ultimately out to hurt me? To get to continue to play the role of the romantically sad, fucked-up girl, so I’m more interesting than my boring, suburban, Beaver Cleaver roots?

Even explaining the pattern to you is yet another level of bullshit. Putting all these metaphors together, making it all pretty and make sense and match up. All of it…it’s all this giant put-on, this cover up for some other, bigger, more important fact or truth that, in some really nasty irony, has been shrunken down and hidden inside a pill encasing so microscopic I just can’t even see it, so I can’t pick it up and break it open. And I am both so afraid and SO ready to break it open and find out what that more important truth is, and I have no fucking idea how to make that happen.

So. In the meantime, the pattern stays deeply ingrained, and the bullshit remains. And I have to wonder where it’s all originating from. I need to really figure out what creates this impulse in me to keep playing out this act, this blocking myself from feeling.

What I really need to do is go look at the roots of what I was taught about love, and what those messages were.

But I think the above is more than enough for me to process right now. I guess there will be a part three. Didn’t expect that one.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006


Love. What is it? What does it mean?

Really, I think I have absolutely no idea.

You’ll note back in my “Final Cut” post, this is something I struggle with. I’m not sure I’ve ever loved anyone, exactly. Or that I can ever feel anyone really loves me.

Don’t get me wrong. I’ve cared for a good number of people. I’ve had great friends who I adore and think are wonderful. I have family members who I share common bonds with and feel attached to. I’ve often felt a great deal of affection toward certain people. Many people have told and do tell me that they love me. I tell and have told people I love them.

And I guess on some level I do love them—to the extent I’m capable of loving. But for me, there always feels to be this---I don’t know what to call it—this cut-off point. The point at which if I begin to feel too strongly, it crosses over some line and I shut down; go numb. It’s not that I feel nothing, exactly, but that I can’t reach the end that I feel MUST be there to feel, though I have no evidence it is. Some final, my-cup-runneth-over sensation is just blocked off and inaccessible to me.

The best way I can get across what it feels like is to use a sexual metaphor. Imagine you can be stimulated, and it feels nice, and you can even feel the stimulation building to something, but you just can never, ever reach the orgasm. You can get really close--but then just at that key moment when you’re supposed to explode, you deflate instead. Over and over again—and no matter who you’re with, no matter what kind of a lover they are, you never, ever get to peak.

That’s what it feels like. I can’t orgasm on love. I can get close to people. I can enjoy the exchange. I can feel moved by them. But I can’t let myself go and love them without limit.

Most people I choose to love never seem to realize this. To keep the sexual metaphor going, maybe I’m making so much noise enjoying the sex, they don’t even realize I’m not orgasming. I go out of my way to make people feel fully loved—to make up for the small part that I think is dead inside me. Essentially, making the love experience SO good for them on their end that they can’t believe that I’m not orgasming. Or that it's so good and they are so overwhelmed with their own sensation that that they never even notice if I’m orgasming or not. Or if they do notice, that it’s so good for them that they don’t care if I am.

The problem is, at the same time this is going on, it hurts me deeply that no one notices or cares that I’m not orgasming while they are. I want to fucking orgasm. And I think, how can I really love this person if I'm incapable of coming for them? And, just like it is for people sexually, the fact that I'm hurt that they didn't notice only makes it more difficult for me to come. Once the person shows me what I believe is proof that he or she doesn't really notice or care all that much, it becomes even more difficult for me to ever trust them enough to let myself go to the extreme of giving all my love to them. Why? Fear, probably. Fear of what would happen to me if I did. Fear of having an orgasm and it meaning nothing to the other person. What could be worse? How empty, how foolish, to allow yourself to love someone fully who couldn't give a shit about you.

So I opt for no orgasm rather than having one that the person will then devalue, I guess.

But honestly, I don't know if this is a conscious choice, or it's just part of my makeup. I've never been any other way, that I can remember.

Sexually speaking, there are plenty of people who are non-orgasmic, and we’re told this is okay and that people can have fulfilling sex lives without orgasm being a part of it. Maybe. But, and apologies to the people out there who have not yet capable of having orgasms, but I’ve experienced partnered sex both without and with orgasms, and I’m gonna take with the orgasm every time, if I get a choice. I’d rather be alone and make myself orgasm than be with a partner who I could never orgasm with. I suppose I feel the same about love. I've been in a "non-orgasmic love" relationship more than once. It's just not enough for me. I feel lonely. I find flaws. I want more.

But I wonder if there are a lot of people out there who are non-orgasmic in love when it comes to romantic relationships. I suspect, based on some friends’ marriages and LTRs that I know of, that this is far more common a situation than the movies would have you believe. Could this be the rule more than the exception? Are most relationships only halfhearted (or seven-eighths-hearted, or whatever)? Is love just simply NOT like an orgasm at all, and my current state of not quite being able to love without limits is actually as close to full-hearted love as anyone gets? Am I expecting too much to think that I deserve to be able to access the full, boundless sensation of loving and being loved? Are you expecting too little if you think you don’t?

And how can you be sure that you love someone, really, anyway?

[This above mostly discusses my feelings of being unable to fully love others, but doesn't address the other part I mentioned--being unable to believe others fully love me. This is getting long, though, so look for a second part to this post sometime soon.]

(Photo credit: Half-Hearted - Fleet Week Airshow 2005 by remid0d0s0)