Monday, December 24, 2012

Oh, Please, Mister Father Tree


I wrote this story years ago, maybe when I was in high school, maybe when I was in college. It's hard to tell, because I write stories and leave them in poorly marked, unspecified files for myself to try to find years later. (Don't ask me how my photos are stored, ugh). But this story has to be at least six or seven years old. Some things have changed since then, some haven't. The sentiment of the holidays both as an intensely painful time and as a time of joy sticks with me to this day. 

I leave you with this story, but I hope that if it rings too close to home and too true, that you find something about the holidays that you love, and keep it close by for comfort. We all get to write the stories of our lives, for better or worse, and I hope to keep writing better futures. 

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         I believed in Santa Claus until I was thirteen. That was the year my father left, and winter came colder than I ever remembered. I don’t know if I hugged him goodbye. Years later that night is all a blur. He had a late flight, and my last vague memory was him standing in our dimly-lit kitchen with his suitcase. He probably tried to force me to hug him. I don’t know when he decided to leave, just that one day he was there and the next day he wasn’t. My mom didn’t drive him to the airport – he called a taxi, probably the only one in our little Mississippi town.

          When he left, there were no eggshells or rooms to avoid. We could be too quiet or too loud, we could play on the computer late, we didn’t worry about food disappearing from the fridge.

          But there was no one lying next to my mom in the big king size bed. The dog took to sleeping there, and now, years later, no one can say it isn’t her spot. I remember being small, teacake-size, and snuggling in between my parents in the morning before school. The alarm would go off a few times then they would shove me out, toward my room to get dressed.

          The psychiatrist asked me once if Christmas made me miss him. I don’t remember much of my father around Christmas, except maybe once or twice he lifted me on his shoulders to put the angel on top of the tree. But we always decorated with my mom and shopped with her. I don’t remember that much of him during the rest of the year; I don’t know why she would think Christmas was so special.

          The year he left was different, because I decided if I was old enough to manage without a father then I was old enough to not believe in Santa Claus. It wasn’t really a rite of passage – not like my first kiss, or my first period, or the first time I stayed home alone in the dark. Those had already passed. Funny how they meant so little.

          Now I lie in bed, wishing I could sleep as soundly as my girlfriend next to me. The lights go out, and she’s down faster than a kid on a snowboard. It’s Christmas Eve, and we’ll spend tomorrow with our separate families and hopefully shove an hour together near the end. They’ve never met, which is ok, because I doubt I could handle them all together. Christmas, and all the alcohol that comes with it, would make it even more interesting.
          We’ll go through the day tomorrow, thinking of each other every moment, but in reality forgetting she exists. It’s the game we play with our families, because they would so much rather believe we were single and straight. Or married and straight. Just straight. It’s Christmas so they won’t hassle us, unlike normal days. We’ll all gather around the tree and exchange presents and drink until we’re smashed; the lesbian thing will disappear faster than the turkey burns in the oven. Everyone will be nice, super nice, asking how work is and telling me all the uber-exciting things they have done lately. I’ll talk about how the pipe in the bathroom under the sink leaks sometimes and how boring the Christmas party at work was. I won’t mention how we had great sex last night or how she woke me up with mistletoe and hot chocolate. I’ll forget how she lit all the candles in the house to remind me of Christmas Eve church services when I was a kid.

          I wonder what my father would do if he met her. What would he think of the whole lesbian thing? (as if it were a phase, a sidebar from life) When I was younger, and angrier, it would stir in me to call him and yell: “Guess what? I’m gay.” It’s just too hypocritical though. I swore it wasn’t about him, my life didn’t wrap around his goings and comings – or lack of them. My sexuality wouldn’t depend on it either.

          Even at Christmas I can’t forgive him. I’m not sure it’s about forgiveness anymore. Is that Easter or Christmas? Christian holidays, dear me, I can’t seem to keep track. All these people running around, saying, “Think of the Baaabbby Jessssus,” as if he would open his eyes in some stroller and ask, “So how are you really doing?”

          No, Christmas is about little boys who count if they have more presents than their sisters. It’s emptying your bank account for people you haven’t seen in years. It’s cards from relatives you thought were dead, roasted turkeys and hams and every animal possible, the Rockefeller tree with some Rockettes in mini skirts doing high kicks.

          This year the big thing is the debate between “Merry Christmas” and “Happy Holidays” because the latter is more politically correct. The truth is, no saying will make up the injustice of all the non-Christians who are bombarded by gospel music on the radio, the television, in stores, and seeping out of the very air. We haven’t named Hanukkah as a national holiday (nor any other Jewish religious holiday), but for some reason we recognize Valentine’s Day. Schools, workplaces, and d├ęcor are not based on some sort of “Holiday Season” but rather Christmas – Santa Claus, Jesus, and red and green stuff. I even know Jewish and Islamic people who give presents on Christmas. Not that I think any day is a bad day for presents – if we gave more, maybe we would need to take less. Or hate less. But it seems so… dominate-culture-ish.

          My girlfriend hates Christmas, mostly because of the hype. And she hates wrapping presents. Hates it more than getting out of bed at 4 a.m. or doing the dishes. Then there’s the money thing, how even when we pull the rent out a month early, we get dangerously close to the hole come January. We’re barely out in time to pay taxes in April. I miss being young – kids usually get back more than they spend on others. Adults… not so much.

          I’m going to try to go to sleep now. I won’t think of tomorrow (and our silences) or my father or Santa Claus. I’ll dream of sugar fairies and plums, or was it the other way around? It will all be over by tomorrow night, when we’ll be back in bed – money spent and gifts unwrapped and tummy full. I’ll let her lay her head on my chest, while I wrap my arms around her. We’ll give each other the crummy things we need (and maybe a few we don’t). But it will be just us. And life will begin again, for another 364 days at least, the way it is every day – work, rent, friends, food, illnesses, birthdays, the rest. My father and Santa Claus will go back to the places they belong – the history of a child’s memory.

          At the end it is not the imaginary, a fat man with a sleigh, some reindeer, and the world full of children to deliver presents to, that carries us along through the Season and the year. It is the problems of our society, the delights and downfalls of family, and the banality of everyday life.

          But in the morning, I will awake and whisper, “Merry Christmas, beautiful, I love you.” I will push myself to be positive, to remember why it is worth waking up. The forced silence and the pain of remembering will go to the bottom of the closet for a little while. And she will be there. She’ll be there, and we will both be ok.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

No Matter How They Tossed the Dice

I used to think lists and written goals were silly, an overly bureaucratic waste of my time. I'm not really sure when this changed, but I find that I am so much more focused and self-aware when I set goals. It still feels weird and slightly unfamiliar, but so does not having them. The last few weeks I find myself collecting ideas and thoughts about relationships, reading things that I want to carry around, finding methods I want to put into practice. I'm creating this list, knowing I will add and edit it over time, to remind myself of what I find important. It uses feminine pronouns because I'm dating someone female-identified currently, but I think this list goes for anyone. Most of these will take daily work, and I will fail repeatedly at all of them. But failure is not a final answer, simply an opportunity for learning.

Things I strive for in our relationship:

1) To actively listen to her, to try my hardest not to interrupt, and to provide a response that fits what she is asking for. Not to split my attention. To remember that most, if not all, of what she says is important to her. I want to be present, and active listening is a huge part of that.

2) To determine whether she is asking for a sounding board, emotional support, or advice, and to provide what she needs without my own opinion or assumptions. To acknowledge her feelings, even if I don't agree, and to recognize that those feelings are valid and important to her.

3) To be honest and open with her. I struggle often to talk about my own feelings, and thoughts may roll around in my head for weeks or months before I have the courage to say them out loud. I will work on overcoming my fears about being emotionally vulnerable so that I can open up to her. I will talk with her about the things that are important to me, to us. I will work on acknowledging my mistakes, my baggage, my shortcomings, and my fears.

4) To always support her autonomy, her desires and dreams, and the things in her life that are important to her. To acknowledge and respect her friendships, her relationship with her family, her dreams, her hobbies, and her work. To give her ample freedom and time to cultivate all those things without my interference and often, without me. I want my girlfriend to always have a life outside of me, and I don't want her to have to check in, verify, or ask my permission to act on her own. I do not need to know where she is constantly, what she is doing, or who she is with. I will respect her privacy, and I will never violate what is hers -- her texts and emails, her online accounts, her journals or writing, her private correspondence and conversations. I will respect her space, her routines, and her relationships with other people. I will exercise no control over what is hers, and I will recognize that her life is not "mine" or "ours."

5) To always make time for her, to do things which she enjoys (even if I don't), and to enjoy time with her without expecting it. To thank her, praise her, and acknowledge what she does for me. To do small things that please her. To show my love to her through words, actions, and time.

6) To respect her sexual boundaries, to keep exploring within our sexual relationship, to ask for what I want without fear or shame, and to treat sex as a privilege, not an expectation. To remember that sex is not a quid-pro-quo exchange, and that we both want and need different things at different times. To receive her requests to not engage in sexual activity at a given moment with grace, not with surliness or frustration. To be conscious of how she feels and responds to my sexual energy.

7) To forgive and forget. To fight fair. To respect when she needs to walk away and take a break, and to ask for the space to do so, too, if I need it. To verbalize what I need and what I want when I am upset, because she cannot read my mind. To apologize when I am wrong or when I hurt her. To never revive an argument or mistake if it has been settled and forgiven. To acknowledge my capacity for mistakes, and to try my best to never act out of passive-aggressiveness toward her.

8) Be mindful of what she does not like, and respect that we desire different things. For example, if she does not like gifts, then refrain from buying her things.

9) To never promise anything I can't provide. See: forever.

10) To respect our agreement to have an open relationship, to act within the boundaries we have set, and to give her the space to act on her attractions to other people. To acknowledge my jealousy and my insecurity, but to remember that I cannot let these feelings overwhelm me or affect how I treat her. To always be honest and conscious of the feelings and needs of my lovers. To take steps to protect everyone involved and ensure that I act in ways that are consentual and respectful.

11) To really take this idea to heart: That commitment, instead of being a promise for a future, can be a devotion to radical deep presence, with longevity as a by-product.

12) To remind myself that my crazy is mine -- she does not know pain and history if I do not tell her. To acknowledge my baggage and unfamiliar, uneasy, or painful feelings when they arise. To allow her the ability to rewrite the script, and to talk with her when my past affects us. To release my fears, anxieties, and pain when possible. To remember that she is not my former lovers, and to try my best not to assume her actions and reactions will be the same as theirs. To remember that she has her own pain and history, and to do my best to support her in working through her own baggage.

Monday, November 19, 2012

I Think I Could Understand

I'm perched on the bench, half naked, sunburned, and sandy. I'm not really sure what the protocol is this house. Do we group shower? Do I race everyone who is staying here to their bathroom? Do I shotgun a beer and wait my turn for hot water? I'm along for the ride in a group of fifteen people, but the sand in my crotch is starting to annoy me. I need answers, people. I need them now.

"Ok, Mallory and I call the outside shower. Who wants to come with us?" Three more people jump in, but Ashley leans over my way. "Do you want to shower with us? Please?" Eh. I want to get clean, not wait for five people to use up all the hot water. I'm contemplating how to turn her down gracefully, when Jordan looks across the group and catches my gaze. "Do you want to come shower with me? There's one upstairs."

The question catches me off guard. We're all friends; it shouldn't surprise me. I feel the most comfortable with her, even though I've known several of this group much longer. I jump at the offer and supress the small, fluttering feeling deep down. "Sure. Ashley, that's a lot of people in one shower. I'm going upstairs with Jordan."

Ashley makes a pouting face. Christ, maybe I made a mistake when I agreed to split a hotel room with her. The others had booked this house months in advance for our beach trip. I screwed around, waited too long, and jumped at whatever was available. We'd only been around each other six hours, and her need to have my constant attention was already wearing me thin.

Thoughts swirl around as I follow Jordan up the tiny winding staircase with my bulky bag. I also feel a sense of trepidation getting naked around someone for the first time. The sun has long ago burned through my buzz; there's no alcohol to smother my anxiety. I set down my things in her room, awkwardly rummage for clean clothes and shampoo. I don't know why I'm even worried about this. We're all friends. Right? Right. And it's not weird that I'm just showering with Jordan, right? And it's not weird that the girl she is dating is my ex-lover, right? And it's not weird getting naked with someone you barely know?

I stumble around her and turn the hot water on. She climbs in behind me, and I turn half away, trying to be polite and not stare at her naked. She looks different than I expected, but I suppose no one has ever looked naked the exact same way I imagined. She grabs around me for her soap, and we laugh. It hits me so intensely out of nowhere: I want to kiss her. She is so brutally close, so very naked, and when she smiles, I feel like a deer in headlights.

What the fuck.

No, really, S. What the fuck.

I scrub my face and dart out of the front end of the shower. I never touch her. When she hops out a minute or two later, I keep my distance, turning my back to her and pulling my clothes on too quickly. "Hey, Jordan, do you mind if I take a nap in your bed? Driving from NOLA and the beach just zapped my energy. I'll set an alarm, and I won't be long."

"Sure, no problem." I drop eye contact as soon as she looks at me. I crawl into the rented bed, wishing there was a bigger comforter. I want to hide from my thoughts, from the remnants of my head cold, and from my exhaustion.

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The plates clang against the stainless steel sink as Mallory washes up. I throw the last bowls of cheese and taco meat into the fridge, grab an unclaimed beer, and disappear through the glass door into the darkness. The porch lights are off. I can actually see the stars. I want to leave, walk down to the beach, feel the surf and sand washing over my toes.

I don't hear Jordan come up behind me. She slides her arms around my waist, and I almost jump out of my skin in surprise. She's much taller than me. She rests her head against mine, her chin near my ear. She says something, but I don't register it. My skin is aflame with the unfamiliar feeling of her touch. It feels... good. Scary. Soft. Confusing.

"It's gorgeous out here. Wow. I wish we could see the stars like this in New Orleans." I hear her this time, and my throat releases long enough for me to respond. "I was just thinking the same thing."

She pauses. I like the feeling of her silence.

"What's the plan for tonight?" The words fall out of my mouth. My anxiety needs to fill this space, even though everything else craves it.

"Everyone's getting ready to go. Some bar they've been to in past years, down closer to the bridge. You coming with us?"

"Sure. It's not like I have somewhere better to be. I'm up for whatever."

The door pops open fifteen feet away from us, and I hear Ashley's voice. She pulls away immediately. "I'm going to get ready," I hear my voice echoing inside my head. I run inside to dig up my shoes. All the feelings are racing in circles. My waist feels foreign where she touched me, the trace of her touch following me through the house. What does this mean? Is she hitting on me? I suspect so, but I don't want to believe it. I don't know what I would do with it. I... fuck. I can't stop smiling at her, and I pray that the dark hides it.

What the fuck am I doing.

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Hundreds of women linger through the entrance, around the stage on the beach, crowding at tables in the bar, milling in crowds. It's a veritable lesbian smorgasboard. I remember my ex's story about taking her roommate to a lesbian bar for the first time. I hear her voice saying, "Do you want chocolate, vanilla, strawberry? Whatever you can want, it is in front of you."

Our group immediately gets separated, but I try to cling to my best friend in front of me and Jordan behind me. I lose both, and wander a few minutes looking for Jordan. It's a bit intimidating being surrounded by so many women. I can potentially fuck most of them, if I make an effort at it. If I wasn't so painfully horrible at picking up women in bars. I have no idea why I'm making such an effort to find everyone I came with. But my anxiety kicks through my sobriety. I can't handle all these strangers. I can't handle the thought of going up to any of them, starting a conversation, putting in the effort.

I run into Jordan as I come around a corner. We're both totally lost. "Fuck it," I shout over the deafening crowd. "Come dance!" I find the nearest picnic table facing the stage, and we climb up. She looks unsure. The song changes, and the rapper onstage starts into "I Put On for My City." Immediately my heart leaps to NOLA. I'm screaming the lyrics and shaking my body, because this song is everything I want for my city. She's laughing with me, and I stop thinking and stop worrying so damn much.

A security guard pulls me off the table, and I don't even care. We skirt the crowd, looking for the group and a place that feels comfortable. She points out the bay, which looks formidibly dark and hidden from the lights of the stage. "Come see it with me?" I pull her forward. I want water, big bodies of water. I want my feet in the sand.

We stumble through the sand, down some very steep steps. The water rises almost to my knees. I can hear the music from here, but it's nice to be far from the crowd. She puts her hands on my hips, and I grind against her. It would be incredibly romantic to kiss her under the moonlight, standing in the bay, in our own little world. But this thought terrifies me. I can't turn back to face her. I pull myself out of the bay, back toward the bar, unsure how to even look at her. "Let's go find the group."

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I'm circling the pool table like a shark, looking for something, anything. I'm not very good. She crosses my path, catches my eye, and slides her hand across my ass as I pass. Yeah. There's no missing that one. I write off every doubt. She's hitting on me. I lean over, line up my shot...and miss. Fucking figures. I don't even care.

"You're playing with fire, you know that?" I finally have a few more beers in my system, and I'm no longer so unsure. I can stare her down, if I want to.

"I know."

"We'll both get burned."

"I'm aware." She turns away with a sheepish look, and I wonder if she's weighing her options the way I am.

We make another pass around the pool table as she leans over to shoot. I run my hand down her shoulder, across her hip, down her ass. She turns just as I finish. Her face is inches away from mine. "Where are you staying tonight?' she asks softly.

"I don't know. At the hotel, I guess."

"Stay with me."

I don't think the full weight of this offer has hit. "Are you sure?"

"Yes."

"Absolutely sure?"

"Yes." Ok, S. Stop questioning her consent, she clearly knows what she is saying.

I realize I am holding my breath. "Ok."

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I peel the contacts out of my eyes, and try to shove them in the plastic container. She's lying in bed, waiting for me. I'm still not sure how we got here. What am I doing? Oh, right, contacts. Brush teeth. Fuck someone else's girl. Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh. The freak out in my head needs stifling, immediately. It's 4am, my car is on the other side of the island. I don't have any options left. I chose door one. Time to do this.

The tension and my anxiety feel like walking through a fog.

I turn the lights off and climb into bed half dressed. I reach out to find her. She's there. Waiting. I kiss her, and it feels distant and unsure and apprehensive. She pulls me underneath her. I'm grateful someone else is taking charge right now.

---------------------------------------------------

I hear her breath, in and out, in and out, in the bed next to me. It's extremely early. I'm an emotional trainwreck. I want to reach out for her, but it's done. It's over. There's no touching in the morning. That's reserved for couples and established lovers. We're far from either.

She rises, and the bed creaks. I pretend to be asleep, because I don't want to face her. WhathaveIdonewhatwillhappennowwhatwilltodaylooklike. I don't want to get out of bed, ever. I close my eyes, pull the sheets up, and fall peacefully back to sleep.

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It's almost 3pm before she speaks directly to me. I've kept myself low and quiet all day, alone with my thoughts amid the thousands of people camped out on the beach. She's running back to the car, and she asks if I will come with her.

I feel myself almost shaking. I try to keep my anxiety under control. I need to talk to her. I have to talk to her. I'm terrified to say anything. I'm still swimming in the anxiety in my head when she starts talking. Her voice cuts my thoughts. "I'm going to tell her. I can't lie about something like this. I hope that is ok with you."

Her tone tells me I don't have a choice. "I would, too, if you didn't," I reassure her. "I think it might go over better coming from you. Who knows."

We discuss her, her lover, the possibilities. What will the fall out look like? What are we most afraid of? I let go a little and spit out my fears. I don't want to lose friends. I don't want the shaming. I don't want to hurt anyone. I don't... I shouldn't have. I don't regret my actions, but I do. I don't want to see her hurt, but it will happen. We weigh our options and try to plot what the next few days will feel like. And then she asks me the one question I wasn't prepared for:

"What happens between us now?"

My brain short-circuits, and I totally stop all activity and thought. WHAT. I don't even know how to fathom this question. I let the doors open up a little. I imagine her kissing me again. I remember the way she felt, the way I craved her, the way I wanted to keep fucking her again and again all night. It feels like my brain is exploding. What does this mean? Can I tell her this? Can I say the truth? What is the truth?

A piece comes out of my mouth before I can chase it back. "I don't know. I would sleep with you again, if you would let me. Past that... I don't know."

But in my head, something else is chattering too loudly to ignore.

You love this girl, my brain says. Even if you don't know her at all. You will find this.

And the rest is... well, I suppose, history.

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Back to Black

She slides her arm around my waist and pulls me in to whisper into my ear. "Come home with me." I vaguely register this thought. There's something about the darkness of the bar and the shadows of candles glancing off the bricks that has enamored me. I swirl the ice cubes through the whiskey in my glass instead of responding. I'm not in a hurry to go anywhere. We have the rest of the night to fuck, and there's no doubt in my mind that it will happen. I've been planning that part for a few days; at this point I'm just letting it unfold. Letting myself enjoy seducing her. Learning things I didn't know about her. Testing her boundaries. The chase is always half of the fun.

The pianoman wraps up one song and launches right into another through the applause. I recognize the tune on the first notes, and I turn my back partially to her to sing with the strangers crowded around the piano. Otis Redding always reminds me of life in Mississippi; specifically, this song takes me back to running on the banks of Deer Creek during the Christmas festival as a child. But by the second verse my mind has wandered to you. I remembered a moment, recently, when I was texting you about the music I was listening to at work. We discussed Redding. I don't know if I could love a girl who didn't love him. For a moment, I wish it was you with me, because you would know the words. You would look so incredibly beautiful in the candlelight. You would wrap your arms around my waist, and I would lose myself in you. Forget the bar, forget the world, forget my intentions or my past or... I do when I kiss you. I get lost. I sink in you.

But it's not you here with me. I know wherever you are, whatever you are doing at the moment, that you are surrounded by the people you love. I'm sure you're having a fabulous time. I'm being incredibly selfish, wanting you at this moment, when you'll be home and in my arms before I can blink. 

The song ends, and I return my focus to her, checking back into the moment. Again and again, I repeat the mantra: stay present. Be here. I promised myself that I would before I picked her up, even before I called to ask her to come out with me. If I'm going to sleep with her, I'm not going to spend the whole night thinking about where else I could be. It's not fair to either of us. 

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I lift off my side just enough to run my hands across her hip, down her thighs, across the small of her back. I don't remember how the conversation has started, or what words brought us here -- the whiskey still seeps around my brain. 

"I don't like to talk about my feelings. I don't like to talk about myself, honestly, but there are moments when I let loose. I'm the most honest during sex, for some reason. People ask me the craziest things during sex."

"What's the weirdest thing anyone has asked you during sex?" 

I don't even hesitate to answer this. "If I believed in God." She laughs, the sounds bouncing off the tile and columns of her room. "I was so shocked by the question that it took me a minute to even answer. And then we had a super intense metaphysical conversation in bed." 

"I want to ask you something." 

"Anything," I tell her. "Here's your one chance. You can ask me anything in the world you want to know." I grant this of anyone I sleep with. It's a bizarre gift, I suppose. I never think much of it until the moment it happens. Sex puts me in a mood to expose anything and everything. 

Her thoughts race through the silence. I wish I could get in her head. "I don't know what to ask." 

I lean in, pulling myself up so I can look down at her. My teeth find her collarbone, and her body moves with me as I bite her. "What do you want?" The question comes low and soft, and I realize it's my favorite to ask. 

Instead of responding, she pulls me in to kiss her, and I reach my hand between her thighs. She bends with me, flows with me, so easily. I tease her, threatening to touch her labia, but never quite getting close enough. She bucks against me, begging with her body, trying to force my hand, but I'm too fast. 

"You like to be teased don't you?" She murmurs her agreement. I've been in top space for hours, and her response is intensifying the desire. "You like to be pushed, you like to be topped. I bet you even like to be spanked, too." She nods against me, and I kiss her one last time. "Flip over." 

Her ass is so perfectly smooth. She's got the kind of skin that any woman would kill for, and the kind of curve to her ass that makes me swoon. I lick my finger and slide it over her labia, checking to see how wet she is. I warm her up with a few light spanks, then lean forward over her. "Do you know what a safeword is?" 

"Yes." 

"Good. Do I have to make you use it to know that you will, or do you know your limits well enough to use it when you need it?"

"I'll be ok." 

"Don't feel like you have something to prove to me. You don't." I still hesitate because I haven't fucked her before. Because we've never discussed this. I sense she has little experience with d/s, and I don't want to test that theory."

"What's the safeword?" 

"Red," I respond without thinking. 

I spank her, hard, rotating from left to right, beating a rhythm then stopping just long enough to make her question my next move. She takes it without kicking back, and I'm impressed. If we were at my house, I'd probably tie her up and pull out a flogger on her, just to see if she likes it. I wonder for a second about what is in the room, but there's nothing I could beat her with. Plus there's something deeply personal about being spanked. I like the sting of the palm of my hand, the intimacy of skin hitting skin. 

When she's red and a little raw, I shove two fingers in her cunt and fuck her, hard, opening her up. I slide two more fingers into her ass, and don't let up until she can't handle it anymore. She comes once, almost twice, before she pulls away from me. It's fast and dirty, but by this point, we're almost three hours in, and I'm starting to feel the pull of my bed. I'm not sure her body could take it much longer, and something tells me she isn't the type to keep lube handy. 

I pull myself up next to her, but this time she turns toward me. "I know what I want to ask." 

I can't see much of her in the dark, but I'm not sure I'd want to see the intensity of her eyes right now.

"How did you know I like to be spanked?" 

My head swirls for a minute. I've been dominant my whole life. It's such a sixth sense at this point, I have trouble explaining it in terms of her actions. "It's something about the way you respond to my ordering you around. The way you don't resist anything I ask of you, the way your body responds. It's my job to read you, to test what your body wants, to push you a little. Maybe it's because I practice BDSM. Maybe because it's pretty obvious you like to be topped." It feels uncomfortable to describe her actions to her, so I hesitate. I barely know her. I'm brilliantly failing at putting this into words. 

I can't read her response in the dark, and she hasn't moved or spoken.

"What do you think? What do you like? I want to know." 

She laughs, but there's something biting in her tone. "I'm just a submissive. I don't have options, right?" 

My response is firm, "No, I didn't say that at all. I have so much respect for people who submit. Many of the submissives I know are some of the strongest, smartest people I know. You can submit and still crave something, still want or not want something." 

You come to mind first, and the thought of you makes me smile. But I know many submissives who fit this description, and my response is defensive and protective. I hear it too often -- this idea that submission is weak, it's feminine, it's about not wanting control or not having the capability to have control. I think my response surprised her, because something in the air has changed. 

I leave the conversation there and pull her into a kiss. I'm not up for educating someone about BDSM at three in the morning, and there's a lot in that conversation that probably shouldn't take place when we're drunk and naked. "Can I fuck you again?" she asks when she pulls away. 

"No, it's time for me to go home." Puck's fairies have begun to lull me toward sleep. I have no desire to pass out here; I much prefer to be in my own bed. 

I don't know how to process my feelings yet. Fucking her has been fantastic, but I find that I don't want her to touch me. I don't want anyone else but you, and everything else feels like a waste of my time, bordering on uncomfortable and unwanted. I wonder if it's just a side effect of top space, but it feels different than that. I want to discuss it with someone, but I'm not sure who. I'm not sure what to say. 

I come back to reality, pulling my clothes and my jewelry back on long enough to kiss her goodnight and stumble across the yard to my car. These are questions for another day, a conversation for later. For now, I file away my feelings and my thoughts, and I focus on the drive home. 

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Hallelujah

Somehow this blog keeps getting read and read and read, even when I am so painfully absent, even when I am basically non-existent. I can't explain it. I can't begin to understand it.

But thank you.

The words haunt, and I am awake long past when I should be. That is what words do. Isaac has passed and left me, thankfully, safe. I fear what it has done to so many others, and I cannot express my deepest sorrow and anguish to see my city and my region once again maligned in the national press. I am so fucking sick of people who say we should not live here. WE DO LIVE HERE. We are you. We are the people who came back after Chicago burned to the ground, after earthquakes leveled much of California, after terrorism shook New York, after hurricanes hit Galveston and Miami and Charleston.

We are people with families and homes and jobs and favorite restaurants. We feed the ducks in the park and we try to survive the violence and we try to contend with the politics and poverty that Louisiana breeds so familiarly. We harvest your seafood and your oil, we ship your imports, we dream your jazz, and we welcome you with open arms to visit us. And yet, you still go home and rant and rave, anonymously and online and in public and over radios that those damn people in Louisiana, in New Orleans, they live in a bowl. They live where no one should. They deserve to flood and to die and to watch their every possession become water-logged and molded.

Must be nice to sit atop the mountain and claim such loftiness. I hope you NEVER see the day when you face the loss of your home, your family and friends, the fear of a disaster -- man-made or "natural." I hope you never have to call for help. I hope you never spend your whole life paying taxes to a government, to a country, that doesn't see you as important enough to save.

Anyway. I could go on for hours. This is my city, and if you don't like it, then stay the fuck out. Thank you very much.

It's not assholes who keep me awake. It's not even the strep or the seven medications. It's a girl. Of course it is, you say, because what the fuck else keeps people up at night? Well, a lot of things.



You cannot destroy me and you will not hurt me, but you can keep me at arm's length. You can keep me in a place where I never get to know you. You can keep your thoughts locked inside your head, and you can fit me into a box that is convenient.

But I'm not sure if that's good enough for me.

I want a fighting chance. I don't want a leash, and I will give you a long enough rope to hang yourself if you choose. I will give you a long enough rope to run the world, twice, and I will give you the scissors to cut it any time you please, as long as you give me the same. I will give you space to run, and I will not follow. I don't want anyone to ever feel the need or the pressure to stay. I've been there, and I'm over it. It's fucking miserable. I want you to choose to open up to me, to choose what secrets you hold, to choose to come home with me. I don't care whom you fancy and whom you fuck. But when you are present, be there. Demand the same of me. Demand more of me. Demand something. Want something. Need something. You might not get it the way you want it. You might not get it when you want it. But ask.

I don't need a girlfriend or a wife. I don't need a bedmate or a roommate; I don't need a friend. I have the life I want, and I'm not looking for someone to complete it or change it or make sense of it. What I want is you. I keep coming back to that. I came back because I wanted a chance to get to know you. I wanted to know what made you tick, where you go when you are angry. What makes you wake up in the morning, and if you are happy when you do. Where you want to go tomorrow. What you dream about. I'm not asking to change you; I'm not asking to make sense of you. I'm asking for a moment when I get to listen. I'm asking for a peek over the wall.

And if that's too much to ask, I understand. You can say no, you can draw the boundaries. You can play elsewhere, and I won't come looking. But I will never know if I don't ask.

Just like you'll never know if I will wrap around you in the dark, if you don't pull my hand and see.



Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Shake It Off

Once upon a time, there was a person with a crazy week.

On Monday, she was told the state department chair had suggested her program for cuts by the legislator, which would mean 5,000+ children would lose their disability services and she would lose her job on June 30th. She left this meeting insanely angry and ready to run over the legislature with a tractor. An hour later, she started a petition, posted it on Facebook, emailed it to about 100 people, and went home from work feeling terrified and heartbroken.

On Monday night, when she fell asleep, 3,000 people had signed this petition. Hope seemed...possible. But the fears lingered underneath.

On Tuesday morning, the media called. And they kept calling. The petition kept climbing, and thousands of people added their names. Her boss didn't know whether to fire her for violating HR policies or promote her for raising hell. Media reports poured in from across the state.

On Tuesday, when she fell asleep, 10,000 people had signed this petition. She feared her boss, she feared the future. But secretly her heart was exploding to see all those names, one after the other. These children were not voiceless, and they were not alone. They had 10,000 people standing with them.

On Wednesday, supporters from around the state called. How do we organize, they asked. What do we do? How do we make our voice heard? She organized a group from across the state to attend legislative hearings and testify with their children in toe. She tried to give advice; she tried to lead. She tried not to hear the doubts. She tried to Shake the Devil Off.

On Wednesday night, she tried to fall asleep. But with 16,000 people, the firestorm was overwhelming. Were we just pawns in a legislative game? Would we be successful? Was it better to err in action or inaction? Was the awareness alone worth it?

She stood in the shower, letting the water fall across her face, down her shoulders. She remembered the first child she ever met, a foster baby aptly named Chance. Chance was born drug-addicted. Chance had lost part of his vision, and at six months old, he was unable to hold up his head or roll over. He was delayed, and it was possible no one yet knew the extent of his needs. His doctor said he would never walk. When his grandmother came forth to adopt him, she told the judge that Chance would walk. She told him she believed in miracles, and she believed in this baby. The judge almost would not give her Chance. He said she was deluded; she was not honest with herself about the severity of Chance's needs. She said, FUCK YOU, and she took that baby home. She worked with him every day. She poured her love and her strength, and she advocated for Chance to get every service, every form of help this baby could get.

So to Chance and his grandmother... I have to say thank you. Thank you for reminding me to fight. Thank you for teaching me what hope, faith, and love are. It is the little revolutions that happen every day, the moments in between that aren't widely shared, that make up miracles.

Maybe the legislature and the governor thinks that we are pawns, but in the end, we are caught up in a world that is part choice and part chance. I think I made the right decision this week. I have a feeling I may never see the results, but I hope 16,000 other people do.


Monday, April 30, 2012

When the New World is Revealed

It's the lull between Jazz Fest weekends in New Orleans, which means the locals have gone back to work even though the city is still full of visitors. There's an anticipation in the air as I slog through billing and phone calls, scheduling my client visits and wishing that Thursday would come a little faster. I've got a class left and a paper to finish before the semester is officially over for me, but the Hunger Games, a cold, and the mad chaos of the festival have kept me completely distracted. I just want to relive it, to soak it up, to remember every moment. I want to taste the Crawfish Monica again. I want to scream the words of "Last Dance with Maryjane" with Tom Petty from the back of the golf cart as we fly by the festival crowds. I want to find my soul again in the Gospel Tent, then give it away to the sweet melodics of Iron and Wine. I want to look around and find myself surrounded by friends and old lovers and strangers melting together as their voices drown in the music. I don't want this high to ever end. I know it will. But I just want to drown in it until I can't take any more.

I saw Bruce Springsteen play last night to what is probably a record-size crowd. If I have a church, this would be it. It was a deeply emotional and life-changing performance for me. I am amazed at how his lyrics touch on the political, social, and emotional needs of the people and society around him. I am humbled by his ability to raise up a group of people in their most vulnerable moments and to encourage them to keep going. And, most of all, I believe that he loves this town the way I do -- the way so many of us do. He sees its faults -- the crime, the blight, and the pain of a city destroyed by a government that refused to protect it when the perfect storm of poverty, racism, a hurricane, and the Army Corps of Engineers hit in 2005. He sees the way the sun sets on porches while we drink beers and tell stories. He sees the way we sing our dead into their graves, especially those who are lost too young. He sees the heartbeat of this city.

I tell you this because of his words:


"Anybody here back in 2006 [at our last show]?" Springsteen asked. A roar. "This is a song about calling on ghosts and spirits and asking them to speak. And we're in such a strong city of spirits, and such a strong city of so many ghosts, ghosts that have been powerful enough to haunt the rest of the nation and guard this town. And so we ask the spirits to inform us. To provide strength and faith to the living."
"This is a song about things we lose that never come back. And it's also a song about things that never leave. Things that stay with you for your life and to the next life, into the next world. Into the next place... " Springsteen talked about everyone in the crowd who lost someone. So many of us did. That's not brought up enough. Then he launched into My City of Ruins. (Karen Dalton-Beninato, Huff Po)
I heard these words, clear across the crowd of thousands, and I cried. I heard the lyrics of "My City of Ruins," and I couldn't stop crying. I heard him speak out against the mental health care cuts in the city. I heard him remind us that our history, our friends and family, our neighbors, are always here with us. He told us to sing to them, and we did. I laughed when he pulled a kid on stage to sing with him. I danced my heart out, barefoot, on the concrete. I will probably never forget the moment he sang "Dancing in the Dark," which is one of my favorite songs. But on the very last song, he pulled out all the stops. You could hear a pin drop. There are a handful of verses to this song, and even though it's probably the most common song any New Orleanian ever hears, those verses are so rare we all forget them. When he sang them, I realized this song was written for New Orleans. It is New Orleans. And those lost verses, the ones he helped us resurrect, are the stories written into our streets and our levees, our shotgun homes and our balconies, right down into the very soil and swamp we love so dearly. 




We are trav'ling in the footsteps 
Of those who've gone before, 
And we'll all be reunited, 
On a new and sunlit shore,
Oh, when the saints go marching in 
Oh, when the saints go marching in
Lord, how I want to be in that number 
When the saints go marching in

And when the sun refuse to shine 
And when the sun refuse to shine 
Lord, how I want to be in that number
When the saints go marching in
Oh, when the saints go marching in 
Oh, when the saints go marching in
Lord, how I want to be in that number 
When the saints go marching in

When the trumpet sounds its call 
When the trumpet sounds its call 
Lord, how I want to be in that number 
When the trumpet sounds its call 
When the saints go marching in
When the saints go marching in
Lord, how I want to be in that number 
When the saints go marching in

Some say this world of trouble, 
Is the only one we need, 
But I'm waiting for that morning, 
When the new world is revealed. 
When the new world is revealed. 
When the new world is revealed. 
But I'm waiting for that morning, 
When the new world is revealed. 

When the saints go marching in
When the saints go marching in
Lord, how I want to be in that number 
When the saints go marching in
Lord, how I want to be in that number 
When the saints go marching in



I leave you with "I'm on Fire" by a very young and dashing Bruce. He didn't play this last night, but it's one of the sexiest fucking songs.

Thank you again to a dear friend who works for Jazz Fest and who so graciously gifted me a seven-day pass this year. This is just one in a line of favors and actions I can probably never repay. Thank you, even more so, for your friendship.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Life is a Mystery

We were playing truth or dare at the St. Patrick's Day Parade the other day, as we are often wont to do, and a friend leveled an impossible question at me: "What's my best sexual experience?" She might as well have asked me what my favorite meal was. Would it be the $125 seven course gourmet meal at Stella in NOLA during one of the best weekends of my life? Would it be the orange-glazed duck with Okinawa sweet potatoes from Central Park in Hot Springs, AR, which cost pennies in comparison but which I've somehow never forgotten? Would it be the chicken and dumplings made by a good friend and passed down from her grandmother, on a cold winter night in my kitchen, when I celebrated Christmas with three people who became pivotal in my life? Would it be one of the hundreds of meals I have cooked for friends? Would it be the 3am pizza from a dirty shop underground on my first trip to New York City? I don't know. How do you compare experiences that have so little in common?

I have been blessed to have so many fantastic sexual experiences. Was it good because of how many times I got off? Was it better because I gave more, received less? Was it the toys that counted or the location? Was sex with a partner I loved better than someone whose company I simply enjoyed? Was it better because multiple people were involved? I don't know. I don't know how to compare these things. And to be honest, these aren't the details that stick with me in my memory. I remember the way she laughed in the dark. I remember the way it felt to look at her in the moonlight, sitting in my lap in the back of the car, naked from the waist up. I remember how it felt to really see her for the first time. I remember how scared he felt underneath me; I remember now that he wasn't ready. I remember the way she kissed me in the front yard. I remember the way he told me I was the 8th person he kissed, and I remember how that scared me.

I take with me the curves of her hips, the tattoo at the base of her neck, the fears she told me in the dark, the questions she asked between kisses. It's not a scale or a competition. I always go into sex looking for something; often I'm not even sure what I'm looking for. It changes. Sometimes I come away with it, and sometimes I come away with something else -- or more questions than answers. If I'm content, it's good. If I feel connected, it's fantastic. If I come away wishing I had done things differently, haunted by the experience, then I find myself trying to understand why.

I don't know what my best sexual experience has been, and even more so, I hope I haven't had it yet. I hope my exploration and experiences continue to expand and deepen, as they have over the past few years. I still have so much to learn.

Ask me a question  it doesn't take a damn blog post to answer. My truth? Nothing is cut-and-dried, nothing is simple.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Sex Toy Review: Bubblies the Pop

It's Valentine's Day! So, naturally, I'm reviewing a sex toy. What else would I want to do today? 

I'm actually not a huge fan of Valentine's -- It's a bit overplayed for me, and I believe love should be given and shared every day of the year. How radical, hm? But I won't lie -- I'll take an excuse to get dressed up and party for any holiday. I'm heading out to a V-day themed drag show in a few hours with many of my friends, and I'm sure we'll be tearing up the dance floor. Whether you're spending today with family and friends, with a lover, or by yourself, I hope you have a wonderful day. I'm sending you all my love. 

If you're home alone, then get online a check out some vibrators.... because self-love is fantastic. :) Give yourself the gift of love for Valentine's Day! 

This month I'm reviewing a very unique little vibrator from EdenFantasys sex toysBubblies the Pop. I received this toy for free in exchange for an honest, independent review of the product. Bubblies fits in the palm of my hand; it's a great travel vibrator because it's small and easily disguised. The picture below is almost the size of the actual vibrator. I held it up to the screen, and it's only about a half inch taller and a bit wider than the one in the photo.
                                 


Bubblies is extremely low maintenance; you can hide it anywhere and even take it in the shower. If you live in cramped quarters with someone, this would might be a fun option. It is pretty quiet, and it requires only one AAA battery. Like most (all?) of the toys I've chosen to review, it's phthalate-free and rates pretty highly on the safety scale. Please wash all toys after use, and don't share a toy with a partner without putting a glove or condom over it. I realize this is a bit small to comfortably stick a condom on, but safety is always smart. 

The trade-off for such a small, discrete toy is that it doesn't have the power of something larger. I didn't expect one AAA battery to wow me, and it didn't. Bubblies did get me off, but it took a lot more work than I'm used to. I know, I know, I'm spoiled. Rotten. I wouldn't recommend Bubblies for an everyday vibrator, or even for someone starting out. Personally, I think a first vibrator should offer a range of power, so you can figure out if you need something stronger or softer. But if you need something to travel with, whether to pack in an overnight bag for a lover's house or for a trip across the country, this is a great option. (Do take the battery out first, so it doesn't accidentally turn on and send a TSA agent through the roof.) 

Bubblies is designed as a clitoral vibrator. The round end is a turn-dial, and the longer end has the actual vibrator inside. It might work for some gentle anal stimulation, nipple stimulation, or for rubbing against the head of the penis. It's not really good for insertion, unless you want to slide it in for really shallow anal sex. The bubble at the end should stop the toy from going all the way in, which is ideal for anal sex. (Please, please, please don't stick it all the way in. You'll be on the way to make friends with the ER staff at your local hospital.)

Happy Valentines' Day!

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Show Him What I've Got

(photo credit unknown, posted by Sex in the Suburbs, a sex ed group in Washington that appears to be part of the excellent Our Whole Lives - OWL - sex education program from the Unitarian Universalist Church.)

I love this. It's simple, very to-the-point, and shows the basic differences between gender identity, gender expression, and biological sex. I spend a lot of time explaining the difference between gender identity, biological sex, and sexual orientation. But sadly, gender expression often gets left out. Seeing this chart struck something in me. Leaving out gender expression leaves out... me. This chart shows how someone can be both feminine presenting and genderqueer. That's huge. It also reminds people that someone's gender expression and gender identity have NOTHING to do with their sexual orientation. We conflate gender and sexual attraction so often in our society. I can't tell you how many of my trans friends have to explain that they are trans, not necessarily gay. Of course, queer doesn't fit into one of these sweet, clear, non-messy charts. But that's ok. I'm glad it doesn't. 

I will add, I saw a diagram of gender once that that was a octagon. I love that it made me really think. Does a spectrum have to be linear and one-dimensional? I don't think so.


On an unrelated note, someone sent me another blog from OkTrends, the brainchild of the people who created OkCupid. They use their massive database of self-reported quantitative data and run trends and statistical analyses. (I'm so jealous. I'm also such a nerd.) Anyway, the blog I read is on Gay Sex vs. Straight Sex. I learned SO much. Using a sample of 3.2 million OkCupid users (n=3.2million), here is some of the information they found:

Median Reported Sex Partners
  • straight men: 6
  • gay men: 6
  • straight women: 6
  • gay women: 6


(Credit: OkTrends)

26% of self-identified straight women had sex with someone of the same sex and enjoyed themselves

7% of self-identified straight women had sex with someone of the same sex and enjoyed themselves

Another 18% of self-identified straight women haven't had sex with someone of the same sex, 
but would like to

7% of self-identified straight men had sex with someone of the same sex and enjoyed themselves

6% of self-identified straight men had sex with someone of the same sex and enjoyed themselves

5% haven't, but would like to

Then they broke down who is "gay curious" by state. I wish someone would run an analysis to determine if this correlates with how people in those states vote, and another correlation with the number of LGBTQ-supportive laws in those states. Really, if you sat me down, I'd run all sorts of fun, fancy, ridiculous cross tabulations. (Why didn't they use this as data set examples in stats class? More fun that how many snowcones each kid bought.)

The personality traits are fun. The gay mens' traits versus straight mens' traits read like a stereotype. The gay womens' is FASCINATING. I'm not even going to try to analyze this. Go for it, if you're that crazy. 

(Though when will OkCupid add additional options for gender that aren't on the binary? Please!)

(Credit: OkTrends)