Sunday, November 23, 2008

A poem about sex.

If you you don't want to read about sex, please exit now.

I've always had a hard time writing about sex, both in general, and specifically in verse. It seems to easy to slide into cliche, to say something so metaphorically that all impact is lost.

Sex, for me, at least, is not metaphorical. It is not fireworks, or burning loins, or amazing flower laden bliss. Sex is raw, and naked, and silly, often. Sex, if I'm doing it right, is where I get to be my most honest, naked, uncomplicated self.

And that self might mangle a metaphor, or two. But I'm more likely to talk dirty by saying "Fuck me." That is how I want to write about sex.

I think I may have done it this time.

Without further ado, the poem:

I wake from my dream
just long enough to
turn off the alarm,
curl back into blankets
and wait for you.

When you come home,
I beg you
to fuck me
like you did in my dream.

You lay
your head on
my thigh, hidden under blankets
and you're looking at me
while your
cold, cold hands
slide up my legs.

I'm wet, and warm,
and writhing on your hands, fingers in me
warming slowly.

Until I beg you
please, please
to fuck me
and you do.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Psst. Anyone still there?

"Well, Shadowedge," (I say to myself), "where have you been?"

"ummmmmm... On the Moon. With Steve.* "

"Oh really? And the Moon, I suppose, has no Internet?"

At this point, I realize that things have degenerated into silliness, and stop. But here I am, at long last.

Did'ya miss me? Did you notice I was gone?

And why am I posting tonight, of all nights? Well... I've been contemplating hope. The last evil in Pandora's box, after all the others were released into the world. I could use a little hope. But I'm trying, according to Slovotsky's** law (the number of which I cannot remember) : "When you really want something, try to want it a little less. "

This is my second presidential election where I have been of age to vote. After my first attempt to elect someone I liked failed miserably, I'm crossing fingers, toes and everything else that can be crossed. Yes, that includes my legs. But if things go well, there will be some celebrating. If things go badly... well, there is a lot of rum with my name on it waiting for me.

Wait... Really? Obama won? While I was writing this?

McCain is making his concession speech...

Oh my. A rush of relief breaks over me. And that is enough for now.

Thank you, everyone who voted.

* This is a bit from an Eddie Izzard show. I recommend it highly.
** From Joel Rosenberg's "Guardians of the Flame" series.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

A post in which I talk about being "nice."

This was originally a comment on Unspeakable Axe's post about the disparity between the number of books and other resources aimed at introducing female to topping, versus introduction males to bottoming.

My comment turned into an essay against the concept of "nice." So for posarity, and on the off change I have any readers left after the long summer hiatus I'm reposting it here.

I’m going to try and explain all the thoughts that are fluttering around in my head on this issue, but since I’m on day #3 of a horrible headache, it may not go so well.

I could really get to hate “nice.” I, like most females I know, was raised to be a “nice” person. The definition of “nice” shifts from person to person, but a few things seem to be constant: “nice” girls don’t hurt people , and “nice” girls don’t like sex. Needless to say, getting hot and bothered from hurting people while having kinky sex is right out.

Sadism is the refined art of being not nice. Exceedingly not nice. (And yes, not all tops are sadists. But let me get to that.) So is it any wonder that there are fewer female sadists around?

Now, as I said earlier, not all tops are sadists. But tops do take control of the power dynamic, sort of by definition. And that’s not “nice” either. Telling someone what they are going to do, to you, or for you, or in general is not “nice.”

“Nice” is putting up and shutting up, and doing what needs to be done, and not enjoying one damn bit of it. Or, at least, this is my understanding of the phenomenon.

To enjoy sex at all is breaking the “nice” paradigm. To enjoy kinky sex, more so. To admit to oneself that one enjoys things that hurt (oh so good!) is to warp “nice” all out of perspective.

But let’s be clear here. The glass (a little more honest) MY glass is only half full. Because for all that I like to think of myself as having broken the “nice” paradigm it lingers.

I’ve been reading Ellie Lumpesse’s ( masculinity interviews with great interest. In several of them, the men talk about the need to make peace with topping. This consensual power play we do SEEMS to go against the egalitarian feminist sensibility that most of us (I do hope!) hold. It doesn’t, I think we can agree. We do it from a place of informed consent, often warping the cultural perceptions around gender, power and sex, and it is a fulfilling part of many of our lives.

Take the feminist angle, and a dose of “nice” and no wonder there are not female tops coming out of the woodwork. Admitting that one likes to hit people and listen to them gasp on that edge of pain/pleasure: that is scary stuff. Even if the people you are hitting want it as much as you do, consented to be there, and are enjoying the heck out of it.

Getting out of “nice” is work. Work: reading, and thinking, and reading some. Finding a voice to say what one wants. Finding other voices who think like you.

And even then, even if you get that far, you find yourself back at “nice” sometimes, wondering if it will ever feel like it’s alright to want to what you do.

I could get to hate “nice”.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Exhibitionism, or why I spent most of Friday night naked.

At this point, I work on the expectation that when I visit C and C's place for a party I will, at some point, end up naked. The why of this is not so much complicated as lost in the mists of time, poor memory, and a drunken haze.

This description, I realize, makes it sound like a drinking game gone awry and into depravity. Certainly, in one sense it was. But there are fundamental differences between how social nudity is handled at C and C's events and others I have attended.

In my experience, nudity at other events (specifically, in my case, high school parties years in the past) is characterized by a sense of shame and (sometimes) humiliation, paired with a conflicting set of social mores which simultaneously encourage one to get naked for the pleasure of the male gaze and condemn one for doing so. A girl, in this situation, is supposed to be drunk, and tricked out of her clothing. Wanting to be naked is right out. Or, if one does get naked of one's own volition, one is branded as sexually available in the worst way. Really, once one is naked, in these situations, one is tagged as sexually available, whatever the circumstances of disrobing were.

In contrast, C and C's events are characterized by an explicit respect for everyone's comfort zones, especially in the amount of clothing that one chooses to wear, or not. One friend of mine will happily sit around wearing nothing but her bra, while another friend declined to take off any of her clothing, but was happy to watch the rest of us caper about in nothing at all.

In the same vein of difference are the individual reactions surrounding the process of getting naked. In my perception, there is a distinct lack of shame, and an attitude that most often shouts: "Ta Da!" The exception might be Char, who's approach might be characterized as, "I'm so shy. I'm so shy. I'm naked! I'm very shy, indeed."

And while large amounts of intoxicants are usually involved in these parties, I am of the opinion that that has relatively little to do with the nakedness, except, perhaps, as an excuse for the commencement of the exercise. (Not that we need an excuse, really. But it does make the transition from clothed to naked more explicable.)

I like being naked. (As anyone who has lived with me for any length of time [hi Keathwick!] can tell you. ) Left to my own devices, I would most likely wear a bra and underwear, or less all of the time. I don't, for a host of reasons, including that it would make some people uncomfortable, but that is my general inclination. This has little to do with exhibitionism, and a lot to do with liking to be naked.

For years, in fact, I would disclaim a liking for exhibitionism, despite a penchant for having sex in semipublic locations. However, it is no longer deniable: I like people looking at me. Perhaps it is an occupational hazard: actors (as I am from time to time) adore the spotlight, the attention, the knowledge of being watched.

To quote Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead, by Tom Stoppard: "We're actors! We're the opposite of people!"

Of course, Paradox would claim that it is my essential Scorpio nature has something to do with the desire for attention. I could claim that Moonkai's fondness for my exhibitionistic tendencies warped me.

Regardless, it seems that I have acquired a fondness for being naked that goes beyond the joy of not wearing clothing.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

"That kind of girl" Reprise

After my contemplation of what kind of girl blogs, the exhibitionistic possibilities, and the shaping of a blogger in this post, I have a new take on the subject.

Via Pharyngula (a recent addition to my blog roll), this post from EvolutionBlog (who has now joined the rapidly expanding ranks of blogs attempting to take over my reader), which quotes from this article from Scientific American,* which examines "the explosion of blogs" in the light of neurological explanations for the rewards of blogging.

There are well documented rewards for expressive writing:

Scientists (and writers) have long known about the therapeutic benefits of writing about personal experiences, thoughts and feelings. But besides serving as a stress-coping mechanism, expressive writing produces many physiological benefits. Research shows that it improves memory and sleep, boosts immune cell activity and reduces viral load in AIDS patients, and even speeds healing after surgery. A study in the February issue of the Oncologist reports that cancer patients who engaged in expressive writing just before treatment felt markedly better, mentally and physically, as compared with patients who did not.

According to Alice Flaherty, a neuroscientist at Harvard University and Massachusetts General Hospital, the placebo theory of suffering is one window through which to view blogging. As social creatures, humans have a range of pain-related behaviors, such as complaining, which acts as a “placebo for getting satisfied,” Flaherty says. Blogging about stressful experiences might work similarly.

Flaherty, who studies conditions such as hypergraphia (an uncontrollable urge to write) and writer’s block, also looks to disease models to explain the drive behind this mode of communication. For example, people with mania often talk too much. “We believe something in the brain’s limbic system is boosting their desire to communicate,” Flaherty explains. Located mainly in the midbrain, the limbic system controls our drives, whether they are related to food, sex, appetite, or problem solving. “You know that drives are involved [in blogging] because a lot of people do it compulsively,” Flaherty notes. Also, blogging might trigger dopamine release, similar to stimulants like music, running and looking at art. (Emphasis mine.)

All of this is terribly interesting, I admit. And there must be a reason why those of us who blog do so. Self medication for a host of reasons is not out of the question. But it is the final paragraph of the article that I find most relevant, especially in light of the previous post:
Some hospitals have started hosting patient-authored blogs on their Web sites as clinicians begin to recognize the therapeutic value. Unlike a bedside journal, blogging offers the added benefit of receptive readers in similar situations, Morgan explains: “Individuals are connecting to one another and witnessing each other’s expressions—the basis for forming a community.”

Ha! Community. And the most interesting aspect of my experience of the blogasphere is that people with vastly different backgrounds, cultural contexts, genders, sexual identities, areas of interest and expertise have given me a window into their lives, and thereby enriching my own. How each of the blogs on my blog role have changed my world view is food for thought and a post for another day.

* When one is blogging about things which science bloggers are blogging about, it is important to cite attributions correctly. Well, this is important in general, actually. But specifically in this case, lest I look like a big plagiarizing idiot. **

** Speaking of big academic idiots: Do not, as you value the respect of your professors, EVER turn in a reading response to an article which the professor neglected to hand out in class. Making things up at length to cover the fact that you did not read the assignment that was not given out is a new level of pretentious stupidity.

Monday, May 19, 2008

By reader request feminism, and cleaning the kitchen

The endless battle to keep the kitchen clean was on my mind, the other day as I once again found myself up to my elbows in hot soapy water. Entropy is rampant in my kitchen. The kitchen is currently housing four people's cookware and three peoples messes (one roommate is slowly moving out), and this means that things build up very quickly.

Distribution of Labor: Well, we all clean. Some of the chores are divided between Paradox and I: I mop, clean the bathroom, and sweep. Paradox takes the trash out, vacuums, and does the lawn. Are we enacting gendered divisions of labor, since I'm cleaning the bathroom, and he is doing the lawn?

Well, I'm 5' 6", and he is 6'4". I clean the bathroom because I fit better. He takes the trash out because in the past it has been difficult, physically, for me to do so. He likes doing the lawn, and I hate it. Sweeping is almost fun for me.

We both cook, do the dishes, the laundry. We keep house well together. This is a skill not to be underestimated: keeping house well together.

Nothing can ruin a friendship faster or with more acrimony than cohabitating with someone who does not share one's thoughts on maintaining the house. Little things, like how often the bathroom gets cleaned, or weather it is alright to leave dishes in the sink, and who takes out the trash can quickly turn into a vicious war, guerrilla sniping, and "Mutually Assured Destruction" pacts consummated at midnight to the sounds of breaking glass.

So Paradox and I keep house, with an assorted cast of roommates. We each have our chosen sphere of cleaning, and it all gets done. More or less.

I need to mop again, actually.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Blog Blather

I was internet chatting with the lovely and talented Keathwick of Familiar Magic the other night, and she, in passing, remarked: "You seriously make me want to blog, too. And I'm just not that kind of girl, normally."

Now, what precisely is "that kind of girl", if I am one, and she is not? It cannot be ability, for I am in awe of Keathwick's writing skills. And she has already taken the first step of putting work of her own out for the great masses of the internet to look at. But.

It is easier to be an exhibitionist in some things than others. We have both acted, both submitted to, and won, poetry contests, both wallowed in academia, both written: and yet, I am, apparently the kind of girl that blogs, and, in her mind, she is not.

My poetry, for example. It hides. Now that I am no longer taking workshops and classes, it rarely makes it out of my computer into the rest of the world. I blame this on the pushy "poets" that my high school was overstocked with. One girl, in particular, would come up to me, and ask for my opion on her poems. They were wreached. I was polite, but horrified. I did not wish to be that person. And so my poetry hides away.

But somehow I reached the point where prose, which is hardly the medium I am most comfortable in, is what I have committed to write, at least once a week here on Books, Blogs, and Blather.

I asked Paradox if blogging is inherently an exhibitionistic endeavor. "Yes." He replied, and promptly turned over and went to sleep. But is it as simple as that? I suspect that it is also a desire for community. A specific, constructed community, built on a shared network of ongoing work, informed heavily by other members of said community. An intentional community of ideas, if you will. I admit that a feeling of desire for membership into this "community" helped motivate me.

But to return to my initial pondering: what does "that kind of girl" signify? Exhibitionism, yes. Self chosen invitation to a "community" of ideas, yes. Ahhh... one must invite one's self. "That kind of girl" is a pushy party crasher.

Alright. I realize that this is not entirely correct. After all, no one is obliged to read one's blog, and the "community" of bloggers is, in my limited experience, a welcoming group. But the fear of going where one is not invited lingers in the corners.

And yet, here I am. "That kind of girl," writing a post on her blog.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Reaffirming the mission statement.

From my very first blog post, lo, a whole four posts ago:

"I'm going to talk about what I read, and what I write, and about feminism, and geekery, library science and lust, politics and polyamory, kink and the endless battle to keep my kitchen clean."

Well, let us see how I am doing. Reading, yes. Writing... not so much. Feminism... not so much. Geekery... nope. Well, besides the general book-ness, which I have already covered. Library science ... also, not yet. Lust? Hum. Still no. Politics... not at all. Polyamory: well, besides mentioning that I am... not so much. Kink: yes! And as for the endless battle to keep my kitchen clean? No.

Well. It is early days yet, here at Books, Blogs and Blather. I'm going to think of this list as inspiration, and see what comes of it.

In the mean time I shall try to knock out one of these topics a week. Which shall it be?
Library Science?
The Endless Battle to Keep my Kitchen Clean?

Let me know in the comments, o loyal readers. (All two of you. Hi there!)

Sunday, May 4, 2008

The perverse bibliophile is useful.

I have been told that I am an emotionally intelligent person, or something to this effect on more than one occasion. My sister, R. , is fascinated with the way I behave, and think about things. I tend to take this with a smidge of salt, as she is tremendously more intelligent and motivated than me in just about every way. Luckily, we went into different fields. I went the literature route, and she went the hard science route. Seldom do the two meet, although we share fiction tastes. Perhaps this is even the root of the difference: my academic endeavors were focused on the analysis of fictional characters. How they acted, why they said the things they said, and what this all means was my whole focus for several years. R., on the other hand, observes insects.

This was going somewhere. . . ah, yes.

A friend of mine called the other day, looking for my life partner, Paradox. He was not around, and she decided to ask me, instead. What her query boiled down to was weather or not it is dishonest for someone to elicit the admission of emotional vulnerabilities, if they don't really care about either you, or the vulnerabilities.

My answer would have been "No!" regardless, I think. But fresh off of a re-read of Jay Wiseman's SM 101: An Introduction, I had a reasoning and justification on tap. Namely, that it is ethically questionable, if not downright wrong to open a person's armor more than you are willing to help them put it back together.

After all, we all have a layer of armor, or skin, or manner, or something that keeps us from blurting out our troubles to the supermarket clerk when they ask us how we are doing. Intimacy, especially emotional intimacy, is, in my opinion, a reciprocal relationship. One does not offer intimacy without the expectation of intimacy in return. The exception might be in certain professional relationships, such as therapists. Even then, it seems to me, there is a commitment to working through any issues that are raise in therapy.

In Wiseman's book, this is explicated slightly differently. As I recall, his phrasing is along the lines of "Don't do anything to a person which is beyond their ability to self-heal." He, of course, is coming at this from the perspective of both physical and mental harm in the context of consensual power play, where as in this case I was using it to apply to everyday emotional exposure and intimacy.

Nevertheless, it worked. My friend felt that this concept was very helpful to her, and her situation. Then, she praised me for, what was to her, a revelation.

I took the praise as it was intended, graciously. But in the back of my head, I was jumping up and down, saying "I told you all that perverse literature you've been reading was useful! See?"

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Masochism and Sunburns

After a few lovely hours at the beach with visiting family, I discovered that I had acquired an epic sunburn, despite my 60 SPF attempts to avoid such.

This has, shall we say, not been pleasant.

Mazzikin and I were chatting, and I would, from time to time, flinch as the shirt that I was wearing rubbed over my burn. This inspired some interesting thoughts, apparently, involving things like Wartenburg wheels and sunburns, in combination.

I winced.

Mazzikin stated that he had rarely met pain that he could not somehow eroticize. How odd, I thought. This idea had never occurred to me, despite my love of sensation play. I pointed out that the erotization of pain is, for me, a mater of context. But it got me thinking.

As an avowed masochist, (sometimes in jest, and often in seriousness), why was this pain any different than pain which had, in the past, been eroticized? And why did my sunburn bother me less after Mazzikin advanced the idea of eroticizing it?

Well, if the context of pain is what makes the shift from discomfort to erotic possible, then one could shift the context of the pain, and thus change the mind's perception of the feeling.

But the limit to this, at least for me, is the inability to stop the pain. If, in a scene, a sensation starts to push the limits of my ability to process it, I have the option of making it stop. With this sunburn, on the other hand, I cannot stop the pain. Eventually, I hit a wall in my ability to eroticize it, and it just plain hurts.

However! Somewhere, a more masochistic person than I may get something out of the experience I had today. To recreate, follow the steps listed below:

Step One: acquire a nicely painful sunburn, primarily on one's shoulders and back.
Step Two: have a job, or other obligation, which requires one to wear a specific uniform. This uniform should include a bra, blouse, and jacket.
Step Three: Enjoy!

Sunday, April 27, 2008

How it all began

So one day, I was convinced by the persuasive arguments of SugarButch to place the large folder of bookmarks named, appropriately, "Distractions", into Google Reader.

And it was good. There they all were (those who had RSS feeds, at least) at my fingertips, all in one place. And so I read them. Bibliophile that I am, I read lots.

Slowly, it dawned on me. My Reader has multiple personality disorder. My Reader let me go from Smart Bitches Read Trashy Books, to Unspeakable Axe. From blogs on comic books and feminism, to blogs on sex and feminism, to blogs about kinky sex and feminism. There was even a few political blogs.

Maybe this happens to everyone. Maybe my brain does not have the strength to handle this new technology. Perhaps I shall find what is left of my mind under my desk cleverly disguised as a puddle of goo.

Instead, I seem to have started my own blog.

Great. Now I can confuse your Reader too.

Welcome, my not-yet-here audience! I'm going to talk about what I read, and what I write, and about feminism, and geekery, library science and lust, politics and polyamory, kink and the endless battle to keep my kitchen clean.

All the confusion your Reader needs in one place.