My interview and photo is live– check it out! 🙂
I had the privilege of witnessing this fabulous production, “Lust & Marriage.” A good friend recommended I attend, and I am so glad that I did. I would even go back next weekend to see it again.
I felt like this woman practically wrote my story (minus Burning Man and taking ecstasy and other drugs). She pulled out so many recognizable names and concepts, so many familiar emotions and experiences. (Dan Savage, Sex at Dawn, Mating in Captivity, The Giving Tree)
I was sitting there, front row, and in the first 20 minutes, I thought:
If only I had this play to watch when I was in high school.
What lessons I would have gained when I was younger, what connections I would have made, what connections would have become less entrenched.
We need metaphors and art and expression like this. We need it desperately. It’s one thing for me to sit here on my couch and blog about how I feel and think and what I want and need. Verbal processing only gets me so far. I also need to the non-verbal: the drawing, the dancing, and the watching. Watching someone else tell a story in such a beautiful and genuine way. It almost made me cry on the way home.
Go see it, and if you can’t, stay on the lookout for future productions!
The past week I have been offered some wonderful connections:
-My dear friend is the creator of the amazing Humans of Portland project. She offered to interview about my experience with school and take an anonymous photo. This past Monday, we had a lovely and in-depth conversation about it all, and took some fun photos of me wearing my favorite dance shoes in front of my library of sexuality books. I am excited for it to come out. (And I may share a link once it’s published)
-One of the dancers in Portland is putting together sort of an anthology of stories, poems, etc written by strippers about their experiences stripping. I had been toying with the idea of submitting something for quite some time, and late last night I finally got my creative juices flowing. I cranked out 4000+ words in less than 24 hours. It’s in poetry form, but I have worked on subjects ranging from the how I got started to regular relationships to getting ready for a shift to my rage over tip outs to my therapeutic relationship with dancing. Even if she doesn’t end up wanting the piece for her collection, I feel so relaxed and energized at the same time from getting to process my experiences in this way. I’ll probably post pieces of that here when I have finished editing it all.*
-I was contacted by the producer of Mystery Box Storytelling to submit a story! I have had friends tell me that I should tell a story at one of the shows, but I’ve never known what to do. I feel excited to brainstorm and potentially craft something to share. I’ll keep y’all posted! 🙂
*Here are a couple of parts that I love so far:
“Do you ever have that feeling
that somehow your life is unfolding
and you’re just watching? marveling at the mystery? laughing at the novelty of it all?
You’re doing what now, Self?
Okay, then. Let me grab some popcorn, ‘cause this is going to be entertaining.”
have plagued me since I was about seven years old.
I carried a lot of baby fat through elementary school
feeling Fat and Fatter than all of my friends
I had my last growth spurt at 12
And suddenly I felt
Being Worthy (of love, appreciation, respect)
And the Hyper-vigilance began
when might the weight return?
the extra fat around my stomach and butt and thighs?
I kept myself hungry throughout high school,
priding myself on going to bed starving and eating small
amounts of food
When I began exercising in college,
and fell in Love,
I began eating more, my curves
filling out More.
I became More.
And the hyper-vigilance cranked up
and continues on.
dancing has helped me
feel beautiful and worthy and sexy
and at other times,
dancing has worsened my
Anxiety and Self-Shaming
as I watch my curves in the mirror,
trying to pray away my god-given shape and size
No amount of Hollow Flattery
or even Genuine Desire and Admiration
can ease the pain
It must come from inside, a
Recognition and Belief
that I am Worthy of love and belonging
simply because I am alive
The past two months have been a whirlwind of activity, and the past couple of weeks have been no exception. Starting in late December, I began applying like mad to social service jobs. I had several interviews in the past few weeks, and was offered one on Monday. I signed my offer letter today. I start next week.
Saying hello to this job means saying goodbye to other things, namely two extracurriculars that have been extremely meaningful to me in the past 12-18 months: volunteering as a crisis line advocate and dancing.
My volunteer work has been meaningful not only because of the service that I have been providing, but because of the relationships I have built with the staff and community of volunteers at that organization. I truly love the place and I wish that I had been able to take the part time job it offered me. I will miss it dearly, and I hope to stay in touch with the people who work there. I am taking in flowers, coconut chocolate chip cookies, and a card tomorrow as a way to say Thank You to the people who have blessed me with training, emotional support, and professional support the past 14 months.
Y’all know why dancing has been meaningful to me. I’m not writing off dancing as being Done Completely And Forever, but working full time will certainly put a damper on my availability and energy to dance on the side. I will miss a number of things about dancing: the exercise, the performance, the cathartic release to dancing to my favorite songs, getting dressed up pretty, hearing from customers and fellow dancers that I’m hot, the $$money$$, and the several lovely women who I have come to know, respect, admire, and love. Taking the job that I did really drove the fact home that I made bank as a dancer. I knew that conceptually- how many people are able to work part time and go to Hawaii twice in one year? (That being said, I was living month-to-month and didn’t really save much.) But taking this job which pays $13.50/hr is quite a bit lower than my average hourly income from dancing ($20-30/hr). Hopefully I’ll still find the time and energy to shake my thang a few times a month because it feels really abrupt to just say Goodbye to this chapter in my life. In any case, I’d like to also take flowers and sweets into my club as a way to bring myself some closure regarding my Amazingly Awesome Dancing Chapter.
I’m saying hello to a stable income, full time experience in the social services field, and working in an environment dedicated to ending sexual violence. I am saying hello to the possibility of attending an MSW program. I am saying hello to new connections, new paths, new possibilities. I am saying hello to more ambiguity (such is life). And I know the truth deep down: more often than not, life is circular and not discrete. I’ll volunteer again, just perhaps not with the same group of people. I’ll dance again, though not at the same frequency or place or for money. Life moves in patterns and narratives as we continuously reinvent ourselves with the stories that matter to us in each moment.
I was asked a few months ago to review a couple of new cuckold books. It’s not my particular kink (J isn’t turned on by any humiliation, and I don’t think I am either), but that wasn’t going to stop me from reading sexy books. I knew I was probably not going to be turned on from reading them, but I simply wanted a taste of what could turn on someone with a cuckolding kink.
While the story lines I am sure do it for some folks, I simply couldn’t finish them. And not because of the story lines or the characters or the sex or anything else. It was because the writing just was not very good. The book I started (Southern Belle Cuckold) was entertaining, but I could not get past the redundancy and frequent unclear sentences. So, I am moving on to other books.
Right now, I am reading or about to start:
Confessions of a Working Girl, by Miss S
Sex Work: Writings By Women in the Sex Industry
The Jealousy Workbook, by Kathy Labriola
Nina Hartley’s Guide to Total Sex
Any good reads on your bookshelf/night table/e-reader right now?
I am starting a weekly post, called Sunday Reclamation Affirmations. My intention with these to help us remember to affirm ourselves in bold ways, carving out space for ourselves, reclaiming our desires, reclaiming our bodies, reclaiming our right to love, fuck, and move in this world freely.
For the week, as part of your daily meditation, try parts or all of this on:
I now affirm that I own my body, heart, and mind and my body, heart, and mind alone.
I now affirm that I take responsibility for my body, heart, and mind.
I now affirm that I respect others’ emotional and physical boundaries, just as I expect them to respect mine.
tonight comes from:
- Connecting with a new friend
- Too much flourless chocolate cake
- Raspberry wine leaving me with heartburn
- Feeling excited to hear back from potential jobs tomorrow
- Feeling hungry for savory breakfast foods (like mushroom tarts or the butternut squash galette I made earlier this week, or eggs and thick toast, and always bacon)
- Masturbating to a fantasy
- Excited to shake my thang at work tomorrow
- Feeling off from not seeing J practically all day
What have I done to try to fall asleep?
- Lay still in darkness
- Read Dan Savage Q&As on my phone
- Masturbate to a fantasy
- Check Facebook
- Journal about food
- Drink ginger tea
- Now I’m here
I’m reflecting on the energy in my life, and how it waxes and wanes. Social energy, sexual energy, emotional energy, physical energy. The energy to provide comfort to J. The energy to comfort myself. The energy to connect with friends. The energy to investigate a budding romantic relationship. The energy to work out until my lungs and heart and legs are so tired. The energy to stay hopeful and excited and optimistic about my tomorrow.
All of this energy is keeping me awake right now, and for once in a long while, it’s not stressful or anxious energy. So I am grateful to be awake at this hour, knowing I will be tired tomorrow but glad to feel the positive forces in my life.
I started a sex gratitude journal about six months ago. It was a really fabulous way for me to reconnect with the reality of my life and the many sexual connections and blessings I had/have in my life.
I believe that I start the projects that I need to, that I end those that are done for the time being, and that I experience those things that will teach me something. If I am able to pause and notice, there is something worth learning in every moment. Amidst gross feelings of whatever shade and shape, it can be challenging to notice the lessons. But they’re there.
Inspired by a dear friend, I have recently curtailed my use of Facebook. For the past year or more, it has sucked so much time and energy away from my life. J said he recently heard that the result of a new study found that Facebook users who simply observed the website had a marked decrease in happiness, while those who were active users (interacting with other users on the site), had an increase in social connectivity and happiness. That makes sense to me, and I know for myself that I enjoy connecting with others on the site. But when I click on the FB app on my phone or click the bookmark in my browser like a mindless social media drone, I’m doing it wrong. For me, anyway, it’s wrong. And unhelpful. And a major time-suck. And it is during those times, when I have no goal or use for checking Facebook, that I do experience some unhappiness in watching the fake lives of many fake friends scroll by. So my goal: log on once a day, with a distinct purpose (I want to post this interesting article for our group, or send a message to so-and-so, etc.). So far, for the past couple of days, I have logged on maybe three times each day. A major decrease from my estimated clicks of about 20 times a day (I think that estimate might be low).
Also, I decided that in my never-ending quest to be nice to myself and my body, that I needed to re-start a food journal. At first, it was going to be a simple catalog of the food I ate. But I think I have now decided that I want it to be a food gratitude journal. Feeling grateful for all of the nourishment and love I am able to provide to my body, I am hoping, will help me refocus my energies on the purpose of food in my life: nourishment, love, health, connection, celebration, and comfort. I am also hoping that this refocus will take away energy from what I have traditionally focused on: not being the right shape or size, not being thin enough, feeling guilty or remorseful over food previously eaten, and feeling anxious about food to be eaten.
I stopped keeping track of my sexual connections and explorations and adventures a few months ago when I started back at school. It became less and less of a priority as I felt like I had a handle on feeling conscious of and grateful for all of the sexual energy in my life. I think that certain things pass, and come around again, as I need them to.
I’m sure that in a few weeks or months, I will lose the drive to read one of my self-written affirmations every morning and night, and that I’ll stop journaling about food. And it’s always possible I will re-start my sex gratitude journal. The exercises are important for me in reclaiming and remembering my sense of gratitude and love to myself and those around me.
Do you have any daily gratitude or mindfulness practices?
J found this the other day and passed it on to me: Sex with Glass. It’s one tech company’s innovative contribution to a possible use of the new Google Glasses technology.
At first, the proposal struck me funny. Of course there was someone out there who would pair these two together. It was a matter of time. And it still strikes me as lighthearted, but there are also other issues and questions that have been percolating for me.
-Would this allow a couple to re-experience each other? Could it add some excitement and adventure to a long-term relationship?
-What degree of self-confidence would these require? Could you experience any insecurity or self-consciousness at all?
-Is being an exhibitionist or voyeur a prerequisite to having a fun time with these?
-How is this similar to the thrill people get (myself included) from watching themselves have sex in a mirror or played back from a video recording?
-Would using this technology heighten the experience of melting into another person, since now you are able to literally see what they see? Or would it backfire because you can remove yourself from your own senses?
-Similarly, what would this technology do to our sense of separateness and togetherness within an intimate relationship?
And the all-important question:
-Who would, or want to, wear these glasses during sex?
What do you think? Fabulous new sex toy? Another creeping technological distraction, pulling us away from truly connecting? Both? Neither?
“Oh yeah, I like SF a lot, but yeah, you know, there’s a lot of gay people there.”
What? Did he just say that? In here? In Portland? I didn’t know what to say in response.
“Oh and I have this friend- BUT I’M NOT GAY OR ANYTHING-and blah blah blah…”
Is having a friend of the same sex a sign that you might be gay? Wtf? Again, I didn’t know what to say. So I said nothing.
Working in a strip club has been a problematic place for me to interrupt oppression. I don’t think I am particularly good at interrupting people’s oppressive language anyway (although I like to think I can and do- I often don’t), but the weird power dynamics within strip clubs makes it even more difficult for me. If I interrupt a customer, it’s quite possible I will offend them and they will no longer give me money.
On the other hand, having this experience showed me a different way of thinking about this power dynamic.
At first, I had been really annoyed with this particular customer because he said he was going to buy a private dance from me, and then chose the younger dancer instead. I was irritated.
[And then I read this article while I waiting at the DJ booth, and it helped me a lot. Thank you J for emailing it to me!]
But, when that first line came out of his mouth a little while later, my reaction was: Thank god you didn’t want a lap dance from me. I don’t want to give a dance to a homophobe.
And then, reality struck: Because he did end up asking for a dance. And I gave him one.
It’s complicated, this life-work-oppression-privilege-power thing. I like to think I have all of the answers in my head. But my own behaviors obviously don’t always match up.
I found this fabulous handout developed at Portland State on interrupting oppressive language. Here are some suggestions it includes for speaking up:
“A. Ask clarifying questions.
B. Speak from personal experience.
C. Use statistics or facts.
D. Use humor when applicable.
E. Make/include positive or validating comments when interrupting.
F. Use “I statements” and don’t accuse or attack.
G. Give an invitation to dialogue.
H. Be non-judgmental.”
I’ll work on it.