Monday, January 31, 2011

Not To Frighten You But…Let’s Talk About Sex, Baby!

When I started this blog one of my oldest and dearest friends called me and said that he’d read my initial post, loved it, and then declared: “You HAVE to write about sex!” Um… yeah… but…my mother reads my blog. He was right, though. I do want to write about sex. Not in a “Letters to Penthouse” kind of way (sorry, guys) but in a way that is somewhat universally identifiable. What’s the point of having a blog… or of writing at all… unless you can write about things in that truly torn-open-soul kind of way? That’s what writing is for. You let people in through what you say, even though sometimes it’s scary as hell. Sex, though? Awfully personal and controversial subject to have my name and face attached to regardless, isn’t it? Hell yes. Besides, aside from my mother, lots of other people I know who I’ve never discussed such a thing with read the blog, too. So, could I take my friend’s suggestion? Well, I’m an adult and so is my mom so… all right… I’ll do it! (*Ma… ya may wanna skip the posts about sex… I’m just sayin’.)

Honestly, though, I think that what he saw in my post “Can You Be A Babe At 40?” was the beginnings of a blog that speaks to people… women in particular… about body image, about modesty, and even about inhibitions and fears. I have no problem discussing any of these things with you. True, the blog has had posts since that first one that have touched on subjects that have nothing to do with any of that, but that’s because life is rich and varied, and people are whole people. And, if you look deeper, you’ll see that what lies underneath virtually everything I write is some level of passion. I can’t help it, that’s just who I am. My writing has been known to smother people, it’s been known to push people away, it’s been known to be a little “too much” for some… but, as my best friend well knows, I don’t believe in holding back a whole lot. If I feel something, I’m going to write about it. I’m going to express it and through the words I choose, you’re going to feel it. It may be fortunate or unfortunate for me that this is what my writing does, but either way, what you read from me will be what I really, truly think and feel.

Sex is a pretty wide topic. I could break it into so many different categories and do an entire blog on each one. So, where shall I begin? I guess the first thing you’d want to know is what my perspective is on the subject? What’s my history and background with it? Am I a sex-crazed lunatic? A deviant? Do I lead a double life as a dominatrix or something? Why post about this? Well, whether or not I’m a sex-crazed lunatic, I guess, is a matter of opinion. I don’t happen to think so. I’m not a deviant, I don’t lead a double life and I was never molested or anything like that. I think, though, that THAT is the reason why I feel so strongly that I should write about it. I think my friend understands that, as well.

As we’ve aged, we’ve realized that very few of the women (oh hell, the people) we know have managed to reach adulthood without some kind of experience somewhere along the line that created uneasy or flat out bad feelings about sex, sexuality, body image, self esteem, or members of the opposite gender. There are days when I feel like I’m literally the only person I know who wasn’t subjected to some kind of traumatic sexual experience. There are days when I think I might be the only person I know who reached adulthood with a healthy outlook on myself and my sexuality. It breaks my heart.

So how did I escape? How did I manage to develop this healthy adult outlook when so many others weren’t able to? I’m not certain I can sum it all up in a few sentences, but in my opinion, I’d say the major reasons are:

·         Incredible parents (THANK YOU, MOM AND DAD!)
·         LOTS of exposure to high quality sex education as a pre-teen and as a teenager
·         A decent head on my shoulders that told me to wait

I remember some of the sillier things I heard around the lunchroom table as a kid. Clearly, my friends were filling in the blanks of what they’d heard with their own assumptions. I know you all have some of these kinds of stories, too… I think the funniest one I remember is a girl telling me that “If you start taking vitamins, you’ll never get your period and you’ll never be able to have a baby.” Seems to me she must have found her mom’s birth control pills and been told “They’re vitamins.” Later, someone else must have explained to her what birth control pills were… or something like that. Either way, she obviously had partial information on “pills.”

Then, of course, as you get a little older, come the many, many bogus “you can’t get pregnant if” statements:
·         If you’re a virgin
·         During your period
·         If you’re in water
·         If you’re on top
·         If you take a shower immediately afterwards
·         If he pulls out
·         If you pee afterwards
And the list goes on and on and on… and let’s not even discuss the horrors that can happen to you if you (gulp) masturbate!!! You filthy heathen, you!!!

The reason I want to write about sex is simply this:

Everyone is well aware that things that happen to us in childhood can scar us for life. If we’re abused, if we suffer some horrible traumatic experience, if we are exposed to frightening things… any number of things will be carried into adulthood and cause issues that we’ll carry around with us. I want to write about sex because I know so many people who find it difficult to truly be able to let go and be completely at ease and comfortable with themselves and their partners. Like everything else I write about, I want to write about this because life is too short. Making love should be one of the top experiences in your life. It should be a bonding experience with your partner, and it should rock the house.

I’ll still be writing about other things, too, but expect to see me approach more and more of this in the future. Now, go give your significant other a great big kiss and tell them you love them, because that’s what it’s all about.

Monday, January 17, 2011

It Doesn’t Even Rhyme!

I’ve got a thing for song lyrics. Yeah, I said a THING. You know… a passion… an obsession… a magnetic pull that I can’t explain or help myself from. Jim Morrison said “Music inflames temperament” and I agree with him. Let’s face it; a happy song can lift your spirits, a sad song can make you cry, a jacked metal song can make you want to hit something, whereas music you don’t like, whatever that may be, can annoy the hell out of you, and a smoky, sexy song can make you wanna... mmmmm… yeah. That may be the best kind. The point is that music is universal. Everyone likes music, it’s simply a matter of what type of music each of us prefers, but everyone likes something. For me, though, when I hear a song I like, the first thing I have to do is look up the lyrics. Why? Because the lyrics (I’m sorry to say) are poetry… and as stigmatic as it is, I’ve been known to write some poetry.

See, I’ve always been a writer. I don’t do it professionally, but anyone who’s a writer knows that you don’t have to be getting paid for it to know you’re a writer. Writers are just writers; they have no choice in the matter. Our heads are full of words and we express ourselves through them. We can’t function when we don’t write. When I was going through that horrible painful teenage crap that we all go through, I wrote tons and tons of poetry. Most of it was complete garbage, but some of it was inspired and brilliant. I had piles and piles of spiral notebooks that I carried around with me everywhere. I didn’t share much of it with people. Poetry came with a preconceived notion for most, and I didn’t feel like hearing people tell me that it didn’t rhyme, or that poetry was for dorks, or any of the other ridiculous bullshit that people tended to dish out.

If you’re one of the masses who rolls their eyes whenever the word “poetry” comes out of someone’s mouth, grab ANY song off your iPod and Google the lyrics. Read them without the music and you might find out to your own horror, that you actually like poetry. I’m really, really sorry to be the one to break that to you. Especially because if you develop an appreciation for good song lyrics, you might find out that you really don’t like some songs that you think you really like. Once you know the words, you may also find out you love certain songs you never gave a chance to before.

I have no musical talent at all. But it’s always been the artists who wrote their own stuff that I came to respect the most, because I understood the poetry aspect of the process. What amazes me, though, is how it’s ever set to music. It becomes something universally accepted the moment that music is added. Without the music, it’s simply a poem, and as such, not often given a second glance.

If you really begin to examine song lyrics, you might find yourself hungry for more poetry… I mean ACTUAL poetry. I recommend getting over the concept of it not rhyming immediately. Really good poetry often doesn’t. I also recommend getting over giggling at dirty words, or blushing over expressions of raw sexuality.  If you do that, you’ll come to discover that sometimes the most passion, the most feeling, and the biggest messages are conveyed with the fewest words.

For me, as a writer, there are times when prose just doesn’t cut it. There are times when it’s just a jumble of emotion that is far more understandable if it’s not untangled. There are times when a phrase says more than a paragraph. There are times when the words I have to get out of myself come in short, intense bursts and prose would just never be able to say what poetry could.

I still don’t share much of my poetry. Not because I’m concerned over people’s opinions about poetry itself, but because much of the poetry I’ve written is intensely personal. But, I suppose this post wouldn’t be complete if I didn’t share just one with you. So… just in case you’re curious… Here’s one in honor of my all time favorite poet, Jim Morrison.

A Drink With Him

I sat across from him at a glass table
Long since dead.
He raised his glass,
Surveyed its contents before drinking.
You know
He told me
Swishing the dark brown liquid lazily
You can go, if you want to.

I used to find those eyes so piercing
As though intent

It’s been a long time
He said
What made you come back to me?

Have I?

Looks that way.
He can be such a smartass.
Those eyes are hollow now.
Empty with drink
Glazed with trip
And they could have been so much more.

I’m older than you now.
I guess I sought you out to view the past.
Amazing, you’re so young.

Felt fourty-seven…

It was that shit in your hand.
You never put it down.
You invited it …
all its friends …
to destroy you.
Poor soul.

Your soul.

My soul, indeed!

Your soul, in need.

In need?

Looks that way.
He can be such a smartass.
You can go, if you want to.

Twenty-seven and gone
Don’t try to teach me.

You’re not happy here.
So much to see
So much to do
You’re watching it all go by in a flash
And you judge me
Turn your nose up at my glass
But my glass
And it’s friends
They were no ball and chain posing as a chair.

They killed you.
Drove you mad.
There was so much to see
So much to do

We sit in silence for a while

I confess
If only I could relax
If only I could feel free
If only I had a way out of this trap

He laughs
That smile – so bloody rare
It’s a shame you were never happy.
That smile was brighter than a thousand suns

He drains his glass
Sets it down
You can go if you want to
He says again
Gets up from our table
And suddenly those eyes are once again piercing

There was never magic to it
And yes, my glass and its friends, they may have killed me
But I lived.
You’re dying.

I flip through the journals he left me
Haven’t seen them since ‘87
I find myself laughing
I could have gone, if I’d wanted to.

Why did I seek him out?
My soul… in need.
His soul, indeed.

My old words, so ridiculous.
His words, much the same.

I can go, if I want to.

I toss the journals on the fire
Release those words
In smoke and flame
Refill his glass
And gaze thoughtfully at the swirling brown liquid
As I contemplate it

Tossing it to the fire,
I watch the flames turn brilliant blue
The sky and the sea and eyes I’ve gazed into
Perhaps his greatest words were ones he never spoke at all
Except to me
You can go, if you want to.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

A Passion For Exercise; Muscles Aren’t The Only Thing With A Memory

“A body in motion tends to stay in motion, but a body at rest tends to stay at rest.”
~Isaac Newton

There’s been a rotten rat-bastard of a cold going around this season. It hit my office building shortly before Thanksgiving, but I didn’t catch it until December 15th. I know that because I was at a show in Boston when it hit me, which made watching the show pure torture. It came on like gangbusters and didn’t let go, at least not entirely, until yesterday. Yup. January 15th. A full month. See what I mean? It truly was a rotten rat-bastard of a cold. Because I was sick for such a long time, I fell off the gym wagon in favor of pushing fluids, crashing on The Velvet, and in general doing anything “restful” in an attempt to feel human again. But today, feeling about 98% healthy, I decided to head out to the gym and see if I could fight off that whole “body at rest” theory, and get back to feeling like Isaac Newton rather than a pile of Fig Newtons.

The worst thing about being a body at rest is talking yourself into the idea that you’ll feel better after the gym. Your body says “No, I won’t, I’ll feel sweaty and tired” and you find yourself procrastinating. I found myself wandering around the house “getting ready” for what seemed like forever. I had to split into two personalities and fight with myself. (According to my buddy Isaac, I have to be acted on by an outside force in order to become a body in motion.)

“Get dressed. We’re leaving in 15 minutes.”
“Ok, but let me just wash these breakfast dishes first.”
“Um, hello? I said 15 minutes, get it in gear, you can wash them when we get home.”
“Ok…ok… I’m dressed. Was that the dryer? Let me fold those clothes or they’ll wrinkle.”
“What the hell are you doing?! Folding clothes?! NO! Move it! Go get your sneakers… NOW!”
“Awww… do I have to?”

25 minutes later I find myself finally “ready” and head out the door, armed with water, my iPod, and my trusty gym membership card. As I drive to the gym, I formulate a work out plan. Sort of an inner pep-talk. “Ok, you haven’t been to the gym in a month. Don’t expect to waltz in there and rip it up like you were there two days ago. You’re going to get a good stretch, get on a treadmill, and just walk. Walk and walk and walk. Eventually, you’ll cross the line into the work out zone.” (The work out zone, in case you don’t know that you have one, is the place inside you where you LOVE to work out. If you’ve never crossed the line into the work out zone, you’re totally missing out. It’s inside you, trust me, even if you’ve never known about it.)

Entering the gym after a long period of time is kind of like trying to take a large, knowing dog to the vet. I literally have to drag myself into the building, balking all the way, telling the groaning, whining, lazy couch potato inside me to shut up. I know that once I manage to force her over that line, she will come around to my way of thinking.

I go into the stretching area and begin by stopping all the noise. That is to say, I clear my head, take a couple of deep breaths, and forget all the arguing with myself. I’m here. There’s no going back. Isaac has won. I go through a series of stretches and breathing exercises that loosens everything up, pushes the stress out of my mind, and begins to burn off the fog that blocks the path to the work out zone. Once on the treadmill, it’s all about walking at a slow and steady pace. I haven’t done a damn thing in weeks. Keeping it slow and steady and walking in an almost meditational way, I feel all the phases of shaking off the cobwebs.

First, the dread: I have to be on this thing for HOW MANY minutes???
Second, the reality: Oh good Lord, it’s only been six minutes so far???
Third, the bargaining: What if I only do ¾ of that? It’s my first day back… Rome wasn’t built in a day.
Fourth, the realization: Wait… my back is loosening up… what if I do some shoulder rolls while I walk?
Fifth, the reconciliation: Ah, yes… this is the best way to warm up in the winter! I forgot about that!
Finally: The passion and insatiable desire for lifting weights and feeling “the burn” slowly overtakes me … I’ve entered The Work Out Zone.

“See? Didn’t I tell you that you’d feel better?”
“Yeah, yeah, shut up. Hey! Can we do weights after this?!”
“Yes, but remember, it’s been a month, you have to be conscious of your limits.”
“Ugh, shut up! We’ve got a month to make up for, and besides, look how good we’re doing on the treadmill! We’re going faster than usual and at a higher incline! Maybe we needed that rest! Damn, we should have done the elliptical instead. Why’d you make me get on this thing, anyway?”

Before I know it, I’m pumping iron like I never left, at I’m one with my inner couch potato as we settle our differences and agree never to fight each other again.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

That Information is on a Need-to-Know Basis... and You Don't Need to Know.

In my youth, I developed a habit of asking “why” when I was learning. I didn’t just settle for knowing how to do something; I needed to know why I was doing what I was doing. It’s easier for me to learn that way. I can’t just blindly memorize steps with no reasons behind them. Ok, I can, but I won’t retain the information for very long. But, if I know that the reason why I have to cream the butter and sugar together first in a separate bowl is that if I try to throw all the ingredients into one large bowl and just mix them randomly, the cookies won’t work out… then I’ll never forget to do it. The same kinds of rules applied to math, writing, and even gym. I had to ask why or I’d never absorb the lesson.

In school, that worked out really well for me. I learned my lessons well, and when I had learned something new, I felt pretty good about it. So, naturally, I carried this learning process into life with me. Every day life, that is; personal life.

Whenever something would happen in life that I didn’t understand, I’d ask why. Who would I ask? Well, whoever happened to be handy and seemed to have an answer. Sometimes it was my parents, my siblings, my friends… but sometimes it was strictly between God and I. Most of the time, when I asked why, I got an answer that made sense to me. As a younger person the questions were fairly simple.

Why did girls stare?
Maybe they want to know where you got that sweater? Maybe they’re jealous?
Um, I don’t think so!
No? Maybe because they saw the boys staring?
Maybe…Why did boys stare?
You have boobs.

Then the questions became more complicated… and the answers somewhat confusing.
Why can’t I make my own decisions?? I’m THIRTEEN!!
Because thirteen is still a baby.
No it’s not!! I’m a WOMAN!!! Why are you trying to ruin my life???
Because I love you.

In adulthood… I have had infinitely more complex questions, and though I still ask the same group of great minds these questions, sometimes the answers are just not so easy to come by. The humans in my life are busy trying to answer their own questions. Being that we’re all seeking answers, we pool our knowledge and attempt to help each other find these elusive reasons why… and though there are so many wonderful theories, so many obvious ones, so many painful ones, so many funny ones… we never really know which are right, do we? So, we turn to the Almighty.

Recently… extremely tough questions have come up for me, and for some of my dearest friends. We’ve been desperately seeking answers. We seek them from each other, we seek them from those who confused us in the first place, we seek them from any source we can. Always, though, in the end, we find ourselves asking God…


…to the point of making ourselves crazy. Personally, I realize now that I’ve spent an awful lot of time wondering why, and feeling incredibly frustrated that no reasons I can understand have presented themselves. God has not answered me with any great sign. The shrubs in my yard don’t burst into flames and speak to me. I am not handed great stone tablets. Hell, God hasn’t even sent me a simple text message, and I KNOW He’s got an iPhone. So what am I to do?

Stop asking.
At least for now.

God's got us all on a Need-To-Know Basis, and right now, I guess I don't need to know. So, I won't waste any more energy on "why"... it just IS and that's that. I'll accept that the answer is none of my business, and move forward. Maybe the lesson is that sometimes when you question everything, you drive yourself nuts. Maybe not. Either way… it’s clear that sometimes "why" really matters, and other times, it just gets in the way of moving on.  

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Breaking The First Commandment

“I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage. You shall have no other gods before Me.”

Winter in New England: Short days, cold temperatures, dry air, and a serious lack of exposure to the sun. It’s amazing to me how anyone could possibly enjoy it.  You see, I am a sun worshiper. No, I’m not a member of some whacko cult; I’m not really talking about religion here. What I mean is: I am acutely aware of how the lack of sunshine, heat, and humidity affects me physically, emotionally and even spiritually. It makes such clear and perfect sense to me that ancient civilizations would have looked heavenward and assumed that the sun was, in fact, God, that I know deep down that I involuntarily break the first commandment every day of my life.

The other day, for example, I was low on gas and, having taken note of the freezing cold forecast, decided to make the gas station my lunch break errand. At least, I thought, the temperature would be above the teens at noon, and I could bear the two or three minutes it would take to fill the tank without going into those horrible “shiver convulsions”  that cause my shoulders, back, and neck to ache. When I got out of the car and turned from the pump to remove the gas cap, I found myself facing the noon sun and realized that the clouds were parted enough for it to shine directly on me for the duration of the chore.

Being a shamelessly uninhibited person, I am sometimes aware that I do and say things in public that shock other people, and this was one of those moments. Without realizing it, I sighed in ecstasy “Oh, God… yes!” and dropped my head back, unzipping my coat as though I were letting a lover take me, to let it warm my face and neck and heat the fabric of my black sweater as I filled my gas tank. As the unmistakable caress of the sun’s rays warmed my skin and filled my soul with the sweet memories of … summer… trips to Kauai, St. Croix, The Bahamas, Florida… the sweet smell of suntan oil… the ability to walk out of the house in next to nothing… I sighed and may even have moaned aloud. To be completely honest, I was so lost that anything is possible.

When the pump shut off, snapping me to attention, I saw the look on the face of the man on the other side of the pump and realized he’d been watching me. He must have thought I was either insane, or “on something.” I just smiled at him and said hello. Poor man; he was obviously not as aware of the universe around him and the simple pleasures in life as we all should be.

In my last post, I talked about sensual experiences and how we all need to have them every single day. I’d have to say that spending time in the sun rounds out the top three sensual experiences in life, along with sex and food. The sun not only warms us, enhances our moods, assists us in producing vitamin D, and helps grow our crops, but it provides one of the most amazing sensations available to us. Each year, as I struggle through winter’s biting cold and depressing dark, I am more and more appreciative of the purely blissful sensation that only the sun can provide.

We are past the Winter Solstice now, and as each day gets progressively longer, though only in tiny increments, my mood elevates each day as I anticipate spring. As for the first commandment, and the second for that matter; George Carlin said they were pure bullshit and that I could ignore them, and since he’s one of my heroes, I have to take that into consideration. Really though, If God put us here and wanted us to worship Him alone, I find it hard to believe that WE are created in His image, when the sun is just so much more Godlike than any being I’ve ever seen. So, I will continue to worship it, and if I go to Hell for that, I’ll tell George you said hi.