[CBR10 – 5/13] grl2grl

(Cannonball Read book review #5 – original post @ CBR10)

I’d been wanting to read this compilation of lesbian YA short stores from Julie Anne Peters for a few years, so I was very excited when I discovered a copy in my county library collection. As a fan of Peters for a while, since I love how she draws me into believable worlds of lesbian and trans teen characters with humor, warmth, and great writing, this book didn’t disappoint. In fact, it went beyond my expectations in terms of variety. Without going into spoilers on specific stories, it covers the fear of coming out and going to a Gay/Straight Alliance meeting, breakups, cheating, first love, sexual abuse, trans hate crimes & violence, impossible crushes, religion, classism and the complications of friendship, non-traditional families, less common pronouns, online dating, and so much more.

The first story, Passengers, details a budding crush one teenager, Tam, has on a fellow classmate named Andi. How she’s observed her sitting alone everywhere. “In Art, senior seminar, lunch, on the train.” Tam and Andi are drawn as different from the get go because Tam says if she were alone on the train, she’d “find something to do. Read or work on homework or doodle, fake it, so if [she were] alone it’d look like [she] wanted to be alone.” But Andi doesn’t seem to care. Throughout the story, Tam brings the reader along on her crazy whim to get to know Andi. It seems like Andi confounds Tam. She doesn’t understand the other girl. Andi is a bundle of mystery, and Tam wants to know her better. We get a snapshot of one day where they spend time talking outside in the cold and then go into school library’s “Brittanica Boneyard” where all the library and other supplies go to die. It was nice to read a story that was just…a beginning and like any great author, I so wanted to know what happened the next day.

The next story is called Can’t Stop the Feeling and it’s about the utter fear of coming out. Mariah keeps wanting to go to the Gay/Straight Alliance meeting at school, and keeps getting closer to going in. However, she has some pretty abject terror: “The dread and fear of exposing myself to them was nothing compared to telling my friends. Did they even qualify as friends? There wasn’t one of them I could trust, or confide in.” It sucks to be that lonely and I found myself rooting for Mariah to get in that Band Room to be part of the Alliance finally.

After Alex hit me pretty hard for some personal reasons. In this story, Rachael’s friends tell her not to take back her girlfriend after Alex cheated on her, but Rachael is still knee deep in heartbreak and pining for the loss of her first love. So when Alex comes back around, begging Rachael to take her back, Rachael is thrown back into remembering the first time they really made a connection and snuggled on a train ride back from a GSA field trip. It’s funny; the story just before this one was about a character who was afraid to join the GSA, and in this story, Rachael talks about finally getting up the “nerve to join the Gay/Straight Alliance at school.” Then Rachael remembers the first time they made love and we come back to Rach’s friends trying to convince her not to get back together with Alex. This is the first story we get a definitive ending on, in that we know what Rachael does in response to Alex wanting her back, and I understand her choice oh-so-well.

Outside/Inside was a clever way to tell the story of a crush, via the outside and inside of cards that the main character, Logan, wants to send to someone she cares about at the beginning of winter break. It ends with the card’s presentation to the crush and I shook my head at Logan’s feelings. I remember having similar ones when I was in high school. I don’t want to cast spoilers out here, even for a short story, so I’m just gonna leave it by saying that things are likely gonna be complicated when Logan when she gets back from winter break.

On The Floor uses a basketball game and two players who’re on opposing teams to build a sweaty, fast-paced, well played metaphor of lust and sportsmanship. I really liked the short, quick sentences in this story and how the way she wrote it really did make give it the stop-start-screeching halt-quick sprint feeling of both a basketball game and the dynamic tension of a couple.

Stone Cold Butch was a rough one for me as it dealt with sexual abuse and how it’s hard for someone who’s gone through that to connect to another person in a romantic or sexual way. The main character, Cammie, calls herself a stone cold butch. She won’t let anyone do anything for her in that intimate way. She’s shut down. Which is heartbreaking to watch from inside her head when a classmate develops a crush on her and pursues her, even though Cammie verges on cruel.

In Abstinence Makes The Heart Grow Fonder, Peters tackles the subject of how abstinence-only sex ed affects queer students. Things like how birth-control wasn’t really a thing for same sex couples because, duh, no risk of pregnancy. Also, when Aimee, the protagonist, asks why should students who were gay wait for marriage when they weren’t allowed to get married and did that mean that they were just never supposed to have sex, I almost threw my fist in the air when reading. Aimee’s teacher gets snarky with her and first tells her she’ll be playing a lot of Solitaire (wtf?! But I can totally see certain teachers I had in school answering that way, and now I’m suddenly glad that I had fairly good NOT abstinence-only sex ed in school) and then later, when Aimee presses her for a real answer, tells her it’s between her and her god. I love the anger that rises in Aimee and also that afterward, in her head, she goes into a rant:

I stormed out after class. My god? My god? What did she know about my god? She probably thought since I was gay, I was godless. Against religion. But I’m not. I have a god. I go to church. My god isn’t her god. My god doesn’t scorn or condemn me. My god is kind and benevolent and accepting. We made a sacred pact. I’d be the best person I could be and God would save me a place in heaven. The real one, where it doesn’t matter who you are or how you look or how you sacrifice your dignity and self-respect most days just to be true to yourself.

The story takes a bit of a twist (to me, at least) from there, introducing an old friend, Peyton, that had dropped Aimee after her parents got divorced and Aimee moved to the wrong side of the tracks and “inner-city housing.” But it was awesome to see Aimee and Peyton reconnect and by the end of the story, with some humor and snark, we get hope for the two girls to be friends again.

Boi deals with an FtM trans character and opens with some fairly explicit talk about children being curious about body parts and how one moment with a cousin was a tip-off for the main character that ze wanted zir own penis. Over a decade later, the same cousin helped Vince get zir first packing penis. Vince’s cousin Kevin were raised by their grandparents. I really liked this story as soon as I started reading it, so the assault that happens to Vince utterly gutted me. Fair warning, this story ends on an incredibly upsetting note and I hate these fictitious boys for what they did to Vince. The damage they did may’ve been fictional, but it’s indicative of the real damage and hate that gets carried out everyday all over the world towards trans people and it’s horrific.

I think TIAD was my least favorite story. I certainly relate to it. It mostly takes place in a chatroom online and I remember what it was like to connect to someone in a chatroom, think that you have something in an LDR, and then to have it all fall apart. This one just felt a little flat to me. However, it is funny that the acronym and it’s meaning has been on my mind a lot lately. I recently wrote a piece about how Tomorrow Is Another Day, so that’s important to remember but this one just didn’t really stick in my brain and I had a hard time connecting to the characters.

Aaaand whereas I couldn’t connect in TIAD, I did nothing by connect with the story and characters in the last story of this compilation, called Two-Part Invention. This was definitely my favorite, but that’s likely due a lot to the fact that it was music-based. Whereas On The Floor was all sweaty sports-filled adrenaline, this was pure lyricism, ripe with music references, and I love how music can be a metaphor for love. This story centered on Kat and her yearly pilgrimages to an elite camp for musical prodigies and the girl, Annika, she’s fallen in love with. There’s a beautiful tension where Kat is trying to bring herself to tell Annika how she feels about her and also trying not to freak out about how Annika has been recently talking about a fellow male prodigy musician named Bryce, throwing a wrench into things for Kat to figure out if Annika might feel the same way. I won’t tell you how it ends, but I was a fan of the ending and think it was the perfect story to end the book on.

Have I mentioned how much I love Julie Anne Peters?

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[New Year, New You] – Week 9: Lessons

This week’s writing prompt is one of reflection. Has it really been 9 weeks since I started this? It feels like longer. Well…technically, it has been longer. I started on December 28th. That means it’s been 14.5 weeks. Which makes sense, since I lost about a month to the explosion and resulting dumpster fire from my old job. But we have to keep on keepin’ on, right?

So I picked back up and now I’m mostly on the weekly schedule, give or take a day or two. But still….it feels longer than even that 14.5 weeks. There’s just been so much that’s happened. Said dumpster fire, a break up, heavy conversations and considerations about how I need to move forward with Relationships, starting a new job, starting to write more frequently (six out of seven days this week!), asking for lots of help, working through a  fuckton of fear, changing perceptions about many people I thought I knew, ceasing kink for a while to reassess my foundation and communication, picking it back up slowly, all those resulting conversations, reclaiming my Pagan roots and practicing more, financial and health concerns, a national conversation about SESTA/FOSTA, Stormy Daniels, and the latest chucklefuckery of 45. It’s been a fucking LOT.

What have I learned? That I have to keep going in the direction of the next best step. That incremental change is more than good, it’s necessary. That even though I may want certain things right now or be afraid that I’ll never get them/there, I have to slow down and, as we’re told at work, trust the process.

Oh, if only one of my first therapists could see me now. Richard was the first person I came out to. And I was fucking terrified. I couldn’t look him in the eyes. I was being raised by an activist mother who taught me that I could be whatever I wanted, and I knew she’d love me no matter what my sexuality. But I just couldn’t bring myself to talk about being, at the time, a lesbian. And forget trying to tell my dad. That was not something I’d have courage to do until about twenty years later when I handed him an invitation to my poly wedding – to one man (whom I was already legally married to) and one woman. I figured two closets for the price of one invitation, right?

But when I was sixteen, I had some serious arrested development and bone-level terror. Of myself, the world, the future. Richard was one of the kindest, open people I’d ever met and I felt comfortable with him. Still, I was scared. I think it took about two sessions for me to say the words aloud. And I couldn’t look at him when I did it, because I was so afraid of what I’d see in his eyes. Disgust. Derision.

But there was none of that. There was only warmth and a slight gleam in his eyes. Through more sessions, I think he said he had an idea of what I was trying to get out but wanted me to get there on my own. He was very big on “the process”. Everything was “a process”. It used to make me so mad. When he was about to say that something was “a process” I would glare at him and tell him he better not be about to tell me it’s that fucking p-word. He would chuckle. But now over twenty years later, I’m learning how right he was. You can’t read a book all in one second. Or listen to a song in a second. Things aren’t instantaneous. They take time to plant, cultivate, water, grow, flower. It’s a motherfucking process.

That’s probably the thing I’ve learned all too well over the past few months. That fucking process. And an important part of the process is starting.

One of my favorite books is “The Laws of Spirit: A Tale of Transformation” by Dan Millman. It’s a short book that packs a punch about a guy who goes for a hike in the woods and winds up meeting a mountain sage. She takes him on a journey that’s marked by a few different chapters/laws that have major life lessons as titles. The Law of Action opens with the mountain sage telling the narrator to pick a direction when they come to a spot in the woods where the path diverges in three directions. The narrator points at one path. The sage repeats herself and tells him to pick a path. He points again, saying he chose that path. Getting more irritated, the sage tells him yet again to pick a damn path already fer fuck’s sake. Finally, he gets it and starts walking that path.

This has stuck with me for nearly two decades. Action is a requirement to get things that I want. I have to deal with, talk about, fucking process, and ultimately do. Walk in the direction of my dreams. Y’know, once I figure out what the hell they are for this part of my life.

Song of the week: “Believer” by Imagine Dragons

Singing from heartache from the pain
Taking my message from the veins
Speaking my lesson from the brain
Seeing the beauty through the
Pain
You made me a, you made me a believer, believer
(Pain, pain)
You break me down, you build me up, believer, believer
(Pain)
Oh let the bullets fly, oh let them rain
My life, my love, my drive, it came from
(Pain)
You made me a, you made me a believer, believer

 

 

Pack your bags; we’re going on a journey of sensual/sexual evolution!

In the beginner, I was a LESBIAN. I knew in my early teens but it took me a few more years to say anything to anyone. When I came out to my mom around 17 or so, her back-handed supportive response was “let me know when you figure out you’re bi.” Which pissed me off to nearly no end (I’m mostly over it. Mostly.) when somewhere along the way, right around the time I met my now ex-husband, I realized bisexual fit better. Grrrrrrrr.

From there, in my twenties, it got more complicated as I came to understand that gender wasn’t a binary, and even further, that I was attracted to people and their gender didn’t have much to do with it. I pushed my own gender exploration aside due to shame and fear, focusing instead on my poly, kink, and sexual evolution. Pansexual mostly fit for that, though I was never too comfortable with the “sexual” part. Then, in my mid/late thirties, I learned about demisexuality and the asexual spectrum. As I learned about that, the umbrella of gray asexuality was the closest I’ve come to a term that fit me. So I’ve settled on queer, gray ace. Because it’s fluid and not a fixed point. And “gray ace” is easier than than trying to explain a sexuality contains all this:

  • I have no interest in sex unless there’s some form of D/s, power exchange, energy exchange, or kink involved. It can be light power dynamics, it can be emotional sadism or masochism, it can be full on CNC (my fav), it can be tantra or some other type of energetic exchange, but there has to be some form of connection involved that isn’t just physical. Vanilla sex has absolutely no appeal to me.
  • Sex, in general, is not necessary nor is it preferred most of the time for me in kink. I do get turned on sometimes via kink, but most times, I don’t. It’s also highly specific to the activity and the partner(s). It’s been over 10 years since a rose flogging, in an of itself, has resulted in anything sexual for me or happening with the person I’m doing it on at the time.
  • Which leads to sensual kink. For me, kink is generally sensual as all hell. But it doesn’t usually “turn me on”.
  • It’s taken a longass time to discover that I can (and really like to) make out and do pick up play outside of a Relationship, but beyond making out, most times, I’m not interested in sexual things happening.
  • When I say “sexual things” I mean anything that directly stimulate the genitals or results in an orgasm. Vaginal sex, anal sex, oral sex, manual sex, sex with toys. All sex, to me. I know a few people who don’t think anything beyond PIV or PIA is sex, but that’s not the way I roll.
  • It’s also taken me a similarly longass time to begin to accept that I can actually have casual sex with people I’m not in a Relationship with. When I was identifying as a demisexual, I thought it was impossible. I now know it’s not just possible, it’s happened and I liked it. It’s not been frequent, by any stretch, but it has happened. It just depends on the situation, the person, the interests, the connection, the circumstances, and how we feel about it.), However, I need to have at least a basis of friendship.
  • Still don’t think I can do a one night stand with someone I don’t know. However, for the times I’ve been able to have sex when not in a Relationship, there has been some element of D/s or energy or power exchange involved, even just a little. Or it eventually went there. I once was in a situation where there was some energy stuff happening and making out with someone who is very big on active and ongoing consent/check-ins (and knows how to make them really sexy, too, which is skillz I wholeheartedly aspire to, let me tell ya) and at one check-in, I said that I was feeling all “yes”…but then it felt immediately not fully true. It wasn’t that I wasn’t feeling “yes”…I was (so. much. yes.)….so I explained that I also felt very much “I want to say ‘no’….to mean ‘yes'”. Which was more complicated and not something we had talked about, so we didn’t go there that time. We may or may not ever go there, and that’s okay. But I feel that CNC feeling a lot. 97% of my fantasies revolve around some form of CNC and/or cuckqueanery.
  • I just almost never feel like I solely want to fuck…or have sex and orgasm with another person as a…goal. I most often crave cuddling, making out, sensual touching, power and energy exchange, pain, exploring bodies and having mine explored…like, seriously, the inside of the elbows and hollow of the back and the inner thigh and the ankle….they’re so under-explored. I like touching, licking, nibbling, biting, caressing. There’s just so much to explore and I sometimes find myself getting lost or sad when I’ve gotten comfortable making out and it turns into NEW GOAL IS SEX. ORGASM.
  • For me, sex isn’t it’s own…impetus. Or goal, really. I do not have a primary sex drive.  I barely have a secondary sex drive. I totally have a primary kink drive. I almost never have any interest in coming unless someone wants me to. That being said, I very much like being of sexual service to people I connect to in that way.
  • I need filthy, dirty, vicious words whispered threateningly in my ear, a hand on my throat, teeth on my earlobe, tongue flickering inside my wrist…I need there to be pauses, silence, someone just out of sight, not knowing what they’re doing, a blindfold so I can’t see, force, direction. Please, make me serve you…it can be done with a calm directive or a brutal order; I don’t care. What do YOU want to take, goddamnit? Tell me. Claim it.

Sorry, where was I? My brain went a for a little gutter field trip, there…

Anyway, some of the most memorable times for me in regards to actual sexual arousal are things like having my palm stroked in such a way that I almost came…and had to stop because it was against my set of rules at the time. Seriously. Just MY PALM being stroked. Or finally being able to relax into myself and have an orgasm after struggling for so long to come…by being told it wasn’t for me. It was for the person I was with a the time. Or “preparing” a partner (fluffer, aisle one) to fuck another partner and being denied sex myself. Or a hug that morphed into a hand on my throat which led to me against a wall in a very intense kiss. Or a really long breath play scene that could’ve, to the untrained or unkinky eye, been call oral sex but technically had very little to do with sex, didn’t result in an orgasm for either of us, and had everything to do with power. Power claimed and taken, power surrendered willingly.

This ongoing evolution has been confusing as hell for me sometimes. The good thing is I finally feel like I’m finally wholly comfortable with the labels I’ve chosen without them feeling restrictive. They can help explain things and I have room to interpret, move fluidly go with how I feel in each interaction. I can articulate what I do and don’t want to people. Friends who might be play partners, friends who are already play partners, new people I meet who might be friends and/or play partners. Any of the above who might be a mentor.

Case in point: one of my partners asked me why I wasn’t pursuing someone I had recently met. The case was made that this person was my type, interested in similar things, and, as far as what little my partner knew about them, available. Problem was, I had no interest. I got no kinky vibe, no power exchange vibe, didn’t think they were poly. Turns out, after a general convo about online dating, I was right.

I’ve also come to realize that I don’t really have much interest in dating, so I literally just disabled my OKC account today. I’m not looking for any new poly partners, as I try to navigate life and a lot of changes and more to come. The only new things I’m open to right now are friends, mentors, and play partners, so I updated my Fet profile, too. I’ve been able to tell people that I’m a gray ace. It’s been scary, because I’m afraid they’ll walk, but if they do, I have to remember that it’s not a condemnation of me; it’s that our needs/desires don’t match up. And that’s just life.

So this is where I’m at in January of 2018…continually seeking, evolving, learning, and growing. Thank you for reading and any comments or questions you have. It’s likely that if you’re reading this, you’ve had some part in helping me figure this out, be it posts you’ve shared, convos or experiences we’ve had together, being supportive of me, or just by being part of a community that welcomes this type of growth and sharing. I’m grateful for that.

[CBR10 – Review 1/13] Giant Days, Vol. 2

(Cannonball Read book review #1 – original post @ CBR10)

Last year, I signed up for Cannonball Read 9. Unlike 2013, where I completed my first (and only, thus far) FULL Cannonball of reading AND reviewing 52 books in one year, last year I was a bit more pragmatic. I went for a quarter Cannonball, or 13 books. Unfortunately, last year turned out to be not so much a “reading year” for me as it was more a “I’m slowly going to get more and more upset with my previous job year and struggle to do the best I can because I adore the job but hate a lot of things that are happening in conjunction with said job” year. Didn’t leave a lot of time or energy for reading and writing. My grand count of books read is 5 and books reviewed was 0.

But. One of the books that I read last year was the first in a series of graphic novels that I found through a friend on Facebook towards the end of last year. The series is called Giant Days and it’s a really refreshing story of three women who become friends in college, the subsequent adventures they go on, and all that good stuff. My local library system carried it and with a few requests from neighboring libraries, I had all five volumes in my hands. Volume 1 was great, but I finished that at the tail end of 2017. Given that I’m at the tail end of my renewals for volume 2, it’s high time I reviewed and returned the book.

So without further ado, Giant Days volume 2 picks up with the three main characters Daisy, Esther, and Susan getting ready for the hall ball. They’re in England, so this turned out to be a college version of a school dance. We go with them shopping, where they wind up at a thrift store in mostly ill-fitting dresses, complaining. Except Esther. As the Goth Gal of the Group, who we later finds out has a brother (sewing machine, a cute little joke that comes up later) who can work miracles with ill-fitting dresses, she seems in her element searching for something to wear in the thrift shop. She settles on a Victorian looking wedding gown.

The next people we see shopping for hall ball clothes are two other students: McGraw, a fairly well put-together love/hate interest for Susan and Ed Gemmell, a basket case of a guy who has a thing for Esther. Once they get measured and all for their suits, we fast forward to the actual hall ball. The illustrations are great for showing a nice variety of people, to give it a cool party vibe, but Daisy, who was home-schooled and fairly sheltered, runs into a woman she had a thing for who rejected her and she spirals into an episode of “I don’t even know what my sexuality is”.

The advice her Susan gives is basically to “kiss both kinds of face. Maybe you’ll enjoy them both equally. That’s fine. Let love rule. It’s the 90’s. Get used to it.”

To which Daisy replies, “it’s the 2010’s, Susan. You’re living in the past. Buy a calendar.”

This kind of banter is one of the things I love about this series. They are snarky, flawed, fun, genuine characters. They’re not drawn to titillate, they’re created to be related to. And they’re great friends to each other, too boot. When Esther starting freaking out that she hadn’t been going to classes for more than a month and exams were coming up, she was all too human in telling her friends part of why she was freaking out:

I may not have taken it seriously. I may have asked many stupid questions I thought were funny. I may be quite the jack-ass.”

And when there’s a giant hill to climb in the snow that keeps besting Susan, she winds up at the bottom on her back in a snow bank saying, “No, I’m fine. I’m my own hero. I’m everything I wished I could be.”

I love this sarcastic, real life storyline. I love that it’s drawn exceptionally well by Lissa Treiman and Max Sarin and the dialogue, by John Allison, is just spot on. And can totally pass a Bechdel test. While they do talk about men, there are many other conversations they have that don’t have anything to do with men. It’s all really relatable. The book covers the hall ball, Susan hooking up with McGraw and hides it from her friends, Daisy awkward kissing Ed to see if she likes Boy Face, and Esther later bonding with Ed, who is trying to hide the fact that he’s in love with her. They then go on to winter break, where a hometown woman that McGraw and Susan grew up with try to kill her for something Susan did before she went away to University, and Daisy and Esther trying to save her, and then back to school where Esther proceeds to freak out about how she hasn’t gone to classes in a few weeks. Maybe months.

One of my favorite scenes was after she had decided to further procrastinate studying revising (cause it’s British) and go to a Goth concert, despite Daisy being awesome and trying to help her revise. After the concert, she’s in full-on desperation mode (and full-on skull makeup), looking for divine intervention of her exams:

“Gentle Jesus, I know I’m dressed as a church burner, but I’m good really. Show me the way.”

She then proceeds to go into a church to ask the Reverend for help, who basically tells her to go to more classes lectures. She winds up falling for the hot student TA invigilator, because she has a thing for “milquetoast handsome” boys, but he winds up being a stuffy ass and she dumps him quite spectacularly during a dinner party hosted by a professor.

By the end of this volume, the women are back in their dorm staging an intervention for Daisy, who got a little too into the TV show set in Texas about high school football called Friday Night Lights and may’ve started talking in a Southern drawl and wearing “sports casual” (when she’s normally just casual). Susan and Esther help her out of it. Which is basically what this series is about. These three friends and the adventures they go on (sometimes mundane, getting waaaaaayyyyy too into a TV show, type adventures) as they grow, figure out who they are, and what they want. I love that they’re pretty strong, badass, relatable characters in a graphic novel, since comics and graphic novels have had some serious issues with using women as sex objects and/or side stories. This series is just a whole lotta fun and I can’t wait to read and review Volume 3.

[New Year, New You] Week 1 – Making Way

So a dear friend of mine, who is an author, crafter, and all around glamourous Amazon (or Glamazon, as RuPaul calls them), started a series of 23 writing prompts called New Year, New You designed to fix your situation. And she decided to start this a few years back, before the turn of the new year because why wait. Fix that shit now. 

The first prompt starts here, and it is all about making way for the change you are about to start working towards. She breaks it down into three bite-sized sections for week one:

Let’s start with the easy part.  Time to clean your house.

“Let’s start with the easy part.” Bitch, you almost made me laugh. I love her dearly, but FUUUUUCCCCKKKKKKK.

*whining*

I don’t wanna clean. I wanna keep living in the stacks of clothes and costumes and unpacked bags from this past year. This keeps all that shit in nice tidy piles where I don’t have to deal with it. Because I don’t wanna deal with the job that I left that I loved parts of but couldn’t stay at. Or the costumes pieces full of promise of burlesque routines and exercise I can’t seem to find time to put together or do. And pfffffttttt, what’s the use of putting away laundry? If it’s not put away, it’s much more handy. I mean, seriously…it’s much closer on the floor or piled on a chair than in the closet all the way over there. (for the record, my closet is about 10 feet from my bed. The chair is about 8 feet. I mean, c’mon. That’s TWO WHOLE FEET MORE.

What?

It’s just…I’ve been having such a mental block this past year, not wanting to deal with anything. Getting from day to day took most of my spoons, and now I have a new job to learn, and that new job takes more (but different) spoons than the last.

Urgh.

But she’s right. She’s fucking right. I can’t expect to move forward with a clear head and create good magical mojo when the space around me, that I live in, is chaotic.

Is your time being well spent?

Sometimes.

Next.

Just because someone hands you a big rock doesn’t mean you have to carry it.

Naaaaahhhhhhhh. I’m not carrying any big rocks. No secrets here. No heartbreak. No difficult decisions. No taking on another person’s shit as my own. No endlessly throwing energy into a void. No toxicity. No negativity. No seemingly endless confidences, only some of which I agreed to up front, that are weighing me down. No anger or disappointment or disillusionment or confusion or desperation or depression here. No health issues. No fear. None whatsoever.

*headdesk*

Alrrightee. Now that we know the mega shitstorm of situation fixing I need to do, the next part of her post was taking stock of what she’s done.

So.

Things I’ve done so far:

  1. Started tackling the piles. Eliminated a big one on the chair. Enlisted nesting partner’s help to put their laundry away while I packed away my summer clothes and then put most of my laundry away. Last week, I organized and condensed the pile of costumes and leftover event bags from this year. It’s not perfect, but it’s progress.
  2. Been thinking a lot about how I spend my time lately. Things that are important to me. This boils down to music, writing, spirituality, authentic connections, emotional support, constructive selfishness (a phrase I learned from my therapist today and holy fuck, is it a great concept. Like self care, but…bigger.), kink, creativity, becoming healthier. I spent Christmas Eve with a fantastic friend establishing the first annual Queermas Eve full of playing music (and then taking a deep breath and posting the cover on my FB. I’m contemplating creating a YouTube channel to start putting up my uke sessions in the new year, as a way to continue to push myself to play more and grow), really vulnerable talking & sharing, a Wawa adventure, and some cuddling with a side of kink. It was pretty fucking great. I felt seen, heard, supported and supportive, in turn. I felt an energetic connection, joy, excitement, peaceful. Again, pretty fucking great. And a great reminder of what I’m looking for. What’s important to me. I did a fairly in depth full moon ritual that I felt proud of. Have been practicing uke more. And clearly have picked up writing again. And reading. I didn’t accomplish the quarter Cannonball Run I signed up for for 2017, but I’ve forgiven myself. I’m just glad I started reading again this year at all. In previous years, I’ve read 52 books, or 26 books. Last year, it was something like…five? Which blows. Currently, though, I’m in the middle of a few books. The best is Brene Brown’s “Rising Strong”. So topical in my life right now. I’m going to a play party this weekend and have one topping scene set up and have reached out to a few people to see if I can get some a bottoming scene in before the new year. And I’m trying to own up to my mistakes, take responsibility for my fuck ups, and also seek out authentic connections and emotional support. Hafta cultivate that constructive selfishness. Also have to work towards scheduling time for things instead of flying by the seat of my pants on a regular basis in an attempt to Do Everything (and usually falling way the fuck short on that.)
  3. There are too many rocks. Just in case your sarcasm detector is broke, all you have to do is take everything I said above under the rock section and remove all the “no’s”. Then you’ll have all the rocks that have created an avalanche on top of me and might begin to understand why I feel like I have almost nothing left to give anyone anymore. I’m beyond tapped out. The immolation period of a phoenix fucking SUCKS.

So, there you have it. There’s a lot of situation to fix, but I’ve begun to Make Way.

Yes, Zir! – a pronoun/gender evolution

Almost two years ago, I wrote a post with my thoughts on gender and also how it applied to me. It’s funny how you can write true things…but also write around other truths.

I identify as a woman.

I like being a woman.

Those are things I said last year. They were true…ish. Thing is…I was afraid. Afraid of stepping outside the gender binary. Terrified I wasn’t “queer enough”, regardless of how queer I felt. Scared out of my mind that I would get ridiculed again like I did the first time I found pronouns that felt like they fit me…over 15 years ago.

It’s even funnier how you can support everyone around you being their authentic selves, in everything you do, from your work to your personal relationships to your friendships to people you’ve never met but defend on social media. Proudly rockin’ my “I’ll go with you” button and telling people at the Y in the South that Trans women are…y’know…women. Making sure to be aware of people’s pronouns.

Think I could apply that acceptance and support to myself?

Why the fuck would I do that?

*sigh*

The past two years have shown me all kinds of new things. New people. New ways to be. Life isn’t a binary anything really. Because the gender binary is just a social fucking construct. And challenging that scares people. Hell, it scares me, even as I do it. Another part of what I wrote last year:

The Unknown or New is scary. It’s threatening. I get it. “What else could change?” is the question that bubbles, unspoken below the discomfort with adapting to new information. It scares me, too. I just try not to let it stop me from questioning, exploring, seeking out conversations and information, learning, growing.

One thing that’s changed for me, or at least out loud, in public now, are my pronouns. Over fifteen years ago, I first learned about “ze/zir” and the light of recognition and rightness glowed inside of me…and I quickly squelched it when a former partner promptly mocked the shit out of those words and anyone who would use them. I packed that part of me away.

I don’t have to use the words, right? Fuck, I’ll “manspread”. I’ll pack. I’ll wear jeans and t-shirts and combat boots because they feel good and comfortable and thank (insert diety here) that women, for some stupid fucking reason, are allowed to wear what’s traditionally considered “men’s” clothes but (insert diety here) forbid men try to casually wear “women’s” clothes.

So for years…I didn’t use the words. I wasn’t proud of it. I didn’t tell anyone that I wanted to use them. Even after I met someone else who used them. Even after I met more and more people who go by “they/them”. Even as I met people who go by “she & he”. For some reason, this one was really hard for me. I have no problem taking my clothes off to music in front of strangers, but fuck if I could tell my partners or friends or coworkers I was more “ze” than “she”.

Until TES Fest this July. Until I was on the registration line and presented with a badge that had a blank field for pronouns. Something in me shifted. And I wrote “ze/zir”. A friend took note in the hallway and it sparked a conversation. I told them that it’s taken me years to admit it out loud and they were very supportive. A partner overheard the convo and a month later in an email just started using “ze” to refer to me. When I saw it, I cried. The happy kind of tears. And thanked them. A few days later, I asked someone I hadn’t talked to in a little bit if they had any pronoun updates. They didn’t, but then asked if I did. I took a deep breath and said “yes” and told them. To which they replied with the title of this post – “Yes, Zir!” I laughed, because…it’s kinda fitting. The switch in me was happy, and the nonbinary me was thrilled.

At therapy recently, I began talking about pronouns and my therapist asked me what it meant for me, to me. During our session, she leapt up and drew an “M”on the left side of the dry erase board and an “F” on the right with a line connecting them. She handed me the marker and asked me to mark on the board where I felt I belonged.

I paused. My first thoughts were a mashup of, “but…I don’t belong on a line. It’s not just ‘M’ over here and ‘F’ over there…it’s not linear…” and then an idea struck me. Why stay on the line? Hell, why use letters at all? So I drew a star a about a foot above the line, slightly more towards the “F” but only mildly right of center, connected the star to the “M” and “F” with two swooping lines and then drew another line going from the star straight down and connected it to a sun.

My therapist blinked. Then smiled.

“What does that mean to you?” she asked.

I tried to explain that it wasn’t quite a binary and I didn’t feel like I fell anywhere on the line….I mean, I drew influences from what society says is “normal” for women and from men. But that I also drew from…other sources that aren’t so easily categorized, so I used the sun to symbolize their brightness and validity. She thought that was awesome. I’m grateful to have a great therapist.

It hasn’t been all awesome, though. Someone called my pronouns stupid. That hurt a whole helluva lot and brought up some old wounds. I cried the bad kind of tears when that happened. However, we talked it through and they understand more now and apologized. Thankfully, the few friends I’ve told have been supportive and apologized in advance if they fuck it up and asked me to just make sure I correct them.

Sometimes I don’t catch it when someone refers to me as “she” but I play it back later and kick myself for not catching it. Writing my bio for a kink event recently was strange. It was the first time I’d ever used those pronouns so openly. The sentences looked weird at first, but there was also this feeling of recognition and peace.

I re-evaluated things like whether I still like being called “girl” or “little girl” in a D/s context to which the answer is a resounding “yes” when I’m submissive and/or bottoming. When I’m in Top or Domme space, I can go in different directions, depending on the person. I like “Sir” but hate “Ma’am”, but don’t even get me started on “Daddy” and “Mommy”. That’s a whole ‘nother ball of writing, self discovery, and evolution.

Polyamory (and so much more!) in Pictures

(Book review #5 – original post @ Cannonball Read 8)

KimchiCuddles-AskMeAboutPolyamory

Fair warning: I’m going to pepper this review with a few actual strips from Kimchi Cuddles, because pictures are awesome and I love being able to use the actual author/artist’s art to drive a point home. 

That being said, here; have a comic!

Kimchi Cuddles #300 - "The Scandalous Truth" from KimchiCuddles.com

Kimchi Cuddles #300 – “The Scandalous Truth” from KimchiCuddles.com

Yup. Welcome to polyamory. I’ve been a practicing polyamorist for close to 15 years now and this might just be my favorite book on the subject. And that’s saying something because while there aren’t nearly as many books on the subject as I wish there were, there are still a goodly amount and I’ve read most of them. This is not an easy relationships style and while it is incredibly rewarding and wonderful, it also, in my humble opinion, takes a lot of self-awareness, communication, and emotional maturity. I’m working on ’em. It’ll likely be an ongoing quest, but I’m glad to have people like Tikva Wolf to help with the journey for the past few years.

I’ve been following Kimchi Cuddles as an internet comic strip for a while; her semi-autobiographical strips sometimes make me laugh and sometimes chop a clear path of understanding right through a problem that I was having trouble with, and sometimes, just make me feel not quite so alone. It may seem counter-intuitive, but you can be polyamorous and feel alone or lonely. You can totally be polyamorous, have multiple partners, and still feel really alone and lonely sometimes. It’s kind of like how you can be going through the sadness of a breakup but also be happily married. Oh hey, btw, there’s a comic about that:

Kimchi Cuddles #301 "Sci Fi Marathon Time" - from KimchiCuddles.com

Kimchi Cuddles #301 – “Sci Fi Marathon Time” from KimchiCuddles.com (another thing I love about this is the note on Facebook when this was posted was that the author/artist likes to watch “Hedwig & the Angry Inch” after breakups. All Of The YES.)

This kind of thing is what makes polyamory so magical. Honoring the complexity of life and feelings and actively celebrating it all with people. Through polyamory, I’ve been able to grow more than I ever thought possible, come (mostly) to terms with anger, be a better communicator, open my heart to uncertainty and loving outside of social norms. And Kimchi Cuddles has helped me navigate all that. Tikva Wolf has a very open, nurturing way of handling the myriad challenges of polyamory and even when she’s struggling with her own demons, she helps others by sharing that struggle through her art. And as you may’ve guessed, there is a comic for that, too:

Kimchi Cuddles #326 - "Appearing Perfect" from KimchiCuddles.com

Kimchi Cuddles #326 – “Appearing Perfect” from KimchiCuddles.com

Being out of the closet is important to me, too, as is being able to write about my life. And I love being able to support artists and authors and musicians who help me along my path, so when I found out there was a kickstarter for the first compilation of Kimchi Cuddles comics in physical book form, I was SO on board. And so grateful I had the money to support this fantastic endeavor.

Random note: This book smells really good. I admit it; I love to open a book and stick my nose in center and inhale. I embrace my weirdness. Therefore, this comic seems appropriate:

Kimchi Cuddles #274 - "Queers" from KimchiCuddles.com

Kimchi Cuddles #274 – “Queers” from KimchiCuddles.com

What’s even more nifty about this comic, as you might be able to tell from above, is that it doesn’t just talk address poly issues. The book is divided into six sections (parenthetical notes are mine):

  • I. Discovery Polyamory (All Poly, All The Time)
  • II. Practical Living (the practicality of poly including family dynamics, sleeping woes any triad or quad (or more) poly person will recognize, and something I like to call “eating habits: you just can’t win with that many diverse people”)
  • III. Successful Relationships (I love this section because there’s so much relationship advice. It asks the big question: What makes a relationship successful? It also deals with metamours, love, intimacy, openness, support, and encourages discovery)
  • IV. Troubleshooting, Transitions, Taking Care of Yourself (a rougher chapter to get through, but so worth it. Touches on difficult things like jealousy, misogyny, relationship transitions, conflict, compersion, and fear)
  • V. Dating Scene (fantastic chapter about poly dating, NRE, labels or the lack thereof, LDR, Mono/Poly, Cowboys, and Unicorns. A very fascinating chapter, indeed.)
  • VI. Identities (Including: Trans, Genderqueer/fluid, Asexual and Sexual, Queers, and Pride!)

One of the most important things I’ve learned from Kimchi Cuddles is that there are a plethora of ways to love. I mean, I kinda knew that going in to reading this comic, as I’d been polyamorous for over ten years by the time I first encountered this comic. But I was still very enmeshed in hierarchical modes of thinking and feeling about love. Kimchi Cuddles helped me deconstruct that and see the fear that has been living underneath. By asking (and attempting to answer) questions like “what makes a relationship successful” and “what does love mean to you”, I’ve been asking myself those things and coming up with some surprising answers. And it’s cool to see characters in the strip go through a similar growth process as they seek the answers to questions like this and more. When I read books, the ones that stay with me often are the ones where I can relate to the characters and feel like in a parallel world, they’d be real. Characters I’d want to talk with, date, be friends with, get into arguments with, cuddle with, admire. This is what the cast of characters in Kimchi Cuddles is like for me. What’s even more brilliant is I may or may not know some of the characters that the people in the strip are based on. Cause it’s a small world, after all.

And that small world, even with all the love in it, and all the possibilities, can get scary. Love is the ultimate emotional vulnerability and it can be hard to navigate that with one person, let alone many. In the end, though, I’m learning to embrace the uncertainty, open my heart, and allow love in in whatever form it takes without trying to obsess over labels (though I still maintain they have their place and can help understanding, when applied judiciously). I’ve come to much of this new found understanding and peace with the help of Kimchi Cuddles, and for that, I’m entirely grateful. And with that, I leave you with one more comic in the author/artist’s words and pictures:

Kimchi Cuddles #93 - "Ask Kimchi from KimchiCuddles.com

Kimchi Cuddles #93 – “Ask Kimchi from KimchiCuddles.com