at the turning of the year

looking back

I launched this blog at Christmastime 2014, so this isn’t just the turning of the year, it’s also my fourth blogging anniversary!

In January, Wolf successfully defended his doctoral thesis and shall henceforth be known as Dr. Wolf. It represented the end of a long slog, and while his getting accepted into the university in the first place was a very big deal, we had no idea how emotionally difficult it would be on both of us. We are each other’s primary support systems and without that support, we both ended up in depression (though that wasn’t the sole reason for either of us). Completion for him was thus bittersweet as it had come at a much higher cost than expected and it left him wondering whether it would ever feel like it had been worth it.

March saw me take two very different trips back to back without stopping off at home on the way, which made packing a challenge! I was at a business meeting on a Thursday morning, in a succession of airports and airplanes from afternoon to night (my sleep time completely disappearing while I was in the air), arrived at Heathrow on Friday morning, then put in an appearance at the Eroticon 2018 Friday Night Meet and Greet that evening. I was, of course, exhausted.

My time at Eroticon (my second) was excellent, as expected. Although I’m now aware of one sex blogger and one romance/erotica writer who reside in my neck of the woods, it’s such a treat to just be in a room with more sex writers than you can shake a stick (or cane, or flogger) at. And everyone I’ve met has been my kind of people – intelligent, sexy and kind. Just wonderful. But it’s still a big trip for me. Would I have gone just for Eroticon? It’s hard to say, but I didn’t have to make that decision because Jaime and I had planned to meet up there and then travel together for a few weeks.

I made arrangements with the same photographer as in 2017 to do another shoot while I was in London. I must admit, both the shoot and follow-up were a bit disappointing, and I’ve spent the subsequent months forgetting it rather than remembering it.

Just before I returned home in April, I did my first shoot with Molly, which was also my first outdoor shoot. At about 10°, it was chilly to be naked outside, though better than I’d expected – and vastly better than it would have been if I’d been doing the same project at home! (Molly has given me some edited photos but I haven’t posted any yet; I’m experiencing some kind of block that is making it difficult, for reasons I don’t understand. With any luck, I’ll publish them soon.)

Just before I returned home from Europe, I finished weaning myself off of the anti-depressant I’d been on. By early May, my brain suddenly began functioning better; my cognition, focus and motivation improved substantially, which was such a relief! Since then, I’ve been working harder at the day job than I have in a couple of years, leaving me brain-tired and eye-strained at the end of the workday.

In November, I had a solo adventure in Japan; once upon a time I taught English there fairly briefly and went back this year for a visit. It was fun and stressful and tiring and delightful. I had a strong sense of filling my eyes with wonderful things, which I need to remember so I make a point of doing more of that. I’ve already posted a couple of photos (just before my flight out, and just after I arrived on the other side) and you’ll be seeing more from that trip in future.

On Christmas Day I set a boundary with my dad, which provoked a bit of a confrontation, so that was fun. But it means that I’m prioritising my needs over his wants, and that’s good for me. Five bucks says the next time we talk, he’ll pretend it never happened.

Top 100 Sex Bloggers 2018

I’m delighted that Molly (and Michael) included me in her list of the Top 100 Sex Blogs of 2018, which was announced in early December. I’ve fallen in the ranking since last year, which comes as no surprise since blogging regularly continues to be difficult for me, but I’m very pleased to have made the list at all. (Trying to remind myself that it’s OK if I’m less productive, and that I don’t have to blog if I’m not enjoying it.) Warm congratulations to this year’s winner, Rebel’s Notes!

I did find inspiration now and then through the year and there are some posts that I’m proud of, such as:

I’m also very happy to be included in Exposing 40’s round up of 40 [sex bloggers] over 40.

After my first adventure with Jaime in November 2015, I developed irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), which may have been caused by the gastrointestinal issues I had while travelling in a country where you need to be careful about drinking the water. In three years, following basic IBS guidelines has failed to control it and the constant bloating – as well as the resultant dip in body image, slight weight gain, and poorly fitting clothes – have really been getting on my tits, so this month I’ve started on a program to test whether certain categories of fermentable carbohydrates (collectively, FODMAPs) might be to blame, and if so, which one(s).

After the elimination phase, my bloating mostly went away. Around the same time, I was suddenly sleeping less and feeling more alert after struggling with fatigue for a number of years. The increase in energy hasn’t been consistent but this unexpected result provides a new lead for an issue where I’d mostly given up hope of finding a specific cause. There are five categories of FODMAPs and I’m currently challenging the third, so I’m about halfway done this process and I think I’ve identified two triggers. I’ll complete this project sometime in January and then follow up with my doctor.

My libido, which was variable at best and was convincingly sent packing by the anti-depressants in early 2017, is still AWOL. I originally started this blog as a place to record my new sexy adventures, but… I’m not having any. Forgive me Daddy, for I have failed to sin: it’s been almost 9 months since my last partnered sex. I don’t see that changing any time soon. And after giving me 4 orgasms on Christmas morning, my beloved We-Vibe Touch has died *cries*

looking forward

After over a year of looking for work, Dr. Wolf has been hired (last minute) for a lecturer position that starts right away. The catch is that it’s in another city – not too far from here but far enough to be inconvenient, especially given the lack of public transit and the fact that we only have the one car. We drive there tomorrow, I’ll get him settled and stay the night, and then I go back to an empty house. It’s a term position running until the end of June so he’ll be there and I’ll be here for the duration, except for the odd time when he can escape. He’ll be staying in a spartan place so it’s not especially practical for me to go visit him there. After that, we have to wait and see.

I have business trips in January and March, and the latter one (as well as the work to be done before and after) makes it ridiculously impractical for me to go to Eroticon 2019, alas. So my plan is to be dutiful, and then fuck off to Jaime’s house for a couple of weeks in April.

That’s my year in a nutshell. I hope you’re having/have had a great New Year’s Eve, whatever that looks like for you, and best wishes for 2019!

aerodrome 1

Fall through cobalt planes, layers of frames. Draped in the colours of the space, but fleshly curves exist to challenge rigid geometry.

Aerodrome is my newest travel-themed series, for photos taken in airports.

Sinful Sunday: It’s all about the image.

badge Sinful Sunday

Edit: Ooh, I made the top 5 in the Sinful Sunday Weekly Round-up for week 403! Here’s what guest judge E.T. Costello said about the image:

I love this shot. The blocks of colour, the geometry transposed with Zoe’s half-stripped self. I also love the transgression/subversion of her project. One to watch!

onsen

I arrived in Japan just after dark, having chased the sun for hours.

I was one of the first off the plane, though not in business class, and possibly the first passenger from my flight to make it to customs since I was travelling with carry-on only. I’d mentally prepared myself for a scrum at that time of day but was greeted by almost echoing emptiness. And an English-speaking woman to help me with the “self-serve” passport reader.

I was a little drunk with fatigue – the length of the flight was getting silly, but stopped short of the ridiculous – and had to navigate to the train station and buy a ticket and all. And try not not fall asleep in the train while it waited in the station. And once I arrived in the town, I had to orient myself in the dark, checking my phone frequently to ensure I made no time-consuming missteps.

I was relieved to arrive at the inn (properly a ryokan) earlier than I though; I’d expected passport control and customs to take much longer. I had time to get comfortable in my room and then go down to my meal where I was confronted with countless little plates – a little swarm of a bit of this and a bit of that.

And then, time to relax. Still roly-poly, I made my way to the onsen, the public bath/hot spring, to wash and soak. And relax.

[Looking back at my most recent Sinful Sunday contributions, I see that the last time I posted something timely (rather than the “from the vault” images in September) was almost a year ago! I hadn’t realised! I do have some images that I’m looking forward to sharing with you.]

Sinful Sunday: It’s all about the image.

badge Sinful Sunday

cracking my personal dress code

This week’s Food for Thought Friday questions are about everyday clothing.

Are there specific things I always tend to wear? Yes. My winter style uniform is leggings, and a cashmere sweater over a long-sleeved T, and I’m happy to wear basically the same thing almost every day. Why? You might want to get comfortable while I explain.

For a long time I had the vague sense (that would occasionally percolate through to my conscious awareness) that my clothes didn’t really reflect me – almost like I was wearing someone else’s clothes that happened to fit me – but I had no idea what would be more me, so I just continued to wear what I had.*

Then a number of years ago, I was trying to do more sewing and I hoped to start making my own clothes and if I was going to put that much effort into my wardrobe, I thought it wise to be more deliberate with my style so as not to waste my time, enthusiasm, materials and money. I’d found a good style website and started my research.

The first thing I analysed was my colouring. Since this has to do with skin colour (and to a lesser extent hair and eye colour), it’s very objective, and I worked through the resources and reached a conclusion fairly quickly. (My favourite range of colours to wear is deep red, burgundy, and reddish berry tones. In my wardrobe, burgundy is a basic.)

Next up was body shape. This was a little more challenging because I didn’t obviously match any single category. I had a bit of this and a bit of that, and sometimes the advice for the two categories was contradictory. With a bit of trial and error, however, I was able to reach some conclusions about garment types that were likely to work and those that weren’t. Between colour and shape, I was now able to filter out 90% or more of the clothes in any given store, and home in on the most promising stuff. It was a good start.

The last area for analysis was personal style, which is based on one’s personality – think classic, boho, sporty, dramatic/creative, etc. I had a lot of trouble with this because I didn’t really know what I liked and none of the standard styles spoke to me. I needed to get to know myself better. And though it took a while, I eventually got there.

What did I learn? First, comfort is really important to me; I’m sensitive to small irritations and I’ll be miserable if my clothes bind or pinch. (Binding and pinching is only OK if my partner does it, with consent ;)) So I now choose a lot of knits and other fabrics with at least a little stretch; the t-shirts, sweaters and leggings all meet this criterion. And cashmere is warm and cuddly.

I generally prefer subtlety and blending in, but that doesn’t mean that I aim to look like everyone else, and I don’t give two shits about trends. I’ve found I like ease, simplicity and practicality: clean lines, simple design, solids rather than prints, minimal or no jewelry, generally no makeup, and I rely on a good haircut because I don’t enjoy fussing over my hair. I don’t mind wearing basically the same thing over and over, which means uniform dressing work well for me.

I’m not afraid of revealing my shape, which is unmistakably female, but I don’t like most clothing details that are coded as “feminine”, such as lace or eyelet, tulle, frills and ruffles, bows, florals, pink (any shade), pastels and blush tones, most skirts, Peter Pan collars, and the list goes on. Most of these tend to be fussy, frivolous, impractical and/or uncomfortable. The ease, simplicity, practicality and comfort that I favour happen to be coded as “masculine”. I am very not femme.

What about under my clothes? My day-to-day underwear comprises a soft bra, and panties with a bit of coverage (underwire bras and thongs for special occasions only). Underwear needs to be comfortable enough that I can forget about it. Panties are usually black so I can wear them any time, period or no, and not worry about staining. Bras are black because I mostly wear darker colours. So yes, they match, after a fashion.

Is there anything I wouldn’t be caught dead in? Yellow or orange look terrible on me. I have always hated the shape of platform heels. Frills, ruffles and bows. Loud prints. Clashing colours. Most synthetic fibres, because I hate the feel and properties of them, and the fact that they’re plastic.

As for what I like to see men wearing, I don’t have strong preferences about specific garments. Sure, suits can look good, but so can jeans. Mostly I like to see an overall sense of style and personality.

* It has taken me a long time to learn to ask myself “What do I like? What do I want?” and this is an issue I’m currently exploring but I’m pretty sure it has to do with my parents’ lack of emotional intelligence when I was a kid.