minor frenzy

I have more energy lately, which is great, but somehow the list of things to do grows just as fast as my capacity to do the stuff on the list, if not faster.

This weekend has been packed with little tasks associated with an upcoming interview of my blogging self(!), and then a dance performance. There are photos to sift through, blurbs to pen (oh, the excruciating writing of a bio!), emails to send (and months’ worth of old emails to sort), subscriptions and memberships to sign up for, questions to answer, inspiration to gather, decisions to make.

I have a choreography to finalise. This process involves collecting inspiration as I try to expand my repertoire beyond my usual moves. The upside of doing the usual moves is that they’re well established in muscle memory; downside is that my repertoire is small and I don’t want the piece to get boring. The mood of the piece is dreamy and romantic, which is enough outside my comfort zone to retain my interest and push my boundaries a little. (I’m so not femme.)

And I’ve got a costume to sew. I’m sewing from the stash, so I don’t have to shop for fabric. I’m also working with simple shapes but without a pattern, and sewing sequin fabric and stretch lace for the first time ever (see above re not femme), so I’m also searching online for ideas – a few tips for the challenges of those fabrics, but primarily extant versions of the very vague images in my head. I’m not really looking for new ideas but rather confirmation (as much as that’s possible) that the ideas I already have will work.

Obviously my optimism has returned, if nothing else. But that creative energy that is coming out of hibernation is going to have a very non-blog focus for a little while.

I set a record

The other day I woke up feeling a tiny bit turned on. Doesn’t sound like much, but it was a big deal to me because I don’t remember when that happened last; my libido has been largely non-existent for a year and a half. So I rummaged around to retrieve my vibe and set to it. I’m glad I did.

When I’m engaged in solo sex, I’ve found I have the most success if I’m mentally warmed up with some yummy fantasies. The manual approach doesn’t work well for me, so I generally use just my vibe, always on the “wave” setting.

I use as light a touch as I can get away with because my clitoris gets desensitised quickly and I don’t orgasm easily. If I use more intense stimulation to overcome insufficient arousal, I can usually force one not especially enjoyable orgasm, at the cost of becoming numb. If I’m more aroused, I can use a lighter touch and that allows me to continue to have orgasms until I do finally burn out, usually after 3 or 4. The first one usually takes something like 5-10 minutes. (I’m not really sure, since I’m definitely not paying attention to the time!)

This time, I had some physical arousal and no fantasising (unless you count the dream) and I came in less than 30 seconds! It was so much easier than usual that I was inspired to see how many I could achieve.

For one of them – I think it was number 3 or 4 – I held my breath from when I applied the vibe until I came. That was maybe 15 seconds?

I reached 6 orgasms before I finally felt burnt out. The number itself is meaningless, but the fact that I was feeling turned on at all tells me that my libido is showing signs of life. And the fact that I was able to have more orgasms than ever before demonstrates that I do have a good understanding of my body. My conclusions – that I have some difficulty reaching orgasm, I need everything going well both mentally and physically, I get desensitised easily, and I need to reduce stimulation to almost the bare minimum – all appear to be correct. And that, to my mind, is the big accomplishment.

my body doesn’t feel right

There once was a time when I was very concerned about the numbers on the scale. If I weighed what I considered my ideal weight, I’d be happy that day; if I weighed ideal weight +1, I’d be disappointed and down. I stopped weighing myself regularly a long time ago. These days, the numbers don’t mean much to me.

There once was a time, much more recently, when I didn’t much like how I looked. It wasn’t anything in particular, just a general uninformed dissatisfaction. A culturally determined not-good-enoughness. A little over three years ago, I started taking nude photos of myself, and really listening to Wolf’s compliments. These days, I’m pretty happy with how I look.

I’ve always been slim so it feels taboo to talk about issues around weight: I’m privileged and have never had to endure criticism the way many people do, but this is something that’s bothering me so I’ve decided to talk about it. Just know that none of this is intended as criticism of anyone else.

My weight has always been pretty stable, and the one time I gained a bit of weight was when I went to Japan to teach English. I was there on my own, had virtually no emotional support, was surrounded by a language I didn’t know (which is surprisingly tiring), and just found the whole thing exhausting.

What I probably needed was to work less, sleep more, and eat less carbs (I had a hell of a time with my blood sugar). What I did when I was tired was to eat the very excellent chocolate almonds I’d discovered. My clothes, which didn’t fit fantastically well to begin with (waistbands at the natural waist are anathema to short-waisted me), became a constant, uncomfortable reminder of an aspect of my physicality that I was not happy with. Buying new clothes wasn’t much of an option because they were designed for slim, boyish hips that I didn’t have. When I returned home, the weight came off without much effort on my part. I was in my 20s.

About two years ago, I was prescribed some medication that caused me to lose some weight. Effort free weight loss? OK! Eventually my metabolism got used to the meds and I gained most if not all of the weight back, but it wasn’t much to begin with and that was fine. I’ve since gone off this prescription.

Then, starting about the beginning of January 2017, I went on anti-depressants. I didn’t notice the weight gain at first because I rarely weighed myself. It’s a known side effect so I wasn’t too surprised or upset, but it kept going up. My weight after Japan was an upper limit that I got to a few times over the  years but never exceeded. Until now.

I’m pleased to report that the number on the scale doesn’t make me cry or otherwise ruin my day the way it once would have; in high school I could barely imagine being this weight and I viewed it as a curse of aging. I don’t see a difference in my face, and on the whole I’m still happy enough with how I look overall. So what’s the problem?

I don’t like how I feel. My thighs rub together in a way that they didn’t before.

My breasts feel heavy and have gotten a cup size bigger. Cry me a river, you might say. No, it’s not the end of the world, but I just don’t like it. I prefer having smaller breasts (I’d go so far as to say that’s part of my identity) and generally wear bras that downplay rather than enhance them. My dressy push-up bras are now overflowing, and one soft bra is completely unwearable. I bought a couple of linen shirts in November and they’re now almost indecent; popping shirt buttons is not a problem I’ve ever had before.

My belly has also gotten bigger for a few reasons: the weight gain, bloating caused by the medication on top of that caused by the IBS I appear to have developed about two and a half years ago, and possibly some loss of muscle tone.

I had a routine of exercises, some of which were assigned by a physiotherapist for problems directly or indirectly related to my back, and some “electives” including sit-ups. I quit doing these exercises about three months ago, first because it was very hard to keep them up while I was travelling, and then because my physio wanted to streamline my routine to be more effective and less time-consuming.

So my belly is noticeably softer than it was, which doesn’t exactly delight me, but what bugs me is that my clothes don’t fit. I now have only two pairs of pants that I can stand to wear, and they’re not great and showing signs of wear. I’m also aware of the sensation of extra flesh there; when I bend forward it feels like I’ve got a little cushion strapped to my front and it affects how I move.

This isn’t about whether I conform to Wolf’s preferences, or Jaime’s, or society’s. (In fact, Wolf prefers the way I look now and I’m very glad because that makes it easier for me not to stress too much about it.) But taking into account and accepting the reality of my build, this is about whether I’m satisfied with those aspects of my body that I have some kind of control over. And right now, I’m not satisfied because my body doesn’t feel right.

Prior to my trip three months ago, Jaime would send me instructions for what to wear everyday, but now this feels too difficult emotionally because it makes me even more aware of the clothes that don’t fit.

I am aware that a significant amount of my dissatisfaction stems from poorly fitting clothes and one obvious solution would be to buy new clothes, but I’m going to hold off on that for now. I’ve been off the meds for two months now and I’m hoping that eventually my metabolism will reset on its own. For one thing, it’s summer and easier to be active. I’ve also started doing some of my exercises again, I bought a bike, and I’m eating really well.

But that’s about as much as I’m prepared to do. I’m not going to punish myself by exercising like it’s a job, or counting calories and eating styrofoam and kale. If it turns out that this is my shape now, I guess I’ll deal with it and buy some new clothes. But it is possible to be dissatisfied with one’s body without it being an issue of self-esteem or unreasonable standards.

out on the land

Up too early, I raced around the Airbnb condo kitchen looking for a pot to make oatmeal. There were more cupboards than I have at home and the basic gear was spread thinly among all of them. Kitchen utensil sprawl. I carved some brown sugar off the rock-hard lump, and splashed on some almond milk. How is it that something so emulsified can taste so thin?

We walked most of the length of this small town to the pick-up point at a hotel. I was finding it a bit difficult to orient. I navigate by the sun and it felt at times too low and at others too high. I’m north, you see, and we’re approaching the solstice. The only holidays I really feel called to observe are solstices and equinoxes. The sun being in the wrong place is a delight and feels like magic, even if it can also be a bit of a hassle.

I saw rocks and trees, trees and rocks. An expanse of sand. The tiniest flowers. Impossibly still lakes. Mercurial sky. It was fucking majestic, man.

There was a minor cultural component and I could have done with much more, but what I saw of traditional carving, among other things, made me feel the strength of its resurgence. In my view, it’s an exciting, optimistic time.

In contrast, I ended up in  conversation about historic abuses, physical and sexual, that are not so far in the past as one would wish, and are even now having an effect – on the survivors and on the relatives of those who didn’t survive. My mom knows other people’s wrongs intimately, but never speaks of how she was wronged. As we talked, I wondered whether she would let anything slip. But no, not a crumb. Not that I’m surprised.

I spend my time with her biting my tongue. How is is that she never speaks? Will she ever come to terms with it?

travel day

I’ve been travelling much of the day and even though it wasn’t the most grueling trip ever, my eyes are still crossing with fatigue. Up too late last night packing, up too early this morning to finish packing. And all I had was carry on.

Dear Past Me,
That idea you had about taking the day off to prepare for this trip was an excellent idea. I’m sorry that I didn’t give it as much credence as I should have and did a full day’s work anyway. In my defence, I’m not used to being able to work without it being a struggle; there was that one time-sensitive thing that I kind of had to do and I totally didn’t expect to get drawn into working on a bunch of other stuff.
But you were right and I was wrong, and I’ll try to remember that for next time.
Signed, Present Me

So I’m travelling with my mom and I’m having to remind myself to be circumspect before speaking, rather than blurt things out the way I ordinarily do with Wolf.

Can’t mention that I saw something on Twitter because she doesn’t know I have an account. (Unlike many people, I only have the one – for sexy Twitter.) Certainly can’t let her see any images on my Twitter feed.

Can’t let her see that I’m texting my boyfriend. All those hearts might look strange if she remembered that Wolf doesn’t have a cell phone.

I hesitate to mention the last time I was through one of these airports because it was probably a trip to visit Jaime, and it might occur to her to ask why I’ve travelled so far, to go to a place I’d never previously expressed much interest in.

On the plane, I prefer not to let her see that I’m taking my phone with me to the toilet since she most certainly doesn’t know about my Boobday mile high photos. (By the way, I got two more today. So keep an eye out.)

Tomorrow we’re going hiking, and then I’m very much looking forward to a nap, before the real work begins on Thursday.

lunch with my parents

My dad is visiting for a few days but since I’m leaving on a short trip tomorrow, today was the only day we could see each other. Four of us went for lunch, including my mom and Wolf. Wolf would have been much happier to stay home but this had the flavour of a holiday family dinner, and his attendance felt largely obligatory. Also, I wanted him with me.

We spent a lot of that hour or so talking and it left me drained. Socialising takes it out of me.

Usually when I talk to my dad, it’s just the two of us on the phone. In a group of four the dynamic was less clear, but I still observed that I didn’t say all that much and he dominated the conversation. I have felt for a long time that he’s not that interested in me or the things I do, and that may be the case, but I also wonder what it’s like for him at home. I don’t know if he and his wife talk all that much; if not, then he probably has no one else to talk to.

His wife’s mother is 94 and as miserable as she ever was. There’s a reason why all the kids moved away as soon as they could. She can’t drive or walk but she doesn’t want a walker because that’s for old people; she can’t hear but hearing aids are for old people; she has been living on her own and falls are a real risk but she won’t wear a personal alarm to call for help; and she can’t look after herself anymore but won’t move into a home. She can to an extent deny being old by imposing on others, which she does readily. (Actually, she has always imposed on others.) This woman is absolutely awful. She never told her daughter that she loved her. Not once. It’s a wonder that any of her kids even talk to her.

My mom then mentioned an incident when her brother was a little kid and got hurt. He came into the garage seeking sympathy from their dad. He got hurt again on a piece of equipment in the garage, and their dad made a joke at his expense. It may not have been malicious, but the effect was corrosive.

She also recalled having gotten hurt in an accident on her bike and thinking that she shouldn’t go home because her dad would see and she would get in trouble.

My parents don’t talk much about their childhoods, so I hoard these freely offered anecdotes and piece together what I can. Their childhood traumas became their adult pain, which they unwittingly passed on to me. My traumas are rooted in theirs; how can I heal myself if I don’t know what the wounds are? I think my dad has started confronting his demons but my mom’s are still locked down, and I feel like to be whole, I have to heal not only my own hurt but that of generations before me.

My parents taught me not to talk, but I can’t keep silent any more. There were times with Wolf when it felt like giving my words was harder than giving my blood, but it got easier with him. Now I come here and talk to you.

I wonder if I’ll be able to tell my dad that, when he calls and recites a monologue, I don’t feel like he’s interested in me. I wonder if I’ll ever be able to ask my mom what actually happened to her.

If I do, I suspect it will feel less like bravery and more like a final failure to act out this ridiculous role I was assigned.

great things about being a grown-up

This tweet from Girl on the Net the other day got me thinking:

I couldn’t limit myself to a single favourite, so here are a few great things that come to mind:

I get to set the thermostat at the temperature I want, and I enjoy being warm enough indoors that my nose doesn’t run.

I can have the nice shampoo, conditioner and soap that I want.

This is obvious but bears stating. I can have sexy times (solo or partnered) without having to be quiet and/or secretive. I can procrastinate and leave sex toys lying about before cleaning and putting them away.

I don’t get chores sprung on me at someone else’s whim. Wolf and I have worked out who does what, and I do my stuff when I want/am able.

Home is now a refuge rather than a place to escape. The only people who get to be there are ones I really like, or ones who I don’t mind but will also leave soon.

But there’s more great stuff about adulthood than that and I think the reason why we as adults aren’t more excited about it is that we have a tendency to look at it in terms of responsibilities, which is a variety of negativity bias. (And then there’s hedonic adaptation.) But growing up is about becoming autonomous, which necessitates taking responsibility for yourself. While not “fun” exactly, autonomy can be deeply satisfying.

I’m autonomous in my emotional life. I can learn for myself how my emotions work and what I need rather than rely on my parents’ (as it turns out) incorrect assumptions. I can learn better ways to cope with conflict than (a) freezing, bottling it all up, and hoping the other person will read my mind, or (b) bottling it all up and then having an explosive confrontation. (I mean, it’s not easy to learn a different way of doing things, but I can.)

I’m not being explicitly or implicitly criticised, and I no longer feel like I’m always wrong. I can choose to share my life with people who give me the love I need and think I’m pretty great, and choose not spend time with people who make me doubt myself or make me feel unwelcome. My self-image is still worse than it objectively should be, but being autonomous means that I can make decisions and take steps to get my needs met.

writing about not writing

Why haven’t I been writing much? That’s a question that I’ll likely keep revisiting until I figure it out and/or successfully move past the issue.

The proximate cause is that I just… didn’t feel like it. Yeah, but what’s causing that ennui? I have a few ideas:

  1. I suspect that the anti-depressant I was on was negatively affecting my motivation. I’ve taken lots of photos that I didn’t share, and written up lots of ideas that languish in draft form. The rough draft material was there but polishing it up into something publishable seemed like too much bother.
  2. Related to #1, some of the topics I was thinking about were bigger issues that I just haven’t had the brainpower to complete.
  3. I have back and neck problems so sitting at a desk in front of a computer is often uncomfortable or worse, and all my work is done at a computer. By the time I’m done work the last thing I want to do is continue to sit. Add to this the fact that I work from home, so work computing and fun computing are both done at the same desk, and blogging starts to resemble work a little too closely.
  4. I got into the habit of not turning on my computer and just reading sexy content on my phone. I find the phone great for consuming content but just awful for creating, so if all I’m using is my phone, I’m not posting.
  5. I’ve had no libido to speak of for months, and possibly over a year. I think (hope) that this is another side effect of the anti-depressants, but it feels disturbingly like my pre-epiphany lack of libido and I wonder whether I’ll ever want sex again. (The “just do it anyway, you may enjoy it once you get going” approach categorically does not work for me. That was my entire sex life (such as it was) pre-epiphany, and I caused myself harm by ignoring my needs and wants.)
  6. Occasionally I have relationship thoughts, but those come up when I’m (we are) having problems. Both of my partners read the blog so I don’t want to share a problem until I have a solution, and sometimes not even then.

But I also have some reasons to believe that I may be recovering from that ennui. Having tapered off very slowly, I’ve now been completely off the anti-depressants for over 7 weeks, so the side effects should continue to abate. Also, I was more productive at work in May than I had been any time over the last year and a half and probably longer, which bodes well for energy and motivation in all areas. (I’m now wondering how much the anti-depressants affected my ability to work. Hmm.)

I think writing Every Damn Day in June will help me not to get bogged down in projects that are too big for me to manage just now. I’m making a commitment to turn on the computer and write for just 10 or 15 minutes a day; I’ll continue to write until I’m finished or until I stop, whichever comes first. I’m also drafting my posts right in WP rather than in a Word doc on my computer as is my wont, which I think will help me get past drafting to actually posting. Wish me luck!

Also, if there’s anything you’d like me to write about, let me know in the comments.