I think I feel like blogging again

If there’s something that I want to understand but don’t (or at least not as fully as I want to), I keep revisiting it until I have the answer. One issue that’s like this for me is why I slowed down so much with blogging. Yes, I’ve discussed this before, but I’ve discovered some new factors, and I’m feeling optimistic.

I posted a lot in 2015, my first year. I had a lot to say, and while I was suffering with undiagnosed depression, the fact that I wasn’t able to work much ended up giving me more time to write, and fortunately I had enough brainpower for it. Wolf came back that summer and in the fall I started teaching dance more than I had been. In 2016 I posted somewhat less.

I think the original causes for the slowdown were depression (starting in the fall of 2016) and the fact that my sex life was cooling off so I had less to write about. No doubt the depression affected my sex life, but it was also cooling off for its own reasons, not yet fully understood (this is something I’m working on now). Then I went on antidepressants, which basically doused what embers of libido that remained. I strongly suspect that the antidepressants also muted my creativity, so even if I had something to say, it was hard to give enough of a shit about saying it to actually write and publish. My many, many unpublished drafts speak to that issue. In 2017 I had half as many posts as 2016.

I was feeling better by December 2017 (yay, depression essentially gone!) but stayed on the antidepressants until spring on doctor’s orders. I felt my cognition rekindle; it took 3-4 weeks but when the change came it was pretty sudden (yay, I can think!). And that was over six months ago, so where has the blogging been? In 2018, I had half as many posts as 2017.

The way I had originally defined the scope of the blog has become limiting to me. I think this is key, and it’s taken me a few months to really absorb it. I kept having ideas of things to say but I felt like I wasn’t allowed to say them here. Weird, since this is my blog to say what I want, but it’s taken me a while to give myself permission to talk about other things beyond the original scope of the project. I’ve felt limited by the name of the blog (which I chose four years ago when things were different), but I don’t have a better name yet, so fuck it. For now, it stays. I intend to revise my About page to reflect the new scope, in bits, as the mood strikes. If I tell myself it all has to be done in one go, it becomes overwhelming and doesn’t get done at all.

I’ve just become aware of a few other factors – less significant, but they go some way to filling in the remaining gaps. I might have mentioned before that I have a new(ish) laptop and I’ve found it difficult to adjust to. The keyboard is different and I get typos more often than before. So that’s annoying. Also, the screen is smaller than I’m used to so editing photos is less fun and more hassle. I have a nice big monitor for my work computer, which spoils me for the small one.

In addition to this, I have few reasons to turn on the laptop, and it being off is a barrier somehow. I don’t really know why, but it’s definitely a thing. I’m much more likely to putter on the blog, and especially reply to comments and comment on other people’s writing, when the laptop is already on.

Wolf has been gone for a week now and I’m rediscovering the routine I had while he was away doing his doctorate. During the day I like it quiet. No music. No talk radio. No TV or Netflix or YouTube. Just silence, other than the sound of a bit of traffic outside and sometimes the wind. (Actually, a lot of wind lately.)

OK, this isn’t really any different from when Wolf is here. But in the evening, it changes. I now have to do the cooking and dishes, and I want music on while I work around the house. When I want music, I go on Soundcloud, which I do from my laptop because of technical reasons. And lo, now my laptop is on every day, and I can just decide to write a little something or do other blog maintenance and it feels so much easier.

Brains are weird.

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!

who is Gawan?

I’ve mentioned Gawan’s identity in passing before, but this time I think I’m dropping that name for good.

When we first met online and started corresponding, it was too early to even mention him because it might not have amounted to anything worth talking about. When it started to become significant and my thoughts were in a whirl, I wanted to talk about it but not where he or Wolf could read about it, so I wrote privately. Eventually things settled down and writing didn’t feel so pressing anymore.

When I did start writing about him, a little obfuscation seemed appropriate, so I asked him to select a pseudonym for use here.

After some time we realised that it wasn’t a problem if people made the connection so we stopped concealing things quite so thoroughly. We figured someone would work it out and so maintained pseudonymity but started deliberately dropping hints, sometimes really obvious ones, as part of the game. A few people worked it out eventually, but since we hadn’t said anything they stayed discreet too, even after we turned up together at Eroticon 2017. The game got stale.

Is there any need to continue to conceal his regular pseudonym with the one I’ve been using here? None that we can see, beyond my natural tendency to play things close to the vest and the fact that it has become habit. And since we’ve established a strong relationship and he’s about to collar me, it now feels inauthentic to me to keep hiding it.

My lover and dominant is Jaime Mortimer, who blogs here (where he had been calling me Gretel).

My need for truth and accuracy has turned this blog into a tool of self-discovery, which has been a real benefit to me. If I’m worried that a detail is too revealing, I either won’t mention it at all or I’ll make it obviously vague. That’s not how Jaime’s blog works though, so just FYI, you can’t assume that any specific detail he mentions about me is necessarily accurate.

In less than a week, I’ll be going to visit him again. Our first three visits were all big on travel, but this time our adventures will all be close to (or at) home. I’m very much looking forward to it.

why I post photos of myself

When I first started posting photos, I couldn’t really explain why I chose to do so except at a superficial level. I had an example in Hyacinth’s blog (the first sex blog I followed), and in particular the Boobday posts, in which other people submit their sexy (though not always bare) photos. Although I gave the matter a lot of thought, it wasn’t a particularly analytical process, which for me is unusual. I really didn’t know why I wanted to, just that I did. So I went ahead and started posting. It felt right and still does.

Now that I’ve been posting for a while, I have a little more insight into my motivations.

My body image has been somewhat out of sync with reality, and I definitely had self-esteem issues when I was younger, not all of which are completely healed. I tend to look for flaws in the mirror — but it seems that I look for beauty through the lens. And when I look for it, I start to find it. Without my ever having set about it deliberately, photography has become an exercise in mindfulness and gratitude for my body.

When I post the photos to my blog, I start to get a little bit of distance and see them more objectively. It’s even better when people comment, because they often draw my attention to things I didn’t notice or think of. I really enjoy getting those different perspectives.

I like to create and share beautiful images. I’ve always had an artistic eye but I’ve never had an outlet that I found so satisfying. I like line and form, proportion and balance, negative space. I like value contrast but not color contrast — I prefer black and white, and when working with color, I like an almost monochrome palette.

I’m also enjoying photography as a way of exploring my sensuality — on both sides of the camera.

Of course, it’s a bit of an ego stroke if someone finds me attractive. This, in conjunction with an internally motivated improvement of my opinion regarding my looks, which in turn is reinforced by my partner’s compliments, all act together with the result that I now actually feel sexy. I’ve never really felt that before — I never allowed myself to because of my (now defused) fear of sex. I feel like I’m now fully inhabiting my body in a way that I never have before.

Yet all of these things are things that I figured out after posting photos for the better part of 6 months. So what was the original motivation?

Simply that I wanted to, I think, and nothing more complex than that. But my understanding of that notion has deepened.

In an earlier draft of this post (which I’ve been trying to write for months), I wrote “I’m not an exhibitionist, but…” But then it was pointed out to me that posting the photos is a kind of exhibitionism. This simply hadn’t occurred to me; I didn’t identify with the term, which is sometimes defined as “a person who behaves in an extravagant way in order to attract attention.”  As a sensitive introvert, behaving extravagantly for attention is the polar opposite of how I behave. It can also be defined as public or semi-public exposure, and while I’m sharing the photos publicly, I’m taking them privately: I don’t want people’s eyes on me. I just wanted to put a few photos out there.

So, hi all. I’m Zoë and, I suppose, I’m a reclusive exhibitionist.