Tag Archive: getting physical


So, below, is a fairly large excerpt from this other post I wrote for Urban Meliad as part of the New Year New You Experiment in Radical Magical Transformation (if you’re a Woo Person, you may want to give it a go yourself). Given the subject matter, I thought it was appropriate to post it over here, as well.
As a heads up, I’m talking a little bit about dissociative things I do in (some) sexual situations but I’m not getting into discussions or depictions of sexual trauma. Also, I talk a bunch about tarot cards which might be a little out of left-field here, but is context-appropriate for the way I’m doing the Experiment over at Urban Meliad.
Onwards!
 
 
The first time I looked at the Osho Zen depiction of the Queen of Cups (Receptivity), what I saw in her double-helix-stemmed lotus blossom body was the Chalace (Brittish Traditional Wiccan style, in case you missed the metaphor). I keep thinking about the message to Slow Down from back in early April, and about not being as in my body as I thought I was and, maybe it’s because of the afore-mentioned sex-and-money rabbit hole, but I kind of feel like the Hard Thing I’ve been putting off is sex, specifically bottoming in sexual situations. (It’s something I can do, and something that I can enjoy a LOT… but I’m also really out of practice, and the last few times I’ve tried it, things have not ended well. I’ve wound up clinging to my various partners asking them over and over “Are you safe? Are you okay?” – a dissociative Thing where it’s pretty easy to spot what I’m really asking. FML.
I’m fucking tired of it!
 
So I did a Hard Thing the other night, and asked for something sexually specific from someone specific. And the someone specific said Yes.
 
Which you’d think would have been it for the hard part, but you would be wrong!
Turns out, there’s a whole other Hard Part that I didn’t even know was there!
 
So. Working this out:
Brené Brown writes (in The Gifts of Imperfection, iirc) that Joy is one of the most vulnerable feelings out there, and that because of this, people (i.e.: ME) are quick to numb out joy with things like Preemptive Tragedy or by setting up a permanent campsite in the Slaugh of Despond (perpetual, pre-emptive disappointment).
 
Slogging through the internal landscape of what I think I am, and am not, Supposed To feel:
I’m not supposed to want things
OR
I AM supposed to “want things” but only in-so-far as I’m able to psychically predict what other people want to me to want, which I an then present to them like it was all my idea OR Wanting specific things is greedy, and makes you a burden/bother, and you should know better than to be like that
OR
You can WANT things all you like, but actually ASKING for them is heaping social pressure on someone else to do what you want, whether they want to or not, so you might as well just tattoo “rapist” on your forehead and get it over with, you horrible, horrible, self-centred, demanding jerk
 
…Slogging through that stuff is hard. Getting the words out of my mouth is hard. But, for me at least (and in a situation where there was at least a 50% chance of getting a Yes in the first place), it was even harder to get through what came after.
 
The Hard Thing, it turns out, is stopping myself from slamming my own fist down on hope and joy by telling myself All The Stories – stories like:
They’re just saying yes to be ‘nice’ to you, they don’t really want to do this and you should just let them off the hook before you screw this up even worse;
OR
Okay, you’ve asked, and they’ve said yes. Now what happens if you freeze up and reneg on the deal? What happens then, huh? You’ll have Led Them On and then Let Them Down, that’s what! Maybe you should just call the whole thing off before you screw this up even worse.
 
The hard part is staying open, and it took recognizing the feeling as one I’d had before (over a year ago actually, back when C first said they were interested in me and I spent a train-ride home from Toronto wanting to sob my eyes out because I was so full of hope that was trying so hard to turn into despair) for me to figure out what was happening.
Maybe if (when?) I feel that feeling again, I’ll be able to recognize it and tell myself: “Wait! This isn’t something that you have to squash! Stay hopeful! Stay open! This is already going somewhere good!”
 
Staying open felt like being filled up to overflowing (with something really positive), feeling a little overwhelmed and like I needed to dial things back or else Something Would Go Wrong… But it didn’t, in and of itself, feel bad. And staying emotionally open had some er… pleasant side-effects on the physical front? Yay? 🙂
 
I think that feeling – brim-full and possibly overflowing, but able to accept that more is coming – is the Queen of Cups Feeling.
 
I read something in Healing Sex (which I’d forgotten I’d bought years ago and in-which I’d already made a bunch of notes) the other day, about how as you push through barriers, you are going to feel all the uncomfortable, crappy feelings all over again, and you’re going to have to figure out which of those uncomfortable (emotional and/or phsyical) sensations are crappy-and-triggering because you don’t like them, versus which ones are uncomfortable but actually okay (like: If you try to stop yourself from getting turned on because of bad experiences or feelings around getting turned on during a Bad Situation, it’s okay to continue with a Good Situation, even if you are trying not to get turned on, and you might be able to let yourself get turned on in those Good Situations eventually). This reminds me a little of that.
 
Learning (or remembering?) how to discern which Intense Feelings mean “stop” versus which ones mean “keep going”, rather than treating all of them as “This is Too Intense! ACK!” is… kind of a big deal? I feel kind of like I’ve had a penny-drop moment, albeit probably one that’s going to involve a lot of practicing before it becomes something I can do without having to talk myself thorugh it on a concious level. (Although talking myself through “stay hopeful, stay open” in the emotional sense is actually a mega-tonne easier than talking myself through “stay in your body, don’t over-think everything” in the physical sense has ever, ever been, possibly for obivous reasons).
 
I have a chunk of rose quartz tucked into my bra, near my heart. I have Plans for this, but one of them is a little bit of self-glamoury to keep some love-for-me close at hand when I need it.
Touching on the Two of Cups again [EDIT: this is the tarot card I chose to represent this prompt over at UM for a bunch of reasons which you can read all about in the original. /EDIT], the Mary-El version, as Beth Maiden puts it, depicts the “[…J]oy of emotional connection, the sublimity of blending energies[…]”. Of offering and accepting and receiving and offering back; of feeding each other.
I want to do this with my partner(s).
I want to build on this and keep opening.
 
 
Cheers,
Ms Syren.

In My Body… Or Not

I started taking singing lessons when I was seven. When your body is your instrument, you need to be in it all the way. Now I work as a model, and being aware of my body as it exists in space, is a big part of the job. I have (relatively minor) back and joint pain that, for the most part, just doesn’t go away.
You would think that this would mean that it’s easy – maybe not always pleasant, but easy – for me to be In my body all the way.
I’ve actually prided myself on the assumption that I am In my body all the way, and that it’s easy for me to do, that it’s normal or second nature.
… And I realized about a month ago that this is not the case. Not really.
 
I realized that the part of my body that I occupy, that I think of as “me”, that I can be In without having to think about it or work at it is… not very much. It’s the part from my arm-pits up. Sometimes I go a little lower than that – although that might also just be an awareness of where my bra sits all the time? – but the part of me that I think of as “me” is… my arms and hands, my neck, my shoulderblades and traps (at least the tops of them), my shoulders, my neck, my face, my scalp, my head.
It explains a lot.
 
Like why I tend to Notice other people from about the same point up and don’t pay a tonne of attention to the rest until after I’ve decided “Oh, I think that person is pretty”.
Like why I like going down on my lovers to the degree that I do, and (okay, there’s more than one reason for this) it’s so much easier to have someone’s junk in my mouth than in my cunt.
Like why my lovers feel “so far away” when their hands/mouths/attention are focused below my waist.
Like why kissing is SO Amazing and is my favourite part of sex.
Like why wrapping my arms around someone feels so intimate.
 
So here I am, going “Ohhh…” and wondering how to change that. How to be a whole-body experience all the time.
Suggestions welcome.
 
 
TTFN,
Ms Syren.

Just… Call Me Becky?

So, I popped over to Kink of the Week today, and what should the topic turn out to be?
Bums.
So I decided to talk about bums.
Because, to my continual (for some reason) surprise, I am a bit of an Ass Lady.
I say “surprise” because (a) I’m deeply ambivalent about my own butt, and also (b) I’m not butt-oriented in general… and yet… Honestly? Three girlfriends in? I’m noticing a pattern. ‘Cause every one of them has (a) had a great ass, but also (b) had said great ass totally captivate me on many an occasion.
Goodness.
Just amazing.
You know “callipygian”? “Having a shapely behind”? It’s that. All of my lady-loves have had these gorgeous, curvy, meaty rear-ends that I just want to get my hands on and my face into.
Who knew?
Not me, apparently.
I mean, gods know I have A Type, even if I don’t always date to it.
And yet: bodacious asses.
Can’t complain.
 

Hey there.
So one of my partners and I were fooling around the other day, and she wanted to check in to see if I was up for something a little more hot and heavy than making out for the sake of making out. The way she asked was… a little awkward, to say the least, but it gave me some Useful Information about my own sexuality and what my pacing is like. So, in true Challenger Generation[1] fashion, I’ve decided to talk about it on the internet.
 
See, one of my Nearest and Dearest identifies as Grey-A, and we’ve talked about it using the metaphore of “mainland” and “island”. It goes like this:
Non-sexual interactions take place on the mainland. Sexual interactions take place on the island. (This is where the metaphor starts getting a little bit clunky, but bear with me). Most people live on the mainland, most of the time (some people live on the island, most of the time, but that’s another story) and, if they want to have a sexual interaction with somebody, they need to take the bridge across to the island.
With me so far?
My Grey-A Interlocutor says that, for her, there is no bridge. She either has wings that day (and can fly across the water, which is also tiring) or she doesn’t, in-which-case the island might as well not exist no matter how much she wants to get over there.
For non-ace-spectrum folks, it’s more like “how does a given person cross this bridge?”
Which is what I wanted to talk about.
 
I figure that, for some people, there’s the mental/emotional/cellular-leve equivalent of a shuttle bus that goes by every 10 minutes if you happen to want to hop on and go to Sex Island for a quick stop-over or an afternoon of fun. For others, there might not be a shuttle bus, but maybe they can phone a private car that will, at a moment’s notice, turn up to collect them and deliver them to their destination in style and comfort. For still others, there might be a swaying, rickity footbridge of rope and half-rotted planks, and getting to Sex Island means edging along above turbulent waters, one very-carefully-placed step at a time, with a lot of safety precautions in play… and they might still have to abort the mission unexpectedly.
 
In my case, my footbridge is no-longer the swaying death-trap it once was (Woohoo!!!), but it’s still a long-ass bridge and it takes a fucking while to cross it. Like, yes, sure, sometimes – as with OC Transpo, funily enough! – I can catch a bus when I’m part-way across and the stars have properly alligned, and yes, sure, like all good bridges, it has a bit of an arc to it, so things move a little faster and more easily once I’m past the halfway point, but generally speaking I’m getting to Sex Island on foot, at walking pace[2].
 
Which is good to know.
As in: It’s information I can give a partner.
 
For Example:
 
“I’m totally down for beating the fuck out of you, but I need you to be gentle and receptive about how gradually I do the build-up, because this is also the warm-up for me, and I’m a better, more solid and less literally-shakey, top when I don’t rush myself by trying to get to your desired intensity-level faster than I’m actually comfortable with”.
OR
“I’m definitely up for switching sexually, but are you cool with taking the Bottom spot first? That way, I can warm myself up while I’m doing Wonderful Things to you, and I’ll be ready for you by the time we trade places.”
OR
“I’d love to [receive intense-for-me genetal play] but, before that can happen, I’m going to need a solid hour[3], give or take, of slow, full-body carresses, deep kissing, and breathing each other’s pheremones.”
 
 
I like the footbridge metaphor. It helps explain (to myself, if to nobody else) why so many of my “reliable go-to” sexual activities are the kind of “still a virgin” things that geeky-nerdy kids (and probably other kids?) do when they’re not quite emotionally/mentally ready for Actual Fucking, but definitely have all the hormones and neurons and what-not to be physically into it. Things like making out and sensual massage and fooling around with our clothes still on and cuddling & whispering together and, okay, also hanging out together in the miniature hot tub and nuru-gel wrestling in the inflate-a-pool. But you get the idea. I may not know how to turn wrestling into sex, the way S. Bear Bergman describes it in his essay, “Brother Dog”, but – if someone wants to get there with me – I definitely know how to turn cuddling and gentle closeness into sex. It’s the road I know best. I may walk it at a heartbeat pace, but it gets me there every time.
 
 
TTFN,
Ms Syren.
 
 
[1] you can blame/thank Catherynne M. Valente for that term – though I can’t find the post where she first used it. (There’s a handy definition here, though).
 
[2] I’ve tried to get there at a run on so many occasions, and it mostly just means that I get tired half-way across and need to straight-up stop, or else I get to Sex Island only to realize that I’ve got a stitch in my side and everything hurts and I need to catch my breath and just… enjoying myself now that I’m here isn’t going to be easy.
 
[3] Maybe more, depending on the day and/or how long it’s been since I’ve seen you.

Taking a bit of a different tack today. So far, this year, I’ve managed to talk about Poly or D/s during my GGBP posts. Today, howver, I’m looking at safer sex.
Specifically, and having just done this myself, I’m reminding folks to check the expiry dates on your safer sex supplies. I had a whole bunch roll past their use-by dates recently. My hook-up kit (which, admitedly, doesn’t get a tonne of use) is re-stocked with stuff that’s not going to expire until 2016 or later. I feel a whole lot better.
 
As a side note: You don’t actually have to throw away expired condoms. You can use them on personal-use-only toys – you might want to do this if your toys are porous or otherwise tricky to clean, or to protect your silicone toys if you prefer silicone lube. Just… don’t get them mixed up with the stuff that’s still within its use period.
 
Look. It’s not the end of the world to use expired latex (and non-latex) barriers during sex – way better to use them than to use nothing. But the risk of having your barrier fail – tear, break, lose flexibility, lose potency (if we’re talking about spermicidally-lubed stuff) etc – gets higher the further past the expiration date something gets. So, if you’ve got the option of using, er, fresher materials… do so.
 
On a related note: Yeah, you can generally pick up free roll-on condoms in any CHC bathroom or Q/T community info fair. But if you’re wondering where to find affordable insertable condoms and oral dams – both of which can be a tad on the prohibitavely expensive side, expecially when you’re broke – turn to agencies like Planned Parenthood Ottawa and the ACO who give them away for free as part of their respective mandates.
NOTE: If you’re looking for fisting kits – which tend to contain nitril gloves rather than latex ones – I know that the AIDS Committee of Toronto supplies them, but I don’t know if anyone in Ottawa does. (Commenters? Want to throw some information out here?)
 
Anyway. That’s your PSA for the day.
 
 
TTFN,
Ms Syren.

At the moment, between knitting and sewing and cooking and trying to write a novel, I’m working my way through reading Radical Ecstasy. I’m not quite halfway through, but I wanted to talk about some stuff that’s coming up.
Radical Ecstasy was published about ten years ago – it’s an oldy but a goody, as they say – and it’s about using S/M techniques to reach ecstatic states.
… Sort of.
 
It’s about rough sex as religious/spiritual experience;
It’s about building western style tantra techniques into kink and pain-play scenes;
It’s about sado/masochism as sex/magic as sacred/mystery;
It’s about sex and kink and woo.
 
Right up my alley in other words.
 
I love the woo that I find in my leather community. I love the discussions that come up at leather women’s brunch, talking about a particular colour of blue and how it matches from person to person to person even though it shows up in different ways and for different reasons, it means the same thing. The way people get cuttings or brandings to commemorate something important to them. The way we can have quiet conversations about I think I might be a vampire and where to find sustainable sources of food.
I love listening to Lee Harrington talk about energy and sacred sexuality on his podcasts, and poking my head into the kinky spirit-workers’ blogosphere to see what the Tashlins and other folks of that ilk are up to. I love Barbara Carrellas’ work on ecstatic states as necessary to human well-being.
 
But trying to translate that work into my own life is… harder for me than I was expecting.

Again and again, the message comes back to me: Slow Down!
And, again and again, I ignore it. I rush and push; reach for the vibrator and forget to breath; try to move too fast out of fear that I’ll run out of energy, run out of steam, before I can get her into the Blue; try to hit those high notes without warming up first; lose patience with myself and flip my girl so that she doesn’t have to wait (and wait, and wait, and wait) for me to maybe get off. Embarrassed by my less-than-reliable “results”, as if there had ever been any goal beyond getting each other naked and hot, awake and aroused, hooked into each other with all our nerve endings singing.
 
I have to slow down.
 
I have to push through (or away from) the shame and the fear of not having enough or being enough, of wanting too much or not being able to follow it all the way through.
I have to remember that she’ll crave, in her body, the pain that feeds me if I work her skin up to it sloooooowly. I have to remember that I will have the energy reserves to keep it up if I actually give myself a warm-up, too.
 
There’s vulnerability here. In the slowness, in the warming up and working up. The fearsome chance that I’ll crack my voice, get too tired, resent the amount of time/work/energy this is taking/draining from me… and not see it through. That it, or I, won’t be as good as I once was.
 
A zillion years ago, I read The Mists of Avalon. This is relevant, I promise. There’s a point in the story where the main character has been away from her Practice for a number of years and is finally trying to get back into it, to get it back into her. During this time, she has to count “painfully, on her fingers” in order to remember which direction she needs to be facing on which day, in order to work her daily devotions back into her muscle memory, her body.
This feels like that.
The fear of Doing It Wrong, of not being good enough, of having lost “too much”, of not being able to do X or Y or Z “anymore” just because I’m rusty. The shame around needing to relearn this technique, that breath, that patience with myself. The fear that, if I let myself open up, that I’ll just cry and cry and cry and not find ecstasy, not find my power, not find joyful release… just fall into a bottomless pit of grief and not be able to pull myself out unless I stop feeling again.
 
This is, I think, clearly about more than “just sex” at this point. But it’s all tied up together. Sex, death, music, ritual, orgasm, scene, power, magic… It’s all part and parcel of the same flow. And I think a lot of it, a lot of getting it back and making it something I can reach for without a lot of angst, comes back to breath and patience, to slowing down. To having the will to wait it out, to warm myself (and my partner) up appropriately. To open myself, with each breath, unblock and unfreeze and let wonder back in. Let magic come through again.

Okay.
So maybe this is going to be a little weird.
 
A while back (long while back, now) I wrote a post about some of the stuff that came up during “Slutriot” (a twitter-chat that I participated in, back in August). I wrote most of the post on the subject of whorestigma and how “whore” is a threat (of stigma, but also of violence, of “you’ll get what you deserve”) used specifically to police specifically women’s sexuality, even as it’s also a job description that applies to people of numerous genders. I wrote about how I don’t want to throw the gender diversity of sexworkers under the bus in order to address the sexism and misogyny that deeply tangled in the roots of whorestigma, but that I also don’t want to lose sight of those roots by saying things like “men, women, and non-binary people involved in the sex industry” when, disproportionally, it is cis women and trans women who work in the industry and, disproportionately, it is cis women and trans women who bear the brunt of whorestigma and whorephobia, and who get murdered on the job.
 
And I feel a little bit like that about Day of Action on Violence Against Women. Because I know women who have been seriously fucked up due to their female abusers’ actions. Hell, I’m married to one of them. I’m aware of how “sisterhood is powerful” can be twisted up with fears of rape-you-straight dyke-bashing and an over-arching cultural assumption that “women are passive” (and therefore not violent) to result in both a huge amount of under-reporting and, I suspect, a huge amount of dismissal of reports (see also “How we teach our kids that women are liars” although that doesn’t just apply to queer women), with regards to queer women’s violence against other queer women.
 
And yet.
 
Incidents of violence against women do not occur in a vacuum.
When the polytechnique masacre happened (in 1989 – 24 years ago this December 6th), there was a lot of talk about how it was a “lone madman”, of how the shooter was “crazy”. And very little about how this event was an extreme manifestation of a systematic problem.
A man murdering women because they had something that he felt entitled to and resented them for having and not giving up?
That happens all the time.
We live in a culture that says women are worth less than men, that our needs should take a back seat to their wants.
 
Of the 230 domestic homicides in Ontario between 2002 and 2007, 92% were committed by men and only 8% by women, according to the Ontario Domestic Violence Death Review Committee.[1]
 
83% of all police-reported domestic assaults are against women. This pattern is consistent for every province and territory across Canada. (emphasis mine)
 
…There’s a derailing technique where the derailer basically says “But _____________ gets done to X, too!”[2]
 
It’s not “derailing” to point out that violence against women is sometimes committed by other women. But, as much as women’s violence against women needs to be recognized as a real thing, I think that part of the point of marking December 6th as a day of rememberance and action on violence against women, is to be aware of – and to work against – the systemic gender-based inequalities that make murdering us a viable option for “conflict resolution” by the almost-always-men who claim to love us.
 
 
Just some thoughts.
Ms Syren.
 
 
[1] Click that link for a discussion of how intersecting marginalizations further increase women’s vulnerability to domestic violence.
 
[2] You see it made fun of by people mock-wailing “But what about teh menz???!”, for example.

Lusty Lady Links

Hey all,
 
Just a quick fly-by post to commemorate the passing of a sex-positivity icon: SF’s Lusty Lady.
 
Most of the experience-based sex-work anthologies I’ve read have included at least one essay by someone who worked at the Lusty Lady. For a long time, I understood the Lusty purely as a place that sex-positive feminists went to work (for however long) in order to prove that they were serious about this sex-poisitivity stuff. The possibility that you could be a sexworker who was also a sex-positive feminist, or a sex-positive feminist who did sexwork for reasons like paying the rent (rather than to prove you were SRS BZNZ on campus), hadn’t quite sunk in yet. :-\
 
In any case. Here we go:
 
A Brief History of The Lusty Lady (SF Lusty Lady’s official site)
 
Coolest Strip Club Ever, Closes With Fun Funeral (photo-essay chez Jezebel)
 
The Language of the Lusty Lady (accademic paper, posted by Peepshow Princess)
 
AND
 
What It Was Like to Work at the Lusty Lady (article in The Atlantic)
 
Enjoy! 😀

I love this.
 
I know it’s an ad. I know that not everybody’s cycle is as clockwork like as this ad (and, well, our entire culture) makes it out to be. I know that we’re really supposed to laugh at the megalomaniacal Camp Gyno. But I love it anyway.
I love that there’s a little kid talking openly to her friends about vaginas and menstruation. And saying “vag” and “menstruation”. With glee. And demonstrations. I love (love love) the Red Badge of Courage. I even love that whoever started this company sends you *chocolate* on your period. Like it’s something to look forward to. 🙂
 

Throwing this up here. It’s an interview with Barbara Carrellas about her book, Ecstasy is Necessary: A Practical Guide. She talks a lot about ecstatic experiences, the problem with narrowly defining what constitutes “erotic”, and the whole notion of Being Present in a given moment/experience. I thought it was worth sharing. 🙂