Archive for thinking out loud

the Hindi saved me

So this is kind of off the usual subjects.

And kind of, as usual, not.

My Hindi saved me today.

Now to understand the absurdity of that, you have to understand that I have not spoken Hindi with any kind of regularity for over a decade, and have never ever been proficient, much less fluent.

To understand the logic, you must know that I am in Portugal.  And I speak a little French, but no Portugese except please and thank you.

So today, I decided to have an adventure.  And in adventuring, I walked to the next town over, which is farther than I expected.  I bought a real fish (pictures posted tonight, probably) with its guts still in (and then when they offered to clean it I said yes), and some cilantro and savoy cabbage.  And then I needed a taxi back to my hotel so I would have time for lunch before class.

Only I don’t speak enough Portugese to ask for a taxi.  And the helpful people and I couldn’t pantomime sufficiently.  So…I was in a pickle.

I was looking around for some way to figure out the taxi problem.  The center of town, where I believe there is supposed to be a taxi stand, was nowhere to be found.  One sign pointed left, and the other pointed right.  But there was no taxi stand or anything else in the middle.  The lady at the restaurant didn’t understand my interpretive dance.  There were very few people on the street.  And it was about to rain.

And lo!  There it was!

A tiny little Indian market.

So I went in and looked around. It mostly carried regular Portugese stuff–cookies and bottled water and so on–but they man at the counter looked Indian.

So I asked,

“Ap Hindi boliye?”

Do you speak Hindi?

(It’s a badly constructed sentence.  But I KNEW it had enough of the right words in the right places to be understood.  More than I could say for my Portugese.)

Si

(yes.  In Portugese.  Whew.)

Hum ko chaiye ek taxi.

(I want a taxi.  I think that sentence is even constructed right.)

He asked where to.  I had to ask him to repeat it.  I don’t remember how to say it in Hindi, but he did.

I told him.

He told me there’s a bus… and then realized that I really just wanted a taxi.

He called me a taxi.

And while I waited, I bought Indian groceries–spices, chickpea flour, and dal.

When it came, I ran out and hopped in, calling “Obrigado!” over my shoulder, just as it started to rain.

Thank you.  Thank you shopkeeper, thank you taxi driver, thank you serendipity or universe or happy coincidence.  Thank you for my trip to India; thank you for playfulness and creativity and for the fresh fish and food I now have for dinner.

Who knew?

Hindi.  In Portugal.

You really never know.

belt sander: no thanks

beltsander

Dear ones, I have an unpopular opinion.

I don’t like belt sanders for sex.

Seems obvious, no?

But here’s the thing: an awful lot of women like the Hitachi Magic Wand.  They swear by it.  They say it’s the best/fastest/only way they get off.  And I’m the first to be behind that.  After all, if you know what you like, absolutely, positively, go for it!

Let me say that again: if you like the Hitachi Magic Wand (or anything else safe and legal)…awesome!

For me, however, it feels like a belt sander.  It’s beyond overstimulating.  It is painful.  As in, ow.  And I can’t tell you how many people have informed me that if I just took the time to get used to it, that I would like it.

So I need to say this:

I don’t want to get used to it.

I don’t want to like it.  I don’t want to become numb or desensitized or bored with other things.  I don’t want my partner to have to work harder when we make love.  I don’t want to lose my hearing by listening to painfully loud music, and I don’t want to make my clit less responsive by using a vibrator that overwhelms me.  My body is fine the way it is.

And so is yours.  And really, no one should be pressuring anyone else about it.

If you’re in a relationship there can be conversation, of course, and negotiation, and discussion.  There can be hope and requests.  But that’s not the same as telling someone what they should like.

If someone I love likes it in the bedroom, I’m all for it…for them.

But I’ll keep my belt sander in my woodshop.

exes and gratitude

I have, like most people my age, a bunch of exes.

And like most people my age, I’ve had my share of tough breakups.

But I was talking to my sweetheart and a couple of friends last night (we were discussing how many sex partners we’d each had.  Very educational.  And good to practice so when you go to have That Safer Sex Talk with a new partner your history is fresh in your mind) and you know?  I think I’ve learned at least one useful thing from every single one of them.

When the breakup first happens, and you’re fighting over toasters and blenders and the really awesome sex toys (admit it, there was that one that you didn’t want to let go*) it’s hard to see it.  But there’s something in there.

I have learned:

  • to stand my ground, especially when my health is involved
  • how to pay attention to my body
  • that I’m a really good lover
  • that I have limits
  • how to enjoy being sexy and having power
  • not to settle for half-assed relationships
  • what it means to be sought-after, and what it means to be the seeker
  • to be playful
  • how to be head of household
  • how and when to compromise
  • the pleasure of seduction
  • that I prefer sex in relationships to sex outside of them

What have you learned?

* Some people say the toys should hit the trash at the end of every relationship.  Unless the toys are inextricably entwined with the toxicity of a bad breakup, that’s ridiculous.  Good toys are expensive and can be sterilized.  Get a friend who does energy clearing and clean them up, body and soul.   Hang onto them for a while.  If they’re still making you sad after six months or a year, get rid of them.  But otherwise…the best possible outcome is pleasure.  And why shouldn’t it be yours?

election hangover

image by Maja Dumat some rights reserved http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/

image by Maja Dumat some rights reserved http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/

I’m a liberal.  I’m sure that’s a shock to most of you, given what I do for a living. *grin* We’re all entitled to our own beliefs, so if you believe differently, I really do believe in your right to live that way and certainly to vote that way.  That’s what democracy is about.

But if you’ll indulge me for a moment, I’m going to talk about election hangover.  And really, this goes for everyone, just not this election cycle.

First: the pendulum swings.  Back and forth, over and over, if you can identify a polarity, the pendulum will move between the endpoints.  It’s physics.  It’s history.  Go take a look.

Second: when the election doesn’t go your way, you have a choice.  I went to the polls yesterday without much hope; I’m actually pleased that the vote here in Maine was as close as it was.  But in some ways, a miss is as good as a mile.  Leadership  I liked is mostly out, leadership I disagree vehemently with is mostly in.  So when that happens, what?

Be the change you wish to see in the world.

Gandhi was right.

Culture changes from the inside out; it is ALWAYS a grassroots movement.  If what you want isn’t happening, it’s because the majority of people out there are believing and living differently from the way you are.  (Or they’re not voting.  That’s a whole different post.)  If you want to change people’s hearts, I honestly don’t believe that happens with massive protests or boycotts; it doesn’t happen in big, loud, public ways.  People don’t respond well to being shouted at.

It happens, instead, one person at a time.  It happens one breath at a time.  It starts with you: living the way you believe.  It starts with you: standing up for what’s right.  It starts with you: holding yourself and people close to you accountable for their behavior; getting curious; asking questions; loving people despite the differences.  It starts with you: being a good example.  It starts with you: changing yourself incrementally, being one flame in the darkness.

Ever watch a candlelight vigil begin at dusk?

First it’s one candle.

Then two.

Then three.

Then tens.

Then fifty or a hundred, and the glow lights up the sky.

It’s time to light your candle.

**

If you need help or support to do it, find people. Find community, find friends, go online. Get a coach; call me or go see Leah–don’t let a sense of isolation or overwhelm keep you from shining. We–the rest of us–need you now more than ever.

shopping

IMG_6314

some people love to shop

some people hate it.

this one is for Johnny.

for Johnny
who needs pants

may you be strong and may you have courage
may you breathe twice, respond once;
may you have exactly the right response
to every sales clerk
and every passer-by.

May you sing out yes
when they hips and the waist
nip and tuck to show you off
exactly the way you wanted
may you be pleasantly surprised
at least three times
and laugh easily
when you could cry easily
but not because you are faking it
–may you never fake it;
may the subterfuge be a game and a pleasure,
a wink and a nod,
a kiss and tell the whole story
because it’s too good to leave out the details.

May you shine as exactly who you are
may you love who you see in the mirror
exactly who
exactly right
with the right pants.

stress. and a dog.

scamp

I spend a lot of time with a pretty neurotic dog.  I love him.  He’s wonderful.  He is sweet and always has to have something in his mouth and prefers it when everyone in the house is in the same room.

And he can’t go down hallways.  He stands at the end and whines and whimpers and shifts from one foot to another much like a small child who needs to pee but has been told not to move.  He seems miserable.  Truly, completely absorbed in being unhappy.

At first I didn’t know how to help him.

Then I discovered that all he needed was support and encouragement.  And not too much pressure.  If I shout or get annoyed, he gets stuck and can’t move.

If I talk to him in a calm and encouraging tone of voice, he gears up and then dashes down the hall to freedom.

He’s a lot like the inner little kid that lots of us carry around.  We’re scared.  We want something, but we can’t overcome the fear.  Shout at the inner kid, tell it that it shouldn’t be scared, get impatient, and the inner kid will Not Move An Inch.

But be almost nonchalant, tell the kid that it’s gonna be okay, tell the kid, “It’s okay, you can do it!” and then walk away with the expectation that the kid will move, and presto-changeo, the resistance vanishes faster than a popsicle in July.

Useful pattern to notice.

shame and silence are deadly

watch

It’s been a bad month.  Six kids killed themselves because they were bullied, because they were gay.

Six kids.

It’s beyond tragic, because that’s six totally preventable suicides.  Six deaths that happened because our culture is such a mess when it comes to sex.  Sex is supposed to be about pleasure, about joy, about celebration, about intimacy.  Sex connects people and sometimes creates life.  Sex is closely linked to creativity and leads to relaxation.  Human sexuality is good stuff.

There’s no reason for us to be ashamed of who we are.  The cornerstones of good sex have nothing to do with the gender of your sex partner.  The vast majority of sexual acts are not gendered–good sex happens because of consent and communication and skill, not particular body parts.

And who we love is even more tender, even more delicate, even more complicated.

When we create shame and silence around who we are, or around the ways in which we have been bullied, we feed a culture of destruction that keeps us from claiming our own identities in public; it forces us to lie, which creates spaces where we are stifling ourselves and not holding space for others like us.  Our responsibility to speak out is more than a gift to ourselves–it is a duty to those who follow us.

I am many things: out queer, liberal, clergy, sexuality coach and educator, person of color.  Those things are part of who I am and I don’t have to apologize for that.  There is space for all of us in the world.  And if you’re young and queer and struggling: it does get better.

the big question

sweetness beginning

If you’re a parent, the big question might be, “Where do babies come from?”

If you’re dating, the big question probably involves marriage.

Or sex, if you’re a virgin.

But if you’re a business owner,  the big question is this:

What’s your game? What do you do?

Why do you do it? Do you love it, or do you just have one of those creepy knacks?

Who are your customers? What kind of people would need or want what you offer?

What’s your marketing USP? Why should I buy from you instead of the other losers?

What’s next for you? What’s the big plan?

Naomi Dunford over at IttyBiz challenged everyone to answer them.

So:

What’s your game? What do you do?

I help people feel good about sex.  I get you past shame and fear and fatigue and boredome and into exploring and laughing and playing and confidence.  I help you figure out what you want, how to talk about it, and how to get more of it in your life.  I do sex ed and coaching for people who want adventure but aren’t sure how to get there; for people who want to be Good, Giving, and Game but are at a loss about where to start.

Why do you do it? Do you love it, or do you just have one of those creepy knacks?

I love it.  I love helping people open doors and climb through windows; I love seeing possibilities unfold; I love helping people go from feeling trapped to feeling unlimited.

Who are your customers? What kind of people would need or want what you offer?

My customers are life-experienced.  They’ve been around the block a time or two.  They’ve been in relationships; they’ve had some bad times and some good ones.  They are in a relationship and looking to spice it up or are reentering the dating world and finding their feet.

What’s your marketing USP? Why should I buy from you instead of the other losers?

I offer nonjudgemental, no-agenda, safe space to figure out what you want.  I’m an educator and a coach; I have seen and heard it all.  You’ won’t shock me, and I don’t buy into the traditional “50 ways to get a man” ideals.  My coaching is about you: who you are, what you desire, and how you would like to get there.  It’s about dignity and creativity and fun!  I’m playful and informative and challenging without being boring or sleazy.  And I’m only pushy when I need to call bullshit to get you moving.

What’s next for you? What’s the big plan?

Downloads and workshops.  How to talk to your kids, your lover, and your long-lost best friend about sex.  And your bagel.  Also help with other hard conversations, like money and good communication skills, in institutions and organizations as well as solo.

Here’s Naomi’s whole post on this thing.  Even if you’re not an entrepreneur, it’s a good question.  What do YOU do?

culture

I was just over at Havi’s and got to thinking about culture.  She’s got a company culture that I like a lot–lots of things like amnesty and destuckification and playfulness with powerful underpinnings.  She doesn’t run her place like most people run their places, and it’s just exactly perfect for her.  And for lots of other people, too.  It feels safe without being wimpy.

And then I got to thinking about our culture, North American, or maybe more accurately American culture, and how we got all messed up about sex and how much the expectations of the people around us impact the decisions and choices we think we can make.  For example: we can’t choose the family structures we might like best because of what our friends or children’s friends’ parents or employers will think.  Or we can but we have to hide it.  We can’t like sex or we can’t not want to have sex because someone we know will think it’s wrong or weird or slutty or frigid.  We can’t declare ourselves on touch sabbatical or indulge in a month long cuddle fest where everyone is encouraged to hug us all the time, because someone might get weirded out or think we’re coming on to them.

What the fuck?

I mean seriously, folks.  Why can’t we make space in our heads for other people to take good care of their own needs without feeling like we have to make them wrong?

Usually when people make other people wrong about something that doesn’t actually affect them it’s because they’re scared.

Scared of change, or scared of being wrong ourselves.  Or scared of getting hurt.

We’re living in a culture of fear around sex and bodies.  And sometimes there’s a lot of resistance to changing that.  It makes it hard to break out, to experiment, to even name what you need or want to someone you like very much.

Havi uses a thing called Very Personal Ads.  I’d like to place one here.

What I Want: I want more places in this world where the culture about sex is so easy that being honest and clear and direct arises naturally.  This way people will be more real and more in touch with their own desires and get more pleasure from their lives and their bodies.

How this could work: I can keep doing this work here.  I can make a downloadable something to make this work more accessible.  I can encourage and support people being real in public.  I can lead by example.  I can keep writing here.

My commitment: to figure out the downloadable thing.  To keep writing.  To do this work.  To keep saying it out loud.  The power of naming is not everything, but it is strong.

when is it real?

rabbit dog no nose

You know that scene in the Velveteen Rabbit, the one where the toy Rabbit asks the toy Horse about being Real and how it happens and whether it hurts?

We all have stuff in our lives like that–pet projects or changes of who we are that are big.  And we start to wonder, “When can I say This Is How it Is?”  Not, “I’m starting to…” or “I’m working on…” or “I’m becoming…” but I AM.

I AM is big.  It’s huge.  “I am who I am” is God-talk, big, space-claiming, identity-turf-staking stuff.  The verb “to be” creates reality as often as it describes it.  And it’s funny, because in our culture we tend to be most comfortable claiming our careers as our self-definitions.  “I AM a doctor.”  Less easy to say, “I am a dancer” if you “only” dance twice a week for a couple of hours in class.  Harder still to say, “I AM a thinker” or “I AM a woods-walker”.  If people are going to think they know what it means to be A Whatever, then we are setting ourselves up to be judged: judged not A Whatever, or not sufficiently However to be a Whatever (not in shape enough to be an athlete, for example).  Other people start creeping into our definition in our heads, and with them comes doubt.

Maybe I’m not A Whatever after all.  Or maybe I’m not even qualified to be A Whatever.  Maybe these voices in my head are right.

And so to you and to them, I say this: You begin by saying it is so.

Not planning to be so, not beginning to be so, but so.  Right now*.  If you are becoming a blogger and you have a blog and you write posts?  You are a blogger.  If you are coming out and sure you should be but you’ve never slept with someone of the same sex?  You are GLBT.  If you are starting a business?  You are a business owner.  It is not like the Velveteen Rabbit.  You don’t have to wait until your stuffing is missing and your eyes are falling off and you have smooth spots all over from being loved.  You will become that way because you are real, and you will be real by living it.  Saying it, meaning it, and making it happen.  Don’t wait for anyone else.  It’s real when you say so.  And the time is now.

What’s your real?

*Unless of course we’re talking law or medicine or something with an entrance requirement and you haven’t passed it yet.