Monthly Archives: March 2014

Where I Land

I noticed something tonight in yoga. I tend to end up somewhere slightly different than where I started. As I learn to listen to myself and make the necessary adjustments throughout the class, I end up a little closer to the wall or farther from it, maybe a bit left or right. Regardless, I’m obviously in a different place. As I lay there at the end for the final relaxation, I realized something else.

That’s part of the point.

And yes, I can already feel a difference. A few poses come a little more easily, my flexibility is increasing. Probably not enough for anyone else to tell but enough for me to tell, enough that I know I need to continue and see how far I can take it. For the first time in my life, I’m actually looking forward to exercising and I’m not actively looking for reasons to get out of it. Last week, when I felt like I was coming down with a cold for most of the week, I was actually disappointed that I couldn’t get back for another class.

That right there is progress.

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The real reason I need a day job

It’s not just the money and steady paycheck.

When I was a kid, my mom used to say that I had wheels on my butt. If she was going out, I wanted to go with. Even if it was a simple run to the post office, I wanted out of the house. In many ways, that hasn’t changed. I get cabin fever quickly if forced to stay at home for days at a time.

But this past weekend, I had a chance to work on my small business and projects for two upcoming conventions virtually nonstop. My girlfriend was out of town and my own plans for visiting my best friend fell through. I planned on going to a different party Saturday night instead.

But even before the snowstorm hit, I wasn’t feeling too keen on leaving the house. I had hit a zone in my work and didn’t really want to go anywhere. The snow ended up being a very convenient excuse to stay in.

I’ve had bouts of feeling anti-social before but not like this. Suddenly, I saw how such an attitude could go on almost indefinitely. At some point I was actually glad I had my office job to return to today so I didn’t turn into a hermit.

I have no comment on whether this was a good or bad thing, only that it was a thing. I’ve seen other creative types fall into this sort of thing and never quite understood it. Now I do. Interesting.

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Dreams

Just in case anyone but me cares. And because I rarely have dreams this vivid that I can remember well enough to write down.

 

First, this one came to me several minutes after waking up – I was still living with my parents. I was younger than I actually am but still older than when I graduated college, as if it had been a few years. But I think I was at my current job. Anyway, I started planning on going back and graduating only to remember that…I already did that. Seems I had taken a couple of years off in the middle. But then I wasn’t even sure of that (in real life, I did no such thing). Eventually I convinced myself that I just needed to get a place of my own. And then began worrying whether I would have enough of a down payment for a house, and whether I wanted a house or an apartment…

 

And then I was trying to find a friend’s house. I got to her town and stopped for dinner and then tried to put her address in my GPS. But it wasn’t an address I remembered (though I’m sure she hasn’t moved) and I couldn’t get my GPS to accept it or give me directions. Eventually I gave up and tried to use the apps on my phone. But I couldn’t get to them or the text message with the address either. I remember thinking that we would have a good laugh once I got there because she had found a way to mess with my electronics from afar.

 

At one point, my girlfriend and I were in a booth at the restaurant and a woman next to us started fondling my stockings. There’s a lot wrong with that sentence, including that I was apparently wearing stockings just to visit a friend where I was most likely only going to talk business again. For some reason I put up with it until she tried to get her husband to feel them too. That’s when I got her to stop, but at that point I was as frustrated at my electronics not working as much as anything.

 

I woke up still trying to get my phone apps to work…and really glad all of that was just dreams.

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Comps

When writing to potential agents, apparently there is the expectation that you will compare your work with others in your genre so they have some idea of what to expect when reading the manuscript. Personally, I think it’s just so they can pigeonhole you but, whatever. One more reason I’m still leaning toward self-publishing actually.

However, were I to write agents, I would very much want to include the following sentence:

“It’s like 50 Shades of Grey with a brain and willing participants.”

I mean let’s face it, any kink novel is going to get compared to it at this point anyway. Why not beat them to the punch? And actually, it’s not a bad description. I’ve drawn a lot from my life and people I’ve known these past seven plus years. Real life. And I’ve done real research into the things I wasn’t sure of.

So there you go. For those who will eventually be reading it…that’s what you can expect.

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Yoga! Yoga! Yoga!

I tried yoga a few years ago. I went with a friend to a big studio and felt…out of place. I didn’t really know the moves, was never really sure I was doing them right, and had no idea that it was okay that I wasn’t on the same level as everyone else.

Sometime after that, I bought a “beginner” DVD hoping it would be easier to try in the privacy of my home, where I could watch someone else do it first. Some of the moves, however, were anything but beginner and I tried it exactly once before giving up again.

And yet, I’ve grown increasingly aware of how sedentary my lifestyle is. I work at a desk all day. I go home and work on a puzzle, write, watch t.v. or work on my small business, all of which involve…sitting.

So when an acquaintance who runs a yoga studio began offering a beginner’s course, I decided to give it another go. My girlfriend E grabbed mats for both of us and off we went. And I found I actually enjoyed the classes. They got me moving at least and my body felt like it had worked without any real impact or strain.

Best of all, our friend and instructor is extremely encouraging without being patronizing. She’s the first to admit that she’s been there. She’s been the heaviest one in the room, the one who couldn’t quite get into all the positions. She’s lost a ton of weight and it all started with yoga. She gets it. She understands that you have to start somewhere, with the body you have, and go from there. I love her attitude and it is that, as much as anything, that is going to keep me going back.

Last night, I went to my first post-beginner session. Today I’m stiff without being particularly sore. My body definitely knows it was worked but it feels good, like the beginning of something. And I’m looking forward to seeing my own progress here.

Once again, I’m going into something saying, I’m not sure how far I’m going to take this but…

With any luck, this decision will be as life changing as the others have been.

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Falling Into the Trap

“I am just a copy of a copy of a copy, Everything I say has come before.”

Nine Inch Nails – Copy Of A

I don’t usually think of Trent Reznor as a great lyricist but every now and then something of his resonates with me. The above is one of those. The more I look around at what others have written, the more I realize that anything I have to say has already been said. Repeatedly. And by people far more talented than me. Hell, even the concept that “there is nothing new under the sun” is an ancient cliché.

I suppose I should be proud. I mean, how often do you get to quote Mr. I-Wanna-Fuck-You-Like-An-Animal and the Bible in one paragraph? And yet, no matter how much I say that my only real goal is to be better than 50 Shades of Grey, I can’t help but compare myself to people I actually enjoy reading. I look at my favorite authors and lyricists and the bar is suddenly raised astronomically. I’m never going to be the F. Scott Fitzgerald of erotica. And I’m never going to come up with the perfect images and poetry of Bernie Taupin and Leonard Cohen.

The obvious answer seems to be to QUIT COMPARING YOURSELF. But the phrase easier said than done doesn’t even come close to describing it. I look at my favorite people and think, there is no reason for me to even try to put two words together. How can I when Chelsea Hotel is out there? Or any number of songs from Elton John’s catalog? Even the most recent adaptation of The Great Gatsby, which I found detestable in many ways, is worth watching because they used so much of the original dialog.

What is more comforting is talking to other writers. Writers who affirm that “you will always be your worst critic.” Reading interviews and blogs from others where they discuss their influences and how they have gone through the same process. Eventually, I will gain confidence that what I have to say has merit. But right now, it feels more like a fun exercise, something I’ve done to pass the time.

Tomorrow I will no doubt feel differently.

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Relations v. Family

For years, I’ve been drawing the distinction between relatives – those who are connected by blood – and Family. Relatives are an obligation. Family are people I choose to keep in my life because they are important, I know I can rely on them, etc.

The older I get, the less need I seem to have for relatives. Part of that is due to my involvement in the kink community but not because I had some big coming out and they don’t approve. More like actually being involved and finding people like me has shown me just how little I have in common with my relatives. Their collective obsession with cruises, reality television, and amassing things that they think will prove their superiority, are traits that haven’t set well with me in some time.

About a year and a half ago, my dad’s mom, my beloved Italian grandmother, died at the age of 96. I’d long suspected she was the glue holding the rest of us together but I had hoped to be wrong. I had hoped we might still visit with one another at least. We haven’t. I have heard from one of my aunts once, because she wanted something. I said no and that was the last contact I’ve had with any of them. I don’t miss them.

Now my parents have seemingly been added to that list. I haven’t talked to my mother since before Thanksgiving. But let’s be honest. She and I have been on rough ground since shortly after I graduated college. I was an only child and as soon as I moved out, got friends who had nothing to do with her, and began having interest in things that she was not interested in, she started feeling abandoned and began passing judgment on all of it. My dad though…I miss him. He’s a good man, likely the best I’ll ever know. But I won’t put him in the middle, won’t tear him apart by making him choose.

What is particularly disheartening is that the more I talk about any of this, the more I hear from people that they are in very similar situations. While it’s nice to know it’s not just me, it saddens me to know that those who should be there for us, should be the ones on our side, often aren’t. How does that happen?

I’ve recently started looking into the minimalist movement, a philosophy that seems to boil down to keeping only what is important and purposeful in your life, whether that’s possessions, activities, or something else. I went to one meeting and our leader rather innocently asked how this philosophy has bled into other areas of our lives besides possessions. Apparently, it’s not unusual to start out by purging one’s things and I certainly did that shortly after Christmas. One woman said she was changing jobs, another talked about purging particular family heirlooms.

The more I think about it, the more I realize that my purging has not just been about stuff either. It’s been about making sure I have the people around me who want to be there and who I want to be there. These are people who have proven themselves time and again, people I am loyal to and who have been loyal to me. Not people who have to nitpick or suspect I’m up to something every minute.

I have many of these people and I am grateful for them every day. This is my Family. And not one of them is a relative.

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Congratulations, You’re a Writer

When does one get to call themselves a writer? Is it when they start getting paid? If so, then I used to be a journalist so I guess I was a writer then. But what about in college when I wrote my first articles and helped produce a small newsletter with some friends? How about before that when I wrote bad, sappy, often emo poetry in elementary school, junior high, and high school?

Did I stop being a writer when I switched industries? Am I one again now that I’m working on a series of novels? Maybe it happened when my characters started waking me up in the middle of the night with their bickering. Or do I have to wait until the first book is actually published?

Given such an array of possibilities, who gets to decide?

Me? Future Critics? Amazon readers? Other writers? And if it’s other writers, who decided for them?  

Or is this like being a newbie kinkster again? Maybe it’s time to stop worrying so much about labels and just do…

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Self-Rescuing Princess

When I was little, I wanted to be Princess Leia. Like, really wanted to be Princess Leia. As in, I was too young to separate fiction from reality and actively quit crushing on Mark Hamill and switched to crushing on Harrison Ford because I knew it would be weird to like my brother like that.

Talking with a friend the other night, I told him I was too young at the time to fully understand why I admired her so much. We went on to talk about what a wonderfully strong female character she was and I said I was probably an adult before I recognized that that was what I had liked about her.

Now that I’ve had time to think about that, I realize I was wrong. I knew why I liked her, even if I didn’t have the vocabulary to describe it at 5 when the original Star Wars was released or even 10 when I stood in line with my parents waiting to get into Return of the Jedi.

What I didn’t understand yet was how novel a character she really was. Elsewhere, women in film weren’t like that. And that’s what I figured out as an adult.

But even as a kid, I loved that she stood alongside the men and fought with them. She could handle a blaster and wasn’t afraid to shoot back at the bad guys. When Luke and Han go to rescue her, her response isn’t to put wrist to forehead and proclaim “at last my prince has come” but “you are here to rescue me?” She knew they were in over their heads before they did. She wasn’t waiting to be rescued, she was waiting for an opportunity to escape.

And when Han gets captured, she goes to Jabba’s lair to rescue him. It doesn’t even seem to bother her that he couldn’t say “I love you” back. AND THEN she doesn’t even wait to be rescued after Jabba enslaves her. While the men are off fighting to stay out of the pit, she uses the very chain holding her back to kill her captor. How fucking badass is that?

That’s my girl. And pretty much the main reason I’ve crushed just a little on Carrie Fisher ever since too. It helps that, in real life, she’s brilliant, an excellent writer, and funny as hell. But mostly, she was my first exposure to strong women on screen.

So ever since, every time a female character dumbs herself down in order to attract a man, passive-aggressively traps him, or otherwise makes it clear that she needs a man in her life in order to be fulfilled, that little girl who dressed as Princess Leia for YEARS at Halloween dies a little.

Give me a woman who can be tender one minute and fearless the next, who is fully capable of taking care of herself, who knows what she wants and doesn’t let anyone hold her back. I’ll take her every time over the silliness that now populates so many “chick movies.”

So yeah, I knew what I liked early on. Possibly even why. What has disappointed me since is that there isn’t more of it.

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Great Non-Expectations

Several years ago, I heard someone say they were trying to eliminate expectations from their life. I thought they were crazy. What’s so bad about expecting the room to brighten when you turn on a light, your car to start when you turn the key, or even that someone is going to be somewhere when they say they’re going to be?

Over time, it’s become abundantly clear what she actually meant. See, I have this habit of dipping my toe into some interest or other and saying, “I’m not sure how far I want to take this…” or “this probably won’t turn into a big deal but…”

And then my life changes irrevocably.

Just over seven years ago, I went to my first munch and dungeon play party. If you go back and read my blog from the time, you’ll see someone quite timid and unsure. I didn’t know what to make of what I saw or whether I would return at all.

A year later, I was one of the leaders and would serve more than three terms as such.

About three years ago, I started a small business and entered a couple of local craft shows, sure I would do one or two and be done with it. Now I’m looking forward to doing my first big cons in a couple of months. This past Christmas season, I actually turned a profit.  

Finally, about a year ago, I wrote down a fantasy just to get it out of my head. It wasn’t supposed to go any farther than that. But then a second chapter presented itself…and a third… Convinced I couldn’t actually write an entire book, I refused to call it one until I had written what I thought was the last chapter.

Now the question seems to be whether to self-publish or seek out an agent. And once again I’m left wondering how things actually got to this point. How did I get here?  

I wonder where this latest adventure will lead me…all I know is that the thought of putting my words out there, really out there for really real criticism, scares the shit out of me. I know it’s normal but that doesn’t make it go away.

I really need to drink more.

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