Category Archives: General

Um, Thank You For Breaking My Blog

highfiveI’d like to extend warm fuzzy thanks for everyone who’s taken the time to read, share, and respond to my Jian Ghomeshi vs. The CBC piece. More than 100,000 people read it on my overworked little blog in just 36 hours. I’m absolutely blown away by how much it’s resonated with you. I’m very proud I had a chance to help change the conversation on why women won’t come forward.

I’m also glad the BDSM community feels I’ve helped clear up a few misconceptions being wilfully created by Ghomeshi and his supporters. While I’m fairly vanilla myself, I’m happy to advocate for a grossly misunderstood lifestyle and kink. Especially since this conversation shouldn’t be about BDSM at all, but instead about the lack of consent he reportedly had, and that a lack of consent makes these allegations of flat-out assault.

To that end, I had the chance to be interviewed by Vancouver’s CKNW 980 radio yesterday, and we discussed both BDSM and consent in relation to this explosive scandal. You can listen to that here. It’s a 12-minute chat with host Simi Sara.

Meanwhile, I have a few more things on my chest on the victim/survivor aspect of all this, more mainstream revelation of what the BDSM ethos and community entails, and so on. Please bookmark me and check back now and again.

I also have nearly a decade of archives here that extend to everything from sex and sexual politics to mental health and pop culture commentary. I invite you to explore tags and subjects for any of the 3,000 or so pieces I’ve written in the last decade. Might I suggest the “Steff rants” category if you like a little righteousness in your day? Check my archives by year, or search by categories. Many posts have several categories attached for your convenience.

Then there’s my newsletter. That’s how I can tell you when my upcoming ebook of collected essays and updated opinions will be released. Join that here. Thanks again. You’re fucking awesome.

The Obligatory Posting (Which in No Way Should Suggest Suckage, Y’know; Wine Was Involved)

It’s late on a Friday night and far into a “high-value” wine.

I was told I can’t call it “cheap,” by some industry guy. Unbeknownst to him, there’s an onslaught of the public whose heart races and mouth salivates when they hear the three magical words:

Good Cheap Wine.

But, no, the dude with the multimillion-dollar winery certainly can’t have his wine called “cheap,” even if it is sold for under $10 a bottle in a dirty motherfucker of an economy that makes $10 wine seem sexier than fish-net stockings on a 6’3″ vixen of a model.

I do digress, and my high-value wine bids I move the hell on. So, without ado.

I got nothing.

I had a title: The Obligatory Posting.

Seemed enough to work with. Type that in, see what comes up.

Number one rule for blogging, for me, when it comes to “personal blogging,” is: RIGHT NOW. What’s happening right now? What do you feel? What’s foremost on your mind? Put that down, see where it goes. The eggs you just ate for breakfast? Right on! Hell, WRITE on.

That’s personal blogging. You’ve got 1,000 words, give or take, so start wherever the hell you are and go where it takes you. Writing Blogs, 101.

And what I had was, a title, and a far-too-empty bottle of wine. Shoulda bought a boxed bag bladder of the stuff. Invest in the future, that’s my motto.

I’ve worked too much this week, that’s why I need more vino. My lord, you’d think I liked working for a living. It gets in the way of slacking, y’know.

Yet, still, in vino veritas. A dangerous time to blog, my friends.

***

But, seriously, there’s a lot I want to do with my writing in the next while. The perennial artistic struggle confronts me, though — when it rains, it pours, and when it pours, the crops tend to wither.

I’m making the money I need in the present, but it won’t come for a bit. That’s critical to me here and now, so I’m working as much as opportunity allows. Easy when it’s a lousy summer.

But I have little projects I plan to tackle through the fall — mini e-books.

I figure, if you like me — if you really like me, you’ll agree that I should enjoy life and all its refinements, and you might be willing to invest in monthly special e-books. Say $2 or $2.50 a download. Stuff I actually work at creating — fiction, really no-holds-barred opinion work, and stuff that I assume people who’ve followed my content here, on Twitter, and on Google+ (check me out, I do a lot of PUBLIC Google+ posts) might think 10,000 words of mine are worth the meagre price of a cup of coffee.

What do you think about that? It’s the price of a coffee. Making a living without working for the man, could you imagine how much throwing off those shackles of suppression would free my tongue? Hoo!

***

There’s a lot of talk of publishing and shit lately. Borders has gone belly-up. If the big bookstores came along and ate all the small bookstores, then the online stores ate them, who’s left selling real books?

I like real books.

But I like artistic control better.

Publishing is changing.

So, y’know, I had this thought earlier, that we’re becoming the artistic “Age of the Individual.”

Sure, I can go with a publishing house. Or maybe I can self-publish via e-book on a regular basis. A genuine Steff magazine, of sorts. And then it’s all me. No censorship, no hassle, just write, publish, sell. If you’re willing to support such a thing.

Imagine — artists, writers, etc, who just do what they feel and create off-the-cuff, and YOU can support it?

So, we’ll see. When I’m not working 50-hour weeks to pay off the spring that sucked my soul through a straw, I’ll get on that like Oprah on a ham, baby.

I hope many artists realise like I do that this is probably the best time to be alive as an artist. We have more exposure than ever, if we can figure out how to harness it. Get exploring, and be yourself.

***

The weather would-be-gods predict sunshine this weekend, which I’ll believe when I see. Vancouver is experiencing one of its blah-est (read: soul-sucking) summers of my lifetime. Only Mt. St. Helen’s Summer was weirder, and that’s 30 years ago.

I’m a seasonally-affected & disordered person, meaning I need full-on sun like a tropical plant does, or my soul withers and dies.

Given the shittastic season, though, I’m more like a yearly-affected & disordered person. God help us all, but I have a blog to run, I can’t be having this “rainy season that wouldn’t die” shit. We need me happy and creative, people. We really do.

Maybe THIS is the weekend. I guess if I started praying for it now, “someone” would get suspicious. SIGH.

***

And, with that, your requisite snapshot on my life, and a short-term wine hiatus is done.

If you’re really desperate for a G+ invite, you’ll figure out what to do, and in some charitable moment, I might see fit to help you.

Meanwhile, I’m out of here.

Anticipating Autumn

Fall has landed.

It’s the first night I’ve had to close my windows all but a crack. Soon I expect the radiator will be turned on and will spend the next several weeks climbing in temperatures as the climate closes in on winter.

Photo by me, on Vancouver's Burrard Inlet, under the Cambie bridge, I think?

It’s the first day I’ve been funny in the morning in a few weeks. I’ve got my mojo rising and my body’s starting to feel like I’m in control of it again. Pneumonia has been a shitty ride, but my prescription finishes today, and I’m turning some good corners.

Good thing, too. Gettin’ busy — after all, a week from today, I’ll hit the ripe old age of 37.

September has been a long, hard month. Every year I seem to face some kind of adversity as I head into the autumn. A couple times I’ve cheated death on Labour Day weekend. Once I blew out my back a couple days after my birthday. Yeah, it’s always been a rocky time for me, one that suggests much change is ahead for me.

This year’s no different when you get down to the basics: Change is necessary, positives abound, opportunity knocks, et cetera.

But I suppose that’s autumn for most of us.

I think we all go a little off-track in the summer. From the time of childhood on, summer suggests two months of free-for-alls — a time when hedonism makes sense to just about everyone, days when abdicating your responsibilities are too tantalizing to pass up. Nothing like wind in the hair and sand in the toes, as the saying goes.

Then fall rolls around, and like it did when we were kids, it means life is coming back to the working cycle.

Harvest time. For tens of thousands of years, autumn has been a time of preparation and planning, a time to get working in order to ensure survival over the coming cold months of hardship.

Biologically, I think we’re still hardwired there. Summer’s that time when survival’s easier. We don’t even need shelter — sleeping under the stars isn’t just nice, but essential to the human experience.

Winter? Heh, not so much — especially here in the so-called Great White North. (Ironic, of course, since Vancouver, Canada gets far less snow than NYC, or even Vancouver, Washington, but, hey, whatever stereotypes rock your boat, man.)

As the days get shorter, my mind turns to the months ahead, planning and scheming for all I feel I need to accomplish. Thrown into cold, rainy, dreary, windy Wet Coast days, I’ll find myself methodically productive and compulsively accomplished.

Unlike summertime Steff.

It was at this point, three years ago this very week, I reached my self-esteem rock-bottom, had just quit the job making me miserable, returned to a job that allowed me to put myself first, and started on my path toward losing 70 pounds and being able to say I Am Not That Girl Anymore.

The fall has always been a powerful catalyst in my life.

You might think that, coming off a month of back problems and pneumonia, I carry dread and fear about the months that loom… but you’d be woefully mistaken, friend.

I’m stoked. For every step backward I’ve taken this year, there’s been two steps forward. You can choose to focus on the backwards steps, but I’d rather believe it was just practice, and practice makes perfect.

“Big picture” is always more rewarding than a nano-focus. Don’t think about the steps backward this year; think of how much forward you were able to move.

I know the possibility that can come from this bubbling anticipation and dogged desire to capitalize on it. I’ve been there before, I’ve seen what it can do to me. Hell, I know what *I* can do with it.

All this “stuff” in my way right now… it’s just stuff. It’s a bug, a sickness, and it’ll go away. It happens. It’s not “bad luck” or misfortune. It’s just my turn. It’s a reminder of the things I said were important to me — my health, my future, my soul. It’s a reminder of how much I could have controlled more aspects of my life, and an inspiration to do better in the coming months.

Your adversity is what you decide it to be. Make your conclusions carefully.

It’s autumn. A time for things to die and begin their cycle of rebirth. A time to reap what you’ve sown and account for it. Mostly, it’s just a time.

Today, I lament the loss of warmth and long days, the frivolity and fun, the recklessness and hedonism. I mourn that my inner kid’s gonna have a harder time coming out to play for a while.

But I’m truly thrilled to lose the seasonal distractions, gain some focus, and launch future plans for taking over the world.

I’m looking forward to chillier nights, leaves falling, storms that remind me just how fragile our place in the world is, bundling up, excuses for sleeping in, and cradling mugs of hot beverages in frozen hands. I’m longing for the crisp, clean smell, the quieter streets, the oft-patter of rain and splashing of tires, and the fuzzy comfort of wearing warm slippers.

By the year’s end, I’ll have begun growing tired of it all and will dread the next four months, but that’s how the weather cookie crumbles here in the proverbial Great White North.

And, today, none of that matters. Today, summer’s gone, fall is here, and survivalism kicks in — just like it ought to after tens of thousands of years of biological programming.

Happy autumn, everyone. Enjoy everything about it.

And please, for the love of god, don’t put ornamental gourds on your table.

The Struggle to Identify Your Struggle

I had an interesting Twitter debate this morning after someone spoke of a Starbucks kid who screwed his store over by twice not showing up as the “keyholder” to open the shop.

The debate came from completely different perspectives — I’m getting on in my 30s, spent 15 years in retail, dreamed of a better day working in “real” jobs, but eventually realized my job never solved any of my problems in my life; meanwhile, the other debater’s in her early 20s, dreaming of a better time in a real job, and probably believes the same as I used to, that life really gets better with a different job.

Trouble is, one day you wake up and you realize that all you did was put on different clothes and cash a bigger cheque.

You dreamed of the trappings of success, but never realized it was really just a trap till it really had hold of you.

Deep down inside, the smarter-older you realizes the job has fuck all to do with your true happiness — it just gives you better means to avoid the issue and hide from the truth.

Anyone blaming their job for unhappiness probably needs to think twice.

I can’t tell you the hell I put myself through believing it was my job that was costing me any happiness in life.

I thought, “Oh, it’s a do-nothing, go-nowhere job. It’s why I feel so held back in life. I don’t make enough, I don’t do enough, I’m not special enough. I know — I’ll quit! I’LL SHOW EVERYONE!”

After two years of trying to get by in an endless parade of bad-fitting jobs, part-time work, and self-employment, I realized the job was never the problem.

No matter what I did, that current of discontent still ran through me. I was my problem.

Let’s face it, not everyone’s going to have a job that speaks to who they are. Not everyone gets to work in a career that radiates their true nature. We need labourers and waitresses too, you know.

There comes a point where the job just doesn’t matter.

If you think a career’s all you’ve got going in your life, then, yeah, okay, I can see how you might be in for a world of suck.

But that’s your choice. You’re the fucking idiot that’s decided some dude with a wad of cash has that much power over who and what you are. God help you if you ever lose that job, y’know? Be MORE. Expect MORE. Live MORE than just your job.

I’m not my job and I’m not my bank account.

I’m the chick with a way with words who really digs thinking and living a contemplative life of slowness and relative quiet. I’m the chick who can find god on a riverbank and think there’s nowhere else I should be, and no one who should be with me. That’s me. When I leave work, I contribute to my end-of-life legacy with things that speak to me and who I am. Not as much as I could… that troubles me. I want to do more. But I’m further than I was, and do more than I did, and these are good things. And I know the things that call to me, that I should do, and that I know are going to be done. My time, my way.

My advice?

Don’t look at your relationship or your job as your source of unhappiness. I betcha dollars to donuts that the source is inside you. Things you’re likely not doing or facing, and it’s easier to use life situations as “obvious” blames than it is to do the hard emotional work of realizing a lot of answers lay within.

Running’s easy. Standing and fighting? Then you get a cookie. And some bruises.

Good luck with that. It’s so not the 2010 way — avoidance is an artform. We got yer pills, your cars, your portfolios, your adventure vacation packages, yer smart phones, yer funky gadgets… shit, we even got Lady Gaga. Is she a chick?

Is that ALL there is? Isn’t there more? We’re the wealthiest the world’s EVER been — so why the fuck are we all so empty?

Rip the fucking scab off. Prod your wounds. Do all the things that scare you. Find more to satisfy YOU in life, and stop blaming your inability to do so on your spouse or your job. It’s a choice and a matter of values. Make it happen. It’s quality, not quantity, so think about it.

Hiding behind time demands as an excuse for a life half-lived is a sissy 2010 thing. MAKE CHOICES. You can’t BE everything or DO everything, so CHOOSE. Offend people and don’t go to a few engagements. Big fucking deal. CHOOSE.

Seriously, if I could sit every 20-something down and say, “All this angst and sadness you have? Your shitty retail job isn’t the problem — your reaction to it is. Everything you need to know about life, you can learn here and now. If you want.”

And if I could sit every 40-something down and say the same thing about their office jobs? I would.

Because you’ll never learn about people better than in the workforce — their capacity for evil or infinite goodness, their irresponsibility and unexpected nature are all unavoidable, daily.

Don’t cop out and blame your job for unhappiness unless you really know you’re happy everywhere else in your life. If you quit and get the rude shock at another job that you’re still going home empty inside and, gee, that place has assholes there, too, then you’re in for a really crushing emotional defeat.

Trust me, I know! Been there, done that, the t-shirt didn’t fit.

Stay with the devil you know. Try a new sport, find hobbies, do things you love. Remember to take time to do things that make you a better version of you. When you feel you’re on the way there, then you can make other changes.

Otherwise, you’re likely just doing more harm than good.

Changing should always be done on the inside before you attempt the outside. If you’d like to see it take hold, that is.

Pfft. I don’t know, I’m still on my journey. But what I DO know is, I’m happier here, “on my way,” than I’ve ever been — and I don’t have a job or savings or security. I have more inside me, though, than I ever have, and I credit that to the really hard choices I’ve made to learn about myself and all my damage, over the last 3 – 5 years. I made some mistakes along the way and I’d rather others learn from that.

Fix you, and the universe will follow, seems to be the lesson things have been teaching me. Jobless? Moneyless? What I got you don’t buy, you don’t get given, and you don’t take. You earn it, slowly. Self-knowledge, faith, belief, and you learn it by going crutch-less and not dishing out blame.

Yep. Fix you. The universe will follow. It’s a fucking amazing thing.

PS: Sometimes your job really is a steaming pile of shit and you should run for the hills. But, you know, just make sure of that.

Whatchoo Want, Willis?

So, good people of Bloggerville, we the bosses of this here “Smutty” ward want to know just what wingdings I should install on this blog by tomorrow afternoon?

Like, “share” and “tweet” buttons, obviously. I’m gonna be so 2007 in no time at all. But what else, man? What else should I put here to make your experience so much more sparkly than it is now?

SPEAK! I have help arriving at high noon for eggs and blog updating. In that order. There’s bacon, too. No, you can’t come. But I love you. Now speak. :D

Bittersweet Winter Mornings & Their Longings

A little after waking, a furiously beautiful sunrise lit my little part of the world up. Red, red, red, as far as the eye could see. Fire on the horizon, exploding across the cottony clouds that spread west over the Pacific.

Some shivers, some cold toes, but it was worth heading out to stand on my balcony and marvel over nature, if even too briefly.

I’m reaching my winter tether’s end. My sanity is tattered, my resolve weakening.

I want Spring. Continue reading