Tag Archives: being vulnerable

The Bucket List Shrinks

On Friday, I spoke at this year’s Northern Voice Blogging Conference at the University of British Columbia. I spoke on a panel Saturday, too, but that’s another story for another time.

The conference was great, but I’ll leave the recaps to others.

Speaking? Whew. I was fucking terrified of my speaking engagement.

Not because I think I can’t talk. I know I can. Just because I knew where it had to go.

In a nutshell?

I started “sex” blogging to discover where I really stood on my own sexuality. I went from 75 hits a day to 1,000 inside of my first three weeks, then as much as 5,000 within 7 months. I was getting raves all over the web in places most writers hope to get mentions — Nerve.com, Salon.com, Fleshbot, et al.

At the same time, in “real” life, in only a FOUR-MONTH period?

I ran out of unemployment insurance four months earlier than expected, came close to losing my home, started onto a birth control pill that would cause a massive chemical depression for two hard years and lead me to suicidal thoughts within 3 months of my blog’s peak, with a cry for help to a therapist when I thought I was gonna harm myself, lost a job for sex blogging, got laid off on my first day at another, had a relationship go horribly awry then end, and a few other little things.

I mentioned the whole going-completely-suicidally-nuts-with-chemically-induced-depression thing?

The gist of my talk?

Wanna write a blog and have people read your story as you figure out where your little blogging journey’s gonna take ya?

Careful what you wish for, honey. The worst thing that can happen to you is to have 30,000-plus people a week reading your figuring-shit-out journey every time you post something. Especially if you start the wrong meds a few months later and take a walk on the Dark Side.

What DIDN’T I get to say in the 30-minute speaking engagement?

That I would do it again — I’d walk away from a failing blog and say “Fuck it” and focus on my life. In a heartbeat.

I kept blogging, but I didn’t care about traffic, I didn’t try to get ads or advertising product, I stopped reading blogs so I wouldn’t be writing much about “hot-button issues” that might draw attention to me, I didn’t try to write great content or be relevant to any cause or way of life, I didn’t engage my audience anymore or even try to gain their loyalty.

I just… wrote. For me.

And I’d do that again. I’d walk and figure my shit out and use my writing for me and only me.

(But I’d share it still. We all need to do that more. We owe our truths to one another. Strength in numbers isn’t just a cliche.)

Know why I’d walk so casually again?

Because I wrote the content that made me a success in the first place. When I wrote that early content, my life was going much as it is now — fairly smoothly. I had time to write and a willingness to do so.

Now, though, I’m different. I don’t doubt I can write, I don’t doubt that was my “golden” period in writing. I don’t think I’m done for. I’m not really sure where I want this to go right now. I’m just… ready to give it a shot, ready to say something.

Ain’t worried at all. Because it’s about just being real, going where you need to go.

I have the guts to go there. It’s my THING. It’s what I DO. Truth is good. Knowledge is power. Like I said Friday, rip the fucking Band-aid off and just go.

I’m looking forward to the journey back into sometimes-sex-blogging. I know where I’m at in much of my life, and this is a path I’m willing to retake. It’ll be a fun ride. And I’m pretty confident my voice and what I have to say on the matter is relevant. I’ve got that part covered.

That’s one thing about having had the ticket to ride, getting that acclaim and that success so easily before — I know precisely how I got there. I think I can get there again. It’s about content. Period.

And how do I feel about my speech?

Fantastic. I’m loving how many people took the time to tell me how much they got out of it. I love that I got to talk to a lot of my audience over the two days, and how genuinely they seemed to dig what I had to contribute to the Northern Voice experience. People who pulled me aside to make  sure I heard what it meant to them really rocked my weekend, and I thank them for returning the sharing.

It was a big fear, getting up there and being raw and talking about my experience with mental illness and how it crushed my creative soul and killed my opportunity, and the price I paid to win that fight after I made all the horrendous decisions through which I killed my blog and walked away to quietly lick my wounds and return to figuring myself out.

I mean, that’s vulnerability, man.

“Hi. I’m a fuck-up who went a little nuts and wrote really hot shit about sex, got lauded in important publishing centres as an exciting new voice, and sorta became famous for five minutes and then pissed the opportunity away. LOVE ME. Hear me!”

For 30 minutes.

Ouch.

But I really, really, really wanted to go there.

And it was a fucking awesome ride for me. Awesome audience!

I knew it’d be scary — the first real time I’d addressed a crowd since I was 20, in college, in 1993. More importantly? First time I’d ever talked in person to a crowd about sex blogging, why I do it, what I wanted, how I fucked up, or how nuts I kinda went.

And I barely scratched the surface, but that’s why I want to write the book, I guess. Whew. There’s a wild ride, baby.

My only goal?

I wanted to tell the truth and be honest and raw. I wanted to make no excuses and pull no punches. I didn’t want my shame to get in the way of what I had to say, I didn’t want to hide behind my pride at the expense of not teaching others what to learn from my mistakes.

I know it’s powerful when people tell the truth, and I really wanted to be genuine and honest.

I told my two best friends Mark and Jon on separate occasions that all I wanted was to be like I was in our quietest, most real conversations. I wanted that conversational and open tone, the snarky humour and the quiet vulnerability that I get when I’m with a really good person I trust.

I just wasn’t sure I could conjure that side of myself for an audience of 125, plus standees.

That I’m told I did conjure her just blows my mind and makes me so happy. I loved it. I’m thrilled I’ve given people food for thought, and I look forward to speaking more often and being a part of a new dialogue on both mental health and healthy sex.

My engagement was probably as cathartic for me as some people in the room tell me it was for them, too.

It’s a really, really, really great gift of an experience on a weekend that, for 10 years, has usually sucked. I hate Mother’s Day thanks to the Dead Mom Factor. I miss my mother a little today. But for the first time in a long time, I’m not sad this Mother’s Day and I’m not angry.

Getting the fear of opening up in public speaking off my back? What a gift.

I’ll probably be writing about things this weekend has stirred up for a while.

It might not be the kind of conversation and end product Northern Voices normally results in, but I think it’s true to the life of the conference — the belief each of us needs to not only find our voices but sound them out.

It’s a message I’ve been on for years.

Speak up. Being heard is a beautiful thing.

Own who you are, live out loud.

The video will be aired on the web someplace and soon, when it is, I’ll post some linkage for those who are curious and couldn’t be at the engagement. Thank you to everyone who wished me well.

The Relationship Ride

When I was a little girl, I liked the “nice” rides at amusement parks. The Tilt-a-Whirl was a favourite. There’d be those moments when you’d spin wildly and you’d verge on nausea, and then it’d slow on down, and you’d settle back into an easy pace. It was unpredictable, but never dangerous, and never scary. The perfect combination, I always thought.

When I was eight, I went to Ontario to visit family, and my Evil Vixen cousin decided I needed to try a scarier experience. I was just tall enough to ride, and this was one of those big wheel-type thingies where everyone walks in, gets strapped against the wall, and the thing spins madly at wild speeds, first on a horizontal plane, but then it starts angling and elevating, until you hit absolute vertical – with every rotation, you go from facing skyward to staring at the ground from a height of a hundred feet or more. For an eight-year-old Steff, it was hellishly frightening. Throw in the blasting music and the screams and taunts of others, and there I was, out of control.

I was screaming, crying, and absolutely horrified. Tears poured down my face and I couldn’t stop wailing. They had to stop the ride and let me off. I was heaving and sobbing and needed my mommy, who was thousands of kilometers away.

To this day, there are times when I wish I could do the same with life. Stop the ride, man, let me off. Give me a blankie and a quiet night with reruns, I’m done like dinner.

The beginning of relationships, for me, are one of the most terrifying things I can experience. I’d like to jump in head-first, absolute abandon, and know it’s okay, it’s all right, I can do it. But I can’t. I start to, I throw my pennies in the wishing well and pray it’s all going to be all right, but then the evil What If? Monster starts whispering in my head.

What if I’m wrong? What if he comes to his senses? What if there’s some external factor I can’t control? What if I’m missing out on something better? What if the timing’s wrong?

And I fucking hate the What If? Monster. I hate the ambivalence and apprehension that finds me when the only thing I should be finding is trust. I’m in that rare situation with a guy who’s opening all the trust doors first, so the fear’s a little less than it might normally be, but it’s still there, and I really, fucking hate that it is. I wish it wasn’t. This time, I really wish it wasn’t.

But it’s strange and weird because he has this, this massive decoder ring of mine. Not only do I have this blog, with more than 200 postings, but I have my other blog, with more than 500. I don’t know if I’m your standard blogger, because I try to really peel back my layers. Not for you, not for him, not for anyone but for myself.

Unfortunately, though, he gets to peel back my layers on his own time, by himself, without me seeing his reaction, and I’m left wondering, “What’s he really thinking?” Fortunately, he’s good enough at expressing himself that he often clues me in without my needing to ask. Still, I’m over-analytical, timid, worried, and scared. That’s just me, and it works better when I’m flying solo, because then I can sit around and ask all these grand questions that my readers can relate to. Now, though, I’m not flying solo, so I go and I air these fears, and he’s gonna know. Maybe a good thing, maybe not.

In my life, fear is the great component that I can never, ever shake. All this self-examination and illumination is generally done in the attempt to get past the fear of hurt and pain that has greatly coloured my life over these years. I’ve had, unquestionably, a hard life. I’ve been hurt six ways to Sunday in every arena of my life, no matter what walls I’ve put up or taken down. I’ve had adversity piled upon adversity, and the hardest thing I’ve ever had to learn is a) to love myself in the face of it all, and b) to allow others to love me.

And I’m nowhere near ready on the front of B. I’m having a hard, hard time getting past this fear and apprehension that comes with the beginning of a new relationship, but specifically, this one. There’s the reality that this relationship has begun with more abandon and less restraint than any I’ve ever had. It’s freaking the shit out of me, honestly. That was hard enough at the beginning, but then my bone-breaker had the misfortune of badly breaking his leg and needing surgery for the insertion of a metal plate and several screws. I feel so horribly for him, and because I’ve already come to care a good deal for the man, I really want to be there to be of assistance and comfort for him.

So I have. And today, oh, my GOD. I’ve woken up with The Fear. I hate The Fear. On the one hand, I’m screaming “Stop the ride, lemme off!” On the other, I’m thinking I like this feeling. I love how I feel when I’m around him, but when I’m not… all the niggling doubts squirm to the surface of my psyche and the Questioning begins anew, and quite needlessly, I suspect, given the time we’ve shared and the openness we seem to already have.

During one of our first nights together, we were lying on the bed, comparing notes about what we thought the other would be like versus what they had turned out to really be. He commented that he thought I’d be “more cerebral… no, more pensive.” I told him that I am, but that moods like pensiveness have no place in front of another person. (It’s rude, methinks.) I’m very, very pensive – always, really – but moreso when I’m alone. I do get very quiet, though, in those makeout sessions, lying there, occasionally holding each other’s gaze, and in those moments, it’s true, I’m not really thinking about anything in particular. But the wheel’s turning, and soon, the thoughts strike. Like now, the next morning.

And my question today is, am I my own worst enemy? Is my fear my great undoing? It probably is. But at least I confront it, I give it a voice, and maybe that’s the first step in moving past it. I know I feel this way, and I’ve tried to explain to The Guy that, for now, my actions need to speak much louder than my words, ‘cos baby, I ain’t got the words. Not yet. I try. But I can’t do.

I’m a good woman, a good lover, and a great friend. I know it, and I try to be each of those, but deep down inside, I’m also a scared little girl that wants the safety of the Tilt-a-Whirl. Too bad I’ve met the height requirement for the big fucking roller-coaster, and it’s the only ride operating.

Guests: He Bop, She Bop, a-We… Never Bopped?

A big ol’ Canadian thank you out to these lovely Texan bloggers, Goose & Gander, who decided to take a stroll through the happy walkways of mutual masturbation for us, the flies on the wall.

Now, I couldn’t find any nice photos about this topic — nada, none, nyet. And I like pictures, they’re purty. So, I thought instead I’d include a photo from one of my favourite sites, of one of my favourite sexual positions.

What I found interesting here was that two people who are so into each other sexually were initially ambivalent about this. God knows I’ve been the ambivalent one, too. But that’s the thing, that ambivalence is out there. I’m not going to keep banging my drum, though. You heard my thoughts. Here’s theirs. Thanks, G&G.

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Recently we were honored to receive a request from La Scribe Steff to discuss amongst ourselves, and share with you our thoughts, the timely topic of mutual masturbation. We told her, yes yes yes!, but, well, we’d really never done it much.

What to do, what to do in a case like this? Well, mutually masturbate, of course!

But before we get to the juicy details: Why haven’t we done it? There were a couple of reasons.

  1. It never came up
  2. We were good with each other already
  3. Silly old embarrassment

Embarrassment was the tough one, of course, so we decided to investigate in stages. We are nothing if not determined to bring to you, the Cunting Linguist reader, high-quality research.

Really Shy Mutual Masturbation

The first night we chatted a bit, took off our clothes, got completely under the covers, snuggled our heads together, closed our eyes and got to business.

It started off kind of odd and, well, dry. So, out came the lube and I pulled out ye old silver vibe just to ensure a good result. I’d say the first few minutes were kind of stiff (ha) and quiet and a little uncomfortable. But soon, the vibe did its work, and my breathing increased, and so did Gander, and then little chirps and moans began and then I came and he came and I came, and selfishly (because the experiment was mostly over) came again. I like to come in threes.

Then we put the laundry away and laughed.

Silly Vanilla Mutual Masturbation

The next night we were both very horny. It was about 6:45 and Gander was due to go back out from 8:00-midnight, and there was no way in hell I was going to stay up that late to jill off. I decided at this moment that we’d distract the goslings with large bowls of ice cream and a movie.

With this semblance of privacy, we ran into the bedroom, latched the door, and went to town. This was a much better experience. There was necking, pinching, fucking, rubbing and oral. At one point, when Gander was going down on me, I stopped him and had him put his fingers in me as I masturbated while he watched. Oooh! That was great! Then we fucked a little bit more, and he pulled out and I stroked his balls while he masturbated. Ooh! That was great, too.

Then we raced back out of the room to stop the kids from destroying the couch while pretending to be dinosaurs.

All in all, we began to see the point.

Kinda-Kinky Mutual Masturbation

Life intruded and we were unable to really have any sexual contact for days and days. But last night, after talking with friends about spanking for a few hours, we got into bed and started fooling around. One thing led to another and Gander grabbed my hand, shoved it between my legs rather forcefully, and rolled me over. I rubbed myself furiously while he spanked me very hard. Yessiree! Then I rolled over and massaged his balls and he jerked off on my stomach.

Hooray!

Okay. I think we have the hang of it and we’ll be including it in our repertoire. Thanks Steff, for helping us break through a barrier we didn’t even know we had.

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BACK TO ME, LE SCRIBE STEFF: And thank you, you fabulous folks, for contributing to the series. True mutual masturbation is getting to the finishing point solo with your partner observing and responding in kind, it’s ALSO a weird-as-shit experience because of the embarrassment listed above. It’s not for everyone, but yeah, it’s highly recommended. Besides, varying sex is a good, good thing. And like these brilliant folk above, trying it once, twice, three times before you pass judgment is a smart move. It’s like trying anal or something — it’s not going to be a great fit with everyone, but when it works, well… y’all come back now, y’hear?