Tag Archives: biology

Murderball: Primal Is As Primal Does

Bear with me. If you know my writing style, you know that, just because I start one place, doesn’t mean I’m gonna stay there. This starts off about wheelchair sports, but becomes a considering of what we are as humans, so give it a chance. Thanks!

Any sport with “murder” in the name sounds like a fun night out to me.

Image from MURDERBALL, the documentary.

This weekend in Vancouver, the World Wheelchair Rugby Championships will be rollin’ on out at the Olympic Skating Oval, across the bridge in Richmond. (Games are $5 each or day passes are $12. Please support them.)

Wheelchair rugby is a Canadian-born sport better known as “Murderball,” and was the subject of an MTV award-winning documentary of the same name.

Also known as “Quad” Rugby, it’s played by paraplegics who have limited limb movement. With each injured player “rated” for their impairment, from 0 to 3 points, there’s a limit of how many “points” can be on the court at any one time.

Aside from that, the dudes are on battering-ram type wheelchairs and they bash the living shit out of each other. Sounds like a good time to me!

Of course, there are namby-pamby activists out there who dislike violence in sports and don’t understand why we’re not more “civil” in this day and age, but they’re the kind of people who probably need to start having questionable fun for the hell of it, instead of worrying about propriety.

With sports, there are areas I differ from that line of thought on, but with very specific situations: Like,  dumb-ass kids who want to do danger experiments on Youtube. There’s calculated risks, then there’s just being a moron.

And living in the rugged rainforests that are Vancouver and its surrounding landscape, we’re all too used to asshats going off known trails to explore then needing massive rescue efforts. Methinks they should be subject to Quad Rugby battering ram treatment, personally, if they’re that fucking stupid.

Like I say: There’s stupidity, and then there’s understandable thrill-seeking and adrenaline.

Me, I like boxing, and I like watching most kinds of fighting live (but not on television). Bloodsports are pretty awesome. I cheer the violence on, and I don’t for a moment feel it makes me less “civilized”. I think it makes me a more balanced human being and less likely to punch you out for being a high-maintenance fuckwad in front of me in a Starbucks line-up.

I mean, sure, we act all civil, but deep down inside, we’re biologically still animals.

All the proof I need is on my bathroom floor right now — every fall and spring, I shed hair even though there’s no reason for the human body to shed anymore. It’s a throwback to who and what we are: Mammals who got lucky and landed opposable thumbs and the ability to have language.

Sometimes, I think we — mankind — are collectively fooling ourselves.

You know the old parable about the Scorpion & the Frog?

From Wikipedia:

The story is about a scorpion asking a frog to carry him across a river. The frog is afraid of being stung, but the scorpion reassures him that if it stung, the frog would sink and the scorpion would drown as well. The frog then agrees; nevertheless, in mid-river, the scorpion stings him, dooming the two of them.

When asked why, the scorpion explains, “I’m a scorpion; it’s my nature.”

But, us? Our nature?

Is our nature REALLY that of sitting at a desk with a computer, or shuffling papers, or making Jell-o Pudding on a Friday night as we watch smarmy TV programs? REALLY?

Or are we really made to be physical creatures? People who toil in fields, bring down trees, climb mountains, haul goods over long distances? Are we made for lashing out and conquering others?

Arguably? Yes. Yes. And, yes.

These days, machines do so much for us. They do TOO MUCH for us.

The last place any of us can get in touch with our primal side is through sports. Whether it’s mountainbiking, yoga, MMA, or murderball, that’s where many of us connect with the physicality that today’s society otherwise would rather pretend didn’t exist.

There’s also, of course, sex. But heaven forbid you let the masses know doggy-style’s your favourite, or god help you if the neighbours can hear you moaning through those thin modern walls.

And that paddle sure does get loud, honey. Got a muzzle?

“Primal” is so verboten today. It’s all button-down collars and Brazilian wax jobs. Some people are even bleaching their assholes because they don’t think an ASSHOLE should be shit-coloured.

This is the ridiculous world we live in today, where we — animals — pretend we’re anything but.

Yet, there, out in Richmond, a bunch of guys who’ve lost most of the use of their limbs, they’re out there being as animalistic as they can be. They have THAT alive in them still, it’s their soul, it’s who they are.

They’re out there fighting to remember what it is that makes them alive. They’re crashing the hell out of each other, defying the odds, doing it for the most pure reason of all — just to be better than the next guy, to survive, to win — just like the only goals possessed by our Neanderthal ancestors.

These are guys who, for the most part, have lost their mobility through spinal accidents. They’ve lost so much already, but it hasn’t stopped them.

Then there are people like most of us — trying to get through our day with the least amount of risk, the least amount of danger, and with nothing but routine surrounding us, while we medicate the hell out of ourselves to dull our emotions, mask pain, or just drive us through our days.

And these barely-alive types are the people who are out there trying to protect the Quad Rugby players from themselves — Oh, it’s too dangerous! Oh, they don’t have helmets on! God forbid!

Fuck that. HIT ‘EM, BOYS! HIT ‘EM REAL FUCKIN’ HARD.

Today, this weekend, let’s all learn a little about passion, dedication, and the willingness to get the fuck up after life knocks you down — values each and every athlete on the world wheelchair rugby court plays with day-in, day-out.

Values we should all have — day-in, day-out.

__________________________

Who or what inspires you to live a little more outside the “safe” zone? Have you ever watched wheelchair sports? What kind of impression did it leave on you? And “special Olympics” are NOT wheelchair sports — wheelchair athletes are able-minded but body-challenged, so to speak.

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 Middle-Earth Blues

I’m at that point of my depression that I’m realizing I have become the worst version of myself.

Of that, I am absolutely certain.

I’m self-involved. I’m angry. I’m negative. I’m not being thoughtful of others. And the thing that really, really hurts is, I know it, and no matter how much I know it or fight it, I continue reverting back to this Steff I’m not too glad to be around.

And that’s the kicker, because I usually really dig being who I am. No matter how fucked life gets, I can usually make myself laugh pretty hard a couple times a day — in private, even. These days, no. This isn’t recent. I’ve been sort of moving in this direction for three weeks now, and I fear I’m hitting bottom with it. Well, I don’t fear that; I’m aware of it, and grateful. I want this to change. Wanting it is a good start. The ability to do so is probably not far off.

I have emailed a woman I once received counselling from. I haven’t heard back, but hopefully she’ll drop me a line, and if not, then I’ll call tomorrow. I figure four or five counselling sessions would be good. Any time I’ve had troubles in the last seven years, when life just got to be too much, I’d visit her a couple times, and she just created this ability in me to find the reserves I needed to fight a little harder, a little longer. She’s this really down-to-earth woman with a strong but inoffensive personality, warm eyes, and a brassy laugh. It’ll be nice to see her again.

I don’t know where this anger’s coming from, but there are a lot of things that have been said and done to me in the last six or eight weeks, and a lot of adversity and drama and craziness, and I just kinda need to lay it all down for someone who’s objective. Counsellors can provide a lot of guidance. Like, you tell ’em what’s stressing you, and they’ll generally take you through it so you at least begin to understand why. Anger and depression, to me, are like mysteries I’ll simply never understand nor solve. If I can at least have a concept of where it’s coming from and maybe even why, it gives me the ability to find a way to shift things so that the invading negative mental state can be better managed until it’s eventually simply overcome or ousted.

Climbing out of depression is like trying to climb the spiral staircase up the Statue of Liberty or St. Paul’s Cathedral, and you’re half-way up, gasping, out of breath, and you look down and think, “Fuck, I’ve come a long way!” and then you look up, your heart falls, and you silently groan. “Fuck.” Just gettin’ this baby started, honey.

Yeah, well, I’m gasping, groaning, and my heart’s all shrunk down. I’m a little worse for wear primarily because PMS has hit with a vengeance. I’m being logical about it all, though. Intellectualizing my angst and trying to find a way to make blame symmetrical so I can at least remain objective about what it is I’m angry about, and not just start finding Evil Bastards to lay all the blame on. That is the kind of action that merely results in leaving me feel like a victim. Heh, this course thingie I went to last summer was talking about self-victimization and just said, “What would you rather be? A victim or a warrior?”

Call me Conan.

I’ll tell you the worst thing about depression. Are you ready? The worst thing is that you’re a fucking hero, the way you’re fighting this mysterious fucking beast of a thing. I mean, truly, it’s so damned hard. If you’re up and out in the world, you’re winning. Any day you’re breathing and not lying in bed is a good, good day. That’s all it takes to beat depression: Do not let it win. Just keep going out, tell people, be real about it, you know? But the bitch of it, this clinical illness, the bitch of it is that no matter HOW WELL you are doing, you will always, always feel like a loser. It’s so fucking Catch-22 it hurts.

So I was conscious today, all day, of just how much my self-esteem is suffering right now. Holy SHIT, batman. It’s just subterranean, it’s so low. I got the subterranean blues, I do. And believe me, I know what I offer, I know my talents, and this is not how I should be feeling about myself. I should have a little mojo, man.

But I am doing everything I can to keep it going. I am reducing my hours of work — working more was a big mistake. There’s no sense making more than what’s paying the bills if it’s just taking me to the edge of a breakdown, now, is there? I didn’t realize how exhausting depression is until I began to challenge it. Now I know there’s a limit to what I can do, and I’m working within it. I’m optimistic I’ll be at a more even keel in a week or so. Plus, my social life is going all right. I have more plans. I have a major tech-geek weekend at the end of the month, going to this… oh, I dunno, indie sub-culture tech-conference type weekend dealie-thang. Should be interesting. I’ll network for connections. I’m at the stage now with this blog’s readership that there has to be something I can do to make money off it. It’s just ridiculous to be in the top 8K on Technorati and not have a dime off it, you know? Maybe I’m just totally clueless (and I suspect that is indeed the case) but I’m hoping to learn a little.

So, I’m going to be social, but only, say, a couple nights a week. I need to keep a limit on my social activities and try to focus on the things I need to do for myself, for this place and the podcast and all the things that make ME feel accomplished. I got shit to prove to myself, you know? It’s time.

Once I get my grasp back on all this shitstorm whirling around me, and I suspect that’s in the next four to six weeks, actually, I believe I’ll be in one hell of a different place. I hope this to be the case, and I’m doing all I can to make it happen. I don’t know if my output on here will be all that great during this time, but we’ll see. But when it’s done, I’ll be in one of the best headspaces in my life. I know there’ll be a change coming. I just do, I know it like I know my social insurance number. Etched.

Anyhow, I have wanted to be more open about my depression, but there are days lately when it’s winning. And they’re hard. Hard fucking days, man. But, like I say, I’m fighting. It’s just painful realizing I’m acting in ways I don’t particularly like, feeling ways that I absolutely hate, and wishing like hell time could pass a little faster. It’s difficult KNOWING just how fucked up my perception of the world is right now. The logical, intelligent, articulate part of me tells me I’m getting it all wrong, and this is the way it oughta be, but this nutbag alter-ego of mine, she’s a persistent little bitch, you know? God. Frustrating to KNOW this much about depression and to be able to understand every bit of it, but to have it be so damned dominant nonetheless.

It’s times like this that one could really get to doubting the old adage “Knowing is half the battle,” you know?

School Me, Babe: Relationship Education

Had I actually been a guest on Sex with Emily last Saturday night as planned, question number one from them was, “Why is your blog so popular?” Why, indeed?

If I had to say why I wish my blog was as popular as it’s proving to be, I’d say it’s because I’d like to think I’m real. But that’s a pat little answer, isn’t it?

The thing about sex writing is, it’s so easy, in theory, to write about dripping, hard cocks, about the fury and the fumbling of two people coming together in sexual union – the passion, the intensity, the fun, the excitement. The pulsing of hearts, the throbbing of members, the vaginal swelling… we’ve all experienced these things, we’ve all been on both the receiving and giving ends of pleasure, and so it’s easy to relate to when we read about others’ experiences. And if it’s not something we actually can relate to, then it’s something we live vicariously through.

Not a lot of sex writers try to tackle the emotional content under it all, though, and the ones who do tend to inspire more loyalty from their readers. I tend to focus more on the emotional aspect of it – not just the emotions we show, but those we hide. Perhaps this is why y’all dig me. Or maybe it’s my irreverence, or my honesty about my own insecurities and desires and fears and dreams. Who knows. But these are the reasons I would like to believe my blog is popular.

And it’s something I thought about when I saw this “breaking” news on the BBC site. Apparently kids find sex education classes too biological. Gee. Really?

They’re right. It is far too biological. Everything about sex originates in one place: the brain. The brain powers our emotional response, spurs our physical response, and then our juices flow, action proceeds to happen (or not), and the rest is messy history.

Funny enough, in England, the biology of sex is a mandatory class, but “personal social and health education” is optional at the institutions doing the teaching. This latter course brings education about relationship and emotional health into play.

I must have missed the memo where relationships and emotional health were optional in my own life.

In a time when divorce is the norm, moreso than happy marriages, perhaps it’s time to reevaluate the ways in which we approach relationships. Maybe it’s time to acknowledge that the psychology/self-help departments of bookstores are the most popular non-fiction sections for a very good reason: We’re all so fucking clueless about how to deal not only with our own problems but any of the problems that might arise in our relationships.

I have a history of running from relationships when things get tough, which is why I’m stunned I’m even hanging around my present relationship at all, considering all the life-induced chaos within it. My first running-from-adversity relationship happened with a young guy named “JH,” my first real boyfriend. He fell, and he fell hard. He wrote me songs, played his guitar for me, and felt like the king of the town whenever I was around. I dumped him as soon as I saw that a divorce was imminent with my parents. I never told him why I was fucked up because I was too ashamed to admit my parents’ failure, and more ashamed to admit that I was weak emotionally.

I pulled the “but we can still be friends” bullshit and instead learned what it felt like to break someone’s heart. The guy fell apart and wrote a “you tore my heart to shreds” song for me, handed it to a friend to deliver to me, and within the week, stole a car, got arrested, and then never, ever spoke to me again.

Maybe if I’d had a better emotional upbringing I wouldn’t have fucked JH up as much as I apparently had. Who knows. I do know that I didn’t have a clue how to open up, how to trust, or how to react when the fit hit the shan. Instead, I’ve spent the better part of two decades slowly learning these lessons through bump-in-the-night, daytime talk shows, and brief flirtations with both self-help books and actual therapy.

And I’m not an exception, I’m the norm. Isn’t it time we change that?

As for “sex education,” it’s really a misnomer. I know that nothing I’ve ever had to deal with was taught to me by anyone with any authority. I learned through necessity.

I’ve had the fear of a condom breaking with a boyfriend before the age of 20, having to stroll self-consciously into a Free Clinic in order to get a morning-after pill, something I’ve had to take three times in my life. I once was so freaked out I was pregnant that I remember doing a pregnancy test ASAP after purchasing it – in the bathroom of a Subway sandwich shop. I never learned about the possible negatives of birth control pills until the last few years, because I was already so fucked up in so many ways that it just never dawned on me that my depression must have been exasperated by pill usage.

In short, everything I’ve ever learned about sex has come as a result of a need-to-know, and-now education, not before-the-fact. It has been a hard road getting to the place I’m at now, considering I was raised by sexually ignorant parents who weren’t comfortable talking about sex, and schooled by a high school that didn’t teach sex ed. Of my friends, I was one of the first to get laid, even though I was 17, and none of us ever talked about sex. When I lost my cherry, my only education was that provided by television and movies. I had no idea why the hell there was a wet spot, and it scared the crap out of me.

I didn’t understand all the emotions that came with sex, and I didn’t understand that a kiss was just a kiss, not an undying declaration of love. I wasn’t hurt by love; I was destroyed by it, and all because I was ignorant of the power relationships could have over us.

Teaching us the biology of sex does little to prepare us for the emotional overload that comes from relationships. Teaching us about human relationships and the dynamics of emotional response would far better prepare us for life and love, and it’s damned well time schools began to embrace that reality.

In the final paragraph of the article I’ve cited, some talking head spouts this sentiment:

“We trust teachers to use their professional judgement to decide which organisations can support teaching and learning in the classroom and which resources best support schools’ sex and relationship programmes.”

Jesus. Let’s not trust the teachers, okay? Let’s convene some people in-the-know to talk about what needs to be learned by kids today, and then create a program that includes all those essential facets, so as to stem relationship problems, improve self-esteem, and build emotional resilience. Violence in schools is greater than ever, bullying is at an all-time high, and divorces are skyrocketing.

Isn’t it time we learn about emotional health as part of our curriculum? ‘Cos we’re clearly fucked without it.

Twats and Knives: Together at Last

I was sent this story recently by a reader, detailing about this new trend of women going under the knife to alter aspects of their vaginal regions. I’m sure there are valid reasons to do so from time to time, but really… what the fuck are people thinking?

Plastic surgery is something I despise. Packaging, that’s what our bodies are. I’ve spent my LIFE trying to come to terms with who and what I am. I grew up believing that my ample ass was something disgusting, and I was always under the impression I was far more than just imperfect, I was just physically wrong.

But, hey, the first thing guys seem to wanna grab is that ample ass. And now I have no intention of taking it all off, despite minimizing its spread in the recent past. Hey, real estate’s the best investment you can make, and mine seems to be going up in value.

Fact is, we’re constantly under scrutiny – from our banks, our lovers, our employers, people on the street. Hell, about the cruelest thing one can do to themselves is to buy one of those 10x magnifying mirrors, don’t you think? Why don’t you just run out and buy a lifetime subscription to therapy while you’re at it?

Me, I use a standard mirror. I just lean in real fuckin’ close, you know? Does the trick. For now. One day, the eyes are gonna go and I’m gonna need one of those big-ass look-at-me now glaring glimpses at my imperfections, but I’ll be ready for that day when it comes.

Now, one of the fundamental differences between our sexes – get ready, here’s a newsflash – is the fact that the cock is on the outside of the body, and vagina’s bits and pieces are all inside us. Everyone knows guys are hung up on their dicks. But what about chicks?

Fact is, we’re twat-conscious. Most chicks are as clueless about their twats as the guys we latch onto are. Ever taken a look at your vagina? Yeah? How’s that workin’ out for ya? Tricky, hey? If not, well, you’re probably not missing out on much, since you’re liable to feel a tad self-conscious once you rig up the mirrors to angle a look at your privates. You gotta spread ‘em for a look at it, baby, and that’s seldom ever the best way to get introduced to your kitty.

I remember seeing a posting on someone’s blog a long time ago juxtaposing an image of a woman’s mouth in a sexy pout, and another woman with her mouth wide open, readied for an invasive visit by a dentist and a drill. The author asked the question, which would you rather see? He then alluded to the overwhelming tendency in porn today to show women spread-eagled with their vaginal lips spread wide open.

As a chick, I find it unattractive. But I’m a chick, and I know guys see things differently, so I’m over it. I do, however, agree with the post’s author, and I have to wonder: These women going under the knives, are they seriously looking at these porn-based images as a measuring stick for their own attractiveness? Why?

Taking cues on genitals from porn is like expecting to look like a Vogue model after you’ve showered and made yourself up. How about a fucking reality check? How about realizing that the beauty of vaginas is the fact that each has its own characteristics?

An interesting artist in the UK has done a line of photographic collages called “Cunt Flowers,” and one of those images is what you find here on this post. The artist gets what I’m saying – pussies offer an incredible assortment of appearances, and the beauty is in the variety. We’re not cookie cutters, people, so why the hell are we trying to cookie-cut our cunts?

It’s time we stop letting the beauty industry and media inflict insecurities and doubts upon us. It’s time we stopped paying thousands of dollars to fix what we perceive to be imperfections. We would never fix the exterior of our cars and ignore the engine, would we? So why the fuck do we apply that methodology to our bodies?

Start thinking from the inside out. Touch your cunt. Believe your men when they express passion for all you have between your legs. If he wants to go down on you and enjoys tonguing and playing with you, then get the hell over yourself and let him. He’s the one who sees what you truly offer; you and your headspace probably don’t know dick. Or, twat, as the case appears to be.