Tag Archives: Communication

Legacies: When All That’s Done is Said

Wow, so this posting got long. It should probably be separated. I just don’t have the emotional-editorial prowess for that, so I’ll leave it all jumbled together. I’m sure as the days and weeks move on, I’ll become more cemented in what I believe about Derek’s legacy in the blogging world, but, for now, I’m less academic and more the fumbling friend amazed at the outpouring of interest in a loved, lost voice on the local scene, to say the least.

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As of yesterday, our Vancouver friend, the Penmachine, Derek K. Miller’s infamous The Last Post had gone viral both on the web and in the world’s news media. On Monday, the Canadian Press newswire went live with a story on Derek, it was picked up by American Press’s wire, and suddenly it went from 23 notable world press stories on Sunday to more than 220 press organisations (at this time) carrying this story on Derek’s passing worldwide.

I wrote last week that, in blogging, Derek would “…have told his story. A ripple in the pond. That’s all most writers really want to make — a ripple in the pond.”

Some kinda ripple, Derek. Well done, friend.

Words, words, words

I think, in the scheme of Derek’s life work, in all he tried to share with others, that the legacy being created through this worldwide exposure to what blogging can DO for a man, his life, his legacy, and the memory others get to have of him, that Derek’s changing the world’s perception of blogging.

Maybe I’m too close to it.

Maybe I know the man, his work, and maybe I want this to be bigger than it is, but as someone who’s watched the press all her life and knows what the public thinks and feels, this is a rare, rare moment when a really honest, simple, powerful statement is getting heard by the whole world.

And it’s not a world leader. It’s not some political activist dying for a cause. It’s not a celebrity known the world over.

It’s just a statement from a good Canadian man. A father of two, a guy who married his soul mate and died still madly in love with her. It’s the guy we all knew we could call with a technical problem that needed urgent solving, or who we KNEW had just happened to take a secret perfectly-timed picture of us at that event where he just had a camera. He was that guy.

And somehow, who he was, who he loved, and the life he led, that was all captured in a mere 1,500 words. His perfect 1,500 words.

Then the world read it and, in 1,500 words, realised what was truly important in life, what can all disappear in a moment.

Like Derek wrote, “As soon as my body stopped functioning, and the neurons in my brain ceased firing, I made a remarkable transformation: from a living organism to a corpse, like a flower or a mouse that didn’t make it through a particularly frosty night. The evidence is clear that once I died, it was over.”

In a moment, we’re all gone forever. Then what?

Legacy-Making

So what’s his legacy, then? Super-nice local legend loved by those who were at the cusp of all the tech/web/music developments for 20+ years? Great writer? Spokesman for cancer, early testing, and living out loud?

Sure.

But I think Derek’s legacy is bigger, with more global implications.

Derek Miller took time in his dying days to write a post that, if we’re lucky, changes the way we’ve been thinking about language, communication, social media, writing, and connection.

For Derek, blogging (and podcasting) was truth, education, community, sharing, connecting, activism, camaraderie, and putting his stamp on the world. He did it all. He stamped good.

There are a lot of really shitty blogs out there. Content farms, traffic-whores. A lot of bad blogs.

Derek was never guilty of bad blogging.

He wasn’t a “writing filler” kinda guy. He didn’t have some self-imposed turnstile of copy-quota where he “had” to blog every day. He was a writer who was compelled to share a statement, a truth, or anything, but he certainly didn’t blog so we the audience had something to read, or the PR companies with schwag gifts had reason to mailing-list him.

Derek K. Miller always blogged because he had something to say. Something smart, well-said, perfectly edited, often insightful, and never sensationalised.

Somewhere along the road in the last five years, blogging became about expected numbers, certain amounts one had to get done on a weekly basis. Some “experts” claim 3-6 posts is the “perfect” amount. They’ll tell you a “good word count,” and that Derek K. Miller’s The Last Post was 900 words too long. They’ll show you how to juice it up with “search-engine optimising,” and sex it up with a graphic or two — oh, and break it up with headings, gotta do that too.

But they don’t tell you how to have heart in your writing.

They don’t tell you that your readers deserve significant content. They don’t tell you that creativity, quality, honesty, and originality count.

Somewhere, somehow, blogging and social media became about having a social resumé, hawking your wares, getting connected, getting laid, everything someone like Derek K. Miller never bothered manipulating it for.

I’m a writin’ romantic — a passionate idealist about language, writing, and communication.

I believe that blogging is the BEST thing to ever happen to writing.

And I think blogging is the WORST thing to ever happen to writing.

But, for every site concerned primarily with driving traffic, and not worried about enriching your life, there’s a blog quietly churning out good content week-in, week-out, just like The Penmachine did.

I believe a quality blog only needs one posting a week.

If it’s great, then one will do. If it sucks, then none will do.

I believe the sparse, simple, shocking truth behind Derek Miller’s brilliant The Last Post serves as a reminder of what economy of language, a simple desire to state the facts, and opening yourself up to the world can provoke in all manner of people.

We all want to be remembered. We want a legacy.

Blogging: Whoop! There it is

Not stupid blogging. Not bad blogging. Not blogging where you’re talking about ordering a muffin.

Blog about what that muffin means to you — what do you remember when you’re eating it, what was the most emotional muffin you ever ate and why, what happened right before that muffin was served, how did it smell, how did it taste, and does the emotional overload that triggered that muffin return to you now and then when you’re enjoying one, and if so, what’s that like?

A muffin, does it matter to the world at large? No, but your experiences that determine how you feel about a particular muffin, those experiences might.

And that’s a sort of ridiculous-but-clear example of blogging is — a chance for every person to have a real, true, digital record of their understated lives. Their commentary, opinions, injustices, whatever. It’s a record.

We’ve lived in a world where publishing, media, communication have almost always been in the hands of those with money and power.

For the first time ever, we can control our words.

We can make sure others can read them, even strangers in far away lands.

AdAge magazine called Derek Miller’s The Last Post an example of the “democratization of publishing.” Yeah, okay. Sure: Cheap-n-easy self-publishing.

Personal blogging is powerful, not only for you but for the people who get to read it… and maybe even those you leave behind.

We’re told not to “tell” too much. Yeah, all this not-sharing stuff seems to be doing a LOT of good for society.

Oh, no one will ever understand what you’re enduring. No one will get that.

Derek Miller blogged about wearing diapers, yet millions are hanging off his extensive cancer-living archives this week.

You know who doesn’t know what people want to read? THEM. The “experts.”

You know what I want to read?

I want to read people who write about things that leave them feeling uneasy when they hit publish — or proud, or desperate to see what the comments are because that post mighta been pushing it or so angry while writing that clicking “publish” felt like they’d just flushed the toilet on all the shit that had ’em feeling that way.

I want to read about people experiencing life — in all its varieties.

If you CARE what I think, I probably don’t want to read you. If you think, while writing, “how should I say this to best elicit a reaction?” then I likely don’t want to read you.

If you write because you need to write, because you feel like you have something on your chest and you’re hoping writing will help sort it out, or because you just can’t NOT share THAT observation you had earlier today?

Then you’re the kind of blogger I wish everyone was.

Empowered by Blogging

Blogging is a tool we have for breaking down barriers.

We can connect, teach each other, expose injustices, examine life, do whatever the hell we want.

No longer are we under the thumb of industry when it comes to distributing our creations.

As artists, writers, musicians — if an audience is all we require, then we have the whole world before us. We have 100% artistic control. We have instantaneous access to publication and audiences. We are not at the mercy of industry. Industry is at the mercy of us, and the tide is turning.

Back in 1990 was a movie I always thought was ahead of its time on some of the issues (though dated now), Pump Up the Volume, about Christian Slater as a pirate radio DJ named Happy Harry Hard-on, aka Chuck U. Farley. The premise of all his angsty railing against society was pretty simple come movie’s end: You have a voice. Use it.

In the end, if Derek Miller’s legacy is that people realise they can use the voice they have, I can’t think of a better one. Nothing broke my heart more than to know Derek had lost his speaking voice for much of his remaining weeks in life, and to think his “eternal” voice is heard around the world now… well, it blows me away.

You have a voice. Use it. Leave a legacy of your own choosing.

And, more importantly, consider today what you’d write in your obituary for tomorrow, and take stock now of what you need to change to have that obituary reflect a life you wish you’d have been living — and an emptier bucket list.

Blogging: It’s good mental lifting. Writin’ does a soul good. Check it out, kids.

(Photos: Derek K. Miller — from Facebook profile shots he’s used.)

Should I Stay or Should I Go Now?

I had an end-of-the-night chat on Twitter with my friend Tris Hussey (@TrisHussey), one of Vancouver’s best WP blogging smartie-pants, about the strange life of being a vanilla girl in a sex-blogger-world.

It’s had me thinking since, which is why I like smartie-pants like Tris.

See, he thinks the world needs more sex-positive voices — especially from everyday-peoples like me, I guess.

Me, I still have a hard time swallowing the role. So to speak.

That’s what my whole journey in sex-blogging was about. Discovering my own sexuality in a more positive way, where I no longer judged my tastes or worried what things might suggest about me ethically or morally.

It was a hard fucking battle and I’m not even sure where I am on that road right now because I’ve been abstaining for too long. Just… because. I didn’t want to think about sexuality. I had to think about me.

But I’ve thought about me. I’m a better “me” than I’ve ever been. Now I’m ready to be more. Again.

I think the reason my sex-writing has been so successful at being applicable to the average person is because I am one. I’m not interested in burlesque. I couldn’t give a shit if I ever experience a threesome. I don’t have anything too crazy going on in my closet, can’t tell you about any really freaky encounters or swinging parties. I don’t have really odd kinks, I don’t need to push any boundaries. I don’t need more/crazier/harder to get off than I used to.

I like a little bondage, a little kink, trying creative positions, and have a little thing about sex in interesting places if time/lack-of-visibility allow. That’s about it.

I’m not off-the-charts with my sexuality, and I’m not even promiscuous. I’m old-fashioned.

But I think into every sex life a little doggy-style must fall. Or maybe a lot. It’s open for debate — let’s bang-out a plan of attack. What can I tell ya?

I think sexuality is probably one of the biggest journeys we all take.

How many people ever truly get comfortable in that context? How many people not only get comfortable with being truly sexual, but do so in a healthy way — they don’t overconsume porn, hurt others in their quest for fulfilling needs, or develop unhealthy dependencies on any particular activity, person, or lifestyling?

The world doesn’t have enough oft-laid happy “average” people skipping through life with a “I”ve been shagged SILLY” bounce to their step. How many accountants do you see walking bow-legged on Monday morning, huh?

The attitudes we DO have about sex, unfortunately, are being shaped by really fucked-up messages on the media, in Hollywood, and the internet. Sleeping around’s more popular than it’s been since the ’70s,  STDs are on the rise, people are experimenting left, right and centre because media’s showing all these alternative approaches to us…

But where’s the heart?

Where’s the emotion?

Why’s there such a profound disconnect between what we’ll let ourselves feel in the crotch versus what we’ll allow our hearts to feel?

What the hell are we thinking?

Sigh. Don’t ask me, man. I’m only beginning to even attempt to crack that nut.

For the last 2-3 years, I’ve not been considering sexuality and society as much as I once did. Re-reading my work has reminded me of why I’d been so angry about it all in the past, and has rekindled my interest in being one of the voices to bring some reason to the argument.

I think so much of what’s wrong with us as a society can be explained through our skewed perspectives on sex.

I’m not suggesting getting laid equals world peace.

I’m suggesting that it’s the attitudes we associate with sex that matter, not necessarily about whether we’re getting laid or not.

When we do get shagged, how vulnerable do we truly let ourselves be? How willing are we to let our loved ones into our deeper darker places we’re scared to admit exist? How ready are we to open the doors to where we keep our skeletons?

Sex is the physical realm of mental trust. What you’re willing to do mentally SHOULD translate sexually, vice versa.

Yet how often is that true?

Are you open to others, do you accept all ways of life, can you trust those around you, are you comfortable expressing your needs? Tell me what kind of lover you are, and I’ll tell you the answer to those questions. Again, vice versa.

If everyone was open, trusting of others, accepting of other lifestyles and worldviews, willing to be versatile, able to be vulnerable but also strong when needed, and could let others lead when necessary but follow when called for, what kind of world do you think we’d live in?

Don’t tell me sex can’t heal us.

Don’t tell me sex isn’t an important statement on who and what we are as a people.

And don’t even think of telling me we’re okay.

I’m not crazy about standing up here and being the sex-positive poster-girl. I’m not enthused about the judgment or speculation it promises to hold for me. I’m not happy this job needs doing by anyone.

But there’s no one out there talking about sex for ME.

There’s no one *I* get. No one echoes the battles I’ve fought, the lessons I’ve learned, and the thoughts I’ve had in a way that really resonates.

And I know how alone I felt and how fucked up and self-judgey I was, and for how long.

Someone needs to speak for me.

So I will.

And hopefully it’ll mean a few other people feel spoken for.

Because I’m getting real fuckin’ tired of the people who’ve been doing all the talking so far.

Saying What’s Meant and Meaning What’s Said

We, as a society, seem pretty lost on the subject of communicating these days.

Oh, sure, we’ve got the surfacing of it all down pat. We text each other. Email abounds. Blogging has given a voice to everyone we wish never had one. Twitter makes it possible to nanobroadcast your life. Coworkers instant message each other from their desks. Feet? Who needs ’em? We’re more in touch with each other without even moving than we’ve ever been.

Yet it’s like the end of communication’s been happening before our very eyes. Does anyone ever really SAY anything anymore? Does any of it ever really MEAN anything? Continue reading

Say Something, Dammit

The sky is blue. This I know.

I can be told once in my life that the sky is blue, and I need not be reminded. I may have had three concussions and had bleeding on my brain, but I’m sufficiently clued in enough to be able to recall the blueness of that great big yonder up there. It’s there, it’s bigger than life, and it’s unavoidable.

What I’m not smart enough to remember, however, is just how spiffy I am.

You see, I have these alien invaders in my body that will never, ever go away. They’re from planet Estrogen, and, man, as far as aliens go, they’re a right bitch sometimes.

Unfortunately, there is an entire world filled with people of my ilk who have been invaded by these cosmic cunts, and we’re known as Women. These “Estrogenies” do things to us that we’re not that crazy about. They make us insecure, make us moody, and make us sometimes a little inconsistent. Fortunately, they also make our boobs swell once a month. It’s a give-and-take thing, really.

Guys are pretty low-key. We like that about you. We like the fact that we know we can make you a sandwich, kiss your neck, give you a beer, and you feel like you’re the king of the jungle. Easy-peasy.

We, however, communicate more than you. You, obviously, communicate less. And you’re deceptive. You like to think you’re simple. “I am man. I grunt, therefore I am.” But you’re complicated. You get moody, you get silent, and you internalize. It’s what men do. We understand this.

What we can’t process, though, is the price it sometimes comes at. Men close themselves off, and then by so doing, they also forget to communicate with us about the little things that help to keep relationships moving nice and happy-like.

“You look nice today.”
“Have I told you lately how much you rock?”

We wish we didn’t need to be told that everything’s well and good and we’re still cared about and we still do all the things to you that we did way back when, but we do need to hear these things. And frankly, you need to hear them from us, too. Everyone does.

Compliments and expressions of affection are like yogurt. They have a shelf-life, and while they keep a little longer than you might think, but when they go, man, they go. And then the weird comes down. Insecurities rise, distance ensues, and things get complicated. Relationship mold. Ew.

It’s lame, but it happens. It doesn’t take much to get out of your head sometimes and just remember to say good things about your partner. Keep them secure about how they’re valued, even when you’ve got things going on otherwise. We all get a little too internal, and it’s just not fair to our lovers if we’re all self-involved and failing to acknowledge their worth to us from time to time.

It’s really easy to forget to be communicative about these things when your sex life is going, but at least then you have a physical expression of that affection, and sometimes things can be left unsaid. If you’re not getting physical often, then it’s really important to at least have the communication working, right? Pretty obvious there. 2 + 2 = 4, yeah?

It’d be wonderful if we only had to be told once in our lives that we’re loved, but it doesn’t work that way. The more it happens, the more real it becomes to us. Fleeting suggestions of affection really don’t leave deep imprints on us, and frankly, they often don’t even make a dent. Even worse is, if we’re told how great we are over a period of time, and then time lapses where it ceases to happen much at all anymore, then there’s even greater reason to become insecure.

Put your money where your mouth is, people, and tell ‘em that you dig ‘em. Tell ‘em often, tell ‘em good. If you don’t, you never know, you might just lose what you have, and that’d be a crying shame. Especially if the feelings existed, but your communication simply lacked. The price we pay for these oversights is far too high.

(And, hey, watch out for the Estrogenies, eh?)

Getting What You Ask For

Words hurt. What we say can hurt others. It can traumatize them. It can lead to unthinkable acts. Without a doubt, words can hurt.

But what we don’t say can often hurt us every bit as much. Unfortunately, as you read this, lovers all over the world are having unnecessarily bad sex all because of words they’re not saying.

Words like, “Honey, not so hard.” Or perhaps, “Can you move a little to the left?” Or quite possibly the worst phrase of all to overlook, “I think we could use a little lube.”

I’m making light of it, to be sure, but honestly, I still feel the best way to dial up a sex life is through talk. I’m not suggesting getting into a discourse on the pros and cons of ratifying Kyoto or anything, but rather, an interactive discussion on whether things are working or not. But let’s come back to that.

I recently received a happy package in the mail from my Secret Santa. In it was a copy of the Better Sex Series on DVD. This was Volume One: Advanced Sexual techniques and Positions.

Now, personally, I didn’t find there was anything really new in the DVD, but I really was glad to watch it. I’ll be keeping it around. It may come in handy with a future lover. It’s a “how to” video that explains a whole lot about sex, and I think it’d probably be useful for any new or even intermediate couple. It echoes a lot of things I’ve always believed.

There was a lot of great information included, everything from how every person’s body will respond differently to stimulation, to the uniqueness of different cocks and vaginas, and a myriad of useful position and technique advice. Great stuff.

It also highlighted the necessity of communication. The program’s participants appear to be real couples who occasionally suck at acting (in that they’re just trying too hard to say the lines right) but they sure as hell have it going on in bed. The couples talk on-screen about aspects of their sex lives correlating to whatever topic might be showing at any given time, from cunnilingus to come, and then you see snippets of them getting it on in rather elegant, if sparse, and nicely lit surroundings, illustrating how hot their sex really is.

(An assumption one might draw if they excelled in naivety would be along the lines of, “Dude, they talked about it and then, whammo! They had frickin’ hot sex! Talking is HOT, dude!”)

There are scenes, though, that illustrate beautifully what kind of dialogue can be used to really spice up your relationship. How? It’ll give you a roadmap for your partner’s pleasure zones. Here’s some questions I think ought to be asked in these scenarios, and some are variations of ones asked in the DVD:

“How do you like having your clit rubbed?”
“What part of your cock is the most sensitive?”
“Is there something I don’t do that you wish I did?”
“What part of your body do you think needs more attention?”
“What do I do that you like the most?”
“What do you like the least?”
“When’s your favourite time to have sex?”
“Please tell me when I’m doing something that doesn’t feel right.”
“I wish we could keep doing this longer…”

You obviously can surmise that having information on any of the above questions would give you a little more insight into your lover. I mean, haven’t you ever had that experience where, when you were younger, you had certain beliefs (political, ethical, spiritual, philosophical, whatever) and you happened upon a book that somehow encapsulated everything you ever believed, and you suddenly just had this totally invigorated worldview?

Not everyone knows that feeling, but I do, and those that do, I bet they know what I’m saying here. If, say, you have an inkling that the way you tickle your lover’s anus when you’re making out, playing naked in bed, but it’s one of those sorta odd taboos you’ve never really spoken about, so it’s almost like a guilty little pleasure when you sneak a little tweak for kicks, right?

But let’s say it finally comes up in conversation. They somehow look up at you, all abashed, and guiltily confess, “I gotta say, I get so, so, so hot whenever you do that thing to my ass, but I’ve been too embarrassed to admit it… and I’d like a little more.”

One little statement, that’s all it takes. I couldn’t care less if assplay is a notion that gets you off or not, but you see my point. Confess your desires, inquire as to theirs, and start fulfilling them. What part of this is so hard to understand?

Not much, I gather. It’s just hard to do. At first. One day, you just come to realize that being vulnerable may get you a little more hurt more often, but wow, the dividends it pays in most of your life is frickin’ killer — especially when it comes to sex. You’ll find that the more you open up, the more you will be rewarded in kind. When that happens, a synergy starts to build between you. There’s something there, more tangible, more open, more adventurous. It’s like you’re finally receiving permission to act.

What’s more, it’ll start spilling out into other areas of your life. You’ll feel more comfortable being open. It takes a while to find the right people who are receptive to it, but once you do, then you need to find a way to get them talking.

And if you can’t get them talking, then at least try to get them to watch something like the Better Sex series. There is help out there, kids. It’s a matter of finding it.