Tag Archives: community

All We Need Is Love. No, Really.

(This is not a posting about politics, or the Democratic Convention, even if it starts out talking about that for a second, so bear with me.)

After last night’s Democratic National Convention speech, Michelle Obama’s gotten a big spotlight around the world for bringing a topic up that we don’t often treat with the respect it deserves — love.

Her speech last night played on the heartstrings about the idea of love. Love for a parent, for a family member, for those who sacrifice, for heroes, for idols. Love. Love for each other.

It’s an emotion we all feel, or it can be replaced by its antitheses — hate, anger, sorrow.

For a few minutes, though, Michelle Obama talked about this love idea. This thing that, once upon a time, we’d maybe feel for those around us. We’d fight for it. We’d protect it.

Love. This many-hallowed thing of ages long forgotten. The one emotion that probably transcends every culture, and even every species.

I watched an episode of PBS’ Nature last week in which a mama grizzly was frantically running all over an Alaskan wilderness reserve searching for her cub. After a few minutes’ footage of this heartbreaking search by a mother for a child, she found it, and the joy was indescribable.

Love is a product of biology, not humanity.

So we like to think we’re all about love as a society. We’re pumping out music about it, movies that claim to be about love, and we exalt things like marriage and parenthood because they’re based, in theory, upon love too.

But we’re kidding ourselves.

We’re not about love.

If it bleeds, it leads. Be scared. Be very, very scared. Long for yesterday. Blame someone. It wasn’t me. Don’t trust anyone. Lock your doors. Don’t talk to strangers. Keep outsiders out. Money talks.

In the media today is this evil, awful loop of distrust, fear, hate, and judgment that keeps spinning and spinning and spinning.

Oh, I’m sorry, did I say “in the media”? I meant spinning, period.

I’m on the internet. I see the rhetoric playing out in reality. I see the lies slung, the hate bounced, the judgment passing. By people, not media.

If you think all our problems are born in the media, you got another think coming. They’re just the mirror in front of us.

I wish it were easier to see the beginning of it all. People say Hard Copy was the beginning of the journalistic decline, but Ayn Rand wrote a whole book around the concept of bad journalism and what it says about us. See that “evil” book The Fountainhead for her look at Ellsworth Tooey and pandering to the masses. That’s seven decades ago.

Did debased journalism begin, then society crowd around it like a mass of hungry onlookers at an accident scene? Or have we always been that shitty?

We obsess over celebrities. Oh, they’re famous and pretty and rich, so therefore they’re wonderful. Quick, cut them down with gossip and mockery!

Like children building with blocks, when it comes to societal successes, we look for the quickest way to disassemble that which we just built up.

Yet we’re better than that.

This same awful race who lives and breathes the TMZ religion and who conceived the inequities which plague class divisions the world over is the same race that has done everything from putting a man on the moon to discovering penicillin.

When we’re not confronted with imminent threat, we forget that we’re all in this together. We lunge at each other and bring words and weapons to spar with.

I recall Bush saying “You’re either with us, or you’re against us” and suddenly it seems we’re all living life in much that way.

In the hours after 9-11 occurred, for one brief, eerily shining moment, nearly the whole world was united in a feeling of love and empathy. I don’t think Americans realize that. The whole world felt the pain of that horrible, horrible day, and I think anywhere you were, this wave of despondency hit because we realized we’d just seen the worst that humanity had to offer.

And from that place, in the dust of the hours in the days that followed, this overwhelming feeling of love and community came out of it, because everyone needed to feel together for a while. We needed to feel like we were more than just hatred.

That’s what I remember of those days. This inexplicable juxtaposition of feeling the most hate I’d ever felt, the most anger I’d ever known, and at the very same time feeling this outpouring of love and empathy I only wish I could carry with me every day.

While we are both these things, we are more often the worst of ourselves.

Last night, Michelle Obama reminded us of some of the things that are the best of who we are, who we could be. She reminded us of those who are great who walk through the door of opportunity then hold it open so that others may also experience greatness.

But this isn’t who we are now. Not often. Not anymore.

Instead of achieving greatness by surrounding ourselves with greatness, we’re often looking for ways to tear down others. We look for failings. We protect ourselves and attack everyone who isn’t like us.

We’re the Youtube generation. Everybody point and laugh.

We have been better than this before. We can be better than this now.

I’ve found myself so often watching this year’s election process down south and feeling rather brokenhearted. I am so saddened by who we have become. I’m tired of divisiveness. I hate the blame game. But this disease keeps spreading. We glom onto hate and fear like leaches sucking a bloated carcass.

Maybe it’s because everyone’s so financially stretched and the future seems bleak. Maybe everyone’s so tired of the struggle to keep our heads afloat that we see others as a threat to our security. Maybe we’re tired of being so aware of our personal failings that we need to spotlight others’.

I don’t know.

That’s who we are, six days a week, on a public level. Maybe at home with our families and our closest friends, we’re better people. In fact, I know most of us are.

But when it comes to being inclusive in society, when it comes to thinking big-picture about our nations and our places in the world, that’s where our humanity evaporates and many of us slide into a place we shouldn’t respect ourselves for in the morning.

And for a brief little while last night, a great speaker reminded us that we’ve been more. In times like the Great Depression, we were motivated by love for others, a belief of being in it together, and an aspiration of communal greatness.

We have had our moments of being something amazing.

Unfortunately, electing a guy into an office and telling him to fix everything, and then going on with life as usual for four years isn’t how amazing happens. Amazing happens when we all remember we’re a part of something bigger. It’s when we all give back with volunteering, generosity of spirit, by helping our fellow man, and looking for the best in every situation.

That’s how greatness happens.

And for a time, I’ll be hoping people are reminded of that for the remaining weeks in this American election.

We need to remember we can be great.

And then we need to become it.

Love is a very good place to start that quest.

The Power to Own It

I began a new blog today.

There’s an area of my life I don’t feel like writing about here or anywhere else too obviously just yet, so I figure a new blog is a good way to do it.

But I don’t want true anonymity, I don’t want to write for just myself, because what I’m going through is something that’s a universal experience, and it’s painful for us all.

I believe I know something about sharing pain. I believe I know something about sharing the dark inner-workings of some life experiences that many don’t have the guts to put a voice behind.

I believe my obligation as a writer is to share that with my audience. I believe I owe it to myself, and to anyone else hurting in that same place I’m going through, to put my emotions and hurts into words so that there’s some kind of community behind the feeling.

I don’t think I was given the talent of writing so I could fill paper for-my-eyes-only journals that get stuffed in a drawer and contribute fuck all to the way the world spins. I believe each of us was given whatever skills and talents we have with the obligation of using them in a way that builds into the human condition.

We owe it to each other to own our experiences and share them. We underestimate the power of identity and community, but we truly don’t fathom how important both are to the fullness of our lives.

So why am I writing the blog a little bit incognito?

Because it’s not just my story to tell right now, and to put my fully-public stamp upon the work would be difficult for others.

I don’t do secrets well. I keep confidences beautifully, but I can’t keep secrets about myself from others. I don’t care to, it’s not my style. I’m honest to a fault. I’m absolutely fucking CERTAIN I’m not the only person who thinks the irreverent things I do, who gets pissed about the things I do, or hurts in the ways I hurt.

I know I’m not alone. That knowledge emboldens me. I want to share. I want to stand up and shout THIS IS HOW IT FEELS!

So, if you look hard enough, you might find me.

And I’m fine with that.

But here, now, this place, given my audience, I can’t begin to define for you the scope of these feelings I have, because, well, it gives everything away. To my whole audience.

It’s hard, too, though. It’s hard to hide this, but it’s also hard to put it out there, because putting it out there means I can’t pretend it’s not real or that it’s not happening to me.

I don’t want to own these feelings. These are truths I could well do to avoid. Which is all the problem, and is why I’ve opened that can of worms.

That’s when writers need to write: When it’s the very last thing in the world they wish to write about.

When’s the last time you told the truth about your biggest fears? When’s the last time you owned up to your most regrettable failings and accepted that you’ve not paid the price for them or atoned in any way? When’s the last time you said you were all that and more, but that you could confidently say that that didn’t mean you were a bad person, just a normal human?

Because we should all do that a little more. We should all acknowledge we could be closer to that person we have a vision of being, and accept that our ethics and morality may stand room for improvement.

If you’re the perfect vision of who you’ve always dreamed to be, then congratulations, you’re in the rare 1%.

Me, I’m far, far, far from that woman. Today, I’ve taken another step in possibly trying to write/right some of the wrongs that are the crevasse separating me from who I’ve been and who I’d like to still be.

It’s a good way to end a week, and a bittersweet moment of satisfaction. I know there’s no happy ending for me here. But there’s a better ending than the one I currently see unfolding, and I know that it’s in my power to change.

And somewhere on the web I still get to have a voice and share that common human experience, if only a little incognito.

What a beautiful world technology gives us the opportunity to have…

If only we’d all try to use this technology to create real community rather than just more commodity.

Things to Remember This Christmas

steff's christmas card 2006 resizedSince 1998, I’ve had every kind of Christmas imaginable. Lonely, magnificent, rich, broke, injured, healthy, in love, out of love. Had ’em all.

I was raised to believe in the magic of Christmas. We’d have a houseful of people singing carols, Dad would make his famous cardiac eggnog, the house was full of decorations and laughter, and us kids would even have visits from Santa, who brought every child there a gift. It really was magical.

When my mother died in 1999, I was pretty sure Christmas would never feel that Magical again. And, yeah, I was right — it hasn’t. But my life isn’t over, and “dreams” don’t always have to be big, flashy, and involve a credit card. Sometimes they can just be about getting back to the heart of what made your life wonderful and good once. Continue reading

Thoughts On Community: In With the Out Crowd

It’s funny, this whole “sex blogger community” thing. I’m all for it, but I don’t feel part of it at all. Not because people don’t include me, they do. It’s just… it’s complicated.

I’ve always felt this way, but in the recent months my feelings have been given a boost and now I feel sort of even more isolated and unsexblogger. What’s been the recent impetus for that?

Twitter. Flat-out. See, I’ve got a little over 400 followers or so now, and I follow about 160 people or so. In the beginning, I tapped the people I recognized from blogging, they tapped me back, and I guess as I began yammering all the whacked shit I do, and what with the moniker “SmuttySteff“, my sex following grew, but thanks to my always-weird Twitter feed, also began growing past the mostly sex-blog writing-and-reading community.

Real-time comments from others in the community, about their sexual hijinks, who they’re screwing, what dates they have lined up, chronicles of their masturbation, what new toys they’ve received, how they’re dressing for X, their social interactions, and so forth, juxtaposed against the very vanilla-like-me feeds of others, just all has served to remind me that there’s a very big distinction between being a fan of sex and having really healthy attitudes about it versus being an enthusiast who seeks to keep it present in their life at all times, some of whom might be defined as “lifestylers”.

Debauched Domestic Diva wrote an interesting post this week in which she speaks of “The Lifestyle” and how she feels there seems to be this almost clique-ish attitude in the BDSM community about whether you’re a “lifestyler” or not.

I don’t mean to offend or insult anyone who uses that phrase in their lives and I am sorry if I do, but it confuses the hell out of me because I don’t really understand what it exactly means other than that judgemental feeling I get when I see or hear it. I don’t know if it means you are poly, kinky or what.

I have such a wide range of people in my life these days who all seem to be into something different. Which one of their lives if the correct lifestyle? Maybe someone can explain better to me and help me understand it because I know that right now all I am trying to do these days is just live my life.

I agree with DDD. I don’t have a “lifestyle”. Likely never will. I’m just this girl who got tired of feeling like a “slut” just because she wanted to have a little better sex. I’m 35 now, I’ve never been the type to sleep around. I don’t have multiple partners, ever. I don’t have someone lined up for a filler-shag in between relationships, and have never had someone there in that capacity. I don’t go to sex parties. I don’t really use or look for or even have porn, it’s just not my thing. I prefer my photography erotic, and certainly seek it out at times. On top of that, I have opinions on sex work that run contrary to what most of the active sex blog community believes.

I like sex. I make no apologies for the sex I like. And I sure as hell don’t judge others for having the sex THEY like. Because THAT is what it is all about. But, when I don’t have sex in my life, that’s just fine with me. I’m all right with that. I’m not a lifestyler. It’s not even a hobby for me.

But one of the problems with the sex blog community is, when I’m opting out of the sex race and dating chaos, I feel like I somehow should apologize for it. Like, “how can I like sex if I’m not raving about it daily?” I don’t think anyone’s ever made me FEEL that way, but just stacked up against the oh-so-public exploits I hear, I’m often left feeling like someone let the kindergarten kids into the grade seven class again. I’m just left feeling like I’m somehow out of my league because I don’t do it LIKE THAT.

Which is bullshit.

Because the sex I have is the sex that’s right for me. It gets me hot, keeps me hot, tends to keep me indoors, and keeps me very, very satiated — when I go there. The life I lead is the life I need to be leading right now. The lifestyle I have suits MY style for the time being. I don’t have a lifestyle. I have mystyle. I don’t need to be in relationships. I don’t need approval from anyone else. I don’t have to be sexually engaged to feel a part of my world, or even on top of it.

Not that anyone else in the community does feel they need to lead the life they do, or that they need to do so publicly for any kind of approval. I’m just saying, from my perspective, how I sometimes feel about my own exploits or the glaring lack thereof — probably mostly because I’m fully aware in a first-person kinda way of how plain and unglamourous my little existence is.

But it’s MY life. I’m doing what I need to be doing for ME. Is that really not right? Is it not “good enough” to be a part of the community? Is it just not in keeping with what’s going on out there? Or does it even matter at all?

Judging by the fact that I feel welcomed and appreciated by the community, even if I don’t really feel as if *I* belong there, it doesn’t look like it matters much at all. And that’s very nice.

Yet the fact remains. Here I am, leading a pretty “vanilla” life comparatively, and day-in, day-out, I’m reminded of that fact because I can vicariously experience some of these others’ exploits in real-time through the social world of Twitter. Let’s face it. I’m just that old-school good-girl who’s only as bad as she needs to be to have a good time. How’d I ever get running with this crowd anyhow? It’s a weird, weird world, friends. Still, it’s a fun ride.