Tag Archives: Lifestyle

Add Another Voice to the Fray

For everything I’ve published this week, four have gone into the depths, filed under lock and key, not fit for sharing. Too personal, too exploratory, too unconnected, too any-number-of-things.

A lot of what I batted around regards my relationship with sex: Where it’s been, where it went, why it changed, why it matters, what it means,  why my voice is relevant, and why I feel I need to re-enter that sexual fray.

Back in the day, when I was tapping sex blogging regularly, I was really onto something.

I’ve really enjoyed revisiting all my work. I see where I went wrong. But seeing where I went right? Empowering. I know my perspective has grown. Exploring that’ll be quite the ride.

Last night, I wrote something, then hid it  from you– a bold, in-your-face statement of what I think I bring to the sex-blogging world and why I feel relevant.

There’s a time and a place for that, but it’s not today. I need to update my sexual manifesto some day soon.

My first year of sex-blogging, I’d hit nearly a million page views, had ridiculous stats on Technorati and Alexa, and landed myself with raves from everyone from Nerve.com to Salon.com, with frequent spots on Gawker’s Fleshbot, and more.

Part of that appeal was the flavour I brought sex-writing.

I brought social anger, for instance. Defiance.

I was outraged I had to defend my sexuality after a lifetime spent in private schools and in semi-religious surroundings. This was 2006  & the peak of George Bush Administration’s attempt to divert scrutiny from the Iraq War by turning the country into a religious-morality battleground. Ideologies and politics clashed constantly. Church and state, indeed.

It was the time of Terry Schiavo, of adultery becoming punishable by life in prison in Massachusetts, of sex toys being made completely illegal in Mississippi, and of academic blackballing against professors who showed liberal sexual views privately while teaching in post-secondary institutions.

It was a time of growing fear, all because of what it took consenting adults to reach orgasm because of how THEY were hardwired, in that horribly socially-susceptible spot: private bedrooms.

I was outraged. I channeled that, and I channeled it well.

But I think another area that really cemented why my voice was (and is) relevant in the white noise of the web was pretty simple.

In a supposedly sex-positive online world, the industry keeps talking about wide, wide issues under the larger “sex rights” umbrella. And everything’s about the extremes of black and white.  All the time. Like, rights for sex trade workers.

While I support sex trade workers, the reality is, the average person isn’t one, they’ve likely never used one or known one on a first-name real-life basis. The AVERAGE person.

And who decides the cultural, ethical, political, and sexual future of our society? The AVERAGE person.

How are you going to draw that “average” audience in if every message immediately identifies its author with extreme kinks, or really wide-ranging BDSM life-styling, or has them aggressively advocating rights for sex trade workers?

Where’s the in-between? We shades-of-greys want our sex, too. Where’s the eroticism and issues-exploring for the not-so-big-in-Japan crowd?

Just because the average person might not want THAT much edge doesn’t mean we need to be churning out Cosmo-level copy on sex.

The average person, from 20 – 45, is more savvy, open-minded, and curious than ever. They’re open to aggressive debate. They like subjective commentary. This is The Daily Show generation, whether they’re into vanilla sex or not.

We can hit topics harder, push more intellectual agendas, and even open the door into kink by taking the intimidation out of it.

Until you soften the “heavy” agenda and temper its frequency, and until you realize that extreme kink and “core” lifestyles daunt and unnerve some who might consider dipping a toe in less-deep-and-scary kink-waters, then there’s a whole audience looking for sex insight that might just balk at your all-or-nothing approach.

I don’t want to shrug and say “Well, that’s their problem” because I was one of those people, and I’ve since bought the ticket to ride.

The odds of me ever going out and buying a ball-gag are pretty unlikely, okay? A riding crop, though? Giddyap.

The line between a ball-gag and a riding crop is a bigger ideological chasm than most seem to realize, I fear.

There’s a limit to what I’m willing to try to cross, and I’m not alone.

There are insecurities I’ve had to rise above, and I’m not alone.

There are apprehensions I have had and do have about behaviours, and I’m not alone.

Being sex-positive doesn’t mean everything suits my tastes, and I don’t/won’t apologize for it.

I write about what interests, angers, and inspires me. That doesn’t include the entire world of d-i-r-t-y sex, and never will. If I’m not interested in it, I’m not gonna lie.

I write posts that say “that’s not MY thing, but go ahead. ” When I say that, every reader has permission to not only like it, but to NOT like it.

Like with this not-so-lifestyle posting, where I confess that blowjobs aren’t my idea of a good time.

But… I wrote the GUIDE on blowjobs! I wrote an INTERNET CLASSIC on how to give mindblowing blowjobs, a posting that’s been plagiarized more than a high-school hall-pass!

Uh, yeah. Yeah, and I’m still saying I can think of better things to do than saying, “HEY! It’s FRIDAY! I need a cock in my mouth!”

Do I then fail as a sex writer? Fuck, no.

I’m strong, passionate chick who knows what she needs to do — and wants to do — to make a man happy. That’s when it’s not about the act itself, but about what it causes, what it leads to, and since happiness and satisfaction are beautiful things, why not? It’s an exchange, trade, barter. It’s wonderful.

But it’s not just about having a cock in a mouth, and that’s what gets me when I see simplistic sex writers breaking things down to only the barbaric and the basic.

Sex is so much more.

For all of history, arts and passion are born because of what makes our hearts swell and break. Wars and uprisings and cultural revolutions wage because of matters of the heart.

But little sister over there wants a cock in her mouth.

Oh, sorry, she wants a hard, dripping cock in her mouth. Much better.

Yeah. Fucking right my voice needs to be in the mix.

We need more than just the academics on one side and the rock-n-roll pornstars on the other.

We need people in the middle who aren’t your meek, mild-mannered “average” people. We need strong, unapologetic voices that are willing to own their “vanilla” or not-so-vanilla ways and stand up for biology wanting what biology wants.

Sex shouldn’t be some social status card like it is now.

I don’t need be a fan of burlesque in order to be sex-positive. It doesn’t require me to be bicurious, kiss a girl, love  swinging parties, be polyamorous, or even be promiscuous, in order to be a really big fan of orgasms and being dirty and having fun with a lover.

I enjoy what gets me off. That’s never been my problem. And I’ve closed the door on nothing sexual-taste-wise. Sex should lead where sex wants to lead — so long as precautions are taken, consent is given, and consequential ignorance isn’t a factor.

That’s the voice I want to have.

I want it to be okay to like it however way you want to like it. I want to be the voice that gently-but-bluntly encourages people to embrace surprise and take chances with new pursuits. I want to employ brutal truth and stand for what I feel is right when others would quash freedoms based on narrow world-views.

That’s my voice. Here’s where you’ll find it.

PHOTO: From chagrin.tumblr.com, no photographer or originating site listed.

Extreme Writing 101: Scab-picking

The phrase “Physician, heal thyself,” is meant to be a dry poke at the medical profession. You may be god-like, but you can’t fix yourself.

“Writer, heal thyself,” however, isn’t a poke, it’s a goal.

In talking with a friend over dinner last night, I likened writing to the extreme sports of the artistic world. No other art requires one to be so isolated and confrontational, so alone and challenged, for so long. It’s an endurance sport, one with almost impossible odds. You’ll never say everything you want to say, you’ll never be as complete as you want to be. You never get to the end and go, “WOW, look at what I did!” like when one climbs a mountain; you’re always flawed and missing a certain something.

There is no “right” way to write, unlike what the schools will tell you. Grammar isn’t even as rigid as you might think it to be. Schools of thought exist on many different grammatical styles. The most hotly contested wordgeek event of the year is the Oxford Dictionary releases annual new words. “Unfollow” was a big one last year.

There is a right way to do the writing, though.

From a place of truth. Honesty. Rawness. Forget what your mother taught you about picking at scabs. Rip that motherfucker off.

This book I’m writing is highly cathartic. I’m forcing myself to be more honest there than I am for you. It’s not that I’ve been afraid of sharing those truths with you… it’s just that I think it’s kinda like how women shouldn’t wear microskirts — don’t just give that away, honey.

You haven’t earned the right to know about my deepest, darkest passages. This needs to be a two-way street. Right now, I give to you, you take, I get nothing. But that’s the way of the blogging world.

In a year or two you’ll be able to buy your very own copy, and feed the belly of this beast. That’s when you earn it. And that’s not me being a bitch, that’s a brutal fiscal reality.

What, I’m supposed to eat idealism for breakfast? That’s how it works if I choose art, not ratrace? Really?

There’s not many things in this world that I love to do, am good at doing, and see myself wanting to do for the rest of my life. There’s nothing, actually — except writing. For that to happen, for me to pull these scabs, spend late nights staring in blackness at a cieling I can’t even see, as I think of topics I want to tear apart, I need to pay my rent.

At some point there enters into this a consciousness about you, my audience. I know you’re there. I can now engage in a monologue that’s both true to me, yet relatable for you.

It’s an interesting consciousness. An even more interesting exercise.

If I was in grade three, I’d simply explain it as: I find writing weird, and writing for an audience even weirder.

It’s something I know in my heart I’m very good at — but I see myself as being very good at writing the kind of thing I like reading; not necessarily “very good” at the craft as a whole. If I was GOOD, it would have to be harder for me, right?

Then again, I’ve never really tackled fiction. Who knows, right? But, still, I don’t follow traditional writing schools or all the Proper Things To Do. I’m not even very linear, I go all over the place. But nothing comes more comfortably for me in life than writing.

I was talking with writer friends about Twitter — they don’t follow me and I don’t know if they’ve even seen my Twitter stream, but I pepper the thing with one-liners. I’m all about the jokey stuff and scathing observations. And one says, “I don’t understand some people — how they just post all their best stuff, great one-liners. I mean, you could spend up to 60 minutes composing a single tweet…”

And I said nothing. I’ve never spent more than two minutes on a single tweet. Never! It just pops in my head and BOOM, there it is. There are so many areas in my life that DON’T work efficiently, though.

But there? Writing? It’s seldom a struggle, not anymore. For six years, I’d have better luck squeezing water from a rock than pushing out readable words, but once I found my way out of that writer’s block, I’ve never gone back.

At some point, you gotta figure out who’s the lion (the writing) and who’s the tamer (me), and then it’s all about remembering who’s in charge.

It’s my extreme sport. I’m always pushing to see what new thing I can say, what new button I can push. It’s what I really, really enjoy doing — whether you’re reading it or whether it’s gathering dust until it finds its way between covers or never sees the light of day. THAT’s my extreme sport. That’s where my life’s legacy will probably be found, in words I’ve cobbled together over decades and credos I’ve hammered out one phrase at a time.

There are people who go their who life without ever knowing who they are.

I may be broke, facing losing my job in the coming days, unlucky in love, always rehabbing, waging battles with ADHD, and any number of other things…

But I know exactly who I am, who I want to be, what’s important to me in life, and what I cannot live without doing — what’s as important to me as the air I breathe.

Writing makes me one of the richest people I know.

Hopefully I can take that figurative statement and make it literal in a “Holy shit, we’re capitalists?” kind of way over the next year — but not at the risk of losing my soul or my self.

Some prices can’t be unpaid. That, too, people can go a lifetime without learning.

Like I said, I’m one of the richest people I know.

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.

Steff’s Easy-Start Guide to Changing Your Life: Part Two

I began this series last month, here’s part one. It’s pretty unstructured, but the early part of the series is focusing on the head game, because without the head game down, you’ll have no success. It’s all in the head game.

The most important thing you need to do if you want to effect serious change in your life is stop bullshitting yourself. No more excuses. Get it done.

What, you want to wait until everything’s perfect and momentum is good, the clouds are gone and the humidity is stable? Right. Come back here to Planet Earth, where rarely do you ever get what you want when you want it, even in restaurants where you’re paying for precisely that.

That’s why you gotta take what you want. Fuck happenstance and trials and tribulations. Shit happens, always will happen. That’s how life unfolds. I’m down 60 pounds this year, even though the last four months have been consumed with bouts of insomnia, several illnesses, debilitating back injuries, cockroaches infesting my home, and even overtime for the last three weeks steady while rehabbing my back injury, and yet I’ve lost 25 pounds in that time. Continue reading

Steff’s Easy-Start Guide to Changing Your Life: Part One

So, a Twitterer made the comment that, with the holidays almost here, the annual malaise of reflection and regret would soon be upon him. And I thought, “Wow, this is gonna be the first time ever I sit down at the end of a year and go, “Holy fuck. I accomplished THAT?””

16 months ago, I acknowledged a few things to myself. I hated my job, hated who I had become, hated the way I treated my friends, hated the negativity I was constantly caught in, and hated my body. I was initially overcome with despondency. With so much to work on, where in the fuck would I start?

The trouble with being an unhappy person, or at the very least unhappy with your life, is precisely that: Where in the fuck do you start? Continue reading

How Much Trouble’s Too Much?

Oy vey. Here’s a doozy. The short of this reader’s question is:

“How much trouble is one guy worth?”

The long of the question is, she’s your typical non-religious “Christian” whose religious extent is the putting up of a Christmas tree. It doesn’t matter much to her at all. She’s educated, though, and knows a little about world faiths and is a polisci kinda gal. She’s hip.

And she’s fallen for a Jew. This isn’t your standard-edition Jew, either, who likes bagels and matzoh balls. He’s a lived-in-Jerusalem, goes-to-temple-on-Sabbaths, I-can’t-marry-a-Gentile kind of Jew.

SPLAT. Hear that? That’s the sound of our non-religious girl falling painfully for this Yiddish Loverman.

So let’s get back to her question. See, she’s thinking she could convert to Judaism. As a religion, she thinks it’s beautiful. (As do I.) It’s their politics that bother her. An independent Israel? Never shoulda happened. (I agree. Yeah, here’s an idea: Let’s take a bunch of Westerners who have always misunderstood the “Islamic infidels” and have THEM divvy up the land. Fuckin’ brilliant. Oh, hey, just add water! Instant ongoing war! SMART-like. “Paradise Now” is a movie that’ll make you think twice about this whole Israel issue. In every situation there are two sides. Pity we only hear one.)

So, can she swallow her politics, digest a new relationship, and keep this man she’s head-over-heels for? Sure she can. But should she?

Like she says, How much trouble is one guy worth?

Let’s visit my friends at Websters for that one, okay?

trouble
Function: verb
Inflected Form(s): trou`bled; trou`bling /’trou-b(le-)li[ng]/
Etymology: Middle English, from Anglo-French trubler, from Vulgar Latin *turbulare, from *turbulus agitated, alteration of Latin turbulentus — more at TURBULENT
transitive verb
1 a : to agitate mentally or spiritually : WORRY, DISTURB; b (1) archaic : MISTREAT, OPPRESS (2) : to produce physical disorder in : AFFLICT; c : to put to exertion or inconvenience eg: I’m sorry to trouble you

2 : to put into confused motion eg: the wind troubled the sea
intransitive verb
1 : to become mentally agitated : WORRY eg: refused to trouble over trifles
2 : to make an effort : be at pains eg: did not trouble to come

Oh, hey, trouble. That sounds like a bitch. Something like adversity, then, is it? Or (gasp) grief? How do you measure trouble? Does it come with a specially-marked cup? Is it metric or imperial? Is it the same in any language?

Trouble is not fun. This we know. It’s filled with challenges, adversity, and more. That’s not the question. We know what trouble is. What none of us wants to admit is, it’s a standard add-on feature in each of our lives. Okay, so the question is, how much trouble is too much?

Depends on the trouble, then, I’d say. And the guy.

What’s the “trouble?”

Well, here it’s accepting a religion you need to buy into as an adult, with all those lifelong skepticisms and questions and moments of doubt. You need to put aside your logician’s mind and swallow a bunch of beliefs for the man you love. Not that hard to do, but it might be difficult to make your peace with down the line. Does it involve compromising who you are?

If not, great. If so, then proceed with caution.

Two, it’s ignoring your strong politics about something you feel is being unfairly portrayed in the media and misunderstood by the common man. Can you do that? Hell, I do that every time I go to my dad’s house. Not too hard. Politics aren’t a conversation one should ever enter into lightly. I generally try to avoid discussions about politics. Everyone’s a pundit, man.

Three, it’s the guy. Does he treat you with respect? Is he honest with you? Is he a shoulder for you when you need one? Does he know how to make you smile? Can you trust him? Do you want to wake up by his side? Can you see a future with him? Is he the first person you want to share good news with? Sounds like a catch.

If he treats you like shit or lies to you or makes you cry and not smile, well, then your answer’s pretty simple: Worth no trouble. Ever. At all.

I’ll go through a lot of grief for a good man. If he’s having troubles, and things are challenging, or things need to be overcome, I’ll try my hardest to ride them out. Good people are hard to find. Good lovers are even harder. I’ve been through hurts, I’ve had my heart broken, and I’ll still do everything I can to make sure a relationship’s not being thrown away for insignificant reasons… like my being too weak to stick out a difficult time. Sometimes it gets real fucking hard, too, having that patience, but I find having regrets a harder load to bear down the road.

We live in a society where everything is instant, and everything is easy.

Need to go to France? That’s an eight-hour plane trip! See you for wine and dessert this evening! Craving a some supper? Two minutes and twenty seconds on high heat in your microwave. Oh, don’t wash your dishes, just throw them out! Here’s new Royal Chinette! You’ll save three minutes of your precious life!

We don’t like adversity. We do fucking speed-dating, for god’s sake, as if 2 minutes is all you need to find the love of your life. We don’t want to go through challenges. We don’t want to take the hard road. When it comes to love and relationships, it’s too easy to walk away and not be there for someone.

The reader asked me about my relationship and said she assumed things have worked out and I’ve decided to stay private about things. Guess what? There’s still some things we’re working on together. Know why? We’re two people on PLANET EARTH, and we don’t live in a fairy tale. Adversities happen. Good relationships can overcome them. And yes, I’m being more private about things. I’m preferring to keep a lid on it these days, but at least the balls are in the air for the moment.

I think girlie, if she’s really in it for this man, needs to decide if she can live with the faith and can handle stifling her politics. I think the price we pay for regrets is too high, and I’d say take a chance and follow your heart.

But I’m a romantic pragmatist, and I’m constantly in conflict with myself. Kinda like the Middle East, I guess.