Tag Archives: questions

The Struggle Between Optimism and Authenticity

Having woken up in a pretty sour mood, I got into my exercises after a pretty lengthy bit of procrastinating. While doing them, I watched Michael J. Fox’s Adventures of an Incurable Optimist, a one-hour documentary on his search to understand more about what makes us optimistic, and how it might impact things.

It’s a lot of food for thought. I found myself with a few questions. Continue reading

The Trouble With Writing

I have this longstanding love/hate relationship with writing.

I love the articulation of thought, the solving of ideas, the expressing of inner qualities.

The trouble with readers is, what they see is what they get.

You people, you read my blog and you somehow think what I put up here is some finite guide to the divinity of Steff, or some such.

Unfortunately, it’s not. Continue reading

My Own Private Dichotomy

Fear is not my friend. I don’t care what the bookstore’s self-help section says.

Fear is a bitch. A mean, driven bitch.

I am not a fan of fear.

I bought that book. Twice. Feel The Fear and Do It Anyways. Sometimes I do it anyways. But I always feel the fear. Ever-present, always-niggling fear.

Fortunately I know that I’m apparently invincible. Continue reading

Sex, You, and Your Kid: How Parents Are Failing

Parents bear so much responsibility for how kids view sex. It’s a shame most of them don’t handle the subject better, and terrible that so little emphasis is placed on sexual education.

Two things caused me to spend years questioning sex and feeling like a whore for engaging in it: the Catholic Church and my mother.

The Catholic Church is a given. I had to laugh when I received an email the other day for a “Sexosopher’s Café” at a local sex shop, where they wanted to do a philosophical discussion of whether “religion is sex-negative.”

Come on, you had to think about that one? Oh, please. What’s the last church you went to that encouraged you to tie your lover up and pleasure them? What’s the last church you visited that said consensual sex could include just about anything under the sun? That’s right, none, ever. Sex, when it comes to religion, is only good when done in certain ways.

Am I stereotyping? Fucking right I am, but rightly so, too.

My Catholic guilt still tugs at my heartstrings now and again, but as long as I live, I will never, ever come to understand how my mother could have fucked sex up for me as much as she did.

I never, ever, ever got the conversation about what sex was from either of my parents. I saw them fucking once, and I still remember the horrified look on my mother’s face – before they realized I was standing in the doorway. Most damaging, though, was something my mother said to me when I was 15 and they had split up.

She commented, quite casually, that the thing she was most grateful for about the separation was how she no longer had to fear my father coming to bed and wanting sex.

My father was heavy then, but he was always a kind and gentle man, so I knew instinctively she didn’t mean in a violent or demanding way. She meant she loathed sex. She told me she’d sleep as close to the edge as possible, so she could more easily dissuade him from making advances. And then she expressed how relieved she was that she could now sleep anyplace she wanted on that bed.

Between her lightly dismissing my question on blowjobs at age 8, her horrified look mid-coitus, and this new complaint about fearing sex, I was quickly developing a perception that sex was something women had to do to satisfy men, and something worth dreading.

I didn’t know sex could be enjoyable. I never learned it was an expression of how much you cared for someone, or a really wild way to spend a night in. I didn’t know it wasn’t (really) painful, and I sure as hell didn’t know I was supposed to love having it.

For me, sex has been a long journey to where I am now, and there’s still road to travel. There are new destinations I’d like to reach, particularly considering my traveling companion of late, and the idea of sex is still something I’m ever curious about.

It’s a far cry from the girl who was terrified to sleep with her boyfriend shortly before she turned 18, who was sure it would hurt like hell, who was adamant she was doing him a favour and it wasn’t something she would be benefiting from.

Today’s kids are in a strange, strange world. They’re bombarded with sexuality from the moment they emerge from the womb. Cartoon characters (Disney in particular) are sexier than they’ve ever been, clothes are more provocative, and MTV borders on porn most days. When they’re not getting hit by sexuality from the world at large, they’re playing on the internet, surfing at random, probably landing on smutty sites like this or worse, (don’t read this, kids), or still worse yet, engaging in cybersex.

Am I a conservative? Not by a long stretch, but I’m sick and tired of seeing kids being raised in a Fuck Me Now world, where sex is the only currency that counts. I think sex is important. Hell, it’s crucial to my quality of life. A day with sex is better than a day without it, and that’s just how I feel. I’ll never be a sex-negative person, but it doesn’t mean I can’t be objective about this oversexed world we’re living in. There’s a fine line, and I think we’ve crossed it of late.

What kills me are the conservatives, the true conservatives. It’s so fucking ironic, their POV. They can’t control the endless stream of sexuality pouring in from media and marketing today, so instead they want to limit sexual education and birth control. Does it make sense? Not in the least. To pretend kids are not surrounded – bombarded – by images of sex and sexuality is akin to confessing a belief in the Easter Bunny. There’s no question that it’s out there, that dirty s-e-x thing, but to ignore it and hope that sticking your head in a hole in the ground will somehow make the world around you more palatable to your moral beliefs is delusional.

(As an example, Kansas has adopted opt-in sexual education. Meaning, if the kid doesn’t show up with a note from the parents that gives permission to teach them about sex, the kid can’t take sex ed. Isn’t it precisely those kids who are most in need of sexual education? Christ. Can someone, anyone, teach these people how to fucking connect the dots?)

How is ignoring the fact that we live in a world that doesn’t respect sex the way it should, doesn’t portray it the way it should, going to help anyone? That’s the perfect reason why kids need to learn more sex-positive education both in the home and at schools, so they can negate this overwhelming pornification of sexuality seen constantly in the media.

I’m not saying I want to do away with any images of sexuality, I’m just saying I sure as shit wish there were more sex-positive images, because there aren’t many.

I’m tired of knowing that I’m not the only person who never actually learned about sex from my parents. Sex isn’t biology, people. It’s passion, it’s emotion, it’s mind games, it’s exploration, it’s creativity, it’s dangerous, it’s satiating, it’s intense, it’s anything you want it to be. But it ain’t biology, and it ain’t all reproduction, and kids need to learn about what it is, and what it isn’t. They need frank, honest discussion, or else we’re going to continue having young adults who need to get past wrong perceptions of what sex is.

Considering all the head games and mind-fucks that come with courtship and relationships, dealing with mixed-up, backwards perceptions on what sex is, is probably the last thing any of us needs to waste headspace on. In the face of AIDS and other STDs, ignorance is a pretty horrifying prospect, but one that’s rampant as I type.

By teaching kids the realities of what sex includes – from the wet spot to day-after pains and aches to STDs and emotions – a little of the allure might be swept away, but so too will the unrealistic expectations and the fear, and maybe even the blasé attitudes most kids today have about getting shagged.

Here’s a very, very simple consideration for parents to take under advisory: Imagine your kid has come to you and asked you about sex and all the things that happen during it. Imagine your discomfort. Imagine the awkwardness of trying to explain it. Imagine the weirdness of divulging to your offspring about how you essentially created them. Imagine sweating under the pressure you would feel to do a good job. Imagine you cut it short and explain instead just the biology of what happens, and not how to be a good lover, or the emotions that come with, or the potential fall-out after the fact.

And now imagine your kid going out into the world with barely even an understanding of the biology, let alone the rest of the sexual happenings. Imagine them going into a sexual experience clueless about what should go down. Imagine the panic and worry they’ll feel afterwards when they wonder unnecessarily if one of them has gotten pregnant, and how pregnancy really works. Imagine they can’t figure out what way a condom goes on or how careful they need to be when pulling it out. Imagine the guilt and shame they’ll feel for doing what we all inevitably experience at some point in our lives. Imagine the self-loathing they’ll feel when they suspect they’re a bad lover. Imagine the awkardness of trying to fumble towards ecstasy without your help.

And now own your failures as a parent. So, I say this to every parent out there: Get the fuck over yourselves, and do your jobs. This is too important to continue letting kids learn by bump in the night, and the price paid for it is far too high.

You can’t explain it? Then buy a good book that explains about sex and give it to the kid. Better yet, pick up a pack of condoms and some lube and grab the book, and give them to your kid, and then tell them you hope they’ll be mature and responsible enough to wait for someone special when it comes to sex, because if they sleep with the wrong person the first time, they’re probably going to always wish they’d decided differently.

You may not appreciate the idea of your kid fucking in the back seat of a Ford, but the reality is, it’s gonna happen, whether you’re on page or not. You’ve done so much for your kid over the years; is it really worth abandoning them on the issue of sex so you can save yourself a panic attack?

Think about it.

"Mommy, what’s a blowjob?"

One of the all-time fave sex conversations I had with my mother transpired when I was about eight years old.

We were watching a video of Steve Martin’s “The Jerk” one day, and there was a joke about a blowjob. Mom howled with laughter, wiping tears from her eyes. She was a sucker for Steve. I didn’t get the joke. I furrowed my little blond brows and turned to scrutinize her.

“Mom, what’s a blowjob?”

“Hmm?”

“A blowjob, what is it?”

“Oh, that’s when a woman sucks on a man’s penis, dear.”

“Ew! Why would she want to do that?”

She shrugged and said, “Ah, you got me, sweetie. You got me.”

This casual dismissal of blowjobs made me think they were insane. “She sucks on his pee-pee?” was the thought running through my head. “How icky. EW.”

She rewound the segment, played the joke again, and this time I giggled, too, with a hint of revulsion.

I was more of a Fudgsicle girl way back when.

The Relationship Ride

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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