Tag Archives: tastes

Getting Schooled by Miles Davis

Music is powerfully emotive.

The right piece at the right time can be a spiritual moment like no other, for some of us.

There are specific times I can remember some songs that blew my mind — songs I’d heard in the background time and time again, but a moment presents itself and the head explodes in all the aural rightness.

Like when it’d been a 14-hour day of stupidity in Whitehorse, Yukon, and The Tragically Hip’s “Cordelia” began playing as I pulled my car into my driveway, me ready to snap or sigh, whatever came first. Suddenly slow rising guitars just matched the coursing muted anger and frustration I felt after such a futile day. I sat there and listened to it twice.

Then I turned the car over, and drove the fuck out of town for an hour, listening to that song over and over.

I’d probably heard it 20 times before that night, but just never when it mattered.

Same deal with The Doors’s “The End.” Until I heard it play in Apocalypse Now, it never really registered on my radar. But a midnight viewing of the Vietnam classic in a dusty old theatre with that track bleeding out of crackling speakers, it just blew my fucking mind.

The creative process, for me, is all about timing, so it’s not really a surprise, then, that ingesting creativity should also require good timing.

Miles Davis is giving me an old-school edumacation today about how foolishly exclusive our tastes can be sometimes, and how much our narrow-mindedness can deny us when we wrongfully judge a genre via a single example of it.

For years and years and years, I was decidedly Not A Jazz Fan. And I ain’t talkin’ Utah, okay? Although…

But I mean jazz-jazz. Crazy trombones, pounding pianos, all that jazz-jazz, man.

It’s really the Story of Two Matriarchs. My aunt tried to get me into jazz when I was 8 and spending the summer with her in Toronto. I sort of got it, but let’s face it — I was eight. I wrote stories about pretend animals on “Garfield” note paper and slept with a teddy bear. What’s there to get? Are The Muppet Babies on TV yet? Miles who?

My mother, though, laughed at this fledgling interest in jazz when I returned to Vancouver. It was just noise, she opined. Aunt Pat was pretty nutty and sure liked to get silly with alcohol, what with that wobbly-walk of hers’n’all, so maybe Mom was right.

I slowly got the whole “it’s just noise” opinion myself from hearing the really experimental stuff, and just wrote the rest off.

Over the years, as I got older, I tried Miles Davis in a not-really-trying-because-I-secretly-know-it’s-just-crap kind of way, and stuck to my taste guns: Jazz was crap.

So, a few weeks ago, I finally got around to playing Miles’s A Kind of Blue, which had been in my iPhone for a while, under the thinking that one day the mood might strike. Well, nothing else was making my musical heart respond as I toggled through artist after artist on my phone, and then I saw Miles.

Hmm. Hey, you know, I’m kind of blue. Maybe I should listen to A Kind of Blue.

So, I did. And I liked it, and this feeling niggled its way into me while I scrubbed my dirty dishes at the kitchen sink. A jazzy kind of blue, kind of niggling thing.

Today I’m diving into The Cellar Door Sessions. And it’s working all too well. A half-hour ago or so, my feet were cold and socks loomed. I’ve been toe-tapping since and flip-flops remain in place with warm-blooded happy feets.

I’m glad I’ve tried again and again to get that appreciation of jazz working for me. I know better than most people, I guess, how quickly we can grow and change. I’m all about change.

It all comes back to the adage, “there’s a time and a place.”

It’s true of tastes, too.

From food to sex to music, it’s too easy to sample something once and think it’s representative of the whole. Maybe it’s THAT salmon you don’t like, not all salmon. Maybe they were a lousy lover and you should rethink your thoughts on sex in X-position with X-prop. And, hey, maybe you were listening to the wrong jazz.

Know who I learned that from?

A two-year-old boy named Jack.

He’d try every food a minimum — seriously, EVERY food — of three times. Three times! It could be rancid but he’d take three bites before he decided his opinion. THEN, he knew passionately which side of the opinion he sat on.

Here I was, 35, and always lived on old opinions, and opinions taken in a single sampling. A bite, a listen, a trial of some sort.

“No, I didn’t like that kind of seafood when I tried it 18 years ago, therefore…”

Now I accept that I’m narrow-minded and given to stupidity with a tendency to default my most obsolete opinions.

Everything’s worth trying again. I now make sure it’s a good example of that thing before I judge it. I’ll talk to others, rethink things. It’s a big world of experiences.

Methinks it’d be terrible to miss out on any because of foolishness and poor decisions.

So, here I am. Tapping my toes as the first disc fades out in applause and disc two of Miles Davis’s Cellar Door Sessions swings into a new groove.

Liking what I thought for 25-plus years I could never like.

This growing-up thing’s all right, man.

How about you? What’s something you did a total 180 on, and why? How’d opening your mind to trying it again change you?

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.

When We Were Kids: Thoughts on BDSM

Experts will tell you that who we are in life is defined by the age of seven. Our ethics, our play, our work habits, it’s all laid out as part of who we are, and will continue to be, by seven.

There are those who’ve taken this a step further and will tell you also that who you are sexually is defined, as well, by seven. But we often spend our lifetimes trying to make sense of that definition.

Take me, for instance. I’ve been out of the getting-laid world now for a couple of years. After not having had sex for 26 months (but have since) thanks to a totally disappearing libido because of meds I was on, and experiencing the incredible rush of libido-arising all of a sudden after such a long dormancy, I’ve found myself in some very, very new and different headspace.

After not having wanted sex at all, barely ever masturbating for months on end, I’ve suddenly found myself craving a different brand of sex. Something rougher, more primal. Perhaps even a little less democratic. Power plays. Teasing. Even a little pain. Certainly with discipline.

Not that I’ve ever sat around fantasizing about rose petals on the bed, silk sheets, and soft, feathery kisses and all. That’s never been my kind of imagery anyhow. I fantasize about sex on floors, against walls, in public places, getting rugburn, and always have. But this takes things to another level.

And with that comes the reckoning of how much of that is just “Fuck, I need me some” versus evolution of a new kind of desire. Continue reading

Opposing Forces: The Laws of Attraction (?!)

An immensely wise philospher-singer once sang:

We come together
Cuz opposites attract
And you know–it ain’t fiction
Just a natural fact
We come together
Cuz opposites attract

Whatever happened to that Paula Abdul, anyhow? Where is she now? Those one-hit wonders, you know, like flashes in the pan.

The Guy sent these photos the other night after I pointed out what had to be, and what I said then, the most unseemly gay male couple I’ve ever seen. Now, keep in mind, I live in Vancouver, or as I think of it, San Francisco North. I’ve lived here all my life and see trannies, queens, and the whole shebang as often as they come.

Picture a Pillsbury Dough-kinda boy: nice protruding round belly, about 5’11, goatee, 26, kinda cute in that “If I weighed 65 lbs less, I could be a surfer! Hand me a Twinkie?” kinda way. And his boyfriend: About 5’5, absolutely skinny, 18-if-a-day, wide-eyed with do-it-to-me-now! lust, gazing up longingly. Chunky Two-Time had LoverBOY leaned up against a rather dubious chain-link fence, and it was pretty fucking obvious who was offering a little topping for the evening, if you know what I’m saying.

The Guy shuddered. And rightfully so. It just looked fucking weird, man. I’ve seen the whole Blue Oyster Cult-Village People leather crowd, the big fucking hairy bears, the demure little Asians and their Rice Queens, and the whole shebang, all right? This looked weird. I’m tellin’ ya.

But not as weird as this.

I went out with a guy once who argued that, when it comes to love, a couples’ longevity depended categorically on the balancing of the attractiveness scales. There had to be a relativity between their appearances, or it’d be doomed due to the rearing of the ugly insecurity head.

Maybe. Maybe so. Maybe not. I don’t have my Relationships Physics & Probability degree just yet. Probably a hold-up at the post office. Please, Mr. Postman, look and see if you got a letter in your bag for me. I been waiting such a long time since I ordered that degree of mine.

I think there could be some truth to it. Look at the couple in the photo, then. As I said, the Guy fired it off to me to illustrate that the Gay Odd Couple was a fitting reminder of this forwarded email he’d received that’s making the rounds as “Redneck Wedding of the Year.”

(I didn’t realize they had a rewards ceremony now. What, every-fucking-body’s got trophies now? Who’s next, huh? Bowlers?)

I confess, I feel badly putting the photo up. I’m sure they’re sweet people. Scary, but sweet. In between shooting beer cans off the fence, Jeff Foxworthy reruns, and playing D&D, they probably serve up a hell of an apple cobbler, you know?

I just don’t get the whole opposites-attracting thing, myself. I’ve always been attracted to guys who carry a few extra pounds, just like me. (Not rotund, just excessively huggable.) They should be bookish, and into film and food and life, not clubs, and smart enough to make me frustrated that I shoulda known that first.

Most couples I know are pretty on-page physically. Not too many of them would stand out in a crowd, and probably most seem natural together. The beautiful people get together, the people with perfect hair curl up together, the punks mesh’n’mosh, the granolas sing Kumbaya in harmony, the plastics meld… it’s all so consistent. Do they last? I don’t know, but they look right at the mall.

Nah, I don’t get opposites attracting. What’s the point of hooking up with someone you got fuck-all in common with? How about you? Has it ever worked for you? Are you into the relationship equivalent of magnetic field reversals or something? ‘Sup with that? Enquiring minds, yada, yada. And were you at this wedding? What kind of cake was it?

Whip Me, Beat Me, Slap Me – Just Don’t Judge Me

While all the good little people were out getting in touch with their god of choice, I was having a lovely Sunday morning watching a BDSM fairytale, Secretary.

I’ve been meaning to see Secretary since its release in 2002, as I’ve been a lifelong fan of James Spader ever since I loved hating him in Pretty in Pink when I was just 13.

I remember being apprehensive about the movie, though, way back in 2002. BDSM, I thought, was largely for Weirdos. I suspect the movie was the first really mainstream movie to introduce the lifestyle to a large percentage of the population who probably walked out of the theatre with a silly grin pasted on their lips. It’s not so bad, they likely thought. A little odd, and weird, but certainly not this horridly perverse thing their churches had them believing it was.

Since then, my eyes have opened. No, I’m not into S&M, though I don’t mind a little smack on my ass from time to time, but I’ll probably never join the movement. I ain’t, however, writing that in stone.

The movie Secretary does not dispel the notion that those who gravitate to this pain-for-pleasure lifestyle tend to be somewhat broken inside. It echoes the common perception that the participants are hurting after a life of shortcomings and trouble, and this is their way of finding a coping mechanism. Control the pain that pains you, and you will control the life around you; this seems to be the prevailing wisdom.

So there are those who scoff at them and scorn them, as if they should find healthier mechanisms for dealing.

Aren’t we all hurting to a degree, though? Don’t we all nurse regrets and fears and wishes and wants? Sure we do. But the rest of us got the magic “All Better Now” button installed when we were manufactured. Or did we? Hmm, perhaps we could use a little coping, too.

And what would you suggest? How about a more socially accepted method? Alcohol to cure to ills? Cocaine’s making a comeback, you know. Perhaps cardio-holism is more your thing. Sweat, then, baby. How about a double-banana split? A bag of Doritos? How about shoplifting a new shade of red lipstick? Say, I hear they have a double-bill at church this weekend.

The point is, we all confront our demons in ways particular to us. The notion of willingly allowing ourselves to be hurt seems to be one that most people can’t handle. It’s not as if life doesn’t bruise us often enough as it is, is what people think.

And, sure, there are some right-fucked sadomasochists out there, but there are also some incredibly well-balanced ones as well. It takes all kinds, just like bowling. The thing is, do you understand why you like to have pain inflicted on you? Are you aware of what it does for you? By that same token, are you aware of why you want sex and romance to be all feathers and soft kisses?

It’s all about self-knowledge, this life thing. The more you know about what motivates you to do what you do, the greater your grasp on things will be. If you’re oblivious, then you’re in trouble. Simple.

I’d argue that the person who likes only the soft love – the gentlest of kisses, the lightest of touches – is equally as mentally ill-equipped as the out-of-touch person who prefers only pain. I’d say that they probably fail to realize just how sheltered they’re trying to be from the harshness of reality, and that they need to wake up and smell the rough sex.

I think anyone who’s only into pain for pleasure, and has no other outlets, is unbalanced. Just like in Secretary, there are plenty who like a little roughness and pain in between the soft kisses and lingering caresses. Balance is good. Experimentation is good. Sticking to vanilla all your life, or just Rocky Road, is probably never a healthy way to go.

There is nothing wrong with loving a little roughness. There’s nothing to be ashamed of when it comes to enjoying your lover smacking your ass so hard it’s red when they’re done. There’s simply nothing wrong with liking anything, as long as you understand why you like it, and you’re not just using it to cover up the ills of your existence.

Society doesn’t understand BDSM, and they’re not going to anytime soon, either. Acceptance is increasing, but as long as it’s all the hardcore folk riding front and centre and playing the roles of spokespeople, there will always be a negative perception about the lifestyle.

It is what it is. Enjoy what you do, and know that being discreet doesn’t mean being ashamed; it’s simply self-preservation in a society that just doesn’t understand. Sounds like being gay in the ’40s, don’t it? Oh, well.

Love Will Conquer All, Baby

I was reading something just before bed, stated by the venerable clothing designer Karl Lagerfeld, in answer to the soon-to-come fashion onslaught of heavy, dark clothing that’s to be replacing the light, fun, and airy lines we’ve been enjoying of late. Lagerfeld said, “If you read the daily papers, you are not in the mood for pink and green.”

If you are what you wear, are we as a society becoming depressed? Valium and Lithium and Prozac, oh my.

I’d lay my cash on a big, fat yes, but hey, what do I know? I’m just a formerly depressed not-even-yuppie who’s an observer, not a player.

Depression’s out there. Hell, even the upcoming ankle-length hemlines are screaming it. We’re depressed. As a people, we need to get happy. This war shit’s bringing us all down. We got Vice Presidents running around shooting good citizens. Gas prices are nuts. The Canadian economy’s strong enough to be a steamroller. Clearly, it is the end of times, and our nerves are a tad frazzled.

Me, I say the cure is sex.

Okay, let’s look at this, then. Stress and self-esteem issues, as well as external factors (thus the stress) cause depression, as do biochemical issues. Right? Sex is good for the nerves, great for the self-esteem — (especially if you can get ‘em to scream your name. Hmm. I really have to stop falling for the strong, silent types. My ego’s taking a hit.) – and releases endorphins.

In all seriousness, studies have shown we’re all at an all-time touch deficit. I’ve been hooking up with some guys of late, lots of great dates, no seconds, but I’ve kissed (uh, to coin a phrase) every one of ‘em. Life’s too short not to share a kiss (or something) or stretch it out over three or four hours. Sex? Nice but not needed. Making out does wonders for the self-esteem. Gets the juices flowing, the pulse racing. It’s the very definition of alive. No one should have to go without. I’m going into withdrawal, days without a kiss. A necking session would hit the spot, but I know what else would, too.

In a world where there’s famine and war and natural disasters and poverty and stupid religious extremism and pettiness… shouldn’t you at least be getting laid?

I for one applaud the relatively recent revival of the “Make Love, Not War” campaign. I need to get me a button, man. I’m willing to sacrifice myself to the cause. I will have sex in the name of peace, and soon. Afterwards, we’ll spoon, smoke a joint, drink some absinthe, and listen to Imagine, followed by White Rabbit, and some Dark Side of the Moon. Is there anybody out there?

Maybe this whole Iraq thing was just what the Sexuality Movement needed. Drop some bombs, shed some innocent lives, get the tempers flaring back home, have the pacifists realize they’re really pissed off but since they’re pacifists, they can’t go out back and shoot beer cans off the fence, so, instead, they smoke fatties and fuck.

Who knows. Maybe Bush did the right thing after all. I don’t fucking know. I do know that everyone getting a little more action would probably be not such a bad thing. Me, I always liked the fact that Clinton was getting head in the Oval Office. I figured he’d at least be relaxed enough to make the rational choice in any scenario that unfolded.

I think anyone in power with lives in their hands should absolutely be on a sex quota. They must be gone down on once every eight days, minimum, and are entitled to sex twice per week, minimum, with no less than 28 minutes foreplay each time. Sure. As a start. With time on the job, age, and increased responsibility, the sex allotment increases. Like a health plan or any other benefit.

Yeah, I don’t know what the hell the problem is, but I know sex is the solution.

Pity the new fashion scene’ll be here soon and skin will be a thing of the past. But, brothers and sisters, we shall overcome. Right?

*Yeah, I’m a pinko lefty with a loathing for the war and a disdain for both the American and new Canadian regimes. I mean, does it sound like I have conservative sex? C’mon! Get real. You knew this. You like me anyway. I’m the good kinda libertarianish type.