Tuesday, September 30, 2014

First Kisses

*The awkward one:  You really like him, but you don’t know quite how to go about telling him, and you really want to kiss him, and you’re waiting for the right moment, but it never comes, so you just end up in this weird place where you feel like it’s probably the best moment you’re going to get, but then you feel like you should say something just to let him know it’s coming, and you blurt out, “I like you,” or “I’d like to kiss you,” or (in my case), “I think you’re really attractive” before going in.  The kiss is good, but it would have been better if you’d have kept your trap shut. 

*The one with the super hot girl in the club who looks like a great kisser because she’s so hot, but then ends up being an absolutely awful kisser: Self-explanatory.

*The one that wasn’t: You try to kiss someone you’re really into, but he backs away, and you wish you could crawl into a hole or a tauntaun. 

*The face rape: When someone attacks your face with his / her mouth, and you think, “HOLYSHITWHYAMIKISSINGADEMENTOR?!?!?!?!?!”

*The one with the teasing: She puts her lips just an inch from yours, and just stays there for a moment, breathing, then lightly grazes your lips with her lips and slides her hands into your hair, and it’s like you can feel her lips everywhere on your body, and then she really kisses you with firm (but gentle) pressure and lets her lips linger there.  And you tremble. 

*The one with all the biting: Seriously, what’s with all the biting?  I mean, do it once, and it’s hot.  Do it all the time and it’s just annoying.  You’re not a vampire, not matter how many young adult novels you read. 

*The one with WAY too much tongue: Just. Ugh. Tongue is like salt -- some people (myself included) think that it’s delicious, but should be used in moderation; too much salt totally ruins a dish.  Then there are people who pour that shit all over everything, and they’re going to get heart disease.

*All the ones you don't remember because honestly, they're just not that memorable.

*The one with the person you’ve wanted to kiss for a year:  You’ve held back for a million reasons, but one day you’re alone and you’ve finally allowed yourself to touch him, and you’re sitting there in the dark, in his bed, just caressing his arm, and you don’t even stop to think.  Your body takes control, and suddenly his face is in your hands and your mouth is so hungry for his that you don’t care that you’re supposed to be a lesbian or that this could potentially ruin your friendship.  All that matters is that your heart is beating a mile a minute and your knickers are so wet you could wring them out and you can barely breathe and you just want to breathe into him and you just do it, and he kisses you back with just as much need and passion and everything feels right.  That’s the one you remember.

I wish I could get The Oatmeal to draw this post.  I wanted to do this as a comic, but everything I draw looks like someone gave an eighteen month-old a crayon and a piece of paper and said, “Go to town, kid!”

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Reflections

As it’s bisexual awareness week, I wanted to share something I wrote six or seven years ago about figuring out that I was bisexual as a high school student and then attempting to find somewhere to fit in.

    When I sat next to K on the swim lineup -- I was number twenty-nine, she was number thirty -- and her goose-pimpled leg would graze mine, I shivered in my scratchy poly-cotton maroon boy-cut swim suit.  Coach was always coming at us for talking too much, but in a playful way.  He knew we were best friends -- at least in that moment.

    K had a cabbage patch kind of face -- sweetly innocent, slightly plump and with a toothy grin, complete with dimples.  Freckles splayed her face and her blue eyes would peep out at me from underneath her deep brown bangs and long lashes, twinkling with non-malicious mischief.  We would sit there, twittering about boys and what we’d wear to school the next day.  One day we wore matching vinyl knee-length boots and short skirts, and people called us sluts, but we didn’t care.  We felt grown. 

    I had really close female friends in middle school.  We were a powerful clique, roaming the halls in search of new boyfriends and attempting to maintain control of the school’s social scene.  I had sleepovers with them; I’d seen them change clothes, listened to them talk about sex.  Yet I never felt sexual when I was with them.  K was different; she was exciting, and being in the same room with her made my heart pound.  Her mom lived in a fancy hotel downtown and was never home, so we did a lot of stupid things and never got caught.  We smoked pot and took pills in the living room; we strolled through downtown, laughing our asses off, ripped to the tits.  We swam in our panties late at night in the swimming pool in her drug dealer’s apartment building; I even made out with her older military brother in the freight elevator.  I thought she was the most exhilarating person I’d ever met.

    Maybe that was part of my attraction to her -- or maybe it was just good, old-fashioned hormones.  Whatever it was, I had it bad.  Whenever we passed notes in the hallway, the feeling of her fingers against mine was enough to set me on edge for the rest of the day.  She would often grab my cheeks and press them together, asking me to say “pudgy bunny,” and my heart would pause momentarily.

    I went through my freshman year of high school never speaking this secret to anyone, lest they think I was even weirder than they already thought I was -- I had transferred to the school six weeks into the school year, and as the new kid with pink hair, I stuck out.  I spent the year obsessing over a boy who I was madly in love with, and K was right by my side -- my co-conspirator, my wingman.  I would call her to tell her every little interaction I had with him so we could spend hours analyzing it.  I never got to tell anyone about my interactions with her -- the knowing smiles, the lasting hugs, the feeling of dread if I thought I’d hurt her feelings.

    In my yearbook at the end of our freshman year, she wrote to me: “You are my idol, my music box, my mentor, (my fiancéé?), my best friend.”  She was always telling me how beautiful and special I was, and how the boy that I was in love with was such a fool for not loving me back.  She made me feel like the old cliché about being the world to one person.  She stuck by me when my world was falling apart.  Looking back, I know that I could attribute my attraction to her to these bonding feelings.  But it wasn’t just that.  I knew it wasn’t just that.
 
       I grew up with a lot of gay “uncles“ who helped raise me, and so I was raised to inherently understand that it’s perfectly normal for two people of the same sex to love each other, live in the same house, be a couple.  I was very lucky in that respect.  Profoundly so.  And so I never thought that my feelings for K were wrong, or that they were weird.  I had just never felt them before.

    When I heard about our city’s gay pride festival, I jumped at the chance to volunteer.  I was fifteen years old and had at that point been volunteering at an STD / HIV testing clinic, teaching HIV awareness and prevention after school in the lobby, and handing out condoms across the streets from high schools for the past year.  I mean, it just seemed to fit into my young but sexually progressive world.  I remember that my very first volunteer shift, I worked at a burger joint called the Pride Grill with a lot of men in kilts and moustaches.  And we had a fantastic time.  They would make sexual innuendos, and I would laugh with them, and they would look at me uncomfortably like, “Why do you get that?”

    I spent the next three days waving a rainbow flag, buying bracelets and necklaces, working my little heart out for a feeling of belonging… and mostly failing, because as much as my feelings and my attraction for K were genuine, I wasn’t gay.  At that festival I admitted to myself that I liked girls just like I liked boys.  Girls made me tingle, made me shudder, made my stomach flutter.  But so did boys.  And so I found myself in limbo.  Too deviant for the straight kids and too vanilla for the gay kids.  I went to queer events throughout high school (including every Monday night at an LGBT youth night at a gay bar my senior year), but I never felt like I belonged there.  I dated boys.  I had long hair.  I wore skirts.

    I thought that once I was grown-up and out of high school, things would change.  I thought that once I entered the world of adulthood, where people are supposed to be mature and non-judgmental (ha!), everything would be different.  Boy, was I wrong.  When I got to college -- even though I attended a super progressive university -- I still felt no peace, no acceptance.  When I told girls that I dated boys, they would frown and move on.  I looked at the seedy ads on gay.com, and even they loudly proclaimed, “No bisexuals!”  I felt lost.

    Straight boys accepted that I was bisexual because they thought it meant that I wanted to have a threesome with them and another girl.  They still do.  But even though I bristled at every guy who said, “So, like, have you ever done it with a guy and a girl?” I still felt welcome in the straight community (is that a thing?).  I gave up hope on ever having a girlfriend and settled into a mostly straight life, until I moved to Chicago in my mid-twenties and discovered lesbian bars. 

    Twelve years have passed since I first felt my skin prickle when K’s leg brushed mine.  I would always ask to be her partner during rescue lessons so that I could wrap my arms around her.  We would sit after class with our legs dangling in the water, looking at our reflections in the pool.  I would look at my face and wonder if this would pass.  Eventually, we both got serious boyfriends; after some time, I told her that I had had a crush on her, and she told me that she already knew.  She never said that it bothered her, and maybe it truly didn’t -- but we drifted apart.  She’s married now and has kids, and I hope I’m never married with kids. 

    In those twelve years, I’ve gone through all kinds of phases.  I’ve done the abstinence thing, the slut thing, the boy only thing, the girl only thing, the frustrated out of my mind and never, ever want to date anyone ever again thing, the I love being in love thing, the post-breakup doormat thing.  I have gone through all these changes and growth, but sometimes it feels like so little has changed.  I am a bisexual woman.  I do feel more accepted in queer communities now, but most of that I attribute to being more confident and more critical of those who tell me I don’t belong there.  And I still get crushes on straight girls.       

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Do a good deed and send a book to a library.

Specifically, John Green's Looking for Alaska to the Waukesha Public Library in Waukesha, WI.  It seems some parents have freaked out there recently after finding the book on their children's recommended reading lists from school and then discovering that -- gasp! -- the book dares to mention sex.  Said parents are trying to get the book put behind the library counter in school libraries so that children have to get their parents' permission to read. 

Read about it here, then do a good deed and send the WPL a copy, because apparently, they're all checked out.

Spread the word!  Reading is, after all, fundamental. 

Wha-wha-whaaaaat?

I gave my students an assignment this week to design their own utopia.  They had to come up with the type of society and government their utopia would have, what some of their laws would be, what the consequences for breaking those laws would be, etc.  My final question asked what the gender roles in their society would be. 

The last group in my first class got up to present their utopia, and when it came time to talk about gender roles, the speaker (a woman) said that the women would stay at home for the first twenty years after their children were born while the men worked, and then they would switch, with the men coming home to take care of the house and the women going off to work (we didn’t even have a conversation about heteronormativity or what happens to people who don’t get married; baby steps, you know?). 

“Wait,” I said.  “You mean that women have to do alllll the hard work of raising their children at home, and then just before retirement age (assuming these fictional married couples have their children between the ages of 25 - 35), the men get to come home and not participate in child care whatsoever while the women have to go off and join the workforce?”  The young woman who was presenting looked flustered, so she asked one of her partners to help her explain.

I looked behind me at her male partner, who looked me in the eye and said, “Teacher, it is because when we are young, men are strong and women are wea-”

Before he could finish the word “weak,” I laid into him with a tirade of how women are NOT weak, we’re socialized to believe that we’re weak and then we internalize it, and how there is nothing weak about bearing and raising children, etc. etc.

All the female students in my class were nodding, but this guy just stared at me blankly as if to say, “Does not compute.”  I can’t wait to do a gender workshop with this class. 

Sometimes you need to let students come to their own realizations about the world, and sometimes you just have to throw down. 

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Long Before Grey - NSFR (Not Safe for Relatives)

New Orleans is a city made for trouble -- all kinds -- and I got into a lot of it there.  I was out dancing at the Rock N’ Bowl (a musical venue - slash - bowling alley, and a classy joint if ever there was one) on a school night, and I mentioned to my dance partner that I’d recently seen a pro-domme at Colette, a swinger’s club in the central business district.  He kept dancing and said, “Reaaallllly?” in a Cheshire Cat voice.  “Are you into kink?”  I told him that I really liked the experience and would be interested in experimenting more (though to be honest, I’d been playing since high school).  A few days later, I received a text from him asking if I’d like to come over because he “had a few things to show me.”  Intrigued, I told him I was free the next night. 

I knocked on his door and was invited in.  The lighting was dim and he welcomed me warmly, then showed me around his apartment.  We finally got to his bedroom, where he made a dramatic pause before flinging the door open to reveal a whole plethora of toys spread out on his bed.  Paddles, ropes, gags, floggers… it was a beautiful array, carefully laid out for my eyes to wonder at.  I picked up several items, just touching them to get a feel for the different texture and intensity of each toy.  I’m sure I looked like a kid in a candy shop.  “Wanna play?” he asked with a mischievous grin.  HELL YES, I wanted to play.  He told me that he was a lifestyle dom and he’d been doing this for a long time.  I had little idea what to expect, but I was So. Excited. 

He told me to strip down to my underwear; I willingly complied.  There was no negotiation, no safe words mentioned, no asking for consent.  I now know that it was shitty on his part as the experienced one not to ask about limits or discuss safety with me, just as it was poor judgment on my part not to ask about safety, and if I knew then what I know now, I would have had a conversation with him first.  But it was also fucking hot that he just told me what to do.*

He put a blindfold around my head and told me to get on my knees.  Once there, he tied my arms together behind my back (my forearms overlapping each other horizontally behind me), looped the rope through a ring in the ceiling, and brought it down to tie my ankles together in kind of a modified hogtie.

Once I was (almost) immobile, he began to alternate between sensual teasing and light impact play, making me ask for more.  He pulled my hair and called me foul names, and I was so turned on.  I hadn’t been physically attracted to him before that night, but as he slid his hands over me and hit me in all the right places with conviction, I was desperate to have him inside of me.  “Fuck me,” I whispered.  “I didn’t hear you,” he said in a commanding tone.  “Speak up.”  “Please fuck me,” I repeated.  “What did you say?” he asked.  “God, please fuck me,” I begged.  “Not tonight,” he said, and started undoing the ropes.     

I got dressed in an elated daze, wondering what the fuck just happened.  We hugged goodbye, and I left his apartment flushed and buoyant.  He moved to Texas shortly thereafter, so I never did get a chance to play with him again, but he left me with a fierce desire for the intense combination of pain and pleasure that I’ve been enjoying ever since.    


*Dear Dominants:  This story is not meant to encourage you to play without negotiation; while nothing bad happened in this case, it could have.  PLEASE discuss safety with your subs before playing!  

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Baby Fever = CURED.


      Beginning in my mid-twenties, my older friends started asking me if I wanted children.  “No,” I assured them, “I most certainly do NOT want a giant parasite inside my body.”  They would chuckle and say, “Okay -- for now.”  Which was so infuriating.  They didn’t know what I wanted!  How dare they assume they knew me better than I knew myself!  When I hit my late twenties, my friends in their thirties and forties told me that the dreaded baby fever would be coming my way soon.  “You won’t be able to help it,” they said.  “It’s biology.”  One friend in particular gave me a specific age: thirty-two.  That’s when he claimed his sister and all of his female friends went bananas for babies.  I insisted that they were all crazy.  Why would I -- someone who values personal freedom above all things and plans to travel the world -- want to raise a child?  The idea was sheer nonsense to me.* 

I turned thirty here in Korea and was happy to have this incredible life of easy work and lots of free time.  I could travel!  I had time to exercise every day!  I could have hobbies!  I turned thirty-one and got a university job and MORE free time.  And then it happened.  Somewhere in between thirty-one and thirty-two, I started seeing babies and toddlers everywhere.  What was happening? I wondered.  Was Korea experiencing a baby surge?  That couldn’t be it… the papers were reporting a steady decline in birthrate.  And then I noticed a change in my behavior: upon seeing these tiny humans, instead of thinking, “Blech,” I would think, “Ohmygodit’ssocuuuuuuuuuute!  I want to take it home with me!”  I would pause in the middle of whatever I was doing to stare at said children and smile like an idiot.  I stopped just short of grabbing mothers in the street to smell their babies’ heads.  Somewhere between thirty-two and thirty-three, it peaked -- full-on baby fever.  When I saw any child under the age of three, my immediate reaction would be, “I WANT A BABY IN MY UTERUS RIGHT NOOOOOOOOOOW!”  It freaked me the fuck out.  At first, the fever only infected my uterus and not my brain, but eventually, it started getting so bad that I actually started questioning my choices and my path in life.  For real.

Then last week, I invited a couple of the elementary school teachers I taught last semester over for dinner.  I got a text from one of them: “Yes, Thursday is great!  B can join us, and we’ll bring our children!”  Oh, I thought warily.  I didn’t expect that (I should have, in retrospect -- babysitters aren’t really a thing here).  I told them that I was looking forward to having all of them and decided on a child-friendly meal for eight.  Yes, that’s right: five children were coming to my tiny apartment.  Five children between the ages of four and ten.  I child-proofed the apartment (or at least thought I child-proofed the apartment) and braced myself.  The doorbell rang; as soon as the first two boys were in the door, they raced inside, immediately started climbing all over the furniture, running up and down the stairs, throwing things over my balcony (I live in a loft), and yelling at the top of their lungs, while their mom just watched, smiling.  I quickly ran around the house and started shoving anything breakable or potentially embarrassing into cabinets when the door rang.  Instead of answering the door while I was putting things away so her wildling children wouldn’t destroy them, my former teacher-student said, “Jo!  The doorbell!  B is expecting you!”  I stopped, perplexed, and went downstairs to answer the door.  Three more children rushed in and started to wreak havoc on my apartment.  At one point in the night, one of them threw a rubber toy that I’d gotten as a gift off of the balcony, and it hit me in the head (I promptly put it in a drawer).  I never got a chance to talk to the mothers, because the entire time we were either playing with the kids or watching them to make sure they didn’t suffocate or seriously injure themselves or each other. 

My first reaction was one of irritation -- when I was a kid and we went to a stranger’s house, we would never in a million years touch that person’s stuff without permission, let alone climb on his or her furniture!  My mom wasn’t the type to spank us (I sure like to be spanked now, but that’s another story), but I have friends whose folks would have beat the stuffing out of them had they acted like this in a stranger’s house.  I started relaxing once I started playing with the kids instead of freaking out about the way they were playing.  It took me an hour to clean the place and put everything back after they left.  The next morning, I tried to put a cultural perspective on it: In the US, we’re all about private property and private ownership.  You don’t touch my shit.  It’s an individualistic culture.  Korea has a collectivist culture, so people share things.  Everyone here is family.  When I thought about it like that, I felt honored that the kids and their moms treated me like family… but still a bit rankled.  Finally, I realized that the kids actually got to play and how valuable that it to them.  In Korea, children study all the damn time.  They never have the space or time to just be kids, and they got to be free for a couple of hours in my apartment, which is great.  As they were leaving, their moms told me that all of their kids wanted to have their birthday parties in my house.  “You couldn’t pay me enough,” I said, smiling.

Playing with kids generally makes me happy.  I was a camp counselor for a long time, and actually enjoy running around with children -- as long as it’s not in my house.  They were pretty cute kids, and it was fun, but the best part of it all is that I no longer have baby fever.  So, readers, if you’re experiencing this bizarre malady and wish to rid yourself of it, I recommend inviting five unruly children into your personal space.


                                         

*Actually, when I was a high school student, I fully planned on having kids some day… and then I became a teacher, and that ruined that.