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Kiss the Cook: A Little Women Slashfic

I wrote this for a local event called SHIPWRECK - now that I know to add more sound effects and more buttsex, I think I can really bring it next time.

In the meantime, in honor of Mother's Day, here's a Hannah/Marmee slashfic. I'm sorry. Not really.

***

The girls were away at school, finally leaving Hannah and Marmee to a quiet day of keeping house. Hannah had spent much of the time in the kitchen, preparing vegetables for the evening’s stew, while Marmee had been discreetly watching the older woman’s arm muscles ripple as she rooted around the garden, lifted baskets and chopped parsnips and carrots. It had been many years since her husband had gone off to be a chaplain in the war, and Marmee was feeling restless. She had done her duty to God and Country by marrying and having children. What more could she want?

Yet she had these thoughts that came to her, often in the night… thoughts about her maid and companion, Hannah, and thoughts about her strong hands.

“Oh, come along, Marmee,” she scolded herself. Yet when she was sure she was alone, it was Hannah’s lips she imagined touching hers. Marmee sighed audibly thinking of those fantasies, only to find she was not alone.

“What ails you, marm?” said Hannah, peeling a potato while leaning against the doorway.

“Hannah! I was just… thinking, about raising these girls, and how hard it is to talk about the ‘Pilgrim’s Progress’ and being good when I struggle so much myself.”

Putting down the potato, Hannah came to Marmee and brushed a lock of hair from the young mother’s forehead. “You’re so good to them, you know,” she said reassuringly.

Marmee sank into Hannah’s strong arms. “I just need to be held, and to feel we will get through all this,” she cried. Those strong arms wrapped around her, holding her close when suddenly, they were kissing. Hannah’s lips pressed against Marmee’s, gentle yet firm.

“With all respect, marm, I think you need a little more focus on yourself and a little less on the rest of us,” Hannah said when the kiss had broken.

“Oh,” replied Marmee, her hand flying up to her lips in surprise. The kiss had been everything she had dreamed of. It had awakened a fire in her she had long thought dead.

As if reading her mind, Hannah parted her lover’s plump, hairy lips with calloused fingers to find her center of love. It was as hard as a diamond. “You spend so much time taking care of those girls, but who takes care of you?”

Marmee shuddered at the sensation. She could not remember how many years it had been since she had seen her husband, and even more since he had touched her like this. Had he ever touched her like this? “Oh Hannah,” she whispered, “what is it that you do with your hands? I have not felt anything like it..! But what if the girls return, what would they say?”

“They need never know, marm,” was the reply, as the fingers moved from circling Nature’s orifice to find Marmee quite wet and ready for anything. The musky scent of her excitation began to fill the small kitchen, leaving Hannah hungry for more. The older woman kissed Marmee’s neck and ear. She began to tell her exactly what was about to happen, leaving Marmee’s knees quite weak with anticipation.

“Oh! How indecent!” cried Marmee with a little gasp. “I oughtn’t to be doing these things! What would Aunt March think? Oh my!”

“I can stop, if you’d like,” answered Hannah with a teasing smile, hastening her frigging just a fraction.

“No, oh no, please,” moaned Marmee.

Hannah’s smile widened, and she went to her knees, pulling up the skirts and underskirts of her lover to find the lips to her cunt open and wanting. She covered Marmee’s thighs with burning kisses, getting closer and closer to her watertight furnace with her impassioned touch. With a small cry, Marmee pulled Hannah’s head to her, desperate for a more intimate exploration of her inner folds. The always obliging Hannah lapped at Marmee’s creamy cunt framed by soft brown fleece with her firm and knowing tongue. The action sent the young mother into a crisis. Moving out from underneath the skirts, Hannah kissed Marmee again, the taste of arousal hot on her lips.

“You have desires,” said Hannah, “and it may not be proper but it’s real. If you’ll let me, I’d like to satisfy a few of them, marm.”

“Call me Marmee, Hannah, oh please! And show me more of these delicious pleasures,” exclaimed Marmee, her eyes burning with lust.

Looking around the kitchen, Hannah locked eyes with Marmee and slowly slid a carrot into her mouth. “Well, to start, I can think of a better, warmer place for this”, she murmured, sliding one hand down and then under Marmee’s skirts to the now-wet fur underneath. The carrot slid across Marmee’s pink gash. Hannah switched between gentle slapping and slow, teasing strokes.

“Do you want this, Marmee?” murmured Hannah huskily.

“Oh yes,” moaned Marmee.

“Show me how much,” demanded Hannah. Glancing around for an available surface, Marmee hoisted herself upon the countertop. She lifted her skirts around her waist and spreading her legs lewdly. Parting her swollen labia lips, she let her fingers dip in and out of her entrance.

“So, so much, Hannah… it’s been so long… oh PLEASE,” Marmee begged.

Hannah teased her lover with the carrot for a moment longer, then thrust it into her waiting cunt. Marmee covered her mouth with her hand to try and quiet her whimpers, but they soon turned into a low cry. Grasping for the peeled potato, Hannah pushed it between Marmee’s flushed lips as a gag.

“Breathe,” Hannah commanded. Marmee inhaled shakily. Hannah came closer and whispered, lips delicately touching in her lover’s ear, “open for me, my sweetest angel, let me inside!” and Marmee groaned, convulsed, letting the carrot in deep and covering it and those calloused hands with her lady juices. Pulling the vegetable out to admire the glistening dew embracing it, Hannah locked eyes with Marmee, tasted it, and slowly slid it back inside. She became a spouting geyser as she spent under Hannah’s administrations.

Marmee, quite worn out, slid from the counter which was soaked with her fluids. “Oh Hannah, whatever shall we do now?” She blushed. “I’ve managed to christen our dinner with my excitement!”

Hannah just grinned and kissed her. “Don’t you worry about that, marm. No one will notice a thing. Now you scurry off and get back to your knitting instead of watching me work!”

Meg, Jo, Beth and Amy all exclaimed they had never tasted a stew so delicious and clamoured for Hannah’s secret. But Hannah just smiled and never said a word.

Categories: smut

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What I Mean When I Say Vulnerability is Strength

“What happens when people open their hearts?"
"They get better.”
― Haruki MurakamiNorwegian Wood

I am a fearful person. That's hard for many to believe, as I work hard projecting a facade of confidence. I recognize that people look to me for advice and guidance, and I take that seriously in my push to improve my understanding of myself. I spend a lot of time challenging my fears and doing things that scare me, so you might think I'm relaxed or maybe daring... but I am actually internally clenched tight like a fist.

Actually, a fist is a really good metaphor, because I feel like it was through fisting I learned to be vulnerable. There's something about having someone's hand slowly slipping, finger by finger, into an orifice that reminds me how people want deep intimacy so quickly, but it takes time, and patience, and a lot of lube. If you try to push yourself too far, too fast, you can potentially hurt and/or traumatize yourself, so taking it slow is important.

I'm really impatient at times so taking it slow is hard for me. I want to learn all the things, experience all the feels,  get over all my hangups and I want to do it all right now. I have a tattoo that says "evolve or die", and I believe that through and through. Still, sometimes it might do me some good to take a step back, acknowledge what I've done, and feel safe for a minute.  I'm bad at recognizing my triumphs!

Thinking on it, I suspect that at least part of my desire to work on self improvement comes from a place of wanting to no longer feel vulnerable in those particular ways. Things like jealousy, helplessness, heartbreak, these are vulnerable spaces and there's no doubt in my mind that I hope if I learn to get over these things I won't hurt so much or so easily anymore. I hate the relationship anxieties I've developed, like laser security systems of PTSD that I can so easily trip over and trigger a panic attack.

Now, though, I'm teaching myself that it's ok to be scared. Vulnerability isn't just about me apologizing or stopping myself from defensiveness or putting myself out there in my art or my writing. It's also admitting that I feel jealous, or that I miss someone who was terrible for me. Vulnerability is complicated and living in my heartspace is so hard. I feel, though, that as I sit with my feelings, the muscle of my heart gets stronger. My suicidal feelings become lessened, because I don't feel the need to escape from them so badly. I can tell my lovers when I am hurting and they are present.

I guess this is more for my sake than yours, dear readers. But I am glad to be learning that I don't need to do some emotional alchemy for every nagging thought, for every doubt. That rolling that feeling around, getting to know it, being vulnerable with it, and then letting it go is ok. That I am, in fact, safe. That people mostly don't want to hurt me. My heart is tender, it's true, but most of the people I have chosen to surround myself with cherish that tenderness.

When I was in my early 20s, I thought vulnerability was weakness, that it opened me up to pain. I put up what I thought was armor to keep others out, but instead were walls trapping me in, and that caused me more pain than anything else. This is all very new to me, but I'm finding myself trusting others more, and holding onto suffering less. And I'm less scared of suffering, now.

I'm writing this to remind myself- it's ok. Be gentle with yourself, but keep your heart open for the good and the bad. You don't have to walk into situations that hurt, but you also don't have to hide from pain.

Categories: advice, anxiety, communication, intimacy, personal, psychology

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Learning Compassion the Hard Way

I feel like I need to offer a content warning for turning lemons into lemonade, or seeing the positive side of things, or whatever. I'm not normally such a ray of sunshine and I don't want y'all to be surprised or shocked by my sudden optimism.

Last week, I came out and found my car had been vandalized. There was a tag scratched into the trunk, and one of the tires had been made flat. Another tire was missing all of its lug nuts, meaning the tire was about to fall off.  There was a gold necklace wound around my windshield wiper blade, too, which if I hadn't seen it might have led to me scratching up my windshield pretty badly. It was unsettling, especially as the car wasn't parked far from my house. Even more unsettling was finding the keys used to scratch the car in our driveway... and discovering that it was done in broad daylight, by an adult man.

I didn't call the cops, because I live in a neighborhood that's being gentrified and the police seem to take any opportunity to shoot black people. If I'm honest, I feel like this sort of push back is to be expected - Oakland is the second fastest in the US when it comes to rising rents, and it's affecting a lot of marginalized people. Gentrification is a form of systematic violence, and I totally acknowledge that as a white cis person I contribute to that by having the access to pay even a bit more. I still felt pretty shaken, even if I understood the sentiment.

Today, I had to take my car in because one of my tires ended up being totally flat yesterday (even after AAA fixed it). When I went in, I discovered that all of my tires were rotting and close to falling apart! Had that guy not tried to take that damn tire off, I might not have realized how dire the situation was until I was driving on a freeway and a tire just exploded on me.  I'm supposed to go to Fort Bragg this upcoming weekend, and having my tires blow up on the way would be an incredibly stressful addition to the trip.

It was definitely one of those moments where I realized that sometimes super shitty things happen but they have an upside that you might be even more grateful for.  I know, kumbaya, right, but I think maybe I'm moving to a better space where it's easier for me to sit with difficult situations. I'm learning how to say "I'm scared or hurt and it sucks, how am I going to care for myself" rather than "how am I going to fight back" and that's a major lesson for me.

It was generally a difficult weekend filled with hard realizations and personal processing, but I'm trying to remind myself that these moments of intensity lead to better things- better relationships, better communication, better understanding of myself, better self care. Processing is one of my least favourite things to do but god, do I love the rewards of trust and intimacy when I do it. The vulnerability is scary each time and it's hard not to want to run away and withdraw or to lash out rather than say how I'm feeling openly and with love. Loving kindness is hard fucking work, but if I am to believe that people genuinely want to do better and not hurt each other, which I think generally is true, then even when I sometimes run up against people who are just assholes I can try to feel compassion rather than anger. It's definitely improved my relationships... even if I still want to overapologize for my emotional honesty.

"We're all wounded animals" is something I remind myself of a lot when I want to take a deep breath and feel loving kindness rather than irritation at someone's behaviour.  It's a hard thing to practice and I absolutely don't get it right all the time! But I'm glad to be moving towards a place of patience rather than constant fury. I just don't have the energy to hate more than about 5 people at any given time.  I still hold that anger is a super important and needed aspect to social justice and change, and I'll still use it as such. But I want it to be a reaction I choose, rather than my default. Iwant to direct that anger energy to punching up, not down.

Categories: activism, best of, communication, love, personal

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Info on the FemmeSpiration project!

So if you follow me on Twitter or Facebook, you might know that this weekend I had my first gallery opening last night!

SideQuest Gallery in Oakland is doing a Femme 4Ever show for the next month, and I was asked to be a part of it. I'm still fresh to photographing people, but I really wanting to use this as an opportunity to remind folks that femme is more than white, cis, curvy women, but a huge variety of folks. I also contributed to a femme zine by Sonya Mann which you can see here.

Many of my femme inspirations when I was young weren't white cis women, but androgynous dandies, genderfucking men, and people playing with drag in different ways. Yet I feel a lot of femme representation I've come across (anywhere except tumblr) can be pretty narrow. While masculinity seems to be fine for people to play with, femmeness is still kind of pushed aside, scorned, made fun of and made invisible.

I had hoped for it to be a 12 image project initially with femmes I adore like Mattie Brice, Toni Rocca, Virgie Tovar, Jetta Rae, and Cinnamon Maxxine, but it was a busy couple of months and hard to schedule. I still have my fingers crossed though, and I'm so grateful to the models I did get to photograph so far for sharing of themselves and their time! Once I've expanded this, my hope is to show it as a collection again, maybe even at the same gallery.

Each photo is displayed with a written statement from the model about what femme means to them. You can see the images and the statements at the end of this post.

The framed images are for sale and will be available for pickup after May 11th, when the show is over. They're $60 each - $12 goes to the gallery, $12 goes to me to cover the frames/printing, and the rest goes to the models as a thank you for their initially unpaid labour (they also got all the images from the shoot for their use). 8X10 signed prints will also be available for $10 each plus shipping and handling.

If you're interested in a framed image, please contact SideQuest Gallery at sidequestgallery@gmail.com.

Want a print? Email me at miss.kitty.stryker@gmail.com.

Are you femme identified, in the Bay, and want to be a part of this project? Also feel free to email me at the above address!

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Categories: activism, art, best of, community, definitions, don't tell me how to live, femme, identity, personal, photos, queer

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A First Stab at Defining Feminist Porn

I'm going to be brief. I don't know if you can make truly feminist porn marketable to the capitalist patriarchy. In many ways I think these goals are contradictory, and I think one of the biggest excuses for not implementing feminist ideals in porn is "marketability" i.e. money and catering to the male gaze, which is, again, the complete opposite of the feminism I subscribe to.

I get it- making money is important!

But I also don't think "making money" is more important than abolishing sweatshop labour, or protecting what's left of our environment, or the myriad other ways we critique capitalism being raised above compassion and care.

Here's what, in my mind, feminist porn would reflect in terms of values. I imagine this will be a living document as my feminism is informed and critiqued further, and that's how it should be, I hope. Feminism is, to me, ultimately a process more than a destination.

Worker's Rights on Set - I would expect feminist porn performers to be paid equally, contracts to be clear and reviewed thoroughly, performers to be allowed to use safer sex techniques that work for them without being rewarded/penalized for those choices, performers to be paid on time, in full. I believe performers should be allowed to safeword out of a scene if they need a moment, and they should be able to voice complaints about unsafe treatment by fellow performers without being blacklisted for it. This also means having a comprehensive and transparent process for dealing with sexual assault on and off set.

Representation -  I feel feminist porn should take on board the various ways in which white, slender, cis femme women are deified under the male gaze, and not perpetuate that harm further. Ethnic diversity (including shades of Blackness), size diversity, gender diversity, orientations across the board, people with various disabilities, all of these things should reflect in our pornographic landscape - not as a token, or as a fetish, but as part of the rich tapestry that is human sexuality. I also think this means showing BDSM, rough sex, creampies, erotic humiliation, double penetration, porn with and without plot. Far too often "feminist porn" gets stuck in the "porn for women" rut... as prescribed, again, by the capitalist patriarchy, which values feminine virtues over what women actually find sexy.

Politics -  Look I'm going to be brutally honest here and say no, I don't think you get to call porn feminist and also say porn isn't political. Of course it's fucking political, otherwise you wouldn't use a political movement to differentiate your porn from the mainstream. I don't think that means your porn needs to embrace political themes all the time, but I think that to make feminist porn is to critique your work through the lens of multiple feminisms, including anti-porn feminism.

Understanding Sex Work is Work -  "Authenticity" is another branding bullshit scam. Porn performers perform. Stop pressuring us to express "genuine" pleasure when you already have an idea of what pleasures are allowed to be genuine. It's silencing, it's belittling, it's reductive, and it's gross.

Marketing - Using slurs to market your porn is not challenging the status quo, it's perpetuating and supporting it. I suppose that means you can't be lazy about your marketing by humiliating your performers, but instead have to maybe even coin new terminology. It'll be an uphill and often seemingly thankless battle (as is feminism generally, mind). You should be doing it anyway.

I'm off to go talk about porn all day- expect this to be added to. What else should be included? Comment below!

Categories: activism, capitalism, community, feminism, male privilege

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The Stifling Nature of the Phrase "But You're So STRONG"

I have made it my mantra ever since my last suicide attempt, now almost 2 1/2 years ago, that vulnerability is strength. I tell myself that, I tell my friends that, it informs my writing. It's a concept that's very precious to me, because for a long time I felt very trapped by my own perceived strength. Big Girls Don't Cry, etc etc. When I said I was having a hard time, which was usually a very gentle, not-wanting-to-alarm-people way to say "I am having suicidal ideation pretty much nonstop right now", the #1 response I would get back then was "but you're so strong!"

It is probably not a surprise to my regular readers that I am actually a ball of anxiety and self-criticism. I have absolutely considered what my life would be like if I got surgeries to make my body acceptable, if I medicated myself more heavily to take the edge off my constant state of mild panic. I have tried to break up with my partners because I know they can do better and I worry I take up too much space, in every sense of the word. I spend a fair amount of time punishing myself for not being more.

I am also incredibly sensitive.  I notice when people say "omg, we should TOTALLY HANG OUT" at a party and then they don't contact you again til the next party. I notice when someone only talks to people who they want to flirt with, and when that means conventionally pretty and slender. I notice when I'm snubbed at events as a guest or as a performer, and frankly it's one of the reasons I've withdrawn from a lot of the performance scene here in the Bay. Am I being overly precious? Perhaps, but it's telling to me that friends of mine who have intersectional awareness have also reflected that this happens to them, too. There is a hierarchy of friendship, it seems, and if you're fat, or disabled, or Black, or trans, god forbid a combination of those things, you're probably being shunted to the bottom of the pile, much like with dating. It's painful to witness, and I spend a lot of time gaslighting myself because I don't want it to be true.

And this all comes back to the stifling nature of being seen as "strong". I think I'm a pretty strong person, not least because I bear witness to my humiliation and devaluation every day and I'm still alive.  But in order to maintain that strength it feels like a disappointment to say when I feel hurt, or when the weight of the world's scorn is just too much. In addition, I think people forget that I'm actually severely socially anxious and need them to approach me sometimes, and I think they forget that no, I don't get a lot of flirtation or offers to hang out that actually manifest. Being "strong" or seeming "confident" doesn't mean I have my shit together any more than the rest of you. I know some folks in my communities frown on the practice of being open about feels on the internet, but for me it's important to hold myself accountable to letting myself be vulnerable, as well as reminding people that even strong people break down.

It's nice that people tell me I'm pretty, but it's a whisper against the constant roar that is the diet industry, the fashion industry, the medical industry, the sex industry, even my own friends. I don't know how to explain that to people who don't have it to the same extent. Like, yes, we're all given shit about how our bodies aren't good enough, but fat women are told regularly to kill themselves for being fat. As a fat porn performer and sex worker, I have been told that I deserve to be murdered for how my body looks. It's hard to be "strong" in the face of that, but I feel like I have to be defiant, because people look up to me. It's part of why I feel so strongly that showing fat, diverse bodies in feminist porn is so vital, because with every feminist company that still maintains that thin, cis, white body norm, they are actively hurting other women who get hurt enough. Being "strong" isn't enough to combat this, we need solidarity.

I guess it's because I'm so vocal I'm told how strong I am.  That loudness isn't my strength, though, that's a cry for help. My strength is in my waking up alone every day, putting my clothes on, getting through the work day, writing things like this. Being angry at the world is just protective.

Categories: anxiety, assumptions, best of, body stuff, community, fake it til you make it, feminism, love is a dog from hell, media, parties, personal, support

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Five Love Songs for a Longing Heart

I thought that maybe, during the Summer of Fun (more on that later) I'm implementing for myself, one of the things I would do at least twice a month is put together a small playlist around a theme. I loved making mix tapes, and enjoy hearing new music via playlists sent to me by friends and lovers, so I'm hoping maybe this will be a way to introduce you all to my internal musical psyche! 

I also love the idea of making these minimixes as a form of advice to various issues people are having, so email me if you need a mix for a specific situation- maybe you're going through a breakup and it's sad but you know you're better off, or maybe you need a pick me up for the job you're going to when you're anti-capitalism? Whatever it is, I'd love to see if I could make a mix for you.

Today's 5 song minimix is for those who are housing a bittersweet heart, the kind where your gut wrenches but you welcome the ache. It's a mix of nostalgia, missing lovers that were bad for us but whom we sometimes wake up looking for them in our bed, and of longing, wistful and dreamy unrequited or unspoken love. I don't know about you, but even when I'm perfectly happy in my relationships, I love to listen to songs that make me feel like a teenager lying in a pile of records wishing to be with someone who isn't thinking about me. These are songs that make me feel like that- in love, and in pain, and embracing both fully.

1. "Year of the Cat", Al Stewart

"She comes out of the sun in a silk dress running
Like a watercolour in the rain
Don't bother asking for explanations
She'll just tell you that she came
In the year of the cat"

When I was a little girl, I would sing this song to my cat Pixel, a very tolerant Maine Coon lookalike. I was sure, as a kid, that I was going to marry my cat and we would live in a cottage by the ocean. It makes me think of summer love affairs, where we don't know how long it'll last, or care- we let ourselves love as fully as we can, for as long as it feels good. This may be my first exposure to the idea of a manic pixie.

2. "Breathe Me", Sia

"Ouch, I have lost myself again
Lost myself and I am nowhere to be found
Yeah, I think that I might break
Lost myself again and I feel unsafe"

I heard this song for the first time on an airplane from London to San Francisco. It was on a mix cd made for me by a lover as a goodbye gift, though I didn't know it at the time. I was attracted to him because of his vulnerability, his willingness to lay himself open to me, and this song seemed like a heartfelt plea for our arguments not to cause us to abandon each other. Instead, he left my heart a wasteland, and me devastated by the loss.

3. "Hostage-O", Warren Zevon

"I can see me bound and gagged
Dragged behind the clown mobile
You can treat me like a dog
If you make me feel what others feel"

I like a little bit of bondage, and I seem to like a little bit of suffering too. A mixture of kinky imagery and clowns mixed with the plea to learn how to now to be numb is definitely up my alley for plucking my heartstrings. I was introduced to it by a casual lover, and fell more for the lyrics than for the person who played it for me. I'm still working on my feelings about romance and sacrifice.

4. "I Love You More", The Softies

"I can't compete with that boy
I can't make you feel like that
I can't love you the way he does
I can only love you more"

I struggle a fair amount with jealousy, though it's not often the sort of jealousy that makes me want to split people up. Instead, my jealousy manifests in putting myself down, and sadly withdrawing from the person's life because I feel they have lovers around them who make them happier than I do. In my darker moments I second guess why my lovers would be with me when they can have so much better (and sometimes do), so songs like this that talk about those feelings help me wallow, cry a little, and then let those feelings go.

5. "Quiet Little Place", K's Choice

"In this quiet little place
You run your fingers through my hair and whisper "Hey"
And no matter how I try
I can't seem to think of anything better to say"

I'll end on a note that fits with the soft and sort of sad sounds of the previous songs, but that offers a slightly more peaceful feeling. K's Choice is a great band for feelings of "I'm in love with you and it's kind of confusing but I'm into it" and I have those feelings often. I fall in love easily, if not often. This song speaks to that moment when you're with someone you love and you're speechless... not for any bad or awkward reasons, but because there's no need to fill the empty space. That joy and calm of just sitting with someone you care about, whether they're a lover or a friend, and just existing, is a beautiful feeling.

I hope you enjoyed this new potential feature, please let me know what your thoughts are!

Categories: list, loss, love, love is a dog from hell, memories, mixtape, music, personal

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I HATE April Fool's Day.

I'm a clown who hates April Fool's Day. Weird, right? This should be a special day for mischief, it's the Day of the Clown, a day for laughter and silly hoaxes. It's harmless fun... or at least it should be. That's how it began, anyway. And I love many of the corporate gags, which are usually absurd enough to be obvious but not emotionally stirring... like Grouber, where all the drivers are cats. Whatever, right? I can smile, shake my head and keep on with my day. But it seems sometimes like now it's a day for getting pleasure out of the confusion of others, and to celebrate successfully manipulating them in ways that comes off pretty unfunny to me.

As someone who is keenly aware that many people in my community are suicidal and otherwise unwell, "jokes" about a sudden and drastic life change doesn't come off as obviously made up, to me. It comes off as a warning sign that this person is struggling, that they're reaching out for help. I *like* this part of myself, who cares deeply about other people I'm in touch with, however well we know each other. I don't want to feel publicly humiliated for being concerned when someone suddenly announces they're quitting their job or moving to another city suddenly or giving up a core part of their identity. We should be encouraging this sort of mutual care, not punishing it.

Not only that, but for people who aren't neurotypical, this kind of manipulative "pranking" can be really confusing and difficult to navigate. Feeling made fun of because you believe what people are saying at face value is kind of shitty. I was reading about how some kids with autism dread today because they take the fake tests or other jokes they might experience at school seriously and it stresses them out, not only that the surprise thing happened, but that they were then laughed at for their response.

I mean, ok, granted, I'm considered a humourless feminist anyway, so all this should come at no surprise.  But I think there's a difference between a gentle joke and pretending you have a terminal illness or are suicidal. I hate that a day that's supposed to be playful and fun just teaches people to be suspicious, not trust each other, try to "win" at being more of a dick, and gain pleasure from causing other people anxiety or pain. I read in a private group that it felt like the whole world was gaslighting you and I think that rings very true.

So please, keep that in mind, this April Fool's Day and every day, really. Not everyone feels safe enough to be fucked with, even by their friends. Be considerate and kind, not cruel.

Categories: best of, communication, community, consent, personal

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Poly PTSD

I always thought that the way in which my muscles spend more time tense than relaxed was normal. I figured waking up in the middle of the night because my legs had cramped, again, was probably a sign of not drinking enough water or something. There are areas of my body I thought were bone, and later discovered were in fact muscles so tense they were like painful rocks. Similarly, I thought my stomach issues were caused by not eating enough vegetables (I eat a lot, but figured maybe they weren't the right ones) or being in an unhealthy environment (which probably didn't help, tbh). I figured that waking up with your mind racing was just part of the human experience.

Now I realize so many of these symptoms relate to having an anxiety disorder. And learning how to be true to myself, and engage in self care, while also being a good and compassionate partner, is taking up a lot of my life right now.

Reminiscing about past relationships, both good and bad, is pretty normal I expect, but I literally get relationship flashbacks. The way a hand rests on my lower back, the way a lover's eyes light up when they see another partner, the casualness of discussing yet another threesome, all of these things have caused me to tense up with some sort of poly/relationship PTSD, and I'm still trying to figure out what to do about it.  I have nightmares about my lovers dumping me for not being pretty or sexually available enough or that I state a boundary or ask for a need to be met and I get hit. I wake up in tears a couple of times a month. I have had some terrible experiences with nonmonogamy- lovers pitting me against other metamours, being lied to about safer sex, being left without warning while in another country. It makes it difficult for me to breathe and accept that a person wants to be with me. I spend a lot of time waiting for the other shoe to drop, while also worrying that my lovers will eventually get fed up with my anxiety and walk.

Part of me wants to avoid the panic altogether, quit polyamory, dump my partners and become a solo cat lady, while part of me wants to challenge myself and be uncomfortable in order to work through it. Yet I'm not sure if I am, in fact, working through these feelings, or if I'm just retraumatising myself in the hope that eventually the nerve will numb. It's been difficult to admit that I am actively traumatised by sex party spaces, and that maybe my relationship to them is not something that's fixable if I just work hard enough. Sometimes I feel like I'm smiling while I dig a fork into my thigh, afraid not to reassure my lover that I'm ok with everything, I'm super GGG. It has not always been safe for me to have boundaries, and now I navigate my feelings and the reactions of others to them like a complex laser alarm system. And I'm clumsy.

I guess I dread discovering that my feelings aren't entirely under my control. I spend a lot of time trying to logic my gut feelings away, reminding myself that people DO genuinely like and desire me, and that no, that love isn't because of or in spite of my body. I keep hoping that perhaps I can find the magic words to reassure myself that I don't have to compete with other lovers by being up for anything or emotionally stoic, I can be myself and that's enough, that's what's wanted. I keep pushing myself to feel uncomfortable and to figure out why so I can process through it, but I'm beginning to suspect that I'm doing myself more harm than good.

The irony is that I really like my metamours. They're all people I get along with really well, and enjoy spending friend time with. I don't have any fear that they're seeking to shut me out. But it's been difficult not to compare myself to them and worry. How can I possibly measure up to a woman who has financial stability and privilege and doesn't struggle to find money for food some weeks? Or a woman who finds group sex easy and fun, for whom threesomes come naturally and not like a hive of anxious hornets? Or a woman who shares more interests and points of connection with my lovers than I do? I see how amazing my metamours are, and I look at my panicky, fat, hand-to-mouth, sexually complicated self and think "but you're already doing so much better".

I can't feel jealous of these metamours, because I don't want to take them away from my lovers, they're great! So instead, sometimes I'm eaten up by sadness and a feeling that it would be better if I just withdrew so they could have more awesome experiences with them rather than sit with me and my seemingly endless processing. I worry, often, constantly, that I'm not fun enough, that while I value my commitment to social justice and enacting change that taking care of me when I'm drained is too much to ask. I worry that I'm not sexual enough, or that my sexual currency isn't high enough. It's not so much that I think I'm unattractive, but that I'm very aware that society deems it acceptable to laugh or shudder at my body and I'm afraid that impacts my partners.  Am I holding them back?

I've read a lot of poly advice and it so often seems like either you need to be able to put these feelings aside or you need to give up open relationships. There's not a lot of information on balancing mental health issues and nonmonogamy, or how to heal yourself when poly was used as a weapon (mentally and sometimes physically) against you.  I don't have any answers, obviously, but maybe just coming out and saying these things is a good first step.

Categories: abuse, anxiety, boundaries, caution, communication, dating, fake it til you make it, gfe, love is a dog from hell, nonmonogamy, parties, personal, psychology, reflection, self care, sexuality, sweeties

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Nesting for Springtime

It's been a bit of a heartbreaking week, and there's important things I should probably be writing about- stuff delving into whose feminism informs feminist sex work, looks-based employment and the balance of ethical values with patriarchal "marketability", why we cannot be incredulous when people who have been mistreated don't come forward with their stories when they are so often abused further for speaking out. Important stuff. Hard stuff. Intense stuff.

But, you know what? Instead, I want to talk about something fun, because fun, as I have been reminded, is important for self care.

I've moved into a new apartment, and am living independently from a partner for the first time in a while. And it's fantastic! A couple years ago, I found being alone for days on end uncomfortable, but I'm reveling in having a bed all to myself to starfish on, and decor that fits my aesthetic. My room is colourful, filled with framed art that inspires me, and femme accessories that are both organized and displayed nicely. It's been a lot of fun problem solving, figuring out how to store my laptop, setting up a pink hue light, installing a mirror over my dresser to give it a vanity feel. I even have a housewarming wishlist, for those who are into that!

I'm finally close to my friends and my lovers, rather than dreading an hour plus in traffic any time I want to do something.  It's felt uplifting and exciting to make plans in the spur of the moment rather than weeks ahead. It doesn't hurt to have awesome food close by, and a cute garden on the side, and a fantastic housemate I get along with really well. I've felt comfortable nesting here, and have some hope this can be a forever home for me after a few years of moving because of circumstance. I enjoy coming home, and look forward to quiet time. Some of that, I'm sure, is growing up, and some of that is generally feeling more comfortable with my own company.

Having a nest is hopefully the first step to me letting go of my attachment to social media and getting out into the world more. I've been suffering from a lot of burnout and frustration at a lack of recognition for the work I'm asked to do and I need to recharge! While there are still, absolutely, injustices to fight and behaviours to call out, I'm finding myself more eager to spend time offline, exploring my neighborhood, drinking tea and reading, listening to records. I'm hoping to embrace more fun in my life, rather than continuing to work nonstop as a way of keeping my brain busy. I'm tired of being the one people come to with rape reports, needs for conflict resolution, an angry voice to speak up about whatever the thing is now. I need a respite, and for a while, that'll be enacted through bicycling instead of driving, making plans to hang out with people without a political agenda on the table, and maybe getting back into crafting and creating.

I'll still be writing, of course! And I'll still be addressing important issues. But I'm going to make a solid effort to also write more about topics I find fun and invigorating, like fashion tricks or home decorating projects. I'm also really looking forward to having more time with friends I don't fuck, bringing my partners to interesting art events and pig roasts and pretty much anything but sex parties, carving out a niche for myself with other people who enjoy sexuality but don't need it to be EVERYTHING in their lives. I want to look forward to events I rsvp for, rather than dread them. I want to forge myself a new community, one that genuinely gives a shit about mutual care and accountability, but also likes to just chill and not process every minute of the day. I still want to change the world, but I think I'm beginning to realize the best way to do that is to show by example and live the life I want to see for others while reaching out and giving them access.
Right now, I'm glad to have new pillows, and to have broken in my new bed properly (hot sex is self care!), and to have a room that's softly pink all the time. And right now, that's enough.

Categories: activism, balance, boundaries, community, fake it til you make it, feminism, personal, reflection, self care