Pure As the Driven Slush: Heather Corinna's Journal and Diary, Online since 1999

Archive for the 'Happy!' Category

Monday, July 1st, 2013

Last night, we had the extreme pleasure of hanging out with a small group of people on the island at the most divine home.  It was set right on the water, with a space in the back; covered, with beautiful tufted chairs, no walls closed to the scene around.

I took a break from the group to go sit there, and quite out of nowhere — looking at the water, feeling the breeze, so happy to have been having warm days here in the Pacific Northwest where there are never enough of them for my liking — was momentarily overcome by this feeling of profound gratitude for my life.

Specifically, and without much eloquence, my feeling and thought was that this has just been one hell of a life so far, and I’m grateful for all of it.  Earnestly, all of it, including the parts of it that have been hideous, traumatic and so incredibly hard and painful. Grateful that only in the middle of my forties, it has felt so tremendously full of all there can be to living, grateful that I’ve been able to experience so much of what it is, and still be around, feeling whole and full and challenged, for sure, but not bitter or jaded or so emotionally tired form all it’s involved I’ve lost my hunger for more.

It was one of those solitary moments where so much thought and feeling and reflection is packed into such a small fragment in time, where everything just kind of comes together and makes itself clear and known. Where who you are and all your life has been unionize themselves, and become inseparable. One of those moments that sometimes you struggle to get yourself to, but which don’t tend to happen so clearly and freely with intentional effort as they do when those efforts over time stack up and then all come to fruition at once without trying, without expectation or want.

Tuesday, August 30th, 2011

Last night, I was finished with work, getting started on cooking dinner.

I had the 70s radio station on. I was in my bare feet with an apron layered over a long, cozy skirt, pulling my long hair into a knot to keep it out of the food.  The dogs were lazing around, being a little silly.  I was looking into the forest while I made a beautiful meal with fresh, wonderful ingredients.  I was enjoying a nice glass of wine. I was dancing around a little while I cooked, just kind of grooving out, feeling mellow and satisfied and happy with relatively simple things.  Feeling, as I often do anymore, like I’ve landed in a place and space, literally and in a larger way, in my life where I have pretty much what I need to be happy, and where what all of that is is within my reach.  In a place where thoughts of further attainment — as in, this is awesome, but I really still need that, or that’s great, but it’d be better if I had this — are often far from my mind, even though there are certainly some things that are pretty basic I remain without. In a place where what happens in downtime are things like reading a good book outside in a cozy chair, walking through the forest, hula-hooping in a wide open space, playing instruments at night, lounging in a tub until my fingers get all pruny, tending to the plants, baking delicious things, screwing, talking for hours, getting to know local characters who are as weird as I am in the few local haunts there are. I live somewhere where it’s considered a given that people share things and are kind to one another, where there are peace protests on the street even though the people standing know they’re preaching to the choir. I live somewhere where wearing mismatched socks isn’t just about not giving a crap, it’s about there being something joyful and hilarious in mismatched socks.

It then occurred to me that I had kind of lost my sense of exactly when it was, in the grander scheme of things, and in that, I realized that right now, in a whole lot of ways, I’m basically living the life my father really wanted when he was young and I was wee (soundtrack and all).  This life I have going right now is kind of his low-income aspiration to an almost-middle-income life, where basic needs are met, the luxuries are simple ones, and there’s a level of off-grid that’s still clicked in enough to avoid some major struggles. These are the kind of daydreams my father was having about his life and my life in the midst of Woodstock; the kind of respite he imagined he and I might be able to have if and when the kind of revolution he worked for and wanted — and ultimately, didn’t see happen — took hold and then settled down.

I am essentially living my father’s early 70s dream life, a life he also dreamed for me.  And it obviously was a very good dream, one would think, because I’m really loving my life this way.

Of course, when I think back to college, I realize it was my dream, too, even though it may still be one I inherited or was primed to, at least in part.  There was a while there where I was pretty dead-set on ditching the whole works and trying to buy an old school bus I figured I could somehow renovate to work just fine as a mobile home and use to find a place and a life…well, an awful lot like this one.

I really need to get him up here for a visit. Not only has it been over a year since I’ve seen him, and there’s the given that I always want to get him away from the hell that he lives in, I also want him to be able to experience this. It’s bittersweet, of course, as I know this is a life he’d still like for himself in some ways, and one I don’t have the means to provide for both of us, nor one where he feels up to the adjustment anymore.  But I figure there has to at least be something lovely and satisfying in seeing your kid living the kind of life you’ve dreamed for both of you, right?

I’m not sure, though I’m sure we’ll talk about it at some point, hopefully while taking a lovely walk here sometime soon or being delighted that you can get a $3 drink in an unpretentious pace without also having to suffer the company of racist assholes insulated by a crappy tiny place instead of a wonderful one.

But in the meantime, I’m just going to keep on relishing what I have here right now, what I’m able to be part of, and the time I can spend in this life that feels like such a beautiful dream sometimes.

Monday, April 18th, 2011

Not only am I not dead, it’s my birthday today.  And unfortunately for me, I’m sick as a dog.  Blue caught some nasty cold/flu thing last week that put him down for days and never one to want to be left out, I had to pick it up myself yesterday.

So, I can’t work, because the fever and malaise has made me stupid.  And I can’t play, because I’m not the kind of stupid that’s any kind of fun.

But I said to myself, as I was resting in the bedroom, “Self? This really is not so bad.  You’re sick, but you’re sick in this beautiful floaty-looking room with some beautiful sunlight streaming in. This bed is seriously cozy. That bagel you just ate was fresh and delicious. You don’t have the Black Plague, you’ve just got a bad cold.  And you can take a day or two off without the world coming to an end, or worrying about getting fired or winding up unable to pay for food because you got sick for a couple of days. You have a bucket of muppety-looking stuffed flowers from your sweetheart, who loves you, and would take care of you tonight if you actually would let anyone do such a thing. You can hear birds chirping (and your old cat yelling, too, but when you’re that old, you’ll probably be whining nonstop yourself). You’re just having a less-than-awesome day in what remains a presently wonderful life.”

Then I realized the light was so lovely, and I was unable to do so little else that I could at least take a few snaps to document my entry into my 41st year, despite being without a tripod right now since I misplaced the plate. And so I did. Even sick and tired both, as it turns out, I’m holding up pretty darn well for being an age I never even thought I’d reach some of the years of my life. Getting older remains more exciting than scary. I still have the freckles over my eyes I like so much, even though sunlight remains a rare commodity here in the Pacific Northwest. I like the lines I’m getting still. I heart the grey at my temples. I’m clearly getting my parental grandmother’s mustache, but that’s okay, especially since if I’m ever out of a job, maybe I can cultivate it and join the circus as the bearded lady. I look contented, how weird is that? All mighty swell.

I know, I continue to be pretty quiet over here, and I think the fact is that I learned all of my arts during crisis and turmoil. I’m one of those walking cliches who only seems to be able to really churn out the creative work when I’m unhappy or scared or in some kind of serious crisis or distress. Since I refuse to turn that situation into its own crisis, I decided a while back, when it became clear I had been happy for a good long while and it seemed to have become a trend, that I was going to just give myself whatever time I needed to get to a point where I could learn to create things when I was happy.

It’s not like I get nothing done: I put in 60 hour workweeks mostly helping other folks with their own scared/unhappy/fearful/crisis. I churn out a ton of work-work in my field just fine.  In fact, I seem to do that work far better in the space I’ve been in over the last… you know, I can’t even clock it, actually, which is kind of super-amazing. So, it’s okay if I do less creative writing, less art, less of what has most often been the way I out parts of my spiritual life and practice into tangible form.  It’s even entirely possible — and I don’t think I’m just telling myself this to rationalize it all — that I’m finally learning to make the work I’d always thought of as the least creative of everything do its own art; it’s own spiritual practice.

My days anymore go something like this: I wake up, I get some coffee, I have a smoke on the porch, maybe stretch my legs outside a bit. I listen to the sounds of the island.  I go to my desk, I get a couple hours of work in. I go outside again. I go up to the loft, do my yoga while looking out into the trees. I take a hot shower. I go outside again. Then I do another bunch of hours of work, now and then take an afternoon walk somewhere in there. My workday ends anywhere from early evening to a little later, with some hangout & a lovely dinner with my sweetheart. Then we vegetate in some way or another. Then we go to bed, and more times than not, I sleep like a baby.

On the rare days when I don’t have to do any work — though I have been doing decently at taking one day off a week — they tend to start the same, though now and then, they start with sex, which is even better. (I’m of the mind one has to start the day with something productive, after all. And yes: that totally counts.) On Saturdays, we go into town, see the farmer’s market, do our errands, sometimes take a drive somewhere lovely, which is pretty much everywhere on this island. Some days we stop by the beach, where I find too many things to bring home. Then we’ll bake or cook or make a fire, or, when the tub outside is working, have a soak or work the dirt. Blue has taken up the ukelele, so now and then we’ll both play together in our new home-only band, Tiny Instruments.Often enough, some friend or another will make a pilgrimage to come visit and we’ll spoil them to pieces because it’s fun as hell to share what we have here right now with the people we love.
I think if I hadn’t lived a life that was nothing close to so provincial up until now, I might even feel a little embarrassed at how much so mine is right now, but I’m not.  I’m constantly grateful for the peace and the solace, and the small, quiet joy that’s pretty much ever present. I never really saw anything like this coming for myself, and some days I don’t notice, but other times I’ll get whacked upside the head with the wonderful surprise of it all and remind myself not to take any of it for granted.

So, I’m sick on my birthday. Whatever. And sure, I still am way overworked and have way too much on my plate way too much of the time. So it goes. Because for the most part, I feel pretty awash in gifts pretty much all of the time, and I’m not sure what else a person can really ask for.

Sunday, January 30th, 2011

Sorry for another long silence from me, here, anyway.  I’ve not been silent anywhere else, just here.  Don’t take it personally.  Per usual, been busybusybusy with work, but also busybusybusy enjoying the time I’m not working.  Which isn’t enough, I’ll give you, but I’ll take what I can get.

I stopped by because I just had to write down something lovely that happened around a week ago here on the island, which was such an excellent representation of why I love it here so much and remain so grateful I was able to move here.

I was in the city for a visit with my sister (who moved to Seattle last year, oddly, more on that another time) and some work at the shelter. After a lovely, albeit brief, run-in with my friend Ben, met up with Blue and we headed back home on the water taxi.  We got to sit with some of his commuting friends, who were lovely and witty and wise, and when we all loaded off the water taxi, half the folks, including us, jetted it over to the bus in a rush.

So, there we are, everyone having finished their workday, tired, but still nice and chatty, something I found Seattle folks tended to lack, but island folks tend to make up for.  As the bus made its way down the length of the island, the sky started to get dark.  We were sitting near the front of the bus, where a teenage girl was also sitting.

All of a sudden, she yelled out, “Oh, wow! Look at the moon!” Before half of us could even start to do it, she was swiftly dialing friends on her cell phone to tell them, too, to look at the moon, a gorgeous, low-hanging, blazing orange harvest moon.  Everyone on the bus joined in in looking and admiring it, and for those who hadn’t heard said teenage girl, the bus driver used the intercom to advise everyone aboard to look at it.

So there we all were, moon-gazing, sky-sighing, all thanks to one of the charming, enthusiastic and kind of mystical teenagers we seem to have quite a lot of on the island, who I tend to notice other adults don’t take for granted, either.  All excitedly gazing at the beautiful moon lighting up the harbor and the rippling topography of our island.

Seriously cool stuff, that.  I grinned for days because of it.

This is a lot of what life is like for me here, save that it’s typically much more quiet.  I so appreciate the quiet and the solitude — with breaks for things like en masse moon-squealing — and the slowness.  I’m still dazed half the time just by seeing and feeling the forest and the water all around me.

It’s an interesting appreciation, too, for this time and place in my life, because it’s based both on the present and the past.  They don’t just connect each other, but my life in the past has been, I think, a big part of my enjoying my life now.  If it wasn’t for growing up in the city and being so urban for the majority of my life, I don’t think I’d appreciate being rural like this now.  If it wasn’t for such a fast and busy social pace at other times, I think the slowness and quiet now would feel boring, instead of peaceful and inspiring.  Narrowing my interpersonal relationships down is something that feels right and good, but likely in part because at other times, I’ve been so much more expansive in that area.

It’s such an exceptional and fantastic thing, loving where I am now because of where I’ve been before; not because what was before was not what I wanted, and this, instead, was, but because I’ve loved both parts and they kind of complete each other.  It’s like having had two cups for everything, where only one was filled, but the other is now also getting full.  It makes all of my parts fit together in really complimentary ways, and makes all of my journeys kind of make a lot more sense than they have before.

It is, however, also a strange thing for me to feel more quiet in my spirit and my energy.  It’s not breaking news to mention that it has been more often loud and frenetic, and also that it’s always been a challenge for me to find a quiet.  Figuring out how to balance that with the work I do, in which in so many ways, I need to still be loud, has been interesting, and an art I have yet to refine.  I’m still just starting to explore it.  I’d say it’s certainly had a notable impact on the way I’ve been working with people directly: channeling my compassion and empathy for them was always something I could do, but it’s become considerably more effortless.  It is a bit harder, I’m finding, to react and respond to anyone — in general — being really out of order or very angry or reactive, but slowing myself down to try and figure out how is easier.

I’m in the midst of some potentially major work choices and decisions, which could potentially change my life (and my org) for the serious better if all goes well, in an area I’ve never had a fast, serious-better change, ever, only slow, gradual progress.  Can’t say more than that about it for now, but this is one more way in which I’m glad I’m living here, because sorting out this decision feels like something I’m capable of doing well better here than I would have elsewhere.

Basics, I know, and little else, but, hey!  Look at the moon!

Saturday, September 18th, 2010

Life on the island is fantastic. I absolutely love it here. I feel at home, I feel at peace, and I find it very easy both to work and to relax, the latter of which is, was and always having been the bigger challenge for me. We’ve just had three days of nonstop rain, which hasn’t bothered me, but since the sun is out, I had Blue move my big blue easy chair out back so I could get some sun and some writing here in.

I didn’t mean to let a month lapse since I last wrote. I know this site of late (read: the last couple years) is something I’ve kind of neglected, or at least which has gotten far less of my time than it has in years past.  I want to just kind of sit with this today and thin — and write — about why.

When I started writing over here in 1999, Scarleteen was still in its infancy, the dot bomb hadn’t happened yet, and I was doing just as much work around sexuality and art for adults as I was doing sexuality work for young people. When it all comes down to it, I started this site, and writing here, not to long after I’d made some really major changes in my life, particularly leaving classroom teaching in order to make my work both online and around my arts and I’d moved to Minnesota after Chicago had been my hometown for most of my life.  I’d just come out of a few pretty damn dark years: of illness, of heartbreak, of almost winding up homeless again. I was 29 years old, in a relationship with my best friend at the time, and doing work that most people weren’t yet recognizing as work, or of anything of value, at all.  I was still doing some modeling for other artists, not just for myself (nor had I yet moved behind the camera, which is about 80 million times more interesting to me). I had a lot to sort out and suss out, very few supports in it and frequently fluctuated between states of intense inspiration and intellectual clarity and feeling totally, utterly lost, not knowing what the fuck I was doing in every area of my life. On top of that, very few women — or people, period — were talking about and working about the things I was. This site made a lot of sense then, and it makes less sense now, when so much of all of that has changed.

It’s so cliche, but I’m one of those creative people who tends to be most creative when I am hurting, angry, in a new emotion or in some kind of crisis or conflict.  I’d feel more stupid about that if there didn’t seem to be so many other artists and creative folks who are the exact same way.  All the same, it feels silly; lazy, even. I mean, if you can only artistically express a limited range of emotions, how creative are you, really?

So, here’s one thing: on the whole, lately — as in, over the past year and change — I’ve just been happy. Not the screamy, high-energy kind of happy, but the quiet kind, the kind that soothes and calms and contemplates and doesn’t have a lot to say a lot of the time. The kind that doesn’t keep its mouth shut because it feels silenced or scared, but because it’s just contemplating a gentle hum and finds it has little to report back.

The kind — no sense in being dishonest — I really don’t know much about at all. I’m a newbie. I can think of very few times in my life I experienced this, and the couple times that come to mind, I was so certain I was mistaking happiness for settling or complacency or detachment that I overthought it so much I didn’t really fully experience it at all, and also ran from it in due course.

But right now…okay, here’s my right now: I can pay most of my bills. I live in a rental — but a house — that is both beautiful and not in any way broken. I am in the middle of the woods, every day. More friends visit now that I moved out here than I saw when I was in Seattle-proper, and when they visit, we’re very rarely in the position where one or more of us is crying or venting because our lives suck in some major way. My sister even just moved to this state, a sister I have never really had a relationship with, but who it looks like I finally can, especially with both of us being so far away from home. I’m partnered with someone I have dearly loved on and off for 20 freaking years, who is both a peace and a passion in my heart and my mind.  All the drama around that when it restarted has since subsided. I feel able to be myself pretty much 24 hours a day, every day, no matter who I’m around.

Work is often a lot to manage (I’ll get to more on that in a minute), but it’s going well.  I’ve been doing what I have been doing for around 13 years now, solidly, and I know what I’m doing, I have way more support for it than I used to, it’s recognized as an actual job, and as something of value.  While funding, as ever, is always an issue, it’s not as much of an issue as it’s been in years past, and even when the shit hits the fan, I can usually figure something out.  I’ve been able to do some work through my work — like working for the abortion clinics and the teen shelter — I really wanted to do.  I may soon be writing a second book, which will carry a ton of stresses, but is something I very much want to do.

I could feel better physically, sure: my health is still not anything close to a non-issue.  Some things could be a good deal more stable.  Work could be less stressful.  But I’m 40, an age I never thought I’d even reach as a teenager, a concern that was more than valid then. I’m sitting on an overstuffed chair in the woods on an island, with a nice glass of wine, birds flying around me singing away, the sun is shining, the air is clean and warm and I’m comfortable.  And happy.  And mellow. In a couple hours, I’ll go make a delicious dinner with my sweetheart, which we’ll savor leisurely, then wind down with some lovely way of connecting and chilling, and then I’ll sleep like a baby in the perfect black dark.  It kinda rocks, to say the least.

Not only am I just learning how to be like this, I have yet to learn how to do my own creative work when I feel like this. I’m determined TO learn, mind you, but I’m not there yet.  And I forget, just plain forget, about my own writing or making art a lot of the time because I’m all caught up in my reverie.  When I realize that’s happened, I’ll start to give myself shit about it, and then I just stop.  Because I don’t have to do any of these things if I’m not feeling it.  But what I do have to do is learn to just let my heart be happy and my mind be quiet, one of the lone areas in life in which I am a late bloomer, and something I am actually learning to do at long last.

(more…)

Thursday, August 5th, 2010

The last few days, work-wise have been so much less than pleasant.  And some shit has been going on that could very well become a shitstorm I get smacked in the face with, something I’m used to, but continue to find profoundly unenjoyable.

But I had a wonderful, lovely day on all counts today.  On the way home, I made a promise to myself that should any kind of shit fly, or even just anything mildly unpleasant occur tonight or in the next few days, I would let this day stay wonderful, and pull its wonderful through to at least the next few.

I also made a promise I’d come home, put on comfy clothes, pour a glass of wine, look into the forest, turn on the computer (NO email or internet checking yet) and write this day this down:

Waking up at 4:15 today wasn’t fun, but responding to a morning “I love you,” with a half-asleep response of “Love is a Battlefield,” resulted in several hilarious and uninvited humming episodes for both Blue and myself a few times today.

The sun rose pink and purple-gold over the harbor, while we drove to the ferry. The always cozy experience of ferry-riding first thing of a morning.

Discovering the bliss that is a mocha at Stumptown coffee on Capitol Hill, doubled with a surprise Mighty-O donut appearance. Checking some crappy email and doing some online work during was not as blecky as it would have been otherwise. Reading loving gratitude made it all better.

Consulting for a patient at one of the clinics I do education for who really appreciated it. Having awesome, inspiring, political conversation about reproductive health dreams and ideals with the fantastic clinic manager.

Eating a wonderful middle-eastern lunch, but that’s not all.  Tasty lunch goodness with one of my favorite friends from my whole life where we lost touch and then couldn’t find each other for over a decade, just recently discovering we were BOTH here, not in Chicago. And having lunch not only be tasted, but gleefully shrieking and hugging and everything good there is about the best kind of reunions.

I met someone on the walk to the shelter in front of a dispensary who was short on money for methadone, and also painfully overdisclosing to me to ask for a whole five bucks.  Sharing a moment when I made clear I did not have to be sold on helping, nor should anyone else who had five dollars and watching an instant burden-lifted, the kind of exchange that tends to drive most of what I value most in living.

I had a great bunch of teens today at the shelter who were awesome to do ed with and for.  After the talk, one of the teens asked to talk to me privately, and I got to have the first relaxed, normalized, non-emotional and them-specific talk about their body that intersex youth seems to have ever gotten the chance to have until today.

Coming home on the ferry on a beautiful day, sipping honeydew green tea and nibbling on licorice, sun and wind and water abound.

Arriving home to pick up the phone, and have my newly-reconnected friend tell me she was just calling me to gab, because she finally could again.

Putting on comfy clothes, pouring a glass of wine, looking into the forest and writing this own.

Whatever else may come, be it the benign and typical daily frustrations, or the semi-occasional round of giant, steaming bullshit that gets left on my porch, today was a very good day.

Wednesday, April 7th, 2010

There are haps for telling. Here’s what they be.

Friday, Blue and I went over to one of the islands, despite it absolutely pouring rain all day.  Knowing we were going to do that, and figuring what the hell, I made a couple appointments for us to see some rentals over there.  We’re not yet ready to move, but I have been looking at ads weekly for a year now, so it seemed time to at least get started, even if we’d be seeing things available way too soon for us.

And the very first place we saw, the first rental I have even looked at on this particular island — which is my island of choice — was PERFECT.  Beyond perfect, honestly.  I have maybe looked at one or two places as nice as this one to rent in my life, and I have never lived in anything even close to this nice.  Even in my dreams about places to live, things are broken or falling apart. Ungodly amazing kitchen with zinc counters and sink, maple shelves and this huge island, open to the living/dining room that is almost entirely windows, floor to ceiling, looking into a gorgeous garden and then the woods.  Loft over all of that.  The office has big stones built into the floor with radiant heat, french doors open unto a side deck the size of the downstairs of my rental now.  Two good bedrooms (the only place there is the wall-to-wall carpet that pretty much covers the whole Pacific Northwest: dunno what is with people and the carpeting here). Two beautiful bathrooms, one with the shower to die, which seems magical compared to the truly gross makeshift shower stall that was added into this place. Very creative little bits everywhere, and everything in good repair. The way the house is set, situated and designed, it feels like being in a big treehouse. The windows are NOT from decades ago, unlike the ones here which are the cause of my weeping when heating bills come in. Dog-friendly.  Smoking only outdoors, but whatevs: I need a new motivation to cut down. Only bit more a month than rent now, a cost that would undoubtedly be offset by the heat actually staying in the house.  Plus, no more fucking month-to-month lease like I have been dealing with, and which leaves me feeling totally unstable. Oh, and a working woodstove, unlike my sad, sad useless one now, which has sat gathering dust over the last year because the chimney here is toast.

Our view is into the woods, and the house is too, with some other houses nearby, but a very generous distance between, however, it’s around a half-mile walk downhill and you’re right at the beach.

We both feel in mad love with the place, which created rollercoaster waves of joy to sorrow, since we were just looking too damn soon.  Went and saw another place, way too big, in an area that felt suburban instead of rural, and some of the scariest wallpaper I have ever seen in my life.  Plus, it just had bad vibes.  Me no likey.

But wait! Since I’d asked about extended leases, the agent called us back later that day to say that was an option, which is when we found out it wasn’t going to even be available until June or July. We gasped.  We sat agape. We jumped and giggled.  And we all but ran home to do a bunch of math and other logistics then filled out the application.  Exciting, but honestly, this place is so nice and so freaking perfect, that it felt very fantastical to do this, because I still really wasn’t believing the rent was what I pay now.  So, app turned in, but we were both seriously managing our expectations and I, personally, just figured some shoe or another would drop.

Got a call today: this ungodly amazing baby be ours to rent, potentially for as long as an initial two-year lease.  Haven’t signed it yet, but the agent says so long as we still wanted it (umm, yes) we could rent it. So, unless something exceptionally weird and unexpected happens, we’re moving to one of the islands this summer.  And I finally have something other than a feeling of dread about being on a month-to-month lease here.

I’m waiting for that paper in my hand to let it really sink in that I finally am getting to do spend some of my life living full-time somewhere where my backyard is a forest, where the sounds I hear at night and in the morning are water and wildlife (and I’m not talking about the pets), and where I get to be all the way in the kind of environments I’ve previously only been able to be in when I am in desperate need of respite and solace and peace.  I can have my coffee outside in the morning in the freaking trees. I can take breaks by grabbing my camera and galoshes and sticking my nose into wildflowers. And all just a short ferry ride into the city.  When the paper is signed and that actually sinks in, my head may well explode.

It’s a leap we’re taking here, and a chance. I mean, it is possible that this idea I have had for a long time that almost a whole life spent urban needs to shift massively to the radically different environments I tend to think I feel more at home in is patently incorrect.  It may be I don’t like it at all, but you know, even if that’s true, I need that answer. If nothing else, it’ll be a much-needed sabbatical of sorts.  Plus, the house here will just not stop falling apart. I have loved this old place, so full of character, but at the same time, I don’t love a winter with broken heat, a door that I have to fight with for twenty minutes to lock or unlock, the carriage house leaning so precariously I’m sure one morning I’m just going to find it toppled sideways in the backyard or any of the other problems.  Being month-to-month in a neighborhood rife with development, it’s gotten to the point where I’m scared to even ask to have anything fixed for fear the landlord will figure he should just sell (or tired of asking for things that just never get fixed).  We’ve looked at some places in the ‘hood here in case it seemed like the islands just couldn’t happen this year, but everything we have seen has cost much more than we pay now for much less space and often no character.

Obviously, this will also be a bit easier for me, who only needs to go work outside the house a few times a month than Blue, but we did the stopwatching, and it’s still only about an hour’s commute, and a far prettier one than the one he has now.  Plus, he feels it’s way worth it.

So, there you go!  For the record, I’ve decided I like the sound of living “on one of the islands.”  As in, “Heather Corinna lives on a crunchy little island across the pond from Seattle.” Obviously, friends will know which one, and at some point, I’ll probably give it away without meaning to, but I like the very silly mystery and the sense of reclusiveness (and let’s face it, safety) not naming it publicly might offer.  I figure I’ll keep Scarleteen’s mailing addie somewhere in the city just for my own safety and to keep things from getting too claustrophobic,   so I get to keep my mystique.

Besides that big news, it’s otherwise just work-busy over here.  Working on the Our Bodies, Ourselves chap I’m writing for the next edition (still very exciting, but talk about difficulty avoiding perfectionism), working on the research, study and whatnot for the book proposal, and then doing everything else I do in a week, which is too much, per usual. Got taxes done early, which is nothing short of a miracle. That means I got the budget for the org laid out for next year, and while it’s not what I’d like it to be, it’s way better than it has been in previous years and far less panic-inducing. Haven’t been feeling all that hot lately health-wise, but I tell myself that this is another way the move will likely help. In case I hadn’t mentioned it, Blue would up getting a job at the teen shelter I do outreach for a couple months ago, and in typical form, is now managing the day shift there, and he loves it.  I certainly don’t require that anyone I’m this close to does activist or teen work, but I have to say, it’s very nice when it happens that way: it makes me feel a lot less isolated to have someone else get it so much.  Job aside, we’re still happy as two little clams over here, which is a little slice of heaven.

Tuesday, October 6th, 2009

Just a couple short hours ago, I began the time off I said I was going to take last month.

To prepare for it, in the last week I earnestly can’t think of a freaking minute I wasn’t working.  But I got one of my local volunteers trained in, deposit-paid, and raring to go to effectively be my body double for the minimum work that has to be done each day to keep Scarleteen running smoothly, and I got a few updates up before I headed out, too.  I had a meeting with my new intern (did I mention I have one?  I do: it’s very exciting) yesterday, so she’s all set to get started on her projects.  The bills are paid.  The clinic knows I’m AWOL through the 14th.  I have my Reality Check pieces for the next two weeks sent in.  I just need to push a couple buttons in a bit to add an update to the members area of this site.

I don’t have an autoresponder set for my email, because the last time I did that, it autoresponded retroactively to every email I ever got.  Oops. Not doing that again.  I do have a form letter ready I can cut as paste as needed, though, and should only need to check the work emails briefly every few days. As much of the world as I can possibly inform knows that for the next weekish, I’m off-duty and Not To Be Bothered.

I have a headache, of course, from all of that work in preparation, but I predict that it will soon pass.  Especially since as I write this, I’m sitting on the futon on the porch during this lovely, sunny day, having taken a walk and ingested a quite delicious lunch paired with a very tall glass of juice.  I’m writing now as a sort of welcoming-in ceremony for my beyond-needed, very-much-desired and first-ever-of-its-length Staycation.

Big breath in, even longer one out.  Sun on the face, sun on the feet.  Pug snoozing happily beside. Headache feels better already.

What’s the plan?  For the rest of today it’s probably utter sloth.  I intend to sit out here, moving on to a book, for as long as it stays warm and sunny.  I might grab a hoop and play in the yard for a bit, but then again, I might not.  A Buffy marathon may happen later, or I may marathon something far more silly, who knows.  Even though I ordered in last night because I was on a work bender, I’ll probably do it again tonight.

Tomorrow, if the weather provides, I want to roll out of bed whenever I do, have some coffee WITHOUT starting my workday at the same time, and then grab my bike and go for a seriously long ride, stopping at the market on the way back to get some dinner goodies, maybe some champagne for mimosas for me, me and only me.  I want to get cracking on one of the rooms that wants tidying, then I’m going to steam my face, take the longest bath in recorded history, sit with a wad of the color conditioner I like in my hair to put some of my red back where it belongs, try and nap, read some books and maybe take the pug on an evening stroll.

Thursday I want to spend the day just out in my neighborhood with no specific intent or plans. I actually got quite a few things done on my to-do-during-vacation list already that would not have been big stressors, but not so much fun, either, like making the garden path and getting kitchen curtains up. So, I have even more free time than I thought I would to do things like just bum around Ballard. I also want to get the damn hoop isolations down that I’ve been so frustrated trying to learn.  Little more tidying, but not much.  Thursday night I’m going out with a friend I have not seen in forever, and have seriously missed.

Friday I just try and keep my marbles together and not wear a path in the floors from excitedly pacing.

Because Friday night Blue gets here, after having driven across the country since Monday with a car overflowing with his worldly possessions as well as a nice, big (well, by her standards) dog for Sofia.  Sofia has always wanted a big dog: when they walk past her, she will often sit down on the sidewalk and moon over them as they walk away, gazing in rapt adoration. So, as far as she and I are concerned, Blue’s dog is a present for her. I know, I just objectified a dog. I’m a terrible person.

We’ve recognized, for the record, that this is — in my estimation — all approximately 33% certifiably insane.  Mind, a compelling argument could be made that the whole of my work and my life is, which either makes everything I do crazy or nothing I do crazy: I’m not sure which.  But even by my lunatic-fringe standards, this is, partially, a little nuts.

There are sensible parts of this, to be sure.  We have been reconnected for over a year and a half, we have been together again for nearing a year, and we’ve lived together before very well, and that was before either of us really knew how to live with anybody.  Blue has wanted great big changes in his life for years: he’s getting them.  We know full well that if we had him come here and we didn’t cohabitate, we’d basically just be paying two rents to still be in the same place every night, anyway.  Plus, I like this old house, I don’t want to move until I can move to the islands ideally, I can’t afford it all by myself nor would I want such a big place just for myself, and if I got a roommate who had to live with the two of us fully reunited after seventeen years apart, they’d be wanting to rip out their own eyeballs and eardrums in no time flat.  See? Crazy = practical.

Know what else?  We both could use a big dose of doing something a bit loony.  For myself, I get few opportunities to do so anymore, and I like the freedom of this, the kinda-unpredictability of this.  I won’t say I don’t certainly have moments where I’m not like, “What on EARTH are we doing?”  I do.  But then I have this pretty simple answer I don’t have to think too hard about, which has something to do with following my guts, what they’re saying now and have said more than once before now.  It also has something to do with this strong, mutual knowing what we want and need, and a knowing we fit both for each other, now and in the past.  Really, the real question when it comes to pretty much all of this isn’t about what we’re doing now, but what the hell each of us, at given times, was possibly thinking in choosing not to do this until now.

Friday night it’s pretty much going to be car arrives, two people squealing like small children and scaring the crap out of the neighbors, arranging the dogs and getting some sort of leg up on making up for a fuck of a lot of lost time in several departments.
So, yeah, that’s Friday.  And Saturday, and…well, no more budgeting days for us at that point. If history repeats itself — which, in our case, it clearly tends to a lot — I imagine that by Sunday night we might just consider leaving the house.  Maybe.  From then through the rest of my days off, I imagine we’ll tackle quite a lot of the things I have left on that list I made last month of what I’d like to do with my time off.  Maybe we’ll grab the dogs and go to Vashon for a day or visit the zoo, we’ll get started on the settling in of stuff, who knows, but I assure you, it’ll all be good.

And after all this, my time for myself, my time once Blue completes his Odyssian journey here — a rather stellar combination, if you ask me — I imagine that when the time to get back to work rolls around again, this girl is going to be feeling a whole lot better.

Hello, vacation. You have no idea how happy I am to meet you.

Friday, April 24th, 2009

it said it saw itself as a very tall tree, and so I saw it that way, too.

After the weekend before last, I feel very, very clear on the fact that life on the island would fit my wants and needs very nicely.  I’ve known for a long time that I wanted, at some point in my life, to live more quietly, more rural,  I just thought it was going to be a bit more down the road than this.  But I think the only reason I thought that was that I didn’t see it as feasible any earlier.  It is, in fact, feasible sooner, as feasible as living exactly where I am is.  In some ways, it may be even more so.

The whole weekend, I kept doing that thing one does in a heavenly place, where you say to yourself, “Wouldn’t it be amazing if I could live here?”  Usually, when I’m somewhere where I say that to myself, it’s a pipe dream.  In this case, every time I thought that, I’d then remember that I CAN live there.  The rents and expenses are really no better or worse than they are in the city, everything I have here on the mainland I could have on that island, and getting to the city from Bainbridge (there are other islands, but this would be the most convenient for me) is exceptionally easy and highly pleasant.  I know locals here kvetch about the ferries a lot, but having grown up with subways and inner-city buses, I tend to find them a far more pleasant means of transportation than what I usually ride on.  I wouldn’t have to take the ferry much anyway, as I really only need to be in the city for outreach/clinic work two times a week at a maximum.  And two of our clinic staff live on the island, so carpooling is also an option.

I just felt better there, separate from the fact that I was also there visiting with Blue, who I hadn’t seen in five weeks.  I breathed more deeply, my skin looked immediately better.  I could walk out on the porch in the morning stark naked without anyone’s notice or care and take a soak; have my first sip of coffee with the moist breeze on my skin.  The quiet both soothed and inspired, and the company of trees, ferns, birds and water felt more like me these days than the company of tall buildings, construction detritus, bar mania and a ton of people everywhere I turn.  The rhythm of the day there fit my own so well, sending me to sleep early and rousing me to wake before the sun came up.  Doing the dishes by hand felt better than loading them into a machine: doing simple things and doing them more simply is so grounding for me.  Taking a long hike on the dirt felt better than a walk on the pavement.  The people were warmer, everything was smaller; more intimate, yet more private all at once.  My head felt more clear, my heart more at rest, to the point that I could put most thoughts of work away save flashes of inspiration.

I felt much more like island people than mainland people.  I felt much more at home. I felt much more like myself, much more like I fit, than I have felt in Seattle.

While I was there, I started to do some planning.  Ultimately, if I could sell another book in the next six months, I could handle the financial aspects of this move with incredible ease.   It’d be doable without that, but that would make it nearly a cash cakewalk. I will need to find myself some kind of reliable junker to drive, which means a) getting a new license (I let my old one expire ten years ago, having no need of it), and b) purchasing said vehicle.  I may also need to consider finding a roomie, but I may not: it really depends on what I can find to rent for myself or not.  In a lot of ways, I’ve felt so alone in my own home over the past couple of years, as well as in this city, that literally being alone, not just feeling alone, seems very important and like the right thing for me.

I do think that as much as I have always loved the solitude of being in more isolated spaces, and as much as I need to be alone in the near future, it will probably take some adjusting on my end to be out there alone.  But I realized there is a very easy and fantastic solution to that matter, which is simply calling and emailing some of the people in the world I love and miss the most and inviting them to come stay somewhere beautiful with me for a week or two during the first few months after I move.

Briana is going to come up here to visit in June or July, and wants to come see the island with me, too. (Mya is coming around then, too, maybe I’ll drag her over for a day, as well.)  I’d love more than anything for she and The Baby Liam (who isn’t a baby anymore, but I plan to call him that well into his adulthood, in alignment with my job as his obnoxious auntie) to be close to me, even to live with me, but given custody arrangements with his father, that may or may not be an option.   But it’s likely also possible for the two of them to be on one of those visits when I love, regardless.  I can also ask Becca, Elise, Christa, Mark, Mya, Heath, Fish, my mother, my father…any number of people who I’d love visits with anyway.  I think it’s a workable plan.

I don’t know when it will happen, but I’m thinking fall or winter.  Like I said before, one of the toughest parts of this is that my moving out of the city at all also equals my moving out from my living arrangement with Mark, and even thinking about that is so very hard and makes me feel tremendously sad. It’s probably right for us, regardless, to start moving towards not living together,  but that doesn’t make it easy, and it’s something very heavy in the lightness of my feelings about being somewhere else where I think I will be happy as far as my location goes.

And as I’m talking about somewhere else, I’m packing to go somewhere else yet again. After a week from hell where I have had to be on way, way too much, I’m heading back to Chicago for a week to visit family, get some grant work started, to spend a few days with Fish (who moved from here to there a few months ago, go figure) and to see Blue.  AND, perhaps coolest of all, to have a 5th grade slumber party reunion with two of my other closest friends as a child who I haven’t seen in decades.  I don’t know if there’s much cooler than that.

What I do know is that I’m wiped and need a soft, warm bed.  And that the idea of having it somewhere as lovely as the islands is a marvelous — and attainable! — daydream.

Sunday, April 12th, 2009

Thursday, after working my second job at the clinic, I was effectively kidnapped by my co-worker Gigi and her ten-year-old daughter Sophia, whom I adore.She calls herself Big Sophia around me, my pug being Little Sofia. We wound up driving from their place to my neighborhood for dinner, which is a pretty long haul. On the drive up, I sat in back with Sophia as she showed me how she plays cards on her Zune, shared her teen magazine with me, and put her headset on my ears to share her favorite music.

As I agreed that Paramore are, as she said, so super awesome and cool, I was reminded of my sense that when girls that age think you’re the bomb, you really must be the bomb, and you very much feel as cool as the bands they like when they let you in. It’s quite a gift.

At dinner, we sat together as she flipped through the magazine some more — she still liked me even after insisting she hold my hand as we crossed a busy street, though she may well be too big for that. (She seems to simply accept that her Auntie Heather is a worry wart.) She pointed out a two-page section in it to me about embarrassing moments. The more embarrassing something was considered, the higher it was rated, and they key for the ratings listed the highest as so, so mortifying that one should leave town. Some guy farting loudly in his car with a girl hardly ranked, but, surprise, surprise, the one which involved menstrual blood was top-rated as the worst of the worst.

The scenario was that you were at your older sister’s dorm in college and you wound up leaking on her roommate’s bed. The image showed a horrified girl, a very psychotic-looking screaming roomie, and a pool of blood so large, I suspect there may have been a dead body under the blankets. Maybe even two.

I casually commented that I didn’t understand why you had to get out of town because of something that inevitably happens to women with some frequency, just like people get nosebleeds on things or track mud into the house. I mentioned that this kind of stuff really does happen pretty often, and I’d be pretty surprised to see another girl — since it’s probably happened to her, too — make such a big honking deal out of it. I also mentioned I’ve never had a move where once I totally stripped a bed or futon, I wasn’t reminded of how often it happens with the many Rorschach splotches all over mine. I also commented that a puddle of blood that size was an illustrator taking some serious artistic license.

This brought up questions for her about getting periods, and if that’s always horrifying. I told her my comic tale of the cruelty of the fad of white painter’s pants in the early 80’s, especially when your parent had let you know how to identify malaria, but had not filled you in on why you’d suddenly find a red stain inching down your leg while talking to someone you had a mad crush on. (Thank goodness for Judy Blume, mother of us all.) Her Mom also chimed in with her story and talked about how not having that basic information made what would probably otherwise just be a mere bother a lot worse. We both talked about the wads of toilet paper in the underpants technique one often finds oneself using when a pad isn’t available or you don’t even know what one is yet. We also both mentioned that even if moments like that felt like a nightmare at the time, it doesn’t take long for them to become the very funny stories you laugh about like we all just had been laughing over.

Sophia asked both of us how old we were when we got our periods (I was 11, Gigi was 12 or 13), and exhaled a “Phew!” that she still had some time. Then we both said some words about how she probably does, but it really is only as big a deal as you make it. So, when it happens to her, it’ll be just fine, and once she starts having her period, it’ll get pretty normal after just a little while and not be anything to worry about. And certainly nothing to consider leaving town over if you bleed on something now and then.

I was even able to end the evening sending them home with one of the kickass booklets on getting your period I was part of doing with Lunapads.

Only once they all left and I was home alone did I even realize that we’d had “The Period Talk” with Sophia. I had a brief moment of worry that not having thought about it while we were having it, we didn’t do it right, or messed something up. But in reflecting back, I realized how mellow and casual — and unabashedly public! — it was, how it was even in front of her Dad, who was also being totally unsqueamish about it, how comfortable and conversational Sophia was throughout, and how normal it was all made to be, and I felt great about it, convinced this kid I like so much may have had one of the best period talks ever.

One almost as super awesome and cool as Paramore, even. Rawk!

Wednesday, November 5th, 2008

I confess I’m short of eloquence this morning, in part because I still have only had brief increments of a few minutes in which I have been able to stop crying, for all the best reasons.  I’m still a bit frozen still by a very unexpected and long exhale of breath I have effectively been holding for eight freaking years. I’m still trying to parse actually feeling proud of the nation I live in: I personally rarely HAVE ever felt that pride. And I can’t fib: while I think that absolutely, positively, “Yes we can” is an incredibly powerful statement, and I am loving hearing it be so meaningful to so many, “Oh no you didn’t!” is feeling mighty fine on the tongue this morning, too.

Nelson Mandela is better at this stuff than most of us, and I’m finding that what he had to say is resonating with me today more than nearly any other commentary I’ve heard.

“We join people in your country and around the world in congratulating you on becoming the President-Elect of the United States. Your victory has demonstrated that no person anywhere in the world should not dare to dream of wanting to change the world for a better place.

We note and applaud your commitment to supporting the cause of peace and security around the world. We trust that you will also make it the mission of your Presidency to combat the scourge of poverty and disease everywhere.

We wish you strength and fortitude in the challenging days and years that lie ahead. We are sure you will ultimately achieve your dream making the United States of America a full partner in a community of nations committed to peace and prosperity for all.”

Thursday, July 31st, 2008

It was pointed out to me today that I occasionally boggle the mind. And not in the super-impressive, I’m-just-that-bloody-brilliant way.

The observation made was that I can be shown or hear some sort of recognition or praise from someone I profoundly respect, who is a god among wo/men, and I’ll be really touched (I am quick to tear up, as a habit), feel good, but tend to a respond with a, “That’s really cool,” or “Wasn’t that nice?”

On the other hand, I am sent completely over the moon sometimes by things one might think are nothing at all to write home about, or something that should perhaps be a trifle and little more.

For example, around 2000 or so, I called everyone I knew in an ants-in-the-pants frenzy (actually, I think Audra might have been one of the people assaulted by this) to point out that in one of the first published pieces on my work in sex ed with me as any kind of front-page news, a photo of me was right next to — drumroll, please with a minor parade — a photo for a story on Paul Reubens (and no, not that story, that was ten years earlier). I was next to PeeWee Herman, dude. PeeWee, old tapes of which were my comfort back in the day when I was coming down from loads of LSD. PeeWee, who I have always thought is just divine, quite in spite of myself. If I was next to PeeWee Herman, surely I must have arrived.

Today, I noticed this influx of traffic to Scarleteen, hit the logs and saw that the inclusion of a Buffy reference in this piece was blogged on Whedonesque. In the comments, a reader of mine who apparently found this link before I knew about it myself, made a note of my thanks to Joss in the acknowledgments of my book.

Which means…

– since Joss sometimes reads and posts there –

…that it may very well happen that Joss sees that and knows, even if for just an instant, even if just in a fleeting glimpse, how very much I adore him. I don’t need him to love me back. My fangirlness for Señor Whedon is so lunatic-fringe and high school that were he simply to know how I loved him, again, all would be right with the world.

Upon the realization of this teensy shimmer of possibility, this golden glimmer of hope, there was much squealing which followed. (Then some minor irritation that I still have yet to finish the very-long “Everything You Ever Really Needed to Know About Love & Sex… You Learned from Buffy” piece I’ve been working on on and off for a year or so now, since it would have made a far more impressive display.) Kind of all day. We could have managed to achieve world peace – even though it might require the loss of free will – and I probably would have been like, “Well, that’s really neat, but… Joss Whedon might see my acknowledgments, man!”

I’ve now since started breathing again and am able to speak without squeaking. About other topics, even. Go, me.

However, I have decided that should I ever get any evidence to show that Joss, indeed, has seen any of this, I am making myself a t-shirt that reads “Joss Knows I Exist, Therefore I Am.”

Tuesday, July 22nd, 2008

Kicking federal government attempts at censorship is so the gift that keeps on giving, man.

I swear, this just never gets old. Ever. If I could send the feds a card that issued the world’s biggest zurbitz – is that how you spell that? — when opened, I really would. Of course, knowing they keep paying to try and reprise this stupid thing with our tax dollars does take the bloom off the rose a bit, but still.

Had a small, but nice presentation at the youth residential center this morning, got to wake up and see a bunch of new plants I put into my garden, solidifying a fall trip hosted by two libraries in one of the toughest hit places in the states when it comes to unwanted teen pregnancy to go help get those kids edumacated (my love for librarians: another thing that never gets old), and heading out to supper with my sweetie.

Good day today.

P.S. Mr. Price and I are beginning the serious couples trial of trying for… a second dog! Wahoo! We expect it to be a long, arduous journey, full of false hopes and times when we are certain we may never find out exact second dog (particularly since with Madame Sofia, there is much to live up to), but we’re now — as of this evening — 100% committed. Wish us positive, perky puppy thoughts!

Monday, June 16th, 2008

I leave today after an all-day clinic meeting, and this trip couldn’t be better timed. Several times this month — likely in part because sparing this weekend, we still have yet to see any real signs of summer here in the Pacific Northwest — I’ve kept finding myself thinking, “I really wish I was back in Minneapolis right now.” And lo, after clinic tomorrow, I will be, for a week. I have a photo gig to justify the trip’s expense — and thank christ, found yet another used model of my camera, since the repair on the one I had was explained to me as complicated and spendy — but mostly, I’m going to just rest, reconnect and regroup.

It’s still so strange to me that that place, which isn’t and never was my home city, remains the one that feels most like home. When I get homesick, it’s not usually for Chicago, but for freaking Minnesota. When I feel out of place, that’s the place I want to be, even though a lot of time time, I didn’t feel like I belonged there, either. But most of my self-made-family is still there. I know the weather is getting to be just like I like it there. I miss lunch at the Evergreen, not dogs, half-assed smoking lounges and tequila at the Bulldog, biking at twilight around the lakes, sitting on stoops, drag at the Bowl (which blissfully, I will be able to catch this time around). I miss my dentist and his staff, who I will see, and who are wonderfully with the laughing gas. I miss being hot at night, and look forward to Bri’s stuffy apartment, and Becca’s steamy attic room. I miss some freaking semblance of queer community, goddamit. I miss Hidden Beach. I miss Uptown. I miss my Minneapolis family.

Though I remain greatly displeased that our secret gem of a neighborhood is no longer anything close to a secret, and the Sunday market was packed to the gills yesterday, I had a good time doing a present run for the two babes — the Baby Liam (Briana’s kiddo) and Odin the Great (Becca’s newbie) — a culinary school grad gift for Bri, and Elvis the pug, who sadly, will be away on his own vacation the whole time I’m there. I love coming back there all stocked up with goodies for everyone. I got to spend some time last night with my piano and one of my dulcimers, since I will be without the comfort I take a few times a week in sitting alone with a glass of wine, playing and crooning into this echo-ey house. Mark and I got to have a lovely early evening dinner on the porch.

I’m also quite proud of myself. A few weeks ago, on my to-do list, I had all these work contacts I was telling myself to make: to call District 202 and tell them I could do another sex ed session there if they wanted, to grab a quick meeting with Midwest Women’s Health, talk to this bookstore or that one. Last week, I deleted every single one off the list. I don’t need to do more work right now. I do more than my share. What I need is downtime, and it’s really silly how hard it still is for me to give it to myself, even when I’m working more than one demanding job, around 60 hours a week, and know that the very day I get back home, things are about to get even more nuts when it comes to work from here on in. When slacking has become an achievement, something has gone seriously wrong.

Monday, December 10th, 2007

Just so’s ya know, I wasn’t being vague about the new job, what it was, and where it was, just because. I just wanted to have a talk with the development director first about it before I said anything to be sure they were okay with it, and make sure we the same parameters I’d apply myself to talking publicly about work.

Truth is, I love, love this organization SO much — and that love has been mutual for some time, which has been such a compliment — and am so excited about working with them that I was aching to say something.

I had that conversation today, and it’s all good. :)

So, I’m now working for the Cedar River Clinics/ Feminist Women’s Health Center as an abortion and birth control counselor two days a week. Possibly more over time, I just need to feel out how this all works with everything else I do. It’s one of the last remaining independent feminist women’s clinics which provides abortions — I’ve talked about them before, so you likely already know this — it has an amazing history, is full of amazing women running an organization by a completely feminist model (The one big rule there? No stupid rules. Welcome home, me!). I’m really still quite beside myself that I get to do this work: it’s a position in which you’re there helping women who are giving you their trust in something so huge and so important. I’ve done a lot of feminist work over the years, but I feel like this really is such a peak. Being a pro-choice activist for so long, getting to be right in the thick of it all is such a gift. I’m nervous as hell — suffice it to say, one doesn’t want to fuck this up, ever — but for as nervous as I am, I’m even more elated.

Today I spent the day in some meetings with the women working in my clinic and one of the others, and it was very good news. That this is a new work community for me is heaven: as I said during orientation last week — and right after saying so, realized my lingo could perhaps use a makeover from all the time I spend talking to teens — these women are seriously badass. A drink afterwards with an instant pal from training last week was also just the thing. I’m tired as hell and will likely go to bed crazy early, but that’s largely because, of course, I had to get my period yesterday. I think my body figured out it was going to be in a room full of estrogen, so considered it my duty to not contribute further. I disagree, but I don’t really get a vote.

So y’all know the parameters, I likely won’t talk that much about this job when it comes to specifics. Patient confidentiality is obviously the mot central issue, but I’ve also been writing online longer than most and know better than to get anything even resembling in-detail with an employer of any stripe. So, that’s not going to happen, here or elsewhere.

But, that’s where I work, and I remain psyched-beyond-psyched. And today, very tired. I need some supper, a few Advil, a bath and my warm bed, big time.

Wednesday, November 28th, 2007

Happy 250th Birthday, William!

`O Urizen! Creator of men! mistaken Demon of heaven!
Thy joys are tears, thy labour vain to form men to thine image.
How can one joy absorb another? Are not different joys
Holy, eternal, infinite? and each joy is a Love.

`Does not the great mouth laugh at a gift, and the narrow eyelids mock
At the labour that is above payment? And wilt thou take the ape
For thy counsellor, or the dog for a schoolmaster to thy children?
Does he who contemns poverty, and he who turns with abhorrence
From usury feel the same passion, or are they moved alike?
How can the giver of gifts experience the delights of the merchant?
How the industrious citizen the pains of the husbandman?
How different far the fat fed hireling with hollow drum,
Who buys whole corn-fields into wastes, and sings upon the heath!
How different their eye and ear! How different the world to them!
With what sense does the parson claim the labour of the farmer?
What are his nets and gins and traps; and how does he surround him
With cold floods of abstraction, and with forests of solitude,
To build him castles and high spires, where kings and priests may dwell;
Till she who burns with youth, and knows no fixèd lot, is bound
In spells of law to one she loathes? And must she drag the chain
Of life in weary lust? Must chilling, murderous thoughts obscure
The clear heaven of her eternal spring; to bear the wintry rage
Of a harsh terror, driv’n to madness, bound to hold a rod
Over her shrinking shoulders all the day, and all the night
To turn the wheel of false desire, and longings that wake her womb
To the abhorred birth of cherubs in the human form,
That live a pestilence and die a meteor, and are no more;
Till the child dwell with one he hates, and do the deed he loathes,
And the impure scourge force his seed into its unripe birth,
Ere yet his eyelids can behold the arrows of the day?

`Does the whale worship at thy footsteps as the hungry dog;
Or does he scent the mountain prey because his nostrils wide
Draw in the ocean? Does his eye discern the flying cloud
As the raven’s eye; or does he measure the expanse like the vulture?
Does the still spider view the cliffs where eagles hide their young;
Or does the fly rejoice because the harvest is brought in?
Does not the eagle scorn the earth, and despise the treasures beneath?
But the mole knoweth what is there, and the worm shall tell it thee.
Does not the worm erect a pillar in the mouldering churchyard
And a palace of eternity in the jaws of the hungry grave?
Over his porch these words are written: “Take thy bliss, O Man!
And sweet shall be thy taste, and sweet thy infant joys renew!”


`Infancy! fearless, lustful, happy, nestling for delight
In laps of pleasure: Innocence! honest, open, seeking
The vigorous joys of morning light, open to virgin bliss,
Who taught thee modesty, subtil modesty, child of night and sleep?
When thou awakest wilt thou dissemble all thy secret joys,
Or wert thou not awake when all this mystery was disclos’d?
Then com’st thou forth a modest virgin knowing to dissemble,
With nets found under thy night pillow, to catch virgin joy
And brand it with the name of whore, and sell it in the night
In silence, ev’n without a whisper, and in seeming sleep.
Religious dreams and holy vespers light thy smoky fires:
Once were thy fires lighted by the eyes of honest morn.
And does my Theotormon seek this hypocrite modesty,
This knowing, artful, secret, fearful, cautious, trembling hypocrite?
Then is Oothoon a whore indeed! and all the virgin joys
Of life are harlots; and Theotormon is a sick man’s dream;
And Oothoon is the crafty slave of selfish holiness.

~ from Visions of the Daughters of Albion, the first piece of Blake’s which caused my nineteen-year-old head to completely explode.

Tuesday, November 20th, 2007

The short story is that my interview this morning went incredibly well — it was really more of a great to meet you/ what days and hours work for you/ what do you want to do most, than it was a capital I-interview, since not only were my resume and cover letter very complete, but apparently anyone who got told about me interviewing there got very excited and had great things to say about me.   The clinic and everyone working in it is as fantastic as I’d figured being aware of them for some years now, I got some pretty amazing rock star treatment (which I didn’t see coming, nor did I realize that all their teen materials link to Scarleteen on the back: nice surprise, that!), and was told that if the usual procedure was at all optional per extra security screening, it’d be waived in my case to hire me and get me started on the spot.

(Though, I was told part of that screening was to call my references so HR could be sure I wasn’t some crazy person off the street. I suggested that I might then want to give differerent references than I did since anyone who knows me at all well would only assure anyone asking that I AM in fact a crazy person off the street, just a very harmless one who uses her crazy for noble purposes. But alas.)

Given the coming holiday, I was told I’d hear back per an offer and such no later than the end of next week. I never like to count my chicks before they hatch, or invest too much in something in advance, since I tend to take having my hopes dashed pretty hard these days, but the impression I was clearly given was that barring something very strange happening, I could count on a part-time job doing something I really want to be doing, for a clinic I’d really like to be doing it with.

So, hooray!

Tuesday, November 6th, 2007

I have no idea what the heck brought this on, but something I was working on yesterday made me think that it’d be pretty fun and empowering to think of my average vulva as my super, big, GIANT vulva. I suddenly found myself wanting to say, and quite loudly, to no one in particular, “Yeah, well check out my BIG VULVA!”

I came to the conclusion that “big vagina” somehow has a better ring to it, though, likely because however incorrectly it’s often used, it is a more commonly used term, and it’s that part of the vulva which women are so often told or think must never, never — oh, the horror! — be anything but as diminutive as possible. It’s still overall seen as much more okay to have a big labia than a big vagina, and big clits often seem to be seen as fine and dandy, mostly because they’re perceived as being like big penises.

attack of the 50 ft. vulva!You might wonder what on earth would compel someone to somehow get fixated — and in a way that makes her feel giddy and silly and very excited and more than a little powerful — on BIG VAGINA.

Often, activists who do serious and emotionally challenging work can, when pushed to the work-limit, become slap-happy and rather silly at times. It’s also been a big of a girl-bits-themed week for me, and I could possibly blame Christa in part. Plus, I work in sex, which while it is certainly important, and absolutely very serious in some ways, is in just as many ways, something ungodly silly which people do. My partner is used to these occasional bouts of sex-geek-goofy by now, so, while it certainly created a moments pause — and also a question as to if I had been drinking — my greeting him when he arrived home by jumping into the room and bellowing “BIG VAGINA!” was not the surprise it might be for someone else’s partner.

This does NOT mean, by any means, you should discount what I am about to say, or dismiss that ultimately, I’m quite serious about all of this. But you are allowed to laugh, and in fact, I strongly encourage you to do so, because way too many people take the size and appearance of their genitals way, way too seriously, and it is really messing y’all up for no good reason.

Women (though it’s important to put out that we’re pretty much always only talking about heterosexual women when it comes to this) have started to obsess on their vaginas or vulvas or labia just being way too big to a similar degree that many men have long fixated on their penises being way too small. People are tossing away ungodly piles of money daily to attempt to change the shape or size of their genitals, and some — a lot, really, vaginal “rejuvenation” surgies rose a whopping 30% from 2005 to 2006 — even risk going under the knife for surgeries which not only pose serious risks to their overall health, but also put their sexual function at risk, all for the sake of appearance or sexual performance concerns which are almost always completely unfounded and unrealistic, and which most often do NOT impair sexual function.

Genitals are small. ALL genitals are small, because in this big planet we live on, in the far bigger context of the whole cosmos, people are amazingly small, let alone a handful of inches of genital tissue. Even when we’re looking only at people, we’ve got parts of our bodies that make our genitals look microscopic: our small intestines go for 20 feet and our blood vessels quite literally are 100,000 miles long. My dog, a pug, is a small breed — so small as to be considered a “toy” breed — and she’s far bigger than anyone’s genitals could ever aspire to be. But my dog, even though she thinks quite otherwise, is but a very small dog. If I had a dresser drawer the size of any genitalia, that drawer would be really useless. Sure, compared to say, one of my freckles, my vagina or clitoris is big, and it’s all relative. But let’s face it: genitals aren’t big, even though they can sure feel big, and can even make us feel bigger or emotionally amplified.

Before I tell you more about my VERY big vagina, it’s probably a good idea to do some basic discussion and deconstruction of genital size. We’ll get to penises in a little bit: for a change, let’s first start by talking about female genital size. To keep this discussion from becoming War and Peace, we’re going to focus on average size ranges, so do understand that average means just that — the middle point of a group of values (in this case, sizes), obtained by taking the sum of a group of values and dividing by the number of values — not “normal.” The sizes of normal, functional genitalia are generally well beyond the averages in either direction, and genital size, even sizes pretty far from the averages, very rarely impacts sexual enjoyment or function unless the person with them gets so hung up on normalcy that their hangup becomes a buzzkill, or unless that person’s sexual partners aren’t making any adaptations that might be needed in some cases.

It’s not exactly an easy discussion to have about women’s bodies, for a few reasons: a) female sexual anatomy is seriously nonlinear, both internal and external, and thus very tough to measure or quantify, b) so few people have given a hoot about our genitals that they still haven’t been studied very much, and c) the parts of our genitals which have been studied have more often been the parts that men deem important to them than the parts we deem most important to us. Plus, the size of our genitals varies a lot based on age, sexual arousal, whether or not we’ve had children, the works. Men’s penises are given measurements for erect and flaccid, which is only so apt for men, but it’s even less so for women as we have more degrees in between in terms of changes with sexual arousal, and parts of us that change with arousal we can’t really measure (since they’re internal), as well as those additional factors.

That said, the things we can look at when it comes to female genitalia and size, which we have some numbers for, are the size of the clitoris, the inner labia, the length of the vaginal canal, and the width of the back of the vagina. We can’t really talk about differences in size when it comes to the vaginal opening once the hymen has worn away — and boy howdy, do you bet your rump I get tired of explaining this every day — because as we all know (and if we don’t we seriously should by now), the vaginal opening is closed unless we insert something it it, or something (read: baby) is coming out of it. It’d be sensible to talk about measurement of vaginal muscular strength, but since scientists don’t seem to find that worthy of study, we can’t speak to it just yet very quantifiably. And the size or measurement of all of these things is often relatively useless and very arbitrary, but for our purposes today, that’s okay.

The vaginal canal: Let’s start by talking about the length of the vaginal canal. To most folks concerned about penis sizes, that’s about the only thing they might consider relevant (even though it isn’t all that relevant, given that when we’re talking about women who like vaginal intercourse, length usually is a non-issue, save when someone is trying to insert something too deeply which is just too long: it’s width that’s an issue, as well as how the penis is stimulating the g-spot and internal clitoris). We already know we can’t talk about the width of most of the vaginal canal, since that depends on what is inside of it, and when nothing is inside of it, its walls are collapsed save at the very back, but I will talk about width in one respect in which we can in a minute. The vagina is often referred to as a “potential” space — a term I can never figure out whether I like or not: on the one hand, very literally, the world of potential really is all about vaginas, but on the other hand, I think that term is often used to suggest that the vagina isn’t “actual” in any way unless something is inside of it, which is absolute crap.

From the vaginal opening to the cervix, the average vaginal canal length is 3 to 7 inches, unaroused to aroused, with an average capacity to stretch — when something is inside of it — to around 8 or 9 inches deep (it can also stretch from side to side). It might be helpful when we’re trying to illustrate this range to consider the range of adult speculum sizes: they range from around 3 inches to long and one inch wide to just four and a half inches long and one and a half inch wide.

Vaginal anterior width: If you really want to talk about vaginal width we have a practical reason — that being to fit a diaphragm to use for birth control — to measure, then we’re talking about the back end of the vagina. In case it’s not clear, the vagina is smallest at the opening and widest at the back, whether we’re aroused or not. Diaphragms are held in place by the vaginal muscles in the back of the vagina — a place we don’t even have the sensory nerve endings to really feel, mind — and sits over the cervix. Diaphragm sizes range from 50 to 95 mm in diameter, with fit determined by the distance between the posterior fornix and the pubic bone. A 70 mm diaphragm size is generally considered average. If it helps to understand how minor a difference this all can be, and how adaptable the vaginal muscles are, most menstrual cups only come in two sizes, with only around an eighth of an inch between sizes, to fit all women, and these two sizes sure fit us all a lot better than the ten sizes of pants we’re all supposed to fit our behinds and thighs into.

Labia minora: Since so many women, especially younger women, are so crazed over it lately, the range of average sizes for the labia minora (bearing in mind that no one ever seems to account for the fact that the size of our labia changes a bit during sexual arousal) is apparently between just less than an inch to just over two inches in length to the longest point. Average inner labia are everything from barely visible to easily seen outside the labia majora.

But obviously, given how incredibly organic and nonlinear the shapes of the labia are — and how vastly they vary amoung women, to a degree that there’s no way you could try and make the kind of easy comparisons men make between penises — it’s not exactly easy to measure, or even to determine what the longest point of some labium is. It’s often said — and anyone who had had their face or hands around even a small sampling of vulvas knows this — that the largest range in size, shape, color and texture that we see from vulva to vulva is with the labia minora.

Clitoral glans: When we’re talking about the clitoris (which also changes in size with arousal: measurements done with averages have shown an average change of 1.5 cm with arousal in XX women: intersexed women are sometimes a different story), the developed clitoral glans when “resting” is about an inch long on average, but it’s not really something there has been a lot of focus on, probably because when it comes to clits (or ovaries, or vaginas, or…yeah, you get it), many researchers just aren’t that interested and you also don’t have to tell women that something does not have to be big to do Very Big Things, especially when you consider we’ve got more nerve endings in our clitorises than there are in any size of penis. Heck, if you want to pick something that includes everyone, let’s not forget that sperm and eggs are microscopically small, but look what they can do! Too, the clitoris as a whole, when we include the internal clitoris, is basically the same size as most penises, but again, so spread out and organic in form, we can’t really measure it well, and can’t really measure it at all in live subjects at this point.

(You’ll note, if you have to torture yourself by ever looking at FAQs for genital cosmetic surgeons that they are very reluctant to say or even ruminate what normal and average sizes are, and more often will say that “normal” is determined by if the owner of said labia likes them or not — in other words, if a woman, for whatever reason, by whatever standard, doesn’t like her genitals, then it’s apparently sage for her to then consider them abnormal. Oy. It should also be noted that in double-checking the things that already live in my head on all of this, I kept falling upon studies showing that for most men and women looking to surgically “correct” their genitals, most of them have perfectly normal, functional and average genitalia.)

Take a break from the words for a minute, and before we move on to penises, check out this handy visual reference I’ve made for you, especially since it was a total pain in the bottom to make and try and keep as right as I could get it. While in even the largest version, things are still not exactly actual size, they’re awfully close, and the relative differences are correct. The anterior width circles were the toughest, but I just happen to have a wide array of diaphragms sitting around here for a project. Just because I love you so much and want to be sure everything is on the up-and-up, I really did sit putting diaphragms against my computer screen to double-check the sizes.

You’ll note I went ahead and provided an extra, very practical item to give you an idea of scale. If you want to see that graph a bit larger, click here, and if you want to see it life-size, click here.

(If you can’t see the graphic on the page for some reason, click here.)

The idea of “large” and “small” vulvas or vaginas really is silly, but it’s not like ideas about large and small penises are any less silly.

We may as well go ahead and talk about penis size, since let’s be honest: male worries and fixation on penis and genital size seems to be what created and in large part enables any sort of female concern about genital size, especially since lesbians don’t give a damn. This would likely be of NO issue to women if a) men didn’t go on and on so much about genital size and put genitals under the perpetual microscope, and then become fixated on ours, then bring women into the whole mess by making them think they’ve cause for concern, and b) if vaginal intercourse was not both defined as THE sex — even though for most women, it’s not the most satisfying, and also isn’t for plenty of men, too — and if problems with intercourse weren’t very foolishly all thought to be due to someone’s genital size, rather than due to the fact that the activity defined as “the” sex was, overall, a poor contender for the title who only got it due to being an incredibly savvy politician.

Plus, sensible or not, lots of guys care about penis size, and so do some women, which makes it important enough to talk about, and if we’re going to talk about one set of genitals being big or small, then it doesn’t make much sense to leave out another.

The Penis: The average range with penis length is between 5 and 7 inches, and the average girth (the distance around) is around 4 inches. Studies often show that the deviation between sizes, on average, is just around one inch. We see far greater variation in the size of flaccid penises than we do in erect penises. Penis averages are always a bit suspect, mind, because the men who volunteer for them are usually aware of what the study is, so guys who feel like they don’t have anything to brag about are less inclined to show up to be measured than those who do. In checking my homework here, I also found references stating that at around nine inches of length is the point at which, for women who engage in heterosexual intercourse, most women will experience discomfort. So that guy with the seven-inch penis saying it’s nine with the idea it’ll impress a woman may find that with a savvy chick, that’s not always an enticement.

But since we’ve got to hear again and again from men (and even their female partners sometimes) overstating penis length, you’ll not that in the graphical comparison above, I went ahead and even included a “larger” penis size that really isn’t very common.

(And just for the record, most of the studies on penis size done these days are being done by condom companies, so their work is actually meaningful and important. This is the lone practical need to know anyone’s penis size. Of course, more study on women’s bodies is also important for any number of reasons, but it’s still mighty slow going.)

So, there you have it. Now look at that chart again. Seriously. And not just at the dog.

Things that all vary only THAT little? Calling one SO large and the other SO small? C’mon people, you’ve got to be able to see that it’s pretty loony to get hung up on size differentials when we’re talking about such minor differences, and when those minor differences do not have anything to do with sexual satisfaction or reproductive function. Again, when folks get all hung up on the size of their genitals, the problem that becomes or creates is rarely a problem because of the size: it’s usually a problem because of the hang-up. Lose the hang-up and fixation, lose the problem.

Really, all of this size stuff is pretty deranged from the get-go, about anything when it comes to our bodies (and a lot of other things, for that matters). No matter what we’re privliging based on size, our size — whether we’re talking about height, weight, breasts, genitals, noses, you name it — is almost always mostly or entirely genetic. We’ve got what we’ve got, for the most part, and going nuts over largely unchangeable parts of ourselves, or anyone else, is a waste of otherwise good energy at best and bigotry at worst. And when it comes to genitals, no matter what we’ve got, the size of anything very rarely impairs its function. Differences in size simply — if they even do that — may create differences in the way we do certain things. Since sex is supposed to be individual, not one-size-fits-all, should we ever meet a sexual partner who isn’t down with making sure the sex they’re having is as unique and catered to they and us as possible, the problem is that partner, not our genitals.

Now, all things given, if we go ahead and make the determination that with a variation as minor as a handful of millimeters or a handful of inches, we can really still say big and small and all that jazz, when it comes to myself, I’m pretty darn average in all respects when it comes to genitals. In other words, most of my genitalia is not at either end of the poles of the averages. I wear a smaller-average diaphragm size (I’m a 65 these days), and given the clitorises I have seen up close and personal and via photos, I’d say my clit is right in the middle. One of my labia is smaller than the other, and the longer is on the longer side of the average. To look at my bits, I’ve got what Betty Dodson calls a Baroque vulva. As someone who is all about the spirit of decadence in sensory things, I think that’s quite perfect for me, really. :)

But you know what? Being average has NEVER stopped an awful lot of guys from saying they have a big penis or thinking of their penises as big. And again, this whole big/small business with such a small range is just goofy.

I often avidly protest all this size stuff, and even get ungodly irritated by it daily, especially given how often I have to comfort the “smaller” guys and the “larger” girls in my daily work, who really should not have to worry about any of this at all.

But I’ve been thinking that maybe it’s time I tried rolling with it. So, if it’s up to me if I’m big or I’m small, I think it seems a whole lot more fun to have a VERY BIG vagina than an average one.

Which allows me to finally get back to my monumental, super-duper vagina. If what men consider a monumentally big penis is still as long or just a little bit longer than most vaginas can stretch, and the back end of some vaginas within average are still wider around than those penises, AND our clitorises, internal and external, are just as big as penises, then by gosh and by golly, we don’t have diminutive genitals, girls, we’ve got BIG GIANT VULVAS!

I want to give it supervillian names: Vaginormia or Vulvumba or Vagigante! (That one totally needs an exclamation point, because it sounds like a Lucha Libra name.) The Pink Colossus. Vulvuminousa. Monsmonstro. Vagzilla. The Big Vagowski — eh, that’s not going to work.

Now I’ve just got “Mike Wazowski” stuck in my head again (it’s a bit of a constant problem), and weird as I am, mixing vaginas and Monsters, Inc. is even too weird for me.

I am wholeheartedly enjoying this image of Vagzilla, like a very large sea creature of some kind, pulling its pink, fleshy feet (which totally make a noise, it’s like “schlop, schlop”) across the earth. It waves it’s VERY HUMONGOUS labia around like big, flappy, sea-anemone hands, and it makes a huge whooshing sound, like wind through trees in a storm, when it does. It’s absolutely moist, and seriously squishy. It also has a very, very large nose When it moves, it leaves a trail of shiny, clear ooze in its wake. It’s whipping aside commercial menstrual product manufacturers with those big labia-tentacles, and it’s yelling and blowing air from it’s GAPING vaginal opening, causing douches and speculums and the torture devices of cosmetic surgeons to blow across streets like tumbleweeds. Godzilla knows better than to even think about messing with it.

(My partner also had to watch me try and illustrate this image last night through the wonder of interpretive dance. Welcome to life at our house.)

I want to pen a theme song for La Vagina Grandiosa, but until I do, we can certainly already hear her when we listen to Aretha Franklin, Odetta, Paula Cole, The Staple Singers, Hedningarna, Saffire: the Uppity Blues Women, Phoebe Snow, P!nk, Janis Joplin, Mariachi Reyna de Los Angeles, Bonnie Tyler, Chaka Khan, Joan Jett, Diamanda Galas, Loretta Lynn, Bessie Smith, L7, The Heartless Bastards, Patti Smith, Stevie Nicks (I know, I had a moment of pause, but then I really thought about it: Edge of Seventeen is totally big vagina music), Michelle Malone, Kathleen Hanna, Pat Benatar or Nina Simone. Big vagina isn’t coy, subtle, delicate or soft-spoken: big vagina is raucous, gigantic, fleshy and eardrum-shattering loud.

I mean, there’s something awesome about it, isn’t there?

Not with me just yet? Okay, I’ll hang on while you get into it. I found it helped to yell one or two of those super-villain names very loudly in the living room (though in retrospect, it might be more fun to do in the bathtub, which I may just have to try later) while waving my arms around, punctuating it all by shaking my head back and forth with my mouth a little open so it made a very vaginal sort of “blubbalubbablubba” noise. The dog was certainly intimidated, I’ll tell you that much, and the pug ain’t intimidated by much. If that isn’t helping, revisit the imagery. If THAT isn’t helping, do remember that when we’re talking about vaginas, in particular, we’re talking about the place that quite literally has given birth to the world and everything in it. If even that isn’t helping…well, I tried.

For those of us who are with me on this, I really love the idea of even voicing this sort of sentiment or battle cry from time to time, just because, given that the very LAST thing any woman is apparently supposed to have, and certainly should be very, very ashamed of is a GIANT VAGINA. If women can succeed at, or even just try, to reclaim words like bitch, the very least women should be able to do, especially given the fact that if men have big penises, then we DO have big vaginas, is kick all this teeny-weeny-darling-cutiepie-vagina stuff to the curb and groove on feeling like our genitals are the stuff of epic proportions. I’m grooving on the Utopian idea that I’ll overhear some guy say to another in a bar, when describing a woman he’s awed by, who did something beyond daring he can’t imagine doing, “Man, it took some BIG-ass vagina to do that.”

In being completely obsessed with this idea over the last day or so, I’m also finding that I can kind of understand the dudes that go overboard with the “my big penis,” stuff to everyone within earshot. I so know that I’m really torturing the people listening to me talk about the vagina as giant in some way right now (but hey: I’m a sex educator, I gross people out all the time for my living), but I kind of dig it, because it’s making ME feel so big by extension that I just don’t care very much if y’all are all “YUCK!” especially since I very seriously feel we should should be awed and impressed with our bigness, that they should covet my bigness and wish it were theirs, rather than grossed out in any way.

It also seems like the more I go on about MY HUGE VAGINA, the bigger it feels. I know full well that everything genital is small in this great big world we live in, I know that the range with genitals when it comes to size is not at all vast, and I’m aware that personally, for the most part, even within that small range, I’m pretty darn average. But when I bellow BIG VAGINA, have images of Vagigante! in my head, and crank up the Joan Jett while giant, labial sugarplums dance in my head; when I envision my vulva and vagina not as small, but as vast and colossal, they really do start to feel that way, and it really makes me feel a bit bigger on the whole.

That feeling makes me a lot more sympathetic for the guys who are fixated on size, and who want their penises to feel big, and are bummed out when they don’t, or when someone else doesn’t see them that way. It also doubly illustrates part of why some women who are so fixated on their vaginas being so small often feel small themselves. While by no means do the size of your genitals — or the size you think they are — influence your size and scope as a whole person, if thinking of them as big makes you feel bigger, and makes them feel more special, I have to say that I think I’m all for it. And I’ve got to say, I really can’t help but wonder if women as a whole couldn’t really benefit from catching the size train in this regard: seems like it’s at least worth a try.

The only caveat is, though — and thus, the heart of my babblefest today — is that if we’re going to think of our genitals as big, any one of us, given the small range between them, we should think everyone’s genitals are big. We also need to accept that it’s ignorant or misinformed (and/or that we’ve clearly got some kind of agenda through which we benefit from our ignorance or misinformation) to think, presume or suggest that penises are big but vaginas are small, because we really are all about the same size. If thinking big is better for one sex, it’s also got to be better for the other. So, if you’re going to go on about your big penis, buddy, you’d best get just as excited about the idea of a big vagina, and make having a big ol’ vagowski just as cool. And if you’re a gal all hung up on the idea that your vagina must, must be as small as it can possibly be, or is such a small thing, then you’ve got to accept that penises are small, too.

But I suggest that you at least try on the “everybody is big” idea for a little while, and embrace the idea that a big vagina is at least as cool as a big penis is supposed to be. Next time you hear someone saying someone had a big vagina, and is meaning it to be an insult, try grinning and saying, with glee, “She sure did! Yeeha!” You certainly don’t have to make up super-villain names or do interpretive dances like me (though while according to some people, it’d probably be better if you didn’t, I personally feel that we just don’t see enough vaginal interpretive dance these days), but if you go through life without yelling

“BIG VAGINA!”

with great fervor at least once, I can confidently say you always feel at least a little bit smaller than you, and your vagina or vulva, actually are.

(The Scarleteen version I just got up of this lives here.)

Sunday, November 4th, 2007

The two panels I was part of at the NARAL youth leadership summit yesterday were pretty freaking awesome. It was SO fantastic to see rooms brimming over with women in high school and college full of enthusiasm, feverishly taking notes, having no trouble at all asking questions or inserting themselves into conversations.

For the Art as Activism panel, I sat with these two freaking brilliant women, and suffice it to say — though this is easier to explain to people who know me in person and are familiar with the fact that I’m very spaztastic in my energy — Christa and I immediately leaped on the notion that we have GOT to do some kind of work together, starting, like, yesterday. But cocktails first: always cocktails first.

The other panel I did was called “Be the Media You Wish to See.” I realized halfway through that clearly, I’d interprteted that as “How to Overthrow the Media.” I’m not sure that was what they’d had in mind. Now, I don’t think that was an unreasonable interpretation on my part, but when one of the questions that came up was how choice was represented in corporate OR mainstream media (I was all, “Whaddya mean OR?”), it became clear I might be on a slightly different wavelength.

So, per usual lately, when I heard my words starting to come out of my mouth — rather than, you know, having the distinct sense I was purposefully and intentionally forming them — I realized I was likely sounding a little outer limits. I started talking to the girls and young women (and a couple young men) about how they need to be dangerous — how it is seriously awesome to be dangerous — how the price paid in a country like we live in for taking big risks with activism and our words is so relatively small, even when the worst happens. How — in response to being asked if I thought we were going to see a change in how repro rights and women’s bodies and abortion was rep’d in the media — they’re poised to have things change but have got to just take the risks right NOW; that those big changes will only happen when they DO something. (I also brought up that there is this perpetual rift between older feminists and younger feminists where the elder feel like the younger aren’t doing enough, and how it’s pretty impossible to tell if that’s apt, or just projection, but either way, everyone has STILL got to freaking start acting up and making some noise.)

That was the point at which I made clear I knew I was getting a bit intense, but they were really receptive, so I went on. I talked about how we don’t hear young people’s voices enough, and when they really speak up, they get heard, often because the idea that they’re apathetic, self-absorbed, stupid, whatever is so prevalent. I mean, that’s an awful stereotype, but it’s one they can seriously use against the whole system to empower themselves. Crappy as stereotypes are, when your character and actions fly in the face of them, it can make it a lot easier to be seen and heard. I was all, “Fuck the mainstream media and trying to be part of it, make your own,” I went on and on telling them they were powerful. I probably said that a few too many times, really, but then, what’s too many times to hear you are powerful?

For sure, I got a bit kooky, but you know, it’s not very often that you get to do events with a room full of young people, especially young women, at an event because they WANT leadership roles. (Plus, given the panel before was three of us artists clearly pulling energy from each other’s kooky, the kook-factor was inevitable.)

It’s even less often that when you talk, it doesn’t have to be academic and dense, but rather, you can just wave your bloody-red pompoms made from a million tampon strings and cheer the hell out of a bunch of young women. Too, I keep feeling like I see this really weird sell for feminism or activism that tries to say that it’s great because it’s sexy, it’s cool, whatever. And it’s not. It’s not sexy or cool, and it won’t make you fit in. But since when was anyone ever drawn to activism to fit in, anyway? From where I’m sitting, the fringe benefits of being an activist have always been about rebelling, about opting OUT, dropping out, tuning out; about being a renegade, which sure seems a lot more interesting to both me now and to 17-year-old-me than being sexy or cool, eh? At this point, you can buy sexy or cool at Wal-Mart, for crying out loud. Their value is incredibly limited, often manufactured in sweatshops, and really quite cheap.

Despite my weirdness, it seemed very appreciated, and I had a DAMN good time doing it. I felt very, very energized leaving. Because of Scarleteen, so often the majority of young people that I encounter in a day are in some kind of crisis or confusion, empowered only after doing some work with them, so when I get opportunites to see a group of them with some real clarity, feeling that empowerment from the minute they walk through the door, my job being to amp what is already there — and in abundance — up? It was a real gift.

I had to go look it up, because after Ben dropped me off at home — we ate everything in sight at Wayward after he’d picked me up after my event — I kept having these snippets of words that were echoing my thoughts in my head, and I couldn’t remember whose they were, and I knew they were far too concise to be mine. So, I was not at all suprised to be reminded that they were bell hooks’ words, from “Teaching to Transgress,”

My hope emerges from those places of struggle where I witness individuals positively transforming their lives and the world around them. Educating is always a vocation rooted in hopefulness.

Yes, yes, and a million kinds of yes.

This has been a week of some really cool women, actually. This week, Renee Walker and I also connected, and had a cool, quick gab session on the phone on Friday about ways we could join forces. As it turns out, her sister is a NARAL Washington board member, so I got to briefly touch base with her yesterday, as well.

* * *
I’ve continued to think on all the flaws — not like this is anything new — of the until-marriage stuff, and look at the commentary. One of the conclusions I’m coming to which I wasn’t quite at before was that even when you set aside the very primary issues — that we simply know that marriage, in and of itself, doesn’t create any kind of unilateral protections when it comes to general or sexual health, or emotional or sexual well-being, that not everyone can get married, even when you set aside that WHO one is married to, and what a given marriage is like is not a minor part of the whole equation — we’re still left with one very big problem.

That big problem is that in anything where there is more than one person involved, we cannot (I’d say should not, but when we’re talking about conservatives, that is very much a point where we are in no sort of agreement) control the other person or their behaviour.

We can’t say marriage is lifelong monogamy, or that we could make it so because we can only choose that for ourselves: we can’t choose it or control it in a partner. We can’t choose or control if that other person to BE married to sticks around lifelong or even shows up — a commentor brought that up again, and I’d mentioned it as well, but buried in a sea of text, alas. We can’t control or somehow pre-determine the previous history of anyone we marry or partner with, or somehow guarnatee anyone’s honesty who isn’t us.

Now, from a vantage-point of very traditional marriage, I understand personally overlooking this flaw, or not seeing it that way, when faith — as in, having faith in all things, and privileging faith over reason — is a very big deal. Trouble is that when we’re talking about sexual health, faith doesn’t cut the mustard, and it never has. I’d also posit that if, for either or both parties, or an overarching culture, control — not self-discipline, not self-determination, not harmony or comparrion — is a key factor in the idea that marriage can somehow guarantee sexual health or sexual happiness and satisfaction, then we’ve got yet another conundrum, because that’s something else we know has historically (and still) hindered, not helped, and often done outright harm, rather than given protections, people’s sexual health and sexual well-being.

Sexual health initiatives, to work, always have to solely or primarily be about, and start with, our OWN actions and choices, about what we can do, ourselves, with or without cooperation from anyone else, to protect our sexual health and honor our sexuality. It’s simply not doable to improve or protect our sexual health with things we cannot control, or by putting our health, happiness and safety in someone else’s hands. This is, of course — and I say this without judgment — going to be something that is very difficult to rectify if the meat or whole of the way you live your life is about trying to put your fate or your life into the hands of an entity you cannot even have a conversation with, and if greater moral value is put on being passive than on being active.

The email overload on this score has finally seemed to subside. Really, I don’t get whirlwinds of conservatism like this very often, it’s only once every year or so, sometimes less often than that. And again, when I do get them, they’re not from the actual youth and young adults I serve: if they were, if my own clients were telling me that what I was doing or saying was not working for them, obviously, I’d be sitting down and having some big thinks on how I can better serve them. But I don’t: we even regularly have a small base of youth waiting for marriage and they do just fine at Scarleteen, laregly because they are making that choice for THEMSELVES, not seeking to enforce it on everyone else, or on a population they aren’t even a part of.

When I get these kids of emails, they are only rarely from people who are even parents of teens. Most frequently, they’re from people who aren’t parents at all, and more often than not, from people who don’t even interact with teens and young adults in any way. If they’re parents, they tend to be parents of very young children. But mostly, from what I can gather, what most have in common is that they’re just not people comfortable with sexuality, their own or anyone else’s. You do a job like mine long enough, you don’t have to be psychic when you read or listen to someone talking about sex and sexuality to be able to suss out, pretty decently, an overall tone when it comes to what their sex lives are like. And overwhelmingly, I read a flat-line when it comes to sex with most of these folks. I mean, it’s easy to argue that there isn’t much or any value in sex simply being enjoyable or a good time when you have never had a good time.

It reminds me a bit of parts of growing up poor and among poor families. I know my mother got a good deal of this in her family: my father’s didn’t live long enough in his adult life to find out about them. And I’ve seen it in other poor families around, too, this weird idea that you want your kids to do better than you did, but either only so MUCH better, or only better if when it gets better for them, it gets better for you, too. I get the impression that the same goes with plenty of families, especially conservative families, when it comes to sex and relationships — that there is this personal agenda that isn’t just about faith or about real sexual health or real happiness, but about having a really hard time figuring out how you’d deal with it if your kids were so much happier than you were when it came to sex. Maybe that’s because they feel like their kids would start to really know how unhappy their elders were, and people don’t want that shown up? I don’t know: just thinking out loud, really.

I really appreciated Courtney Martin’s “Perfect Girls, Starving Daughters,” and in one part of it, she talked about how her generation grew up with mothers who were encouraged to be Superwomen. She spoke to the conflict she felt with that — how while she heard her mother saying you can do anything, while Mom was trying to do EVERYTHING; heard her mother saying that being able to do everything she could possibly do every single day was the best thing ever, when she looked at her mother, what she saw was not a woman elated, but a woman completely exhausted. And I know, even just from listening to kids and teens talk about parents who are pushing the wait-until-marriage stuff, that they’re often seeing some of what I’m talking about here. They hear adults and parents saying everything about sex and love is so much better when done this one particular way, and even for the minority of them saying that who even did it that way, what they often see — which is not sexually satisfied, energized people — stands in great conflict with what they’re being told.

But it’s to the point where I’m wondering if I can’t just come up with a sort of pre-emptive note in our contact form that just read something like, Before emailing, please first go have an orgasm or two. Then take a bath, or maybe a walk or a swim. Cook something decadent, and eat more than you think you should. Have a glass of wine, or some amazing juice of some kind. Get the dirt on your hands, and leave what’s left under your fingernails there for the rest of the day. Dance like a dope or sing something much too loudly and slightly off-key. Give someone a big bear hug. Play hooky. Look in the mirror, naked, and say, with great conviction, “I love you.” If you really still need to send me that email, then be my guest.

All of which, come to think of it, sounds far more like what I should be doing on a Sunday morning than writing in my office.

Thursday, July 26th, 2007

There’s little better for an author then having an event at not only your favorite bookstore, but at the bookstore that you truly came of age in, where you’d sit for hours reading, and was your best home away from home. It’s amazing for a feminist to have an event in a place where you started doing your cornerstone reading in feminist theory, and which has provided a haven for feminist women, activists and authors for nearly the whole of your life. Same goes for coming of age queer and confused and having a haven where you knew you could sit with your hairy pits and your stompy boots and read your Adrienne Rich, your Rita Mae Brown or your Curious Wine, all while crushing on the gorgeous woman who always saved you the books she knew you’d like, without anyone looking at you funny.

So, I am beyond elated that I have a book event at Women & Children First on Friday evening, August 3rd at 7:30 (5233 N. Clark St., In Andersonville, on the north side of the city). We’re doing this as a remedial sex ed Q&A for women of all ages, since I have so many adult readers who benefit from the kind of Sex 101 I give at Scarleteen, and since so much basic sex ed is really not about women, and in addition, certainly not often inclusive of women who sleep with women, and also not very informed by feminist approaches and a holistic viewpoint on sex. I imagine, given how events with me usually go, that it’ll turn into a pretty cool bit of CR and roundtable discussion on women’s sexuality. (I also expect to tear up the minute I walk in the door, so bring me some tissues, if you would, please.)

The extra on this is that my fave bookstore in the world has also been in a tough financial pickle — laregly due to the fact that they helped make the neighborhood they’re in so much more awesome that now they can barely afford the rents there — like most feminist bookstores have, so I’m happy to do anything at all that I can to keep them around, even if I live across the country and can’t enjoy their stacks myself anymore.

So, please come if you’re nearby, and please tell as many of your friends in Chicago as possible about the event. For anyone who comes themselves or is telling others, I encourage everyone who has some books they’ve been meaning to buy lately to wait until that event and please buy them at W&CF: they need your business, and we all need them. They’ve been supporting women’s work for close to 30 years now, and so long as they stay afloat, they’ll be doing it for many, many more.

(Also? I can’t eat them anymore myself, alas, but if you aren’t often in Andersonville, know that if you decide to make a day of it, or arrive very, very early — they close at 2:30 — and are hungry, that Svea, right across the street, has the best swedish pancakes you will ever eat in your life.)

Don’t forget, too, that if you’re in or near Chicago, that if this event doesn’t work for you, I’ll be at Early to Bed on Tuesday night, the 31st, doing an event for parents and allies of kids and teens.

Friday, July 20th, 2007

Seven Ways to Cheer Up When You’re Feeling Eight Below



1. Make something completely decadent with items already in your cupboard. Thankfully, even when I’m living extra-lean, there are always baking basics lying around here: cooking and baking are important balms for me. Cocoa, shortening, sugars, flour: check. What else is here? Hmmm…arrowroot powder, a bag of frozen cherries, some pinot noir not so good for drinking, but fine for cooking, and an influx of balsamic. Voila!*

Enjoy the first cupcake, while it’s still a little warm, by yourself and Ooh and Ahh out loud. Then call a couple of people who you know will also delight in a simple bout of vegan decadence, and share cupcakes with them on the porch during a perfect summer evening. Done!

2. Take a bath: don’t rush, and be sure to soak your head.

3. Be Mr. Rogers. Go and see the people in your neighborhood, and don’t be in a hurry. Take the time to have more than a two-minute conversation with the sweet woman at the mini-mart you buy smokes from. say hello to the folks at the coffeehouse. When people on the street stop to pet your dog, let them play with her as long as they’d like. Have your coffee on a chair with the homeless guy who can’t ever decide if his name is Pete or Elmer (I have no idea what that’s all about), but who always calls you “darlin,” tells great (albeit drunken) stories, and who people always rush by. Hope he found the five bucks you put in his hat when you saw him sleeping on the sidewalk last week, as you have before, but say nothing about it: it’d be nice for him to feel he had a secret admirer.

4. Clean and change all your bedding. It doesn’t matter if your sheets aren’t 400 thread count, if there are piles of laundry around your bed, or if there are no fresh flowers nearby. Sliding into fresh clean sheets and closing your eyes always feels like you’ve landed in a posh hotel.

5. Laugh. That isn’t a challenge when in sharing a headslap over this with Sarah, and mentioning that you almost told the questioner that if vaginas could expand so much you’d be thrilled, since you’d FINALLY have a place to keep your keys where they wouldn’t get lost, she shares this gem: “I have a multi-month archive of persistent emails from this 12-year-old kid who was convinced that if I wasn’t keeping things (e.g., an egg, a can of Pepsi, my wallet) in my vagina at all times, I was “wasting space” and was immoral in the same way as people who don’t turn off the faucet while they brush their teeth. Just walking around with this big, empty handbag between my legs, not doing anyone any good. It makes me think their must be some sub-genre of horror writing about empty, cavernous, enormous vaginas? People falling into them, never to be seen again?”



6. Remind yourself that lotuses grow from the mud. If something beautiful can continue to grow in the unforgiving cement of your backyard, then for fuck’s sake, so can you.

7. Open your email and find out you’ve been unanimously nominated for an award that Jocelyn freaking Elders won last year. Dayum.

* Incidentally, the cupcakes are an adaptation of an Isa Chandra Moskovitz’ recipe from Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World, a cookbook I use much too often for my own good. The changes I made include using balsamic vinegar in the cake rather than apple cider vinegar: I always do that w/vegan chocolate cake; the balsamic makes the chocolate taste richer. I also shredded some gorgeous cherry/vanilla/dark chocolate into the mix and on top that Beppie (that was SO nice, gal) secretly arranged with Mark to have sent to me, and added orange extract to the cake and the kirsch because orange is gorgeous with chocolate, and makes cherry taste more tart. I did the cherry filling a bit differently, adding the red wine and skipping the sugar (who needs it with all that icing?). Too, her vanilla icing recipe is to die for, but I let it sit in the mixer for waaaaay longer than she suggests: a good 20 minutes makes it fluffy as anything. Adding some ground vanilla bean is also a help.

Tuesday, June 5th, 2007

It’s a… well. Hmm.

Not a girl. Not a boy. I guess it’s just a website, even though it feels like I just gave a breech birth to a velociraptor.

But it’s freaking well done.

In case it’s not beyond obvious? Upgrading a site built many years ago, and trafficked by millions of people really kind of sucks. Thank christ that the boards only needed to be spruced, not gone through page by page, redesigned and rebuilt from the backend, like we had to do with the 250+ pages of the main site, because having to do what we did — which has taken months of many no-break, 14 hour + workdays from two of us — with an extra 51,000 pages (no, I’m not kidding, and I’ve read nearly every one of those pages over the years, and answered or contributed to over 25,000 of those questions myself, in case you wonder where all these greys and wrinkles are coming from)?

That would have flat out broken this chick. As it is, I am toast. If I have to do this anytime again within the next five years — especially when I can’t even pause from doing everything else I already do — I will sell my hair, limbs and anything else anyone’ll pay me a dollar for so I can just pay someone else to do all of this, because if I so much have to think about another upgrade of this size, I can guarantee I’ll wind up wearing one of those fancy white garments with the arm restraints for the rest of my natural born life.

(Which — natrual-born — is a phrase I’m not even sure I can validly use, given I was induced so we could get the hell out of dodge before my Dad got sent to jail. Again with the hmm.)

We went live last night pretty much all of five whole minutes before we had to run over to SIFF for Mark’s debut as a director of a festival film (which was all proud-making, and all the better because one of The Brothers Price flew in from Cincy to be here), stayed out late, then I woke up on the early this morning to fix a ton of little buggies. I have been a complete crabass for weeks, I only dimly recall what the outside world even looks like, sex is a dusty — albeit pleasant — memory, and I am beyond burnout.

So, I’m taking a week off from big work. Starting right now, as I lace my coffee with Wild Turkey and try to remember where I left my life last.

Tuesday, May 15th, 2007


SCARLETEEN: EXPLICIT ADVICE FOR THE YOUNG

I gotta say, I’m not sure how often I give what I’d call explicit advice. If I did, I think I’d use a lot less words than I tend to and sum it all up by just answering every advice question with, “Things will always get better. And then they’ll always get worse. A good orgasm is good when they’re better and when they’re worse, and a shitty relationship is good for neither, so don’t ever promise to stick around for both.” But I digress, as I often do.

Despite how whoo-whoo the copywriter who does the front page for the P-I clearly felt the need to be, it was pretty darn cool to see that staring at me from the city paperboxes the other day. The reporter did a fantastic job and it’s a really excellent, positive piece (though I felt more than a twinge of discomfort at some of the more traumatic parts of my youth being mentioned sans context in a big paper, but then, I don’t keep it a big secret, and it is good for people to see that abuse survivors, like, DO things) — and featured on the front page, yo — which is a great energizer for me. And lord knows, I needed it. This old girl is TI-RED these days.

So often, press pieces about Scarleteen have had this sort of begrudinging acceptance. Like, “Yeah, I guess kids need this stuff but it sure sucks that they do, and yeah, I guess this woman does serve a lot of them and do a good job, but it’d sure be better is she was somebody’s nice, married, surburban Mom, and not this childless, queer, feminist skank who actually really likes having sex, and not the kind we’d prefer she liked. But I guess it’s still a good thing.”

This? Much better. And a fine how-do-ya-do, I’d say, from my new home city.

* * *

But none of that is half as cool as a phone conversation with my Dad today telling me, all choked up, that he just had the very best day of his life.

What happened?

He got to go into a bookstore and get a book solo-authored by his kid, who he has watched and mentored with her writing and work since he taught her to read, and without fail, ever since. My father may have his failings, but I cannot think of a single instance in my life when he was nonsupportive of my aspirations and my creative work, no matter what direction they went in.

Apparently, he not only felt he had to tell every single person working at the bookstore that HIS KID wrote my book, but he also sold every copy the Barnes & Noble he was at on the north side had.

As these conversations were relayed to me, the cashier, when my father was buying a copy and going on ad nauseum, said, “Oh it’s for your daughter, that’s nice,” to which my oh-so-gracious father replied, and probably loudly, since he has no idea how to speak quietly, “No, it’s BY my daughter, you dumbass.” It’s easy to see where I get my charm from, now ain’t it. Ladies and germs, my fabulous public relations department.

I guess when he walked in and found it, he saw some other woman thumbing through a copy, and he asked her about it, and she said she’d really needed something like it for her daughter. So, as he did with everyone ELSE, he made clear that HIS daughter wrote it, and — my father, toothless, road-weary and all, is a highly infectious and gregarious guy — she ended up buying a couple copies, as did someone else nearby. On top of that, he and this woman went out for coffee afterwards. Hell, even if all my book did was net my Dad some normal social contact that most people get but he rarely does (his economics and homelessness — though he’s still in the SRO — are only part of the issue, as over the past few years, he’s also become pretty agoraphobic, not surprisingly given his neighborhood), that’d be a damn fine result.

But sitting and listening to one’s parent, especialy a parent who has been around some serious luminaries in their day, and had one helluva life, tell you that seeing and buying your book (especially with the peanuts they have for cash) was the best day of their life is a really wonderful, loving, incredible thing to have happen as someone’s child.

Of course, I cried like a freaking baby. I mean, bloody HELL.

Especially considering that just the day before today, I’d gotten a small package from him in the mail with a letter that closed with this.

* * *

Still been chugging away every day with Garrett to get to a finish on the full site upgrade for Scarleteen. It’s looking phenomenal, and I’m really excited, especially considering how much easier some of this system will make my life. But days and days on end of making graphics and staring at code utterly fries my brain and makes my limbs feel like lead weights. How you techies out there do this shit every day of every year is completely beyond me.

It’s one thing to do it when combined with other work — I code and do graphics regularly, but I’m also writing, doing more creative work, at the same time — or when you have the time to take long breaks, grab a walk or a hoop or a yoga fix. But given our deadline and the crazy amount of work that shifting an almost ten-year-old site (how the hell did THAT happen?) into an entirely new format and layout, there’s been so much work packed into the day that half the time, I’m forgetting to eat and barely have time to wipe my own butt.

I did carve out a few hours today to fit in two photo shoots with visiting friends, and get contact made with another major paper who wants to do a piece, but now I have to get cracking. In the barely-more-than-24 hours I have left before I go to Minneapolis for a week and a half, I have got to get a pile of books addressed and sent, do laundry, pack up clothes, photo equipment and book stuff, eat some dinner, have sex (hey, when you’re going out of town and know it’ll be a while, you need to be pragmatic about fitting it in), grab The Baby Liam an extra birthday present, deal with some banking, do more work with the site upgrade and maybe lose my mind just a little more before I pass out on my midnight flight.

Thursday, April 19th, 2007


I didn’t expect yesterday to be the most amazing birthday ever.

Mr. Price got stuck doing a commercial shoot, for starters, so I was sweetie-less. Plus, I keep waiting for That Birthday to happen. You know the one you’re supposed to have where it feels all milestone-y? I thought it would happen at 18. It didn’t. Then at 21…no dice. 30 seemed like a given, but alas, I just felt another year older.

Mind, I got my dog on my 30th, which was a mighty nice gift that has kept on giving, and I got Mark as a present for my 35th. So, the powers that be have been pretty darn awesome in their gift-giving skills with me on birthdays in the past.

This wasn’t That Birthday, either. (I’m beginning to think the whole notion of milestone birthdays is an utter sham.) But I ended up having a great day at the Olympus with Jane, a nice dinner, the Very Big Present turned out to be a standing mixer (which rocks, since I am a cupcake-making fool of late, and a good mixer means beautiful forsting), and Mark even got home in enough time to give me goodnight-birthday kisses. To boot, Laurie Toby Edison sent me signed books, because she rocks just that hard.

But the surprise gift I was in no way prepared for or expecting was the big box of author copies of my book. In jest, I’d said to my editor months back that if we could arrange the book release date to be on my birthday, that’d be seriously swell. Unbenownst to both of us, while the release date remains in May, the first copies did, in fact, land out and about yesterday, 20 of which landed right on my front porch.

Thanks, universe!


P.S. I didn’t say anything about the Supreme Court decision yesterday because there is just really nothing TO say that is anything but an incomprehensible stream of coarse invective. My brief comment here pretty much sums up my feelings on the matter: this is nothing more than literal torture of women, no matter how you slice it.

Monday, March 26th, 2007


Finally, finally, finally, the cover for the book is finished.

Which is good, because I was finished with it — in terms of having to invest concern about it — months ago. Huzzah!

This weekend was a marvel: Mark and I made a pledge to both staep away from work for a whole two days. That perhaps sounds silly to anyone who isn’t a self-employed working artist and activist, but as a pair of folks who are always overworked, yet always have a giant work backlog, two solid days of “Do Not Disturb” is the golden fleece.

And we didn’t do anything special, other than simply spend the sort of time together we got to spend all the time when we were bi-coastal (or whatever the term is when one of you is on a coast and the other midwest). There was a lot of time spent in bed, time spent in the bath, time spent cooking and eating, time spent just hanging out in our beloved neighborhood of Ballard.

Of course, this means I start the week already extra-behind and racing to catch up, but it was so utterly worth it.

Extra bonus? Last week Mark came home with a much-much coveted Birth-aversary gift (it was promised for last year’s birthday, but delievered on our anniversary, so): a beautiful standing heavy bag so I can friggin’ box again. My physical and mental health alike thank the boy deeply: it’ just criminal that it’s been a whole year since I’ve been able to train with what my body/mind loves the best.

The rest this weekend also gave me some awesome inspiration, to the point that my reluctant-to-assign-brilliance-to-anything sweetie called the photo idea I drummed up genius, so I’m looking forward to having some time this week to get some calls out to friends. Gotta keep this one on the down-low until I start developing it, but if you’re anywhere near me, interested in hearing what it is to be a potential subject, let me know. I feel like I can assure that this one will wind up being pretty revelatory for folks.

Thursday, March 22nd, 2007

Tain’t nothing like a hard-won win for civil liberties before you’ve even had your first morning cup.

FINAL ADJUDICATION AND ORDER THAT BASED UPON THE FINDINGS OF FACT AND CONCLUSIONS OF LAW DETAILED ABOVE: (1) THE CHILD ONLINE PROTECTION ACT, 47 U.S.C. 231, IS FACIALLY VIOLATIVE OF THE FIRST AND FIFTH AMENDMENTS OF THE UNITED STATES CONSTITUTION; AND DEFENDANT ALBERTO R. GONZALES, IN HIS OFFICIAL CAPACITY AS ATTORNEY GENERAL OF THE UNITED STATES, AND HIS OFFICERS, AGENTS, EMPLOYEES, AND ATTORNEYS, AND THOSE PERSONS IN ACTIVE CONCERT OR PARTICIPATION WITH DEFENDANT WHO RECEIVE ACTUAL NOTICE OF THIS ORDER ARE PERMANENTLY ENJOINED FROM ENFORCING OR PROSECUTING MATTERS PREMISED UPON 47 U.S.C. 231 AT ANY TIME FOR ANY CONDUCT. THIS IS A FINAL ORDER AND THIS CASE IS CONCLUDED.. SIGNED BY JUDGE LOWELL A. REED JR. ON 3/22/07.

Know what that is, my friends? That is myself, my fellow plaintiffs — and specifically, myself, Salon and Nerve; stated to have standing and a credible fear of prosecution — and our fantastic ACLU lawyers and support staff soundly kicking government ARSE.

At issue in this case is the constitutionality of the Child Online Protection Act, 47 U.S.C. §231 (”COPA”) and whether this court should issue a permanent injunction against its enforcement due to its alleged constitutional infirmities. COPA provides both criminal and civil penalties for transmitting sexually explicit materials and communications over the World Wide Web (”Web”) which are available to minors and harmful to them. 47 U.S.C. §231(a). After a trial on the merits, for the reasons that follow, notwithstanding the compelling interest of Congress in protecting children from sexually explicit material on the Web, I conclude today that COPA facially violates the First and Fifth Amendment rights of the plaintiffs because: (1) at least some of the plaintiffs have standing; (2) COPA is not narrowly tailored to Congress’ compelling interest; (3) defendant has failed to meet his burden of showing that COPA is the least restrictive, most effective alternative in achieving the compelling interest; and (3) COPA is impermissibly vague and overbroad. As a result, I will issue a permanent injunction against the enforcement of COPA.

Not bad news to get first thing of a morning. Not bad at all.

P.S. I really appreciate some of the issues that were brought up within the pages of the decision, because it brings some things to light that need very serious examination, and which are near and dear to my heart. For instance, this text about the issue of how minors are defined could be something pretty darn awesome to reference when it comes to young adult rights, and not defining teenagers as children: As discussed by the Third Circuit, defining minors as “any person under 17 years of age,” creates a serious issue with interpretation of COPA since no one could argue that materials that have “serious literary, artistic, political, or scientific value” for a sixteen-year-old would necessarily have the same value for a three-year old.

There is also a lot of address in that decision which makes clear that we really need to stop conflating pornography and any address or examination of sexuality or the body, as well bringing to some light the inherent classism of requiring credit cards to verify age (especially since they aren’t even useable for that purpose: a credit card account doesn’t list the age of it’s holder, so requiring a credit card doesn’t discriminate by age, it discriminates by economic class), and the issue of the government usurping the roles and choices of a parent.

P.P.S. I’m really tried of people — from the left, from the right, from the center — calling this “the porn law.” Half the deal with the judgment was that the COPA was overly broad, and would criminalize all sorts of content that dealt with sexuality or the human body, so citizens reducing it to the lowest common denominator are doing the same stupid thing the government tried to do. (To boot, porn profiteers not only didn’t win this case, they weren’t even testifying for our side: if you understand what COPA proposed, and you understand the big biz of porn - or just the basic given that anyone who is not a potential buyer is not a wanted vistor — you understand why a porn profiteer wouldn’t have any problem with it at all.) Of course, by the same token, that sort of broad brush used by anyone and everyone — especially when we recognize that most of our current administration is no more intelligent than our general populace — does stand to make all the more clear how problematic something like the COPA would have been.

Unsurprisingly, I’ve also already read more than a handful of conservative outcries to this ruling because it means that all of America’s children will continue to be “exposed” to homosexuality. So, plenty of barely-informed folks may think this is all about making sure they’re able to keep getting as much porn as they like, but there was so much more riding on this that that, of far greater import. No one’s life will be grossly impacted by not getting as much porn as they’d like: the same can’t be said for not getting education, information and visibility.

The way the COPA was structured was based on what general “community standards” would find obscene, and if you think that porn would go in that pile before realistically sexually informing teenagers, before resistance TO porn (for bigger reasons than sparing the poor, wee children’s eyes) and other status-quo beloveds, before discussion and presentation of any kind of homosexuality and bisexuality, you gots to be kidding yourself. Bear in mind, too, who would have had the big money and the agency to fight a COPA ruling if it came to them. The heads at Hustler, Penthouse, Vivid, Bang Brothers and the like wouldn’t have spent a single day in jail, they’d have just written a check for the fines — if they even had to do that — and gone on with business as usual. Someone who does what I do and got whacked with it? Scarleteen would have just been off the map, period, and not having access to anything close to that kind of money, this gal’s butt would have been in jail, for at least six months, and while tens of thousands of teens each day would have been without a source to find out about their real bodies, or how to deal with a pregnancy, online pornography-at-large would have been sitting cozy and warm at home, no problem.

Anyway, it makes getting this — Plaintiff Heather Corinna is a writer, artist, sex-educator, and activist whose primary presence on the Web consists of Scarletletters.com, Scarleteen.com, and Femmerotic.com, “each of which deals with issues of sex and sexuality with an explicit focus on challenging and combating the sexual oppression of traditionally marginalized groups.” — into the public record small all the more sweet. Such a pity legal decisions like this one never end with the nice “Neener neener,” you’d really like them to.

This, from Judge Reed, came darn close, though: “Perhaps we do the minors of this country harm if First Amendment protections, which they will with age inherit fully, are chipped away in the name of their protection…”

Addendum: Oh, good LORD. Not that I expect anything different from Morality in Media, but this is just priceless.

“While this may come as a surprise to some federal court judges, many parents are overburdened and tired. Many are naive. Many don’t want to be overly strict, like their parents were. Many are ‘technologically challenged,’ like me. Many don’t speak English. Many have physical or mental health problems. Some neglect and abuse their own children.

Overburdened? Umm, since when was parenting mandatory? Oh, right! Since conservatives have done and continue to do everything they can to keep women from having a choice as to whether or not men have sex with them, from having any and every birth control method possible easily available to them (and access to materials and healthcare that tell them how to use those methods), and to keep women from having the right to terminate pregnancies. Silly me!

And, uh…okay, so we need to engage in censorship to help abusive parents protect their kids from sexual material, rather than putting efforts into protecting them from those PARENTS? We need to do everything we can to limit everyone else’s speech to help those pitiable, tired, burdened parents who can’t be sussed to BE parents? And English-speaking is now an issue? Wasn’t the conservative concern with this supposed to about keeping kids from seeing images of breasts, vulvas and homosexuals? Since when doesn’t the visual translate?

But even assuming that every parent with one or more computers in the home used filters at all times on each computer and even assuming that filters blocked all pornography and could not be circumvented by tech-savvy children, there would still be a huge problem — namely, as children get older they increasingly have access to the Internet outside the home.

As children get older and spend less and less time in the home that is because they are becoming ADULTS, you giant buffoon. But per usual, be sure and make this about pornography, and say the word pornography as much as possible to keep those parents terrified so they’ll behave the way you want them to.

…When it comes to ‘cyberspace,’ the federal courts think it is up to parents to keep children away from Internet pornography.”

Believe it or not, that was stated as a complaint. Of course, the beauty there is that conservatives want the feds to parent for them only in the way they would parent themselves if they could be bothered to do so, if they were not so “naive,” so “technically challenged” (love that one: so, we’re to believe your six-year-old can figure out how to work the net to find all the porn, but you can’t?) and so full of mental health problems. When the federal courts think it should NOT be up to parents per the ways their children are publically educated in many respects, particularly when it comes to sex, then the complaint is the the feds are butting in.

Yeah, well….neener neener.

Sunday, March 11th, 2007

It’s a hooray kind of day.

Hooray! I found a camera shop with a hardly-touched demo box model of my beloved old Canon, now discontinued. And for cheaper than I got the first one, no less, by a long shot. Now, if I can just sel the Olympus to be able to afford to get the other Canon repaired, I’ll have two that I can hang on to for some time. Note to self: no more bringing either on bike rides. Bring the old, crusty G2 instead, okay?

Hooray! Mark is en route from the airport right this minute with my Dad in tow. Idiot that I can be sometimes, when he said he’d love to fly during the day so he could see the views, I didn’t bear in mind that the daytime flight I found meant he needed to leave his awful neighborhood at 5 AM when it was still dark. So, glad to know he made it okay, and great to hear him kvetching about cell phones when Mark called. My Dad gives great kvetch, and I love him enough that I even miss his brand of bitching when he isn’t around.

Hooray! Can’t toss it up here just yet, but the mockup of the revised cover for the book, with the shots I chose, came in and it looks SO much better. Not only are they now totally unoffensive and bright and positive, they made a so-so cover design look pretty darn awesome. I’m supposed to have the finish on it soon that I can show off.

Hooray! It’s Sunday market day. The Ballard Sunday Open Market is one of my favorite parts of my neighborhood, and bless the west coast for the ability to have markets year round. Maybe I can drag my Dad down there so we can have some yummy goodies with dinner tonight.

Monday, February 26th, 2007

Apropos of nothing, every third thought in my head over the last few days, no matter the hour, has ended with a melodic, out-loud “And thank you lambies…”

I’ve at least stopped doing a soft-shoe when it happens.

Poor Mark. I don’t think I need to tell you who the Ernie is in this relationship.

Saturday, November 18th, 2006

Holy mother of god.

Now THAT (though we were at the one in Lynwood, not the Tacoma one) was one amazing afternoon. Actually, an amazing afternoon which led into a doubly amazing evening.

If there has ever been a time when I need a stretched out afternoon where I soaked in several tubs, steamed in several rooms, had every square inch of me vigorously scrubbed to a baby-soft sheen, had my hands massaged and hot wax soaked, had a lovely facial, and got to spend the day with my friend AND got to spend all of it in those sort of happy, comfortably naked, all-shapes/all-sizes body-positive women-only environment I love, it is this week.

I was trying to explain to Mr. Price the other day that the whooooooooosssssh I felt come off of me Wednesday night wasn’t just mental or physical exhuastion (certainly part of it), nor simply finishing something that long wanted finishing. It’s also about the fact that, especially over the past couple of months, the level of personal responsibility I have been carrying has been MONSTROUS. It’s not like I don’t weild enough of the stuff with everything I do already, but with the ACLU/COPA case on top of it and the book and all it is supposed to do, who it all needs to aim to serve, all the heavy issues weighing it (and me) down?

It was an awful lot of responsibility for one short person to carry, even for someone like me, who doesn’t have a problem dealing with responsibility. I can do it, for sure, but I’d prefer not to do it at that level very often.

In any event, by the time Ariel and I got back here from the bath house and had some chow, hung out and imbibed a bit with the aforementioned boyfriend (who was, when we got home, a bit in his cups), this girl was feeling pretty darn lusty. Mind, only the night before Mark and I had a very spontaneous roll in the proverbial hay, a good thing, since it had been around a week during deadline hell of no sex, which for me, is a tremendously long time.

(Yes, I’m the asshole everyone hates who, when single, if I’ve gone without a date for a month or two, will prattle on relentlessly about my terrible dry spell while my otjer single friends who haven’t had a partner to play with in a year shoot daggers at me from behind their eyes. Absolutely, a year is nightmare, no argument there. But two months IS a long time, okay? It is.)

By the time I was home I could NOT stop touching myself post-scrubby goodness and would bark out every two minutes “Feel my arm! Just touch it!” and “You will not BELIEVE how totally soft my butt is. I have baby butt. Baby butt!” All of which, of course, meant that within mere minutes of Ariel going home, it was, “Bloody hell, can we just go upstairs and have sex already?”

Before we lived together, when we shuttled across the country to see each other, we’d (obviously) often have the super-extended sex sessions. Now, when you do the math, we still have them just as often, it just seems like less often because we’re seeing one another every day, not every month, and there’s more of the shorter trysts in between the biggies.

We got to have a nice, long one.

It was seriously delicious, even for multi-orgasmic me (which is why I will ever stick to my guns when I tell people having trouble with orgasm to go get some bodywork done, on top of some other things, because not only do common sense and the basics of physiology support that approach, if it makes a testosterone-fueled chickadee like myself even that more high-key and that more blissed-out…well, come on, people).

One of those fabulous romps where all the stuff that’s only occasionally on your sexual menu, you bring in: all of it, all in one sitting (or standing, or squatting, or bending over, or….). One of those where if either of you has any tiny hangups at all, they’re just on vacation for the night. One of those where you only remember that you live in a 100-year-old wood frame house that is in very close proximity to the ears of others after you’ve wailed like a bean sidhe and yelled out things with your ex-opera-trained lungs that probably other people don’t find as enticing as you and yours.

I feel intensely bad for our neighbors. If I was a meat-eater, I’d deliver a pot roast, but delivery of a lentil loaf just seems like adding insult to injury.

What a fine, fine way to usher in my now-begun month-long sabbatical of sorts.

Wednesday, November 15th, 2006

One hundred and fifty-seven thousand, seven hundred and nine.

One hundred and fifty-seven thousand, seven hundred and nine words…

…(not counting some front and backmatter, which thankfully, I can deal with a few days from now) with which I am — at this precise moment — finished spending just too damn many years writing, researching, editing, rewriting, re-researching, re-editing then AGAIN re-researching, re-editing and spit-and-polishing an ungodly number of times.

I already had my happy cry. It was intense.

I need a bath.

And my bed.

Addendum: To be filed under Y for Yep, our bodies are as amazing as I just wrote they are: in my insane stretch of nonstop, hyperfocused 16 hour + workdays and so little sleep, I hadn’t even noticed my period was several days late.

Until I got it, not even two hours after I finally crossed the finish line. And it’s the mean ovary/tube (we can never figure out who the culrpit is), too, so getting whacked with it mid-steam would have totally broken my stride. It’s like my body and my brain made a deal. How cool is that?

Brain: “Our deadline is nigh, and it is imperative we complete this task, well and on time. Is there any way we could perchance enter into negotiations to forstall your reproductive process?”

Body: “Dude, I don’t know WHAT the hell you just said. I’m SO wasted: we haven’t slept for days. All that damn coffee’s got me all nervous, then I gotta sit still all day, and I feel all… whack.”

Brain: “I empathize completely. I acknowledge it hasn’t been easy on you; it’s been challenging for me, as well. But if you could just set your needs aside for but a few more days, including your required shedding of endometrial tissue, I’m sure we can design a compromise.”

Body: “Endo me– ohhhhhhh. I getcha. The crampy thing. Yeah, okay. Howsabout if I wait, you get me some sleep, a couple Advil, a lotta cookies, then buzz off so I can get some tail and then grab a spin outside?”

Brain: “Your terms are acceptable.”

Body: “Uhhh..whatever.”

Thanks, adrenaline! Thanks, my body!