Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Epiphanies Come From the Strangest Places

I've been reading this blog called Mark Reads, specifically his chapter by chapter reviews of one of my all time favorite series, which just happen to be the books that started me reading fantasy in the first place, The Song of the Lioness Quartet by Tamora Pierce.  Her books are amazing coming of age stories and often focus on strong, female characters (right up my alley!).  In the second book of the series, Pierce includes a sexual relationship between the main character and a friend of hers.  It's important to remember that these are young adult fiction, published in the 80s, and she's got a female character having sex with someone without being in a relationship with them.  Completely awesome, right?  I read these books for the first time somewhere between 1992-1994 and have reread them more times than I can count since then.  The blog review I'm reading about book two phrased it like this: "To have this sexual relationship presented so plainly and without shame is fantastic. Major, major props to you, Tamora Pierce."  I've read these books so many times, but I never really put the feeling I got from this particular section in quite this way and now I wish I had.

I realized several years ago that I had created some of the things that I find attractive for myself by what shows I watched during high school (especially the long haired look on guys, thank you Adrian Paul as Duncan MacLeod), but I hadn't thought about how the things I read and watched growing up could have informed my willingness to and love of having my friends make up a significant portion of my sexual partner base.  We are our own creations, and it's important to remember that.  As much as our parents and environments shape us, we shape our selves by what we choose to consume, media-wise.

Self discovery is an interesting and ongoing process.  So is self creation.

Rape and the GOP

I just posted this on Facebook and thought I'd share it here, too.  "I have no indignation left.  No surprise.  It's all been drained from me as the blows keep coming.  There is no violation of another person's body that is ok!  If there is no consent, then it is rape.  And I'm not talking about rape play or other consensual non-consent kinks.  Those are a completely different animal.  I'm talking about date rape, stranger rape, she's-my-wife-and-therefore-owes-me-sex-when-I-want-it rape.  I'm talking about removing someone's sense of self so you can have power over them, rape.  None of these are ever ok.

The so called Christian leaders who espouse these vile positions are performing a different kind of rape: the rape of our rights.  They are violating every single person in this country, be they female, male, genderqueer, trans, or cis.  They are violating our individual choices and they are ignoring our boundaries.  It is time for all of us to stand up and tell them NO!  If they believe that it is only rape if the victim shouts, then this is me shouting, because I am tired of being their victim.  Are you?"

It's in response to this infographic.  I might be out of surprise, but I don't seem to be out of anger.

I am human.  I am female.  I am an American.  It is my right to determine my own life.  It is my right to choose when or if I have children.  IF I am raped, and I get pregnant from it, it is my right to choose to end that pregnancy.  As an American, it is my right as guaranteed by the First Amendment to not have a state religion forced on me, and make no mistake, that is what these GOP politicians are trying to do, some of them more openly than others.

I truly do not understand how any woman can vote for the GOP as it stands today and look herself in the mirror.  I just don't.  A vote for Romney is a vote for misogyny and homophobia.

ETA: I tagged this "sex" and then realized that I had unconsciously played into the rape culture.  It has no been retagged "rape", as it should be.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

National Coming Out Day

Today is National Coming Out Day.  I support all of those folks who have come out and all of those folks who haven't, for whatever reason.  Coming out as bi, gay, poly, trans, or anything else isn't easy.  Our society doesn't make it easy.  Being different is opening the door to being vilified and abused.  But we can change all that and that's why there's a National Coming Out Day.  It's easier to be different if you know you're not the only one.  Ironic, isn't it?

I try to be open and honest about who I am, but I still let that fear of being bullied and misunderstood control me.  Every year for the last 8 or more I've watched from the sidelines of Coming Out Day.  I've watched, but I haven't participated.  I've rationalized it because my close friends and family already know all my secrets, so why would I need to come out to anyone else?  But if I don't, how can I really think of myself as being truly open and honest about who I am?  I hate hypocrisy and this treads the line way too close for my own comfort.  So, this year, I'm not letting it pass me by.

I'm bi, poly, cis and I love to talk about sex.

For those of you who feel safe enough to come out, know that today (and most other days) you're not alone!

Oh, and if anyone has any questions about being bisexual or poly, feel free to ask!

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Expert's Guide to Pegging review


Pegging (for those unfamiliar with the word) is the term used for a female bodied person penetrating a male bodied person anally using a strap-on dildo.
Tristan Taormino's Expert's Guide to Pegging was her Valentine's gift to the world this year, and I just love how she introduces the topic, and how she talks about the fears people may have about pegging.  The anatomy lesson is great and full of info that is useful for both beginners and more experienced players.  I love how much Tristan loves her topic.  It’s one of the things that makes her videos so much fun to watch.  The first things she goes over are some of the basics like hygiene and lube, with really good information about both these topics starting the ball rolling.

Tristan gives lots of detail on the types and stages of warm-up are great for anal play, taking us from oral stimulation through using more and more fingers, up through different types of toys that will help get the butt ready for pegging.

The next section is all about strap-on harnesses and dildos and there's tons of great info and images on different types of harnesses and dildos.  This section made me grab mine and get them more or less fitted how I want!  I love hearing from Jiz, Dylan and Jada about how they feel while strapping.  So nice to hear a lot of the things I have a hard time articulating spoken by such sexy people!!

After talking about the harnesses,  Tristan gives some great info on the most common positions, with her couples playing them out in short cut scenes.  So much information and inspiration here!

Dylan Ryan and Wolf Hudson: Love the slow make out session to start things off and the phenomenal communication at each step of the way.  They have amazing chemistry and are having a ton of fun with each other.  After tons of amazing looking foreplay, Dylan in her harness, with the lovely purple dong and its little vibe are so hot.  Love watching her talk him into the position she wants him in.  So.  Fucking.  HOT!!!!  Watching Dylan putting the Share from Fun Factory in brings back memories.  The end for the active partner is just as awesome as the end for the receiving partner.

Jada Fire and Christian: Love hearing them talk about pegging and what they think other people think about anal sex, from both ends.  And their advice for first timers is right on: Don’t just shove it in.  I love that Jada and Christian went a different route to start things off: a good fucking to get them both hot and bothered before starting the prep work for her pegging him.  Shows that there are many paths that can be taken to get to the same place, something I think gets forgotten a lot of the time when it comes to sex by a lot of people.  Going from fingers to butt plug and to the strap-on makes so much sense.  It makes sure your partner is good and ready for you!  Jada’s harness almost matches her skin color, and so does the dildo, which is pretty neat.  Makes it look more like the dildo is a part of her.  There is something just completely hot about a big guy like Christian taking it up the ass and loving it!  All this makes me wonder how I can gain more cock confidence of my own when I don’t have a lot of opportunity to use my strap-on…  I must say that I always appreciate any type of porn that doesn’t involve the guy gratuitously coming on the woman’s face.

Jiz Lee and Mickey Mod:  The gender aspect to pegging hasn’t been talked about much so far, but it’s not surprising the hear Jiz bring it up or that Mickey has many of the same ideas about the subject.  It’s really fun to watch Jiz cataloging what Mickey says he enjoys during anal play.  Hearing Mickey say that he hasn’t had an orgasm yet from just receiving anal sex makes for a nice window into the reality of a porn star’s sex life.  There tend to be assumptions that porn stars have done it all and that there’s nothing new left for them in the realms of sex play.  Nice to hear otherwise!  There is something truly mesmerizing about watching Jiz wield their strap-on.  It really seem like the dildo is an extension of Jiz’s body.  Jiz and Mickey have amazing chemistry and really good communication.  Mickey knows what he likes and is great about letting Jiz know what that is.  Anytime I see safer sex play in porn, I want to cheer!  It just doesn’t happen enough and it’s always nice to know that being safer can still be hella hot.

The special features on this disc include more info on selecting a strap-on harness, an enema how-to, and solo prostate play for the guys!  Tristan always seems to pack as much great info and hot sex into her offerings as she can and it makes them an even better deal.

Take it slow.  Talk to your partner.  And don’t forget, just because you start off with strap-on play, doesn’t mean you have to end there, also, just because you start with anything else, doesn’t mean you can’t end with strap-on play.  These are my main take aways from this amazing DVD.  Once again, Tristan Taormino has found amazingly hot people who have phenomenal chemistry and given us all a beautiful ride!

Haunted by Kelley Armstrong

The Women of the Otherworld series covers a lot of ground in just a few books and bringing Eve into the picture shows just how much it covers.  Eve is the self appointed black sheep of the witch race, and she never learned to look before she leaps.  Her impetuousness, cliche though it may be, is her greatest strength and her greatest weakness.  She's a great spellcaster, a half-demon, a former track star and a decent martial artist, but if she didn't make snap decisions without all the facts, she wouldn't be where she is at the start of the book, or at any other point in it, to be truthful.

Haunted takes place mostly in the afterlife and deals as much with the pain of being able to see those left behind as it does with catching the bad guy.  Pretty much everyone who has ever lost someone has wondered if their loved one was there watching them, hoping they were and afraid to hope at the same time.  Now we get to see the other side of the coin.  Possibly the best thing to take away from this book is not to let regret hold you in one place too long.  As much as Eve takes action without thinking things through, she's also stuck in one spot, trying to make up for leaving her daughter behind.  But if you can't talk to someone, can't touch them, and they don't even know you're there, you can't actually help them or save them or even be real for them and that is just completely futile.

 It takes a while for that futility to come home to Eve, and if it didn't eventually, I wouldn't have made it through the whole book.  I'm not going to go into more detail than that, because too much in the way of spoilers is no fun for anyone.


All in all, this is another great entry in the series and I'm still loving being a part of this great challenge.  Next up, Broken!

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Fear

I must not fear.
Fear is the mind-killer.
Fear is the little-death that brings total obliteration.
I will face my fear.
I will permit it to pass over me and through me.
And when it has gone past I will turn the inner eye to see its path.
Where the fear has gone there will be nothing.
Only I will remain.
 - Frank Herbert, Dune

When I think of fear and overcoming it, this is what I think of.  The Bene Gesserit Litany Against Fear.  And that's because it's absolutely true.  Fear will kill you quicker than anything else.  You will still be walking around, but you will be dead inside.  If you let fear take you over then you just haven't lain down yet, but you are dead where it truly counts.

I spend more time than I want to admit living in fear.  I fear disappointing those around me.  I fear taking the wrong step so much that some days I don't take any at all and that is never the right choice.  I even fear succeeding at the things I want to succeed at.

I really want to feel truly free to write whatever comes to my mind on this blog, but I fear the reactions of those closest to me.  I would hate to hurt them because of something I said on here.

I am not the most private person.  My concept of modesty involves figuring out what the people around me are comfortable with and trying not to overstep that line.  This extends itself to pretty much every part of my life.  I will talk about the deep details of any number of things most people believe are improper topics for public discussion, sex and its related subjects being the most obvious of those.  Not talking about something tends to make me feel rather uncomfortable and yet, the fear of offending or freaking out my friends makes me break out in a fine sweat.  How does one balance this when keeping your mouth shut is not the default response for you?

I'm tired of letting fear rule me, and yet I still value the good will of those closest to me that I continue to hesitate letting go and actually saying what I'm truly thinking at any given moment.  There must be a better way.

Saturday, June 30, 2012

Industrial Magic Review

For me, Dime Store Magic is where this series finds its feet and then Industrial Magic lives up to the expectations set up previously.  Paige is finally growing up and becoming an actual person, instead of living the life others expect of her.  The evolution of the characters is almost tangible.  This is not to say that there aren't still some moments of wanting to shout at the book because the character "on screen" is about to make a huge mistake and they don't recognize it, but that happens with pretty much every book, movie, and tv show out there.

The pacing of this book was really good.  One scene leads into the next with the kind of flow that makes you realize it's suddenly 3am and you have work in the morning.  I also really liked how characters from previous books were reintroduced and a few completely new characters that had only been talked about but never actually seen got some time on stage.  In the first two books of the series, things were focused on Elaina, but Paige got introduced.  In the next two books we see lots of Paige, a little bit of Elaina, and are introduced to our next main character, if memory serves.  I think this is a great way to keep a cast of characters fresh but also tied in to each others lives.

The thing I think I want most out of any book is a need to read the next one and Industrial Magic has me needing to pick up Haunted and devour it, too!

Monday, April 30, 2012

Stolen Book Review

Kelley Armstrong's second Women of the Otherworld book finds Elena in the clutches of a crazy billionaire and a team of scientists trying to understand what makes her tick.  It also introduces her to the wider world of supernaturals she never knew existed.

I just don't get how a werewolf could be skeptical of the existence of vampires or witches.  It baffles me every time I read this book, and it's the fact that the character herself comments on her incredulity saves that part of the book for me. 

For me this book is more about what makes a monster than anything else.  Is it turning furry on occasion and having a huge appetite?  Or maybe needing to drink the blood of others.  What about if your father was a demon?  Would that make you a monster?  Or is it the fact that you place your own entertainment above the lives of others?  That you will hunt thinking beings and shoot them in cold blood?  That sounds a lot more monstrous to me than any of the others.  Well, except maybe the drinking the blood of others, depending on whether or not they die in the process...

The scientists have a mixed bag of motives and I can't completely disagree with their goals.  I don't like the way they went about answering the questions they had about the beings they captured.  Predictably those that were captured also didn't appreciate the methods and eventually let everyone know in the most obvious ways possible.

Overall, I enjoyed Stolen more than Bitten, since the relationship issues of Bitten have been worked out and partly resolved.  The people we get introduced to, at least the ones who aren't kidnappers, are very interesting and  I look forward to getting to know them in the novels to come.

For the Challenge!

Here's are the pics of the Kelley Armstrong books I currently own. I've got a ways to go... ;-)


Thursday, March 29, 2012

Have you been Bitten lately?

I'm a huge fan of urban fantasy.  Were-creatures, vampires, magic users and gods and demons showing up and mingling in our everyday world?  What's not to love?  I can't pinpoint where my love of urban fantasy started, but I know who has fostered it: Laurell K Hamilton, Simon R Green and Mercedes Lackey are just a few that spring to mind.  Kelley Armstrong is another author who has built an amazing world using ours as her foundation.

The first book in her Women of the Otherworld series is Bitten and she's finishing off her series with the aptly titles Thirteen, the thirteenth book in the series.  In celebration of this I've decided to be a part of a reading challenge to read one book from the series per month, until I'm done.  Here's a link to the challenge for those who are curious: Otherworld Reading Challenge

I love rereading books.  Especially when it's been long enough that I can't remember everything that happens in them.  Makes things all fresh and new.  Alright, on to the review.  I'll try to keep the spoilers to a minimum, but they'll probably happen.

Things I liked: The protagonist is a strong female character who doesn't want to be protected by the hulking guys around her.  Elena's trying to live her own life and get away from the insanity of being a werewolf.  I can't say that I blame her.  This book is a very good opener to the series and Elena is a character you can root for.

Things I didn't like: I'm not a fan of some of the relationships in the book.  They take codependency to a whole new level.  Actually, that sums up pretty much everything that I don't like about the book.  The relationships were crazy making.  Oh, and at least one interesting sounding character never gets actual screen time, dying before they get the chance to come to fruition.

Overall, a fun read.  If Ms. Armstrong couldn't make her characters real, I wouldn't care about their relationships or how frustrating they are to read about.  If I didn't want to befriend Elena, I wouldn't have finished the book.  If I hadn't rooted for them to win, I wouldn't be looking forward to the next book and seeing what happens next.  If you like urban fantasy and are looking for a new series to read, I recommend starting with Bitten and seeing where it take you.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

The Perils of Sensitive Skin

My whole life I've had amazingly sensitive skin.  Sometimes this is a blessing, because each touch can feel like something so much more.  Sometimes this is a curse, because I can't wear polyester or rough woven cloth of any kind.  Wool is not my friend.  My skin gets irritated very easily and I scar like there's no tomorrow.  I also have to be careful about the soaps I use and the lotions I choose.  Between my skin sensitivity and my allergies, I can be in very dire straits if I'm not careful.  When I was very young I learned to not use regular soap because of the bizarre ring that formed on my cheek after washing my face.

I started a new job almost two weeks ago and discovered after the first two shifts that the shirts were abrading my torso.  So I started wearing a tank under my work shirt and my torso didn't get any worse.  It took some getting used to, since I don't layer at all well.  I'm the girl who wears a winter jacket with a t-shirt underneath.  At the end of this last week, I noticed the back of my right hand was itching.  I didn't really think much about it, just scratched it and continued on.  On Friday, I noticed the back of my hand was covered in bumps.  Near as I can tell, I've got contact dermatitis from vinyl gloves I have to wear at work.  Almost no one is allergic to vinyl gloves, that's why they use them.  I'm one of the "lucky" few I guess.

When I went in for my shift today, I reported what happened and filled out all the fun paperwork, since it was work related, and was told that I was to go home, my shift was covered today and tomorrow and I wasn't to return to work until I was ok'd to use their gloves.  I had actually brought nitrile gloves from home so I could work today, but I guess that's not acceptable.  We'll see what urgent care has to say on the matter in the morning. :-/

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Things we rarely talk about

There are a lot of things that we never really talk about openly.  Most women I know have been taught from a young age that they will have a yearly exam that includes checking their breast and vaginal health, but we don't really talk about it openly.  It's an important part of our general health, but gods forbid we talk openly about something that keeps us in the know about the likelihood of having cervical cancer, which can be a silent killer.  Breast cancer is a huge concern and yet, many of us don't do monthly exams at home which means that unless we get lucky, the yearly exam from our OB/GYN or the clinician at Planned Parenthood might be the best chance to catch the tell-tale lump early enough to do some good.  In the interest of opening things up and bringing important issues into the light, I'm going to share about my annual exam that I had just this week.

I go to Planned Parenthood for my sexual health needs, and have since I was in high school.  It's the most consistent health provider I've ever had.  Because of the nature of the clinic, it can take a long time to actually be seen by the clinician.  In other words, make sure you have a lot of time for your appointment.  I had the added joy of having to deal with some insurance issues, which did nothing good for my state of mind.  I've had an annual exam every year since I was about 16 or 17, and yet I still view them as an evil, a necessary one, but still.  Between the fact that my mom had pre-cancer of the cervix and that my grandmother died of lymphatic cancer that spread to her breast, long before I was born, I'm both afraid of the results of the tests that are done at these exams and am realistic about their necessity.

After waiting longer than I liked, I finally got called back.  First there was the weighing, which is never fun.  Then I got to talk to the medical assistant about why I was there that day.  An annual exam is also a great time to have STI testing done, the most commonly offered tests being for chlamydia, gonorrhea and HIV.  The testing for the first two involved peeing in a cup, which is one of those times most women wish they had different plumbing because it's not easy for us with girly bits.  The HIV testing is now easy, but kinda painful. All it takes now a days is a finger stick test for HIV and get you the results in 10 minutes.  The possible results are Reactive, Nonreactive and Inconclusive.  Nonreactive is the result you want.  For the other two tests, you have to wait something like two weeks, and hearing nothing is a good thing.

I told the MA that I was wanting to talk about switching my birth control to NuvaRing from the pill.  She gave me some info on it and walked me through the important points.  Hormone-wise, there's not much difference between the two, but the NuvaRing has a much lower dose of hormone, since it's being more directly absorbed.  I had done some research on it on my own, but talking to someone in person helps with all the niggling details.  I also was asked if I wanted any emergency contraception or condoms.  Since I've still got a number of condoms, I just opted for the EC.

After all this, it was time to meet with the clinician and get to the meat of the appointment.  For those who haven't had or heard about what happens at an annual exam for women, it involves stripping down completely and wearing nothing but a paper sheet across your lap and a paper vest over your chest.  This makes for easy access for the exam, while maintaining an illusion of modesty.  After talking to you for a few minutes about your medical history and your other concerns, the exam itself starts.  The clinician examines your thyroid, listens to your lungs, your heart, and your belly to make sure your organs and lymph nodes are all doing fine.

Then comes the breast exam.  This starts the part of the exam that's both intensely personal and yet very impersonal.  The clinician examines each breast individually to check for lumps or anything out of place.  This involves flat fingered pressing over every inch of the breast and then checking the nipples for discharge.  My husband had found something about a month ago that didn't feel quite right and so I made sure to tell my clinician about it so she could check it out for me.  Turns out it is just part of the muscle that's more pronounced on the right because of my righthanded-ness.  Huge relief for me and she gave props to the hubby for his catch.

After the breast exam, comes the dreaded stirrups.  This is the pelvic part of the exam.  I was informed that because of new guidelines and improved testing, I didn't have to have a PAP smear done, unless something didn't look right during her exam of my cervix.  This meant (maybe) no giant q-tip on my cervix!  The pelvic involves an external and internal examination of the pelvic region.  The internal exam involves the use of a speculum, so the clinician can get a good look at the cervix and see if there are any abnormalities.  After the speculum is removed, then the clinician checks to see if there's anything abnormal with the ovaries and uterus.  This means having one hand inside the vagina and one on the outside over the target organs and kinda squishing them to make sure they're in the proper places and haven't become painful or malformed.  If this sounds uncomfortable, that's because it is.

After that, the exam is over and I could finally get dressed again as the clinician went to get my new birth control.  No PAP smear for me until my next annual!

This is the yearly ordeal that women go through.  It's not fun, it's not comfortable, but it is necessary and very, very important.  It's equally important for guys to have a yearly exam that I'm sure is equally fun, but many of them aren't conditioned to it like a lot of women are.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Sorry about the absence...

Wow.  I've been sorely lacking in keeping up this blog.  Well, I'll try to change that in the future.  I assure you all that I'm still alive and kicking!