Category Archives: Uncategorized

New edition soon

I’m putting the finishing touches on  “More Exposed.” It’s hard to describe the year that has gone into this.

The new book is an elaboration of the original, “Exposed.” It’s longer by about a third, with more detail, more editing, and much better, I think. You will be the judge. There is a new publisher, and here we have a new but temporary website. I’m going to post chapters, or parts of chapters, here.

Tell me what you think.

 

You don’t know why, either.

Hi there!

Yes, its been a long while since I’ve written. Here.

In fact, I’ve been doing a lot of writing, lately. The second edition of “Exposed” is nearly complete. Oh my! What a project! When I embarked on a rewrite six months ago, I had NO IDEA what I was opening up. But, it’s worth it, and I hope you’ll agree. I’ll be sharing excerpts over the next few months as it goes through the editing process.

AND, the first draft of the second book is FINISHED! The working title is Dragonfly, and I’m excited to get back on that.

The reason I’m writing today is because I saw an article in the magazine “Science News” this morning. The upshot is that the microbes in our bodies may affect our moods, and hence our behavior.

“Though preliminary, such results suggest that the right bacteria in your gut could brighten mood and perhaps even combat pernicious mental disorders including anxiety and depression. The wrong microbes, however, might lead in a darker direction.”

Then there was a book review in the New York Times titled “Sext and the Single Girl” that wonders if women are getting the sex they want or need from their current lifestyles.

How do I tie these references together? Yeah, it’s a stretch, but here goes.

First, women will not get what they want or need out of sex until each determines exactly what that is, and it’s not easy to do so. It is even more difficult when there are conflicting demands: Blow job for a man who doesn’t want to return the favor? Eyes for the muscle bound gym-boy on the third week of this month but the CPA on the fourth? Etc.

If our microbiome is also at large in this process, in addition to our heredity and memories from a forgotten childhood, how the hell are we supposed to know what we want, and why?

The fact is, we often don’t until we’ve tried it, and even then it may change. We need to stop judging ourselves for how that goes down, or we do, if that’s what we feel like at the time.

Free will may not be our prerogative in the best of times, and certainly not when it comes to “the passions.” I don’t know. You don’t know, either. Don’t be too harsh, toward yourself or others.

That’s all.

It’s nice to be back.

~ Jessica

Where does desire go?

One of my favorite writers, Tom robbins, once asked, “Where does love go?” That one is too complicated for me. So I’ll just ask, where does desire go?

A long time ago (that’s relative, right?) I was told that “romantic love” or “passionate love” evolved to last about  18 months. Then it was to be replaced by something more lasting.

“The only way to hang on to the ‘in love’ feelings, as opposed to loving someone, is to create drama,” said my advisor. He was a wise and learned man, but I still resented the message.

I wanted to feel the rush of sexual tension whenever I saw my love. I wanted to want him as badly the 1000th time we went to bed as the first time. I wanted to crave his scent, the texture of his skin under my finger tips, the feel of his lips on my curves and hollows.

Where does that go?

When did brushing out my hair become more important than holding him in my arms? When did correcting an annoying mannerism become more important than protecting his feelings? When did judgement replace acceptance?

I can hold my tongue, but how do I refresh my feelings? I can fake anything I choose to fake, but how do I convince myself something is true when I don’t believe it is. If I am the problem, how do I get a handle on what I’ve lost, and give it back?

“You have to answer the question: is it better to accept what is, or better to wish for what can’t be? Is stability better than chaos? If you’re not satisfied with the relationship, can it become something else, or do you want to end it and go through this cycle again with someone new?”

It may be more mature to accept those options, but I didn’t like them when I heard them the first time and I don’t much like them now. Even more now, for some reason, as the holiday season draws near.

Sex, Love and Money

My friend Sarah has a sugar daddy. I’ve met him. I like him, though he’s not my type. “Robert” helps Sarah out with a monthly allowance, and she gives him something he wants. Sex? Sure. But much more than that, too.

Sarah respects Robert, and what he’s accomplished in life. She’s interested in how his world works, a world far different than the one in which she spends most of her days. She asks him about that and loves the stories he tells.

There’s an age difference, but it doesn’t seem to bother either one of them.

So why does it bother you? Is it the fact that money is involved? Is it the fact there’s a “soft” contract, an understanding of expectations? An “exchange?” That it’s not a relationship based solely on “love?”

Hmmmm. I’m sure you could find an analog in more than one marriage you’ve observed in maybe the last… day?

Sarah says one of the things she likes best about their “arrangement” is that Robert is respectful of boundaries in ways that boyfriends never were.

“He makes time for me in his schedule. He doesn’t blow me off to go get high, or because he has a hangover. He doesn’t make demands when I want to be with friends, family, or even ask if I have a “boyfriend.” Our time together is “our” time, and when we’re apart, we communicate, but in a non possessive way.

“Yes, he helps me out with expenses. Yes, people will judge me for that. And him. They judge us for our age difference. But I like him, I’m attracted to him, and each of us is free at any time to do something different. What’s wrong with that?” she asks.

“I like helping Sarah, taking pressure off her life,” Robert says. “Some will say I’m trapping her with my money.  I think of it as offering opportunity. Sarah can use my support to go back to school, or buy a bauble. But that’s not for me to say. A trap? What about the trap of those who say ‘marry a rich man’ and pretend it’s about love? I have no wife, too little time, and am cheating on no one. Don’t judge me.”

Marriage is a contract too, only a not very good one by most accounts, because it doesn’t stipulate the conditions under which it will end. Sarah’s “arrangement” with Robert is much more realistic. When it’s over, it’s over. And either can declare it over.

“I think our arrangement promotes a healthy relationship,” says Sarah. “I have attributes and I’m not helpless. If Robert doesn’t treat me with respect, I move on. If I fail to show up, he moves on. He’s an attractive, interesting man with resources. Many women would be interested.”

As I looked at my own bias, I discovered I can be reactively judgmental, without reason. The key was to keep pushing my opinions around until they exposed themselves as … opinions. A point of view. A set of values that often come down to, “This is what’s right for me.”

Which I believe is a perfectly logical and defensible stance.

But personal.

Sarah says she’s not going to fall in love with Robert, because she knows it’s not forever. But in this era, what relationship is forever? Marriage? Snort. Marriage isn’t forever for most of us.

Sarah has to avoid a deep financial dependance that leaves her desperate when it’s over. Robert has to understand that he’s aging, and Sarah still has many more years of vibrant life that she deserves to live. There will be loss, there will be pain.

Many of us have fallen in love with someone we are not with today. Many of us experience soft moments of mourning, a sweet melancholy, for that lost love, too, that can last years if not decades.

Boob envy

At the gym, I was lifting weights close to two women who were on adjacent treadmills talking about a friend of theirs who had just gotten a “boob job.”

“Why why why did she get one?” asked one. “They just sit on top of her chest like a pair of Texas grapefruit.”

“Because her husband is an asshole,” said the other. “She hopes it will  fix everything wrong in their relationship. She doesn’t need bigger boobs. She needs a bigger husband.”

We all laughed, though afterwards, I thought it interesting the “insult” was also related to an assumption about “size.” The husband may be an asshole, and we all know a boob job won’t fix a lousy marriage. Right? But I don’t know if husband bought wife a boob job for her birthday, or if wife got a boob job for his.

Some women get boob jobs without a man around to please. They want to feel more attractive, to fill out clothes or a bathing suit. Perhaps they believe all men like women with bigger boobs, or maybe they don’t think about men, at all.

I don’t know that men can be blamed for this. Not all men find huge breasts attractive. My friend Billy says he’s mostly attracted to slim, small breasted women, and he prefers the touch of natural, regardless of size.

The topic of “objectification” is complicated, and I don’t think it’s well-understood.

Biological entities, we send biological messages when we present with breasts that sag and appear half empty (half-full doesn’t seem more positive, for some reason), and we send different messages with breasts that overflow a “D” cup.

As social entities, we are sending messages when those breasts are completely covered and nearly invisible at a concert, and a different message when a nipple wants to be seen by the room, from over the top or from the side on its own exhibitionist mission.

Because we are both biological and social, we send and receive mixed messages all the time. Our biology may be saying “I’m fertile and ready to bear children, come with me,” at the same time our social message may be saying, “Touch me and I’ll hurt you.”

These communications change over time. Layers of fat used to be the depiction of beauty. Not any more. Hollow cheek models have become so slim that France, of all places, recently “outlawed” the use of seemingly anorexic models in advertising because of the negative influence on “healthy” young women.

What we find “beautiful” changes, and sexual attraction is, by itself, dynamic in a relationship. We are built that way. As one of my favorite author’s once wrote, “There’s no aphrodisiac like a little strange stuff.”

At the same time, we all want to feel attractive, and we all want to be loved for who we are.

If a woman goes through that painful and dangerous surgery to satisfy the whim of a man, there’s a chance he might not be around long after scars disappear. There’s a chance she’s trying to fill a void, but not on her chest.

On the other hand, if a new pair of boobs helps her stand taller, either barefoot or in heels, wearing anything else or not, in public or in private, it’s her choice. That’s what’s important to me: that she made the decision, for reasons of her own.

Science of our infidelity

What if promiscuity was the result of brain wiring? What if that wiring was the result of inherited genes that impact us in ways we can not possibly anticipate?

What if what we want in a partner changes over time — not because anything happened but just because time had passed? What if infidelity isn’t “his fault” or “her fault” but caused by an invisible process outside of anyone’s control?

This musing was sparked by an article by Dr. Richard A. Friedman, professor of clinical psychiatry at Weill Cornell Medical College. Read that article here.

I’ll jump to Dr. Friedman’s conclusion and work backwards: “For some, there is little innate temptation to cheat; for others, sexual monogamy is an uphill battle against their own biology.”

The  “biology” or propensity toward infidelity, appears to be linked to the amount and location of hormones, or receptors for those hormones, in our brains and are the result of genetic “programming.” Oxytocin and vasopressin are especially relevant. These impact behavior. In fact, according to one study, “Forty percent of the variation in promiscuous behavior in women could be attributed to genes.”

Men have their own variants. Evolution has favored men who spread their genes far and wide: i.e., prone to infidelity. But I’d like to rephrase that: Evolution favors genes able to spread far and wide through behavior of the organism in which they are carried, and that they influence to favor that spreading.

Some of you are now thinking I use this to justify any and all sorts of behavior, but that’s not the case. There are other biological forces at work as well, and social forces, etc. In the overlapping circles of self, family and society, there are many competing forces at work. It’s a pretty dynamic system. Understanding the causes of behavior does not change the fact that certain behaviors are destructive and painful.

At the same time, accurate understanding can at least mitigate that pain, and possibly reduce  the destruction. Continuing with mistaken beliefs not only prolongs pain and destruction, but often adds to it.

A partner cheating on us can lead to the belief that we are inadequate, when the real cause has little to do with us and is result of that partner’s wiring. It can be confusing when the cheating partner doesn’t know the real cause of their own behavior and blames us for being “inattentive.”

Dr. Friedman writes of a friend: “… (she had a) propensity for sexual exploration that seemed in some ways independent of the emotional status of her relationships.”

For those prone to exploration, we might believe our partner has become boring, when it is in fact our own wiring that causes us to seek new stimulation. Nothing changed for them. We do not need to judge them as lacking when our wandering is internal to us.

At the same time, belief that a partner is “immoral” or that they simply choose to hurt us, or are indifferent to our pain is probably not true and diminishes the joy that once existed.

All that said, we do not always get what we want. Hard decisions still have to be made. But to make those decisions well, we have to recognize that differences between people exist, and often for historical and/or biological reasons that are nobody’s fault.

But we still have to decide what we are willing to live with, and what we are willing to risk. There are no guarantees.

Who do you find attractive?

What if our sexual preferences begin to form in childhood?

I don’t mean whether we are straight of gay or asexual or voracious or something in between or that encompasses it all or something completely different.

I mean what we find attractive, but within our sexuality “type.”

To keep it simple, and acknowledge the gross oversimplification of this speculation, let’s pretend that heterosexual girls begin to form their sexual attraction preferences with their fathers, at an age where they have no clue what’s happening, maybe even infancy. And that (straight) boys begin their sexual wiring based on their mothers, at the same age.

Let’s say dad is a particular body type and the relationship between father and daughter is warm, loving and nurturing. I wonder if later in life, women with that kind of dad will be sexually attracted to that shape of man. And if boys who develop in a healthy way with mom, if she is skinny or plump might direct his desire later in life.

At the same time, if Dad is harsh or scary or dismissive, I wonder if daughter will shy away from that kind of man. If mom is indifferent or unreachable or angry, if boys will subliminally look for someone who does not  look anything like her.

And here’s an odd twist: Does the preference wiring have to occur, and sometimes have to focus on adults outside the family unit, possibly those who offer a child what is emotionally needed? Or if biology requires that a model be found regardless of suitability, if sometimes that model is nurturing and sometimes debilitating?

What happens to sexuality if the model is taken from the child’s environment (death, divorce, war) before the process is done with it?

Since we are indulging in wild speculation, let’s add to the mix the social taboos about getting too close to daddy or mommy as one is forming all these brain connections. DON’T DO THAT!” What happens as the child acquires now-self-directed anxieties that were foisted upon them (us) as they (we) began to experience things they (we) could not possibly recognize, let alone understand.

I have no articles, no Freudian analyses, nor modern science to justify any of this absurd opining. As my friend Billy says, (neglected by an obese mom, only attracted to skinny women): “Just sayin…”

I need your help!

Something is happening with Exposed and it might be — just might be — pretty wonderful.

Last week we dropped the price to 99¢ for the ebook. I didn’t know whether to make the change permanent, or just part of a weekend promotion. I finally decided to keep it at that price for one month, and I’d decide what to do from there.

Nothing much happened. But then on Saturday, we got a serious uptick in the rankings. For two days, we were in the top one percent of the million or so ebooks on Amazon, and in the top 40 in our categories.

The numbers have fallen off a bit, but not nearly as sharply as they have in the past after a spike.

That’s where you come in, dear readers. I’d really like the momentum to keep going. I’d like to be in the top 5,000 of all ebooks sold.

So if you will buy an ebook here, and write a review that’s posted on Amazon, send me a receipt and I will send you two of the hottest chapters of the new book, Crosscurrents in .pdf format. This offer is limited to the first 200 readers who respond.

The first 100 who respond and who write a review on Amazon, will  get in addition to the chapters  a personal email from me, and I’ll send them a paperback copy of Exposed for $7. That’s less than half price, and more than I make on the book. I’ll eat the postage, too, which is about $4.

The first 25 who respond, and who write a review, will get a free paperback copy of Exposed, along with the chapters, and a deep (50%? My publisher will have input, I’m sure) discount on Crosscurrents. Just send me proof of purchase from Amazon, and a copy of your review, which should be signed such that I can tell it is you.

This offer is good for the month of May, 2015. I will not sell your email address to anyone, but may keep it on my own mailing list for other special offers and notifications.

We are so close to making Exposed a real success. With your help, we can get there. Thank you,

~ Jessica

“I’ll be there for you”

Who is right for us? What do we want from them?

Why do some couples tackle life’s great challenges together, while others fly apart at a slight bump in the road?

Why are some couples able to plan a future together, knowing that being with each other is the rock upon which their worlds are built, while others are together “if it works out,”on swirling waters that may or may not flow in the same direction?

Some relationships seem to represent commitment, “I’ll be there for you.” Others seem contingent: “I like almost everything about you, but might meet someone who has more of what I like. Then I’m gone.”

Really?

Some of us are incapable of “love.” Again, this may be biological. We believe in love, we want love, we show a version of love, or infatuation, but we don’t do well with lasting, committed love. Maybe we were designed to upset the status quo, to breed with many so we can diversify combinations of DNA, or maybe we are broken by mother’s lack of attention when we were two years old.

Why does this happen? That doesn’t matter to me in this moment. What matters to me is that we recognize and accept and communicate these things, as difficult as that honesty may be.

We owe it to our partner to let them know we have a terminal case of wanderlust. Or commitment to our job. Or to our church. We owe it to them not to string them along, nor be “wrong” about what we think we want when in our deepest thoughts, we know we are likely to move along when something more attractive comes along.

We owe them clarity that they don’t matter to us as much as our other priorities. Yes, that’s harsh. But hiding it doesn’t make it less so.

I envy those couples, men and women, men and men, women and women, who know a partner will stop at the store for cream for their coffee, even though the partner drinks it black. Too many of us have learned over time not to even ask, or worse, won’t ask because we don’t want our partner to expect us to do the same for them.

Honesty is hard, but in the long run it’s much less damaging than false expectations.

Training my lover

Sam didn’t used to be a great lover, but, OMG, does he know how to touch me now. It didn’t take long, either.

The other night we were talking in bed with him propped up on his elbows, when he scootched toward me and kissed me slowly on the lips. Just a soft, dry, lip-to-lip kiss, firm enough that I knew he was serious but still gentle and calm. He waited for my tongue to start to explore the contours of his lips. At some point, his hand found the small of my back but but that arm was also locked between my legs, so that when he pulled me close I could press against that muscle in just the way I wanted.

When we first met, he was tentative and I was in some kinda need (it had been a while). He could kiss me once, I would discover how aroused he was and that aroused me, and soon hands were all over everywhere with clothes flying, and it was good. But as time went by, what I wanted was a little different.

At first, Sam was confused, and a little hurt that I “didn’t seem to want him” like I used to.

Too many of us Romantics (capital “R”) want sex to be perfect all the time, and it’s not going to be. Most of us do not want a man to grope our groin 90 seconds after we sit next to them on the couch, or crawl into bed. We do not want a wet sloppy tongue in our mouth at the grocery store, or ten minutes after dinner. But that’s not to say we don’t ever want a probing tongue, right?

We own some of the problem if we fail to communicate with our lovers about what we are feeling and what we want. If it’s not “just right” and we pull back without communicating, or just go through the motions, or let them have their way while subtly communicating that they failed us, we leave them confused and hurt. That builds up baggage, and fast.

Most men want to please (and we shouldn’t be with those who don’t). But men don’t get much training in the arts, and the all-pervasive porn industry rarely gets it right. And, what we want varies from person to person, and often from day to day.

The language of sex is complicated, and talking about how to please each other may seem like it ruins the spontaneity. Or we may suffer from the belief that our perfect lover will come equipped with all the right moves and the capacity to know, immediately and instinctively and without words, exactly what we want.

Maybe. But do we want to waste years waiting for someone who might not arrive when we may be able to create perfectly good love-making with someone we love, and are willing to talk with about what we like, what we want, and how we want it?

Sam sometimes can kiss my belly for what seems like forever, making me ache with not knowing if the deliciousness of those lips will move up to my breasts or down to an anticipation starting to glow between my legs. He moves slowly, and let’s me tell him with soft murmurs what I want next. I like that.

But it took a while to get him to take a while.