Monthly Archives: April 2015

Man or woman, gay or straight, or something in between?

Generally I don’t comment on the “news.” But there’s a story out there that ties into many themes in my writing, here and in my books.

Bruce Jenner has declared, “For all intents and purposes, I am a woman.”

As Mr. Jenner, and 26 years old, he was the decathlon champion in the 1976 Olympics and was considered to be the top male athlete in the world.

But he knew then, and had known since he was a child, that his “soul” was that of a woman.

“I’m not stuck in anybody’s body, it’s just who I am as a human being,” Mr. Jenner said in an interview. “My brain is much more female than it is male.”

I still would not have written about this, except last Sunday I saw an article from the Associated Press written by Lindsey Tanner about the traumas suffered by people born physically as “intersex:” they have reproductive organs of both man and woman. Often they have chromosomes of both a male and a female.

The article notes that a century ago, “intersex adults were top draws at circus sideshows.” Much more recently, babies would be subjected to surgery for this “condition” that may affect from between 1 in 1,000 to 1 in 5,000 of newborns.

Surgery has many dangers, and while the stated goal is often to avoid “public scorn” of the child (circus), it’s hard not to imagine it is also an attempt by parents to have a “normal” family.

Slowly we are achieving acceptance. As one intersex adult advised parents of intersex “Take them home and love them.” We are coming to an understanding that surgery, and which sex one might aim for if either, is a choice that may belong to the individual so affected.

Bruce Jenner, who has biological children, says he is not gay, though that can be a mind-bender when we think about relationships and his transition from man to woman. But let’s not focus on the labels.

Instead, let’s look at the opportunity we all have, to recalibrate our views on sex and sexuality. It is a very complicated biological process, and expresses itself on a very broad continuum.

There are those who say “marriage and sex should be between a man and a woman,” and that “homosexuality is a ‘choice’ that should be changed.”

I say that God makes a full spectrum of human beings who are entitled to love, and be loved, as they are, and the choices of how to express that are their choices to make.

“I can’t relate to her.”

Not for the first time, a potential reader said I was too “cold” in Exposed. She “couldn’t relate to the character.”

This always surprises me. From the inside, I am anything but “cold.”  There is laughter, there are tears, there is fear. I am passionate about many things, including passion itself. So why this disconnect?

My response is usually “Jessica’s not cold. She’s French.” While many in the U.S. now use that as an insult, what I mean is that there is a certain acceptance of circumstances in the French mindset: “C’est la vie,” or “Such is life.” This doesn’t promote a lot of whining.

The key metaphor in Exposed is  Tout passé, tout cassé, tout lassé.” Everything passes, everything breaks, everything wears out. Nothing is forever. When brought to focus on a “tragedy” in our daily lives, is this attitude “cold?” Is it “cold” to present it to someone who is clinging to something broken?

Empathy is important, but sympathy may not always be the best response. I admit that the Gallic shrug can seem indifferent if not arrogant. But it can also be perceived as an acknowledgement that “nothing lasts forever,” including relationships, cars, grandmothers, or preconceptions. Those who believe otherwise are living in a world of dreams, what-ifs, make-believe.

Admittedly, I leaned hard on this point of view in Exposed to make it different, to give it character. This is also my point of view and is how I was raised. If this seems “cold” to some readers, I’ll admit there’s a twinge of disappointment that my central message was lost. But, what can I do?

C’est la vie.

Drugs and sex

Can drugs make sex easier, or better?

I get asked this question surprisingly often, despite the fact that I put my opinion out there pretty definitively in Exposed. It’s a short book. Those parts are easy to find.

Easier? I suppose, for some. Better? I will say no, but maybe for reasons you don’t anticipate.

Before I go there, a word about being dosed, someone slipping you a “roofie”, or otherwise becoming incapacitated without your consent. If that happens, don’t be silent. Get tested, and if positive, file charges on the human hangnail who wanted you unconscious when they ejaculated into you.

Even if you’re okay, the next victim may not be so lucky. Maybe the perpetrator will get what they deserve in jail. There are few times when I favor “eye-for-an-eye,” but that’s one of them.

Okay, back to theme.

No doubt, some people are terribly inhibited, and others much less so.  It is also true some drugs, (alcohol, especially) lower inhibitions. So the answer’s obvious, right? Have a drink or two and a great time.

Maybe, but my grandmother would say that continually bandaging a wound that doesn’t heal risks greater injury. I believe that looking deep into the inhibitions in the moment, and dealing with them honestly, is a better approach that can result in wonderful outcomes.

Yes, there might be real tigers, too. But they can be flushed from the tall grass. How wonderful to discover the rustling was only the wind?

That said, a glass of champagne or an occasional Long Island Iced Tea has transformed more than one ordinary evening into an exceptional night.

Can drugs make sex better? Marijuana and the more intense psychotropics certainly can make an experience more intense.

Is “more intense” better? I can’t answer that question for you. But I will suggest that life always tries to keep in balance. If you intensify an experience, you will pay a price.

Linking orgasm, itself a pretty powerful drug, to ecstasy or Molly or peyote or amyl or pot or any of the designer drugs out there may mean that without the enhancement, the thrill is gone. You may become desensitized (common among those dependent on vibrators) to the “natural” experience. You may not enjoy vanilla sex as much as you used to.

Maybe it’s worth it for you. Maybe you’re already at a place where good old fashioned multiple partner sex on a mattress in a crowded auditorium just doesn’t do it for you anymore.

That’s your call. But two more thoughts: If you go there, do so because it’s where YOU want to go. Don’t be pushed by someone who may have his (or her) own addictions / desensitizations to deal with. It’s one thing if they ask, another thing altogether if they pressure, or insist. Those people are carriers, not partners.

Secondly, nothing happens without a consequence, and we can’t always anticipate what those may be. Think about what you’re doing, and be honest with yourself when you make the decision.

Of course, that’s true of almost everything. Right?

FWB

Tonight I’m going out with Billy, an old friend. We’ll have dinner, and I’ll give him a long-overdue birthday present, and maybe we’ll dance to some good music.

And then we’ll probably spend the night together.

We have wonderful sex. It’s easy, orgasmic, and emotionally satisfying. We both like to lie wrapped in each other’s embrace when we’re finished. Sometimes we talk, often we don’t. We just enjoy the companionship, and the company.

We are not in love.

We aren’t even lovers, in the proper sense. We each see other people, though we don’t talk about that much. Billy can get a little jealous, even while he laughs at himself for being so.

“It’s the damn biology,” he says. “There’s no rational reason for it.”

I love that it’s easy for him to accept he can be jealous of me seeing other men even while he sees other women. I get it. I can feel the same sort of twinge, or “squick,” as a good friend once named them.

It comes with the territory. If all Billy and I did was have coffee once a week, I imagine we could talk about lovers and laugh at the awkwardnesses of dating without any squicks. But there is something about sleeping together that triggers a different response, a possessiveness, if you will.

Some of my friends don’t have that problem, especially those friends who frequent some of the same “clubs” that I do, friends who are truly “polyamorous.” They seem capable of making love to several men, simultaneously or sequentially, and being with men who do the same, without any jealousies at all.

I don’t know if they are simply wired differently, or if they have gone through some transition to a higher awareness that gives them more freedom from emotions faced by the rest of us.

Awareness is the essential component, regardless of where one falls on the spectrum. And honesty. I love what Billy and I have together now, even as I know that someday it will end when he or I meet someone with whom we want to be exclusive. If we do.

If and when that happens, one of us is likely to feel left out. Jealous. We can be aware of that now without letting it ruin what we have in this moment.

In this moment, we choose to go out, dinner will be wonderful, the music will rock, and so will the sex. And we will care for each other through the night, if not always.

“Don’t over think it.”

I was in a jewelry store the other day, just browsing. An older, very handsome man was at the same counter, buying an anniversary gift for his wife of 40 years, he told the clerk.

“Whats the secret?” I asked.

“Don’t over think it,” was his quick reply.

“There’s more,” I said.

He paused and looked at me, to see if I was really interested in what he had to say. He didn’t mind sharing, but didn’t want to waste his time, either.

“You were raised in a narcissistic world,” he said at last. “It’s not your fault, but it is what it is. Everywhere they scream at you that something is missing, you need something, you deserve something, that they can give you happiness.

“They do sophisticated science to determine how your brain will flicker to their message, then they bombard you with it. They know how to make you want something before you even know it exists. They create a void so they can fill it with false promises.

“It lasted 40 years because she and I value our connection. We are more when together than when apart. We share the adventure rather than protect our space. We communicate rather than text. We take care of each other rather than blame. We try to think about what’s next and what’s best, not about what’s missing.”

I stood there a moment, after he finished. So did he. Then it was time to move. I was no longer interested in whatever bauble brought me into the store, and he was on a mission.

“Thank you,” I said.

He just gave me a smile, a small nod, maybe a small shrug to say the value of his words were not in what he said, but in what I heard.

He went back to looking for an anniversary present. I went outside into Seattle rain, thinking about what I was looking for.