Not Wet Enough? Spit On It!

This is hard to write. I imagine that might make this hard to read as well. A big part of me doesn’t feel like I can publish these words and is terrified at the thought. But it’s that very part of me that is also whispering, keep going. I want to give voice to what hides. I want to trust that what is revealed is tied to our freedom. That is my intention, to push beyond the wall that was built for protection, but now is keeping me from the very thing I seek. When the lines between what we fear and what we long for start to dissipate. When it’s time to name our desires, even if it means finding them in the dark places we have been avoiding. I hope you can trust me enough to keep going with me. I will do my best to hold us in this discomfort. This is me trying to find a clearing in the woods so the moonlight can give shape to what I cannot see. 

At some point, a script was written. I’m not sure when. I imagine it was written long before I arrived. And in conscious and unconscious ways I have studied it ever since. Memorized it. Embodied it. I think it first became conscious when I was 7. The first time hands, not my own, touched parts deemed private. Without my invitation. Without my say in any of it. My petrified silence. Totally unprepared and unsure of how to navigate that full body confusion. Him, 10 years my senior, a troubled kid from a troubled family that went to our church.

I can still see the dirty bar of Ivory soap stuck with wet slippery stick to their bathroom sink. I can still see his room—in my memory a shrine for ceiling high piles of dirty magazines. The beginning of my deep dislike for pornography. Glossy and farcical. Charged with energy that felt too large for its two-dimensional reducing. One-sided and dangerously misguided, representing nothing that felt true to my body.

Never has my pussy been bald and thin and cotton candy pink. Never my tits so huge they remain mountainous while reclining. Never has my my naked skin looked slick and shiny while perched backwards, ass up, cooter out, balancing on a stationary motorbike. Never have I liked being stretched out by more than one appendage or blinded by the white warm haze of some shaggy-haired man’s emission. Never.

Though in moments, I have tried.

To find some way to be acceptable, desirable, appropriate for this highly proliferated and limited version of what is sexy. Of what is sex. I’ve tried waxing my bush. Paying someone hard earned money to torture me. Walking home chicken-skinned and sticking to newly exposed parts of myself. I’ve doused myself in coconut oil and stood with my tits topless in the freezer hoping to make my marshmallowy soft nipples look more like the requisite eraser tips. I’ve tried to like things I did not like. I’ve tried to want things I did not want. I have tried to move so much faster than I wanted to go.

I have come to relate to sex as something to desire and protect myself from in equal measure. Something I have ached for only to be afflicted by. It has been a complicated mix of excitement and regret. Release and re-wounding. Always trying to untangle the terror from the full-body hoping for pleasure. Trying to peel back all the layers to reveal the deep and pure need for letting go. Letting it be okay to want something that exists beyond my careful controlling. Letting it be okay to want to do all the things I was taught I shouldn’t want to do, but my body just goes right on wanting. 

Just wanting to enjoy the beauty that lies underneath all the guilt, all the fumbling. All the shame and complication. Aching to find my way beyond the insecurity and the fear. Continuing to feel that such a thing is possible. That such a place exists. Despite all the times I’ve ended up buried somewhere in-between. 

Sex has made me pee blood. Sex has sent me to the emergency room. Sex has made me hide my face in the sheets. Sex has yielded some of the most beautiful and life-affirming moments of my life. The most ecstatic and euphoric joy. The deepest connection. The most of all the things I am always wanting to feel. And that is why I keep trying. We try for that. We get so many variations on the way there. Some somewhat forgettable. Some undeniably damaging. 

It is so charged. Its potency unrivaled. It is this elixir of life that we mix and we drink, participating in, almost trance-like with the alchemy of life-making. We fuck, therefore we exist. Perhaps it is this very hugeness that has inspired the reductiveness of The Script.

I’m not sure how much involvement I had in the writing of this script I have followed countless times. But I have definitely followed its dialogue and plot lines with relative dedication for well over twenty years. I have made edits here and there. Amendments. Improvements one could say.  But even now, 38 years around the sun, I still find myself unwittingly falling into the ruts of its well worn narrative. 

The script I’m talking about is the one I almost imperceptibly slip into, read by rote anytime the potential for S. E. X. presents itself. Before I give myself adequate time to assess whether or not sex is even what I am wanting in the moment. Seeking intimacy, I sometimes mistake sexual tension as a bridge towards it, rather than the precise fuel needed to burn the motherfucker down. And so, in the midst of that potent hoping, I skip the necessary step of slowing things down. Failing to check in with myself before I proceed to unconsciously visit ghosts of hook ups past. 

Oh! The dude is kissing me! Oh! It’s happening! He’s kissing me! His tongue is pretty okay. I don’t hate it (notice the low standards for proceeding into intensely vulnerable territory). I can’t really tell how I feel about this… 

Break out the script! All (or at least most) systems go for autopilot! Click! Click! Click! Moooooaaan. He’s following his script and starting to touch your breasts on top of your shirt. Be reluctant, but allowing when he lifts your shirt to put his mouth to your nipples as he has perfectly memorized to do. Wonder how much of him is currently in autopilot too?… Let him know you’re interested (even if you’re not really), by checking in with his hardness felt through denim. If he’s not wearing denim, don’t worry, it’s more or less the same. Here it is okay to improvise a little with cotton or linen, though hopefully not polyester. Polyester feels too closely to the lie you are trying to tell. That synthetic self-reflection might make you pause to wonder. Might make you hesitate in your recognition of the ridiculousness of the moment. Might make you change your mind. Do not change your mind! He might turn into a monster. Everything in you is geared towards preventing that greatest of fears. That he is in fact a dangerous monster. Not an equal seeker of that which you are seeking but are currently overriding, with the script. 

“Boys will be boys” has always contained within it the message that there is a silent and terrifying contract. Unwanted advances cannot be prevented once things have gone “too far”. Depending on how you dress or how you laugh at his jokes or how many drinks you let him buy, you have most certainly crossed over to the other side. He doesn’t even need to be scary or forceful. He just needs to be a boy being a boy and you will follow your script of sugar and spice and everything necessary to make sure he doesn’t get sexually frustrated. You can’t even imagine what that would do to him! Oh the horror! His nuts might hurt! He might experience discomfort. Pain even. Do not let that happen, or else…

I digress (in hopes of progress).

Back to the script. Now that you have given him the sign that genitals are in play, he will do as he has practiced time and again and make moves towards removing your pants, doing his best to be smooth with the zipper. Hold your breath as you silently pretend you’re not assessing his skill level or confidence, knowing how tense this moment is for you both. Feel no less than one thousands things. Do not pause to wonder what they are. Bulldoze through that wall of uncertainty. Never mind that it is there for your protection. 

Ok, we are getting so close to penetration now! You can feel it! It is unsaid and as loud as a freight train. Just a little requisite finger banging first. A moisture test really. Maybe your body is performing well and you are wet enough to avoid extra spit—a trick written in bold in his script. Not wet enough, spit on it! He enters you. You compute how you feel about this, half-in and half-out of your body. Depending on the fit, the rhythm, the willingness, the friction, you can now choose, stay or go? Of course I’m not talking about the bed or the room, only your body. Nowhere in the script is written the option of stopping this train once it is in motion. Nowhere in the script are instructions for how to honestly say you’re realizing now that it is happening—that it’s not actually what you are wanting. Or ready for. Or even enjoying.

What is written in the script is how to make the face that says he’s doing great. You wouldn’t want to crush his spirit! It’s always better to crush your own. This powerful discomfort is your cue to handle what is verging on an invasion with your own vacating. Make more room! Leave your body. Float up to the ceiling. Watch your body from up there. See that faraway look in your eyes and wonder why he isn’t noticing. Resent him for the trespassing, feeling like to anyone really paying attention, the signs are clearly there. Everything has changed. The lights have gone out. Sure sure, you are still making occasional “O” faces and the preconditioned sounds of supposed pleasure. But how can he not feel the thickness of your absence? Is it because nowhere in his script is it written to pay attention to such things? Only to stay hard and not cum too soon. To thrust. To be strong and agile and able to switch positions with authority. Pure mechanics. To leave his body too. Nothing written about what he might want out of the experience beyond his exemplary performance. No consideration of that he might actually be wanting exactly the same thing as you. True connection. An unnamed and shared willingness to forfeit completely the penetrative going through the motions in exchange for honest intimacy. 

A seeking of true belonging. Belonging to ourselves. Belonging to our bodies. Our bodies belonging to each other’s belonging. Oh how long we have been longing. To be longing so long you forget to pause when your attempt at receiving might, just might be finally happening. 

What if we slowed down?

Built a bridge by looking into each other’s eyes.

Took a breath, together.

Waited to find the strength to say what we were scared to say.

Said what we were feeling. What we were really feeling. All the awkward and terrifying and hopeful truths.

Gave presence to the seemingly impossible and distant question: What do you need right now to feel safe?

And then to listen. 

To try and meet each other in our voiced and naked needing. Clothes. Still. On.

And then maybe, to touch. Without the script. Without a blueprint. Just a slow searching. A slow way of knowing.

Letting mouths find wanting mouths in their own pacing.

To kiss.

To communicate. 

To engage in communion. 

To ignite with desire. 

To hold that heat and not just fear for its burning.

To remove the layers. Of clothes. Of doubts. Of painful rememberings. To ride the waves of discomfort. To welcome laughter should it arrive. To allow tears should they fall.

To invite, to open.

To enter.

To feel the potent truth of that closeness. To understand with our bodies what power exists in this space.

Slowly as our shared and separate needs for safety are guiding us towards our shared safety. Our shared needs. Our sharing. Our belonging. Belonging to ourselves. Belonging to our bodies. Our bodies belonging to each other’s belonging. Finally, home. 

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Sep 13, Grand Remembrances

Today is Grandparents Day in the United States. Being a Grand is a special honor. I feel very blessed that my wife and I have two grandchildren. We were able to visit them today. Yes, we are still being cautious with the coronavirus, but we also find it very difficult to not see them when they live so close. So today we did drop by to visit Jacob (age 10) and Sophia (age 7) along with their parents. We brought donuts and caught up with them. Our grandchildren are still pretty young and this is a precious time in their lives – and ours!

I wish I had known my grandparents better. We never lived in the same place. Dad was a career Air Force pilot, so we moved around a lot. But we did get to see them once in a while when they would visit us, or we them.

A Plague of Giants

There are five known magical ‘kennings’ or types: air, water, fire, earth, and plants. Each nation specializes in of these kennings, and the magic influences the society. There’s a big pitfall with this diversity of ability and locale–not everyone gets along.

Enter the Hathrim giants, or ‘lavaborn’ whose kenning is fire. Where they live the trees that fuel their fire are long gone, but the giants are definitely not welcome anywhere else. They’re big, they’re violent, and they’re ruthless. When a volcano erupts and they are forced to evacuate, they take the opportunity to relocate. They don’t care that it’s in a place where they aren’t wanted.

I first read Kevin Hearne’s Iron Druid books and loved them (also the quirky The Tales of Pell), so was curious about this new venture, starting with A PLAGUE OF GIANTS. Think Avatar: The Last Airbender meets Jim Butcher’s Codex Alera series. Elemental magic, a variety of races, different lands. And it’s all thrown at you from page one.

But this story is told a little differently. It starts at the end of the war, after a difficult victory, and a bard with earth kenning uses his magic to re-tell the story of the war to a city of refugees. And it’s this movement back and forth in time and between key players in this war that we get a singularly grand view of the war as a whole. Hearne uses this method to great effect.

There are so many interesting characters in this book that I can’t cover them all here. Often in books like this such a large cast of ‘main’ character can make the storytelling suffer, especially since they don’t have a lot of interaction with each other for the first 3/4 of the book–but it doesn’t suffer, thankfully. And the characterization is good enough, despite these short bursts, that by the end we understand these people and care about what happens to them.

If there were a main character it would be Dervan, a historian who is assigned to record (also spy on?) the bard’s stories. He finds himself caught up in machinations he feels unfit to survive. Fintan is the bard from another country, who at first is rather mysterious and his true personality is hidden by the stories he tells; it takes a while to understand him. Gorin Mogen is the leader of the Hathrim giants who decide to find a new land to settle. He’s hard to like, but as far as villains go, you understand his motivations and he can be even a little convincing. There’s Abhi, the son of hunters, who decides hunting isn’t the life for him–and unexpectedly finds himself on a quest for the sixth kenning. And Gondel Vedd, a scholar of linguistics who finds himself tasked with finding a way to communicate with a race of giants never seen before (definitely not Hathrim) and stumbles onto a mystery no one could have guessed: there may be a seventh kenning.

There are other characters, but what makes them all interesting is that they’re regular people (well, maybe not Gorin Mogen or the viceroy–he’s a piece of work) who become heroes in their own little ways, whether it’s the teenage girl who isn’t afraid to share vital information, to the scholars who suddenly find how crucial their minds are to the survival of a nation, to the humble public servants who find bravery when they need it most. This is a story of loss, love, redemption, courage, unity, and overcoming despair to not give up. All very human experiences by simple people who do extraordinary things.

Hearne’s worldbuilding is engaging. He doesn’t bottle feed you, at first it feels like drinking from a hydrant, but then you settle in and pick up things along the way. Then he shows you stuff with a punch to the gut. This is no fluffy world with simple magic without price. All the magic has a price, and more often than not it leads you straight to death’s door. For most people just the seeking of the magic will kill you. I particularly enjoyed the scenes with Ahbi and his discovery of the sixth kenning and everything associated with it. But giants? I mean, really? It isn’t bad enough fighting people who can control fire that you have to add that they’re twice the size of normal people? For Hearne if it’s war, the stakes are pretty high, and it gets ugly.

The benefit of the storytelling style is that the book, despite its length, moves along steadily (Hearne is no novice, here). The bits of story lead you along without annoying cliffhangers (mostly), and I never got bored with the switch between characters. It was easy to move between them, and they were recognizable enough that I got lost or confused. The end of the novel felt a little abrupt, but I guess that has more to do with I was ready for the story to continue, despite the exiting climax.

If you’re looking for epic fantasy with fun storytelling and clever worldbuilding, check out A PLAGUE OF GIANTS.

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The Artwork Of Gary Choo

Gary Choo is a concept artist/illustrator based in Singapore. I’ve know Gary for a good many years ( 17, actually ), working together in animation studios in Singapore like Silicon Illusions and Lucasfilm. Gary currently runs an art team at Mighty Bear Games, but when time allows he also draws covers for Marvel comics, and they’re amazing –

The Art Of Gary Choo
The Art Of Gary Choo
The Art Of Gary Choo
The Art Of Gary Choo
The Art Of Gary Choo

To see more of Gary’s work or to engage him for freelance work, head down to his ArtStation.

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