Monday, November 2, 2015

I've Been AWOL #cancer #momswithcancer

I am now 2/3 of the way through my breast cancer journey.

Surgery, done!
Radiation, done!

Yay, me!

Tamoxifen... coming right up. It may seem awful that I am more concerned about the potential side affects on my sex life, than on the stuff about blood clots and stroke, but honestly, yes I am.

My medical oncologist said I could take it whenever I felt recovered enough from radiation, which ended a month ago. And I did experience ongoing tiredness longer than I thought I would, undoubtedly exacerbated by another super busy fall at the day job, plus grief. For my brother in love, for my boss who passed in August (his birthday was yesterday, ouch!, and the deathversary on October 22 of my dear friend Sidney Patrick.

So, as this posts, I'm taking it, today.

I have occasionally thought about blogging, these past few months, but could not summon the physical or emotional energy, and decided, you know what, that's okay. It's all part of the journey, which I am, well, journaling.  (I'm hoping to turn my stories into an actual book, because it's not everyone who fights breast cancer with sex positivity, Bondage Classes, and Orgasmic Magic. Not to mention figuring out that the radiation machine sounded like a coffee grinder trying to mate with an adding machine.)

Overall, although sometimes I am a little tired, or a little sad, I am happy, and joyous, and feel well.

I am blessed to be surrounded by so many loving and supportive friends, and to have so much good news coming my way. I'm also getting to hear about the cancer journey others are taking, which makes my Cancer Lite seem like a day at the spa.

While I am fretting that Tamoxifen might dry up my vajayjay, oh, dear, I might have to use lube! #firstworldproblems, another friend had cervical cancer. Her treatment closed her up, permanently. and she lost her breasts at the same time, because, BRCA1. (She's got a dynamite-looking pair of reconstructed breasts, though, and a hot young boyfriend.)

And while I miss my boss, I'm pretty sure that his wife, who's on her own breast cancer journey, still in chemotherapy, probably misses him more than I can begin to imagine.

Another friend has been hospitalized for issues with her chemotherapy, but battles on with courage and good humor, with her radiation to begin in the new year.

And then there's bright, beautiful Augusta Fleming. Augusta and I have not yet met in person; she's in Tennessee, and I'm in California. We met in a FaceBook support group for people who've experienced pregnancy/stillbirth/miscarriage loss, me of my almost-grandbaby, hers of an angel baby.

She's gorgeous on the outside, but she has an even lovelier spirit, warm and funny and generous. I was so delighted for her that she had two "rainbow babies," girls now aged one and three.

And this summer, she was diagnosed with Stage 3 Hodgkins Lymphoma.

Below is a picture she shared on FaceBook, of the last latch-on of her younger daughter. Augusta had to wean her cold-turkey at eight months, because the radiation in the diagnostic scans she had to take would have poisoned the baby.

*I* think this photo is lovely and poignant, but you will or will not be surprised to hear that some uptight troll reported this picture as obscene and FaceBook removed it.

I. Can't. Even.

So many of you have been so supportive of me. I'd like to pay it forward, and ask, if your funds allow, please consider donating to Augusta's fund, because diapers, food, gas, and out of pocket medical... I have been chipping in what I can; her husband has been working as much as possible. But with her spending an entire month in the hospital this summer, and no end of treatment in sight, it has been rough for them financially, as well as horrific, emotionally.

I will continue to gratefully accept healing vibes, prayers, rituals, good thoughts, and anything else you care to send me. I "get" that we all have many important places our money could go, but if you can spare anything, I know Augusta's family could truly use it.

Or if you don't have funds, consider simply sending Augusta a message of healing and hope.  Hug your own babies, or grandbabies, or nephews and nieces and consider what a blessing it is that we have our health (mostly), and wonderful people we love in this crazy world.

Be kind. The next time some jerk cuts you off in traffic, consider the possibility that they may be rushing to the bedside of a very sick loved one. If you have a surly teenager in your classroom, consider that she may be in trouble, rather than a troublemaker.

Sending love and blessing to you - and if you can, leave a comment and let me know what you are doing in your life, these days, I have missed interacting with you all.

Your thoughts?

Monday, October 5, 2015

#AmberRoseSlutWalk2015 vs. #SlutWalkLA2011

So, I finished radiation (yay! more on that in a future post), and my first big foray into the world was to attend the 2015 AmberRoseSlutWalk.

So, what is SlutWalk? From Wikipedia:
SlutWalk is a transnational movement[1] of protest marches which began on April 3, 2011,[2] in TorontoOntario, with subsequent rallies occurring globally.[3] Participants protest against explaining or excusing rape by referring to any aspect of a woman's appearance,[4] and call for an end to rape culture.[5] The rallies began after a Toronto Police officer suggested that "women should avoid dressing like sluts"[6][7] as a precaution against sexual assault.
The protest takes the form of a march, mainly by young women, where some dress as "sluts" in revealing, sexy attire such as short skirts, stockings and scanty tops. In the various Slutwalks around the world, there are usually speaker meetings and workshops, live music, sign-making sessions, leafleting, open microphones, chanting, dances, martial arts, and receptions or after-parties with refreshments.[1][8] In many of the rallies and online, women speak publicly for the first time about their identity as rape survivors.[9][10] The movement's ideology has been questioned and its methodology criticized.[11][12

Every SlutWalk, in every city has had its critics, from the very first one in Toronto, and this one is no exception. My full post on the first LA Slutwalk is here.

So, who is Amber Rose, and how/why did she get to take over SlutWalk, or at least, SlutWalk Los Angeles?

Amber Rose is a lovely young model and fashion designer and mother, who has also been a stripper, and involved with and married to several famous rappers, as well as releasing her own music. She's releasing her own clothing line, and one criticism of her is that she took over the SlutWalk brand for her own self-promotion.

My take? That may be partly true.  And if so, so what?

The reality is, few (if any) other volunteers were picking up the ball and running with it. SlutWalk the movement-slash-brand, seemed to be dying on the vine - I certainly wasn't devoting my life to it. Social movements do morph and change, as people join, become more active, become less active... It's the nature of the beast. And none of them, ever, are perfect incarnations of the ideals expressed.

The differences between SlutWalk, LA, 2011, and the AmberRoseSlutWalk, LA, 2015?

Mo Money, Mo People, Mo Everything

SlutWalk LA 2011 contained a few hundred lovely protesters, in a small West Hollywood park. AmberRoseSlutWalk LA 2015 had thousands, in Pershing Square, downtown Los Angeles. Major stage, sound system, pre-printed signs and many booths for vendors, food trucks.

Though there were still many wonderful handmade signs.

Not Just a Bunch of Old White Feminists

The organizers of the original SlutWalk, in Toronto, were two white college women, Sonya Barnett and Heather Jarvis. Not that there is anything wrong with being white; to quote Lady Gaga, I was Born That Way, but although all women suffer from slut shaming, it is women of color, sex workers, and transpeople, who suffer the most. Because Los Angeles is a diverse city, Slutwalk LA 2011 contained men and women of many skin tones, but in all honesty? Probably over 50% white folks.

This SlutWalk was dominated by women of color. The panelists, dancers, performers, and crowd were predominantly people of color.

And that was awesome.

There were plenty of male allies there. And women and men who are older of my generation, too. But mostly, it was a young crowd.

When white people did speak, like SlutWalk co-founder Heather Jarvis, and actor Matt McGorry, they spoke about white privilege, and how people of color have been disproportionally affected by rape and slut shaming. Yes, rape and slut shaming hurts everyone. But I have never been assumed to be a slut simply because of the color of my skin.

People in Transition Were Not Pushed to the Back of the Bus

I have to confess, it isn't until recent years I gave much thought to transpeople. And while I still have so much to learn, I have been lucky enough to become friends with a few, who have kindly overlooked my ignorance and insensitive verbal blunders. I am coming to better understand the pain, struggle, and body dysphoria they live with, every single day. The fact that, Caitlyn Jenner notwithstanding, transpeople are much more likely to be attacked, sexually assaulted, even killed, just for being who they are, or trying to present, on the outside, what they feel like on the inside.

I know there were a few transpeople at Slutwalk LA 2011. I have no idea how many were present at AmberRoseSlutwalk 2015, because I am learning to not look for signs that someone is "trying to pass." If someone is presenting as a woman, I will treat her as a woman, and if someone is presenting as a man, I will treat him as a man, and if someone is presenting in an androgynous way, I will treat them like any other human being. I loved that every speaker talked about the slut shaming and danger our transgender brothers and sisters endure.

The Emphasis Was On Sexual Freedom, Not Rape

When it comes to rape myths, that battle is already won, or almost won, at least in SoCal. As I walked around downtown LA with my "No Shaming This Slut" Slutwalk sign, people asked about it, and everyone nodded their heads in agreement, that of course no one deserves to be raped because of what they are wearing. (There may be a few troglodytes who still feel differently, but they are also the tinfoil hat kind who believe we faked the Moon landing, so, whatevs.)

There seemed to be a shift in emphasis, in that more and more people are adopting the philosophy espoused by Dossie Easton and Janet W. Hardy in The Ethical Slut, that sex is nice and pleasure is good for you.

This message deeply resonates with me, and did long before I joined the fabulous organization Sex Positive World, Los Angeles chapter.

SPW's awesome founder Gabriella Cordova wears the message on her sleeve sexy ass.

More than a few of the SPLA members there to represent.

And while Amber Rose might not (yet) be a member of our happy tribe, she sends the same message. Consensual Sex is nothing to be ashamed of.

In fact, we should be proud of owning our sexuality. Whether we choose to be celibate, monogamous, swingers, sex workers, or polyamorous or a combindation, we choose. Whether we choose to wear burquas or bikinis or bare-breasted, we choose.

That's a message that hasn't changed, from 2011 to 2015.

Have you ever participated in a SlutWalk or this one?
Your thoughts?

Monday, July 27, 2015

Time for Class! Bondage, Business, or Both?

Sorry for the long absence, but I've been all tied up.


Besides the day job and lotsa doctor appointments to deal with the cancer thing (more on that, below), I've been taking workshops and attending events. Bondage and Meditation. Yes, it's a thing.

Thanks to the magical Michael for being my partner this week, to awesome Alexandra the week before,
and to terrific Tim and amazing Aaron the week before that.

And all props to Orpheus and Indigo Black, Nina, and the other workshop facilitators
Yes, the word "loose" instead of "lose" bothered me at first. But it's actually just as appropriate,
because when you are bound physically , you are also loosened, mentally, emotionally.

It has been a sensual, peaceful, wonderful way to connect with my body and spirit in a healthy, joyful way. I highly recommend it.

Also, it can make for terrific foreplay, if you learn the ropes and have a lover who is willing to play that way. [insert happy smile here]

But besides that workshop, I've also been busy preparing to give one of my own, through LARA (Los Angeles Romance Authors).  Here's the deets:

 August 2015:  The Business of Writing 101

Beverly DiehlregisterINSTRUCTOR:  Beverly Diehl
DATES:  August 3 – 19 (2.5 weeks)
COST: $30
LARA member cost: $20
CLASS DESCRIPTION:  Most writers would rather enjoy a root canal than talk about business. And yet, sometimes both are necessary (and with a little laughing gas, both can be made less painful).
In this six-part, two & a half week online workshop, participants will learn the essentials of running their writing business successfully:
  • A Douchebag By Any Other Name (why/how to choose a pen name)
  • To Incorporate or Not to Incorporate (overview of different organization structures & the pros & cons of each)
  • Poindexter, Your New BFF (Accountants – what they do that writers need, how to choose one)
  • Avoiding the Death of a Thousand Paper Cuts (What forms need to be filed)
  • Separate Ways (Basic principles of business record-keeping)
  • It’s Never As Easy As It Looks On TV (How to choose an accounting software package)
  • And more!

I'd love it if your schedule permits you to join the rest of the participants for this workshop. You know me - there will be mancandy.

Another thing starting on August 3 is my first radiation session. Six weeks, five days a week, three minutes of being zapped. I cannot honestly say I am looking forward to starting radiation, except in the sense that the sooner I start it, the sooner I will be done with it.

But six weeks goes fast, I'm as prepared as I can be, I'm very grateful to be one of the lucky people who does not need chemo. I have a generous supply of boob cream to get me through any skin discomfort, plus medicinal marijuana product to get me through any anxiety.

As electrifying career coach Shelley Mazer of Step Into The Possibilities told me and the Los Angeles Romance Authors at a recent presentation, "It's good. It's all good."

Here's hoping it's all good with you as well.

Your thoughts, or questions?