Monday, November 17, 2014

Sex, Truth, & Open Relationships (Adventures in Datingland)

First off, I'm bragging celebrating a bit.

It's true what they say; it IS like riding a bicycle; all the muscle memory comes back to you.

It is also true that if you're not accustomed to it, either activity can leave you more than a little tender in certain spots. So you might want to take it easy before engaging in marathon sessions. (Not that I always take my own advice.)

[Note to self: Consider investing in some sexy underwear, unlike your everyday, white cotton, yeast-infection-resistant ginormous granny panties, Because sexy panties just might make undressing time a little less angst-ridden.]

OK - Get Lost

So, my OKCupid experience, plus that of Meetup, has been... interesting.

I've met or chatted with some handsome, smart, sextastic men. Apparently my age and weight issues are still not chasing them off.  (This means, ladies, if there's hope for me, there's hope for you.)

I've been messaged by some men who are... losers not sympatico with what I'm looking for at this time in my life. Seriously, dude, if you are a conservative, strait-laced Republican who lives in Oklahoma, we are not going to be a thing. And if your follow-up to my polite blow-off message is to beg that I please, please, give you another chance, because you are willing to relocate, this does not make you sound more appealing, it sends up my stalker alert flags.

Seriously, if you are a man or woman who would want people to date you or have sex with you, not because they wanted to, but because they felt guilted or pressured into it, because they had weak boundaries and didn't know how to firmly say no... Take a look in the mirror. You are part of rape culture.

Guys, if you are reading this, this is why you send out messages and usually never hear anything back; too many women have tried to "be nice," to let a guy down gently, and ended up having to deal with creepers.  Or dick pictures.  DO NOT EVER, EVER SEND DICK PICS, UNLESS A WOMAN HAS SPECIFICALLY SAID, "Yes, I want to see that."

It's not easy for us. Most women were raised to be "nice." I really don't want to hurt anybody's feelings, and am still learning to protect myself, rather than assume social responsibility for everyone else on the planet. Most of us have also dealt with persistent, unwanted admirers, or even been stalked, attacked, or raped by somebody we've barely smiled at.

We'd rather be considered just another heartless bitch, than stalker-bait.

Better yet, we'd rather live in a world where our bodies are respected as belonging to us, not to be assumed to be the property of the nearest male, be he a legislator or some horny dude who wants some.

This is why women walking the streets of New York (and many other big cities) may avoid eye contact and not respond to "friendly" greetings. Btw, if you have time, please look up the Twitter hashtag #DudesGreetingDudes, it's wonderful.

Another reason I have mostly stopped sending out "Thanks, but no thanks" messages is because one of the guys I was chatting with told me this was actually cruel. That from his POV, guys would see they'd gotten a message back, get their hopes up, and then get hurt all over again by the rejection, however kindly worded. That being totally ignored did not sting nearly as badly as getting back an "I'm just not that into you," email.  (YMMV.)

Consent Means Asking Clearly for What You Want, & Accepting the Answer

Here's a fabulous video that clearly explains, again, what consent is, and what it isn't.  Note: brief glimpse of dildos & sex toys.  Also, language near the bottom of this post will be quite frank and explicit, if not erotic.

Good relationships (sexual and otherwise) are all about respecting the autonomy of the other person. The goal should always be not to satisfy yourself, while the other person feels used, betrayed, or hurt (Win-Lose). The goal should be finding a way to satisfy your own needs while the other person also feels satisfied (Win-Win), whether than is in selling a car for a fair price, or entering into a polyamorous relationship.

Again, No = Thank You for Taking Care of Yourself

This means that, as much as I'd love to post the juicy details of my newly revived sex life here, I need to get the permission of the people I've become involved with, or am about to get involved with, on exactly how much personal info it is okay to share.

I will say this. The sexytimes. Woo-hoo!

Via Catskill Archive

via Wikimedia Commons


via Wikimedia Commons

The beginning - and end - of a recent date.

That said, I've already experienced some trickery and deception in recent connections, and have decided not to go forward with them. Because what kind of a relationship, even a FWB one, can I have with someone who is willing to lie to me to satisfy short-term needs?

Sex Contracts - They're Not Just for Bondage Any More

Most people have heard of the infamous contract that kinkster Christian Grey presented to virginal Anastasia in 50 Shades of Grey.   While cray-cray in many respects, it's not a bad starting point for a sane woman - or man - to examine his/her erotic desires, and draw hard & soft limits (aka, boundaries).  And for us to be discussing these things, in popular culture, is a VERY good thing.

For example, let's say you're in a monogamous marriage. What does cheating mean, to you? And to your partner?  Is oral sex, or other forms of sexual contact that do not include PIV (penis-in-vagina) sex, cheating, or are they "not really sex?" (Thanks, Bill C.) Phone or cyber-sex? How about an emotional affair - there is no sex, nor even sexy talk, but your partner pours out his/her heart to another person who is not you. Is that cheating?

You may think those things go without saying, but many marriages have broken up over these kinds of affairs, where one person considers X "not really cheating," and the partner partner thinks it most certainly is cheating, and feels a terrible betrayal of trust.

If you're in an open or polyamorous relationship, either solo, or as part of an established group, what are the rules? Does everyone already on board need to approve every new potential partner before any sexual activity begins? Or is it DADT (Don't Ask, Don't Tell) - it's assumed you have activity elsewhere, but you are not to talk about it with your other partners? Is it a turn-on for your other partners if you bring home "bedtime stories?" Is it okay with your new lover to talk (or blog) to others about what you did in bed together? What are the agreements for STI testing and condom use? Dental dams (or Saran Wrap) for cunnilingus, a must-have, or okay to skip?

Assume = Ass + U + Me

As I begin this journey into Datingland, and exploring life as a solo polyamorous woman, I want to be careful both to protect myself, my current partner(s), and any partners I may be adding in the future, both physically, and emotionally.

That none of us has an extensive history together is is both a curse, and a blessing. It means that every single point of our relationships has to be discussed and negotiated.  This is more than a little overwhelming when I consider all the variants.

On the other hand, the fact that we have to build each relationship from scratch means I get to discuss with each partner or potential partner exactly what he wants from our relationship, what desires or fantasies we have in common, how he feels about me disclosing details of our relationship to other lovers or on this blog, if he wants to hear "bedtime stories," and most importantly, my own comfort level.

Are you happily married, or also adventuring in Datingland?
Have you ever had romantic or sexual assumptions bite you in the ass?
Your thoughts?

Related articles

Monday, November 10, 2014

Sex-Positive - It's Not What You Think

Or, maybe it IS what you think. Because I am not inside your head, so it's rather presumptuous of me to guess what you think.

My bad.

Here's what I thought: That being "Sex Positive" was thinking sex is great *raises hand,* promoting a wild & crazy sex life, and wanting to spread that belief to to the world.

Well, it kind of is, and kind of isn't. It's more about knowing who you are, claiming responsibility for your own body, being unashamed of it, and figuring out what you like, or dislike, based not on what others tell you is "good sex," but on what you decide for yourself. Those choices could include celibacy or asexuality, polyamory or swinging or monogamy, being gay or straight or "hetero-flexible," kinky or vanilla... you get to figure out who you are, and who you are not.

It's about being part of, and building, a safe community for all kinds of people to express their sexuality in a way that feels right FOR THEM. With vulnerability, but without shame.

[Note: I've joined a local, Sex-Positive group, read the materials and attended one orientation, which is not the deepest and most thorough knowledge one can have. So while I am striving to convey what I learned as accurately as possibly, it is entirely possible I have gotten something confused or am misstating it here. All such mistakes are my own, not the fault of SPLA.]

Sexy organizer Gabriella Cordova, who is "out" as Sex-Positive.

Here's what I learned at my Sex-Positive LA Meeting. (While you can be a Sex-Positive person without belonging to any formal organization, having that support can make this attitude a lot easier.)

Care, Consent, and Confidentiality

Let's take the last first: Confidentiality. Because there is such a stigma in current culture about sexuality  (something this movement aims to change), many members of this group use assumed names so that it does not affect them professionally, or with members of their family,  Therefore, no names or identifying photographs will be used here without permission.

Care. Being sex positive means caring for yourself, your family, and the others in the community. It means being responsible about being regularly tested for STIs, if you are in a non-monogamous relationship, AND using condoms; it means emotionally and physically caring for one another.

This is not a group to join if what you want is to cheat on an unsuspecting spouse or partner. Coercion, trickery, and lying are NOT caring, nor respectful. Not to your spouse, not to your partner, and not, actually, to yourself.


While morons and rapists may argue that "sometimes no means yes," no NEVER means yes with active consent.

Too drunk or whacked out with a head cold to say no, does not mean yes.

Cajoling or badgering until the other person gives in and says, "Okay, I guess," does not mean yes.

Only Yes, or, in some cases, Hell, yes! means yes.

Gabriella and the others emphasized that permission must be obtained for everything, not simply for what we typically think of as sex, but even things like a touch on the shoulder.  Every single time. And that bodily autonomy must be always respected.

But what about seduction, about romance? Doesn't this kind of thing spoil it?

You don't read much romance, do you?

Few things are sexier than the almost kiss. The two leaning toward each other, and then, just as their lips are about to touch, he whispers, "May I kiss you?"

She whispers back, "Yes, oh yes!" and their lips meet, ever so softly, tongues flickering to tease each other's top lip, bottom lip, dancing together, bodies pressed so tight against one another, for long, slow, sweet moments, until her nipples grow hard and her knees grow weak.

She pulls her mouth away from his, locking his eyes with her own. "I want to take off your shirt, and rub my nipples against your chest. And then I'd like you to lick them, and suck on them. Is that okay with you?"

I could go on, but I think you get the point (as our heroine will, shortly). Consent is sexy.

But What If You Get a No?

If someone tells you no, the kindest reply is, "Thank you for taking care of yourself."

Think about it. Much of the time, problems in relationships come up because Person A thought Person B wanted or liked X, but he didn't, and bad feelings were created.

When someone says no, it is because s/he has checked inside, decided s/he was not comfortable with what you were requesting. This means that YOU don't have to guess, you don't have to take care of her/his feelings; s/he is taking care of her/himself. And when you get a no, that means when you do get a yes, it is a genuine, enthusiastic yes.

This Group Is Not For the Intolerant

For myself, I am uninterested in a "Red Room of Pain," a la 50 Shades. This does not mean putting down people who are, nor going all judgey on people who don't like the things that I like.  Kinky is okay, vanilla (or, French vanilla), is perfectly okay.

In fact, I understand there are people in the group simply to be touched, held, and snuggled. Who will never be pressed to "take it to the next level," but are welcome to attend events built around the things that make them feel comfortable. Welcome are all LGBT people, the disabled, those with fetishes... Whatever your "thing" is, if you can't help make this a warm and welcoming place for everyone, it's not a good fit for you.

Orientation Not Optional

In order to join this group, you must attend an orientation. At the one I attended, besides Gabriella and the other organizers talking to us, showing us a short film clip, and a break for potluck refreshments, we shared a little bit of information on how we would label ourselves. Later, we practiced some lessons on boundaries, on saying no, on negotiating, on complimenting one another. And enjoyed a five-way hug.

I even got another compliment, later - one of the women who hugged me was very petite, had laid her head on my breast and enjoyed it very much. I probably should have replied what I was thinking, which was "I get that a lot" (especially lately from the littlest kitten), but I simply smiled at her, happy that I had made her happy.

I was also pleased to hear some people referencing Robert A. Heinlein, who often wrote stories including non-traditional love relationships. He's one of my all-time favorite authors, and while Time Enough for Love is my favorite (perhaps because it was my first, and I'm sloppily sentimental that way), I also love I Will Fear No Evil, The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress, and To Sail Beyond the Sunset. I found Friday kind of sad, though the group marriage concept was interesting.

Will I be back?

Probably as long as they'll have me. And I will continue to share what I can, without breaking the agreement for confidentiality.

Have you ever attended a Sex-Positive event?
What did you think?
Your thoughts?

Monday, November 3, 2014

Slut of the Month: Malala Yousafzai

As an American, it is sometimes impossible (and other times, all too easy), to imagine what we would do - what I would do - if my beloved country was taken over by religious extremists.

Malala Yousefzai doesn't have to imagine; she's living it. And she has the bullet wounds to prove it.

A SWAT That Once Upon a Time, Was Peaceful

When I think of Pakistan, I envision walled compounds on dry, dusty plains. Crowded cities full of big-eyed, emaciated children, and turbaned fanatics waving scary-looking weapons.

Yet this, too, is Pakistan.

Via Wikimedia Commons
Even after a devastating flood, Pakistan's Swat Valley is beautiful

The Swat Valley reminds me of the Crescenta Valley and San Gabriel mountains in Southern California, where I raised my own son. Mountainous, green, lush, somewhat secluded, if a bit overdeveloped and smoggier than the Swat Valley...

La Crescenta via Wikimedia
We all get very emotionally attached to the places we call home. And Malala's homesick longing for hers, a place from which she is currently exiled for her own safety - comes across clearly in the autobiography, I Am Malala.

Malala was named for a legendary Pashtun heroine, and though she has two younger brothers, to her father Ziauddin's credit, he recognized her brilliance early on, and encouraged it, rather than passing her over to focus on her brothers.

What surprised mewhen I read that book, was what a mishmash of culture Pakistan is/was. Intermittent electricity - and Ugly Betty DVD's.  There isn't public education, as there is in the US, but individuals - and, often, mullahs, may start local schools. Sometimes the schools started by the mullahs are the only game in town - and then parents must decide, do they send their sons (rarely daughters) to the extremist schools, and hope to counteract any religious teachings at home (much the way some Jewish parents send their kids to Catholic schools in the US), try to educate their children themselves, or leave them without ANY education?

Ziauddin Yousafzai decided on another path. He would start a school, not only to educate his addicted-to-learning daughter, but other girls, and boys, as well.

Malala started a blog for the BBC in 2009, when she was only 12, about the Taliban's threats to deny her (and other girls) an education. She began making speeches on the subject.

When She Was 14, the Taliban Issued Death Threats Against Her

Is there any message that shouts louder, "I have a teeny weenie, and an even small brain," than trying to keep others from an education, especially keeping girls from an education?

When She Was 15, Some Gutless Wonder Did Shoot Her

Got to wonder, if the brainwashed young man who fired three shots at her on 9 October 2012, feels more manly now. Or, does he wonder if all the propaganda he was fed was, in fact, neither effective nor true?

Because if anything, his act has brought more support to the cause of Malala and education for girls, worldwide.

The would-be assassin stopped the bus on the way back from the school.  Because it takes a lot of cojones to stop and start shooting at a bus full of young, unarmed schoolgirls. *rolling eyes*

Malala was critically wounded, while two other girls were also wounded. Luckily, between Pakistan treatment and an airlift to the UK, with intensive surgeries and therapy, she has (almost?) fully recovered.

To the Taliban, Malala is an outspoken slut, who should be silenced.

To the rest of the world, she's a heroine. 

And This Is Why Malala Deserved the Nobel Peace Prize

After she recovered, despite continuing death threats, she has continued advocating for the education of girls (and boys), worldwide.

The problem for the Taliban, is like the Christian far-right in the US, the Jewish far-right in the US and Israel, and the other Islamic extremists in many middle eastern counties, remains. When girls and boys receive a thorough education, they are much less likely to adopt extreme positions. 

The best antidote for hate and ignorance is education. And NOT letting extremists stand in the way, or to change the curriculum to nonsense, whether that means equating (Christian) creationism is a "thing" to be taught alongside evolution, or calling 8 year old girls whores  and spitting on them as they are walking to school

Malala shares the Nobel Peace Prize with  Kailash Satyarthi, longtime activist against child labor. And she has won dozens of other Awards, from the International Children's Peace Prize (2011), to Glamour Magazine's Woman of the Year (2013).

Curious about past sluts, from Russian Empresses to South African "curiosities" to Biblical villainesses? Listing of past Slut posts is here.

Would you take a stand you thought was right, even against death threats?
Has shooting anyone ever changed hearts and minds?
Your thoughts?

Monday, October 27, 2014

Need Some Slut Love?

Next week, this series will be back with the next Slut (and this one's not even 18!), but today I am guesting on Rebekah R. Ganiere's blog, with 3 Great Reasons To Be a Slut.

So, for those of you wondering about the dating thing... more on that, later. Suffice it to say I am finding men of interest, and vice versa. Now for a kitten update:

Picked up this little darling up from the vet on Monday night, following her spaying surgery.

I think I have settled on the name; Creativity, or Tivvy for short.  She has been someone shy at first, then a real sweetie once she gets warmed up, so Creativity seems to fit her.

But I'm not 100% sure.

The only thing I am sure if is that she is very sweet, very affectionate, very teething, and has very, VERY sharp little teeth.

So, what about the boy?

In the six weeks or so I've had him, Mojo has morphed into a sleek young teenager kitten (five months old).

His marking are gorgeous, if I do say myself (not that I had anything more to do with them than having the wit to pick him out.

Unfortunately, Mojo is twice Tivvy's size, and he wants to play with her, ALWAYS... and a little rough. After keeping them separate for most of the week, we began supervised playtime this weekend.

As you can see, while she is hiding in the bag, Tivvy is also initiating play. It has been hard for me to let her sort it out for herself, I want to protect her, but Mojo is learning to back off when she squeaks in protest.

This is from later in the weekend.

There is nothing as cute as sleepy babies - kittens, puppies, people...

And now they are learning to sleep together. Mojo's latest roughness is pinning her down and washing her face.

This time, I think it's gonna work out.

Friday, October 24, 2014

Kittens & Puppies & Mens, Oh My! (Adventures in Datingland)

I'm doing it. The dating thing.

And I am ALSO now raising two playful kittens.

Let me 'splain.

For years I was trying to find something, anything, to bring down the weight of my extremely obese cat, Metaphor, aka, Stinky. Diet pet food after diet pet food, New toys, which she would condescend to play with for three minute, then never again.

Did she LIKE the collar? No. Did she tolerate it, like so much else? Yep.

Finally it dawned on me, perhaps a playmate would encourage Stinky to move around. So I consulted experts and very carefully selected Motivation, aka, Mojo, and after the 2 week seclusion period, some extra time for him in the Cone of Shame (why can't males leave their danglies alone?!?), and some slow, supervised exposure, Stinky and Mojo seemed to be on the path to kitty friendship, if not yet at the playground.

Seems to me like she's saying, "Hey, maybe he isn't so bad, after all."

Next, Stinky got sick very suddenly, and I had to have her put down. Cue many tears, and then I was faced with a dilemma. Now I had a solo, five-month-old kitten who would be bored silly while I am at my day job all day. How can I be the best pet mommy to HIM?

Answer = Kitten #2. After crowdsourcing name ideas, I'm leaning toward Creativity, because she seems playful, but a little shy.  Tivvy for short.

About Those Puppies...

So while all of this cat drama is going on, I've signed up for the wonderful world of online dating.

While yes, the pictures I used for my profiles are more flattering than not, they're not glamour shots, photos I've seen of authors and others, which don't look anything like them, or are 30 years old. Just better lit, mostly. Here's a selfie I took last night, with the new kitten.

In my profile, I'm honest about my struggles with weight, in the first paragraph.

I put my real age right out there: [gulp] 53 years old.

I state, among other things, that I am looking for SINGLE guys, in my area, aged between 40 and 60.

So I'm getting messages from some men who actually fit that description. Yay! Also from guys who aren't local, or guys who are much, much older than 60.

I'm getting messages from skeevy married men who just want to have a sleazy affair or one night stand, on the down low.

And I'm getting very flattering messages from, I'm calling them puppies.  Here's a sampling (names changed to protect the guilty).

  • Hey, how's it going? My name is Adam. I would probably be way too nervous to come up to you in person, but I just wanted to say that I think you're absolutely beautiful!  Adam, age 25.
  • Would you be interested in a boy toy for the night? Ben, age 23
  • I guess you can say trying to be flirty, lol. I'm open to women outside range, and am talking to several 50+ women, what can I say, y'all are a bit of fun! To be honest though, I'd be more interested in hooking up than a relationship with someone north of 40. Casey, age 30
  • And I get that I am young, but age is all in the head. Mentally I connect with women in their 40s and 50s. It's who I'm attracted to. So if you can get over the age thing... lets chat.
    I am awfully good in bed so that's a huge plus right? :) Desi, age 34
  • I'm not all that intimidating, honestly. I'm pretty friendly. I'm a XXX by trade. And I've dated older women before, so you wouldn't be an "experiment," as it were. Eduardo, age 25.

Seriously, I know my face doesn't scare horses or small children, and on occasion, I do feel very pretty (cue Natalie Wood's vocal stand-in).  But is it so hard for a young guy to get laid that they're hitting on an overweight woman old enough to be their mother (or, in some cases, their grandmother)?

I haven't entirely ruled out playing with a puppy, but mostly, I feel too squeamish about it.

Especially the one who is the same height, age, and NAME as my son.

Poly Want A Partner?

On the other hand... not an insubstantial number of connections I've made have been men who state they are in open or polyamorous relationships.  Messages about being home alone, while the wife is out with her boyfriend.


Polyamory is based on the theory that people can enjoy more than one loving, sexual relationship at the same time. (As opposed to "swinging," which is more a series of flings.)

I find I'm kind of intrigued.  In my own history, yes, this has described me. I have enjoyed - and sometimes, felt guilty about - feeling deep love and sexual attraction to more than one man at a time. Sometimes I was open about it; sometimes I was not, but I always felt worse about the secret-keeping than the sex.

Have I found "my people?" I always felt homesick when I'd finish a Robert Heinlein book that described an extended, group marriage arrangement, from Stranger in a Strange Land to Friday to To Sail Beyond the Sunset.

Research is pointing more and more to the idea that monogamy isn't the only "natural" pairing for human beings, any more than heterosexuality is.  Both may be the most popular, but they don't meet the needs of every individual. It turns out, I already knew a few poly people, and  I like them, a lot. They don't have horns or hooves or anything unusual about them, except perhaps a greater appreciation for sensuality and openness about sex. (Kind like mine.)

So, I am joining a few poly and Sex-Positive Meet-Up groups and FaceBook Groups, and have checked out a library book on the subject that was recommended to me. I'm going very slow, feeling like Bambi's mother, cautiously sniffing the air and taking one tiny, cautious step at a time, before frolicking in the meadow. We all know that Bad Things happened when she forgot.

And that's not the kind of stuffed and mounted I'm looking for.

And while I am meeting and chatting with a variety of men, I am being careful, both with my person and with my heart.

Note: If you are going to be sexting, and if you are going to be sending selfie pictures of your favorite vibrator (I would never ever sext a picture that showed intimate body parts, not even a nipple), you just might want to either delete those pictures off your phone, or move them into another folder, before you let people scroll through your phone to look at your kitten pics.  Oops!

Have you known people who were openly polyamorous?
Had unusual online dating experiences?
Your thoughts?

Monday, October 20, 2014

She Ain't Your Typical Snow White

Because who hasn't wanted to read the story of Snow White, retold where she's an amazing badass? Who hunts vampires?

Pleased to welcome to Writing in Flow bestselling author Rebekah R. Ganiere, and her book, Snow The Vampire Slayer.
Lady Snow Gwyn is tired of playing "mother" to her seven Vampire Slaying brothers. For the past two years, she's yearned to be out there fighting at their side as they hunt for bloodsuckers in the black of night. Snow is as good a fighter as any man, but she wasn't called to be a Slayer. A mere formality in her book.

 Prince Sageren, Son of Lothar has spent the last fifty years in exile, awaiting the day when he can finally avenge his family and take back his throne. Barely existing, he's forced to face his inner demons and the monster he once was, compelling him to vow to never drink from humans again. A simple enough task--until he crosses paths with a human who makes his fangs ache to drain her.
When Snow runs into Prince Sage on a late night trip to the woods, she's torn between the urge to kill him and the desire to succumb to the feeling he stirs within her. And when Snow's life is threatened by the same evil that murdered his family, Prince Sage must enlist the aid of Snow's brothers to not only help him save her life, but to also regain his rightful place as King of the Vampires.
 If Sage can keep the Slayers from killing him first.

Sounds delish, amirite? Here's an excerpt:

Run away. Run now. He wanted to scream. But he couldn’t. Drink her dry. Make her your own and you’ll never be alone again. He pounded on his skull. His gaze met hers and he suddenly lost all reserve.

One moment he was inches away, the next he grabbed her braid and forced her body against his, crushing her lips with his own. His tongue plunged deep into her mouth. She stiffened at his touch initially, but then relaxed against him. He needed this.

Her supple body pressed against his, her curves sparking every inch of his skin to wake up and pay attention. Out of sheer will, he forced his fangs at bay. He wanted her all to himself at that moment. Just her. The feel of her lips on his lips. Her tongue danced and licked his with a palpable need. Her apparent lack of experience made Sage savor her all the more.

He was dangerously close to losing control. She pushed against him roughly and he let go. Her eyes widened before hardening. Quick as light, she swung to slap him, but he caught her wrist.

“You don’t want to do that, love. You’ll split your palm open again.”

“You had no right to kiss me.”

Need pounded through him, making his body quake. He let go of her wrist. “I didn’t see you protesting too much.”

“I…I…” Her mouth opened and closed several times, but no words formed.

His gaze trained on her throat. The pulsing vein and the thundering of her heartbeat called to him. He licked his lips.

He stepped forward, gripped her arms and locked his eyes with hers. Her pupils contracted and then flooded open.

“You will go straight to the cabin. You will get your things and you will run. Run ‘til you get safe in your bed. And when you wake up in the morning, you will remember nothing.”

Her eyes glazed over and he eased his grasp on her. She picked up her sword and ran. A minute later, the light in the cabin flickered out and the door slammed. Sage didn’t dare let himself even breathe until he knew she’d gone, for fear that he would chase her down and ravish her.

When he no longer heard her footsteps, he fell to his knees and clutched the bloodied gauze she’d left behind. So long he had been in exile, underground. So long he’d denied himself the companionship of a woman. And here, in the middle of a glade, he’d found her. His heart’s desire was a human. What the hell was he going to do now?


Rebekah R. Ganiere is an award winning author. Her novel Dead Awakenings, debuted in January 2014. Red the Were Hunter, the first in her Farielle Series, released in May. The second book Snow the Vampire Slayer was released in September 22, 2014. And her trilogy The Society will be released Nov. 17th 2014 by Kensington's Lyrical Press.

Rebekah is the VP of Communications of the RWA FFP Chapter as well as a member of her local Los Angeles and Orange County chapters. In her spare time when she isn't writing you can find her moderating on or hanging out with her husband, four children and her English Bulldog, rabbit, two bearded dragons, and two tortoises. 

The escaped snake has yet to be found.

Stalk Find Rebekah:

Or, ask Rebekah a question here.
I'll be guesting on her blog next Monday, yeah, me!

Monday, October 6, 2014

Slut of the Month: Coco Chanel

Abandoned orphan. Cocotte (kept woman) and Couturière. Nazi-lover?

Gabrielle Bonheur Chanel did not live an easy nor uncontroversial life. Her parents: mother Jeanne, a landrywoman, and father Albert Chanel, a traveling street vendor, were unmarried at the time of her birth, though persuaded (shotgun marriage?) to formally wed, several children later. When Gabrielle was 12, her mother died; she and her two surviving sisters were sent to the convent of Aubazine in Central France, while the two boys were sent to work as farm laborers.

Later, when Gabrielle "aged out" of the convent at age 18, she (and her sisters?) found work as seamstresses (having been trained in sewing by the nuns) during the day, and sang and danced in La Rotonde, as a poseuse, one of the performers who entertained between star turns. As shown in the clip, below, from the movie Coco Before Chanel, the pavilions were dark, crowded, noisy venues.

It is thought to be here that Chanel picked up the nickname Coco, perhaps from one of the popular songs she frequently performed.

To advance, the girls had to present considerable talent, to move up to a star position. Another option was to attract a protector.

Coco did not have the singing or dancing talent to move to a star position.

She did, however, succeed in attracting the interest of ex-calvalry officer, textile heir Étienne Balsan, and lived with him in  his chateau, Royallieu for the next three years.

A Child is Born

Julia-Berthe, Coco's older sister, is supposed to have married, given birth, and committed suicide when the boy, André Palasse, was six. Whereupon Coco adopted the boy, and promptly shipped him off to boarding school in England.

But there were persistent rumors that the boy belonged not to Julia, but to Coco, probably by Balsan. In any event, Coco did not bear any (other) children, so Palasse would become her sole heir, and perhaps, her most important emotional connection, outside of "Boy" Capel.

Enter Boy Capel - Lover, Sponsor, Muse

While living with Balsan, Coco would fall in love with and "run away with" his friend Captain Arthur "Boy" Capel, a member of the English aristocracy. He established Coco in a Paris apartment, and would finance the fashion boutiques Coco opened in Paris, Deauville, and Biarritz.

At a time when women's fashions imprisoned, even distorted women's bodies in tight corsets and many yards of stiff, fussy fabric, Chanel's designs were revolutionary and boasted simple, clean lines. They used fabric like jersey that breathed, and moved, and allowed women to breathe, and move.  They were modeled upon men's fashions, in large part, those seen and admired by Coco upon her lover, Boy Capel.

It didn't hurt that these styles were also most flattering to Chanel's own lean, athletic, boyish figure.

Fashionable women couldn't get enough. To Capel's surprise, Chanel repaid all the amounts he had "loaned' her (most men at that time considered such loans to a mistress to be a gift) in a short period of time.

And then Capel was killed, in an auto accident in 1919. Never mind that he had married, elsewhere; never mind that Chanel herself had taken other lovers. twenty-five years later Chanel would refer to his loss as "losing everything."


The Parfum That Launched a Thousand Affairs

en: Chanel No.5 parfume
en: Chanel No.5 parfume
(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Having launched a successful clothing brand, Chanel branched out into scents.

Traditionally, women's fragrances around 1920 were either single floral notes (for respectable women) or heavy, musky aromas. Working with parfumier Ernest Beaux, who for the first time used aldehydes in the process, Chanel is said to have selected the fifth vial (of ten) as the mix she sought.

In 1921, Chanel launched her signature fragrance, Chanel No 5, which included oils of jasmine and tuberose. Depending on who told the story, the "invisible" flask would be based upon either the men's toiletry bottles Boy used, or perhaps his alcohol decanters.

In any event, the sales of Chanel No. 5 would make Chanel a very, very rich woman, even if it would make her partners in the endeavor even richer. Pierre and Paul Wertheimer would finance, produce, market and distribute Chanel No. 5, for 70%, and Theophile Bader, founder of the Galeries Lafayette department store, would receive 20%. During WWII, Chanel would become unhappy with her 10% (especially as the Wertheimers had moved its manufacturing to America, and were not originally sharing the worldwide sales) and she would try to seize greater control of the company.

The Only Thing She Sewed Up Was Her Designs

via Buzzfeed
Even though Boy Capel was the great love of her life, Coco did not stop being a sexually active women involved with other men, even before his death, let alone afterwards.  Many lovers were famous, such as Igor Stravinsky, the Duke of Westminster (English), Grand Duke Dmitri Romanov (Russian), poet Pierre Reverdy, illustrator Paul Iribe. Some say she had more than a close friendship with the Prince of Wales (later to abdicate his throne for American divorcee Wallis Simpson). She maintained a lifelong friendship with Winston Churchill, as well. Some claim her friendship with Misia Sert, wife of Spanish painter Jose-Maria Sert, included a sexual element.

Almost all of her lovers remained friends and admirers for the rest of their lives. In cases where they were or became indigent, she would often support them (and their families) in their declining years.

Chanel (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Somehow, Chanel also found time to continue her work as a designer, clothing that not only bore her elegantly simple and distinctive logo, but a very distinctive "look" that women all over the world wanted to wear. Unlike other designers, Coco was happy to let her designs be copied by others, correctly understanding that this only created a greater desire for the real items.  She also designed jewelry, and a handbag that is still famous today,

But What About the Nazi Years?

What has come to light in recent years is Chanel's early involvement with the Nazi party. While she was called before French investigators to answer allegations more than once, she was always freed - due to Winston Churchill's influence, is one rumor, due to lack of evidence was the reason given.

What is undeniable is that:

  • Chanel spent six of her formative years in a Catholic convent at a time when the Catholic Church was virulently anti-Semitic.
  • Her lover and fiance Paul Iribe wrote and published (with Chanel's funding) a magazine that quite frequently ran articles about how France was being destroyed from within by the Jews.
  • Her lover the Duke of Westminster also made frequent anti-Semitic statements.
  • She was able to continue to live at The Hotel Ritz when most Parisian tenants were evicted from it to make room for German officers (although she did have to change apartments).
  • She took as her (younger) lover during those years a professional German spy, Baron von Dincklage.
  • Her nephew (son?), André Palasse, was a prisoner in a German POW camp, later released.
  • She engaged in a bizarre attempt to end the war that was called Operation Modelhut and involved her and her connection Vera Bate Lombardi, and a trip to Madrid, Spain.
  • The chief of SS intelligence, General Walter Schellenberg, was convicted at Nuremberg of war crimes, but released in 1951 with incurable liver disease. Chanel paid for his and his family's living expenses and medical care, and for his funeral.

via Buzzfeed
An interesting statement, especially paired with this picture.
To me, she looks very cold and hard here.
This has been one of the hardest "Slut" pieces to write, because the idea of anyone willingly, knowingly, cooperating with the Nazi's and/or Hitler's "Final Solution" makes me want to puke.

However... I have learned that history is flexible, and historians and biographers bring their own baggage into their view of a subject. They can prove that Chanel cooperated with the Nazis, and had a Nazi officer as her lover. They can - and do - explain WHY they think she did that, but neither they - nor we - can see into her mind to really know.

My book club has been reading a number of WWII-themed books in the last few years, from The Book Thief to The Girl You Left Behind, plus several more, and I have come to understand better that sometimes people do what seems like horrible things on the outside, for what are internally admirable motives, like the French woman in Girl who pairs up with a German officer and acts as a double agent, sneaking in supplies and news, even though she is despised and spit upon by the people in her village.

My own opinion is that Chanel admired the Nazi Party and disliked Jews, except for her own particular friends, just as people can be racist and have black friends. She felt that the Nazi system of government was better than the communism/Bolshevik revolution in Russia, for France, and bore a grudge against the Westheimers (more Jews!) for what she perceived as cheating her.

However, It is also possible that Chanel was biting her tongue till it bled when her lovers made anti-Semitic comments. That she did what she did during the occupation and war to safeguard the life of her nephew, André Palasse.

Or, it is possible, she was simply determined to survive, and always "went" with what she perceived to be the winning team, without having any personal philosophy at all. Can any of us say, for sure, what Chanel felt, and why she did what she did?

Last March Down the Runway

In 1954, after a 15 year absence, Chanel returned to couture with a new collection. Paris felt it was the same old, same old... and while to a certain extent England and America did too, they also loved classic Chanel, and made it a financial success.

Coco Chanel lived to be 87, dying at The Hotel Ritz in 1971. Despite her early life of poverty and struggle, despite living through two World Wars, a long-standing morphine addiction, death of lovers and friends, and so much more, she achieved some amazing gains for women through her work. Even as I despise what I believe to be her Nazi-loving activities, I cannot help but concede and admire the way her bold and innovative fashion creations helped women stride into more freedom, of body and thought.  Would the women's liberation movement have happened when it did, if women had still been encased in corsets and acres of ruffles in the 1950's and 60's?

Curious about past sluts, from Russian Empresses to South African "curiosities" to Biblical villainesses? Listing of past Slut posts is here.

Do you wear any Chanel fragrances or clothing?
Do you think you would like to?
Your thoughts?

Monday, September 29, 2014

Because Kittens

I haven't posted in a while, because life.

And kittens.

As I've been adjusting to the loss of my beloved brother-in-law, and looking for ways to support and re-invent my relationship with my sister, her sons, and my own son, I've been busy. Busy at work, busy with family "events," and busy with therapy.

I am happy to report, my sister is currently in remission and doing... okay. Losing someone who's been your life partner since you were 18 ain't something you shrug and get over in a hurry.

The weekend she moved home (june) to the small community on the shores of Lake Isabella, she almost had to evacuate, because of a nearby fire. Then again, last month (August), same deal. Another fire that came within 1/2 mile of her house, as if having serious cancer and losing her husband wasn't bad enough.

I am torn between sticking close to my sis to give her comfort and staying the hell away because it sometimes seems like she is a lightning rod for drama.

The drought is hitting California terribly hard, hence, the fires. I know, I know, #firstworldproblems. It's not like we have to give up showering (yet), or, stars forbid, miss a few meals like people in Africa or other parts of the world, where global climate change = regional starvation.

But then again, maybe that's in our future. Who knows where this will lead, in another 20 years?

Earlier this month, some of the family went to my sister's house to ?celebrate? ?acknowledge? what would have been my BIL's birthday, because that's what my sis wanted. Among other things, we watched Jim's favorite movie, Tommy. Which is also one of my all-time favorites.

Cover of
Cover of Tommy

Here's one of my favorite scenes, where Tommy's mother Nora, played by Ann-Margret, has a nervous breakdown (what we currently call a psychotic break).

I love how, in the end, the only pure, white, unbesmirched thing left in the room is the carnations... and then they, too, are beaned and chocolated up.

An Object in Motion Tends to Stay in Motion

Because my life is in transition, and I am having to make a shift in all the relationships in my life, to adjust to the loss of my beloved Jim, I've been seeing a therapist once a week. Got plenty of emotional homework I've been working on. I feel like I am making good progress.

I personally recommend therapy in times of grief, or transition. If we pay attention to something that's not - quite - working right, whether that's a car, a faucet, or our emotional life, it's much easier to fix than waiting till the engine is "froze up" on the overpass from the 134 to the 2. (Which is NOT where you want to be stuck, trust me.)

via wikipedia at at the half-way point
Yes, it IS a billion miles high, give or take a few

My personal engine is not stalled, but over the last few months, it's been laboring. So, fewer blog posts, more massages, and counseling to get through the tough parts.

And, I've been transitioning a kitten,

See, my cat, 12 1/2 year-old Metaphor, aka Stinky, is just a smidge overweight.

Maybe more than a smidge.

What do you mean, I'm not just fluffy?

I have tried every brand of diet cat for the last 8 years. Stinky only gets MEASURED amounts of it. Endless vet consultations. And still... *sighing*  I've bought so many cat toys and tried to interest her in them, my living room looks like Cat Disneyland. [Note: I'm sure I am supposed to post some kind of disclaimer here that Disneyland is trademarked yada yada, but you all know that I don't really have Disneyland in my living room, right?]

Enter Motivation, aka, Mojo

So, a hot young stud (neutered or not) would certainly get ME up and moving around. I consulted the staff at the East Valley Animal Shelter, and brought home Mojo, who's about 4 months old, and less than 4 pounds, to Metaphor's 22-23.

He is sweet and affectionate and I have been spending most mornings and evenings working to give each kitty individual attention and love and exercise space, before securing Motivation and heading off to the day job.

Two weeks in... Metaphor has let the kitten touch noses with her twice, but she's still pretty hissy.

Mojo has been in the Cone of Shame, following his neutering...

And out of it...

Yes, he does have the cutest, little white tip to his tail.

And... back in it again. (WHY can't males leave their danglies ALONE?!?)

*I* am well. Both kitties are spending a fair amount of time purring and being happy, and are on nutritional supplements recommended by my vet to boost their immune systems in these stressful times.

According to the label, it's tasty, so I almost took a lick, but it's rather fishy-smelling, so, no.

How are YOU?
What have YOU been up to, doing my hiatus from blogging and posting and visiting 'round?
Are you ready for the next Slut of the Month, coming next Monday?

Monday, August 11, 2014

Celebrating A #ToriAmos #MusicGiveaway

Powerful, poignant, passionate, Promise showcases the kind of relationship, one of beauty and honesty and love, that all mothers and daughters should share.

Since the first time I heard her, I've loved Tori's work. Whether it's the unflinching rawness Me and a Gun, the fairy tale-childhood lost ballad Winter, or the kind of smoky, wobbly-on-high-heels tune that perfectly fits Playboy Mommy, her songs make a deep sort of sense, a reverberation in my soul, and in that of many women and men I've talked to.  

So while normally, I don't "do" giveaways, when Chris Lam of whatIruninto said that Universal Music was looking for a few good blogs to share this video and give away a couple albums, I was jumping up and down, "Pick me, pick me, pick me!"

I love to share good things, and while I wish I could buy my blogfriends every single album she's ever released, funds don't permit. But I'm thrilled that they're letting me share TWO.

Tori Puts the Writing First

There's an incredible interview with Mark Shrayber over at Jezebel. A small excerpt:
One of the most unique things about your performances is that when you sing, even when you're in a huge theatre, it feels like you're singing directly to them. What does it feel like to know you have such an impact on people?
Well, you know, the thing is, in order to have an impact on people, your modus operandi cannot be to have an impact on people. You have to be a musician and serve the muses and you have to surrender, in a way, yourself. In order to empower, I must surrender and let them kind of take over my physicality. And stay out of the way. Because only by serving the songs and respecting them can you possibly have the correct intention, and the intention is that you seeing the song from a grounded place, a clear place, and an emotional place.
So in order to be that, your first thought cannot be, 'I wanna go out there and blow people away." That's when you're acting from your ego. And that's when you're performance is ego-based, and I have been there in my life, and we all probably have in different ways. But you're a writer, you put the writing first, and you be the best damned writer that you can be, then you can't control how people respond to it, but it's within your power to tell the story and in a way that does the story justice.

Tori Amos performing in concert during her Dew...
Tori Amos in concert during her Dew Drop Inn
Tour. Photograph taken at the Robinson Center
Music Hall in Little Rock, Arkansas, USA.
(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Do you see why I love this artist? 

She spends an hour, hour and a half before almost all her concerts meeting and talking to her fans, letting them takes pictures, etc.  She doesn't hold back, in her performing, in her songwriting, or with her fans.

Critics are saying that The Unrepentant Geraldines is Tori's best album in years.

Two lucky commenters, chosen at random*, will win a copy of The Unrepentant Geraldines, which includes the amazing song Promise. or, if you just can't wait, 
buy it now:

*A lot of blog authors will use Rafflecopter or some other device to ensure that you not only leave a comment, but Follow the fan page on FaceBook, on Twitter and via email and reTweet and sign up for the newsletter, yada yada. I always hate being asked to jump through a billion hoops, and figure you do, too. Just leave a comment, and I'll be drawing the winners on Wednesday. (Though if you choose to Follow and reTweet and all that stuff, because I am cool and give good content, I do appreciate it.) 

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