Archive for Not @ Sex (!)

June 25th, 2018

The Literal Power of Love

 width=When I was five years old, I got lost at Walt Disney World. I remember the moment I looked around and realized I was in a sea of people, none of whom I recognized, and that I didn’t know where my family was. I immediately started crying, and within seconds, a gentleman approached and picked me up. He asked if I was lost. I said yes just as another gentleman approached and asked the first if I was lost. The first gentleman answered in the affirmative as my increasingly anguished wails grew louder.

The next thing I remember, I was in what seemed like a lounge of sorts. There was a couch, and I sat on it sobbing while a few grownups spoke kindly to me about how I was liking Walt Disney World and what kinds of things I liked to do back home. I had no concentration for any such conversation, however, because I didn’t know where family was or what was going to happen to me. The prospect of never seeing them again and not having any idea how they might find me brought forth an emotional overwhelm I couldn’t begin to describe then and am still at a loss to articulate now, 36 years later.

The kind adults gave me postcards with Mickey Mouse and Donald Duck on them and asked if that might help me stop crying. Even at age five, I remember wondering if they were out of their minds, thinking a postcard might help me stop crying when I had no idea whether I’d ever see my family again.

I was not comprehending at the time that my parents had already been located and were on their way to the lost child center where I was.

All in all, I think I spent a total of about fifteen minutes being lost. (I was actually astonished to learn that years later when my parents and I were talking about it.) It felt literally like hours to my child self, though a more accurate description is probably that time itself seemed immaterial because every instant was simply a moment I didn’t know where everything I had up to that point found familiar about my life was.

So to recap, at the start of the ordeal, I had been approached almost instantly by someone benevolent who wanted to help me, followed by someone else just as well-intentioned. I was taken to a place where people were kind to me, and I was offered both words and gestures to comfort me.

And I still found those few minutes some of the most unspeakably, and unavoidably, terrifying of my lifetime.

I cannot stand that there are children at the border of this country going through an experience 1,000 times more terrifying and traumatic than mine given that they are without kind people wanting to help them, without being offered comforts to console them, and most importantly, without their parents on their way to arrive within moments to take them back home.

I melt into tears as I write that. And as I have almost every time I actually read something about or just stop to consider and pray for the families that are undergoing indescribable horror and trauma at the border of the United States of America. It is something I hereto would not have imagined would occur in the United States of America…well, until November 9, 2016, that is, when the wretched sense of foreboding I had about what had just occurred in this country made seeing this a year and a half later not entirely surprising, if no less horrifically surreal-seeming.

Here’s the thing—and I am being utterly sincere and non-hyperbolic here. There is no reason, no excuse anyone can give, that makes what is happening at the border justifiable. I don’t care what your political perspective it is. I don’t care what your legal perspective it is. I don’t care what possible reason you could be using to justify not finding what is occurring a complete disgrace. Because there isn’t one. “It’s the law”? So was slavery. Seriously, are you fucking kidding me? You truly think it’s okay to take children who aren’t even old enough to speak away from their parents and let them experience acute and indescribable emotional suffering because “it’s the law” without recognizing that obviously any legal framework into which such a thing fits is profoundly distorted and calls for immediate shift?

If so, you are in a frightening place. And that means humanity is as well.

If you think Trump has not been fully complicit in what is happening and could have indeed put a stop to it at any time, that indicates a different and less immediate threat but a grievous one nonetheless. It means that for some reason you are perceiving something in as distorted or close to as distorted a manner as Trump himself is. Often it feels difficult for me to know how to support everyone’s (including Trump’s) awakening from this distortion because the sheer insanity of it can seem so mind-blowing. I continue, however, to wish for that awakening indeed and aspire to do all I can to support and facilitate it.

It can feel difficult to know what to do right now or how to help. For those, like myself, who want to, I offer this:

Love. Love everyone. Love all. Truly.

I understand this may make no sense. And that if it does make sense, it may appear an extraordinarily difficult, if not impossible, order. In fact, I invite anyone reading this to not try to “figure out” or understand what it means. Instead, take a deep breath and just let the offering penetrate. See how it affects you. “Love.” Because there is a part of us that is aware of what love truly is, and that part of us is also aware that love is ultimately what we are. All of us. Yes, that means Donald Trump and Jeff Sessions and Rudy Giuliani too. All of us are love. It cannot be any other way.

Love is what will get us out of this mess. It is what serves to remind those who have forgotten, who are consciously cut off from this awareness and acting from utter unconscious distortion, of what is true. The incredible strength, courage, truth of fierce love.

I understand the challenge. I do. I will falter in this aspiration at times as much as anyone will. But please, if you want to help, love. Love with all you’ve got. Take a deep breath, allow the fury, the overwhelm, the awareness of the horror. Don’t hold that back. That is real, and that is true. It is a part of our experience, and it will do no good to suppress or try to avoid it. Allow it. Be with it. Breathe consciously and feel it in your body.

And allow love at the same time. Hold it. Hold it all.

Let love do its job—a job we ourselves cannot control or actually even do. We can only allow it. Allow as much love in—and out—as you can. It is our only way out of this.

Love,
Emerald

I’m relying on your common decency, so far it hasn’t surfaced but I’m sure it exists…
-Depeche Mode “People Are People”

November 16th, 2016

On Politics and Feminism

Pantsuit Nation selfie, Election Day 2016

Pantsuit Nation selfie, Election Day 2016

As the title of this post may suggest, if you find yourself not interested in politics or feminism or expressions of my perspectives on them, you may want to skip this post.

A few days ago, I read an article from Glamour magazine that came out months ago and had been on my “to read” list ever since: “President Barak Obama Says, ‘This Is What a Feminist Looks Like.'”

By the time I finished reading it, I was openly crying. The juxtaposition of my reasons for such was breathtaking.

For context, I want to back up a moment and share a post I made to my personal Facebook profile on November 10:

“Yesterday I felt horrified that Trump won. Today I feel devastated that Clinton lost. She worked so hard (for decades), is so qualified, was so prepared. She lost to a man who by no stretch could be called any of those things. I see it as (among other things) wretchedly unfair. I also feel a considerable part of the populace of this country has either forgotten, doesn’t realize, or doesn’t take seriously that the presidency is in fact a job. Yes, the campaign cycle has been reduced to a sensational media show in this country, but being president is an actual job that requires attendant skill and expertise, and this country has elected someone who has demonstrated zero experience and qualifications to hold it, in addition to demonstrating no discernible interest in learning that I have observed.

All that is leaving aside for the moment the myriad reasons I feel profoundly appalled that Trump was elected in the face of what he did demonstrate. This post at the moment is not a call to action or an offering oriented toward uplift or helpfulness (those may come). It is simply an expression. An expression of sadness, of lamentation, of some things I feel right now amidst many other things I have felt, do feel, and will likely feel.

Love to all.”

That reflects how I feel now as precisely as it did then.

To return to the article, which was written by President Obama, I hardly know how to describe what an inspiring, insightful, incisive, beautiful offering I found it to be from a person I’m so grateful this country has had the honor of the leadership of for eight years. Perhaps my favorite line was, “And yes, it’s important that [his daughters’] dad is a feminist, because now that’s what they expect of all men.”

As they absolutely should. I was, quite simply, moved to tears by the gratitude and resonance I felt in the face of such exquisite awareness, articulateness, groundedness, and respect for humanity. It was truly one of the most beautiful pieces on feminism I had ever read.

Simultaneously, I was crying because it was literally almost painful to read such a profound exposition against the backdrop of knowing we had just elected as the next president a man who has unambiguously asserted sexist, misogynistic, racist, xenophobic, and indeed misanthropic (I have seen it said and understand myself that “all hatred is self-hatred”) views in both personal and political/social contexts. Throughout the election cycle, I had perceived it as disgraceful that such a candidate had made it as far in the electoral process as he had; that he was actually elected to the presidency indicates such profound ugliness to me about our country I’m not sure I know how to articulate it.

The contrast was staggering. And for me, there are two separate though obviously related issues at hand. One is the prospect of Donald Trump’s being president. Of course I find that horrifying given the things I interpreted him as saying and the astonishingly low capacity to self-regulate I observed in him throughout his campaign. The other is that, regardless of what he demonstrates or instigates or accomplishes as president, a considerable portion of the populace of this country voted for him to be the leader of it in the face of his unabashed expression of perspectives embracing sexism, racism, homophobia, and xenophobia of all stripes. In a nod to rape culture, this country voluntarily put in a position of (tremendous) power a man who explicitly condoned sexual assault. Whether or not Trump governs the way he campaigned, he still campaigned as he did, and almost half the people voting in this country voted for him amidst the tremendous unconsciousness and service of fear he displayed. Yes, I am horrified by the idea of his being president. I am at least as horrified that he was elected as such.

I have seen a proposition that a large proportion of his voters were rural, white, poor people. I don’t necessarily doubt that. And I have not been in the situation those voters have, which I truly and deeply appreciate. In the case of those voters, it is wrenchingly sorrowful to me that there are people in this country who find themselves in a position so dire that they feel compelled to vote for someone who demonstrates intentions to harm entire populations based on race, sex, gender, sexual orientation, or religion in order to feel their own situation will improve or even that they will survive. (Very sadly, I have not and do not for one second feel Trump intends or desires to do anything at all to help those people. I did not at any point during the campaign see any indication that he has or has ever really demonstrated any desire to help anyone but himself.)

For those who are not in that situation and who also voted for Trump, I have seen a number of posts in the relatively sparse perusal I have been doing of social media since the election that seem to want to offer assurance of the understanding that they themselves do not consider themselves racist, sexist, xenophobic, homophobic, etc…. I acknowledge that I am not there at this time. However much those voters may not feel or want to identify with supporting racism, sexism, xenophobia, and homophobia themselves, they voted for a ticket that did, making their vote complicit with allowing those perspectives to ascend to representation in the highest level of official authority in this country. I don’t know how we could not yet as a species, or at least as a country, have come to understand that passive support of violence and oppression represents a stark and potentially grave threat, but I fear we may be in for another lesson to assist us in doing so.

Right now, I take a deep breath and reaffirm the appreciation I feel that our current president, in the piece that inspired this blog post, understands and offers such an aware, humanitarian, enlightened perspective and understanding of feminism’s importance, along with a resting, even amidst the revulsion I feel, that there are others out there who understand…that humanity is aware in part of things like intrinsic human equality even as other factions have not yet caught up to that level of awareness. That there is shadow in all of us and our work to see and release our own helps release the collective shadow that has so grossly emerged at this moment in United States (and human) history. And that we are still, and always, all One.

In answer to the perspective I have been seeing expressed that Donald Trump must now be given the “chance to lead”—of course he’ll get a chance. There’s nothing I (or anyone else) can do about that now.

I regret that this nation saw fit to offer him one.

Love,
Emerald

“If anyone still doubts that the inexperienced man gets promoted ahead of the qualified woman, you can wake up now.”
-Barbara Kingsolver (“End this misogynistic horror show. Put Hillary Clinton in the White House”)

September 14th, 2014

Kissing for Good—The Snog for Sommer Blog Tour

It is my privilege to participate in the Snog for Sommer blog tour event to help support author colleague Sommer Marsden and her family as Sommer’s husband battles cancer. The blog tour features more than 50 authors who have posted snippets of their work featuring kissing in order to encourage financial support for Sommer’s family in the midst of this immensely challenging time.

asnogforsommer-button

You may recall a few weeks ago when I posted about Summer Loving, the anthology created to financially benefit Sommer and her family. If you missed it, feel free to take a look at my post that explains in a bit more detail why so many of us in the erotica and erotic romance author communities are aspiring to help Sommer and her family at this time. (The post also includes buy links, so feel free to pick up your copy of Summer Loving both to benefit Sommer and to read some lovely flash erotica.)

To participate in the Snog for Sommer blog tour, authors are asked to post a kissing-related excerpt on their blogs today. As I announced yesterday (see post below!!) my first single-author short story collection, If…Then, should be coming out later this month. (I don’t have an exact release date and will be sure to update when I do!) As it happens, there are a few kissing scenes in it. I’ve chosen to excerpt one from one of the two stories in If…Then that are original to the collection/not previously published. The following excerpt is from “Soft and Gray”:

Fighting the urge to turn around and reenter that which was familiar to him, Aaron turned left and set off across the foyer, bypassing the sweeping staircase for the hallway that ran behind it. He had no idea where Kate would be. Most of his visits to the Buchanans’ house had been formal, without much wandering of the countless rooms of the mansion. But the chances were just as good he would run into Kate as either of her parents, and he could always excuse himself if the latter happened. Finding her was more important than politeness.

He quickened his pace, then stopped as he heard a noise. He crept forward, passing a full-length mirror on his right before he came upon the open doorway to the billiard room. Kate was there, quietly pulling a bottle from the wet bar. The glass clinked as the bottle brushed one of its neighbors.

She looked up as he entered. He couldn’t see her eyes. Minus the backlight of the bar, there were no lights on in the room. He couldn’t tell whether she felt anger at his parading around the house trying to find her or relief that he had done exactly that.

He stopped just inside the doorway. Before he realized what he was doing, his hand reached behind him and pushed the door closed. Kate’s shadow didn’t move. When he heard the faint latch, he slowly took a step forward and moved around the pool table toward her. She set her drink down. As he got closer, the smoothness of her skin took on a glow in the faint backlight.

Bethany’s piano playing started up again. Aaron continued forward and slipped his arm around Kate’s waist before he could see her gray eyes clearly. If they looked as they had the last time he’d seen them, he knew he wouldn’t have the nerve to touch her.

To Aaron it felt as if her body tried to stiffen but was receiving mixed signals somewhere inside. He pushed his mouth to hers, suddenly breathless with wanting her. Grabbing her with both arms, he twirled her around and lifted her in one movement to the pool table where she sat with her legs wrapped around his waist as he kissed her with a desperation he couldn’t remember ever feeling. It didn’t have to do with her body, with fucking her. It was just her. Or him. Or both, he couldn’t tell. He just knew that the very act of touching her was like an orgasm. Their clothes were all on, his hands touching only her waist, and he felt like he was coming—like something was climaxing in him that wasn’t sexual but felt just as powerful, as though he couldn’t bear to stop touching her.

Kate’s lips were kissing him back, but it felt like a moment out of time, like something beyond their actual lives that he couldn’t necessarily count on to mean what he wanted it to when it was over. He had seen her body overtake her before, when it was as though it borrowed time from her mind.

It didn’t mean it wouldn’t have to be paid back.

-from “Soft and Gray,” a story in If…Then, forthcoming from 1001 Nights Press

Thank you so much for coming by today, and please visit the Snog for Sommer blog tour page to find links to all the other participants, as well as a link at which to donate if you feel so moved. Namaste, and be well!

Love,
Emerald

“Maybe you’re losing pieces of your heart, you have a world but it stopped turning…spare your heart, save your soul…and hey, now, let’s recover your soul…”
-Elton John “Recover Your Soul”

January 18th, 2014

Inaugural Monthly Quote at the MFRW Marketing Blog!

quotation-marksI love quotes. There are so many I’ve found striking or by which I’ve felt nearly overwhelmed, and I’ve long kept a list of them. When the new MFRW Blog Director, Paloma Beck, asked the Marketing for Romance Writers staff if anyone wanted to be in charge of posting a monthly quote to the revamped marketing blog, I jumped at the chance. So, in addition to my monthly posts about moderating a Facebook group there on the 5th of each month, I’ll be posting a quote on the 18th.

Which, of course, is today—the first one may be found here. :) Don’t forget to check the marketing blog regularly for loads of helpful guidance on all manner of marketing subjects!

Love,
Emerald

“In the end it’s better to say too much than never to say what you need to say…do it with a heart wide open, say what you need to say…”
-John Mayer “Say”

November 17th, 2012

(Belated!) Costuming Tails :)

So, for some reason it’s taken me half a month to post about Halloween this year. Let’s not dwell on whether that’s a result of procrastination, absurd scheduling, or some combination of both! Instead, as is tradition, I want to present my costume from this year and explain a bit about how it came about! (At least I’m getting this done before Thanksgiving.)

Rick Write and I once again hosted a Halloween party the Saturday before the holiday this year. His enthusiasm for Halloween translates into really going all-out with the decorating:

Which I myself enjoy quite a bit. :)

On to my costume, for the last six years, I have volunteered at a seasonal butterfly exhibit over the summers. When I moved in with Rick last year, the distance between my residence and the exhibit approximately tripled, but I love volunteering there so have continued to, even though I haven’t gone in quite as often.

This year, I particularly loved volunteering there, in large part because of the staff. There are a few staff members that have remained constant over the years, while several part-time positions have usually been filled anew every year or two. This year, all the part-time exhibit employees were new. I have always loved the regular staff that has worked there, and this year I felt a particular connection with some of the new staff members, making my time at the exhibit even more enjoyable than in the past.

Thus, one weekend as I was pondering what my Halloween costume would be this year, inspiration struck: I had never gone as a butterfly, despite how much I love them, and suddenly it occurred to me that I could create my own original butterfly costume patterned after one of the actual species of butterfly we house in the exhibit—the species that happens to be my favorite one there.

What is it? The emerald swallowtail, of course. :) (Yes, that really is its name!)

I knew immediately what would make up the bulk of my costume that I already owned, and that I would have to largely create the wings—which, of course, would be the centerpiece of the costume—because I highly suspected emerald swallowtail costumes wouldn’t be for sale anywhere. :)

The wings creation involved purchasing plain white fairy wings at the Halloween store and black spray paint, pipe cleaners, and this fabulous emerald green glitter tape I found at Michael’s. Armed with these ingredients, I found a well-ventilated area (i.e., the driveway) and painted the wings black. Since there were silver glitter swirls on the wings that appeared resistant to spray paint, I had to do a little more work to cover them up (namely tracing them with glue and pouring black glitter over them).

Since the emerald swallowtail is, obviously, a swallowtail butterfly, I wanted to make the swallowtails to add to its wings—not doing so seemed to me to make the costume far less authentic. :) I achieved this by forming the outline of their shape with black pipe cleaners and cutting out black cardboard in the same shape to glue the pipecleaners to. (It occurs to me now that I could have just used the black cardboard, but the pipecleaners did seem to highlight their shape somehow.) Glue did not seem to hold this well, so I ended up stapling them to the wings, which worked like a charm (lol).

When the paint was dry, I positioned strips of the green glitter tape approximately where the stripes of iridescent green are on the actual butterfly’s wings. Considerable paint fumes and seemingly pounds of glitter strewn across the garage floor later, the wings were ready!

I purchased antennae as well, of course, and almost everything else in the costume I think I already owned. Obviously the costume works best from the back, so the pictures below are generally from that angle. :) Here it is, my emerald swallowtail costume for Halloween 2012:

emeraldswallowtail2

emeraldswallowtail3

And here is its inspiration. Isn’t it gorgeous?

emeraldswallowtail

Happy belated Halloween!!

Love,
Emerald

“And everywhere she goes, everybody knows, she’s so glad to be alive, she’s a butterfly…”
-Martina McBride “Butterfly”