Email: rachelkramerbussel at


Lusty Lady

Watch my first and favorite book trailer for Spanked: Red-Cheeked Erotica. Get Spanked in print and ebook

Thursday, August 30, 2012


I'm in Brooklyn for what feels like a few brief hours because it is a few brief hours. These days I travel so much I feel a bit discombobulated no matter where I am, but the bonus of being at home is that I do not have to consult GPS or maps save for minor street turns. I've been off balance the past few weeks, with so many plans disrupted and rearranged and turned on their heads, and new plans springing out of thin air. I have many pieces I'm waiting to hear back about, that feel like I've sent them into some editorial black hole and I know the right answer is to move on and write more, but I keep wondering what to do about those, whether to check in and risk being a pain, whether to submit elsewhere.

I fell down a step the other day and skinned my knees and palms and was mostly grateful that my glasses were intact. That's the second time I've fallen and they've held up. The saddest part was that I fell down a lone step and I was actually waiting on it for someone who was hobbling down the stairs on crutches and in my dreamy, head in the clouds way was wondering what that was like, and then I went sprawling.

That sprawl seems to epitomize much of my life these days. Falling, picking myself back up, trying to stay calm but sometimes freaking out. Yesterday my headache was so bad that I almost cried, but I didn't. My friend made me homemade guacamole that was fresh and delicious and spicy and we ate those and blue corn chips and watched her videos from the Olympics, including Usain Bolt's big win.

There is a part of me that wants to give up my apartment and just roam, which is sortof what I'm doing the next few months, without the giving up my apartment part. I'm not going to do that, but sometimes I think about it, because Where to Live has become a metaphor for What I Want My Life to Look Like and I'm not totally sure on either count. Ruling out possibilities in both categories should help me narrow down the good choices, but sometimes it feels picky, like I should just take whatever I can get. It's hard to realize that you can fall for a place as much as a person. I have been wearing this Brooklyn hoodie all over the country, from Milwaukee to the West Coast to Minneapolis, as a reminder of home.

It's funny because every time I go away, I stuff my suitcase full of books and have all these grandiose plans of how much I'll read and write, and this trip, even with what wound up being a 6-hour airport wait, I didn't read all that much. I finished one mystery and read a YA book and a memoir over the course of a week, which isn't bad, but I brought about 7 more books and acquired a few more by visiting publishers. And...that's how my home is filled with hundreds of books. I'm trying to set smarter goals for myself. That sense of dislocation sometimes occurs when I sit down to write or edit or blog. Those are all very different tasks, and nonfiction is different from fiction, and sometimes it feels like shaking my brain back and forth and jostling it until it's in the right mindset for one or the other. I like the variety, but I sometimes it's dizzying.

For Fifty Shades of Grey fans

Here are Fifty Shades of Grey cupcakes and here are some more.


Nude hotel spanking erotica story sneak peek (aka, like if you like spanking)

I'm giving you a free sneak peek at my September anthology Cheeky Spanking Stories, and if you like it, I'd love it if you'd do me a favor and click "like" on the Amazon page for Cheeky Spanking Stories. I don't pretend to totally understand metadata and how Amazon works, but I'm being told by various writers that getting a certain amount of likes on Amazon helps kick your book into gear over there. I've heard 40 and 150 as the threshold and wish I knew more (if you do, let me know at rachelkb at but I want to give my books the best fighting chance they can get, so I can keep on doing them. And yes, there will be Cheeky Spanking Stories postcards; if you're going to Catalyst Con in Long Beach September 14-16, I will hand you one in person, otherwise, stay tuned for details on how to get a free one mailed to you. And with that, here's me combining two things I love, hotels and spanking!

From my story "Marks" in Cheeky Spanking Stories

“Stop it!” Emma squealed as Russell’s blows with the belt went from slaps with more noise than sting to ones that seared her skin, ones that would surely leave marks all over her pale backside. Normally she loved knowing that he wasn’t just spanking her in the moment, but was giving her a parting gift as well, something she tucked into her panties and skirts as she went to work or was reminded of as she sat down at a restaurant for lunch with a friend.

The tinge of afterglow combined with being able to admire her ass were added bonuses to the thrill she got from being spanked, the rush of delicious sensation that she could rarely get enough of. Even on her most off days, when the world seemed askew, a spanking from Russell could set her mind at ease, could right her world. As wonderfully painful as they were, she balked, sitting up and shifting so she was sitting on the hotel bed. “They’re all going to know.” Yes, even at an alternative venue, Emma wanted to be liked and not judged, to fit in. She was all too used to feeling like the odd woman out for liking things like being spanked, slapped, tied up, choked and verbally degraded. She’d found a community of like-minded people who gave her the support she needed, who understood that after a long day she liked to come home and sometimes wear nothing but a collar. This was a new adventure for Emma and Russell, a welcome pleasure after eight years together.

“Know that you like to be spanked? Honey, I’m sure they can tell just by looking at you,” Russell coaxed her. The idea of being “found out” in nonkinky company had always been something they’d talked about in bed, but now it wasn’t having its usual arousing effect on her. “And besides, so what? We’re adults and we’re at an adult resort. The point is to do whatever we want. And I know you want a spanking.” He was right; she did, very much so, and she knew he wasn’t talking about a simple over-the-knee hand spanking, but the kind of blistering session that made them both breathless, the type of spanking that fueled their relationship and, Emma thought, kept it solid and secure.

Spanking was something they could always turn to—and did. But showing off her ass after a full round of Russell at his most vicious wasn’t on her agenda. The bruises and welts he tended to leave on her pale ass were special to her, marks of her endurance she treasured with pride, but they were for her to see in the mirror or him to admire around the house. She’d wanted to come here, but she was still feeling out the crowd, and didn’t want to jinx herself and be seen as separate because of her spanking predilection. Sure, most of these people maybe engaged in a few slaps before and during sex, but Emma liked it hard and rough.

“Well, it’s fine for them to suspect, but I can’t walk around in a nudist hotel the way I normally do, with marks and bruises all over me. It’s one thing if I show off my tattoos or maybe bend too low and they see a bruise or a few lines so quickly they could almost think they imagined it, but what would these people think if they saw exactly how red you make my ass? They’re exhibitionists, sure, but that doesn’t mean they’re kinky. I don’t want to scare them.” Still, even as she said the word, the idea of scaring them filled her with a sense of excitement, a sense of power. She was an exhibitionist, but she was also a perfectionist and competitive at everything she did, from her job as a party planner to finding the best-tasting coffee in town.

If she was going to do something, she wanted to be the best, and if you’re at a nude resort, the goal is not so much to have the mythical “perfect” body as to score the most attention. If Emma hadn’t known that when they walked in, she’d have figured it out from the parade of people, classically beautiful and not, strolling through the hotel in their altogether. The truth was, to really stand out in a place like this, you’d have to not just wear clothes but dress like Lady Gaga. Emma liked her size-ten body, liked the way it felt when she draped herself across Russell’s lap, liked how her large breasts bobbed as she walked around topless, as she had last night, their first at the resort. She’d been too nervous to go bottomless, but eating dinner in public with her tits hanging out had been freeing, and exciting, and they’d both enjoyed seeing so much naked flesh, whether they were interested in touching it or not. Russell had moved his seat next to Emma’s so they could whisper and discuss their fellow diners, and who they’d want to kiss or spank or fuck.

“Fine, for tonight. No marks. But I’m not letting you go to dinner until I’ve enjoyed your ass, one way or another. What’ll it be, Em?” He was asking her if she wanted to get spanked or have him spread her cheeks and shove his cock deep into the hole he opened up there. She liked both of them, though spanking was her favorite. She’d never been spanked before meeting him save for a few light smacks, and those hadn’t done what his smacks did for her. Russell’s spankings were a work of art, from the way he teased her to the way he made her ass feel like it was coming alive under his hand.
If you liked this excerpt, please like the Amazon page. Thank you!

Pre-order Cheeky Spanking Stories from:


Kindle edition (ebook)

Barnes & Noble

Nook (ebook)



IndieBound (search for your local indie bookstore)

Cleis Press

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Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Cheese curds, bacon, alligator, lamb testicles, deep fried deliciousness: My first time at the Minnesota State Fair

Read all about my three days at the Minnesota State Fair at Grub Street (yes, "orgy" is in the title). It's my first piece for them and I'm very excited to be delving into food writing (aside from cupcake blogging). If you like it, please like it on Facebook and pass it on. More photos are on Flickr but these are some of my favorites, like alligator sauteed in garlic and oil and alligator-shaped fries! That soft serve cone ruined me for soft serve; it was amazing. Thanks to my friend Sheela for recommending I try it (in the dairy building). Also it didn't make it in to the final article, but New Yorkers, heads up for next year, there's a Minnesota State Fair Day in NYC, complete with cheese curds!

Puff Daddy on a stick!

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My erotica story "Party On" in new Zane anthology Z-Rated: Chocolate Flava 3

My story about a sex party, "Party On," is included in the just-published anthology Z-Rated: Chocolate Flava 3, edited by erotica superstar Zane.

Here's a blurb about it from Doubleday Book Club, the most fascinating part, to me, being that Zane's son has a story in this book!:
Zane, the Queen of Erotica, reigns over a supremely talented kingdom. In her latest anthology, the New York Times bestselling author invites you to partake in her sensual riches. Z-Rated: Chocolate Flava 3 gathers 26 tantalizing stories of desire unbound from today’s top writers—and Zane tops off the collection with “Mea Culpa,” a torrid tale of her own.

Open these covers to reveal too-hot-to-handle bedroom (and beyond) action from bestselling writers Allison Hobbs, N’Tyse, Cairo, Pat Tucker, Rachel Kramer Bussel and other favorites, along with Tiffany L. Smith (host of the Internet show 3 Chicks on Lit) and many enticing new voices. From cops to kleptos, from computer-age cool to pure animal heat, from big girls to buff brothers, from sneaks ‘n’ peeks to control freaks, these sultry scribes (un)cover every conceivable angle on love and sex!

You’ll even get a taste of the next generation, as the anthology opens with a story by Zander, the son of Zane. Clearly, talent runs in the family! So clear your schedule, lock the door, unplug the phone, light some candles, put on some Barry White, and devour these sizzling stories. You’re always in good hands with Zane. Explicit sex.

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Monday, August 27, 2012

San Francisco erotic writing workshop postponed

My Good Vibrations San Francisco erotic writing workshop that was being held tonight is now postponed until my next visit. Will keep you posted. Sorry to disappoint anyone.

Free erotic audiobook samples

I just learned that on Amazon you can listen to free erotic audiobook samples from Audible, so below are links to my books that have been turned into audiobooks, and more are on the way! Also, free audio samples are also available at

Do Not Disturb: Hotel Sex Stories

The Mile High Club: Plane Sex Stories

Orgasmic: Erotica for Women

Fast Girls

Smooth: Erotic Stories for Women
(stories about nudity)

Passion: Erotic Romance for Women

Obsessed: Erotic Romance for Women

Best Bondage Erotica 2011

Spanked: Red-Cheeked Erotica

Bottoms Up: Spanking Good Stories

He's on Top: Erotic Stories of Male Dominance and Female Submission

She's on Top: Erotic Stories of Female Dominance and Male Submission

Peep Show: Tales of Voyeurs and Exhibitionists

Caught Looking: Erotic Tales of Voyeurs and Exhibitionists

Best Sex Writing 2010

Best Sex Writing 2009

Best Sex Writing 2012: The State of Today's Sexual Culture

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My hoarding essay "(Mostly) Not Ashamed" in Dancing at the Shame Prom

The anthology Dancing at the Shame Prom: Sharing the Stories That Kept Us Small, edited by Amy Ferris and Holly Dexter (Seal Press) is shipping now from Amazon and includes my essay "(Mostly) Not Ashamed," about hoarding, a follow-up to my Salon hoarding essay. The book will soon be in stores nationwide and I believe will be available as an ebook, but I'm not seeing that listed online right now. I will be reading from my essay on October 11th at 7 p.m. at the JCC in Manhattan at 334 Amsterdam Avenue at 76th Street (my name isn't listed on their site, but I am reading). It's $10 for members, $12 for non-members, with wine and cheese. Find out more at and check out their Tumblr and share your own shame story at

Here's the first three paragraphs of my essay, and please do check out the whole book. Aside from my participation, I'm truly eager to read the whole book as soon as I get my hands on it. Actually, I feel that way about all books by Seal Press, and plan to raid their offices tomorrow when I'm there (kidding, sortof).
I make a living writing about things that most people would find too private, personal and uncomfortable to reveal. I left law school for a career writing about sex and dating, in erotic fiction and first-person accounts. I've covered everything from my bukkake fantasies to hooking up with a Top Chef contestant to mommy play. I've posed nude and gotten hate mail. Being open about sex has never felt unnatural, but it took me a very long time to come to terms with the fact that I'm a hoarder, and even longer to share the word with others.

Hoarding, for most people, conjures up gruesome images. Mention it and you're likely to hear about the Collyer Brothers, who died trapped by their own stuff. Hoarding isn't something I take lightly, but I've finally learned that it's not something I can walk around feeling wracked by shame by or chained to my apartment, constantly sorting and cleaning and feeling guilty. Take me or leave me, but you can't take me without my stuff.

As I type this, I'm sitting in my "bed," which is now just a deconstructed mattress on the floor. The frame, which I've been meaning to throw out on the one designated day my Brooklyn apartment allows large items of trash, is tilted sideways against the wall in the middle of the room. Scattered around are hundreds of books and dozens of articles of clothing, along with random items like pillows and padded envelopes, an ironing board that used to support the mattress, an overturned chair, papers from the early 2000's, neatly placed in labeled files with names like "taxes" and "travel," from back when I made an attempt at organization.

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Thursday, August 23, 2012

My story "Flaunting It" in new ebook Too Fast for Love

The ebook Too Fast for Love: Opportunist Encounters just came out today, and is available for just $1.99 for 10 stories on Kindle or Nook. My couple celebrating their 27th anniversary exhibitionism and adventure Las Vegas story is called "Flaunting It" and here's teaser. I chose the Mandarin Oriental because that's where the negging PUA (pickup artist) tried to pick me up. I thought the setting was beautiful. I'm always on the lookout for a good setting, though I also think a "good" setting can be anywhere with the right wordplay. I will share more on that Monday night at my San Francisco Good Vibrations erotic writing workshop - if you know anyone in the Bay Area who wants to write erotica, please let them know!
Recently, though, while celebrating our twenty-seventh anniversary in Las Vegas (we celebrate every year, rather than simply waiting for the "big" anniversaries), we took our predilection for perversity to a new level. Aside from those women we'd bedded together, and a few steamy kisses at parties, I'd never been with anyone other than Brent, and definitely not another man. Oh, I'd looked plenty, online and off, and had my share of fantasies, but up until then, simply telling Brent about my naughtiest daydreams had been enough. That was my way of flaunting it, and whenever my friends would tell me about lusting after their coworker, lawn guy, painter, or plumber in hushed tones, I'd wow them with stories of brazenly flirting right in front of my husband, and how hard it made him. The logical extension of these flirtations was something I'd been nervous about, always balking at actually taking things to the next level, but something about turning fifty had made me just a little bit bolder. I knew I looked good for my age, could pass for ten years younger, if I wanted to, even though I'd let the gray overtake the brown.

Maybe it took that milestone to make me want to see what it was actually like to take another man to bed. The mere thought of it made me giddy with a kind of desire I hadn't felt since my earliest dates with Brent. We decided that we'd try it out and if I met a man who tickled my fancy, I could go as far as I desired, as long as Brent could watch. I donned a black silk dress that was in stark contrast to the jeans and t-shirts on the crowd in the casino at The Flamingo, where we were staying. We'd chosen the Mandarin Oriental, since it didn't have a casino, as the debut of the new me, and booked a room there in hopes of using it as a home away from "home," as it were. Taking another man back to the bed where I'd been intimate with Brent would be a bit much, even for me. I wanted a clean slate for what felt like losing a different kind of virginity. It took us a while to get out the door after our room service meal, though, because Brent was so obviously, achingly hard, I had trouble keeping my hands, not to mention my mouth, off of him. By the time I'd given him an extremely agile blowjob, followed by him returning the favor as I sat on his face, my hair was mussed enough to require another brushing...

Just as he put his glass down and reached for my hip, Brent got up and angled his way toward the bar. "Excuse me," he said as he jostled us. I thought I might come right there on the spot, with my boy-toy on my left, my husband on my right. Brent managed to convey all that he needed to in one lightning-quick, red-hot glance. I wanted to kiss him, then turn and kiss Andre, and if I'd thought Andre would've gone for a little triple play action, at that moment I'd have gone for it. Our little naughty experiment had turned me into a wild woman!

Instead I let Brent order his scotch while Andre's hand roamed. When we took a break, I headed toward the bathroom, where I found a text from Brent. "Go for it, baby," it said. "Take him back to the room and let me know when you're done. I wish I could be there to watch, but I'll be more than happy to hear about it." Just reading the words made me wet, my mind racing with possibilities as the hairs on my arms stood on end.

Oh my God. I wanted to ask if he was sure, I wanted to pause and analyze whether this was a positive step in our relationship. Okay, that's not exactly true; the rational, logical, organized side of me wanted to do that; the rest of me shivered in excitement, knowing I was about to taste and feel and touch a new man. That Brent wasn't just okay with what I was doing, but seemed as eager as I was, made me have even deeper respect for him.

I hurried back to Andre and settled myself flush against him. "Well, well, well," he said, smiling at me with those beautiful lips before using them to kiss the side of my neck, tenderly at first, then with a bit of tongue, followed by a light nipping of his teeth. I moaned softly, aware that we were probably the only people engaging in a public display of affection at the bar. "Nadine," he said, his voice husky and sweet. "You are so beautiful." I didn't hear a hint of "so beautiful for your age" or "so beautiful because I want to fuck you" in his voice. All I heard were those four words, and they in turn were beautiful to me.
Read my whole story and 9 others in Too Fast for Love: Opportunistic Encounters for only $1.99. I'm working on lots of hot new stories too, for my solo collection and other anthologies, just need to finish them up.

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Wednesday, August 22, 2012

The Mile High Club audiobook

My anthology The Mile High Club: Plane Sex Stoires is now available as an audiobook. See all my audiobooks here and read more about the book, including my introduction, here.

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I want your sex diaries!

Now seems like a good time to remind you that I need more sex diarists for the book of all original sex diaries, out in 2013 from Ten Speed Press (yes, it pays). Ideally looking for people outside NYC, SF and Seattle but I'm open, also need more single people, men, people over 40, political conservatives, people with non-desk jobs and someone to write a Burning Man sex diary for the book (those are just some of the people I'm looking for, but I'm pretty open). First, read a few sex diaries so you know the style and what I'm looking for, then if you're still interested, email me at sexdiaries at and tell me why you'd make a good candidate and I'll send you more info.

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Saturday, August 18, 2012

Dreams vs. reality

I woke up this morning from a very dirty dream, after a day involving little sleep, final edits on an article, and the sound of breaking glass as men attempted to get my new refrigerator up the stairs, to little avail, which in turn changed my night's plans from seeing my man to staying home to wait for them to get it up the stairs today. The dream was implausible, in some ways, being a dream and all, but the heart of it was something that took me by surprise. I don't dream much like that anymore, and I realized that a year ago, I probably would've somehow wanted to make the fantasy part of that dream come true on some level. I would've taken it as a sign that this is what turned me on, that I should seek it out.

This morning, I thought, This would make a perfect story. And maybe it will, if I write it. I don't take the act of writing for granted as I once did, after way too many half finished, three quarters finished, ninety percent finished stories that are still buried on my laptop, somewhere, half alive, half dead. I hope that dream will form the basis of a story that's different from ones I've written before, but more I realized that I'm the one who's different. I no longer think I can or should have everything I want, when I want it. I'm not a perfect lady who gets what her heart desires with the snap of my fingers, and, what's more, I don't want to be. I spent a long time thinking that's who I wanted to be; I had this model, this vision, for how to be a better person, but the frame, as Gabrielle Bernstein, would say, was all wrong. I was going after an utterly impossible dream, and I thought the way to do that was to be someone I'm not. Jealousy is a bitch like that.

I hate the not knowing, the in between, the uncertainty. I have no idea where I will wind up living or if I will achieve my biggest dream or if I will ever write a book. Maybe I'll just keep on doing the same old thing, but I hope not; my desire to not trod this same tedious path is part of why I'm hopping on so many planes in the next few months, in the hope that by changing my surroundings, I too will change. I don't know what that change will look like. I try to balance creative visualization with my penchant for unrealistic expectations. That girl with those wildly inflated sense of self and greediness about life is, I hope, dead and buried. That dream brought back a glimpse of her, and I don't begrudge her her dreams. At the time, I needed them; they gave me something to strive for, until they didn't.

This month has been full of disarray, of plans gone awry. I think the universe is trying to tell me that to do anything other than take life one day at a time is to set myself up for disappointment. I know it's something I need to learn to move forward, to surrender control in order to be grateful for the gifts I do have, the opportunities I make the ones granted to me by luck and whatever magic is out there. I don't always deserve it, but I'm trying to be someone who does. That dream reminded me that I can move on from a time in my life when I thought I deserved all sorts of things, into a time when I know that I deserve nothing, and if I get anything at all, it's not because I'm so special or wonderful, but because I was patient, and lucky, and hopefully ready to accept whatever it is purely and openly, without trying to figure out what comes next. Living in the moment is challenging, to make a drastic understatement. Sometimes it's not challenging at all, when things are going well, when I have those blissed-out moments I didn't finagle or con the universe into giving me. I wrote an essay this week that I sent off to an editor (hi, ultimate act of realizing I have no control over things), and I wrote about trying to force out the darkness, because I couldn't simply sit with it. It made me feel dead inside, heavy, so weighted down I didn't care what I had to do to try to purge it. I still have moments like that, sometimes, and the temptation to try to play G-d, to mastermind my way out of that emotional black hole, is incredibly strong. I don't have an answer, for today or tomorrow or next month or next year. And maybe that is, in fact, the answer. That I have to accept the things I can't control--and omg there are so fucking many of them--in order to grasp the things I can.

I can't control my dreams, and I wouldn't want to. I know they have messages I can't hear with all the white noise in my messy head during my waking hours. Sometimes they take a little longer to appreciate, and I have to make the choice in those first fuzzy morning moments (or, often, middle of the night moments) whether to embrace them or push them aside. This morning I let myself stay in that world, long enough to get a glimpse into some alternate me, to appreciate her, before coming back down to earth.

Friday, August 17, 2012

I wrote about The Wire cast Obama fundraiser on Martha's Vineyard

In addition to my Jawsfest writeup, I covered the Martha's Vineyard Obama fundraiser featuring the cast of The Wire for Daily Intel.

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People pleasing vs. control freaking

I've been thinking a lot about people pleasing, which is a bad habit of mine I'm trying to break. At the same time, part of why I veer in that direction is that I'm afraid of being seen as a bitch, a control freak, a selfish brat. I'm not sure where the line is in between those, with making myself happy, which I know has to be a baseline before I can make anyone else happy, and demanding everyone around me bend to my will. My instinct is to retreat from people altogether, so that whatever I do won't affect them. I saw that divide fail fantastically two weeks ago, when I made what I thought was the right decision, but was so miserable I couldn't hide it. I also don't want to be so sure I'm right about everything that I discount other people's points of view, even when I don't like those people. I've been struggling with that too. I think part of why I have so many trips planned through the end of the year—Minnesota, DC, Dubai, Little Rock, Texas and Scottsdale, in particular (the Bay Area trip is a work trip)—is that I crave and need that freedom, that instinct to go wherever I want and not have to ask anyone's opinion or permission.

I'm grateful to see that I'm not the only one who owns up to people pleasing. Mandy Stadtmiller wrote a great piece at xoJane that I'm trying to embody, because I do often approach people, whether strangers or acquaintances, from a place of fear, from a place of feeling less than, and I think they can sense it. Her boss Jane Pratt admitted to it too. It's a tough habit to break when it's so deeply ingrained that you assume that whatever someone else thinks or wants you to do is automatically the better choice. I know I find myself barely even considering my own interests because I don't think they're valid, or if they are, they're weighted so poorly next to someone else's interests, they don't even count. Last year (which feels like many years ago!) I was in L.A. and was going to go to this Your Face Here Pop tART Gallery event; I had just read about it online and it seemed cool, and I was emailing with a friend of a friend who I was going to meet up with during my visit and he railed against the gallery and art stars and this whole scene I knew nothing about, and instead of checking it out for myself and seeing what I thought, I didn't go, in large part because he made it sound like only pretentious idiots would be into that. That's what I'm talking about.

It's a tension, undeniably, and I don't know how it'll play out in various areas of my life. I've been trying to push myself in new directions with my career, my travel, my thinking about a lot of things. I sometimes look back at where I was in January which was, in two words, a mess, and am so glad I have a little more control and groundedness, but some of that feels like it could slip away at any moment. Or rather, being mature and adult and just living with the not so pretty petty parts of life is a lot harder than whatever form of escapism I'm most drawn to on any given day. Sometimes, I don't know how to please myself, and that is probably the most frustrating thing for me of all. I know that the little things, like discovering the cheap and fast and easy public bus on Martha's Vineyard, made me feel at home, and I even discovered some Jawsfest attendees on the bus. I know that sitting in my favorite Brooklyn coffeeshop and randomly getting a card for a free drink makes me happy. I know that deciding to skip the Pussy Riot reading last night because I was exhausted and instead see Celeste and Jesse Forever made me happy. And I also know that every day is not all about making me happy, or at least, not about indulging, but I also know that the last few weekends have thrown me for a loop not so much because I spent money on things I didn't use, though that made me feel wasteful and ashamed, but because I felt like I was negating what I wanted to do in favor of what someone else wanted me to do. Hopefully there's a balance between those, but I think it's worth it to keep putting myself into unfamiliar and sometimes unnerving situations

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Free Pussy Riot reading tonight at NYC's Ace Hotel

Details in this post, and at Wired, Billboard, Autostraddle and the Ace Hotel.

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Wednesday, August 15, 2012

My Jawsfest article at Vulture

I wrote about Jawsfest for entertainment website Vulture, "Jaws Fanatics Gather, Pray to God of Sharks." Photo below is of Carrie from Glasgow, Scotland, who painted her own Jawsfest nails! More photos at Vulture. And yes, my uncle was in Jaws. If you like the article, I'd love it if you'd pass it on/like it online. Thank you!

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Monday, August 13, 2012

How far away can you live and still be a "girl next door" and other questions posed by this week's sex diary

I'm in the middle of revising an article and writing a short story (I trade off, in between cupcake blogging and refreshing sites I've written pieces for, because I'm the kind of person who cannot sit still, who looks down the subway tunnel waiting for her train and think sthat will speed it up), so here's this week's sex diary, which poses various questions in the comments, about blue balls, and how far a "girl next door" can live and still be called a "girl next door." Enjoy!

Friday, August 10, 2012

Home sweet rainy coffeeshop

I'm sitting in Espresso Love in Edgartown, my chair turned away from the table, laptop on my lap, empty coffee cup next to me, waiting out a storm. I'm pausing to recharge so I can interview people, and trying to not to indulge my urge to go home early. Last weekend, which I will grant its own post, I experienced the chasm of being where I didn't want to be, and that was awful, so I'm working on appreciating where I am. Here's a visual:

I have been sharing a room with my grandmother. I have my own twin bed, with just enough room to keep my assorted pile of books, Nook, phone and sometimes laptop. That part I don't mind, it's the incessant food pushing and nosiness and belief that everything everyone else is doing is of concern that I mind. That probably makes me a horrible granddaughter, but so be it. I'm stubborn and independent and need alone time, which is why I'm stealing some now. I've been in a slump for the last few weeks, full of great ideas that I don't wind up finishing. It's an awful state to be in if you make your living as a writer, but even when I had a job, I hated when I let myself down like that. The last few days I've been here, I've actually stayed up late, the way I always tell myself I will at home and never do, and brainstormed, pitched, got the words out, and that act alone erased, at least for a little while, all the guilt and frustration that's built up from the past few days of slacking.

I'm in the middle of planning lots of trips--Dubai, Little Rock, Texas--and I realize that it says something about me that I will be away so much. "You're going away for your birthday?" my boyfriend asked as we were comparing calendars. I shrugged, like, what else would you expect? For the record, he's invited. I know that part of that desire to get away is not so much about getting away from New York City as all the things there that keep me from what I supposedly want to do: write, long, hard, more than a few thousand words. I love short stories, love puzzling out where they will go, but they are a flighty girl's hobby, something I know I can do. Not always--I get my share of rejections and stories that just don't seem to get completed. I mean that I know I'm capable of writing one, and perhaps that knowledge makes them a little boring to me. I want to try something new, push myself, go further. I loved the portrait of the late David Rakoff Ed Champion painted here, of his meticulousness, his dedication.

Every time I think I'm over that fear of what other people will think, it returns, seemingly more insidious each time. It's that evil of people pleasing that so fucked me up last weekend, that awful desire to be liked by others even more than I like myself. I know that for me, the only way to like myself, is to take that time, however much I need--and sometimes it's quite a bit--to welcome the words, to welcome the ugly thoughts, the mean ones, the "bad" ones, the ones I'm not supposed to have. It doesn't mean I have to indulge them, to cultivate some image of the perfect bitch; if I'm a bitch, I'm sure people will figure it out pretty damn fast. And there's the rub--sometimes I am a total bitch. I'm mean, vicious. I see someone's name in, say, my inbox, and I want to vomit. I don't, literally, but I want to. I need to embrace that bitchiness, rather than rush to push it away as if it's the side of me that's inhuman, unnatural. Of course it's natural. Of course it's okay. It's a feeling, not an action. Writing about it is an action, but one that, in my experience, usually helps tame it, gets it out somewhere else, so it's not wrapping itself around me, cloying, clawing, suffocating me.

I feel awful every time I get upset at the prying, the petty annoyances of a family vacation, but they are just a part of it. The other part is my little cousin stealing my heart when we're looking at photos on my phone (which he knows is an iPhone) and coming to one of me and my boyfriend. "I meet that boy?" he asks me. "No, but we can call him." And we do, but he's not home, and we go back to looking up cakes with Foofa and Brobee and DJ Lance Rock. "I want all of these cakes," he tells me when I find Yo Gabba Gabba! character cupcakes. Later, I can't help myself from laughing when we visit and I play "The Wheels on the Bus" and he acts it out, and gets really into the babies going wah wah wah and the parents going shh, shh, shh. That's home too, not just a coffeeshop that now sounds like its roof is going to cave in from the rain. I guess anywhere can be a kind of home if I let it, if I can bring all of me too it, not just the good or pretty or needy parts, but all of them, the girl who loves to be alone and the girl who loves to be around people who sometimes make her laugha nd sometimes make her cry.

Tuesday, August 07, 2012

Live from Martha's Vineyard

Every time I lie down to sleep, or today, on my plane ride, I plot out these long blog posts and assorted essays I'm working on and think I will then suddenly have them transform from my mental meanderings into brilliant explanations of what I've been up to, hasn't quite worked out that way. I've barely had a "normal" day in over a week, with assorted travel and changed plans and Monday, waiting for a new refrigerator and doing some major cleaning and then finding out the firdge isn't coming until next week. But I wanted to say that I'm doing better than I was last weekend, and post occasional photos and tidbits on my Tumblr. It's taken me a few days to figure out why I've been so out of it, discouraged, frustrated with myself. I get it a little better, and will be posting more about my weekend revelations, in between writing about Chip Kidd and Hello Kitty and such.

Right now it's 2 a.m. and the only thing awake in my grandmother's house besides me is, as far as I can tell, one pesky mosquito. It's quiet, but not quiet like a typical suburban quiet, at least, not to me. The water is right outside my door. I'm surrounded by family where I"m staying, next door, up the hill. Watching the Olympics tonight, I remembered being 8 years old, such a big girl that I got to live with my aunt and uncle for the summer an take care of my then less than 1-year-old cousin. I loved that summer so much; I felt so important, so proud, to be special enough to stay with them. Now my cousin is 28 and has two brothers and we all very much miss his mother, who, though born to Icelantic parents, converted to Judaism and is buried in the Jewish cemetery right here, next to my other family members. Apparently, we are popular; my uncle told me on the drive back from the airport that our headstones are covered in stones.

We looked at photos in the digital photo frame I bought my grandmother for Mother's Day, but realized was truly a gift for me. I loved looking at those photos, with my cousin who lives in Park Slope who I rarely see and my uncle who lives in L.A. I found out my other cousin who lives one subway stop away from me is moving out of the country, and also got gossip updates on almost every other member of my family. Pretty much every conversation has involved some variation of, "So I hear your have a boyfriend" or "Where's your boyfriend?" I don't know if that should make him feel welcome or not, but I told him that since I was regaled twice in ten mimnutes with how delicious my cousin's Italian boyfriend's tiramisu was, if he cooks for them, he will win them over instantly.

My cousins and I are going to see a Martha's Vineyard Sharks baseball game tomorrow, and Thursday, Friday and Saturday I'm going to Jawsfest. Mostly I'm trying to make each day count, to push myself as best I can, to be proud of my work time and my play time, to live in the moment while planning what I'm doing and where I'm going over the next few months.

Saturday, August 04, 2012

Failing better and other things I hope to do next time

I'm having one of those days where I wish I could disappear, I hate myself that much. Things were going so well, until all of a sudden, in a flash, they weren't, and it all feels like my fault. Poor planning, overload, lack of decision-making, guilt, stress, layered in and around each other, until all I want is to sleep until it's over, but I have trouble with that too. Sleep feels indulgent, at a time when I already feel like I basically said to the universe, "Money? I've got plenty so I can toss it around so freely I might as well burn it." That is not the message I should be sending, considering my level of debt. I should be telling the universe I'm ready to dig in, work hard, and when I do spend money, to appreciate it, to value whatever it is I'm buying rather than neglect it, treat it as an afterthought.

I don't know how to escape that suspicion bordering on knowledge that whatever choice I make is a mistake, a flaw, a sign that I am dead wrong. Sometimes you only realize you're making the wrong choice after the fact. I've known for a long time that I have a tendency to want to do everything, to be everywhere at once, which often leads to impulsive decisions. The difference is I thought I had it all under control. I thought I had a carefully coordinated plan, and when it fell apart, so did I. I've probably gone through half a tissue box and cried enough to feel empty inside, not because of any one single thing I did or didn't get to do, more because I feel wasteful and immature and basically like a loser.

I started going through my Nook looking for something to read that maybe I'd downloaded and overlooked, and came across Naomi Shihab Nye's There Is No Long Distance Now. In the introduction, she writes, "Thank you, lives we did not lead, might like to lead, might still lead." In the first story, "Stay True Hotel," she writes, "Sometimes after long sadness, you needed a new thought. Hold it awhile. Stay true to it." I have a lot of trouble not trying to peer into those lives I did not lead, trying to backtrack and try to basically lead that one I didn't along with the one I did. My boyfriend basically said, just make a choice and stick to it. Instead, I agonized over it, trying not to let it ruin a meal that I wanted to enjoy but couldn't help feeling like, again, I'd been wasteful about. I get that we all make mistakes. We all fuck up. Part of me feels like maybe things worked out the way they were meant to be, that rather than turning into someone I hate, who thinks the world revolves around her and should always get her way, I had to take a step back and realize I can't get everything I want, when I want it. Or maybe the lesson is don't carry so many damn bags and you won't have to worry about lugging them around and preventing yourself from doing what you want.

Maybe it's just that that long sadness needs to be given its due, not pushed into a happy face or coddled or exorcised, but simply taken for what it is, for however long it lasts. Maybe it needs to be appreciated, to remind me that it doesn't mean I'm a worthless waste, that if I'm stuck with projects, or people, or situations, or a body, or actual physical stuff, that aren't giving me what I need, I am the only one who can make changes in my life so I can not have a repeat of this situation. I have no idea what the lesson is. At the same time, I got notified of an opening in an Alaska writing workshop I was on the wait list for. I know I need instruction, guidance, dedication to my writing as if it were a real job rather than a throwaway stupid thing I don't really believe in so I don't have to actually risk anything devoting myself to it in any way that counts. The more I dig in, the more I realize that the retreat is not actually as easy to get to as I'd thought, and I know that should be a sign that there's all the more reason to go, to push myself, if only to prove that I can get there, so that I value what I learn all the more, so that I promise myself that it won't be like this trip, that I will be a better, more organized person. I've skated by with the bare minimum, and I have the pile of discards to show for it, the black marks against my name that, if I focus on them, feel so heavy, like they are pressing on my fingers, urging me to give up give up give up, you'll never make it so find something better to do, something you can actually succeed at. But my fingers are hopeful, always. They keep going back, they keep wanting to succeed in spite of my worst instincts, in spite of all the fuckups and failures and messes and mistakes. They want to imagine something new, or simply get out, onto the blank screen, the old ideas that I have talked myself out of endless times. I know there is a lot on the horizon, a lot crammed in to these lists I keep making and remaking, as if that means I will actually follow through. It's hard when you feel like you can't even do one simple thing correctly; if I can't get myself to our nation's capital, how will I get to Dubai?

I know that's the worst part of me talking, the worst part of me that is always there, somewhere, inside, telling me that I will fail, even as I send out acceptances for an anthology, even as I have a new idea for a story, even as I pick out a dress to wear to a party I'm covering and plot out how to go about venturing into new territory. Maybe I had to fail this time, to fall on my face like I did the other day in Union Square, to prove that I can pick myself up again, that I can keep going, and not let it derail my journey. Even if it's a journey with an unknown destination, with new goals and dreams and hopes and possibilities lurking with every sunrise, with every time I let go of all those self-imposed obstacles holding me back from even the tiniest flicker of the fantastical, the utopian, the that-couldn't-possibly-work.

Wednesday, August 01, 2012

Choose your own adventure

I never read the Choose Your Own Adventure books as a kid. They seemed like too much work for me as a reader. I didn't want to choose my own adventure; I wanted the author to. I wanted to be swept away into a new world, to lose myself in someone else's adventure. I wanted one single, finite ending, not umpteen possibilities. Now, I think a little differently abut life (although I still probably wouldn't read a Choose Your Own Adventure, because to me the adventure is getting to the end of the story, and if it's, say, Gone Girl, it's adventure aplenty).

I wasn't always the type of traveler I am now. When I went to Israel while in law school, I went pretty much just to go. It was free. I never did a semester abroad or overseas spring break trips, perhaps because I was busy doing a double major in three years, but more so I didn't have the inclination, or the means. I was, looking back, pretty sheltered. I wouldn't have known how to be self-sufficient in the ways that traveling solo requires.

Sarah Hepola wrote an essay at Salon about why every woman should travel alone. I don't know if every woman should, but I can say that there is this glorious freedom, especially now that I work for myself, to being able to identify somewhere I want to go and making it happen. Is it overwhelming to, say, try to pick a hotel in Dubai, having little to go on? Yes, but it's also this rush of power and excitement to make all those decisions, to not have to answer to anyone, to explore and investigate, to trust myself that it will work out.

Last year, I knew I was at, or maybe past, my breaking point. I was a mess, and couldn't see a clear way out of it, and when I started thinking about Hawaii, I knew I had to go, especially when I saw that I could book the flight for free on frequent flyer miles. At the time I did that, I didn't yet know about Air BNB. I didn't know where I'd stay or how I'd afford it, but I had faith that I would figure out a means to do so, and I did.

I get emails every day, from airlines, from sites like SniqueAway and Jaunted and Hotel Chatter and GroupOn Getaways and Iceland's tourism board. Sometimes I wish I could just click on some random place and go there, and I guess I could, but right now I'm looking into more strategic plans, figuring out what I really want to do, like finally eat my way through the Minnesota State Fair. Sometimes it's less about the place than the people. One of my friends moved to Texas, along with her kids, and when I go visit them, I don't care if I see much of their city. I'll be perfectly happy to lie on the floor and let her daughter draw all over me with markers, or whatever she wants to do. Still, it will be different, a marked contrast to this past weekend when I went extremely stir crazy from barely moving at all and not leaving the house until I realized my body was rebelling against me and took it for a walk at 9:30 at night.

All I have to do is set foot at a train station or an airport and there's this sense of possibility that washes over me, along with the knowledge that in a few hours I will be somewhere else. Especially when I'm traveling to somewhere I've never been, I know that in some way it will change me, open up my world to new people and adventures. There's a reason my second and third tattoos were inked in Portlands Maine and Oregon. It means I will always have a part of those cities on me, in me. I'm attached to them, and carry those trips with me wherever I go.

Part of why I bristle when someone tries to tell me where to go, or not to go, is that it's antithetical to me to what the idea of travel is, which, for me, is freedom. It's happened before, but hopefully is an aberration, and a lesson that I'm still sorting out, and a reminder of just how much that freedom means to me, that it is in many ways what keeps me going. Yes, I live in a capital of culture, but I still want to go to plays like this. It means shaking things up, exploring everything from historic Williamsburg to fair food. I didn't do a ton of touristy stuff in Hawaii; I was more interested in simply soaking in the warmth, wandering, not having an agenda. If I go back, there are things I would do again, like eat the best acai bowl I've ever had, but I would also go to a different island, push myself to try something new. I am actually someone who craves stability and finds comfort in routine; even with a very random non-scheduled schedule these days, I eat the same foods many days in a row. I go to the same coffeeshop because it feels like my home away from home. But the travel sustains me, allows me to dream that life doesn't always have to be the way it is as its worst, or even its best. That there is always somewhere I can go to remake myself, and that goes for the topics I cover. Forcing myself out of the comfort zone that can easily turn into a rut regarding writing means I'm proving to myself that I can try new things, and along the way I imagine I will feel less in a rut when the usual subjects are just one part of a larger package, not all I and others think I'm capable of. With that, I must get on with my day and pack for our road trip, and try to figure out what to wear to maybe be on reality TV.