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Lusty Lady

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Tuesday, July 31, 2012

I heart Hello Kitty and New York

And they go together so well! Me in Times Square this morning. I couldn't resist, and if I am ever down I'm going to head straight to Times Square and watch tourists get their photos taken with giant cartoon characters. Instant mood booster.

Silly me

So...sometimes when I don't think I'm going to like something, I don't read an email or listen to a voicemail. I don't want to know, because I think I already do. It's a ridiculous bit of wishful thinking, as if by not looking/listening, I can make whatever it is go away. Yet sometimes these communications surprise me. I tend to focus so much on the flaws, or even when I'm reaching for the stars, don't think I'm going to succeed, that I forget that I'm just as likely to get a positive answer as a negative one. I'm also trying to remember something I know so well from the other side as an editor: You can't take rejections personally, because they're not. How many times have I had to reject an excellent story for reasons that have little to nothing to do with its content? Maybe there's not enough space, or I already have a similar topic, or for whatever reason, it just doesn't fit in that particular book. Of course. That's obvious, and yet when it's me, I think very dark thoughts. I let it pervade the rest of what I'm doing, rather than redoubling my efforts.

August is kicking off a fresh round of travel for me that will continue for the rest of the year. I've been looking into Dubai hotels and investigating fun things to do and story ideas. I'm trying to use what last year I thought was the worst thing ever, unemployment, as a way to expand the types of stories I can cover simply because I have the freedom to go anywhere I can get to by public transportation. Sometimes I just need reminders, little signs from the universe or whoever is in charge of these things, that if there's no good news, I have to make some. So with that, onto the making.

The lure of worthlessness

The below was written last night, before the full on insomnia hit. Off to Times Square to report on cupcakes this morning, and despite a very long night, I have a good feeling about this crazy week. Speaking of which, if you're in New York tomorrow night, August 1st, and want to hear a professional acting out my bondage story "Foot and Mouth," forthcoming in Best Bondage Erotica 2013, check out Liars' League's Sex and Drugs Show at 7 at KGB Bar, 85 East 4th Street. First few sentences: "Shiny silver bondage tape. Dangling bells at the ends of matching nipple clamps. A black leather paddle. A Wartenberg wheel, that tiny, mean, metal medical implement. Pink feathers. And an evil grin." Also, my book Do Not Disturb: Hotel Sex Stories is still on sale for only $1.99 on Kindle! I have no idea how long it'll be on sale (I was shocked that it was still at that price) so a heads up. Hopefully more ebooks in the works.

I go back and forth, clearly, on my resolve to try to be professional and not write about the inner workings of my brain and heart. That feels scary, but when I do write, it feels more scary to keep it all inside. It's tricky, because I have more to say but it isn't really fit for a blog post, and not only wouldn't I know where to start, I don't want to start at the beginning. I'm ready for the end, the part where things go back to some semblance of normal. I've been hoping 2012 would be the year that happens and, so far, well, the year has laughed right in my face about that, repeatedly.

I keep feeling this need to apologize, and I think it's part of what I want to write about, which was this perfect storm of anger and jealousy and sadness and, at heart, worthlessness, that rushed over me this weekend. I've never been surfing so I don't really know how to make that analogy, but it felt kindof like I was walking along a warm sunny beach and all of a sudden a wave of all those awful things jumped over the smooth, pretty sand and tried to drown me. Not permanently, but just enough to ruin my walk, to throw me utterly off course. So, points to the wave for that. The more I ponder it, though, it wasn't really like that at all. The wave built, and at first was just a splash of water hitting my feet. It wasn't even menacing, it was just a little inconvenient. And yet it was so familiar, so intimately familiar, that feeling of worthlessness, of being worth less, that I was the one who in some ways threw myself into the wave. It didn't feel like it at the time, but I let myself go there. I let myself sink into that because, I guess, for all the work I've tried to do on myself, there's a small part of me that believes that I am worth less, not just relative to this specific situation, but overall.

It wasn't quite the vicious jealousy that seemed sharp as an arrow before; it was more an overall not quite jealousy, but just sensation that nothing I do will ever be good enough, and conversely, everything this person does is perfect. Of course I know that's not really true, but that's what I told myself for so long it's still hard to see the difference. And I believe that the stories we tell ourselves, whatever mix of fact and fiction, are coping mechanisms. They are as vital and real, in their way, as anyone else's perspective. You can try to tell me why that's inaccurate, and trust me, many people have, but that doesn't change how it feels when I'm in the middle of it.

Purging that feeling of being worth less has nothing to do with seeking outside approval, not for me, anyway. I've learned through trial and error that you can't snort, starve or stuff your face to vanquish it. You can't rip off your clothes and expect to somehow toss it in with the wash. You can't run away from it no matter how far you go, because it's there, waiting for you, when you're done with whatever self-destructive activity of choice you've decided will placate it. Maybe all those things simply let it fester, lying in wait, until a moment like this weekend.

It's funny too because we're so inundated with the idea that love will save us from, well, everything else. That being in love will make all those feelings of worthlessness disappear, like some magical cure. Maybe it works that way for some people, but not for me. In fact, in some ways it's harder to receive that love when that feeling is still there, waiting for me, because I'm not sure I deserve it, I wonder when whatever it is he sees in me will dissolve like a mirage and reveal the real, flawed, fucked up person inside. That's happened, actually, on more than one occasion. I've fallen apart and I've hated, passionately, doing so in front of someone else, no matter how close to them I am, no matter how much I plan to spend the rest of my life with them. I still want to save falling apart for just me. It's too raw, too much.

My boyfriend said to me this weekend, "Not only don't you have a poker face, you don't even have a poker body," and he's absolutely right. I can't hide it when I fall apart, when I'm distracted or upset or anxious. I certainly couldn't this weekend. It was like it was not only coursing through my veins, but multiplying, getting stronger, like I could hear it start to take over, demanding my attention in the most bratty, brassy way. I so wanted to ignore it, to do my "real" work, which is funny, because while I'm trying to branch out and write about travel and events and topics unrelated to sex and dating, those are always what I go back to, not because I've built whatever career I have on the, but because they're what interests me, and clearly, the rest of the world (hi, Kristen Stewart scandal). I don't know where that line is between what I'm supposed to write about and what I'm not, though I'm dead fucking certain that it's a line I am the only one fit to decide its width and length and boundaries.

Today felt more normal, perhaps because I came back home. There is something so welcoming to me about New York, about its vastness, its simultaneous indifference and seduction. I could walk for miles and miles and not have to talk to anyone if I don't want to, but as someone who spends a large amount of time in coffeeshops, I've also been privy to so many beautifully random, unexpected conversations with strangers. Even when I don't talk to them, they're my coworkers, for an hour or two, my neighbors, my fellow New Yorkers, even when they are clearly tourists. Sometimes it's easier to let them judge me than it is anyone a step closer.

That's all I know. I'd love to say that I hope I never feel that perfect storm again, but that seems unrealistic. I definitely learned a few things that I hope will aid me in future similar situations, ways I'd try to react differently, to fight back my own feeling of being worth less, whether it's real or imagined. I'm not sure what that will involve on a practical level, and I wouldn't go so far as to say I'm glad shit went down, but it definitely gave me some insights into my own issues that I need to work on, ones that long precede particular messiness. At the end of the day, I can only work as hard as I can to figure out how to make better choices, how to not react quite as impulsively, how to prioritize myself so I don't fall into the exact same very sharp trap I kept practically leaping into gleefully the past few years.

That makes it sound worse than it was, because it's not so black and white. The trap is often hidden behind layers of soft, fluffy beautiful clouds that look so inviting, so pure and welcoming I just want to lie down on them and have them hold me there, resting on what amounts to the softest bed ever, floating on air, a natural high. Sometimes I even got that blissfulness, but the crash back down to earth was never, in hindsight, worth it. It's a sad paradox and I kept and maybe keep, to a degree, trying to separate them. Those clouds, for a long time, held so much promise to me, they were mystical and breathtaking and so pure, they obscured anything else below them. There was nothing else, there couldn't be, and yet when it came time to actually rest on them and take advantage of what they were promising me, it was like a cartoon where the dim-witted animal is suddenly swiveling around and realizes they are suspended in the air, helpless, and no sooner does that happen, then they crash. Despite having spent, I don't know, a conservative estimate of hundreds of hours pondering all this, I have no idea what the right answers are, how to hang in midair and not have the ground rush up to meet me, littered with sharp objects, ready to devour me. Maybe I'm not supposed to know, and I'm okay with that. I have grudgingly accepted that maybe whatever "right answer" there is is beyond me and my petty narcissism, my greedy selfish heart. I just know that I have to try new ways of dealing, new ways that maybe have a chance of bringing the thing I was looking for in the first place: closure.

Monday, July 30, 2012

Sex, sex, sex

Check out the New York magazine sex issue, which includes a married couple's he said/she said sex diary. I don't have anything in it, but it's full of interesting reads, and of course the weekly sex diaries that I edit, and please let anyone who might be interested across the United States know I'm looking for sex diarists for the weekly series and the 2013 book! Email sexdiaries at nymag.com and tell me why you'd make a good anonymous sex diarists. Thanks!

Sunday, July 29, 2012

I'm sorry, do you still like me?

When I was little—I don't remember the exact age, but probably 6 or 7—there was a long period where I went around asking, "I'm sorry, do you still like me?" I could've done something wrong, or not; the first part of the sentence mattered far less than the latter. I wanted everyone to like me, and would do pretty much anything to make that happen. Flash forward about thirty years and I haven't changed all that much. That wanting people to like me is what stops me from, I'd estimate, finishing at least 50% of the pieces I start writing. What if someone thinks I'm ____, where ______ could be an endless array of epithets?

I am so often so willing to bend over backwards, so afraid of bad things happening, I ignore the fact that sometimes it's better to have someone dislike you for who you are than like you for who you're not. Sometimes this dynamic gets played out in heightened ways, and I got a huge reminder of that yesterday. I answered an email that, in hindsight, I should've waited to reply to, but I'm kindof like Pavlov's dog with this person, and decided to rush off with the first thing that popped into my head. That's what I always used to do—I had no filter whatsoever—and I found that the first thing that popped into my head was this heightened deference built on that very same fear. I was more spineless than Anastasia Steele, because I was so sure that one misstep and I'd be banished. It's laughable and ludicrous and I can't get into all the details here but suffice it to say, the idea of worrying about whether that person likes me is so beyond the point, because there's nothing I can do at this point to control that outcome, and even if they did "like me," on a practical level, I don't think it would look that different from its opposite.

But more than that, it epitomized the way in certain relationships, for me, power pervades that connection so deeply that I start serving any scrap of mine up on a platter. I'm the one who wants to take it away, to be someone so consumed with agreeing with anything they might suggest that I will go out of my way to suggest those shortcuts to powerlessness first. I'm not going to lie—for a long time, that was sexy to me. It was part of a give and take. I wanted to be that girl because there were rewards attached to being her. But that's ancient history. The me I am now, or am trying to be, isn't looking to be friends with anyone who only likes me because I'm that girl constantly looking for an approval fix.

It amazed me that I could so easily fall back into that routine; it was so ingrained that even a year later, there it was, waiting for me. It was such a marked contrast to the relationship I'm in now, where we have our moments, and I certainly have my times where I'm not on my best behavior, but I never feel that rock bottom sense of If I'm not good enough, this will all slip away. I do say I'm sorry, but it's never followed by that keening, childish neediness, because I know he likes me, loves me, and I know that's not going away. I know it so deep inside that it wouldn't ever occur to me, consciously or subconsciously, to try to second guess what might make me look cooler or better.

Frankly, that impulse scared me; it made me wonder what other hoops I might randomly make up and try to jump through, to no end. I'm not chasing the high of whatever pot of gold at the end of the rainbow I thought was there anymore, at least, not actively. I would hope I'm not chasing it at all because I know myself, and I know I would fail at it. And yet, clearly, there was a part of me that even for two seconds thought, Go for that pot of gold. Score some points. Ignore all the things vastly wrong with this situation so that you can look so selfless and calm.

That's great, if you're a robot. If you have no feelings. If you don't care about someone who seems to have everything they could possibly want in this world assuming they can control you too. That's a story for another time, but it's funny because I tried to tell myself that just by nature of being me, I was wrong and they were right. I tried to tell myself that of course that person should get what they want. Yet it started to eat at me, to sink under my skin and settle in, this sense that I'm weak and oh so willing to scrap carefully laid out plans, in this case not even to get someone to like me, but because I spent such a long time assuming that by simply being who they are, which is instantly, always and forever, better and more worthy than me, they automatically get what they want.

If there's anything that instantly presses all my buttons it's being told what to write or do or how to think. It's the idea that we don't get to decide for ourselves. I fully admit that there are times when I don't want to have to make decisions for myself, but I guess the difference is that if I'm going to give up any part of that decision-making power, I want it to be because I chose it, not because someone else stamped their foot and threw a hissy fit and decided for me. It reminded me, too, that as much as I don't want to be who I was in that moment of instant kowtowing, I certainly don't want to be on the other side of that equation. I'll leave that to those who enjoy it. Instead, I want to work on purging that small but clearly potent part of me that remembers in her bones, "I'm sorry, do you still like me?" The part that's so sure nobody will like her unless she asks that she devalues herself before anyone else can even try.

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Talk and travel therapy

This week I went back to therapy for the first time in almost a year. I've definitely missed it, and the main issue has been money. Full-time freelancing means no cushion, and often means I'm lucky to have rent money. My therapist was never covered under my insurance, so that's not really a huge issue. Anyway, I managed to catch her up on a whole lot of changes and yet even though a lot had happened, big and small, from trips to tattoos to work and my relationship, it felt like picking up right where I started. I also started journaling again, a practice I'd put off with the fake excuse of "not having time." Especially as stupid drama tries to encroach its way into my life, sometimes succeeding, I'm glad I have those outlets. I am sure someday I will write about some of it, but probably in fiction, in disguise, where I can say the things I need to in the most honest way I know how, with some distance. It's very odd to be so sure you mean one thing to someone, and then the next day not be sure at all. My own reactions surprise me, and give me hope that maybe I'm a teensy tiny bit more mature than I was. Or not. I don't really know, I just know that whatever was going on last year wasn't working.

But that's a story for another time. I wanted to talk (write) about, well, talking. I spend so much of my time alone, trying to puzzle over words, to make them come out the way I want them to, to try to sound as knowledgeable on the page as I want to in my head, that sometimes I forget that I don't have all the answers, that asking for help, or just admitting the things I fear, is okay. My boyfriend and I had a big talk today and it's not like we mapped out the rest of our lives in an hour, exactly, but I found out some things I was, frankly, afraid to ask about, because if you don't ask, you can fill in the other person's answer with whatever you want it to be.

That's one of the things I like best about our relationship is that we can talk about anything. I don't feel like there's anything I can't say, so even though my default is still figuring things out in writing, I am working on using my words out loud. It's pretty much the perfect counterpoint to the other situation, where talking was not really on the table and that led to a lot of times when I just kindof filled in the blanks of what I thought was going on. I'm doing my very best to move on from that behavior.

I do have plenty of times when I don't want to talk, to anyone; I need time on my own to sort things out. It's part of why I love the solitude of travel; you're on a plane for a few hours, you're in a hotel, you're exploring with GPS and walking and wandering and soaking up new surroundings and you're not obligated to talk unless you want to. That's it's own form of therapy too. I'm have trips planned for each of the new few months, some by car, some by plane, national and international, business and pleasure and a mix of both. I'm excited about those possibilities, and the more I've started to talk about them, the more they've started to sound like they are actually doable. It's a fine line, though, because I have a lot to get in order before I hope on a plane (or rather, multiple planes) to Dubai.

Friday, July 27, 2012

Audio version of Best Sex Writing 2012

Heads up that the audio edition of Best Sex Writing 2012, along with various anthologies I've edited, is for sale at Audible.com. And some more info:

Library Journal review:

Aiming to collect the best writing about sex published during 2011, sex columnist and editor Bussel and author and performer Bright (Big Sex Little Death: A Memoir) cull these articles from a variety of print and online sources including Playboy, Reason, Salon, the Village Voice, and others. Featuring writers such as Greta Christina (editor, “Best Erotic Comics” series) and Marty Klein (Sexual Intelligence: What We Really Want from Sex and How To Get It) and covering issues such as the criminalization of circumcision of minors, dating and STDs, politics and sex, child porn and statutory rape, religious belief and sex, and homosexuality in the military, this book highlights not only the diversity of sexual issues prevalent in the public discourse but likewise the importance of all things sexual to human culture. VERDICT Readers interested in sexuality and its role in politics and culture will find something of interest in this eclectic volume. A great opportunity to discover new voices, new sources, and new information on the subject of sex.


Winner, 2012 IPPY (Independent Publisher) Gold Award for Sexuality/Relationships



Watch the official book trailer:

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3Figl8jJ2ok&w=560&h=315]

Order Best Sex Writing 2012:

Amazon

Kindle

BN.com

Nook =

Powell's

Books-a-Million

IndieBound (find your local independent bookstore

Audible audiobook

Cleis Press

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diving into the umpteen stories of the wreck, and the mythology of the truth

Last weekend, twice, I saw my boyfriend's production company put on After Ashley by Gina Gionfriddo. It's an often over-the-top play, where I was trying to catch up with the plot, and sometimes it was hard to take the relationships in it seriously because there was this backdrop of absurdity, but there's a moment near the end that struck me both nights. It was this moment when Justin, trying to rectify what he sees as a false image of his murdered mother, quotes Adrienne Rich's poem "Diving into the Wreck." He says he wants to show "the wreck" and "not the story of the wreck," and reads a passage from tehpoem that includes these lines: "the wreck and not the story of the wreck/the thing itself and not the myth" and then proceeds to serve up a videotape as evidence that the story being put forth is false, and his is real, true, honest.

I don't know enough about the poem or poetry in general to do the poem justice, but I couldn't get that image out of my head, nor the idea that any of us can separate ourselves from our story, which is really "stories," that there is ever "the thing itself" sans mythology. Please show that to me, that person or thing or place that exists without a story, without a mythology built up around it. Of course I understand his impulse; he wanted to right what he saw as an injustice, an untruth, and I don't mean to imply that he was making something up. But the idea that because you have a history, a memory, or a tangible item, like a videotape, and that therefore you are free of mythology, free of the framing of the story, is, to my mind, false.

I thought about so any stories I've told myself, about my body, my heart, my home, my relationships. I would imagine that Rich would agree, given this bit from her poem "On Love:"
An honorable human relationship-- that is, one in which two people have the right to use the word "love"-- is a process, delicate, violent, often terrifying to both persons involved, a process of refining the truths they can tell each other.
The story of the wreck, which, again, is an ongoing one, especially when it comes to our fellow humans (and ourselves), is indeed a constant refining. It's informed by so many things, and the idea that we know someone else, whether they are dead or alive, in the best and clearest and most correct way, is one that is easy to be seduced by. Who wouldn't want to claim that they have this clear insight, this omniscient vision of "the wreck?" I thought of that when I read the Wired cover story that purported to be about Steve Jobs, but was much more accurately about Steve Jobs, the Walter Isaacson biography. Indeed, Isaacson is interviewed as are many businesspeople who've read his book. This same assumption Justin makes in After Ashley is right there in the title of Ben Austen's story: "The Story of Steve Jobs: An Inspiration or a Cautionary Tale?" (Italics mine)

I was fascinated by the way Isaacson's story was taken as fact, rather than a very popular 600-page biography informed by facts, but at the end of the day, a story. I almost wrote "like any other," which I admit isn't accurate; Isaacson had an immense amount of access to Jobs and those surrounding him. But the idea that he has written the forever definitive story, one that is so singularly truthful and decisive that no other even gets mentioned, is telling, even as the story purports to be about Jobs as multifaceted angel/devil.

It's been this wonderfully eye-opening lesson for me, to see where I am too much like Justin myself, where I want to fit people into the story I think they'd wear best, tailoring my own visions around them, rather than letting them dress themselves, shucking a coat here, wiggling into a pair of jeans there, coating themselves in all manner of disguises. Are their (dis)guises "true" simply because they picked them out of the closet? Not necessarily, but I also know that neither is mine; we are all entitled to our story, our viewpoint, no matter how much other people might disagree. There was a moment, when I wasn't blindfolded, during Taylor Mac's show on Monday night where he had an audience member come up and peel the liquid latex off his face, and it was hilarious but also shocking. You've started out in a mask--what else is artificial? All of this?

I am more cautious, in some ways, than I have ever been. I am always looking for the stories that aren't being told, the hidden language of silence, deliberate or not. I am looking for the stories of wrecks and successes in equal measure. I know that the stories we present, conscious or not, are just as important as the "truth," if such a thing exists. When I was in the middle of that spectacularly bad romance, I told myself the most vicious stories, ones that built me and that relationship up in ways that could only leave me with absolutely nothing. For a long, long time, I blamed other people for that failure, for my own lack of insight, for my lack of seeing what was literally right in front of me.

I was, in a word, angry. I hated that I was that fallible, that gullible, that stupid. I hated that part, in some ways, more than the hurt. I hated that I had fallen for my own mythology of what was happening. And it's not like all of a sudden I love that I did that, but I know it was something I had to learn from, knowledge that I could, hopefully, put to use in the future, to ask when I wasn't clear, to not elevate myself to that pedestal I'd put myself on, but also not let myself think so little of myself that I'd accept the things I did. It's more complicated than that, of course, and I think it would've been unfair in the thick of it to expect myself to see any more clearly than Justin. Do I sometimes wish I could go back and be different, better? Of course, but I also know that I was playing a losing game from literally day one. That story was right in front of my face, surrounding me, but I didn't want to see it, I pushed it away at every turn, shut anyone up who wanted to tell me their version of the truth of that story because I wanted to be special, exceptional, worthy. I don't want that any more, from that person, but it only takes an instant to embody that girl who did. I still have days when I wake up and think that maybe I could, I don't know, erase that history and hurt and indeed be worthy, for a few seconds, for the span of a conversation. Then I shake the silliness out of my head and proceed into real life, which is much messier than my flighty fantasies. There's a lot of be careful what you wish for in there too; fantasies are stories that can veer on dangerous.

That so-often fine line between story and truth, especially the ones we tell ourselves, is a space that fascinates me. I want to use it to learn how to undo some of the most damaging stories I've told myself; that I shouldn't bother starting, because I will fail, that I'm not worthy, because someone else decreed it, that the world is more limiting than limitless.

I think we all have, to one degree or another, a desire to control the story. It's a primal sort of self-protection, and I get it, I really do. Of course we want to dictate what others think of us, and in some cases, what others do. I am grateful that I am making hesitant, tiny baby steps toward recognizing that that's not something I can control. I still hate it, but I also know that the more you try to exert that iron fist of control, the more damage you do.

There have been so many times in the last year and beyond, specifically last week, where I was in such a dark place, I literally couldn't see anything else. Somehow, certainly despite myself, rays of positivity forced their way in, forced me to see that that dark story I was telling myself wasn't so much false, as temporary. Even if it's just a coping mechanism, a story I have to tell myself to get up in the morning, I do believe that every day is a new opportunity, not to undo the past, but to reframe the present, to live up to my own expectations for myself, and to force myself to keep looking for the false notes in the stories I tell myself. It makes teasing out the truth more challenging, to be sure, but I would like to think it makes me more empathetic, to be less like Justin, myopic in that search for justice, and more aware of the fact that even Ashley herself didn't have a monopoly on the "story" of herself. All we have is our own version, however twisted, subjective, loving, hateful, flawed and beautiful, that is.

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Former porn star Jennie Ketcham talks sex addiction, masturbation and healthy relationships

I interviewed Jennie Ketcham, author of the new memoir I Am Jennie and formerly known as porn star Penny Flame, about sex addiction, masturbation, reality TV, healthy relationships, female friendships and more at The Daily Beast. Here's one of the questions she answers: "Your recovery process for sex addiction included not masturbating, and making a masturbation trigger list. Why was that one of your rules?"

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I'm editing the Sex Diaries book and looking for diarists from across the United States

Here's the announcement that ran in Publishers Marketplace about the book version of the sex diaries I edit. I'd love it if you'd let anyone you know who might be a good fit, especially people not in NYC or SF or LA, people who are over 40, anyone with an interesting sex life, to read a few diaries so they know what we are looking for and then contact me about this at sexdiaries at nymag.com - tell me why you'd make a good sex diarist and I'll send you more information. Thank you!!!
New York Magazine's THE SEX DIARIES, based on the magazine's online column of the same name, which has been profiling the sex lives of average New Yorkers since 2007, and comprising 50 original entries from diarists ranging from young to old, conservative to liberal, coastal to middle American, impoverished to affluent, for a peek behind America's closed doors, to Jenny Wapner at Ten Speed Press, by David McCormick at McCormick & Williams Literary Agency.

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Thursday, July 19, 2012

Blah blah blah

I wish I had something fun and perky and cheerful to say, but I don't, though there are Fifty Shades of Grey cupcakes and a cupcake Snuggie, both of which I was excited about posting. Lately I've been pretty down, and one way I know that is that I haven't even been cupcake blogging much, something that takes minimal effort. That along with everything else seems scary and overwhelming, like why bother starting when I know I'll never finish. That's how I feel some days about getting up, and part of why I booked a few flights this week, including my first visit to the Minneapolis State Fair. I'm plotting international travel pitches and finishing anthologies and hopefully some fiction, and trying to cheer myself up. Hopefully there will be something to share soon. Also next Wednesday I'm giving a free mini erotic writing workshop at Babeland in SoHo at 7 (43 Mercer Street), and August 1st Liar's League is presenting one of my stories.

Monday, July 16, 2012

BDSM book BOGO offer through July 22nd for Anything for You: Erotica for Kinky Couples

From today, July 16th, through July 22nd, if you pre-order Anything for You: Erotica for Kinky Couples, I'll send you a signed copy of any of the following: Suite Encounters: Hotel Sex Stories, Going Down: Oral Sex Stories, Irresistible: Erotic Romance for Couples, Curvy Girls: Erotica for Women or Passion: Erotic Romance for Women. US addresses only. Just forward your receipt to kinkycouplesantho at gmail.com with "BOGO" in the subject line. This applies to ebook purchases as well (though I only have hard copies to send out). Thank you! And stay tuned for news about how to get a free copy of my next anthology, Cheeky Spanking Stories.



Order Anything for You: Erotica for Kinky Couples from:

Amazon

Kindle edition (ebook) (pre-order for August 14th)

Barnes & Noble

Nook (ebook) (pre-order for August 14th)

Powells

Books-a-Million

IndieBound (search for your local indie bookstore)

Cleis Press

Introduction: As Kinky as They Want to Be

Like Riding a Bicycle Lisabet Sarai
Borrower Beware Heidi Champa
Anything She Wanted Neil Gavriel
Tails Deborah Castellano
Teppanyaki Janine Ashbless
Greasing the Wheels Madlyn March
Interview Talon Rihai and Salome Wilde
I Tend to Her Justine Elyot
Apple Blossoms Emerald
Big Night D. L. King
The Guest Star Sinclair Sexsmith
Exposure Elizabeth Coldwell
New Games on a Saturday Night Teresa Noelle Roberts
Notes from Her Master Kathleen Tudor
Lap It Up Kay Jaybee
What If Angela R. Sargenti
Petting Zoo Rachel Kramer Bussel
Normal Charlotte Stein
Everything She’d Always Wanted Ariel Graham

Introduction: As Kinky as They Want to Be

“My wife is on her knees.” That is how the first story in this book, “Like Riding a Bicycle,” by Lisabet Sarai, starts off, and in some ways, it’s why I don’t think I even need to introduce these stories, although I am about to. What I like most about this book is that its authors, in each of these nineteen titillating stories, assume that the reader is already aware of the world of BDSM. That’s not to say that if you’re a curious newcomer to the world of bondage, discipline, sadism and masochism you shouldn’t keep turning the pages, but just to point out that there is an ease with which these couples embrace their love of kink, in its varied forms, even when they are uneasy about the particular acts they are about to engage in. That push/pull, love/hate relationship with what turns us on is part of the beauty of BDSM and is a recurring theme here. In the course of these erotic vignettes, you will indeed learn about why, say, someone would want to be “forced” onto her knees, or bent over a bed or used as a plaything.

In these stories, you will find pain, and pleasure. You will find service and devotion. You will find Masters and Mistresses and curious onlookers⎯and so much more. You will find a dinner party where food is used for foreplay, and learn what CNFM stands for (hint: Clothed Female, Naked Male). But more than any particular scene or setup you’ll read about⎯and they are quite dazzling in their ingenuity⎯what stays with me the most from these stories is the longevity of the couples, the way they can read each others’ moans and sighs and screams so well, discerning a lover’s desires based on years of practice.

One of my biggest pet peeves about BDSM erotica is when a story leaps too quickly into the “action” and doesn’t give enough insight into who the characters are, what makes them tick, what makes them want to be bound, gagged, stripped naked, exposed, ordered around⎯or be the one doing those things. In every one of these imaginative, racy stories, you will find out why each part of the couple is there, what they get out of their relationship, what pushes their buttons, what animates their kink. You’ll find anal penetration, asparagus sex, an interview with a Mistress and her most eager slave, role-playing, spanking, bondage, exhibitionism and much more. Fantasies are fulfilled, sometimes on command, sometimes in ways their creators never could have foreseen. Most of all, though, what comes through is the passion, caring, and commitment these couples have for one another, the love behind (and alongside) the lust, which is what enables them to do all the wild, wanton things they do.

In the closing story, “Everything She’d Always Wanted,” by Ariel Graham, you will see the word fear over and over; the protagonist, Gwen, also experiences her share of panic. Her journey deep into the world of a Dominant/submissive relationship is captured in expert prose. Graham writes, “She’d adapted quickly, something in her recognizing what she’d been searching for.” When I wrote earlier that there’s a comfort with the topic of BDSM, what I meant is precisely what is shown so dramatically and beautifully in that story. What happens in it is Gwen’s idea, as the title suggests, but she is still nervous, wary, uncertain if her biggest fantasy is actually one she is capable of going through with. It’s this very fear that drives her, that arouses her, that pushes her to keep going. The only thing you have to listen to is David, Gwen thinks to herself at one point. She has to take a leap of faith to get from here to there, and when she does, a whole new sexual world opens up for her.

The same could be said of the other characters, men and women, tops and bottoms, you’ll read about in these pages. In a sense they all have to take a leap of faith and trust their partners to guide them, whether it’s Dan in D. L. King’s “Big Night,” who gets a very special fortieth birthday party, or the narrator of Sinclair Sexsmith’s, “The Guest Star,” who watches as her girlfriend takes a new lover, or Jack in “New Games on a Saturday Night” by Teresa Noelle Roberts, who is used to girls who know their way around the business end of a paddle, but has what he thinks he knows turned on its head by a novice, Serena. For him, “the turn-on wasn’t so much giving the pain as being trusted to give just the right amount of pain.”

I hope these stories will move you as deeply as they’ve moved me. They are rich, varied and incredibly naughty. Many of them have made me wish I could slip inside the body and mind of a given character and act out his or her devilishly dirty delights. All of them have shown me just how powerful a force kink can be, how it can bring couples closer together and show them the true depths of trust and desire they can plumb.

Rachel Kramer Bussel
New York City

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Sunday, July 15, 2012

Wanderlust

It's one of those days when I'd rather be anywhere else, at least, that's what I tell myself, but the truth is I'd rather be anyone else. I ogle travel sites for new places to go but, sadly for me, I'd have to be the one to hop on those planes and trains. And I will, to NJ and DC and Martha's Vineyard and San Francisco and Long Beach and Texas and Philadelphia and Scottsdale and, if I'm damn lucky, Alaska. Some of it is exhausting sounding in my head, a failure to live up to my promise to myself to travel to new place sand be a businesswoman, not someone who is so easily flattered she says yes to expensive trips because she thinks it's cool to be invited anywhere. I won't lie, though--I am flattered, and wish I were rich so I could actually afford all those trips. Instead, I will have to figure out a way to afford them, and rent, wherever I wind up paying it. It could be anywhere and right now I am pretty over this same place, this same everything, even though NYC still enchants me, when I let it. I don't know if I deserve to go to all those places, but I also know that without those chances to escape, I would go even madder than I am. Maybe that's circular, but it at least staves off not so much monotony, as feeling like I'm going nowhere. My life may be going nowhere, but my body can take off, and maybe the rest of my life with it.

Last night I lay in bed and listened to fireworks going off in what sounded like the street right outside my window. Tonight, over the sound of Rebecca Gates, I hear thunder and, when I turn around, beneath the mangled, broken blinds I occasionally consider replacing, lightning. Part of me never wants to leave, even though there's bingo and steak and friends and theater to see this week, but when I get so stuck like this, where all of the words seem stupid and meaningless, The End some empty, faraway place I will never reach, I can't fathom actually getting excited about what's outside, because I know I first have to get excited about what's inside. I'm hoping to find that again, so I can bring something more than a hollow brain and body to all these cities I want to visit. I will have to just sit with that feeling, awful as it is, while a large part of me wishes I could start over, from the very beginning, erase all my sins and misdeeds so I wouldn't have to see them right in front of me, blockading the words I'm trying to get to. Since I don't think I'll be lucky enough to get that to happen, I will do my best to explore what I can here in my home, which is like a treasure trove of either junk or delights, or both. Funnily enough, I'm supposed to be working on a project about that "junk" that I have conveniently set aside because while I momentarily had the audacity to send a sparkly, bold pitch, I now fear I have nothing to say. And maybe I don't, but or maybe what I have to say and do about all the stuff will surprise me.

Friday, July 13, 2012

Self-perception, sharing, Klonopin Lunch and secret hearts

I was originally going to try to tie these quotes together with a pretty bow of words and share something super insightful about writing and revelation and public and private, but I don't have any grand insights right now, or if I do, they are percolating, in the idea stage. There are so many ideas and false starts and even finished pieces waiting for me to figure out where, if anywhere, they go, beyond the confines of my laptop. And maybe I will try to tie everything up tidily, as I feel I should, but that will have to happen another time, if at all. For now, a few things I read this week that resonated with me.

1. xoJane's Jane Pratt, interviewed by Amy Odell at Buzzfeed Shift (which you should bookmark)::
Getting writers to reveal very personal things in stories can be very difficult, and yet XO Jane's always do. Is it worth all the fear and anxiety?

What I find is that the more people do share the things that they feel like they shouldn’t share — whether it’s an image of themselves that they don’t feel is their most flattering — the more positive feedback they get.
2. "We see the world not as it is, but as we believe it to be." Lisa Cron, Wired for Story - I'm amazed at how many parallels there are between what Cron explores as issues for writers regarding their characters, and takeaways for how I look at my own life. As a perpetual memoir reader, it's clear that these rules could be applied to memoir as well, where the characters are often real, but just as often composites. Cron's blog at wiredforstory.com examines these principles further, tapping into everything from why Fifty Shades of Grey works as a story to the basic but profound look at why stories matters to us so vitally as humans: "Neuroscientists believe the reason our already overloaded brain is wired to devote so much precious time and space to letting us to get lost in a story is that without stories, we’d be toast. Stories allow us to simulate intense experiences without actually having to live through them. We get to sit back and vicariously experience someone else suffering the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune, the better to learn how to dodge those darts should they ever be aimed at us."

3. "Thanks also go to Julia Pastore for shaping this book so expertly and helping me to puck the story I needed to tell from what was originally an emotional tangle." Jessica Dorfman Jones, Klonopin Lunch, a doozy of a memoir that I think all New Yorkers should read - it's outrageous, but also laughs at its (her) own outrageousness. It's titillating and wild but it's done so well that it doesn't come across as "a crash course in Snort, Kvetch, Schtup," though props to whatever publicist wrote that. I look forward to a time when not every memoir about sex is tagged with the Sex and the City label, because Jones, with her neuroses, adventures, dot com turned rock goddess tale, complete with Meow Mix memories and bad boys, is much more real to me, and I would imagine anyone who ever visited Meow Mix, than Carrie Bradshaw and her shoes and wondering could ever be. But that quote from the acknowledgements was another reminder to me that a) editors are extremely important and b) "memoir" does not mean "everything that ever happened to you." It means just as artfully crafted a story arc as fiction, perhaps even more artfully crafted as you have to try to see the world as it is and as you believe it to be (or have been).

4. Mike Daisey, from The Orient Express (Or, the Value of Failure), quoted by Chris Klimek, Washington City Paper
Before we go any further, I wanted to tell you—just this once—that I am an unreliable narrator. I am made of dust and shadows. I am telling you things now, and I will tell you more things. You will never know my secret heart. You will think you hold it in your hand, that you know the depths of me. And you know nothing. You will never know me. And I never wanted you to. That’s not why we’re here. That’s not why we ever came here to this place. And you should know the truth: That there are no reliable narrators.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Notes, Princeton, art, Wired for Story

Yesterday in photos - I'm not seeing the rotate option on Flickr, sadly, so my notes from my appearance on Boston Public Radio show On Point (click to listen to the show) are sideways. They really do say it all about how insanely nervous I was, but I felt calmer the more it went on, confident I did, indeed, have something to contribute (and will be writing more about Fifty Shades of Grey):



Walking through the Princeton University campus:



Art at the Princeton Public Library:



What seems like a game changer book for how I understand fiction, Wired for Story by Lisa Cron (see wiredforstory.com for more information), which I discovered/bought at Labyrinth Books. Subtitle is: "The Writer's Guide to Using Brain Science to Hook Readers from the Very First Sentence." Yes, it's about characters and how to make them realistic, but it's also about the very human need for story, a big topic this year (see also The Storytelling Animal: How Stories Make Us Human by Jonathan Gottschall).

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Wednesday, July 11, 2012

My Mitt Romney David Koch Hamptons fundraiser protest article

On Sunday, I was in the Hamptons covering the Mitt Romney David Koch fundraiser protest for The New York Observer. If you like the piece, please pass it on. It's my third article for them, and the first that's not about sex in some way. It was HOT out but now I can say I've walked barefoot on the beach for a story! There's also a slideshow of photos I took.

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Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Wythe Hotel snapshots

From breakfast with my awesome friend Denise today at the Wythe Hotel. If you're in NYC and need a dog trainer, Denise is your woman. Visit empireofthedog.com for details.




soft boiled eggs (Denise's)





cherry tomato omelet (mine)


me, Instagrammed!

And not of the Wythe Hotel, but a little humor from The Meatball Shop:

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20 hotel erotica stories for only $1.99? Yes, on Kindle!

These Kindle deals happen so fast I don't get notified, I just happened to stumble upon this, and last time it was only up for a few days, so if you want 20 HOT stories for only $1.99, download Do Not Disturb: Hotel Sex Stories for Kindle. Read the introduction and table of contents and watch the "Hotel rooms make me horny" book trailer below! And yes, I was a crazy erotica blogging fool back then so there are all sorts of author interviews and such. Maybe I can find a way to make that work for some of my upcoming books. Anyway, I hope you'll take advantage of this major bargain and I will do my best to be a Kindle detective and find other sales, cause I think it's a great idea generally (I often buy $.199 and $2.99 ebooks just to try them out).





Table of Contents

Introduction: Made for Sex (see below)

Welcome to the Aphrodisiac Hotel by Amanda Earl (read author interview about hotel sex)
Tightly Tucked by Alison Tyler (read author interview about hotel sex)
From Russia with Lust by Stan Kent)
Mirror, Mirror by by Andrea Dale)
The Royalton--A Daray Tale by Tess Danesi (read author interview about hotel sex)
So Simple a Place by Isabelle Gray Heart-Shaped Holes by Madlyn March (read author interview about hotel sex)
The St. George Hotel, 1890 by Lillian Ann Slugock
The Lunch Break by Saskia Walker (read author interview about hotel sex)
Memphis by Gwen Masters (read author interview about hotel sex)
The Other Woman by Kristina Wright
Talking Dirty by Shanna Germain (read author interview about hotel sex)
A Room at the Grand by Thomas S. Roche (read author interview about hotel sex)
Tropical Grotto, Winter Storm by Teresa Noelle Roberts
G is for Gypsy by Maxim Jakubowski
Reunion by Lisabet Sarai
Hump Day by Rachel Kramer Bussel
Guilty Pleasure by Elizabeth Coldwell (read author interview about hotel sex)
An Honest Woman by Tenille Brown
Room Service by by Donna George Storey

(read author interview about hotel sex)

(read "Love Hotel Madness")

Introduction: Made for Sex

Hotel rooms are, in a word, hot. The minute I enter one, I want to strip off all my clothes and dive naked between the sheets, whether I have a lover there to share in the indulgence with me or not. Much more so than my own bed, hotel beds make me horny. They are, or at least, seem to me, to be made for sex.

Hotels give us the chance to unwind, relax, and, if we choose, become someone else. Behind closed doors, we are free to frolic, fuck, and flaunt ourselves. It doesn’t matter whether the hotel is in a faraway land or in your own hometown; the point is, it’s a clean slate. It’s not your home filled with all the reminders of what you could or should be doing. Other people have fucked and will fuck in the bed you’re about to sleep in; that can be a turn-on in and of itself. It’s your borrowed space, for an hour, a day, a night, or longer, and in that time, you can claim it, control it, use it for your own naughty purposes. Other guests are prowling the hotel, checking in, checking out, banging and getting banged against the wall. There’s a sense that anything can happenæand quite often, it does.

To me, the anonymity of hotel rooms, their personality wiped clean with each new guest, is part of their appeal. They beckon us with their welcoming ways. They offer an escape from the everyday, a chance to let loose and become someone else. In Do Not Disturb, I wanted to capture the ways hotels fit into our erotic imagination, whether they’re a necessity or a luxury. Hotels let us explore parts of our passion that get left behind in the rush of daily life.

The authors whose work you are about to read understand perfectly the allure of a fresh hotel roomæor a hotel lobby. Indeed, the entire atmosphere a hotel offers can simply scream of sex. This goes for five-star and by-the-hour joints. They each have something to add, and here you’ll find romps between lovers and strangers, reunions and quickies, as these characters indulge in their new settings.

Many of the characters here use hotels for secrecy, relying on the unspoken code of employees to never share what goes on. Others use them for flirting, for catching their prey. Many need a hotel room in order to engage in an affair or a roleplay. Whether exploring Japan’s love hotels in Isabelle Gray’s “So Simple a Place” or getting “A Room at the Grand” for a very special callgirl, the men and women you’ll read about get off on their surroundings. The hotel itself becomes a player in their affair, a sign of the lengths they’ll go to be together.

And this book wouldn’t be complete without some extramarital affairs that can only happen in hotel rooms, like the lovers in Lisabet Sarai’s “Reunion” or Gwen Masters’s “Memphis.” For these characters, the hotel room takes on added meaning for it is an ever-changing venue where their relationships grow, where they can savor each other’s bodies without their spouses knowing, or so they hope.

Hotel rooms are also perfect for quickies, those fast fucks that you only need an hour or so for, made all the more arousing for their brevity. In Saskia Walker’s “The Lunch Break,” a sultry waitress pounces on a diner, and in my “Hump Day,” a couple shed their business personae once a week to become the kind of people they could never be (or fuck) at home.

Even in the more innocent stories here, the vacation sex, the getaways among couples, there’s something just a little clandestine about these hotel room hookups. That air of perversion is what makes getting serviced in a hotel (or motel) infinitely sweeter than doing it anywhere else. It’s a private way of being an exhibitionist, of leaving the staff and fellow guests guessing (or parading around in your hotel robes). Sometimes it’s a neighbor who’ll lure you from the safety of your relationship, such as the lesbian who teaches Madlyn March’s protagonist a thing or two in “Heart-Shaped Holes,” or the way Elizabeth Coldwell’s fellow jurors wind up relieving some tension in between trial time.

There’s a hotel in New York, the Library Hotel, that has long intrigued me. They offer an Erotica Suite, filled with strawberries, whipped cream, red roses, erotic dice, Mionetto Presecca, edible honey dust, and a Kama Sutra pocket guide. They’re upfront in their intention that you truly savor their package, as well as your lover’s. I’ve never stayed there, or done more than pass by. In some ways, I prefer to keep its beauty safely tucked away in my imagination, the kind of room I’d use with a rich lover from out of town who’d seduce me with his or her accent, whisper to me in a foreign tongue before taking that foreign tongue and licking me all over. That’s another thing about hotel rooms: they are perfect to fantasize about. In them, and in your dreams about them, you can have any kind of sex with anyone (or everyone) you want.

I can tell you that the sex I’ve had in hotel rooms has been some of the hottest of my life. I get off on knowing that neighbors may hear me, and in fact, that brings out the exhibitionist in me. The sexiest porn director I know took me to his hotel room in Manhattan one night and while his porn star girlfriend was elsewhere, we indulged in one of the most dirty, powerful, delicious fucks I’ve ever had, and when he came all over my chest, I reveled in it. I didn’t wash it off, either, but proudly let it dry on my skin and couldn’t stop the smile that found its way to my lips as I took the subway home.

Once, in some random seedy L.A. hotel, another lover and I hadn’t brought any condoms, and instead had to make do with a paddle and a butt plugæpoor us. In a seedy Midtown motel, I spent a few hours romping with a very sexy young man who showed me all kinds of ways I could twist my body to extend my pleasure, then felt a shocked, naughty thrill as he entered the bathroom while I peed and watched me before dipping his fingers into the stream. Something I likely wouldn’t have allowed at home became acceptable in a place I’d likely never find myself again. And when I’m in a hotel room by myself, tucked away under the sheets, I feel naughty and decadent, even if the only party guests I’m hosting are my fingers and my pussy.

While I doubt hotels are going to be stocking this book in their dresser drawers alongside The Bible, I hope that it finds its way into hotel romps. I picture lovers reading aloud to one another as they get ready to mark their hotel room, or in the afterglow, perhaps leaving it behind for the next lucky guest. I hope hotel staff spirit it away and read it during their downtime. I hope the next time you enter a hotel lobby, even if you have no intention of getting busy with anyone you may find there, that you’ll at least notice the many erotic possibilities that greet you.

My most recent hotel rendezvous was at the ultra-fancy art-filled Chambers Hotel in Minneapolis. I was staying by myself for two nights, and while I didn’t share my bed, the room itself beckoned to me. I found myself getting horny as I dove between the covers, wishing I had a lover to share my good fortune with. Now I have this book, which I hope you’ll take with you on your travels, perhaps read it while lounging in a hotel lobby, or whisper from it into your lover’s ear before you make so much noise in your hotel room bed that someone calls security. However and wherever you read this book, I hope it turns you on as much as it does me.

Rachel Kramer Bussel
New York City

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Saturday, July 07, 2012

Slipping, falling, baking

Freeewriting for no reason other than because I never do it anymore...

Last Saturday night, I took myself out on an amazing date to see Shawn Colvin at World Café in Philadelphia, and it was everything I could ask for in a concert, and a concert venue. I can't believe I'd never been there before; for an acoustic show especially, it was so intimate and gorgeous, and I think everyone else was as extremely present as I was. It was a show that felt less like a performer on a stage and more like Shawn was right there in the midst of us. I sat, utterly enraptured, as The Royal You opened and harmonized beautifully, and then it was just Shawn and her guitar and that voice and those songs, including "Polaroids," which I first heard sung by Mary Lou Lord when I was a very different person, living not so far physically from where I live now, but with a 100% different point of view about pretty much everything. I sometimes think hearing that song on a benefit album was the first step in leading me to a different way of life, one certainly with its share of ups and downs, but one that will always fit me better than the even the best legal job could have.

Anyway, tonight was much more prosaic, but much as I like to escape, I am a pretty routine girl. I like familiarity, sameness, solitude. I like being able to wander and discover the infinite universe of magic, mundane or magnificent, that streets of New York City offer me, and now that I've realized my days here are probably pretty numbered, I feel like I value them all the more. I returned from a few days of fireworks and domesticity with my boyfriend and dragged myself to the gym. I like going on off hours when it's emptier, and I read Rurally Screwed by Jessie Knadler, which seemed particularly appropriate, because we talked about possibly moving to North Carolina, and while that's not necessarily imminent, something went off inside me, the way it does when I know I have to visit somewhere, when he was telling me about the cost of living. I have little desire to live in a barren suburb where there aren't coffeeshops, let alone culture. I love the fact that I was able to run across the street just now, as the rain and lightning started up, to get toilet paper and seltzer from the deli owner who knows that I almost never need a bag. I love that even though I've been a bad bad theatergoer, awaiting me in my inbox are so many options at the tip of my fingertips. I love that I got asked to cover two stories yesterday and one of them has absolutely nothing to do with sex; to me that is the true mark of having "made it" as a writer, though of course I'm aware that back when I was the stupid little law student, naïve about New York, about the world, about myself, basically clueless about anything that mattered, including how the hell to pass her classes, I didn't really think much about branding or bylines or what the fuck I was doing with my career. I'm not sure that I do all that much anymore in that I'm not so strategic in the big picture sense; I'm more about sitting down and banging out the words and studying the market sand trying to figure out where my ideas and experiences can fit.

So back to tonight, after the gym, I was walking through Union Square, on my way to Barnes & Noble ostensibly to buy a magazine I plan to pitch, but really because it's my shopping spiritual escape, my place to run my fingers and gaze over shelves where I could have had my book nestled, and where I someday still might, though for sure a different book. I love being surrounded by so many ideas, and I whip out my iPhone and type notes about cozy mysteries to request at the library, and hope that the spark of inspiration, a snippet of conversation, a cover, an idea, will slip by me. I was also reading Fifty Shades Darker on my phone as I walked, because for whatever reason Kindle for Mac decided that my download no longer exists and rather than wanting to punch myself in the face or taking a hammer to my laptop in the process of removing the book from my device and redownloading it (ah, to have any clue how to do that), I am just going to read it umpteen screens at a time on my phone. I was doing that and walking and all of a sudden a skateboard was very close by and then crashing into me and I fell and my glasses and phone fell with me. My first thought was that I cannot afford new glasses, which is a sign of what happens when you lack both a paycheck and health insurance. The skateboarder and a kind stranger asked if I was okay and I was so happy when I picked up my glasses to see that they were fine that the very minor scrapes on my knees and left palm were nothing. I was a little shaky but kept walking to the bookstore and realized that sometimes, like the last few days, I just want to block out the world, but it wants me here. Yesterday I took an accidental nap, and woke up groggy and angry at myself for wasting time, and then, despite my time wasting, these assignments landed in my inbox, and I realized that life goes on, even when I hate myself and think I won't be able to tackle everything on my to do list and have no idea what the future holds.

So now with the fan blasting on me, back home, which feels increasingly special and cozy the less time I'm here, I'm kindof savoring that slight twinge in my palm as I try to get back to what I was supposed to be doing the last few days. Instead I watched some pretty kickass fireworks and baked kale chips and marshmallow brownies and oatmeal chocolate chip cookies and learned how to use a hand mixer and bought a jigsaw puzzle shaped like the state of California, my former home, with all its beaches and jagged edges. I didn't even know they made jigsaw puzzles that weren't rectangular.

I must get back to the ongoing list and get ready for this assignment, I just wanted to write something, anything, which these days I more often put aside, or write and not finish the story, essay, pitch, application, because I'm sure it sucks so why bother. I also bought a new journal tonight, because my old one has a bit of a rocky history and now is in high demand as a holder of important documents, money and assorted papers, so many that to displace them would wreak havoc with what little organizational systems I have. I liked the idea of starting over, starting something new, for no reason other than that I appreciate the idea that every day is not only a gift, but a chance to crack that clean slate and blank page and create something. I forget sometimes that for every awful thing I've ever done and all the messes I've made of my life, I wake up every single day to as many blank pages as I want. I just have to get up and greet them and be ready, slips, falls, mishaps, blocks and all.

Video of "Love Well" by The Royal You. When I heard them sing this live, I definitely gave myself a little reality check about the times I haven't loved well, when I haven't treated the people I care about the way I'd want to be treated. Lately, I have been extremely focused on just trying to survive and prove to myself I can do this ridiculously insane wacky thing called supporting myself as a writer/editor/blogger/miscellaneous creative person. It still seems supremely laughable some days, and exactly what I should be doing on others, but mostly it feels like it requires 24/7 vigilance and attention to potential stories, to reading everything and trying to be everywhere at once, which certainly doesn't make me a great girlfriend, so I'm trying to be a little better about balancing those things. And also that loving well means taking care of and loving myself, too, to the best of my abilities. I'm trying, even when I fall, hard.

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