Friday, March 11, 2011

Wishing Well

Death keeps throwing down the gauntlet, challenging me.
He's testing me, plumbing the depths of my strength
And with bravado I've managed to deceive him
that I've got more where that came from
even though the well has run dry.
Is the strength in the walls,
or in the capacity to hold?
Or is it in what is being held?
Because I'm holding myself tight
worried that if I breathe too deeply
I'll splinter into shards of light.
And its too soon for that, for me.

Instead my strength keeps me here,
chin deep in what others bleed.
And I know you're thinking "how gross"
And if not you're thinking  "poor thing"
But I'm not out for your sympathy
Just your ears, if you'd lend one to me.

Once upon a time there were three.
It's a good number, 3
but soon its just me
And I'm tired, see
I'm the last of my mother's daughters
And maybe its not the same as being the last of the Mohicans
or the last of Flynn's isomorphic algorithms
but its lonely, lonely in an alone-with-others kind of way.

It took Death two years to take the middle sister
She burned so brightly her luminosity
couldn't be contained by her skin
Photos the week before she died show what we refused to see
her smiling angelically, glowing ethereally,
welcoming Death the way we see in the elderly
like an old friend instead of an enemy.
A 38 year old woman shouldn't know Death so intimately
But she did and now she's gone and its been me doing the strong thing
putting it on like a suit of armor every morning
and its heavy, heavy in a dutiful-sister kind of way.

So I try to lay in as long as possible
savoring the softness of my sheets
promising myself the day will be a good day
but no matter when I wake or sleep
Reality creeps between the seams of my eyelids
invading my days and my dreams
and I'm so tired, tired in a let-me-off-this-rollercoaster kind of way.


The littlest sister, she's dying too.
Her fragile mind keeps slipping gear, grinding and grinding
no matter how much she uses her daughter as a clutch
she can't escape her final curtain call to the applause
of cancer cells rapidly dividing themselves into oblivion.
In a lot of ways Death, she's joined you
She tried to murder herself again -- not dying fast enough she said.
Hell hath no fury like a woman who didn't wake up dead
She'll be pleased to meet you when this is through
she's got an axe to grind -- she's been sharpening it on her wrists
and since you're not coming for her, she's coming for you --
In her rage-against-Life kind of way.

Self-preservation demands it's pound of flesh
All else has failed, I'm letting her go
I'm wishing her well.
I don't fear Death but neither am I ready to embrace the night
nor will I shed more tears over the dying of the light.
I'm not fighting for my life so much as my sanity.
I've built a wall of sandbagged hopes, optimist me.
I'm wearing my heart on my sleeve and its pumping air
I don't have any blood or tears to spare
There's nothing there
The wishing well is empty.
But not too empty to care...



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Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Pathos, Eros, and Aramis

 
[This will be posted as a Silken On Sex podcast episode in the near future]


The weather is California cliche: the sun is bright, the sky is a cloudless blue. The scent of California bay and eucalyptus waft by on a sea breeze. Children splash in the pool. Laughter bounces around the courtyard.

From my chair on the balcony I try to extend my senses, to feel something -- anything -- but what I’m feeling now.

Pathos.

I am doing my best to be present with my body, to understand how this pathos feels, not just emotionally, but physically.

Right now, it feels under-oxygenated. My breath is shorter, faster. It no longer fills my center. My muscles are tight. Twitchy. Restless. My shoulders ride higher, up near my ears.  I feel it in my gut, too, the tightness. An ache has settled in my chest, my eyes. It is a long list.

This is what anxiety and anguish feels like in the flesh.

In my head, it feels like being small and afraid in the face of uncertainty. Trapped. Cut-off. Cornered. I feel like I must act, must do something, anything. But what?

And so I remind myself to breathe.

Life is uncertain, and no amount of resistance to that fact is going to change Reality. Reality is mutable, transient, turbulent. Unpredictable. And yet, it is what it is.

Accept, my mind says. But my body betrays emotional resistance.

I figured that my sisters and I would grow old together, the three of us. The Three Musketeers. I thought we’d be hard-of-hearing old ladies sitting on the back porch swing, laughing until we had to pee, talking about the good old days with Grandmother, the rides down the hill in our little red wagon, and riding horses on the mesa in Colorado. I thought we’d go on vacations, bicycle rides for three, and scold grandchildren.  Then one sister died in 2008 after a long illness, and I revised that dream to just the two of us. But today, the likelihood of my baby sister surviving to my age is slim, never mind to old age. And I feel. A lot of things.

I know we all die. And I know it isn’t anything to be afraid of. I got that, really got it, when I was holding my grandfather’s hand as he exhaled the last bits of himself two years ago.  I understand the beauty of the life-cycle, the transitory nature of it, the glory of a life well-lived. You could say that I am at peace with Death.

But to die young, ah. To lose someone in the prime of life. To watch them hunch in on themselves with pain. The pain of living. Of breathing. Of being. I can handle it. Watching someone die from cancer isn’t a new experience for me. But I’m not enjoying it. It is very stressful on everyone. Especially my sister.

Underneath it all, I’m sad for me. And for her kids. And for our parents — who will have to deal with out-living another of their children.

Life is. And quite often these days, life is Pathos.

Eros and Aramis.

Citrus, cinnamon, and sandalwood: the scent of his Aramis cologne envelops me as Gabriel’s arms do. I rest my forehead against his shoulder and breathe him into me. He always seems to know when I’m in that place, that overwhelmed, anxious and impatient place. He hugs me hard, his arms forming a tight band that pops my back. A welcome release.

“You’re cold,” he murmurs against my ear. “How can you be cold? It’s over 80 degrees out here.”

“I’ve forgotten warmth,” I mutter back, dispirited and exhausted. And cold. I’ve been sleeping with the electric blanket on. In Summer.

He steps backward, holding me at arm's length. He starts to say something, but his eyes are riveted on my breasts. My nipples. Bra-less and cold, my nipples were already hard, but his nearness, the scent of him, have added additional length.

His hand reaches toward my right breast, thumb grazing the nipple. His touch sparks through me, little electric arrows racing along my nerve-endings, dissipating the fog of despair wrapped around me like a comforter. I feel!

Another brush of his thumb and I gasp and sway, my eyes closing. So good. So sweet. Pleasure is so life-affirming.

He steps nearer, his hand never leaving my breast. I can feel the warmth radiating from him. I tilt my face up to his, eyes closed, like a flower following the sun. My mouth trembles with a sad smile and tears well up under my eyelids.

“Make love to me,” I ask him, implore him. “Make me feel alive.”

He steps around me. Pulls the hair away from my neck and brushes my skin with his shadow.  A sharp, hissing intake of my breath. I feel that! Mmmmm… yes!

His arms encircle me, one around my shoulders, the other, my midriff. He draws me backwards, off the balcony, and guides me down onto the persian carpet. With feather-light kisses and touches he opens my blouse, exposing my breasts.

More tears at his gentleness. I need this.

When his mouth closes over my erect nipple, my entire body vibrates with erotic energy. My pathos subsides beneath a tide of Aramis-scented eros as I surrender to a new feeling: I’m alive!

So gloriously fucking alive!

*  *  *
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Friday, August 20, 2010

As the world grows smaller, so do some minds

These thoughts have been percolating for a while. Finally, everything settled well enough for me to write it out. Enjoy.

Most psychologists and sociologists seem to agree that in order for humans to function under the tension that the awareness of opposites engenders, we create a transitional, symbolic, expansive "play space" in our psyche.

"That's a lot of five dollar words," my sister Tammy would have said. "Can you please explain using fifty-cent words?"

Sure. Humans have an internal landscape that we hold experiences and perceptions in prior to applying meaning to them. The larger this space, the greater the potential to experience the moment as something new, rather than applying old, pre-conceived meanings to it. The larger the space between our ears, the better we are able to suspend the drive to immediately label and judge, and allow the meanings of experiences to unfold with time, without exerting control. This allows tensions to co-exist in conflict and collaboration until balance or harmony is achieved. It is in this transcendent space that we come to understand that control is an illusion, that our internal realities are subjective, that 'meanings' are ascribed according to our attitudes. Jung called it Transcendent Function.

It goes without saying that some of us create larger spaces than others.

For some, the boundaries of that space are clearly defined, for others, they are limitless. The size of this space is related to traits of fluidity, flexibility and adaptability. When this space is small, people immediately reject ideas that are foreign to them, that call their own beliefs into question, and readily conceive of others as "wrong." Theirs is an ingrained -- perhaps even racial-memory -- mindset known as tribalism. They are, to use a ubiquitous phrase "small-minded idiots." And as the world grows smaller, so do some minds.

In this age when information is readily available, when the corners of the world are reachable by international flight, cellular phone, and internet pipe, I am stunned by the willful ignorance of my society.

But I shouldn't be. I was once a very judgmental person, and I know how easy it is to cling to what we think we know. Over the course of a few months I learned that the world as it existed in my head was a highly subjective place -- by being presented with thoughts, ideas, and concepts that conflicted with my own. I was in high school at the time, a devout Conservative Christian Reaganite Republican, and a teacher in my Senior year American Government class tasked me with an Honors project that involved searching for the answer to a question. And the process of researching the question, of looking outside my normal, comfortable sources of information for answers, of juggling facts and figures and ideas and paradigms that conflicted with my own preconceived notions, literally blew my mind wide open. As a consequence, I learned to do  something that is apparently remarkable: I can hold two or more seemingly paradoxical or conflicting concepts in my mind and see them both as being valid.

Like everyone else, I think I know what I know. And like everyone else, I prefer the company of people who are of the same mind-set, and prefer sources of news that present their information with a slant that agrees with my own principles. But unlike most people, I am -aware- of this, and unlike most people, I deliberately seek out people, opinions, and sources of information that make me uncomfortable -- that are in opposition to my own closely-held beliefs -- not because I like conflict, but because I am aware that closed-minded ignorance leads to complacency and that complacency leads down the garden path towards irrationality. Complacent people lose touch with reality because they don't want anything to change. In fact, complacent people have an irrational fear of change. Which we all know is inevitable.

We humans prefer to be comfortable, and once we've arrived at some stability and learned to be comfortable with that new paradigm, we tend to develop the mindset that the way things are now is the way they've always been. Like teenagers today who cannot imagine growing up without internet and cellphones (like I did), and adults today who cannot imagine going shopping with war-ration coupons like our parents and grandparents did. We've come a long way, technologically, and with those jumps in technology that have transformed much of our lives -- how we shop, how we get our information, how we sleep, how we eat, how we love, how we make love, how we get from point A to point B -- we've failed to transform how we think about ourselves, others, and the world. Most of humanity is still stuck in a tribalistic "our way of life v. them."

Many people here in the States are stuck there, stuck clinging to a way of life that is unsustainable and has been slowly unraveling since it reached it's height in the 1970s. And the best example of this and the devolution of our society, and indeed our species, is the failure of education to further develop critical thinking skills and transformative  functionality. As the population grows and the corners of the world become more accessible, we're resulting to conflicts and jealous guarding of territory. We're insisting on making someone "other" and in making him "other" we find it easier to make him wrong. And once we've made someone wrong, well... we feel justified in doing whatever we feel is necessary to punish that person and make him see the error of his ways. And as justification, we use the phrases "tradition" and "that is how it's always been," all the while willfully ignorant of the origins of those "traditions" no matter how ancient or recent, and the variety once sanctioned within those traditions.

What comes to mind is marriage. Judeo-Christian marriage as we conceive of of it today has gone through considerable permutations from the social and legal contracts that involved swapping of chattel. My daughter for 10 sheep. My daughter for peace between our families, etc. For centuries, marriages used to happen on church steps because they were considered too venal for the sanctity of the church itself. Eventually marriage became an institution of social control via Churches, and when that happened, all sorts of marriage rites were developed -- and interestingly enough, there are records of same-sex marriage rites and same-sex marriages going back 1000+ years. Did you know that the first white lace wedding dress (worn by Queen Victoria) was a break from tradition? It was a commercial gimmick to spur the sale of English Lace. Ah yes, the power of tradition. But I digress.

Marriage is between one man and one woman, many say. This is sacrosanct, "God's Will." Except of course, where there are well-documented examples of multiple marriages and same-sex marriages all over the histories, many of the latter conducted in the Pope's own parish church, no less. It seems that at one time, Christ's Commandment of Love was followed more literally, and The Church consecrated unions between people who loved each other, regardless of gender.

What on earth does marriage and "tradition" have to do with small minds and transcendent function? Well, here it is:  I happen to agree that marriage is between a man and a woman, that it has become a tradition of joining a love-match for the purposes of procreation/child-rearing, pooling assets, and growing old together. I also happen to agree that just as women and minorities should have the same rights to own property, vote, and receive equal pay for equal work as white men, same-sex couples should have the same rights as hetero couples to make a love-match, to raise children together, and to enjoy the spousal benefits of growing old together including inheritance, shared retirement benfits (like Social Security), health care access, etc.

And because the room in my head is so large, I can hold these two seemingly paradoxical ideas in my mind without conflict. I recognize that one, the former, is a Belief, and the other, the latter, is a Right. A rational person understands that Rights trump Beliefs, and regardless of whether or not I believe it is right or wrong for two people to marry, love-matches are love-matches and people in love have a right to marry, to make it a binding social, legal, and in the case of many Churches, a religious contract. And as long as our society conflates the legal rights and responsibilities associated with "civil union" with the religious rite of "marriage" then marriage is a civil right that should be extended to anyone.

Bottom line: I may disagree with what many people believe or say or do, I may consider them ignorant and small-minded and intolerant and just plain wrong, but I will defend their rights to be however they choose to be. Unfortunately, it appears that defenders such as myself are becoming fewer and fewer in number. The world is getting smaller. We're coming into contact with the wondrous diversity of humanity in unprecedented ways. And absent the pursuit of developing people capable of holding two or more seemingly paradoxical or conflicting concepts in mind and see them both as being valid, the ongoing cultural conflicts will continue to escalate from internal to external and our small world will unravel into further judgmental tribalism.

We need to learn how to play together in this sandbox called Earth. Love thy neighbor. Live and let live. Live free or die. Do anything but be small-minded, spreading hate and intolerance, complacency and insanity. What others do in pursuit of life, liberty, and happiness only conflicts with your own pursuits if you think it is so. I adjure you to Find A Way. Our world, and your children, and your grandchildren, are at stake.

Related Articles / References:

Tips from a Missionary on getting along with "others":  http://johnlambert.wordpress.com/2008/02/27/traits-ability-to-get-along-well-with-others/

Cheat-sheet on Carl Jung: http://castle.eiu.edu/psych/spencer/Jung.html

Book on Jung's Transformative Function:  http://books.google.com/books?id=F29B3MFVKW4C&dq=carl+jung+transcendent+function&printsec=frontcover&source=bn&hl=en&ei=h-RpTPSwAYugsQOA4MSBBw&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=5&ved=0CDIQ6AEwBA#v=onepage&q&f=false

Women's Suffrage Movement (world-wide): http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Women%27s_suffrage

Civil Rights Movement (world-wide): http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Civil_rights_movement

Same-sex marriage in Early Christianity: http://www.jinxiboo.com/blog/2009/5/3/when-same-sex-marriage-was-a-christian-rite.html

The tradition of marriage is always changing: http://archielevine.blogspot.com/2008/11/traditional-marriage-perverts-tradition.html

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Saturday, July 10, 2010

The Scent of Love

My lover sleeps in the arms of Lethe, sleeps the sleep of orgasmic oblivion, while I engage Insomnia in battle with womanly arts. I am leaning against the teak headboard of my tempurpedic bed, my feet struggling for purchase on the baby's-butt smooth one-thousand threadcount sheets, pillow and laptop on my knees. At my side, on a small cherrywood escritoire that doubles as a bedside table, is a bottle of the Domain Drouhin Oregon Estate's 2002 Pinot Noir Couvee Louise. Named after Veronique's youngest. A superb wine, really.

So I'm intoxicated. By wine and other things.

Other things? You are probably asking yourself.

Yes, other things. Like the fragrance of us wafting up from between my thighs.

I was puttering around in my vocal booth (for recording audios) when my lover surprised me there. I was on tip-tip toes, my arms spread wide above my head, when his hands closed around my wrists, pressing them down onto a shelf. He pressed himself against me, scraping his shadow along the back of my neck.

I moaned.

How could I not? There is something about that burning scrape that is so pleasurable that my skin pebbles and I gasp. And moan. And I ground myself back against him, arching my back, wriggling my hips and ass in a belly-dancer's figure-eight until he was hard enough for me to feel the heat of him. He released one of my wrists long enough to open his pants and free his cock, then he pressed it against the thin silk of my pajama bottoms, searing me with his heat.

I tried to turn around. I wanted to taste his lips. Wanted to thread my fingers through his hair and pull him toward me. But his hands held my wrists firmly in place. Words weren't necessary. The band of his fingers around my wrists communicated everything I needed to know. I drew my legs together and arched my back so my ass flared into him and I let my head drop between my arms. Staring at my toes, I sighed. A sigh of longing. A sigh of surrender. He knew what that sigh meant, of course, and with a squeeze, he released my wrists.

I held my position. Held it even as his hands slid down my arms and around to fondle my breasts. He teased my nipples until they were long, hard points of longing, until my breath was coming in tormented gasps, until I was dizzy and writhing.

And wet.

I could feel that wetness as he pushed the silky pants down over my ass. Felt the hot smear of it on my thigh. He swilled his fingers in it, teasing my labia, pretending to have difficulty finding my clit. I started begging and bucking, trying to force that slippery electric contact. But his fingers eluded me, frustrated me. Slipped deep inside me and out again, arrhythmic. It was maddening. Ratcheting up my arousal level without building up orgasmic tension. I wanted to grab his hand and put his fingers on my clit and rub them there -- there -- There!

But I didn't. I held my position stretched out in the closet, fingers clinging to the top shelf, body arched and swaying, and let him do whatever he wanted. It felt too good to stop.

When I felt the head of his cock nudging between my lips I thought I would scream with relief. I was trembling with the tension, aching for that moment of penetration. And it was upon me.

He was upon me. Up in me. Pushing slowly, wedging himself into me, his hands gripping my hips.

I took him into me, into the warm and slippery heart of me, and when he could go no further, I clamped down on him, trying to enclose the length of him, to prevent the inevitable prelude to aching emptiness: his withdrawal.

We remained that way for a long moment, his chest pressed against my back, his breath stirring the hair near my ear. And we breathed together, and as we did the two of us became as one. Breathe in... Clench and hold... Release. Breathe in... Clench and hold... Release. A dozen times, perhaps more, and then we began rocking together, eventually breaking that rhythm to collide against each other, our bodies thudding, thudding, thudding. Faster and faster.

Breathing sexual fire, trembling on the verge of orgasm, I sank my teeth into my forearm and screamed my release. He hastened to meet me there, jabbing upwards into me, his fingers biting hard into my flesh. I felt that pulsing, heard that sound he makes, that balls-deep groan that signifies an intense orgasm.

And then his scruff on my skin again. Making me hiss and twitch as I hung by my fingertips from the shelf, unwilling to trust my wobbly legs to bear my weight.


Love is a noun and a verb. Something I am, and something I do. It fills me even now, brimming between my thighs. And it smells wonderful. Yes, love has a scent. A potent, unmistakable fragrance.

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Friday, May 07, 2010

Choosing my Self in difficult times

I'm journaling this because it helps me find clarity. Gives me perspective. Lets my friends know what is going on in my life... and might be helpful to others who are experiencing similar difficulties.

The topic is catastrophic illness. That, and how the temperment of the one who is ill affects both the outcome for themselves and those who love them. And I'm trying to figure out what I can do differently.

We are born. We live. We lose loved ones. And then we die. And I'm cool with that. Really.

I've had two sisters and a step-sister struggle with catastrophic illness. One died, one made a miraculous recovery after being on hospice, and the other... is... complicated.


With the sister who died, she was very headstrong and high-strung. She didn't want to make the changes necessary to recover from her illness. She lacked the patience and the self-control, frankly, and so she died, though a year later than I estimated, mainly because as her condition deteriorated she'd get scared, comply for a few weeks or a couple of months with medical care, and then she'd pull the plug, literally, and go back to a lifestyle that was physically depleting. She would get angry, and cry, and ask why this was happening to her, and I'd get her to a place where she'd acknowledge that she had been neglecting her health and that she was willfully non-compliant with regards to medical care and she'd agree to do what needed doing. And then she'd get to feeling better and revert to her prior way of being. And then she'd get to feeling worse, and she'd cry and beg for help, and get angry and irrational and verbally abusive when she didn't get what she wanted.  She pushed people away with one hand and pulled with the other. It was a vicious cycle that last two excruciating years. My only consolation, my only rationalization, is that she loved what she did, and she died doing what she loved.


Sister number Two was put on hospice when she came out of remission and her cancer was found to have metastasized to several places. She was in discomfort, and my step-sister's twin, who is a pharmacist, and my step-mother, who was a home health care nurse, did everything they could to "make her comfortable." They'd lost their grandfather a few years previously after a terribly painful and drawn-out experience, and they didn't want her to suffer. This sister knew how to ask for help, and how to accept it. She was angry, feeling like her life was being stolen from her, etc, but she invited people in. Her church congregation stepped up, brought food and comfort and companionship. Her friends visited. And I visited. And I spoke my truths to her, too. I told her to get up out of bed. Told her that when people are asked what they would do if they were told they have weeks to live they don't say "I'd lay in a hospital bed drugged out of my mind." I told her her life wasn't over, that she had as much time as I had -- today. Get up. Get up. Live. And yeah, maybe saying those things was a bit harsh, and maybe I could have found better ways to say them. But she got up out of that bed, and she lived her life, and she did her chemo again, and she is here now, two years later.


Sister number Three is like sister number One. Headstrong and high-strung. She's never been very good at asking for help and she's very reluctant to accept help. She's also extremely contrarian, and bi-polar or similarly biochemically imbalanced. I wouldn't go so far as to call her mentally ill, though she does have her moments -- she did try to kill herself two years ago last month, and she battles both depression and "fits" of some sort in which she says and does things that are completely unacceptable and often doesn't remember what she said or did during her outbursts. She's lovable, but makes loving her very difficult. It's a push-pull thing, a cycle of trial-by-fire testing followed by love and affection. Enter another cancer diagnosis. We thought she'd dodged the bullet in Feb 2008 but it turns out the tumor the doc found and removed was not the original one.

So in October 2009 the original site was located, typed, and radical treatment was recommended. And she didn't tell anyone. She decided to delay. Couldn't make up her mind what to do. And her behavior, her normally high-strung, difficult behavior, became that of someone who was nearly unhinged. I thought it was a bad case of her usual Seasonal Affective Disorder. I asked her to talk to me. And she would, sometimes. But mostly she'd call and babble and cry and when I'd repeat what she'd said to me back to her to ask for clarity she'd get verbally abusive, yelling and asking me why I was saying things like that or putting words in her mouth. She was that... disconnected from what she was saying and doing that she could not remember it 2 minutes afterwards. She got fired from her job and lost her medical plan and her ability to take the medical leave of absence that she should have taken in order to treat her illness and have financial security.

Finally, in February, she started treatment. Not the full treatment the doc wanted, which involved radical surgery and radiation and chemo. But she did start the chemo. For a few weeks. And then quit in March after a few treatments because they made her so sick and was putting her at risk for cardiac arrest. And then she called and told me and our step-sisters that she had a very aggressive form of cancer, and that she wasn't going to do the chemo or surgery or any of the radical/aggressive treatments suggested by her oncologist, and would I please take her daughter when she died.

Of course I said yes, and of course I drove the few hours to see her, and to spend a few days with her. And though some of the time with her was good, some of it was unpleasant. Her outbursts, her way of communicating when frustrated or upset (which was often) felt like verbal assaults. I'd watch her daughter jump and freeze and then run off to do whatever her mother said. Anything to stop the yelling. We talked, and she told me she didn't want me to change my life right now, not yet, that she was doing ok, for now. After a few days I returned home, and I had a guest arrive from out of town, and she tried mending fences with our father, with whom she'd been at odds since her car accident Christmas Day. I researched her cancer, sent her information on recommended treatments that didn't involve surgery or systemic chemotherapy.

And I heard back from a friend about my inquiry about taking custody of my niece. This friend told me that when my sister dies, my niece's father becomes her legal guardian, that he is, in fact still her legal guardian. My sister is legally separated from her husband but there has not been a formal custody agreement, and regardless of whether or not there was one, when she dies, legal custody automatically reverts to him as her natural father. That the only way I'd be able to keep my niece would be if my sister's husband signed her over to me. And she didn't want to hear it.

There are a lot of things she didn't want to hear, didn't want to talk about, but they are things that needed to be said, needed to be addressed. She could pretend that things were going to go the way she wanted, she could pretend that she could keep her daughter from her husband so he wouldn't win the epic war that had been their relationship of a dozen years... but ultimately, I felt it would be damaging to her daughter to tell her that she was going to stay in CA and live with me, only to be taken back East to live with her father, who loves her very much and only recently agreed to let his daughter stay with her mother indefinitely.

So I put it in a letter, and mailed it off -- this reality-check, and it was not well-received. Shortly thereafter, Sister #2 used a photo I took of Sister #1 all bald and curled up in her bed as a poster-child of sort for Relay for Life fundraising. Without asking either of us, and seeing as I'd made the photo available to Sister #2 and a few others without her permission, I accepted what followed as my responsibility. It was a firestorm.

It took me a couple of days to figure out what happened. The different stories I got from my nephew, my father, and my sister made no sense, and in many cases, were technically impossible. But I figured it out, and once I did, I accepted it. All of it. Still am, even as my partner asks me why I take it, why I take the 3am phone calls, why I listen to the yelling and abuse that doesn't give me room to say anything before the call is ended by Sister #3. Only for the phone to ring again, 3 or 30 minutes later,  for a new line of invective. She said she never wanted to talk to me again but she keeps calling. Her most recent call was to tell me that our step-mother told my niece that she needed to diet, as she's put on a fair amount of weight the past few months (not surprising given the stressful conditions she's living under) and that it was my fault. I'm not quite sure how that logic works, but somehow it makes sense to her.

My partner says that I am the most loving person he knows and that I do not deserve the abuse being heaped on me.  He wants me to disengage further, to remove myself from a situation that makes me so sad, that dims my inner light. He says he's looking forward to answering her next phone call, since she keeps calling the line in is bedroom even though I asked her not to. A deliberate bit of inconsideration on her part, I know.

I do not know what to do. I know that I want to be with my sister. But I know that the price for that privilege is admission to a roller-coaster ride of emotional ups and downs, verbal abuse, irrational behavior. And keeping my mouth shut.

The latter I can probably do. If she can't handle the truth, she can't handle it. But its the roller-coaster ride I can't handle. She thinks we can't handle her being ill. She says that is why she took so long to tell the family, because she didn't think we could handle it. But that is self-deception. We've handled so much -- what's another bout of cancer? Another death? No, she's the one who cannot handle it, and what is more, her inability to handle it makes life unpleasant for everyone around her.

I can handle her having cancer. I can handle knowing that she's a good 3 years into an aggressive form of cancer that has probably spread to her liver and kidneys and bones. I can handle the care-giving. I've done it many times before.  I can handle the normal emotional ups and downs of cancer patients, the anger and the sadness and the tears. I know how to be with, really be with others. And I'm not afraid of death and dying.

But what I can't handle -- is the frenetic, boiling, ever-changing emotional states. It's like being pounded by waves while caught in a rip-tide. I feel overwhelmed and afraid of capsizing. I feel like I'm suffocating on her emotion, like I'm choking on it as it fills the room, as she vibrates with it, blares it, assaults everyone around her with it. And whether she lives 3 months, or 6 months, or a year -- I'm not sure I can make the trade-off, pay the blood-price. I can't take abuse. Its like cancer -- insidious, invasive, deadening. I had enough to last me a lifetime already and I just don't want to see if I'm up to enduring the unendurable one more time.

Will I regret not finding a way to placate her and work things out whatever it takes? Possibly. But in the long run, I'll have saved myself the inevitable experience of her instability, rages, and abuses. In the end, I'm the one who is going to survive her, and I'd rather be mentally and emotionally capable of handling the mess she'll leave behind when she dies. I hoped that some how, some way, I could show her that path I've found and walked these past years, the path of inner peace and love and joy.  But I can't choose those things and offer myself up denigration and abuse at the same time. So, I guess the place I've arrived at as I've written this down is... I choose me. My mental health. My vitality. And if she wants me to be a part of her life, whatever is left of it, she's going to have to accept that I'm not going to be her whipping boy just because she feels the need to vent her rage at the world at someone. I'm not a masochist, Sister. Find another puppy to kick. This one is staying out of harm's way.



Kayar
Silkenvoice: AudioSensual Erotic Shorts, Vol. 1

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Friday, April 30, 2010

The Hidden Costs (literally) of Health Care

I am coming up on the 2 year anniversary of my 2+ week hospital stay and I've some thoughts regarding health care in these United States.

One of the thoughts is that the reform bill that recently passed Congress places restrictions and regulations on Insurance Companies, which is a good thing, but it doesn't really address the outrageous and hidden Cost of Health Care.

One of the things that became apparent to me as I reviewed the nearly $200k worth of bills that racked up as a result of my bout with septicemia was that I didn't consent to those charges. Why is it that being admitted to a hospital and providing insurance information is a license to bill?  As it is, my insurance company covered less than half of the cost of my care.

I lost count of the number of doctors who poked their heads into my hospital room. They'd say "hello," ask how I was feeling, and walk out.  And bill me $150 to $300. And I'm not talking about my surgeon or the infection specialist, both of whom had good reasons to check in on me. I'm talking about the physician who was on duty when I was admitted, along with numerous others whose names I didn't remember and who didn't seem to contribute anything to my care.

Even my mechanic lets me know what the cost of repairs are going to be before he starts, and is required to let me know the cost of additional issues that pop up when he's under the hood.

But doctors? Hospitals? No.  No one knocked at my door and said "May I come in? If I do, I'll bill your insurance $150." No one said, "If Dr X looks at your chart, it will cost you $300, if Dr Y does, he'll bill $275, whereas Dr Z will charge $325 -- Do you have a preference?"

I got a menu to select my meals, but not my treatments. No one presented me with a list of proposed treatments to select from. No list of the various blood tests and their fees. No option to opt out of any of the 6x a day blood pressure / temperature / pulse tests. No option to choose which Docs I wanted to see to review my medical records. I was stuck in a bed and it felt sometimes like I was little more than a sponge to squeeze money and blood out of.

And the same can be said about office visits.

I've never seen a list of services and fees. I've only ever been able to get a verbal quote, which, or course, isn't legally binding. The doc walks in, chats with me for at most 10 minutes, and bills $175 for the office visit. Then s/he hands me scripts for prescriptions (sans quotes for cost) and instructions to visit the lab for tests (again costs unspecified). Sometimes I've gotten a carbon copy page that shows the office visit fees -- after the fact.

How can we be responsible consumers of medical care when the costs aren't disclosed in advance? Why can't medical professionals be bothered to explain the costs of their services and the services they order for their patients? And if they don't want to be bothered, shouldn't they have someone on staff to  do the explaining?

Perhaps doctors, medical offices, laboratories, hospitals, etc, should be required to post their fees in public places. Perhaps then we'd have incentive to shop around, to haggle or bargain or even decline certain services that we feel we don't need or don't wish to be billed for. And then perhaps, just perhaps, the cost of insurance would also go down.

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Thursday, April 29, 2010

Mirror, Me

This is an incredibly expressive poem.  I think most women will find that his poem touches a chord in them, in the place where our mystery resides, often covered with a veneer of socialized shame.


Mirror, Me
by Kathleen Landerman, from the book Pagan's Muse.

Breathing in, I am
one with my shame.

Fear to look holds my whole body
immobile; my weight holds me
with more than gravity.

Breathing out, I am
my ugliness.

Vile, wretched, contemptible thing.
If the Way is Love,
then I should not speak of these things
to myself.

Breathing in, I am
my body.

If I gaze only at the reflection
of my pale belly,
then I will not see myself cry.

Breathing out, I am
this image.

If I light candles,
and do not think of you,
then I can see a goddess
full of adundant harvests,
round and smiling,
in my thighs.

Through the smoke of incense
these curves change,
become secrets,
invitations in velvet Braille.

If there was another woman here,
we could whisper the secret,
tell each other why a mirror
conquered a gorgon.

Breathing in, I am
no longer turned to stone
with shame, regret.

Breathing out, I am--
I am.



Want more Silkenvoice?
Support my work with a small (and welcome) donation.
Get my AudioSensual CD on iTunes or Amazon.com
Visit my Erotic Audio Site: www.AudioSensual.com
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Read my Blog: Silkenvoice.blogspot.com
Kayar
Silkenvoice: AudioSensual Erotic Shorts, Vol. 1

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Conscious living, conscious dying

Here it is late March. SO far the first quarter of the year has flown by. The trees are leafing out right now. All of a sudden there are tiny green leaves everywhere, competing with the flowers on the magnolia, plum, and cherry trees.

Spring is here, and the blue skies and warmer days has come the realization that life goes on... and so does death and dying. Today I learned that one of my sisters has been lying to me about what she's been getting medical treatment for. Two years ago she had surgery to have tumors removed. 6 months ago, she learned cancer is back. She's been doing chemo in the three months since I last saw her and today she decided to stop. Its not working, she said. They want to do a PET scan because they think its in her bones now, too. She didn't want to trouble me with it until she knew what she was dealing with, she said. But when the inevitable happens, will I raise her daughter? What the hell?

I'm feeling angry and sad again. I know it is natural. This is my baby sister. The one I diapered, the one I dressed for her first day of school. The one who tried to kill herself 2 years ago.  Life is strange. My lover insisted I put my head on his chest and listen to his heart beat, and as I did, the tears fell. So much loss so recently. And so much fear. When/if my sister dies and when/if I raise my niece, everything changes, including my relationship with him.

"How are you feeling?" he asked as I cried silently on his chest. 

"I feel this tremendous sense of loss. I'm going to lose my sister and I'm going to lose you."

"Don't make assumptions," he said, holding me close.

"I'm being pragmatic," was my response. "Time to make some changes. I think I'm going to have to go back to work in corporate America."

"Yes," he said, "If you're going to have responsibility for your niece you're definitely going to need to make some economic changes."

Indeed. And in the meantime, my sister is alive and living her life as fully as she can. She's asked me to respect her wishes not to tell other members of the family, including her children. It's her secret to tell, when she's ready.
 

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Sex and Disability

(photo from Ina Mar Disability Awareness product catalog)

I’ve been writing and recording erotica for 5 years now, and in those 5 years I’ve gotten feedback from a subset of my readers/listeners saying how much my erotica benefits them because they are somehow disabled — in that they can experience things vicariously through my words that they otherwise cannot.  And from that group, a number of people have asked me if I’d write erotica for or about sex and disability.

Not quite 2 years ago I had a medical emergency that left me temporarily disabled — and made sex a tricky proposition — for several weeks.  I’ve been involved in a three-way relationship (couples domination) with a couple who are both blind, and I’ve friends with disabilities in various areas, from autism to impotency, multiple sclerosis to spina bifida. I’ve had sisters fighting cancer — going the chemo and radiation route — and talked with them about how it impacted their sex lives. So I’ve some knowledge and experience with sex and disability, but not enough for what I’d like to do.

And what I’d like to do is write a collection of erotic stories — and possibly a series of podcasts — basically “Silken on Sex and Disability” and I’m reaching out to everyone I know, both in person and online, who is either disabled/experienced disability or is/was partnered with someone who is disabled. I’d love to talk with you. I know from my own personal experience that people with disabilities are just as sensual and sexual as the next person. I’d like to explore that, explore the fantasies and realities, the challenges and opportunities that come with the territory.

Please contact me at the following email address  SILKENnotVOICED at GnotMAIL.com (without the nots) if you’d like to share your insights, fantasies, and experiences with me with the understanding that they might become fodder for erotic material ;)

(cross-posted from SilkenOnSex.com)

Want more Silkenvoice?
Support my work with a small (and welcome) donation.
Get my AudioSensual CD on iTunes or Amazon.com
Visit my Erotic Audio Site: www.SilkenOnSex.com
Listen to Silken on Sex: www.SilkenOnSex.com
Read my Blog: Silkenvoice.blogspot.com
Kayar
Silkenvoice: AudioSensual Erotic Shorts, Vol. 1

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Catching up!

I can't believe it has been so many weeks since I wrote something on my blog. Again, I really want to write, but so much of my creative energy has been tied up in putting together the www.SilkenOnSex.com site and planning the weekly podcasts,  as well as handling domestic stuff (moving/unpacking/traveling) that I've not had much to spare.

But now that site is live and I've got a good work-flow down for the weekly podcast recordings and I'm home after some trips up and down the West Coast.

Time to get down to recording some custom audios for some people that have been trying to chase me down for the past few months.

I've also got some ideas for a new writing and podcasting project -- just thinking about how to fram it so I don't offend people ;)

Want more Silkenvoice?
Support my work with a small (and welcome) donation.
Get my AudioSensual CD on iTunes or Amazon.com
Visit my Erotic Audio Site: www.SilkenOnSex.com

Kayar
Silkenvoice: AudioSensual Erotic Shorts, Vol. 1