Sunday, July 24, 2011

Borders Closing

I bought my first erotica book at a Barnes and Noble. It wasn't really all that erotic, per se; it was a gay vampire novel. But it was the first book I ever owned, bought with my own money, that portrayed sex between two people in all its graphic detail and sticky mess.

But buying those kinds of books from B&N wasn't so easy back then. There was no erotica section of my local branch, only romance; and anyway, they didn't stock the kind of books I was hungry for, even if I didn't know it back then.

Then I discovered Borders, and the situation changed. Suddenly, I had a whole bookshelf devoted to the kind of anti-purple-prose I craved; I could pick by author, by genre, even by publisher. It was awesome.

Yesterday, for the last time, I visited the erotica section of my local Borders bookstore. Borders is closing--all of the branches. The liquidation sale going on as I type this post. They'll be gone completely sometime in September.

Now that the end is near, now that it's a done deal with no heroic savior coming forth out of the shadows to save the company from its final doom in sight (and really, if a savior did suddenly come forward, there would be no possible way to save the company anyway--the body has jumped the building, all we as spectators can do is watch and gasp in horror as it plummets), I remember all the times I spent at Borders, all the hours enjoying their spacious floors and well organized shelves, drinking in the smell of coffee and boxes and books. The times I brought my kids to browse and and listen to their story-tellers. The afternoon I spent at one of their tables with my sister, crying because I'd recently lost a friend. She bought me a book on how to grieve and move on.

A wise woman once told me you cannot expect something to be there for you only when you need it, if you don't support it during times you don't. She was, at the time, talking about supporting our local synagogue; but it works for Borders, as well. I always just assumed Borders would be around when I needed them. But I haven't bought a book from Borders in months; in fact, I haven't bought a "real" book for myself for quite a while. I've been buying for my Kindle. My kids have been buying "real" books, but through Amazon, where it's cheaper.

Even yesterday, while standing in line to pay at Borders, I overheard a woman gasp at the length of the line and murmur under her breath, "fuck it, I'll buy my stuff at Target."

Borders failed because it could not find its place in today's market, in today's world. Like Blockbuster's crumpling under the weight of Netflix, Borders could not compete with the lure of cheaper prices and the ease of buying from home. People like to be social, but from the privacy of their own homes. We like to browse before buying, but don't mind forgoing the experience of seeing the items for ourselves, instead trusting pictures and descriptions, if it means we can browse in our pajamas at whatever time of night we want from the privacy of our own computer screens.

I don't need Borders anymore to buy my erotica. I can buy from a much larger, richer selection online, where my selections will probably be cheaper, too.
The truth is, I will grieve Borders' passing...but I have already moved on. I think the rest of Borders' customers have, too.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Why It's Hard Being An Author Trying To Get Published

Because we're wrong if we say the manuscript needs editing, and wrong if we say it's perfect as is;

Because we're wrong not to personalize our query letters as much as possible, but wrong to expect anything more than a form rejection in return;

Because we're wrong to admit if it only took us two months to write the book, but wrong if we admit it took us over a year to complete and utterly wrung us out in the process;

Because we're wrong for not having a critique group to check our work, but wrong for stating our critique group loved it;

Because we're wrong for trying to break away from the tried-and-tested mold, but also wrong for not working hard enough to find our own voice;

Because we're wrong to compare ourselves to any other famous author out there, but wrong not to give an agent some kind of an idea what our work is similar to on the market;

Because we're wrong not to do some research online about the agents we want to query, but wrong to believe anything we read;

Because we're wrong for not making our characters as strong as possible, but wrong for liking them enough to mourn their passing when we're told to erase them from the pages completely;

Because we're wrong for querying too widely, and wrong for giving up too quickly;

Because we're wrong for not understanding that agents have lives, they have jobs, they get dozens if not hundreds of queries per week, that the process takes time, but if we don't hear from them in two months, then we need to assume their answer to our query is no, but not take it too personally, not to see it as a reflection of ourselves or even our work, but to see it as their way of saying (even though they never really said anything) that our work would have been a bad "fit" for them, but it may be a better "fit" with someone else.

But most of all, we're wrong for being the slightest bit bitter or frustrated over the process, and voicing that bitterness and frustration over the internet. Because that is the surest way to make an agent think you will be a horrible author to work with.

Fuck that. I'm frustrated. No, I'm not giving up, I'm not backing down, I'm not turning in my keyboard and crawling into a dark cave. But right now I'm not very fun to be with, either.

Tomorrow is another day.

Monday, July 11, 2011


I think I've mentioned before that Husband and I have been married for fifteen years. We've been monogamous that entire time, and plan on remaining so forever. (I know, and know of, many people in the kink community who have open/poly relationships, but that is simply not us. Part of being "traditional" is being true to each other, forever and ever, amen.)

I see everywhere this prevailing idea that after a certain number of married years, desire between the couple starts to slack off. They don't have sex so often anymore, and when they do, it becomes quick and routine, something they don't necessarily mind doing, but do it more out of a biological/relational need. They cut it down to the most basic steps, do what it takes to get the job done, fast, smooth, and over with. I've read that a significant percentage of married couples average sex around twice a week. Some studies quote five times a month.

Five times. A month.

At first I thought, What the hell? This has to be wrong. Why? Because they were so different from my experience as a married woman. Yes, there have been times when Husband and I have had to refrain from sex, like the weeks after I'd delivered a baby, or the couple times I've had major surgery. But this wasn't because we didn't want to have sex; it was because we couldn't. The rest of our married life, we've had sex on a regular basis. And I don't mean twice a week regular basis, or five times a month regular basis; I mean, there-better-be-a-good-enough-reason-we're-not-having-sex-tonight regular basis.

I've given this some thought, and here's what I've come come down to: it depends on the person's natural levels of Desire.

If you desire sex enough, and your partner enough, it won't matter if he's pissed off, or pissed you off, or picked a fight with you, or has simply not spent "enough" time with you during the day.

You will WANT him.

You will want to feel his arms and lips around you, at the end of the day you will want his weight sinking into you and over you and through you. You will crave his scent, his touch, his very presence as he walks in the room taking over your senses and making you feel heady and drunk.
You will find yourself thinking about him throughout the day, but at the oddest and most inopportune times.

Like when you're at the checkout counter at the supermarket. You'll be reaching into your purse fishing for your wallet, and suddenly wonder what it would be like to have him fuck you over that counter, bend you over and fuck you from behind, press your cheek into the cold steel as he pounds into you, and your eyes will suddenly go wide and your breath will catch and the checkout girl will ask you if you're okay.

Or you'll be at the bakery, there just to pick up some rolls, but the baker is carefully frosting some cookies, and you'll wonder what it would be like to feel that thing along your thighs, pressing into your skin and leaving tiny mounds of frosting along your hip bone for him to lick off, or maybe it would be gently dipped into your pussy...or maybe even shoved into your ass. And the baker will be trying to get your attention, handing you your change, and be mumbling how you must not have had enough coffee that morning, 'cause your response time is mighty slow.

Or you'll be in the car, driving down the highway, feeling the vibrations of the engine humming against your butt and thighs, and suddenly realize how long it's been since the two of you fucked in a car...and your forehead will bead sweat, and your lip will quiver, and you'll realize your panties are all too...moist.

I don't know if kinky couples feel more desire for their partners than vanilla couples. And if you we do, I don't know if the two things are correlated, and what comes first: maybe our kinkiness keeps the sex fun and interesting, keeps the flames of desire alive, and that makes us more, um, needy. Or maybe we just crave the sex more, and that's what helps make us kinky in the first place.

Either way, I feel bad for couples who only do it five times a month.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Weekly Playboy Ads

This post brought to you by the beautiful ladies of August 1989.
A couple interesting things about this issue, but first let's get to the technological signs of the times.

A brand new Toyota car which, by the picture presented, will push you into orgasmic delight, looks like this:

It's a nice looking car, by 1989 standards. I'm not sure what the guy has under his arm, though. What's funny is that at first glance I assumed it was a laptop, and then I was like, 'uh, no. Can't be.' Is it a thin briefcase? A folder of papers? And what's with the suspenders?

An ad for a "nuclear" walkman. Very high-tech, very impressive, as all the neon squiggly lines show. And you know what? Back in 1989, I probably would have wanted to own this...Nah. Weren't we already into CDs by then?

This neat little guy is actually a VCR that can play tapes right onto that screen there. It also can run in your car. It's expensive, but you gotta admit, it probably came in pretty handy for the people who owned them. Families who went on long car rides, most likely.

Okay, so here's the first weird things about this issue of Playboy: there aren't that many ads. And I don't just mean ads I can pick to show you and ridicule, I mean the issue just doesn't have that many ads, period. Not even the usual number of cigarette ads, although I don't bother showing you cigarette ads anyway, cause as far as I'm concerned, they're all pretty silly. I mean, come on, it's an advertisement for something that's going to kill you. How can it not be ridiculous?
But here's why I think there aren't that many ads. I think this cigarette ad right here paid for all of them. And when you see the pictures, you'll figure out why:
This, my friends, is a four page pop-up ad. For Salem cigarettes.
I have to say: given that it's a cigarette ad, and given that all cigarette ads are pretty ridiculous, this ad is pretty cool. It's got palm trees, and a little hut, and a hammock with the beach in the background. And it's a pop-up! The kind that little kids get all squeaky-excited about from pop-up books!
I've never seen a pop-up ad before, and certainly never an ad of this intricate design for cigarettes. Who knows how much money they spent to put it in Playboy. Plus, part of the ad is an offer for a free pack of cigarettes. Wonder how much this all cost Salem. It was probably worth it, least to them. They got a whole batch of new smokers to smoke their cigarettes.
Moving on!
The second interesting thing about this issue I found was somewhat hidden in the Mike Tyson interview. Now I know I usually stick with just commenting on the ads in these Playboy posts, but this one really struck me somehow. It's an exchange between Mike Tyson and the Playboy interviewer; the two of them really seemed to hit it off together:
"You know something," he [Mike Tyson] said, "I like to hurt women when I make love to them." He stopped, searching my face for a reaction. "I like to hear them scream with pain, to see them bleed," he said, putting his arm around me. "It gives me pleasure."
Mike shook his head. "Jose, I am that way and I don't know why."
"Well," I said, "did it ever occur to you that men who behave that way probably hate women, that deep-down, they simply don't like them?"
"You may be right. You're the first person to tell me that...You know, you may be fucking right. Holy fucking shit!"

Let's forget for a second this is Mike Tyson, circa 1989. Let's pretend this is two average Joes, talking today. Wouldn't you have rather seen the exchange go something like this?

"You know something...I like to hurt women when I make love to them." He stopped for second. Then he continued, "I like to hear them scream with pain, to see them bleed. It gives me pleasure."
He shook his head. "I am that way and I don't know why."
"Well," I said, "did it ever occur to you that there are other men like you everywhere, all around us, contributing to society, living normal lives, and yet finding women out there who like that kind of roughness? That you're inclinations are not as rare as you think? That there's a whole BDSM community full of men, and women, who like what you like? And other men and women who like to take it just as much as you like to give it?"

I don't know about you, but I would have liked to have seen a response like the second version, the one I presented, not the way the exchange originally happened. Now, one can't discount the fact that the person involved in this little conversation was Mike Tyson, and maybe (probably) that changed how the interviewer formulated his answer. Maybe he would have offered a different answer to someone else. I don't know.
I know Sadists like to hurt women, they like to hear them scream, but they do not, DO NOT, hate women, at least not the ones I know personally. They just get off on a different set of kinks. And what about women who like to be hurt, who like being forced to scream? Do they hate men? I don't think so...I don't see how anyone could say so. 
Is this how vanilla society sees BDSM/kink mentality? As an expression of hatred for the opposite sex?
Do you think the exchange would have been worded the same way today?
I hope not.

This wraps up this week's Playboy post. New one next week!

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Good Enough

I am feeling lately like the summer heat is just baking my brain cells. I'm just kind of walking around, happy and content, but loopy and dazed and not doing anything that requires too much thinking. Like writing. And the thing is, I'm in too much of a good mood to be bothered enough to motivate myself to do something about it. Like that sentence right there--there were four "to" sounding words in that thing, I should probably rewrite it and cut down on the "to"s, but I won't. Cause it's structurally sound, and good enough.

Good Enough. That seems to be attitude lately. Things don't need to be good: they just need to be Good Enough.

The one area where Good Enough doesn't really cut it is punishments. Punishments tend to get rated on a pass/fail bases: if the punishment works, if it keeps the sub from repeating the offense, then it was good. If the sub commits the same offense or breaks the same rule twice, that means the first punishment was a failure. Not good, not even good enough: it was Not Good At All. It was INEFFECTIVE.

Sometimes punishments end up being ineffective because, deep down, the Dom is doing it more out of pleasure than disciplinary action. He's not putting enough force behind the blows, 'cause he's getting off on her little shrieks of surprise and sighs of pleasure. Maybe he indulges in some sympathy, and thinks he's being nice by going easy on her. Or maybe he's simply tired, and wants to get to that blowjob he's been waiting for, and thinks an evenly-spread rosy blush across the bottom (instead of some hard-earned welts) will get the point across.

Ineffective punishments that end up having to be repeated can hurt both Dom and sub. The Dom feels like he didn't do a good job punishing her the first time; his pride is bruised. He is chastised by her very actions of defiance.
The sub ends up having to get through two punishments instead of just one, and while the first one wasn't enough to teach her the lesson, the second will probably be twice as harsh as it needs to be, because the Dom will feel like he has to go above and beyond what is necessary to make sure she doesn't commit the same transgression--again.

Sometimes punishments have to be repeated because both Dom and sub are still finding their way, still learning what works and what doesn't. This is different: it's part of the natural process, and if you're lucky, it's an ongoing thing. Punishments, like everything else in life, can get boring if used too often, and boring often translates into ineffective after a while. They have to be tweaked, revamped a little, changed in some way to keep working as they should.

Twenty-five swats with the belt can be changed to twenty with the belt and ten with the hand (five on each ass cheek). Or a flogging session can go from a bent-over-the-bed position, to one of the sub lying on her back, hugging her legs to her chest, feet straight up in the air. I find that the position I'm most afraid of is the one where I have to press against the wall with my hands, ass out and feet shoulder length apart, because this position is the hardest for me to hold and when I break position I end up adding to the punishment.

The point is, sometimes punishments need to be worked through to remain effective, but the goal is to make sure they keep the sub from transgressing again. Anything less and the punishment didn't do it's job.

Which the Dom shouldn't see as a personal failure. There will always be more opportunities. :)

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

A 1950's Household: It's not what you see on T.V.

One of the benefits of staying at a hotel so close to the beach and shopping is that you don't have to allot a lot (I just re-read that and realized how weirdly funny it sounds...'allot a lot') of time for traveling to said beach and shops. It also means, if you're anything like us, you end us spending more time in the room just hanging out and resting, especially after lunch when you've eaten enough to feed one of those sea lions you just saw barking out on the ocean (or maybe it was an elephant seal you're not sure but either way it was big and obviously must eat a lot and you feel like one of them. Only you're not barking).

(If you had any suspicions before this, I believe I've just confirmed them: yes I'm still recuperating from the trip. Yes my mental capacity is probably that of a sea lion/elephant seal/that big dark barking thing in the ocean. And God, I wish I was back on that beach.)

Where was I going with this?

Oh yes, hanging out in the room. While my kids were on their little doodad machines, PSPs or Ipods or whatever, I watched TV. One of the shows that caught my attention was Father Knows Best. Is everyone familiar with that show? Basically, it was a 1950's portrayal of the stereotypical American family: working father with a full-time housewife/mother taking care of their three children. Every episode stood alone as its own story arc, however the kids did grow up over the course of the show and (I think) ended up going off to college, at least the older two. 
The father works, but comes home in time for dinner every night. The mother cooks and cleans, but always looks fresh and clean tidy, like she'd be ready to go out for a fancy dinner at a moment's notice. Nobody swears. Nobody yells (too much). Nobody drinks (too much). The lipstick's always fresh, the carpet's always clean, and the cake always comes out perfect.

What I'm getting at here is that living a "1950's Household" isn't like what you see from the televisions shows back from that time. I don't think even in the 1950's, when these shows were on, people lived like that. 
I'm a housewife, but my house gets dirty. Dust settles on my window blinds, long enough to stake a plot and set up house. Laundry piles up. I try to cook, but Husband knows if he wants a well-cooked piece of meat, he better make it himself, cause the only thing I'm expert at handling in the kitchen is the fire extinguisher.

But there are similarities. The biggest one, obviously, is that he works and I'm in charge of the home. 

When he wakes up in the morning, there's coffee and the newspaper already waiting for him. His clothes are ironed. His shoes and keys and wallet are where they're supposed to be, not necessarily where he left them. When he comes home from work, he's greeted with smiles and kisses. The mail is in a neat pile on the table, ready for him to look through. If he comes home late, there's still food in the fridge waiting for him. He doesn't have to worry about schedules, or childcare, or household chores. I sometimes ask for his help around the house, but it's not one of his responsibilities, and if he's too busy or too tired, he says no. It's never because he's being lazy or just doesn't feel like it--it's because he legitimately can't, and I understand that. Sometimes it all gets too much for me, too. 

He focuses on spending time with the kids as a father, talking to them, teaching them, and guiding them. He's not a friend, and he's not a mom, but he's a really, really great dad. And sometimes that means taking a deep breath before walking in the door and burying deep all the stresses of work so he can focus on his kids, but he does it, because he knows that's part of his role. And at night, he may vent to me all the hassles he's dealing with at work, but that's only later, after he's greeted me with kisses and asked about my day and we've had a chance to be together as a family.

I don't always get all the housework done before he comes home, but I do freshen up before he's due through the door. It's important that I greet him looking neat and smelling good; I know he appreciates it. I do my best to think of all the little things I can do to make his life easier, to show him I'm always considering his happiness, and I know he does the same for me.

In that way, we are like a 1950's sitcom, but I hope what we are is not unique to a 1950's household. I would like to think we're typical of any happily married couple, always thinking of their spouse's wants and needs and putting the welfare of the family first. Sadly, I know in many homes, what we have is not typical at all. 

I don't think we should strive to be a television show. But I do think there are many aspects of a 1950's household that can enrich any family's home.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

I'm Back

Did you miss me? :)

We went for vacation to La Jolla, California. It was AMAZING. I am actually rather sad to be home, but life must resume.
I didn't do that much shopping while I was there (I'm not a big fan of shopping, which pleases Husband greatly) but I did pick up a few souvenirs. On one early expedition to Seaport Village, while the kids and I were in a different part of one particular nick-nack store, Husband snuck away and bought me this:
I love it. He knew I would. He got a kick out of it, too.
What else did I do besides shop, you may ask?
Well, I enjoyed the view from our little patio.

I lounged at the pool.
I relaxed at the hot tub.
I bummed at the beach.
I basically just soaked in the views and had a really good time.

If you're ever going to plan a visit to La Jolla, CA I recommend staying at The La Jolla Shores Hotel. The service is amazing, and the location can't be beat. Just check the prices on sites like Expedia before calling them to make a reservation, because the price they quote you over the phone is ridiculous, but if you find a cheaper rate for one of their rooms on Expedia, they will match the price but you can still make the reservation directly through them (which I think is always safer).
The one draw back to the hotel were all the seagulls. The hotel is situated on the beach, so the hotel had some nesting seagulls on their roofs. The babies got really loud around five o'clock in the morning, looking for their breakfasts. But they were cute, too.