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Still here…

March 14, 2011 1 comment

Today is a slow, slow, rainy day, and I have been slow-moving in response. I realize I’ve not stopped by here lately, and in truth, it seems this blog is nearing the end of its lifespan. I may write more in the future, but there are just too many other things occupying my life lately, and I have neither the time nor inclination to write things down.

But, a short update seems in order, as a lot has been happening lately:

– Max came to visit me in the later half of February for a short while, which was wonderful. As is increasingly the case, I left the airport after his visit feeling it was not enough, that time had flown inexplicably by before I had a chance to appreciate every moment we had together. We had a very full schedule this visit, including a day-long series of workshops at Kink.com, a 3-hour private lesson, and multiple social engagements. I enjoyed helping and assisting at the workshops where I could, and it definitely introduced a new level of service to Max that I had little prior experience with. All in all, it seemed to go fairly smoothly, and we got some really nice feedback at the end.

– I am trying to move myself towards a freelancing career, which is proving most difficult – in all the ways one would expect self-employment to be difficult. But, perhaps the biggest obstacle to overcome is my own inertia and self-doubt. There are days I feel like I can do anything, but they are far outweighed by the times I hold back, frozen in place by the hugeness of my decision weighing me down and by the lack of a definite plan or path.

– But I am still sending out resumes now and again, when I see something I think I could do and enjoy.

– I submitted a few pieces to this year’s Seattle Erotic Arts Festival as well as a collaborative proposal for an installation piece. The installation proposal was accepted, and now begins the process of building this installation with an art collaborator who lives over a thousand miles away. It will be quite a unique experience for me, and promises to take me far outside my comfort levels. I’m terribly excited, and very nervous, about the whole thing.

– I am getting really into both my yoga and climbing. I’ve started going to yoga 3-4 times a week, and I’m hoping to up my climbing to three times a week as well. A new friend in town has gotten me to go climbing outdoors with him as well, which has been wonderful. I can feel my body getting stronger and more limber every week, and as per my (intentionally vague) resolution after coming home from Sydney, I’ve kept an exercise/activity log, which is filling up quite nicely.

So, that’s a general life update of the past month or so. Perhaps I will post updates as I work through the SEAF piece, but we’ll see… Otherwise, I’m much more active on Twitter and Fetlife now.

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Categories: admin, life

The multitudinous benefits of being an ethnic minority in America

February 5, 2011 1 comment

A brief exchange that occurred a few days ago:

Me: walking down to Mr. S, minding my own business.

Slightly unkempt guy walking a dog in front of me, looking back over his shoulder: “Hey! You are very beautiful.”

Me, a little startled: “Huh? Oh, thank you…”

Him, slowing down to match my pace: “So, what’s your ethnicity?”

Me, immediately slightly defensive: “Uh, I’m…Chinese.”

Him: “Oh! You must be quite an athlete, then – the Chinese are such amazing athletes! I’ve seen videos where they start training their girls at six or seven years old…”

Me, thinking, Yeah, it’s nothing short of child abuse over there… Aloud: “Oh yeah? I guess so…”

Him: “Anyway, I can tell you’re athletic by your gait.”

Me, slightly bemused: “My gait?”

Him: “Yes, gait. You know gait? G-A-I-T-”

Me, slightly annoyed: “Yes, I know gait. You can tell I’m athletic by my gait?”

Him: “Yeah, I used to be a trainer, I can tell how athletes walk.”

His dog starts pulling and barking at something in front of us. Slightly unkempt guy pulls sharply at his leash and admonishes him before turning back to me.

Him: “Hah, he’s just jealous. You know jealous?”

Me: “…”

Him: “Anyway, have a great day!” And turns a corner.

Good fucking riddance.

Sadly, this is not a unique occurrence. I am often asked about my ethnicity, and when it’s a white guy who’s doing the asking, I immediately cringe, and my defenses (as well as my hackles) go up, assuming he’s got a case of yellow fever. I know, I know – it’s an unfair and sweeping presumption to make, but it’s also been reinforced by past experiences. As soon as I notice that a guy is specifically interested in my ethnicity, I lose all interest and patience in him.

(A friend of mine, who openly admits to being primarily attracted to Asian women, can attest to just how cold and brusque I can be about this. I refused to associate with him and barely acknowledged his existence for the first three years I knew him.) – Sorry, AB!

To have to deal with that in the world at large is annoying enough, but now that I’ve also entered the kink community, the fetish is not only much more prevalent in my social circle – it becomes that much more blatant. A quick scroll through the “Asian” group on Fetlife is enough to make me gag.

There are many different viewpoints regarding ethnic fetishes. On the one hand, a person cannot necessarily help what they are attracted to, and an attraction to a certain race may be equivalent to being attracted to blond hair or a certain height. It’s just another physical attribute that a person considers in the overall makeup of someone they’re checking out.

On the other hand, I am more than the single dimension of my ethnic background, and I am certainly more than the perceived beliefs of what that ethnicity says about my personality and my behaviors. And I’ve found, more often than not, that those who fetishize my race narrow in on those aspects; they aren’t viewing race as one part of my overall person. They are, in fact, replacing my individual personality with one they’ve already constructed in their mind to fit their fantasy.

There is nothing that grates on me quite as acutely as having another’s fetish or presumptions pushed on me. I can’t imagine that anyone appreciates this, actually. Sure, there are people who embrace having their own race fetishized, and who am I to judge them? But don’t assume I am one of those people, and don’t start talking and behaving towards me as if I’m agreeing to act on your fetish!

I suppose a possible analogy I can make here is to bottoms (especially submissive males, it seems) who assume anyone who is dominant will dominate them, especially if they just start submitting to them without regard for whether the other person actually wants to engage. The opposite also works: tops who are somehow arrogant enough to believe anyone who identifies as submissive will automatically submit to their domly self. (Spare me my ribs, they may crack from laughing at the thought!)

All of these circumstances are rude, disrespectful, and self-serving. Asian fetishism is no different.

[note: I went off in another direction altogether from what I was thinking when I started writing down the short conversation I had with slightly unkempt guy. Besides the blatant interest in my ethnicity, it was actually his only-too-happy assumption of my English ability and vocabulary that royally pissed me off.]

Categories: humor, life

Childhood trails…

February 1, 2011 2 comments

Years ago, I wrote a post, cheekily titled “Masturbaticon I“, wherein I reflected on how I began my sexual journey and learned about my own body and my sexuality. I never did follow up on that post the way I’d intended, but I’ve recently found myself thinking a lot about my childhood influences on my emergent kinkiness.

This was in part sparked by an interesting experience I had while behind the counter at Wicked Grounds a few days prior. A rather disorganized college student walked up to the register and requested an interview for a school project he was doing on bondage and bdsm. It was slow enough that I agreed. I could devote a separate post on the interview alone, but for now, the question he asked that prodded me towards childhood reflection was in regard to how kink develops in people. Were people who had been abused or sexually assaulted more likely to be kinky?

Yes, well. My answer was much longer than anything he wrote down, and I get the feeling he was only half-listening, but as far as my personal experience goes, I was certainly never victim to either of those things. If anything, I was raised more sheltered than most, in a relatively conservative white town.

Regardless of whether I was able to disabuse him of the misconception that kink is a product of childhood trauma, the question of how kink develops in people is an interesting one. I know people arrive at kink from many paths; not everyone can pinpoint specific memories from their youth as kink precursors. And this was a question I also heard while in Australia, from my college friends.

Personally, the more I explore and experiment my kinky side, the more I am reminded of events, thoughts, and fantasies from when I was quite young that were definitely not straight-laced. And I think a significant chunk of those kink precursors can be found in what I was reading and watching as a kid. Besides the normal diet of age-appropriate books like The Chronicles of Narnia and Redwall, I was also inhaling my library’s supply of science-fiction and fantasy books. And between the highly designed book covers depicting scantily clad heroes and heroines (often wearing leather boots!) and frequently erotic undertones of these two genres, I was undoubtedly creating some highly charged erotic connections to alternative sexualities, rituals, protocols, and power exchange.

Still, it didn’t have to be sex-related or fantastical for me to take interest. There was definitely already a predisposition for kink in me. I remember reading the Nancy Drew books, for instance, and feeling a mixture of excitement and fear whenever the protagonist was in trouble – say, caught and bound by the bad guy, awaiting her fate, or being threatened with a weapon after making a climactic discovery. This was also true for many cartoons I watched that centered around the hero-villain battle. I was fascinated, utterly fascinated, by villains. The more devious and vicious the antagonist, the more thrilled and mesmerized I was by the show – especially if there was any kind of personal history between the characters.

The trend grew with me, and in high school, I met Iago in my sophomore English class. This villain enthralled me, and I’ve probably inflated his character in my memory since reading Othello, but I still love the dark, sinister imagery that appears in my head when I think of him. Darkly charismatic, devious, completely consumed with vengeance yet cool as ice…

I never actually wanted to either emulate or meet an Iago in person, of course. It was the darkness that attracted me – me, the good girl, the quiet one, the nice one. Villains were my outlet, my connection to a darker, more primal side I never dared to explore myself… Villains always sought power and took it by force if they had to (often enjoyed taking it by force anyway), and that above all hit a nerve in me.

I’ve held all these feelings tightly in check for years. But, little by little, and partner by partner, I’m not only getting to reveal some of these desires, but also fulfill quite a few of them.

And there are many more layers waiting for me to explore in the years to come.

Categories: life, reflection, sex

Happy winter festivities!

December 25, 2010 Leave a comment

I’m not a terribly big holiday person, perhaps because there was always a lot of pressure and expectation in our household to have a happy cookie-cutter, Hallmark American Christmas. So there are no lights and there is no tree at our apartment this year.  But I am baking cookies and making chicken curry for a potluck later on today, and I’m looking forward to having some nice company with which to pass the time.

So whether you are celebrating the festivities or just enjoying the winter, I hope you are warm and happy, and that there is hot food on the stove.  I could certainly use a warm body to get cozy with tonight.

Categories: life, photos

Brother’s keeper

December 12, 2010 Leave a comment

This past Thanksgiving, I made it a priority to spend more quality time with my younger brother.  We had a pretty confusing sibling relationship when we were both much younger, and I really want to build a better connection with him.  He is a good, kind person, and in a lot of ways I always felt he was a lot better person than I was (which I resented when I was younger).  And while I think he is doing really well, he lives solely with my mother right now, and I can’t help but want to provide another outlet for him, especially with regards to certain topics.

One of the goals of my trip home for the holiday was to create the opportunity to talk about sex with him.  This opportunity was actually facilitated by my mother, who worried about not being able to talk to her son so frankly.  She approached me and asked if I would be willing to send him some resources or talk with him, and I quickly agreed.  I could not be happier that she felt comfortable asking me to talk to my brother about sex!

I bought him S.E.X., by Heather Corinna, and we spent a little time just skimming through the book together.  I also showed him the It Gets Better Project and talked to him a little about bullying.  My strongest memories of high school are of being miserable and having suicidal ideation, and while I don’t know at all if my brother feels similarly, he doesn’t seem particularly enthusiastic about school, and he’s getting a lot of pressure, both from teachers and from my mother, to perform better academically.  I know this created a lot of stress and tension for me.

It has been a difficult balancing act, not wanting to project onto him my own history and my feelings about my mother, while at the same time wanting him to know that the world is a much bigger place than the small rural town he’s in.  He knows some of this already, having traveled quite a bit now and having spent a summer taking classes at a university in a major city.  And God knows he’s probably already been influenced by me through all the mischief I got into, which my mother has undoubtedly vented about to him (much as she used to vent about my father to me).

The other topic my mother stressed that I needed to address with my brother was the SATs.  She has continuously prodded me to help my brother better prepare for the SATs, to give him tips, help him with practice problems, and encourage him to study the many prep books she’s bought.

And I was loathe to do any of this, waiting until the night before I left to grudgingly take a look at a book with him.  I felt badly about being so reluctant, but that reluctance was not because I was lazy or didn’t want my brother to do well.  I have a very strong opinion of the standardized testing, and while I’ve done SAT tutoring, I absolutely hate the test and think it’s an unfortunate standard to have in our education system.  All that said, I did pretty well on the test myself, and I actually tend to do well on tests like this.  But I also tried to make the point to my mother that I never even studied before I took the test the first time, and that was only the end of my sophomore year.  My brother is currently a sophomore.  I personally think he has plenty of time to prepare.

So when we sat down together with the 2-inch thick prep book, I instead spent the entire time explaining how to study the test itself – its format, the way points are tallied, how to guess and eliminate choices.  I told him he has plenty of time to study the actual content of the test.

And when my mother asked how our study session went, I assured her that he would be fine.  She seemed unconvinced and still worried about him.  The conversation we had around this has left me feeling frustrated ever since.  She explained all the ways my brother wasn’t prepared for college, from his lack of awards from competitions to his lack of leadership roles in any organizations.  She lamented about him not being competitive or aggressive enough in seeking these things out.

And then she told me I needed to help him.  She related a story of a friend’s daughter, who was very self-motivated and got into MIT without needing outside help.  But her younger brother was the complete opposite, with his parents assigning him private tutors and consultants to prep him for college, and still he wasn’t accepted to MIT.  His sister intervened, using her legacy status and asking the admissions office what he needed to get in.  They told her, and he was able to get in.

So, my mother concluded, it behooved me to help my brother reach his goals, because he simply wasn’t like me, self-motivated and a self-starter.  I’m not quite sure where my mother got this opinion of me, because I don’t remember ever being called that before.  Regardless, I left for San Francisco the next day, feeling guilty for not being more supportive (what a horrible sister am I?) while simultaneously still believing that he is the only person who can decide how to form his life, and that I should not be so involved as to direct the path he should take.

I always downplay my own educational background to my brother, where my mother likes to ask him if he wants to get into my alma mater.  I tell him it doesn’t matter, there are so many great schools – and great programs – and that he shouldn’t focus on the Ivy brand name.  My mother used to tell me I’d never get into anything better than the local state university when I got a less than stellar grade.

So there is this constant back and forth, with my brother unfortunately caught in the middle.  I’m not sure what step to take – if I should take any at all.  We don’t speak often when I’m in San Francisco – partially my own aversion to phone calls, partially because he almost never has his cellphone on him anyway.  I do think I should be more intentional in being a part of his life; I’m just not sure what role I should play.

Of course, while I am sorting all this out in my head (and agonizing over it in conversations with Max), my brother’s life continues to play out.  He’s already grown up so quickly without me there a lot of the time.  I feel an almost maternal guilt for not being around more.

Categories: hope, life, love

Life update

December 10, 2010 Leave a comment

It’s funny how it’s when my life is joyful and fairly content that makes for the most boring and sparse blog posts.  I wrote a lot more when I was more morose, unhappy, or lonely, it seems.  Added to the general feeling of contentedness is the fact that I’ve just been consumed with other life happenings, and so I don’t often find the time or space to write here.

Because busy I have certainly been.  There was the week of family Thanksgiving back on the East Coast, the flight back to San Francisco, and the flight up to Seattle two days after that.  I spent the extended weekend with Max, and there is plenty to talk about there, except I came home and was immediately thrown into host-mode as a college friend was visiting San Francisco for a few days.  I spent a couple wonderful days with her and the friends she was with, exploring parts of the city I’ve long neglected.

Still, it’s nice to carve out some time for myself this week, and I have been catching up on all the mundanities of life that constantly need attention, boring as they are to mention.  I’m trying to become more organized – in the space I take up, the physical objects I own, and the way I generally go through life.  I’ve coasted well enough so far, but that will only carry me so far before I start floundering.

Foremost on my mind is wondering where I will be, this time next year.  I have, for the past five or so months, been making moves to apply to a certificate program in Seattle.  That portfolio is still underway, and I’ve just discovered that I in fact can’t apply for their Fall 2011 enrollment until the spring.  This leaves me a lot of time to think over what, exactly, my life will look like for the next couple of years.

I recently read this journal entry of one Neil Gaiman, and once you get past the funny (and cute) photos of Neil in a ridiculous number of layers of clothes, he answers letters he gets from his readers.  The two letters on being creative writing majors had me drawing a lot of parallels to my own experience in the arts department.  I found a similar discouragement to draw anything fantastical – though I admit some of that was self-censoring, because the curricula were fine arts oriented, which often holds a very strong bias against graphic design, illustration, and cartoon art.  I struggled with conceptual art and art theory because I was more interested in creating characters and caricatures, and seriously had no illusions of creating any deeper meaning to my work.

I have been interested in this particular Seattle program because it is for natural science illustration, and I think it would help any kind of illustration I choose to do in the future.  I also believe I currently have the ability to draw from life and draw to anatomical standards, and could do this without shelling out tuition money and uprooting the life I am building for myself in San Francisco.

On the other hand, I have pretty compelling reasons to want to be in Seattle as well…

Bah. It’s late, I’m rambling.  I think it’s time to go to bed…

Categories: life, sundry

Bah, humbug

November 26, 2010 Leave a comment

It’s that time of year again – when lit, decorated trees come up way too early and the radio plays an endless stream of Christmas songs.  The Holiday Season starts earlier and earlier every year; I saw Christmas decorations replacing Halloween candy in stores the first week of November. Bah!

Maybe I wouldn’t be feeling so grumpy if I weren’t spending a full eight days back on the East Coast, with no car and no friends around to get me out of the house when I need it.  It also snowed on Thanksgiving day, which only made me stoke the fire in our fireplace that much more vigorously.  It’s been a chilly week.

My holiday grouchiness may also be due to only making it to the tail end of my favorite season.  It’s too cold now, and all the leaves have fallen from the trees.  Rather than the rich colors of changing maple and oak leaves, it is all dim and grey and black branches out there.  And being constantly cold is a personal recipe for sullenness anyway.

But otherwise, yes, it is good to see the family, even if it’s in a slightly larger dose than would be ideal, and they haven’t even asked about my collar! Perhaps they are finally just letting things be and have accepted my quirks.  Or perhaps my plan to wear another necklace along with it and make it look like a San Francisco Thing is convincing enough.  Either way, no particular comments have been made about my adornments.  Though one positive side effect of the cold weather is that I don’t have to worry about wearing more revealing clothing and accidentally showing off a stray singletail mark – yes, they are still there from my scene with Max a month ago.

I really have only myself to blame, since I set the dates for my flights, but I figured staying a little longer for Thanksgiving would be an acceptable price for not going home for Christmas.  I also do have some tasks to accomplish before going back West; some heart to heart conversations that I want to have with my little brother, and photographing my artwork from school.  It’s about damn time I organized all of that stuff and got rid of the junk.

And in between all of that, I get to fantasize about what awaits for me in less than a week, when I switch gears to get ready for Seattle and for Max.  I can’t wait!

Categories: life, links, travelog