On Compliments

I won’t have been the first person to write this, nor will I likely be the last. I, like so many others, am just one of the many who – in shedding some of the (perhaps unintentional) burdens laid upon my psyche by the patriarchal system that dominates our society – has come to regard the “compliment” with unease.

More plain English?

Some compliments by some people make me feel uncomfortable.

Now, in a world unencumbered by the patriarchal system I’ve already alluded to, I wouldn’t need to say more than that. I should be able to say “X makes me feel Y” and “Y” should be accepted, respected, and boom.

And if, for example, someone were concerned about their “X” making me feel “Y” they might be driven to ask “but, why?”

And… you know what? That’s a valid question. It’s a question that does not dismiss my feeling of “Y”, but seeks to understand it. It may also be an attempt to validate it; but it certainly does not come from the position of denying its existence.

But that’s not what we get when we say things like “Your doing of X makes me feel Y,” where “Y” is not a positive thing.

What we get is “No, you’re wrong.” Or “Jeez, take a compliment.” Or “Fuckin’ feminists….”

What we get, frequently, is an invalidation of our feelings. So you know what we do?

We say nothing. A lot. We say nothing so many times.

We say plenty to the people who are willing to listen. We say plenty to the people who say “Oh, I know,” or even those who ask “But, why?” but until we know you’re one of those people, we just say nothing.

So, I’m going to publicly answer the ‘why’ for me. Why it sometimes makes me feel uncomfortable.

This is a society that has placed a high value on the way women look and act and behave, but predominantly it’s about how we look.

I can say “I feel like shit today, I’m so tired….” and someone’s response might easily be, “But you look beautiful.”

Like that’s going to make the shit-and-tired feeling go away, or make it feel less shitty or tired. Every time Erin Andrews, the host on Dancing With the Stars talks about how beautiful one of the female contestants looks I cringe. So often it was “Well, the judges didn’t score you very well, but you look HOT.”

When I was ten years old I started begging my mom to let me wear makeup. She told me I couldn’t – not until I was thirteen. On my thirteenth birthday, I asked if I could wear makeup. She said not until I’m sixteen. I said, “But wait! You said I could wear it when I’m thirteen!” She responded, “I didn’t think thirteen would come so soon!”

For years I wore makeup every day. All of it – the foundation and the powder and the gloss and mascara and the liner. And then, it was an uncle actually who asked me “why?” And I said it was so I could look pretty, and he said “you are beautiful without it. It doesn’t make you prettier. You don’t need it every day. Save it for the days you want people to say ‘wow!'”

It took me a little while, because at this point I was pretty darned pimpley and I really felt like I needed it.

But over time, I did lay off all the heavy makeup. I started really getting used to seeing my face without it. And you know what started to happen?

My mom started telling me to go put on some makeup.

Because it made me prettier.

And that was really important. Hell, just the other day she kept harping on how I had to do my makeup “really nice, like you used to do it – i know you know how” for my job interview. She even asked me for a photo as proof that I did it right.

Over the past few years, I’ve done a lot of work overcoming my addiction to validation. So many of us have this addiction – and it’s no wonder. We’re infused with doses of it from day one of our existence, and it only gets more prominent as we start to blossom. We crave that validation.

And it’s like, in order to wean ourselves off of it, we feel like we have to go in totally the opposite direction. Like, we purposely try to dress unsexy and let our armpit hair grow and behave in the most unladylike fashion we can. Quitting validation sometimes felt like quitting femininity.

But then something else happened. I realized that trying to hide my beauty in response to the patriarchy’s unwelcome valuation of it still gives my control over it to someone other than myself.

I started to see the power and in owning my own looks. Now, here’s the thing. I value them. I’m not going to sit here and pretend that being pretty isn’t something I am aware of or something I’m not appreciative of – but what I resent is that it makes a difference in how others perceive me. I like looking like me. I like that my partner likes the way I look.

But I hate that it has any bearing on whether I am qualified for a job or my family’s love or a stranger’s respect. I don’t look at other people and “rate” their looks or treat them differently to how I treat other people….

….unless I’m flirting with them.

Which brings me back to those compliments.

When someone who is not sexually interested in me (any gender) tells me that I am beautiful, it feels like a compliment.

When someone who is sexually interested in me (any gender) tells me that I am beautiful, it feels like a down payment.

Maybe it’s not intended that way. Holy shit it probably isn’t intended that way! But that’s the system we live in. That’s how it works, and that’s how I interpret it.

I get that there are people with crushes out there on people who do not reciprocate those crushes. I get that it can feel awkward and weird to have a crush on someone who doesn’t crush back on you. I’m not saying don’t talk to them, or don’t compliment them…

…I’m saying that when it comes to me, anyway, understand that a compliment on my level of attractiveness to you can make me feel uncomfortable. I might say “thank you,” if I don’t think there’s any ulterior motive…but if I feel like a response might be leading you to think that I’ve accepted the down payment and we’re now negotiating terms?

I’ll probably just say nothing.

One final thought: If you think this is about you or something you’ve said to me in the past, don’t worry about trying to apologize or explain that your motives are not disingenuous. I’m not holding any grudges and I’m not angry with anybody. Just let this message percolate and keep it in mind the next time we have an interaction.

Can I talk to you about something serious for a sec?

Content warning: Death and death-related topics ahead

I’ve heard my boss say, on more than one occasion, that “nobody gets out of life alive.” She doesn’t say a lot that’s worth repeating, but this is one of her finest and most salient comments.

We’re all gonna die one day.

And yes, many of us hope that it will happen way down the road when we’re super old and we’ve accomplished everything and our bones hurt so much that death will look like a welcome friend.

Some of us, though we are still young, feel that pain in our bones now and might sometimes wonder if it would be so bad if it comes a little sooner.

Some of us are terrified of both aging and death, and we live out our formative years avoiding the topic. I imagine most of those people didn’t get past the content warning.

And sometimes, we hear a story and are faced with the stark reality that most of us do not have control over when it happens – not for ourselves and not for our loved ones. As it ought to be.

It doesn’t really matter what your relationship with death is – the fact is, we are all going to have one some day.

So, if you have people or causes in your life that matter to you, get your shit together.

Yes, it’s probably more important to do this if you have assets, but even if you don’t – you can leave behind instructions for your loved ones on what you’d want in the unfortunate event of a terrible accident. How do you want your remains handled? I’m telling you right now, that shit is EXPENSIVE. Can you set aside anything to help with those expenses?

Also, there are documents you might want to consider having in your files – like an Advanced Directive or a DNR (Do Not Resuscitate) if that’s what you’re into, or a Power of Attorney for someone you trust to make medical decisions on your behalf if you are incapacitated or unconscious.

If you do have assets – talk to a professional. Homes and life insurance policies and other large financial assets…if you don’t square this stuff away, then depending on where you live and your legal marital status, everything can go haywire after you’re gone. You have absolutely no say in it unless you’ve figured it all out in advance.

Now, when my husband died – we had none of these things. I know he would not have wanted to be resuscitated. He was miserable and in pain all the time, and he’d said as much..but we did not have this document signed and notarized. I watched as the paramedics tried (to no avail) to bring him back, somewhat terrified that they’d succeed and he’d be in even MORE pain than he was before from the way they’d had to handle his body.

And, because he was my husband and we live in California, when he died – everything he owned automatically became mine. But if we hadn’t been married yet, without the documentation to back it up – his half of my house that we bought together might have ended up in probate, paying off his personal debt or in his ex-wife’s hands, as the legal guardian of his underage daughter.

And that’s a pretty straightforward relationship: husband and wife. What if we’d been polyamorous? Lots of you are. Lots of you are in long term relationships with multiple people and some of those people don’t really like each other. Do you want to leave it up to them to figure out who gets what?

One of the biggest shocks to my system after he died was that I could no longer call him to ask him the simplest questions. Like “Where is the charger cable for that really expensive camera you bought?” or “What is the password for our cable account?”

They can’t ask you what you would have wanted. They can only guess.

So make it easy for them.

And, if you don’t have people in your life or if you are so inclined, remember that there are charitable causes out there that can also be listed as beneficiaries of your estate, if you’re into that sort of thing.

This semi-morbid post brought to you by the learning of Chris Cornell’s passing this morning at the age of 52 – same age as my late husband.

Nobody gets out of life alive. Get it together while you still can.

Satisfyer Pro 2: A Review

Some time ago, there was a post about sex toys and the conversation turned to some gizmo that was making waves (of the orgasmic caliber) a few hours south of here. Now, back in the day, I used to write sex toy reviews for AVN under a different pseudonym, and I’d NEVER had any experience with any device that would get me from zero to orgasm in less than 30 seconds, as the folks down south had been suggesting.

My curiosity was piqued.

So, last week, when my partner sent me a link to the amazon listing for the Satisfyer Pro 2 with the words, “just sayin’…” I used the power of Prime to have it delivered and charged up before he walked in the door Friday night.

I deemed it the “edging machine.” Within SECONDS I was in the state of physical bliss that my longtime favorite, the Doxy, would take an average of five to six minutes to get me to. The difference is – where the doxy takes me from that edge to full blown orgasm in a matter of seconds, the Satisfyer Pro 2 might be capable of keeping me on that edge INDEFINITELY.

I didn’t have a good and proper full-blown orgasm with the device until the following evening,….

Holy Fucknuts.

It wasn’t just the orgasm that was delightful, it was the extended LIFE of the orgasm that blew my mind. Minutes after I’d removed the device from my clit, I could still feel it reverberating in my netherbits.

I did it again later that night. AMAZING.

And then….twice today. I’m looking over at my doxy like “i’m so sorry….” but….damn.

The Satisfyer Pro 2 definitely satisfies. It took me longer to cross over from edge to orgasm than it does with your standard wand device, but the ride is delightful the whole way. Also, added bonus of not having that shooting pain from my wrist up my arm from adding pressure to the heavy wand in just the right spot. (Early carpal tunnel syndrome, perhaps). With the Satisfyer Pro 2 all you do is place it over your clit, turn it on and leave it in place. No need to wiggle or move or add pressure.

The squishy head piece is easily removed for cleaning and sanitation, and the doodad comes with a USB charging device that connects via magnets on the bottom.

There are two buttons. One to turn the device on or off, and the other to manage the intensity. I’d say I liked it best at the 4-5-6 intensity levels. Any more than that and I start to lose the edge.

Nobody has paid me for this review. I paid for the danged thing out of my own pocket. So….I’m just saying: If you’ve got $45 laying around. Give this a shot.

🙂

On Leadership

Whether or not this pans out, something extraordinary has happened….

I sat in a room yesterday being interviewed for a position for which three weeks ago, I don’t think I’d have had the cojones to apply.

Three weeks ago I was questioning if I even want to stay in this sector. I was questioning if I needed to make what I’m making, and figuring out how significantly I could reduce my cost of living so that I could get out of an unhealthy work environment.

Three weeks ago, I went prepared to a conference for my profession. Having already made the decision that I need to find my next job, I had some business cards printed with my personal contact info and my LinkedIn profile address. I went knowing that I had to network. For reals, this time. Not just find the one person in the room that I was comfortable with and spend the whole time talking to them – but to jump around, meet a lot of people, and let the world know that I exist.

I also attended a two-day leadership workshop in advance of the conference. I’d mistakenly assumed it was going to be a workshop to teach leadership skills, but instead it was a horizon-broadening two day conversation about the qualities and characteristics of leadership, what the role of leadership is – not only within an organizational structure – but in the profession as a whole.

I learned something really important during that workshop: I am a leader.

Now, I’ve known some of this already. Perhaps I’d not have used the word “leader,” and opted for “influencer” or “person whose opinions are sought.” I always said I never wanted to be the boss, but I wanted to be the person that the boss would turn to for advice.

That, in and of itself, is a form of leadership. What I was shying away from or hesitant to accept was the responsibility for that leadership. I didn’t want to be the person who pushed the button. I wanted to be the person that said, “here are three potential buttons. Push one.”

I didn’t believe that I was qualified to be the button-pusher. I thought I still had way too much to learn.

But I think I’ve come to understand now that a leader isn’t someone who knows all the answers. A leader is someone who asks questions. And, a leader is someone who knows how to ask those questions (and the followup questions) of the people who can help determine the answers.

A leader is a convener – someone who can bring together the right team of people who have the capacity to achieve a goal. A good leader is someone who has the respect and support of that team.

I didn’t say loyalty. Loyalty is different. Loyalty has positive connotations, but I think loyalty can also lead someone down the wrong path. If a leader has loyalty to the mission, then their team will likely be safe in having continued loyalty to their leader. But if a team comes to realize that, as much as they respect and support or appreciate their leader, that the mission or goal is compromised – they should speak up. I think sometimes “loyalty” to a person can be detrimental to the cause (whether it be a tangible cause like “manufacturing of widget” or an intangible one like “be happy.”) Mostly because people are fallible. People are sometimes driven by altruism, but at some point greed and self-preservation can kick in and you don’t even see it coming.

Another thing I think I’ve come to realize is that that the person who pushes that button has never been solely responsible for the win or the fallout. The credit for the wins is shared by all. And the opportunity to learn from and overcome the fallout is equally shared by all.

The type of leader I am is the type that shares credit where credit is due. It was important to me when I was part of the team – and now that I’m in the leadership position at work, it’s important to me that I give my team that same due.

So, three weeks ago – I went through all of that. It’s been percolating since. But here’s what else happened.

During one of the lunchtime networking sessions, I sat at a table with one of our vendors. I explained my work sistuation and he suggested I give him my contact info. In his job, he is frequently presented with the information that his former contact at an organizaiton has either moved on or is planning to move on – and he might be able to put me in contact with the right people at the right time the next time that happens. I happily passed him one of my bright black and yellow business cards.

The following week, he copied me on an email to a recruiter friend of his that he’d met along the way. “I met this incredible person at the conference and she is discretely looking for her next move.”

I followed up with a thank you to the vendor and a message of introduction to the recruiter. The recruiter responded, asking for my resume.

I sent that over.

Two phone calls and four days later, I’m sitting is his office during a pre-interview to determine if i’m the right fit for a C-Level position in an established and well-funded organization. At the end of our interview, they seemed pretty certain that I would be a great fit for the job – and had these parting words to say:

“The only thing you lack is enough confidence to see that you have ALREADY been doing this job for the past three years. The title is throwing you off – don’t worry about the job title. It means nothing. It is about the work – and you’re more than qualified to do this work.”

Four days after that, I’m driving downtown to meet with the current CEO of the organization and some of her colleagues. That was yesterday.

By the end of that interview, they assured me I would be contacted soon for a followup – to come in and more formally meet the rest of the staff and perhaps some of the Board.

The possibility of getting this job is, right now, a VERY real possibility.

Whether or not this pans out, something extraordinary has happened.

I have embraced myself as a leader.

And, as such – I want to give the credit everywhere it’s due.

I called the recruiters and thanked them profusely for the pep-talk and the opportunity. I sent a handwritten thank you note to the woman who ran the leadership workshop in advance of the conference. I have sent an email to the vendor that put me in touch with this recruiter letting him know how grateful I am (and if I get this job, I’m sending his entire office a fruit basket).

And you.

Yeah. You.

All of this started about three years ago when I was a heartbroken, mourning mess of a woman – and I started writing.

You read what I had to say and you were supportive. You remembered me from one post to the next and some of you started to see the change in me before I did. The confidence I had to sit in front of the CEO of a $10M organization and ask her just as many questions as she asked me during the course of a 2+ hour interview….that all started here.

So thank you.

If I get this job – fantastic. The work will be hard and my time will be limited for a while as I acclimate to a very different professional climate. If I don’t? I’ll get the next one.

I have no doubt of it.

How to take advice in 5 easy steps

Look, I don’t know if it’s ’cause of the full moon or all the planets in retrograde, which I’ve been told can have an effect on something, but the past week or so in the advice forums I spend time in have gone bananas.

So, I thought I’d take a quick moment to share some of my thoughts on how to take advice.

Step 1: Ensure that what you wanted was advice.

Some people mean well and start advising you but that’s not what you asked for. You were either venting, or presenting a problem expecting no solutions. If you are receiving advice and you didn’t want any – say something like, “I appreciate your effort in trying to offer solutions, but I was just venting. Thanks.”

Step 2: Know the difference between wanting advice and wanting validation.

You can tell the difference when someone’s advice makes you recoil and fight back ’cause they’re siding with “the other side.” Now, if you didn’t ask for advice, you can use the phrasing in step one to get out of hearing it. But if you DID and you don’t like it, understand that what you asked for was advice but what you wanted was validation.

Nobody is obligated to validate you, though – so don’t get upset with the person who disagrees with you. Just say “thanks for sharing your thoughts” and end the conversation or ignore it completely if you want in the case of a public forum post. In a one-on-one conversation the latter is kind of rude.

Step 3: Lean into the parts that you don’t like hearing….there may be truth there.

So let’s say you’re actually open to hearing other people’s honest thoughts about your circumstances and you don’t just want them to validate your “side” of the story if they disagree with you. When they say something that makes you feel like “no, wait…that’s not how it is!” take a minute to think about it. Is it possible that the conflict in and of itself is rooted in a similar misunderstanding with someone else who interpreted things the way your adviser has? Did your adviser hit upon a buried truth that maybe you’d repressed or pushed back and didn’t realize was causing unresolved issues?

Or maybe not. Maybe they’re way off base. For that, go to the next step.

Step 4: Triage: Clarification, Conversation, or Move on

Sometimes the advice-givers are way the fuck off. I think this usually happens when there’s either a HUGE misunderstanding about the situation you’ve described, or when they’ve been in a parallel or similar situation that went south and they are ascribing their past traumas onto you (or someone identified in your conflict). Suddenly, they’re raging at you (or on your behalf) about something that either didn’t really happen or wasn’t really a big concern for you.

You can try to clarify your position or add more details. You can try to talk it through to determine if they’re passing a bias onto you that should probably be disclosed, or you can just nope the fuck out. Like, some people are really shitty at giving advice and you ….YOU have to be able to self-edit what you take on board emotionally and what you discard.

Step 5: Don’t make any promises.

When you’ve gotten all the feedback, don’t feel obligated to make any promises that you’re gonna go do the thing that someone told you. Take some time to process everything that’s been said and…if you do it, and it works out, give them the feedback. In fact, whether or not it works out – thank the people who have spent the time trying to help you (if you asked for it. Otherwise, see number 1).

But yeah, if it works and you happen to run into them again – let ’em know. It’ll probably make them feel pretty good.

Alrighty. Now that’s out there. Hopefully everyone will take a massive CHILL for a bit. Yeeeesh!

I got to play last night

Visits to the dungeon are rare these days.

I like them. The public aspect of playing in a dungeon pushes me to endure just a little bit more than I tend to at home. People are watching, after all…

And that’s how my exhibitionism works.

I got to play last night.

Thank goodness I didn’t find out until this morning that someone entered our room during our scene. My partner ushered him out without me being the wiser.

I got to play last night.

But at one point, while trying desperately to hold on to the edge of an orgasm, I growled “Please tell the people in the hallway to shut the fuck up.”

I got to play last night.

But I couldn’t wait to get home. Being in public certainly pushes me.

…But public play when the others in attendance aren’t well-versed in dungeon etiquette is pushing all the wrong buttons.

The Monocorn Sanctuary

Over on Facebook, I created an alt profile that’s attached to my scene-name so I could join special groups that talk about kinky shit without outing my “real life” details to people I don’t know that well. It had the added benefit of making it possible for me to join a bunch of polyamory discussion groups without being outed to my extended family and coworkers on my regular facebook account, including one specifically for mono + poly couples. I was ecstatic! I was gonna find my people!

Only, the polyfolk are the most active in the mono + poly group and there’s a lot of #polysplaining that happens where they are trying to address a struggling monoperson’s issues from their polyamorous perspective, and the monogamuggles get kind of turned off by it.

Then I found a group that was for the mono people ONLY, and I was ecstatic again! I found my people!

Only….these were not my people.

That turned out to be a group largely made up of mono people who were bitter about their partners’ polyamory. They’d spend all day talking shit about poly, blaming it for ruining lives, and going full mean-girl on the things that were discussed in other groups.

So I bailed. That is not what I wanted.

I started to think that I was some sort of wacky anomaly again. The polyfolk talk about “unicorns” and “unicorn hunters” ….maybe I was some sort of new breed: a Monocorn. A monoamorous person who is accepting of polyamory and actively works toward having a harmonious relationship with a polyamorous partner.

Recently, another poly person posted in the mono + poly group on behalf of her boyfriend, who was looking to connect with other mono people who were not bitter and angry about their partners being polyamorous.

We started talking about starting a group.

A couple of other monocorns commented that they might be interested in joining a group like that. All I’m waiting on now is for one of them to accept my friend request so I can get it started. (Facebook makes you invite at least one friend to start a group, and all my friends are polyamorous.)

Anyway, here’s what I’ve drafted as the group description and guidelines. I’m anxious to get it started….so if there are any other monocorns out there that’d like to join, let me know!

Monocorn Sanctuary

What’s a monocorn? It’s the monoamorous person that is happy (or working toward happiness) in a polyamorous relationship. Some of us take to poly-style relationships more easily than others, but the bottom line is – we don’t hate the concept of polyamory. We just don’t wanna be poly ourselves.

Still, every once in a while we need a place of support from other people like us. Our families think its a phase, our friends don’t understand it, and our partners sometimes don’t understand us either. When we attend poly events, we feel a little out of place ’cause everyone assumes we’re like them; but, we don’t quite fit in with the standard-issue monofolk either.

Please only request to join if you are the MONOAMOROUS or MONOGAMOUS part of an ethically non-monogamous, open, or polyamorous relationship. Also welcome:

  • Asexual folk in poly relationships who are not romantically involved with multiple partners
  • Monogamish folk who have outside play partners, but are romantically and/or sexually connected to only one partner
  • Monoamorous people who are currently single or unattached, but are open to or interested in dating a polyamorous person.

This is a safe space to ask questions, process difficulties, share wins, and help others navigate the wacky world of mono-poly relationships. Your partners aren’t here. There won’t be any polysplaining.

In the event two monogamous metamours who are dating the same polyperson join the group, please be respectful of one another. Be aware that you can edit visibility on your posts so that certain group members can’t see them. Utilize this function if you feel like it will help keep the peace.

There also won’t be any polyHATING. It’s not okay to paint polyamory as an absolute evil that ruins lives. Remember that people define polyamory differently, so before you tell someone “that’s not poly” make sure you understand how they define it or be clear that it’s not poly per YOUR personal definition.

Except cheating. Cheating is not polyamory. Cheating is cheating.

Also, this is a sex-positive atmosphere. No slut-shaming, no kink-shaming, and please make every attempt to address your fellow monocorns with their appropriate pronouns. (Trans monocorns, please feel free to correct anybody who misgenders you. Everyone, please accept the correction without getting defensive.)

Even when venting, please do not attack polyamory as a concept. This group is for those who are accepting of our partners’ polyamorous natures, or at least actively working toward acceptance. It’s okay to vent and be frustrated and to question whether or not this is for you, but if you already know it’s not for you and you’re angry or bitter about it, then this isn’t your lily pad.

Oh…and if at some point down the line you find yourself leaning toward trying polyamory out for yourself, please voluntarily step away from the group. If or when you change your mind, you can come back. Promise.

If you’re unsure if this group is the right fit for you, please feel free to contact an admin. We’re nice people. At least I am.

Need a place to vent all your frustrations without the kum-ba-ya poly-accepting atmosphere? There is a group for that. Message the admins for details.


Edit: Yay! I got the requisite friend. The group now exists.