In the gaze of the other

"My mistress' eyes are nothing…"


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The “Nipplegasm”

  
“I’d say that the more a person is engaged with sexual activity as an open-ended adventure in which to explore sensory possibilities, the easier it will be to become orgasmic via nipple and breast stimulation,” says Queen. “The first step may simply be knowing that it’s possible.”

Alternet’s short article on “nipplegasms”(orgasms attained through nipple stimulation alone) not only explores this more-popular-than-you-think pleasure vehicle but confirms some simply comforting observations about self-framed sexual perceptions. The writer lays bare the facts (haha) that orgasms by nipple stimulation happens typically to those open to it. And those who are not, generally don’t have them:

Sexologist Carol Queen suspects those who have are likely armed with two specific skills: the ability to get very aroused and the willingness to explore sex as a full body practice.

In fact, nipplegasms are the second most common orgasm, according to experts interviewed in this article. Interesting.

Makes sense. The mind-body connection producing orgasm is no secret by now, so the right parts (sensitive or not too sensitive nipples), open attitude and vivid imagination reap the rewards. But not everyone enjoys nipples–or other erotic parts–touched. 

The experts agree that cultural, familial and/or relgious perceptions of “right and wrong” sex most probably underpin what gets someone off and what hang-ups prevent orgasms.  The author cites those with culturally divergent sexual attitudes as “in the BDSM world, where it is well-accepted that the whole body can be the source of erotic and exciting sensory experiences.” 

So, moral of the story: when you consider your body one big sensor ready to be stroked, orgasms may fly from anywhere. And what could be bad about that? 

credit: Flkr


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A Time for Mary

 


I have this watch. A client gave it to me at the start of my law career. He was grateful for the care and concern I gave to his affairs, business and personal. I was hired to develop and negotiate contracts, defend his interests in litigation or sue people for wrongs committed against his business or person. He was my second client, the first being the one on whose behalf I sued him, the second client.

Mr. M, I’ll call him, was probably impressed that I successfully sued him. We settled for my client’s costs and damages, and at that time I could boast that my success record was 100%.

I worked for Mr. M for 7 or 8 years. He paid me a monthly retainer to do jobs small and large. Once, nearly thirty years ago, he called me at 4 a.m. at my apartment. I lived with my sister then and she answered the landline (all there was then). He said he needed to talk to me right away and to meet him at a specific address. When I got there, I found myself at a dock in Newport Beach–on a yacht.

I spent the day with Mr. M, talking him down from an alchohol-induced craze about a fight he had with his wife. We mostly talked, then navigated a dinghy to the club across the bay for more drinks. I did not drink. He later thanked me and insisted on paying for my time. A few months later, he gave me the watch.

The watch had belonged to Nat King Cole, according to Mr. M. There was a story about the meeting that I do not recall. Honestly, I don’t remember whether it was Nat King Cole’s or belonged to someone else in the story about Nat King Cole. It was so long ago.


On the back of the watch is an inscription that has nothing to do with Nat King Cole ostensibly. I believe it reads: “Agie Trembly From Mary–April 20th, 1944.”

Each time I wear the watch, which still keeps time near perfectly, I think about Mary. Who is she? What was her relationship with Trembly? She did not engrave “love” as in “Love Mary”. Were they ever lovers? She is just Mary but he has a first and last name. Was Trembly her boss?

So much war and destruction on this date, the SS Paul Hamilton, filled with ammunition having exploded, killing all 580 aboard. A German-launched torpedo blew them up in the Mediterranean. The war would not end for another five months.

What did Mary think of the tragedy? What did she hope to impart, gain or express in giving Trembly the watch, a Rolex, no less? I imagine her giving this gift with hope in her heart during such desperate times, men off fighting in wars and she left behind to read about it in the papers. She must have worked to fill the jobs men left open, or she came from a family with means, whether earned or inherited.

I imagine her longing and pensive like this:
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Perhaps the image is older than she, but the hint of forlorn in her posture, her gaze, might very well be the same.

There was a time when Mary had hopes or gratitude or platonic appreciation for a man, who might have returned from the war or never gone at all, being too young or afflicted in some way.

Mr. M died of esophageal cancer. Actually he died of an allergic reaction to the chemotherapy to treat the cancer some twenty odd years ago. He was a chain smoker and a drinker, a charitable man, a big man turned frail by disease. I saw him last at the court house, his brother in law prosecuting a case for him. I had since broadened my practice to 50 or 60 cases by then, and he had fallen to hard times.

For a long time after his death, I thought I heard or saw him. His presence haunted me for about a year, speaking a phrase or tossed word only he would have spoken. I remember the time he told me that I was not brilliant but a good, hard working lawyer. That stuck with me.

The man was a colorful client, an old time door to door salesman grown successful in the peripherals of the music business of the 70s and 80s. I credit him with founding the footing of my practice and sustaining it for years.

We were not close, not friends, but his unsolicited gift speaks to me, arouses mystery and memory, recalled in time-worn haze, our lives intersected in cloudy images, like the flattened engraving on the back of a Rolex watch–from Mary.


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Love is not a plenum

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I have the most difficult time imagining let alone explaining the Big Bang. There is this thing to which there is no outside but contains everything–all space, time, motion, light, life, stars, planets, galaxies, moons, atmosphere, gravity and imagination. I can only envision a balloon expanding that captures a portion of its essence, its configuration. But balloons are plenums of sorts.

ple·num
ˈplenəm,ˈplēnəm/
noun
1.
an assembly of all the members of a group or committee.
2.
PHYSICS
a space completely filled with matter, or the whole of space so regarded.

I refer to the second definition when I think of the universe’s (or multiverse’s) origins. But no one knows whether the universe is a plenum. Our minds can only understand to the reaches of our imaginations.

One day, over 17 years ago, I lay with my then 2 and 1/2 year old first born curled in fetal sleep. To this day, I can recall so crisply the angst I felt with another life brewing inside me. “How could I possibly love another child when my heart is so full with this one here?” I thought in a painfully probably hormone-induced teary-eyed moment.

Though quite illogical, the angst grew during my second pregnancy. Today, as that second born turns 17, I reflect on the framework of her arrival–as a storied gift to her sister and an ill-conceived mathematical challenge to my miscalculated quantity of allotted love.

Like the Big Bang theory, the mystery of beginnings, dimensions and edges to inside and outside belong to love–which is definitely not a plenum.

Happy birthday to my brown-eyed wonder.


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Aha!

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Joseph Campbell

In one of the Upanishads it says, when the glow of a sunset holds you and you say ‘Aha,’ that is the recognition of the divinity. And when you say ‘Aha’ to an art object, that is a recognition of divinity. And what divinity is it? It is your divinity, which is the only divinity there is. We are all phenomenal manifestations of a divine will to live, and that will and the consciousness of life is one in all of us, and that is what artwork expresses.

Joseph Campbell, “Creativity,” The Mythic Dimension, p. 154

“Mom, how does your eye work?” a five year old once asked me.

“I don’t know off hand, but let’s draw one,” I deflected.

“Aha,” the little one exclaimed when it was finished.


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National Tolkien Reading Day

  
Guess I missed it yesterday, the day devoted to reading Tolkien. And while I would not have read any Tolkien, I would have paid honor in some way as he is one of my most influential writers. Not so much for style or even content as timing.

My earliest reading memory is tied to him. In sixth grade, the reading light went on. Somehow it struck me that with a dictionary and determination, I could read just about anything. I had proven it by trudging my way through The Hobbit, an assigned reading by my ambitious sixth grade teacher, Mrs. Allgrove. Though I begrudged that woman many things while sitting long days in her class, reading Edgar Allen Poe stories to us was not one of them–nor assigning us Tolkien.

She was ambitious for us 11 year olds, and I took up the challenge. Reading The Hobbit was painstakingly difficult but I had a profound sense of accomplishment and enlightenment after finishing the book. Not so much for the story, which reached me in mere wispy shadows at the corners of my imagination, thin strands of plot but thick with magical atmosphere and mystery. More so that I had cracked some code or found the secret password and entered the club. I could read hard books.

After that I ventured into many books, too many to count. I am a reader. I attribute that love to Tolkien who lured me with mystery. My attempt to do the same for my own children did not work as well. I found an amazing illustrated text of The Hobbit for kids, drawings that plucked the fright out of the spider scene or the eerie from Gollum. But it bored and frightened my kids. They were not six graders yet. Maybe premature. They did not even see the movie when it came out. I surely did.

Tolkien totally enveloped my world when I was fifteen, the year I read the trilogy. The Lord of the Rings not only captivated my imagination, but yanked at the seams of longing and teenage angst. The darkness of that book was my own darkness, deep and well traveled. The torture of that darkness produced by the most majestically fabulous language spoke everything to me: horror and beauty. 

I lived in Middle Earth, at the edge of Mordor, in the realm of invisibility that was becoming more and more addictive. The landscape was my own insecurities and sorrow as I traveled through the tunnel from sad teenager to savvy teenager. By the time the ring was tossed into the abyss, I had come out of my own cave to see that the world was brighter than I imagined. I lost some of my perpetual glum, which I wore like the makeup other girls wore to make them–in their minds–more socially acceptable and attractive.

I learned to speak Elvish. My best friend and I spent one Halloween in a cemetary drinking Schmidts beer (a little over a buck a six pack back then) and smoking hash scaring the shit out of each other with visions of Mordor. I lived this world not only while I read the books but in the long aftermath of its lingering imaginative aroma. I hated finishing the books, my long, long absorption in the world coming to an abrupt end.

My love for The Lord of the Rings and Tolkien stayed with me like a first love. The untainted visions and preserved excitement of total disappearance into another world were sacred to me, so much so that when the movies came out, I refused to see them. I did not want my own mental creations of the characters to be displaced by someone else’s casting. I wanted nothing to do with that.

Until I entered graduate school for the second time at the age of 43. I went back to school to get a PhD in Comparative Literature at the University of California at Riverside on a fellowship. One professor in the program took a special interest in me and invited me to a small group of three students to do an independent studies course in flash fiction under her tutelage. After I agreed, the course turned out to be a delving into the holocaust and feminism, two subjects I wanted to avoid.

Interestingly, the course reading list included The Lord of the Rings. When I saw that title, I became both excited and anguished. Did I want to spoil the specially preserved place of that book that I read purely for pelasure and out of curiosity by dissecting it until the juices were totally bled out of the words?

The same books from 1975, yellowed with decades of shelf time, came to my aid in 2003. It was like a time warp. I read the books as if for the first time and enjoyed them without critical interference, which was my wont 28 years later with a couple of literature degrees under my belt and several teaching years. As is often the case with acquired analytical expertise, the innocence of a subject under analysis is lost when the invisible lines of creation are exposed.

But that did not happen with The Lord of the Rings. And even after taking some wild bent roller coaster ride of a term paper outlining the underlying sexual tension of the menage a trois between hobbits and gollum-like creatures (Oy, don’t ask), I had fun reading the book even while destroying its innocence with interpretive analysis. It was the easiest paper to write, and I had the most fun writing it, unparalleled to any before or after.

But I still refused to see the movies for months afterward–until I did. I had the director’s cut of all three of them. I sat down in pj’s for the weekend and dove in. And yes, my initial impressions and imagined beings have been displaced but the movies were faithful and enchanting. I admired Jackson’s devotion to the spirit of the text. I was once again immersed in the world with its strange and wonderful journey, mine once again. 

Tolkien has taken me far, stretched me through the years. I am forever indebted to him and his creations far more than I can express in my own plebian words. And though I am not a dedicated fan of fantasy adventure novels (though I have read a fair amount of them), I attribute Tolkien to both my love of reading and my disinterest in most fantasy adventure stories. I had trouble getting through all of the Harry Potter books. In every fantasy story I have read since, I recognize some “borrowing” from Tolkien. 

He was the master after all. He set the prototype. Everything after cannot be but some poor imitation, switch-up or clear avoidance of everything he imagined. The greats do that: pull us along and then intimidate the hell out of us. Thanks J.R.R. I am always reading you, regardless of book in hand or not. Cheers!


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No one looks through the window…

jordyn            jordyn                                                                                                                         jordyn             jordyn

No one looks through the window with my eyes; no one sees my vision nor thinks my thought. Banal but true, each of us is uniquely combined.

My grip on daily do’s is looser or tighter than others’ but my hands are singularly mine. Touch sense cannot be duplicated–just exactly mine, touching you or you, me.

I am me, the way I shave, for instance–some parts meticulously, rather obsessively like lower legs and big toe knuckle, pits and “v” of the sparsely endowed V.

Everywhere else, I pay no mind, just like brows, a sometimes clearing, or second toes but never my thighs or head, the latter which has grown with abandon for 15 years or more.

My hair curls more on the left than on the right, and I walk straighter if my hair is parted on the left, my face aligned with a hidden equilibrium too far from even inner sight.

Or the way I write for me and you, unconsciously and consciously, using the words historically poured into me, picked at and ingested, belly caressed and gut tossed.

My marks, my dots and tees, my birth, tragedies and strung notions like beads on a broken string these days, cannot deliver you, not even reach you mostly.

Busy peering through windows with your own eyes blue-green-brown just so, retinal glow reversed like everyone and no one else projecting images archetypal yet speckled new.

No glory gained or praise due for the aggregation I am, you are; simply being the being hatched in space-time warrants no celebration in the just-is-ness of all seers.