Niki Massey is gone. She was one of the best of us. I don’t know if she ever knew that, or believed us when we told her. I wish I had one last minute with her. I wish I had a minute to tell her how good and brave and brilliant and beautiful she was, and how much better the world was for having her in it.
I wish she could see the outpouring of love on her Facebook wall. I wish she could hear all of the words from the people she’s touched.
She was kind, and fierce, and she never stopped trying no matter how much circumstances made her despair. She was always there for people. She always had the sharpest insight, and the right words, and the biggest heart of us all.
And now she is gone. And the world will never be the same. There’s a great big gaping hole where she should be.
Niki. I love you, and I miss you, and I am ferociously glad I had the privilege of knowing you. I’m so glad we were colleagues. And I know I’m not the only one who will be fighting for the things you wanted to change. If I have to burn down the world to change it for you, I will. You deserve nothing less.
Niki loved VNV Nation. I remember how thrilled I was to find out. We didn’t really get a chance to geek out over them. I don’t know what her favorite song was. But this reminds me of her.
Freethought Blogs’ own Jason Thibeault happened to be in Seattle for Geek Girl Con, and while I didn’t make it to the con, I did get a couple hours with him at the end, before he had to catch his flight. Yay! And it wasn’t pouring rain. Extra yay! And Mount Rainier looked awesome despite the clouds. Super yay! Jason even managed to photograph it with my old machine from the car, which was quite a feat, considering it’s an unfamiliar camera, the lighting contrast was teh suck, and we were going 60mph.
I love showing off our local mountain.
If you pull yourself up the full-size version, you’ll note that the cloud at its summit hasn’t developed much. Save that tidbit for later.
I took Jason to our local Herfy’s down in Burien, which is a great place to go if you need to be near the airport, want quick food, but want it to be delicious. I am happy to report that this was a total success. And it was so awesome to finally be able to meet Jason in the flesh. I’ve been following his blog for a long, long time, and I have huge respect for him. I love his writing and his humor and his ability to document tough situations and cut through the crap. Meeting him was a little like meeting a rock star, and hearing him compliment my blog was kind of like realizing, “Oh, hey, shit, yeah, I guess I’m sort of a rock star… mebbe?” and it was also enormous good fun to be able to talk about All the Things. Well, all we could fit in two hours, anyway.
I am now determined to make it to Minnesota if he and his family can’t make it out here. Or we could always do both. I have so much great Seattle stuff I want to show them! And we didn’t get to do Pike Place Chowder, which ZOMG, everyone needs to have Pike Place Chowder at least once in a lifetime.
We got back to the airport rather earlier than we needed to, so we hung about in the cell phone waiting lot enjoying the Not Raining and the views. Views from a cell phone waiting lot at an airport, you ask? Oh, my darlings, yes. Look at this!
And yes, that’s exactly why I’m here. See, I’ve been getting all homesick over Arizona lately, because people keep posting lovely photos from it on Facebook. But then I see this, and I’m like, “Naw, I’m home.” Oh, I want to go back to Arizona again, but only to visit. And maybe if we’re all very lucky, a bunch of us including Jason’s family will form a social justice artists’ commune and go around traveling to gorgeous places and drooling over the scenery and the food. Because, people, I know the places in Arizona that will make your tastebuds weep in gratitude, and the views that will make your eyes weep for the beauty.
(You can apply to the commune in the comments.)
We took a selfie, because of course we had to, and if you look over my shoulder, you’ll see Mount Rainier posing with us.
And then, right before we left, the sunset light was hitting Mount Rainier just so, and those lenticular clouds were developing nicely, so of course I took another shot.
Then I took Jason to departures, saw him on his way, and drove home to a very cold kitty who made me take a nap in a blankie cave with her. Perfect day!
Fruit Tree Blooming Season here was a bit tricky – we had lots of gorgeous blooms, of course, but we also had rain. Rain rain rain rain rain and heywhodaguessedit more rain. There would be these glorious intervals of sunshine, but they’d either be gone by the time you dug the camera out or they happened when you were otherwise occupied.
It made taking photos nigh impossible. But oh, the result when you could grab one of those moments and run with it! Jane caught a sun break with her new smartphone: a fleeting instant of breathtaking beauty, preserved with such clarity that you can feel the cool, rainswept breezes from the storm clouds and taste a perfect drop of rain on soft petals.
You know, I never thought anything would make me pine for rain again now that we’ve finally had a few days without, but all of a sudden, I wouldn’t mind a few drops of the stuff.
… … ……….
You know what, let’s settle for a sprinkler instead.
While you’re there, feel free to demand endless pictures of her adorable tiny new kitten, Chipper.
There’s never enough kitten!
There will be some geology later this summer, too – I’m going to take Amanda to photograph the hell out of some prime examples. Although if I go over to her place to pick her up, we may get sucked into a kitten black hole… you’d forgive us if we brought you lots of kitten instead, right?
Many of you were there to offer cyber-sympathy during the recent dust-up that plunged me into Emoland. Your support prevented me from becoming a permanent resident there – thank you! But for a while there, it looked like I’d be living life without B. Which led to frequent trips to Emoland, lemme tell ya.
But that situation’s sorted. We finally had the difficult talk a bit ago, wherein he displayed an understanding as to why all this feminism stuff is important, and he’ll trust me going forward, and won’t worry about the battles I choose to pick. Mind you – he’s understood the importance of said battles all along, which is one of the many reasons I like him lots. But he’s now willing to risk some collateral discomfort, and knows we can have equality without sacrificing fun. We’ll trust each other more in the future.
Of course, that talk would have happened a lot earlier if he’d known how to approach the conversation, poor soul. In trying not to pressure him, I think I went a bit too far in the opposite direction. Whoops.
And then we sorted out the other, more mundane, personal issues that had contributed to the bad situation between us. We committed to the necessary changes each of us needed to make in order to do better by each other. Then we purchased an excessive amount of alcohol and watched a very odd vampire flick, followed by a Wonder Woman episode, and it’s been fine since. Better than I expected.
Sometimes, these battles we have to fight for equality cost us close personal friends. But when that happens, the ones worth keeping will work it out with us. And they’ll be there for us in the future.
B’s one of the best. Raise him a round and welcome him to the feminazi ranks.
Unzip your mind. Sit back, relax with your drink of choice, and read the following with a healthy spirit of inquiry. Many of you won’t even need to do that much – you’re kinky yourownselves, and you’re ready to go dive into the book without advance preparation. Some of you aren’t kinky at all, or haven’t ever discovered more than a mild, currently socially-acceptable kink within yourself (fuzzy handcuffs, eh? Nice!). Some of you have been conditioned to believe kink is sick and horrible and never ever good.
As with many things, you’ve been lied to. And Greta will attempt to explain why this thing you think is no fun at all is actually very fun and healthy and mucho bueno for many folks. Ready? Then go:
Why Is Kink Fun?
Guest post by Greta Christina
Why is kink fun?
Why is it that some people — in very specialized, negotiated, enthusiastically consensual circumstances — find it not just acceptable, but actively and deeply pleasurable, to be controlled, dominated, physically hurt, used, objectified, shamed, humiliated, and/or have their freedom curtailed?
Quick bit of background. I’ve recently published a collection of erotic fiction — mostly kinky — titled “Bending: Dirty Kinky Stories About Pain, Power, Religion, Unicorns, & More.” (Currently available as an ebook on Kindle, Nook, and Smashwords — audiobook and paperback are coming soon.) The book has gotten an excellent reception so far, with lots of lovely gushing reviews. But it’s also been received with some bafflement, and in some cases even hostility, from a few readers and people who’ve seen excerpts or read what I’ve written about it… and who don’t understand how it can be healthy to get sexual pleasure from experiences that are so obviously unhealthy and negative and bad. Example: I got this message on Facebook recently, which I’m printing with the senders permission (anonymously at their request):
I am right in the middle of your book “Bending”. As someone who has a very “vanilla” sex drive with no kinks (literally, none.. I’m as bland as they come) I don’t quite see the appeal to feeling shame that comes with BDSM-style punishment and discipline. As someone who’s been shamed in real life by religion in years past, and by friends and family who don’t understand my hobbies and quirks, I find it hard to empathize with how shame can be a turn-on for some people.
I ask this in the most non-judgmental way possible… but, what is the appeal? I’m a little hung up on your book because I don’t understand how humiliation can be erotic. I think the book is very well written but I’m just having a hard time reading through it because there is a stark disconnect between my sexuality and the sexuality of the characters portrayed in your short stories.
Thank you very much for your time. I love the work that you do and look forward to possibly hearing back from you.
I’ve been doing kinky sex for so long, I sometimes forget how incomprehensible it sometimes seems to people who aren’t into it. But I do recognize why this might be hard to understand. In some ways, consensually sadomasochistic sex can almost be defined as sex that eroticizes, and makes pleasurable, experiences that would normally be actively unpleasant, and in some cases even horrific.
What about that feels good?
There’s a limit to how well I’m going to be able to get this across. Sex is such a personal, subjective experience. Explaining why you like any kind of sex that someone else doesn’t — kinky or otherwise — is tricky at best. Try explaining why you like sex with someone of the opposite sex — or the same sex — to someone who really, really doesn’t. It’s like trying to explain what it is that tastes good about broccoli, to someone who totally loathes it. But I’m going to take a stab.
Caveat #1: I’m just talking about myself here. I know that my experiences are shared by many, but I don’t presume to speak for all kinky people. Caveat #2: This is a complicated issue — what’s the phrase the social scientists use? Multi-factorial? — and anything I say to explain this is going to oversimplify pretty much by definition. All that being said, I’m going to take a stab.
For me, much of what it comes down to is intimacy.
The thing about pain is that it gets through. I can be a very well-defended, self-contained person: I don’t let myself get close to people very easily, and it’s hard to just let those walls down and let someone else in. But pain gets through. It’s impossible to ignore. The very intensity of it — the fact that my body is processing the sensation, on some level, as unpleasant — grabs my attention, wakes me the fuck up. If someone is hitting me, I can’t tune out the fact that they’re touching me.
And it isn’t just pain I’m talking about here. In my experience, most forms of sadomasochistic sex have to do with breaking down barriers. Shame and humiliation break down the barriers of dignity and composure. Bondage and domination break down the barriers of self-containment and self-possession. There is an intense intimacy in putting yourself in someone else’s hands, handing over the reins, letting them control what you’re going to be feeling for a while. And again, the very intensity of the experience, the fact that some small part of my brain is screaming, “This is not okay! Get away from this now!”, can — again, in the right circumstances and with the right person — be an intensifier, a magnifier of experience. Including the experience of intimacy, of connection, of being touched by another person.
There’s a lot more going on here, of course. I’ve found that I tend to fantasize about what I don’t have — and when my life is micro-scheduled and overloaded with responsibility, as it so often is, it can feel like a huge burden being lifted to just let go and let someone else be the decider for a couple/ few hours. (You know the cliché of the high-powered business executive seeking out a dominatrix, to relieve him of responsibility for a short while? It’s a cliché for a reason.)
Also, I should point out that kinky people aren’t the only ones who think power is sexy. Humans are hierarchical apes. Get three of us in a room together, and we’ll create a dominance structure. It’s not hugely surprising that many of us would eroticize power. And it’s not hugely surprising that some of us would eroticize power in an overt, explicit way: not simply by being attracted to politicians or moguls, but by being aroused by a person standing over us with a whip.
Then there’s endorphins: the brain’s natural opiates, which kick in as a response to pain, and which under the right circumstances can get us high. And which sexual masochists will tell you about in loving detail, and at great length. If you understand why many athletes experience pain — and pushing through pain to get to the endorphin high — as a pleasurable experience… then you can understand at least part of why sexual masochists experience pain as a pleasurable experience.
And for me at least, there’s a certain hard-wired quality to these experiences that’s fundamentally inexplicable. I have been aware of being kinky for as long as I’ve been aware of being sexual. And I don’t mean since I was eighteen, or since I was thirteen. I mean since I was eight. I have been aware of being kinky for about as long as I’ve been aware of being queer. That isn’t true for every kinky person — but it’s true for a lot of us. I don’t entirely understand this stuff myself: yes, I have intimacy issues, but I think pretty much everyone has intimacy issues, and most people don’t handle those issues by intentionally eroticizing getting beaten and pushed around. Most people probably couldn’t eroticize pain and submission and humiliation, even if they wanted to. (There are people who come to kink later in life, and who nurture a kinky sexuality intentionally — in response to a partner who enjoys it, for instance — but in my experience, most of them had at least a seed of kink to start with.) The way my body processes pain, the way my mind processes power… I can’t entirely explain it, any more than I can explain why I like girls. The clit has its reasons, of which reason knows nothing.
But what it mostly comes down to, for me, is intimacy. Kink gets through. It breaks down my walls. I have formidable walls at times… and the intensity of kink sets dynamite underneath them.
I’ve so far been writing about this from the bottom’s perspective: explaining why it feels good to receive pain, to be humiliated, to be controlled. But I’m a switch, and I can tell you that it feels good on the other side as well… and for much the same reasons. Just as it feels good to both penetrate sexually and be penetrated, it feels good to be on both sides of the connection of sadomasochism. It feels good to break down walls, just as it does to have your walls broken. It feels good to touch, with the intensity of pain or power, just as it does to be touched.
If this still doesn’t make sense: There’s an analogy that some of my readers have made in some other conversations about this. Kink is like a rollercoaster, or a horror movie. It can be fun and exciting to subject yourself to otherwise unpleasant emotions — like fear — in a safe, controlled setting. There is a thrill to fear, a rush… and when you can experience that rush with people you trust, in a place where you know you’re safe, it can filter out the unpleasantness, and leave only the thrill.
Ultimately, it may not be possible to really convey what this experience is like. I will probably never understand on a visceral level what it feels like to enjoy broccoli, or what it is that people find pleasurable about that experience. And someone with no interest whatsoever in kink may never understand on a visceral level what it feels like to enjoy getting beaten or shamed or controlled.
And it may not matter that much. As long as you have an intellectual understanding of this stuff; as long as you have an understanding of the basic fact that people do like different sexual things from you, and that this doesn’t make them sick or bad; as long as you understand that there is literally no medical evidence suggesting that kinky people are sick or bad, and in fact plenty of evidence pointing to the conclusion that we’re every bit as healthy and good as everyone else; as long as you understand that no matter what your sexuality is, there is someone in the world who finds it incomprehensible and weird — and as long as you can use that understanding to accept kinky people and treat us with decency — I don’t know that it matters that much whether you can deeply, viscerally grasp what it is about this experience that people get off on.
But getting a glimmer of the visceral experience can help with the intellectual understanding. It may even help people who do have kinky feelings, and who have been shamed into thinking that they’re sick or dangerous or wrong, come to an acceptance of them, and feel more comfortable exploring them.
And anyway, it’s just fun to think about.
“Bending: Dirty Kinky Stories About Pain, Power, Religion, Unicorns, & More” is currently available as an ebook on Kindle, Nook, and Smashwords. Audiobook and paperback are coming soon!
Our own Dr. Evelyn had quite a scare recently – some asshole broke in to her flat and stole her laptop. She wasn’t harmed, but she’s considerably shaken up and in need of an infusion of kittehs. Send her your cute kitteh photos asap! You can reach her at geokittehs at gmail dot com. We’ll take them all, the more the merrier. Someday, they may even achieve some fame as Geokittehs!
Lockwood and I went to Avery Park for the geology, but stayed for the rose garden. I’ll have a full bouquet of roses for you sometime in the nearish future, plus one of the best bee photos I’ve ever taken. But for now, I wanted to share one very meaningful rose. Continue reading “For Nicole”→