Saturday, September 23, 2017

A Lack of Packing

My family moved around a fair bit as I grew up. From a satellite city of Melbourne, to the mid-west suburbs of the same city. Across to Perth for a short while and back again. Up and out to the west of Sydney to build our "forever home"—a mud brick house on a small acreage block in order to be self-sufficient. Forever apparently lasts seven years.
As a young man, once I'd left the family home, I still moved around a fair bit. Probably five or six times with my wife (even before she was my wife).
Where we live now, though, we've lived since early 2002. Not only is this by far the longest time I've spent living in one place, it's also one of the smallest places I've lived (house-wise...it's technically one of the largest places I've lived, city-wise).
The trouble with this is, I've never really learned what it means to stay put. When your life revolves around moving every few years, you tend to fall back on those moments as your "shedding" times. You're forced to evaluate every single item by whether it's worth the effort of wrapping, packing, transporting, unpacking, unwrapping and re-locating.
We've now lived in this teeny house for 15 and a bit years, during which we've accumulated a silly amount of stuff, including more family members. Our eldest son has spent every birthday from his third onward in this house. Our youngest was born while we lived here. The place is chock full o' memories.
And because we haven't moved in so long, it's chock full o' all kinds of nothingnesses. That state of being has made me realise something: our house is our packed suitcase.
It was only through thinking on this blog topic and forming some ideas that I came upon the truth. We're still living as if we're going to move soon. We don't have enough storage for all our things, but that hasn't made us commit to getting more storage, nor to getting fewer things. We simply assemble rough piles to be dealt with later. My belief is, that particular "later" is, subconsciously, existing in our minds as "when we move".
Our suburb is booming, which is awesome for our property value. So far, we're not being crowded out, and given we live within 10km of both the CBD of Brisbane AND the international airport, our house and our street are really rather quiet.
But while we absolutely adore where we live, it must be said that we do actually have a contingency plan. And it's rather similar to something I mentioned earlier.
While we don't wish to build a mud brick house (but wouldn't totally rule it out!), we're hankering for a life where dealing with tons of people is far more optional than it currently is. There are obstacles, of course...my earnings are far too small to give my wife the option of quitting her job for one thing. Our special man has support workers and services he deals with which can't follow us on a move to a block of land out west (or whatever direction). Our youngest has only ever been at the one school and we don't wish to change that.
These are, however, only obstacles. Not roadblocks. Mrs Willsin always says she's happy to sell the house, as long as she can take our kitchen and gardens with us when we move. It's rather odd that we've put much more of a stamp on the outside of our house than we have on the inside.
So as soon as we can (which might be two years, it might be twenty), we're planning to pack every suitcase we have (and every garden bed, apparently) and escape the city. To live a life that's at least partially self-sufficient. Indulge our green thumbs and bonk in the afternoon sunlight.
You know...the important things.

------

Speaking of "chock-full", I have a story in a bundle which is releasing really soon! It's on pre-order now for 99¢ (RRP is $2.99) and it features all kinds of hot things from naughty folks. My story, "Living A Lie", is my first published MM romance. For full details, feel free to head on over to my personal blog, Willsin's World, to see a list of stories and authors, plus a blurb and excerpt from my naughty tale.

Thursday, September 21, 2017

Packing a Suitcase Literally

Hi everyone!

Sorry to have been absent lately. I've missed you all!

The fact is, I've been literally packing and unpacking a suitcase(or suitcases). I had the chance to live in Denmark for a while this year, and it was as amazing as one might imagine. However, moving in and out was stressful, and moving back to the US has, frankly, made me sad.

One thing about packing and unpacking a lot is it's quite freeing. One realizes how little one actually needs. Of course, it doesn't work that way forever. Every time I've stayed in one place, I've slowly built up more and more necessary objects.

That said, my heart's a bit broken about what I couldn't pack. I feel like I left a lot of me there. It was the happiest and best I've felt in quite a while, and I'm sorry to have left it.

Anyway, this isn't a really proper post but I wanted to appear and say hello (please don't kick me out for absenteeism, friends!).

More soon, I hope, and a better (and sexier?) post for next time!

<3<3<3

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Overpacked

by Daddy X


The life I’ve been granted should ideally accomplish what was intended. My last post expounded on a basic philosophy exemplified by Clarence “Pine Top” Smith’s quote: “Use what you got, 'cause that’s all you get.” 

When I was a teenager, well before I had sex, I used to carry the ubiquitous condom to dry up in my wallet just to— be prepared— as the Boy Scouts say. It wasn’t until I actually began having sex that I realized the rubbers no longer lasted. I’d buy a 3-pack and they’d be gone that night. Wheeee!

Same with packing a suitcase. I tend to travel with lots of stuff because I wouldn’t want to miss out on any unexpected pleasure. So typical baggage would include a bathing suit, tent, fishing rods & tackle box, fishing hat, nice hat, camera, dress clothes, funky clothes, weed, magnifying glass, loupe and whatever else the destination might possibly call for.

I believe I was bestowed with an enhanced capacity for pleasure. My suitcase runneth over, so to speak. There are so many people who don’t seem to have that capacity, always looking for the down side. Consequently, they tend to lead sad lives.

It’s understood that our individual histories have a lot to do with difference in perspective, but my life hasn’t been a bowl of cherries either. In OGG posts over the years, I’ve mentioned the scars of illness that both Momma X and I have had to endure. She was sick for over a decade early on in her life, and some things never truly resolve, though they do become bearable. My problems came later in the form of cancer and subsequent liver transplant, followed by a triple bypass several years later. Just mentioning these things so the rest of this doesn’t sound overly lucky or privileged. I have the responsibility to use what I got these past 13 years because a young person died while I, the recipient of his liver, have the opportunity to go on living.

My approach to good food and drink is legendary among our friends. Once I’ve tasted a dish, I can identify the ingredients and how they were prepared. I’ve managed to not become terribly overweight, but do have to keep that aspect in mind. In one way or another we can use up those pleasure chips.

I used to be lots more fun. Sometimes too much fun. I liked booze. I liked the effect. I had a better time when I had a drink. Maybe I had an even better time than that—on two drinks. Not so with ten drinks. Or fourteen. A hard lesson to learn. That damn law of diminishing returns shows its ugly side with drugs too. Hence the liver transplant. No more drinking now. I’ve used up all my booze/hard drug chips.

Perhaps I’m afflicted by a version of Stendhal’s syndrome. I am physically affected by artistic form, depth and color. No, I’m not talking about erections per se, but it’s all part of the package. Or maybe part of the baggage?

At the supermarket, gym (Stairmaster) or on the street, there’ll be beautiful women to observe. At this age, I can find positive physical attributes in most women, so my observations aren’t necessarily any sort of quantification, but a too-late realization that there are admirable qualities in most women. This goes for inanimate objects too. I’m constantly breaking down landscapes, trees, clouds and buildings to their linear essentials, creating abstract visuals in my mind. Not the kind of guy likely to get bored.

I seem to enjoy trips to museums a whole lot more than most, though I do tire faster because after a while, the emotions evoked by art have a draining affect. Then my back starts to ache.

But the syndrome has served me well in the art and antiques trade. They say I have a “good eye.” It’s actually a passion. A passion I’m eternally grateful for. I see form in objects others don’t. I consciously recognize effects of art that function subliminally for most people.

I’ve always loved sex, another thing we’re meant to enjoy. I think I’ve enjoyed it more than most, at least still thinking about it at 73 frikkin’ years old. I know people who gave up the practice in their 30’s and 40’s, apparently happy about the outcome. What a waste.

Perhaps writing erotica has served to enhance and prolong that enjoyment for me, even though completing actual sex with another person is no longer an option.

In other words, I was born with a suitcase stuffed with a huge capacity for pleasure. Too many women, too much booze, too many beautiful things to see.

 Wouldn’t have it any other way.





Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Zen and the Art of Holiday Packing

Even as you read this I’m fresh back from a fortnight in Italy and busy unpacking my bulging case. The kitchen is dotted with piles of laundry, every flat surface littered with stuff to be put back in its right place.

A suitcase compresses all your essentials into one small space, temporarily, then sort of explodes. It disgorges all your worldly possessions in a formless heap which takes ages to disperse. I spend days after a holiday putting my life back to rights, but this is nothing compared to the time my SO spends packing his case.

It always seems to me that once you start your packing, life descends into chaos. Suddenly there are things I can’t use, things that must be ‘put away’ for the holiday. I have favourite clothes that mustn’t be dirtied because there may not be time to wash them before we go. Toiletries need to be planned, lined up and counted. The suitcase with its huge, yawning mouth, ever hungry, lurks on the landing, smacking its lips. It devours all my precious and useful bits and pieces not to be seen again until I arrive safely at wherever.

Given all the above, all my instincts scream that the suitcases should be left in the loft and the packing should be delayed until the last sensible moment. Obviously not the last minute, that’s just poor planning, but a ‘just in time’ policy seems to be called for.

My husband disagrees. He starts weeks before, thinking about his holiday wardrobe, gathering the stuff he wants to take and putting it aside, nice and safe and ready. He’ll ask me what shampoo I want to take, and of course I have no idea. We’re not leaving for a fortnight. Do I have a new toothbrush? I shrug. What about towels, for the beach or pool? More blank looks from me.

There is also, I gather, a correct way to actually place the items in the case. Towels go on the bottom, along with anything heavy. I can’t see the logic. Airport baggage handlers are no respecters of top and bottom, my case is as likely to find itself upside down as not. But this whole thing has become an industry. There are books written on the optimum approach to packing, folding, what to take, how to maximise space and minimize weight. It’s a science, or a dark art, and one which my husband understands and I just plain don’t.

We always fall out in the run-up to a holiday because our approaches are incompatible. He insists on getting everything ready well in advance and complains that I’m leaving all the work to him. He’s right, I am, because as far as I’m concerned that’s next week’s job and we all ought to concentrate on what matters now. Important matters, such as pre-scheduling Oh Get a Grip posts, for example.

He also has a near-obsessive fear of missing the plane. I agree, that would be a disaster, but traffic is what it is and as long as we set off in reasonable time what more can we do? We can set off even earlier, that’s what. The result? We spend literally hours perched on plastic airport chairs waiting for check in to open. By the time those suitcases trundle off on their little conveyor belt on their mysterious journey into the bowels of the airport I’m heartily sick of the sight of them.

My husband is a planner. As well as his meticulous and organized approach to preparation for the break, he likes to have the entire holiday mapped out, a timetable agreed for the various outings and activities. He’ll pre-book tickets (a thrifty habit, I know, but I can’t bring myself to want to think so far ahead), and he always has a healthy pile of Euros stashed weeks ahead. Given the recent nosedive in the conversion rate since Brexit I suppose that’s also a prudent move but I’m not going to say so. It’ll only encourage him to more and greater feats of forward planning.

Italy is gorgeous and I know we’ll have a fabulous time, but a part of me is looking forward to it all being over. By the time you read this, it will be. Travel broadens the mind and we can all do with a bit of that, but holidays are hard work. I think I’m going to need a lie down in a darkened room to get over it all.


Monday, September 18, 2017

Baggage Claim


Sacchi Green

Baggage. Luggage. Not much difference. Baggage would seem to refer to what you pack things in for travel, or possibly what you put into those bags-of-many-terms. Luggage is more evocative of what you have to lug around when you travel. Suitcases and portmanteaux suggest carefully folded formal or business garb. Steamer trunks (now archaic) indicate the same careful packing of a much larger wardrobe. Valises and satchels (also archaic) wouldn’t hold as much, while carry-alls and duffle bags of any size would hold whatever you could stuff into them, with no promise at all of neatness.

But there’s more to some of the various types of luggage than how well they serve for travel.

Carpet Bags (a type of valise presumably made of heavy carpet material, often with designs woven into them, possibly made from actual cut-up carpets) were the quick pick of Northern entrepreneurs (generally con-men) invading the defeated Southern states after the Civil War, looking for whatever economic or political swindles they could finagle. I don’t know whether they were all scoundrels, but the term “Carpet-bagger” certainly inferred that, and even now you might see it used when someone runs for office in a state where they don’t actually live, or have only moved to recently for that purpose.

I don’t know whether the French still use the term portmanteaux for the things they pack their clothes in, but the word has another, rather literary application: “a word or morpheme whose form and meaning are derived from a blending of two or more distinct forms (such as smog from smoke and fog.)” I can only guess that this use stretches the French meaning of "port" as “carry” to indicate a word that carries meanings from two words packed together into one. The English carry-all would serve just as well, or better, but it doesn’t have the elegance or panache of portmanteau.

Duffle bags are called by several other names now, but to me they have a military aura because I remember my dad’s big khaki bag from WWII. In Britain as far back as WWI the same things were called kit bags, leading to the wartime song, “Pack up your troubles in your old kit bag/And smile, smile, smile.”

And that brings me in my meandering way to what I really intended to write about. The intangible things that we pack up in our metaphorical old kit bags, the memories, traumas, misunderstandings, mistakes, guilt, phobias…all those influences that we bring with us from our pasts and call, sometimes, baggage, even though luggage might be the more logical term since we can’t avoid lugging them around. We tend not to include the good times in our concept of baggage, probably because those memories don’t weigh us down the way the bad and sad times do.

In fiction as in real life our psychological baggage plays a big part. A writer friend just went through a break-up with the third person she’s dated seriously since the death of her partner of twenty years, and now she attributes all of the relationship failures to the baggage she carries. That may well be true. I hope she does find happiness again. In fiction, though—romance, I’m looking straight at you--I wish authors wouldn’t rely so heavily on this trope. I also wish that they wouldn’t splatter their book’s blurbs so recklessly with question marks. “Will she ever overcome her tragic past?” “Will so-and-so and so-and-so be able to forget their ingrained fears and find happiness together?” Really, have any of you ever read a book with that kind of blurb where the answer turned out to be “no”?

We erotica authors aren’t quite as dependent on this means of dragging out the tension before the inevitable clinch, but we still need to approximate some level of realism in our characters’ relationships, and recognizing the baggage they carry is important to making those characters multi-dimensional and understanding their needs and actions.

Recognizing our own baggage is even more important. Everything we write comes from inside our minds, no matter how it gets there. We need a certain kind of empathy for our characters, whether its details come to us through personal experience, travel, observation, persuasive reading, or dozens of ways we can’t quite identify. I think of all these things we draw on for our writing as baggage of sorts, even the relatively happy bits. Maybe those especially. Some ideas we pack neatly, as in a suitcase, for instance items we research and study carefully in order to draw on them at will. More are crammed haphazardly into amorphous duffle bags and only retrieved by accident, or triggered by ideas that wander by, or certain sights, or scents. Sometimes I’m astounded by the bits of information and details that seem to come from nowhere and slide neatly into place in a story that I hadn’t realized needed them. They’re not coming from nowhere, they’re coming from some niche in my mind where they were stuffed away carelessly and forgotten until, suddenly, they were retrieved. Yes, my mind is an old duffle bag crammed full of random bits and pieces.

The ideas and information we accumulate from actual travel tend to fall into the suitcase category, willingly preserved mental souvenirs more valuable than most of the tangible artifacts we pack in among our shirts and underwear. Cameron’s post about his unexpected visits to war cemeteries reminded me of this. Whether or not we ever use these exact memories in our writing, they become a vital part of who we are, how we see the world and people in it. Even when the travel isn’t very extensive, it’s valuable, shifting our outlook for a while, maybe even lifting temporarily the burden of our other baggage.

Right now I’m about to pack up a suitcase, boxes, a cooler, and various other things to take home with me from a four-day mini-vacation in New Hampshire. On the whole my every-day baggage hasn’t receded much—the guilts, responsibilities, should-haves, might-haves, fears for the future—but as always there have been moments of release, of joy, like sitting on a rock in a mountain stream watching the flow of water over a multitude of kinds and colors of stones left behind by a long-ago glacier, or taking in the vast view from the top of the highest mountain in the Northeast. I realize once again how lucky I am in my suitcase memories, and how relatively light my baggage is after all.
 

Saturday, September 16, 2017

Priorities

by Jean Roberta

I sometimes wonder what I would pack if I had an hour to gather up my belongings before being rescued from a crisis situation.

In the early 1970s, my aunt and uncle and their three children were living in the Niger Delta area when a new country named Biafra seceded from Nigeria, and a civil war broke out. (My uncle was an American engineer working for Burlington Mills, and he was showing local employees how to use big industrial looms.)

The U.S. government sent planes to rescue American citizens stranded in Biafra. Among a few other items, my aunt gathered up her silverware, made of actual silver. When the family arrived home in South Carolina, they had no furniture for at least a week. They used orange crates as chairs and a table for dining on, but they used sterling silver knives, forks and spoons at every meal.

My aunt and her two brothers (one was my father) were the children of a jeweller and watchmaker. Items made of precious metal were not disposable for them.

A few years later, I experienced my own Nigerian crisis when the Nigerian man I had met in England and sponsored into Canada as my fiancé became unbearable to live with. When my closest friend offered to rescue me and my three-month-old baby while my husband was out of the house, I threw some stuff in a black plastic garbage bag, and away we went in friend's car to the local women's shelter.

Compared to the baby herself, everything else I owned looked non-essential, and it was all replaceable. Clothes and shoes? Well, yes, I had to have something to wear for the next few days, but none of them last a lifetime anyway. Grooming products? They’re easy to carry, and besides, they’re available at the drug store. Books? Hard to transport in bulk. Knicknacks? Meh. Plants? They don’t always survive in temporary, makeshift living arrangements. Luckily, we had no pets. If we had, I wouldn’t have left them with a raging alcoholic.

So many people around the world have had to cope with natural disasters over the last few weeks. My heart goes out to them, and I wish it were easier for hordes of refugees to come to the Canadian prairies. The worst thing we’ve faced lately is an unusually dry summer that has affected the wheat crop. (Watch for higher-priced bread in the next few months.)

I’m sure there’s nothing like an out-of-control fire or flood or winds that uproot trees and tear the roofs off houses to remind people of what is really valuable. Parents grab their kids first. Some pet-owners round up the furry children before leaving the premises.

It’s actually freeing to realize that inanimate belongings are not really essential to human life. Even books, as reluctant as I am to say this. I can literally live without books, and so can other avid readers.

I don’t need it is my mantra when I pack for a trip. Like Lisabet, though, I find it hard to travel light. (What if it’s very hot where I’m going? What if it’s very cold or very wet? What if there’s no sun-block or toothpaste or antiseptic cream there? What if there’s nothing to read except what I bring with me on a six-hour trip?)
I just need to put myself in crisis-survival mode the next time I plan to see the sights in some faraway place.
-------------

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Leave It All Behind

by Giselle Renarde


For more than 50 years, my grandmother was married to a man with unchecked mental health issues.

My grandfather didn't believe in doctors. I want to say he hadn't seen one since WWII, when shrapnel was embedded in his lungs (where it remained until he was cremated), but I think I'm romanticizing the past a bit. Because in the late 1950s my grandfather was incarcerated for committing a violent crime against his family. Since he was institutionalized in psychiatric correctional facility, I suppose he would have seen doctors then.

I can't imagine that helped matters any.

Point being: my grandfather didn't see doctors if he wasn't being forced to. But he did self-medicated. With alcohol.

I spent a great deal of time with my grandfather, in my youth. I remember him very fondly. After his death, my grandmother revealed to me that he'd been abusive toward her in every way possible.  I was shocked to hear this. It didn't sound at all like the grandfather I'd known and loved. In fact, it sounded more like my father... who was also institutionalized after committing criminal acts, in what's now known as a forensic psychiatric hospital.

When I started working in the domestic violence sector, I learned more about the cycle of violence that plays out through the generations. That's when the pieces started coming together. My mother was "daddy's little girl"--her words. So she married a man just like her father. She saw no reason not to.

When my grandmother began speaking more openly about the family violence that had taken place throughout the years, my aunts started talking too. Not my mom. My mother doesn't like to talk about unpleasant things. She says the past is in the past. It isn't, and perhaps one day she'll come to that realization, but she hasn't yet and it's not an issue that's easy to push.

Throughout my childhood, my mom's two younger sisters were an endless source of funny family stories. I remember taking the subway with them when I was six or seven years old and saying, "Tell me another story about when you were kids!" I couldn't get enough.  I loved their hilarious stories about my aunt's pet rooster and the family of ducks that lived under their house.

So when the darker stories started coming out, I was really amazed. All those sunny family stories were still true. They'd just left out the unpleasantness until now.

My younger aunts told me about coming home for lunch on school days. My grandfather did shift work and he was home during the day. My older aunts were in high school, and their lunch period started a little earlier than the lunch hour at the elementary school. So my younger aunts would walk home together, and on certain days they'd find my older aunts leaving the house. No words would be exchanged. Only a frown and a shake of the head. That was enough to inform the younger kids that it wasn't safe to go inside. On those days, my aunts didn't get to eat lunch.  They went into the field across the road, and they played or gleaned grains for their pets.

The new stories, the dark stories, don't go into detail the way the sunny ones had.  But they don't have to.  I know now that my mother grew up in much the same family environemnt I did. There are so many nuances to the type of fear a child experiences growing up in a household that could spiral into violence at any moment. You can feel it all around you. The air is too still.

My grandmother once told me about a book she read some time in the 1950s. It was a novel about a woman she identified with, a housewife with a whole bunch of kids. Not a bad mother, but not a happy housewife. A woman who'd had enough of the pressures at home.

The character in this book packed a suitcase and left it all behind. Left her husband, left her kids. Took off and had adventures of her own.

I remember my grandmother telling me how much that book meant to her.  That character was her hero, because every day of her life she wanted to do the same thing: pack a suitcase, leave it all behind.

But my grandmother... she never did leave.


Giselle Renarde is an award-winning queer Canadian writer. She was nominated Toronto’s Best Author in NOW Magazine’s 2015 Readers’ Choice Awards, and her book The Red Satin Collection won Best Transgender Romance in the 2012 Rainbow Awards. Giselle has contributed erotica and queer fiction to nearly 200 short story anthologies and written dozens of juicy books, including Anonymous, Seven Kisses, Bali Nights, In Shadow, and Nanny State.

Visit http://donutsdesires.blogspot.com for free erotica and exciting new releases.