laughing for once by FastPuck (SFW)

Mar. 23rd, 2017 07:22 pm
turlough: Quatre & Trowa & Heero & Duo & Wufei with space colony interior in the background ((gw) gundam boys)
[personal profile] turlough posting in [community profile] fanart_recs
Fandom: Gundam Wing
Characters/Pairing/Other Subject: Wufei
Content Notes/Warnings: n/a
Medium: watercolours
Artist on DW/LJ: n/a
Artist Website/Gallery: [ profile] fastpuck / [ profile] dragonhusbands

Why this piece is awesome: This is such a gorgeous portrait of Wufei. Not only because he's laughing - an unusual and welcome sight :-) - but also because of the way the broad brush strokes sculpts his face and upper body with their lovely shades of tans and blues.

Link: laughing for once (DeviantART) or here (Tumblr)

(no subject)

Mar. 23rd, 2017 06:06 pm
jekesta: Houlihan with her hat and mask. (Houlihan yes)
[personal profile] jekesta

I finished the Fool trilogy a while ago while I was politely not bothering you with posts. I LOVE IT SO MUCH. It didn't make me cry as much this go around, but oh my god I'd actually forgotten how long Fitz spent Spoilering spoilers ). People who are soul mates but can't really deal with each other will NEVER not be my favourite thing.

I'm reading the dragon books now, and I love them but with far less emotion.


My feminism post that I can't write got out of hand, and then I cut out everything that I didn't actually want to have to explain, or that didn't mean what I meant, or that was just stupid, and I ended up with this:

"I think what I'm basically saying is: Maybe all sex isn't rape, but maybe you should just think about whether all sex is rape, because maybe in a way all sex is rape. (I don't believe all sex is rape.)"

It's basically my entire point. Unexplained. I think deep down it was a post about how important thinking about radical feminism is to me, and how many people don't seem to be exposed to it nowadays, except as something to ridicule and dismiss. And I think that's dangerous as well as sad.


I am so cold I might blister.

I have bought new houseplants and pots to put them in, and they make me really happy.

I love things. Things are great.

I went back to the magical pizza place and the pizza was not magical. It's quite upsetting. Devastating. I don't know why we go on.

Maybe you should welcome the new soul vision.

Water Festival!

Mar. 23rd, 2017 01:56 pm
inkstone: The Gotcha screen from Pokemon Go (PokeGo)
[personal profile] inkstone posting in [community profile] pokestop
As [personal profile] soc_puppet pointed out in the comments of yesterday's post, PokeGo is hosting an in-game water festival until March 29 1PM PDT.

Which means you'll have increased chances of catching water pokemon at this time. And maybe even a lapras!

Official announcement here.

Audiobook recommendations?

Mar. 23rd, 2017 11:01 am
monanotlisa: (studying!)
[personal profile] monanotlisa
Of course everything always happens at once: medical emergencies; going to Tahoe with the California family; a Silicon Valley conference I was sponsored for.

As for the latter -- for braving 15,000 hours of commute -- I absolutely need engaging audiobook (iTunes / iBooks) recommendations.

Can you help? Things I like:

- Mystery & suspense & thrillers,
- Genre,
- Queerness (but that's not a prerequisite; I just cannot deal with unhealthy heterosexual role dynamics).

Things I don't like:
- Any type of family quarrel or issue,
- Violence against women or queer people or disabled people,
- Too many technical descriptions, battles, or fight scenes; I just don't care (this is sometimes a sci-fi problem).

To pad this, I've recently listened to Sarah Waters' Fingersmith, which was fantastic; I've listened to Blindsighted by Karin Slaughter, which was well-written enough but full of rape, violence against women and queer and disabled people (I wish I were kidding); and I'm listening to Transformed by Suzanne Falter & Jack Harvey, which is entertaining but hardly compelling (the "Society Domme" is just not working for me).

Poem: "As a Model for Others"

Mar. 23rd, 2017 12:27 pm
ysabetwordsmith: (Schrodinger's Heroes)
[personal profile] ysabetwordsmith
This poem came out of the July 21, 2015 Poetry Fishbowl. It was inspired and sponsored by [personal profile] technoshaman. It also fills the "Rosa Parks Day -- December 1" square in my 7-1-15 card for the Winter Fest in July Bingo. This poem belongs to the Schrodinger's Heroes project.

Read more... )
siderea: (Default)
[personal profile] siderea
As I alluded in my post Junk Insurance, while I correctly anticipated that the Republican mickey for the insurance industry would be to legalize junk insurance, I was surprised to find that the ACHA (Ryancare) merely targetted the ACA's (Obamacare's) 42 U.S.C. 18022 subsection d (which specifies the levels of coverage), instead of just directly attempting to gut subsection b, which is the part which defines the ten Essential Hea–
A key element of the negotiations between the Freedom Caucus and the White House revolves around the so-called Essential Health Benefits. The White House is working to possibly include the repeal of Obamacare requirements that certain benefits -- such as mental health coverage, drug addiction coverage and maternity care -- be required in insurance plans. [ one hour ago]

I still have it! \o/

That's it. That's the straight-up legalization of junk insurance, by the front door instead of coming in through the side.

Shadowshaper, by Daniel José Older

Mar. 23rd, 2017 01:38 pm
jimhines: (Snoopy Writing)
[personal profile] jimhines

Shadowshaper Cover ArtI continue to snag books out of my son’s Scholastic book order forms. One of the latest was Shadowshaper [Amazon | B&N | IndieBound], by Daniel José Older. It’s an enjoyable, relatively quick read. Here’s the summary:

Sierra Santiago planned to have an easy summer of making art and hanging out with her friends. But then a corpse crashes the first party of the season. Her stroke-ridden grandfather starts apologizing over and over. And when the murals in her neighborhood begin to weep real tears… Well, something more sinister than the usual Brooklyn ruckus is going on.

With the help of a mysterious fellow artist named Robbie, Sierra discovers shadowshaping, a thrilling magic that infuses ancestral spirits into paintings, music, and stories. But someone is killing the shadowshapers one by one — and the killer believes Sierra is hiding their greatest secret. Now she must unravel her family’s past, take down the killer in the present, and save the future of shadowshaping for herself and generations to come.

The “About the Author” section notes that Older lives in the Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhood of Brooklyn, which is where the book takes place, and it shows. Sierra’s world feels real and fully developed, populated with interesting people and places. It’s a far cry from some of the generic pseudo-New York settings you sometimes get.

I love the concept of shadowshaping, the way the magic works as a collaboration between spirits and shadowshaper, and the possibilities of that power. One of my favorite scenes was watching Sierra discovering what she could do with a simple piece of chalk.

Sierra and the rest of the cast are great, all with their own personalities and flaws and conflicts. They feel like real people…it’s just that some of them can bring their artwork to life.

My only complaint is that the villain felt a bit flat and obvious. But the ideas behind that villain, the theme of the privileged cultural outsider barging in and making a mess of things, are totally valid and powerful. I wouldn’t want that to change; I just would have liked to see a little more depth to them.

And kudos for the awesome librarian.

I’ve seen a number of reviews praising the diversity in the book. On the one hand, I do think that’s worth recognizing, and I definitely appreciated it. On the other… I don’t know. I wish we could reach a point where we don’t have to praise authors for showing the world the way it is, and could instead just note when authors fail to portray a realistically diverse world. Does that make sense? I dunno…probably something that needs a longer blog post to unpack.

Anyway, to wrap this up, the ending was lovely and made me eager to read Shadowhouse Fall, which comes out in September of this year.

Mirrored from Jim C. Hines.

[syndicated profile] lj_fan_flashworks_feed

Posted by badly_knitted

Title: Buried In Paperwork
Fandom: Torchwood
Author: badly_knitted
Characters: Ianto, Jack.
Rating: G
Word Count: 1325
Spoilers: Fragments.
Summary: Like any other organisation, Torchwood generates an awful lot of paperwork, and it’s Ianto who has to deal with most of it, both the new reports and the old.
Content Notes: None needed.
Written For: Challenge #186: Paper.
Disclaimer: I don’t own Torchwood, or the characters.

Ianto couldn’t really say that he loved paperwork, but he recognised its importance to the smooth running of any organisation. Bureaucracy required that records be kept, whether for the purposes of filling in tax returns, for keeping track of finances, or simply for future reference; without paperwork, the entire world, especially the business and financial sectors, would probably grind to a halt.

Torchwood was no exception. Despite having the most advanced computer system in Britain, and quite possibly the world, having everything written down on actual paper remained an unavoidable necessity.

All agents were expected to type both their mission reports and any findings from their various individual fields of study into their computer terminals, to be saved in Mainframe’s extensive databases; having everything online made it easier and quicker to search for necessary information. However, copies of everything also had to be printed out and filed, just in case of computer problems or power outages. There’d be nothing worse than needing vital information on something dangerous that had come through the Rift and being unable to access it because of a power cut. Having backup generators lessened the likelihood of that happening, but even they could break down at inopportune moments.

Jack complained the loudest about paperwork, even drowning out Owen, and yet he didn’t really have all that much of it to do. Yes, he had to write up his own report on every incident he was involved in, which as the boss, meant practically all of them, and yes, he was expected to read through and sign off of everyone else’s reports, making sure they hadn’t forgotten to include anything important. He also had to keep up to date on everybody’s personal projects, authorise requisitions and expenses, keep various government departments apprised of Torchwood’s activities, and so forth, but it was mostly a case of just reading, and then signing his name. Ianto was the one who bore the brunt of the workload.

Not only did he have to make sure Jack completed essential paperwork in a timely fashion, which often meant doing some of it himself, there were also his own mission reports to be written and printed out. Then, because he couldn’t trust the others to remember, he usually had to print out and sort everyone else’s reports, and after he’d done that, the whole lot had to be filed in the correct places. That in itself was no small task.

There was a folder for each mission, collecting together reports from all those involved, along with any other salient information, including witness statements, names and addresses, autopsy findings, medical notes on injuries received and treatment given… Copies of the latter also had to be made and placed in the injured agent’s medical file. Then copies of any information on a new or previously encountered alien species had to be filed under the species’ name or designation.

Similarly, copies of information on any new or already known pieces of alien technology, or other items dropped off by the Rift, had to be filed under a number of different categories… It was a complex system, but it worked reasonably well, even if it meant Ianto often had to make as many as a dozen copies of a single report in order to file them in a dozen different places under a dozen different categories. They got through an awful lot of printer paper, so it was fortunate that was one thing that worked out cheaper when bought in bulk.

Even then, that was far from the end of Ianto’s dutiess when it came to Torchwood’s paperwork. Deep in the archives, there existed room after room of filing cabinets and metal boxes, crammed with the reports written by past teams, going back to when Queen Victoria had first set up the Torchwood Institute. Every scrap of information they contained needed to be scanned into the computer, converted from often nearly illegible handwriting into a readable typeface, something Tosh had invented a computer programme to handle, then checked over, and any errors arising from mistranslation corrected. After that, copies had to be printed out, one to be filed with the original document, and the rest added to any files where the information might be deemed pertinent to their existing contents. Ianto was nothing if not thorough.

It could be a long and tedious process, and Ianto was well aware that it would probably take more than his lifetime to complete, short as that was likely to be due to the unavoidable hazards of his profession, but it wasn’t without its perks, as many of the files made for fascinating reading. Ianto learned a great deal about the people who had given their lives policing the Rift across the decades, and he absorbed facts about alien flora, fauna, and technology like a sponge. Sometimes he would come across sketches or descriptions that would allow him to identify an unknown piece of tech, or some other mystery item he recognised. That could be quite enlightening, not to mention helpful. He’d already spent countless hours sorting and cataloguing the contents of the archives’ various storage rooms and shelves, but there were still a lot of items whose only classification was ‘unknown’.

Best of all though was reading through reports of missions Jack had taken part in over the years, some written by the man himself, and others the work of his then colleagues and superiors. They provided Ianto with insight into his lover as both a person and an agent of the crown, deepening his understanding of the complex and often mysterious man he’d come to love with all his heart.

Not all of the files involving Jack made for comforting reading though; there was a whole cabinet devoted to the scientific tests and experiments carried out by Mrs Emily Holroyd and her associate, Alice Guppy, on subject Harkness, Captain J., suspected immortal. They detailed all the ways the two women had killed Jack, how long it had taken him to revive from each one, and also catalogued an exhaustive list of injuries inflicted, and surgical procedures carried out, along with methods of treatment and recovery times. The two women wrote everything up as important research to advance medical science and understanding of the human body, but as far as Ianto was concerned, they were sadistic bitches who enjoyed inflicting suffering on others. Nevertheless, Ianto made himself read each and every one, feeling that at least one person other than Jack should know what he’d been put through during more than a century of service.

Just like all the other old files he processed, Ianto dutifully copied all of Alice and Emily’s reports onto the computer, but those files he encrypted, hiding the passwords among the original files and locking the lot of them back inside their cabinet, which he tucked away in a hard to find little room he designated the Jack Harkness Collection. There were some things that should remain private and not get dredged up by others out of curiosity and nosiness. Into the room he also placed copies of every other report that had anything to do with Jack. Maybe one day his successor would find it all and come to understand Jack better by seeing him through the eyes of the many men and women who had known and cared for him, as well as those for whom he’d been nothing more than a glorified lab rat. His experiences, for good and ill, had shaped him, and Jack deserved to be understood as the complex person he was rather than dismissed as some kind of charming but shallow lothario.

Until that time, aside from whatever pieces of information about himself he chose to share with others, Jack’s secrets would remain his own, all knowledge of them safely hidden away, buried in a mountain of paperwork. It seemed fitting; after all, that was where Ianto had found them in the first place.

The End

FMK: The Princess and the Goblin

Mar. 23rd, 2017 12:14 pm
melannen: Commander Valentine of Alpha Squad Seven, a red-haired female Nick Fury in space, smoking contemplatively (Default)
[personal profile] melannen
Princess Irene is definitely D'Angeline, isn't she. Which of the angels is her Great-Grandmama?

...Anyway, somehow I was expecting this to be about a princess and a goblin, not a princess and a peasant boy and a WHOLE BUNCH of goblins, none of whom she really interacts with. I think somehow I had got the impression that Curdie was a goblin who helped her out.

That's really the core of my response to this book. As I was reading it (and I'm very glad I did) I was seeing all the ways in which this is really an important foundation block in the later fantasy I've read, missing pieces that I haven't found in extensive folklore reading but still turn up every now and then in post-Victorian stuff, even such little things as the physical descriptions of the goblins. (Such as having a jack-o-lantern face, when folklore pumpkinheads are usually very distinct from folklore goblins.)

And then there's the very strong, and very Victorian, thread in this book of beautiful = good and ugly = bad. Not to say that post-Victorian kidlit has totally solved that one, but still, there's enough pushback against it in newer kids' fantasy (and in folklore) that my response to the lady who is beautiful beyond imagining (*especially* if she admits she's wearing a glamour) is BEWARE, and you should probably go find an ugly crone to talk to instead. Also I can't think of a single reason why the goblins aren't in the right here, given the way they are being dehumanized and their lands are being steadily stolen and then destroyed. They even try for a diplomatic solution first!

Of course, the fairy-story books I was imprinting on instead when I was the age for this were The Ordinary Princess (all about how Ordinary doesn't have to be Beautiful to be Good) and Goblins in the Castle (where Our Hero realizes halfway through that the displaced goblins are in the right and he's been on the wrong side all along). Both of those books are almost certainly arguing with MacDonald and his peers, whether consciously on the part of the writers or not, but I got their side of the argument first and it's a much better side. :P

I was also interested in how young Irene was. There's a standard in kidlit publishing (or at least there was, awhile back) that your protagonist should always be at least a couple of years older than the reading level you're writing for, presumably as an aspirational thing, and also so kids who read a lot can feel smug about reading books for older kids and kids who are a little slower don't have to be talked down to.

But I'm wondering if it's also because adult authors tend to write their protagonists acting a few years younger than kids of that age feel like they are in their heads. Irene certainly feels younger than eight to me, for a lot of the book: at eight I could tell you who my cousins-once-removed were and how they were different from my second-cousins, and I can't imagine many second graders I know being confused by the concept of a great-grandma, or in general have Irene's maturity level. And when I was a kid, reading books about kids a few years older than me, the protagonists didn't usually feel like they were that much older than me. Maybe by telling grownups to write eleven-year-olds for eight-year-olds, you end up with characters who feel like eight-year-olds to eight-year-olds.

I did really like the strong message in this book that adults need to believe what kids say to them, and that if the adults don't, that's on the adults, not the kids. And if the kids let themselves be half-convinced the adults are right and the kids are imagining or exaggerating, it's also the adults' fault, and not the kids failing, and not just "part of growing up." And that the mysterious secret stranger actually tells the protagonist to tell all her grown-ups everything, not to keep it secret, because adults who tell you to keep your relationship a secret are probably not the adults you should rely on. That's something that is REALLY REALLY IMPORTANT to teach a lot of kids (although probably more important to teach grownups), and I think the way MacDonald did it was a lot more emotionally real and with a lot more conviction than a lot of other people, especially modern kids' fantasy, where the parents not believing or not being told is either taken for granted or treated as harmless.

Also wow, you really couldn't get away with handing a character a LITERAL PLOT THREAD in a modern book...

And you're grieving but don't hurry

Mar. 23rd, 2017 12:50 pm
musesfool: Jane Villanueva (your place in the family of things)
[personal profile] musesfool
You know, I've lived at my current address for nearly 15 years(!!!) and for the most part, Amazon, via FedEx, UPS, and the USPS, has never had a hard time finding me. Until this week. Suddenly packages are being "rerouted" after being sent to the wrong facility(!?) or they've been delivered "to my mailbox" when in fact they 1. wouldn't fit in the mailbox and 2. have not appeared in the vestibule or hallway of my building, where such things are usually left. I can't imagine someone, upon opening their stolen booty of roller bottles and tiny gift bags, made toddler fists of glee, so I have to think the box wasn't stolen so much as it just...wasn't delivered as promised. (I mean, I suppose someone out there did in fact get gleeful over the contents of the box - stranger things have happened - but it does seem kind of far-fetched. Unlike the times my order from LUSH went missing. At least that was worth stealing.)

Amazon refunded me and told me to reorder and they would pay any shipping costs (hilarious because I have Prime so there are no shipping costs) but it's just inexplicable that this has happened twice within a week. My address has not changed! It's not wrong in my profile! So I don't even know what's going on.


In other news, boss1 said something interesting to me the other day when she was offering condolences, that now with my father gone, we'd get back the younger version of him in our memories. And I was telling L about it, because I've been thinking a lot about it.

It's true that the declining years are top of mind right now, and that's why people telling older stories is so important - he wasn't just an occasionally querulous old man with no short-term memory - he was an active member of his community for a long time, he was loved by his family members, and thought of warmly by his co-workers and friends. He did a lot of quiet good in his way for the people in his life, even if he sometimes seemed overly-strict or demanding with us. And I guess that's the man I want to think of, the one who used to send cheery good morning texts every day, who always made us feel like he wanted us to be happy above all - even if he didn't understand what we claimed we needed for that, he wanted us to have it.

I want to remember how he was always ready to believe in the best of us, and bail us out even when we didn't live up to that (I don't mean actually bailing us out of jail - we never had that experience! but with teachers and other school authorities etc. I will never forget his firm insistence of "My son wouldn't do that!" when he got a call saying my brother had been found passed out drunk in the hotel hallway on the school ski trip. And he never yelled at my brother for it - he just made him pay back the cost of the trip over time, since he was sent home the morning after he arrived without ever even making it onto the slopes. As he later said, he figured the humiliation of being sent home like that and missing out on his trip was punishment enough).

He made his share of mistakes and left us with some annoying baggage, but overall, I think he did way more good than harm in the end. At least, that's how I'd like to remember him.

neotoma: Bunny likes oatmeal cookies [foodie icon] (foodie-bunny)
[personal profile] neotoma
I picked up some Pacific salmon on sale the other day so I'm trying the recipe for Lapsang Souchong Gravlax from Eat Tea.

If I like it, I'll try making it for a party or the next stitch'n'bitch at [personal profile] wolfshark's house.

Icons! : Flowers!

Mar. 23rd, 2017 12:34 pm
3y3: (モㄚモ)
[personal profile] 3y3 posting in [community profile] icons
Hello all (: I have 41 flower icons available to the public. Please if you wish, comment to the one's you will be using (: Credit goes to [personal profile] 3y3.

Here are 5 examples:

Click the link for more flowery icons<3 ...Onto the flower icons... )

Icons: Flowers!

Mar. 23rd, 2017 12:13 pm
3y3: (モㄚモ)
[personal profile] 3y3 posting in [community profile] iconic
Hello all (: I have 41 flower icons available to the public. Please if you wish, comment to the one's you will be using (: Credit goes to [personal profile] 3y3.

Here are 5 examples:

Click the link for more flowery icons<3 ...Onto the flower icons... )

My Body Is Mine

Mar. 23rd, 2017 04:00 pm
[syndicated profile] millions_feed

Posted by Natassja Schiel


It was 2010, six months after returning to Portland, Ore., from a stint of working as a stripper on the Pacific island of Guam. My car radio was tuned to NPR on my drive home from a boring office job. “This is Fresh Air. I’m Terry Gross,” the familiar voice sounded from the speakers quietly as I turned out of the parking lot. I listened passively, as I always did, while stuck in traffic at this time of day. My apartment was only a two-minute drive — extended to 10 minutes in traffic. “I’ve always wondered who responds to ads like this one,” Terri Gross continued, “which was in the back of the Village Voice: Attractive, young woman wanted for nurse role-play and domination. No experience necessary, good money, no sex. Well, my guest actually answered that ad and spent four years as a professional dominatrix in midtown Manhattan. And now, she’s written a memoir about it called Whip Smart.” I turned up the radio and wished for the traffic to worsen, to be stuck in my beat up silver Kia for the duration of the interview. I wanted to know everything, but not just because the guest had been a dominatrix, but because she wrote about it. I couldn’t imagine writing about my experience as a stripper, but especially my experience working in Guam, despite the fact that my plan was to major in creative writing. I’d write about lots of things, I’d thought. Just not that. I wanted to know about the kind of person that would write about it and then go on NPR. Then Terri Gross said, “It may be the first dominatrix memoir that mentions growing up listening to NPR.” The author was Melissa Febos. I was hooked.

coverI got home even faster than I anticipated. I sat in my car, turned off the windshield wipers and watched the rain pitter-patter before me. I listened for the next half hour, without moving, close to crying but not exactly sure why. At the close of the interview Gross questioned Febos about whether her academic and career prospects might be damaged by her publishing Whip Smart. Not only had she been a dominatrix, but she was also a recovering heroin addict. I leaned into the radio, my own potential future breathing down my neck — I’d long been terrified that my five year career as a stripper might hold me back. It was the primary reason I felt I couldn’t write about it. “I have no idea if they’re going to interfere, but there’s nothing I can do about that. I’m sure that there are certain universities that would object to hiring me because of those experiences, but that doesn’t affect my view of their value,” Febos answered. As I had so many other times in my life, I wished I could be that bold.

During the interview, I learned that Febos attended The New School — a university I’d never heard of before. It was located in the West Village, not far from NYU. As soon as the interview ended I did two things: purchased Whip Smart and Googled The New School. I realized immediately that it was the university for me. Ten months later I started my studies there as my family scoffed that I’d never be able to survive in New York.

coverI read Whip Smart in a single night. Febos wrote about sex work in a way I’d never read before. That in the beginning everything about it makes one feel powerful, but how that feeling erodes with time, never fading completely away. But eventually there is acceptance that there are disempowering as well as empowering aspects to the work. I read the memoir Strip City, too, in which Lily Burana defines this for exotic dancers as “stripper damage.” I love that characterization, but it still feels a little too simple, too boiled down. As the years go on, more than anything, dancing settles into a routine — just like any other job. It loses the intrigue, mystery, the newness and glittering of the taboo. Things that were once novel or shocking become dull and meaningless. There is a getting-through-the-day that takes over. Febos writes:

When people asked me how the work affected me, my line was: “I don’t know yet; ask me in ten years.” When I thought about how long I would do it for, I assumed that there would come a day when I simply couldn’t anymore, when everything about it had become banal and sad and I was done.

I felt similarly about dancing, and yet the times I tried to force an ending didn’t work. I couldn’t find a straight job or a straight job didn’t pay enough or I’d have a good straight job for a few months and then get laid off because of the economy. At the time I heard Melissa Febos’s interview I’d claimed I’d retired. I had two part-time office jobs, a full time school schedule, but still picked up shifts at the club I’d grown to consider my “home club” in Portland. I needed to save for my move to New York City.

But it was an extreme way to live. Sometimes I was up for 48-hours at a time in order to manage it all. I kept stripping a secret at the time. It seemed necessary after living in Guam. I had discovered upon my return that everyone that loved me had been worried. I didn’t talk about it much. I was accused of doing things I hadn’t (mainly prostitution). No one knew exactly why I went nor would they listen nor was I fully willing to be honest anyway. When I started to dance again I insisted silently to myself it was just about the money, but the moment I stepped back in the club, the moment I slithered into my favorite piece of sheer pink lingerie, brushed black mascara onto my eyelashes, and slipped into my eight-inch platform shoes, I felt relieved. I felt home. I was addicted.

Febos, too, felt addicted to sex work. In some ways it was worse then her heroin habit because she couldn’t kick it, like she did the drugs. Febos turned to her sober roommates looking for advice when she wanted quit sex work, but wasn’t able to:

…when I went to my roommate and expressed my reluctance, she looked at me in disbelief.

“Yeah he sounds really annoying. But fifteen hundred dollars? Come on. I would do it if I could.” What she meant was if she had the opportunity. At this point, I was starting to know better…I could not imagine my roommate going through what I knew a session entailed.

For fifteen hundred dollars. For an hour’s work. It sounded amazing, when you don’t know what the work meant, or when you pretended not to.

In Whip Smart, it starts to feel like she loathes the dungeon and judges everyone around her for participating in it — even though she, herself, is part of that world. I often made fun of the desires of my strip club regulars, not considering the fact that I was participating in exactly what they wanted of me. During one session, Febos suddenly feels that she and her client were brought together by some unknowable force. That there must be something more to her being in those rooms with men hoping for humiliation and her pleasure in doling it out:

Who was this man? What did we have in common to have both ended up in this room? I teetered over his face, peering into it for a dizzy moment. In what direction had this man come from, and where was he going? It was a feeling too objective to be compassion, but I suddenly felt on equal footing with him. For a moment, we formed two halves of a perfectly balanced scale.

And then I looked down at his erection and realized that the feeling was probably not mutual.

Years after the publication of Whip Smart, Febos published an essay in the “Sex, Again” issue of Tin House titled “My Melissa.” In it she explores the ways her lovers rejected her identity as a person who worked as a dominatrix:

After he read the memoir I’d written, he said, I think of her as a different person. Not my Melissa. He preferred me shy. So I distanced myself from the woman I’d written about.

…He drew a line between the body I wrote about and the one he loved.

This is common. One man I dated found what I had done in my past disgusting. When money was particularly tight I told him I was considering going back, and he said he’d leave me and then refused to talk to me for the rest of the day. I wasn’t that girl anymore, he asserted. I was someone else. But I was. I was always the girl that stripped and so much more. Febos ends her essay:

There are not two of me. I am not four times removed from myself. There is Melissa. The one who still dims the lights before she undresses. The one who once put her foot inside a man’s asshole. The one who wrote that book, and the next one. The one who prefers making love to bodies that look like her own. Who was never allowed to love her own body.

What I mean is, the next lover who tells me it wasn’t me won’t be a lover I’ll keep. And if you want to know how it felt to spank someone, I will tell you how it feels to be asked such a question.

“Kettle Holes,” another essay, was published in Granta six months before the release of Febos’s new collection of essays Abandon Me. “Kettle Holes” explores her attraction to the dungeon. The foundation, she discovered, was in her formative adolescent years when a boy she had known spit on her — later it became a fetish that she acted out in the dungeon.

What do you like? the men would ask. Spitting, I’d say. To even utter the word felt like the worst kind of cuss and I trained myself not to flinch or look away or offer a compensatory smile after I said it. In the dungeon’s dim rooms, I unlearned my instinct for apology.

Febos found the idea of spitting on someone without consent unthinkable, but for men who wanted it? Who asked for it? It was, in a way, a loophole. As a stripper, I never wanted to hurt the men I danced for, but like Febos, when they asked for torture, I delighted in complying. One man wanted me to smoother him with a pillow for hours, another had me crush his testicles with my eight-inch stiletto heel repeatedly. I glowed after both of these interactions, happier about the fact the interaction had happened, than the hundreds of dollars they’d paid. I insisted I wasn’t angry, that I actually loved men, and here again are parallels:

You must work out a lot of anger that way, they suggested. I never felt angry in my sessions, I told them. I often explained that the dominatrix’s most useful tool was a well-developed empathic sense. What I did not acknowledge to any curious stranger, or to myself, was that empathy and anger are not mutually exclusive.

After I’d quit dancing, I also came to believe that my attraction to stripping had much to do with my adolescence. I was sexually abused as a child. I developed early and was told many times, starting at the age of 12, that I oozed sex. That I was sex. That sex embodied me. Stripping was a way to control the thing people asserted I was, whether I wanted it or not, and then have the power to control it. I learned how to say no to men as a stripper. Before getting naked in front of groups of strangers, I hadn’t yet realized that my body was mine:

In the dungeon, my identity was distilled once again to its objective meaning. And those men, like all the men before them, prescribed my body’s uses. But this time, my job was to deny instead of acquiesce, to say no instead of yes. Maybe this was the best way to learn how to form those sounds in my own mouth.

The essays in Abandon Me explore several of Febos’s important personal relationships: with her adopted sea captain father, the love affair with a woman named Amaia, her brother, and meeting her biological father — a member of the Wampanoag tribe. These pieces culminate in the 173-page title essay, “Abandon Me.” It is within this section that alongside her love affair with the married Amaia, Febos meets her birth father. Each relationship bounces off the other. The relationship with Amaia rips apart while the relationship with her biological father, painfully and slowly, stitches together. The essay opens: “Every story begins with an unraveling. This story starts with a kiss. Her mouth the soft nail on which my life snagged, and tore open.”

I devoured these pages. Curled up on my coral-colored couch, I sometimes looked up as if someone might catch me in the act of crawling into her mind and living there for a while. It felt like I was being folded into her prose. Six months before I started reading Abandon Me, I’d learned who my father was, and that he had passed away seven years prior. Even with the theme of abandonment so clear, I wasn’t expecting to find something so specifically relatable. I expected that of Whip Smart. Of “My Melissa.” Of “Kettle Holes.” And many of the elements leading up to the title essay I had grabbed onto, lived within, but here was where Febos tore me open and never let me go.

Abandon Me doesn’t have graphic, shocking scenes like Febos’s first, instead she goes further into the messy vulnerable, human parts of herself. In “All of Me” Febos writes of her propensity for secrets, she created a “secret world in drugs and desire.” She didn’t acknowledge her desire to be seen, but wrote and published Whip Smart anyway: “a story full of things I’d never spoken aloud to anyone.” She comes to terms with the fact she’d always wanted to be seen. “It’s a violent way to emerge, to tell a secret,” she goes on. Right now, I’m grappling with the possibility of exposing my own secrets. Seven years after I heard Febos’s NPR interview, I’m in the middle of revisions on my memoir about working as a stripper on the island of Guam. I wonder if I can muster the courage to put it into the world, still unsure that what I want is to be seen. But, I’m comforted that Febos found the courage to do so. It makes me feel understood. And in a small way, I’m emboldened by it.

The post My Body Is Mine appeared first on The Millions.

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