Wednesday, December 21, 2005

More ERWA Fans

I've said before that I'm glad to be a member of the Erotica Readers & Writers Association. It's a collective of writers and fans of erotica, which this novel has become by default. Again, I've said this before: I never set out to write erotica, I thought Beyond You & Me was literary fiction with good sex scenes. Other ERWA members that weren't mentioned then, or who have become fans since include:

Cyan's Stories. Another erotica writer who is publishing her work on-line, Cyan has both a free section and a paid section where for a very reasonable $10 you can read more of her well-written, intelligent erotica. Not the "cum and thrust" variety with explicit detail, but the deeply arousing suggestive erotica.

An exciting mix of erudition and sex-appeal is Valentine Bonnaire. She has both a blog and a web domaine Velvet Babe. The writing is lush, quirky and I'm reminded of Anais Nin. It's a little like sitting down with a sexy older woman who has allure and experience to reel in those who capture her interest.

Another is Jude Mason. Jude's blog is personal in nature, and is new, but it's another chance to see a writer's mind at work. Keep a watch on this as it grows.

Finally, while not a member of ERWA, I don't want to overlook The Holiday Life. For a novel about a bisexual woman, it's easy to see the "fit" with a site about a bisexual man. There is both intelligent writing and a decidedly fascinating spin on things. For example, his birthday fantasy to watch another man make love to his wife, while conventional, is so well-expressed and singular in point-of-view as to rise above the cliched conceit (probably because it's real and not some "Letters to Penthouse" hack writing. I have used an interview template from Clayton to profile all three main characters of the novel, so for that alone I'd review his very erudite and interesting site.

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Chapter Five (part 4)



Literary theory is pretty ephemeral on the surface, but it's got me thinking about words and how they're used. For example, I'm obsessed with politics, I try to watch the political conventions and I follow the news most nights on TV. Politics is nothing but confusing rhetoric, lies and inflated claims, yet we find ways to sort it all out and make choices, commitments, even fight revolutions. That's all very grand. On a more practical, mundane level, understanding that words don't necessarily mean what they seem to mean cuts down the pompous and arrogant people I have to deal with to a more manageable size.

"Would you like a cup of reality with your puffery?"

As bad as the academics are, it's our future, whether I like it or not, though news from the job market outside Mother Yale is none too encouraging. The need for new doctors of philosophy isn't quite as pressing as new doctors for the projects of the inner cities. I have to keep P.'s spirits up while at the same time juggling my own hopes of resuming life after he's finished. He gets down when the news is bad; it's my job as the faculty-wife-to-be to give him support.

"We gotta stick together, Cassie," he tells me. "I'd be lost without you."

When he's done here, I can go back and finish my own degree and become something besides a secretary.
(later that evening)
I looked back over the last few pages, and they're so fucking dry! I can write down our conversations, but that doesn't mean I've captured the same excitement and energy as when we talked! My God, what a stimulant good conversation can be! It's intellectual heroin mainlined right into the arteries— not to mention occasionally an aphrodisiac. I just don't know how I can record the flash and sparks of our three-way conversations, even if I remember like they happened yesterday.

"A lot of people—me included— think Deconstruction is simply taking something apart." I'd seen P. out of the corner of my eye strolling into the kitchen where S. and I were joking about Ellen, so I quickly shifted to a topic more "dignified." P. leaned against the doorjamb between the kitchen and the living room, and I quietly shut off the Selectric, moving into the living room and lighting a half-dozen candles I'd put there over the past few weeks to make our "homework" sessions less work and more homey. Like the other times, I sat on the carpet leaning against the couch with S. perpendicular to me, again with his head in my lap while P. led the discussion from a chair opposite us like the good professor he'll be someday.

"Deconstruction undercuts our assumption that words are connected to an actual thing in the real world. 'There's nothing outside the text' is Derrida's famous dictum."

"Deconstruction's just one step away from nihilism," S. looked dejected at his own point, "an immoral and dangerous way of looking at the world view."

P. looked annoyed, and brushed this reservation off with a sweep of his big hands.

"Words are the most powerful weapon in the world. Historians like you should be paying more attention. I'm just a literary critic, but I can see that crying about the problem won't make it otherwise."

to be continued

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Philly Things

Long-time fans of Beyond You & Me know that Cassie is from Philadelphia. In fact, she didn't leave it until she married P. and went first to California, and later to Yale. Despite its occasionally provincial character and her own ambivalence about its smother-love, Cassie is at her core a Philly girl. A South Philly girl to be exact. South Philadelphia is a small town within a big city, once mostly settled by Italian and Jewish immigrants, but today a rainbow of colors and cultures. In fact, the famous "Ninth Street Italian Market" sits now in a sea of Chinese and Vietnamese restaurants and groceries, much like New York's Little Italy has been nearly swallowed up by Chinatown. So today's post is about things Philadelphian.

An early fan of Beyond You & Me is Philly Future. The site is about everything Philadelphia, and a good place to get to know this charming city that is too often overshadowed by New York. Philly's museums are more human in size (my favorite is the University of Pennsylvania with its outstanding collection of Babylonian art).

Another old fan (who has been overlooked until now) is Bella Vista Social Club. The denizens of this blog are graduates of St. Maria Goretti High School in Philadelphia; Cassie went to South Philadelphia High School, and occasionally clashed with the "Goretti Gorillas" who would, she told me, hike up their Catholic school uniforms to miniskirt lengths before and after class. I'm stumped at how to characterize this fun, rollicking mix of politics, Philly insider stuff and personal matters. Whatever you call it, have a visit to the club. And for those of us who weren't lucky enough to be born Italian, social clubs are often where the Mafiosi hang out!

Girlfiend is not only from Philly, but stone hilarious, at least if you like your comedy derisive and in-your-face. Not Girl Friend, you read it right the first time: Girl Fiend. As in fiendishly funny and wry. It's a personal bout with the world, and I'm not sure whether the world can take her on. Always biting, never dull, she's unique in her observations about life, people, Boyfiend, pregnancy, and therapy. Look out, here she comes!

A newer fan is Blankbaby. I'm stumped to characterize this strange, touching slice of things Philadelphia and not. Want to know how the author got the confirmation name "Fabian"? Maybe you're not Catholic and wonder what a confirmation name is and why he would have one. Ever speculated about HDTV or cheesy lines of dialog in movies? How about "Doctor, why couldn't you save her?" "Because there are no injections against the Devil"? To find out which movie this execrable line is from, go to Blankbaby.


Saturday, December 03, 2005

CHAPTER 5 (part 3)



One of the few perks working at Yale is auditing classes. I took two years of German when we got here— P.'s major in college, I know that sounds sorta dependent on him, but he's been my teacher and guide, so it seemed "right." I still sometimes think about changing the world with ideas— it's what I always thought my life would be about. I wanted to be a doctor growing up. All THAT changed when I got a C in algebra. I read a lot (still do), including all the Tom Swift books, so I used to think I'd save the planet or discover a cure for cancer, something with real meaning. Whether protesting the war, working in a soup kitchen at my church, even marrying a smart guy like P., I planned on being more than just the smart guy's wife putting him through college.

I talked S. into taking Lit Y with me, and naturally, when he found out P. was in Comp Lit, he started timing his visits to our apartment so as to run into him instead of avoiding him. That sounds kinda conspiratorial, as if we had something to hide, I don't mean it in that way. S. and I didn't do a thing when P. wasn't home I'd have to justify to my mom. S. was intimidated by my husband, as many people are: he's six feet three inches tall, physically imposing, too, not just tall. His hazel eyes have a piercing intensity which still makes me feel when we get into heated discussions like I'm a little girl trying to argue with her father. It's funny, but after five years of our being married, I still want his approval, and cannot abide his disappointment in anything I wear or do. His face is long and angular, with prominent eyebrows that a girlfriend in Philly described to me (with an approving nod) as "cave man" features. She also said his gaze made her uncomfortable, "it's as if he can see right through my clothes." He is sexy in a rough-hewn sort of way, yet very sensitive and caring— reminds me of Laurence Olivier as Heathcliffe in "Wuthering Heights." No wimp in the sack I'm glad to say. And thank God, too, I'm a girl with a lot of sexual energy. Naturally, those are things about him most people don't know— they only see the tall guy with bushy hair and eyebrows who looks like he could hurt them if he wanted to (and probably would, if they did something to bring out his wrath).

Anyway, that's how our three-way friendship began: talking books and literary theory. When I confessed one night both S. and I were floundering in all the lit crit terminology and mumbo-jumbo, P. sat down at the kitchen table with the two of us and started explaining things, professor to students.

"You'll get more out of de Man in small groups or even individually. Make sure you attend his office hours as often as possible. In class he's usually all business, but in small groups or when we talk in private, he's funny and shockingly blunt. Even to the point of putting down other critics and professors here at Yale. But then he understands how most profs are just performance artists with tenure. It's one reason he makes the establishment nervous."

One thing about P. I've always admired is he's unafraid of anyone, and speaks his mind whenever he feels like it, so it looked like a good fit having de Man for his mentor. He'll ask impertinent, probing questions at lectures, or poke holes in the arguments of even top critics. He has a superior air which puts off most of his fellow grad students, but he needs it: arrogance is a necessary armor in the world of lit crit. For one thing, the competition for jobs is ruthless outside the ivory tower of Bingham Hall where the Comp Lit department lives— it's literally in a tower, the top floor of a creaky, spooky old Victorian cupola perched on one of the freshman dorms that surround Old Campus. A really cool place with its own tiny library that smells like ancient leather chairs and musty stored-up energy, it's the place I head to when the weather's too cold to sit outside in my courtyard, reading or looking through the old books, some dating back to the 1800s.

It's the only thing I like about the Comp Lit department. The people are, well, less than nice to me. Almost everyone, student or professor, is a snob or a bore or both. I suppose you can say that about most of the people at Yale. I sorta have this love-hate relationship with the place, wanting to be accepted, yet never fitting in. I remember riding up in the tiny two-person elevator that connects the Comp Lit department to the ground with Professor Hartman. He's another one of the bigwigs. Didn't say a thing for most of the ride— probably figured I was an undergrad living on the lower floors, which are all dorm rooms for freshmen. When I didn't get off at one of those other floors, he realized we were both going to the Ivory Tower. I guess he figured he'd better say something.

"How's life?" What kind of question is that? I wanted to laugh, but I just smiled at him.

"Fine," I lied.

The elevator stopped, he pushed open the door and disappeared into his office like the white rabbit down its hole.

to be continued

Sunday, November 27, 2005

And still more non-fans

I have recently become aware of the term "polyamory," which is a lifestyle that celebrates loving more than one person. The term was coined after Cassie's adventures at Yale, but I can't help thinking that her agony would not have been as great if she'd had access to the relationship tools that polyamory offers. Yet even with those tools, it's not an easy road, as the site Polyamorously Perverse makes plain. A middle-aged man who has always been poly in a monogamous marriage comes out to his wife, with all the attendent anxiety, soul-searching and questions. Not just for the polyamorously inclined, and all in all a very wise and sage baring of another human's soul.

It quite surprises me at times that there is more sexy writing on the Internet than sexy photography. First of all, I agree with Cassie in her meme from Remembrance Girl that sex doesn't photograph very well. Showing a man coming on a woman's face doesn't tell us anything about passion, only that someone had an ejaculation. Written descriptions of sex, though, often capture the heat, the smells, the stains. One of the better sites is Unfettered cravings. Written by Lou, a man, the site is about his sexual adventures, including a series called "The Vixxen Chronicles." Strong, basic writing. Worth a trip.

99 Erotic Notions is another Internet erotica offering like The Rosary that is complete and available right now. The premise is simple enough: a 25 year-old man has a series of erotic reveries.

My Voyage of Sexual Discovery has a good balance of erotica and nasty photos. I don't know how many of these stories are fantasies and how many actually happened, but they're well-written and easy to enjoy. The Brits seem to be a randy bunch, I wonder if it's the rainy weather?

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

100 Things About Cassie

Thanks to Ms Krys for "100 Things about Cassie":

1. I am the oldest of four children.

2. I have a sister and two brothers.

3. I don't have any secrets from those I love-- except P. because I don't want to hurt him.

4. I hate my feet because I'm REALLY ticklish (I'd break your arm kicking you if you tried and couldn't help it).

5. I like watching hockey and old movies and "Monty Python."

6. I don't watch network TV, but I loved "The Smothers Brothers."

7. The best part was Pat Paulson.

8. He would've been a better president than Nixon.

8. The music groups were good, too, especially "The Doors" and "The Jefferson Airplane."

9. I am a secretary in Manuscripts & Archives of Yale's Sterling Library.

10. I hate every minute I'm there.

11. My co-workers treat me like shit and won't let me do anything interesting.

12. That's because I don't have a college degree.

13. At Yale, only wives with college degrees get the good jobs.

14. No husbands of students work in the library. No husbands of students work, they're all students themselves.

15. I grew up with both of my parents.

16. I'm bisexual, maybe tending to lesbian. At least P. thinks so. I do like women.

17. But I'm also married and still am attracted to some men.

18. Go figure.

19. I am not homophobic. Duh.

20. I've been married for 5 years.

21. My best friend is my husband.

22. But also S.

23. He's not here any longer, he left to go to grad school at Harvard.

24. I went to public school.

25. I loved school and hated summers because there wasn't a fucking thing to do in South Philly.

26. I am from South Philadelphia, the predominantly Italian-American part of Philadelphia.

27. I am predominantly Italian-American, though my mother is English-Irish.

28. My parents fight constantly because they're so different (so much for body heat).

29. In the last election, I voted for McGovern.

30. Not many people did, which is why we ended up with that criminal, Nixon.

31. I believe welfare recipients should have to work to receive benefits.

32. In South Philly, most people think blacks are lazy and don't want to work.

33. I had black friends in high school, but think some of them should stop trying to get by on welfare.

34. I try to write correctly, but am a terrible speller.

35. If I could choose any career in the world, I would be a doctor.

36. I want to go back to college when P. is finished and become SOMETHING.

37. If offered $500,000,000.00 for eating crap, I would have to think about it.

38. I live on Clark Street in New Haven, CT.

39. I have lived away from home since I was 19, but have never lived alone.

40. We pay too much for rent, but all the Yalies do, because the townies think we're all the sons and duaghters of rich fuckers.

41. I work with 4 men and 12 women and hate all of them except my boss because they look down on secretaries.

42. I audit classes at Yale, one of its few benefits.

43. The first two years, I learned German.

44. One of P.'s areas of concentration is German Romantic literature.

45. It came in handy with S. who is German.

46. No, I don't know what the thing is about German in my life!

47. I flunked out of Temple University after freshman year.

48. I don't belong to any church, and don't think much of organized religion; Billy Graham "saved" me at one of his tent revivals down the lakes in South Philly when I was 12.

49. Nevertheless I believe in God.

50. I haven't been to church since I got married.

51. I don't think most churchgoers would want someone like me coming to their services, especially if I came with P. and another woman.

52. I want to have children but NOT NOW!!

53. When I do have kids, I want both a boy and a girl.

54. I want my son and his sister to learn to skate and play hockey. Girls can do anything boys can, even though my mother wouldn't let me learn to ride a bike until my father bought me one on the sly when I was 15.

55. I broke 1100 on my SAT's.

56. My parents didn't even say anything when I got into Temple.

57. Clothes aren't the most important thing in the world, but I once came home at lunch and changed out of a dress because my co-workers were congratulating me on getting pregnant.

58. I was named after my grandmother and my Aunt Emma.

59. One of my best friends in high school is about to become a plastic surgeon. Another is a lawyer and one of the boys I dated in high school was just sent away from fraud and embezzlement.

60. I struggle with every day, more so since this past Spring and S.

61. I like waffles with boysenberry syrup as a treat for breakfast.

62. Zucchini is my favorite green vegetable.

63. Fried zuchini flowers are my second favorite (dipped in batter and deep-fat-fried).

64. I once prayed I would wake up with an Irish brogue after seeing "Darby O'Gill and the Little People."

65. I am bad with intimate relationships because I can't keep my feelings bottled up.

66. I value my friendships, but don't have many friends here in New Haven.

67. I have known half my friends from high school, the other half from the one year at Temple.

68. My mom doesn't understand why I work outside the home.

69. It means we're not as close as we could be because she calls me up and harrangues me about it.

70. I think love makes people fucking crazy. It did me.

71. I try to be logical, P. says I'm too emotional.

72. I have been writing this journal since May.

73. I hope it will make getting over S. easier.

74. So far, it hasn't.

75. New Year's is my least favorite holiday because you're supposed to feel happy even if you're not.

76. I shop to distract myself from my shitty job.

77. I grocery shop by myself because P. is so picky about what he wants, we'd spend hours doing it together,

78. I have never turned a cartwheel because I don't have much upper body strength (all my strength seems to be lodged in my vaginal muscles).

79. My mother smokes and is getting short of breath. She had rheumatic fever as a child and it left her with a heart murmur.

80. I got sent home from school for wearing a skirt that was too short when I was 17.

81. I do not regret my first boyfriend.

82. We still keep in touch.

83. I have not been to any weddings since I got married.

84. I love cranberry juice, it wards off urinary tract infections, which I get a lot of (using a diaphragm for birth control doesn't help, plus I like to be fingered).

85. I lost several best friends because of boys, especially after I developed.

86. I have no god children.

87. My bed is some crap we picked up at the Salvation Army furniture room.

88. We bought it because it was very inexpensive.

89. I think Alexis Smith is to die for.

90. I have seen "The Godfather" numerous times.

91. I speak pig-Latin fluently.

92. I took four years of Latin in high school, but remember almost nothing of it.

93. Mozarella is my favorite cheese, raw or cooked.

94. My favorite soda is Tab.

95. I love cooking for other people.

96. If I were to die tomorrow, I would have many regrets.

97. I am a big fan of Marlon Brando and Al Pacino.

98. I think Faye Dunaway is super in "Three Days of the Condor." Many people say I look like Goldie Hawn. She's not my type. I wouldn't kick Julie Christie out of bed, though. Not by a long shot.

99. Robert Redford might be able to make me break my marriage vows.

100. I believe that today is yesterday's consequence, and that if I want to change my tomorrow, I have to change my decisions today. But I don't think I can most of the time.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

CHAPTER 5 (part 2)


Last night after I stopped writing and crawled into bed, I lay wide awake— as usual— curled up in the customary fetal position, arms aching, legs heavy and dead. All I could do was wrack my brains hoping to figure out the reasons why this blew up in my face. After all, what's the big fucking deal? Married woman gets involved with a younger man, her fingers get singed, it happens everyday, right? The whole thing sounds so ordinary, so middle-class, so tawdry.

One thing made it different: whatever you want to call it, "dalliance," "liaison," it was no big secret from P. He knew I was spending a lot of time with S., knew he was getting into my head, and it never seemed to bother him. He knew I found S. attractive— I made sure of that, I don't believe in deception. What's more, by the final act of this domestic drama, the three of us were hanging out together almost every day— like the close friends we'd become. That last happy day at Toad's was the rule, not the exception.

As husbands go, he's always been absolutely trusting and unthreatened by my friendships with men here at Yale. I mean, it's natural for me to swim in the sea of undergrads. For one thing, I'm closer in age to them than he is (he's 28). Plus graduate students are in a far different orbit than undergrads. He knows I'm bored and restless, so the amazing amount of cultural activities at Yale filled up my spare time. Sampling all the varied intellectual fruits like the good dilettante I am meant less time to get into mischief. Not to mention that S. was over at our apartment all the time. He became a fixture in our lives throughout Spring semester.

Now? Just when I could use some real distraction, the school year is over and those wonderful cultural offerings— concerts, exhibits, lectures, film series— have shriveled up until Fall. The Summer promises to be dull— and empty. I hope I'm wrong.
S. hung around so much because the two of us were slogging away at his Senior thesis, me typing, him revising the scrawl he called handwriting. At first P. stayed mostly in his study, I'm sure he found the subject (history) and the level (undergraduate) less than scintillating. Plus, he's a bit shy around new people. Whenever we have a party, for example, at some point in the evening he'll slip off to his study and leave the entertaining to me. Yet gradually he became part of the Senior thesis carnival in our kitchen, slipping into the river of banter, distracting us with witty comments or off-hand discussions about a new book he was reading or a joke de Man had told him after class.

Yale Comp Lit is the center of the literary world right now because of this new theory called Deconstruction, and de Man is one of its brightest lights. It's not so important what Deconstruction's about—something along the lines of how language shapes our understanding of the world. What makes this so exciting is that Yale's like one of those 19th Century literary salons I've read about where smart, creative people sit around smoking, drinking absinthe and discussing important topics in the arts and culture.

I don't always "get it," so suffice it to say, it's heady stuff. Sometimes I want to fall back on Humpty Dumpty's line to Alice in Through the Looking Glass, I think it goes "when I use a word, it means exactly what I choose it to mean— neither more nor less." I'm just a naïve reader, what do I know?

to be continued


Friday, November 04, 2005

Tag, You're It

The fascinating Debra Woehr, who interviewed me for her blog The Writers Buzz, has tagged me with a meme that no former student of Deconstruction could refuse:

1. Delve into your blog archive.
2. Search my archive for the 23rd post.
3. Find the 5th sentence, or closest to.
4. Post the text of the sentence in your blog along with these instructions. Ponder it for meaning, subtext or hidden agendas
5. Tag 5 people to do the same.

Here is the fifth sentence from the 23rd post on June 3, 2005:

Thanks also to the referral sites like "Kristen's Links", "Photography Sites.com" and of course, the ultra-fantastic Jane's Guide. Jane and Vamp have brought over 1/3 of all the visitors!

Meaning? I was happy to have reached 10,000 visitors. Since then, we've added over 55,000 more. Sub-text? I wanted to convince the agents and editors of mainstream publishing to publish Beyond You & Me. Now, my meaning is really "kiss my ass, I've found a public who's interested in the novel, so I don't need you." Hidden agenda? I plan to publish this sucker, one way or another, and don't worry anymore about agents or editors.

Whom will I tag? Demon Queen, Magdalena, O from "Eros/Logos," Clayton Holliday and the fascinating Gabby.

Monday, October 31, 2005

A Sale on Photos From the Novel

Now that the Beyond You & Me contest is over, you can still purchase the first prize or other photos from the novel. One of the big mysteries that fans are curious about is: who is the model for the pictures? Is it the real Cassie DiMarco? When were the photographs taken? Are they from Yale?

Here's your chance to own one or more of the photographs that illustrate the novel. Printed on an Epson Stylus Photo 2200, each of them is numbered and signed by the author/photographer.


"Chapter 1"

This is the photograph that opens the novel: Cassie distraut and naked on the cold stone outside Yale's Sterling Library. Color giclee print approx. 8" x 10" printed on 11" x 14" glossy photo-quality paper. Part of a limited edition of 100 signed and numbered by the author/photographer.
usually $100; now $75



"Yale 4 Glow"

This photo is from Cassie posing later in the novel (you can't keep a bad girl down). In the background is the facade of her hated place of employment, Sterling Library. Black & white giclee print approx. 4 1/4" x 6 3/4" printed on 8 1/2" x 11" glossy photo-quality paper. Part of a limited edition of 100 signed and numbered by the author/photographer.
usually $50; now $40



"Cleavage 2"

A different look at Cassie, one no less erotic and sensuous. Black & White giclee print approx. 4 1/4" x 6 3/4" printed on 8 1/2" x 11" glossy photo-quality paper. Part of a limited edition of 100 signed and numbered by the author/photographer.
usually $50; now $40



"Cassie at Yale"

This photo that sets the mood for the entire novel: a Mona Lisa smile, a youthful if imperfect body, moxie and sensuality contrasting with the cold, iron statue on the grounds of Yale's Old Campus. Color giclee print approx. 4 1/4" x 6 3/4" printed on 8 1/2" x 11" glossy photo-quality paper. Part of a limited edition of 100 signed and numbered by the author/photographer.
usually $150; now $100



"Veranda 5 Glow"

Cassie in a pose that captures her life: naked to the world, balanced precariously, equally in danger of falling or of flying away. Black & White giclee print approx. 4 1/4" x 6 3/4" printed on 8 1/2" x 11" glossy photo-quality paper. Part of a limited edition of 100 signed and numbered by the author/photographer.
usually $50; now $35


To purchase prints, email me at: wscross-at-gmail-dot-com (replace the dashes, "at" and "dot" with the appropriate symbols). Please indicate the name of the photo(s) you wish to purchase, your address, etc. Methods of payment include check or PayPal.


Monday, October 24, 2005

CHAPTER 5 (Part 1)



PART 1

Paul de Man is P.'s mentor and one of the leading figures of the literary movement known as Deconstruction (you can read some easy background notes on de Man and Deconstruction in the "world of the novel" links on the right of this blog). This chapter will be a test of loyalty to you fans, so we'll find out if this book can keep your interest even without the naughty bits.


On thinking more about this "writing down the past" process, I've decided, if it's going to be a real journal, it should have real dates. So I'll begin with today— that is tonight. It's Wednesday. In the past, Wednesday nights were hopeful, if not yet happy— mid-week, only two more days until the working week is over and I'm free from the chains of M & A for two whole days. Now I'm shackled with different chains, ones that know no hours (the pay's lousy, too). I used to live for weekends. In good weather, P. and I would drive out into the Connecticut countryside, maybe hike one of the many forest trails, all quite a lesson for a city girl whose only exposure to the wild outdoors was walking through the broken bottles and dog shit in Marconi Plaza along Broad Street. We'd browse for antiques or nifty luncheonettes with local flavors in the small towns like Branford, Guilford, Sachem and yes, Podunk. In crummy weather, we'd browse the thousands of remainders, used pulp fiction and overlooked classics at the Whitlock Book Barn. In good weather, drive along the Sound's coastline, satisfied simply being soul mates. That sounds corny, yet it's so right! With him, I feel I've found a man who really understands me, who cares deeply and totally about me. Sigh.

Now weekends are just more time I have to fill up. Neither of us seems inclined to be together in the car. I feel like I'm on a mental island with my own thoughts, P. and I don't seem to spend much time together since the Spring. He's more buried in his studies than ever. Before, graduate school energized him; now he's hiding from me. Maybe hiding from himself.

Making this real, yes, that's the goal. Maybe then I can understand— and survive— this, this— this what? "Affair"? OK, I finally wrote down the evil word, and for the very first time! I've never used it before, even in thinking about this past Spring. Certainly I never spoke it— it's so sordid, so ugly, it doesn't fit with how I see myself. Lying naked on the page, it's at least a little less intimidating than I thought it would be working up the nerve to write it in the first place! Sigh. After all, it's just another word, right? A "sign" as Professor de Man would call it. Paul de Man is P.'s graduate advisor and mentor, one of the "great men" who make Yale all it is. I spent the Spring auditing his undergraduate class in literary theory hoping to understand something of what P.'s studying. He told me we'd be closer if I did.

I guess I liked it. De Man is such a funny-looking older guy, he walks with a shuffle and holds his head forward in a strange way when he talks, almost like his backbone was slightly out-of-kilter. He smiles a lot, though, and makes tons of self-deprecating jokes about himself and everyone else, which keeps us all pretty loose, despite his fame. The first class, he looks around the auditorium, then tells us—

"This is Literature Y— or as some of you have asked me, and I might ask myself as well, why literature?"

At the start of a class on irony, he told us one philosopher believed we could never really understand the concept, so de Man offered to cancel the lecture and send us all home. I appreciate his sense of humor, that's actually pretty rare among the professors and teaching assistants I've known, they see themselves as way too important to laugh. We needed some humor, the course stretched my thinking a lot, taught me words are just vessels carrying meanings we attach to them, meanings that have no real connection to anything other than other words. So a nasty word like— "affair"— has a different meaning depending on the context, right? We can't know its significance other than by the way it's used. A "catered affair" is quite different, after all, from an "adulterous affair." Since I haven't figured out what this whole thing in the Spring was about, a word like "affair" is no more important or weighted— for good or bad— than "bicycle" or "rocket ship" or "chocolate."

That's not cor-rect (couldn't resist that): given my metabolism, "chocolate" is far more likely to be weighted— on my thighs! Chocolate's like happiness: too much of it has consequences.

(to be continued)

Thursday, October 20, 2005

Beyond You & Me excerpted in Mannequin Envy


The agents perhaps don't get it, but others apparently do. For the second time this month, part of Beyond You & Me has been excerpted, this time in the gorgeous on-line magazine Mannequin Envy. It's a part of the novel that hasn't been featured here, and the photographs are presented in more of a glossy, arty surrounding.

Monday, October 17, 2005

And The Winner Is....



OK, I sent the entries to the Beyond You & Me Contest to the real Cassie, and she was impressed. In fact, it was difficult for her to pick a winner, so she picked two: one for "best entry" and another for "closest to reality." The winners are:

First Prize Winner (B&W signed photo): Best overall-- Demon Queen
First Prize Winner (B&W signed photo): Closest to the real Cassie-- Freya
Second Prize Winner (signed Beyond You & Me t-shirt): John Martin
Third Prize Winner (no prize, just glory): Alice

Here are the winning answers. Feel free to judge for yourself.

First Prize (best overall)

1. Still living?

No. I have her body in my trunk as we speak.

2. Married, divorced, single?
Yes, she is now a Mormon. She has also been widowed several times... apparently men spontaneously combust in her presence.

3. What kind of work is she doing?

She wrestles gators in an Old West show. No wait... she mud wrestles in a gator skin outfit. I don't know but she is always covered in mud.

4. Is she a Republican, Democrat or Independent?

She started a movement called Daughters of the American Revolution. I told her that name is taken. She won't listen to me! She bought a high powered rifle and now lives in a cabin in the Ozarks.

5. Gay, bisexual or straight?

Well she was gay, but I told her that she just hadn't had the 'right' woman. I had sex with her. She is now straight. Scared straight heheh

6. Childless or has kids?

Has a daughter who alternately calls her the coolest mom in the world and then begs her NOT to tell anymore of her college stories in front of her friends.
I think they ALL do that.

7. What kinds of music does she listen to?

Jug bands... Ozarks remember?

8. Where does she live now?

Are you deaf? Errrrrrr blind? I already answered that.

9. Did she ever attend college? Was it Yale?

Yes she went. No not Yale. I believe she attended the Patty Hearst College of Fine Arts and Munitions.

10. Still keeps a journal? Writes a blog? Is too busy for either?

She has both but wrotes them both in code. She can't remember the code herself for security reasons. She is paranoid because the FBI planted microchips in her fillings. You do realize how angry she will be when she finds that I have divulged all of her secrets?

She will think I am one of THEM!

First Prize (most true-to-life)

1. Still living? Not everyone made it out of the Sexual Revolution alive - Yes, she's still alive.

2. Married, divorced, single? Married now but divorced once. He's 15 years her junior and doesn't care that she has a girlfriend.

3. What kind of work is she doing? She owns a bookstore/coffeeshop that has edgy readings monthly.

4. Is she a Republican, Democrat or Independent? She's still a democrat but they piss her off, and she wants them to toughen up and stand for something again.

5. Gay, bisexual or straight? Bisexual.

6. Childless or has kids? Childfree by choice.

7. What kinds of music does she listen to? Jazz.

8. Where does she live now? Connecticut, within easy distance to NYC, but still far enough away to have the peace.

9. Did she ever attend college? Was it Yale? Yes, no, NYU.

10. Still keeps a journal? Writes a blog? Is too busy for either? She'll always keep a journal. She keeps a small blog and does not share her true identity.

Second Prize

1: It is strange, being a very new member, and the first Name that pops up in the blog is CC. I knew her when I was living in the North Shore community of Roslyn Harbor on Long Island. She was a friend who commuted to Manhattan and worked in a Jewelry place up on the 20 something floor of the Empire State Building. It isn't polite to ask a young lady her age but I guess she was about 36 years old.

2. If she was married she didn't let on to me, and I never asked. One day when I was waiting at Jamaica to switch trains she was there and as the other train went by she told me that it made her a little chilled under her skirt, and it took me about a month to discover why.

3. Her job was like taking candy from a baby. She bought the gold by the ounce and didn't give a dime for style, stone, or cut. I was in the wrong business.

4. Like a whole lot more of us she was still a Democrat, but we were a little off on all the stuff of that era.

5. Again I didn't ask. She was really friendly with a few of the local ladies but when it came to finding the empty carriage at the rear of the 10.30 a.m. train before going into the tunnel she wasn't backward. She would sit a little sideways on my lap to get her morning joy ride while the lights were dim. It was a little something we tried now and again on a dull morning. It sure beat coffee.

6. She didn't seem be too different from all of our crowd. She never mentioned kids. What we couldn't afford sometimes happened and a few of us has one or two children.

7. This is a hard one. She never carried one of those walkman things so I haven't a clue. Blues? I don't think so. More like red hot jazz.

8. She never talked of New Haven, if she had ever lived there. As far as I knew she had a place with all that gingerbread and lived with the old hippy crowd somewhere in Sea Cliff.

9. What the hell would a smart blond like her do with a scrap of paper from Yale. In her job she had it in spades.

10. Oh yeah. That damn journal. I wonder if she ever wrote in that about some of the times we crawled home smelling of sex and half blasted. She was just one of the best. When I think about it this may not be the same young lady that some of you seemed to know.

Third Prize

1. She is alive and well and made it through the times, of course I'm not going to let her be dead.

2. Widowed

3. She is writing novels mostly political in nature but a rare erotic novel partially biographical but mostly fiction under a name de plume has surfaced over the last twenty years or so.

4. Flaming liberal she is.

5. She is celibate and still pondering.

6. One child, a girl.

7. Still listens to the Blues the love of it never fades.

8. She lives overlooking the Hudson River.

9. She did indeed attend Yale but it was much later as she has been out a mere ten years.

10. She writes a blog but it is private, it will of course be published after her death and her daughter will reap the rewards of her lifetime.

Prize winners please contact me at wscross@gmail.com with your mailing address and I'll send out the prizes.

Sunday, October 16, 2005

Judy Miller Is Free (update)



Update 10/16/2005: For those of you who have been following the Judith Miller saga, the NY Times published a long and in-depth article about the story, Ms. Miller and the legal wrangling behind it. The article is not always complimentary to her, nor are the issues in the case clear and decisive, though nothing I have read changes my belief that Ms. Miller should never have been sent to jail, and that the Congress should pass a shield law to protect journalists. To read the entire article, go to:


New York Times.com

Original Post (9/30/05):

New York Times reporter Judith Miller is getting out of jail through a deal between her original source and the overzealous prosecutor who had her sent to the cooler because she refused to reveal that source. For those of you who are joining this late, we already mentioned this travesty of justice in a previous post. You can also find out more information here.

Ms. Miller will go free because her source has agreed to let her testify before the Grand Jury looking into who in Washington outed CIA agent Valerie Plame. That's a good thing for her, though it does not change the fact that she should never have been incarcerated in the first place. It was always punitive, even if she now can save face and get out a month early. She will also be able to avoid an implied threat she would have been prosecuted for withholding evidence once the Grand Jury term ran out.

Thank you to all who sent letters of support to this brave, smart woman who understands better than our government that secret sources are absolutely necessary to having a free and effective press. Thanks, too, to those who wrote their representatives in Congress supporting a shield law protecting journalists from this kind of witch hunt.

Whatever your political persuasion, you are better off in a society where journalists can seek out the facts and report things that their sources could not reveal without anonymity. While less than perfect, this system is still superior by far to one where the newspapers are in thrall to the powers-that-be.

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

A Lovely Meme from Remittance Girl

From Remittance Girl, who not only is a fascinating writer, but she gives it away for free, because she's more interested in the creation than the commerce. This is a meme she apparently originated, and which Cassie would respond to this way:

1. Things that make me want to masturbate

The sound of fucking
Looking through a window at two people making love
Going too long without sex
Naked shoulders of any gender
Stress at the office
Too much time on my hands
Salacious books
Being alone in the house at night or during a rainy afternoon
A hot bath

2. Times when I will do reckless things

When I'm horny
When I think someone I care about is watching
When someone I care about dares me not to
When someone I care about dares me to
When I flirt and the person flirts back
When I forget there are effects for causes
When I forget there are consequences to my actions

3.a Things I like about women's bodies

Their breasts-- small breasts with erect nipples
The smell of their hair
Tight wool pants on a good, boyish ass
The feel of their lips on mine
Pussy lips swollen with desire
Dark eyes unlike my own bright blue ones
The taste of sex, especially when it's smeared around my lips after fucking
The sudden shortening of their breath when they're about to come
The sound of an unexpected orgasm that surprises both of us

3.b Things I like about men's bodies

Strong hands
A hairy chest
The smoothness of a circumcised cock in my mouth
The anticipation of pulling back the foreskin on an uncircumcised one
Hard nipples, but not large pecs
Cocks with funny bends
Short hair I can grab at and not fully grasp
Sensitive eyes
A good mouth on someone who knows how to kiss

4. Things that make me unaccountably angry

Lies
Injustice
Any kind of prejudice
Seeing a child who can't behave
Being humiliated by a superior at work
Bullshit excuses: I'm a big girl, tell it to me straight
Bullshit rules
Did I say lies?

5. Things that lose by being photographed

Interesting people
Sports, especially hockey
Sex: it's interesting to watch people fuck, but it's not sex
New Haven-- but I guess it can't get any worse than it is in reality
Yale
People I love, though it's better than not having anything to look at

6. Things that gain by being photographed

Beautiful women
Beautiful men
Children at play
Old people, though that's such a cliche
Vaginas
Dancers
A woman in stockings (they certainly don't feel good on)
The sky at sunset
The moon anytime

7. Things that are more beautiful in motion

A woman walking
A woman fucking
Fast cars
Men running or ice skating
Wild animals
The ocean

8. Things that are more beautiful in repose

Breasts
Lovers sleeping
Snow
Cats
A man's cock after sex

9. Things that make me wet

Dirty talk from someone I care about
Taking off my clothes outdoors, especially to be photographed
Watching a women comb her hair
Watching a man masturbate
Having my shoulders rubbed-- hard
The sound of someone fucking me
A woman who takes control in bed and out
Being "forced" to do what I really want
Being taken by a lover in spite of my protests
Exposing my breasts to the air

10. Things that make me happiest

Sex
Sleep
Reading alone or with my husband
Talking with S.
Flirting
Thinking about a happier future than the present
The thought of perfection
The myth of happiness

Author's Note: I added the 10th item. I won't tag anyone with this on-line, but if we're talking off-line, consider yourself tagged.

Monday, October 03, 2005

Beyond You & Me Excerpted



Well, the publishing industry may not think there's a market for Beyond You & Me, but I'm happy to report that the pay-site Tit-Elation has accepted "A Erotic Out-Take" for its October spread. It's a pay site that you have to join to read, so I encourage everyone to click on the logo above and sign up. In fairness to Tit-Elation, I have taken down that section, which used to be among previously excerpted chapters here in the section entitled "if you're new, start here."

Sunday, September 25, 2005

English Fans



I don't know why it is that the United Kingdom produces so many interesting bloggers; I've already profiled a number of them, including A Perfect Marriage and the sublime, divine O at Eros/Logos. It seems this post is British in emphasis, but then, isn't caning referred to as "the English vice"? The Hot Wife and The Rosary are both products of the English hot blood Mick refers to in "Brown Sugar."

One of the rising stars surely must be the gorgeous Magdalena of Myths & Metawhores. Part lusty vixen, part regretful soiled dove, Magdalena is always fascinating, inquisitive, elusive and unpossessible. She's literate and provocative in the same erudite, playful, bawdy tradition of O at Eros/Logos (a longtime fan and now, friend). Like O, Magdalena tongues the world, swishes the taste of liquids around in her mouth both for show and to savor each drop. Her musings about a growing curiosity to explore her Sapphic impulses left me enthralled, and her peek-a-boo self-portraits are winning her a following like O. With two women possessing so much sexuality and energy, how is it the British ever lost their empire? Certainly if they ever decide to conquer the world of the bedroom, Magdalena and O will be formidable generals in the armies of the night.



The other blog I want to highlight provokes the question: what is it about the blogosphere that brings out the bitch in woman? I don't mean the nasty, obnoxious kind, but the full-throated, defiant, magnificent female of the species. Well, I'm glad it did in the case of Salacity. She's an earth goddess who's not afraid to tell you to fuck off, or tell you about her wild sex life. It's a rich mix of erotic images, bawdy times and frank talk. Read her post "leggy" about wearing a short skirt all day and getting the male of the species to treat her as though she had a free pass to life. She has an edge, but it's bracing and sexy, so don't miss it.

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Chapter 1 (for those who are new)

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.



(Some of you are new to this site. Here's part of the opening chapter of Beyond You & Me so you can understand what all the fuss is about)



Day 1: A Spring day, any day, 1975

Temptation has been my undoing. Its fulfillment has been my downfall. And so I am left in its aftermath, too conscious of time’s passage. Painfully, so very excruciatingly aware of each day, each moment, I wish they would all pass more quickly and with them the pain. Time ticks away within my body like a pounding clock, I feel each second racing down the nerves of my legs, knotting my stomach, piercing my head which reverberates in stereo from lack of sleep. Who can remember the last time I slept through the night? Ah, Child, you feel compelled to run somewhere, but you don't know where, to do something, but you don’t know what to do. Or rather, you know where to go, but do not know how. It’s true, I want to run— fast and far— to scream and shout, loudly and unrestrained— to cry with violent shrieks and sobbings until my body is totally shaken into weakness, in a state where it can no longer want anything! To lie in quiet and peace, feeling no urgency, only stillness and weariness falling over me!

And where was it that I did go? Why to Graduation. Drab, soul-less Yale, the scene of my crime burst into activity today as he and the rest of the senior class desert the smother-love of Mother Yale for their new lives outside those clichéd ivy-covered walls. I couldn’t stay away, instead of riding out the storm from the safety of my desk at work, I called in sick— since sick is how I feel— then lost the will to stay home where I’m writing from tonight. The “bright college years” are ending for him, while I stay behind, a Cinderella with no glass slipper in sight, time stretching out before me like a wide lake, the memories of what came before hanging around my neck like a stone.

The crowd I’m sure measured 15,000, the yard of Old Campus swapping its Frisbees and sunbathers for a sea of folding chairs as Yale President Kingman Brewster and the other grandees pranced about in their ridiculous robes and funny caps, each residential college marching in while parents cheered. The bells of Harkness Tower pealed constantly, while silver flasks and joints in a profusion were passed around. One woman in the Saybrook contingent hiked up the hem of her graduation gown to flash a glimpse of stockings, garter belt and no panties. I’ll have to remember that when it’s my turn up there.

What possibly could have brought me there? Did I really think I’d see him? And then suddenly there he was, marching in with the rest of his classmates. Would it look especially tacky if I sat on his lap? Do I care? What about a good-bye kiss? This is, after all, probably the last time we’ll ever see one another. I could lift up my dress and make love to him right here on what’s left of the grass, I’m not wearing panties. That would be a Yale graduation they’d talk about for years.

“Cassie!” he waves with a smile. It looks a bit forced to me, tight around the mouth, as though he’s seen someone he’d rather avoid. Ah, Child, who would not be gracious today? He steps out of the group, motioning me toward a German-looking couple on the edge of the spectators. His parents, of course, the mother dressed in a sober, eminently sensible two-piece suit made of green wool, expensive and well-tailored, yet hopelessly old-fashioned. She’s handsome, I can see where he gets his good looks, she’s commanding the way she carries herself, she’ll be a formidable mother-in-law (not mine, thank God). The father’s nationality isn’t as obvious, he’s dressed in a snappy blazer and slacks, an outfit that doesn’t scream out “Deutschland über alles” like the wife’s.

“Cassie, I’d like you to meet my parents.” He says something in German to them I don’t quite catch in all the noise and tumult.

To keep reading, click on one of these:

Chapter 1
Chapter 4
Chapter 12
Chapter 16
Erotic Out-Take
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Friday, September 16, 2005

Does a Writer's Gender Matter?

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Does a writer's gender make a difference to you?

Boys
T. S. Eliot
H. P. Lovecraft
D. H. Lawrence
C. S. Lewis
F. X. Tool (wrote the stories "Million Dollar Baby" was made from)
O. Henry
Jane Anger (no one knows for sure)
Carolyn Keene

Girls
O.
George Sand
Isak Dinesen
Currer Bell (Charlotte Bronte)
V. Sackville-West
Radcliffe Hall
H. D.
Carson McCullers
J. K. Rowling
George Eliot
T. J. Baker
K. K. Beck
R. L. Bell
B. M. Bower
L. B. Cobb
T. M. Gray
H. M. Hoover
J. V. Jones
P. F. Kosak
C. M. Mayo
D. H. Melhem
M. J. Rose
C. B. Scott (a writing team)
L. V. Sims
E. D. E. N. Southworth
L. L. Thrasher

Betwixt & Between
Jan Morris

Just wondering.

Monday, September 12, 2005

Another Look at Cassie Through a Meme

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I borrowed this list/meme from Lilith at Spinster War Diaries. She has a very enjoyable blog, so go visit her site soon. As always, I'll answer these as Cassie would at 24.

7 things to do before I die:
1. Go to college
2. Visit Europe
3. Go to college
4. Get a better job than a secretary in the Yale library
5. Go to college
6. Move to New York
7. Have kids (but NOT NOW!)

7 things I can do:
1. Get a job at a strip club (but P. would never let me)
2. Make men and women want to sleep with me
3. Pick up hot things and not get burned
4. Sew. I make my own clothes (when I can sit still long enough)
5. Make strangers want to talk to me, especially old people
6. Function on a few hours of sleep a night
7. Dance

7 things I can't do:
1. Write. When I have to. When I write in my journal, it pours out
2. A chin-up. No upper body strength. Couldn't climb the rope in gym class, either
3. Bake cakes: mine all come out flat
4. Sit still (and wouldn't you know, I'm a secretary). I should be a carpenter or something
5. Reduce the size of my stomach. It's not fat, it just sticks out
6. Not come if I have sex; my pussy has betrayed me, too
7. Play sports

7 things that attract me to a man:
1. Good eyes
2. Tenderness
3. Broad shoulders
4. Teasing. P. is so serious, while S. is all fun
5. Politness. Why do guys think a girl will want them if they have the manners of a gavone?
6. Being a good listener
7. Strong hands

7 things I say most often:
1. Who'd a thunk it?
2. F'nable (literally "go to Naples" in Italian)
3. Ah-ite (means "all right" in South Philly-speak)
4. Do I hafta?
5. Oh, God, Yesssssssssssssssssssssssssss!
6. Fuck (said as a response to something unpleasant)
7. Does this make me look fat?

7 celebrity crushes:
1. Bobby Clarke of the Flyers
2. Alexis Smith
3. Grace Slick
4. Prince Charles (please don't laugh)
5. Johnny Callison of the Phillies
6. Marilyn Chambers
7. Jack Nicholson

7 people I'd like to do this list:
1. Demon Queen
2. Freya
3. Odd Wife
4. Alice
5. O
6. Wilma
7. Magdalena

Friday, September 09, 2005

September's Fans

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Only two weeks left! Click Here To Enter the Beyond You & Me Contest




Pin-up photo courtesy Gil Elvgren Gallery

I can't believe I haven't highlighted Fred & Wilma's Fun before! Wilma is now like an old friend, and we've talked across our sites for ages. Simply put, you'll be hard pressed to find two people who find more fun in sex. Like the cartoon characters from the 60s TV Show, Fred and Wilma Flintstone aren't deep, don't have any hidden agendas and are as happily simple as they seem. That doesn't mean they're not smart people, just that their Internet personas are all about fucking, in whatever form pleases them at the moment. In this they remind me of one of my longest-running fans, The Hot Wife. Neither site is for the prudish, and both remind me of the 70s classic The Joy of Sex. In today's world, we need more unabashed joy.

A good site to check out is A Perfect Marriage. Their brand of married passion is touching and so rare in the blogosphere, where most folks who feel the need to take virtual pen to virtual paper are exorcizing demons (e.g., The Solitary Wife), or holding a wake for a failed relationship (e.g., the very sad "Jay Loves Kitty"). So Sue and Ed's paean to domestic sex and love is both refreshing and heartening. Cassie loves P. and would have been heartened by those who can keep it going. Bravo, you two!

Speaking of The Solitary Wife, I'd like to recommend it because of its searingly honest depiction of her troubled marriage. It's the usual: kids, pressures, a husband on the road, but more than that: issues of trust and openness and what love means. Hey, sex is an important component of Cassie's story, but she's also wrestling with many of the issues that women have (and still do) struggle with: love, their role in society, freedom, commitment.

A site many of you probably already visit is Bitchalicious. OK, who doesn't have a friend who's nasty, honest, funny, sincere, caring, and well, occasionally bitchy? You go, Girl! No particular topic, just whatever comes to her wide-ranging mind. Always entertaining, occasionally deep, but worth the trip.

One site you probably DON'T visit is I Was Hitler's Wet Nurse. I admit that most of the time, I have no clue what's going on. But every once in awhile, something so revelatory is posted that it leaves me speechless. The post entitled "The Star of David Ran Amok" reminded me of Kafka on acid. This isn't light reading, and her most-recent posts have concerned incestual blow-jobs, but underneath the crazy typeface, the colored words and the off-putting descriptions of life in an insane asylum, there's something of genius here.

And finally, while Cassie's story of course concerns sex, many of its fans don't write sex blogs. One of the better ones is Girls in the Bag. Five funny, perceptive, humane women writing about modern life. And like modern life, the entries can be rambling, sweet, thought-provoking and serious. Or just fun. Ever think about those "Style Network" makeover shows? Well,the Girls in the Bag have. You never quite know what will strike them as funny, weird, or the way when you wake up in the morning and realize you always put your panties on in a certain order. So it's good to check back regularly.

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

A Small Thing About S.

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This is a fragment that fell out of the book and doesn't seem to have a place in its 100,000 words. Please enjoy it as a look into Cassie and S.


Despite his sexual fantasies inspired by the writings of the Marguis de Sade, S. is a child of post-Third Reich Germany. That means he's always profoundly ambiguous about his German-ness around me and others: "I'm not personally responsible for the deaths of 6 million Jews, though it doesn't mean I'm not a bit ill-at-ease dating a Jewish girl," he admitted over coffee when I quizzed him about his New York girlfriend. He was even uncomfortable admitting there IS a Jewish "girl" in his life. Turns out she's a senior in an exclusive Manhattan private school.

I hated her right away.

"She'll do ANYTHING I ask her, she begs me to think up new ways she can please me."

I could never tell if his diffidence in most things is genuine or the expected self-put-down we feel "good Germans" owe us because of their country's past sins. Finally one day I cornered him about it.

"Which would you rather it be?" he responded with a question of his own. "Will you like me better if I'm contrite about the Third Reich, or if I tell you I have no debts to repay? You see, my family was not in the army, we didn't kill any Jews I know of, and I don't think any of my relatives voted for Hitler. But if I say it's past time to move on and let Germany be German again, and not some sanitized French fantasy about Germans, then I risk being called insensitive and recherche. Shit, it's even a French expression we'd use."

I'm a bad one to assess such matters: his German-ness and the uniform thing played right into some of my oldest fantasies. I've always thought guys in uniforms cool and sexy, so cool and sexy I once upon a time imagined joining the Marines like my dad (don't ask, it would take years of therapy to figure THAT one out).

Monday, September 05, 2005

Vintage erotica

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The Lustful Turk
Thanks to "Dirty Talking Girl" over at Pussy Talk (a fellow ERWA member) for pointing out the pleasures of vintage Victorian pornography, er, I mean erotica. S. is very taken with some of the "classic" stroke books of the era, including The Autobiography of a Flea and A Man With a Maid.

Thursday, September 01, 2005

More Non-Fans

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I have blogged before about Non Fans, sites that I like or admire, but which aren't fans of Beyond You & Me. None of them linked with me, so this new crop of non-fans shouldn't be seen as a pathetic attempt to solicit links (well, it's not, but think what you like).



One of the better sex blogs is Waking Vixen about Audacia Ray, one of the moths circling Jefferson's flame. Tough-minded yet vulnerable, she's every inch the modern liberated woman that Cassie aspired to become in 1975. And while she continues to push a modeling career and a very un-monagamous lifestyle, she is honest about some misgivings that lifestyle engenders in her. Certainly a refreshing change for the tough whores and doms with attitude one finds everywhere. I'm not against BDSM in any way, nor against folks paying for sex, but I think at times the glorification of sex work is a little like the mainstreaming of porn: a bit disengenuous. So maybe I'm just enough of the intellectual to respect someone who has reservations and qualms about a balls-to-the-wall life. Do we as a society have more respect for wafflers than those with no doubts?

How could a novel about a bisexual married woman not find a blog about a bisexual woman about to marry interesting? Heterophobic is the story of Boy and Girl (no real names, please), a Houston-based couple who are navigating the shoals of the modern romance. Both are bisexual, so the permutations are pretty interesting. Funny and witty, not usually very salacious, but insightful and passionate as the young almost always are.

Their bisexuality has clearly been a positive development in their lives. That isn't quite the case with Lost in Tradtion. It's the journal of a married woman who admits her only fulfilling sexual relationship was with another woman, and who has had experiences with both sexes both before and after her marriage. It's a searing read, and not meant to titilate. But for sheer honesty, it's very compelling.

A novel about a three-way love triangle can't remain immune to the charms of Petite Anglaise. The blog of a British 30-something living in Paris, the subject matter is adultery and her struggle to balance her young child, French in-laws and her lover. A sweet mixture of everyday life and touching romance. Not every blogger can capture the emotions of life, but P.A. does very well in this department, striking the right mixture of seriousness without the gooey sweetness of many diarists on the 'Net.

OK, I know I'm going to get hate mail for this, but I find This Fish Needs a Bicycle icky. The premise of this wildly-popular blog is that a nice, slightly ditzy 26 year-old single in New York can give us Carrie Bradshaw and smiles on a semi-daily basis. Hey, Cassie's 24, you'd think there'd be a connection? But after I read Heather Hunter's well-written, often amusing posts, I feel like I need to brush my teeth (no, she's not the porn star with the same name; the teeth brushing in that case might be after an activity other than reading). Absence Makes, a paen to her best friend who's successful, married and has a gorgeous child, elicited scores of adoring comments from her fans, yet it reminded me of a pathetic high school girl with a crush on her prom-queen friend. Her posting about Girl Dating also struck me as missing the point, but then, her fans felt I did when I pointed out the Freudian undertones of grown women going out on "dates" with one another. Sure, all Platonic, sorry, what MUST I have been thinking? Of course, then there's the account of a man trying to get her into a threesome with his girlfriend and her meeting him for drinks and smooches, so you be the judge. The name of the blog, by the way, is a mild rebuke of the Irina Dunn 1970 declaration that "a woman needs a man like a fish needs a bicycle." Maybe if The Fish gets married and lives her dream it will all work out for her, too? But don't feel too badly for her, she's got her own merchandise you can buy, including t-shirts that urge guys to "Be the bike." Does the word "groveling" have any meaning to 20-something women? Fish fans can call me dense, and I know I'm being silly to dish a blog with seemingly hundreds of links, but....

How can a novel about a bisexual woman who works in Yale's Sterling Library not be interested in a site about a bisexual librarian? Kinky Librarian writes with honesty, clarity and she's funny at times, too. Her post about wishing to have better "Bidar"
("Gaydar" for bisexuals) cracked me up. This isn't salacious details about pussies and cocks, it's more about dealing with the consequences and pleasures of a flexible sexual orientation.

One of the stranger blogs I've read is Layla: Diary of a Life in Progress. This is another no-hold-barred look at the challenges of living. Take the entry that says "I don't feel inspired unless my life is shit. I like the grit. I like the ugly and the dirty. It makes me feel real. Alive. Not false." No sugar-coating like This Fish Needs a Bicycle, but maybe The Fish just hasn't had the grit in her life that Layla has? But don't miss her analysis of her struggles with monogamy. Searing.

Finally, there's much to be said for Miss Snark. She's witty, to-the-point, and no bullshit when it comes to agents and the publishing industry. But it would be better if y'all went over to her site and let her tell you herself. She's not shy, and won't hold anything back.

And to answer your question, I don't know if she's one of the agents approached about Beyond You & Me because I don't know her real name.