Call Your Mom!

Boston

Boston (Photo credit: Bahman Farzad)

I found out about the bomb at the marathon because a friend posted a link about it on my Facebook page.  My parents are visiting the states from Barbados.  They’re in Boston right now where I was born and raised.  One of my best friends lives in Boston and does the kind of work that could bring him to the marathon. Another high-school friend from there is a photog and could be there covering the event.  I still have friends that could potentially be at work near Copley also.  Heck, I’d just been there for a gig on News Years Eve and walked around at a parade before heading to perform at the party (a now eerie memory).

An enlargeable relief map of Barbados

All of these people flashed into my head at once.  I called my parents first even though I was pretty sure they wouldn’t be anywhere near there. “Oh, we just got back from BJ’s,” my Mom’s voice assured me.  I sent a double text to two close friends, put a post on fb & then clicked around to check on some people.  Thanks to the power of social media, I knew all my people were alright in just a few short minutes.

It got me thinking though, were they not alright, I would have been a hot mess.  I don’t really like talking on the phone.  I’m a text-er. So, my Mom was recently giving me a hard time about calling so seldom.  I haven’t spoken to/visited one of those friends in a long time.  In New York, life is moving so fast.  I am moving so fast.  I am in love with almost everything I’m working on right now so I can get in the zone and stay there 12, 16 hours without pausing.

But yesterday served as a good reminder to me that I have to do better about connecting with my real life friends and family.  My heart goes out to everyone who was down there.  To even bear witness to something as awful as that has got to be painful.

Boston Skyline

Boston Skyline (Photo credit: brentdanley)

Why does it so often take some senseless tragedy for me to remember these things?

The moral of the blog (a note to self) is: Forget all the criticism about how the story is covered.  Who did what right and/or wrong, etc. etc. etc. and Call your Mom and everyone close to you as often as you can while you can!

ESSENCE REVEALED – Essence Revealed is first generation Bajan born & raised in Boston.  She got her BFA at NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts and MA at NYU’s Steinhardt School of Education.  Her writing has appeared places such as $pread Magazine, Corset Magazine, BurlesqueBible.com and 21st Century Burlesque.  She’s been published in two anthologies: Pros(e) &  Johns, Marks, Tricks & Chicken Hawks.  She now performs & teaches nationally and internationally both solo and as a member of Brown Girls Burlesque.  Her favorite thing to do besides reading is to lay on the beach in Barbados to rest up for a night of calypso dancing.  Help Essence get to the Milan Burlesque Awards!

Overcoming Jealousy

"Jealousy and Flirtation" depicts a ...

What needs to happen within when overcoming jealousy?  I remember what it feels like to have the feeling wash over me at times.  Yet, I’ve never truly understood jealousy because being in a relationship does not render the rest of the universe unattractive.  Yet, I hear over and over again from some people that they find it disrespectful to have their partner look at another person.  Let’s say your walking down the street with your significant other.  A beautiful human comes walking along.  Guy/gal busts their brain cells to look not right, not left but straight ahead.  Guy/gal fails and instant argument ensues.  Accusations of disrespect are thrown.  I never quite understood how acknowledging another person’s physical beauty could in any way shape or form be disrespectful to an entire relationship.  The sum total of a relationship has got to hold more weight than that, right?

I wonder if jealous people believed without a shadow of a doubt that they are an amazing partner, the jealousy would still play itself out in this way?  I have long felt like I make a really great girlfriend.  I don’t say this to sound arrogant or conceited.  Knowing this does not mean thinking I’m perfect.  In fact, it means that I am very in touch with my imperfections so I work on myself as much as possible.  There may be moments where I feel jealousy.  However, what I do is check in with myself before I react.  Usually jealousy, in my case, means I feel threatened by the attention my partner is giving elsewhere.  Often, it is my ego feeling bruised for not consuming ALL of my partner’s attention.  I make it about me and my worth or the lack there of.

The Mask of Jealousy

Jealousy in myself is seldom the cause or fault of anything that someone outside of me did.  It is usually a moment of insecurity.  That is for me to deal with.  It is not something I think deserves an argument.  It is not my partner’s job to make sure my self-esteem tank is on full.  If someone is going to leave, they are going to leave.  There isn’t enough “guard dogging” in the world that  can prevent it.  In fact, it may push them too it when it had never been an initial goal.  I know, I’ve had the experience of feeling like if I was going to be constantly accused and have arguments about it all the time, well, mind as well go ahead to justify the stress.

Usually, the check in leads me to remember that the way I am in relationship with people is something valuable.  There is no room for feelings of jealousy after that.  My inner self gets a little swagger: “Go ahead, let ’em try to find another you.  I promise you, you’re a rare gem ;-).”  Then all becomes right sized in my world.  How could I possibly think something like looking at another beautiful person speaks in any way about my worth in a relationship?  It cannot.

I REALLY want to hear what people who think jealousy in relationships is justified have to say.  So, what say you?

ESSENCE REVEALED – Essence Revealed is first generation Bajan born & raised in Boston.  She got her BFA at NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts and MA at NYU’s Steinhardt School of Education.  Her writing has appeared places such as $pread Magazine, Corset Magazine, BurlesqueBible.com and 21st Century Burlesque.  She now performs & teaches nationally and internationally both solo and as a member of Brown Girls Burlesque.  Her favorite thing to do besides reading is to lay on the beach in Barbados to rest up for a night of calypso dancing.

 

When The Right Words Cannot Be Found…

Source: oprah.com via Essence on Pinterest

ESSENCE REVEALED – Essence Revealed is first generation Bajan born & raised in Boston.  She got her BFA at NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts and MA at NYU’s Steinhardt School of Education.  Her writing has appeared places such as $pread Magazine, Corset Magazine, BurlesqueBible.com and 21st Century Burlesque.  She now performs & teaches nationally and internationally both solo and as a member of Brown Girls Burlesque.  Her favorite thing to do besides reading is to lay on the beach in Barbados to rest up for a night of calypso dancing.

Sexy Dirty Talk

Sex

Sexy dirty talk is Not always welcomed.  Recently, I’ve had several conversations with people I know who are related to the world of sex: maybe they’re sex educators, maybe they’re former or current sex workers, maybe they write about sexuality & relationships or they could be burlesque performers.  The common thread of the conversation is that they encounter people who take liberty about what kinds of things they can say to them.  This is especially the case when it comes to sexual topics.  Just as sexual attraction is complex so is how an individual in the realm of sexuality chooses to engage with other people.  After a conversation over dinner last week about this very topic, I went into my blog drafts and I found this list:

1)      Just because the sexplorer (this is what I’ll use as an all-encompassing term for writers, performers, educators or anyone working in the sexy realm) is comfortable talking about sex does not mean that they’re interested in hearing, in detail, what you would do to them sexually.  Their comfort with sex does not automatically make them available to YOU sexually.  Yes, this includes sending them pictures of your “personal private particulars”.  YES, even if you once had intimate relations with said sexplorer.  Shocking, I know, because who the heck would not want to be sexual with you?  I’m willing to guess quite a few people, so check if it’s OK  first. M’kay?

2)     You may find your friendly neighborhood sexplorer amazing for your spank bank, for example.  However, they do not need to hear about it ad nausea.  Perhaps, a mellow sexplorer can bear to hear it as a passing comment once.  However, if this becomes the sum total of your correspondence to said person.  Stop.  It steps off of awkward compliment land into plain creeps-ville at an alarming speed!  No seriously, approximately right after said first mention in passing.  It’s creepy.


Photo credit: mzacha from morguefile.com

3)     It is probably safe to assume that your sexplorer acquaintance is not too interested in being met by your insults or explicit language in their e-mail or social media inbox.  If you don’t appreciate what they are up to, you have the option of not looking.  No one is forcing you to peruse their social media pages or personal websites.  It’s a great big world wide web out there and only twenty-four hours in each day.  Try only focusing on sites and social media that you are interested in or curious about.  It spares everyone involved a great deal of agita.

4)     Is your sexplorer a personal friend or just an acquaintance?  Here are some questions to think about.  Can you call/text this person on their personal phone line?  Are you in contact with this person about more than just business?  Do you see this person for brunch, tea or french fries?  Do you check in on this person to see of they are ok during life’s bumps?  If the answer is no then they may not be your personal bud in real life.  It doesn’t mean they don’t like or respect you.  There’s just a different type of decorum that goes with knowing someone in real life vs. only on the interwebs.

In general, think about any sexplorer as a person first.  Their work is work.  Would you ramble on to your doctor in inappropriate ways?   Probably not.   No matter what field involving the wonderful world of sex they are involved in, they are human beings.  They have full lives, hobbies, other passions/careers, families and concerns.  Yes, that escort you think is so cool online is indeed someone’s daughter/son.  The really great blogger you think is so amazing could be someone’s big sister/brother.  Your favorite strip tease artist may have a 9-5 career as well.  They are people who have both good and bad days.  The possibilities of who they are in the world are endless.  As fun, freeing and important creating the space for open dialogue around sexual explorations may be, it does not negate the sexplorer of choice.  They still get to decide what is acceptable for them (including use of their images and body) individually.

So, the moral of the story is:

Don’t assume anything just on the basis of someone being involved in any realm of sex and sexuality work.

ESSENCE REVEALED – Essence Revealed is first generation Bajan born & raised in Boston.  She got her BFA at NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts and MA at NYU’s Steinhardt School of Education.  Her writing has appeared places such as $pread Magazine, Corset Magazine, BurlesqueBible.com and 21st Century Burlesque.  She now performs & teaches nationally and internationally both solo and as a member of Brown Girls Burlesque.  Her favorite thing to do besides reading is to lay on the beach in Barbados to rest up for a night of calypso dancing.

Safer Sex

Safe sex

Do you practice having safer sex?  I am pro-choice but I have never had abortion.  I have always chosen to have safer sex.  Yet, I’ve had people with unwanted children judge me for having periods in my adult life where I have chosen to have more than one intimate partner.  I can’t help but think, wait, you have a child you didn’t plan.  That means, in many cases, that you had unprotected sex.  Don’t judge me!  It boggles my brain how many women I hear say, “Well, he’s my man so we don’t use protection… or Oh, We’ve been dating/known each other  xyz amount of time.”  Last I checked, the number of years we’ve known someone has no bearing on HIV/AIDS status.  I could be wrong but I don’t believe it to be an indicator of the status of any other Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs) either.

I prefer know.  I prefer know for sure.  Therefore, in addition to barrier methods, knowing the status of my partner is a huge part of practicing safer sex.  When we initially meet someone there are numerous bits and pieces of new information about them that we learn.  We know little about them so learning a great deal of new information is par for the course.  There are also an intense collection of  “feelings” (also know as endorphins) that are released when we first fall for someone.  So many of us mistake these “feelings” for love.  It is not love.  It is chemical.  Love is an action verb not a feeling (but that’s an entire other blog post).  Love would lead to the action of protecting oneself and one’s partner.  I refuse to be led by chemicals.   I must have cold hard facts.  I actually have a rule of not sleeping with someone until I see paperwork of HIV/AIDS status.  I often suggest going to get tested together.

AIDS Awareness

This practice does wonders for sobering the effects of the chemical “feelings”.  I’ve experienced many reactions that have blown me away.  I had people get upset with me for wanting them to get tested.  Did I think they were dirty?  I had people accuse Me of having an STI.  That MUST be why I wanted us to be tested before having sex.  I had one person bluntly tell me they just did NOT want to know.  This person had been trying to convince me to have unprotected sex with them just only moments before.

HIV Testing AD2

Do you trust this new sexual partner with your life?  Remember that the accuracy of testing also depends on honesty.  When was the last time your new partner had unprotected sex?  It can take 3-6 months for HIV to show up in an infected person.  Different STIs have different rates of when they show up in tests.  We no longer only have unwanted pregnancy or STIs that can be healed with antibiotics as potentialities to manage.  Sex and so many topics around sexuality have been so stigmatized in our world, that people rather forego the awkwardness that they project will arise from bringing up safer sex or knowing a partner’s status.  It also prevents people from wanting to disclose if they even have an STI for fear of being stigmatized.  Some people say it will kill the mood.  Better the mood killed than you killed, I say.  Besides, these conversations are better had way before the mood is in full effect, right?  While living with STIs and even HIV/AIDS has come a long way, I vote that avoiding transmission is still the best way to go.  In fact, because some people may not see living with HIV/AIDS as a death sentence anymore, we must protect ourselves even more.

HIV Particle

HIV Particle (Photo credit: AJC1)

There is freedom in knowing the status of one’s partner and vice-versa.  Partners can become closer and sex can become hotter with this knowledge.  While many people who I told about my “test before sex” rule balked at the idea, most admitted to feeling relief and having an added respect for me because of my demand to know for sure.  I won’t put the HIV/AIDS/STI stats in this post.  Get thee to Google to see stats and numbers galore.  What I will tell you is that it is sexy and speaks to our high level of self-love to demand a test and at the very least the consistent use of safer sex methods.  Let’s start a trend where is it not at all awkward to have these discussions and take these actions.

HIV Swine Flu mask

Here in NY you can get tested for free!  Here is a link for National HIV and STI testing resources.  Here is one more link to an organization called Test Together.  Here’s to getting some and being safer  about it 😉