The Home of Steven Barnes
Author, Teacher, Screenwriter

Tuesday, September 01, 2009

Proud to be a Mammal

Definitely a low-gear life right now. The number of different projects I'm working on in one way or another is just absurd, and not particularly healthy...but sometime you have to throw yourself out of balance in order to move to the next level. Stress like crazy, but the trick is to stay balanced enough for it not to crush you. Meditation, breathing, yoga, and enough exercise to keep the body aware of its purpose. And a bit of prayer and faith, as well. Some wonderful opportunities opening up, but it is so very hard not to forget that there is a limit to the amount I can handle...and I'm closer to that limit than I like to admit. Careful, Steve.


The wildfires in So Cal are near enough to my house to make the air like BBQ gumbo. Kids can't really play outside most of the day: the combination of heat and smoke is pretty toxic. But I can't compare my concern with that of the homeowners actually losing their houses and belongings, or forced to flee for their lives. Two firefighters died day before yesterday. I have a bad feeling that arson may have been involved...


Someone said that they were watching my parenting talk, with a mind to their own kids. O.K. Let me say then, that everything I do is working backwards from a basic premise: that being that I've defined the minimum skill set I want to convey to my kids before they leave home.

1) Mind. Career. The ability to focus mind and body to earn a legal income sufficient to support themselves and at least one other person. Aiming toward a state where money is just a tool, not a hinderance. To do what they love, or love what they do.

2) Emotion/Spirit. Relationship. The ability to love themselves without question, and have enough love to spill over into a healthy committed relationship with another human being. (Or beings. I have nothing against polygamous relationships, but I do think that triads are 10X as difficult as dyads.)

3)Body/Health. To own one's body as a toy, a tool, and a pet. Not a dumping ground for our emotional pain. To be the mirror of the kind of bodies you are most turned on by. In other words, to live up to your own values.


I've been accused of being a "bigot" on weight issues. I can live with people saying that: I don't think they really believe it...I suspect it's a way of trying to get me to back off, to accept their self-justifications. To get excited about watching them lose the same ten pounds over and over again. No...I've watched too many people die because of lifestyle-related health issues, most of them obesity-linked.

I'm also a Nazi about personal achievement (I've heard). Once you've rescued a few friends from living on the street, you stop wanting to accept people's lies about not caring about money.

I also hear that my judgement of people's emotional health based on their relationships to other adult human beings (not children, relatives, or animals--mature loving committed sexual relationships are a fantastic litmus test). But how many times can you talk someone out of isolation-based suicide, when they've always said they didn't care, before you realize PEOPLE LIE.

So if I want my children to have the best lives possible, the best I can see to do is to aim them at these three things, then point out their problems as evidence of emotional blockage or warped/incomplete reality maps, and a signal that they need to seek additional resources. I don't think I'm doing my children, friends, or anyone else a favor to buy into the lies we tell to mask the pain of being incomplete, of falling short of what even WE know is our greatest potential.

Some years back, someone asked if I wasn't too ambitious. If I didn't want too much from life. "What if you fail?" They asked. I laughed. Let's put it this way: if at the moment of death, I see all that I might have been, all my real ability, and see that my goals were larger than my abilities...I could accept that. I've had a great ride. But if at that moment I saw that I could have been more, achieved more, contributed more, helped more...if only I hadn't let fear and ego stop me...that would be hell indeed.


On the issue of male and female sexuality, I think that women share information about sex partially because it is an aspect of their power in a relationship (sort of like men sharing stock tips or something.) But aside from that, female sexuality is definitely more complicated than male. And evolutionarily, it has to be that way. After all, without a male orgasm, there is no reproduction. Period. Not so for female orgasm, not at all. I've known too many women with kids who complain that they've never had one (not surprising, most of these women don't masturbate. I am aghast: they expect a man to know how to please them when they don't know how to please themselves? I don't think so.)

A slight modification of something I heard from a bisexual sex surrogate some years back: orgasmically, men are like balloons you blow up until they explode. Women are like combination safes you have to open in the dark. With mittens. And the combination changes every day. And half the time, even she doesn't know the combination.

Whoo-hoo! But there was definitely a line of demarcation in my life: on one side, a lot of doubt about what was going on in bed, and on the other the courage to communicate with my partners, ask what they needed, and have enough sensitivity to skin temperature, taste, small muscle movement and other factors to feel when she was growing more excited. Ah, that elusive G-Spot. (Figure that one out, and cunnilingus becomes an entirely different and hysterically fun activity.) So you have the interesting situation that women are multiply-orgasmic, but many don't come at all. Men can only have one, but if they can get it up at all, they rarely have a problem reaching it.

All told, I wouldn't mind coming back in the next life as a woman. There is a form of male multiple orgasm, but it takes work to learn how to do it, and frankly I haven't kept up the practice.

Q: Why do men like blowjobs so much?

A: It combines their two favorite things: sex, and doing nothing.

Damn, I'm glad to be a mammal!


Christian Lindke said...

Let me be one of those who tells you that one of the things I admire about you is your ability to hold very strong opinions about a wide variety of things (health, wealth, politics) while still being thoughtful of others. That doesn't mean accepting their b.s., it means challenging it.

Sometimes it is hard to overcome one's failings, I have a hell of a time not biting my nails, but one should at least begin by acknowledging them honestly.

AF1 said...

At what point do you feel that having so many irons in the fire causes the quality of your work to go down?

Say you were working on the sequel to Zulu Heart right now. As a fan of the series I would hate to think that you were facing distractions and giving anything less than 100% focus to the project.

(just to throw an example out there)

Steven Barnes said...

I am quite certain that working on multiple projects risks diminished quality on any individual project. Sigh. But sometimes that is necessary to keep the cash flow healthy, let alone include speculative projects that have the potential for career advancement. All I can try to do is juggle them with maximum grace, and without self-deceit.