Dreaming is Free

48037634-cachedThis post title has ADHD written all over it, but stick with me. I’ll keep the loquaciousness to a minimum. If you’re Googling “Loquaciousness” don’t feel bad. I overheard that word at a party and couldn’t wait to use it in a sentence. Then I realized – I was that L Word. And hilarity ensued. You should’ve been there. I killed.

But back to this post.

When the hell did mid September happen? Shit. I have things to do. A book to finish. Power meetings with influential networking hipsters who can change my life by signing on the dotted line after accepting my hilarious pitch of my oh-so-fabulous story.

Dreaming is free, people. Just ask Debbie Harry. Please Google her too, kids. And do yourself a favor – dance naked to Heart of Glass at least once in your life. Alone in your room is fine. But not in front of any mirror. Just dance. And while you’re at it, blast “Dreaming.” Because it really is free.

What made me think of dreaming out loud tonight? I’m glad you asked.

A couple of hours ago I received a text message from an old sister-friend from our home town of O’ahu, Hawaii (let’s call her B). She and I both live in Southern California now, but have not seen one another in nearly 20 years, can you believe? We reconnected through the marvels of modern technology and plan to meet up soon for a long overdue brunch. But back to her text. I was matter of fact-ly very tongue-in-cheeky mentioning to her that I had a book to finish because I’m dreaming big – her reply was priceless and one I just had to share:

“Don’t stop until it’s done! Then dream up another dream – that way you’re always livin’ the dream.”

It’s been a while, but that quote is so her. Beautiful. Positive. Inspiring. The depression, diseased part of my brain thinks she’s a bitch. I happen to adore her. I win.

B has always been this stunningly beautiful light, and her energy is equally pure and real. Whatever she’s on, I want some. I kid. Those drugs days are over, kids. I know she’s high on life and love. B just reminded me I’ve gotta get me some of that – clinical depression be damned.

If only snapping out of a dark space of wanting to evaporate were as easy as reconnecting with a beautiful soul. Sometimes staying in touch with loved ones, even in the thick of isolation reminds us how much beauty there is in this world. The fact is, when wrestling with clinical depression some days that actually does work. Other days, not so much. Sure, there are medications that help kick-start our serotonin and dopamine receptors, but even that sometimes isn’t enough.

Today was hard. I mean really tough. Because of a morning trigger (something superfluous other than that it hit a button I’ve been trying to avoid), I found myself in a downward spiral of despair that only the fantasy of not wanting to live surrounded my psyche for the better part of the day. Was I ever in danger of taking my life? No. But here’s the thing about clinical depression. There’s a huge difference between not wanting to live and actually taking the steps to assure you don’t. One of my favorite authors, Auguesten Burroughs maps it perfectly:

“If you believe suicide will bring you peace, or at the very least just an end to everything you hate – you are displaying self-caring behavior. You are still able to actively seek solutions to your problems. You are willing to go to great lengths to provide what you believe will be soothing to yourself. This strikes me as optimistic.”

I cling to these words. They are my life raft even when I’m the one puncturing the holes and I feel myself sinking. I remember – most of us with depression don’t really want to die. We just don’t want the pain.

Dreaming is free.

 

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This is my blog. Please check out my website for book excerpts, old school stripping photos, press and more.

Christine Macdonald

Operation Orgasm: The Student Becomes The Master

I’ve never been a rule person. Breaking any and all guidelines for being a good kid was my thing. Screw conformity. I’m scaling the fence as my brain registers the “No Trespassing” sign. Unabashedly. Tell me I’m not allowed to go there, and I’m doing everything in my power to figure out why, and then do it. Not always a good system in the real world, but sometimes, it’s the perfect mindset that allows us to experience things we never thought possible within the space of freedom in our mind.

Ever since I learned the difference between pink and blue booties, I’ve been curious about my sexuality. Not in such a way that at the tender age of sand boxes and jungle gyms I was dry humping my living room pillows, this was more of a conscious effort to learn all I could about every inch of my body.

Long before my b-cupped funbags made their first appearance in 1988 (I have since removed my implants in 2001), as a preteen I began to explore my other female lady goods. I was fascinated. The fact that I had actual baby-making equipment inside me was a trip. Using a hand mirror to investigate every inch of myself, I was in awe of that place – that sacred part of womanhood that no one talked about  – my personal No Trespassing place.

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A product of Catholic school and a bat-shit crazy mom of her own, my mother made painstaking efforts to never discuss down there, and if she ever did, she always gave it a cartoon name like Fuffy, or Pee Pee. I didn’t get it. It’s my body and I wasn’t allowed to ask questions or even acknowledge its existence?

This is bullshit.

By the time I was in high school, my body and me were dialed in with one another. And thanks to a perfect storm of personal curiosity, longing to connect with this incredible flesh vessel of mine and one share-everything-with friend, my life changed forever one summer.

Leah and I were both seventeen and had way too much fun breaking rules together. She was also the kind of friend you wanted to hang with after too many wine coolers. We’d spend hours gabbing about sex, sharing our limited experience, and thinking that just because we boned a couple of dudes, we were the shit.

“The kissing part is fun, but I don’t get the big deal about sex.” I confessed with the shrug of my shoulders.

“So, you didn’t… come?” The look on Leah’s face was priceless. Far removed from judgment, plastered with excitement. She was bursting out of her ESPRIT Sweatshirt, actually squealing.

“I thought just the guys…” My face tilted to one side, my voice turned up. “…you mean we can, too?”

“YES! We can too! You just gotta know your body!” She squealed.

Our conversation dove further into the complexities of penis vs. vagina (like we knew anything about joy-sticks). And when I woke up the next day, I flew into the bathroom, ready for my first assignment.

You just gotta know your body.

When you don’t know what you’re missing, it’s kinda weird to be so pumped in your quest to find it. But after hearing Leah’s declaration of how awesome having a Lady O was, I was dying to go there as quickly as possible.

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The stream of water was foreplay. My ass scooted under the faucet and directly on top on the drain, head gently resting on the floor of the tub, feet pointed to the sky, knees slightly bent. Operation Orgasm was underway. As the warm water trickled on to my sweet spot, I began to feel silly – not to mention anxious with the water slowly rising. But this new feeling of warm water in new places had me optimistic that I would finish long before the water reached my ears.

Remembering what Leah said about relaxing and being in tune with how good it would feel, I closed my eyes and went there. My mind wandered to Mickey Rourke in my [then] favorite movie, 9 ½ Weeks (still does sometimes) and it was ON. Fifteen minutes later it was on again. And again. And, well, you know where this is going.

The next time I had sex with my guy, I knew exactly what I needed to do in order to make my body quiver with pleasure. More importantly, I knew how to communicate with my partner so he could take me back to land of ‘Oh!’. Most teenage boys could give two shits about their gal finishing – they’re just happy someone else is in the room. But I got lucky. My fella was into me getting off as much as he did. We even got to a point where we could ride the wave together (Hey Brett, if you’re reading, call me).

They say things get better with time, and when it comes to rubbing one out – how true, how true.

But first, we need to climb our fences of inhibition. Face the uncomfortable, awkwardness of touching ourselves – alone – in the privacy of our personal space.

For some women masturbating is forbidden to do, much less discuss. Others are completely comfortable talking about and regularly going at it. There’s a scene in Sex and the City (television series, not movie) when Samantha asks Charlotte if she’s ever seen her vagina up close with a hand-mirror, which got me thinking, I wonder how many of us have?

Thanks to my friend Leah and her wonderful friendship and encouragement, I was able to explore and take myself to my pleasure zone. In many ways, and in record-breaking numbers (I never left my room that summer). This inevitably led to mind-blowing sexscapades with a handful of fabulous partners through the years. And all because I dared trespass the one place so many of us women feel ashamed to explore.

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We are all a product of our upbringing. And with no disrespect to religious practices, beliefs, or parental rules – when you get to a certain age in your young adult life, as a woman especially, it’s so important to blaze your own trail, tear down that “No Trespassing” sign, grab your mental magic marker and write “Welcome” all over it.

And if you’re lucky enough to have a friend to share your personal experience with, call her up immediately. Chances are, she’s got a story for you too.

Christine Macdonald

Face. Value.

OrangeI sat upright on the examining table, the thin paper rustling under the backs of my knees. I tapped my heels against the sides like a restless child waiting for her lollipop. I wondered  – at what age in child development did doctors stop shelling out candy? And how cool would it be now to have a martini bar in the waiting room.

My lungs were full. I pushed every ounce of air out from under my belly, through my chest. The room was suddenly filled with the heavy wind of my breath, penetrating the sterility of the space. The faint ticking of the second-hand on the wall inside its circle of time reminded me how slowly it dripped in these moments (but when I hit snooze – lightening speed).

The scene was all too familiar, but the butterflies still fluttered inside. I knew that soon, I would lay on that same, thin sheet of paper covering the table, my face centered under an over-sized microscope and my eyes closed – protected from a light bulb that will feel unnecessarily too bright and way close too close to the skin on my face. The heat would remind me of the sun. It will carry me outside myself. I will fantasize about lying on an empty beach, back in my home town of Waikiki. Anything but lying under another doctor’s lamp under their over-sized magnifying glass.

I’d rather live in my fantasy far away from white robes and the smell of rubbing alcohol. In my mind, I was a swimsuit model with perfect skin, lounging on a golden stretch of pristine sand glistening under the afternoon glow of make-believe. Shirtless Greek Gods donning cocoa-buttered six-pack abs and solid forearms will deliver a frosty Mai Tai in an unusually skinny but tall Tiki style mug. It will have two narrow straws and one tiny pink umbrella wedged on the edge of the mug next to a slice of fresh pineapple. Palm trees playing hide-and-seek with my perfect, cellulite-free silhouette and the waves kissing the shoreline will provide the perfect ambiance to my afternoon of bliss.

But then – fingers. The touch from a faceless doctor in a white coat, professionally equipped to provide me with promises of. . . better. 

“Right now, your skin is like an orange. We can make it look like an apple”, he promised. I heard the light switch click, felt the heat from the bulb disappear, then opened my eyes.

The doctor gently pushed the glass microscope away from the table as I was already missing my imaginary Mai Tai. He extended his hand to help me sit up as if I were a wounded gazelle shot down with the sharp-shooting penetration of his words. I was, but still.

Your skin is like an orange.

Freddy_KruegerThere was another doctor in the room. When our eyes connected I recognized the head-nod-grin combo of promises and pity. My illusions of bikini model pretty quickly dissolved. Reality. After nine surgeries from sand-blasting in the late 80’s to the more recent cutting and laser burning, I was still Freddy Kruger – the scar-faced monster from the 1984 slasher movie, A Nightmare on Elm Street. Freddy’s face was disfigured and burned; and although his character wasn’t real, I felt a kindred spirit with the man behind the mask. I felt his pain and wondered if Wes Craven, the director behind Freddy’s creation had a history of skin afflictions.

I’ve carried Freddy with me for decades. Back when everybody wanted their MTV and Madonna was Like a Virgin, he’s been with me – the moniker I can’t seem to shake.

Even thirty years later, although I no longer wake up to blood-stained pillows and have to endure weekly cortisone shots on golf-ball-sized cysts on my face, my struggle with Freddy remains.

“Really? As smooth as an apple?” I called out the doc’s sales pitch, already knowing his answer. I learned the hard way that plastic surgeons are really just used car salesmen in white robes and nicer shoes. I was too old and have been through too many surgeries to believe such embellishments.

“Well, as close as we can get” he qualified.  “Nothing is perfect.”

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He was right. No matter how many doctors I allowed to pierce my invisible facial force field, I would never be completely free of scarring born from the skin disease [Acne Conglobata /Stage IV Acne Vulgaris] I’ve had since I was thirteen.

After discussing my finance options and mentally circling my work calendar with the weeks off I would need to recover, I thanked the doctors for their time, accepted their glossy brochure and slung my purse over my shoulder.

The commute home was a blur. Navigating through tears and self-assurances that there was nothing wrong with me – that I just wanted to look and feel normal, I tried not to compare myself to anyone. I searched for the answer that would never come to the same question I’ve repeated again and again through the years – why me?

I tried to remember I was still beautiful, but the word “still” is the dagger. “Still” is one of those words with hidden agenda; threaded in a compliment with conditions. But it’s a compliment, nonetheless. I’d take a “still” over none at all.

It doesn’t take much to temporarily erase years of working on personal self-improvement and esteem. When I hear of a grown woman calling me Freddy Kruger recently (true story), I allow myself to feel shitty again. Like somehow my worth and beauty are directly proportional to the levity of one cruel person’s descriptor. Even if this cruelty is coming from a person who, no doubt has her own self-esteem issues with her own body image and looks.

Why is it for some of us – hate is so much easier to feel than love? That our inner voices of self-sabotage are so much louder than the kind and compassionate mantras we struggle to believe?

So many of us get tangled in a web of not enough – built from spinning our own yarn of self-loathing. We dream about living a different reality, instead of realizing we can tear down the cracked foundations from our past and create a new normal.  Instead of being held back by our flaws, we can learn to accept them. So. Hard. To. Do. But the good news? It can be done.

We are all unique, beautiful creatures of this world and each of our flaws is what makes us who we are.

Having another surgical procedure on my skin is still a real possibility. But accepting the reality of knowing that nothing is perfect – that my skin will always be scarred – is more important to me now.

It’s ironic that it took someone calling me Freddy Kruger recently to remind me how far I’ve come. That no matter how much I struggle to find my inner-peace with beauty, this person’s ugly heart has been revealed – and her struggles are her own.

One of the hardest things to master is loving ourselves unconditionally, and thanks to people who try and hit us where it hurts, we are reminded that we do.

Perhaps I should send my recent name-caller a thank you basket of fruit. I think apples and oranges would be a nice touch.

Christine Macdonald