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.

Orgasm

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.

BathTub

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.

woman-in-the-tub-5749

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

An open letter to anyone who reads me

Dear reader – AAAAAAAAAAAT

I love learning new words. As soon as I hear someone say a word that I don’t recognize, I immediately text it to myself (guessing on spelling). When I have a minute, I Google the word and read all about its origin and meaning (I used to pull out the dictionary, remember those?).

Time passes, but I never forget the words I learn.

It’s a cool and fun personal challenge and opportunity for me to find a way to use the words I learn. This is not to word-drop just for the sake of it, but rather because it’s now part of my [self-taught] education.

There is no greater feeling than hearing myself articulate on a level that I never thought possible.

Today, I looked up two words I overheard listening to two separate interviews: cacophony and magnanimous (thank you, Carrie Brownstein and Howard Stern).

There was a time when I used to be intimidated by “smarties” – the book worms in school; the women who actually went to college while I was snorting lines, popping pills and working the [stripper] pole.

When I was in school, my dyslexia and ADD paralyzed me; brainwashed me into believing I wasn’t smart enough to be taken seriously. In my twenties, the longer I spiraled into the underbelly of drugs and stripping, the less confident I became. It’s ironic because I began working at the clubs at 19 because it gave me a sense of beauty and control. Ultimately, it’s what ended up stripping them away.

17612_10151850210290809_1715455187_n

My First Graduation

I will be 47 on November 9. The nightlife is a distant shadow in my rear view mirror and all I have to do with that world now are my words. But as long as I keep teaching myself, I will continue to expand my mind, strengthen my confidence, and craft the story I cannot wait to share.

Thank you for staying with me through this journey as I find the words to finish this book. The fact that anyone is inspired and interested bathes me with surprise and wraps me with love and gratitude. To articulate just how much, I fear, there are no words. But maybe I just haven’t learned them yet.

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.”

kikifacestiches

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