Sunday, March 31, 2013

Easter Sexcerpt: From "Jesus and Mary Magdalene: Partners in the Hieros Gamos" (A Heretical Love Story)

In last year's Epic Easter Post, I brought up a certain book. That book was A Woman's Journey to God, written by Joan Borysenko, Ph.D. I love this book, and I recommend it for any female reader with spiritual leanings. (Atheistic women can safely skip this one, unless interested in reading it from a sociological/folklorical point of view.)

Part of what Borysenko does in this book is create for herself - and for anyone else who's willing to play along - a matriarchal women's mythology to complement the traditional patriarchal religious stories passed down through the Bible and other Judeo-Christian sources. Borysenko's inspirations include Margaret Starbird's The Woman With the Alabaster Jar, as well as non-canonical gospels, historical research and Holy Blood, Holy Grail by Lincoln, Leigh and Baigent. It's mostly Borysenko's storytelling from her own imagination, though.

"Jesus and Mary Magdalene: Partners in the Heiros Gamos" inside of A Woman's Journey to God isn't exactly a short story, but more of a long summary of the myth as Borysenko imagines it. I didn't own my own copy of the book last year when I wrote my Easter post, but I've acquired one since then, so I can share an excerpt:

"On the evening of the Sacred Marriage, Miriam was bathed in herbs from the ancient temple gardens, anointed with precious spikenard ointment, dressed in a simple shift of white silk, and left to her prayers. As the moon rose over the perfumed cloister, the Holy of Holies in the center of the temple, she knelt to pray. 'May this ancient act of Sacred Marriage, the holiest sacrament, repair the rift between God and Goddess. May the universe be made whole, and love restored to every human heart in our joining.'

"Yehoshuah, also dressed in a simple white shift, entered the walled garden and knelt before Miriam. Both were nearly breathless, shaking with anticipation of a ritual they had only dreamed of. Yehoshuah reached out, palms up, and took Miriam's small hands in his. A bolt of electricity ran through them as, looking into one another's eyes, they prayed.

"Together the Bride and Bridegroom poured seven crucibles of perfumed oil into an alabaster bowl. Each crucible represented a note of the scale that, when the notes came together, sings the universe into being. As Miriam and Yehoshuah sang each note, their voices rose through the still desert air, answered by a chorus of wild creatures...

Seven various vegetable oils - photo by Rasbak. Creative Commons license. 
"...Dipping their fingers into the bowl of perfumed oil they had consecrated together, each anointed the other in all their secret, holy places until the boundaries separating them disappeared, and flesh, once again, vibrated as primal energy.

"Miriam's lips whispered praises of God as she ran them over Yehoshuah's face, his neck, and his lithe brown body, hardened by physical labor in the desert sun. Yehoshuah's lips whispered praises of the Goddess as he kissed her delicate ears, the rose-petal tips of her breasts, the lips of her womanhood that are the portals of life. In the total joining of their hearts, minds, intentions, and bodies, the stars seemed to dip closer to earth...

"...Miriam brought her small hand up to the face of her beloved, brushing the wet strands of hair from his eyes. 'Tomorrow you must leave the temple,' she whispered. 'The time of your mission is upon us. For a moment the world was made whole through our love. Now you will teach people how to find their way back to that moment...The years of your ministry will be trying and short, my beloved, but I will always be there with you, by your side. Every pain is made bearable through love and understanding.'

"The two lovers were quiet, resting in both the joy and the sorrow of Yehoshuah's mission. The trees above them swayed gently in the warm breeze, breaking the moonlight into tender shafts that played over their naked, oiled bodies. Yehoshuah gathered Miriam's small form into his arms and loved her once again, the music of their joining spread throughout creation. Still inside her, he nuzzled her hair and sang to her from the Song of Songs, the ancient Scripture of the Sacred Marriage. 'Behold, you are beautiful, my love; behold you are beautiful, my beloved, truly lovely. Our couch is green; the beams of our house are cedar, our rafters are pine.'"

The Song of Songs in the Bible (traditionally read in its entirety on the Passover Sabbath in some Jewish communities) is one place that this ritual poetry of the sacred marriage is recorded; other Near Eastern examples also exist. Pasted into one of my scrapbooks, I have a clipping from a magazine called Common Boundary dated March/April 1994. (Common Boundary, a magazine of the intersection of psychology and spirituality, doesn't appear to be published anymore, but the library catalog website OCLC WorldCat shows some libraries have it in their collections.)

The clipping reprints an English translation of the text of a hymn written by or at least sung by a priestess of the goddess Inanna to her reigning (Sumerian) king, whose name was Shu-Sin. The priestess's name may have been Kubatum. The hymn reads, in part:

"You have won my soul,
I stand now trembling before you,
Lion, carry me now to the bed...
In the bed that is filled with honey,
Let us enjoy our love.
Lion, let me give you my caresses,
My sweet one, wash me with honey...
The place sweet as honey, put in your sweetness--
Like flour into the measure, squeeze in your sweetness--
Like pounding dry flour into the cup to be measured,
Pound in, pound in your sweetness--
These words I sing for Inanna."

The clay tablet on which this poem, sometimes considered the world's oldest known love poetry, is written in cuneiform resides in the Istanbul Museum of Archaeology. Shu-Sin is a historical king of Sumeria and Akkadia who was known to have reigned from about 2037-2029 BCE, during the third dynasty of Ur. Since the Sumerians celebrated the sacred marriage of their king to the goddess Inanna at the spring equinox, that would make the sacred marriage - and its poetry - at least a 4,000-year-old Easter/Passover/Ostara tradition.

The baking metaphor, the pounding of flour and honey into a vessel - why does that sound so familiar? Ah, yes...

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Oh How Pinteresting! - Unicorns

It's Wednesday, so I'm linking up with Michelle at TheVintageApple for Oh, How Pinteresting. This week's theme is the majestic unicorn. First off, the fiction writers' creed:

Morgan the unicorn was a childhood favorite of mine. My cousin has a daughter named Morgan; I bought this book for her.

Remember Amalthea from The Last Unicorn? It was my favorite cartoon when I was a kid. I found the book, by Peter S. Beagle, in a used book store as an adult and read it, along with Beagle's short story "Lila the Werewolf." Good stuff.

This one's not from The Last Unicorn, but it's still kind of cool.

The unicorn, along with the lion, runs across Alice's path in Through the Looking Glass. There's a poem in which they fight over plum cake.

This one's so fluffy I'm gonna die! I probably blogged this picture before, but it fits the theme. Unicorns come in all shapes and sizes.

You could cover your boo-boos with unicorn bandages.

As Queens Helvetica and Valedictoria could tell you, when a unicorn has two horns, it's a twonicorn.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Book Review: The Girls' Guide to Dating Zombies by Lynn Messina

The Girls’ Guide to Dating ZombiesThe Girls’ Guide to Dating Zombies by Lynn Messina

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

When a publicist for Lynn Messina asked me if I'd like to read and review this novel, I said yes based on how much I enjoyed Messina's monster mash-up Little Vampire Women. It took me a little while to get around to reading it, but the release of the movie based on Warm Bodies renewed my interest in this charming "zombie chick lit" (the publicist's expression) novel. It was better than I was expecting. Rather than being written in the style of a self-help book, as the title implies, it's written from the point of view of Hattie Cross, a journalist who has written the self-help book of the title.

In the novel, the human male is a thing of the past. Since Hattie was a small child, all men have contracted a disease that transforms them into decaying zombies. (The one positive is that women fill every position in every occupation as a result of this plague.) They're not usually dangerous to women, since they mistake the human brain for a third kidney, but they feed on animals. With the aid of pharmaceuticals and some patience, women can date zombies, but the experience is completely different from human female-male relationships. Hattie is an expert on the perks of dating zombies and something of a talk-show-circuit celebrity.

Hattie hopes her star will rise even higher when she has the opportunity to introduce brilliant pharmaceutical company maven Matilda Stansfield. Like the clever, resourceful journalist she is, Hattie slowly uncovers a disturbing truth about Matilda and her role in the zombie apocalypse. She's also discovered another interesting complication - Jake Maddox, a living, breathing human male, alive and well and working deep within Matilda's laboratories. Hattie can't help but be fascinated by Jake.

There's romance, adventure, a little horror (this is a zombie novel, after all) and a hefty dose of humor. Readers who enjoy everything paranormal, are sick to death of vampires (personally, I'm not, but maybe you are) and haven't yet had their fill of zombies will love this light, breezy tale of terror and redemption.

As you have probably gathered, I received a free e-book copy of this novel in exchange for a fair, honest review, which represents my own honest opinion. I received no other compensation for this review. View all my reviews on Goodreads
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Friday, March 22, 2013

Book Haul! Austen, Dumas, Meyer and more

Yesterday was my library's once-monthly used media sale, which I attend a few times a year (at one time, with my grandma, although she's stopped reading due to health problems - that is, until she indulges herself in an e-reader. I hope she'll do so for her birthday, coming up this weekend. 

But I digress. 

My Haul:

The Books:

1.The Host by Stephenie Meyer. I haven't read it yet. It's the only novel by Stephenie Meyer that I haven't read. Perhaps I'll get to it by the time the movie comes out on DVD and I rent it on Netflix. I understand it's something about aliens. 

2. The unauthorized Twilight companion by Lois H. Gresh, who also wrote The Truth Behind 'A Series of Unfortunate Events'. I wasn't terribly impressed with her SOUE book, but I was willing to give the Twilight one a chance for 25 cents. 

3. An unabridged The Count of Monte Cristo. It's a little rumpled, but at least this time I won't miss out on the lesbian elopement. (I promise I'll never read an abridged classic again. I didn't even do it on purpose this time.) 

4. Darkest Highlander by Donna Grant. Granted, it's the 6th book in the series, I only own 1-3 and I've only read 1 (Dangerous Highlander; review here), but I'll still have a head start when I someday eventually finish the Dark Sword series.  

5. Jane Austen's Northanger Abbey. I've never read it before. I do think that when I took the "Which Jane Austen Character Are You?" quiz, I got Catherine Morland. I did suggest the other day that Joseph Gordon-Levitt should star in a period-piece adaptation by a beloved female author - as Christian Bale did in Little Women and Tom Hardy did in Wuthering Heights - and could play Henry Tilney. 

(That Tom Hardy is an unlikely choice for Heathcliff will be a rant for another day.) 

The Movies

1. The Hunger Games. I saw it twice, but I didn't own it until now. 

2. Becoming Jane. I haven't seen it, but Anne Hathaway as a young Jane Austen - how bad could that be? It also has James MacAvoy (Mr. Tumnus the faun), Julie Walters (Molly Weasley) and Maggie Smith (Minerva McGonagal). 

3. The Orlando Bloom Three Musketeers. I haven't seen this one either. To be honest, I don't have very high hopes for it - the previews looked like more special effects than story - but it's a Dumas adaptation and it's been ages since we had a big Hollywood Musketeers movie. (Coincidentally enough, the last one was in 1993, the year I wrote about in yesterday's music post. If we count The Man in the Iron Mask, which came out in 1998, it's still been 15 years.) 

4. Best of all, A Midsummer Night's Dream (1999), with Christian Bale, Stanley Tucci, Rupert Everett and Michelle Pfeiffer, among many other stars. I've seen this one literally dozens of times, starting when it came out in theaters. It's hard to believe I didn't own it, but I didn't until now. 

Mmm, Demetrius No-Pants.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Happy #WorldPoetryDay and a Musical Flashback to 1993

Today is World Poetry Day. You can find a list of some of my all-time favorite poems here. I think one of the nicest ways you could possibly celebrate World Poetry Day is to choose and buy a chapbook from a contemporary poet to support living poets working today. Then maybe give it a review to show the poet you appreciate his or her work.

Music and poetry are virtually the same thing...conjoined twins...incestuously close siblings. Perhaps it's appropriate today that I stumbled across Natalie Blair's post "Sorry If This Makes You Feel Totally Ancient." Its subject is albums that were released in 1993 and would, therefore, now be 20 years old. I got completely wrapped up in this post because some of these are my very favorites ever.

Natalie, in turn, was inspired by "This Song Reminds Me of You, or Were You in High School in 1993?" by Vanessa, the author of the Little Gray Pixel blog. (In a gigantic domino effect, Vanessa took her inspiration from "29 Albums That Are Now 20" by Matthew Perpetua of Buzzfeed.)

Natalie's a few years younger than me; she was not yet a high school student in 1993, but it seems that Vanessa was. I started out 1993 as a sophomore and finished it a junior. Vanessa chose some of the albums from the Buzzfeed list that most reminded her of high school; many of them happen to have been my favorites as well.

She opens her post by embedding "Shoop" by Salt N Pepa (which I wrote about here when discussing Tina Turner and the Ikettes - you guys remember that "Shoop" contains an Ikettes sample, right?). I had that album, Very Necessary. After borrowing it from the library once or twice, I finally got a Tracks (that was the name of a local music store - remember music stores?) gift certificate from my aunt for Christmas and bought it. I still know all the words to "None of Your Business." I still, occasionally, think of "Sexy Noises Turn Me On" when I'm writing erotica.

My brother had In Utero by Nirvana. I believe he bought it at Target. The first time I ever heard "Heart Shaped Box" (which I believe was the first single), I was in the back of my mom's car, on the way home from a cousin's birthday party. Therefore, I associate it was the taste of birthday cake as well as the video with the Oz poppy field and the creepy kid in the KKK outfit.

I never had the Bjork album Debut, but I remember the video for "Human Behaviour." My brother and I shared a copy of the Radiohead album Pablo Honey on tape. "Creep" was the only song I ever listened to on it. I was so excited when the Scala cover of "Creep" was used on The Simpsons.

As I've mentioned before, Janet by Janet Jackson was the first album I ever bought on CD. My favorite was "If," but I liked a lot of songs on that one: "That's the Way Love Goes," "This Time" (featuring opera singer Kathleen Battle - before she got fired from The Met), "What'll I Do" and "Again." The summer in between my sophomore and junior years, I spent way too much time listening to it while playing Sonic the Hedgehog on my Sega Genesis.

I never owned Everybody Else Is Doing It, So Why Can't We? by the Cranberries because, at the time, I did not care much for "Linger." A friend of mine worked at Target, and once when I saw her there, she was singing "Linger" in her checkout lane. At the time, I thought, "Ew, lame song." It grew on me gradually, but now I can look back and see that the romantic song appealed to her because she was madly in love, while I had not a romantic bone in my body at that age. (At 17, when first confronted with Wuthering Heights, I could not understand a single one of the emotions Emily Bronte wrote about. My understanding of the human heart would come with time and heartbreak.)

But of Vanessa's sub-list of the Buzzfeed list, the two most important albums to me were Siamese Dream by the Smashing Pumpkins and Last Splash by the Breeders. Everything was the Smashing Pumpkins and the Breeders (and the Pixies, and the other bands that Tanya Donnelly was in - Belly and Throwing Muses), especially during junior year. I wanted to dress like Darcy, throw attitude like Kelly Deal and relate to words in the non-literal, poetic sorts of ways that Billy Corgan and Kim Deal did. Siamese Dream and Last Splash were two of the very few albums I could ever listen to front to back. They're very much emblematic of the early 1990s for me.

Why does James Iha wear a dress in the video for "Today?" Because fuck gender norms and expectations. '90s alternative rock is very androgynous, and this is a good thing. For Midwestern kids like me, confined to Catholic high schools with very rigid gender expectations, alternative music showed us there was an artspace where gender mattered very little, and we could do anything. 

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

OHP! First-Day-of-Spring Lightheartedness

Happy first day of spring! (Happy first day of autumn if you are in the Southern Hemisphere!) The vernal equinox makes me happy I love the word "equinox" itself - from the Latin for "equal night," meaning equal hours of daylight and night. That's very word-nerd of anyway, let's have some light-hearted, humorous, amusing pins.

No cat is ever too big to get in the box.

Looks like Harry Potter has finally mastered Transfigurations.

This looks like a joke, but it's a real thing: Marvel Comics and Hyperion are planning a line of "chick lit" novels about female Marvel character. First up, She-Hulk and Rogue. I haven't read a comic book since high school, but I'm actually super-excited that the writer of The She-Hulk Diaries is Marta Acosta, because I adore her Casa Dracula series.

Okay, how cute is this little girl in her Wonder Woman outfit?

This is much funnier than it should be.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Book Review: The Devil on Lammas Night by Susan Howatch

The Devil on Lammas Night, in a single volume with Susan Howatch's other novel The Waiting Sands, is a book I picked up at a library used book sale simply because it had the word "Lammas" in it. I've had it for years, but only recently decided to read the dual novels. The Devil on Lammas Night was the better of the two.

This is what the cover design of my edition looks like, but it also includes the novel 'The Waiting Sands.'  My copy, a book club edition, is undated. 
Susan Howatch, an English author who lived in the U.S. for a number of years, is a Gothic suspense and historical fiction author who enjoys using the far corners of the British Isles as settings. These two fall into the Gothic suspense category. Lammas Night is a contemporary novel, but it's a little bit older, so it has a bit of a "vintage" feel. The Waiting Sands is set in a Scottish castle so remote it doesn't have a telephone (these books were written in the 1970s); Lammas Night is set in a country home in Wales, near a ruined church.

The ruined church is a strategic location. Colwyn Court is the family home of young doctor Evan Colwyn, his  mentally fragile sister Gwyneth and their father. The father has rented out a wing of the enormous manner house to a natural foods society - or so he believes. The leader of this society is Tristan Poole, and he's the leader of a coven of twelve young female witches. The coven uses mind control to get their way and keep outsiders from finding out their true purpose.

"Outsiders" include Colwyn relatives who show up to occupy the guest house for the summer holiday. Mr. Colwyn's cousin Benedict Shaw, a middle-aged college professor, and his slightly younger wife Jane Shaw show up with their albino cat Marble. They're soon followed by Jane's sister, Lisa Morrison. Lisa was a young widow with twins who married her late husband's brother, Matt. Matt and the twins come with her.

The character with whom I most identify is Jane Shaw. Lisa is a rigorous dieter; Jane has a softer, more rounded figure, which Matt not-so-secretly admires. I'd be the softer, rounder sister. Jane is somewhat obsessed with her cat - again, that's me. Jane dotes on and spoils her niece and nephew, the twins. I - well, I don't so much spoil my nephews, because they're adults (and one is currently stationed in South Korea), but I do spoil my 7- and 9-year-old nieces.

Jane, the twins, and Evan are the main protagonists of the novel - all very likable - along with the woman Evan loves, Nicola. Evan and Nicola almost got engaged, but then he decided to go do charitable work in Africa first. When he came back, she was somewhat ambivalent about renewing the relationship.

Sidebar: Shaw is the name of the most prominent character (played by Noomi Rapace) in the 2012 movie Prometheus. I've seen a blogger or two speculating (er, maybe it's just VISUP) that there's some folkloric significance to the name "Shaw," but it all seems sketchy at best. On Person of Interest, we learned this season that an agent named Sam (Sameen) Shaw is the "Reese" of the Relevant list - a complete and total badass like her male counterpart. 

I mention that Tristan Poole and his twelve female adherents are a coven of witches. I like books about witches, and I do not insist that the witches necessarily be the protagonists of the story. In this novel, they are the clear villains. Tristan Poole is a creepy sociopath (he reminds me of the coldblooded Michael Garfield in the Agatha Christie novel Hallowe'en Party). In addition to being witches, Poole's coven are also Satanists who call up demons to do their dirty work.

Just so we're all clear: "witch" and "Satanist" are not equivalent and interchangeable terms. Some witches are Satanists, and some Satanists are witches, but not all witches are Satanists and not all Satanists are witches. Most - but not all - Satanists believe in a literal devil, similar to the one mentioned a few times in the Jewish and Christian Bibles, only Satanists seem him (usually him, sometimes she or it) as the hero of the story rather than the villain. Witches may believe in a literal Judeo-Christian devil, or they may believe in pantheistic/NeoPagan deities (Dianic witches, for example, worship an all-powerful supreme Goddess) instead - or they may be atheistic or agnostic. There's a wide range of belief and folkloric practice under the big umbrella of the Craft. But in Susan Howatch's book, the witches are Satanists.

Clear? Good. I also mentioned that Poole and his coven have a true purpose. That purpose is twofold: to get the material fortune of Matt Morrison, and to use the ruined church for a black mass on August 1st, which is the Neopagan holiday of Lammas. (Lammas, technically, is a contraction of "Loaf Mass," the Christianized version of the holiday at the beginning of harvest season, celebrating the ripening of many of the grain crops in the Northern Hemisphere. In Europe this would typically be the wheat harvest; in North America, wheat and also corn. The harvest season ends with the harvest of winter meat -i.e. slaughter of animals - on October 31, Halloween or Samhain. Lammas is sometimes given the Celtic name Lugnasadh.)

The novel correctly identifies four of the major Neopagan celebrations of the Wheel of the Year - Imbolc, Beltane, Lammas and Samhain - but leaves out Winter Solstice/Yule, Spring Equinox/Ostara, Midsummer Night/Summer Solstice and the middle harvest festival that falls between Lammas and Samhain, which is called Mabon by modern practitioners (though that's not a historical name).

Tristan Poole is planning to marry Nicola as part of the ritual and then, at a later time, murder her. It's implied that he also plans to sacrifice Lucy, one of Lisa's twins. I believe the twins are about seven years old. Poole has a distinct aversion to the male twin, Timothy - and in the end, Timothy (in all innocence) proves to be his undoing. Like The Waiting Sands, it all ends happily (for the most part - a few characters die, including Matt, who does nothing to deserve this), with the villains punished, the innocent children unharmed and the young heroine marrying her true love. I'm not too familiar with the somewhat antiquated genre of Gothic suspense (which is why these books were a nice change of pace for me), but I gather that its readers expect it to end happily just as romance novel readers do.

A funny thing happens when Susan Howatch goes to describe the black mass itself. She wants us to follow along with her narrative, of course, and she wants us to know how evil and obscene these characters actually are - they are her villains, after all. The full extent of their obscenity is implied rather than stated explicitly. For example:

"Agnes was the first to pay homage. Phrases from the book on witchcraft tumbled through Jane's mind and she felt the color rush to her face as she recalled her own voice reading about the obscene kiss of a millenium of witches' sabbaths."

What Howatch is describing without describing is what medieval witch hunters called the osculum infame, or "infamous kiss." According to the Woman's Encyclopedia of Myths and Secrets, the kiss was:

"...Supposedly bestowed on the devil's anus by his worshipers as an act of homage. Pagan rituals, however, contained no such act; it seems to have been one of the inventions of the inquisitors. Scatological fantasies and excrement often figured in churchmen's visions of the activities of witches."

So, in other words, they all kissed Tristan's ass. (Sidebar: the oblique reference may be similar to what the writers of The Matrix Reloaded meant to imply when Persephone tells the Merovingian he still has traces of lipstick, but not on his face.)

Actually, Tristan Poole is himself the victim of demonic possession, not acting in his own right. For a time, Marble the albino cat is also possessed by a demon and causes the car accident that kills Matt. However, when all the evil spells are reversed, Marble goes back to being a normal, if slightly bad-tempered, house cat.

One of the prettiest passages occurs when Nicola is under Tristan's spell:

"He kissed her. At first it was just like any other kiss a man might have given her but then it changed and it was like nothing she had ever experienced before. Senses which she had not even known existed flared to life until she saw the world expanding into an unknown and mystical dimension which existed without beginning and without end in a wilderness of time.

"He stopped kissing her. The world tilted back to normality and the room spun around to meet her. The evening light was streaming through the window to slant across the panels of the closed door.

"'Take me back,' said Nicola. Where we were before. Take me back.' And she reached up and pulled his face down to hers so that she could touch his mouth again with her own.

"She felt his fingers sliding over her skin and realized for the first time that her bathrobe was on the floor and she was naked. But then his mouth closed hers and all the conventions of a petty decaying world were lost amid the velvet darkness of a hundred solar systems and the heat was blazing down upon her from a vast and invisible powerhouse.

"'Oh God,' said Nicola, 'I'm in heaven.'

"He laughed." 

The other day I shared a passage about magical sex. Here I think Susan Howatch had hit upon a truth most of us have probably experienced - that the first throes of falling in love are exactly what it must be like being under a magical spell.

Overall, I found this novel slightly quaint, very British, and highly entertaining. A few of Susan Howatch's novels have been reprinted as e-books, but I think this one hasn't yet. If you happen upon an old copy of it, you might want to pick it up. It's a worthwhile read.

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Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Oh How Pinteresting (OHP): Vintage/Black and White

Happy Wednesday! Let's link up with Michelle at for Oh, How Pinteresting.

Pinterest has a large collection of pictures of Marilyn Monroe reading; she read often. I made a this post with just some of those images.

I'm glad Tennessee Williams won a Pulitzer for Streetcar and not Suddenly Last Summer. I'm still somewhat traumatized by the latter. Did you know Brando was native to Omaha, Nebraska?

Yesterday was Jack Kerouac's birthday. Kerouac desperately wanted Marlon Brando to play the lead in a movie version of On the Road, but it never happened. You can read Kerouac's letter here.

This is a gorgeous screencap from From Here to Eternity: Montgomery Clift (another native Nebraskan, btw) as Prewitt, doing what Prew does best, and Donna Reed as Lorene, the ultimate ride-or-die chick, down for whatever. Donna Reed has the best costumes in this movie - especially the party dress she's wearing when Prew first sees her at the club. Gorgeous.

The English actress Lily Elsie.

Live fast, die young, bad girls do it well.

Okay, this one's not vintage. It's just a lovely image from Alex O'Hurley's Sexy Man Monday posts.

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Review: The Art of Disappearing by Ivy Pochoda

At last I've finished reading The Art of Disappearing by Ivy Pochoda. For at least 2-3 years, I've been wanting to read this literary fiction debut from the Harvard grad and Brooklynite. The book came out in 2009. It was recommended to me through an online friend or another blogger or in a book forum - I'm not exactly sure now.

I wanted this book to be more romantic than it was, but it's not the book's fault I was expecting more of a love story. Mel Snow, the textiles saleswoman to whom the textiles sing, and the stage magician Toby Warring whose magic is not a trick, are meant to be together for only a finite amount of time and that's just the way it is. One can think of this book as magical realism - it reminded me in this respect of Audrey Niffenegger's Her Fearful Symmetry (and probably also The Time Traveler's Wife, although I've seen the movie but not read the book).

On the other hand, it could be taken as an extended metaphor for the fact that the neurological world in which each individual lives is a closed system, and there is no way to let another person inside our own worlds, no matter how much we love them and want to share with them. It's simply the case that magic is Toby's entire world, just as Mel's world is woven through fabrics and her brother Max's world was entirely contained within waters. Their paths cross, and possibly continue to cross infinitely, but they can never truly inhabit one another's worlds. This is a bit of a sad revelation, but the redeeming note is that each world has its own unique beauty.

As in The Fault in Our Stars by John Green, the characters make a trek from the U.S. to Amsterdam. Toward the end, Mel goes to a Saturnalia party thrown by Leo, a friend of several old-time magicians who've formed a sort of society of real magicians who've lost their magic. Leo's Saturnalia tradition is that the party be lit by candles, a bonfire and other natural lights, and that it not end until the lights have all burned out on their own (not blown out) - similar to the Hanukkah tradition of letting the candles all burn out on their own.

Toby appears, and there's some debate about whether he should be adorned with ivy or with holly, for all of the party guests must wear an evergreen to take part in the winter solstice festivities. One of the guests, a Belgian man named Christoph, wants Toby to represent the Holly King, a folkloric figure I brought up in the Imbolc post. (The Holly King rules over half the year, from Winter Solstice to Midsummer Night.) Toby refuses, instead choosing ivy. Ivy, Christoph says, not only represents "wine, ecstasy and bacchanalia," but also, paradoxically, both mortality and resurrection.

Toby has, to some extent, figured out how to move around in time, even if it's only a sort of illusion. Perhaps when Mel married him, she agreed to a never-ending cycle of losing and finding each other. Still, they are ultimately bound to belong to different worlds.

Saturday, March 9, 2013

While I wait on the new J.R. Ward, sexy vampire fan art

March is an exciting month for many reasons this year. Not only do we have the first day of spring to look forward to, but also St. Patrick's Day, then Passover, then Easter. Also, this March, we can look forward to a brand-new J.R. Ward novel, Lover At Last. March 27th is the anticipated release date.

(I rarely buy a brand-new hardcover - this series originally went straight to paperback - so I'll be waiting for my chance to read the library's copy.)

In anticipation, I recently (last Saturday, in one 6-hour spree) reread my favorite book in the series, Lover Awakened, which is the third book.

I eagerly await the love story of Qhuinn and Blaylock, but Zsadist and Bella will always be my favorite pairing. I just recently pinned some Zsadist and Bella fan art on Pinterest.

Ugh, this book was so much better than I even remembered it. I'd forgotten how he was wearing her diamond necklace while she was kidnapped. I also forgot it was the one with the tragic loss of Wellesandra (so sad!) - and the set-up of the Butch/Marissa romance. (Marissa's another one of my favorite female vampires. And I always thought Butch was hot, even though from the first book Ward keeps telling us that he's more rugged than handsome.)

He tries so hard to scare her away, but she's so hard and fast in love with him that she just won't give up. Paranormal elements aside, it's such a classic romance novel formula, and it completely pulls me in every time.

There's even a baby at the end. Little Nalla - she's so cute and tiny at the end of Lover Awakened. But you just know as soon as she's old enough to hold weapons she's going to get trained as a warrior. In about 12 years, Nalla's basically going to be Hit Girl.

If you haven't started this series yet, I highly recommend starting from the first book, Dark Lover. But be warned - it's terribly addictive.

I can't seem to get into the Fallen Angels series, though. I started Covet ages ago and never seem to have any interest in finishing it.

This is an affiliate link:

The First Bite Is the Deepest by Elisa Catrina. $2.99 from
“Funny and clever and emotionally hard-hitting” "A perfectly creepy read." Elisa Catrina's debut novel begins as a quirky send-up of vampire romance, but quickly turns sinister. High schooler Stella Ortiz starts dating the mysterious new guy, but her friends are convinced he's bad news: Sebastian misses tons of school, he day-drinks something that smells like pennies, and oh yeah, he's a vampire.

Friday, March 8, 2013

Read Any Good Intersex Fiction Lately?

According to the Intersex Society of North America, there are varying definitions of intersexuality. People who don't fit neatly into the binary system of "male" and "female" gender assignment could include those with atypical chromosomes, those with atypical genital anatomy, and others with "subtler forms of sex anatomy variations." Depending on who you include, estimates of how common intersexuality is vary, but the Society gives a general estimate of "total number of people whose bodies differ from standard male or female" as 1 in 100 births.

It's not all that unusual to be intersexed. It's certainly not unnatural. (I know that it happens in other species besides humans, too. The frog I dissected in high school appeared to be anatomically male from the outside, yet turned out to have fully developed ovaries. My first intersex encounter.) Yet, for some reason, intersexuality is rarely portrayed in fiction.

Have I ever read a book of fiction with an intersex character before? I thought maybe I had, in Up For Grabs: Exploring the Worlds of Gender, an anthology from Circlet Press. When I look over the reviews, though, it looks like the five stories are about transgender, not intersexed, characters. I like transgendered fiction, too, but this blog post is not about that.

According to this post, a few works of fiction that feature intersex, or non-binary-gendered, characters include Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides, Robin Hobb's  Farseer and Tawny Man trilogies, Chiyo Rokuhana's I.S.: Otoko demo Onna demo nai Sei manga (in Japanese) and Ursula K. LeGuin's The Left Hand of Darkness.

If you're looking for nonfiction about intersexuality, there are a few choices, including Bodies in Doubt: An American History of Intersex by Elizabeth Reis, Fixing Sex by Katrina Karkazis and the memoir Intersex (for Lack of a Better Word) by Thea Hillman.

I have not read any of these books, but I did read a good intersex fan fiction short story last night. Its author is Tumblr user Kmmerc, who - does not have an "About" page, so I know very little. By now you are well familiar with my pop-cultural obsession with the U.S. television show Person of Interest, so it will not shock you when I say Kmmerc is a fellow Irrelevant and the fanfic is set in the POI universe (although, clearly, an alternative universe).

The story title is "A Cock and Ball Story" (your clue that the story will be about anatomical structures) and the parts (of the story!) are:

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
Part 4

So I really like this. Normally when you take a fictional world of some kind and genderbend it, you make the male characters female and/or the female characters male, but this is an approach to "genderbent" fiction I've never encountered before.

More, please. More genderbent fan fiction, and more original intersexed characters. The fluid and non-binary aspects of human gender are so fascinating to explore - let's go there. Let's go there in erotica and in general literary fiction as well.

Sunday, March 3, 2013

SOC Sunday: I Don't Understand

It's been a while since I've done one of these, but I decided to join this Sunday's Stream of Consciousness Sunday at Jana's Thinking Place. Today's optional writing prompt is, "I Don't Understand..." A small sampling of the many things I don't understand:

I don't understand the whole "I didn't know I was pregnant" phenomenon - and yet a woman that I've known for years - going back to grade school - just gave birth to a baby boy without knowing she was pregnant. I know it happens with some regularity - enough that there's a TV show about it - but it's still just really strange to me.

But then I've never been pregnant, so I would have no idea what it's supposed to feel like.

I also don't understand people whose function in life seems to be to rain on everyone else's parade.

I don't understand transphobia. In the past week or so, I happen to have read one article and watched one YouTube video about young people who are transgendered. I don't understand all the negativity, all the people who are so certain that everyone who has a penis has to be a boy and everyone who has a vagina has to be a girl. Put yourself in the shoes of someone who has the body of one gender but the brain of another - not an easy place to be, not by a long shot. Why would you want to be on the negative, narrow-minded side, the side that contributes to bullying and the alarmingly high transgender suicide and violence rates, instead of the supportive side?

Would it really be so bad to trust people to self-report their own gender? Do you really need to be the gender police and check that everyone's anatomy matches their driver's license? Will your world really end if you admit that some people are transgendered, and you can't neatly divide all human beings into males and females?

I understand this much: some people are born one gender and become another. Some people are born intersexed (another thing I don't understand - how, in the 21st century, people still use derogatory words like "shemale" and "hermaphrodite" for intersexed individuals) - in fact, it's relatively common, not only in humans but in a variety of animal species - and some people choose to be third-gendered or non-gendered. Gender is social as much as it is biological, if not more so. Why reduce an entire human being and all of that person's social interactions down to what genitalia the person has?

I don't understand all the attempts to shame people based on their anatomy. When did things that are none of your business unless you're a urologist become more important than treating people with respect, decency and kindness?

Saturday, March 2, 2013

Two Sexcerpts...

...from books I've read recently. First, Ivy Pochoda's description of sex with a magician whose magic isn't based on trickery or deception but on real magic, from The Art of Disappearing.

"I knew she wanted all the details, but I preferred to keep to myself how Toby's hands flew across my body in a maniacal sign language. When I could have sworn that he was massaging my shoulders, suddenly he was tickling my toes. And when I looked at my toes, I noticed that his hands had moved to my hair. And all the time it appeared that he hadn't taken his lips from mine. Sometimes he managed to make the bed vanish as if we were floating toward the ceiling in an erotic levitation. Sometimes the ceiling itself seemed to disappear and the room flooded with the sky. After it was over, after my magician's hands, which had doubled and redoubled as we reached the finale of our private magic show, had collapsed onto the sateen sheets, I woke up to find the remnants of the conjuring pressed into my body. I found coins on my inner thighs, poker chips on my lower back, the jack of diamonds stuck to my left buttock."

I'm on page 97. So far, the writing style of Harvard graduate and Olympic squash player Ivy Pochoda reminds me of Audrey Niffenegger. I never did read The Time-Traveler's Wife, but I did read Her Fearful Symmetry. Both The Art of Disappearing and Her Fearful Symmetry, I suppose, would be considered magical realism. TAOD also slightly reminds me of Christopher Priest's The Prestige, insofar as they deal with stage magicians whose talents lie not only in showmanship. Like Angiers in the movie version of The Prestige, Toby has lost a lovely assistant in a water tank - the difference is that while (minor spoiler) Angiers' wife drowned (it's completely different in the book), Toby's assistant simply disappeared.

Second, from Carrie's Story by Molly Weatherfield (review forthcoming April 4, along with an interview with the author). This snippet takes place at the pony farm, where Carrie is taking part in pony play training.

"We passed a stall where I could see Mr. Finch's shoulders and the back of his...head and hear his moans. I could also see a chain attached to the stall's back wall, trailing down the wall and onto the ground. The chain was moving rhythmically, and I knew, even though I couldn't see her, that attached to its other end, in the straw on the floor of the stall, was Stephanie on her knees with Mr. Finch in her mouth."

I am forever ruined by Person of Interest - now whenever I encounter a character named Mr. Finch, I will think of Harold. Oh, Mr. Finch, you have been very naughty indeed.

But not quite as naughty as Carrie. Her current relationship has introduced her to a whole new repertoire of sexual moves - although nothing as magical as Toby's wizard moves.

Friday, March 1, 2013

A Fic Inspired by James Jones

This is another bit of fiction recovered from my computer before its OS had problems with a Windows update, creating pixelated havoc. An earlier "chapter" of this fic can be found here. Bobby Witt is an amalgamation of Bob Witt from The Thin Red Line and Bobby Prell from Whistle by James Jones.

(Have you seen my "Whistle" video on YouTube?)


The last time I’d seen Robert E. Lee Witt, we were on the island, both of us at leisure. We met at a lonely stretch of beach, him with two of his friends and me with my bunkmates from New Zealand, Lucy and Bess. Hardly saying a word to one another – or needing to – Witt and I walked down the beach away until we couldn’t hear the others anymore. With my back pressed against a palm tree, we kissed and fucked and I fell so hopelessly in love I could barely breathe without him.

But the war forced us apart. I was transferred back to Oahu. We wrote letters to each other, and when the letters stopped, I knew something terrible had happened. I wrote to his first sergeant, who told me about how brave Bobby was and how badly he’d been hurt. The three weeks it took me to get to the army hospital in Tennessee – to Bobby – seemed like an eternity.

The doctor had to me I’d see her, the young volunteer. She left his room as I arrived, young and blonde, a head shorter than me, carrying a thick book – Treasure Island. I smiled, remembering Witt’s love of crosswords. He was always trying to improve his vocabulary and saying he wanted to read more. As I smiled, the little blonde stared up at me with a smug Southern lady’s look of half contempt, half forced politeness. How could she tell I was a Northerner? I would run her off later, but after coming this far, I couldn’t wait any longer to see Bobby.

I wasn’t prepared for the sight of him, the way my breath hitched and my stomach dropped when I saw his face. I’d seen enough dying men to know the deep purple lines under his eyes meant the life had all but run out of him. I held his hand, and it took everything in me not to break down and cry. I didn’t know if he could hear me, but in case he could, I wouldn’t let myself lose control.

His eyelids fluttered; for a moment I saw the deep blue eyes I’d come to love so much. To my surprise, his lips moved. “Emmy?”

I squeezed his hand. “I’m here.”

Witt opened his eyes. “Are you really here, or is this just a dream?”

Given the amount of morphine he was on, I wasn’t surprised he didn’t know. “I’m really here, Witt. I got ‘em to transfer me here. Don’t ask me how – you don’t want to know how many dicks I had to suck.”
He stared up at me, bemused, as if he were still trying to figure out whether I was real or not. “Kiss me.”

It wasn’t easy. He couldn’t sit up. I had to lean over the side rail of the bed but be careful not to put pressure on any part of his body other than his lips. As we broke apart, I ran my fingers lightly over the faint pink scar of the cheek wound I’d stitched up. Our first meeting at the field hospital had been nine months before, but it seemed like an eternity.

“It’s really you,” he said. “Remember what I told you that night we met?” I nodded, and he closed his eyes.

“Rest now,” I said.

“All I do is rest,” he said, sounding unbearably weary.

“You need to. I talked to your doctor…”

He cut me off. “I told you I was gonna marry you. You said you wasn’t married.”

“Witt, I’m not going to hold you to that. All I want you to do is get better.”

He sighed, turned his head, and was quiet. I took his thin, white hand between mine and held it. The last time I’d seen him, his skin had been deeply tan and slightly yellowed from the antimalarial pills. Now he looked deathly pale. I hoped he couldn’t sense the fear I struggled to keep inside.

“I know I look bad, but it’s just my legs that are broke. Everything else still works.”

“I talked to your doctor, Witt. He told me.” I didn’t need to mention everything I’d read in his chart: that even if he did survive, the probability was that he’d never walk again. I didn’t care. Wheelchair or not, I wanted him badly, worse than I could possibly let him see on my face. I wanted to marry him and have his babies.

His eyes opened briefly. “You got a boyfriend?”

I closed my eyes and thought back to the night we’d met on the beach – the night he started calling me Emmy. I knew then I was ruined for anybody else, that I’d never love another man like this again. I’d told him so then, as he brushed the tears from my cheeks. He knew the answer to his question.

“Who’s been taking care of you?”

I laughed. “I take care of myself.”

“I won’t be in any shape to take care of you for a long, long time.”

I squeezed his hand. “I don’t care about that.”

But he did get better. Inside of a week, the doctors reversed their decision to amputate his right leg. Soon he was out of traction and I could push him around in a wheelchair. Despite his protest that he wouldn’t be able to take care of me for a long time, almost as soon as Bobby was semi-ambulatory, he was trying to figure out ways to get me in bed with him without causing himself too much pain.

Blowjobs were pretty much all we could do at first. When the worst of the wounds scarred over and he could start to relearn to walk using crutches, his pain was under control enough that I could get on top of him for short stretches. It was during one of our quick, clandestine hospital bed sessions that he asked me to marry him, although this wasn’t the story I told my mum and da.

Unable to continue his army career, Bobby (at first very reluctantly) agreed to come home to Boston with me when my hitch was up, shortly before the war ended. My oldest brother gave Bobby a guard job in his factory. He didn’t love his job, and sometimes he had nightmares, but I hoped Bobby was happy with me.
Sometimes his army buddies showed up at our apartment.

One day, I came home from work, eager to see Bobby and get out of my uniform. As I came entered the apartment, Bobby whistled to me from the kitchen. I heard men’s voices, Bobby’s and someone else’s. I hadn’t been expecting company.

I entered the kitchen to see one of Bobby’s Army buddies at the table, a cold beer in his hand. I vaguely recognized the thin, dark-haired man in the leather jacket – he’d been with us on the beach that night, one of Bobby’s buddies who’d gone off with my Kiwi friends. I recalled seeing him in the hospital a time or two, though he hadn’t been hurt nearly as badly as Bobby – at least, not on the outside. I didn’t remember him being at our wedding.

“Hello,” I said warmly through my surprise as Bobby rose from his chair.

“Emmy, you remember Geoff Fife, don’t you?” He met me in the center of the kitchen, pressed me against the counter and kissed me like we were alone, taking my hat off me and twisting his fingers through my hair.

“I should go,” Fife said awkwardly.

Bobby didn’t loosen his grip on me, but he turned toward his friend. “Emmy, do you mind if Fife stays a while?”

“Not at all,” I said. “You’re welcome here, Fife. Stay as long as you like.”

Bobby leaned in close to my ear. “You tired, baby?”

I shook my head. “I’m fine.”

He turned back to Fife. “Emmy’s knocked up.”

Fife raised his beer bottle. “Congratulations! Witt, you didn’t tell me you were going to be a father.”

Bobby looked at me, beaming with pride, and I couldn’t hide my joy. We kissed again; this time I almost forgot we had a guest. When we finally broke apart, I excused myself to change out of my uniform. I could hear the men’s laughter from the bedroom. I returned and offered to make us all sandwiches.

“I hate to impose,” Fife said.

“It’s no imposition,” I assured him.

“At least let me help you.”

I waved him off, but soon Bobby’s army buddy was beside me at the counter, spreading mayo on the bread slices as I rinsed the tomatoes. We ate, then went to the living room, where I sat on the couch beside Bobby as he and Fife talked until I started to doze off. I excused myself and went to bed. I don’t know how long I slept before Bobby got under the sheets with me. I woke up with his arms around me, my face pressed to his chest. I kissed him just above the heart a few times before he lifted my chin and brought my mouth to his. I let him roll me onto my back and position himself on top of me, grateful he had the strength. His deep scars reminded me of how hard he’d worked to be able to walk again. I caressed the scars on one leg briefly before pulling him closer to me.

“Did you friend spend the night?”

“Yeah. He finished off my beer and passed out on the couch.”

“Then we have to be quiet.” It was worth a try, but I knew a little thing like a buddy sleeping on the couch wouldn’t keep Witt from being his usual wild self. My husband didn’t know the meaning of the words “gentle” or “quiet.” I wasn’t surprised to open my eyes and see Geoff Fife standing in the doorway, looking equal parts concerned, embarrassed and impressed. What could I do but laugh?

“I’m sorry, Fife,” I said, “I didn’t bring a friend for you this time.” I wrapped the sheet around my breasts, although Bobby’s body shielded me.

Fife laughed loudly. “You ever hear from that Kiwi gal Lucy? Woo, boy. I thought she was a wild one, but she didn’t have nothing on you, Mrs. Witt.”

“That’s because Lucy wasn’t in bed with me,” Bobby said, laughing. He stroked my hair, then my cheek. “Baby, is Geoff here embarrassing you?”

“No,” I said. After my first husband, who beat me and cut me down every chance he got, almost nothing Bobby did could upset me. We were both adults, we’d both been to war, and now if he wanted to bring a war buddy into the bedroom, I wasn’t bothered. “I don’t mind him. Sorry we woke you up, Fife.”

“It’s no bother. I was feeling lonely out there anyhow.”

Bobby got a wicked gleam in his eye. “Come here, Fife.”

Fife cocked his head a little like he wondered what Bobby had in mind, but he was game. He sat down on the corner of the bed, and I noticed he wore Bobby’s bathrobe. He kept his eyes on Bobby’s face, clearly trying hard not to look at or touch me. He was near enough I could feel his body heat. I could smell him, and how he was different from Bobby’s familiar scent. I wondered what Bobby would do next, but I wasn’t afraid. I trusted him with everything I had.

Bobby leaned in close to Fife’s ear and said, “Is it true what they said about you and Ed Bead?”

Fife’s mouth twisted a little bit, and I detected a slight nod of his head. Bobby did two things at once – put his arm around me and pulled me tight up against him and took Fife’s face in the other hand and kissed him hard on the mouth.

Fife pulled away. “What?”

I was confused, too. I didn’t know what Bobby wanted: to dominate Fife? To comfort him? To give him to me as a gift? As far as I knew, Bobby hadn’t been with another woman since we’d met – maybe the lack of variety was starting to wear on him. I watched as he took the bathrobe from Fife’s shoulders. Naked underneath, Fife stretched out his hand to touch Bobby.

Bobby allowed it, for a moment, then pulled away, turning to me. “Emmy, you’ve been pretty horny since you’ve been knocked up. You wanna give my friend Geoff a go?”

“You won’t be jealous?” I asked, looking deep into his beautiful eyes.

Bobby shook his head. “It ain’t the same as if you were sneaking around behind my back. Fife’s lonesome, and if you’re still horny, you wanna?”

I nodded, looking from Bobby to Geoff Fife. Fife leaned in, bringing his body closer to mine, but Bobby put a hand on his chest and stopped him. “Listen, Geoff – it ain’t like we’ve never been with the same woman before, but it’s different when she’s my wife. To me she’s Emmy, but to you she’s Mary Ellen. I can be rough with her, ‘cause she trusts me and she knows I’m never going to hurt her, but you got to be gentle with her, understand?”

“Yes,” Geoff said. “Mary Ellen, is it okay with you?”

“It’s okay with me, if Bobby doesn’t mind.” I looked at my husband, who put up his hands in a gesture that said, whatever you want is fine.

Letting the sheet fall around me, I reached out and put my arms around Geoff. He felt very warm and was breathing hard. Our eyes met briefly before I leaned in to kiss him. He hesitated.

Still close by, Bobby said, “She’s my wife, Geoff, not a hooker. Kiss her.” But he only held still while I kissed him, spreading a warm feeling through my chest and into my belly. I didn’t love Geoff – I’d never love anyone again after Bobby, I just knew it - but I wanted him. Bobby was right about one thing: I had been extra horny since I figured out we were having a baby, something my mother (who gave birth to eight of us) had failed to warn me about. Bobby, a good five years younger than me, was normally good for two or three rounds a night, but lately I’d even been wearing him down.

Geoff warmed up slowly, but soon enough he was kissing me back. I pulled back and looked him in the eyes again. “Show me your scars.”

He gave me a half smile. “One’s under my hair,” he said, running his fingers over the spot where the wound must have been.

“You were shot in the head.”

“Barely grazed.” He brought his bare foot onto the bed. His feet were very white, with graceful arches, and smaller than Bobby’s. Bobby’s very large feet gave some indication of the hidden strength in his thin but powerful body. I wondered if Geoff had ever seen Bobby fight. Geoff didn’t have the right build to be a boxer, and if they’d ever fought, Bobby would have killed him.

Geoff showed me the scars on his ankle. For the most part, they were neat surgical scars, with one jagged edge betraying the wound that had necessitated the surgeries. I’d thought I’d seen Geoff walking with a slight limp. I ran my fingers over the thin scars, then bowed down to kiss them. As I did, Geoff ran his hands over my bare back in what felt like gratitude.

I brought my lips to his shoulder and kissed my way toward his collarbone. When we were face-to-face again, he guided my head toward my pillow, and I helped him along, helping him position himself on top of me. I guess he figured after the workout Bobby gave me, I didn’t need much warming up. He wasn’t wrong; soon we moved together as if we did this all the time. He was almost too gentle, too timid, but I didn’t complain. I could work with that. I kept one hand on Geoff’s back, pulling him down into me and attempting to guide him without being bossy.

Bobby, meanwhile, had positioned himself beside us. He knelt – not an easy position for him to maintain with his damaged legs. I knew he wasn’t willing to give me over to Geoff completely. I reached out and found his dick, hard and ready again, and stroked him with my other hand.

Geoff was much gentler than I liked, or was used to, but the truth was, the strangeness of him, the sheer excitement of being with someone new, even the foreign smell of his cologne turned me on. While he delicately pounded me, I lost it and came hard, moaning as I shifted underneath him.

Bobby went next. He’d given me some of his spit so I didn’t rub him raw, but I couldn’t help but rub him harder and faster as I came. Noisy as always, Bobby let out a whoop as he came in his fingers. Geoff did an admirable job of trying to hold off and prolong our pleasure. He couldn’t hold out long, though. Bobby lay beside us, panting hard, and I brought my other, sticky hand down on the middle of Geoff’s back. Moments later, I felt Geoff push into me hard, heard him start to moan. That moan became a whoop longer and louder than Bobby’s; he called my name. I lifted my chin up, and he caught my lips and kissed me. We kissed until we finally broke apart.

The three of us lay that way for a while, everyone touching everyone else, no one moving other than our steady breathing. I drifted off to sleep with Bobby holding me in his arms and Geoff pressed up against my back.

When I woke up again, I found Geoff and Bobby entangled. I felt jealous, watching Bobby with his cock deep inside of Geoff. I wanted to be the one receiving that pounding, Bobby’s furious energy, the sum of his muscles working like a well-oiled machine. Geoff bit his fist, desperately trying not to let Bobby know the deep pleasure he took in being used – but I could tell. I had to take care of myself. I fingered my clit, matching the pace Goeff set yanking on his dick.

Bobby whooped. I fingered myself, wishing I were in Geoff’s shoes or that one of them, either one, would fill me. Geoff’s breathing grew ragged, and I knew he was close. He came suddenly, still biting his other fist to muffle the sound, and I followed soon afterward.

I didn’t have to look in his eyes to know Bobby had gone to the place in his mind where I couldn’t reach him. We’d both been to war in the Pacific, but although I’d been near the battlefield, dressing and suturing wounds inflicted there, holding men like Bobby as they’d bled, vomited and died in my arms, I hadn’t been to the frontline. I knew I’d never understand parts of Bobby, and I accepted that.