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Making Old Dreams Today

This past Saturday, my husband and I attended our senior prom. Not a joke! For the last four years we’ve been going to something called the “Grown Ass Prom” in our town. It’s a night for adults to dress up, have a good time, drink (!), and do what they actually wanted to do back when they were 18.

One of the reasons I love going is because there is an element of ‘pretend’ about it all: adults are re-creating a past event to make the memories they wish they had made years ago. For instance: going as your true trans self, taking your gay or lesbian partner and getting those terrible prom photos together, taking your partner who you didn’t know in high school. And dressing how you want and just having a really great time doing whatever you want because you’re a fucking adult now who knows what they like. The guarantee that you’re going to get laid afterwards unless somebody really fucks up. It’s glorious.

So, this was our fourth year attending. Our ‘senior’ year. And it was definitely the most fun we’ve had because we knew what we were doing and we knew how to make the best of it.

Our first year was about creating the memory of having prom together because we couldn’t have done that when we were 18. At that time, we lived in completely different parts of Washington state. My beloved is also three years older than I am, so it was highly unlikely he would have looked at me twice in high school. (He says he would have, but I disagree.) We tried to fit the ‘prom’ mold from days of yore.

 

This is the best of the photos, so I’m going with it. 

 

My own Lloyd Dobbler.

 

We wore matching outfits. I wore something that looked like a ‘prom’ dress from the 1990s. It was my first few months into treatment for hypothyroidism so I didn’t feel great and it sort of shows. But we had a great time dancing (one of our favorite things to do together) and it felt like we had gone to prom together. We made a new memory we wished we had from our past.

Our second year was even better. I was feeling very normal, thyroid-wise, and knew exactly how I wanted to look and feel. I bought a leather dress, black pumps, and got my hair done in a mohawk (fauxhawk). I looked and felt exactly the way I wanted to. My husband looked fucking fabulous as his ‘Adam Ant’ self. We both felt like our own best version of ourselves.

 

I also wore a pair of black Chuck Taylor’s, cuz who dances in heels?

 

Fearless and retro.

 

This second year wasn’t about completing some old/new memory as much as it was about being who we were to the Nth degree and just having a good time. We danced our assess off; the husband took home a dancing award.

Last year was our third year (junior year!) and we had a group of friends to go with. By this time, we felt ‘old hat’ about it, and wanted to support our friends in having their first time out with Grown Ass Prom. My thyroid was on the fritz again last year and so I also wasn’t feeling 100% myself, but I had a good time picking out some leather-look leggings and pouring myself into them. The husband went balls to the wall with his outfit- threw on one of everything and owned it. He is a fashion badass and a risk-taker and I love him for it. He also won Prom King for his dancing skills.

 

Red-lipped and ready.

 

Wearing all black does not make you look taller.

 

I think the thing I learned last year was that Grown Ass Prom was better than Halloween for me (which is heresy in New England). It’s better than Halloween because I can choose a new part of myself to explore that doesn’t have to be appropriate for taking children trick-or-treating or keeping me warm. I can play with being vampy or sexy or dominating or punk or whatever. It’s one night where I can be what I dream and see how it fits into my everyday self. And I took that knowledge into this year’s prom.

This year I have basically felt like shit, body wise. My thyroid is overproducing antibodies so one of my medications (a specially compounded T3 formulation) doesn’t work as well as it should. In the last 4 years I’ve lost half of my hair and gained 10 lbs. I still have a decent amount of hair and I still look cute in clothes, but I don’t feel comfortable in my body in the way that I did the second year of prom. And yet. I feel more sexy, alive, joyful, free, and satisfied than I have in years. Prom this year was about expressing those feelings, even if my body didn’t feel like I wanted it to.

 

Dreaming and doing.

 

Luckily, the shirt comes off.

 

Senior year: the photographer remembered us.

 

It turned out exactly like that. I loved my outfit- gradually lost the white shirt as the evening wore on because corsets are fucking warm when you dance (didn’t know that before!). I loved my hair and makeup and felt like a million bucks with my prom crew (now nine of us!). It was a wonderful night. [Except, swear to GOD, the DJ has sucked every year and this was no exception. Four years of terrible DJ-ing. How is that possible? I don’t know, but it’s true.]

While, technically, this was our ‘senior’ year of prom, we will definitely go again. We might try another venue- I think there is one in Massachusetts and one in a different location in Rhode Island, but we will definitely go to one. It’s too much fun to let it pass us by.

I think the thing I most want to say is that it’s important to keep growing and changing and having places to try out who you are. Because I’m not who I was at 20 or 30 or even 40. There is a throughline of consistency, but I am different, and better, than before. Prom gives me a place to play different roles and experiences with myself, my husband, and my friends, and I think we all need safe places to do that. As well, making memories and meaning of our life is foundational to feeling we have lived well. We need to feel that we have done things we enjoy, feel proud of, lived in alignment with what we most value in order to be proud of our life. Prom is one of the things that helps me make meaning of my life and feel that I have lived joyfully and well.

 

 

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Sweat.

It’s been cold and snowy for the past couple of days here in Southern New England and I can’t help but to think about warm things. I don’t usually like to do that- it makes the cold that much worse by comparison- but even thinking about a nice, warm 40 degree day sounds awesome.

Thinking about proper warm, sunny days, like we get in the Summer, made me start thinking about sweating. I have, for a couple of years now, been fascinated by my own sweaty body. I like sweaty bodies in general- it means effort, exertion, making attempts at goals, heat, maybe sex, and some bodies smell fantastic when sweaty (I’m not one of them). Sweat also means warmth and movement and flexibility- equally sexy and fantastic as the other things.

So, I remain fascinated with sweat in general, and my sweat in particular. How it feels to have a workout where I am dripping with it (it feels rather badass- pushing my limits). How it feels to have the sweat cool on my skin. How it looks and feels sitting atop my skin- sometimes I notice every little bit, sometimes I am oblivious. The gorgeous feeling of being so entranced in my workout, or so dedicated to finishing what I’m doing, and the drops of sweat fall from my chin, nose, and and chest. Those drops are hard-earned and they feel like gold when I am warm and working my ass off.

I offer you a study in sweat.

::: ::: ::: :::

 

| The cure for anything is salt water: tears, sweat, or the sea. |

 

| Luck is the dividend of sweat. The more you sweat, the luckier you get. |

 

| There’s nothing better than working up a good sweat. |

 

| There’s something incredibly sexy about sand and sweat and dunes
photographed like women’s backs.  – Kristin Scott Thomas |

 

| Sweat! Sweat! Sweat! Work and sweat, cry and sweat, pray and sweat!  – Zora Neale Hurston|

 

|By being an athlete, I have discovered so many other ways to express my beauty. Being a strong, fearless woman makes me feel beautiful. I love the way I look and feel when I am two hours into my training and my skin is glistening with sweat and my clothes are drenched because
I have given it all I’ve got.  – Laila Ali|

 

| the best sweat is a from a hot bath, though. |

 

G’night fellow travelers. May your sweat bring you joy.
Joanna :: xoxo

 

 

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How does a sensualist celebrate Christmas?

She doesn’t! She celebrates Solstice. And we start the day with candlelight.

 

 

At our house we do a big celebration for Solstice because we’re not Christians. Taoist-Buddhist-Pagan eclectic mix is what we do here (although, I’ve been thinking about that, too- and probably need to reconsider what right I have to those traditions. But not today…)

One of the reasons we celebrate Solstice (both of them, and the Equinoxes) is our dedication to science, but also because they are the celebrations that our closest to the body. Before central heating, our bodies knew what season it was because of the changes in the light and the changes in temperature each season. Even now, I need more thyroid medication during the winter because my body is registering that it’s time to slow down, experience less light, and my metabolism responds accordingly. We’ve lost some of that physical connection with the seasons (okay, but we did gain Netflix, so it’s not all bad) but we can reconnect with it easily enough by connecting with the solstices and equinoxes. So, here we are.

Around here we relax during the day, letting the darkest day sink into our bones- because there is a natural desire to slow down during this time of year. We eat a candle-lit dinner to acknowledge and enjoy the dark. At dinner we will eat foods that remind us of the sun- sweet potatoes, orange cheese, oranges, fizzy drinks (I have no idea why that reminds me of the sun, just go with me on this), we make a ‘sunshine’ cake, and other items that make us feel happy amongst the dark.

We perform the ritual of letting dark things go. The winter Solstice is the time to let go of what no longer serves us- to unwind, untie, unlearn, and release that which is no longer needed. We write things on paper and burn them in a clay pot- and use the ashes to feed a new plant that we will love into the new year and into Spring.

It is also a time to honor the dark- because darkness is part of human nature, too. And without our fear, anger, frustration, sadness, and grief we are incomplete (what would we be if we were happy all the time?). So we also bless the darkness for holding balance in our lives.

I spend time with all the holiday things that bring me sensual pleasure.

Sarah McLachlan’s Wintersong album – truly full of adult holiday feelings

Harry Connick Jr.’s  Songs I Heard – not Christmas-based but reworking childhood favorites

The Muppets singing “Little Saint Nick” – because you need Animal grinding it out, okay?

“Stop the Cavalry” by The Cory Band – which is a weird but enjoyable anti-war/nuke protest song. But it sounds like Christmas.

And my ‘put it on repeat’ favorite: “Christmas Wrapping” by the Waitresses.

[I will tell you, I got super sick of Christmas music the other day and had to put on some Van Halen, Rush, and Aerosmith. So, raise your glass for sensuality and 80s rock this Solstice.]

 

I will drink my favorite tea. (Once you have British tea, you can never go back. Buy it here.)  Lots of sugar, lots of cream.

 

 

I’ll read favorite books.

Sections from David Copperfield. Because in AP English (waytoomanyyearsago) we read it in December and I can never go without it now.

A children’s book my grandmother gave me when I was diagnosed with diabetes (36 years ago!) called “Joel Schick’s Christmas Present” which is a re-telling of the 12 Days of Christmas, except with strange creatures. Creatures that eat the decorations. And once you sing it in your head with the new words, you will have trouble remembering the old ones.

 

 

Something from Toot & Puddle, a quieting favorite when my kids were small.

 

 

I will put my children to bed, snuggling with my daughter as the twinkly lights hang quietly in her room. My son simply wants hugs these days. I will feel my body against their’s, remembering when they were small enough to fit into my arms.

 

I’ll curl up in my favorite sweater and jeans and watch Emmett Otter’s Jugband Christmas (which no one but me loves) and The Family Stone, with a bowl of popcorn. [Except I lied. Tonight is the opening of Season 4 of Peaky Blinders on Netflix. And I am going to watch and fall in love with Tommy Shelby and his intelligent, graceful violence once again. He is so fucking delicious.]

 

I feed myself what I most need on this day, with a special awareness of the dark, of its gifts, and of the promise of coming light. And Solstice will be the calmest day of my year.

 

 

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twelve twelve twelve

Five years ago today I asked two friends to help me with a project. Twelve is my favorite number and I wanted to do something really special for 12/12/12. It was a once-in-a-lifetime chance. I asked an artist friend to paint me. I wanted to celebrate myself, my body, my spirit, and do something different. It was a wonderful day, and made me feel both empowered and magical.

Looking back now, I realize it was my first step into the discovery of my sensual self.

 

My friend, Natasha from Zen Bubble, was the artist.

 

The finished product. Pre snake tattoo.

 

I finally made peace with my post-pregnancy belly with this lotus and waves.
[My deltoid and bicep are my favorite part of this photo, though.]

 

This is probably my favorite photo of the whole shoot.
Maybe this was the start of The Naked Mystic, too.

 

 

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