Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Now Tell Me What's Your Sign? Always The Same Old Line...

So I've ventured into the world of online dating. Again. And before you ask, no nothing has happened to me and the girls. I'm not even looking for someone to date. Its a rather funny story, really, how this happened; and now that I've gone in, it seems like I am Alice down the rabbit hole, I can't seem to get out of it.

The other day we were joking about online dating sites. I was telling someone at work how long ago I signed up for an account on OK Cupid because our roommate at the time, Guitar Hero, had gotten one and I was not entirely comfortable with the idea of her bringing people to our house. So I got online to check things out. In the end, I ended up meeting Bobcat, who didn't take my very tongue in cheek profile seriously at all, and we became friends. It is through her that I met Oscelot, and the rest, as they say, is history.

It was while we were joking about the sites that Flyguy mentioned his roommate had an account on POF, which up until then I had never heard of, though everyone else had seemed to. He was laughing about the women that messaged his roomie, Nox, and how his replies were both hilarious and scathing. I was intrigued. In part because outside of seeing pictures of him, and Flyguy's anecdotes about their misadventures together, I know nothing of him. What I do know, though, is that he seems like a really cool guy- the kind I would like to hang out with. Flyguy seems impervious to my hinting that I was interested in meeting him, or perhaps, hindsight being 20/20, knows that Nox would have nothing to do with a shallow, boring thing like me. Either way, I wanted to look at this profile. So I signed up for an account.

In the last four days I have had nearly 50 messages from men in my area wanting to speak with me. I am astounded. In part because I originally set out to make my profile as boring as possible. I mean, when you can only read the first two lines about a person before viewing their profile, and they only mention a love of outdoors, gardening and hot tea and books, who would be interested? I wouldn't, if I were a guy....

The funny thing is, there seems to be some sort of market out there for women like me. That or the guys are simply looking at my picture and deciding to message me. It doesn't say a lot for them. I know I'm not ugly, but I am certainly not a knock out...it surprises me.

At the end of my profile, which I would like to say clearly states I am not looking for a boyfriend, I mention that if you actually do want to speak with me, you should tell me your first pet's name and what your favorite color is. To me, its a signal they made it all the way through my profile and know how to follow instructions. If I were actually looking, this would be something I would be interested in. I also, rather snarkily, mention that I have no use for people who don't know what an Oxford comma is, or how to use it.

Of the 50 or so that have messaged me, only five total have responded with answers to those questions. The rest of them were dull, pathetic, or both. I had one guy tell me his new favorite color was the color of my lips. I rolled my eyes. I  had one tell me that he hated going to botanical gardens, but he would pretend to like them if it made me happy. That made me feel both sorry for him and annoyed at the same time. One told me that he thought he could whip me in the batting cages (something I mentioned I would like to do on my first date) and I looked at his profile- he's a baseball coach. I almost sent him a message asking if he would correct my stance for me. Almost.

I had a 62 year old man looking for a "playmate and traveling companion" message me. I was astounded. I suppose there are women out there who would like a man like that- older, accomplished and looking for a younger lady to spoil...but to me, it seems wrong. I mean, he's older than my mother. That just seems weird. Then again, that may be my bias from relationships with people who are younger than me peeking through. He also sent me a "bottle of wine and chocolates" from his digital credit account, which I think is like farmville or something on FB. Kitten teased me he was spending good points on me, the very least I could do is respond. I felt like that would be unfair.

Several of the men messaging me were divorced. Quite a few of them have children. I wouldn't have bothered with them in real life either. Part of it is that I have old fashioned notions about marriage. Part of it is because I know they didn't read the part on my profile where I mention I am child-free. A few were drug users...who admits to that??? I wouldn't. But then, I will now, so maybe its not a huge difference and I just think it is.

Most of the messages were something along the line of "hey" or "Whatsup??" which, I swear, leaves me breathless as a pickup line. It truly does. My two favorites, though, I think, were the guy who told me I was "kinda cute" and the one who told me "Im a grammer natzi to, lolz, tho I don't know what an oxford comma is" Both times I rolled my eyes. Am I too scathing? Too picky? Maybe, maybe I am. Thank God and Goddess I am not a straight woman looking for an actual date...

Of all the people I've seen and heard from one, just one, seems like the kind of person I would like to talk to.I messaged him back and he seems like someone I would want to be friends with. I've heard nothing so far, so maybe I am far more boring than I appear to be.

You're curious, I'm sure, of whether I actually got in touch with Nox. I did find his profile. I also sent him a teasing message. His response was somewhat less than enthralling and more than abrasive. I sent him one in reply, and the last he sent me was made him sound like a downright asshole. It wasn't complimentary to either of us, to be frank. The funny thing is, its what I like about him. He's very real, very emotional and very forceful. If you know me at all you know that's the kind of person I find myself drawn to, for the most part. I'm at an impasse, though, because he seems to think I am some starstruck girl making a brave attempt at getting a guy to date her, which couldn't be farther from the truth. I've waffled over the idea of simply messaging him back and calling truce, telling him that I just wanted to meet him. But then, its that sort of contrivance, so like me and so unlike most people, that turns a lot of people like him off. Ah, well. It is what it is.

In the end, I think I shall simply delete the account. Its been entertaining, but dear lord, its discouraging. No wonder people are always talking about how hard it is to find a good person to date when they're past the age of 20 and single. I'm glad I'm not in that position.

I have learned, however, that I do know my own personality and my own preferences for people very well, even on paper. I think I'm able to distinguish what I want and what I don't want. Truly, I've discovered not a little bit of prejudice in me. It seems unfair, maybe, to have such a high standard. I mean, when someone sends me a message and pours their heart and life history out to a total stranger, that takes a lot of trust. Would it be fair, if I were really looking, to dismiss them out of hand simply because I think they scanned my profile, or were only interested in my looks? Maybe. But there you have it.

And I've found I am quite picky about the way a person looks too. I never realized it quite until now, but I surround myself almost exclusively with people I find beautiful. Now, maybe other people wouldn't agree with my assessment of my friends, but there isn't a single one I can look at and say I can't find attractive. And I don't do it on purpose! I truly don't. Then again, the personalities of all of my friends are beautiful too, and that makes them extra gorgeous in my eyes.

Oh, dear, the things you realize about yourself when you go on an internet dating site. You know, those lovely psychological tests that they make you take? I was fascinated by them. For example, POF tells me that:

Perhaps the defining feature that sets me apart from most people is the exceptionally high standards that I set for myself. As someone who exerts little control over my actions, I may find that I commit social blunders that might offend other people and get yourself in trouble. Indeed, it’s possible that I might be criticized periodically for being unreliable or unable to “stay within the lines.” Nonetheless, I may still experience many short-lived pleasures and never be thought of as boring.

As someone high in openness, I have a strong appreciation for beauty, both in art and nature. Indeed, it’s likely that I am easily absorbed in music and art, as well as natural phenomena. Another aspect of my openness is my emotional insight; that is, I probably have good access to and awareness of my own emotions.

How terribly boring. I am pretty sure I was able to tell someone all of those things about myself without taking a test to find it out. Although I will say that my relationship needs assessment pretty well said that I need a partner who is just like Kitten, so I suppose I can't argue too much, can I?

Then again, I'm a free spirit and thinker so maybe that's what I am supposed to do anyway.

Do you think this odd fascination with this site is indicative of something being seriously wrong with me? Everyone I know is amused by it, and I think my stories of my misadventures, such as they are, have been entertaining. But to not be able to walk away, not just yet...Yeah, there's probably something wrong with me.


Saturday, August 25, 2012

I Don't Really Want To Be Seen In My Own Eyes

 I think I had mentioned before that I went out one day with Flyguy and he had taken pictures of me with my camera and with his actual camera with black and white film. I promised I would post a few of the black and whites when I got copies of them. Here are a few of them.

I think I have mentioned before, he's a really talented guy. When I saw there my jaw dropped. Honestly, I don't recognize the person in these pictures as me. I mean, clearly, they are me...but as far as photographs go, they're pretty stunning. I don't normally look like that. It seems to me that somehow he has managed to capture a little bit of who I am on the inside, rather than what I look like on the outside. There's more there, for me, than just looking pretty like I do in other pictures. I like that.

Despite the fact that I am hopelessly vain, I would like to think that most of the world that knows and likes me does so because of who I am and not what I look like. I mean, I've said it before and I'll say it many times over- I am not a supermodel. I am not even above average looking. I am a normal woman, so if you love me, it would have to be because I am something special that has nothing to do with the way I look. I think these pictures capture those things about me that are really worth looking at- they see me on the inside.

I think there's this myth surrounding me with the people that know me. They see me as this relentlessly cheerful person who always has something nice to say or some upbeat outlook on any situation. I frequently bemoan the fact that if I am having a day at work where I am not as chatty as I normally am that someone will approach me and ask me what's wrong. This happened last night, even, when one of my coworkers mentioned I hadn't spoken much to her that evening and wanted to know if I was angry with her. I just didn't have much to say, it was nothing personal.

Don't get me wrong, I am a happy person for the most part. I have a wonderful life and there are a lot of wonderful people in it- but I'm not always in some sort of manic free love state. I can't be, honestly, I don't have the energy. That's what I love about these pictures. When we went out to take these, I was in a really good mood. I was feeling very high energy because I was out and about with Flyguy and he's a really fun person to be around. I hadn't seen him in a while and I was delighted that we were spending time together. But when we were taking these pictures, I was pretty well not posed. I was just wandering around in this dress and every now and again I would stop and we would mess around with the camera. The thing that gets me is that out of the photos that I picked from the set he sent me to show you, I only knew when he was taking one of these. The rest of them were pictures he took while I was either resting, thinking he was fooling around with the lenses or something, or I was lost in thought. I love them, though, because he manages to capture a moment of me as I am, just resting, and thinking about whatever it was I was thinking about.

I love these photos because they are the real me.

I am not relentlessly cheerful. I am not hopelessly depressed. I am not always happy, and I am not always lost in some deep thought. There is a time when I simply exist, and in those moments I feel like I am more myself than I am at any other time.

What do you think about when you are alone? When left to your own devices, what crosses your mind? For me, sometimes it is merely me thinking of all the things I want to do or need to do. Sometimes I am making a grocery list, or wondering what to cook for dinner. Admittedly, sometimes if you catch me staring off into space I am fantasizing about something or someone, and totally indulging myself. Other times you would be catching me remembering things that have happened to me and how I felt about it. One of my favorite things to do is to lay back and close my eyes and let the images of all the people I love fill my mind. I enjoy letting my mind linger on the people who make me most happy. Some of you reading here fit that bill, you might be interested to know, and I love to sit and while away a few minutes or hours contemplating the nature of those that mean the most to me.

If I were to describe myself I know that the word I would most often use is "intense." I don't so anything halfway. If I like you, I go for it. If I care about you, I love you. If I don't like you, well, that's pretty intense too. My passions are overwhelming as are my fears and my hopes. I don't know where this part of me came from, or how it came to be my most prominent feature. But it is, and I think that every now and again, if you look at me just right, you can see it.

This is a silly little ramble, I suppose, but I felt like talking this morning. Here I am, and here you are. I'm sure I will find something more interesting to talk about later this evening, but in the meantime, there's pictures to look at, anyway.

I'm rather pretty aren't I? I think I'll have to chalk that up to my darling Flyguy's talent.

Love you all,

Monday, August 20, 2012

My Thighs Have Been Involved In Many Accidents

So, last night I read a book called "Fast Girls, Teenage Tribes and the Myth of the Slut" by Emily White. Honestly, without delving into a book review, I can say that it honestly wasn't my cup of tea.

I'm not sure how it ended up on my bookshelf in the first place, and I pulled it out during my current exploration of my bookshelves, a quest that I have given myself in an attempt to pare down the insane amount of books that we currently posses. (I've already culled more than 50 books and not made a dent in our shelves.) Any way you shake it, I was expecting the book to be educational, enlightening and entertaining. It was none of these things. Really, I wouldn't recommend it, I rather would like that two hours of my life back, but then again I mostly finished it to make a point to Kitten, who says I never read new books. If I wanted to, I could have picked up another book and read it, but lost the point.

Either way, it got me to thinking about sluts, and while I was having dinner with the girls tonight (is our 2 year anniversary with Oscelot) I was discussing the book and told them I was pretty sure by the book's definition, everyone sitting at our table was a slut- in fact, most of the people we know are sluts. Which brought us around to the definition of sluts in general. Since its relatively hard to define in terms that aren't relative to the people you know or the moral standards within which most people operate, it got to be a bit of a trick to make a firm definition that didn't include every person who hasn't had sex outside the confines of marriage. So when I got home I took it upon myself to look up the meaning of the word slut in the dictionary.

Dictionary.com says slut means "an immoral or dissolute woman; prostitute"

This seemed hardly like a help since most of the people I have known to be called sluts were not prostitutes and some of them weren't even female, so I went to Urban Dictionary instead and found a few more enlightening entries, the most useful of which is:

"A derogatory term.  Refers to a sexually promiscuous person, usually female.  One who engages in sexual activity with a large number of persons, occasionally simultaneously.  Also refers to one who engages in sexual activity outside of a long-term relationship within the duration of said relationship.  These sexual activities include but are not limited to: passionate kissing, manual stimulation of genitalia and/or breasts in the case of a female; oral stimulation of these parts; sexual intercourse.  In some cases, used to refer to a woman who is wearing "skimpy" or tasteless clothing.  Less commonly, used as a derogatory term by one female for another during periods of conflict.

Synonyms: whore, tramp. Derivations: slutty (adj.), sluttier/sluttiest (superlatives). Related Adjectives: easy; immoral; loose; cheap." 
This, I think, is a definition that I can work with. It does seem more, uh, specific, especially within the confines of modern (if often slang) usage. 

I suppose the reason I was so interested in the definition was because of this discussion with my partners. I mean, I suppose the definition really makes no difference- I know, and have known for some time, that I am a slut. By most definitions. Maybe not dictionary.com, since I am not a prostitute (despite this popular belief held by Kitten's co-workers- a rumor, I think, started by her ex). But, if you look at the other one, really, I'm pretty sure I fit the bill. I can't deny that I've done all of those things. 

I don't say this because I am proud of being a slut, but more because I am not ashamed of it. Its something that, I suppose, I was looking for in the book I was reading, because I assumed there would be some sense of empowerment, some sense of the futility of slut-shaming, because I don't think there's anything wrong with being promiscuous, if you are being safe about it. I think you can sleep around, have a good time, be safe, and still have your morals intact. For the most part, I didn't find that in the book. Was there a lot of talk about the slut archetype? Sure. Was there talk about the horrors and damage that slut shaming can cause? Oh, yeah. But there was a significant lack of women in the book who were taking up the flag of the slut with pride. That was what I think bothered me. 

I felt bad, I really did, about those poor girls who graduated virgins but who had been accused of sleeping with the whole swim team, or passing out blow jobs at parties. In no way do I feel that what happened to them was okay. But to me, it seemed like there was a lot of ladies protesting too much, and not enough of anyone talking about how it was okay to be in control of your sexuality. 

I do understand we are discussing a book that centers largely on teenagers. I get that. As a teenager sex is a mystery, there is a lot of questioning, a lot of need to explore, and in the case of many teens- the need to subjugate their burgeoning sexuality. Here's where I depart from the author, and where I think I depart from this not book review that is somehow turning into a book review- someone needs to take up for the sluts. 

Anyone who knows me knows that I embrace my sexuality fully. I don't make any excuses, and while I'm always willing to offer explanations, I rarely do it as a means of justifying myself. Are you interested in why I call myself a lesbian despite the fact I've slept with men? Are you curious why I call myself a lesbian despite the fact that I have enjoyed sex with men? Or why I am in a triad. Or why I don't think masturbation is shameful. Or why, for the most part, I have no problem showing myself off in person or via photo, even though I'm not the fittest woman in the world (well, certainly not the way I used to be). I'll talk about those things all day. I have no problem admitting that I've had quite a few sex partners. More than Kitten and Oscelot put together. Actually, probably more than the two of them put together and doubled. I don't think that makes me a bad person. I don't think that makes me anything but someone who is in touch with their sexuality and their needs, and frankly, pretty good in the sack. 

Most people would think it makes me a slut. 

Okay. Sure. 

Tell me, what's wrong with that? To me, I think there's nothing wrong with the way I've experienced sex. I have come out of it happy (most of the time) and disease free (all of the time) and for the most part pleased with the partners I have had. And I'll tell you something- every sex partner I have had has taught me something about myself. They have taught me about the way I experience the world. I don't regret most of my sex partners. There are a few, but they are in general emotional mistakes and not sexual ones. Truth me told, some of the people I liked the least were the ones I had the most fun with. I generally don't ask questions except for the pertinent ones- when were you last tested, are you clean, and do you have protection? 

Take Kitten, for example. When I slept with her for the first time I barely knew her. Granted, we slept together more than once, and I did like her very much by the time we both foolishly ended our first relationship. But here's the truth- Kitten was and still is (and this is NOT partner bias, she doesn't read here and I have no reason to lie) the best sex partner I have ever had. She was the standard by which I held every partner after her to, and forget about the people before her- she obliterated them. No one ever measured up. Now, when she and I got back together I was cheating on the person I was with when I started sleeping with her again. By both counts, sleeping with her when I didn't know her well or love her and by cheating on a long term partner, I was a huge slut. Best decision I ever made. Both times. 

I get really tired of the people who somehow feel like sex has to be something secret, or taboo, or something shameful. I like sex with the lights off...but its not because I feel ashamed or like I need to hide what I'm doing. I masturbate with a blanket over me, but its because I get cold and I can't climax if my feet feel like blocks of ice. I think there's be a lot more people out there who were happier and healthier if there were less stigma attached to the sex act. Whether you want to procreate or have a good time, there is simply nothing wrong with sex. There isn't. 
There is something very wrong with people who equate sex with love and assume that to have sex without it means you are somehow lacking in morals or emotion. That is simply not the case. Can sex be amazing when you love a person? Oh yeah. But it can also suck. Same as sex with a stranger is sometimes awesome and sometimes awful. It depends on the people, the situation and the skill of those involved.  Now, I can hear someone saying now that there can be good sex with an unskilled partner. Yes, yes there can be. You can even have nice sex with that unskilled partner several times. Here's the catch- you either love them (which isn't what I'm here to discuss) or you are learning with them and -gasp- having sex for fun (which is exactly what I'm talking about). This whole notion that sex is some sort of gift you bestow on your partner because you care about them is silly. It truly is. Because sex, done right, is a gift to yourself too. I could ramble all day about the health benefits of sex, or the emotional benefits of sex, or whatever. Its boring, though, and I don't think any of us care. If you do, google it and post it in my comments and I'm sure we'll all read it. 

But the slut flag...why does no one take it up? Why oh why, in this day and age, is there still a stigma attached to making yourself feel good, especially when you're a woman? I try and puzzle it out, but truly, I think I wouldn't be able to without lots of research, and reading, and a lot of talk about politics and women's rights and human rights and in the end I think the result is the same. I may not like it, but if I got slut tattooed anywhere on my body that was visible, I wouldn't be reclaiming the word. I won't reclaim it by proffering, as I do here, that I am a slut and I'm proud of that. I'll still be judged, and most of it won't be nice. I don't see a lot of people going "That Alecya, what a slut. Man, I am lucky to know a woman like her...witty, nice, well spoken and totally unashamed of the fact that she loves to have sex." 

Maybe I'm wrong. I hope I'm wrong. After all, being a slut is, if anything, loving the act of love and pleasure- and I don't see a lot of people loving that about me. Even if I do. 


Thursday, August 2, 2012

Someone Loves You

Today is my Monday and I'm starting off a new work week for me. I usually wake up Thursdays and groan a little bit, because I'm so tired, but honestly I woke up today and I was ready to meet it. Yesterday was Lammas (also called Lughnasadh) and it was a nice night for me.

Rather than doing a formal ritual our group did some relaxing celebrating. We added to our wreath that we made at Beltane and filled it full of the blessings we've reaped so far this year. Lammas is our first harvest holiday, so its a good time to give thanks for the things in your life. Its a time to reflect and think of the coming months. Its a wonderful holiday. We had a picnic in my house (its back to hundred degree weather) and we drank special tea made with sacred herbs to the holiday that Kitten made. Because Lammas is also a holiday that encourages games of skill and sport, we played a game together. We're not a particularly athletic group, and honestly, going out in the heat to have three legged races and such sounded moronic. But it was a good time, we enjoyed ourselves a lot.

I think that's part of the reason I'm so happy, despite the early hour of my rising, and it being the beginning of the week for me. I was thinking, as I fell asleep last night, it takes a lot of work to keep the heart young, to let the soul age and to let your spirit be ageless. I think I am learning how that is done.

One thing I feel I must mention, Sakura has been such a blessing to me. I was talking about it last night. Of all the things I have reaped in the last year, having him as a spiritual companion has been one of the best parts of my life. I am very lucky to have him beside me, listening to me when I need an ear, offering advice when I am unsure how to act, and loving me in spite of the many mistakes I make. Its good to know I have him there when things get a little hot, because he knows how to handle the fire in my personality.

This next week seems like it is going to be just as busy as the last one. Spice's birthday is coming up, and we were noticing that its been a while since we took the time to get together with our friends just to hang out and have a good time. The last time we did it was February, when we had Thanksgiving in February. So this week we are having Half Christmas (or Half Christmahannukwanzule) at our house. Everyone is taking time to cook some dishes, chip in for a giant ham, and I am going to break out the long table so we can have a big dinner together. We're all picking up inexpensive (naughty) gifts to have a present swap, and we're planning on passing a few surprises out for Spice, since its her birthday celebration too. I'm really looking forward to it.

I did a spell for a friend last week, with the help of Sakura, and I am anxious to see how it turned out. The effects should have been almost immediate, so this weekend I'll hopefully hear that my proficiency in one of my chosen specialties has moved into adeptness. Speaking of spells, its time for me to reward my home, and that's going to require a lot of planning and patience, and some quick action. I want to get it done as soon as possible. I have every faith in my abilities, but that doesn't mean I like to leave things hanging.

On top of all that crazy, I am going to start planning the ritual for my favorite holiday, Mabon, with Kitten. This month will be the month that we finally initiate Felix into the Outer Court. I've got to start planning for Kitten going back to school, and I am ready to see all the changes that we've been planning on starting to manifest.

Emotionally, I think I'm in a pretty good place right now. I realized when we were at the fair on Tuesday that I've changed more than I thought I had. I am a very happy person. I used to say it was hard to make me laugh, but laughter is something that comes quickly and easily for me now. Its not hard to make me smile, and its a lot more difficult to catch me in a foul mood. I feel like I am learning to accept the love of the people around me, and while I have always considered myself a fairly loving person, it is much easier to give it now than it was for me a year or two ago.

I think its telling, too, that I was looking for discernment when I worked my last transformation rite, and when I asked for it, I don't think I was really thinking about the consequences of that request. I'm not sorry I did it, but the last few months have been very interesting for me. I've struggled with personal issues that I needed to deal with, which I brought to the forefront of my life by doing that work. I think I was ready for it, and now, two months into that work, I feel like I am learning to make headway at last. Its not easy, the things that have been placed in my path are not always sweet, or good, but I'm getting there. Learning to let my Type A perfectionism take a back seat to my own happiness on occasion has been tough. Seeing the lessons that have been put clearly in front of me has been hard. But there is a sweet joy in the learning now. What would have caused me pain and stress even three or four months ago I am able to take in stride now.

I feel like I am finally walking upright.

This post may wander a bit, but I suppose the idea for me was to speak to the fullness of my life. I am very full. I couldn't ask for more than that. Fullness sometimes means craziness and stress and intensity, but by comparison, I'll take that over the howling wilderness that was my life four years ago any day.

Bright Blessings my friends.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Watch it Spin Around Into A Beautiful Oblivion

 Having had a lackluster Monday evening, despite all my efforts at making it otherwise, I was more than ready to head off to the fair yesterday. Nothing gets you over a serious case of the blahs like a good time with your friends, and my- did i have a good time!

When all was said and done there were seven of us that ended up going to the fair- Kitten, Oscelot, Sakura, myself, Shorty, Cookie (a coworker at Casa Bueno I've been dying to get to know better) and Flyguy, who met us up as soon as he got off of work.

The weather was perfect. I can't even imagine a better day to go. It was overcast, which was great after all of the days of relentless sunshine we've had. The weather was cooler too, which is an absolute necessity if you want to enjoy yourself. There's nothing worse that eating so much you feel sick when you already feel sick because of the heat. And rides? Much nicer when the ride seat doesn't scorch your leg when you sit down. We couldn't have
made a better day, honestly. And that's saying something, because in theory, we could have tried.

Everyone met up at our place so we could carpool. I was delighted when Cookie showed up bearing cookies for us. (Yep, that's how she's getting this name. How awesome is it, what a delightful, old fashioned, wonderful thing to do, to bring a gift to someone the first time you visit their home? I thought that tradition had passed her generation by completely. I was wrong.) We all sat and munched and chatted up everyone's recent personal life updates and had a grand time until it was time to leave.

Cookie and I ended up in Sakura's little toaster looking car, while Shorty headed off to ride with my ladies. We beat them to the fair, and had a few moments to let Cookie orient herself while we waited for them to meet us at the A&W. It was her first fair experience, and I was having a blast watching her take it all in.

In case you're curious, the photo, in order from left to right, is Cookie, Shorty, Me and Oscelot. Sakura took it, which is why he wasn't in it, and Kitten was off getting a Tater Twister, which is why she isn't in it. It was during our massive gorge break. We had giant turkey legs, cheese sticks, tornado taters, a caramel apple, hand dipped bubblegum ice cream and a couple sodas. Granted, we ate other stuff too...but that was our big sit down and eat break. We also split some nachos, root beer, three foot long corn dogs, some handmade lemonade and a bag of kettle corn.

I won't give you a blow by blow but the highlights, for me, were as follows:

While I was getting my caramel apple a group of very pretty women stopped me to ask about my tattoos. While we were chatting middle east culture, one of them whipped out a quart of hand picked blueberries. I demanded to know where she got them, because I love fresh fruit and I hadn't seen them. She said the stand was about to close (it was 9) but she insisted I take some, and so I let her hook me up with a handful of beautifully tart blueberries. They were really sweet. I was so surprised. Sometimes strangers can do nice things, eh? I wasn't so nice, I crammed the whole fistful in my mouth before I remembered my friends might want some too. oops.

Kitten and Sakura aren't really ride people, so after we got our ride armbands they went to bond in the E-plex, where all the exhibits were. I was glad for that, I like them spending time together. Me and the girls hit the midway and rode rides until we were giggling and dizzy. There was a huge slide you could race down in potato sack type things we did and it was awesome. (135 stairs, folks, it was tall) We rode the Himalaya, which is a set of cars that swing in a circle and speed up over time, dashing through paintings of the snow covered mountains. Its like a big kid's merry go round. I love it, its one of my favorite.

We waited in line to ride this giant swing looking thing that spun you around while you were swinging, called the Warrior and the kid on the ride before us puked. Cookie and I were fortunate enough to get the recently water washed puke seats. While we were riding, the swing shifted and made a loud mechanical noise. The girl in the seat behind us laughed and shouted "Oh, the sounds of safety" and we cracked up.

We went to look at the livestock and had an excellent time oogling mini-donkeys. We headed into the big barn and got to look at beef and milking cows, goats, horses and sheep. There was an exhibit where you could watch chickens hatch from the eggs. It was awesome. Cookie seemed to really like that, and she stayed long enough that a couple of teenagers asked if they were her chickens. She laughed and said to us, "Do I look like I own a bunch of chickens?" I made friends with a goat named Zeus, who I got at eye level with near his pen and he leaned out and licked my nose all over. Goat kisses are awesome. We also got to dodge all of the antique tractors as they shot out of the barn to take their places in the evening parade.

We took time out to wander the E-plex after eating and I loved looking at the quilts. I was totally foot in mouth when I told one of the ladies at the quilt stands that I loved the hand sewn quilts, because I think it takes more talent. I mentioned I liked a Civil War era second day dress down the aisle, but i would like it more if it were hand sewn. She coolly informed me it was. I was aghast. The seams were perfect! Turns out the woman who made it is a friend of hers and designs patterns for Butterick and McCalls. That explained a lot.

We went and ran to the karaoke stand and Oscelot and I sang a song each. It was fun, because there were total strangers everywhere, and I like preforming for strangers because there's less to be nervous about. I think I did okay. Oscelot, as usual, blew me out of the water. When I got down, everyone was munching funnel cake and deep fried snickers bars and Flyguy had arrived. We tromped off to get him an arm band for rides, because I wasn't going to have him only riding two because he didn't want to waste money. Oscelot and Kitten paid for his band.

We took back to the midway and did the giant slide again, the huge swings, the twisty swing, and of course the Himalaya. I watched while he and Cookie and Shorty rode the giant swinging pirate ship and giggled listening to all of them scream.

We paid for a round of water pistol game for everyone, and I won a giant pink stuffed snake. Its longer than I am. It was great fun to watch Kitten wrap it around her. For anyone who's seen any of my photos on FB or at home, they'll know why I didn't pick a bear or a puppy...Kitten and I have had a stuffed snake photo gag on all of our trips since we started dating. Now we have one of our own.

I about died laughing here too, because the guy running the target game was a mouth piece. The object of the game is to sit at your post, and when the bell goes off shoot water at a target. As you do, it blows up a balloon. When the first balloon pops, the game is over. The popped balloon person wins. How many people play determines the size of your prize. When we paid for everyone, it made sure that we'd get whichever one we wanted. I told the guy I wanted the giant pink snake as I sat down. He looked all of us over, Three lesbians, Shorty, Cookie and Sakura, and looked at Sakura and said, conspiratorially, " I think the girls have this one, sir, if you'll forgive me, I'll bet they're better at aiming for the hole..." and he winked. The joke, of course, being that most of the women were recognizably lesbians and Sakura is obviously gay. We all got a huge kick out of it. When I won (I never win!!!) he laughed and told me i must have really wanted that snake.

We also went to ride the one ride which looks like a ferris wheel tipped on its side, but the cars hand from it like clothes on a line. When you get it, it spins, and the cars tilt sideways. The ferris wheel part then moves up, so it looks like an actual ferris wheel and you're going almost upside down at one point. The girls had mentioned wanting to ride it earlier, and I was game, even though the look of the ride terrified me. I ended up in a car with Shorty, who reassured me it wasn't that bad, she had ridden it several times the year before. She got in the back, and told me to lean against her, since I'd end up pressed against her anyway. I was a little nervous, because Flyguy said that this ride had made him throw up the year before. I normally can hold it in. I've never not made it to a trash can or the grass, but I look at Flyguy as one of the manliest, toughest people I know. If it did him in, what would it do to me? I shouldn't have worried. Shorty was a comfort to me, and honestly, I felt very safe next to her, which I suppose is a comment on how much I like and trust her, because normally I would require Kitten and Oscelot to feel that safe. Both of them were sitting the ride out. It was an excellent ride, and I laughed nearly the whole time.

I'll tell you though, despite all the rides and the food, which were awesome like always...this was the best fair experience I've ever had. And it had nothing to do with those things, or the perfect weather, the low crowds or the freedom I felt to do anything I liked. It was my friends.

There's something really special about bonding with people you love at the fair. i got to know Cookie better, and I found that she's as honestly sweet as she seems. She fun and adventurous. She makes me laugh, which is hard to do...although less hard with the group we were in. I didn't mind the close quarters or the squishing on the rides I rode with her. And while I have no bubble with the people I love, I have a huge bubble with people I don't know well. I am, apparently, going to love Cookie the way I love all my good friends.

I loved watching Shorty and Oscelot (both the same very short height) lean their heads in and giggle over something. I loved watching Sakura and Kitten take videos of us and laugh at the faces we were making. There's something great in watching your friends with their heads tilted back, smiles so wide they are almost grimaces, laughing full throat with absolute joy at nothing at all. I loved the silliness and the randomness of our little group. I loved being able to share everything with everyone. I loved that we were unafraid to dance or shake or be silly to the incredibly loud rock music plays on all of the rides. I loved the pure, unadulterated happiness of all of my friends. I loved being able to snug up against my friends on all of those rides and whomever it was, know I was as safe, happy and joyful as I would ever be.  I was exhilarated as we each threw our hands in the air and let ourselves be thrown one way then another, because we didn't care so long as we were all together and laughing.

Call me morbid, but if there were some sort of accident, if something did happen...I couldn't have gone a better way last night- my good friends around me, happy, full of life and not wanting for a single thing. Yeah- the fair is wild, a little dangerous, and sometimes creepy- but there's a safety in the joy and fullness of being with those you love that sort of cancels all of that out.

At eleven thirty, half an hour before the midway was supposed to close, there was a brilliant streak of lightning across the sky. Almost immediately, the lights on all the rides went off and the park went quiet. The sky opened up and the rain came pouring down over all of us- finishing us off at last as a group of stinking, hot, sticky people who very desperately needed someone to tell us to stop. I would have gone all night had they let me. But nature knew, just that moment, when we were done, and so we hugged Flyguy goodbye (he was in a different parking lot)  and the six of us trooped to our cars in the rain, heads back, laughing and smiling that were finally getting rain at last. It was if, in that moment, the drought that has had sway over our area of the country, stressing and frying all of us, couldn't hold sway over the fullness of what we were when we are together. It, too, had to give in to our joy.

We didn't run, we didn't walk briskly, we only laughed our way out. We groaned, as we reached our cars, because it almost stopped for a moment. One of us ask d if that was it, and as if in response, the rain came back, harder than before, and we ducked shrieking and laughing into our cars.

On the drive home I smoked my first cigarette in almost six hours and the world spun quietly around me. After goodbyes were said, the cats were fed and I had shed my soaking wet jean shorts, I crawled under the blankets and closed my eyes.

This, I thought, is what bliss is.