Saturday, August 28, 2010

Danny and Annie, "a beautiful song from a busted old radio"

"Listen, if we're going anywhere, we're going down the aisle, because I'm too tired, too sick, and too sore to do any other damn thing," Danny told Annie 27 years ago.

I love this story from StoryCorps. Danny and Annie are narrating their love story, and they sound just as romantic now as in the first bloom of their relationship. "It's like hearing a beautiful song from a busted old radio," Danny tells Annie about why he tells her he loves her every day. "Thanks for keeping the old radio around."

Listen to the whole 5:50 minutes -- but be prepared to cry half way through when you hear about Danny's illness, and at the end, when you read the final note on the video. I did.

As I've learned personally, when we love each other at our age, part of that loving is facing and accepting that one of us will lose the other. That's a strong reason for embracing each other as closely and lovingly as we can, while we can.

Thank you, AARP Blog for posting this video, and to StoryCorps for recording it.  I've listened to it three times in a row now -- let me know how you react to it.

Danny & Annie from StoryCorps on Vimeo.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Jan's Story: Love Lost to the Long Goodbye of Alzheimer’s by Barry Petersen, reviewed

Jan's Story: Love Lost to the Long Goodbye of Alzheimer’s by Emmy Award-winning CBS News Correspondent Barry Petersen is a stunning, wrenching, valuable book about loving and living with a spouse with Alzheimer's Disease. Petersen writes from his heart, his gut, his personal truth as a loving husband who watches his wife disappear and is powerless to change the course of her disease.

Jan and Barry had an intellectually and sensually vibrant marriage. "We were blessed with being two people who couldn't keep their hands off each other," he writes. "Our lovemaking was sometimes slow and easy and sometimes quick and instant, as I sought for her release that left her satisfied and the more hungry for me, and me for her." Although this is not a book about sex, Barry doesn't flinch from sharing that part of their relationship when it was strong, and the heartwrenching loss of their sexual closeness--along with every other part of their closeness--as the disease progresses. 

Petersen shares with us his panic and his great grief ("I learned how a man can fall to the floor because he is weeping so hard"), and also his admirable attempts to keep Jan safe and happy, to the best of his ability -- sacrificing his own health and quality of life until... no, I need to let you discover that part on your own. Although I itch to write about the ending of this book, the tears still wet on my face from reading it, I'll hold back to let you take his journey with him, step by step, memory by memory.

View the trailer here. And please read the book, whether or not you have a spouse with Alzheimer's disease. Barry and Jan never expected that this disease would invade and obliterate their marriage--but as we age, it's likely that it will happen to us or to someone we love, and we should know what Barry learned the hard way. Highest recommendations.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Fast Girls: Erotica for Women

Fast Girls: Erotica for Women, edited by Rachel Kramer Bussel, from Cleis Press, is an anthology about women (not girls, though many are young) who zestily pursue their sexual desires and fantasies, flaunting social norms and going after thrills and sensations with bravado. Whether or not we see ourselves in these women (and mostly I don't, personally), we can get a vicarious thrill by reading how they go after whatever turns them on: pretend or real whoring, sex with strangers, danger, pain, bondage, submission, domination, you name it.

Yes, but this is a blog about sex and aging. Is anyone in this anthology over 50? Yes -- one character -- 51-year-old Shirin seduces a much younger classical pianist (who can resist those fingers?) in "Waitng for Beethoven" by Susie Hara. Many other characters could be any age, so if you like imagining them 50+, as I do, you can get away with it.

One writer that I know of-- D.L. King--is over 50. Her story "Let's Dance" is about a woman who seduces an "adorable" young dancing man (we love our dancing men!) from the "vanilla club" dance floor into a cab to her photo studio/home equipped with pulleys and restraints, and introduces him to his fantasy ("Cute Boy was a total bondage slut") and hers. Though D.L.King doesn't make a big deal about the narrator's age, you know she's older. If dom/sub stories turn you on and you'd like to read a story by King expressly about a man's 65th birthday gift (think a lifesize crate), read "The Gift" online. Check out her blog, too, for more about King's books.

I asked D.L. King her views about age and erotica:

My dominant female characters are often my age and their submissive males are usually quite a bit younger, but that isn't to say I haven't written the obverse, too. I don't always do it, but sometimes it's fun to play with age.

I think erotica is a great way to get the juices flowing. After a while, people tend to lose interest in the same old sex. Erotica's a great way to explore other options and spice up a relationship. If you read a story that really turns you on, bring it to your partner and see if he or she would like to try it on for size. Erotica can also help to stimulate your own fantasies. Anything that helps you to enjoy your sexuality more can only be a good thing!

I love to do readings and meet readers. Most of the readers who turn up for those events are young. I think many of my contemporaries don't attend those kinds of events. I wish more would. After all, we're the original free love generation.

I also asked the editor, Rachel Kramer Bussel, a prolific erotica writer herself, if she thinks that characters who are over 50 will become more common in erotica. She replied:   

I hope so! I like to see a range of characters, though the ones that cross my desk when I’m editing an anthology tend to skew younger. I’d definitely welcome older characters and in general themes I haven’t seen before or as often in my anthologies. I’m editing two new anthologies now, Obsessed and Women in Lust (guidelines are here:) and if there are older authors or those who simply want to add a little more variety, I encourage you to submit your work.

Let me know if this blog post results in your story being included in one of Rachel's anthologies, will you?

Monday, August 09, 2010

Sex Tapes for Seniors: The Musical

It's no joke that we need sex education courses for seniors--we're inhabiting different bodies, different minds, and trying to make sense of relationships, new and/or ongoing. We're dating, relating, retreating, all of the above.

So let's put some humor in the whole situation, which playwright Mario Cossa does with Sex Tapes for Seniors. Approaching 60 himself, Cossa decided to write a musical comedy for older performers who sing, dance, and talk about sex and relationships. That's a good thing, in my view.

The plot: a group of retirees, played by actors age 52 to 73, decide to produce educational sex videos for seniors. I loved the diversity of the seniors portrayed. They're gay, lesbian, straight, widowed, single, coupled -- you name it. How refreshing that all these older folks are shown dealing with relationships in thier complexity, including but not solely sexual, and they don't fit any stereotypes. Hallelujah.

The issues we really deal with are addressed here -- and we laugh at the memory lapses, the need for new positions that don't stress our aging bodies, the need for sex toys with instructions we can read. We nod in recognition when Dottie talks to the photo of her deceased husband, a lesbian couple bickers over a daughter not accepting their relationship, a husband doesn't want to see a doctor about his unreliable erections despite the prodding of his sexually charged wife.

The whole cast is good, but I have to say that the wildly talented Phillipe Coquet stole the show for me playing Matthew, a wiry, tap dancing, rapping, sexy gay guy whose dream is to be on Oprah. Coquet, age 52, has been acting since the age of eight and I could have watched him for hours more. (Okay, so he was also my personal heart throb in the cast.)

I was surprised that the audience remained remarkably subdued through the first act, but started loosening up as the jokes and songs got a little raunchier. e.g. suggesting that "false teeth and fellatio" pair superbly.

The sex tapes story is a minor part of the plot, a way for the characters to reveal their issues, emotions, and back stories. It works, it’s fun, and it’s about time.

If you're lucky enough to live in or near San Francisco, please see it at the Victoria Theatre. Tickets are affordable--$25-$40--and the show runs through August 22, 2010. More info here. I hope you'll add your comments to mine.

Wednesday, August 04, 2010

SIRI: New pleasure object from LELO

LELO pleasure objects are elegant and beautifully designed for both appearance and function. LELO doesn't come out with a new sex toy frequently, only when they have a new idea or improvement that will really make a difference. Ta da -- announcing the Siri!

The Siri is the new clitoral massager from LELO, and I love it! It curves deliciously to fit over the clitoris and labia with velvety silicone and fits more comfortably in the hand than an ergonomic mouse.

The best part: This sexy sweetheart is strong. They must have been thinking about us older women when they designed it. The vibrations are lower-pitched than most toys, giving deep, throbbing or thrumming sensations.

I usually ignore the vibrational patterns in sex toys, going straight to the strongest, steadiest rhythm -- but with the SIRI, I found myself enjoying one of the intermittently patterns the most. I don't know how to describe it, except that it reminded me of a lover's expert fingers circling the clitoris and varying pressure.

The Siri is quiet, very quiet. It's small enough and appropriately shaped to fit over the clitoris during partner sex as well as solo. It is rechargeable, so you'll have no batteries or wires to contend with during use, and two hours of charging will keep it going for four hours. It comes with a satiny travel bag and can be locked so it can't turn on accidentally during travel -- and you will want to travel with it!

If you enjoy internal as well as external stimulation, pair the Siri with LELO's Gigi for an extraordinary experience!

I have only one criticism -- the four controls which determine pattern and intensity are almost impossible to decode while in use -- I had to wear my reading glasses and hold the SIRI close to my face to see which was which, and although they have raised symbols, they all feel the same. The trick is to memorize their location before starting.

Update: I was asked to compare the Siri and the smaller Lily. This photo shows the size difference. The Siri's vibrations are much stronger and lower-pitched than the Lily's. They're both wonderful -- depends on your preference.

See my other LELO pleasure object reviews here. Thank you, LELO, for sending me the Siri to review!

Monday, August 02, 2010

Our First Kiss, August 2, 2001

Robert and I shared our first kiss nine years ago today, under the full moon after our line dance class. It wasn't a sudden kiss -- I had pursued this sexy, dancing man for nine months. We had danced, talked, strolled, even choreographed together -- but, though always kind, he kept his distance. He admitted later that he was a little afraid of me, saw me sometimes as Spider Woman (!) because I was so assertive.

If you've read Better Than I Ever Expected: Straight Talk about Sex After Sixty, you know that I finally propositioned him by email. He turned me down, explaining gently that he didn't make these decisions quickly or rush into sex. (Nine months: Quickly? Rush?)

Later that night he emailed me again. He had changed his mind!

"It’s been a while for these old body parts," he wrote. "Maybe it's time."

We made a date to take a walk after the next dance class and discuss what to do next. We strolled under the full moon, not touching, and then stopped at a park bench.

There we shared our first kiss. And our second. Third. Twentieth.

We necked and petted like teenagers, the silver moonlight spotlighting our excitement. Then we made a plan to spend the following Saturday at his house and explore the next dimension of our relationship.

We didn’t know then that we would fall in love. But we did. I was 57 and he 64.

The memory of our first kisses remains strong in my mind, nine years later. So does the memory of our last kiss, two years ago today. As I wail with grief because Robert is gone, I embrace the precious joy of the seven years of great love that we shared. So many people never find that, and we did.

It is fitting that I finished writing Naked at Our Age the day before this significant anniversary, because Robert told me, shortly before he died, "Promise me you'll keep doing your work." I honor him by doing that.

(I think these photos were taken before Robert and I shared that first kiss -- they are the oldest photos of the two of us that I have. We had no idea how our lives were about to be transformed!)