The Ministry of Fools, and the Pity With Which Mr. T Regards Them

Living with a monster
It's been about a year that I've known there's a name for it. It's been over fifteen years that I've know something is wrong.

People snicker when they hear the the word "orgasm" or "genital." They laugh when they hear that someone could experience 200 orgasms a day, and say things like, "sounds like a pretty good time to me!" They think it's like being on a roller coaster, day in, day out. Such fun!

Now, imagine you're at your mothers house. Imagine, if you will, that you're talking to your mother about food allergies. Imagine, while discussing the intricacies of gluten intolerance, that you have an orgasm. Just sitting there. Thinking about the most boring thing you could possibly imagine, your body responds as as inappropriately is imaginable.

Or, imagine, you're a tattoo artist. Imagine, you've been given the highest honor of being entrusted to permanently engrave someone's vision of themselves into their skin. Imagine, you're in the middle of said tattoo, and you have an orgasm. Stigma aside, that's pretty distracting. And what do you say? What do you do? How do you make what just happened "normal?"

It's not normal. And it's embarrassing. And it's not something you can explain away as a medical condition, even though that's exactly what it is.

If I said I was having a flair up of arthritis, I would be met with sympathy. If I said my cancer treatments have left me scatterbrained, you would treat me empathetically. But if I tell you I suffer from Persistent Genital Arousal Disorder, you'd either giggle like a seventh grader, or you'd change the subject and act like I'd never brought up such a thing. Well, I wish such a thing didn't exist. But it does, and I have it.

There's a weird place between being honest and being private. There's this divide, where you're not sure what you can and can't/should or shouldn't say. When is it appropriate? Who will I offend? There's such a stupid fucking stigma attached to our private bits. A stigma that has ruled me for most of my life, and affects us all in the stupidest ways. You can talk all day about how a sneeze almost happened, but the minute you talk about sexual release, you've gone too far.

So. Let me explain how PGAD works, as simple as possible.

There are two things that happen when you're aroused. Mentally, emotionally, you are entertaining the possibility of getting it on. Your brain is all about it. Someone's got your motor running, and it's exciting!

Meanwhile, your body does stuff. If you're a boy, blood flows down under, and your pants don't fit the way they used to. If you've got lady bits, blood flow leads to engorgement (EW!!! YOU SAID ENGORGEMENT!) and you have moisture in the places that would like to become the paths most traveled.

When you have PGAD, the second bit happens without any signal from the first bit. Literally, your body doesn't require signals from your brain or your emotions to get the party started down there. Sometimes, you're making a sandwich. Sometimes, you're contemplating your next move in Words With Friends. Sometimes, you're at a fucking funeral. And your body decides, because it's a fucking asshole, that it's time to get it on. And the worst part? Anxiety makes it worse. And guess what having PGAD causes? Anxiety. So guess what's always happening? Hooray.

Leaving my house can be terrifying. For real. Being at home alone, when it gets bad, is hard enough. But having to be at work, and appear that nothing is the matter, is incredibly exhausting. Leaving the house when I don't have a "have to" is even harder. Why put myself through the shame, the embarrassment,the awkwardness? Socializing is so difficult. And it's not like I can just shrug it off, and explain it away. "Sorry if I'm acting weird tonight, guys! My genitals are screaming and it's impossible to focus on your story! ha ha ha, you know how it is."

I won't pretend I wasn't sensationalizing to a degree. It's not always orgasms. Sometimes, it's a searing pain. It's an indescribable electric, burning, throbbing, or sharp pain. Sometimes, it feels like a tickle, the kind you can't ignore. Sometimes, it's crippling. But honestly, nothing is worse than having an orgasm when you don't want one. It's like being raped by your own body. You have no control. It happens because it does, because sometimes the sun rises and sometimes it sets.

There was this woman a few years back, Gretchen Molannen, who agreed to an interview about her PGAD on a local news program in Tampa, Florida. Because of a strong religious background, her self loathing was inflated for her body's constant begging for release. Her's was so bad, that she couldn't work at all. She was denied disability, even though She barely could leave her room. She was too embarrassed to tell her family, and for 16 years, she suffered in silence. After the interview, and before the interview aired, she took her own life. But not before saying the following: "I am flattered that you cared so much to want to help. I just hope this will educate people that this is serious and really exists, and that other women who are suffering in silence will now have the courage to talk to a doctor about it."

The thought of sharing this, and not doing so "privately," is terrifying. I've been debating sharing this at all. I've debated if I'm ready to deal with the bullshit that's bound to bounce back for sharing my story. But what Gretchen said is true. If she never shared her story, it may have never reached me. I would more than likely still be suffering, embarrassed, and unable to talk to anyone about it at all; wondering if I'm the only one. If it weren't for brave and honest stories like hers, I wouldn't know that there was a name for what I have, I wouldn't know that there were countless other women (and a few men) that know what I'm going through.

I decided I should share this for two reasons. First, that maybe my story could reach one person who doesn't know they're not alone. Because when you have a disorder related to your fucking genitals, you can't talk about it, ask about it, or even know how to google about it without feeling awful, which is bullshit. But it's true. The second reason is kind of selfish. I'm so fucking tired. I am so tired of pretending it's not happening. My anxiety is off the charts, I function on a sub-par level, I can't tell anyone why, and everyone thinks I'm a flake or irresponsible or not trying hard enough, but I'M FUCKING TRYING. And I'm tired. And I'm still trying. And believe me, I'm fucking trying.

I'm hardly a celebrity. But I think I can reach a handful of people. Frankly, I'm just done. Stick a fork in me. I'd rather have the world know, than have to pretend everything's hunky dory when I'd rather be dead. No, I'm not offing myself. I'd rather see what else this world has to offer. I'm not done tattooing or learning my awesome banjo, I'm not done traveling, I'm not done seeing if there will someday be a cure for this stupid, stupid ailment. And as unfortunate as this stupid, stupid ailment has been, and as much as it has affected relationships with people I've truly loved, and as much as I'm terrified to try to ever go on another date ever again and have to seriously look this monster in the face and introduce it to another person, I'm not really done. I'm just done with feeling like I need to pretend that this monster isn't here.

What it is.

I'm so torn about posting this. I may not. I want some kind of help or advice, but I'm beyond knowing how to ask for it. This has to do with unconventional addiction.

I would like to know if anyone would be about a conversation. I would like some advice from an open minded individual.

I could really use some help.

Posted via LiveJournal app for iPhone.


Two years in San Francisco.
I cannot believe it's been two years. It feels like I've been here for ever, while still feeling like just yesterday we were wandering around the city freaking out about where we were going to open the shop. When I think about how much we accomplished and how quickly, it gives me an anxiety rush. We were incredibly lucky. We didn't realize how lucky. But things went the way they did, and I can't imagine my life otherwise.

Now we're nearing our two year anniversary for Tattoo Boogaloo. When Chris, Deanna and I opened for business, we never would have guessed that our staff would more than double in two years. Katie moving out here six months after we opened, Kyle joining on as apprentice this last October (and oh my god, he's already kicking ass), McKenzie joining in March as counter help (and now piercing apprentice as well), and finally John DeWeese joining the ranks this coming Friday. Our little baby's getting all growed up!

Things with Tony are going very well. I'm excited to have such a wonderful man in my life. It's strange being in a relationship after getting out of such a long relationship. Rediscovering boundries, what makes someone tick... so many little things that I haven't had to do in over a decade. But the deeper I get in with this guy, the more I love him.

I've also taken up the banjo! I love it! I'm not very good yet but I'll show you all. Fear my learning prowess.

Hope everything's all good in the livejournal hood. Every time I log on here (which of course isn't very often anymore) I see less and less of the folks I used to see on here. It kinda makes me sad, but I'm right there with them. Life happens, it gets hard to make time.

And then it was January.
Don't you guys love how every time I post in here, I say I'm back and I'm going to post more? But then I don't for a few more months? Well, I won't insult your intelligence by lying this time.

It has been an incredibly eventful 6 months or so. For the few of you not in the know, Schwa and I are getting a divorce. The decision was made back in August. It's been a bittersweet time since, trying to balance space with maintaining some sort of friendship. Shit ain't easy.

I've been seeing someone new for a few weeks. His name is Tony and he is a nerd. I'm very happy.

Work has been awesome. I love our shop and I love this city.

I will try to update more as I find the time. Time has been a rare commodity as of late, so don't hold your breath. I miss you all and I do try to check in on occasion.

On Gender
A friend's recent post got me thinking about something.

I've never identified with a gender. I don't consider myself to be female, nor do I wish to be male. I've never felt comfortable even thinking about it, frankly. This isn't to say that I don't recognize everyone else's gender, I have just never been concerned with my own. I love people who dress up. I love women that are all about dressing to the nines, and I'm all about men in a well-tailored suit. I also love seeing a man dressed "as a woman," and vice versa. I don't personally dress up very often, and when I do, I think it's relatively unisex. But I respect everyone's right to dress the way they please, and I wish others would do the same for me without assuming things about me that should not be assumed.

I've spent most of my life having others assume that I'm a lesbian. I don't know if it's the short hair, the way I dress, the way I talk, my build, or all of the above. I don't wear makeup. I don't believe in heals. I love wearing skirts, but I have a feeling that even wearing women's clothing, I probably look a bit like a man in drag. I spend more time explaining to people that I'm straight than you'd believe. This explanation is often met with surprise, and sometimes disbelief.

I don't think gender identity has anything at all to do with sexual orientation. And I'm curious as to why everyone else does. On a grander level, I'm curious as to why people are even concerned with sexual orientation at all (unless you're on the prowl, of course), but I recognize that I'd be foolish to hope for that to go away anytime soon. Unless you're trying to take me home, why does it matter what category I fall into? Do we need to all fit into tidy little compartments?

I'm not saying that people are even rude about it. It's often a casual comment, not even judgmental (I think). But it happens to me on a weekly basis. Does everyone feel like they need to explain their gender/orientation that often?

I could frankly care less if you're a man or a woman, straight or gay, proud or not of your orientation or gender, and I could care less what you think of of my own identity. I guess I'm just tired of talking about it, because when I talk about it, I have to be aware of it. There are plenty of things that I do identify with. There are plenty of neat compartments that I'm more than happy to put myself in, with or without your help. Gender just happens to not be one of them.

(edit to add)

I suppose the way I dress is "the way that a lesbian would dress," whatever that means. Does that mean that if I were to dress like batman, I would be a superhero?

A year in review.
A year ago today, the five of us were engaged in some pretty serious heart attacks.

schwa242, Deanna, Chris, Fofy and I were packing our things. We were spot-cleaning the kitchen. We were finalizing everything necessary with Budget Rental. We were preparing for our great trek out West.

A few days later, we were situated in San Francisco. With no jobs, no promises for a location for Tattoo Boogaloo. No assurance that the decision we'd made was the correct one. We did, however, have to start making payments to our business loan within the first week of our arrival.

Since then, we have opened our shop. Fofy and Schwa found work. Schwa has even found it twice. We've been voted AOL's City's Best before we were open for half a year. We've established a great clientele. We've been assured that all of our worries were for nothing, and that this was the best decision of our lives.

It's a bit premature to celebrate our one year anniversary with San Francisco, which we first married on the first of June. But it's difficult not to celebrate every day. The longer I'm here, the more I'm convinced that each day is an anniversary. I cannot contain the joy I feel each day that I am here.

This city engages me. I am in better physical shape than I've ever been because of the lifestyle this city forces upon me. I am happier than I've ever been. There are too many things I want to experience here, and I'm sure that in twenty years, I'll still be irritated that I don't have enough days off to discover them all. I've never been more balanced with my career. I have time to tattoo, draw, make art for the fuck of it, and fuck off. And I have a decent paycheck to show for it. I work with three of my favorite people. I love my shop.

I feel like such a braggart. I have nothing bad to say. I love my life. I love this city. I love it all.

Speaking of having too many hobbies...
cat-snakes on a OMGWTF
I've been quite seriously debating purchasing a banjo. And hopefully, unlike all the other instruments I've purchased over the years, I'll actually try to learn how to play it.

(no subject)
A year ago today, I was probably still trying to figure out what to throw away to make the move easier.

I can't believe it's almost been a year.

Things are good. Really good. I can't figure out what we did right, but we did it. The shop is going super well, I just got my first featured article published in a tattoo magazine, we won AOL's City's best after being open six months... And I just keep loving it more and more in this city. I feel, for the first time in my life, that there's nothing missing. I feel like there's so many things to brag about, that I'm going to sound like that irritating guy that keeps bragging about how good their life is. Sorry.

I keep wanting to update my livejournal. I just don't know what to say. I've become so facebook trained that I feel like anything more than a sentence and a half is too wordy.

I'm going to try this crazy site again. Hope some of you are still around. Although I hardly update, I do try to check in and read what others are up to every now and again.

You know what the best part about living in California is? Not living in Colorado. BURN!!!

So, I'll be visiting in March. I have no open schedule, I'm already booked as far as tattooing is concerned. But if I like you, LET'S HANG OUT!!! I want to see you.

There should for sure be a Sunday brunch type thing, but the location is as of yet unannounced. Also, I like drinking so let's do that.

Wha? Me? A MOVIE star???
So I was recently contacted by a representative from the Oxygen(tm) network about possibly being interviewed for a new reality show about tattoo artists. When Kristina(tm) called me at work, my first response, however much in my head, was a grumpy "fuck that shit, bitches." But she was charming and polite, and she made fun of LA ink and the idea of any tattoo-related reality show that involved the drama and bullshit in following a shop that was filled with angry coworkers who hated each other. So I listened to her spiel.

It's going to be some sort of ongoing tattoo competition, I'm guessing elimination-style. It seems that they will be choosing 12 artists to start out with, with one artist standing at the end with some blitzy blingy radical cash prize. She explained that there will be three "tattoo celebrity" judges, none of which, I'm hoping, will be Kat Von D.

Per her request, I sent the network numerous photographs of both my work and my pretty, pretty face. The following day, I was sent a dramatic "CONGRATULATIONS YOU HAVE BEEN SELECTED FOR THE SECOND TIER" email, explaining that I qualified to fill out their 3957632 page interview. If they liked my answers, I will be contacted in 2-4 weeks time to have a one on one, in person, old fashioned interview.

Even if I'm selected for the interview, I have no idea if I'd be able to do this. I have a new shop that I need to be working at, I don't need to be off gallivanting in the realm of reality tv. Unless they give me lots of money, in which case, I'm more than happy to gallivant away.


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