as long as we breathe

While the ice is melting
and our lands are burning
and our forests are dying
and our oceans are choking

the fight for hope
is daily
the fight for life
is dire

When we were young my love
our old age was assumed
now I look at your face my love
and my heart fills with fear

hold on to my hand my love
the only truth is change
hold on to this life my love
as long as we breathe… we try

Advertisements

Face and Body

IMG_9209-Edit.jpg

A recent painting. More on my website jngaio.com

As much as I possibly can, I am invested in avoiding the industries and cultures that cultivate dissatisfaction with one’s physicality and mortality.

When I was 16, I remember I had already absorbed the message that in this barely blossomed youth, I was at the peak of my desirability. I clearly remember feeling like it was all downhill from there and by 21, I was already becoming “less hot”. Holy fucking shit, what the actual fuck? This was before social media, this was before the easy availability of porn, Instagram and YouTube makeup tutorials. How must young women be feeling now? You could not pay me to be a teenage girl again, I feel an intense protectiveness towards the ones I encounter now and have to be careful not to let it affect my behaviour towards them in a fashion that might be patronising.

At 34 years old, I feel hotter and more connected to my body and sexuality that I ever did when I was younger, yet I know that I attract less attention from men than I did when I was a teenager. Though I am far more sexually active and confident than I was back then, I do not have the physical attributes of youth that increases the likelihood of street harassment, unsolicited messages and unwanted conversations with older men on public transport. I do not mourn the loss of those things, nor do I feel myself to be lacking in sexual opportunities (though as a kinky, submissive masochist with a penchant for violence, my pool of truly compatible lovers has always been on the narrow side) and in fact I am far more satisfied with my appearance than I was back when. Also, as a sidenote, as I age I receive significantly more attention from queer women, a fact which I am tremendously chuffed about!

But I am defensive of my confidence because I know how easily it is shaken. I only need to stumble across one of the many Instagram accounts of slender teenagers who have hundreds of thousands more followers than me simply for their pretty selfies and I am reminded of our culture’s obsession with youth and a specific sort of beauty.  I only need to skim through a fashion magazine while I wait at the doctor’s office, or sit through the movie previews in a cinema where in 2019, women still have far fewer speaking roles let alone anything with substance… and I am reminded of what our broken culture values in women.

When I was younger, I was already painfully aware of how fleeting my cultural currency of desirability was and it left me feeling despondent and distrusting of the attentions and flattery that I received. During times when I later played into the world of youth obsessed appearances, this did some psychic damage. A couple of years back, I was the submissive to a Dom who ordered me to wear makeup and dress in more conventionally attractive ways and emotional masochist that I am, I accepted the challenge. However, this required my engagement in worlds I normally avoided, shops I had never entered before, tutorials on makeup to laboriously transform oneself into someone more youthful and I started to notice, more and more, what “hot” women looked like and how they cultivated this.

The results were an emotional mixed bag. On the one hand, it was actually thrilling to gain insight into the alchemical magic that is the ways in which clothing and lipstick can transform us into something seductive and more then human. Learning how to wield the war paint that is makeup was thrilling and as a queer femme I developed a long-lasting love for the powers of shimmering pigments and smoky framed eyes.  Yet becoming familiar with what my Dom found attractive required an acute intimacy with mainstream male desire and it made me painfully aware of my aging with a sickening sense of myself as disposable. Within a culture that fetishizes female youth and beauty, we women have a very short self-life.

When my relationship with that Dom ended, I realised how relieved I was to no longer be required to expose myself to the brutality of an image-centric industry. Though I had discovered much about my sexuality and a certain sort of power in representing myself as hyper-feminine, the regular engagement with and concern for my appearance’s adherence to the heteronormative male gaze was ultimately a major cause of anxiety and compromised self-esteem. When one values and prioritises their art, their friendships, their sexual and romantic connections, their spiritual development and education… these are things that can only increase over time. But beauty, as defined by our narrow standards, is fleeting and the attempt to hold to it too tightly wreaks havoc on one’s mental health and sense of self.

There is nothing inherently wrong with wanting to look good, there is nothing wrong with teenagers putting on makeup, taking selfies and looking generally amazing on social media, a healthy dose of vanity and self-love is a lovely thing in my opinion. What makes me feel protective of these girls is when the only thing on their social media is those photos. If the attention they receive from the world is solely based on their looks and beauty, I cannot help but sense that this must fill them with a profound sense of anxiety and perhaps set them up for the aging process to only be traumatising. After all, if our value is heavily invested in our looks, what happens when time snatches our beauty away? And of course this only speaks of the experience of young women who are able to look conventionally attractive in the first place, many don’t and never will which further deepens my conviction that our obsession with female beauty is emotional violence against women. All women.

To age in comfort is a privilege and I am lucky to be able to keep myself within a bubble of community that values many things beyond physical appearance. I am lucky that the compliments I receive most regularly revolve around my honesty, my vulnerability, my open mindedness, my compassion and my art. This means that when lovers compliment me on my sexiness and beauty, I am able to receive some enjoyment from the compliments instead of only experiencing the fear of unavoidable loss as the years reveal themselves in the shifting landscapes of my face and body.

Art For Sale

Fertile2012$100.jpg
Hi! I now have an online shop and am celebrating this fact by having a studio clearance sale and selling off some older pieces at reduced prices.

Grab yourself an original artwork at a bargain price and perhaps spread the word if you’re so inclined.

https://jngaio.storenvy.com

This is a big deal for me as it’s reflective of the fact that since my surgeries, I am becoming more able-bodied and so once again pursuing a career as a visual artist is becoming a potential prospect, though of course I have to still be slow and cautious with my body. I haven’t sold my art in over 8 years, since before I started experiencing arm pain, so this is scary for me but also a really important milestone.

Also, because I’ve been painting more lately, I’m simply running out of storage space so these older lovelies need new homes! We are in the process of learning how to make me a new wordpress website but for the time being, for various reasons, I will be using storenvy. This means that prices are in USD but shipping is free within Australia! Woohoo! Contact me for an estimate on shipping costs for outside of Australia or the US.

Oh and I already sold eight pieces on the first day of launching so be quick. It’s rare that prices will be this low.

Please

Your tone speaks menace
my heartbeat quickens
I’m afraid of you and
addicted to fear I’m
afraid they’ll be
empty threats

hurt me
I silently plead
please
my body begs

what good is this flesh
without purple red brutality
what point is this mind
without torment and terror

“please…”

the word slips out
you laugh
you stop

“Remember, this isn’t about you.”

oh fuck I swear I
never forgot it’s just
I just

please?

please?

Still

Why does it make me so anxious to be still?

Is it our crowded culture of constant competition? Yes but also.

It’s that I don’t want to be back there, isn’t it? Back then. Back when.

Small. Silent. An ugly, isolated, unhappy little monster, sobbing and sniffing aerosol spray in the hopes that she might get high or die. What sort of 11 year old hopes to quietly cease to exist?

One who is desperately lonely and believes that it is all her fault. The egos of children are like that, they believe they are the cause of every negative thing and so by the time they’re an adult and realise otherwise, the emotions are so deeply embedded that they are more like personality or fact.

There is no fact of fixed self. We grow and change. But sometimes it doesn’t feel that way, leave me alone for just a little while, leave me in pain and unable to distract myself, expose me to a harsh word either internal or external and suddenly I’m that little girl again.

I’m sorry, I’m awful, I’ll keep out of your sight. Oh God, I’m lonely, look at me and love me and tell me I’m special.

I’m not that little girl. All I am is phenomena in flux and the stories I tell myself about myself. But how much of my identity revolves around proving to myself that I’m not that little girl? How much energy do I put into being noticed? Into finding evidence – that is never enough – of the importance of my existence?

I’m not that little girl but. Also. I am that little girl. I grew up but she’s still inside me and when she’s feeling vulnerable, as an adult I am learning how to give her the kindness and compassion that she so badly needed back then.

It’s ok my love, it isn’t your fault.

Grateful Growth

So I’ve been having a really bad pain flare during this week just passed but I’ve been in very good spirits. Why? Because I’ve realised that these horrible pain flares are now relatively rare, only happening a couple of times a month and this one’s only lasted six days now. They used to happen all the time and often last a month or more. A year and a half since the first surgery and almost a year since the second surgery for my thoracic outlet syndrome and things are slowly improving with my body. Having those muscles cut and those ribs removed was one of the best decisions in my life!

I’ve been slowly becoming more and more able to produce art again. The process is still slow and I’m still painting less than I’d like – perhaps four hours per week now. But that’s a significant improvement to before surgery! Here’s just a few pieces, randomly selected from my website www.jngaio.com, that have been done since my first surgery (click on the pics to see bigger versions.) There’s more on my website and more in the process of being made/documented. Slowly, surely, I feel I am developing a stronger artistic voice, Slowly, surely, my style is maturing and catching up with the stuff going on in my mind. My disability and chronic pain no longer dominate my life the way they did and for that I am deeply grateful.

I still have a lot of healing and strengthening of my body to go and sometimes I have setbacks but to have tangible signs of improvement, to be gaining my art back… this is so deeply good for my self-esteem and morale. I am so profoundly lucky that after all the years of struggle and pain, I was finally able to find medical care that has helped me and I am determined to never forget how lucky I am, to never forget all the people who are still in pain, still lost, still feeling hopeless and helpless. I’ve been there and I’m determined to remember my suffering as a means of keeping my heart open, with compassion, to the struggles of others.

Your pain is real, your struggles are real. I see you. You are not alone.

Humiliating Need

sensory_overload.jpg

Old drawing done in 2004 when I was about 20? More on my website jngaio.com

(Content warning, this writing contains a description of sexual activities done within the context of a D/s relationship where a dynamic of consensual non-consent has been mutually and enthusiastically agreed to.)

What is the feeling I had last night? You forcibly held my legs open and put your tongue to my clit. You know how much I hate that, I’d rather you went right to raping me but instead you are taking your time and doing things to my body that nobody else has, discovering new capacities for sensation that even I was unaware of.

I blink away tears of humiliation. Your tongue flicking on my clit makes me feels good, makes it thicken with arousal and somehow this makes me feel utterly revealed, utterly vulnerable. It’s like you’re learning to play my body better than I can and that makes me feel less powerful than ever. Beatings are one thing, beatings are hard work to take and each one becomes more difficult, more harrowing as I learn that your sadism is as boundless as my masochism, as I learn with sick excited horror that we have so far yet to go. But the more violence I take from you, the more powerful I feel, impressed by myself and my capacity for endurance. You call me a tough bitch and like a child, I feel a swelling of pride.

This is different. This is pleasure. This is the sort my first boyfriend always tried to give me and then cried when he could not, this is the sort of pleasure I thought myself incapable of and believed myself broken. Faulty goods drawn more to pain than pleasure. You call me a sick bitch and I feel seen. But this contact between your tongue and nerve endings in my cunt creates sensations I’ve not noticed before when mashing myself into my vibrator or the beautiful face of a woman. Why is this different? What is happening here? How can pleasure be so much more humiliating than any nasty words you’ve ever said to me?

It’s because you see me and read me more and more clearly. It’s because my ache for you grows every day. It’s because the boundaries between us are dissolving as you not only become accustomed to being entitled to my body but become able to play it, like you’ve been investigating all the places, both internal and external, that constitute who I am. It makes sense to have a good grasp on the workings of your property, to know the value of it, to know what you can do with it. But your discovery of things about me that even I didn’t know… that shocks me to the core and I’m running out of places to hide.

I feel stupid, confused and suddenly, very young. Like a child, embarrassed by the funny “down there” feelings they didn’t realise they could have.

I feel myself close to climax but the performance anxiety of that often shuts me down with men (less so with women) and besides, the intensity of my desire for you makes me feel entirely open, with all my guts to be seen, with all my need for you making me feel helpless in the intensity of my own lust. “I’m yours” I cry “I’m a whore” I moan “I’ll do anything for you.” I mean it. My desire for you is a desire for your lust, your violence, your attention, your love. I’m obsessed with it and will do anything to attain and retain it.

You fuck me for awhile, it feels so desperately, pathetically good to have your cock slipping inside me and pushing so deep that my cervix cramps and at some point I start sobbing and hitting you and screaming that I love you. You hold me and comfort me and we cry together and kiss and exchange many more declarations of love. Then we sleep, you are so exhausted from work, from the world, from survival. I experience a deep protectiveness towards you, a profound, tender love and gratitude that you manage, somehow, to find these pockets of energy, intimacy and connection to share with me. To me, it’s nothing short of miraculous, every second we get together is precious.

Today I lay sick in bed with tonsillitis and a gentle fever. My head is swamped by thoughts of you and my cunt still aches with my constant desire for you so that even the feel of my cotton underwear pushing against it causes an irritation of pleasure. I want you, constantly and so to me you are more powerful than you could possibly realise. Your touch turns me weak, stupid, needy and wet. When I say I am your property, I mean it. When I say I am your whore, I feel it as a deep and fundamental truth about myself.

You see me. You know me. I’m yours. You own me.