Affection: A Memoir of Love, Sex and Intimacy
August 2009 (Aus, US)
Responses: Krissy Kneen
Things that are fast/things that are slow
Motorcycles. Rollercoaster. Pick ups. Orgasms. All too fast. Slow would be nice. Slow is the ideal, something to aspire to. It all ends too quickly. Everything. And the people who have died. People of my gene pool in unclaimed ashes. People I have slept with, still stuck in the memory of the sexiness. It takes mutual friends to warn me of their departure. Snails and their slow creep across my chest, the snail trail pulling taut as the nipple is slowly teased out of hiding. Slow food, and the flavours more intense. Makes me wonder how intense my orgasms might be if I played them out for longer than the two and a half minutes it takes to get me off.
‘The first–killing the Angel in the House–I think I solved. She died. But the second, telling the truth about my own experiences as a body, I do not think I solved. I doubt that any woman has solved it yet. The obstacles against her are still immensely powerful-and yet they are very difficult to define. Outwardly, what is simpler than to write books? Outwardly, what obstacles are there for a woman rather than for a man? Inwardly, I think, the case is very different; she has still many ghosts to fight, many prejudices to overcome. Indeed it will be a long time still, I think, before a woman can sit down to write a book without finding a phantom to be slain, a rock to be dashed against. And if this is so in literature, the freest of all professions for women, how is it in the new professions which you are now for the first time entering?’ Virginia Woolf, in ‘Professions for Women’. Full text:
All I have is my honesty. This is my best weapon and my best defense. All of my phantoms are the phantoms of other people too. People who have read this book come up to me and tell me how my story intersects with their own. We are not unique. I do not struggle with the truth. It is what remains hidden that is the struggle. I drop my clothes at the door and say ‘Here I am, naked’. It is to get it over with, like jumping in the deep cold end of the pool and knowing that the worst that can happen is we can drown. I am not frightened of drowning. The only thing that truly frightens me is the thought of harming someone I love and living to tell of it.
My last night in Blacktown. Perhaps the last night feeling connected to my sister. We watched The Man Who Fell to Earth. It was a banned film. We would have been in trouble if we were caught watching it, but the adults were too busy packing to notice the sound of the TV in the room where we were sleeping. Later, separately, my sister and I both went to the David Bowie Glass Spider concert. My sister was in the front row. She felt Bowie’s spit land on her face. I had moved on by then. I liked Bowie, but it was not the same for me. We grow up and apart I suppose.
This is all that I have to say about dinosaurs:
Oh, and also they spend too much money on films that have dinosaurs in them. And also my friend told me yesterday that dinosaurs are awesome. I have bad associations so I can’t share his excitement.
things people don’t talk about
When I am talking about sex I am not talking about sex. This is what my friend Chris Somerville tells me. He reads my writing about sex and says it is always about other things. I read his stories and there is no sex anywhere but they are always about sex. This is interesting. Perhaps what we say is always a smokescreen for what we are not saying. When I talk about sex I am talking about loneliness and disconnection and longing and fear. The subtext is so much more important than what we talk about.
every warm body that brushes past me in this life. People are sexy. Every foray into the world is a nightmare of lust and avoidance. People are not the only sexy things. Flowers are sexy and scent and textures. The world is sexy. I am so often distracted from a task by just how amazing the world is. So. Attracted to? Almost everything.
‘First thing in the morning I…’
When I am in the middle of writing a book I do a 5am thing. I get up make green tea. Go to my desk. My desk is a shrine for art. I look at photographs by great photographers. I flick through stories written by people I admire. I listen to music through my headphones, and I try to use that just-out-of-sleepiness momentum to make art. I do it in my Moleskine notebook because it is always better than typing it straight into a computer. I often write my best stuff at 5am, but sometimes when I come back to it in the afternoon my handwriting is so bad at that time in the morning that I can’t read the words. Still. Mornings are the magic time.
Family tradition. My father rides a BMW. I ride a Yamaha Virago. I got a replacement bike for the day when mine was getting fixed. It was a sports bike. The riding position makes you lean forward and this puts your clitoris in contact with the vibrations from the engine. I rode around the block a few times before arriving at work. Maybe it is my ‘girls and horses’ thing. I never liked horses in that obsessive 12 year old girl way, but horses don’t vibrate.
Something I (Angela) relate to: ‘I like that I can find pleasure in the slightest disturbance of the air’ – Krissy Kneen
Yes. Our bodies are the most wonderful things. All this skin. We are naked to the elements in it. Sometimes, not often, I can orgasm without touching myself. Those rare moments I am stretched like a sail catching the wind and my skin vibrates. I have orgasmed on a bus and in a hammock and on the beach just from the power of my imagination and the temperature of the air. Amazing.
From furiousvaginas – this story in a slightly different form made it into my book.
The wonderful thing about felt pictures is the way you can rub them on your upper lip and they feel like comfort. They are simple shapes cut out of bright colours. The felt sticks to itself with a satisfying grab. If you get too close all the colours blend into each other and the shapes disappear. A horse is no longer a horse. A house is not a house.
I have become obsessive about felt pictures. I lie on the scratchy carpet, pushing my body down against the short pile. The television is on, Playschool or Sesame Street or some other inane burble of music and rhyme. This is childhood. I beg for a can of mushed peas and carrot and am suddenly disappointed. I am no longer a baby. I am growing older. How is it possible that I no longer enjoy mushy peas?
What I do enjoy is felt pictures. Especially lying like this, with my hips pressed against the carpet and the delightful pressure on a full bladder, full of milk, no doubt, a lovely innocent pressure and the feel of sunlight burning a window shape on my calves. The colours are the best. Red horse, orange horse, yellow, all of a palate. I save the blues and greens for the other corner of the felt board. I hoard fish and cabs and grass and green houses for the cool colour end of things. I am sleepy and the colours blend into each other. They blend into the throb of a full bladder and when I cross my legs over each other there is an even greater pleasure. I can hear my mother clattering through the washing up. On television, they are singing about a rainbow, which seems significant as I gather all the fire-hued felt into it’s appropriate corner.
Colour. I see colour. I feel heat and pressure and the edges of everything become indistinct. I hover at the edge of a thought. Perhaps I will fall asleep mid horse. I arrange the horses one next to another next to another. All the orange horses. Perhaps I will wet myself. Perhaps I will urinate on the scratchy carpet. The pressure builds, my eyelids droop, I see orange and red and there is a smell to it, a burned caramel sweetness and I breathe in deeply wondering what it could be.
When I fall over the edge of it I am surprised. Pleased. Surprised. It is as if I have succumbed to colour. I am filled with it, and full of the idea of smell. My skin is burning with all kinds of blue. The down on the back of my neck is sweet as honey. My body pulses in the aftermath of this transformation.
This is my first orgasm. I can name it now. I can re-live it. But back then, at the beginning of things there was no line between the colours and the heat and the scent. After this moment I fell in love with the process of making pictures with felt. I came back to this activity again and again and again and again.
(Picture by the wonderful Dave Smith)
Christopher Currie. I am glad the world was kind enough to make a Christopher Currie and then give him to me. Without Christopher I would never have started my blog Furious Vaginas and maybe this book would still be in a slow gestation. He started a daily blog, furioushorses. I watched his output, a new short story posted every day. I was jealous. I would out-do him. I would start furiousvaginas. A new true story about sex every day. Thus my memoir was born. There is nothing like a bit of creative competition to make you write faster and better. I am a fan of Christopher Currie. My writer-friends are my heroes. He is one of my favourite writers and dearest friends. I am glad his book has been picked up by Text Publishing. We will be writers in the same stable. He is great. But don’t listen to me. Go to his blog.
Art that never fails to inspire:
Art is my religion. I tut tut about people who have a God belief when there is no proof of God and can never be. But scratch the surface a little and you will find that my Art belief is equally obsessive and unfounded. I believe in Art. Painting, books, music, film, sculpture, all of it. I believe in it. I use it to inspire me to write and I use it like pornography. Beautiful art is sexual. If you don’t believe me, read my book.
I think there will be people who read Affection and want to talk to you, confess to you, and yes, sleep with you. I found it difficult not to rush to my email and tell you about the things I’d been doing, things I’ve done, things I long for, and about my own Jessicas and Chrises and Pauls etc. But then I simultaneously became shy because I admire your writing so much. Do you think you’re ready for these sort of things happening? At signings, at festivals, over the internet…?
First proposition. This has happened before the book has even come out. First time someone has made it clear that they would sleep with me. This first time rocks me. I am told by a friend that there will be more times. I have never, or rarely, had to say no. There have been no offers. In my wild past I was always the one offering. I was the taken or the rejected. I am not used to being wanted. I believe that all this will change. Writing and writers are sexy. I will become sexy.
I am frightened that my love of and need for sex will lead my astray. But then again, have you seen my husband?