Tag Archives: stress

Daily Sexy Musings: Fighting Stress (The Sexy Way)

couple-sexual-connection-900

Ever have one of those days where every minute feels like another 60 seconds of compounding stress? Maybe a better question would be how many of those days have you had in the past month? I’ve certainly had those days. Going all the way back to high school, I’ve had more than a few instances where I’ve cursed the clock for going too damn slow.

As rough as these days can be, they’re also the times in which we need a little extra loving. I remember one particular day in college where I was so stressed out that I wanted to punch the nearest brick wall. Then, my girlfriend at the time called me and talked dirty to me, as only she could. I felt better almost instantly.

There are, of course, many ways to relieve stress. This dose of my Daily Sexy Musings celebrates the sexier methods. There are plenty of those two, but their effectiveness is beyond dispute. It even goes beyond stress relief. When you can make someone happy after such a shitty day, you know you’ve got something special. Enjoy!

I drag myself through the door. Every step feels like a march through quicksand. I enter a home that only welcomes me with silence, numb to the day I just endured. I want to collapse where I stand. I wish I could punch this day in the jaw and spit in its face. That’s how much I hate it.

Then, you appear before me. In a sea of chaos and frustration, you pierce the veil and shatter the darkness. Your face, your gaze, and your presence stop my anguish dead in its tracks. I open my mouth to speak. Only an angry string of incoherent cursing comes out. It doesn’t dissuade you in the slightest.

You don’t say a word.

I fall silent.

Finally, this long, arduous day ceases.

I remain silent, fuming as though the air is stabbing me from every angle. You brave the storm, approaching me without fear or reservation. I grit my teeth and fight the turmoil within, forcing back the onslaught of misery that has bombarded me throughout the day. Your presence gives me strength, but it only goes so far.

You see my angry poise.

You sense my distress on every level.

You reach out into the sorrow and find me in its grasp.

The battle within is failing. This day has me on the brink of defeat. Then, you take me into your arms. You hold me, kiss me, and entwine your spirit with mine. Almost instantly, the tide turns. I fall back from the brink.

As you hold me, a new strength enters me. Every tense fiber relaxes. A lifeline comes my way and I seize it. Once again, you are my anchor. You guide me through strife, easing my anguish and replacing it with peace.

We don’t stop with simple touch. On the spot, you remove my clothes. With them, you strip me of the burdens I’ve born. Naked and exposed, I stand before you someone wounded by so many forces. However, I need only your love and your sex to heal.

Leave a comment

Filed under Daily Sexy Musings

Lessons In Mental Health And Outrage Culture From “Daria”

hulu0d894330f-d10c-4641-ac8a-787dd3a5b6ac

How does anyone stay sane in this day and age? Between fake news, outrage culture, alternative facts, and the everyday struggle to survive in an economy being subsumed by tech companies, I don’t blame anyone for being a bit uptight. I envy anyone who can step back, see the bigger picture, and retain their sanity.

For some, it takes a special kind of strength, perspective, and mental toughness to deal with the totality of the absurdities in this world. Then, there’s Daria Morgendorffer from her remarkably-ahead-of-its-time TV show, “Daria.” When it comes to maintaining a level head while surrounded by the insanities of the modern world, she’s in a league of her own.

I’ve made my love for “Dariaknown before. I’ve even shared my excitement on the prospect of a new series. Every time I make the mistake of watching the news for more than two minutes, I find myself wishing I had her nuanced perspective. It’s part of what makes her character so enduring. She’ll see things for what they are, tell it like it is, and offer revealing insights along the way.

Earlier this year, research from Clinical Psychological Science indicated that mental health issues are on the rise among young people. Every day, it seems, a new mental ailment emerges from the evolving media landscape. While mental health issues can be serious, they can also be subject to plenty of absurdities.

As it just so happens, one of my favorite episodes of “Daria” tackled this issue in a way that’s more relevant now than it was back in the early 2000s when it first aired. The title of the episode is called “Psycho Therapy” and the lessons it offers are worth learning.

The synopsis of the episode is fairly basic. Daria’s mother, Helen, is up for a promotion. However, before the law firm she works at can consider her, she and her family are sent to a psychiatric center for personality evaluations. Hilarity ensue, but it’s Daria who ends up making the most astute observations, more so than the doctors on hand.

When Daria and her family first arrive, the staff is most concerned about Daria. Considering how she answered her survey with her trademark sarcasm, that’s understandable. However, when the doctors start to evaluate her and her family, they learn something remarkable.

Compared to everyone else in her family, she’s the most mentally stable. Even if you’ve only seen a few episodes of “Daria,” that should be pretty jarring. That’s not to say that she’s the picture of mental health, but according to the doctors in the episode, she’s the most well-adjusted. These are the exact words of Dr. Jean-Michael to Daria.

Dr. Jean-Michael: Daria, I was afraid you had some rather deep-seated problems. But I must say, you’re remarkably well adjusted considering…

Quinn: You’d think someone would’ve invented eye liner before me.
But no, I, Cleopatra, have to come up with all my beauty products on my own.
Oh, what a hard life.

In Quinn’s defense, she was hypnotized when she went on that incoherent ramble. Then again, Quinn Morgandorffer is probably the least defensive character in the show and would probably benefit from a healthy bit of therapy.

What makes this assessment more revealing is just how much Daria is surrounded by intense personalities, so to speak. I won’t go so far as to say these personalities are on par with mental illness, but they certainly walk the line. While that’s part of what makes these characters interesting, it also highlights an important concept that Daria Morgandorffer embodies.

At her core, Daria is a hardcore realist. She’s not a nihilist, a social constructionist, or an existentialist. She’s someone who sees both the surface and the forces just below that surface. From there, she makes a cold, calculated assessment that is devoid of needless emotional breadth, unless you count the sarcasm.

This is how she’s able to effectively break down the mental quirks of her parents, Jake and Helen Morgandorffer. Throughout the series, their relationship goes through a lot of atypical stresses. Just check out Season 3, Episode 10, entitled “Speedtrapped” for a clear depiction of those stresses.

On top of that, they both have some fairly eccentric personality quirks. Her mother is an incredibly high-strung, career-obsessed woman who constantly worries about how “normal” both her daughters are. Her father is an overly-dense, exceedingly histrionic man who always seems like he’s in the middle of a mid-life crisis.

Even a professional would have trouble making sense of their mental state. Daria does it in just a few short sentences.

Daria: Mom’s resentful that she has to work so hard, which obscures her guilt about actually wanting to work so hard. Dad’s guilty about being less driven than Mom, but thinks it’s wrong to feel that way. So, he hides behind a smokescreen of cluelessness.

Behind the heavy monotone and light sarcasm, this shows that Daria knows her parents. Given how they behave throughout the episode, she demonstrates that she actually knows them better than they know themselves. There’s even a scene towards the end of the episode where they try to mimic one another. It ends up getting pretty dramatic for everyone, except for Daria.

Helen: I mean Dammit! I lost another client! I can’t understand why! Dammit! Nobody likes poor old Jake. Should I think about the reason? Oh, must be my father’s fault. Where’s the newspaper, dammit!

Jake: Let me bring home the pizza. I have to be the one doing everything so everyone will thank me and tell me what a big superwoman I am. I’m very, very important and very, very stressed and I don’t have time to actually do anything for anyone else, but I can pretend I care, can’t I?

This is some pretty brutal honesty, even by “Daria” standards. They reveal some pretty unhealthy sentiments that probably need more than just advice and therapy. They reflect many of the quirks and side-plots that Daria’s parents experience throughout the show with Helen constantly obsessing over her career and Jake obsessing over whatever is stressing him out at the moment.

Daria’s ability to sift through all that and make a clear, honest assessment is both remarkable and refreshing. Even though these are her parents, she doesn’t pull any punches. Moreover, she doesn’t make any value judgments either. She doesn’t take sides or show scorn. She’s just tells it like it is. She says what the audience feels and does it in that lovable, monotone sort of way.

Her being able to make that assessment is profound. Doing so while maintaining mental stability is just as amazing. The fact she can maintain this perspective around personalities that range from ditzy cheerleader types like Brittney Taylor and touchy-feely teachers like Timothy O’Neill show why Daria is the emotional anchor of the show.

Back in the early 2000s, Daria’s knack for being level-headed while surrounded by so many bizarre characters made for great entertainment. Today, it acts as a radical departure from how we make sense of a world where every news clip, viral video, and hashtag is measured by the emotional outburst it triggers.

What Daria does in “Psycho Therapy” is something that has become far less common with each passing year. She makes a clear, concise assessment of other peoples’ behaviors and attitudes without casting judgement. She doesn’t whine about other peoples’ shortcomings or bemoan misguided efforts to treat them. She just points out the cold, hard facts and lets them stand on their own merit.

Contrast that with how every comment about someone, whether it’s in person or online, is laced with value judgments. You say you like video games and immediately, you’re judged as this angry fanboy who rages whenever someone dares to significantly change a particular aspect of your game. You say you’re a feminist and immediately, you’re judged as a man-hating bitch who blames men for every single ill on the planet.

It’s not enough to just have an opinion. It’s not even enough to have personal likes or dislikes. Everything you do and why you do it has to be an indictment on your politics, your identity, and the society around you. That’s not just misguided and judgmental. It’s mentally exhausting.

Being constantly judged, online and offline, every hour of every day is sure to be stressful. It’s no wonder why it seems as though more young people are development mental health issues. Daria may seem like the most unhappy person in her show, but compared to what some people deal with in the real world, she’s a picture of sanity.

At the end of the episode, it’s not Daria’s choices that lead to the resolution. All she does is provide commentary. It’s Helen and Jake, her emotionally convoluted parents, who chart their own path. That kind of lesson wasn’t as necessary in June 2000 when this episode first aired, but it’s one worth re-learning today.

Leave a comment

Filed under Daria, gender issues, human nature, nihilism, psychology

Another Lesson From The X-men: Does Power OR Stress Corrupt?

We’ve all heard it before, a saying so common and overplayed that our first reflex is to roll our eyes and think briefly whether those leftovers in the refrigerator are still edible. It manifests in many forms and is the theme of 98.7 percent of every movie featuring evil empires and overly rich assholes. We use many words, but most of us know the basics.

“Power corrupts. Absolute power corrupts absolutely.”

I’ll give everyone a moment to finish yawning. I don’t blame you. As someone who has spent three quarters of his life reading superhero comics and seen nearly every movie that tried to rip off “Star Wars,” I’ve neither the energy nor the bandwidth to list all the stories that play with this theme so I’m not going to try.

Instead, I’m going to be a little bold and challenge that overplayed, overused theme that has been more belabored than a puke bucket at a bulimics convenstion. I’m also going to do it while citing X-men comics again, specifically another one featuring Jean Grey. Yes, I’m aware I’ve done that multiple times already. Yes, I’m going to keep doing that. No, I’m not going to apologize for it.

However, I’m not just going to focus on the events of a particular comic. While this post was inspired by Jean Grey #7, a comic written by Dennis Hopeless and drawn by Alberto Jimenez Alburquerque, it’s the bigger picture the story highlights that I want to focus on. I still encourage everyone to read the comic, but you don’t have to in order to appreciate its theme. It’s almost subversive in the larger message it implies.

Think back to that overplayed saying about power corrupting and try, if you can, to do it without yawning. Now, ask this follow-up question and try to do it with a straight face.

“Is it really power that corrupts? Is it possible that the stress that comes along with power is the true danger?”

I hope nobody’s yawning after that because that’s not a question that gets asked very often, but it’s one that Jean Grey ends up answering in Jean Grey #7, albeit indirectly. Given that it’s a question so few ask in the first place, it’s easy to overlook, but it’s worth thinking about.

Think, for a moment, about the impact that stress has on your life. That’s much easier than thinking/fantasizing about what it would be like to have absolute power. Unlike absolute power, there is some actual science behind the effects of stress. According to the Mayo Clinic, the impact of stress is basically the grand slam of negative health effects. Those effects include, but certainly aren’t limited to, nasty stuff like:

  • Headache
  • Muscle tension or pain
  • Chest pain
  • Fatigue
  • Stomach upset
  • Sleep problems
  • Anxiety
  • Restlessness
  • Lack of motivation or focus
  • Feeling overwhelmed
  • Irritability or anger
  • Sadness or depression
  • Overeating or undereating
  • Angry outbursts
  • Social withdrawal

These are all issues that negatively impact your personal life, your work life, your sex life, and pretty much every other life you hope to have as a functional human being. We all endure stress on some levels, but having too much of it is kind of like being really horny. You know when it happens and it’s hard to ignore.

With those effects in mind, imagine just how stressful it is wielding great power. It doesn’t even have to be like the cosmic power Jean Grey is destined to wield in Jean Grey #7. It could be a powerful political position. It could be a powerful business leader. Hell, it could just be the power that comes with being the head of a household.

It’s somewhat paradoxical in that it seems unavoidable. Gaining more power means dealing with more stress. However, we seek power, to some extent, in order to achieve our goals. More often than not, those goals involve alleviating certain stresses on our lives, be they poverty, strife, or simple inconvenience. In a sense, we exchange one form of stress for another and hope the other is easier to deal with.

Sometimes, those hopes don’t pan out. Sometimes, the stress that comes with whatever role that power brings us is more than we expect. In that state of mind, is it really that surprising that people become corrupt?

When I talked about powerful fascist states, I noted the extent to which they have to control the personal lives of others and how that can often be used against them. Those efforts, if you ignore the egregious abuses they entail, require some pretty stressful efforts that anyone not named Dr. Doom isn’t equipped to manage.

It creates, sort of, a chicken-and-egg scenario for the corruption that often follows. Was it the power in and of itself that led that corruption or was it the stress it entailed? While I doubt every situation has the same answer, the one in Jean Grey #7 has some intriguing possibilities.

In the context of this story, the same out-of-time Jean Grey that I’ve covered in previous posts is still dealing with the prospect of a cosmic power known as the Phoenix Force coming after her. She knows it’s destined to kill her. She knows how much it corrupts her, so much so that Fox is making a movie about it. It’s a stressful situation, to say the least.

However, Jean Grey isn’t the only overly powerful character in the diverse menagerie that is the Marvel Universe. Hell, overpowered characters in Marvel probably have their own lobbying group. One of their most notable members is Wanda “the Scarlet Witch” Maximoff. Like Jean Grey, she also wields exceedingly immense power that has driven her insane on more than one occasion.

Like a friend staging an intervention for someone they care about, Wanda seeks Jean out and basically has a girl’s day with her. She shows her that obsessing over the power they wield, or are destined to wield, will drive her just as crazy as the power itself. She dares to help Jean do normal, healthy things that don’t involve stressing out over that power.

Some of those things involve stuff actual people do, like going to a beach or running on a hot sunny day. Others are a bit more exotic, like a cooking class that involves monster meat. I swear on Jennifer Lawrence’s ass that I’m not making that up.

MonsterCooking

The events of Jean Grey #7 make a compelling case about the impact of stress over power. The fact that there are other powerful characters throughout the Marvel universe that manage to function on a day-to-day basis without going insane proves, to some extent, that power and corruption need not be the same thing.

Eventually, circumstances within Jean Grey #7 that are beyond Jean’s control derail her efforts to better manage her stress. In a sense, that’s another part of wielding power and the corruption that comes with it. No matter how much power anyone has, be they a comic book character or a warlord in a third-world country, they are still at the mercy of various circumstances beyond their control.

Jean Grey, and most other superheroes, often learn that the hard way. People in real life who wield great power deal with that as well, sometimes in a very public way. Whether you’re Jean Grey or Emporer Palpatine, it’s impossible to deal with every conceivable circumstance that may undermine your power or stress you out. For some people, that just compounds the stress.

In the end, Jean Grey #7 leaves the question surrounding power, corruption, and stress unanswered. However, the fact it dares to ask that question in the first place and make a concerted effort is what really sets it apart. The original Phoenix Saga never asked that question directly, but its indirect implications reveal a lot about how we think of power, corruption, and beautiful female superheroes played by Sophie Turner.

Related image

5 Comments

Filed under Comic Books, Jack Fisher, Superheroes, Jack Fisher's Insights, Reasons and Excuses

How Poverty Affects You (And Your Sex Life)

I concede that poverty is not a very sexy topic to discuss. It’s right up there with dead kittens, crying babies, and Paulie Shore movies in terms of unsexy issues. However, it is worth discussing because, like it or not, poverty profoundly affects people.

I’m not just talking about starving kids in Africa either. According to the World Bank, over half the global population lives on less than $2.50 a day. That’s right. Half the global population has to survive on the price of a mid-sized latte from Starbucks. Even though we are getting better compared to several decades ago, it’s still a big deal.

So why am I focusing on poverty? Why am I, an aspiring erotica/romance writer, making a big deal about this issue? Well, there is a sort of kinky pragmatism to it. I understand that sexy erotica/romance stories aren’t necessities. You can’t eat it or pay your rent with it. That means a world full of poverty is also a world where nobody has money to by my books. In that sense, my concern is somewhat self-serving.

That’s not to say I’m of the Ayan Rand branch of philosophy when it comes to poverty. That’s why I made such a big deal of the Universal Basic Income, which I believe will become more and more appealing as we enter an age when machines do more work. However, there’s another reason why poverty matters to me and should matter to everybody with functioning genitals.

It’s true. Poverty affects people in profound ways. So naturally, it would also affect your sex life as well. Believe it or not, people do get paid to study this stuff. Research has correlated poverty with risky sexual behavior that leads to very unsexy impacts. However, the data gets even unsexier than that.

According to census data, birth rates plummet during recessions. That makes sense. Poverty causes a lot of stress and nearly every bit of credible research shows that stress is right up there with bloody rectal warts in terms of things that kill the mood.

Stress makes it hard for a man to get an erection. It makes it hard for a woman to get moist. It makes it hard to set a nice, sexy mood. Stress is the equivalent of kryptonite to sex and what causes more stress than concerns over money?

That’s not a rhetorical question, by the way. That’s a serious question that many people, who are much smarter than me, have asked and studied. According to the American Psychological Association, the biggest sources of stress involve money, work, and the economy. These are the top three and they’re all tied to poverty, both directly and indirectly.

The impact of stress and poverty on our sex lives is painfully obvious. However, the way in which that impact manifests in the modern world is changing. It’s still as big a mood-killer as it ever was, but it’s using an exceedingly flawed system to its advantage. If it were a super-villain in a comic book, it wouldn’t even need a master plan. It just needs to work smarter and not harder.

The current generation of young people, the Millennials as they’re often labeled, are at a severe disadvantage compared to previous generations and it has horrible implications for their sex lives. For one, they had the misfortune of becoming adults during the worst job market in a century. People are living longer, working longer, and not giving good-paying jobs to the generation that reveres selfies and Kim Kardashians ass.

Beyond fewer job prospects, there’s one other burden that’s crushing Millennials and their libidos. They are entering the adult world with crushing levels of student loan debt. At the moment, the average student loan debt it approximately $37,172. According to Pew, that’s a 352-percent increase since 1990. Other than stock in Apple, Netflix, and Amazon, few assets have increased that much over that span of time.

This is where it gets personal for me because this has impacted me directly. I went to college. I graduated from a major public university with honors after four years. I did have to go into debt and work a summer job to pay for college, but it was not $37,172. It actually came out to around $10,000. However, I worked my ass off, and lived at home for a few years, to pay that off. It’s as unglamorous as it sounds.

It’s also an option that not every student has when they graduate. Some students have parents who aren’t there to support them for whatever reasons, be they tragic or trivial. Even if they are, they may still end up getting a job at Starbucks to pay off that debt and that’s just not going to cut it.

When I was in college, I had classmates who had over $100,000 in debt, just to attend. That’s basically a mortgage and we still expect these young people to come out of college, get to work, and start making babies to keep the species going? Then, they have the audacity to wonder why some students end up doing porn on the side?

With all these burdens, is it really that surprising that Millennials are less sexually active than any previous generation before them? It has nothing to do with prudishness either. I’m sure many Millennials would like to have more sex, but how can they? Between the stress of a lousy job market and massive loads of student debt, how can they even get in the mood?

This is why poverty matters, both to starving kids in Africa and young people in America. These issues do have solutions. Europe already has policies that make college affordable, and even free, in many cases. There are also absurd legal practices like not allowing students to discharge loans in bankruptcy that can be changed.

Throw in other measures like a Universal Basic Income and maybe, just maybe, people will be less stressed and more inclined to get intimate with one another. More intimacy means even less stress. It also means stronger bonds, stronger families, and better lives in general. If it also means that people will be more inclined to read books by erotica/romance writers as well, then that’s just a nice bonus.

2 Comments

Filed under Jack Fisher's Insights

Traffic, Holidays, And Recoveries

There are a lot of ways to kill a mood, be it sexy or otherwise. With the holidays drawing to a close, you have fewer and fewer reasons to be cheerful and upbeat. Plus, you have fewer excuses to wear ugly Christmas sweaters and Santa hats. I’ve yet to spend a day wearing either of those and not come home in a good mood.

For some, there are certain things that’ll kill a mood faster than anything that doesn’t involve projectile vomit, hangovers, and sick puppies. I certainly have my share of those things. Some of those things involve experiences that make me want to take a hammer to the nearest Home Depot and smash all the windows in frustration.

I say all this as a preface because as I write this, I am so goddamn burned out that I just want to sleep for the next three days. Why am I so burned out? Well, there’s a damn good reason for it.

As I announced before, I spent a good chunk of my Christmas at the Jersey Shore with family. It’s a tradition of sorts and a damn good one. I had a great time with friends and family. We had every kind of holiday fun you can have with your pants on. That part of the experience wasn’t the problem.

The problem came yesterday when I drove back home. Now usually, a drive to and from the Jersey Shore is about three-and-a-half hours, depending on weather and traffic. That’s about how long it took to get up there. On the way back though, it was a very different story.

There was so…much…traffic. Like a post-Christmas hangover, minus the fun of being drunk, it hit me like sleigh full of cinder-blocks and baseball bats. It turned what is usually a fairly scenic and uneventful drive into a six-and-a-half hour case-study in break lights. There aren’t many better ways to kill a mood and wound your spirit in a way that doesn’t involve solitary confinement or slow wi-fi speeds. This did way too good a job of that.

Now I know there are plenty of traffic horror stories out there. I’m sure there are those who can handle a six-and-a-half hour drive the same way most people handle a hangnail. For me, however, it left me restless, moody, and badly in need of an extra day of rest. I tried to go to bed early last night. It didn’t work. For reasons that make me think that one too many people cussed me out on the road, I was just too damn restless.

So I guess this counts as a day of recovery. I did plan on doing some extra writing, reading some comics, and enjoying what’s left of my holiday vacation. I’m going to have to revise those plans. I’m also going to need to find better ways of dealing with traffic.

If anybody out there has any tips that makes the recovery easier, I’d love to hear them. I’d also love to hear how the hell you’re supposed to sleep when you’re more restless than a rabbit on crack. I’m going to try comics, hot chocolate, and whiskey. That’s all I have on hand, but if anyone has any other tips, please share. Today must be a day of rest. Then, I can go back to talking about sexier, less stressful topics.

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized