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    Here In This Wonderland

    The last places anyone should look to for answers about who and what they are in the bed room are societal and cultural norms. Even the word "norms" feels like an oxymoron when it comes to sexuality. The only norms I can agree on is that any intimate sexual acts must be fully consensual, by adults. After that, all bets are off.

    What turns me into a hunk o' burnin' love may flat line you completely, and vise-versa. Who is to say what goes and what doesn't between my sheets? Certainly not society. Certainly not culture. The only person that can answer that is me. And my partner.

    In American culture, men are sexually socialized to think of themselves first. Women are sexualized socialized to think of themselves second. That creates a bad paradigm, and I immediately call "Personal Foul" and administer the maximum penalty of fifteen yards. Men and Women, don't ever listen to that shit you hear through conventional wisdom (another sexual oxymoron). Listen to your heart, listen to you mind, listen to your loins. The answers for You are there.

    Luckily, through years of frustration and masturbation, I learned first hand (pun absolutely intended) what turned me on, what made my motor run, what drove me to beautiful fits of passion. And, luckily, I didn't pay much attention to what society or culture was telling me. I don't really know why, except to say, that, from a very early age, I felt, I knew, I was different. I embraced that difference, because I had nothing else that made any sense except how I felt.  Everything else in my life felt like white noise. 

    Through a combination of nature and nurture, I eventually just trusted what was inside. Through a combo of being very sensitive from birth; from having a very emotional father; from being able to lean on nothing but my own internal heartbeat, I eventually just trusted what I felt. Which is not to say I embraced it immediately.

    It was, it always is, a learning curve. My first few girlfriends were far more traditional, for lack of a better term. And that's to be expected in the early stages of finding your sexual identity. I knew, from the age of about....six...that I liked the concept of restraint, that I had a foot fetish, that the entire female body was one beautiful erogenous zone, that I whatever I shared in the sack was a fun adventure, an opportunity for exploration. Those tenants served me well then. They serve me well, now. 

    Breaking it down by gender, I offer you this: Men, it ain't all about us. She is your partner, even if it's just for the night. Don't make it all about you. Please her. Give her what she wants. That means paying attention to her, a skill most men sorely lack. If your encounter is to be a true experience, there must be common ground of give and take. Of reciprocation. Focus on her. You will be taken care of. If you're not, you always have the option of speaking up. Difficult for many, even us men (yes, ladies, we struggle with that too, even in the bedroom), but well worth the risk.

    Men are taught that we should always know what to do. But how the fuck can you always know "what to do" when you are making love to a unique individual? We can't. So bring all of yourself. Bring your undivided attention. Bring your passion and fire. Bring an attitude of gratitude for this woman who has chosen to spend the night with you. Not in the guise of manipulation, but in the reality that the two of you are creating something special. Tall order? Maybe. But that cultivates your highest aspirations of being a great lover. 

    Women: play with us; tell us, show us, subtly, what you want. If we are paying attention, we will pick up on that and respond accordingly. Women are taught that expressing what you want in the bedroom is not okay. Again, bullshit. And, we men are not mind readers. You think we should be, and worse, you think you are. But ladies, you are sorely mistaken on both counts. 

    There is the potential for a beautiful balance of mutual communication here. Honor that. Any man just in it for himself is just frankly a bad lover. Call him on that. Teach him how to be with a woman. Because if we don't get it from you, where the fuck are we supposed to get it?

    I'm calling for a shift in the paradigm. Open up to each other. Don't stay locked in your societal roles. Break out of that shit. It does not make you less of a man to explore her and not know just what to do. It makes you an attentive lover. It does not make you less of a woman to speak up and guide us. It makes you more of what we men want: a woman who will play with us. 

    Bottom Line: you are in this together. It is about the other person, first. If you both do that, who knows where it will lead? But if you stick to what you've learned, I promise you, it may be good for a while, but the tread will wear off that tire quickly. And you are left with the same old shit: Looking for that someone who wants to get to know you, honor you, give to you, and communicate as a means to intimacy, but has scant clue how to go about that.

    Become vulnerable. Become less than perfect. Become a vast wonderland of exploration. 


    © 2017 Clint Piatelli, MuscleHeart LLC, and Red F Publishing. All rights reserved.


    Christmas Eve At Cusa's

    There was a period of my life where I recall a consistent series of very special Christmas Eves. It started in the mid eighties and continued all the way to about 2001. These nights are like a series of living snapshots, frozen in time, etched forever in my heart and mind.


    Between the ages of about twenty and fifty-three, a group of us celebrated Christmas Eve At Cusa's. Cusa is my oldest and dearest friend. We met in high school, and have had a platonic bromance ever since. We get each other. Even when we don't. We've had our ups and downs, our periods of distance, our spells of not even talking. But we find our way back to each other. Because he is simply too important not to be in my life.


    On Christmas Eve, a gaggle of us would gather at Cusa's house and celebrate the night before Christmas with not-so-reckless abandon. We would be up until three or four in the morning. We would exchange gifts, celebrate our relationships, drink and eat until we were full, and share our love for each other. The night was all at once too quick and seemed to last forever. 


    I would usually get there early, living a scant fifteen minutes from my friend, and help with the prep. Cusa's mom, affectionately known as "The Fairy Food Mother", would make enough grub to feed a small army. Cusa's pad was the bottom floor of a two-family house in Boston. Upstairs would be a gathering of Cusa's family. Downstairs, his friends. The two crowds would eventually mix. Our crowd would roll in anywhere between 8PM and 2AM. It was a festival of love, every bit, if not more, as joyous and special as Christmas Eve as a kid. 


    Come to think of it, it was way more enjoyable than my Christmas Eve's as a kid. As a youth, we spent Christmas Eve at My aunty Philly's house in East Boston. As great as it was to see all my cousins, aunts, and uncles, there were serious drawbacks. First of all was a severe lack of space. The apartment was filled far beyond capacity, and smelled like fish (the traditional Italian Christmas Eve dinner). It was butts to nuts all night, and, until I was old enough to leave the place on my own with my other cousins and go for walks around the neighborhood, (at about fourteen), the place was positively claustrophobic. 


    Space was at such a premium that the only bedroom in the house (with the only room with a bed you could lye on when you got tired, which happened at about 10:06 when you were eleven and younger) was used for all the coats. So if your were tired, there was literally no place to stretch out, with coats piled high and deep. There was no room at all to play, or move for that matter, which is crucial to those in the single digit age bracket. I can say, and I speak for most of my cousins of approximately the same age, that Christmas Eve was, at best, a mixed blessing.


    Once Cusa invited me and my twin over his place and we could actually leave my aunt's on own volition, however, Christmas Eve became a very special and wonderful event. One of those rare nights you look forward to all year.


    Between the mid-eighties and early 2000's, it was my favorite night of the year. Most of my close friends and eventually my siblings and nephews were there, and the atmosphere was light, loving, and joyous. Exchanging gifts under Cusa's tree at about midnight was the highlight of the evening. Watching those you love open gifts you picked out, just for them, was magic. I run with a very creative, imaginative, artsy tribe. One year, our friend Ron surprised us all with full color, poster size drawings (from his own talented hand) as all of us dressed as the superheroes we created - based on own personalities - that Halloween. Another year, Cusa gave all the guys fully functioning Blow Guns, complete with graphite projectiles. 


    At about that same time, our Christmas Mall Mayhem Day was at it's peak. Ten or more of us would spend the first Friday of December at a mall of our choosing, spending the whole day there, sipping Sambucca out of a  water bottle ("I Thirst!" Was the cry if you wanted a blast) and buying gifts (mostly, for ourselves). I built my vast library of Christmas CD's at that time as well. And Christmas Classics like "A Year Without A Santa Claus" (Heat Miser, Snow Miser), "It's A Wonderful Life", and "A Christmas Story" played on a loop in the background on Christmas Eve At Cusa's.


    There was something Magic about that time of year. There is still something Magic about that time of year. There always will be. Give me loved ones. Give me a space to Celebrate ourselves; give me a space to celebrate our love for each other; give me you open heart, your open mind, your truest self. And I'm one happy camper. 




    ©2017 Clint Piatelli, MuscleHeart LLC, and Red F Publishing. All rights reserved.



    Tucking You In At Night

    Some of my fondest memories of my father are when he would tuck my twin brother Mike and I into bed every night. There was a silly ritual to it that still makes me smile. I've repeated this ritual with my nephews and nieces, as well as some of my friend's kids. It's a crowd pleaser.

    In some ways, mom and dad switched stereotypical emotional roles in my family. Dad was emotional, affectionate, demonstrative, sensitive, and outwardly very loving. Mom was more stoic, somewhat detached, and distant. She showed her love by cooking great meals and other subtle ways. As a kid, I couldn't articulate that dynamic, but I was sure as shit aware of it. 

    Living with that uncommon parental paradigm molded me in many ways. Having a father like mine, I learned that it was okay for a man to wear his heart on his sleeve. It resonated with me quite powerfully, because I was a very sensitive kid. Being a lot like my father already, especially emotionally, the qualities we both shared became more developed in me. I idolized my father growing up. He was loved by so many. He was successful, articulate, intelligent, and in some ways larger than life. My dad was unique, a one of a kind individual. He was a witches brew of old world values and non-conformity. Simply put, My Dad was a true Fuckin' Character. Guess my apple don't fall far from that tree.

    Our nightly ritual offered a rare stability: My brother and I would kiss mom good night and then see dad, who was usually in the family room watching some television; or in his study working, or just listening to music.

    After saying good night to dad, Mike and I would scurry up the stairs, and get into our matching pajamas (we're twins, and suffered from the common malady of our parents buying us matching clothing until we, thirteen?). Then we would hop into bed and cover ourselves; sometimes with our head exposed, sometimes completely covered. And then we waited.....until we heard our dad coming up the steps. Sometimes he would start saying something, sometimes not. Dear Old Dad was very unpredictable, in a lot of ways. 

    My bed was closest to the door, but that didn't mean he always came to me first. Like a master showman, he surprised his audience by switching up his act often.

    Whichever one of us he approached, the routine was always similar. First, dad would lean over us, with his head so close you could hear and feel his breathing, and just stare. If my head was uncovered, I would try and open my eyes, just a little, to see his voluminous face, with a prominent nose, just inches from my face. This was not a good strategy for defending his assault. The sight of my loving father's face so close to me is such a sight that it is still etched so deep into my mind that, even if I have my eyes wide open, I can still picture it right in front of me as if it were happening now. 

    Then dad would start talking, saying ridiculous things calculated to make us laugh. I would hold out as long as I could, and then, inevitably, break into laughter and be on the receiving end of tickling, silly verbiage, and a whole lotta love. The other one of us who heard this did all he could not to laugh, but such attempts at restraint were doomed. 

    I miss those moments so much these days. That exchange goes a long way in explaining why I love to share the bed with someone I love. The moments before sleep, next to another sacred soul, are precious to me. I want to go to bed with someone feeling loved, feeling connected, feeling safe, feeling all we have to do is be with each other. And I want her to feel the same thing. 

    Lover's everywhere: be it moms, dads, siblings, aunts, uncles, lovers, even one night stands: give the one laying next to you a sacred container for beautiful, loving, sleep. Let them know you love them, however that manifests itself in the relationship. Hold them, kiss them, play games with them, make love to them, whatever it takes. Going to bed in the arms of another, be it virtual arms or physical arms, demonstrates a level of love and connection that can not be replicated in any other circumstance. I don't care how long you've been together, how long you've known each other, or what the relationship is. Make it happen.

    Falling asleep with someone you love is like falling in love, every night. Don't squander this precious opportunity to Make A Moment. 


    © 2017 Clint Piatelli, MuscleHeart LLC, and Red F Publishing. All rights reserved.


    Following My Heart, Trusting My Gut, Using My Head, & Hearing My Angels

    The options of where to go for recovery these days is mind boggling. When I first realized I needed serious help with depression back in January, I researched the crap out of what place would be best for me. I looked into about a dozen different facilities and spoke to as many people as I could who had experience with treatment. I did my due diligence. My intellect and tenacity served me well. I gathered and synthesized about as much information as I could handle. I didn't want to get into analysis paralysis (something I can be guilty of and something I can be really good at), but I wanted to make an informed decision.

     So after I had done all the research, this one place kept pulling me towards it. More precisely, this place was pulling my heart, and my gut was telling me "This is where you belong right now". So I followed my heart and my gut to a place called Sierra Tucson. Even though it meant I had to pay out of pocket, while there were plenty of other options that my insurance would have completely covered. I was fortunate and blessed to have the resources to go anyplace. And I knew that, because I had the means, when it came to saving my life, there could not be a price tag.

    After my 5 weeks in residential treatment at Sierra Tucson, I had to choose where to go next for my Intensive Outpatient treatment, the next step in my recovery from depression. I once again did my research. As is the case in the wacky world of insurance coverage, I had choices that would have cost me next to nothing. But my heart and my gut, once again, were telling me where to go. And, just as importantly, I trusted my primary therapist at Sierra Tucson. She was the best therapist I ever had, and I love her dearly. So I chose The Camden Center in Los Angeles. Once again, it was the right place for me.

    When I got back to Boston and relapsed into a sea of alcohol, I knew I needed more help. Some dear and precious friends came to my aid, and I am forever grateful. However, this time, in my compromised state, I made an impulsive decision and ended up going to a facility in California. It was a great place. Wonderful people, amazing group of recovering addicts, and I have nothing bad to say about it. But it just didn't feel like the right place for me at that time. I was in a really bad place. I cried a lot, got on my knees many times, asked my Spirit Guides and my Angels for help, and meditated on what to do. There was a reunion for Sierra Tucson alumni starting in just a few days that was yanking at my heart and hitting the hot spots in my gut, activating my instinct. So I left that place in California, against clinical advice, and went to the reunion. 

    The reunion was the best place I could have been, the best thing I could have done, and the best move I had made for myself since I had left treatment in August. One again, my heart and my gut led me where I needed to be. And I listened to my Angels and to my Spirit Guides.

    Continuing the broken record theme, when I relapsed once again when I went to Phoenix after the reunion, I knew I needed another detox facility to clean up. And once again, the options were many. I reached out to my sister Cheryl (I don't know where I'd be without her), and found a sponsor named Angel (coincidence? No fuckin' way). And once again, my insides were guiding me to a particular place. So that's where I went. That's where I am now. And it's exactly where I need to be.

    I believe in higher planes, higher powers, and the spirit of the divine, My Spirit Guides made themselves known to me. I've realized that I've got Angels in my corner. I've always had Angels in my corner. I just never fully accepted that. My ego and my ignorance got in my way. My Angels have been silently, and not so silently, guiding me just as much as anything else.

    I keep having to learn this lesson over and over again: My mind, my powerful intellect, is but a tool. And, potentially, a dangerous Weapon Of Mass Self Destruction. 

    My mind, like any tool, when properly applied, is useful in getting the job done. But it isn't actually doing the work. I am doing the work. And I am not my mind. I am not my intellect. 

    Using just my mind to make decisions is like this is like building a house by just researching what the best hammer is, buying that hammer, but not using it properly. You need so much more. You need your body to take action. You need your heart to fire your passion to create the house. You need your gut to guide you on the many decisions you have to make. You need your Angels, your Spirit Guides, to counsel you to make the whole process a divine experience. 

    "The Great I Am", as they call it in 12 step programs, can not do this alone. I need a community. I need other people. I knew that when I was in treatment, but quickly forgot that once I got home. I've come to know that when I synthesize my head, my heart, my gut, and trust My Angels and my Spirit Guides, ask for help from the people I love and reach out to my tribe, that I find peace and clarity in the middle of a shit storm. I find that I move ahead in life. I find that I follow the path I was meant to travel.

    This has been a hard lesson for me to learn. As I've said, I can be guilty of having one hard fuckin' head. I have a strong will, but I also have a strong won't. Those must be stringently tempered by higher, wiser, more enlightened, more ethereal elements that exist not only inside of me but outside of me, on a much higher plane. 

    My will and my won't can't run the show on their own.

    Been there. Done that. It don't work.


    ©2017 Clint Piatelli, MuscleHeart LLC, and Red F Publishing. All rights reserved


    Jasmine (The Art of Kissing part 3)

    I've been with a call girl just once in my life, back when I was 24. It happened the night before one of my best friend's wedding. 

    The groom to be and three of his lead trouble makers were hanging at a buddy's house, whooping it up the eve before the big day. Unbeknownst to the soon to be husband, we hired an escort through the yellow pages (this was years before Google). We wanted to get our pal laid by another woman the night before his wedding. 

    It was a completely baked idea, which wasn't surprising, because by the time we hatched the plan, we were all completely baked. The three of us knew there was no way the upcoming groom, was gonna go for this. But, there was, at that naive age, a certain powerful sense of perverse male duty; as in "This is what you're supposed to do for your buddy as a 'Goodbye to Freedom' ritual the night before the ball and chain of marriage got impaled to your ankle.". We saw the opportunity for him to be with just one more girl before monogamy as a great gift. Maybe we even felt it to be some sort of Right of Passage into Marriage.

    Sound ridiculous? Sure. But again, what the fuck did we know? We were 24 year old dudes. Hormone Raging, Egotistical, Self-Centered, Unenlightened, Pig Headed, Know-It-All-Ocasional-Assholes.

    Plus, frankly, none of us liked his bride to be. In fact, we couldn't fuckin' stand her. Neither could any of his other friends, male or female. His family didn't like her either. Nobody could figure out what the hell he saw in her. Many of us had had talks with him, trying to dissuade him from taking this high dive into what he saw as a deep, smooth pool of connubial blissful turquoise water. In actuality, it was clearly a shallow, rocky, turbulent cesspool of sure as shit divorce misery. But nobody could get through to him on that.

    Maybe our little posse that night figured getting him laid right before his wedding would be our ultimate inside joke on her; a silent, passive aggressive dagger in her back.

    I'm not proud about trying to take prevenge on his soon to be wife. It was immature. Mean. Stupid. Morally Bankrupt. But, we loved our friend, and thought he was making the biggest mistake of his life. "Maybe she'll find out about this and call off the wedding!", we fantasized in our compromised mental condition. Our intent, as misguided as it was, was that we were trying to save his ass. We had all seen, for years, what a disaster the relationship already was. And by the time we called the escort service, we were stoned, pretty hammered, and had plenty of the devil's dandruff up our noses; a combo that leads to less than stellar thinking.

    After much anticipation, Miss Jasmine arrives. Beautiful little blonde in her mid-twenties. Our friend, tomorrow's groom, wants nothing to do with this. But she's made the trek, along with her gigantic bodyguard just outside the door, and she's getting paid, no matter what. And if we had to pay her, well, one of us was gonna get our rocks off, damn it. I happen to have the money, and had never been with a call girl. Plus, I was horny, and found this girl very attractive. So upstairs we went.

    We were hanging at the house of our friend. I'll call him Biff. Biff's parents were out of town, so us knuckleheads had the run of the place. "Where do I take this girl?", I wondered? Why, the parent's Master Bedroom, of course! Why screw around with a double bed when you can go at it on a king size job? It was a no-brainer, even to me, who wasn't using much of his brain at that point.

    Having never been with a call girl, but having been with girls, after we removed our clothes, I went in for a kiss. "No kissing", Jasmine said to me. "What?", I replied, completely startled. "I'm paying you $125 and I can't kiss you?". "Nope. No kissing, sweetie. At least not on the lips or on the face".

    This was dumbfounding. I loved to kiss. I had kissed way more than I had been to second or third base, and certainly more than I had been laid. I had far more experience and confidence in the art of kissing than any other physically intimate act. And I was a great kisser. Now, that, my most valuable asset, was being liquidated from my sexual portfolio.

    It got worse. I knew that when I'm being sexually intimate with a partner, I have an oral fixation: my mouth has gotta be doing something; it's gotta have something on it or in it; your lips, your tongue, your mouth, your neck, your shoulder, your thighs, your ruby fruit jungle, your feet, a gag. Something. But with the no mouth kissing rule, I had to get resourceful and just go after her neck or someplace else.

    After I had my jollies rocked, I asked Jasmine "Why is kissing on the mouth not allowed?". She said "It's too intimate." I didn't know a whole lot about intimacy at 24, so I didn't get what the hell she was talking about. But, although the idea that I could have sex with you but not kiss you because kissing was too intimate didn't make a whole lotta sense to me, it certainly intrigued me. It felt counter-intuitive, even paradoxical. But hell, I had just heard it from a pro, so who was I to argue?

     I was a late bloomer, in many areas, especially sexually. But once I bloomed, I exploded. And if I applied my passion, my intelligence, my intuition, and my insatiable curiosity to a pursuit, I became a thermonuclear bomb of excited knowledge and eventual wisdom. This "Intimacy of Kissing" concept fascinated me. So I wanted to learn more about it. Both through books, and through field research. 

    I'll share more of what I've learned about kissing and intimacy in part 4.


    ©2017 Clint Piatelli, MuscleHeart LLC, and Red F Publishing. All rights reserved.