journal entries

A Queer, Divine Dissatisfaction

You do not even have to believe in yourself or your work. You have to keep open and aware directly to the urges that motivate you. Keep the channel open. No artist is pleased. There is no satisfaction whatever at any time. There is a queer, divine dissatisfaction, a blessed unrest that keeps us marching and makes us more alive.
—Martha Graham

I find myself thinking about this quote often lately, the “queer, divine dissatisfaction” frequently bouncing around in my mind. There’s something up with me these last few months, something askew, something just not quite right that I can’t place.

Despite that my writing and freelance design (did you know I build websites professionally?) work is going quite well, despite the launch of Butch Lab last week after three months of work, despite having my very first erotica anthology in the works and the inbox filling up as the deadline approaches, something still feels unsatisfactory.

Unlike many folks, I actually enjoy the winter holidays, and I’m having a good time building a home out of my lovely apartment that I share with Kristen, especially since my former roommate left and we have the space to ourselves. It’s our first winter holiday season together—I haven’t been going back to where I grew up the past few years and Kristen decided not to go this year, so we are going through our families’ traditions and choosing our favorites, making up some new ones as we build our life together.

I feel better and better about New York City, I never would’ve guessed I’d be here this long and despite traveling to the West Coast four times this year, I had a dream a few months back that I had to move back to where I grew up, and I was all for it, excited to be returning, until I realized I would be leaving New York. No more Sideshow, no more readings at Happy Endings and the Bowery, no more D train across the Manhattan bridge and events at the Center, no more Lesbian Sex Mafia, no more Kelli and Cheryl and Dacia and Mamone and Anne and Em and Grace and Diana and IDP and Prospect Park. And I panicked, in the dream, and yelled NO I’m not ready! and I woke up realizing I really wasn’t. I’m not. My Brooklyn freelance life is great, the best way I’ve lived in New York so far. I’ve been in the same apartment for three-plus years, longer than I’ve lived in any single place since the house I grew up in. I’ve been in New York five and a half years, and I left Seattle after being there six and a half years, so I’m getting close to having lived here longer than anywhere else. And though I thought I’d be way ready to go after this long in this concrete jungle, that I’m staying and making a life here actually feels pretty good.

And hi, have you seen my very sexy, gorgeous, radiant girlfriend? Not to objectify her, except well, yes, to objectify her just a little, because she likes that and I generally have permission to do so here in my little online world, and because her sexy gorgeousness is just one part of her and one part of what I’m madly in love with about her, other things being: her adventurous baking experiments, her kitchen tenacity in general, her extraordinary ability to communicate emotionally, the way she can work a room at a party, the shade of blue her eyes sparkle when she’s excited, the shade of pink her skin flushes, her high high sex drive, her openness to playing, how determined she is to make a place for herself in the world, how incredibly thoughtful she is at making the people around her feel comfortable and safe and interesting, her sensitive big heart.

I could go on.

Not to brag, except well, yes, to brag just a little bit, out of an honoring of what I’m grateful for, and because I really thought I’d never find somebody this amazing, and I was starting to get really convinced that I’d have to settle, that I wouldn’t find someone this good for me.

I almost feel stable! I love what I’m doing, I love where I’m going and what plans I have in 2011, this last year has been probably my favorite time period my whole life, I’ve never been this happy or satisfied … so why am I feeling a little bit unhappy and unsatisfied? My logical brain can’t quite wrap my head around it, but there’s something kind of shadowy that I get a glimpse of every once in a while, lurking behind my lungs somewhere.

And … well, that’s about it. On the one hand, my beautiful life. On the other hand, this shadow. I don’t know what it is. Hello, shadow, what are you? Who are you? Where do you come from? I’m not that scared of you right now, more just … curious. Tell me what it is you came here for. Let me know what you’re hiding from me.

It seems to be so quiet, subtle. I’m not sure I can force a shadow to reveal itself, especially not if I go after it with a spotlight.

So I’ll try to wait, and make a space for it to show itself, and be ready to hear whatever is going on, when it is ready to reveal itself.

Published by Sinclair Sexsmith

Sinclair Sexsmith (they/them) is "the best-known butch erotica writer whose kinky, groundbreaking stories have turned on countless queers" (AfterEllen), who "is in all the books, wins all the awards, speaks at all the panels and readings, knows all the stuff, and writes for all the places" (Autostraddle). ​Their short story collection, Sweet & Rough: Queer Kink Erotica, was a 2016 finalist for a Lambda Literary Award, and they are the current editor of the Best Lesbian Erotica series. They identify as a white non-binary butch dominant, a survivor, and an introvert, and they live outside Seattle as an uninvited settler on traditional, ancestral, & unceded Snoqualmie land.

12 thoughts on “A Queer, Divine Dissatisfaction”

  1. rexicon says:

    great post. i can relate. its nice to get to that point where you start building a home and it feels… like home..

  2. a. says:

    the way you write about your woman is really cute. which fits her!

  3. rexicon says:

    i missed the pictures the first time… kristen is truly, truly gorgeous. and these pictures are magical. you two, as a couple, are perfect.

  4. B says:

    i love all your posts, but this one. this one, i loved. it’s wonderful that you’re feeling so settled and content. :)

  5. Lenore says:

    Interesting that the first few comments, at least, focus on the positive parts of your post. Which are wonderful, of course. But this is what caught me: “On the one hand, my beautiful life. On the other hand, this shadow. I don’t know what it is.” Where does this come from? How does one try to understand it, without it overtaking?

    It IS scary.

  6. m says:

    Here’s a theory to try on for size, ripped shamelessly from my own life.

    The shadow is not outside of you; it is inside of you. You already know what it is, and you have always known. Or, parts of you know what it is, even if the main, rational, conscious part does not. Gently, over time, if you are ready & you want to do this, you will be able to acknowledge more about what you know about this shadow, and it will become just part of your beautiful life, not something separate and curious and worrisome.

  7. I think most people have their own shadow. Mine is always there but I just assumed it was normal after having lived this many years. The fear and worry are part of the shadow but it doesn’t have to be a bad thing–I use it to help me appreciate what I have.

    Also, those pictures made my day brighter. What a beauty she is.

  8. FG says:

    yes, i don’t think i’ve ever lived without the shadow. the question for me tends more toward, ‘is the shadow hindering my progress?’ or ‘is the shadow the only thing i can see?’ i think you can shine a light on the shadow — you are already doing it. the light of love, and the light of home, and the light of happiness.

    sometimes for me the shadow is also the fear that the beautiful warm things i have won’t last. i don’t know what to say about that, because that’s not something i have any mastery over. but i wish you lots of courage & strength in dealing with it. xoxo

  9. I’m with FG on this one, especially the shadow being about the fear that “the beautiful warm things i have won’t last.”

  10. Also chiming in with FG and greg.

    A shadow that seems to lurk in me is this sense that the contentment I feel and have is still, in reality, *not* the way contentment and happiness are depicted, represented, reflected in our culture. My happiness is not a happily-ever-after and somehow I always imagine others seem to be living a perfectly happy life and so I feel some sort of disconnect. But a daily life, regular and fine, content and paced, is never really happily-ever-after. I am, I think, often restless. Content and restless are not easy bedmates. But I think I’m okay with that.

  11. Kyle says:

    I’m happy for you. It feels very good to have a place in the world that you love, that feeds you, that is filled with so many of your favorite things and people. And to be in such a good relationship, that’s sweet cream frosting on top, isn’t it?

    As to your lurking shadow, perhaps you’ve figured it out and that’s why you’ve chosen to give yourself some time-out in January.

    Enjoy life, my friend. That queer, divine dissatisfaction has something to teach you, and I have no doubt you’ll make the most of it.

  12. Kyle says:

    I wanted to respond to what alphafemme said, about content and restless.. yeah, they are bad roommates, always taking each other’s stuff and eating all the food in the fridge and not running the dishwasher. Seriously, though, I can definitely relate to that sense of wanting to be content, of loving the feeling that I’ve accomplished something great and now have the chance to sit down and enjoy it. On the other hand, I don’t tend to sit very long, I get restless for whatever’s coming next. I enjoy the comfort of routine and predictability, but I also feel chafed and stifled by it.

    I’m thinking FG, GrEG, m and Making Space are on the right track with the shadows we carry around. I think mine is related to my fear that any happiness or success I’m experiencing is fragile and short-lived. That constant battle between wanting to celebrate success and feeling like I’m going to lose it is stressful. It’s a major part of my drive and motivation to work hard at everything I do. I’m worried if I relax and enjoy what I have for too long, I’ll lose ground.

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