Everything I Know About Life, I Learned from Musical Theatre

Okay, yes, obviously exaggerated clickbait title is obvious. But I was thinking about this recently, so I thought it might be fun to write about.Anyone who knows me knows that I love musical theatre. I think it’s because it combines two of my favourite things: music and stories. And most of my favourite shows have that one line (or sometimes more than one) that sticks with me because it sums up something I know to be true or sometimes need to be reminded of.

So just for fun, here are nine of my favourite pieces of showtunes wisdom and the things I take from them.

“Forget regret, or life is yours to miss” (Rent)

(I know Rent is problematic, I love it anyway, don’t @ me)

Much of this show is about seizing the day and taking the love you can get now, because you know you don’t have forever. This one reminds me that life can be short, and that there’s no point living in past regrets. Because sometimes now is all we have.

“You change the world when you change your mind” (Kinky Boots)

We are all learning every day, or at least we should be. Sometimes, people might feel as though they can’t keep up with all the changes in society and politics and language. But none of us come to the table knowing everything.

The world doesn’t change in a day. But with every mind changed, we make progress. With every view reconsidered, we get closer to the world we want. Wisdom isn’t about knowing it all. Wisdom is about knowing when to change your mind.

“Even the darkest night will end and the sun will rise” (Les Miserables)

I always think of this one as something that might be said to a hero just as he’s about to give up on his quest. It reminds me that there’s always another day and that even the worst pain doesn’t last forever.

“To seek revenge may lead to hell” (Sweeney Todd)

I wrote recently about why I still hate my abuser and won’t forgive him. I think anger can be a strong and powerful thing. But anger is not the same thing as revenge.

I do not wish to hurt him. My goal is not to cause him harm. In the end, exacting revenge (whatever that looked like) would do more damage to me than it would to him. My goal is to help myself, not to hurt him. Allowing myself to be angry does the former, while seeking revenge would succumb to the latter.

“I am the one thing in life I can control” (Hamilton)

I actually have a print featring this quote framed on the wall of my office. I’ve long known that I have control issues. It’s a safety mechanism and something I’m working on internally and with my therapist. But this serves as a reminder that I can’t actually control others or external situations – and that it is foolish and even harmful to try. All I can control is myself.

“I’m through accepting limits ’cause someone says they’re so” (Wicked)

Most of us have probably been told “you can’t do that” at some point. Any person who has reached the peak of achievement in their field will tell you that they’ve encountered naysayers along the way.

But you don’t have to accept other people’s limitations or allow them to put those limitations onto you. You get to define your own limits.

“Everybody’s playing the game but nobody’s rules are the same” (Chess)

We all approach situations and relationships with our own unique context made up of beliefs, preconceptions, past experiences, and goals. While two people might be superficially facing the same thing, it can look incredibly different. So if you feel as though you’re talking past someone else or can’t come to a place of understanding, consider whether you’re approaching things with a completely different set of rules.

“Nice is different than good” (Into the Woods)

So many of the people I’ve been harmed by in my life were nice people. My abuser was perhaps the nicest, at least to those outside his immediate sphere. He charmed strangers, gave great compliments, even flirted with service staff in a way that managed to be charismatic rather than creepy. He also spent years breaking down my sense of self and my grasp of reality.

So now, when someone tells me they’re “such a Nice Guy,” I think of him and I understand that being nice doesn’t necessarily mean they will treat me well.

“There’s a fine, fine line between love and a waste of time” (Avenue Q)

Yes, even a show that is essentially “Muppets, but wrong” can have the occasional pearls of wisdom. There’s a Fine Fine Line is a surprisingly poignant little song about knowing when to give up on someone even if it hurts.

I know I’ve had a tendency to hang on to relationships for far too long in the past. I felt as though as long as I loved the person, I couldn’t leave. Now I know that sometimes, the greatest act of love you can show to both yourself and the other person is to get out before things get much worse.

Do you have any favourite theatrical wisdom?

I Need Noise!

Say something – do it soon, it’s too quiet in this room
I need noise, I need the buzz of a sub
Need the crack of a whip, need some blood in the cut

– K Flay

Something I’ve heard multiple times throughout the pandemic is the assumption that introverts will be fine. After all, we like staying inside and keeping things low-key and not interacting with anyone… right?

Well, as it turns out, not really.

I’m an introvert and I am decidedly not fine at all. Yes, I value my own space. Yes, I sometimes prefer to stay in as opposed to going out (sometimes.) And yes, I’ll often choose spaces that are a little quieter and a little less crowded. But the keywords in all of this are sometimes and often.

No-one, not even the most introverted introvert, is supposed to live like this for a year or more.

For me, once the initial tidal wave of panic and fear passed sometime in late March last year, the not-okayness has been a slowly rising fog. Some days it’s denser than others. Sometimes I almost think it’s almost cleared, then I’ll realise I can’t see a metre in front of my face. And one of the things that is driving me absolutely crazy is the relentless fucking quietness of everything.

As I recently told my friends, “I want to go clubbing. I don’t even really like clubbing any more, but I want to go.” I want to go to a packed London bar, the kind of place where you have to fight your way through a crowd just to get a drink. I want to dance shoulder-to-shoulder with strangers, make eye contact with a girl I’ll never dare approach, accept a drink thrust at me by a guy I’ll never fuck.

I want to be the first on the dancefloor at a sex club, shamelessly pulling my dress off over my head to reveal something extraordinarily black and tiny and lacy underneath. To take a spin around the pole before I’ve drunk enough to render it a bad idea. To blow a kiss to that cute couple and wonder if it’s their first time when they blush. I want to hear the music punctuated by whip cracks and squeals of blissful pain and moans of pleasure.

I want the kind of place where you have to shout to be heard. Where the music thumps so loud and heavy that I can feel it rising through the floor and throbbing in my legs, my stomach, my cunt. I want somewhere I can be anonymous, one of a crowd. Somewhere I can get out of my head. Somewhere that’s such an overwhelming assault on the senses that I couldn’t think clearly even if I wanted to.

It’s too fucking quiet and I can hardly stand it any more. I need noise. I need the kind of noise that silences what’s in my head. Now. Please.

So please check in with your introvert-identified friends as much as you do with the extroverts. Please don’t assume we’re fine. And please don’t make the jokes about how we’ve been training for this our whole lives – we’ve heard them all and they’re not funny anymore, if they ever were.

Who wants to go somewhere BUSY and LOUD when all this is over?

Quote Quest badge, for a post about quiet and noise during the pandemic

Today’s post was inspired by Quote Quest, a meme by the lovely LSB. Click the logo to see what everyone else is writing about this week! And if you enjoyed this post, please buy me a coffee?

Four Badass Feminist Songs for International Women’s Day

March 8 is International Women’s Day. There have been tonnes of great writings today! Check out this piece from my dear friend Quinn, all about why she’s staying angry. Or this one, from the wonderful Emmeline Peaches about why she will never apologise for being herself. There are badass women doing awesome work all over the place and we should support them.

Me, though? I’m on a tight turnaround and have had a shit week. So in lieu of a deep, thoughtful essay, here are four of my current favourite feminist tunes.

Fight Like a Girl – Emilie Autumn

(TW: this one deals with violence against women and is at least somewhat a revenge-fantasy song from an abuse survivor).

I am through lying still,
Just a body to be beaten, fucked,
And – if I’m lucky – left for dead,
So who’s scary now?

Listen.

Black Tie – Grace Petrie

I love Grace Petrie’s sometimes-irreverant, sometimes-angry, always poignant protest songs. Honestly at least half her most recent album could have gone on this list, but I’ve picked Black Tie because it’s a love letter of sorts to her younger self, reassuring her that she’ll find her place in the world one day and that traditional gender roles are bullshit.

“And the images that fucked ya
Were a patriarchal structure
And you never will surrender
To a narrow view of gender.
And I swear there’ll come a day
When you won’t worry what they say
On the labels, on the doors –
You will figure out what’s yours.”

Listen.

You Kinda Hate Girls – Rachel Lark

You ever dated a “woke” guy, and then scratched the surface to find he was just as misogynistic as your average bro on the street? Yeah, me too. In this song, Rachel Lark delivers a razor-sharp critique of exactly this kind of man.

“You say I’m “not your type,”
Well, I guess you can’t change what you like,
But if what you like is what society likes,
And society is sick… maybe you’re a dick!
I’m not sure what you mean by “chill,”
I party, do drugs, and I’m on the Pill,
But I’ve been noticing that you’re kinda preferential
For the meek and the skinny and the deferential.”

Listen.

Men Explain Things to Me – TacocaT

Much like the book of the same name, this angry little two-minute ditty calls out exactly how fucking annoying it is when men take it upon themselves to explain things to women… that the women already know plenty about.

Though I know all about
The words you’re spitting out
The floor is yours without a doubt
I already know
How this is gonna go
How this is gonna go
Tell me to calm down.

Listen.

What’s on your playlist today, babes?

Remember: Resist. Support your sisters, not just cisters. Smash the patriarchy.

Happy IWD.

Did you enjoy this post? Don’t forget you can buy me a coffee!


Eroticon 2019: Virtual Meet & Greet

I can hardly believe it’s almost Eroticon time again! This will be my third year going to this amazing conference and I’m so excited. Let’s dive in to another Meet & Greet, shall we?

NAME (and Twitter if you have one)

Amy Norton (CoffeeAndKink on Twitter)

Tell us 3 things you are most looking forward to at Eroticon 2019

  1. Bringing Mr CK along for the first time and getting to introduce him to so many of my sex blogging friends.
  2. Presenting my first workshop! (Once I’ve actually got around to writing it).
  3. All the new things I’m sure to learn over the weekend. I never come away from Eroticon without a head full of new information and new ideas.

We are creating a play list of songs for the Friday Night Meet and Greet. Nominate one song that you would like us to add to the play list and tell us why you picked that song.

You’ve Been Written by The Vocal Few. Because it’s a gorgeous love-song and is sort of about writing, too.

I write everything down that I like
and you’ve been written into the songs of my life,
and I like the songs that we write…

The pages filled, recording wars and victories that we’ve been given,
like altars built, preserving all our history, yes we’ve been written
in the melodies you gave to me.”

What is your favorite item or book you’ve purchased so far this year?

Jillian Keenan’s Sex With Shakespeare. “Extraordinary” doesn’t even cover it. (Yes, I will be writing a proper review soon). But seriously. Read this book.

You can have an unlimited supply of one thing for the rest of your life, what is it? Sushi? Scotch Tape?

Self-esteem, since lack of it is the thing that most often holds me back.

What is your favourite quote from a movie?

“Can you see what we’ve done here, by coming together all of us? We made history!” – Pride (2014)

What is your word suggestion to next years Eroticon anthology?

Memory

Complete the sentence:

I feel… as though 2019 is the year I will crack myself open, break apart into tiny pieces and eventually put myself back together again.

Can’t wait to see you all there!

[Guest Post] “RESPECT: Find Out What It Means to Me” by LittleWelshMinx

I recently decided to run a pitch call for newer voices in sex writing – specifically, the criteria was anyone who has never been paid to write about sex/relationships before. I got a huge number of pitches and many of them were outstanding in quality. In the end, picking just one from the 70+ I got was too hard, so I picked a small number of my favourites and will be publishing them one at a time between now and Christmas. Today’s is from LittleWelshMinx. This one stood out to me because of its unique take on the role of song in self-care around dating. I also wanted to share this one first because the reference to RESPECT is so timely given Aretha Franklin’s sad death last week. 

Without further ado, over to LWM…

“RESPECT: Find Out What It Means to Me”

Today I’m talking about relationship rituals.

I have been dating now for 18 years. During that time, I have developed certain rituals for getting me through the tough times and for getting me through the really tough times. As my regular readers will know, I’m a big music fan. I often use music as a way of feeling, thinking, soothing myself, and finding the strength to face the pain, love, rejection, betrayal, and the unknown that is the world of relationships and dating.

My parents have handed down to me a very eclectic taste in music, and one of their favourite genres – and mine – is soul. In turn, soul music became one of the key elements of my own personal relationship soundtrack.

The deep, powerful voices would resonate through my room, vibrating through my heart, connecting me to singers from over 50 years ago, making me feel slightly less alone as their voices raised in celebration, desperation, and elation.

Of all of them, I loved Aretha Franklin’s Respect the best.

Here was a woman, not bowed in defeat, not crying in a corner but standing up for herself. Rather than giving up and walking away, the woman within the narrative of the song seems to be drawing a line, telling her partner the way it is, and demanding better treatment. You get the sense that she has taken some crap and just isn’t prepared to take any more.

Every time I was in a bad place, and had been neglected, ignored, abandoned, patronised, cheated on or dumped, I would turn to music, and inevitably, turn to Aretha.

Respect acted like a much-needed shake from a collective sisterhood, putting fire in my heart and stiffening my backbone. When I was looking for the strength to keep going, stand up for myself, or screw up enough resolve to look inside for the truth, for the reality of my situation, to face my unhappiness and find the strength to leave, her voice and words would give me courage, hope, and determination. She sang about not taking any shit back in the 1960s. I’d be damned if I’d take any shit 50 years later.

And so this women, with her words and raw power, would get me through.

She was there for me during the pain and shame when “D” made me go shopping with him for his girlfriend’s Christmas present, knowing I loved him, and the day after he slept with me for the first time.

She was there for me when “S” was playing mind games, gaslighting me before I knew gaslighting was a thing, when in my bewildered state I questioned my own sanity and morals.

She was there for me when “J” trailed off into oblivion.

She was there when “R” left me for another woman, three days after introducing me to his extended family, and three months after insisting I meet his son.

This song, among many others, has been a touchstone for me. An audio reminder of who I am, what I want, and what I will and will not tolerate in my own life and relationships.

The thing to remember is that we all go through tough times and we all get our hearts broken at some point or another. To survive it, you need to have things you can fall back on, and songs like Respect, that help to snap you out of the pain, make you laugh at yourself, and keep moving forward.

Whenever I find myself hurting, I find bittersweet comfort knowing I can turn to music for solace. More than just reminding me to be strong, Aretha has been a thread throughout my dating life. Whenever I listen to Respect in a moment of pain, I am forced to remember the previous moments, but also forced to remember the fact that I got through them, and survived, a little wiser, a little tougher, and a little stronger.

When I heard the news of her death, I stopped in my tracks. Later that night I wept. I wept for a woman I never met, because her song helped me to become the woman I am.

Thank you, Aretha.

xxx

Little Welsh Minx in a masquerade mask.About LittleWelshMinx

Hello! I’m a 30-something girl from Wales, who likes classic literature, rugby, salsa, old Hollywood cinema, 40s/50s/60s fashion, and drinking gin and tonics. I blog about sex, from as many different view points, subjects, and angles as possible… academic, historical, geographical, scientific, technological, moral, personal, socioeconomic, political, emotional….

Sex – it’s not just a noun or a verb.

Six Little Love Stories in Six Songs

One. Evanescence – You

So many nights I’ve cried myself to sleep,
but now that you love me I love myself.
I never thought I would say this,
I never thought there’d be You.

I know I have to begin with this one, and yet all I can do is stare at the screen and wonder how I can possibly sum it up in a few short lines.

I lost my thing-we-know-as-virginity to this one. I was only sixteen and a Good Girl, fully believing that having sex outside of marriage might be okay, but only if I did go on to marry the person I “lost it” to. That belief and its equally-insidious sister, “you must keep your Number as low as possible,” kept me in far too many broken relationships for far too long.

But once upon a time, before sex and shame and trauma, I was just a lonely girl who needed a boy to tell her she was pretty and it would all be okay. I needed someone to love me into loving myself. It would be years before I learned that wasn’t possible.

Two. A R Rahman & The Pussycat Dolls – Jai Ho (You Are My Destiny)

You are the reason that I breathe,
You are the reason that I still believe,
You are my destiny.
Now there is nothing that can stop us,

Nothing will ever come between us,
So come and dance with me…

Pride – my first. She was my first many things. First woman, first poly partner, first person I completely lost my mind over. First drinking-myself-into-oblivion, crying-for-weeks heartbreak.

But before it all goes wrong, we share this one beautiful day. I hold her hand. I kiss her, surrounded by fellow queers, the first time I’ve felt in my bones that my love for her is not wrong, but the rightest thing in the world.

Later, in the corner of a marquee drinking overpriced Pimms and me wearing a fluffy-rimmed cowboy hat (where I got it I do not recall,) we dance. In this moment, I believe that nothing can ever come between us. So come and dance with me…

Three. The Verve – Bittersweet Symphony

Well I never pray,
But tonight I’m on my knees (yeah)
I need to hear some sounds that recognize the pain in me.

A camping weekend. A field in the grounds of someone’s enormous farmhouse, rural Cambridgeshire. It’s his birthday, this gorgeous, long-haired energy-ball of a boy I’ve had a crush on for so long.

The campfire blazes. This song drifts across us from the speakers someone’s rigged up, the melody distant and yet still so imprinted upon my mind that even now, whenever I hear the tune I can still smell the fire and feel his lips as he leaned to kiss me.

We date for maybe a couple of months. He takes me on a date to the zoo. We make out and engage in some very heavy petting, but whenever he tries to push things further, I can’t do it. We quickly realise we’re not really all that compatible and fade easily back into a casual friendship.

Four. Music & Lyrics – Way Back Into Love

There are moments when I don’t know if it’s real,
or if anybody feels the way I feel.
I need inspiration,
not just another negotiation.

Kiss me. Kiss me damnit! I’ve been thinking it, madly willing it every time I’ve seen his so-bloody-attractive face all weekend. With literally minutes until I have to leave, reluctantly crossing back into the real world after a weekend of glorious poly retreat, he finally does it.

Three months later, I get on a train and go to his housewarming party in a different city, where I don’t know anyone. He snorts a line of cocaine. I don’t, but I’m high on him, on his presence. He spirits me off to a loft-bed and goes down on me, pressing a hand to my mouth when I giggle too loudly. I sleep in his bed with him, his wife and her boyfriend. For a few short weeks, I wonder if this pretty, pretty boy is going to be the person that makes this burned girl believe in love again. (Spoiler: he wasn’t.)

Five. Death Cab for Cutie – I Will Follow You Into the Dark

If Heaven and Hell decide that they both are satisfied
and illuminate the “no”s on their vacancy signs,
if there’s no one beside you when your soul embarks,
then I’ll follow you into the dark.

The moment I see this one, I am lost. Even years later, she’s one of the most beautiful women I’ve ever seen, let alone been in a relationship with. The most amazing style, a smile that rendered this wordy girl tongue-tied, and a passion like a fire in her belly. She’s something else.

And she writes a song for me. It only takes a little coaxing for her to sing it to me. I can see her now, cross legged on the bed with lacy skirt pooling around her, turquoise ukulele in hand.

“I can’t write tunes,” she says apologetically, “only lyrics, so the tune’s kinda ripped off from a Death Cab For Cutie song. Maybe don’t listen to the original, it’s about suicide.”

Six. Porcupine Tree – Sleep Together

Let’s sleep together right now,
relieve the pressure somehow,
switch off the future right now,
let’s leave forever.

We sext day after day, have illicit cyber-sex night after night, and fall in love through typed words and grainy video-chats. I don’t know, yet, that I will eventually move my world around for this man, that he will become my blood and my bones and the most dearly beloved of my life.

What I do know, when he sends me this song, is that I want to sleep with him. I don’t even mean have sex. I am so very tired, physically exhausted from too many late night chats and emotionally drained from fighting a battle with my own heart that I already know I’ve lost. I want to rest in his arms, to feel safe for once in my life, and just to sleep.

Today I sleep with him every night.

If you enjoyed this little musical trip down memory lane, please leave me a coffee tip!