Xanadu

Xanadu
In Xanadu did Kublah Khan a stately pleasure dome decree

Thursday, May 25, 2017

Jewelry Shopping

Once upon a time, back when I was still officially vanilla, I was dating a guy named Allen. We had met at church, been going out for some months. I liked him a fair amount and we were spending a good bit of time together. At that time, I was traveling internationally regularly, and I had been doing it for about a year. So I had my routine down, no big deal. I was flying to the same place, same airline and same connections, literally the same flights, so I could pretty much do it on auto pilot. No fuss, no muss. I even kept a bag packed so that I could literally go to the airport on zero notice.

It was late August and I had a trip coming up in about two weeks. The thought crossed my mind that I might like to have a cross to wear as a pendant on a necklace. I didn't give it much thought. A few days later the thought occurred to me again. I thought it might be nice to have protection. It crossed my mind that was an odd thought and then I forgot about it. I was supposed to leave on a Friday, out of Dulles. I had a busy weekend planned before leaving, lots of socializing and I was supposed to spend Sunday afternoon with Allen. But when the day came, I called him up and canceled on no notice. I didn't tell him exactly why because I didn't fully understand why, I just said I had too much to do before I left the country. But in point of fact this idea of buying a cross to wear for protection had become urgent. I *had* to go buy a cross Sunday afternoon. Had to. And now I was perplexed, because I grew up extremely Protestant and in My tradition, we do not wear crosses. That's in My mind essentially a Catholic thing to do and I'm emphatically not Catholic. As a kid we were taught the Catholics were going to hell becauae they worship idols; I was not Catholic. Nobody in my family were a cross, nobody I knew wore a cross, I had never considered wearing a cross, I had never wanted to wear a cross. I wasn't even interested in it as purely as a matter of jewelry. I certainly didn't believe it actually conferred any sort of protection, that just didn't fit into My belief system at all. If it was anything it was pretty jewelry, and even as jewelry it was not interesting to Me. And yet suddenly I felt I had to have one. I did not understand Myself.  I canceled my date, the last date I was going to have with the boyfriend before leaving the country, which probably meant not seeing him for two weeks. I cancelled the date so that I couod go to the National Cathedral some distance away. I went to the National Cathedral, which I do not attend, so that I could buy a cross I did not believe in. 

It was important to me that it come from a Church, and the Cathedral was the logical place to get it. No church I belong to sells crosses, and I absolutely did not want to buy it in a jewelry store. It had to be the Cathedral. I schlepped to the Cathedral and I spent a significant amount of time there in the gift shop looking at pretty much every cross they had. 

I knew what I wanted, I wanted to elements of both the cross itself but also a circle, the masculine and feminine in balance. I may or may not have known that this is a Celtic cross, but it was important to me to balance those two elements. So I looked at all the crosses and in the end I wound up spending several hundred dollars, more money than I could afford, to buy a solid gold Celtic cross (fortunately the price of gold was pretty reasonable at that point). I picked it in part because it had been blessed at the Cathedral, and this feeling that I needed protection was getting stronger and stronger. At the same time, I continued to write the whole thing off as some sort of slightly nutty whim. Maybe all that travel was getting to Me.

I put the blessed, compulsively purchased for protection cross on, and I did not take it off not, not that day Sunday, nor the next day Monday, nor Monday night.  My plan was to wear it through the upcoming work trip. And so it was that on Tuesday morning when I found myself in traffic in downtown DC, trapped as I listen to reports of car bombs all around me, of missing airplanes in the sky headed for the numerous monuments I was surrounded by, able to see the smoke of the Pentagon rising in the distance... as I sat in My trapped car hundreds of yard from the White House, watching people run out of the White House clearly having been told to evacuate... understanding instinctively there must be a plane missing, that it must be headed for Me... comforting Myself with the knowledge that dad says it is really hard to spot the White House when you fly down from the north,  down across the bluff and over the Cathedral... as I comforted Myself with the idea the plane would probably overshoot the White House and hit the easily spotted Washington monument (probably still killing Me) or the easily spotted Capitol … As I sat in the middle of downtown Washington DC next to the White House on 9-11 unable to escape...  I was for the first time in My life wearing a blessed cross.  

And I was oddly calm. 

On the one hand I was completely aware of the danger I was in, yet I wasn't panicked. I was in fact calmer and clearer and more relaxed than if I had been watching this as a movie on television. I calmly persisted and creeping along, I thought back to a class I had once taken, where we did an urban terrorism simulation. I thought about strategic infrastructure targets, multiple waves of attacks, targets of high symbolic value, and knew with high clarity what I needed to do. I made it to the office, parked the car, went into the office grab my laptop, walked straight back out without speaking to anyone, got straight back in the car, and drove away from downtown with its high symbolic value targets and its numerous infrastructure targets. 

I foresaw that the federal government would close and that mayhem would ensue when everyone attempted to escape downtown in a big damn hurry, and I knew that if I were a terrorist that's when I would launch a second wave of attacks, maybe a plane was waiting to take out a people loaded bridge. So My goal was to get out of downtown before that wave could rise. 

I drove up Massachusetts Avenue to the north along embassy row, I got to witness hundreds of embassy personnel who had just heard received the call. I got to watch them sprinting in business suits with briefcases, hundreds of them, sprinting across streets and medians, through flowerbeds and parks, doing whatever it took to make a beeline back to the safety of their embassy. I just kept going north. 

I knew there was a bridge, and I figured it wasn't important enough for a terrorist to target, it was small it didn't photograph well, I figured that's how I would get back across the river. I had to get home before the flood of people behind Me caught up. And I was home within about an hour of leaving my office. I felt badly for telling no one what I knew was going on, but I felt it was a survival situation and I didn't have time. I'm not entirely proud of that. But even from this distance I marvel at My calmness being trapped in all that, trying to escape, feeling viscerally the very real dangers - later confirmed - swirling around me, and yet somehow not being afraid. I didn't realize until a little later, I didn't connect the dots between that knowledge of having been in danger and the odd sense a few days earlier of needing protection, I didn't connect those dots right away. 

It seems to have been a one time thing. It's a beautiful piece of jewelry, and if I'm going to church for something special I might put it on as part of establishing a spiritual headspace. It is special to Me because of that experience, but it is just jewelry now. Still, I have never before and never since felt a strong sense of needing protection from the wearing of a cross. But if ever there were a time and a place for such a thing, it was on 9-11 as the passengers of Flight 93 caused it to crash in Schwenksville, PA rather than let it to continue to its target, where I was.

I don't know why I feel moved tonight to write this. A kinky homeowner blog with three followers is an improbable place to post the story, but it is the best spot I've got. I hope it does not mean that I am sensing great danger headed My way on this Memorial Day weekend.

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Burned By The Sun

I wrote this post in late August and was so upset, I decided it wise to stick it in a drawer until I could re-visit it with new eyes. I still feel badly about it, bizarrely guilty that I did not attend the event (I had been curious). If I had gone, maybe I would have seen the danger and stopped it. I like to think that anyway. But more likely I would have not realized it should be stopped, and I would then feel even more guilt. As we head into Fusion, I pray nothing like this happens again. At the same time, I know kink is like a Jeep, a great way to get stuck somewhere you couldn't otherwise reach.

Dateline August 25, 2016
I was frankly appalled to learn yesterday of the multiple serious injuries resulting from solar branding play at Fusion 2016. Normally I stay out of anything that has a fragrance of scene politics but I can't be silent about this.

Full disclosure: I have not been personally involved (thank the Lord) so all My info is second hand from the fet threads. But here's what I'm pretty sure of:

-One of the leaders of the Primal Arts group did solar branding.
-Primal Arts does ordeal/ ritual stuff that is not My kink, but a prior serious partner was much taken with their flesh hook suspensions and so I once watched "the ritual" for about 4 hours at a WinterFire. I found it troubling, not the activity per se, but the language being used throughout. It felt very... Ambiguous. Un-responsible. It felt to Me like language one would find in a cult. It was indirect, circular, non-specific. Subject + verb + direct object seemed absent.  It gave Me the creeps. I saw one really crazy-happy lady up there danging from the fleshhooks and I watched one woman who clearly wanted to chicken out go through with it (with the support/ pressure of her peers) and walk around behaving traumatized the rest of the event.
- This PA leader guy decided he wanted to add to his existing tattoo etc. skills and learn solar branding. So he self-taught by researching online; didn't take even one class. Apparently didn't even practice on himself. Then at Fusion he posted an invitation to people who might want to be recipients of his new skills. But he didn't tell them he had no experience, had *literally* never done it before. And the recipients, presumably knowing of his leader reputation in the Primal Arts community, didn't specifically ask the seemingly unnecesary question. One of them requested the brand go entirely around a limb; even though he has apparently taught tattoo classes in which he explained why that is a giant no-no, he did it anyway.
- His solar branding gathering was not an official event of Fusion.
- I remember seeing his posting at Fusion and thought, "Wait, you can kill ants with a magnifying glass. This is a terrible idea."  But there's quite a bit of stuff I think is unsafe at these events. I play SSC, many people play RACK/ RASH. At some point, that's an individual choice, I have had to come to terms with the ideal some people make terrible choices and I cannot police the world at these events. I thought no more about it.
- The guy did massive, unspeakable, almost unfathomable damage. Tens of thousands of dollars od medical bills. Hospital stays. Surgeries. One person nearly lost a limb. 

Here's what strikes Me about the situation:

1. Absolute hubris. Period. This is a person who has lost the awareness of the risks they undertake and the ability to perform a realistic risk analysis.  He was drinking his own self-empowerment kool-aid. That's the only explanation I can find for circumscribing a limb when he has taught others not to.
2. Massive consent violations. In highly hazardous play, for which there apparently isn't even a community accepted standard of performance, and esp. when you are a visible community leader with a reputation that disposes people to defer to your judgment... You damned straight better tell each and every person just what a newbie you are at this ultra hazardous activity. Their consent hinged on the belief of his competence; had he disclosed his total inexperience with solar branding they might not have gone through with it.  The definition of battery is an unconsented touching. The recipients' consent hinged on an active misrepresentation of his competence which compromised their consent. In My mind, that is (criminal) battery... If both the act was present AND EITHER criminal intent or extreme recklessness was present (details vary by state law). And OBTW, negligence may very well be here too, although likely the recipients were at least somewhat contributorily negligent as well.  Courts don't like to do things that create a "moral hazard" (i.e., encourage other victims to make similar mistakes), so they probably would want to make clear (via a finding of contributory negligence) that at the end of the day, if you agree to let someone burn you, it's up to you to make damned sure you have chosen well.

That's the low hanging fruit. 

3. Negligence gets *really* interesting in kink consent violation situations. The standard is always what a reasonable person would foresee and what they would do. What we do in the alt lifestyle community is almost by definition NOT what reasonable people do. I have been lit on fire and loved it. Do reasonable people ever allow themselves to be lit on fire?  Maybe not. So to make the standard work, you have almost have to tailor it down to a *similarly situated* reasonable person... In other words, a reasonable kinkster. But who is that? I think I'm a reasonable kinkster because I play SSC, but not everyone does, lots of people play RACK/RASH. How far down that train of logic a court would go is fascinating to ponder. I wonder if there is a line of cases concerning tattoos or cosmetic surgery gone wrong that provides precedent.

4. The community has a very hard time spotting/ policing bad apples, and hardest time of all may be when the apple has a widely spread reputation as a presenter/ leader and is getting dangerous.  It takes a long time for facts to catch up with and corrode a reputation; huge damage can be done in the process.  The bigger they are, the harder they can fall. We need to find ways to keep ahead of this behavioral curve.

5. The really egregious cases with the leaders (that I know of) involve hubris. It is a documented element of all forms of risk management that when we do something dangerous for a while and nothing bad happens, our perception of the danger drops off. That leads to complacency, with predictable results. So perhaps we should be most skeptical of the most well "expert" / well known edge players. They are most likely to feel invincible, most likely to lean on their reputation, and probably pretty likely to keep wanting to add newer, edgier skills. And at minimum, selecting your Top based in part on their level of humility and willingness to meaningfully discuss prior fuckups might be a fine way to vet them. It would seem to flag the dangerous ones when little else does.

6. Even if the event were not be legally liable, it will be held responsible in the court of public opinion one way or another. People will eventually conclude that where there is smoke there must be fire, and then they will vote with their feet. The nuance that the solar branding was one guy's terrible idea rather than a Fusion sponsored event gets lost in the noise. But it still raises exactly the issues that DO should consider when it agrees to allow an Ion to occur.

7. Camp feels to Me like a tremendously permissive and accepting environment, anything goes. Looking for a Mermaid on a Unicorn? Sure, no problem, right this way. I have actually had that conversation while floating naked in a pool. I love that about camp; it is very freeing for Me as a responsible and vigilant person. But I'm one of the shrinking number of old grownups -- in My forties (gasp!!)!!  The money is not being made on those of us who came up through Black Rose, those of us who were taught safe sane and consensual is the bedrock.  I'm a Safety Domme and I spot danger fast, and steer clear. Too often I am right: inflated giant unicorn head mounted on golf cart obstructs view, results in injury -- to the safety guy, no less -- yes, I saw that coming. But other people... Young, inexperienced, a bit discombobulated by the big event? Those people are in considerably more peril, and if they are female or new to bottoming or worse, both? It's more a matter of when than if.

8. It may be that this large scale (1,000 people) permissive environment just cannot coexist with the full range of Primal Arts folks, who are engaging in ultra-hazardous activities for deeply personal reasons that make them willing to accept the risk of life changing personal injury. The Primal folks are not playing SSC. They aren't playing RACK/RASH. They are in an important sense NOT "playing" at all.  DO and Primal Arts used to look to Me like two flavors of basically the same thing but I now seeing them as operating in parallel universes, on nearly opposite assumptions about responsibility. The DO play instinct to top the next person, keep pushing the edge because it's FUN... be increasingly outlandish, that flavor of group energy might just be too toxic for Primal activities like permanent body mod.  On their side, the Primal Arts model seems to be agnostic about the top's responsibility, as a core concept. In that model, everything seems driven by what ordeal the person chooses for themselves.  There seems to be a deference to the bottom's wishes that SSC would not countenance.  As an SSC player, if a bottom wants Me to hurt them in the wrong way or a way in which I don't feel competent, I will refuse. My observatio  is the PA people say "it's your ordeal path".  Except in this case the ordeal they got is not at all what the person signed up for.

9. I feel bad for DO. What happened was the act of a single person who is a leader of Primal Arts which has had a symbotic relationship with DO. Primal provides a very specific subset of offerings and they seem to keep mostly to themselves. Subcontractors are forever causing headaches for their prime, and that is to some extent the case here. DO chooses its presenters but I'm betting DO has been letting Primal pick its own leaders for the ordeal track, with minimal oversight. This is two separate events happening at the same time in the same location; one is not a subset of the other. If anyone was going to spot this bad apple, it was more likely a Primal person than a DO organizer.  At the end of the day, though, whatever goes wrong at a joint event lands heavily on DO's reputation.

10. Dungeon Monitors are not enough. I see dangerous stuff happening all over camp, but what I see in the dungeon is generally quite well considered. We may need more DM type people all over camp, maybe some walkie talkie stations, so that when something unwise/ ill advised is happening, timely communication is easy. There needs to be more emphasis on collective responsibility, a more See Something/ Say Something imperative coupled with the pervasive and fully functioning hardware to allow better communications.

11. We need after action reporting from DO. Enough things have gone wrong that we need to be connecting dots, looking for patterns, identifying risk factors. These situations follow a pattern and they devolve rapidly into histrionics on fet.  I don't see a collective learning curve happening. What we need is to really understand these events in terms of repeatable patterns, so that the patterns can be interrupted. In serious safety cultures, incident reports are common, lessons learned are formulated, and they are widely distributed. Surely someone with a background in social sciences could identify the critical factors to consider.  The cases I know of involved male top leaders and female bottom not-leaders, so maybe we should start there.

12. At the end of the day though, if you put a thousand people together long enough, often enough, let them have sharp pointy things and alcohol and freedom, well, at some point some shit is going to happen. Truly random fails will occur. Poor judgment will happen even in normally responsible people. It has happened to Me. There will be some percentage of bad actors because any random sample of humanity will have at least a few. Whether these events attract *extra* bad actors because of their inherent lawlessness and the absence of transparency is an interesting but hard to answer question. 

These bone head screwups aren't things that "should not happen", they are things that absolutely will happen in some form, given the circumstances.  So the event organizers have to be ready for it. If that means a $10 surcharge for consent monitoring and process improvements, so be it. By my reading of the DO marketing materials, total DO attendance averages 1000 people per event, maybe 900 are paying. 900 x 4 events/ yr = 3600 registrations x $10 = $36,000. That should be enough to hire a consultant to make recommendations to fix the safety processes and provide at least one paid consent mediator/ counselor/ resource per event the first year. Second year, it should be 2. This isn't a job for an attendee volunteer; this requires professional grade skills.

13. We need to do a better job of explaining to attendees that they are really the only ones in charge of their safety. In an event of 1,000 people there is effectively no one in charge, no recourse in most scenes. The constant crop of newbies (again, I think disproportionately female bottoms) needs to receive the message that only they can protect themselves, and if they have any doubts they need to end the scene. This is deeply un-sexy and not the vibe DO wants chilling the fun, I get it.  But DO won't survive if this doesn't get fixed, so a change is needed.

I would suggest that in addition to the legalese liability waiver, there should be a plain language, witty, distilled version, that has an educational function. I would be happy to take a whack at a first draft. And there needs to be some giant signs around camp (dining hall ideal sinc we have plenty of time to look at it there) that outlines a set of no-brainer questions people should ask before a scene. It might start with "Dude, how many times have you done this before?".  Maybe a big Smokey The Bear posting saying "Only You".

At the end of the day, this is a problem of scale. At the scale of a local dungeon, maybe risk management by communal reputation works much of the time. But not at national scale of 1,000 strangers in various states of euphoria. That's a bunch of strangers literally playing with fire together. The hands off approach was never going to work. I just hope DO can figure it out fast enough.

Spring. Growth. Good.

I play with boys, always have. While I take it as an article of faith that everyone is at least a little bi, I'm as het as ya get. It's kind of a shame really, since I'm so open minded, but that's just My wiring. Lord knows I've been hit on from people on both sides of the aisle, but... wiring.

Dominance isn't primarily or even secondarily sexual for Me, it's just how I go through the world. When I first came into the scene, on that original list of things I was pretty sure I'd never be into, topping other women was there. Then I got some experience and realized a flogging is just a flogging. Erotic energy exists independent of Dominance, at least for Me, and it's either there or it isn't. And there are lots of other energies too, either there or not, with each new person.  I now have have three boys in My life: a bottom, a sub, and a slave. This confuses Me not at all. I didn't set out to create that reality; each relationship jelled and eventually I applied the best fitting label I could find. I get somewhat different things out of all three dynamics.

At some point I stopped thinking in term of What Do I Want With Him? And shifted into more of a curiosity: "Ooo, I feel click here, I wonder what might transpire?"  I came to trust the Dominance, take it as a given, and I stopped trying so hard.  Had I thought about it -- I didn't -- I would have realized this approach could open the door to playing with women, but since I'm really straight and they aren't on My radar, I gave it no thought at all.

So it was really the spirit of playfulness and curiosity that set Me down a new side path several years ago. I was in an event hotel lobby about 4am -- My favorite time for hotel lobbies -- hanging with folks I didn't know. I noticed a friendly male Dom and his sweet and pretty, high energy girl. My first impression was of a very high spirited, filly of a race horse.  We chatted, at some point he displayed a little party trick he has where he spoke to her in a foreign language, and a la A Fish Called Wanda, it made her all wiggly-giggly-squirmy. With Dom's permission, I joined in, speaking with him in the same language, and suddenly there was an Energy. Dom was amused, girl was wide eyed and wriggly, and I was entertained. Certainly the most fun I've ever had with a foreign language.

Event ended, time passed. It was probably a full 12 months before I saw them at the next event. Then we might have crossed paths at a party. Another event. It's probably 3 or 4 years now. As the comfort level has slowly grown, we have slowly added some petting. she leans on Me, I stroke her hair or arm a little, and speak to her soothingly in hotel lobbies late at night in a foreign language.  I tell stories about it, about the Sweet Mystery of kink dynamics and creativity, and though I never gave it much thought, they have been telling similar stories, so that people in their circle now, as she described it, "have heard the tales of the lovely lady who pets me and speaks a foreign language to me and how I flail and turn into goo".  So adorable. 

Last year, her Dom gave Me standing consent to speak to her in this fit-inducing language any time, so that broadened our range of interaction further. I'm always very careful when I'm on another Dominant's turf in any way, so this was a big shift for Me, it was in My mind saying that he recognizes there is some sort of freestanding, independent dynamic between her and Me, not just something derivative of His role. This year for the first time, girl c reached out before the event to say she was looking forward to seeing Me and expressing a hope she could sit at My feet.  she also let Me know it had taken a lot of courage to make the overture, and that this is all rather odd and somewhat confusing for her, since she normally is a rope top with other women. Additional adorable!  Yes, please! And in truth, I was Myself looking forward to playing with her verbally again, though I did hope we could play during less sleep-deprived hours. Wish granted. So when I saw My pretty target at the bar this year, I walked up behind her, leaned in, and spoke a few welcoming sentences into her ear, causing her to scream, levitate off a bar stool, flail, laugh-shriek, and generally provide a response gratifying to the heart of every reaction sadist in the universe. Dom R liked it too, and it's become clear he has been encouraging her in My direction.  We had several instances of verbal play in the lobby and hotel bar through the event, and the level of petting and cuddleyness continued to increased. Notably, there's been minimal negotiation until this point. It started Dominant-to-Dominant and at some point there was a handoff that amounted to, I trust you to keep doing this sort of thing.

girl c invited Me to their housewarming and though I nearly missed it, I just couldn't not show. I did want to be there, so there I was. girl c and I talked a bit more, I fish-called-wanda-ed her a bit (hereinafter "wanda" shall be a verb), but it was getting later in the evening by time she was finished wrestling another girl or three whilst several of them were in arm binders (best housewarming ever). We ended up with Me literally leading her by the nose to an oversized chair; I squeezed it between My fingers, but only after resisting the urge to stick a pinky up one nostril and lead her that way. It seemed somewhat the wrong tone for the house party; a bold move but unnecessary. After a few minutes in the chair, My back didn't like leaning down to talk to her on the floor at My feet, so I brought her up. Turns out she fits most comfortably in My lap. And so we were that way for a lovely half hour or so, chatting, cuddling and petting, getting to know each other a bit better, until the time came for her to bound away and Me to drive home, but only after enough enthusiastic bouncy hugs goodbye, one of them topless. I never knew I needed to be hugged by a beautiful bare breasted girl who just stepped out of a museum painting, but having had the experience, I'm quite sure I'm the better for it.

To My surprise, photos were taken of our little sofa session and I'm posting here (with consent of all) the one which does not show girl c's face. I like it for many reasons, not least of all that I'm having a good hair day Myself (yes, we all have our vanity), but mostly because it conveys something of My feelings in the moment. I like how My arms are in an almost perfect circle cuddling her, and how she is in a curl on My lap within the circle. girl c says there's something nurturing about Me that she finds calming and it makes her feel submissive to Me. I find there is something about her that makes Me feel very Earth Mother in an archetypal way. I have this feeling with My boys too sometimes but the gender difference gives it an Oedipal overlay that is just a bit squicky. That's missing with girl c, I just feel strong and feminine and grounded and compassionate. It's hard to think of examples except for the old Parkay TV commercial involving, "It's not nice to fool Mother Nature."  We don't really do the Divine Feminine in this culture. It feels powerful and dominant but in a benevolent and gentle way. It feels like I'm a sunny, balmy, gentle-breeze Spring day, urging everything on Earth to wake up and grow as I shine down.

Who knows where things go from here? We shall just have to see. If this is it, that's very lovely and if there's more, that's lovely too. We are both a bit out beyond the swim ropes of our customary dynamics, so no hurry. Sometimes the potentialities of not knowing are their own kind of enjoyable.

Salad Days

It was a banner week. Nice visit from the parents and all positive. Worked out some friction in my most important open relationship dynamic, and I'm really proud of us for that talk. Most unexpectedly, my ex finally tied up some loose ends between us that have been dangling for years (dude got married last fall!), things I have been increasingly upset about for a year and had just about given up on. Makes it a whole lot easier to be on good terms. And to cap last week off, there was a new special counsel for the FBI investigation. So life is good.

Three days of wicked summer heat nixed My pretty iris blooms but nothing died or bolted, and the lettuce patch is producing beautifully, not a slug or bug in sight. I'm getting a big salad out of it daily with enough to share. It's a bit of a mystery where those leaves come from while I'm at work but I'm not complaining. 

Last night I finally pulled the trigger on some good cedar raised bed kits, thanks to boy m who has sweetly gifted Me to make something special possible. I flirted with a light fixture but in the end, the garden won, so now I have 16 SF of new space in a proper container instead of the artfully random hodgepodge of baskets I've had thus far. Unplanted things will have a home, there's room for more new plants, and I can decommission some of the baskets to be used in the backyard. With luck, there will be another installment of raised beds within the year. It is a long narrow lot with the new brick retaining wall in front, and the plan is to make a shallow L of beds that runs along the wall on both sides of the gate. Flowers and stuff that can tolerate people reaching over the fence will be along the front wall, and veggies will be on the other legs of the Ls out of reach from the sidewalk. It was hard to pull the trigger but it feels good. Can't wait to go buy a bunch more bags of manure!

Today boy t surprised Me at work with a dozen tulips, which was a complete and fantastic surprise. Bless him, he really does work at serving from a distance. And I just love receiving flowers at the office early in the week. Then tonight I was one of four people on a panel for an alumni group, talking about the industry. It was nice to be reminded I could be part of that community, I forget about it. The constant fund raising requests make Me prone to toss both baby and bathwater, but I must remember that there is value there and really it far exceeds the occasional contribution. As if to drive the point home, there were three people there who are career counselor/ coach types, one of which is actually provided through the institution. I feel the Universe helpfully putting resources under My nose, nudge, nudge. It really did all just start from Me trying to be helpful, so I should keep doing that.

I love this time of year, and am thrilled the forecast calls for another 10 days of springy weather. The tomatoes would like more heat, sure, but I am happy with endless salad days for now.

Friday, March 10, 2017

Sweet Lassitude

I like to think I don't need external validation, and it's important to Me to believe that. But this week I got a spot achievement award from My boss, and two days later, for the same effort, the senior business person involved sent Me an enthusiastically appreciative email which was copied to My boss, our VP, our company's CEO, and someone so high up in our company's parent company stratosphere for My vertical that I only faintly know who they are.

What I noticed after the shock wore off and the Woo-HOOO!  moments passed, was how very like orgasm it felt. Obviously there's an endorphin pleasure rush but what felt orgasmic  was the sensation of sweet lassitude. The wow-I-need-a-cigarette-whilst-reclining-in-bed feeling. I didn't realize how much tension I was carrying around due to the annual review process until it unexpectedly released and I felt all safe and floaty and noodley.

I've been doing a specialized kind of yoga for injury recovery, and it has been fascinating. I'm just finishing taking the same class for the third time and I will keep repeating it until the instructor feels we understand My injury well enough for Me to be ok at the next level. That may take a while, for both of us. It has been fascinating to notice as I develop new awareness in My body. In one exercise we work with the four corners of the felt: inner heel, outer heel, inner ball of the foot, outer ball of the foot. Now, activate both inners. Now activate both outers. Now activate the inner heel and outer ball, then the outer heel and inner ball.

The first two class series, when we got to this part, I had absolutely no idea how to do what was being asked in the inner + outer combo. And then suddenly, quite amazingly, last week when I did it in the third series, I somehow understood, had a sense in My body of how to do it. Similarly, I suddenly have an idea now of how to control My big toe independent of My other toes. And when re-learning how to bend over, I suddenly this third time have more sense of how to be in My lower body, be in My feet, to use My lower body to straighten up in a way that does not engage My back at all.

It's so bizarre. 

It has all *been there* the whole time in My body, but I couldn't find it. I wonder what else there could be, awaiting discovery. Maybe some really great hot sexy stuff!

I bought that plaque that reads Less House More Home. And I feel that suddenly this blog has been a slow meditation working My way first, from My apartment into My house, but then further, without realizing it, from My real estate home into My ultimate home, into My body. In a weird way, moving more fully into My house has helped Me move more fully into My body.

I told j recently that I want to be more sexually selfish next time we are together. I put him on notice that things will be a bit different. Reading the books Come As You Are and also The Body Keeps the Score have helped Me understand some things about what I need to locate an erotic headspace and to recognize that it can be easy for Me to snap out of it. Most of My life it was just a thing that happened to Me, a mood or whim. I felt sexy or I didn't. I was horny or I wasn't. Now I have the concept that I might simultaneously have one foot on the gas and one on the brake... and if I can just release the brake, ZOOM!   Also now I have the idea that there may be eroticism in My body, maybe I just don't realize it is there.

I have new tools in the last year, tools that can make this a matter of choice and agency rather than a fleeting in-the-mood. It is time to start using them. Yet I find Myself somehow reluctant. boy t is always eager and willing to serve in this way, yet I do not use him. j is always up for anything, and arguably is emotionally safer since I have known him longer, yet I do not use him in this way either.  Why?  Maybe I don't want to have to be so high agency about it. Maybe I'm really attached to the fantasy of what Erica Jong in Fear of Flying called the zipless fuck. Maybe on some level I don't want take responsibility for My sexuality.  Maybe it has something to do with fear or being vulnerable enough to be disappointed or exposed to conflict. It's something I will be pondering a lot as I make the 130 mile round trip, weekly drive to physical therapy.

I found a nice gay PT who has mad skills but being gay, I feel saying that one of the things I *really* want to get out of PT is being able to do a several pick up flogging scenes in an evening at the dungeon. I need to talk about and work on My wrists and back and flogging body mechanics. I have wanted to bring all of Me to a PT not just the vanilla bits and I finally found that person. I brought in My floggers so he could assess them and Me. When I mentioned that I'm starting to notice certain intimate sensations, he knew about pelvic fascia issues that could be involved in My injury. I noticed recently that to support good back alignment, I tend to clench the underside of My ass and half engage the Pussy. Now that I'm aware, I play with releasing those muscles and find releasing them causes a totally different set of muscles to be recruited, with inferior results. That's not easy to say, even for Me, and I'm pretty candid.  If I'm going to bring up the observation that sitting with proper back alignment creates a moderate tearing sensation around My asshole, it's somehow just easier to say that to a smiling gay man who gives off bottom vibes. Perhaps that is horrible of Me somehow, but I have to do what I need to do to heal, and that means choosing care providers I can feel comfortable with... not just the easy vanilla parts but the wow, here's-all-the-cards parts of Me. I have had several forms of pelvic trauma and I know I have been not fully honest with Myself about how they might be affecting Me. It was hard to be that honest when I was at a loss for how I might fix it. But now that I have a good care provider, it's all-in honesty time.

Maybe if I get in the habit of being that vulnerable and honest with the PT about what I feel in My body, leading to other resources and answers, maybe I will get braver with other people. I would like that.

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Less House, More Home

I haven't been writing. I haven't felt the impulse. What I mostly have been feeling is overwhelmed, and that has been true to varying degrees since the election. But it's not just politics, it's also the house and life generally.  The house did appraise for almost 45% more than the purchase price 3 1/2 years ago. At first I was ecstatic just to be out from under the PMI. A few weeks later I began to toy with the possibilities. Perhaps I should take out a home equity line of credit? That lead to questioning whether perhaps I should sell it, just take the money and run. Pay off all my debts, get out from under the mortgage, quit my job or at least take a sabbatical, and travel around the country and parts of the world catching up on all the vacation trips I have not taken in 25 years, living off the little nest egg that I wouldn't need to spend on renovations. It was very seductive, it was also very freeing, and it was part of a very long long long process, a multi-decade process, of coming to terms with some major life decisions that I made before I could legally drink. 

In time, my previous real estate agent came to the house, looking much spiffier these days, driving a very nice SUV, and after three hours of time for which he will not be receiving any compensation at all in the near future, he managed very gently to tell me the hard truth: nobody is going to want to buy your shitty little house for the appraised value. This blew my fantasy of chucking it all and taking a gap year completely out of the water, and I was more than a little crushed. 

On top of it all, I was sick all of January which caused Me to dro out of My choir for a concert cycle; gone away for a week with family; went to Winter fire; and in the middle of all that started physical therapy, continued taking a therapeutic yoga class, and also had some drama at work.  At some point in all that, I bought two little wooden plaques. One says: All Who Wander Are Not Lost.  The other says: Less House, More Home.

It has felt like everything I want to be solid is rolling under my feet, and I have felt more than a little at sea. It's not bad but it's disorienting.

It's not that I have nothing to talk or write about. It's that I don't know what to say. I haven't yet figured out how to make sense of what is going on around Me. It's one thing to write in a diary, and the blog is sort of a diary but it has an audience and it's also broadly open to the public, and that makes Me less willing to blow air out the top of My hat when I don't know what I'm actually trying to say. I'm also very sensitive at the moment to the possibility that things I say in writing -- those which are really much better suited to verbal conversations face-to-face. -- can be a little dangerous. Writing makes everything more real. Writing is a less forgiving than talk. Something slightly mis-stated in writing has a permanence to it which makes fixing the mis-statement extremely difficult. It risks an un-bridgeable rupture, and I don't feel comfortable with that at all.

The good news is that spring is almost here, it's time to spring ahead this weekend. The annual process of My clock winding down and winding back up is nearly complete, and for that I am thankful. The cherry blossoms are coming. I have new focus now for which projects the house needs, I understand their priority. I have amusingly learned that most of what I care about in the house is unimportant to most buyers, and conversely, almost perfectly inversely, what is important to most buyers has been totally unimportant to Me. It's time to create a convergence between those two groups of projects. From this point forward I improve the house for resale value, not for My own preferences. I understand the difference between what affect sales price and what affects appraisal value. I have clarity, and though it was uncomfortable to get, clarity is good, very little happens without clarity.  Now My goal is to get the house ready, as soon as feasible, so that I could sell it if I chose to, so that if I ever did decide abruptly to sell, I would be prepared. It would give Me peace of mind to know I am ready, like the Israelites ready to jump up and go when the moment comes. This has the interesting side effect of giving Me permission to live in a finished and beautiful, camera ready house. I think it's interesting that I've been willing to live in a renovation for 3 1/2 years. I wonder if maybe on some level perhaps I didn't believe I deserved to have it be perfect, just for Me. Now it's clear it must be perfect to sell some day, so it may as well be perfect before that, I may as well get to enjoy it Myself. It's an interesting scrambling of priorities. 

Growing up My parents tried to renovate our house at one point. They ran out of money and got stuck and the result was that I lived in a gutted house most of My childhood. I particularly remember that we did not have a furnace exactly, we had a hole where there used to be a stairwell but it was just a hole covered by a piece of 4x8 plywood. And in the hole was something very like a jet engine. It must've been some sort of a propane or kerosene furnace, laid on its side like a cruise missile. And in the depths of the Midwestern winters when the house got too cold, we would pull the 4x8 piece of plywood up and turn on the jet engine for about 10 minutes, to heat the house to the point of being unbearably hot, and then turn it off and let the house cool for four or six hours until it was so cold that it once again seemed like a good idea to tolerate 10 minutes of noise and kerosene fumes to be warm again. 

Reading back… That sounds just awful. It's surprising to read that that was My home in childhood, that that was the way we lived for several years. But it was. We also went a long stretch without a bathroom in the house. For a long time the only bathing option we had was out in the barn and often we had to move a sick calf out of the shower in order to be able to take our once weekly shower. Lord, I must have stunk. It was a lot more like living in Little House on the Prairie than one might expect for the 1970s. 

I have understood for a long time that this house renovation is on some level completion of a task that is not Mine, it is on some level finishing the renovation My parents could not finish. It's a wound I inherited that I carry somewhere inside, and in the way of such things I have created an external version of the wound for Myself so that I can heal it. My parents are helping Me with My house, and so by extension, finishing My renovation will bring them a little bit of extra closure for their past. It is perhaps for this reason more than all others, that My father has been here for the last five days helping, sanding and finishing the staircase, chipping out tiles from the utility room, replacing the damaged subfloor and putting it all back together. It is emblematic of My father that this is a tremendous act of love, yet for the most part he does it with a level of grumpiness that makes it feel like an imposition, a gift given begrudgingly. I have to work hard at remembering that it is love in action, and remembering to feed back to him demonstrations of love that he can receive. Amusingly for a FemDom, this means that for the last five days I have been getting up 2 to 3 hours earlier than I prefer, brewing fresh coffee for my man so he can start the work, baking cinnamon rolls for my man, washing and folding my man's dirty clothes, making sure my man is fed and feels adequately appreciated. And I worked 48 hours at My white collar day job. It was a slightly bizarre juxtaposition. And I am exhausted.

After dad flew home tonight, the bizarre culminated with Me peeing in My own backyard because I cannot get up the wet staircase to the single bathroom right now. So I said screw it, and went out under the tree. If I could have found a nice boy to lay down there first, I would happily have peed on him as well. It would have done Me a world of good.

Monday, January 2, 2017

The Appraisal

NYE was My 3rd anniversary of moving into the house. I put the minimum down and have been paying an objectionable amount of PMI. The bank predictably has been many forms of subtly discouraging, but I pushed and am having the house officially reappraised. Recent comps of essentially identical houses (unimproved) are running a third above My purchase price, so I figured now is a good time to do this, JIC talk of a low-rate driven housing bubble turns out to be true.

So the nice appraiser guy came. When I bought it, the appraiser never even came to neighborhood, but now nixing PMI requires a visit, measurements, inside photographs. Supposedly this is driven by Dodd-Frank, who knows. So the guy comes and is very complimentary of the considerable work I have done, the choices I have made. We had a nice visit and generally hit it off, which I worked at of course, in hopes that wherever there may be discretion in the calculations, he might exercise it in My favor. Meanwhile boy t is sitting in the living room working remotely and obviously collared, but the guy seems not to notice and boy t is careful to not interfere with the important visit. As the appraiser is at the front door preparing to leave, a comment is made about the election and 2016 and hopes for a better year in 2017. 

I really don't know how the conversation turned exactly, I was just being nice and exhibiting a humane interest in the guy. But somehow goodbye turned into a 90 minute crisis therapy session. In between apologies for being unprofessional and wondering aloud why he is telling us all this (boy t's face is clearly transmitting a degree of amazement), the appraiser says the following:

- he's former military guy who used to have his life together
- then 2008 happened which triggered Dodd Frank, which cut his fees by 50% and increasing his workload, so his appraisal business is now unsustainable
- he was raised Catholic but can't go to church any more because the abuse scandals have to ruined it for him
- then his SEVEN closest friends all died in the space of about three years... he feels morally responsible for one of the deaths and was present for two others
- now he is depressed, struggling with meds, seeing a psychiatrist, messing up his marriage to a very hot Estonian woman, and wondering if his five year old daughter might be better off if he were dead

I quickly realize this is one traumatized, unmoored guy and though he is on meds, clearly he is not yet on the right meds cuz he's still toying with the question of whether to live or not. I'm of course not a therapist, and he seems to have given up on therapists because one of them told him something he wasn't ready/ willing to hear... that the always successful, heroic person he wants to be isn't the whole story, that this Other broken person is also him.  I can't in good conscience just kick him out after spilling of his guts to Me. I also have to wonder how stable he might really be, whether he is going to be calling Me, and in retrospect, maybe I should have seriously considered whether he had a gun under the jacket. Ours is the kind of state where people do wear such things.

So I tried to keep him calm, let him vent, showed concern and compassion, and offered resources: some books, a website, a CD, and a male counselor I have confidence in. I prompted him to write these things down. I shared some of My story, enough to say "I've been there, I made it, you can make it, your daughter needs you, you can do this."  I tried to validate his feelings while gently pointing out how his thought patterns reinforce his negative perceptions, closing off alternative interpretations. I gently nudged him to consider those alternatives. But it was like playing whack-a-mole, as it so often is when talking to someone who is deep in depression. The narrative and the judgments are so strong, everything is so locked down. I was glad boy t was getting a front row seat with someone so clearly demonstrating things I have said in our past conversations, about how we create a story to explain our lives and often get stuck in the story. I advocate choosing to believe stories that help rather than hurt us.

I also I thought, how interesting. This guy need someone to talk to right now, he must need it really badly to break professional decorum. How interesting that I am here on a weekday morning which is surpassingly rare; boy t is here which gives Me physical safety with a stranger in My home, even rarer; how interesting that I have something this appraiser needs which somehow connected without trying; and how interesting that I have all the time in the world to give him.

At one point the appraiser apologized for all he was saying, and expressed some bewilderment. I looked at t and said, "Tell him, boy."  boy t then looked at the appraiser and said, "Don't worry, things like this happen with Her a lot."  And it is true. As Master I spend quite a bit of time helping various boys unpack their baggage, so really I was not phased to have a man I barely know on the verge of tears in My living room. It does happen.

So I just rolled with it until about noon, which was 2.5 hours after he arrived. Eventually his phone pinged and he jumped up saying he was late for his next appointment, thanked Me profusely, and quickly left.

I didn't fix any of his problems. I do hope, though, that I gave him just a little bit of hope, a little bit of a feeling that there is somewhere he can turn, maybe a little sense that someone could care what happens to him, that he is not entirely bereft.  I hope that I was able to be for him the way-pointing Presence that several people were for Me back when I was lost and not yet found.

When I bought the house, it was a sick house. The home inspector even said so, "I cannot recommend you buy this house, it is unhealthy."  But three years later, My house has apparently healed quite a bit, healed enough that it now wants to try and heal people who visit it.

How interesting.