Monthly Archives: June 2014

Chapter 2 Excerpt

Well I’m finally back from the Big Apple but more on that later. Much more, I’m sure. For now, back to excerpts.

“Fuck you.” I pushed past him and started out the door. But as soon as my back was to him, he grabbed my shoulders and turned me around, shoving me against the wall with a hand on my throat. A lightswitch that had never seemed to have a purpose pressed into my spine.

“This is not a game,” Seth said. “I don’t care how you’ve fucked up your life until this point, but now your fuck ups have interfered with my life, and you will help fix them. As promised. Do you understand?”

“Yes, Sir,” I whispered.

Seth released me from the wall and stepped back. “I’d be careful if I were you – if you keep calling me that, I might get used to it.”

Backed Into a Hand, Chapter 2

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Excerpts

It was an admittedly arbitrary number, my 1,000 view goal. I took a couple of cues from a favorite author and put my own spin on what they had done in an effort to build a little anticipation and a bit of an audience.  I wanted to get my work out there, even in small ways because I was dragging my feet in bigger ways. I promise that will change soon but scary as this is, it’s still a lot less daunting than finding actual, non-partial beta readers and possibly an editor. I’m not gonna lie – that shit is pretty paralyzing.

So here goes my friends…

“Are we going to have a conversation or do you still want to fight?” he asked.

“Conversation about what?” I shrieked. Seth gripped the roll of tape tighter and shook it at me. I tried to move my head out of the way but of course I couldn’t get far. “We can talk – and you can tell me what I want to know – now or five hours from now. I have nowhere else to be. So you can go ahead and prolong the inevitable, or we can get this over with.”

Seth was not a patient person. He didn’t want this to take all night any more than I did. But the struggle – and feigned ignorance – bought me time. Time to think of how to explain myself and time to figure a way out. I took another deep breath and tried to act resigned to my fate even as my mind raced to find a suitable solution to this mess. “What do you want to know?”

Backed Into A Hand – Chapter 1

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How to get kink wrong

It’s no secret that one of the things I love most about kink is that there is no One True Way. No secret handshake to unlock the perfect way to be kinky and Get it Right. There are, in fact, as many ways to Get it Right as there are people doing it and I think that’s wonderful. I was raised with so many rules, so many lines to not cross, that trying to remember them all was exhausting. Realizing that kink was pretty much the opposite was unspeakably liberating.

But with great power comes – well, you know the rest. And just because there is no wrong way to be kinky doesn’t mean you can’t get it incredibly and irretrievably wrong. You get it wrong by assuming that your way of doing things or your feelings are a reflection of the community at large, or even those who identify with the same label you do.  I see essays all the time – popular essays with all sorts of love and hundreds of adoring comments espousing the idea that there is, in fact, one way to be. They tend to have a lot of “You need…” or “I need…” sort of statements.

Well guess what? I don’t need you to do anything. If there is something I need, it is for you to want to do those things to me. I dislike placing that sort of desire on the same level as a need. I think that’s stretching things just a bit. And I say this as someone with a very strong desire to be tied up. Often.

I think you get it wrong the same way you get much in life wrong. By acting entitled. By crossing boundaries and not communicating. By disrespecting other people and ignoring their needs. If it would get you called an asshole in the vanilla world, it will likely get you called an asshole in the kink community too. I recently saw someone else post similar thoughts and they bear repeating. Being kinky doesn’t automatically absolve you from anything. It’s not a get-out-of-jail-free card. If someone doesn’t want to be hit, you still don’t get to hit them. If someone doesn’t want to do…anything, you don’t get to that thing to them. If you want to do that thing, find someone else who does want it and do it to them.

The rules, such as they are, are easy. Following them tends to be a bit more complicated. Showing people respect is going to look different to everyone. One person may need chocolate and lots of cuddles after playing. Another wants to be left completely alone. One submissive may consider it disrespectful if their dominant doesn’t pamper them and protect them from all harm. Another may feel overly coddled by that behavior and feel you don’t think they can take care of themselves.

This is why so much of the advice for newcomers centers around getting out and actually meeting real people whenever possible. Because you have to talk to them, get a sense of exactly how many ways there are to do this thing that we do. For me, that was the way to learn compassion, to see our differences not as divisive but as a means of getting to know myself. Either I wanted to try that different thing or I could cross it off and let others know that it was not somewhere I was willing to go.

And when I can get to know someone aside from their kinks, get to know them as people first, I very often learn more about the vanilla world too. In person or online. I get a new perspective on life itself.

It’s all so individual and that, for me, is where the beauty lies. It’s about choosing what is right for you. No matter what role you have chosen or how you identify.

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Life is not a video game

 

It’s the age old paradox. Experiences, strife, and hard times make us what we are, make us stronger, more able. But the desire to go back to earlier times, advise our younger selves on what is really important, really necessary, is a strong one. And for me, I know that I don’t necessarily want to avoid all the hard times. I want some, if not most, of those lessons. I just want to handle them better. Sure I’d like to avoid the worst pitfalls. But I’d also like to go back and say that thing I wish I would have said, not say that other thing, be the person I should have been, the friend I wanted to be. I want to not worry about the things that didn’t need worrying about. I want to find the important people sooner, handle the difficult people better.

I want to know what I know now at a younger age. I want to have understood more about life when I was in my 20s. I want to be wiser. I want to go through all that crap knowing that I will find better people later. I want to allow myself to be me sooner. I want to come to terms with my needs and just get on with it instead of waiting until my mid-30s.  

Of course, as a friend pointed out the other day, the real irony here is that there were adults, and people older than us at the time, there and advising us. We were told that all things pass, that better times were waiting for us, to have patience.

And we didn’t listen. 

Only after we have seen it all for ourselves, been through the fires, and emerged more enlightened, did we come out smacking our foreheads going, “oh, they were right.”

So yeah. I want to go back. That’s all. Nothing complicated. I just want a do over at life. I want to call takesies-backsies. I want a restart, a chance to go back and play the game again, knowing where the monsters are and how better to find the princess. I want to take time to figure out what I really want and maybe try some different paths. Just try them on and see if they’re any better, if I find more happiness sooner.

But that’s not how life works. Life is not the sort of choose your own adventure book where you can go back and experience multiple endings.

Dammit. Maybe next time around I’ll figure this shit out sooner. I can only hope.  

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Rufus The Baptist

I’ve seen Rufus Wainwright in concert twice now. The first time was almost two years ago and it was a fairly big production. Not a huge arena but he had backup singers that included Teddy Thompson (awesome in his own right and a highly recommended listen), Adam Cohen (son of Leonard) as an opening act, and several other musicians with him on stage.

Last night I saw him again. Still an intimate setting, the theater we were in only seats a couple of hundred people. But he was alone. Most of the time it was him and a grand piano. Occasionally he picked up a guitar. Once, for Candles, he sang a capella. The song is from his last studio album, Out of the Game, and he wrote it soon after his beloved mother passed. It is a lovely song on record but turns hauntingly beautiful when there are no instruments. I had tears in my eyes even as I watched his hands search for something to do, and even as he messed up and got ahead of himself at one point.

He performed songs I’d heard him do before – The Art Teacher, Going to a Town, Grey Gardens, and I love that he still does songs from his earliest albums as well as newer favorites. He did songs he hadn’t done last time around – Cohen’s Hallelujah, Cigarettes and Chocolate Milk, and Gay Messiah. He even tried out a couple of new songs, including one called Argentina, which I loved, about being on tour and missing his husband. It was incredibly sweet.

I got insight into a song I’d never considered before. He recently released a best of album and said he’s been asked what his favorite song is. Of course he doesn’t have one, but he said one that has been particularly meaningful, and not a little bit therapeutic, is I Don’t Know What It is. I love this song but mostly because of the lyric, “is there anyone else who has slightly mysterious bruises?” Yes, I can relate to that a bit. Last night, I heard it as a general call to each individual.

I don’t know what it is, but you gotta do it. I don’t know where to go, but you gotta be there. I don’t know where to fall, but I know that it’s comfortable where I don’t know where it is.

Whatever it is you have to do, do it. Whatever that next step is that you’ve been afraid to take, take it. I’d never considered that angle before with that song and it became infinitely more powerful to me after his explanation.

And he was silly. As was his sister Lucy Wainwright Roche who opened and then made fun guest appearances later. She made jokes and then made friends with the audience. She certainly has at least one new fan. And I couldn’t help wondering if we weren’t seeing a glimpse of how their parents had once toured, playing to small but loyal audiences, making the in-jokes that only we get, building a rapport.

It’s frustrating at times that he is not better known. That the entire family is not better known. But on the other hand, I feel like I’m in a bit of a secret club. A secret club of the cool kids who know where the really good music is. Who still knows quality songwriting when we hear it.

Oh, and if you don’t get the title to this and don’t mind some very irreverent humor, go give Gay Messiah a listen. It’s a personal favorite and well worth the time.

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Back in Time

“You can’t repeat the past.”

“Can’t repeat the past? Of course you can, old sport.”

The Great Gatsby

Looking around, it seems retro is the new modern and has been for awhile. Mad Men, with its pitch perfect recreation of the 1960s is among the most anticipated and celebrated shows on television. Much of fashion has followed suit. I went shopping the other day and styles from the 80s as well as the 60s were all on the racks. Diners and restaurants are attempting to bring back a little of that earlier age too, whether it’s by bringing back the soda fountain or not providing wifi so that customers actually talk to each other. Even records have never completely gone away. Seems like no matter how much technology tries to propel us into the future, at least some small part of us needs to return to our roots.

Is it the simplicity? Or have we really just figured out that some innovations cannot be improved on? Our Google maps app and GPS may help us find that retro diner but the furnishings and atmosphere will be a pure reminder of a time when we weren’t in such a hurry. Maybe it will remind us of stories told to us by our parents and grandparents, of a time when people were kinder, more generous, and when you didn’t need several locks on your door just to feel safe.

Or maybe that’s a load of crap. My grandmother, who lived through the depression, once told me that “the good old days weren’t always all that good.” No doubt she was right. And yet we’ve romanticized these periods as being better than our own and I’m not entirely sure why. I love what is commonly known as the Art Deco period, the 30s and 40s. I love the fashion, the art, the movies. All of it. But was it really better to live in a time when you had to wait days or weeks for a communication from a loved one? Maybe we don’t need the constant, instant access that we have now but surely there is a middle ground that would suffice.

Or maybe I’m making too much of it, overthinking as usual. Maybe the ability to feel like you are going back in time is just a nice break from the present, a chance to visit another era while still being able to text your best friend.

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One of those days

One of the things I like to remind myself of when I start to think that whatever I’m feeling is weird or wrong or somehow outside the norm, is that I cannot possibly be the only one feeling that way. One of the things we tell the newbies online is that the question to, “Does anyone else feel this way” is always yes. And every time – every time – I’ve come out about some feeling or other, I’ve been met with others who are in the same situation or something similar enough to commiserate. I’ve been validated more times than I can count, mostly when people didn’t even realize they were doing it.  

So why am I surprised – always surprised – when more than one person finds me attractive at a time? Keep in mind that my girlfriend and I are quite poly-minded so the problem isn’t trying to choose. More often, whatever trait I’m feeling insecure about that day rises to the surface and says, “Only she finds that attractive. And, you know, she’s pretty weird to think that.”

And then someone comes along and agrees with her. Someone else thinks my butt – which I just think is big – is sexy. Someone else thinks having a belly is sexy. Someone else thinks my curves – which, let’s face it, I’m pretty sure is just a euphemism for saying I’m fat – are sexy.

One of these days, maybe it will all sink in that there is nothing defective with people who are attracted to me. But right now, it’s just weird. 

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The Longest Day

“Do you ever watch for the longest day of the year and then miss it? I always watch for the longest day of the year and then miss it.” Daisy Buchanan – The Great Gatsby.

This is one of my favorite lines in my very favorite book. I’m not sure why. Maybe it’s that it is so indicative of the oblivion Daisy chooses to live in. Gatsby’s name has just come up for the first time and she has to pretend she doesn’t know who he is. But that act wears thin for me quickly and Daisy has always grated on me. She knows more than she lets on and can be oddly profound when she wants to be. She just prefers not to be.

I first read this book in high school. As you do. And of course I instantly fell in love with Gatsby though not because I wanted someone like him for my very own. I think even then I knew he was more than a little creepy and stalkerish. Rather, I fell in love with his singular passion, that focus that drove everything he did. Rarely have I seen a character anywhere so utterly consistent. It’s almost hyper-real.

But he’s also heart-breakingly tragic. He literally seems to think that he can turn back time and make everything go back to the way it was, erase Tom altogether. And of course he dies waiting for Daisy’s phone call, a phone call that was never going to come.

“You can’t repeat the past.”

“Can’t repeat the past? Of course you can old sport.”

For a short book, the characters are incredibly well drawn. By the end, we know each of them intimately, even the minor ones. And it’s the language throughout that draws me back again and again. The description of Daisy and her friend Jordan in chapter one is breathtaking.

“We walked through a high hallway into a bright rosy-colored space, fragilely bound into the house by French windows at either end. The windows were ajar and gleaming white against the fresh grass outside that seemed to grow a little way into the house. A breeze blew through the room, blew curtains in at one end and out the other like pale flags, twisting them up toward the frosted wedding-cake of the ceiling, and then rippled over the wine-colored rug, making a shadow on it as wind does on the sea.

The only completely stationary object in the room was an enormous couch on which two young women were buoyed up as though upon an anchored balloon. They were both in white and their dresses were rippling and fluttering as if they had just been blown back in after a short flight around the house.”

Now that, that sort of beauty in language is something to aspire to. I’ve yet to get through any of Fitzgerald’s other books. The only one I’ve enjoyed as much was The Last Tycoon. And of course it was his last before he died and it is unfinished. Fucker. Because I didn’t just fall for Gatsby in this book. More than ever, I was in love with words, with language, in a way I never had been before.

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Who I Was Supposed To Be

I was supposed to be a nice, Baptist girl. I was supposed to marry a nice, Christian man who I could submit to. Likely I was supposed to have children though I will hand it to my mother on this one – if she was ever disappointed that she wasn’t going to get grandchildren, she never expressed it to me. Probably because she was too busy harping on everything else that was wrong with me but I digress. Because I was also supposed to stick close to home. When mom and I did get along, she would point out houses on their street that were for sale or mention ones that were within a couple of blocks. I never knew how to tell her that I needed more distance than that.

I was supposed to be in the world but not of the world. I was supposed to hate the sin but not the sinner. I was supposed to believe that all sin was equal even while some were repeatedly touted as worse than others. I was supposed to believe the world was 10,000 years old and that the Bible was infallible though it was written by fallible men. I was supposed to understand how any of that was even remotely possible.

I wasn’t supposed to tie myself to my swingset. I wasn’t supposed to fantasize about others tying me up and oh, so much more. I wasn’t supposed to lust after the neighbor boy especially as he smoked and drank during pool parties with his friends (the horror!). I was never supposed to find other women attractive. “Do you understand the appeal of Angelina Jolie?” my mother once asked me. I lied and shrugged it off with “Oh, she’s alright” instead of the “Fuck yeah I know why people like her” that I wanted to reply with.

I probably wasn’t supposed to go so far away to school though it was still in the same state. I definitely wasn’t supposed to move so far away for my first job though that too was in the same state and only a couple of hours away. I wasn’t supposed to go to a church with black people and I most definitely was not supposed to find my second family there.

I wasn’t supposed to get divorced. I wasn’t supposed to take a job in a field so far removed from my degree. I wasn’t supposed to laugh at inappropriate times. I wasn’t supposed to have secrets.

But who I really am is so far removed from who I was supposed to be, who I was told repeatedly to be. I tried, I really did. I tried for more than 30 years to make myself that person, to force myself into that mold. I tried until I didn’t much like myself because I was so busy denying who I was, telling myself that who I was was wrong. I tried until I just couldn’t do it anymore.

I won’t do it anymore.

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Gender is for Other People

Unfortunately, I cannot take credit for the title of this post – it’s a favorite expression of my girlfriend’s and one I absolutely love as it has come to sum up my approach to gender rather well.

My gender is complicated. It’s difficult to tell from the outside, what with the big boobs and curves, but I’ve long said that I feel far more androgynous on the inside than I appear.

When I was a child, I loved frilly dresses. I played with Barbie and Strawberry Shortcake. I had dolls and played mommy to my stuffed animals. But I also remember wanting to play with trains and cars. I wanted one of those racetracks that you could send Hot Wheels careening around on. I was all too aware, however, that this would be seen as weird. I let it go and stuck to girlier pursuits.

Fast forward to college where I quickly became one of the guys. Even among the Christian groups I was part of, I had mostly male friends. We had similar senses of humor, liked the same movies and music. I was already impatient with the passive-aggressive way women were expected to communicate with men. I preferred male company and not in a sexual way – we just seemed to get along better.

Fast forward again. I’m 30, freshly divorced, moving back in with my parents for about a year, and generally feeling like a failure all around. I still liked hard rock and loud music. I still cursed and spoke fluent sarcasm. I still liked violent movies and abhorred “chick flicks.” And my idea of the perfect diamond was the local baseball park. But I wasn’t good enough at sports, rugged enough, or outdoorsy enough to call myself butch or a tomboy.

I didn’t know where I fit in. In fact, there didn’t seem to be a place for me. I did not yet understand the concept of gender as a continuum. Intersexed people, trans* people, and others who have reason to identify as something other than either male or female were still a mystery to me.

Enter the kink community. All sorts of new worlds opened up to me. Among them was differences in gender that I’d never considered. The possibilities seemed endless and, most importantly to me at the time, I wasn’t that weird. I had long talks with new friends about gender expression, gender identity, and how they can change over time. It was fascinating, educational, and oh so liberating.

In the time since, I’ve come to embrace my butch-ish self more and more even while loving corsets and other clothes that show off my curves. Because finding my confidence also meant finding acceptance for my plus-sized self. I had formerly hid under bulky clothes because I couldn’t imagine who would want to see more of this body. Now? Form fitting is the way to go. When I choose to hide under bulky clothes, it’s a conscious choice, a temporary mood.

But that image still doesn’t completely mesh with how my brain sees myself. I wish I could shapeshift, present boyish some days and girly on others, while not completely confusing everyone. I could still be me, complete with female pronouns, but my outsides could better represent how I was feeling that day.

Labels have long been meaningless, more of a jumping off point or conversation starter than anything. But at some point, I latched on to queer for much the same reasons as a friend of mine did. When she decided to embrace the term, she said she did so precisely because it is so broad and covers everything from gender identity, gender expression, who she is attracted to, etc. Yes, yes, yes. For me, it’s also a way of saying I don’t fit the mainstream expectations of how women are supposed to be. Don’t expect me to be “normal” in any way because I am far from society’s ideal. But I am me. And I have come to terms with that. I’m happy with it.

Most days.

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