Monthly Archives: October 2014

Why I Love Geek Cons

I’m going to admit to something here. See, I barely consider myself a real geek. I’m more like geek-adjacent. I grew up on Star Wars but pretty much let that fandom go by the time I was a teenager. It’s something I’ve only recently rediscovered. In the meantime, I never became a real sci-fi fan. I haven’t watched a lot of the series that other people geek out over. Not any of the Star Trek franchises, not Dr. Who, not Battlestar Galactica, none of it. Hell, I’m just now figuring out that Joss Whedon is something of a god. That’s how behind I am.

I don’t do role-playing games of any kind. Much as I appreciate them as a type of storytelling, I have little confidence that they are a type of storytelling that I could be any good at it. I read a few comic books when I was a kid but at this point I couldn’t tell you which ones. Any interest in the recent spate of movies based on them has been based largely on who was in those movies. Liev Schreiber got me to see an X-Men movie, and Robert Downey Jr. is exactly why I love Iron Man.

I’ve picked up a lot along the way though. Enough of Star Trek and other shows has seeped into popular culture that I know why it’s considered dangerous to wear a red shirt. I vaguely know what tribbles are. And I know why the plural of TARDIS isn’t Tardi, much as I want to call it that.

So why the interest in cons? Well I do have enough similar interests that I feel more at home there than many other places. As long as a conversation is based on Star Wars or something Whedon created, I feel pretty safe. Short of that, I can fake my way through short interactions. I can recognize a Jayne hat at 100 paces and go on at length about how Dollhouse was just about his most incestuous project yet.

On a purely economic level, going to these cons is just good business. There are people who will buy anything related to Star Wars or Dr. Who. I’ve found my niche market and I’m going to work it for all I can.

But it goes deeper than that too. Because it’s not my goal to simply exploit geek culture. I’ve gone all out for fandoms and I respect that ability in others, even if they are different than my fandoms. You know, your fandom may not be my fandom but…oh yeah, did I mention the amount of crossover between the geeks and kinky folk? No? Well it’s totally a thing.

Because we’re the outsiders. The people who don’t completely fit in anywhere else except among our own.

There is a certain level of derp that can be expected at geek cons. It comes with the territory. Occasionally that level goes off the charts but that’s when you look at the other vendors around you, share a smile, and let it go.

And when my own derpiness surfaces, which it does often? It’s okay. Not because I can look at those who are off the rails and feel superior, but because no one judges me for it. My level of derpy blends in nicely with the rest of the derpy around.

We understand each other.

And that’s why I go back. I go back because, outside of the kink world – and believe me when I say the line is often thin – it’s where I fit in best. I am free to be derpy and awkward and for once, be just like everyone else.

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Change Your Mind About Someone

First impressions aren’t always accurate. I dare say they are rarely accurate. And yet, we put so much stock in them and a negative one is often difficult, if not impossible to overcome. We see all further interactions with someone through that lens, however contradictory.

Why? Why give anyone just one chance? Are we that impatient? That cynical and determined to stick to our own circle of friends? Well, yes, I would say I am. I’ll admit that I’m as quick to judge as anyone, and slow to forgive perceived slights.

Even so, I rarely close a door completely. I’ve seen enough friendships and acquaintances go through strong periods followed by times apart and back again, that it has rarely been prudent to cut someone out of my life . I can count on one hand the number of people I will go out of my way to avoid completely. And none of them are likely to be reading this.

Not quite as rare, yet far more interesting, is allowing myself to be open enough to change my mind for the better with someone. I’ve found friends in the least likely places, with people I initially couldn’t stand. The most recent example is a woman at work. She started in a different department, one I rarely had reason to interact with. Earlier this year, she was transferred to mine. Now, she sits right behind me.

From a distance, all I could was a tall, stick thin girl who appeared stiff and unyielding. I remember wondering how someone so skinny could get such a big stick up their ass. When she came to my department, I was more glad to be rid of her predecessor than I was to gain her. She had to be better, even marginally.

Over the past several months, however, I’ve found her to be far friendlier and warm than I ever would have expected. We’ve bonded over common fandoms and she’s been an incredible asset to the department. Now, she’s about to leave the firm and I find I’m legitimately going to miss her. She’s one of the few people, aside from my boss, who I genuinely like. We’ve promised to keep in touch and I look forward to it.

There’s a challenge issued from one character to another in the movie Kinky Boots – change your mind about someone. It’s a seemingly simple concept but an incredibly difficult and rare one in practice. But I suggest we all try it at least once in our lives, preferably several times. You never know what you might be missing.

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My De-Flowering

One of the unusual phrases you are likely to hear around the kink community is, “I’ll try anything twice.” That’s right. Twice. Because sometimes you’ll try something new and you might not be in a good headspace for it that day, the connection with the other person isn’t right, or there is some other variable that makes it less than enjoyable. Sometimes, trying it again with a different person, when you’re in a different mood, and you’ve had enough sleep or whatever, can make all the difference.

This is something I am figuring out with needles. I tried them years ago with someone I was dating at the time and they didn’t do a lot for me. They never squicked me out or anything but I didn’t get the same floaty feeling that others have described with them. Over the years, I have occasionally considered revisiting needles but never quite found the right person or opportunity.

Several months ago, I started talking to a needle top about experimenting again. We tried a few in my back and that was nice. I finally got a little floaty afterwards. But I was eager to go farther and see just how much I could enjoy them. This past weekend, I asked for them in front, partially so I could see them and partially because I was sure the sensation would be different in my breasts.

I started by letting my top know how much I love having the pressure points just above my breasts played with. It’s the sort of thing you only say to a sadist when you want them to exploit such a sensation. And exploit it they did.

Before long, I was aware we had drawn an audience but I didn’t care. We had created our own little world and it was fabulous. Whatever needed to click had clicked and the energy was just right. They had created a flower pattern with petals that had scattered across my chest. It was lovely and we laughed at how subversive we were being with such an ordinary, everyday image. When they started removing the needles, I joked that I was being deflowered. I found it was a rather nice change to be able to talk to my top, explain some of my reactions along the way, and even giggle at random moments mid-scene.

It’s tempting to  blame someone for why needles didn’t work with me before. But the truth is that that person and I were simply not compatible. In a lot of ways. You know, that’s kind of why we broke up. And I’d rather not dwell on that anyway.

I’d rather look forward. To next time and creating more of that energy.

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Perception

One of my favorite episodes of Dollhouse involved a very wealthy woman who wanted her personality put into one of the dolls in the event that she died or was killed. She wanted to attend her own funeral, talk to her family one last time, and see who her real friends were. You know, if that technology were actually available, I can see where that sort of thing would be tempting.

The most fascinating thing for me was the difference in perception between what she did and how people interpreted what she did. For example, shortly before her death, she had taken up with a much younger man. In her will, she left him only her beloved horses. While her children fought over who was getting how much money, they scoffed at the boyfriend getting so little saying it proved how shallow their relationship really was.

Her response was that her horses were her most prized possession. Leaving them to the boyfriend was her way of saying how much she valued and trusted him.

Earlier this week I received an email from someone I haven’t talked to regularly in years. We had started talking about my being a unicorn for him and his wife – that is, a third party for no-strings attached (or very few strings) sex and other fun. I was just coming off a similar relationship and was intrigued at beginning another one.

I’ve seen this person a couple of times in the past year and we’ve chatted about this and that but whatever had been started was clearly off the table, and that was fine. I’ve moved on since then. I assumed he lost interest, didn’t have time, whatever.

His email opened by saying he got the impression I hadn’t been happy to see him, then went on to explain why our discussions had faded. It had nothing to do with me, by the way, and he apologized for not explaining sooner.

I countered with an apology of my own. I hadn’t been unhappy to see him, merely surprised. And at least once he had caught me coming down from a heavy scene which meant my headspace was more than a little off. I haven’t heard back again but damn, if there was ever an object lesson proving we don’t always know how we come across, that was it.

As usual, I don’t have any answers here or a way to fix this other than checking in with people now and then. Pay attention to the feedback you’re getting and check that against what you think is going on. And you know, communicate. I’m a big fan of communication even though I have to admit I sometimes (sometimes more than sometimes) suck at it.

But I try to be my best.

And that’s how you can tell I watched most of Dollhouse over a single weekend.

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When Do I Get Used to This?

I have a couple of friends who I consider psychic, only one of whom do I talk to with any sort of regularity. When we first met and the strange (to me) dreams started, as well as the very real feeling that they were nearby right before they called, I assumed the strangeness would eventually pass. Surely I would get used to this newfound connection right?

More than seven years later, I’m still trying to get used to it. Also, it seems I really need to trust my feelings more. But then, I’ve been saying that for years too. This past weekend, this friend was on my mind a lot. But along with getting ready for upcoming cons, I was doing some writing and had reason to be thinking of them. I assumed that was all there was to it until I read Facebook and found that they had been nearby during that time. When I texted to let them know, they replied, “I almost dropped in on you.”

Explains a lot. And it’s still weird.

Earlier this week, on the way to work, I was filled with a sort of dread. But it was a Monday, I’m frustrated with work in general, and I hadn’t slept well. It could have been anything.

And then an out-of-town friend texted to say he was heading my way because a parent was scheduled for emergency surgery. Suddenly I knew exactly where that feeling had come from. It had simply been impossible to figure out the direction in the middle of rush hour traffic.

I wonder if this would be easier if such feelings had started when I was younger. If I had grown up with such occurrences, would it be less weird now? Hard to say of course. But at least I’m learning that, even if it is all in my head, that doesn’t mean it’s not in someone else’s head too.

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Learn the Language

A coworker was showing around a rather nonsensical letter she received – the first line said, “If you are unable to read English, this letter can be translated for you.” Okay. So my issue is that if you are in fact unable to read English, that sentence is going to do you no good. Her problem was a little different and we had the following exchange.

Her: “If you can’t read English, you shouldn’t be in this country.” Me: “We don’t have an official language.”

Her: “Yes we do.”

Me: “Actually we don’t.”

Her: “Well we should.” Other coworker: “It would be Spanish anyway.” And this, by the way, was stated as a fact, without judgment. It was clear that she meant to back me up. Coworker number one proceeded to rant about how she would eventually need Rosetta Stone to learn Spanish.

I find myself more upset by this than I would have expected to be. First off, I like this first coworker and I’m as disappointed in her as anything. Second, I’m pretty sure my grandfather did not arrive knowing how to speak or read English. He was 10 and I’m betting his parents didn’t either. Same with my grandmother’s parents (she was born here, but not long after her mother arrived – I’m guessing about nine months after her mother arrived).

Anyway, I rather like that we don’t have an official language. For me, it’s a reminder that all of us can trace our roots to somewhere else, whether we came here voluntarily or not. It’s also a sad reminder that not all of originally came here on our own or “seeking the American dream.”

So yes, while being able to speak and read English is often going to be helpful here, I find it unfair to judge people based on their primary language. You don’t know their situation. You don’t know how long they’ve been here, what they’re fleeing, or what their intentions are.

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Ruminating on the Rock Hall

I go through this every year. Every year, the list of eligible musicians and artists come out, followed by the actual nominations, and every year I’m disappointed though no longer surprised that my two favorite songwriters/lyricists are not included.

The first really is a horrific oversight, inasmuch as the failure to be included in a rather arbitrary museum can be horrific. But come on, there was no question when Elton John became eligible that he would be voted in. Apparently the committee did not see fit to include his lyricist Bernie Taupin.

Now, full disclosure, there may not be another celebrity I revere more. He is on the highest pedestal I have and is a bit of a god to me when it comes to words. Having said that, even I consider him and Elton to be virtually one person. One would not exist – at least not in a form most of the world would recognize – without the other.  And in their case, the lyrics come first. Elton was so appalled when he was inducted alone, he called Bernie up and handed him the physical award.

I suppose the reasoning is that only the artists themselves should be in. To that I say – Goffin and King; Holland Dozier and Holland; and Leiber and Stoller. All great songwriting teams who are in the Rock Hall and, as far as I know, only Carole King has actually put out records herself. So why not Taupin? He even has solo records. and was the main front man for the Farm Dogs. I honestly have no idea. I don’t get it.

The second is, objectively, a bit more understandable. Just because I think Jim Steinman is a genius doesn’t mean everyone else understands him. Hell, I don’t claim to understand him – he’s eccentric and weird and a far better songwriter than most people give him credit for. Unfortunately, he is best known for one album. One great album but one album nonetheless.

It all kind of went downhill after Bat Out of Hell. Meat Loaf lost his voice and began a slow descent into total douchiness. Jim put out the follow up, Bad for Good, himself and it’s…not great. I like it because I’m a fan. And while most of the songs are excellent, classic Steinman, there is a reason he shouldn’t be trusted to sing his own work. He simply doesn’t have the voice his anthems deserve. But at that point, neither did Meat.

After that, he had a number of hits with other artists in the 80s. Most notable was Bonnie Tyler – he wrote the music for Holding Out for a Hero, and all of Total Eclipse of the Heart, as well as several more, lesser known songs. He wrote Making Love out of Nothing at All for Air Supply and even worked with Barry Manilow just so he could say he did.

When I was a kid, Total Eclipse was a favorite of mine. I didn’t understand it but I loved it. And I remember hearing Making Love, and the lyric, “I can make all the stadiums rock” and thinking “no, dude, you can’t. You’re Air Supply.” It wasn’t until I discovered who was behind the song that it made more sense. Yes, Jim actually can make stadiums rock. Left unchecked, he will throw everything, including the kitchen sink, into the production. His work is bombastic. He lists Wagner and Phil Spector as idols. Listen to More or This Corrosion by Sisters of Mercy. This Corrosion is 10 minutes long and includes a fucking choir. For no earthly reason I can fathom. I think these works are a big part of why their greatest hits collection is called A Slight Case of Overbombing.

But he’s also very theatrical. And his musicals haven’t actually made many positive headlines. If anything, he’s known more for his flops which is truly unfortunate.

Best case scenario, despite my hatred of Meat? He and Meat get inducted at the same time and introduce each other. It would be epic and awesome.

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