Starting Out on the Wrong Foot

When my first kinky relationship ended, plenty of people expressed surprise. We had been together more than a year, were both in leadership, and attended lots of events together. We were something of a niche celebrity couple.

But the surprise wasn’t because we had broken up. It was that we had been together in the first place.

This shocked me.

If we had been so wrong for each other – and looking back, there was no shortage of issues – why hadn’t anyone said anything sooner? These were good friends, friends who fully supported me in the aftermath, and helped me heal.

Because I wouldn’t have believed them.

I’ve seen it since. And it sucks to watch someone be with someone you know isn’t right for them. But the truth is, you don’t know what’s really going on between them. I went on to watch my ex date people far different from me. I assumed they were compatible in ways we hadn’t been. I told myself they must have been a better fit for him that I was.

And then I watched the patterns play out. I watched him treat others the exact same way he had treated me. Even as mutual friends told me, “Oh, but he’s changed so much,” I couldn’t jump on the bandwagon. “Maybe so,” I told them. “But he has to prove it to me.”

He hasn’t. In fact, he’s become infinitely worse. But that’s a completely different topic for a day that may never come.

My point is that some lessons need to be learned the hard way. Some truths have to be seen firsthand. Because we will always make excuses for those we love. We will rationalize anything because how could we possibly love a bad person?

It happens all the time. And when you’re out of that situation, you berate yourself for having been in it in the first place. But who would you have believed? What could anyone have said to make it more real?

Find your family. Find your support and learn to move on. Because, to one degree or another, we’ve all been there.

 

 

 

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Maybe You’re Just Not Poly

My first foray into the wonderful, exciting world of polyamory was…well, it wasn’t a disaster, but it didn’t end well. Actually, I learned quite a lot about what I was okay with and what I wasn’t. What I could accept and what was a hard limit.

Because of our differences, my partner at the time often suggested that maybe I simply wasn’t poly. After all, if I was unhappy with how he did it, if I had the audacity to disagree with him – someone who’d supposedly been poly his entire life – I must be doing it wrong.

Right?

No. He and I were incompatible for all sorts of reasons. Our differing approaches to having multiple romantic relationships was just one of them. Eventually, I would find myself grateful that I had gotten away from him when I did.

But I digress.

Soon after he and I ended, I started three new relationships at the same time. One with a married couple (both of them) and another with a man I’d been friendly with for a while. I learned how to manage time and energy. They each gave me the space to grow and learn about myself. We talked constantly.

You know what the first guy and I didn’t do much of? Talk. Mostly, he thought he could dictate terms and I would follow him. I was new to everything – new to being publically kinky, new to poly, new to power exchanges. And I was supposed to be good at it all immediately.

And just like kink, there’s no one way to do poly. There are no quick answers. You have to figure it out for yourself. You’re going to run into people who think you’re doing it wrong. But also like kink, communication and consent are key.

The rest is up to you.

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The Secret Life of Kinky Play Parties

Most of us remember our first time at a play party. We know what it’s like to look around wide eyed with curiosity, unsure of what you’re going to encounter. Will it be like the books? Will people be there to recruit us into a super secret network of masters and slaves a la The Marketplace?

No. No they will not.

Sure, there will be screams and moans of pleasure associated with various kinky activities. Some people will get tied up. Others will get beaten and immediately want to show off their bruises.

Pro-tip – these people are called masochists.

Someone might get set on fire. Others may get poked with needles. Still others may sit for an intense energy exchange scene. It may not look like they’re doing much, but they are.  Honestly, it all depends on who is in attendance and what they feel like doing that night.

You know what else people do? They talk.

On my first night, I made a friend because we shared a love of the Rocky Horror Picture Show. God knows now how it came up. Several weeks ago, I spent more than an hour talking to a friend about an actor we’re both crushing on. Even more recently, I spent most of the night in a sort of round table where we talked about some of our favorite obscure movies, and what our fantasy movie marathons would look like.

Most of the time, we are geeky as fuck. “Have you seen Wonder Woman yet? Oh man, you have to!” “What about Guardians 2?” “Can you believe who’s going to be in the next Thor?”

Yeah, this is all typical. And honestly? Some nights, it’s more prevalent than the beatings.

And when I look back at my favorite experiences in dungeons, these are the ones I tend to go back to. It’s how we connect. It’s how we find common ground. It’s how we catch up on each other’s lives.

Dare I say it? The dungeon is the origin story of many a wonderful friendship.

Go for the beatings. Stay for the conversation.

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Basic Kink or Kink Basics?

When I was very new to my local kink community, I was at a New Year’s Eve get together where someone asked us all to name the most extreme activity they’d participated in that year.

Even then, I had trouble figuring out how to define extreme in this context. That is, if I got set on fire multiple times, is that more hardcore than someone who only had needles stuck in them? Or is needle play more extreme? What about suspension? Canings?

Where is the line?

The person asking the question never did clarify, and I’m still not sure. Maybe extreme is measured in bruises. If so, I’ve had scenes that left marks for weeks. But it was only impact play, and I also know people who can take far worse beatings than I ever will.

Maybe it’s measured by one’s power exchange. Does identifying as a slave make one more extreme than someone who is “only” a submissive? And is someone who is a submissive 24/7 more extreme than someone who only gives over control in the bedroom during sex?

You know what? It turns out I don’t actually care.

Extreme is however you define it. The term “edge play” gets tossed around a lot. And there are those who want to define it as only referring to obviously extreme activities – needle suspensions and hook pulls, crucifixions, waterboarding. To these people, blindfolds and floggers are unlikely to qualify.

But my definition is different. To me, edge play is whatever your edge is that day. For some, that’s going to be attending a play party or a munch for the first time. For others, it’s going to the party you’ve been to 100 times and trying something you never thought you’d do. Maybe it’s trusting someone new. Maybe it’s pushing past a long-held fear.

My point is, don’t let anyone tell you you’re not edgy enough. Not extreme enough. Maybe you just aren’t extreme enough for them. There’s nothing wrong with that.

I remember attending my first weekend event. There was a man there who I found very attractive. And just about the time I started to consider whether I should approach him…he started an intense humiliation scene with his partner. He did and said things to her that I knew I was never going to want to experience.

I walked away and found people I was more compatible with. I’ve never felt like my life was diminished for it. Instead, I learned about what I wanted and what I didn’t. What I could handle and what I couldn’t.

I’m glad I did. Because I’m still learning. And while what I consider edgy may change regularly, I don’t feel like I’m in competition with anyone.

I don’t need to prove myself. And neither do you.

 

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Without A Trace

They’ve taken your picture down at your old job. The one that captured that great big smile so well. That one that made me think maybe you were still here and keeping watch over us all.

I wonder whose idea it was, and if that woman you fought with so much had even wanted it up in the first place. And then I wonder why people are so quick to put a time limit on grieving.

Because I still miss you. I still miss that face and your “hello friend” greeting. I can’t walk by that stand and not think of you. I can’t even look at Facebook memories without being reminded that you always liked my statuses. All of them. And for some reason, you were always the last to do so, so your name is now listed first.

Fucking Facebook. In a couple of months, it will remind me of a far darker day, and the wound will be fresh all over again.

I dedicated a book to you. Did you know that? Can you finally see how much you were loved?

I’m sorry I didn’t show it well enough when you were here. I’m sorry I wasn’t there for you as much as I should have been. I feel like we all failed you and I would like a do over.

You were important. You were real. And you are remembered.

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A Different Voice

Usually when I’m writing, I think in the voice of my female lead, Lucy. We have a lot in common, she and I. We are both sarcastic with dry senses of humor. We’re both masochists with a submissive streak that only shows itself for the right person. Her voice is basically my voice.

Lately, however, I’ve been thinking in Seth’s voice. And it’s a little unsettling. He’s bolder, more confident, more logical, more fearless, more serious. And he smokes. He smokes a lot. Like, I’ve never had a cigarette in my life and I’ve seriously considered starting lately.

But I like this voice. I like this attitude. I probably should have adopted this long ago.

It’s a strange fit, this new skin. There are alterations to be made, some necessary stretching here and there. But I think I might just be adaptable to this. It’s certainly an interesting experiment and I’m curious how long it’s going to last.

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Great Power, Great Responsibility

It wasn’t that long ago when being a geek was something to hide. Or at least not something to advertise. I was a Star Wars an as a kid, but I didn’t talk about it growing up, nor did it come up as a young adult. And I didn’t explore much else in the way of sci-fi or supeheroes.

And then the first Iron Man movie happened. I don’t know if that was the catalyst for everyone – likely it had been building for a bit – but it was for me. Suddenly, there was a quality film about superheroes with a big star. And there was the promise of more to come.

And did it ever. In the past 10 years, the world of geekery has exploded like never before – we can make or break a movie in a single weekend. More than that, we can make or break a franchise. The most anticipated movies, the biggest summer blockbusters, all involve superheroes now.

So what do we do with this power? Is it not time to use it for good?

Imagine if we worked toward fixing the problems in our community as readily as we jumped to debate the merits of Marvel vs. DC or Star Wars vs. Star Trek.

There is rampant misogyny, lack of consent, exclusion of people of color, exclusion of people of size. And there’s no reason for any of it.

Are men so fragile that their masculinity cannot withstand a quality, female superhero? Are men so weak that they can’t leave a woman alone, regardless of what she is wearing as cosplay? Are white people so insecure that they can’t share space with people who don’t look like them?

Unfortunately, yes, those things are all true.

But we have the power to stop it, to turn ourselves around, police ourselves, and make the geek community better. We have to be better than this. We have to be more inclusive. We have to make our spaces safer. We have to talk about our problems, and then do more than simply acknowledge them.

We have a lot of power, we geeks. We also have a great responsibility.

 

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As Long as It Lands

A couple of weekends ago, my girlfriend and I attended a local musical written by someone she has been friends with for years. He and I are Facebook friends, acquaintances  at best.

He came out after the show and stood to talk to us for a few minutes. Based on some complicated local history, the show was often uncomfortable to watch. There was ugliness unearthed, and characters based on real people with pasts that were difficult to reconcile.

“There’s always an awkward conversation after,” he told us. “I want to ask if you enjoyed it, but it’s not all enjoyable.”

“It was well done,” I assured him.

“As long as it landed, that’s enough,” he said with a¬† smile.

I loved the phrasing. Maybe it’s commonplace elsewhere, among artists, but it’s not something I’ve heard before. It struck me that good art doesn’t have to make us feel good. It doesn’t always have to be fun.

Certainly mine isn’t. Despite the inherent sexiness in much of my subject matter, there are scenes in every book that are difficult to get through. Arguments, strife, predators. These make up real life. And I include them all. There are scenes that continue to hit me like punches to the gut, and I wrote them. Every time I read a draft of a book for editing, I see them coming, and I still can’t help getting emotional.

My hope is that, if I can read these scenes and still be affected, surely they will affect my readers as well.

I hope they land.

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Goodbye, Sweet Lady

My previous attorney was the best. That’s not hyperbole. I’ve worked for my share of attorneys over the years, and she was the only one I’ve ever truly liked.

An ex-nurse, she had seen everything and judged nothing. She was at least as liberal as i am and every bit the agnostic, despite or perhaps because of her Catholic upbringing. We often talked politics. In fact, the last time we spoke was last Fall because she was campaigning for Hillary and trying to recruit me.

One day, I walked into her office while she was cleaning out her desk in preparation to go on medical leave. The book Fifty Shades of Grey was sitting out on her desk. While I was still trying to figure out how to react, she looked up and asked if I had read it.

So many decisions. I had confided more to her than one usually does with a boss. But there were lines I was unwilling to cross at work, even with her. “I tried,” I admitted.

She admitted that, for her, good writing can get in the way of a good story. I couldn’t agree, but left her to her opinion. Much later, after she had retired, I gifted her a copy of my first book, but still said nothing. We had too much else to talk about.

Post retirement, she would call occasionally just to say hi and that she missed me. I suspect she was also a bit bored and missed working. But these calls always made my day. During one call, she told me she had enjoyed the book. Being at work, I couldn’t spill the beans then either.

I always planned to later. Because there is always later, right? Some mythical time with just the right circumstances, setting, and mood to make any subject broachable.

That time won’t come for us – she passed away this week. Though sudden, she’d had a number of health issues these past several months, so it wasn’t entirely unexpected. There are so many happy memories, but of course what is sticking out most are the things I never said.

Maybe it’s enough to know that I could have said them. Things I can’t say to my own mother, I could have said to her. How amazing is that?

And there’s so much else to remember. I can still hear her calling out from her office that the Supreme Court had legalized same sex marriage. Although she was an older, straight woman, she was as proud as anyone that it had finally happened.

She constantly had NPR playing on a radio in her office. Having met my girlfriend, and because she knew it was important to me, she would notify me when a program came on that focused on transgender people. Other times, she would alert me because a favorite author was going to be interviewed.

Throughout several years of working together, I never felt like I worked for her. Rather, I worked with her. It made all the difference. She was fair, flexible, easygoing, and I am unlikely to find anyone so incredible again. I was so lucky to have known her at all.

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I am not a director, but…

If the photo shoot the other day proved anything, it is that I am not a director.

This wasn’t surprising. It was the part of the shoot that caused me the most anxiety. We were shooting the cover for my third book, An Offsuited Pair, and possibly the fourth, which will be titled Riding It Out. I was going to be working with a renowned photographer and a gorgeous model. The mixture of excitement and nerves was pretty even.

I wanted to get across a certain feeling, but not be locked into a single idea. I knew there were more options than what I was picturing in my own head, and because I am not a predominantly visual person, I knew the best idea was likely one I hadn’t even considered.

There was one aspect that I was not willing to compromise on, however. And that was the size of the model.

In the books, my lead female character is supposed to look more or less like me. And that includes her weight. She’s very upfront about it, and though she struggles with body acceptance at times, she is mostly content.

I needed that to be reflected in the covers.

The cover for the second book, Aces and Spaces, was perfect. I was proud it included a woman who was not a size two. It was a trend I needed to continue.

For me, the covers are not just a representation of a character. It’s bigger than that. I want to be part of a movement for body positivity. I want women of size to be able to see themselves as sensual and sexual. It’s not enough for me to say she’s a bigger girl. People need to see it. We need to be represented and be reminded that we too are beautiful.

Because we are. Brain hamsters and internet trolls be damned.

Being a size 12 or a size 20 isn’t better or worse than being a size 2. It is different. It is its own kind of beauty, and should be highlighted equally.

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