Friday, June 29, 2012

But Who Am I Trying to Kid: The Song That's Really on Repeat Over Here

In summer, I like really dumb pop songs. And this one's what my soul looks like.

Song of the Week: Everybody's Gotta Learn Sometime

Having completed our household's Charlie Kaufman film festival, I'm surprised to find that Adaptation was the most optimistic one.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Various Happy Things: You Are What You Love

They don’t really fit the traditional mold of happy poly moments, but some things converged last week to make me feel like I am back on track:

  1. Since I’ve known for a while that some (not all) of the troubles between us could be solved with, like, a half-hour conversation and I was having a hankering to watch Mystery Science Theater 3000 and be excellently fucked, I asked the Mayor of Kittentown for some snuggles. He was happy to be asked but says his new relationship doesn’t allow for extracurricular snuggles. It’s hard to let him go for real, but I’m glad to know that there’s at least one guy that I still trust enough to ask for what I want. And! I get a gold star for asking. I hope that MKT and I can keep a friendship going, even if being on his couch isn’t appropriate anymore. And! I’m really happy that his relationship is getting closer, even if it means no snuggles for me.
  2. This one won’t seem happy at first, but bear with me: I’m still really sad that my therapist is on maternity leave, and the interim lady didn’t work out—I felt frustrated, confused, and panicky to the point where the interim lady asked her supervisor to intercede. The supervisor lady gave me two very nice gifts: First, she helped me understand that my bond with my regular therapist is really deep and it’s okay to not want to do therapy with anyone else. Supervisor lady asked me to imagine that my real therapist was sitting next to me and to find that sensation in my body—it was in my heart, and that made me cry my eyes out some more.

I think that experience was really important because what I’m really learning here is how to not be freaked out by attachment. Often when I try to fight attachment, it comes out as anger, resentment, fear, a real feeling of being trapped. Once I realized it was okay to have a bond, the pressure was released and I could happily take the summer off from therapy.

The other cool thing that that the supervisor lady told me was to get a pretty notebook and write letters to my therapist while she’s gone. While it makes me feel like a genuine crazy person, it really works—in fact, I decided to use it to write to other people I can’t currently talk to—it’s a relief to be able to parse out all of the emotions instead of being overwhelmed by them. Most of the letters, I won’t share or send, but it makes me feel better and like it is safer to be connected to people. It helps me to experience some of the attachments I have been fighting in a way that doesn’t force me to confront or disrupt anything—it’s another way to help myself learn love.

  1. Over the weekend, I went to a couple of talks that were really helpful and inspiring. The first one was a talk on seeing kink through the lens of feminism. I looked forward to it so much that it kind of made my week. I don’t think that there’s anything inherently anti-feminist about kink, but I have wished for a while to have more friends who see BDSM from a feminist perspective. On the way there, I got caught in a romantic-comedy-level downpour—I was soaked down to my underwear and laughing my head off—I felt like I was on a very good date with myself. (Thank goodness Sweetie and I had a date for afterwards so she could bring me a change of clothes.)

While I sat there shivering, I was so happy to hear people’s questions and stories, and it was wonderful to feel safe to tell my story without fear of being seen as a bad girl. (At least, not a bad girl in a bad way!) I realized that the key to making more safety for myself in the local BDSM community is to spend more time forming friendships, so I won’t end up in the power-imbalance that automatically comes with being an outsider. So I offered to be folks’ munch-going pal, and I am so proud that the workshop’s facilitator took me up on it—she’s accomplished so many of the things that I dream about and she’s a fellow badass feminist bottom, so I think she’ll be a good influence. Wonder what her cute nickname will be!

The other talk that I liked so much was a talk on beginning polyamory. I love the way that my body relaxes itself when I am in poly company—my shoulders get warm and my heart floods with well-being—I really should do this more often.

My favorite thing that I heard in that talk was from a gentleman friend of mine, one of the most romantic souls I know. He said that one of the ways he knew that he was poly is that he just doesn’t get over people—they just stay in his heart. He knew he had room for more that one person in his heart because people just stay in there. I love that idea. It’s certainly a more positive way to look at my own never-getting–over-people, even if I do get frustrated from time to time with who takes up my heart real estate.

  1. And speaking of heart real estate, in my letters-I-probably-won’t-send notebook, I sat down and wrote a letter to Fireguy. It made me realize something that will probably seem obvious to everyone else, (it sure wasn’t a surprise to Sweetie)—I loved Fireguy. I even loved Varga Girl in an aspiring-to-be-a-metamour kind of way. Though there isn’t much I can do with that love, acknowledging it is a relief and a release.

There was a moment during our public fire scene where he looked down at my face with such a look of approval that I felt like a perfect little angel. I had never felt that from a male authority figure before, and it struck me so deep. That’s why it’s so hard to stay away from him, even though we weren’t a good match. I forgive myself for the compromises I made, for all the hurt we all went through, I forgive myself for the fact that that feeling was so powerful that I couldn’t resist it. I hope to feel it again some day, in a healthier way.

We’re having a Charlie Kaufman movie marathon over here lately, and this scene from Adaptation has really been sticking with me. “I can love whoever I want.”

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Songs of the Week: The Eighties on Love

Send me an angel! And so on!

Cuddle Party Part Five: Puppy Pile and My Excellent “No!”

Some days, I am so ready to be finished being a project. I’m frustrated with all things involving protocols, yesses and nos, contracts, everything that’s between me and just running into someone’s arms with abandon. I am impatient for whatever/whomever comes next, for just muddling through intimacy on a case-by-case basis. The tools I’m learning are useful, but everything feels like it is at such a remove lately. Cuddle Parties, BDSM, even the relentless communication-perfectionism of poly culture, they all seem like ways to guard one’s heart, to keep anyone from getting in there and fucking shit up, to keep anything genuinely serendipitous and messy and personal and awesome from happening.

What I’m really impatient with, of course, is the way that I keep MYSELF guarded, but as antsy as I am I’m still too scared to open up the way I want to. I guess it’ll happen when it happens.

That being said, if I’m getting to be ready for something real, the cuddle party helped to get me there. Though it didn’t feel sexy to be there, it did feel wonderful. The best part was when I stretched out on a pillow and pay back by myself, near the crowd but apart from them—a warm, happy, floating sensation of self-sufficiency, of self-love. It’s the same feeling I get sometimes when I’ve been swimming for a while and I let myself just float on my back in the ocean and look up at the blue sky and clouds. From above, a tall, grey haired man asked me to cuddle with him, and I blissfully said “No, I’m being by myself right now.”

From behind me, I heard Sheandhim, who hadn’t moved from her four-person cuddle pile for hours, clarify helpfully and protectively: “That was a no.”

From my floaty spot, I could see that some pretty dancing had started. The Lady of the Hose, the Hosts, and Massage Therapist Man were dancing above the cuddle, moving their hands in front of them in pretty shapes not unlike the shapes I used to make with glow sticks in my raver days. It looked fun, and after a while, I joined in. I danced or sat meditatively (the Lady of the House always seemed to be nearby, but also very happily contained—it was comforting) for most of the rest of the party, until it was time for the “puppy pile.”

I surprised myself by agreeing to be at the bottom of the puppy pile. It came close to the “smushed” idea, I guess. Those of us on the bottom of the pile lay down in a row and the top layer folks lay down over us, perpendicularly. Host One was one of the people right on top of me, that was fine. One of the not-careful-with-space guys was down toward my feet. I was a little scared, but I like trust games, so this felt okay.

I was pinned down for a few minutes and it felt fine, giggly. Then someone decided to TICKLE MY FEET! Without having asked! “No! No to tickling!” I yelled. I was conscious of the fact that I had disturbed the mellow loveyness, but for once I didn’t worry that I had been a bad girl. It wasn’t a timid or apologetic or halfhearted no, it was big, powerful, and blustery. It was a beautiful “no” and it makes me think I’m ready to graduate from something. Here, at least, is a gold star.

Is there any worse way to non-consensually touch someone who is pinned down than tickling?! What kind of a creepwad would do that? It seems like it would particularly loaded for anyone, but I know it is for me. I guess I’ll have to get around to writing the not-hot post entitled “The Land of the Questionable Babysitters” sometime soon.

Having said my no, I calmed back down again, until I felt, close to my ankle, a little twitch. A change of shape. I recognized this as the feeling of the perfectly innocent erection of somebody I didn’t know. I was done. I had to get up right then. I calmly but urgently asked to be let out and the puppy pile disbanded.

At the end of the party, I said a few goodbyes and called Sweetie to see if she was on the way. She was. I changed into my blue polka-dot summer dress—most of my dresses are so soft that they could double as pajamas. I packed up my PJs and slippers in my suitcase and went to wait for Sweetie outside. It was dark out, but I wasn’t scared. I noticed that the people who lived in the development across the street had really big TVs. It was so dark that I couldn’t even see the color of my car as it pulled up. I’m always so happy to see Sweetie after adventures. We stopped at the Wawa for snacks and then drove home listening to our pop-culture podcasts. We were on the way home, and I felt proud and satisfied.

Friday, June 15, 2012

Cuddle Party Part Four: Space, Reiki, and Wrestling

I think I did a really good job during free cuddling, even as I was reticent to join the general smush. After a too-hurty try at a massage by a very friendly guy, I was sitting in my own little pleasant bubble of space when the husband of the couple I already knew (I’ll call them SheandHim and HimandHer because they are quite inseparable) offered me a foot rub and that sounded joust right. He compared himself to the previous massage-giver: “He’s all force and I’m all energy.”

I stretched my feet out in front of me and he took off my fuzzy slippers (which I’d bought just for the occasion) and started to rub my feet gently. Curious what he meant to be doing with the energy (I keep fighting the urge to be ironic and put energy in quotation marks) I asked “Are you taking something out or putting something in?”

And he said “Which does it feel like?”


What it felt like was good, like a regular foot rub except that it gave my toes a floating sensation, kind of like during yoga when you are supposed to breathe through the soles of your feet—an improbable sensation, grounding and pleasant. He was explaining to me about the energy, buy I couldn’t really keep track of what I was supposed to be learning, there was too much going on around me.

Toward the end of the foot rub, The Lady of the House came over and asked if she could lie near me, and I said of course. I forget if she asked me or if I asked her if I could pet her hair, but it was a yes. I petted her head and face until it started to feel too personal, then did a good job of stopping. She thanked me and maybe we hugged some—I know that at some point we hugged and at some point HimandHer asked if he could put his head in my lap and I said no.

Whenever I said no to something, I remembered to feel proud of doing a good job with my no, but I also rooted for the person to find exactly what he or she wanted. Also, writing about all these nos  and cautious touches makes me really ready for a whole bunch of rough-and-tumble yesses—better get some public (and private) kink soon!

One of my goals for this party had been to get closer to men, but that didn’t turn out to be what happened. I think maybe the right guy just wasn’t there, as is so often the case—I’m making friends with the fact that I’m really picky about guys, even as I hope to someday become less so. (Also I have this dream about being 40% more casual than I actually am, but that’s a whole different blog post.)

I spent a lot of time watching, maybe too much—I wish that I had asked what the watching protocol is. In BDSM, the closer you are, the less you should watch, for fear of getting in somebody’s space too much, but here, everyone was close. I worry that I may have made people feel awkward by watching, but they were all just having such a pleasant time.

Host One had told us during the welcome circle that she is a Reiki practitioner, and I was curious about that, so I asked her if she could “put some Reiki on me” (I don’t know the terminology) when she got to a good stopping point, and she said sure.

I found a spot to lie down (I chose face up) and handed her my glasses to put in a safe place. (Ah, the handing over of glasses, dear submissive trope, how I miss you!) She moved her hands up and down my body, without touching. (I joked to Sweetie yesterday that some of this energy work stuff feels like a kids’ game of “I’m not touching you!”) but the settled one hand on my head and one on my heart, very similar to the way Fireguy had held me down during fireplay. Here I’m quite sure that it wasn’t meant as a dominant gesture (or maybe Fireguy meant it as a Reiki gesture), but I liked that it reminded me of that feeling, but with mystic-hot hands instead of flame-hot ones, and also with pajamas on. Her hands were indeed radiating into me, and I thought jeez, how does she give out so much of her…life force? and still have enough for herself. It was so nice of her, so generous, and I felt a little guilty because I didn’t know how to reciprocate. (That’s a little echo of the times I’ve been pleasantly dominated and then left with a worry of not having behaved well enough, not having shown enough gratitude. Gratitude is such a tricky thing, probably another whole-other-blog-post.)

A commotion started at the other end of the room, and I had to keep lifting my pleasantly-held-down head to see what was going on. What I saw was a tangled loop of muscle and giggle.

“What?! There’s wrestling going on and I’m not in it?”

I thanked my Reiki friend and sat up to watch and see if I could join the wrestling. Host Two, The Lady of the House, and Massage Therapist Guy were all gleefully in mid-grapple, and when they simmered down, I asked Host Two if she would wrestle with me. She said yes and asked if she could run energy at the same time, and I said “I don’t know what that means, but sure!”

It was pretty much the most fun ever. I think people really liked watching it, too. Pushing against her arms, locking against her shoulders, hearing a couple of people hollering “Go (me)!” until I pressed hard enough to pin her down, then getting up and wrestling her down again, laughing hysterically the whole time. We ended the wrestle out of breath and giggling, I was stunned with joy, it was fantastic. Rough cuddling indeed. There really needs to be more wrestling in my life, hope Sweetie’s ready for it!

Next: The Puppy Pile 

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Cuddle Party Part Three: A Very Chaste Threesome

Writing about this particular adventure made me notice a contradiction I’ve got going—how does my desire for lots of respectful elbow-room jibe with my desire to be mauled and ravished? In the years where I thought about men but didn’t do anything about it, my fantasy was always to have a guy who’d push me, take me, ravish me, to not be able to put up all the barriers I am usually inclined to put up. (but all in the spirit of friendship and fun) I’ll probably always love Bill for fulfilling most of that fantasy, but I didn’t realize until later just how dangerous it had been.

But still, there was a daredevil purity to what he and I were doing—no negotiating, very few spoken limits, often getting pushed past no—it felt good, it was a relief at first, to be free of the way I’ve mostly held passion at arm’s length. Even after all these months I still can’t square the gleeful, nasty pleasure of that relationship with the way that it plunged me into blackness, made me totally hate myself. Part of it was that every time I truly go into sub-space, it dredges up issues from my subconscious, but I know that darkness came from actual real-time him as well.

I’ll never get to be devoured like that again, because I’ll always have to take care to have a voice, to communicate. There’s no such thing as just being able to abdicate all of my power to someone, and I am honestly a little disappointed about that. But to really love and be loved (and ravish and be ravished) I have to create some inner structural integrity, a fidelity to myself. So that’s what we’re working on here.

When it came to the part of the welcome circle where we were to join two other people and negotiate a cuddle, I was delighted with who I got triaded up with—just the two that I would have chosen: The Lady of the House and Massage Therapist Man. Two of the prettiest people in the room. We had eight minutes to both negotiate and cuddle. First, we had to take turns saying what we wanted. They looked at me to go first (I like to go first, it helps me listen better) but I was suddenly speechless. I didn’t have the words for what I wanted to ask for. The LOTH said that she wanted to be hugged and held, and MSM said that he wanted to make a “heart circle.” I had to ask what that means and he said that’s when you put your hands on each others’ hearts and run energy between them. That sounded nice. I still equivocated and couldn’t quite get to what I wanted—“smushed” was the closest I could get. I said that I usually want to be rougher than seems appropriate for a cuddle party, and thus the phrase “rough cuddling” was born.

LOTH said that the heart thing sounded best to her, and I agreed, so that’s what we started with. I welcomed the chance to physically experience loving male and female energy at the same time—that’s a goal I’ve been inching glacially towards for a long time.

It takes a lot of trust to put your hand on a near-stranger’s heart. For each stage of the hand-placing, we had to ask “”May I put my hand on your heart?” “May I put my hand on your hand?” and so on. We sat like that and breathed and sort of circle-swayed, MTM making breathy yummy noises. I didn’t feel any jolt of energy running through us, but sitting with them that way felt so soothing. I was I was able to lose myself a little in the circuit of us, until time was called. Then it was time for free cuddling.

Next Time: A Foot Rub, Some nice Reiki, and! Wrestling!

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Cuddle Party Part Two: I Heart Practicing My “No.”

Before I go back into the Cuddle Party, I just wanted to celebrate the rules a little bit in a different way. As I’ve mentioned, I am training to be an elementary school teacher, and one of the things I’ve worried about the most is the amount that kids always want to be touching—it’s cute and endearing, but it can add up to being too much for me. I’ve given a lot of thought to ways in which I could carve out some space for myself in the classroom, so a few weeks ago, I tried a little experiment—I told my students to ask for hugs. We even practiced it. I said “When you’d like a hug, please say “Would you like a hug?” to me. I might say no, and that doesn’t mean you’re bad or I don’t like you, it just means that I’m not feeling huggy.” I tried this with first graders, and they took to it right away. This is a HUGE load off my mind—if I can create a friendly, open classroom AND have space for myself, it will be so awesome.

Anyway, back to the Cuddle Party. When it was almost time for the welcome circle, I went upstairs to get into my PJs, and ran into Cuddle Host Two, whom I hadn’t met before. She stopped for a mircrosecond to ask if she could hug me, and I said sure. She’s a fit, long-haired hippie-ish woman about my age, maybe a little younger. She had such a smile on her face and a glow in her cheeks-she looked like a Tantric pin-up girl, all bright eyes and flowy clothes. She complimented my PJs.

Before the welcome circle, we heard the Lady of the House, a beautiful, slight-but-strong African American woman (and owner of all the bi-friendly books, maybe) playing the harmonium and singing a song whose melody was “Om Shanti.” We all sang along. I Googled “Om Shanti”  and found out that it means “peace,” and that Shanti repeated three times represents the “threefold peace in body, speech and mind.” (

As I said in the last post, almost everyone had been in Tantric workshops all day. You could tell who was new by who wasn’t sensitive about space—I noticed that a couple of the new guys took up more space than others did, and felt free to touch without permission. It was a good opportunity to practice not seeing them as a threat, and being able to make space for myself.

The first exercise we were to do in the welcome circle was to practice our “no.” A few weeks go, in Tantric poetry class (I really like sentences that start that way) we were practicing our yesses and nos and my yesses sounded great, loud and full and a little defiant, but my nos rang a little false and hollow. The going wisdom is that your yes can’t mean anything until you have your no down, so I was glad to get a chance to practice.

“Turn to your left and ask that person if you can kiss him or her. The gender doesn’t matter. That person’s job is to say “no.” Practice this three times.”

The guy next to me was adorable enough; he looked like he had been sent from central casting. In fact, he was a massage therapist and training to host cuddle parties. He was young, sleekly muscled, and bright-eyed, with a receding blond halo of close-cropped hair. Too virtuous and clean-cut for me, so when he asked, “May I kiss you?” it was easy to say “No.” Easy to say it, but not so easy not to fill the awkward space after it with nervous quipping. We did a great job with that exercise and he accepted a high-five. There was lots more no-saying practice, with different partners offering any number of things—I had a real hard time saying no when the Lady of the House said:

“May I spank you with that copy of the Divine Androgyne?”

I really hoped that one would come back around after no-practice was over.

That offer aside, it should be apparent at this point that Cuddle Parties are not sexy, at least this one wasn’t. They are a way to make connections, yes, even in a divine way sometimes, but they are more of a way to create and practice your boundaries. Anything that happens should not just be a “yes,” but a “hell yes!”—some of us who grew up abused don’t know how to make boundaries, we feel guilty making space for ourselves. That’s one of the things I enjoy about BDSM play parties—both within scenes and during downtime, I can feel about twelve feet of caution-tape safe space around me, and it’s up to me to decide who comes inside it—that’s very powerful. Like play parties, Cuddle Parties are a wonderful way to practice feeling safe around bodies in general.

Next: A Very Chaste Threesome

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Cuddle Party Part One: Yay, a Lot Less Grief!

I am so excited and happy to have a new adventure to write about. Before I start, I thought I’d share the cuddle party rules, copied from
ARRIVE ON TIME: Once we begin the Welcome Circle and orientation, sorry, we can let no one enter late. This creates comfort and safety by knowing that everyone is on the same page about rules and expectations.
WHAT TO WEAR: Pajamas – nothing too risqué. Think more comfy than sexy. (More drawstrings, less lace! No shorts.)
WHAT TO BRING: Sorry, no liquor folks. Juice or sparkling cider is always welcome. A pillow or stuffed animal if you like. Otherwise, just bring your smiling self.
1.                      Pajamas stay on the whole time.
2.                      You don’t have to cuddle anyone at a Cuddle Party, ever.
3.                      You must ask permission and receive a verbal YES before you touch anyone. (Be as specific in your request as you can.)
4.                      If you’re a yes, say YES. If you’re a no, say NO.
5.                      If you’re a maybe, say NO.
6.                      You are encouraged to change your mind.
7.                      Respect your relationship agreements and communicate with your partner.
8.                      Get your Cuddle Party Facilitator or the Cuddle Assistant if you have a question or concern or need assistance with anything during the Cuddle Party.
9.                      Tears and laughter are both welcome.
10.                  Respect people’s privacy when sharing about Cuddle Parties.
11.                  Keep the Cuddle space tidy”

In order to capture what Saturday’s party was like for me, I need to backtrack a little to the Snuggle Party that I attended back in February. It was called a Snuggle Party because it didn’t follow all of the same rules, just most of them. It was a little more sex-friendly—women were allowed to strip down to their bras and sexy touching was encouraged. But all the neat stuff about yesses and nos were in place.

I attended the Snuggle Party as part of a fantastic conference day, one of the happiest days of my life, actually. I had spent the day feeling accepted and body-positive and had even had the most wonderful Indian food and gelato date with Sweetie. (She brought me gum so that I wouldn’t have too-spicy breath while snuggling—we know she’s awesome like that.)That was the day I started my tradition of getting fresh socks after every adventure—so soothing.

All of that wonderfulness aside, as soon as the welcome circle began, I got a terrible pain in my middle back. No matter how much I stretched or sat up straight or exhaled loudly, it huuuurt. I have a skeptical/aloof view about body energy, even though I experience it all the time, but this definitely felt like some terrible blocked energy. It began to radiate down from my back into my hips, and up into my shoulders. I went to the facilitator for help and she said the only way to stop the hurt was to stop dismissing my grief (over Bill, over all that time fighting being bi, about the hurt in my marriage, and so on), so I did—I cried a little to the snuggle facilitator and a lot to Sweetie on the way home. I call it a snuggle fail, but it really isn’t. That crying was so productive—it was kinda like handing in homework, and you know I love handing in homework.

Sweetie was overwhelmed and scared by the depth and breadth of my sobbing, but she did the best she could as we drove home. What I was crying about was, I felt like everyone there was so nice and someone bad like me could never belong with them, like I would only cause trouble with my bad energy. “You’re good enough,” Sweetie said over and over, “You’re good enough.” Scary as those tears were, I knew they were getting me somewhere.

Back to the present, on Saturday, Sweetie and I had had such a wonderful day together and I was settling into a book of Jonathan Franzen essays, so it was hard to pry ourselves out of the house. Like on so many other adventures, she’d offered to drive me and go to a coffeeshop nearby to work on her graphic design. (It occurs to me that it might be good to drive myself next adventure...) When we pulled up to the ashram, it was a somewhat foreboding house on a woodsy lane—spooky. Sweetie offered to see me in but I took my suitcase and kissed her goodbye, found my way to the back of the house and went in.

I saw one couple that I knew right away, that was comforting. It was hot in there, muggy and something else. There was a spread of snacks out in the kitchen that people had gathered around—this Cuddle Party was part of a weekend-long series of Tantra workshops, so people looked flushed and tired and seemed bonded. It didn’t look the way one might picture an ashram, just a regular pretty-big kitchen in a regular house. The body smell of everyone was less funky than one might expect—it was fresh. Not quite clean, but clear.

Cuddle Host One, a solid, sensible-seeming butch lady, came over and introduced herself. She gave me a waiver to sign. “This says you don’t hold us responsible if you have an emotional breakthrough.” Ok, noted. I felt aaaawkward and couldn’t find a surface to write on. I ended up ruining the email list by putting it down in some water. I didn’t really know where to put myself, either.

When I saw the room being set up for the Cuddle Party, my first instinct was to run. It seemed impossibly small for all of these people. Cuddle Host One was spreading out all kinds of blankets and pillows. I thought about adding my own blanket but didn’t want to have to pull it out from under anybody of I had to leave early. A cute fifty-ish man was asleep in front of the air conditioner. There was cute/radical Etsy-style art on the walls—that made me feel at home. There were lots of books on the shelves about being bi and sacred—how nice!

Comparing my body’s reaction to the Snuggle Party back in February and its reaction to this Cuddle Party really lets me know that I’ve gotten somewhere. Though there was awkwardness, there was no anxiety or pain. There were some guys who weren’t being careful with space, but I didn’t feel scared of them. I settled in and let my curiosity take over, knowing that Jonathan Franzen was there if I needed him, but letting myself be soft and present. There wasn’t pain in my center, but warmth—I wasn’t ready to let strangers hug me, but I was safe.
My teacher-brain suggests that I use Cuddle Parties as a quarterly assessment to see how far I’ve come towards inner safety and self-acceptance. I can’t always see the progress I’m making, but as I settled into that room of strangers the way one might settle into a warm bath, I could see I deserved a gold star.

Next: The Welcome Circle

Monday, June 11, 2012

Love Letter to Ropes

A few weeks ago, at the Philadelphia Trans Health Conference, the first person I recognized when I walked in was Lee Harrington. It was a delight to meet him and to learn that he uses the word “squee” as both an adjective and a verb. That’s a nice friend for a kitten. I was starstruck, but I found the presence of mind to ask him just the right question: “What spiritual advice do you have for a beginning rope bottom?” He said, “Spend some time thinking about why you want rope.”

So, true to form, I’ve been journaling about it for a couple of weeks, but last weekend Sweetie and I got a chance to work on some, uh, more hands-on research. By the time Sweetie put the ropes on me Saturday afternoon (after a good long spate of snoozing and novel-reading, of course) I’d been feeling separate from her for a couple of weeks. I’d been missing my connection to her and doubting my ability to connect to others—worry and doubt that made me feel frustrated and disjointed from my body and hers. As soon as she started winding the ropes around me, though, it brought me into the present and into my body. I let my guard down and the wall of fear we’d had between us came down too. Like the Tantric dancing I’ve been experimenting with, the ropes helped me to free my body from the tyranny and noise of my head, and I gave myself a break from doubt and worry. I let myself off the hook.

We’re sticking to decorative for now, no restraint, but she did get the courage to pull tighter, and I loved it. I could feel the ropes squeezing my tensions away, especially when she wound them around my waist—I love the feeling of having my waist pulled in, I suppose it might be nice to try a corset sometime.

The overwhelming emotion was relief—standing naked before her as she wove me a harness that pulled me tighter and tighter; I felt a loved, safe, like a place had finally been made for me in the world. Anchored, grounded.  I think I’ve compared ropes to Temple Grandin’s hugging machine before—that’s a little bit what it’s like—secure and loved, but in a different, more autonomous way then when you are being squeezed by actual arms. But lots of squeezing-with-actual-arms happened too.

When I wondered aloud “Why does this make me feel so good?” Sweetie said, “You don’t have to hold yourself together, so you can yourself go.” That’s close. It’s transcendence, but instead of pulling me heavenward, it pushes me deeper into myself, into my deep, awesome (in the traditional sense of the word) animal nature. She said the yowls and wails I let out as soon as she touched me made me sound like she was killing me, but those loud yelps are the pleasure and glee of giving in to my body and hers. I think maybe those things come more naturally to other people, maybe I just need that extra push/smush to let it out.

The volume of every sensation was turned way, way up, especially on my nipples, ass, and mouth. She touched me or pulled the crotch rope this way and that, and I wailed, and I kissed her and sucked her wrist, which is the thing I do when I’m most turned on by her. I don’t know why her wrist—maybe because it’s where her pulse is?

But it isn’t just about the nice bottomy sensations of laying there being touched and yowling and beautiful, there’s also this big, growly toppish side that comes out of me when I’m bound-but-not-restrained. I want to ravish her, and I do. This time, I was so aggressive that I thought I might hurt her, but I didn’t. Her body, though prone to any number of health concerns, is not the fragile paper flower I normally see it as. Her body is resilient, violent, full and wound up with power, the power between us, the abandon. When you’ve been married a long time, you can’t always fuck with abandon, but I’d like to heartily thank the pretty pink ropes for shutting off my fussy little concerns, for removing my sense of remove. When we can put the everyday aside and just be together, I think it’s a miracle. I think we are a miracle.

Maybe this seems obvious, but as I was floating around the house afterwards getting us water and making us lunch, it sunk in: I have a fetish, and there’s no reason to hold back from using it. Whatever reasons I want ropes, my body is made for them and I love them the way I love writing, or walking, or music, or Mad Men. I want to celebrate them, take full advantage, embrace the ropes as my own. This is a love letter to them, I guess, and to Sweetie, and to my own good-sport body finding the things it was made for.

Friday, June 8, 2012

Stuuuuck! But, Cuddle Party Tomorrow!

I took a few weeks away from The Kitten Calendar to let some healing happen and get caught up on my mountain of school work. During that time, a lot of parts of my life have really been coming together—I was placed at the school of my choice for student teaching, I’m finishing up two years at a wonderfully productive job, and my first full-length collection of poetry just went on sale for preorder—there’s even a person WHO IS NOT ME in charge of promoting it—as a poet, I find this incredible. I’m in school this summer, but I also scheduled enough poetry teaching to keep myself inspired and entertained.

So my life is coming together, all except the dating/adventuring part. That part feels stuck and very lonely. There isn’t even the suggestion of a possible masculine person on the horizon, and I’m beginning to lose faith that I’ll be attracted to a non-Sweetie person again. I’m still (ack) sort of pining for Bill and I’m still seething at Fireguy and co. Those things are just not getting better fast enough. I still get scared, attacked feelings when I think of going out into the BDSM world—there’s nothing like that on the calendar. Maybe I should just put it on there and get on with my life.

One bright spot on the body front has been that I’ve gone to a couple of Tantric poetry workshops. I’ve gotten over the idea that the Tantra folks’ll think I have bad energy; at least I have made that kind of progress. The Sensual Poetry teacher combines movement with writing in a way that tries to let the body have a voice—I really appreciate that.  She has us write letters from our body to our mind, from our mind to our body, and so on. Once, she assigned us to write a letter from our genitals to our brain, and my poem amounted to my vagina yelling at my head a bunch for taking all the penises away. Yep, my head does do that. My brain wrote a letter apologizing, but my body is still pissed. More than a decade was way to long to make it wait, and my body’s afraid that it’s settling in for another guy-free decade. Oh body, I really am supersorry.

I intellectually know that Bill was far from the best I can do, and even if he HAD been the best, he didn’t end up wanting me. I know that Fireguy’s shenanigans don’t necessarily exemplify all of BDSM. I know that if I went to a BDSM event, I would not be in danger. It would be more like a safe little bubble, with DMs there to help me if I called red. But right now, I’m facing a wall of fear about it. I’ll get back there some day, hopefully sooner than later.

Sometimes (not often, but lately) the frustration even keeps me from enjoying Sweetie. I get worried that if I settle in too much now, if I get too happy with her, before I know it another decade really will have gone by, and I will be even more of a bundle of repressed penis-craving nerves. I’m doing my best to fight all these fears, to pay attention to Sweetie and all of the other things in my life that are working, but jeez, dudes, where are you? Technically, I can probably wait forever, but I don’t think it’s such a good idea.

Tomorrow, I’ll be returning to my body adventures project by attending a cuddle party. I’d love to get past some of the barriers I’ve set up for myself and just play with trust and contact a little bit—I would love to spend at least a little time cuddling a guy, feeling that trust, smelling that guy-smell, it would be really nice. Cuddling seems a lot more intimate, more personal, than spanking, so we’ll see if I feel comfortable enough to try.

I guess what I realize after slogging though this litany of fears is that part of this is a project, yes, but some of it can’t be. The love part, much as I hate to let it go, has to be left up to fate. Fate’s who I’ve got to submit to, do you think I can do it?

Friday, June 1, 2012

Happy Friday Picture: Don and Joan

My favorite episodes of Mad Men are the ones where we get to see Don Draper in genuine moments of friendship with a woman.

Plus, yesterday that the Trans Health Conference, when asked who my femme-spiration is, I said Joan. (Also, Lena Dunham)