Saturday, April 29, 2017

Did Bernie Ruin the Men of the Left?

            It like so many of my stories lately, it started out in the most rom-commy of ways. I took myself to lunch at a fancy sushi restaurant to celebrate a few different things, and after the twelve- dollar ramen and the four pieces of yellowtail I could afford, I said yes to a really elaborate dessert. Conditioned by years of Food Network to peer back into the kitchen, I watched the dreamy pastry chef execute the multistep process it took to construct the chocolate fever dream what was eventually set on fire before me. I liked how careful he seemed with his hands, so precise that I thought he just might know some knots.

            He stuck in my head so I sent him a card. (Outer envelope, restaurant address. Inner envelope: “To the chef who made my (name of dessert) at lunchtime on 4/3.”) On the back of a homemade card featuring a photo of last year’s azaleas, I gave him my number and suggested that he look me up if he was single or in an open relationship.

            It was a silly thing to do and it made me feel romantic and optimistic and happy, but I assumed I’d just give myself credit for trying and never hear from him—but he texted! And when I sent him my picture he sent back three heart-eye emojis.

            He was a great texter for a few days, all “good morning” and “beautiful” and “sleep well” so I was really excited for our first date. We met downtown and walked around the city at twilight, heading for a bench in our most cinematic park, where the tress were almost in full bloom and the fanciest people were walking their dogs.

            Because I am me and he is a guy that I picked, politics came up almost immediately. Though I’d hope to avoid the primaries conversation to at least give us a CHANCE to like each other, he went ahead and said the spell-breakingest, pants-wall-buildingest thing he could’ve said:

“I’m still upset about my man. I know he could’ve won in November.”

            In my heart was a Star-Wars-prequels cheesy NOOOOOOOOOOOO, and what I said aloud wasn’t much better. I think it would be spelled something like:

“GaaaaaaAUUUUUUGGGGGHHHHhhhh, NO!” I practically folded myself in half with anguish and disappointment. I punched him hard on the arm, not a fantastic move a half-hour into a first date, I know. It was a delicious, powerful, bread-baking arm, hard to forget.

            Trump is the very worst, of course, but Bernie has wrecked my love life way more, simply because his slightly subtler “nice guy” misogyny is something I much more likely to encounter in my daily liberal bubble of a life. While my being queer, poly, and fat probably helps ward off any wandering Trumpsters, The Bern is a persistent and pernicious irritation.

            We talked about lots of other things, and in some ways it was a really nice date, culminating with eating cheesecake in a really diner-ish diner, but he kept coming back to Hillary like a chime. What about the banks, he asked, as if Dodd-Frank had arisen from thin air, as if “his man” hadn’t taken money from the gun lobby. The gun lobby!

“That’s understandable, I guess,” said my getting-less-cute-by-the-minute date, pushing my voice up to a level of strident that only Gloria Steinem could hear.

These conversations feel like microagressions, like attempts to put me in my place. Is there anything more condescending than the “I don’t like Hillary, but here are some other women I would vote for” line? Imagine replacing “women” with any other category and it sounds even more tone deaf and creepy.

It’s been a year and I STILL don’t want to hear about how Elizabeth Warren is the kind of woman you could approve of, dude.

To me, Bernie-fervor and the she’s-a-liar disinformation campaign that sparked it was an outgrowth of trolling culture, which itself feels like an expression of rape culture. There might be an anxious-girl leap in there, but that doesn’t actually make it not true. Men who are susceptible to misogynist mob mentality on that scale may never feel safe for me to be around.

It didn’t work out with the pastry chef for a variety of reasons, but I’m happy to come away with hope, with the realization that I have the option to wait, glass-slipper style, for the Hillary-voter of my dreams. That doesn’t mean that I will, but it’s a relief to know that I can.

I know that it wasn’t really a case of Bernie ruining the men of the left. Last year’s primary only served to bring to light the misogyny that permeates all of American society, and it’s a bummer to know that Democrats (OR WHATEVER) aren’t exempt, but we aren’t. Whenever I’m having these annoying conversations with Bernie Bros, sometimes I’m comforted to stop and think “This is the work.” Activism doesn’t only live in pussy hats and marches, it’s in the little day-to-day pushbacks that can slowly move the conversation where we want to it be. I’d rather have snuggles, but for now, I’ll settle for evolution, even in the tiniest of ways.

Thursday, March 16, 2017

The Return of Mr. Sweetface, Part Three: I Really Like Being a Ma’am

            At that Cuddle Party last month, we were going around the room saying our preferred pronouns and I joked (Maybe a little too jokey for a cis-lady talking about pronouns, come to think of it.) that my preferred pronoun was “Ma’am.” Ever since then, it has been.

            Back to Mr. Sweetface: After the spanks, I cuddled him close and held him for a while. It felt wonderful to have him back in my bed. He looks angular and strong, but the spanks had transformed him into an irresistible sweet softness.

            He got a second wind and asked if I might be willing to try nipple torture on him. I had to ask what he meant by that, since I’d only ever experienced fighting it off. It was simple and pleasant enough though: Squeeze and pinch his little nipples, bite them but not too hard. His moaning and writhing turned me on so much that I guided his hand to my own nipples and helped him start squeezing and playing gently, over the bra at first. It took a little while to get my bra off with a harness on, but somehow we managed it—go us!

            He gently played with my nipples while I squeezed and twisted his. I felt him start to get hard so I guided his hand there, guided him to start rubbing. He looked so dear that way, so vulnerable.

            “May I go faster?” he asked and as I assented, I was turned on enough to put my hand down my own pants, of course soaking wet. His mouth was on my nipple, sucking and playing until…

            “Ma’am, I’m right on the edge…” he moan-whimpered.

            “Go ahead and come,” I whispered, and I came soon after.

            I handed him a washcloth from my bedside table and went to get him a glass of water, feeling the weight and pleasure of my caretaking responsibilities. We fell asleep like happy puppies for a while, then he had to get home.

            The next day, I felt a clarity, a forward motion in my being that I hadn’t felt in such a long time. I liked being his Ma’am, and he had been such a very Good Boy.

Monday, March 13, 2017

The Return of Mr. Sweetface, Part Two: Yay Ropes!

            As he pulled rope after rope out of his bag (peacock blue, purple, and pink, not too different from the collection I used to have) and laying them out on the bed, I stood feeling pleasantly uncomfortable, my bare arms chilly but happy.

            He wound the ropes around me building a harness, not in the sure, insistent way that Sweetie used to but at his own, gentle, soft pace. I loved the silky feeling of the ropes grazing my shoulder, the queenly gesture of holding my hair aside. When he put his arms around me from the front, I eased into a hug, enjoying the warmth of his familiar but new-again body both as a comfort and as a stranger.

            He tied some well-placed knots and pulled the rope taught under my crotch—oh crotch-rope, how I have missed you! The knots hit the right places and it felt silly and festive to wriggle around entertaining my clit and ass while he worked and reworked the knots at the top of the harness, twining and untwining, pushing my boobs forward and grazing my nipples under the padded bra.

            After he finished, I felt lovely and powerful. I sat down on the bed and told him to take off my shoes. He placed them very neatly on the floor at the foot of the bed. I pulled him to me and undid his belt and with what I hoped seemed like surety, I took down his pants.

            I got into bed and propped a mountain of pillows behind me. I told Mr. Sweetface to lie down across my lap, his sporty grey briefs still on. For the first time in years, I spanked. I tried first with my right hand, but my wrist is not quite right from my car accident last year. So now is my chance to learn to spank left-handed! I felt self-conscious about the rhythm and how hard I was hitting, but soon he started to groan and wriggle. I loved feeling his friendly dick start to harden against my thighs as I held his head down with my right hand and spanked with my left.

            I gently took off his underpants, enjoying the sight of his sweet, tender little round moon of an ass. I took in the slender smoothness of him, the beauty of the man over which I now had complete control. I put my right hand firmly between his shoulder blades and pressed down, looped my left arm around his ass to pin him. I held him there like I’d just struck the last emphatic note on the sweetest, softest piano. I let the pleasure and power between us hum and vibrate, and then I spanked some more. 

Saturday, March 11, 2017

The Return of Mr. Sweetface, Part One: I’ll Just Take the Primaries Out on You Later

As tonight will be the second playdate of round two with Mr. Sweetface, I really should get around to honoring date one. These things take waaaaaaaay longer to write about than they used to, which is probably a good thing.
Three years ago, I broke things off with Mr. Sweetface for not-a-very-good reason, so when I ran into him at a poly gathering over the holidays and realized I still like hugging him, I got his number and asked if he’d want to start things up again—and he did!

            His life is really full—he has two young kids at home and of course wonderful Mrs. Sweetface, so it took some time before we got together. In fact, it almost fell apart in the planning phase—I felt like he was being a little careless and not keeping me in the loop, so I did what I SO WISH I’d done with Mr. Makeout Music (And, okay, what wish I’d stuck to with The Professor…)—I had a boundary.

            I honestly thought that would be it—I’ve had so many experiences of pushing back and getting trolled, (See you never, Tinder.) blustered at, or left for the least bit of pushback, but Mr. Sweetface GOT. HIMSELF. TOGETHER. It was an amazing and heartwarming transformation—we got the plans straightened out and he got into a very nice rhythm of checking in every few days and telling me about his life, and asking about mine. Simple, but orienting and secure. Setting higher expectations can be a magical thing.

            We got together the Saturday after Valentine’s Day. I wore my pretty red lace dress. He came over after getting the kids to bed, and I asked if we could take a nice walk around my neighborhood before playing. We were three blocks in when the date almost ended—the 2016 primaries got another chance to fuck my shit up. He’d worked hard for Bernie but then teamed up with Hillary, because he’s not a MONSTER, but he said the standard entitled-straight-white-dude things about third parties and such, and I almost sent him home. But then I realized three things:

1.      He’s a good guy and we have a nice connection.
2.      It was time to stop letting Bernie add bricks to the pants-wall.

3.      I could hit him. (Mr. Sweetface, not Bernie.)

That settled it. I said “I’ll take the primaries out on you later.” (I wish I’d said “I’ll give you something to Feel the Bern about.”) and we walked on. We argued for a little longer (My new job should really be getting a dollar every time I use the word “misogynist.”) until he put his arm around me and steered us to better topics. My keychain got stuck in the lace of my dress and he helped me untangle it. By the time we got back to my apartment, I had warm feelings for him again—I was fizzing and stirring with anticipation.
            My post-Sweetie apartment is the most mine of any space I’ve ever occupied. It’s a robin’s egg blue loft decorated in jewel tones and happy art, as if I were a lovable townie from Gilmore Girls. The perfect girly space, and the perfect place to say “Go upstairs and get your ropes ready, I’m gonna put on my shoes.”

For the scene I decided to wear the shoes I’d bought for the dance at the Big Poly Conference two weeks before, black leggings, and a fancy black push-up bra with gold filigree decorations. I wasn’t sure if I was up for the nakedness that used to be my habit, but I felt pretty and strong. I wore the spiked collar that Angel Face had given me a long time ago after a night of goth dancing. I reapplied my bright red lipstick and climbed my twinkle-light-railinged stairs.

What happened next is what I want to remember the most: Without me asking him to, he knelt. He put his head down, his knees apart, his hands softly on his knees. (This was an echo of another less-kneely thing that happened, a stricken, speechless moment that The Professor had the weekend we met. That was a moment I feel thoroughly confused about and will always keep.)

Back to Mr. Sweetface, he looked so small there, in his grey superhero T-shirt, jeans and dad-socks. I didn’t really understand what I had been giving to the doms in my life until that moment. I stood above him, in the Wonder Woman pose, feeling the weight and self-consciousness of this new power. I crouched down (not easy in those shoes) and kissed his forehead, his fluffy blond hair.

“Get the ropes,” I said. 

Thursday, March 9, 2017

Aw, A Breakoff :..(

So I know I'm leaving out the middle of the story here, but the nice thing I had going with The Professor ended this morning. Similar to the Mr. Makeout Music situation, he wasn't as available as he thought he was and we had disproportionate levels of excitement about each other--my enthusiasm will always probably set a high bar, for better and worse.

              I may write more about it later on, but for now, I want to remember two things:

1. Phone dates feel like real dates and to me, sexting counts as real sex.

2. The night of the Cuddle Party, I had a piece of advice from one of the presenters written on my hand. It said:

"Believe your own perceptions more than what he's telling you."

I think this is the first time I've ever pulled that off. I'm proud today of being honest with myself about what I want and letting him be honest about what he can give. Rainbow star of sad achievement:

Friday, March 3, 2017

A Conference with Myself, Part Four: Saying Goodbye Lying Down

            After The Professor and The Kind Ma’am left the Cuddle Party, I asked a nice woman I’d met at one of the workshops earlier (She was the one to whom I’d exclaimed “I just got a goooood phone number!” About The Professor.) if she would like to snuggle in behind me. I’ll call her Soulful Lady, because who knows, she may be in future stories.
            She spooned up to my back and I held onto Mr. Shiny Eyes from the other side. I missed The Professor but also felt lucky to be so deeply ensconced in the lovey-dovey vibes of the room. I’d talked with Mr. Shiny Eyes about meeting up at The Recurring Character’s room party later on (Just being invited made me feel like I was home.) but I was pretty sure I’d end up happily on my own instead. Everyone was soft, warm, lovely, and I felt full. I untangled myself from the pile and said softly that it was time to go.

            As I hugged Soulful Lady goodbye, she said “Remember, you are not too much. You are exactly enough.”

            “Thank you so, so much,” I gushed. “I’ll really try to remember.”

            Saying goodbye to Mr. Shiny Eyes, I put my cheek against his like a happy kitten, overjoyed to have reunited. After we kissed goodbye, his face was flushed with playful vitality, a sunbeam of a person, a natural resource. We both glowed with belonging and peace.

            I hugged the Cuddle Facilitator and thanked her for her help—she is really, really good at her job. On the way to my room, I ran into The Professor and The Kind Ma’am and told them I was in blissed-out solo mode for the night, and they said be sure to let them know if I changed my mind.

            One important thing about the Kind Ma’am: She has ropes. That just makes me feel optimistic about life in general.

            I was getting off the elevator to my room when I heard a “psst” and looked down a floor to see The Professor holding the pink water bottle that I’d left in the Cuddle Party. I motioned for him to toss it up, but he said “Just come down.” in a way that was just Dommy enough for me to do what he said.
            I was SO GLAD that I’d left my bottle, because as soon as I walked back off the elevator onto the first floor, he wrapped me up in his arms and we made out like teenagers, which you may know is my favorite thing in the universe. The chemistry/Energy between us made me dizzy, as if I’d been struck by warm, fuzzy, pink lightning. I think we might’ve been a little more affectionate than some not-with-the-conference passersby may have been expecting, and I loved that—I’m still a showoff at heart.

            I got to my room (still somehow by myself), cranked up the heat, took off everything but my socks, got into the big fluffy white hotel bed, and felt myself in every sense of the word. I loved the Energy, light, and lust sparking through me—very similar to the sensation of having had ropes on, except that I hadn’t. My skin was hot and tingling, my nipples hard—I felt like I’d spent the day being naked and admired in the sun. I ravished myself and slept an angel’s sleep, forgetting to even set an alarm.

            I woke up later than I’d meant to, almost missing a chance at breakfast. The Professor had texted to see what I was doing, so I set out to find him and it was easy. He and The Kind Ma’am were having breakfast with a bunch of friends and there was a spare seat for me. I dreamily ate french toast and bacon, leaned my head against his strong, warm shoulder, and got to know the two of them a little better.

After breakfast, The Professor asked if we could go up to my room for a bit and yesyesyes. When he told The Kind Ma’am “We’re just gonna go say goodbye for a bit.” she smiled big and teased us-- “Yep, just going to say goodbye, alone, in a room, lying down…”

Checkout time was looming, so we set a timer for ten minutes. I’d forgotten the joy of setting a timer for snuggles at The Big Poly Conference, but then I pretty much love setting a timer about anything.

            Those few minutes alone with him, in bed, being held, were the sweetest and best. He put his hand on my heart and it felt like a direct line to the divine. He caressed my breast and it became the moment I refer back to the most during personal time.

When the timer went off, I reluctantly went to turn it off, but he had other ideas. While my phone merrily chimed away, he not-quite roughly pushed me into the wall, took my face in his hands and kissed me deeply. I could feel him hard against me and I wished that we had hours. Days.
            All riled up and goddessy, I regained control and pushed him onto the bed, climbed on top, and pushed myself against him, enjoying his startled pleasure.

Eventually, we did have to heed the silly timer. Saying goodbye took a lot of time, a lot of lap-sitting, a lot of kissing with one sneaker on because it was very hard to finish getting dressed.

As he stood in the doorway almost leaving, he said: “Just know this: you are loved.” It was the perfect thing to say, and it felt both from him and not from him, like love was radiating from the whole building, from the whole universe of interconnected souls, is all. It was something I really needed to hear, a sentiment I want to take good care of.

When I returned to the default world, I found the contrast too great. I resolved to make my everyday life more loving, more gentle, more hospitable to my sparkly heart and hungry spirit. I’m not sure what that looks like yet, but I like the changes I’ve made so far.

The Professor has been in touch every day since. He is just as good in the everyday as he was in the land of magic, and I appreciate him more and more with every text, call, and picture. He feels steadying to me, and I feel hopeful.

Saturday, February 25, 2017

A Conference with Myself, Part Three: Hugging Heartbreak, Embracing Joy

“Even if you feel overcome with nihilistic thoughts, your body is still alive with an optimism of its own.  Join the thoughts of your body.” –Yoko Ono

            When I first started adventuring way back when, I decided to use cuddle parties as a benchmark for how far I’ve come in inhabiting my body and letting go of grief. The first one, way back in 2012, I spent crying over my struggling marriage and unexpressed bisexuality. The second one, I spent mostly on my own despite the puddle of people, enjoying all of the lovey vibes in a very surprising new self-contained way. This time, I dove all the way in, tapped into my body’s optimism as Yoko suggests, and was blessedly immersed in the easy, soft connections with and among my fellow lovey-dovey souls.

            Still, sadness did need to have its moment. As I lay curled up and relaxed in the afterglow of The Kind Ma’am’s sweet/hurty attention, the loss I’d been trying to deny for months crept in and I just ached for Mr. Makeout Music, for all of the November grief. Since one of my New Year’s resolutions is to ask for help when I need it, I asked the Cuddle Facilitator to disentangle herself from a beautiful-looking embrace so we could talk for a minute. (I’m not a monster, it’s part of her role. But I still feel bad for interrupting snuggles!)

            I told her the story, the story my friends and I are all sick of, and she had an idea: “Let’s try this. I’m going to hold you, and you’re going to just feel it all. Feel it as deeply as you can, and then we’ll see if you’re ready to go back to playing.”

            So she put her arms around me, and as she held me, her heart against mine felt like MM’s heart, from those twice-a-day hugs that I missed so much. The connection I still felt to him was keen and wrenching and real, and I loved it so much. (I still do, though thankfully it feels much less claustrophobic/painful now.)

            I almost cried, but didn’t. I thanked her mistily and went back to the party, joining a cuddle pile with a few nice strangers who’d seemed fun during consent practice.

            I was blissed out and petting the hip of a nice woman from Colorado when (Hooray!) The Professor appeared above me and asked if he could join us. I was spooned in behind the nice woman, and he spooned in behind me, a friendly wall of warmth. I asked if he would pull my hair (or he asked me, I don’t remember) and he was such the perfect balance of gentle and forceful that I whooshed down into subspace, for the first real time in years. The weightless, beatific feeling of being relieved from control, turns out I’d missed it so much. I feel like I’m using the word “blessed” too many times in this story, but it keeps being necessary.

            I asked if I could turn over to face him, and the resulting embrace was one of the most comforting places I’ve ever been. I’m trying superhard not to get carried away here, of course he’s maybe just really good at hugging, but the way he fit with me had a teensy bit of destiny to it.

            At cuddle parties, you’re supposed to look for specific permission every step of the way, and for every request he made, I gave an emphatic “Yes!” especially the “May I kiss you?’ part—the Professor is really, really good at kissing. Just like with the hair pulling, soft and urgent, emphatic and sweet. There’s nothing like being really just thoroughly kissed.

            “Will you put your leg between mine?” He asked and oh yes, I just wanted to find a cuddle party loophole and just give him permission to do every. Single. Thing.

            “May I put my hand of your chest?” He asked, and that meant heart, not boob, and yesyes, it’s time to go ahead and believe in Energy, because this guy has ALL OF IT.

While I was lying there in The Professor’s arms, Mr. Shiny Eyes crawled over and asked for a kiss and I was happy to give it. The three of us chatted until it was time for The Professor to go have a late supper with The Kind Ma’am. I kissed him goodbye and settled into a new cuddle configuration with Mr. Shiny Eyes and the interesting strangers.

Next: More cuddles, more kisses, and saying goodbye lying down.

Friday, February 24, 2017

Fuck This Sexist Piece of Kindhearted Advice

            Not the first part, that’s like my whole thing. The “let love find you” part.

Last week, I left the library where I worked with Mr. Makeout Music. There were a lot of good reasons for doing so (Work crushes can sometimes be a sign that I need to be doing something more absorbing.) but the main reason was that it was exhausting to keep pretending to be okay around him. I wasn’t. Now that I’ve got the time and space and naps to heal, the pain of him is almost gone.

            Because I couldn’t bring myself to walk past MM one more time, Sweetie went to clean out my desk for me, with Awesome Genderqueer Librarian’s help. In the bag with my collection of kid art and my desk socks was a lovely stack of “We miss you!” cards from kids and coworkers. It was very gratifying to still be valued there, after three sometimes-crying months of love-shame and election grief. The woman who wrote the above advice is one of my favorite humans in the universe, but it unleashed a stream of gleeful annoyance that I’m kind of excited to paragraph.

            It’s partly that she knew (Ugh, everybody knew.) that my leaving was even about heartbreak at all, but mostly it’s this—I’m mad at myself for spending three months crying about a guy who got scared of me because I made the first move. He has tried to frame it in other ways, but from where I’m sitting, he adored me until I took his hand.

            Of course he had the right to decline my advances for any reason, but I hated the way I felt around him after that—too big, too excited, too complicated, too much. About our weird somewhere-between-friendship-and-the other-thing situation, he kept saying “just let things develop organically” every time I had a question or needed a clarification, but I think what he meant was, let things develop on his terms.

            Even the way our flirtation started, with him visiting my department or my office when he could (He had keys to my office, but I certainly didn’t have keys to his.), with me waiting around with an open heart and what I hoped was a pretty face for him to come and be praised, it sometimes made me feel helpless and trapped, even when things were nice. In one of our fights, I said I wasn’t a web cam girl, just waiting around to approve of him. (He probably wished he hadn’t told me his porn preferences…) The way the building is designed, he could see me from almost any of his posts, and it felt really claustrophobic sometimes.
            The “let love come to you” (if you’re a woman) paradigm is part of what makes the traditional structures of dating unworkable to me. When I like someone, I really like him/her/them. When I want ANYTHING, I try very hard to be awesome at getting it. If I’m attracted to somebody, I tell them. I ask for what I want and see if it works for them. I’m not Sleeping fucking Beauty, I’m an adventuress on a quest. On a good day,  I’m a goddess, and men have been known to kneel down for me without my even having to command it. I have a dominant, honest, brave, ridiculous heart that knows what it wants and will always go after it.

            The passiveness of the “wait for love to find you” paradigm takes me to a dark place. It reminds me of necrophila. It reminds me of rohypnol. (When I just Googled that for spelling, the horrifying third choice was “rohypnols buy.”) It reminds me of back when there was MySpace and all of my guy friends liked girls whose profile pictures managed these slack, vacant expressions. I could never have made my face look uninhabited enough to resemble the ghost/zombie girls who were the style of the Mid-Zeroes. It reminds me of the time I was told that I smile a lot for a submissive.
            The boxed-in passiveness of the advice reminds me of Moana being told that everything she needed was on this one little island and that all she had to do to be happy was reject the song of her own soul. (Did anyone else see her and her many new islands as a polyamory tale? Maybe it was just me.) Like Moana, I am an explorer, a leader, a navigator. I won’t sit in a box and wait to be clicked on, and I hope to never tunnel-vision myself into any more narrow little islands of gendered constraint.

Like many of my rants, this is really a culmination of an argument with myself. Since my brokeny teenage years, I’ve always “known” in my heart that I’m not passive enough to be loved by a man, that I could never be compliant or compromising enough for a straight cis male. That idea is offensive to one and all, but it didn’t come from nowhere. I would love for it to go away.

When I look at it objectively, I see that Mr. Makeout Music was a rare exception. I am surrounded, past and present, by men who have enjoyed being sought out, pursued, and pounced upon. Far from being a turnoff, my literal and figurative bigness and enthusiasm have drawn the best, most adventurous, most oomph-filled men to me. Some of them have even stuck around.

Though I’ll always appreciate the way that he woke up my body and heart, I think Mr. Makeout Music mostly served to show me what I don’t want—I never want to try and make myself smaller or less in hopes that someone with a narrower scope might see me. I never want to be stuck on an island again.

            I know that romantic love isn’t something that can be to-do-listed into existence, but I WILL have agency. I will not sit in a box and wait. I will not listen to the fears and the family/social pressures that kept me away from the water. I aim to untie myself from the hetero/mononormative shore and learn to sail. My heart knows the way.

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

A Conference with Myself, Part Two: Mr. Shiny Eyes! Cuddle Practice! Hair Pulling!

Before I float back into all the awesomeness, I should backtrack a little bit to say that Mr. Shiny Eyes was one of the guy pals I reached out to after my New Years resolution to remember how to have guy friends. In the thick of divorce grief a couple of years ago, I’d broken things off with him for no good reason, and I was superworried that I’d hurt him—and I had. I’m sad to say that I haven’t always been fully conscious of the fact that I can affect men’s feelings, and I was glad I asked him about it. We had a really nice call a few weeks before the conference, so it only took us a few minutes of being in the same building to get in kiss/cuddle/flirt mode that day. A day where I kiss three worthy men is a good one.
Also, I can’t overstate how much of a difference my extra introvert time made. It had been such a long time since I’d felt like I was on a magical adventure with my cute, slutty self—this was a reunion within a reunion.
Anyway, back to being excited/nervous/fluttery to meet up with The Professor at the Cuddle Party. I got into my PJs and nice warm socks and brought pillows and blankets downstairs to the party room. I was one of the first to arrive, so I made a little nest within the bigger nest of pillows and blankets and I stretched and breathed. The Cuddle Facilitator stamped my hand with a red heart that meant I could come and go as needed.
When The Professor showed up with The Kind Ma’am, I felt surprisingly shy for someone who’d spent the day raising my hand emphatically like a smutty Hermione in the workshops and smooching old and new pals. It was both like a first date and not a like first date at all. If all first dates involved wearing soft pants, (and like an hour of consent practice) the world would truly be a magical place.
Once The Professor was in his plaid flannel pajama pants, he sat down between me and The Kind Ma’am, his arms around both of us. They talked and I snuggled up against his shoulder, feeling the warmth that radiated from him all over. And who should sit down next to me on the other side but Mr. Shiny Eyes! Without much preamble, we started making out gleefully, and I got to feel the glow of being between two beautiful men, of being in a chain, no, a net of soft, snuggly vibes and comfy touch. The perfect mix of kissing and friendship, safety and adventure.
For technical stuff about Cuddle Parties this is a good post:  but basically the first loooooong time of the party was consent practice, practicing asking specifically for what we wanted and saying and getting nos and yesses. (Not doing the things yet, just the asking and answering.) We even had to say no to things that we really, really wanted and yes to things we hated—that way you can really feel what a no or a yes feels like in the body, the Cuddle Facilitator said, and I think it was true. I LOVE consent practice and often wish the world were more Cuddle Party-esque.
When the cuddles finally started in earnest, The Professor was occupied in a sort of two-person-seeming snuggle so I sat down on one of the chairs at the side of the room, breathed and waited to see what would happen next. I felt hesitant, but warm and hopeful. I was so pleased when The Kind Ma’am sat down next to me and asked “Can I put my arm around you?” Yes! I felt protected and friended, taken under her wing. I wondered aloud if she might be willing to pull my hair and guess what! She said yes!
Having been spinstering it for a couple of years, I hadn’t been too sure where I stood with my kinks, though I suspected they were still there. With her, it was as if no time had passed since my last adventures, like I always have been and always will be getting my hair pulled, forever and ever, amen. When she grabbed the hair near the nape of my neck, I let out a fairly un-Cuddle-Party-like groan/purr/wail. I tried really hard (and fairly unsuccessfully) not to disrupt the proceedings with my caterwauling, but no one seemed to mind.
I wound up sitting at her feet, feeling little and adored and silly. She arranged my hair into pigtails, played, pulled, and (after I asked very nicely) called me “Good girl.” Swoon. The Kind Ma’am was perfect and careful and sweet, but I got a little overwhelmed from the burgeoning energy of the room and the new/old/hurty/lovely sensations, so I thanked her and said I needed a little time. I curled up on my own for a bit, letting the relief and happiness and complicated homecoming emotions swirl around me and within me.

Next: Cuddling heartbreak a little, cuddling joy A LOT.

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Mini-Update: Yay, Mr. Sweetface!

It's gonna take me a (very happy) million years to finish the Big Poly Conference, but in the meantime, I just wanted to tell you Mr. Sweetface is back in the picture. We broke things off for really no good reason way back when, so when I ran into him over the holidays I got his number. It took us until last Saturday to find time to play and I'm soooooo glad we gave it another go. I'll do details later, but here are the important things:

1. It was the first time we played without switching, and I really, really liked staying the top all the way through. My head has been filled with sunshine since.
2. It never occurred to me before that I could order somebody to put ropes on me.
3. I really, really enjoy being called "Ma'am."
4. Yay!

Monday, February 20, 2017

A Conference with Myself: Part One

After all the heartache of the election and Mr. Makeout Music, I decided that my poly self needed to be as spoiled as possible, so I decided to make the Big Poly Conference into a mini-vacation. For the first time ever, I had my own room, and I planned to alternate learning and socializing with swimming and lounging around by myself. I stocked my mini-fridge with good sandwich stuff and strawberries and brought a Valentine heart of chocolate and Amy Schumer’s memoir. I packed two bathing suits, new pajamas, and cute underpants.

After the various fuckups of my past poly adventures, I was a little nervous about all the reuniting, but before the keynote address even started, The Recurring Character sat down next to me and said “Welcome back!” so I thought it might be okay.

Per Fireguy’s instructions, I was more there to make friends and reconnect with my poly self than to flirt, but I glanced around the assembly to see if anyone caught my fancy, and someone did. He wasn’t even in the room yet, he was still out in the hall getting checked in, and I thought “Jeez I hope he likes girls.” He was tall, broad and looked authoritative and also like he might know everyone there. As tends to be my preference these days, he was African American. I basically had to have him.

I found him after the talk. (Which was about diversity and inclusiveness but was given by a skinny, straight, able, cis white woman.) (Whom I adore, but come on…) He was standing around with a mutual friend, everyone trading stories about their respective Woman’s Marches. I found an excuse to high-five him (I love high-fiving so much.) and we struck up a conversation. Like the third thing he said to me was “Do you hug?” After months of feeling like I was Entirely Too Much around Mr. Makeout Music, that question was a balm, and yes, of course I hug, and this was one of my favorite hugs of all time.

It’s these moments when I want to start talking about that Energy thing that I don’t quite believe in but always that I seem to be able to feel. Wrapped up in his big strong arms, I forgot all the sadness and heartbreak, all of the trying to be less than I am. I felt accepted and I felt blessed. I was going to need to keep hugging him. I learned that he’d just finished his doctorate so I’ve decided to call him The Professor.

The next time I saw him, I was headed out after a somewhat-harrowing workshop on intersectionality. The Professor had his arms around a tall, cuddly, prettily-intimidating woman, but he reached out and pulled me into their hug. It felt like what life is supposed to be like, warm and beautiful and bi.

After Kind Ma’am went off to talk with some other people, The Professor sat down and I snuggled into his lap. I made apologetic noises to one of the women from the workshop (my whole strategy as an activist and an ally is to always be ready to apologize) and he said all kinds of encouraging, comforting things that my heart had been waiting broken-white-lady decades to hear. In no universe was it his job to take care of me in those feelings, but he did, and it was wildly generous.

            We exchanged phone numbers, emails, mailing addresses. I wrote mine on one of the many Pok√©mon Valentines I’d brought for just such a purpose. We kissed lightly and sweetly and hugged goodbye and I walked into the next workshop with a happy dance and an “I got a GOOD phone number!”

Instead of meeting anyone for dinner, I had a little introvert party--went swimming on my own and then ate dinner in bed, listening to the Bunhead Bros podcast. (It’s by the same guys who did all those three-to-five-hour Gilmore Girls recaps, can’t get enough. Okay I did get enough during the revival, but still.)

Joy of joys, The Professor texted and asked what I was doing with my evening, and we agreed to meet up at the Cuddle Party. I was very glad I’d brought cute soft new purple flower pajamas. I COULD NOT WAIT to get cuddled.

Monday, January 30, 2017

No Longer Performing Over-It-Ness, A New Hope

 It’s vexing that I spent part of last week marching on Washington with 500,000 amazing people in one of the most meaningful and fulfilling experiences of my life and then a good chunk of my time crying about a boy. Love is resistance, I guess.
Mr. Makeout music and I really, really tried to be friends. A few times it got too hard and I tried to get away, but I kept getting pulled back in, once by an eight-page Post-it note letter that he left on my desk inside my Bon Iver CD. (Maybe the most emo thing that ever happened to me, and that’s really saying something.)
I wanted to be over it so we could be friends, but I’m still in love with him, still heartbroken. When we were trying to be friends, I performed a flirty, lightly-slutty, carefree version of myself. He let me think we were somewhere between friendship and the other thing. In fact, he explicitly said so, and that was enough to keep giving me hope. It gave me enough of an excuse to keep on (and I say this only a little bit sheepishly but mostly self-compassionate) making a fool of myself over him.
I so wanted to skip ahead to friendship that on Friday, I made him take out his phone so we could put a friend-afternoon on the calendar, and in the course of that conversation I found out that he had plans for Valentine’s Day.
I’d sort of seen this coming since she’d been visiting the library almost daily, though I’d asked him about it a few weeks before and he’d said it wasn’t a thing. (Why he has to date her at work is beyond me and feels (probably unintentionally) cruel…) My first reaction to finding out they were together was “Yesss!” because I was genuinely happy for him.
So compersion may have lent me some dignity in that moment, but it couldn’t save me from the fact that right after he told me he couldn’t date me because of family obligations, he almost immediately found a serious-enough-for-Valentine’s-Day relationship. I’d sort of known for a while but love-goggles weren’t really letting me confront it.
It doesn’t always occur to me that people sometimes don’t tell the truth, and I guess I’m glad that I took him at face value. Awesome Genderqueer Librarian says she thinks he was telling the truth, that he wasn’t ready for his world to become bigger and he was ready for something that fit his idea of the world. Maybe, but I knew I couldn’t keep pretending to just want friendship I felt hurt and humiliated that he hadn’t told me the truth in the first place.
So I sent him a last text saying that friends don’t lie to each other and that I’d deserved so much more honesty and respect than he’s given. I told him to leave me all the way alone. I gave him back most of the artwork that he’d made with me and the library kids (I kept the one he’d told me was called “Ms. ______ in Autumn” because the colors reminded him of me.) and he gave me the Postal Service album (“Give Up,” it’s called, I think it was really just a message to myself.) that I’d lent him in a last ditch effort to be at least Cute Music Friends.
It’s sad not to talk to him, not to get at least two hugs a day from him. Saturday afternoon when I walked into the library I just mortifyingly burst into tears, thank god it wasn’t in front of him. I just love and miss him so much and I’m so sad that he didn’t choose me. It’s hard not to compare myself to her and not wish I were easier, more monogamous, more whatever-she-is-that-I’m-not.
But also, I feel relief. I don’t have to date like crazy to prove that I’m over him. I don’t have to push myself into a friendship that doesn’t feel right. I don’t have to fight to stay on his radar or compete with her for attention, because that’s really, REALLY not my thing.
And Saturday, the Universe was so kind as to send another handsome security guard to my department. I hope to never crush on someone at work ever again, but it was comforting to chat with a nice man about art, life, feelings, and politics while I made self-Valentines with the kids. Mine said:
Dear Me,
I love you because you love with your whole heart.
            Even after all of this foolishness, it’s still true.
            Way back in November when Mr. Makeout Music and I had our “We’re not gonna be a thing” conversation, I realized I’d better figure out where I stand with kink and poly. I signed up for the Big Poly Conference and reserved a room for the whole weekend. I also reached out to Fireguy and asked him to mentor me through the process, and he said yes!
            Talking with him has been healing in many ways, making me feel stronger and more able to take risks. He gave me a couple of directives that I’m really enjoying:

1.      You have to know someone to love him or her, so instead of dating, concentrate on doing what I love and building my social circle.
2.      People will show their worthiness by making an effort.
The second one seems like a nicer version of the “He’s just not that into you” philosophy, which I already kind of believe. It’s hard to hold out for real effort, though, because I want so much to serve the ones I love. But looking for those worthy of me, expecting honesty and enthusiasm and communication, is working out very well so far and gives me such a sparkly glimmer of hope and faith.

I may have to watch Mr. Makeout Music’s romance blossom at our workplace every day, but a future of being my real, deep, loving, transparent, poly self will hopefully give me the power to move past him.

Monday, January 2, 2017

A 2017 Heart Wish

I don’t hate 2016 as thoroughly as some, but it did so a lot of damage to my already-pretty-broken perception of men. The Bernie Bros seething misogyny was painful, but finding out during primaries which of my friends are more subtly sexist (or Stockholm Sydromey) was even worse. It was a tough year to fight the tide and hold onto the insistence that women are people, and of course it ended with the election of a child rapist. I’ve never been that awesome at trusting men, and during this time of election grief, it’s even harder.

My experience with Mr. Makeout Music made me realize that as much as I enjoyed the awesome spinster part of my life, I have a deep need for male friendship and affection that I don’t want to ignore anymore. Greeting them with defensiveness and fear, while it seems pretty reasonable most of the time, runs counter to my deep need to connect. Defensiveness has always been one of my worst qualities, and I know it’s partly responsible for the vast gulf I sometimes feel between myself and men. The gulf is heartbreaking because all separations-by-category feel heartbreaking, but also because I long for a male partner and my own family much more deeply than I’d like to admit.

But “fall in love and have him love me back” isn’t a goal one can reasonably work towards, so I decided to get closer to men in as many ways as I can think of. I’ve been scrolling though OK Cupid for 20 minutes every Friday evening, but more importantly, I’ve set the goal to call a guy friend once a week and catch up. I want to see men as themselves again, not just as The Patriarchy or as part of the Hillary-trolling nightmare. I want to remember how to be openhearted to the whole person, not just frustrated by the part of all of us that’s enslaved by gender.

The first time I tried calling was yesterday, and it felt very jangling, partly because the first voicemail I left was for Mr. Makeout Music, about whom I’m still hurty but hoping to let the friendship take care of things.  I left voicemails for three other (less fraught) guy friends, and even making those calls felt foolish, vulnerable, woozy. I felt like I was setting myself up for humiliation and loss. I’m still, after all these years of therapy and adventure, afraid of men. After I left those four voicemails for perfectly kind and lovable guys, I started to cry. I miss them. I miss all of them. (Okay, especially Mr. Makeout Music…)

The first to call me back was my dear and very lovey friend Angel Face, and then a poet pal I haven’t talked to in years. The poet told me about Marie Kondo-ing the kitchen with his wife over the holiday, about jobs and the silly day-to-day, about how awesome it is to make breakfast for dinner. Friendship is one of the most resilient and trustworthy forces in the world, and I’m happiest when I let myself depend on it.

If I’m honest, I know I’m still heartbroken about not being a thing with Mr. Makeout Music. I’m doing my best to take my time, not to push myself, to set aside time at night to miss him. I still love him so much, I still don’t quite understand why we’re not together, but we had a nice talk before Christmas and friendship doesn’t seem so far away.

Most of my other nine goals are about going places and doing things, about artistic indulgence. I’ve named it the Year of Sparkles and vowed to let in all of the queer, poly beautifulness that I can. Being generous with myself seems like the best way to heal, especially since part of that generosity will be finding a therapist and/or support group.

If you’re a man I used to know, send your number to Part of the joy of this year will be in your details.