Monthly Archives: July 2012

Fairness

As previously noted, I’ve watched a lot of the Olympics lately because, well, because.

I had a conversation tonight about whether or not it was really fair, to judge a person on a single performance, one bright shining moment, to weigh that against all the rest.

On one hand, that really isn’t how it works.  It’s not like anyone can apply to the Olympics and go there, and compete.  They have all come through some series of competitions.  They are junior champions and state champions and collegiate champions and national champions before they get to that one shining moment.

They have proven, though any number of previous competitions, that they are THAT good.  No one really comes totally out of left field to this level of mastery of a sport.

Anyone who has ever watched figure skating or gymnastics knows, too, that there is a judging bias based on who you are and where you’re from and how well you have done in the past.

The ones who are expected to win are judged differently than the ones who are not, regardless.  Judges in those two sports at least are notorious for judging in very nationalistic ways.  The Russian judge gives the Russian competitor higher marks, the Czech gives the Czech competitor better marks, the US judge is more lenient with the US athletes.

It is what it is.

So, they’re not really judged on one bright shining moment, but a series of bright and shining moments that lead up to this moment on the world stage.

Does that mean it is fair and right to judge them on that one performance?

What a heavy burden it places on those uniformed shoulders, too, knowing what others have given up for them to stand in that spot at that moment.  You know the stories.  The father who worked three jobs, the mother who quit her job to ferry the child to practices and competitions.

Sometimes there are siblings and you have to wonder how hard it is for them, to be the brother or sister of the golden child.  The one who isn’t quite as fast or as strong or coordinated, the one who probably makes a lot of sacrifices, too, without necessarily having a vote in it.

Unless you’re rich, it’s hard to have two world class athletes in the family.

And it seems, too, like most of the athletes are from middle class or poorer families, too.  There are some of the wealthy and privileged, Alberto Tomba and Zara Phillips and Albert II, Prince of Monaco all spring to mind, but they seem to be in the minority.

But the gymnast whose parents took out a second mortgage, or the mother who takes the skater in the family to live with them in another city, leaving other children behind. for them to get their star child to this point must have made for some tough choices.

So, is it fair to put so much on shoulders that should already be bowed with the weight on them?

But isn’t that when we do really show our mettle, show what it is that we are made of?  When the chips are down, when it really counts, when every eye is on us?

I think it is, because how you respond to pressure is part of assessment.  We can all sing like canaries in the shower, but it’s another thing entirely to stand up on a stage and do it well.

It’s also valid, too, to see how someone reacts when they don’t win.  Sometimes you see the best in people, sometimes you see the worst.

And it must be hard to try and rewire yourself, too, to go from being so terribly competitive to being a good loser.  You have to be so focused on winning, and so unwilling to accept any less.  That’s a rare thing, and also why you and I are not hitting the pool at 5am on January mornings, or cycling 25 miles a day, rain or shine, or running hurdles until the light fades from the field.

It’s probably not fair, really, to expect that.  Ok, we now we’ve turned you into automatons, we’ve equipped you with the best uniforms and equipment and there are always new regulations about just how springy the springboard should be, or if the new super skis are really an unfair advantage.  Swimmers shave their bodies to shave milliseconds off their speed.

Winning is everything.

Until you lose, and then we expect you to smile and make nice.

Probably not fair.  But that’s also part of it, too, isn’t it?  The ability to accept an outcome and move on.

So, I do think it’s fair to judge based on one moment.

But maybe the thing is, we shouldn’t count only who crossed the line first, or lifted the heaviest weight, or jumped the very highest, but who handled both the winning and the losing with the most grace.

The Agony of Defeat

I, like most of us, I think, have been watching the Olympics the last couple of days.

What’s not to like?  Gorgeous young people, in top physical shape, coming together to do their physical best.  What ISN’T cool about being the fastest man in the world?

Not only BEING it, but having a medal and a record to prove it.  And it’s not one of those sort of fake World Series things.  I mean, in the Olympics, it really is the world.  In the World Series, however, the “World” is the United States and Canada.

While many fine things have been said about the Canadians, I don’t think the term “ethnic” springs to mind when speaking of Canada.

So, this really is the fastest person in the world, on land or water, jumping or running or swimming or paddling or cycling.

And there are all the fabulous stories.  I remember years ago, just after the Soviet Union fell into shambles, there was a male skater, a Russian, whose training had been previously paid for, and well, by the government.

He had been reduced to living in some horrible apartment, tiny and possibly unheated, with his mother and grandmother and, in the way those stories often go, his seven siblings and the orphaned cousin who lived with them.

What I do remember clearly about the story was that he had been unable to afford new skates for some ludicrous length of time like two years, and he had been forced to wrap the old skates with tape, again and again.

You read about the stories of hardship, what people give up, what the people around them give up, in order to get them to this point.

Don’t we all have some moments we remember from the Olympics?

I always loved figure skating.  Brian Boitano was one of my favorites and his 1988 performance was always a favorite.  At one point he did an enormous loop around the rink with his feet absolutely parallel.

I am such a geek that I have even visited the Figure Skating Museum in Colorado Springs, and I have seen the very costume he wore.

One of my other favorite moments in skating was when Paul Wylie took silver in 1992.  If you are not a skating geek, feel free to skip over this, the names won’t mean anything.

Wylie was always one of my favorite skaters, and when he was on, he was a lovely skater to watch, graceful, athletic, a certain almost balletic style, but he always struggled when the pressure was on.  He had the potential to do well, but no one really thought he would win a medal at all.

Chris Bowman was his team mate and he was competing against Viktor Petrenko, who won the gold that year, the Canadian team included Kurt Browning and Elvis Stojko.  It was a tough crowd.

Paul Wylie skated one of those performances they must dream about, both literally and figuratively, where every blade is precisely where it should be, where every muscle and nerve responds just the way you hope for, where no tiny shift in gravity causes your rotation to be a bit off.  It was perfect.

Well, not really, because you know how judges are, but what I remember, why I remember this is, he was so thrilled to have done what he did.  So often you see athletes standing on the podium, receiving their silver medals, and looking surly or disappointed or shell shocked.

Paul Wylie was thrilled, not focused on what he had lost, but focused on what he had won, and, I suspect, perhaps even more focused on the fact that when it had counted the most, he had done, literally, his very best.

End of figure skating geekdom.

I remember where I was and what I was doing when the US Hockey team defeated the Russians.

I remember watching Nadia Comaneci’s routine, the one that got the first 10 ever.

I remember when Mark Spitz, with his 70’s-porn-moustach, won the gold medals, all seven of them splayed across his chest.

I think the most touching moment for me so far in these Olympics, though it’s still early days, is the interview with Michael Phelps, just after he had lost the 400 meter medley race.

He was shell-shocked.  He really didn’t know what to say, and, of course, what everyone really wants is to have a camera stuck in their face when they have just come through one of the most disappointing moments in their entire lives.

It was just touching to see this kid who just kept looking back towards the horizon, as if trying to fathom how it had – or hadn’t – happened.

I wonder if it’s better or worse to lose as a solo athlete or a team athlete.

It would be both better and worse to know that there was no one else to blame it on, that the fault was entirely and completely your own.

On the other hand, how hard it would be to let go of either the guilt or the disappointment when you are part of a team that loses.

If your performance costs all the others on the team a victory, how overwhelming would be the guilt you’re feel, and wouldn’t it be hard for you to really forgive and forget that slip that the other guy made, the one that cost you the victory which you, yourself, had earned?

I suppose it all depends on how high you set your sights.  Obviously the majority of athletes who get to the Olympics don’t really expect to win a medal.  Most of them know that while they may well be the absolute best swimmer in Sri Lanka, or Costa Rica or Luxembourg, that the best swimmer from the US or Australia is probably going to beat them.

And yet, when you watch all those faces coming in and they’re all happy, all enjoying the experience, all laughing and taking pictures in their country’s uniforms.

Obviously there’s some life lesson there, about enjoying the experience whether we win or lose, about setting our sights on doing well for ourselves and focusing less on where we rank compared to others.  There will always be more and lesser than we are, etc.

But it IS the Olympics.  I’ve watched the men’s gymnastics team rather fall apart, and now it’s the final of the back stroke.  I have to go root for the American, whoever they are because, well, because they’re the American, of course.

And does anyone out there know why the British uniforms had that odd gold lamé lining?

Sunday Brunch

It’s funny how small a town Louisville really is.  slave drew and I went to lunch with a friend, and ran into Russ, Jonathan and Ches, friends who went to the meeting on Saturday.  The waiter was one of Russ’ roommates and a casual friend, and one of the other waiters often waits on us and said hello, too.  It was just funny.

I got some rest last night, which meant skipping not one, but two invitations to gatherings.  I was just too tired, not words I often say.  My mother was always “too tired,” too tired to do anything she didn’t want to do, mostly, though she managed to have enough energy to do whatever she did want to do.

We had a quiet day, relatively.  We both had big plans to do some weeding, for one, and get some paperwork done.  slave drew took a nap and I did some work, we ran an errand, had our brunch, played with the dogs some.

All in all, a quiet day.

And I am good with that.  Tomorrow is Monday, we are 25 days from Great Lakes, I have to be in Atlanta in mid-September, Chicago in late October, then a quiet few months until March, when I will be producing my Bluegrass Leather Pride Contest, and in Dallas to judge International Master and slave.  Then Florida in April for Beyond Leather.

I’m sure more things will occur, they always do, but for now, I’m going to go do a few more things tonight, then head to bed.  Hope your Sunday was equally pleasant.

On the Fringe

For the last four or five months, I’ve been working with a couple of guys in our community, Kenny and Josh, to put together a queer community center.  About a month ago we added a fourth person to our ranks, Cerrin, who would be our bookkeeper/financial person.

For about a year, we had a location that was wonderful, open for parties, open for classes, open for whatever.  It was not, however, handled in ways it should have been, and we were actually raided by the Fire Marshall, accompanied by, I swear, 11 squad cars, during a party.  The building closed and we were never inside again.  Some people lost some items, and the community as a whole lost a certain amount of trust.

Last night was our first public kick off.  Much of the community knew about a month ago that there was something in the works and we got a lot of questions individually, and even more offers of help.  “What can we do?”

We knew, though, that the prior experience was going to be something we would have to overcome, and people would need to feel as though all the finances were transparent, and all the codes and regulations were met.

We thought that the best way to make that possible, and also to make it clear that we had nothing to hide was by kicking it off with an open forum wherein people could ask whatever question of us that they wanted, and we would answer honestly and with no topics off limited.

We also met the night before and asked the questions of ourselves we expected would come up, and thought through the answers.  We wanted to create a FAQ sheet with those questions and answers because transparency was so important.

We knew that the first question would be where, to which the answer was, we don’t know yet, and the second one would be, where is the money going to, and the answer was, to the center and you will be able to confirm that at any time, our financials will be available, and that the third one would be, are we going to follow all the codes and regulations, and the answer would be, absolutely.

We talked about other things, too, but mostly we talked about what we expected to be asked.  We had set a time and a date, a Friday night at the same venue which housed the munch for the first 12 years and has continued to do so off and on for the last three years.

We put out notices on Fetlife and Facebook.  We talked it up, too.

I thought we might have 65 people.  It was a Friday night, after all, always a harder night than a Saturday.

Josh expected 80 or so.

At one point we had the people in the room count off, and we got up to 98.  There were at least a dozen people who came afterwards, and probably a few that just happened to be in the bathroom or outside smoking when the count was made.

I would guess we probably had 110-115 people.  There was literally standing room only, with about 20 people or more standing for most of the two hour meeting, every chair taken and extras brought down, people sitting on the floor, and Kenny and I gave up our seats because we were standing anyway.

We didn’t get many questions we DIDN’T anticipate at all, although one that I we didn’t ask that did come up was the use of real names.  One woman clearly had a problem with that and seemed not to get that in order to make it safe for everyone, there would be some necessary access to real names and government issued ID.  She seemed to be the only person who had a significant issue with it.

Because of some of the regulations we will be following, we have to have verification of age, and be able to prove that we have, but they will not be public record, nor will they be available to anyone other than a very limited number of Board of Director’s members, and then only when there’s a purpose in the access.

We answered questions for probably an hour and a half, maybe more.  We began by introducing ourselves and what our mission was.  I was proud of one of my unrehearsed phrases.  I was saying that we wanted to have a “queer community center,” and queer referred to a number of alternate and marginalized communities, and after defining it, I said, “If you’re here, you’re queer, get used to it.”  It got a laugh.

We’ll be working on our fundraising next, we’ve set a goal of $10k to be able to open the doors, to actually pay for a place and have enough to open it and start selling memberships which will then support the center going forward.

Our first big fundraising event will be in October, the first weekend, and will, not coincidentally, coincide with the 15th anniversary of the Louisville Munch.  I’ll be talking more about it, and I’m sure blogging more about it, but that will be later.

Right now, I’m just really glad we had the turnout we did, that people were willing to sit for three hours in a HOT basement – I was fanning myself and sweaty and I rarely am hot, I’m perpetually chilly – and some were willing to stand for the whole time, just to be there.

There were people there I hadn’t seen before, and that’s something that’s very gratifying.  In order for it to be viable as an ongoing project, it has to be supported by and supportive of more than just the kink community, and to have other communities there, even if not so nearly well-represented, is a very hopeful sign.

At one point, we thought we had found a venue, an old paper factory, and we had been toying with names, like “The Margin,” because we would have a lot of options for some of the plans we had.  We talked about contributing writer, who would be our “Marginal Writers,” and we wanted to serve communities that had been marginalized.

Then it turned out that the paper factory wasn’t really most of the things our liaison had said it was and it didn’t work out, but we liked the idea of The Margin, because of the idea of marginal communities, but then we started talking about being on the fringes of society, and the the idea of having been elements of society that were underserved, and Fringe Elements was born.

That was the name that we used for our corporate presence, and the name we’re working under right now, but we all know we’re not married to it, either, so we’ll probably see what people have to say about names.

Then we went upstairs because had I stayed downstairs another five minutes I was going to actually suffocate.  I made my way up the stairs, asked a few people to send me emails or catch me at another time because everyone wanted to speak to us, to share an idea, to ask another question.  In the meantime, the heavens had opened.  It was pouring.  It felt wonderful, as summer rain often does when you’re hot and sticky from too many people in one room.

The only issue, however, was that slave drew and I rode the scooter to the meeting.

Heavens had opened.

Rain was pouring.

I was actually willing to give it a try because I was so hot anyway, but ended up relenting and letting Russ and Johnathan bring me home, for which I ended up being grateful.

slave drew got home about 15 minutes after I did, not as drenched as one would have expected, but still, I ended up being glad for the ride.

And I am still ridiculously tired, and I’m still a little hoarse, from having had to talk to 110 people in a room with lousy acoustics, loud enough to be heard over the dull roar.

Unexpected Disapproval

This is a picture I posted yesterday on my Facebook profile:

It seems pretty innocuous to me.  It’s from 1964, please note that there is no nudity, no sexual acts, it’s mostly funny, to me, for the juxtaposition.  Guy in full leather, guy in bikini, standing side by side.  It’s very dated, and it was, to me, just an amusing old photo.

It seems, however, to have been a catalyst to end a friendship of 30+ years.

If  you’ve read my blog over the last week or so, you knew that a friend of mine, one of my old friends from my youthful dyke days, was in town for a visit.  I saw a lot of her.

I don’t do a lot of compartmentalization.  My life is my life, and I’m pretty open about it.  I don’t really have a reason not to be.  For one thing, I’m perfectly comfortable with everything I am, and the things I do, or I wouldn’t do them.

I had not seen my ex for a few weeks, so there were things I told her that matter to me – I was nominated for a Pantheon of Leather Lifetime Achievement award, I’m judging an International contest.  There were also questions about why I couldn’t spend more time – I had a BDSM 101 class, I had a co-topping demo I’d agreed to, I had a Masters And slaves Together meeting, I had a Sunday munch.

I didn’t DO anything, or SHOW anything.  I talked about my life, as I would in most circumstances, in fairly generic terms, as I would have with Beth and her girlfriend alone.

So, Lynn left on Tuesday morning.  On Wednesday, I posted that photo.

I got a comment from Lynn, one of two on the photo.  The other one was saying they hadn’t been able to find the archives mentioned in the photo share.

The other was a comment from Lynn.  “And I would want to see this why?”  I have since removed this, mostly for the sake of her identity.

I thought it was an offhand comment, the kind of silly thing you might say to someone, particularly if you’re a gay female and it’s pictures of a male.  I sent back a smile, and that’s all.

It was not an offhand comment.

Children can see that picture, you know.

“I would think you would want to keep more explicit S&M stuff posted for your S&M group of friends. Not really appropriate for everybody on facebook.”  She also mentioned that children could see the post.

I responded that the photo was tamer by far than any child could come up with by doing a simple Google search, and that if someone didn’t control their children’s access to material they found offensive, it did not put a requirement on me to censor myself.

I pointed out that the posts I make supporting gay marriage, which she often shares, and some of the posts I make about Republicans, probably are offensive to a lot of people, but that doesn’t mean I shouldn’t say it.

Her response: “I don’t judge you for your preferences, but if you don’t get that others may not want to be exposed to it, you’ve clearly lost your way. Gay marriage and S&M comparisons are not apples to apples in any way, shape or form.”

So, I suggested again that she unfriend me if she liked, but that if she planned to keep contacting me to tell me how wrong and bad I was, I wouldn’t respond again.

I told her I loved her and always would, and that she was always welcome in my home, but that I didn’t expect I’d be in contact again, and she could keep up with me through Beth, if she cared to do that.

So, that seems to be that.  She responded, a one sentence remark that she wasn’t going to pursue it, but I know Lynn enough to know, I won’t hear from her again.

And all because of a stupid picture that wasn’t worth, truly it wasn’t, the breaking of a friendship of 30 year’s standing.

One True Way

I was following a car the other day in some stop and go traffic, meaning the bumper sticker on the back of their car was right in front of me while we waited at stoplights.

It was a magnetic cross – not the St. Andrew’s kind – on the back of the car, and written on it were two words, one going down and one going across.  It said “Warriors Needed.”

Several things occurred to me as I sat behind the car.  One was, it was really snazzy marketing.  Simple, kind of majestic, identifying that it wasn’t just believers that were sought, but warriors.  Who doesn’t want to be a warrior, particularly if there’s little chance of getting shot at or having to put life on line for home and country?  A pretty good gig, sounds like.

The other thing that I was musing about was that this person was so sure of their faith that they proclaimed it.  Now I know that it might not seem like a huge proclamation thing to have a bumper sticker, but still we tend to put things we agree with pretty seriously on our car.  I have a leather pride flag, slave drew has animal rights stickers, I believe slave thomas has an Amnesty International bumper sticker on his.

So, I’m thinking about this kind of faith and how one can justify believing that the particular niche of deity they believe in – Christ or Buddha or Confucius or Thor or L. Ron Hubbard – it amazes me that they can believe that profoundly that THEIR G/god is the one true g/God.

Their “proof” would be, I think, that the book said so, basically, and that there were miracles and happenings they could point to as proof.

But if I have a book, too, that says it’s not your guy but my guy, and we just happened to beseech those two One True Gods for the same thing, well, I’m going to think it was my guy who deserves the kudos and your guy is just a glory-grabber.

And yet people feel so strongly about their being One True Way in kink, too.  I think we’re all guilty of it, myself included.

Sometimes there’s a sort of obvious logic to it.  I do things the way I do them, because I believe them to be the most effective, or most productive, or easiest way to do whatever, because if I didn’t, then I would do it a different way.  So the fact that you disagree does mean, clearly, that you are wrong and I am right.

Most of us, though, also recognize that each of us have different priorities, and I might be willing to sacrifice more of one for the other, making your choice right for you, and I can accept that.

So maybe that’s less about One True Way than it is about One True Way For Me, But Your Mileage Might Vary.

Ok, so that would be a little long for a catchy new religion, I admit.  I’m not really looking to start a new religion anyway.

But religion is one of the more black and white decisions for most people.  I believe there is One True God, and that my g/God is that g/God,  so if you don’t believe in the same g/God that I do, you are wrong.  Period.  End of discussion.

Because if I have the only and One True Way, that means, by definition, that not only is my way right, your way is wrong.

So, to get back to kink, which was the next thing on my bumper sticker musings, was how many people really do believe there is One True Way.

I have heard respected kink educators tell people things that were just plain wrong.  Not maliciously so, but open to critical reasoning.

Never drink and play!  Well, no, not if I’m falling down drunk, but I know my limits and my reactions, a glass of wine is not going to incapacitate me.  I would not, however, have that glass were I doing something like a cutting or something that required the steadiest of hands.  But I can flog you and cane you and crop you without concern after a glass of wine.

Never hit anyone’s kidneys!  No, never intentionally hit the kidney area harder than you would clap for a lukewarm performance.  However, they are internal organs, meaning that they are actually internal and have some cushioning.

Now those are ones that have at least a physical reality behind them.  Drinking to excess and then playing would be foolish.  It would be irresponsible in the extreme to hit over the kidneys or the spine or the joints or the skull with any force.  We know that, I hope, from a common sense standpoint.

But often the One True Way is far less based in reality or provable.

Slaves should be this, while submissives should be this, while bottoms should be this.  If you don’t have protocol, then you should.  If you haven’t used a contract, then you’re not doing it right.  If you don’t have a mentor, you’ll never learn what’s important.

So, we should all be all Kumbaya and join our hands together and agree that however you do it is fine.

Right?

Really, does that sound like me?

No, it doesn’t, because however out of place it is to say that yes, there is one true way – maybe not One True Way, but one true way.

I think, for instance, submissives ought to be submissive, for one thing.  Not to everyone, not randomly, not because they cannot be any other way, but because it becomes them.

To be fair, I believe dominants should be dominant, too.  Again, not to everyone, not randomly, but because it is their nature.  I am dominant because I am dominant, because I behave dominantly, because I act dominantly, which I do because it is my nature to be dominant.  I don’t know how to be otherwise.

I believe that there do have to be some protocols for D/s to work.  S&M might work just fine, and that’s fine, too, but D/s has a dynamic that I think does require some rules and true ways, even if they’re not so much one as a few.

Maybe it’s more like a journey, you can take a number of different roads to get to the same city.  There are a number of ways to get to Boston, but if the road you chose instead leads to Seattle, then you picked the wrong way.

The Weekend, Part Two

I finally caught up on my rest a bit last night, and that was lovely, though I have to say, bed sounds pretty good tonight, too.  I doubt it will be a late night.

In any case, in addition to the old friend things I did, I also had a class on Saturday afternoon, and a co-topping demo in the Leather bar on Saturday night, late.

The class was a small one, but that’s fine, too.  It was a class about toys and scenes, meaning I had to pack up a lot of the toys that I don’t normally travel with, because part of the point in the class is people getting to see the differences in how toys feel, and what good toys feel like, as well as less good.  I don’t have a ton of cheap toys.  I have a lot of toys, but many were gifts, and a great many of them were made specifically for me.

I took a cane case, a roll-up piece of canvas with pockets and elastic across it to hold things in.  It’s not a bad design, but it could be improved.  I also took a large canvas tote bag, too.

In the cane case I had at least three sets of crops, plus a stray.  I had three or four cock/pussy/tit whips, the little short floggers.  I had two cat o’ nine tail pieces.  I had a couple of floggers, the first ones I bought myself, made by Sarah Lashes.  They’re particularly lovely.

I brought my chain mail flogger, and the rubber floggers, too.

I took a leather paddle, and a couple of slappers, a few oddities I don’t normally tote, the blackjack and the sjambok and the galley whip and three or four gags, including the pony bit gag.  I took rope and did a quick rope harness on someone.  I took hoods and blindfolds and cuffs.  I took the panic snaps that one used to have to use more often in public dungeons, the kind that release if you pull on them the right way.

I took the little whip that is nearly a single tail, the beautiful red and black woven whip not like anything else I have, that moves like a snake and stings like a motherfucker.  I brought the drumsticks and the spreader bars.

I brought the nipple clamps and the gates of hell and the cock rings and the parachutes and the ball separators.

I brought probably a dozen and a half canes, because I brought a lot of different styles and materials.  I brought rattan and bamboo and carbon fiber.

I talked about things I do in play, about which toys I use first and how I like to begin and end a scene.  I like symmetrical scenes, too, so I almost always use the toys I bag with when I wind down.  I talked about building both intensity and intimacy.

Then I went to a Leather bar later in the day, one that traditionally doesn’t allow women, though they did allow a half dozen of us, without question, and without anyone being unpleasant at all.

Of course one of our friends, a guy who is nearly 6’5″ and 320, I think, a big bear of a guy, also hung out around us all evening, too.  That probably didn’t hurt.

We had agreed to do a demo on co-topping, something she and I often do together anyway.  We play and always seem to do so seamlessly, even though we often don’t speak.  Our demo bottom was a gay guy I’d met a few weeks ago, who had never done anything like this before.

He was a lot of fun, and liked pain a lot more than he thought he would, or than we thought he would.

Which is much more common than you might think.

Old Friends

I mentioned that an old friend of mine was in town over the weekend.  It was a great visit.  I hadn’t seen her, we figured, in 18 or 19 years, and haven’t had a lot of contact for the last 15 years or so.  She’d had a lot of changes in her relationship, some personal challenges, and it might be two years between the occasional email, phone call or Christmas card, but there was never any real distance of issue.

We didn’t talk a lot, but we also weren’t Not Talking.

Lynn and another friend, Marie, were our best friends, Beth and mine, back in the old days, in the early 1980’s, when I was a radical Lesbian separatist.  I know that might come as a surprise to some of you, but it is, indeed, true, and it’s nothing I’m reluctant to mention.

Clearly, I like alternative lifestyles, and I’m not so much a dabbler.

We were all living in upstate New York, where it was so cold in the winter you often wore down vests inside the house.  I was going to college and Beth was working in a law office.  Lynn worked for a hospital in admissions, and Marie was a social worker.

Marie and Beth and I all lived in the same building for a couple of years, in a big old house that had been subdivided into four apartments.  We lived in the back apartment for about three years, and Marie lived in it for one or so, then moved to a house.

Both of them often had new girlfriends and there was always the occasional rather histrionic girlfriend on both their parts.  Most of my best memories of that time in my life are the four of us, me and Beth and Lynnie and Marie.

We hung out a lot.  We were all poor, living in cheap apartments and hanging out.  We would drive north in the fall to look at the glorious fall colors.  We would go to concerns by the Lesbian singers of the day, Chris Williamson and Meg Christian and Holly Sinclair.

We’d go to a concert in Syracuse, about an hour and a half a way, a caravan of us, three or four cars.  We’d go to the concert and sing along with politically correct singers expressing acceptable social opinions.

We were very very crunchy, as drew calls it.

Then we would go to a woman’s bar in Syracuse, the Laurel Tree.  It would be packed to the rafters, probably far more than the Fire Marshall would have allowed, with cute dykes, all of us butch – real femme-y dykes were an uncommon thing in that time and place, though there were some.  I remember lots of tweed blazers and corduroy jeans, clunky boots or snow-white sneakers.

The Member’s Only was king, with the collar turned up.  Hats were a common feature.  I had a grey fedora I ore often, and a newsboy style cap as well.

We would squeeze through the bar, get a drink, try and talk above the music, dance and laugh and smoke dope surreptitiously.  Then we’d head back home until the next concert.

There were munch like gatherings, the TGIF’s, that were held at rotating homes.  Marie hosted a lot – our apartment was smaller than hers – and in the summer it was often Kay and Nita, who had a great old farm just a little north, with acres of land and privacy.

Sound familiar?

One of the few things I miss about those days, and while I love slave drew dearly, this is not his strong suit, is the post-party conversations.  Beth and I would go, but we didn’t always hang out with each other at parties, we’d both talk to a lot of women over the course of the evening.

That evening, after the party, and for the rest of the weekend, there would be a lot of interesting information to talk about.  It was gossip, yes, but that makes it sound more malicious than it was.

You may absolutely adore your family, but often it is the same after a visit, you say, Will said that the youngest daughter is doing really well in college but can’t find a job for when she graduates, and I say, Oh, and Linda said her brother was getting married next spring.

We played endless games of cards, mostly Pinochle, but also Spades, too.  I learned to play Pinochle at about 9, and I have, in the many, many years since, more times than I can remember written down the scoring, the points for Aces around and Kings around and Queens around and Jacks around, responded that yes, I was sure that there was nothing for Tens around, and if they had Nines around they were worth one point, for the Nine of Trump.

I did it again as we played Pinochle a couple of times.  Beth and I were partners and Lynn and Erica, my ex’s girlfriend, were partners.  Beth and I lost both games, I think, though I’m a good card player.

Cards fell poorly and Beth isn’t a very assertive bidder – you might guess that I am – and Erica is VERY competitive and it’s honestly not worth it to work really hard to win because neither of us care that much.  We talked about old friends, old places, old times.

We laughed a lot, though I feel as though I’ve taken up smoking.  All three of them smoke cigarettes, Erica smokes pretty heavily and people always smoke more when they’re playing cards.  I had to ask at one point if they could open the screen door and return just the slightest bit of fresh air to the room.

It was a great visit, but it was interesting, too, to be confronted with that much younger self.  The photos we looked at, noticing even the clothes we wore or the furniture.  Oh, I loved that peacoat, or wow, I had forgotten all about that sofa…

It’s hard to believe that it was so very long ago and very far away.  We did so many things that they all blur together, drives and parties and concerts and picnics.

Alas, this had another ending, a more eloquent one, but in one of those vagaries of the digital age, I lost the last bit of it and am too tired now to reproduce, so I am just going to say goodnight, and go to bed.

 

Good Intentions and More Poetry

I believe there’s a road to hell paved with those very intentions.

Remember how I thought there would be time?

There wasn’t.

I did go to the Sunday munch and had some really interesting conversations, some with aisha, that I want to write about.

I have a couple other topics rattling around.

However, to be truthful, it’s not going to happen tomorrow, either, I imagine.  Tomorrow will be the last day my friend is in town, and we’ll do something tomorrow night, which will be fun, but then, I think, on Tuesday things will be back to normal, and I’ll be back and more wordy.

In the meantime, I’m going to add another couple Sara Teasdale poems, because, well, because I can.

~~~
Jewels

If I should see your eyes again,

I know how far their look would go —

Back to a morning in the park

With sapphire shadows on the snow.

 

Or back to oak trees in the spring

When you unloosed my hair and kissed

The head that lay against your knees

In the leaf shadow’s amethyst.

 

And still another shining place

We would remember — how the dun

Wild mountain held us on its crest

One diamond morning white with sun.

 

But I will turn my eyes from you

As women turn to put away

The jewels they have worn at night

And cannot wear in sober day.

Sara Teasdale

 

~~~~

 

Advice to a Girl

No one worth possessing
Can be quite possessed;
Lay that on your heart,
My young angry dear;
This truth, this hard and precious stone.
Lay it on your hot cheek,
Let it hide your tear.
Hold it like a crystal
When you are alone
And gaze in the depths of the icy stone.
Long, look long and you will be blessed:
No one worth possessing
Can be quite possessed.

Sara Teasdale

~~~

 

 

 

I Would Live in Your Love

 

I would live in your love

as the sea grasses live in the sea,

Borne up by each wave as it passes,

drawn down by each wave that recedes;

I would empty my soul of the dreams

that have gathered in me,

I would beat with your heart as it beats,

I would follow your soul as it leads.

 

Sara Teasdale

 

Busy Busy Busy

One of those weekends, starting with a friend from my old dyke days who is visiting in town for the weekend, whom I hadn’t seen in close to 20 years.

Add one class this afternoon, a BDSM Basics class on toys, and a demo at a Leather bar late tonight with my friend Ms Tammy.

Stir in one MAsT (Masters And slaves Together) meeting tomorrow afternoon, followed by a Sunday munch.

Mix in dinner with the friend, my ex, and her girlfriend tonight, and brunch tomorrow.

I got in at 1:30am last night, and was up and out of the house by 8:15 am this morning.  I had to pack for a toy class and then repack toys for a demo.

I had to have three outfits for the day – one that went out this morning to run errands, etc., one for the class and dinner, and one for the demo tonight, which all had to be laid out and decided on before I went to bed last night because I’d not have time to do it later.

Toys had to be packed up last night, too, and a shower before bed at about 2:30 am.

This is between classes and dinner and then I’ll have to run home and do a final change to be at the bar by 10:30 for the demo.

This is why this is my blog today, and why there was none yesterday, only the third time since I started when I haven’t posted one during the day.

Tomorrow, sometime before brunch or after the Sunday munch, I feel certain there will be another one.

Until then, I hope your Saturday is perhaps not quite as busy, but just as satisfying.