Monthly Archives: July 2012
As those who know me very well know, I love poetry. I have memorized poetry since I was 12 or so. My mother memorized poetry, too. She was as likely to recite poetry to me as to read to me.
One of my favorite poets is Sara Teasdale, one of those tragic female poets who offs themselves before 50. She was the love of Vachel Lindsay, another tragic poet that committed suicide in true poetic fashion, drinking a bottle of lye.
In any case, one of the continuing themes I have always found in her work, and likely one of the reasons I identified with her, even then, was dominance and submission. I could name – and recite – at least a dozen poems of her that have a strong flavor of D/s.
The single poem of hers in which I see that dynamic so strongly is this one. I doubt anyone with an awareness would miss it in this poem, and it’s one that has always particularly appealed to submissive women.
Oh, because you never tried
To bow my will or break my pride,
And nothing of the cave-man made
You want to keep me half afraid,
Nor ever with a conquering air
You thought to draw me unaware —
Take me, for I love you more
Than I ever loved before.
And since the body’s maidenhood
Alone were neither rare nor good
Unless with it I gave to you
A spirit still untrammeled, too,
Take my dreams and take my mind
That were masterless as wind;
And “Master!” I shall say to you
Since you never asked me to.
If called upon to describe myself, I would tell you that, among other things, I was confident. I have faith in myself, in my decisions, in my ability. On the other hand, the other side of confidence can be conceit, and where do we draw the line?
I have never been a fan of the concept of female superiority. Honestly, any noun followed by the word “superiority” makes me nervous. I don’t think any group of people is superior or inferior.
On the other hand, I do believe I am superior. Doesn’t that sound conceited? It’s true, though.
I believe that I am smarter and more aware, that I pay more attention, that I have a long history of making good decisions. If I believed in female superiority, for instance, than I would have to believe that all women are also superior and therefore equal to me. I do not believe that.
I do not believe, either, that I am the most superior. That would be foolish and, dare I say it, conceited.
But, to get back to the point, what’s the difference between confidence and conceit?
Confidence seems like a positive quality, conceit seems like a negative one.
Maybe part of the difference is that confidence does allow for self-doubt, while conceit seems not to allow that.
I may not show it, but I do question myself often, and maybe it’s more about questioning than doubting. I rarely make serious decisions without asking myself if that’s the right thing, if I could have done better, did I miss something? Sometimes the answer is yes, but more often, the answer is, No, I don’t think I could have.
Interestingly, that self-questioning rarely happens in situations of play. In those situations, perhaps I am conceited because I believe myself to be very very good at what I do. I pay attention to the people with whom I play, their reactions, their body language, and I am very confident in my skills.
I think confidence and even a bit of conceit, is part and parcel of dominance. If I don’t believe I am superior, then why would I expect you to kneel in front of me, to do as I ask, to allow me to make choices for you, to do things to you, to control you, to take the power you offer up to me?
Even the prince kneels before the queen.
It seems to me, from my obviously dominant perspective, that a dominant who isn’t at least a little bit conceited, at least a little unshakably sure of themselves is probably a dominant who doesn’t appeal to something intrinsic in the submissive, either.
So am I confident or conceited?
I’m both, of course.
Perhaps that should be “Unreasonable Expectations?” Question mark and all.
I am wondering if my expectations are too high too often. I got some information today that made me think that.
Not terrible news at all, something that is actually the outcome that I preferred and thought was the best option, and something I expected, too. I think it will end up being a learning experience for everyone involved, myself as well, and that’s a good thing to take away.
But it made me think.
I don’t think I expect more of others than I expect of myself. That is said, by the way, with a genuine sense of self-examination, not as an arch justification. I don’t *think* that I do. I have fairly high expectations for myself. I take on a lot of responsibilities. I follow through with them. I expect the same of others.
And yet, I am often disappointed.
I think in the most recent case, a good deal of the blame rests on me. In personal relationships, I think I’m pretty good at laying out my expectations, because I am very explicit.
The first time someone goes to an event with me, for instance, I will tell them exactly what I expect. I will tell them their wardrobe should be black slacks or jeans, not blue, black t-shirts or long sleeved dress shirts. T-shirts will have no advertising on them, and the only writing allowed is from other events, or ones with kinky sayings.
I spell out the shoes, and for how many days they will need to be prepared. I tell them what manners I expect, the protocols I expect them to follow, and how and how much I will want them to serve me.
I will give them very detailed information, because I have learned that doing so is the best way to assure I get what I want. In this situation, I simply expected that they would do what seemed reasonable to me, what seemed to be a reasonable expectation, but to be perfectly fair, I didn’t really spell those out.
That was my error, and one I will not let happen again, at least not in that situation. I’ll make mistakes in the future, clearly, but I learned something and I think the cost will turn out to have been fairly painless.
I need to bear in mind that spelling out expectations is my role, when I am the one in charge.
As the dominant, that’s part of my role, a good part of it. I say in classes I give often that if you cannot spell out what it is you want, it is unlikely that you are going to find it.
I forgot that and that is my error, no one else’s.
I just got an invitation this week to present at Kinky Kollege in Chicago in October. An old friend, Jack Rinella, asked me to do a 101 sort of class for them, as well as a couple more. I don’t know what else I’ll present for him, I sent him a long list of classes I have available.
I will also be presenting with my friend Ms Tammy at Mr. Georgia Leather in Atlanta in September, and of course I’ll be presenting at GLLA in August in Indianapolis. I presented last month at Corn Con in Bloomington, Illinois, and in April at Beyond Leather, in Florida.
I also do local classes once a month at least, too.
I like presenting. I’m a dominant, what’s better than standing in front of a bunch of people, all of who are gazing at me with rapt attention, hanging on every word I say. Or so I tell myself.
One of my favorite classes to present is a communication class. It talks a lot about the differences in the ways women communicate versus men. While I always preface it by noting that it is, indeed, stereotypical and there are men and women who don’t behave in those ways, I find that it is substantially true.
I do a class on rituals that’s always fun, because I get a lot of audience participation. I ask people what rituals they use, what works for them, what doesn’t.
I do a lot of classes for novices, 101-type classes. I find that often the easiest thing is to give them some general information, and then let them ask questions about whatever they’d like. I need to start the class because they’re too shy in the beginning to just speak up, but once I get them started, they’re fine.
I started presenting a dozen years ago now, mostly as a way to offset the expense of going to events. It got me a free registration, or two. It’s only been in the last few years that I’ve either moved up the ranks enough or the times have changed enough that the deals are better now, but sometimes I get a night or two in a hotel and once in a great while, expenses as well. Kinky Kollege is a good gig, free hotel, two registrations and expenses.
I don’t know how many classes I’ve offered at how many events. I’d guess that I’ve been to an average of six events a year for the last nearly 15 years. Some years it’s been fewer, but many years it’s been more. If nothing else is added to my schedule before the end of the year, I will have been to or presented at about eight events in a year’s time.
So, at a half dozen events a year for 15 years, that’s about 90 events, probably more. I’ve been to 10 GLLA’s. I think I was at six or seven Vicious Valentines, and a couple of Malicious Masquerades. I’ve been to four Black Roses, including the first one.
I’ve been to Leather Retreat and Dark Odyssey and Thunder in the Mountains and Northwest Leather Conference and South Plains Leather Fest and South East Leather Fest. I went to six or eight Ohio Leather Fests, and eight or nine Anything for Loves.
I’ve been to Beat Me in St. Louis at least four or five times, and Beyond Leather four times. I’ve been to Leather Leadership Converence three times.
I’ve been to Smart Fest and Pheer Fest and Beat My Valentines. I’ve been to Corn Con and Evening in Leather and Master’s Retreat.
I have produced my own events, too, two Derby City Fetish Balls and two Bluegrass Leather Pride Festivals.
I’ve been to more smaller events than I can remember – in Indiana and Kentucky and Ohio, Leather contests and bar nights and Pride Celebrations.
And now I feel as though I should have set this to the music of the old Johnny Cash song, “I’ve Been Everywhere.”
We had our monthly SIG meeting this afternoon. It was a topic I always enjoy, Deal Breakers and Non-Starters.
We meet for some social time before the discussion because, well, because you can’t get kinky people together and expect them not to be social, even if there’s an agenda.
So, we socialize for a bit before, then, about the time the food usually arrives, I read the list of questions aloud, if people have questions they ask then, and then we break into three separate groups, dominants, submissives and switches.
We are lucky enough to have a fairly large population of switches, or, perhaps the fact that switches have been welcomed here, they feel more comfortable claiming that identity than they might. I’ve never been a big fan, personally, of groups that focus on orientation but allow switches in whichever mode, only because I think that most of the time, switches have a unique perspective and really shouldn’t have to choose to participate.
The questions for today were:
• What kinds of things would make you step away from a potentially attractive partner?
• How do those deal breakers change over the course of the relationship?
• When do you end a relationship? What are unforgivable offenses or inexcusable deal-breakers?
• Are the same things deal-breakers in vanilla relationships as they are in kinky relationships?
• Are there any absolute deal-breakers or are some things situational?
• Do you think the things which would be considered deal breakers are different for each orientation? What might be the deal-breakers for dominants? For switches? For submissives?
• Looking back over your past ended relationships, are there things that, in retrospect, you wish had not been deal-breakers? Are there behaviors or situations which you wish you had not allowed to go on as long as you did?
• Do all relationships run their course? Does every relationship have an expiration date, as it were?
• In a long-term relationship, is it inevitable for the relationship to morph into different kinds of relationships, ie, one kind of relationship DOES end and another begins?
• Are all deal-breakers internal or are there external deal-breakers, too?
• How do you end a relationship? What tools or methods have you found effective in the past?
• Have you ever relented and continued in a relationship after believing you should end it? If so, how did it work out? Did the relationship survive?
• In looking back over your relationships, is there a theme to what ended them, to what the deal-breakers were, or were each of them unique to the relationship itself?
• Can you spell out deal-breakers in the beginning of a relationship, or is it impossible to anticipate them?
• Are relationships with a poly element harder in this sense? Are there more or different things that are deal breakers for poly relationships that D/s ones?
• In poly D/s relationships, do all members of the relationship have equal say in what are deal-breakers, or does the dominant member(s) have the final say?
These are too wordy and there is too much repetition. What I do each year is devote some of November and December’s meeting time to picking topics for the new year.
There are always topics I want to include, like collars and contracts, negotiation, punishment and guilt, indoctrinating novices, deal breakers and non-starters, and we always do a light one in December, which turns into mostly socialization. Then I add different topics every year.
At this point I have a database of about 15 or 18 subjects with the questions written, and I go through in January and post all of the year’s meetings, with all of the questions, so I don’t have to think about it again. The next time I do, however, I am going to streamline the questions. After having done it for three or four years now, I think that about a dozen questions are plenty.
So, despite the questions being too numerous and not especially well-written, it usually turns out to be one of the more interesting ones, at least to me.
What struck me as interesting today was that the submissive and switch groups focused on kinds of behaviors. Being disrespectful, or deceitful, or untrustworthy.
The dominants, however, tended to be very concrete. Snooping. Dropping in unannounced. Living too far away. There were behaviors, too, of course, like being unwilling to be submissive, or setting limits we couldn’t abide by, but by and large, specific things.
The dominant’s group was six of us, five men and me, five of us poly and one of us monogamous. One thing we did decide in our discussion that poly really made for many fewer deal breakers because the person was not our only outlet.
All in all, it was an interesting discussion.
Not so much, actually.
I am not really a forgive and forget kind of girl. I can forgive mistakes; flaws in character, however, are another thing.
Other people seem to be far more fickle than I am. I don’t usually burn bridges until I am absolutely positive that there is nothing on the other side I will truly miss before I set ablaze the only means by which to reach it.
I do have a temper, but it rarely flares. I am more an Ice Princess type than a Drama Queen. Revenge is a dish best served cold, after all.
It takes a lot for me to write someone off. It’s not a whim thing, it’s a considered decision. I have to believe you to be essentially dishonest, obstructionist, untrustworthy and/or singularly unreliable.
I have never made the decision to sever ties with someone based on one incident. I’m sure there are actions that would bring that about, but I’ve never had that happen.
It’s a series of incidents, observations, reactions. I also don’t take people’s words, without a lot of corroboration. If someone I trust implicitly tells me something, it weighs as heavily as my having direct knowledge, but even in those situations I would weigh what I was told with what my experience with someone was.
In other words, I don’t make opinions based on general gossip, at least not without considering the source and the potential motive of those carrying the tale, compared to whether the gossip is something my experience tells me is plausible.
But when I am done, I am done.
There are people with whom I have had mild dust-ups over the years who I have learned to like, respect, or even tolerate well. In all the cases I can think of, though, I never believed they were intentionally malicious. I think that’s the factor for me, did you MEAN for this to not only hurt me or a person, but did you intend to hurt the community or group. That’s pretty unforgivable for me.
So, anyway, the real item of interest to me, what spurred this, is how fickle others seem to be.
I did write someone off years back. I sent them an email that said very clearly what they had done that I knew about, that told them I did not want to have any contact with them again in the future, that they were, for all intents and purposes, dead to me. I also said that if the person continued to spread the lies I knew for a fact were lies, I would make sure the rest of the things I knew had been done over the years were made very public.
When I am done, I am done.
I have seen this person relatively recently and heard from another person who had occasion to spend time in the same place, and it is clear this person wants to make up, straighten out this “misunderstanding” between us.
The problem to me, of course, is that there was no misunderstanding. I know what I know, I saw what I saw, I witnessed what I witnessed, and they were not mistakes in perception or judgement, they were lack of character.
I don’t do anything to try and sabotage this person. I have been asked about events in which the person has been involved and have said that while my personal relationship with them was not good, I had never heard anything bad about the event.
I simply don’t want to have contact with them, ever. I don’t want to be their friend, I don’t want to make up, I don’t want to pretend that what was done wasn’t intentional and malicious, to behave as though the patina of the years has dulled my memory or my reaction.
When I am done, I am done.
If I say, I do not want to speak to you again, see you again, or have contact with you again, I promise, I will not be knocking on your door a month later. I thought about what that meant before I said it.
I also don’t make threats I can’t or won’t keep. It’s a bad practice, and makes such things much less effective.
So, I went to a high Leather dinner many years ago, nearly a decade now, I think, maybe more. In any case, there was that person there whom I had said that.
In entering the room to be seated, I was on the arm of a friend, Kevin, a black gay male top who also went by the name of Demon. I did everything I could to avoid the issue, but still managed to have the boy who was seating people try and seat me to the left of the person with whom I had cut ties.
I still think of the poor boy. We walked in, in high whore leather, dressed to the nines. There were some fairly well-known people there. Tristan Taoramino, Jack Rinella, Master Steve Sampson, Master Taino, Master Roy, Master Dean, and more. The boy seating us indicated the seat he expected me to take, to the immediate left of the person I had tried so hard to avoid.
I shook my head and said, “No.”
I didn’t say it loudly, to be clear, and I genuinely had tried to avoid the confrontation entirely, but because of whatever manner they were using to seat us, though I’d waited for several other people to go in between us, the seating still worked out initially just as I was hoping to avoid.
The boy had clearly not been told what to do when a woman in leather fucks up your carefully planned seating. He looked like a deer in headlights, then gestured to the chair again, nervously.
Again, I shook my head and again said, quietly, “No, I’m sorry, that won’t do.”
The boy clearly didn’t know what to do next, but about that time a single gentleman came in behind us, and I simply stepped back, indicated with a nod of the head to the boy that he should go ahead in seat the newly-arrived gentleman, and the problem was solved for the evening.
Master Steve Samson that night was the keynote speaker and he made me cry, something I do rarely and not easily, and even more rarely in public.
He read passages from the Little Prince and The Velveteen Rabbit.
From the Little Prince, he read this passage:
“My life is very monotonous,” the fox said. “I hunt chickens; men hunt me. All the chickens are just alike, and all the men are just alike. And, in consequence, I am a little bored. But if you tame me, it will be as if the sun came to shine on my life. I shall know the sound of a step that will be different from all the others. Other steps send me hurrying back underneath the ground. Yours will call me, like music, out of my burrow. And then look: you see the grain-fields down yonder? I do not eat bread. Wheat is of no use to me. The wheat fields have nothing to say to me. And that is sad. But you have hair that is the colour of gold. Think how wonderful that will be when you have tamed me! The grain, which is also golden, will bring me back the thought of you. And I shall love to listen to the wind in the wheat…”
The fox gazed at the little prince, for a long time.
“Please– tame me!” he said.
From The Velveteen Rabbit, he read:
The Skin Horse had lived longer in the nursery than any of the others. He was so old that his brown coat was bald in patches and showed the seams underneath, and most of the hairs in his tail had been pulled out to string bead necklaces. He was wise, for he had seen a long succession of mechanical toys arrive to boast and swagger, and by-and-by break their mainsprings and pass away, and he knew that they were only toys, and would never turn into anything else. For nursery magic is very strange and wonderful, and only those playthings that are old and wise and experienced like the Skin Horse understand all about it.
“What is REAL?” asked the Rabbit one day, when they were lying side by side near the nursery fender, before Nana came to tidy the room. “Does it mean having things that buzz inside you and a stick-out handle?”
“Real isn’t how you are made,” said the Skin Horse. “It’s a thing that happens to you. When a child loves you for a long, long time, not just to play with, but REALLY loves you, then you become Real.”
“Does it hurt?” asked the Rabbit.
“Sometimes,” said the Skin Horse, for he was always truthful. “When you are Real you don’t mind being hurt.”
“Does it happen all at once, like being wound up,” he asked, “or bit by bit?”
“It doesn’t happen all at once,” said the Skin Horse. “You become. It takes a long time. That’s why it doesn’t happen often to people who break easily, or have sharp edges, or who have to be carefully kept. Generally, by the time you are Real, most of your hair has been loved off, and your eyes drop out and you get loose in the joints and very shabby. But these things don’t matter at all, because once you are Real you can’t be ugly, except to people who don’t understand.”
So, this started out about not forgiving and forgetting, and ended with passage sthat still makes my eyes tear up, and which will always and forever remind me of Master Steve and that dinner, long ago.
I got back this evening from a going away party for a friend, to whom I presented a piece of earned leather.
It was a long night, a drive to and from Lexington, a ceremony there. I have to be up again bright and early.
So this will be very short.
I am pleased to note that I had tears in people’s eyes during the ceremony. I always say that if I can’t make someone cry during a leather presentation, I didn’t do it right.
Giving a piece of earned leather makes someone a part of my leather family.
I have given eight pieces of leather in my life. I will give another piece at GLLA this year, and I expect to give two more pieces at the munch in November.
My family grows.
Because it got late fast and I got tired fast, so I’m going to post one of my very favorite poems here, by Edna St. Vincent Millay:
What lips my lips have kissed, and where, and why,
I have forgotten, and what arms have lain
Under my head till morning; but the rain
Is full of ghosts tonight, that tap and sigh
Upon the glass and listen for reply,
And in my heart there stirs a quiet pain
For unremembered lads that not again
Will turn to me at midnight with a cry.
Thus in winter stands the lonely tree,
Nor knows what birds have vanished one by one,
Yet knows its boughs more silent than before:
I cannot say what loves have come and gone,
I only know that summer sang in me
A little while, that in me sings no more.
I’ve been speculating of late on the various things I am, both flattering and less so.
I can be selfish. I want what I want. I think I should get to have the say in how things go, I think I make good decisions, and that my decisions almost always have positive outcomes, therefore, I should get to be in charge.
I can be bitchy. Watch me arch an eyebrow sometime, or roll my eyes at someone’s foolishness. I can be a bitch.
I can be inflexible. I think of myself as stiff-necked at times. Probably were I going to change a single thing about myself it might be that. It’s hard for me to go with the flow, to let things happen around me. I should be in charge, I should make it all come out fine.
I can be a sadist, too, though that is, I think, very much an on-again, off-again part of my personality. It’s there, but it’s pretty far down and really only comes out to play in some situation, in some company.
My short definition of a sadist is someone who enjoys causing pain, and usually enjoys it in a sexual kind of way. More like you feel when you watch really hot porn rather than when you eat great chocolate cake.
Interestingly, though, I very much like the way the sadist’s presence makes me feel, which I think is interesting.
The sadist makes me feel powerful and confident. I know that I am good at it. You like pain, I can provide pain. I can provide pain in safe and ethical ways. I feel, in some ways, like a surgeon must. You can do what few can, and you can look past the trappings, past the pain, maybe past the blood, to the true nature of the procedure.
I suspect, too, that a surgeon isn’t a very good surgeon if self-doubt intrudes. It’s kind of part of the package to feel infallible, I think, even as you recognize that a mistake can have significant consequences.
Some of the best experiences I have had in scenes have been when the sadist made an appearance. That means that there was a masochist keeping me company.
So, I would guess that the unflattering term that is most applied to me by those among whom the ranks of my fans do not swell, is “bitch.”
(I’m sure that’s not the only unflattering term that has been been bandied about, only the most common.)
And I can live with that, actually.
I have always felt as though being called a bitch means I won.
And I can be. A royal bitch on wheels. I expect people to do their best, to at least put forth effort. I can hold feet to the fire, and I am capable of spite. I’ve learned, I think, as I have aged that spite usually brings on regret for the action, so I have learned to do it rarely, but be assured, I consider it often. I just choose to be an adult about it.
Don’t you hate that, when you have to be an adult? You work yourself up into a good hissyfit (and isn’t that one of the English languages best words ever?), pledging revenge and dire consequences for the foolish sap who has crossed or annoyed you, and then someone reminds you, gently or not, that you really CAN’T do this wonderful thing you have thought up because it’s really not fair, it’s not that bad, it would be unkind, etc., and you have to go, oh, all right, dammit, I won’t do it…
So, I think the qualities most people would ascribe to bitchiness is a certain unkindness of spirit. I often say my friend Ms Kendra is kinder than I, and it is true. I can be kind, and often am, more than I am unkind, but I am less likely to let poor behavior pass.
It’s also, I suspect, about making sure that the losing party recognizes the loss, to, perhaps, rub their noses in it a bit, and that is another impulse I have. I control it, mostly, but it’s there.
Someone once called me “Miss Perfect,” and meant it as a genuine insult, though I thought it was rather a weak one. I do think I’m Miss Perfect, on some level. I know, on a more profound and meaningful level that I am not, to be clear. So, another quality might be superiority. I claim that one, too.
One of the changes in the world that disturbs me most is the celebration of mediocrity. You’ve seen it. Every single child who enters the race “wins,” because “no one is a loser.” Because we believe it is unkind to point out that someone did poorly, it also makes it impossible to acknowledge the exceptional as well.
No one can do especially well because that would mean that the others did poorly and that might make someone feel badly.
I am not suggesting that we point fingers at children and tell them they are losers, but I think saying, it takes work and effort and practice to excel delivers an important message, one probably more effectively and kindly delivered when learned during a foot race at seven as opposed to on their first job at 25 when an employer expects them to work and work hard in order to advance.
So, I think that we don’t do anyone a service by telling them that half-assed is just fine and dandy.
Or, perhaps I use that as justification. That’s also possible.
So, am I a bitch, or am I merely demanding?
I suppose the answer lies in where my focus is turned and whether or not you like me.