Monthly Archives: August 2012

Play at GLLA

In all the years that I have been attending GLLA now, and this year was my tenth Great Lakes Leather Alliance Weekend, I believe I had, before this year, played twice there.  Back two or three years ago, I beat a gentleman who, as it turned out, was not worth the effort, but he was a masochist, so I still had fun.  The next year I played a planned scene – something I never do and it was not all I had planned it to be.  That was entirely my fault, but it was with a pair of friends, both switches.

This year I played three times.  It’s never that I couldn’t play, I could easily find playmates, but I usually just don’t have the energy or time,literally.

I had so much help this year, so many people who did things I usually do, or helped me with things, people I knew I could trust to do it, and I just wasn’t as tired.  There have been many years I never even saw the play space or knew where it was.

I actually had two other tentative dates, neither of which came about for different reasons, and that was equally fine.

My first play date was with Meg, who is adorable.  Meg has an essential sweetness about her personality that I always find very appealing in submissive women.  She had asked me some months back if I would cane her.

I’ve really liked canes for a long time, and I’ve gotten more known for them, it seems, over the last few years.  I’ve taught classes on canes, and I’ve given more impromptu cane lessons than I can remember.  It’s an instrument that a lot of people are are afraid of, and rightly so, a badly-wielded cane is a dangerous thing.  It’s also a toy that has a singular and unique sensation, one that most people do like when it’s done correctly.

The thing about canes, though, is they aren’t like flogging or violet wands, in that those don’t require much warm-up.  I can use a violet wand on you cold, or flog you without really needing to use anything else.  Unless you have a very unusual pain threshold and preference, you don’t want to be caned cold, beginning and ending with canes.

They are too intense, which can be too much before the endorphins start rising.  That means that a session with canes is really a scene that ends with canes, meaning that there’s a whole beginning and middle portion that one has to orchestrate, too.

This isn’t a bad thing and I don’t mean to imply that it is, but it can be challenging, too, in a good way.

I am not so much about pain, nor am I much about any particular fetish or activity.  I like canes, but I don’t have a cane fetish, either.

What I do rather have a fetish for, I suppose, is power.

Sometimes one wonders if the attraction is more power or more control, but I always settle on the belief that I can’t ever control another person.  I’m not that big and powerful.  If slave drew or slave thomas should honestly say to me, No, I’m not doing that, I can’t really FORCE them to do it.

What I can do, though, is exert power over those who are willing to allow me that opportunity.

I can’t MAKE you do anything, but I can make you WANT to do it, for me, because I have that power over you.

So, I caned Meg, but I got to it doing the usual kinds of toys I use.  I like crops a lot, always have, and I use them in nearly every scene I do.  I love that edge where I know that the bottom can’t say which actual stroke went from pleasant to stingy to OUCH and crops and drumsticks both offer that.

They’re also nice because you can use them for longer periods of time and they are less tiring than flogging is.  I used to do a spirituality seminar relatively regularly that had flogging as a catharsis as one of their themes.

I remember one year doing a 20 minute flogging on someone who was VERY small and narrow, so I really had a very small area that I had to hit and it took more concentration in terms of aim than flogging one of my bear pals, for instance.

That has been seven or eight years ago, I think, something like that, and my arm was so shot by the end of the 20 minutes of doing absolutely nothing else but flogging that the next year when offered the choice between doing that again or being flogged ourselves, I choose the latter because it was better than being on the swinging end of it, and I do not often say that.

Crops and drumsticks have the benefit of making it easy to set a rhythm, a kind of beat that allows the bottom to get into that mindset and start to raise up the endorphins and find the mental location of sub space.

While I was warming up Meg, Shane who lives downstairs, was being suspended fully dressed and upside down.  It was kind of noisy, and I was kind of busy, but I believe at one point the narrowness of his ass resulted in his knife being the only thing that kept the ropes from actually slipping off.

It was fun to play with Meg, and I guess we played for 45 minutes or an hour, but one thing about GLLA is that I honestly never know what time it is unless it’s close to the time of something I have to do or somewhere I have to be.

I don’t usually bring a phone with me to the play space because everyone who could possibly need me for any conceivable reason would be able to find me easily, either by physically finding me or calling one of the other dozen people who could physically find me.

So I think we played for 45 minutes or an hour.  Meg has lovely long hair which she likes pulled, and I do have a bit of a fondness for pulling hair, anyway, so that worked nicely, too.

On Saturday, while I was wandering through the vending area looking for auction victims, one of the vendors came over to say hello.  He hasn’t been at GLLA for a couple of years, but we don’t keep up with each other so I didn’t know why, exactly, though I did know there was some poor health in his family.

In any case, he said that he had rules with his current owner that allowed him to play with others, with a couple of very reasonable and easy to work with limits.  He said that it had been so long since he’d actually done this that he didn’t remember how, really, but if I was up for a flogging, he’d really love that.

I think, based on what he said, that he might have thought about that proposition in the past, but had never been in a position to indulge it before.  Anyway, I’ve always liked him anyway, so I said that would be lovely and we set a time.

Then later, boy brent had asked me if I’d be willing to cane him, because he wanted to see what they were like.  I like boy brent enormously, and I was flattered he asked, too, so I agreed.  I ended up buying him in the auction, too, I think, though honestly, some of my auction memories are a little fuzzy, anyway, so I could be wrong.

In any case, I set a time with him as well, for about an hour after I’d set the first one, poor planning on my part, but I had just come from the auction and various cocktail parties, so I HAD been drinking, too.

We met, the vendor and I, down by one station, and he ran to do something and I ended up moving to another station, a St. Andrew’s cross around the corner.  He was fun to play with.  While we were talking about playing, he said, “Don’t be offended if I get an erection.”  I assured him I would not be offended in the least.  I’m generous that way.

So while he and I had talked about a flogging scene, and I did flog him, I used some canes on him as well, because he had a couple in his toybag and I took that to mean he was fine with them and, as it turned out, he was.

I used the toys I’d brought, a half dozen assorted floggers and cats, a gorgeous maple-colored leather paddle that peter, the submissive who taught me to cane, gave me one Valentine’s day years back when we were at Vicious Valentine, in Chicago.

A red slapper that I bought from MT Leathers years and years back, owned by Tim and Bobbie, two lovely folks I have known approximately forever.  Also from then is one of my favorites, a little pink and black whip that craps like a singletail and is, I am told, like being stung by an atomic bee.

Two sets of crops, one of leather and one of plastic, which offer very different sensations, a set of drumsticks Shane made under his Abraided flag, a galley whip he had made me as well,

There is also a gorgeous red whip, the most finely braided piece I own, that I acquired from a friend years back.

There were various canes by Toolworks, a company whose toys I have always liked, and I have a fair collection of them, they have turned steel handles.  I have a couple of small floggers by them, a large paddle-sized slapper, a flogger that started out as horsehair and was later replaced with red braided cats by Shane, and two canes.

There were also my cuffs and blindfold, of course, and a some fiberglass canes, as well as some rattan canes.

The vendor had, I feel certain, a very good time, and I did, too.  I suspect if the opportunity arises again, we’d likely play again.  It probably will, because we will end up at another event at the same time sometime.

boy brent was interesting to play with in that he’s someone I think of as kind of an aesthete.  Though he and I have never specifically talked about it, he did a keynote speech for me for my contest last year about spirituality, so I understand, I think, at least some of his headset, and that made it an interesting scene intellectually speaking.

It was gratifying on a more personal and visceral level, too, of course; it’s always flattering in a very specific way when someone trusts you to seek you out to play with.  When they are fun to play with, too, then it’s even more fun.

I did not ask Meg if I left marks, if I did, I would expect it would be a few welts, which are what canes leave.  I know the vendor had a few marks, one on his back that was where I had used the little pink and black whip, a welt of sorts.  He had a couple of cane marks, too, I believe.  boy brent had some marks on his legs from the cane, I think, but I didn’t have a chance to ask him about them the next day, either.

Oh, well.  Marks on the body pass away quickly, anyway, marks on the psyche, that ability to exert power, to make one want to submit to you, that leaves a more lasting and, to me, enjoyable mark.

My toys actually played two more times than I did, because Ms Tammy used some of them in flogging Ches, which I missed, and used a few things on her slave, troy, while she beat him, too, as I beat boy brent.  My toys get around.

Shades of Grey

I am going to interrupt my own GLLA musings – and there will be more to come, I promise – to provide the public service announcement I feel is needed.

(Remember Emily Litella, from the early years of SNL?  “What’s all this I keep hearing about “Presidential Erections?!”  I feel a little like that, though I know I’m right.  But then, of course I do, I’m a dominant.)

Anyway, this is the public service announcement.

What’s all this I keep hearing about how awful it’s going to be when the Shades of Grey folks find the larger community.

If you’ve been involved in any organized kind of community, you’ve probably heard it.  It goes kind of like this:

Kinkster who has been involved for all of three or four WHOLE YEARS shakes his or her head and grumbles.  “Have you read that book?  Really awful.  Not at all real.  And you know, they’re going to start coming to the munch or the meetings or the groups or whatever, all those people who think that’s real.”

This is followed by dire predictions about all the people who are going to do it wrong, who are not informed in the REAL ways.

Am I making it clear how little I like this attitude?  Good.

I really despise it.

I wrote on this same topic earlier on Fetlife, but it was much shorter.  However, if any of this sounds familiar, I wrote it, I can steal it.

What most of the people I have heard complaining about this don’t remember is that I was standing at the door to greet them when most of them walked in.

I have been actively and publicly involved in the kink community since the mid-1990’s, and I am very easy to trace.  I can actually prove I’ve been around since 1997, because I have the memories and the public personna to vouch for it.

My personal and private involvement began in the the early 1980’s, when I had a girlfriend who liked occasionally to be tied to the bed and vaguely threatened.

So, the people who came in on the Gorean wave annoyed me.  Still often do, to tell the truth, but what the fuck, their right to claim the community is every bit as good as my own.  But they annoyed me.

So did the ones who came in on the AOL wave.

Then the people who had found the Beauty series came in and they annoyed me.

So did the ones who came in on the first wave of easy and constant Internet access.

Then the people who found the early wave of publishing in the early part of the second millenia.  They came in and they annoyed me.

Are you getting a picture here?  Sensing a trend?

And, you know what?  The people who came in because of Story of O were annoyed by me.  The Leather men who are 15 and 20 years my senior damn well were annoyed when women, myself included, began invading their spaces with our pesky vaginas and radical ideas like Leather being open to people who were not actually attached to a penis.

It is the Circle of Life.  You annoy your forbears and your progeny annoy you.  In return, your progeny thinks you are old and stuffy and unbending, and your forbears believe you to be foolish and impulsive and reckless.

And we’re all right.  It’s the role of the forbears to want to stay the course and the role of the progeny to change course.  We need both.  You never change direction and you have to weather storms and rough seas that a change in direction might have avoided.  On the other hand, you set your sites on a goal and steer towards it.  If you change every time the wind shifts, you’ll never reach a destination and you’ll waste precious time.

I wonder when I hear these kinky-come-latelies bitching about the next generation, what would have happened if you’d walked in, fresh from the first blush of reading whatever it was – Story of O or Beauty’s Release or Tarnman of Gor or The Loving Dominant or whatever thing it was that got your juices flowing and gave you enough Dutch courage to actually walk into a room of kinky people?

What if you walked in and my attitude was to sniff derisively and dismiss you because what brought you to this place was not as good or as valid or as true as the cave paintings that brought me here?

Think you’d have stuck around?  Probably not.  Or you’d have had a different experience and feeling, even if you had.

It’s so easy to forget, once you’ve gone through the initiation, how hard that initiation was.  If you’ve been involved in public kink communities, remember the first time you walked in, most likely not having the vaguest idea of what to REALLY expect.

Would submissives have to wait on dominants?  Would submissives have to ask permission to sit or stand or whatever?  What if you’d never really DONE anything, just knew it was down there, kind of burning, maybe with a veneer of shame and self-loathing because NICE people don’t think that way, don’t want those things?

I think walking into that room the first time requires a certain level of courage.  In the early days of the munches, I used to really try and convince people to come to a munch.  I’d tell them how fabulous it was, how they should come, what a great thing it was.

Over time, I stopped.  I developed a better response, a fairly standard one.  It was, basically, that the things we do in this lifestyle require a certain level of courage and if venturing out to a public location to have dinner with some people like you, if that was more than you could manage, then it probably wasn’t the lifestyle for you.

So, this is what I would like.  I would like us to remember that our community is going to grow, as it should.  This is less taboo than it was even ten years ago, more “acceptable” in a lot of people’s minds.

And, as it always has, it will attract people who both belong here, and those who are just passing through.  It’s not my place to say that one is less valuable than the other, or that their contribution or their benefit is less than anyone else’s.

Not everyone is going to agree on the right way to do things.  But I think it’s easier to agree on the right thing to do.

And I think that the right thing to do is to make the newcomers, however they find us, believe they have found a place that they are not judged for their kink, however they came to find it.

More on Why I am Too Old…

So yesterday I ended the recitation of my schedule around 10am Saturday morning.

So, I go around and pick out attractive or popular folks, and convince them to auction themselves off.  I also organize the contestant baskets for the auction itself, and make sure that my contestants will be around with their baskets.

I go from the Atrium, where 90% of my events take place to the vendor area, to the outside smokers, to the bootblack area, and pass out forms.

The forms ask whether you’re being auctioned off as a bottom or a top, what your experience level is, who you’ll play with – men only, women only, either, singles, couples or groups, and what kind of scenes you prefer, heavy pain, light sensuous, service scenes or something else.

We also ask them their least and most favorite BDSM implements, and what else they’d like the audience to know.  Some of the things that are written are funny, some are silly, some are serious.

I try and intersperse the people we’re auctioning off with baskets we’re auctioning off.  I usually drink during the auction, too.

Once the auction is finished, my big push is over, and I am usually dead.  My feet hurt from being on them and scurrying around madly.  I lay on the couch for a bit, then moved to the bed, and drew and I took a very quick nap, maybe a half hour tops.

Then it was time to get dressed and go to the contest, which again was fantastic.  Our Kentucky bootblack, Bella, did very well, very poised during her speech and questions, and she was awarded the title of Great Lakes Community Bootblack.

After the contest it was time to scurry back to the victory party which the Louisville folks had put on in my absence.  I drank and ate, and dealt with silent auction items.

Then I had to go judge the door decorating contest, which was a tough one because there were three fabulous doors.  One had Liberace complete with music, one had a tray with cookies and food, and another had a lot of casino and luck themed items.  It was a tough decision.

Then I had not one but two play dates, which is uncommon for me at GLLA, usually I don’t play at all, often I don’t even see the dungeon.  This year, though, I had a date with one of the vendors I’ve known for a long time, Darin of Arcane, and another with one of our directors, boy Brent.

I finally finished up there about 3am, then boy Brent carried my bag for me back to the room, but I didn’t have a room key with me, so drew had to get up and let me in.

I decided I wanted some of the cookies that Cerrin had left for me.  I went to the bag, with MY name on it and discovered it empty.

Slave drew did a poor job of looking innocent, so he scurried out to get more cookies from the tables.  He did this without his pants.

This was not overly noticeable until he leaned over a bit and you saw his ass, or unless you realized that the head of his dick was peeking out below the t-shirt hem.

It was quite amusing and Cerrin and Meg, who had come into the room for something, found it quite entertaining.

I believe I got to bed at 4am or later.   As tired as I was, I did not fall asleep for a while.

Up again at 8:30 to get the silent auction stuff finalized, then take it down to the brunch, with an estimate for the amount of money we raised – about $3500 – for the titleholders.

Then at the brunch I presented a piece of earned Leather to Gabriel, our bootblack and ASL interpreter.  There was a great keynote speech, too, by Hardy Haberman, about activism.  It was one of the best I’ve heard at GLLA.

Then it was time to scurry back and get the silent auction finalized for pickup, and pack.

Finally, finally, finally, about 3pm, we hit the road home.

And seriously, I am too old to be doing this shit.

I Am Too Old to be Doing this Shit…

You would not believe how tired I still am.

I went to bed late on Thursday night, after the cocktail party, after getting unloaded and unpacked, after moving tables and setting up the party, after sorting through papers and getting things put together…

I got up at 7:30, just enough time to shower and dress and scurry to the contestant meeting, at which I warn contestants that I will boss them around for their own good and to raise money, after which I scurried to get the silent auction set up, with much help from Gray and Chrisdy and Kenny and Meg and Charles and jacki and drew and god knows who else.

Then I scurried to teach my traditional class, a newcomer’s class for GLLA itself, where I talk about the event, the things we do and why we do them, and generally answer any questions the audience wants to ask me.  I did it in the theater and had 15 or 20 people for it.

Then I did my So You Want to be a Titleholder class, which was completely new and only sketchily written.  It was fun, though, and I had about 25 or 30 people in that.

Then I went to finish up auction stuff, then I went to the one of the receptions, then I went to the LIFE Detroit cocktail party at which I had yummy pudding shots.

Then I went to the Friday night of the contest, which was fabulous thanks to Carlos, our Show Director.

Then I went back and got the ridiculous hooker heels I had promised slave drew I would wear.  He carried them and I wore flip flops out to the Ash Bash.  Gray had given me a lovely cigar, so we got the cigar started and I put on the shoes and stayed sitting except the one time I tried to walk and fell back into my seat.  It was quite a site, I’m sure.

Then I went to the dungeon and watched Shane getting suspended upside down with one eye while I beat the lovely Meg.

Then I got to bed at like 3am.

Then on Saturday, I got to sleep in a bit, until about 8:30 or so, when there was a knock on the door – there were so many knocks we stopped even fully closing the door – and Master Alex, for whom I have deep and great respect, was outside with a contest problem.

I was in my not-at-all slinky cotton nightgown, but invited him into the room because you can’t leave Master Alex standing in the hall.  I turned to find Ms Tammy, also not a not-at-all-slinky nightgown who had come through the adjoining door to  use our hairdryer.  I said, “Master Alex, I know this is your fantasy, in a hotel room with two hot redheads in their nightgowns.”

Master Alex shrugged.  “I was married for 32 years,” he said.

Once I was up and about Saturday morning, I had to start working on the Poolside Auction, which means coercing people to let me sell them in the auction, lining up my runners and staff, the people who collect money and credit card information and who run the cards and who do the other million things that have to be done.

I wheedle and cajole and call in favors to get the people I get to auction themselves off.  I tell them it’s for the children, meaning, as we all know, that it’s for the Titleholder Travel Fund.

And then, the real work starts.  But that’s a story for another day’s blog.  Bed is beckoning.

Home Again

We have been back from GLLA for about seven hours now.  I’ve slept about half that time.  I took a LONG nap, then got up for an hour or two before going back to bed in a bit.

So, another Great Lakes Leather Alliance is in the can.

It was a good one.  I expect it’s going to keep me in blogging material for a while, but that’s not going to begin tonight.  Tomorrow.

 

5, 4, 3, 2, 1… Blastoff!

So, tomorrow we head for GLLA.

Along with half the kinky people we know in the area.  And then some.

I got a fair amount done towards getting ready, but, of course, there’s still more to do.  What I do have, though, is a list, and a lot of the small, time consuming tasks done – jewelry picked, forms printed, auction stuff gathered.

Kenny came by and got the 25 or so various bottles of punch stuff, plus the paper products and a few other odds and ends.

And it’s midnight now and I need to head to bed.  I don’t know whether or not I’ll post over the weekend, but I’ll be back as usual in a couple of days.

Somebody, hold down the fort.

The Day Before the Day Before

So, today was productive.  I have clothes mostly sorted out in terms of what I’m taking, have purses and gloves and hats either laid out or settled on.  Shoes are pulled out, though they’ll get whittled down when I set them out again and admit that perhaps I could do with only one pair of boots and two pairs of dressy shoes.

I still have to pull out jewelry and makeup and perfume and toiletries and sleep drugs and electronic gear and all the forms I need…

I went to the grocery tonight and got the makings for the Titleholder Kickoff punch, except the actual booze.  I meant to do that and then other things interfered, but I mustn’t forget that.  I got fruit and some snacky things and paper products.

I also freed up another block of time, which is going to be helpful.  I still have a fair amount to do tomorrow, print out some things, get most of the food and serving pieces packed up, that kind of thing, but not too insurmountable now.

I’m imposing on my friend, Kenny, to carry some of the supplies up for me.  With three dogs, two adults and the respective wants and necessities for all of them is a fair amount of stuff, in and of itself.  When I looked at all the supplies in the back of my Prius, I thought, Hmm, I don’t know about this…

Kenny drives a van, so he had some extra room, but he’s also taking two more of our friends, Karen and Meg, but he had some room.

It seems like half the people in the area will be heading to Indianapolis on Thursday.  slave drew and I and the pups, Belle, Bess and Reigh, Ms Tammy and slave john and troy, Sir Charles and jacki, Gabriel, Steve and kim, Shane and Gypsy, Markos and Christine, Caile and Cheri and Grey and Christy and Kenny and Josh and Ches and Jonathan and Russ and probably 83 other people I will think of tomorrow and say, oh, yeah, them, too.

It will be wildly busy, I will get little sleep.  I often sleep poorly in the best of circumstances, and hotels are often the worst of the worst.  I will just have too much going on, last year I got about 14 hours over the weekend, I’ll try and get more this year, but who knows.

And on that note, the melatonin is kicking in.

Lists Continued

So today was both stressful and stress-relieving.

I know this will amaze those of you who know me, but I didn’t get as much as I wanted to do done.  Life interfered, as it has a nasty habit of doing.

However, I also did get a few things done, made a start on others, and made a contingency plan if I need to.  But, of course, it’s past time for bed, too, so I am heading there.

And I know I’ve not answered comments and I might have missed an email or two, but I do promise once the weekend is over and I am at least a bit rested, I’ll catch up on all those things.

I swear.

The Time of Lists

The time of lists has begun in earnest.

We leave for Great Lakes Leather Alliance mid-day on Thursday.  Before then, I have approximately eleventy jillion things to do/pack/remember/check on.

And I am NOT being dramatic!

Well, ok, I am, but I do have a ton to do, still.  Not enough to be panicky or worried, just enough to say, I gotta get my act together here, and get serious tonight and tomorrow about knocking items off the list.

We will have about 500 people at GLLA, I imagine; we usually do.  I will know, probably 350 of them, maybe 400..  Some I won’t know their names, but I know there faces and we’ll greet each other as friendly acquaintances.  Probably half of those 350, maybe more, genuinely are friends, albeit perhaps some are not as close as others.

There will be a few there that I do not like, and who often like me no better.  Depending on who and when and where, we will either ignore each other, nod in greeting, with or without an expression of pained pleasantness.

So, I have lists.  I can be very anal about my lists.

I REALLY like Excel spreadsheets.

A lot.

A whole lot.

Because, you see, an Excel spreadsheet allows you to sort lists in multiple ways.

I don’t start using single word hand written notes until the last day or so.  Before that I go by my Excel list.  I have categories of items.  Toiletries, Accessories, Shoes, Electronics, Paperwork, and, of course, Miscellaneous.

Actually, for clothes I get even more hyperactive.  I list the events I need clothes for – Titleholder’s Cocktail, Contest, Teaching, Ash Bash, etc, in order that they will happen, and break each outfit into components if they have them, bottoms and tops and shoes and accessories.

THEN I go through and see what’s repeated and how much duplication there is.  If I am wearing a dressy black slack three times, it only gets listed once.

BUT I list the events for which I anticipate wearing it.

In chronological order.

Um.  So, ok, I might be a little over the top.

But then I can sort by event, or type and if I need to further segregate – all the things I’m taking for dogs this year begin with the word “dog,”  dog bowls, dog food, dog toys…

Stop looking at me like that.

I am NOT the only one who does this.

I am not.

Fitting In

This is actually something I wrote a few months back for another project that seems to have gone nowhere.  Given that, and the fact that I want to go to bed very soon,

I was actually going to write about another topic, and this one pushed itself to the forefront of my mind.  I read a friend’s blog and she mentioned that she had never felt as though she was enough, as a child.  She was always supposed to be more, and better, and brighter, and more perfect.  I suspect that for her one of the benefits to this community is that it’s a place where people who don’t fit elsewhere can fit.

I don’t know that I felt exactly that way, but I understand what she meant.  I never felt like I fit in.  There was little “normal” about my childhood.

I grew up in a little tiny town in the middle of a great big desert in western Nevada.  My father died after a long illness 13 days after I turned two; I don’t remember him at all.  His death and, to be fair, even his life, rather condemned us to fairly profound poverty.

My mother was widowed at 46, with three children, 2, 11 and 13.  There was no insurance or savings, there were bills for his dying and his death both.  His funeral was paid off over time.

Thankfully, my mother had some college, at a time when a lot of women didn’t.  She was a substitute teacher in the school system, and a good one, at least in terms of maintaining control, and carrying out lesson plans, so she worked a lot.

It also meant everyone knew who my mother was.  There was only one school in town, so when I say “everyone,” I mean that in a literal sense.  Everyone who went to school in my town knew who I was, and who my mother was.

It was difficult to have her as a teacher, but I did, regularly.  In third grade my teacher had a heart attack and my mother was the teacher for half the school year.  I remember that I never got to pass out papers – a small thing, but you know how those things matter to us academic overachievers – because I would hear that it was because of my mother.

I remember always being asked to understand why I didn’t get what others did – I remember the gym teacher letting me choose in 5th grade.  I was good enough to play on an all-stars team for kickball, a rudimentary soccer, but, she said, “You know if you’re on the team, they’ll say it was because of your mother.”  I was allowed to make the choice.

I chose not to play, because I knew it would be better.  I knew that even if I played, I still wouldn’t fit in.

I was the only kid I knew from a single-parent household.  Mark Keeran’s parents were divorced, but he lived with his mother, who had remarried.  Cheryl Boak’s father died when she was in fourth grade, but her mother re-married in a year or two.

Everyone else had a father who came home at the end of the day after work.  They seemed exotic creatures to me.  We were poor, our house was not like anyone else’s, my clothes weren’t like theirs, my mother wasn’t, nothing was what everyone else seemed to have.

I would not choose to relive my childhood.  I remember it for how worried my mother always was about money, for how little I fit in or got along, and for always expecting the other students and even the teachers to be mean to me, and rarely being surprised.

A friend, who is a couple years younger than I, went to her reunion at the high school a few years ago.  She told me that along with the usual “Most Children,” and “Traveled Farthest,” they had given an award for “Most Changed for the Worst.”  I was horrified.

She shrugged and said, “That’s how it is there, you know.”  And she was right, I did know.

On the other hand, it’s fairly clear, looking back, that I made a lot of choices that would indicate I never WANTED to be like other people, anyway.   That would explain why I moved from Nevada to upstate New York at the age of 20, never having been east of the eastern border of Nevada, to live with a married woman with two sons, a daughter in the process of being adopted, two foster children, AND a husband.

Oh, and I’d never met her in person when I moved.

Then there was my long flirtation with being gay.  I spent a good part of my twenties deeply entrenched in a radical Lesbian separatist community.  I had Lesbian relationships exclusively until my late 30’s, when I finally acknowledged openly what I had always known, that I wasn’t gay, I wasn’t even really bisexual, I’m really pretty straight.

So, I came in, or whatever the opposite is of coming out, and just when it seemed my life become what one might expect, I jumped headfirst into kink.

And I didn’t just experiment on my own, quietly, though I did that, too.  No, I decided to start a munch, to begin presenting and writing, to become involved in events and organizations, and now, almost exactly 15 years after jumping, here I am, still paddling around in the deep end of the pool.

I still don’t belong in a lot of places.  I occasionally go to gatherings of my slave’s family and I feel like an alien.  They have such different experiences than I, so much easier memories.

I remember listening to the women one evening chatting about the summers of their schooldays, when they lay out by the pool at the country club, and the sororities to which they’d belonged.

I remember summers returning the 5-cent deposit bottles we’d purposely stashed away for just this moment.  Substitutes are paid for the days they work and they do not work in the summer.  We saved the bottles in winter and redeemed them in summer for grocery money.

I worked my way through college, and went to a state university in a nearby city.  For one semester my schedule required that I spend four hours a day either on a bus or waiting for a bus, outside.  It was a winter term, in upstate New York.  I remember walking in temperatures so cold that if you breathed through your mouth, your fillings got so cold they ached.

They also talked about their children, of course; I have three Scottish Terriers.  They talked about their favorite shows, “America’s Biggest Loser,” and “Two and a Half Men.”   Finally, perhaps noticing, that I wasn’t joining in, someone said, “What’s your favorite television show?”

“Dexter,” I said, “the show about the blood spatter expert who’s also a serial murderer…”  That is, if you’re looking for one, apparently a great way to kill a conversation.  They looked at me oddly and almost invisibly closed their ranks, leaving me, as usual, standing outside.

What the kink community has provided me, particularly the smaller Leather community, is a place where I do fit in.

I was telling someone lately that the kink community is an interesting place, in that you can really just decide to DO something, and do it.  You want a group?  Fine, form one.  You want to put on an event?  Ok, let me know when it is, maybe I can come.  You want to start teaching?  Learn your topic, write your presentation and start asking around.  You can really build what you want here, and I think that’s unusual.

Most geographic areas that have enough people to make a group worthwhile have already been organized, and you have to work on the sidelines.  In the gay community, if you want to work meaningfully for marriage equality or domestic partner benefits, you’re probably going to have to work your way up.  You can certainly volunteer and that’s a great start, but there were a lot of people who started volunteering for you, they’re simply ahead of you in the hopper – it’s going to be a while before your voice is individually heard.

In the kink community, it’s much easier just to do it, I think, than it is in most other places.  The kink community gave me all those things. I have organized events and contests.

I have organized and lead groups.  I have presented at events all over the country.  The community really gave me a home to do things I’m good at.  Turns out I’m really an excellent presenter.  I’m really good at organizing groups and events and bringing people together.  I have been especially good at the latter.

I think we all want to leave something behind us.  I suppose that’s why people have children.  Maybe it’s part of the reason I plant trees and daffodil bulbs, knowing they’ll be around when I am gone.

But, in the end, what I think I am the proudest about leaving behind is the community here in Kentucky.  I think I managed to do what I wanted to do the most, to make a place where people felt as though they belonged, where I felt as though I belonged.

I have no doubt that had I never existed, there would be a kink community here, but it wouldn’t look like it does.  Maybe it wouldn’t be as accepting or as welcoming, maybe it would have been even moreso, but it would have looked different.  I can see my mark on the community, and I am proud of that.

Nearly a decade ago, I ran for an International title, which I lost, probably for the best.  My speech was about the Leather community and what it had meant to me.  While the bulk of the speech is long departed from my memory, I do remember how it ended.

I had spoken about the fact that, if you looked at me, you would see me as being very isolated in many ways.  My parents were both dead by then, my brothers are distant both geographically and emotionally, I was unmarried, I had no children.  I lived more than 2000 miles from where I was born.  I looked like someone who was alone, without family.

The Leather community, though, gave me that.  It provided me a family, a place where I fit in.

I closed with a quotation from Robert Frost, from “Death or the Hired Man, “Home is the place where, when you have to go there, they have to take you in.”

Everybody needs a place where they know they can go, and they will be taken in.  I found that place for me.  I wish you all find exactly the same thing.