Lately I’ve had a lot of little quips, comments, and quotable tidbits of Max’s playing through my head. I think my favorite is this:
What they never tell you about poly is all the laundry that’s involved!
There was also a conversation he and I had, the first night I was in Seattle, where I mentioned having read the column Mistress Matisse wrote on Top Types. I asked him which one of the types he identifies most predominantly with, and he replied that it would have to be service. That didn’t surprise me; I had gotten a good read on that from being in service to him for eight days. Then he added that, to him, a lot of the pain he inflicts falls under the category of service as well, and this gave me pause.
I hadn’t thought about pain in that context before, but suddenly it made a lot of sense in terms of how I react to that particular sensation. A lot of the hardest, most painful scenes I’ve had have been where I endured for the pleasure it gave my partner. And it also helps explain my continued hesitance to label myself as a masochist: I’m not completely in it for the sensations.
My whip scene with Max is a perfect example. I was tied only by my hair, and while this did limit my range of motion somewhat, that was not what held me in place (or what kept my arms raised out to the sides) each time he cracked his whip across my body. I was bound there by the urge to serve and to please, which was stronger than my fear of the pain.
There was also the spectacular scene I had with T a month back involving extremely tight pallet strap bondage. The intensity of that bondage left me nearly in tears, begging to be freed – something that does not happen often (though of course that could be because usually, if I become uncomfortable in bondage and mention it, I’m untied or ties are loosened soon thereafter).
Not this time. This time, regardless of my whimpering about my deadened arms, restricted breathing, inability to maintain a particular position – T continued to push my limits. He’d tighten or adjust a strap, then lean down and whisper to me, I want you to take this for me just a little while longer: this pain.
And so I would.
But none of that is to say I don’t enjoy pain for its own sake sometimes as well. Otherwise there is no way I’d even come close to being able to handle the truly sadistic streaks of my various play partners.
I certainly obtain a level of pride from being able to handle having my limits pushed. The issue then arises of wondering if I’ve been able to take what my partner thinks I should be able to handle. One night in Seattle, bound in front of the fireplace, Max pushed me down into what basically amounted to a horse stance. I lasted all of probably a minute, though that may be a generous estimate. I instinctively tried to push myself up to lessen the strain on my legs, but Max kept me firmly in place by his favorite handle: my hair. And after more wobbling and straining against his hand, I couldn’t take the position anymore, and he pushed me flat to the ground (ostensibly to let me rest).
I wished I had lasted longer. And perhaps if I were still practicing tae kwon do, I would have. That is a damn shame, and something I am hoping to improve upon with workouts and some kind of climbing regimen.
Because it I find myself in a horse stance in front of Max’s fireplace again, how wonderful it would be to feel the pleasure pulsing through his hand in my hair as I hold that position, just a little. while. longer.
Old but classic video. To all the teachers I am reminded of every time I listen to this slam poem by Taylor Mali: this is for you.
He says the problem with teachers is, “What’s a kid going to learn
from someone who decided his best option in life was to become a teacher?” (hahaha)
He reminds the other dinner guests that it’s true what they say about
Those who can, do; and those who can’t, teach. (hahaha)
I decide to bite my tongue instead of his
and resist the urge to remind the other dinner guests
that it’s also true what they say about lawyers.
Because we’re eating, after all, and this is polite conversation.
“I mean, you’re a teacher, Taylor.
Be honest. What do you make?”
And I wish he hadn’t done that
(asked me to be honest)
because, you see, I have a policy
about honesty and ass-kicking:
which is if you ask for it, then I have to let you have it.
You want to know what I make?
I make kids work harder than they ever thought they could.
I can make a C+ feel like a Congressional medal of honor
and I can make an A- feel like a slap in the face.
How dare you waste my time with anything less than your very best.
You want to know what I make?
I make kids sit through 40 minutes of study hall
in absolute silence.
No, you can not work in groups.
No, you can’t ask a question, so put your hand down.
Why won’t I let you go to the bathroom?
Because you’re bored and you don’t really have to go, do you?
You want to know what I make?
I make parents tremble in fear when I call home at around dinner time:
Hi, this is Mr. Mali. I hope I haven’t called at a bad time,
I just wanted to talk to you about something your son did today.
He said, “Leave the kid alone. I still cry sometimes, don’t you?”
And it was the noblest act of courage that I have ever seen.
I make parents see their children for who they are
and who they can be.
You want to know what I make?
I make kids question.
I make them criticize.
I make them apologize and mean it.
I make them write, write, write.
And then I make them read.
I make them spell definitely beautiful, definitely beautiful, definitely
over and over again until they will
either one of those words again.
I make them show all their work in math.
And then hide it on their final drafts in English.
I make them realize that if you got this (brains)
then you follow this (heart) and if someone ever tries to judge you
based on what you make, you give them this (the finger).
Let me break it down for you, so you know what I say is true:
I make a goddamn difference! Now what about you?
By Taylor Mali
I actually feel like I’m thriving – quietly, but thriving nonetheless. And what a welcome change that is from the past three weeks of consecutive illnesses and doctor’s appointments (and my period, blech)!
To date: I have a get-together planned to practice self-suspension with Fivestar (and maybe work on her boots if there’s time); I will be going to see T to also work on his boots and see if I can’t smooth out the weld on my suspension ring with his tools; I am doing a skill trade with someone who will be teaching me Drupal and PHP in exchange for rope bondage lessons; I have a commissioned logo design in the works for a friend; I am taking a “photowalk” organized by a small group of local photographers this weekend; and I just submitted a volunteer application to help out at International Ms. Leather 2010, which will be during the second weekend in April.
So, lots going on, lots to be excited about, lots to keep me busy and active. There is also much, much more I still want to burrow into: taking dance and yoga lessons, finding a climbing partner and getting a climbing gym membership, working on increasing my general health and fitness, taking more photos by walking around the city, reading more books – I miss that last terribly, leisure reading. I’ve left so many of my books back east, and inertia has stayed my hand in getting more reading material here. But now that I’ve finally paid off the library fines my housemate left me with when I borrowed two books he needed for him and he failed to return them, I don’t feel like I can never set foot inside a library again.
(Among other things, my mother raised me with an instilled fear and loathing of overdue library fines. And I took out a lot of library books, so I guess it’s understandable that she wouldn’t have wanted to pay for my forgetfulness. But boy, did I cower in fear from her fiery wrath whenever we received an overdue notice.)
In any case, between all of this, there is working at the café, which is always an adventure and full of unexpected joys and surprises. Today I was pulled aside by a woman looking for input on a potential new product geared towards women and their sexuality. There was much waffle batter made, much snark to be had, and lots of dishes done. Just another day of working at a kinky café!
I recently had the rare opportunity to attend a six-hour-long Bootblacking Intensive taught by three illustrious bootblacks as well as an assisting, up-and-rising bootblack. Afterwards I was all abuzz with excitement to start practicing, but I own virtually no leather footwear and said as much to my friends and colleagues. I offered instead to shine up any of their boots that they didn’t mind a novice handling, and that is how I ended up with this pair of boots:
Amazing friend that he is, my fellow barista lent me his cavalry boots from his Civil War reenactment days. He told me they’d be perfect for practicing because “I couldn’t hurt them.” Well, I certainly didn’t think I’d make the boots worse for my attempts, so I gladly accepted the challenge and took the boots home with me.
On par with my usual obsessive personality, I couldn’t wait to tackle this project and break out my bootblacking kit. I don’t think I’ve been this excited about a personal project since, well, I took up knitting (this is perhaps indicative of the kinds of things I get excited about).
As soon as I got home, I cleared space on the floor to lay out my supplies, as well as a large piece of cardboard as my work surface. I inspected the boots, and though I couldn’t tell myself, I’d been told the boots weren’t made of oil-tanned leather, and should be polished to a shine. I’d have to take the words of my friends, because even while practicing on boots at the intensive, I couldn’t readily distinguish oil-tanned from high shine leather, and was often surprised by which method was used on which boots. So confusing!
Regardless, my first step was to give the boots a thorough soaping. After just a cleaning there was already a marked improvement.
My expectations were already exceeded! Very encouraging…hah. Next step: polishing. I opted to use the harder of the two polishes I have, Lincoln Shoe Polish, which came with the kit I bought at the intensive.
Polishing was just a lot of fun, and I have to say, the end result really surprised me:
Not too shabby, if I do say so myself! The difference is quite astonishing; I’d no idea footwear could be so dramatically revitalized! I can’t wait to return these boots to their owner, and now I’m more encouraged and excited than ever to practice on others. I’m especially looking forward to practicing on boots while someone is wearing them. And, eventually, to get to practice on a specific someone’s boots, while he’s wearing them.
And not in the good way. Since yesterday morning I’ve been bedridden with what is proving to be a persistent and debilitating fever. So when I’ve not been slightly delirious and running into the doorframe on the way to the bathroom, I’ve been alternating between bodily chills that no amount of blanketing can stop, and sweating profusely in bed. This morning, having slept only fitfully at night, I made a cold compress with ice cubes wrapped in a bandana and lay in bed hoping to numb the fever away. Didn’t really help as much as I’d hoped.
My poisons of choice? Advil, lots of water, and tonight, a Thai delivery that sadly has sat mostly neglected on the kitchen counter. Despite being incredibly excited about the order, consisting of Kang Ped Bhet Yang (roasted duck in red curry with pineapple, tomato, and greens) and Tom Yum Kai (chicken in spicy-sour broth with tomato, lemongrass, lemon juice, and mushrooms), When it actually came I found myself completely lacking in appetite.
And, believe you me, there is nothing sadder than not being able to wolf down that amount of deliciousness in one sitting. I did force myself to down one serving of soup, but then the idea of putting anything else in my stomach just made me feel nauseous.
It’s been a rough two days of trying to rest and get better, but also worrying about my shifts at the café not getting picked up, and leaving a fellow barista to work there alone for the bulk of the day. Today, luckily, another coworker was able to assist for a few hours, which made me a lot more at ease.
Hopefully it’ll resolve itself by tomorrow, or else I’ve resigned myself to making yet another doctor’s appointment in the morning. Housemate and I discussed why I seemed to be getting sick so frequently, and he suggested that moving into a new place requires acclimation to the area, including that area’s own particular microbe population. And moving from a rural to urban environment especially, where human density is so much higher, probably propagates diseases more quickly than I’m used to.
Perhaps. Considering I’m also working in food service and touching a lot of objects that come in contact with peoples’ mouths and hands, I feel like the odds are stacked against me regardless. Whatever I have feels like a less severe version of the flu I had back in October, without the premonitory sore throat. Hopefully that means a faster recovery time and no doctor’s visit.
At some point during my little Seattle vacation, I was struck by a strong desire to do self-suspension. That didn’t happen while I was there, and I also don’t have much of the gear needed to start learning. Mainly, I need a hard point, and perhaps a suspension ring.
Then I found out that we’ve got a new item for sale at the café: a bronze suspension ring. Upon further inquiry, the lovely Boss Lady turned me on to a marine and fishing supply company that sells stainless steel rings used for hauling in tons of fish. And where is it located? Seattle.
D’oh! Alas, missed opportunity. They sell rings of varying dimensions and thicknesses, and there are ones pretty close in size to the one at the café. So now I’m pondering the possibility of buying one from the fishing supply company online.
Should I? Should I not? I can’t decide! Anyone have advice on this matter? Of course, I can’t do much at the moment without a readily available hard point anyway, and I’m not keen on practicing at the Citadel or at Edges. But now the idea of self-suspension is firmly lodged in my head, and I’m going to find a way to scratch that itch!
I feel so far away from San Francisco. I feel so far away from everything other than being right here, in Max’s home in Seattle. I keep wondering how I will ever be able to return to San Francisco and keep going as if nothing has changed. I suppose this is similar to how I felt after Folsom week, and in fact life did continue as normal, with the delightful insertion of sporadic correspondence from Max.
And before my weeklong visit, we had gone over how different it would be from Folsom, that there would be a shift in expectations and scheduling, and a larger portion of real life to attend to. Still, this stay has been quite exceptional. Between the New Year’s Eve party, the nights being set aside for me, staying at the house, and the upcoming bondage workshop, it’s as though we’ve just extended the exchange in Folsom and brought it out of that unique bubble into everyday life, without any lessening of intensity.
Because intense it has certainly been. But rather than the state of questioning and uncertainty I felt when we started, I am this time reaching a state of acceptance: that this is really happening, that it is not some game of manipulation, that I can actually handle this intensity – and maybe this is what I’ve been craving and needing and trying to define all along.
But I shouldn’t get ahead of myself. It is still so early on in this, and I am still so new to the concept of polyamory and real-life service submission, that I am just waiting – almost anticipating – my first emotional catastrophe. Or something to that effect. A part of me still feels cautious enough to want to keep a little distance. But most of me is … well, enraptured by this whole experience. The overwhelming effect on me has been one of hope – that I can actually have the kind of deep D/s dynamic I never thought I’d allow myself to think about after the disaster of my first would-be master.
So, yes, I still struggle with doubts and questions and issues, but that hope is what I’m taking home with me.
That, and just an exponentially increased respect for the structure and level of organization and conscientiousness with which Max runs his life, which I had gotten a glimpse of before but has floored me now that I see it at full capacity. Perhaps this will inspire me to introduce a little more structure into my own, everyday life.
I won’t bank on it though.