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Life update

April 29, 2010 Leave a comment

As April draws to a close, the tornado of activity that encompassed the last two weeks seems finally to be clearing.  After the three conferences, I immediately started packing all of my belongings, and over the weekend managed to move completely into the new apartment.  The couple of days after that have been filled with work during the day and helping my housemates move in during the evenings.  I love my new home, I love the new neighborhood, and I love my new housemates.

April has been the month of hectic but good changes.

Barely unpacked and having just installed a new bed in my room, I have to start packing once more, this time for a long weekend in Seattle.  The buildup of anticipation over the course of this week has been fairly deliriously heady, intertwined with flashes of memory of my last visit to Max.

Also, a couple weeks ago, a friend from college contacted me out of the blue and told me he was moving to San Francisco, having gotten a job here.  Said friend has now flown in and moved into a sublet in all of three days, and we got together for lunch yesterday.  And all of a sudden, I am struck by how few non-kinky friends I really have left, and I realized that I have to navigate with a little more thought and foresight around this one friend now.

The first flag came when he talked about where he was moving to – the Castro district – and he commented on “how many gays there were.”  I have a feeling he will be dealing with even greater a culture shock than I did when I moved here.  And as happy as I am to reconnect with a good friend from school, I have become so used to being open about my sexuality and kink that it’s going to be hard to censor myself around him.

Truthfully I have become rather spoiled – firstly by nature of being in San Francisco at all, secondly having both my employers be completely aware that I’m kinky, and thirdly now living in a very sexually open and kinky household.  It is easy in this environment to take that openness for granted, but my friend moving here is a good reminder that not everyone in my social circle will know and understand what the rope marks on my arms mean.

Perhaps this will be a good exercise in caution and awareness, because I cannot assume he will want to know about that part of my life, anyway.

In thinking of all of this, I cannot help but be reminded of my friend maymay and the recent attacks made against him by Citizens Against Human Trafficking.  Maymay, a strong sex-education advocate and organizer of the first KinkForAll, was labelled a “child molester” by Donna Hughes and Margaret Brooks for his belief that people of all ages should have access to sexual health and education.

Besides being blatant defamation, the newsletter (as well as subsequent ones, including one open letter to the president of Brown University) is specifically worded to incite rage and disgust and to sensationalize topics such as consensual BDSM and sexual health.  They take the concept of frank, open, and intelligent discussion on sexuality and its relationship to technology, culture, and society and twist it into an event open to sex offenders and children.

That this is happening back in New England, my childhood turf, is a sharp reminder of the conservative upbringing and society in which I was raised.  I am reminded of my high school, where safe spaces for LGBT students seemed like a radical new idea, though as far as I was aware no one was openly out.

Once again, I look at my current situation, living in a kinky queer apartment with amazing people, and it already seems like a foreign lifetime ago that I felt the need to hide my kinky interests, to myself and to others, out of feelings of guilt, fear, and shame.

I have never felt more relieved to have left the East Coast.

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Categories: life lessons, links, reflection, sex

“The Good, the Bad, and the Poly”

April 19, 2010 1 comment

Before I say anything else, I have to congratulate Mollena again for winning the title of International Ms. Leather 2010.  Mo, you are an amazing woman, and you rocked the contest so hard.  They couldn’t have chosen a better representative of the leather and kink community!  And I feel so fortunate to have been present for this.

Yes, my first IMsL was a pretty incredible experience.  I noticed a very different energy than I’ve felt from other, kink-centric conventions, and the pace was much slower.  There was a lot more down time for socializing and perusing the vendor area, and even my volunteer shifts were laid back.

I was feeling non-committal about the workshops Saturday afternoon, but decided last-minute to slip into Allena Gabosch’s class, “The Good, the Bad, and the Poly.”  And I am glad I did!  Allena – executive director of Seattle’s Center for Sex Positive Culture (whose website is currently down) – had really good points about how to make polyamorous relationships work, shared personal stories to illustrate them, and was just completely down to earth.

She started off her talk emphasizing the wide variety of ways possible for making poly work.  But, she added, “If you have no other rule, you should absolutely follow this one:

No surprises.”

The weight of this was not lost on me, and, as Allena also pointed out, all of the principles she found important for polyamory could just as easily be applied to monogamy (and perhaps should be).  I am, of course, instantly reminded of my personal, vastly unpleasant experiences with surprises sprung on me by my exes: from keyloggers to a very angry fiancée.  And I have had my own share of keeping things to myself – only to have it snowball into drama and miscommunication down the road.

I do try harder, now, to be completely honest and upfront with the people I play with or sleep with.  Everyone I’ve gotten sexually intimate with knows I have an HPV infection, for instance.

Allena also touched on the various poly structures and “geometries” that exist, and she described how her triad became a poly bow tie, with herself as the central knot!

Another snippet I remember is Allena discussing how poly relationships should be more careful, thought out, and planned, as opposed to how many monogamous partners seem to just “fall into” a relationship.  She added – and I agree – that perhaps more monogamous relationships should be better thought out and planned as well.  I think back on my own experiences: I’d had sex with my first three partners by the third date, and consequently we just fell into a relationship, exactly as Allena described.

I suppose it’s no surprise that I do not keep in touch with those three people.

It also has made me appreciate all the more the care and thoughtfulness with which Max has taken me on this path we’re traveling down together.  I could not have asked for a better model of how polyamory can work, nor a better mentor to learn from.

Jealousy was inevitably brought up.  Allena talked through ways to deal with jealousy and the kinds of issues that cause it to appear – issues of trust, communication, self-doubt, and fear.  And her last topic (I know I’m skipping a chunk of the conversation) dealt with raising kids in a poly group.

Again, I’m really glad I joined this particular workshop.  I left the room feeling more informed and more excited about exploring polyamory.  Admittedly, I’m in no hurry to add to the flurry of activity and distractions my life has become recently, nor am I in a hurry to divert my focus from Max.

Ok, well, I have actually gone on a couple of very pleasant dates recently, but between my increasingly full schedule and preparing to move into the new apartment on Saturday, I am feeling a little stretched thin.  I have all but stopped going climbing and working out at the gym, sadly.  I hope to change that once this crazy week is over.

I really need to get my own life in order before I even consider bringing another person into it.

Categories: firsts, links, reflection

A fast, busy April

April 9, 2010 3 comments

I keep going through my head my schedule for the month of April, and I cannot fully comprehend how I will survive this month.  I think if I don’t, at least I will have an incredible, amazing time trying!

Here is the current status of my calendar:

Next weekend, April 15th to 18th, is International Ms. Leather, where I will be volunteering for 16 hours and probably fairly engaged with activities the rest of the time.

April 19th to 22nd is Drupalcon, a convention of an entirely different nature where I’ll be attending workshops with titles like CSS3: The Future is Now and JQuery for Designers and Themers.  Hopefully I’ll have gotten most of the shoe polish off my hands by then.

April 23rd to 25th will be another tech-related conference, one focused solely on JQuery.  Because I won’t be exhausted enough from two back-to-back conferences alone. At least all the bootblacking polish will definitely be gone by this point!

Then, April 30th to May 3rd, I’ll be decompressing from that insanity by spending a long weekend in Seattle with Max, where we’ll attend the Seattle Erotic Arts Festival and just enjoy some time together.

Amongst the general madness, I have a project deadline for April 19th, a dinner date on the 15th, and continued apartment hunting craziness, which – if I do manage to secure a place before May – means the added hecticness of packing and moving.

Yes.  This is far and away the most insane month I’ve had, schedule-wise.  Nothing I experienced in college ever came close – though admittedly I wasn’t the most engaged or involved student.

April is about to give me an intensive crash course on time-management and prioritization skills.  I just hope I’m ready for it.

desert heart

April 6, 2010 1 comment

I have a fantasy.  It is a different kind of fantasy; quiet but persistent, it whispers to me from its corner, in the recesses of my skull.  The whispers are fed by a calm yearning for fulfillment.  If I close my eyes lightly, these dry, scraping susurrations transform, building the landscape and world I envision for myself: my utopia.  This is where I want to be.

I imagine sun-bleached bark.  Flat, gritty earth.  Low underbrush, dry and crackling.  Stratified sandstone monuments, like sleeping giants against a flat landscape.

I imagine heat a physical force, a weight bearing down, pressing against my skin and extracting moisture on contact.  A dry, merciless heat.  Each thin breeze feels like ecstasy – feels like forgiveness.  I can see the undulations of heat rising off the pavement in front of me, and off the distant horizon.  I breathe in a hot, dusty air, and relish it.

The world is pastel-colored in an earth palette, and the lines sharp, angular, and severe.  Giant saguaro cacti stand guard, surveying the life around them.  And despite its barren appearance, there is indeed an abundance of life.  With each step I take, I see flashes of movement, hear the skittering of small claws seeking purchase on rocks, sand, and bark.  The slip-soft sigh of scales against sand.  The high-pitched warnings of a tiny, bold sparrow.  The low brush rustles with activity.  I imagine the heart-leaping discovery of a tarantula across my path.

I love the desert.  I love its stark, reduced beauty.  I imagine myself there, living in my own house, walls thick and tan and textured.  I imagine the dog I have as a companion, a dusky, lean canine the color of the sand outside.  I imagine standing at my porch, watching the incoming monsoon: seeing a faultlessly blue sky turn suddenly dark and heavy with rain.  Feeling those first few drops, sharp as bullets, driving into my skin before I seek shelter.  I see the clouds cluster along the mountain range and the lightning dance along the ridge line.

I can taste that electricity in my tongue, feel it creeping along my scalp, shortening my breath and quickening my heart rate.

I imagine knowing that mountain ridge line intimately, as familiar with its paths and features as I am with a lover’s body.  I imagine stalking deer, conversing with crows, laughing at peccaries.  I imagine that I can feel the reverberations of a cicada’s call in my bones.

I have a desert heart, and it keeps pulling me into this world.  How long until I can finally give in?

Categories: fantasy, life, writing

A review: LoveHoney’s Sqweel; and Eco-Friendly Sex toys!

April 1, 2010 2 comments

I first heard about this uniquely designed sex toy through Jake, back in October.  The winning submission to LoveHoney’s first Design a Sex Toy contest, the Sqweel caught my eye with its innovative form and concept, and so I was excited to be able to review the toy for Babeland.

The Sqweel comes in a tin box along with a little instruction booklet and a packet of lube.  The outer black casing of the toy is a hard, sturdy plastic, and the pink tongues are, for lack of a better word, squishy and soft and made of silicone.  There is a simple switch on the flat end to turn the wheel on, with three speeds: low, medium, and high.

I was a little surprised by the level of noise the Sqweel makes when I first turned it on.  It’s a sound rather accurately described by the name of the toy itself, a bit of a high, mechanical squealing that proved to be distracting.  I first tried it without the lube, and it was alright, but using the lube does make a difference.  And it’s cool that the toy can be used in both directions – with the tongues “licking” down or licking upwards, to varying effects.

Cool as this toy is, however, I was unable to get an orgasm out of it.  My primary issue is the noise – way too distracting, and kind of a turn off.  I also found the highest speed setting to be a little intense, but anything lower and the wheel stopped turning if I put too much pressure on it.  Which I imagine most women instinctively will do to a toy that stimulates cunnilingus – want to vary the pressure of the sensations.

All of that said, I still like the concept of the toy.  I think it’s a great first draft of what could be an amazing toy several iterations down the pipeline.  I hope they continue to improve on it, especially to deal with the noise issue.

To continue the Babeland trend, I found out that throughout the month of April the sex toy store is giving 20% of all its eco-toy sales to Grist.org, a news site focusing on environmental issues with the tagline, “A Beacon in the Smog.”  Clicking the banner below will take you to their full information page, which also includes a list of their eco-friendly toys.

Eco-friendly toys include those made of glass, stainless steel, wood, and silicone, as well as rechargeable vibrators.

And to continue the trend again and make my last little plug, my favorite SOMA café also offers various toys made of recycled items, such as inner tube floggers.  They also support many local artists, toymakers, and writers.  In fact, this upcoming Sunday will be the opening of their latest art show, featuring the photographs of Fakir Musafar in an exhibit called “GenderFlex.”  I can’t wait to see the photos!

Categories: links, sex toy review, sundry