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Agony

November 5, 2012 Leave a comment

The word that came to mind when

you made that sound,

he said, was

Agony.

I shuddered. Agony. The word pierced me to the core, and I looked down, unable to meet his eyes, betrayed by the sudden evocation.

Agony. Used to mean a suffering of immeasurable depth. It fit the circumstance, key smoothly sliding into lock – at least superficially.

Agony. Why did the word elicit such a strong reaction?

And then I realized. Because that, at its simplest, at its purest – that is what I crave.

He finished securing the rope. Knelt down, level with my head, beard brushing my cheek. I felt the heat of his breath against my skin and turned my face, eyes closed, towards him. The rope burned its tendrils into my calf, clenching down on jeans, skin, muscle. Friction against friction.

I breathed through gritted teeth:

“Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.”

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Categories: love, memories, writing

My Poly Primer

June 28, 2012 Leave a comment

This is it. This is the summer of Fully Exploring Poly. I’ve been holding a lot of resistances and – not quite fears, but wary expectations – of how this summer will play out in my gut and in my heart, and I feel very strongly that, whatever happens, these next two months will be challenging and life-altering. I hope, and expect, that it will also be a time of positive change and joy.

Poly is on my mind more constantly than ever before, and I was pretty obsessed about it while I was in San Francisco. I found a fascinating blog that follows a woman’s personal journey through opening her marriage and trying to figure out if she can be in a relationship with a polyamorous partner; you can probably guess that I’ve already read the entire archive. There are just so precious few resources for having a polyamorous relationship when you yourself feel you have only enough energy to devote to one person at a time – maybe two, if one of them is long-distance.

And, as I process my own emotions and reactions, watch others’ relationship dynamics, and read, read, read (or listen, in the case of the Polyweekly Podcast), I continue to suspect that I lean more towards sexual monogamy than polyamory.

It’s been difficult for me to admit this, because I have read many of the warnings to poly partners against dating monogamous people. There’s this article, for instance. Granted, I have no desire or fantasy of turning Max monogamous with my seductive wiles (snort), but for a while it was easy to conflate the difficult emotions I felt over our relationship with the concept that my not desiring other partners was detrimental to him in some way.

It doesn’t help to be bombarded by a diverse mishmash of messages of what poly should look like, how your relationship to your partner’s other partners should look and feel, and what emotions are and aren’t healthy to feel and express.

To that end, I’ve been working to develop my own, personalized poly primer, which I hope to use as a guideline in defining and shaping my own flavor of relationship style. I’ve begun to realize, now that I’m facing the full brunt of poly, that I have relied very heavily on Max to define “poly” for me – too heavily. And while I certainly haven’t figured it all out yet, if I am to delve into this, I have to be able to identify and communicate the needs I’m looking for from my partner(s). Luckily, these needs are beginning to crystallize as I dig a little deeper inside myself.

My Poly Primer

  • Dedicated space – Taken from my friend Red’s post, a space where I fit and belong in my partner’s world. Also, a space where I feel safe to express my emotions, worries, and concerns, without fear of mockery or scorn.
  • Collaboration – I need to feel that there is a collaborative effort to sustain and build our relationship.
  • Trust – Trust that my partner acts with good intention, compassion, and kindness.
  • Support network – Something I’m actively developing and growing, a network of poly-knowledgeable friends that I can turn to for advice, comfort, or a listening ear.
  • Self-acceptance – Be able to feel that my being and presence are an asset to my partner’s life, and that my self-worth is not diminished by sharing my partner with others.
  • Couple versus partner – Perhaps my biggest epiphany: Desire for a “couple” relationship, versus a “partner” relationship. I say desire instead of need, because I’m not quite convinced it’s a need, but it’s at minimum a very, very strong desire.
  • No surprises – Taken from one of Allena Gabosch’s Poly workshops, keep surprises to a minimum. Significant relationship shifts, new additions, NRE – please keep me informed!
  • Balancing poly and D/s – I’m … still working on defining this one…

That’s a pretty long list already, and I could add more, but I don’t want it to get too unwieldy from the start.

Catharsis at Paradise

August 25, 2011 3 comments

A story told in images:

Communion

Flight

Healing

Categories: firsts, hope, life lessons, love, photos

The Taming of the Fox

April 17, 2011 Leave a comment

Chapitre XXI


C’est alors qu’apparut le renard.

-Bonjour, dit le renard.

-Bonjour, répondit poliment le petit prince, qui se tourna mais ne vit rien.

-Je suis là, dit la voix, sous le pommier.

-Qui es-tu? dit le petit prince. Tu es bien joli…

-Je suis un renard, dit le renard.

-Viens jouer avec moi, lui proposa le petit prince. Je suis tellement triste…

-Je ne puis pas jouer avec toi, dit le renard. Je ne suis pas apprivoisé.

-Ah! Pardon, fit le petit prince.

Mais après réflexion, il ajouta :

-Qu’est-ce que signifie “apprivoiser”?

-Tu n’es pas d’ici, dit le renard, que cherches-tu?

-Je cherche les hommes, dit le petit prince. Qu’est-ce que signifie “apprivoiser”?

-Les hommes, dit le renard, ils ont des fusils et ils chassent. C’est bien gênant! Il élèvent aussi des poules. C’est leur seul intérêt. Tu cherches des poules?

-Non, dit le petit prince. Je cherche des amis. Qu’est-ce que signifie “apprivoiser”?

-C’est une chose trop oubliée, dit le renard. Ca signifie “Créer des liens…”

-Créer des liens?

-Bien sûr, dit le renard. Tu n’es encore pour moi qu’un petit garçon tout semblable à cent mille petits garçons. Et je n’ai pas besoin de toi. Et tu n’a pas besoin de moi non plus. Je ne suis pour toi qu’un renard semblable à cent mille renards. Mais, si tu m’apprivoises, nous aurons besoin l’un de l’autre. Tu seras pour moi unique au monde. Je serai pour toi unique au monde…

-Je commence à comprendre, dit le petit prince. Il y a une fleur… je crois qu’elle m’a apprivoisé…

-C’est possible, dit le renard. On voit sur la Terre toutes sortes de choses…

-Oh! ce n’est pas sur la Terre, dit le petit prince. Le renard parut très intrigué :

-Sur une autre planète ?

-Oui.

-Il y a des chasseurs sur cette planète-là ?

-Non.

-Ca, c’est intéressant! Et des poules ?

-Non.

-Rien n’est parfait, soupira le renard.

Mais le renard revint à son idée :

-Ma vie est monotone. Je chasse les poules, les hommes me chassent. Toutes les poules se ressemblent, et tous les hommes se ressemblent. Je m’ennuie donc un peu. Mais si tu m’apprivoises, ma vie sera comme ensoleillée. Je connaîtrai un bruit de pas qui sera différent de tous les autres. Les autres pas me font rentrer sous terre. Le tien m’appellera hors du terrier, comme une musique. Et puis regarde! Tu vois, là-bas, les champs de blé? Je ne mange pas de pain. Le blé pour moi est inutile. Les champs de blé ne me rappellent rien. Et ça, c’est triste! Mais tu a des cheveux couleur d’or. Alors ce sera merveilleux quand tu m’aura apprivoisé! Le blé, qui est doré, me fera souvenir de toi. Et j’aimerai le bruit du vent dans le blé…

Le renard se tut et regarda longtemps le petit prince :

-S’il te plaît… apprivoise-moi! dit-il.

-Je veux bien, répondit le petit prince, mais je n’ai pas beaucoup de temps. J’ai des amis à découvrir et beaucoup de choses à connaître.

-On ne connaît que les choses que l’on apprivoise, dit le renard. Les hommes n’ont plus le temps de rien connaître. Il achètent des choses toutes faites chez les marchands. Mais comme il n’existe point de marchands d’amis, les hommes n’ont plus d’amis. Si tu veux un ami, apprivoise-moi!

-Que faut-il faire? dit le petit prince.

-Il faut être très patient, répondit le renard. Tu t’assoiras d’abord un peu loin de moi, comme ça, dans l’herbe. Je te regarderai du coin de l’oeil et tu ne diras rien. Le langage est source de malentendus. Mais, chaque jour, tu pourras t’asseoir un peu plus près…

Le lendemain revint le petit prince.

-Il eût mieux valu revenir à la même heure, dit le renard. Si tu viens, par exemple, à quatre heures de l’après-midi, dès trois heures je commencerai d’être heureux. Plus l’heure avancera, plus je me sentirai heureux. À quatre heures, déjà, je m’agiterai et m’inquiéterai; je découvrira le prix du bonheur! Mais si tu viens n’importe quand, je ne saurai jamais à quelle heure m’habiller le coeur… il faut des rites.

-Qu’est-ce qu’un rite? dit le petit prince.

-C’est quelque chose trop oublié, dit le renard. C’est ce qui fait qu’un jour est différent des autres jours, une heure, des autres heures. Il y a un rite, par exemple, chez mes chasseurs. Ils dansent le jeudi avec les filles du village. Alors le jeudi est jour merveilleux! Je vais me promener jusqu’à la vigne. Si les chasseurs dansaient n’importe quand, les jours se ressembleraient tous, et je n’aurais point de vacances.

Ainsi le petit prince apprivoisa le renard. Et quand l’heure du départ fut proche:

-Ah! dit le renard… je pleurerai.

-C’est ta faute, dit le petit prince, je ne te souhaitais point de mal, mais tu as voulu que je t’apprivoise…

-Bien sûr, dit le renard.

-Mais tu vas pleurer! dit le petit prince.

-Bien sûr, dit le renard.

-Alors tu n’y gagnes rien!

-J’y gagne, dit le renard, à cause de la couleur du blé.

Puis il ajouta :

-Va revoir les roses. Tu comprendras que la tienne est unique au monde. Tu reviendras me dire adieu, et je te ferai cadeau d’un secret.

Le petit prince s’en fut revoir les roses.

-Vous n’êtes pas du tout semblables à ma rose, vous n’êtes rien encore, leur dit-il. Personne ne vous a apprivoisé et vous n’avez apprivoisé personne. Vous êtes comme était mon renard. Ce n’était qu’un renard semblable à cent mille autres. Mais j’en ai fait mon ami, et il est maintenant unique au monde.

Et les roses étaient gênées.

-Vous êtes belles mais vous êtes vides, leur dit-il encore. On ne peut pas mourir pour vous. Bien sûr, ma rose à moi, un passant ordinaire croirait qu’elle vous ressemble. Mais à elle seule elle est plus importante que vous toutes, puisque c’est elle que j’ai arrosée. Puisque c’est elle que j’ai abritée par le paravent. Puisque c’est elle dont j’ai tué les chenilles (sauf les deux ou trois pour les papillons). Puisque c’est elle que j’ai écoutée se plaindre, ou se vanter, ou même quelquefois se taire. Puisque c’est ma rose.

Et il revint vers le renard :

-Adieu, dit-il…

-Adieu, dit le renard. Voici mon secret. Il est très simple : on ne voit bien qu’avec le coeur. L’essentiel est invisible pour les yeux.

-L’essentiel est invisible pour les yeux, répéta le petit prince, afin de se souvenir.

-C’est le temps que tu a perdu pour ta rose qui fait ta rose si importante.

-C’est le temps que j’ai perdu pour ma rose… fit le petit prince, afin de se souvenir.

-Les hommes on oublié cette vérité, dit le renard. Mais tu ne dois pas l’oublier.Tu deviens responsable pour toujours de ce que tu as apprivoisé. Tu es responsable de ta rose…

-Je suis responsable de ma rose… répéta le petit prince, afin de se souvenir.



From Le Petit Prince, by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

Categories: links, love, memories, reflection

Brother’s keeper

December 12, 2010 Leave a comment

This past Thanksgiving, I made it a priority to spend more quality time with my younger brother.  We had a pretty confusing sibling relationship when we were both much younger, and I really want to build a better connection with him.  He is a good, kind person, and in a lot of ways I always felt he was a lot better person than I was (which I resented when I was younger).  And while I think he is doing really well, he lives solely with my mother right now, and I can’t help but want to provide another outlet for him, especially with regards to certain topics.

One of the goals of my trip home for the holiday was to create the opportunity to talk about sex with him.  This opportunity was actually facilitated by my mother, who worried about not being able to talk to her son so frankly.  She approached me and asked if I would be willing to send him some resources or talk with him, and I quickly agreed.  I could not be happier that she felt comfortable asking me to talk to my brother about sex!

I bought him S.E.X., by Heather Corinna, and we spent a little time just skimming through the book together.  I also showed him the It Gets Better Project and talked to him a little about bullying.  My strongest memories of high school are of being miserable and having suicidal ideation, and while I don’t know at all if my brother feels similarly, he doesn’t seem particularly enthusiastic about school, and he’s getting a lot of pressure, both from teachers and from my mother, to perform better academically.  I know this created a lot of stress and tension for me.

It has been a difficult balancing act, not wanting to project onto him my own history and my feelings about my mother, while at the same time wanting him to know that the world is a much bigger place than the small rural town he’s in.  He knows some of this already, having traveled quite a bit now and having spent a summer taking classes at a university in a major city.  And God knows he’s probably already been influenced by me through all the mischief I got into, which my mother has undoubtedly vented about to him (much as she used to vent about my father to me).

The other topic my mother stressed that I needed to address with my brother was the SATs.  She has continuously prodded me to help my brother better prepare for the SATs, to give him tips, help him with practice problems, and encourage him to study the many prep books she’s bought.

And I was loathe to do any of this, waiting until the night before I left to grudgingly take a look at a book with him.  I felt badly about being so reluctant, but that reluctance was not because I was lazy or didn’t want my brother to do well.  I have a very strong opinion of the standardized testing, and while I’ve done SAT tutoring, I absolutely hate the test and think it’s an unfortunate standard to have in our education system.  All that said, I did pretty well on the test myself, and I actually tend to do well on tests like this.  But I also tried to make the point to my mother that I never even studied before I took the test the first time, and that was only the end of my sophomore year.  My brother is currently a sophomore.  I personally think he has plenty of time to prepare.

So when we sat down together with the 2-inch thick prep book, I instead spent the entire time explaining how to study the test itself – its format, the way points are tallied, how to guess and eliminate choices.  I told him he has plenty of time to study the actual content of the test.

And when my mother asked how our study session went, I assured her that he would be fine.  She seemed unconvinced and still worried about him.  The conversation we had around this has left me feeling frustrated ever since.  She explained all the ways my brother wasn’t prepared for college, from his lack of awards from competitions to his lack of leadership roles in any organizations.  She lamented about him not being competitive or aggressive enough in seeking these things out.

And then she told me I needed to help him.  She related a story of a friend’s daughter, who was very self-motivated and got into MIT without needing outside help.  But her younger brother was the complete opposite, with his parents assigning him private tutors and consultants to prep him for college, and still he wasn’t accepted to MIT.  His sister intervened, using her legacy status and asking the admissions office what he needed to get in.  They told her, and he was able to get in.

So, my mother concluded, it behooved me to help my brother reach his goals, because he simply wasn’t like me, self-motivated and a self-starter.  I’m not quite sure where my mother got this opinion of me, because I don’t remember ever being called that before.  Regardless, I left for San Francisco the next day, feeling guilty for not being more supportive (what a horrible sister am I?) while simultaneously still believing that he is the only person who can decide how to form his life, and that I should not be so involved as to direct the path he should take.

I always downplay my own educational background to my brother, where my mother likes to ask him if he wants to get into my alma mater.  I tell him it doesn’t matter, there are so many great schools – and great programs – and that he shouldn’t focus on the Ivy brand name.  My mother used to tell me I’d never get into anything better than the local state university when I got a less than stellar grade.

So there is this constant back and forth, with my brother unfortunately caught in the middle.  I’m not sure what step to take – if I should take any at all.  We don’t speak often when I’m in San Francisco – partially my own aversion to phone calls, partially because he almost never has his cellphone on him anyway.  I do think I should be more intentional in being a part of his life; I’m just not sure what role I should play.

Of course, while I am sorting all this out in my head (and agonizing over it in conversations with Max), my brother’s life continues to play out.  He’s already grown up so quickly without me there a lot of the time.  I feel an almost maternal guilt for not being around more.

Categories: hope, life, love

Pretty pretty whip pictures

November 6, 2010 7 comments

Because I have been too sick the past few days – ever since Max left on Wednesday, in fact – to process his visit and write about that, or about much of anything else, I’ll substitute thought with pretty pictures instead.  When I was up in Seattle for Paradise and staying with Max a couple months back, we took a short side trip to David Morgan’s store.  There, Max gifted me with my very favorite kind of gift – raw material for creating something with my hands; in this case, it was a whole, black-dyed kangaroo hide.  And perhaps he wasn’t expecting anything in return for that, but in my mind the fate of that roo hide was very clear: to become a whip to gift to him.

For weeks after I returned from Seattle, I didn’t touch the hide, except to inhale its heady scent now and then.  It was beautiful, strong, and supple – and like a blank canvas, I was afraid of making that first stroke, the first cut into the hide. I made some test cuts from the free bag of scrap leather I’d also picked up at David Morgan’s instead, and I instantly fell in love with how beautifully and smoothly the leather cut using my lace strander.

But finally, with Max’s arrival only days away, I unrolled the hide and began putting together the parts for his whip.

Above is the shot-loaded core, a tapered strip of leather 33 inches long, duct-taped into a cone and filled with #11 lead shot.  Here, I am getting ready to cut out the bolster to wrap around the shotbag.  Various implements and tools of note, from left to right: tape measure, glass jar of aforementioned lead shot, nitrile glove with which to handle the lead shot, pens for marking the leather, a paper funnel for getting the lead shot into the shotbag, bonded black nylon thread for the whip’s braided cracker, utility knife, duct tape, Aussie lace strander, and scissors.

Other things I used that aren’t shown in the photo: staple gun, tacks, electrical tape, and sewing thread.  Oh, and a tiny strip of paper that had various measurements on it for adjusting the width of the strander.

I should also note that the shotbag and bolster were cut from a long strip of soft leather gifted to me by the lovely Sparrow, whose beautiful leatherwork and craftsmanship are an inspiration. Thank you, Sparrow!

Once I’d begun the process, things went fairly smoothly and quickly, and I felt the whip coming together much more easily than with my first attempt.  I did hit a minor learning curve with the lace strander but got used to it after a few trial runs.

I am ecstatic to be able to say just how happy I am with the finished product.  It is not an exaggeration that Max’s whip is exponentially better than my first whip, and it is completely satisfying to see the lessons I learned from my whipmaking experiment translate into a better product the second time around.

There is a pure, giddy joy in learning a craft that involves using my hands.  As much as I enjoy my digital hobbies and the skills and learning that those require, I will always treasure being able to create a physical object for another person to enjoy tactilely.  (And, as it turned out, this particular object would be enjoyed very tactilely on me.)

But enough words. Here are some quick photos I took before handing the whip over to Max.  I wish I’d taken more of the entire thing, as I didn’t end up getting any pictures of the braided cracker or any detail shots of the heel knot.  I will have to remember to take more photos the next time I see Max.

 

Categories: geekpost, links, love, photos

definition

October 7, 2010 4 comments

I took a few photos of my back a few days ago to capture some striking rope marks from a self-suspension I’d done Monday night.  Once I uploaded the pictures to my computer and got a good look at them, I did a double-take.  Was this really my back?  I was stunned to see any muscle definition at all – so stunned that it took a few moments to even see the rope marks.

My surprise may sound odd given that I do try to keep active and exercise, but I’ve historically never been more than just a casual athlete, and I never went through any consistent exercise regimen with weights or aerobics.  Certainly, I’ve never had much muscle definition to speak of, so while this isn’t at the same level as what I’ve seen at the climbing gym, I view it as a personal victory and tangible evidence of my months of climbing and yoga.

The other victory is that, while I’ve come a long way in accepting my appearance and dealing with my personal insecurities, it’s only been fairly recently that I’ve been able to move from mere acceptance towards loving my body.  Looking at this photo and actually being attracted to what I see – that feels like a huge leap in the right direction.

Categories: firsts, love, photos, rope