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“there are always statues to talk to”

August 5, 2010 Leave a comment

As with every other time I’ve been with Max (short of Shibaricon), I’ve written and sent him a journal of reflections and chronology summarizing our time together.  This one was particularly difficult to write, and it took me a week of struggling with words and with memories to be able to form something coherent and, more importantly, honest.

I stumbled, that week.  Perhaps, with a little more distance and time, I will see the stumble for the small thing it was, and not amplify it into a monstrous calamity in my head, as is my wont.  Either way, it was a good lesson in knowing when to ask for help.  Because as much as I tried to fight off my chameleon myself, I couldn’t win the battle alone.  As it was, it took lots of talking, listening, and fighting with my uncertainties to bring my defenses down and let Max in again.

Every time I do this, he settles deeper into my life and becomes that much stronger of a presence in my world.



As always, writing these journals leaves me very reflective and withdrawn, too focused on memories and introspections to notice much else.  As I worked towards finishing the final leg of Max’s trip yesterday, I took a break to visit the Legion of Honor Museum.  It seemed an appropriate venue in which to handle the flood of thoughts swamping my head.  While walking through galleries of paintings and sculptures, I reflected on the past year.  I have not mentioned it here before, but last weekend marked a year since I stepped foot into the Center for Sex Positive Culture, met Max, and then proceeded to have a 15-minute suspension scene with him later that evening.

As Max noted while here, I looked a little alarmed every time he mentioned our anniversary to friends we were with.  To be fair, neither of us planned his trip to coincide with the date, nor had I even realized what the date meant – me, the one who’s fanatical about recording things in correct chronological order.  And, because my mind had centered on Folsom as the one-year mark, I completely overlooked the date that we’d met.

Max commented on the funny way these disparities happen, especially with non-monogamy.  Just how do you commemorate the forming of a relationship without the social normative markers of marriage or even, in our case, a first date?  After that 15-minute scene, the next time I saw Max was to be in service to him throughout Folsom weekend, two months later.  There was no gradual progression of coffee dates to dinner dates to play dates for us, so it is a bit harder to pinpoint one moment in time, or one event, as the start of a relationship counter.

And yet, we have somehow arrived at the one year mark after getting together for weekend to weeklong service dates almost every month since Folsom.  New Year’s Eve, a visit in March, SEAF, Shibaricon, and now, Max’s visit with me, in my own home in San Francisco.  It certainly gives me a lot to look back on, as well as a lot to look forward to.

Going through the museum also took me back to my trip to Seattle for the Seattle Erotic Arts Festival.  The festival’s occupied a lot of my head space lately too, as I try to form a coherent article around my experiences there.  I remembered the amazing pieces of artwork I saw and the mesmerizing performances that electrified the exhibit hall.  Wandering through the Legion of Honor, I realized just how starved for art I’d become.  My mind switched to the work around me.  I was enamoured with the classical sculptures and head busts on display, and I marveled at their Rodin collection.  The classic Renaissance paintings and Victorian furniture, I spent less time looking at.  But regardless, it was revitalizing to be surrounded by artwork, alone and insulated by my own thoughts.

At the museum store, I spotted numerous books I’d love to read: Undressed: Why we draw, Love, Sex, & Tragedy: How the ancient world shapes our lives, and The Buried Book.  I also spied a book with a painting of a nude woman entwined around a swan on its cover, which I didn’t pick up but reminded me of the Greek mythology that most captivated me when I was younger: the story of Leda and the swan.  I have always been enraptured by both the story and the paintings it inspired, especially Michelangelo’s rendition.

Sex. Art. Eroticism.  My own arts background helped build a foundation for my sexual identity and gave me a vast amount of appreciation for the human figure, as well as respect for the power of the erotic allure.  I looked at some paintings and wondered at their power to captivate, and the emotions in the eyes of some of the sculptures made me want to weep.  How can art be so powerful?  So evocative? So piercing?

It was an inspiring visit.  I should make the Legion of Honor a monthly visit, and I look forward to slowly making my way through all of the museums in this city.

(notes: all photos were taken by me, and I confess, I took closer note of the media than the artist’s name in some cases. Also, this post’s title is a line from Tanya Davis‘ poem, “How to Be Alone.”  I still can’t stop playing that video…)

chameleon

July 18, 2010 3 comments

As a high school junior, one of the books I read in English class was The Power of One, by Bryce Courtenay.  The main character – nicknamed Peekay – is a British boy in South Africa during the apartheid, and the novel follows him through his various life struggles.  At that time, it became one of my least favorite required reading books.

However, there is one part of the story that has remained with me through the years, a paragraph of self-reflection by the protagonist:

I had become an expert at camouflage.  My precocity allowed me, chameleonlike, to be to each what they required me to be….While this posturing was so finely tuned it was no longer deliberate, it had nevertheless been born out of a compulsion to hide.  As a small child I had discovered that only two places are available to those who wish to remain concealed.  The choices are to be a nonentity or an exception.  You either disappear into a plebeian background or move forward to where most others fear to follow.

p. 472

At the time of reading, I could not have understood how meaningful these words would be, or how closely they have paralleled my own life.

“Only two places are available to those who wish to remain concealed.  The choices are to be a nonentity or an exception.”  This, this I can relate to.  For all of my life up to around 2007, I had chosen to be the nonentity.  I was never happier than when left to my own devices, free to disappear into my books or into the woods behind my house.  Painfully shy as a child, I strove to blend in.  This was in part due to my obvious status as a token minority, but even before I attained the level of self-awareness that I was Different from my peers, I rarely called attention to myself.

In high school, I was quiet, studious, kept my head down, and ignored the hormone-fueled dramas of the other teenagers around me.  If I stay quiet and just keep studying, I thought, nobody will have any reason to look my way, and I won’t get in all those fights everyone else gets into.  There were self-image issues there, certainly.  Every part of my posture and body language aided my camouflage: shrinking into myself, slouching, rarely making eye contact (and never for very long), and only wearing neutral colors and never dresses or skirts.

There are benefits to all of this.  When you become adept at blending in, it’s more difficult to be singled out for harassment – whether while walking alone on a street, or by classroom bullies, or by authority figures.  It’s easier to avoid drama – both becoming embroiled in it and creating it for others.  And when you’re in the “right” demographic, it’s even easier to become invisible while, say, going through airport security.

(At least, until there is a Chinese terrorist attack on American soil.)

It has been hard for me to break out of this shell I’ve built around myself.  This is exactly how I described it to my first partner, Tim: a hard, impenetrable shell.  It was my sophomore fall at college, and my chameleon was entirely too successful.  I made for a perfect casual friend and listening ear – I empathized easily, talked little, and never had any outward personal dramas.  But because of that shell, that mask of aloofness, I never developed any especially deep or intimate friendships.

I felt incredibly lonely.

Peekay continues, on that same page:

My camouflage, begun so many years before under the persecution of the Judge, was now threatening to become the complete man.  It was time to slough the mottled and cunningly contrived outer skin and emerge as myself, to face the risk of exposure, to regain the power of one.  I had reached the point where to find myself was essential.

I had reached the point where the misery of being trapped in my shell far outweighed any risks I might take.  It is the reason I was able to rationalize driving five hours across two states to meet Tim for the first time – and then have sex with him that night.  I felt I’d been passing through the world like a shadow, barely leaving a trace.  I had nothing to lose.

It is hard to remember that version of myself, only a few years younger, and the gratitude I felt that Tim might be the one to break that barrier down.

Well, the rest is an old, battered, and retold story on this blog now, but of course my trust in him was vastly misplaced.  I sought solace in a couple other serial relationships, each shorter than the last, and each snapping pieces of my shell back into place.

A lot can change in a very short period of time, and I’m happy to report that I am still intact and have sloughed the greater part of that contrived outer skin.  Still, twenty years’ worth of skin is difficult to shed all at once.  I still have issues with intimacy and closeness, being honest both with myself and to others when I need help, and expressing my needs.  It is terrifying every time I expose my weaknesses and vulnerability to others.

In short: I am learning to be visible.

I am still not very outgoing or social; I’ve come to accept that as a part of my introverted personality.  I still find it draining and taxing to be with people for a long period of time.  I still hate having pictures taken of my face.

And when I get close to someone – deeply, breathtakingly close – there is still a part of me that recoils, my self-preservation screaming that this will only lead to Bad Things, better to back out now before the inevitable happens.  Look what happened before.  My inner chameleon, hissing at shadows, skin rippling to pull my camouflage back into place.

Here’s to hoping I can win this battle again.  That it will be worth it, and that I can prove myself wrong.

Categories: life, reflection, writing

Within arm’s reach

June 9, 2010 Leave a comment

I am sitting in front of my computer, barely focused on the work at hand, when I feel the air stir behind me like a shadow.  In the time it takes my eyes to widen reflexively, I feel his hand slip up my throat, his arm pressing firmly against my chest as he pushes me bodily against the wall.

His breath is hot in my ear, low growling whispers drawing dark images in my head.

And just as quickly he’s gone, substance dissipated into memory.  I have to remember to breathe against the ghost of his hand on my throat.

I look around. I am alone in the room.

Categories: ethereal, fantasy, writing

Not about

June 6, 2010 2 comments

It’s not about sex, he said.  His body pinned mine close,
my hair curled around his fists like so many coils of rope.

It’s about possession.  Ownership.

Fists tightened with each statement.  My scalp burned.

It’s not about sex, he repeated.

No.  I agreed weakly.  Weak with relief.  I stared back,
saw myself reflected within the depths of his eyes.
Saw myself embedded there, as deeply as he was embedded inside me.
Fingers stretching around my heart, around my lungs, my ribcage.

In his eyes, I saw kindness, and a fierce joy, and exultation.

They only deepened in fullness with each welt,
his pleasure fueled with each guttural scream torn from my throat.

Not. About. Sex.

Categories: love, memories, submission, writing

Shopping trips and sexual identity

May 23, 2010 3 comments

An accumulation of recent events and activity has me thinking a lot about this long, circuitous journey that has become my personal and sexual identity.  Or maybe it should be identities; or, better yet, the spectrum of identities upon which I find myself traversing.

When I visited Max last month, we took a brief shopping trip along with one of his partners, Red.  There is perhaps nothing more innocuous than a shopping trip.  We were, specifically, shopping for a little black dress for me, along with a pair of wearable heels (the pair I brought were 4 inch monsters I managed to convince myself I could wear for 2 hours straight. Despite the fact that I overwhelmingly favor flip-flops and hiking sandals over any heeled shoe).

What began as nothing more than a fun outing became unexpectedly troubling and triggering for me.  It’s embarrassing to admit that here, that I let a shopping trip get to me.  Of course, no one chooses their triggers, but still.

I wrote privately in depth on some of the personal history I have with this, much of it related to family shopping trips and the way I felt like a dress-up doll.  In short, I grew to hate clothes shopping as a child.  And as I grew older and my various family members continued to press specific clothes onto me, I only felt more repelled by it, especially shopping for feminine clothing.  I decried the physical limitations of dresses and skirts, hated wearing bras, and opted to hide in bookstores on family outings to the mall.  I still get an immediate visceral reaction to being around clothes, and I swear clothes racks make me claustrophobic.

Related to all of this is the issue of self-image that I was struggling with at the time.  There were years where I refused to look at myself in the mirror.  There were the constant disparaging remarks about my weight, size, and skin, and constant comparisons made against my peers.  And of course, rather than achieving anything productive out of that, I just withdrew more within myself, and isolated myself from others.  I had no overwhelming desire to be more like my peers, and as my best friend also had an unfavorable opinion on most of the rest of our schoolmates, I did not feel compelled by any sort of peer pressure to assimilate.  I just never cared that much about what I happened to be wearing on my body, as long as it was comfortable, kept me warm or cool as the weather dictated, and allowed me to climb trees.  I admit, there was also the detrimental belief that pretty clothes and makeup could not fix what was not fixable to begin with, and the accepted belief that I just was not that kind of girl.

I probably spent all of high school looking pretty scruffy and disheveled as a consequence.  It wouldn’t be until halfway through college that I would start to care more about my clothes.  And this was expedited by my relationship with Tim.  I dressed up for him, because he wanted me to.  He bought me dresses, each a bit shorter and more revealing than the last, and encouraged me to wear skimpy outfits around campus.  And he encouraged me to wear makeup, and for him, I did.  I often wonder if I would know anywhere near as much about makeup application as I do now, if not for him.

When I broke things off with Tim, I felt like I’d lost a huge sense of self.  And there was no time for me to process everything because I had to go to Costa Rica for my study abroad program a month later.  There, amongst an intimate group of students and acres of rainforest and wilderness, I tried to keep myself together.  It was difficult to fully enjoy the trip with the weight of this recent emotional baggage, and when I could, I emailed or messaged with J and confided in him.  All the while, I was coming to love my trip and the people I was with, especially once we flew to Cayman Islands for the coral reef ecosystem portion of the study abroad.  There, I fell in love with long, flowing beach dresses and skirts (what my mother, in fits of anger, would call “gypsy clothing” derisively).

Once I returned from Costa Rica, I left almost immediately again for Taiwan, where I stayed for most of the spring and summer taking a class at a local university.  There, despite my aunts’ best attempts to take me shopping (for miniskirts and bras, no less), I strove for autonomy, found my own apartment, and started hanging out with expats, where I would meet and start dating M.  Luckily M approved of whatever I wore, and I felt free to continue indulging in my newfound interest in this particular style of dress.  And since I, the darker-skinned American, was already seen as the Other on the island, it was a given to my relatives that I would dress and act oddly anyway.

Once I finally returned to the States to continue my fall term at college, I had repieced together parts of my identity and felt freer to express it than before.  I began to enjoy going, alone or with friends, to the local thrift store in search of cheap clothing, where I often found dresses I liked (and discovered I looked good in).  I stayed away from anything above the knee, feeling still raw at the intentions that Tim had in encouraging that specific kind of dress.  I am reminded of a conversation I had with a close friend, D, where we were discussing dating habits and history.  She told me how she felt that each preceding partner influenced her choice in and attraction to future partners, and how she often looked for opposite qualities from her most recent partner.  This is how I felt about my clothing choices.

So for the most part, I stayed away from anything that could be described as revealing.  I was also tentatively working in the concept of clothing as a part of my identity.  It was still incredibly vague and formless, but I think it was around then, early spring of my senior year, that I began to realize the power and messages that clothing can convey.  And I was doing my hardest to convey a sense of independence, freedom, and purity to fend off the guilt and shame that lingered around the latex skirts, collars, and garters and stockings that defined my time with Tim.

Then, lo and behold, a year later I discovered the public kink community.  Specifically, I fell in with the Bound in Boston crowd, met Dov, even went to a suspension-themed play party in NYC.  I dusted off those garters and stockings and a little black dress, the only fetish-y articles of clothing I’d kept, and found that I was no longer reminded of Tim just by looking at them.  I wore them one last time, to that NYC play party, before I finally threw them away.

And now?  Now, after moving to San Francisco, discovering the immense kinky community here, and attending IMsL, I find myself drawn and attracted to a new aesthetic, yet one reminiscent of my childhood: leather, jeans, and boots.  Thanks to the increased exposure to the leather community, Max introducing me to bootblacking, and working at Wicked Grounds, I’ve come to embrace my love of boots with gusto.  Since purchasing my first pair of Frye’s harness boots, I feel like I’ve found a part of myself, as utterly clichéd as that sounds.  I’ve never felt so compelled or attracted to any piece of clothing, much less any kind of footwear.  But when I walk around in these boots, a jolt of thrill courses up my legs with each step, and I feel a strong sense of power.

At this moment I still oscillate between the easy comfort of soft, breezy cotton dresses that I can quickly slip into and the harder, angular lines of jeans, boots, and leather jacket that fill me with such satisfaction.

So, how does all of this tie into the visceral reaction I had to shopping for a little black dress?  I guess, in all of this, I’ve still kept away from adding both formal dresses and fetishwear to my wardrobe.  And so, while I have a fairly clear idea of what I look like in my gypsy dresses or in my tank top and jeans, I still don’t know how to pick out fancier dresses for my body’s shape and size.  I don’t have any experience wearing nice dresses and heels, and rarely have I needed to.

Perhaps that was enough uncertainty and doubt to bring back all of that history in one solid punch to the gut.

Perhaps my aversion to short black dresses specifically has to do with Tim, and the way he was trying to change me, as a person, through what I wore.

I’m not sure.  I certainly wasn’t happy about the way I was feeling, and it was affecting the way I acted with Max, which made me even unhappier.  Despite knowing, logically, that Max did not have the same intentions as Tim did, I could not stop the emotional doubts regarding the purpose of the trip from racing through my head.

I knew from when I first agreed to be in service to Max during Folsom that I would have to deal with an abundance of emotional baggage.  Yet I never expected that baggage to rear its head, nine months later, at a thrift store in Seattle.

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

another archive round-up

February 28, 2010 Leave a comment

The last time I perused the archives, I focused on more fictional-type writing to dig out, in lieu of new reading material.  Right now I’ve got something new in mind, titled “intention,” but until I actually have the time to flesh it out, I’ve decided now is as good a time as any to pull up more writing from my archives.  This time around, the majority of the posts are inspired by actual occurrences – back in the distant past when I had a regular partner.  Rereading these posts brought back the memories as vividly as if they’d happened last week, and I was flooded with unexpected fondness and nostalgia.  The distance and time between these memories and my present life have allowed me to appreciate these moments without the tinge of bitterness with which I left each relationship.

There was, for instance, the delightful distraction M provided when he came to visit me over his break, despite my protestations otherwise.  I always loved the sleepy morning sex we often had when together – it really is the best alarm clock I could ever ask for.

Then there was this little plea for pain I wrote, back when I was first attempting the convert-the-less-kinky-partner-over-to-bdsm thing with M.  This was pretty significant; I was still hurting from Tim and dubious about what kink and power exchange had done to my well-being at the time, but I felt safe enough with M to start testing those waters again.

My little affair with frat boy SR was slightly less inspiring writing material, but there is this cute little moment we had together.  What’s a girl to do, indeed.

And finally: I was a little embarrassed to include this with the other fictional writing, but as much as it slightly mortifies me to have written something this ridiculous, rereading it still arouses me, and makes me laugh, so if nothing else it’ll hopefully insert a little humor into someone else’s day.

With that, I’m off to nurse aching arms from some pretty strenuous climbing as well as an afternoon lesson on throwing a person to the ground, Aikido-style.

Categories: life, links, love, memories, sex, writing