So Tell Me ... What's The Weather Like on YOUR Planet?

27 February, 2008

You Are What You Eat

I find myself, for complicated reasons, thinking of my brother today, and differences between us.

It's become clear to me over time that food was something like my mother's second-favorite locus of control. Where I've heard of families in which children were required to at least sample some portion of what was put on their plates, or had control over how much of everything was put there but were expected to finish what they selected, I had no choice about how much there was, and was expected to finish it. My mother finished her meals with the promptness of someone from a working-class family who grew up with three brothers, my father somewhat less promptly, and I was frequently abandoned, often with my brother, at the table, because supervising my staring at the strong-tasting food was probably as boring as being constrained to the table until it was gone.

My brother ... opted out.

I don't know how he did it. He just refused to participate; by the time he was six or seven he was making his own small dinners of things he was willing to eat, and somehow he was permitted to do so. These days my father agonises some about whether letting him do that led to the development of his gastrointestinal disorder or whether my brother's refusal to eat what the rest of the family was eating derived from early attempts on his part to find food he could digest without pain, before his illness surged to its current level.

I don't know how he did it. I don't know how he ducked the whole nexus of control.

And my picky, stubborn brother grew into a giant foodie, full of exploration and joy and gastronomic enthusiasm, something which both makes his disorder kick up to a different level of suffering and makes it that much easier for him to find interesting food that he can safely eat.

And I, stuck in the control games about what I would eat and how much, grew into someone with weird neuroses about food and control, remained picky and conservative in my food preferences, and am still nauseated by cauliflower.

18 February, 2008

This One Time At Band Camp

I went to a really weird summer camp.

And one of the weird things that happened at the weird summer camp was a kind of carnival one weekend, in which the various camp counsellor types would set up booths for the entertainment of the kids.

One of the booths, every year, was The Marriage Booth. At which one could go, put together a little silly ceremony, and be issued a little copper ring.

Pairs of campers went, of all possible gender combinations. Large morasses of people declared themselves group married. Sometimes one person married a long list. People went back again and again to get their little copper rings. There was a great parody done of all the tropes of romance, melodramatic proposals on one knee the way only nerdy kids can do, the occasional moping about not being asked, and no sense of exclusivity or ownership.

The one time I actually went to The Marriage Booth was a time I'd actually gotten up the nerve to ask a boy I was sweet on. He, who had just married a group of about a dozen people, cheerfully agreed.

But I got a sillymarriage all to myself.

And I wore the shoddy copper ring until it turned my finger black and fell apart.

11 February, 2008

From Gehenna, With Love

Dear Earth:

Did you know that you're kind of scary?

I mean, I'm lucky enough to live in an area where it's pretty much safe to be someone who looks at things on an angle, but that doesn't make it easier to figure out what to show. Not closets; I won't do closets. But ...

Mentioning that my boyfriend's wife asked around at the office to get me a recommendation of a place to get lunch and suddenly wondering what was behind the blink of response. Wondering if that's going to go somewhere unpleasant.

Talking to my father on the phone for my birthday, and he asks me if I have any exciting news. And I fidget with the ring on my finger, and stare into space, and eventually don't tell him, because there's no social space for that sort of news to come out easily.

Being directed to put on my collar and wear it out to a gathering of friends, and being consumed with a desperate anxiousness that somehow people will notice and object -- that knowing in a peripheral way that that relationship is kinky will be acceptable, but that wearing the token will be across the invisible line of acceptability, will be pushy, will be taken as some grievous offense against the social expectation of some level of nodding to conformity.

There are times that naming my liege as a partner of mine is frightening, dangerous, edgy, in a way that referring to my husband as my partner never can be. Because there are all these invisible lines, and different people touch off and go strange in different places, at the crossing of different taboos. There are times that there's a temptation to dodge the lines, make it easy, be who I am without ever confronting people with its reality, without ever naming any of the things that might fall over someone's invisible lines. Even though it mortgages my soul a little and makes to erase essential things.

I spent some time recently in the company of a married couple who happen to both be male. And every time one of them said "my husband", I felt the brush of a touch on the invisible line. And I pray that the little twinge is merely a twinge of the unfamiliar, that my unconscious heteronormativity is merely slow on catching up with the rest of my fervent belief in same-sex marriage rights, that my membership in the community of people who support and recognise their marriage is not compromised further than that. I hope that they're not burdened with the sense that they are being someone's object lesson in diversity, even while I know that that's a likely persistent subliminal effect.

I'm watching a discussion on usenet as well, in which a disabled person has managed to convey successfully to someone who had thought that "Why are you in a wheelchair?" was within the bounds of reasonable, civil conversation to have with a new acquaintance how intrusive it felt from the other side. And thinking of something a friend has been talking about elsewhere, about facilitating OWL (the Unitarian sex education program) and asking the class if they saw her as disabled. And a variety of other examples, recent and otherwise, of othering, tokenising, being the exemplar of an adjective -- the majority of them not chosen by the person stuck in the role of educator, reminder, example of Them.

I guess what I want to say to you, Earth, is that being the Visibility Fairy is exhausting work.

04 February, 2008

Chapter For Lifting A Ferryboat

Who are you who comes?

I am a magician.

Are you complete?

I am complete.

Are you equipped?

I am equipped.

What are those tools, magician?

They are the carafe and the knife.

What is the nature of the carafe?

The nature of the carafe is twofold.

What are those two things?

They are the cupbearer and the healer.

What are these?

Of the cupbearer: to bring that which is needed, to sustain, and to serve; to carry the water that will lift the prow. To draw from the well, to pour out.

What else are these?

Of the healer: to wash away pain, to sustain, and to mend; to tend to injury and to weariness with a gentle hand. To draw from the well, to pour out.

Who holds these things?

The one who knows yielding, who cradles the lotus, the steward.

What is the nature of the knife?

The nature of the knife is twofold.

What are those two things?

They are the goad and the defender.

What are these?

Of the goad: to demand, to challenge, and to release; to not hold back from the cut when the lesson of the wound is greater than the mark. To hold to what is real, to root deep.

What else are these?

Of the defender: to stand firm, to shelter, and to protect; to bleed when bleeding will mark the boundary. To hold to what is real, to root deep.

Who holds these things?

The one who knows discipline, who raises the djed pillar, the sentinel.

Take care! Do you say that you would bear these tools? If you do so, what will you do?

I will govern myself, I will serve with joyfulness, I will know my will and give it freely, I will prepare what is necessary at the times for doing so, I will be whole and complete.

Do you know the road on which you must go, magician?

I know the road on which I must go.

Which is the road on which you must go?

It is "Singing Heart".

As you are endowed with life, awaken the gatekeeper for me, for see, I have come.

(The completely baffled may be assisted with something of a reference. I can't explain the Mystery -- beyond that this has been rattling around in my head since Saturday, when I was given such gifts to mark that which I am.)

A Keep-Comment

Posted at Lost in the Underground (and corrected for typo here):

Fools walk where angels fear to tread; this is why God so loves the yurodstvo.

01 February, 2008

Fantasy and Reality

Partly in response to some stuff on my mind; partly in response to discussions in various places; partly in response to a small comment in this post by Trinity at Let Them Eat Pro-Sm Feminist Safe Spaces, my gnawings on, quoting Trin for ease of thingy, "actually living in a relationship that has a steady power relation in it is different than fantasizing about surrendering or even of serving".

This is not going to be all deeply thought out or profound or anything. It's just, y'know, reality of 24/7 vs. fantasy or the occasional scene, from the perspective of my head. Some of this is me-specific; some is probably generalisable; I don't always know which is which.

* Being committed to a relationship that contains a power dynamic doesn't mean that that is always relevant to a given interaction, including an interaction between the partners

* Unless someone is starting out fabulously wealthy, that 24/7 harem slave fantasy isn't going to be 24/7 bonbons, lounging attractively, playing musical instruments, keeping those stomach muscles toned, and sexual favors.

* Sometimes, people are too sick to be exciting.

* Truly being of service doesn't stop at the boundaries of what I like.

* Sometimes service is really boring. Especially if master is too busy with whatever requires assistance to pay particular attention to the service.

* Just because that kink contract includes master's freedom to demand sexual services at any time doesn't actually mean one gets laid more often.

* Sometimes "any time" is "while I'm trying to empty the dishwasher".

* Just because it's awfully hot in one's head doesn't mean that it's easy for one's partner to implement.

* Just because it's the best way to make a particular short-term interaction work for one doesn't mean that it's easy for one's partner to implement.

* Just because you're both interested in power exchange doesn't mean that the same frame model works for you in the same way.

* Just because some sort of power dynamic relationship is appealing doesn't mean that any specific of model or structure for it will work with any particular partner.

* It's possible to sub-drop without having had enough of the warm fuzzy explicit-kink interaction to cushion the landing at all. (This is godawful.)

* Sub-drop when master is unavailable to provide [after]care stinks on ice.

* Even if one doesn't go in for the whole 'training your slave' thing explicitly, the shape of things tends towards kink-as-self-improvement-tool, and not just in building up those oral sex skills.

* That trend doesn't just affect the sub.

* Sometimes the power dynamic can be used to break through otherwise intractable communication blockages. Sometimes one doesn't want to bite one's master after that trick gets pulled. Much.

* The protocols of the relationship persist even when one is cranky at one's partner, and maintaining them in that situation is even more important than when they're a joy, or sexy, or whatever else.

* When something has gone wrong, all those little things that normally reinforce the dynamic will fall flat -- at best.

* A sharp and attentive partner will notice that the buttons are not being successfully pushed, back off, and work on fixing what's interrupting the natural flow of the dynamic.

* Knowing when to push and when to let be is a critical skill for managing a sub.

* And for managing a dom, for that matter.

* "Power exchange" is a poor word for "power differentiation". Maybe "power centrifuging"? "Power clarifying". Like butter? Mmm, butter.

* People who object to d/s on the basis of restrictions on the submissive confuse me, because having a clearly established, naturally flowing, and focused place in the universe is one of the most freeing things I've ever encountered, somewhere from which it is so easy to be powerful.

* I am irrationally annoyed by people who figure that the only real 24/7 element in my relationship with my liege (who I do not live with or see daily) is some sort of chastity kink or moratorium on wanking off. I'm not sure if this would be more or less annoying if it actually had relevance or accuracy.

* Watching television with him stroking my neck and shoulder is not a 'scene', but it's damned sure d/s.

* Having a genuine other person existing outside one's head involved means that sometimes things happen that one never would have thought of in the first place. Some of those things are hot. All of them expand the mind a little to encompass a larger possibility than imaginable before.

I'll finish up with a link to the best writing I've seen about the sort of kink that I do in the past long while, here, with its followup post here. The author is working within a particular religious tradition, which I somewhat share.