Thursday, January 5, 2017

Winter/Spring Teaching!

I didn't get to do a lot of teaching last year, but this Winter/Spring I'm happy to have the time and opportunity to teach at three amazing events. Catch me there!

  • WestCoastBound 2017 - Vancouver, BC - January 27-29, 2017
    I've been trying to get to WCB for a few years now and I was finally free to present at this year's event. I can't wait to experience this - I hear it's a wonderful weekend. I'll be presenting alongside amazing people like Laura Antoniou, Lew Rubens, Barkas & Addie, Midori, and Danarama - get tickets if you're on the west coast! I'm presenting on my personal favorite topics: Rope Torture, Humiliation/Degradation, and best of all, MOUTH PLAY! 
  • Dark Odyssey Winter Fire 2017 - Washington, D.C. - February 17-20, 2017
    This will be my second Winter Fire and my third DO event and I am as excited as ever to be returning. This is my favorite hotel event in the U.S. - you can't beat it! I'll be presenting two bondage classes (Beautiful Boys, and Bondage for the Flexibly Challenged), and a class on Negotiation which has been a big success wherever it's been presented.
  • Ropecraft Chicago - Chicago area - Memorial Day weekend (May 26-29, 2017)
    This is a big one for me because it's two "finally!" things in one con - I finally get to go to this event that everyone is talking about, and a rope event is finally replacing the now-defunct Shibaricon in Chicago on Memorial day weekend. Not sure yet which classes I'll be teaching, but the event is sure to be lots of fun!

Friday, March 11, 2016

There is no spoon

In a recent yoga class, while leading us through a particularly challenging sequence, the instructor told us to "let go of everything you do not need, right here, in this moment." I knew what she was talking about. I've done a lot of that kind of letting go in my life.

When I was 15 I was diagnosed with a gastrointestinal disease called Ulcerative Colitis. It’s not that uncommon (about 1 in 300 people have it), so you’ve probably heard of it. Mostly, my disease is manageable, and I’ve had 25 years of practice at coping with it. While nowadays I only have bad episodes a couple times a year, for a good 10+ years it was something I dealt with constantly – either the disease itself, or the side effects of one or another medication. As I’ve dealt with a really severe flare up this month, I’ve remembered what that was like, and I’ve seen myself coping in the same way I always have - I do as my yoga teacher suggested and “let go of everything I do not need, right here, in this moment.” I’ve realized that this practice of letting go not only of that which does not serve me, but that which I do not absolutely REQUIRE, is something I do all the time now, in general. And that maybe that's not the best thing for all the time.

I am realizing now how much having this chronic illness has contributed to how I interact with the world. Why am I writing about this in a forum intended for kinky people?  Because life with this disease has helped to re-shape me from who I was into who I am, and who I am affects how I kink. Also, I’ve not spoken about this to hardly anyone in the kink community ever, for reasons I’ll get into in a sec, and I think I need to do this now, as a way of unburdening myself a little. So here goes.

I don’t know what it’s like for other people with unseen physical diseases, but I am above all embarrassed about my disease. For one thing, I like to perceive myself as a strong person, and I like others to perceive me that way too, and having a disease which sometimes totally cripples me doesn’t really boost that perception. I know I’m strong for how I’ve handled myself, but other people might not perceive it that way. For another (and much more significant) thing, the symptoms of my disease are things which are not generally talked about in polite society. We are taught to hide what we do on the toilet, you know? So yeah, it’s hard to explain to people why I’m running to the bathroom all the time, or why I can’t suspend you because I can’t guarantee I won’t have to leave for 10 minutes all of a sudden, or why I turned around and went home after getting all the way to the club because I couldn’t find a bathroom in time and had to go crouch behind a dumpster in an alley or something and now I feel awful and have ruined my outfit.

Feeling embarrassed about my circumstance has led me to be pretty withdrawn about my personal nuances, in general. I clam up and it’s hard for me to talk about my weaknesses around new people. But then when I feel like I can trust someone to understand, I let it all out in a big ol’ word vomit and probably scare people off because they think I’m slightly unhinged. I may actually be slightly unhinged by this. My embarrassment has led me to feel a need for control over my circumstances that I didn't used to feel. It's part of why I am more a rigger than a bottom, now.

In the kink community in particular, I’ve also noticed that I feel lesser than with this particular illness. Why? A lot of it is because of butt stuff. Butt stuff is really, really bad for me. I know this because I have tried and it is not a good idea at all. I now basically have a doctor’s note that says “no butt stuff.” But it’s so popular! It’s encouraged so widely! Everyone wants to have things in their butt and/or to put their things in a partner’s butt, and I can’t participate in the receiving end of that. It’s such a prevalent desire among kinky people, and so important to so many of them, and so widely talked about, that I feel I am an undesirable partner for lots of folks I’d like to have sexytimes with. And therefore I sort of feel like an undesirable person, in a community where so much of a person's perceived worth comes from their worth as a potential partner. And then there’s that whole previously mentioned issue about not really being able to control my bowels sometimes. It’s hard to gauge whether someone is going to be cool when I say “sometimes when I orgasm really hard I become incontinent” or whether they’ll deal with it like my college boyfriend did the first time it happened, by being so horrified that he yelled at me and left me crying in the shower. And no, that wasn’t a consensual humiliation scene.

Feeling lesser than because of my condition has led me to be very, very shy about pursuing new sexual partners, especially male sexual partners. I don’t want to become invested in liking someone only to find out that I’m undesirable to them because of my physical limitations. I’m shy, so I feel left out. But remember, I’m someone who wants to be seen as strong. So like most people who are shy but don’t want to be seen as shy, I just put up a wall that makes me seem unapproachable, rather than afraid to approach people.

Finally, my disease can be time-consuming, energy-consuming, and physically, mentally, and emotionally taxing. When I’m sick, I can’t do much except be sick. Getting to work in the morning, eating meals, getting home, keeping the house clean, interacting with people – these are sometimes things I don’t have enough spoons to do. So I do that thing of letting go of all the things I do not need right then, in that moment, to get through to the next moment. It turns out I can and do let go of everything except: my breath, my body awareness that little voice in my head that tells me I can do this because I have no other choice, and my dignity. A lesser - but still very important - requirement is company from people who I really trust to care for me, and around whom I feel secure being fragile. Apart from those things, I let it all go. The problem is, because I’ve spent so much time having to let go of what I don’t absolutely need “right now” that I don’t know how to invite in the things I really need "not necessarily right now" for my happiness, like having close friends and being good to them, and being able to relax around people in general. I need to have a larger support network than the extremely small handful of people I rely on when I’m really sick. It’s not fair to them and it’s not healthy for me.

This has been long and if you’ve read to here I think you’re neat. I don’t have a conclusion other than to say it’s been good to realize these things and get them down on “paper” and into the world where they’re not just held inside me. Maybe I should wrap all my realizations up in a nice bow here but I’m not going to. I hope maybe somebody who is interested in having it has a better understanding of what’s below the surface.

Sunday, February 21, 2016


How does one know when one is overreacting? This is something I think about all the damn time. 

It's sort of messed up that with all my thinking, writing, reading, and talking about feminism, I should be susceptible to internal voices like...

...maybe that email isn't really so creepy after all. Am I overreacting?


So I'm RSVP'd maybe to an event, right? It's the same day as another event at a later time that I'm running, so I'm really not sure the logistics of going, and I haven't really thought about it in awhile. I'm also RSVP'd to a couple of other events this month, and am a member of a few groups which hold events semi-regularly, etc. I'm not good at keeping track of my maybes.

I get this email out of the blue from a dude who I don't know from Adam. He notices, he tells me, that I'm RSVP'd maybe to the event on [date/s redacted*]. He hopes I can make it. He wants to meet the "mastermind" behind my profile. He states that I'm "talented" and posits that it's "in more ways than one."

My first reaction is to be like, "What event on [date/s redacted]? What group is this dude an organizer of? He doesn't seem familiar to me." I look on my events. The event he was speaking of was an event for which I know the organizer well. This dude is NOT representing the event. But - **and I say this as an event organizer** - based on this guy's words:

"I see you're down as a maybe for the event on [date/s redacted]; I hope you can make it."

...I am led to believe that he is representing the event. And then that awful "I'm sure you're talented in more ways than one" pickup line! Gross. 

So, I was on the fence about the event, due to scheduling issues. This email - which I knew for a fact was NOT from the event organizer, who I reiterate is a friend of mine - this email made me decide not to go to the event. How so? Because I knew if I went, even with a partner, this guy would creep on me. And I am not about to pay for the privilege of having to keep my guard up at a kink event. Despite the fact that I kinda wanted to go. Was I overreacting? Maybe, I thought, but better safe than sorry.

Then I thought to myself: MrsB, you should really email the event organizer and tell him about this. I bold the Him in that previous sentence because the sex of the organizer really did factor into my decision as to whether or not to bring it to his attention. Despite the fact that this organizer is my friend, and one whom I know takes the safety and comfort of all his guests seriously. But I have been told by every single man I know in my personal life that, at one time or another, I am overreacting to something I perceive as sexist or threatening. 

Let me repeat that.

At one time or another Every. Single. Solitary. Man. I. Know. has accused me of overreacting to something I perceive as sexist or threatening.

So I thought to myself - will I be accused of overreacting? *AM I*, in fact, overreacting? The first couple lines of the email, where he seems to be representing the event, could have just been a mishap of phrasing. Surely someone not representing an event would not reach out to me, pretending to represent that event? [Note: In light of how this has played out, I believe that to have truly been the case.] The second part of the email, with the pickup line: that's creepy, isn't it? Or is it just lame? How much of the benefit of the doubt do I give this guy? 

I went through this song and dance with myself for several hours before I took a chance on my friend, the organizer, and texted him about it. And because he's a good organizer who, as I said, takes the safety and comfort of all his guests seriously, he read my concerns, validated them, suggested that he might take action about it, and when I said that'd be good, he did so. AND he thanked me for bringing it to his attention. 

It was a great big relief that it played out like that. I was really surprised at how much it felt like a relief to have that happen. Because so often it doesn't. It truly did feel like a gamble to reach out to this person. IT SHOULD NOT FEEL LIKE THAT.

This isn't a note about how event organizers should be more responsive. I believe organizers are becoming more responsive every single week and every single event. Rather this is a note about how it shouldn't feel like a gamble to bring this stuff up. It felt like a gamble simply because this person was a man, and so often I am told by men that I'm overreacting to stuff like this. (I get told this sometimes by women too, and that's a whole 'nother journal entry.) I'm told so often that I'm overreacting to stuff like this that I question my own perceptions on a regular basis. 

Guys, the amount of energy I spend questioning my own perceptions about things I see as sexist or threatening is fucking exhausting and I'm tired of it. I spend enough time questioning whether I'm reacting logically to totally legit stuff I might not be reacting to logically, like whether my frustration with the lady ahead of me in line at the grocery store is justified, or whether my snapping at my husband about not cleaning the peanut butter off the spoon was maybe a little harsh. I'm no longer interested in spending energy in deciding whether or not my own perception of whether something seems sexist or threatening to me as a woman is right. But as long as people continue to question my perception about that like half the time, I guess I'll continue wasting my energy that way. 

I'm glad there was a step in the right direction today.