Archive for October 20, 2011

Forgetting Where You Are

I am prone to forgetting many things I wish I remembered. I figure I am not alone in this. For me, it is not just frustrating but also interesting. How are things I remember different from the things I forget? What makes my little head cling to one thing while it tosses away something else like so much trash?

I remember the first time I kissed a boy. I remember the first time I had sex. I remember the first time I shaved my head. Is it that I remember these things because they were firsts? I don’t think that is it, at least not all of it. Consider that I don’t remember the first time I gave head.  Don’t remember the first time I rode a horse.  First might be some but is not all of the equation my head uses.

What about special? Is it that something is special and so I remember it? I still don’t think that is it. For example, I cannot remember one of my children’s birthday to save my life. I’ve actually had to sneak off to the file cabinet a few times and sneak a peek at her birth certificate to confirm. I remember the delivery, the process long and drawn out. I remember her smiles and her temper tantrums. I remember her big giant head that flopped about like a broken doll. I remember her, the essence of her, but her birth date…not so much. The other kids, no problem. I can rattle off their birthdays with ease. That one kid is also very special to me, but the date slips through my mental fingers.

I doubt I will ever understand how my brain picks things to keep and things to discard. The thing that I find really fascinating about remembering is when I know that some important bits of information are in there, upstairs in my gray squish, but they are not where they might be most handy. Left and right used to be like that all the time. Being dyslexic nothing is as annoying for me as having a teacher tell me for the thousandth time that a lower case letter D faces left and a lower case B faces right. Good fucking luck when you can’t remember which way is left. The weird thing about it was that I have a freckle on my right hand which a teacher once told me to look at to remember left from right. I did this check most of my life, physically turning over my right hand and looking at the freckle, but I always looked at my right hand first.  Somewhere in my brain was the knowledge of which hand was my right but without the act of looking at it, I couldn’t guess. Very weird.

Forgetting where I am at a given moment is sort of like that for me. There is an element of knowing but forgetting at the same time. I find myself at work doing a little goofy tap dance to cheer a co-worker forgetting entirely that I am at work and likely as not this is considered unprofessional. One morning, I came into my office and on my desk was a framed photo taken by one of my co-workers in which I have a sock on each hand. In the picture I am clearly having a little conversation with Mr. Sock and Mrs. Sock. The photo was a candid shot taken during a staff meeting. I forgot I was at work I suppose. Someone handed me two socks, and that was enough to make me lose all sense of formality. I was just being myself.

I have been in a graduate class and answered a legal ethics question posed by my professor with great clarity and confidence. When the professor asked me for my source, I just a clearly and confidently stated I had seen it on Law and Order. Needless to say, that was not what the professor considered a reliable source though we all got a good laugh out of it. I forgot I was in graduate school for a moment. I was just me.

When my Master and I attended a leather gathering not so long ago, a question was raised in the discussion about how important suffering was to the journey of a slave.  I raised my hand and answered that I didn’t think that suffering was a good plan for anyone since avoiding suffering is generally much more fun and enjoyable for everyone involved. I knew that all of the answers given before mine were in favor of suffering as a tool for growth. I knew I was the fish swimming the wrong way. Maybe I forgot my role as slave. Maybe I shouldn’t have disagreed with the flow of the conversation.  Perhaps I again forgot where I was and just continued being myself. My Master had raised his hand at the same time and when he responded after me his comment was nearly identical to mine. He felt just I did and we were fishes swimming together.

In the end, I think this sort of forgetting is my favorite.  Finding that I am always just regular old me is pretty nice. I am glad that I am forgetful enough of the expectations of the world around me to allow myself to blindly walk through my days just as I am. Sure, it gets you the occasional stare, or photo in your office, but it is worth it. The only cure I can think of is to be a ‘me’ that I am unashamed of so that every time I forget where I am, I am always right where I should be. Forgetting where you are is not a problem if you never forget who you are.

Why “Epa”?

On occasion, someone will ask me why I have this strange tattoo on my breast or why my FetLife name is “his_epa.”  I even had someone comment once that I must really be into protecting the environment since I hold the E.P.A., Environmental Protection Agency, in such high regard. The epa symbol is something very special, so I thought I would write an explanation of its meaning to me.

Epa, like the Kramo Bone, is a symbol in the Andinkra language.  It loosely translates as, “you are the slave of him whose handcuffs you wear.”  According to Andinkra.org , the epa traditionally, “reminds offenders of the uncompromising nature of the law” and “discourages all forms of slavery.” Both of these notions are incorporated in my personal use of the symbol.

First, the epa represents the “uncompromising nature of the law.” In my Master’s house, he is the law.  I am always under his law and it never abandons me.  I know that I will always have his fencing around me.  For some people, the idea of being bound to rules and regulation is distasteful. For me, it is a comfort.

When I was a young mother, my mother came for a visit.  At the time I lived in a crappy apartment in a bad neighborhood and my son was four.  The kids from the apartment complex were all tattered little ruffians that appeared already intent on a life of crime and mischief but they tended to gather in my living room.

I didn’t feed them or give them anything, many of them were old enough that playing with my son was no fun, and most of the time I had them doing some sort of chore.  If the garbage was full, I’d pick one and tell them to take it out.  If the dishes needed washing up, I’d find a different kid and assign him the task.  If they started fighting, I would snip at them to stop. I’d check if they had homework. They did what I asked and just sort of milled in and around our home.  They seemed to like being around me and that was fine by me.

I didn’t understand why these kids were always hanging around, until my mother said something that surprised me. She said, “They are here so someone will tell them what to do. Children never feel safe unless they try to walk into the road and someone yells out to call them back from the danger.”  This is how I feel about the law in my Master’s house. I know I am loved because there he stands, ready to put me to a task or call me back from the edge.  The uncompromising nature of the law is unconditional love at its core.

The second notion, that the epa is a warning against slavery is also dear to me.  I am in my heart a slave, like a horse is a horse or a dog is a dog.  Slavery is what is me.  Like a dog lost without his owner, I am often at risk of accepting enslavement from the things I come in contact with.

My Daddy commented that this seems weird that a slave would hold dear something that warns against slavery. To me, it is a warning against slavery that is unwanted. Perhaps this is a thin line from a logical point of view, but in my mind the line is clear.

I have often fallen into the sort of bad company that takes advantage of me. Everything I choose to follow, I followed without question. I’ve lived on a Y2K farm, planted churches, taken in strangers to live in my home because they were in need, and worked 60 hours a week while getting paid for 40.

I was always flowing whichever direction the river flowed and paddling with all my might to swim fastest and best. A boss once told me I am the picture of gullible in the dictionary, and in some ways I agree but it is more than that. I am a slave.  A full hearted servant with loyalty and dedication to whatever I serve. This has led me into trouble at times and so I hold the epa symbol close to remind me I only serve one Master.

I cannot and ought not to allow anything to call on my service that he does not ask me to attend to. I work toward excellence and efficiency in my profession but I am not a slave to my work.  My work is under his law and each day as I work I am conscious that it is all done in service to him. There is nothing I place ahead of him. No goal to be attained unless he sets it. I bear the tattoo of the epa on my breast and keep it in my thoughts to always guide me to follow only him.  The epa is my safeguard whenever I am not with him.

Review of “The Pain Journal”

This is a copy of a post made in early 2011 to The Pervert’s Library website run by Todd. I re-post it here for two reasons. First, because I think everyone should love Bob Flanagan as much as I do.  Second, because I feel it tells as much about me as it does about the book.

The Pain Journal

By Bob Flanagan
Published in 2000 by Smart Art Press

Let me begin this review by saying Bob Flanagan is my personal hero.  I am aware that this is sure to color my response to this book so I want to be upfront about that.  Now you, the reader, have been informed. I find myself rather confused as to how to write this review without it turning into a persuasive essay intended to draw the reader into their own personal aspiration to have Bob Flanagan become their hero. Fear not, I doubt that what draws me to him is in many folks.  Generally speaking, I am a bit bent.  That said, with no further ado, I will begin.

Bob Flanagan was an artist, masochist, and slave who had cystic fibrosis (CF).  He described the Pain Journal as “intended to be just a daily record, a minimum of a paragraph a day, and never meant to be read unedited by anyone but me.” His summery beats any I could write so there you have it.  The first entry is dated December 27, 1994 and the last December 16, 1995.  Bob died a few weeks later on January 4, 1996.  Though Bob became known best for his BDSM exhibitions, the pain detailed in the journal is mostly related to his CF and the dying process he goes through.

The journal is indeed a daily record of his thoughts, a simple chronicling of his day’s activities mostly.  Things like watching too much TV, feeling bored, losing his ability to orgasm, losing his desire to be sociable while at the same time missing contact with his friends. It is mundane for the most part yet within the entries you get more than you might expect.  He is authentic.

Authenticity is sort of a catchy phrase these days.  Lots of self help books tell us to be authentic, relationship guides insist on it as fundamental, and hipsters vet their idols on their perceived authenticity. We see being authentic as noble and expect to be able to receive it from others. Meanwhile we are ourselves cloaked internally and rarely even let ourselves be aware of what our own inner demons are up to.

We do not reveal ourselves to anyone, especially not ourselves.  How often do we wipe a booger under the front edge of our car seat and send an updating email to our lover?  Is it the norm to give voice at a dinner party to our predilection for wishing people in our lives dead so that we inherit money and can sleep late instead of going to work Monday mornings? Or that we fantasize about gang bangs and dogs and lust for power and freedom from being kind or nice or polite or even clean? No, we don’t even say these things in whispers to ourselves.  We are hidden and unknown.

In the lifestyle I choose to live, I am a slave like Bob. What is the life of a slave?  Exposure. It is belonging to another, fully.  Even the dark little twisted places.  Those places belong to the Master.  All is theirs. Nothing is hidden.  Bob is the slave of his wife Sheree Rose.  She tells him to write and so he does.  He writes all of it, the pretty, the boring, and the shameful.  It is all there, even his own musing about his internal thought editing as he wonders if he is trying to think ‘noble’ things so that he can write things people will admire once he dies.

It is his authenticity that makes him my hero.  I see his life as a model of authentic living.  The model of who and what I try to be as a slave and a woman. The Pain Journal is his real experience of coming to his own end.  If I can live my life even half as authentically as Bob, I will be proud of myself.

Perhaps the section of the book that touched me most though was not written by Bob.  Sheree Rose writes a short essay as the last chapter titled “In Semi-Sickness and in So Called Health, I’m Still in Love with You.” She tells of falling in love with Bob, their life together, and finally his death.  Then she shares an experience she had after Bob died where she felt he was haunting her due to their forever vows of love. An acquaintance tells her that these eternal vows will prevent her from ever finding happiness with another person.  She does not feel regret at having this affliction, instead she is “elated that Bob is still so close.” That is the love I hope I will always have for my husband and Master. He is truly my whole world and I wept as I read Sherri’s words because that is a fate I also aspire to. She loves him though he is dead and what could be more powerful than that.

I can’t promise you will enjoy this book as much as I did.  I can’t promise that you will even get through it. It is, after all, an unedited personal journal written by a man who is dying and many times heavily medicated. But I do promise you that if you do read it, you will think differently about your own authenticity and how you choose to spend your days until you too come to your own end. It is worth your time.

When you think you are all grown up

Isn’t it interesting how just when you think you’ve grown up, you grow.

I remember when I was first a mother. I was terrified of being responsible for whole entire little person. All I could think about was a pressing desperate need to grow up. I needed to grow the hell up and right fucking now.

I sat in the hospital room in the middle of that first night looking down at the tiny wrinkly little face of my sleeping newborn son. I was eighteen and had not quite managed to grow out my mo-hawk yet. I was trying, I wanted to be whatever it was that I needed to be in order to be everything he would need. After a few years, I had the sense that I had grown up. The baby was a little boy who was happy and had clean shoes to muddy whenever his little playful heart wanted. I had grown, but I was not all grown up.

After several more children and a long drawn out abusive marriage, I divorced their Dad and put myself into college. Single mom with four young kids, making my way in the big bad world. I remember thinking in the middle of the night while they lay asleep in their little beds that I had grown up at long last. Again, it turned out I had grown but not all the way up.

A few years later, after finding the kink community I had wonderful and crazy and not-what-I-thought-they-would-be encounters with others. I had moved into a place of feeling in control of my sexuality. I was lusty and lush and lavish with my body and my time. I loved and was loved and drank in so much that I nearly drown. I remember sitting in my bedroom, still salted with sweat, several lovers asleep in my bed with their snores harmonizing. I thought to myself, now I am truly grown up. I am a woman in control of her life, her passions, and her future. I was, of course, wrong. I had grown but I was not grown up.

Then I found myself constantly fetching coffee for and walking a quiet step behind this amazing man. I couldn’t stop myself from wanting to be anything he would be pleased by. I cried myself to sleep when he wouldn’t let me iron his clothing. By some odd twist of fate, he chose to take ownership of me. To be my everything. He collared me, branded me, and finally married me. I remember laying in his bed after awakening from a bad dream and feeling his fist wrapped firmly in my hair. Even as he slept, he held me fast in his grip. I thought I had indeed grown up. I thought I was complete. As always, I was wrong. I have grown, but I am not yet grown all the way up.

Each day I find new growth. Friendships blooming around me. Children themselves growing and bringing new joys and challenges. New growth and deeper roots. I feel strong and whole now when I think of this growing. I am pleased to know I am not yet complete. I am happiest when I am changing while always remaining myself.

Filling the gaps

Everything goes along swimmingly. You are happy. He is happy. Life is good. There is stress, but that is expected. Life is bumpy and that is OK too because you know it will always land you in his bed at night at his side.

Then you notice something a little different, a little off. Not even a ‘thing’ so much as a feeling of something that is a thing that you can’t quite see. You know, like a fuzzy spot on your eyeball that darts away whenever you try to really look directly at it.

So now what? What to do? Doing nothing comes to mind. After all, you’ve already established that you expected bumps in the road so why worry right?

Then it seems like the thing is a little bigger. Hmm, well no worries. Move on, you think of your mom telling you not to pick at a scab because it will never heal. So you go on about your business doing the normal things you always do, except you find yourself less present in the moment sometimes. Not much of a shift, just a little. You know, he walks in, you greet him with the same words, with the same smile, but you don’t feel the same.

So you console yourself with classic thoughts like, “nothing stays the same, that is part of growing” and “everyone changes, it is normal.” So again, no worries… moving on. You try to think about the internal processes, the deeper places of your submission. You focus on on your positive, you do a little cognitive behavioral therapy on yourself and adjust your thoughts to be ‘more positive.’

Guess what… sigh… still it is there. Now it is getting more noticeable. It is a gap. A simple space. Light between your profiles. Something. Nothing.

This is where the the rubber meets the road. What do you do now? How do you find a new view of yourself that shows you closer to him? Quandary. Angst. Sigh. Pout when he isn’t looking.

You get distracted by his smile for a minute while you are thinking of this ominous gap that is surely growing between the two of you. You were just thinking, “How can he not feel it?” With growing anxiety you think “He is so clueless! How can he not see that I am really thinking hard about how this unknown thing is coming between us.” You really were just thinking maybe he is just a dork and thick as a board between the ears… but you got sidetracked by that damn smile.

Then the smile is followed by a kiss on the neck. You shiver. What was it you were just thinking? Something about how he doesn’t get it. Another kiss with a throaty, “Have I told you how much I want to fuck you lately?”

Gap? What gap?

Oh, that’s right…that was you being paranoid and slightly nuts.

God I love my Daddy. I am so glad he doesn’t always hear the negative shit running around inside my head.