Purveyor of Pleasure

Pleasure is my business, my life, my joy, my purpose.

Tag: assumptions

On the Love of Self and Selfies

August-September 2015.

August-September 2015.

Selfies are the self-portraits of this current technological age. They tell you a lot about how the person sees themselves; how they want to be seen by others. The angle, the tilt of their head, if the smile is candid or staged, forced or relaxed, or even there at all.

In this age of social media we can (to some degree) control our image: how we are seen, what info about us and our lives is shared, and what is not. Sometimes. Sort of. We can try to tailor our image to fit into what we want to look like, who we want to be, or we can bare it all, our prides and our failings, letting the viewer or reader decide what to keep and what not to.

At the same time, we can only control so much. Other people will post about us, post pictures of us. Other people will see what they want to see, what they can see. What people see will always be filtered, not just through their screens, but through their own perceptions and life experiences, their own projections and assumptions. Do they have context for your words, your hair, your clothes, your all of you? Do they have to fight against their own or your own illusions to see you, or are you real and genuine? Are they real and genuine enough to see you?

How much are any of us related to reality?

I love posed professional-looking glamour shots, candid photos when no one knows a photograph is being taken, group action shots capturing an experience, and everything beyond and in between.

Sixteen. December, 2002.

December, 2002.

I used to hate photos of myself or having my picture taken, a reminder of this body I also hated. This Self I kept hidden and locked up from the world, buried beneath flesh and blood and muscle. Buried deep in some hidden corner of my heart. I tried, often desperately, to stay alive in a world that does not want my kind, which in a world that desperately needs us.

I was praised for emulating others and discouraged from expressing what I genuinely thought or wanted or needed. So I locked myself up so tight I often forgot to breathe. I forgot to move. I forgot to dance. I made a small space inside of myself where I could be free, and I called it paradise. It was a cage. Bits of me leaked out, because I could not help it, but inside I was frozen. Lonely.

I learned to adopt others’ ideas, others’ perspectives, others’ personae just to keep me alive. Though there were plenty of times I did not want to be. I thought for many years of the ways I could end what felt like the torture of living. I never really had access to knives sharp enough in the hardest moments, never a hand steady enough to apply the necessary pressure in the right places with knife in hand. Some kind of self-preservation sabotage, or cowardice.

Just one more day, I would tell myself. One more moment. One more breath. One at a time until the numbness takes over again.

Feeling nothing was often preferred to feeling everything.

The suffocating overwhelm of hopelessness was always more than I could handle.

Sixteen. December, 2002.

December, 2002.

Paradoxically, perhaps (in that way that life is), I found my outlet on stage acting larger than life and speaking four hundred year old lines about love, longing, pain, death, betrayal, revenge, cunning, magic.

I identified with longing: longing for love, longing for belonging. I identified with the uncertainty of desire for life, search for a sense of self, and mistrust of others. I identified with fighting to stay alive against seemingly insurmountable turmoil.

I let other stories, other characters, other personae infuse my being. They lead me back to some depth of myself where I had been hiding. Slowly. Only ever slowly. I got little glimpses of life then through these, glimpses of what life could be, though I never felt like I was part of it. Always a little removed, always a little numb, always a little (or a lot) the outsider. Always terrified of ridicule and mostly indifferent to praise, unable to really believe just about anything as real.

Although acting brought me back to myself, it was still more for others than it was for me.

I woke up one day and realized I was terrified of the world, of the other people in it, and, most importantly, of myself. I had designed a life around this fear, attempting to keep myself safe through hiding, locked away from the world in hopes that would mean I would no longer be hurt.

Determined to understand and integrate the fear, I began to investigate it. Where did it come from? What is real and what isn’t? Why do I act the way that I do? I had already been asking myself some of these questions, but did not realize just how numb I was. Just how locked inside. Just how broken.

June 2014

June 2014

I began to crack open the shell I had built up around myself over so many years, letting the outside in and the inside out. I embraced vulnerability, connection, change. I began feeling again. Deeply. Not just when I was having sex, but all the time. Sometimes more than I could bear.

Somewhere along the way I realized I was missing love for myself and trust in the world. The more I love myself the more I am able to take up space in the world, to be comfortable with who I am and what I am doing. It’s cliche, I suppose, but cliches are cliche for a reason. As I began to love myself more, I began to take selfies and revel in them. Or maybe it was the other way around.

A selfie, for me, is not just about finding the right pose, the right angle, though sometimes it is. It’s about sharing a moment in time, even if my smile often looks the same. It’s allowing myself to open up to myself, open up to the camera, open up to the viewer in a way I used to abhor. It’s showing myself off to the world. It’s taking my place in the world through allowing myself to be in it and take up (digital) space.

January 2016

January 2016

KASB: Intention is the Watchword

It wasn’t long ago that Onyx put a collar around my neck for the second time, but at the time there was little that came along with it that wasn’t already in our relationship. The last year has been the best we’ve ever had together, and after nearly six years together that’s saying something. Hopefully, though our effort at sustaining and nourishing our relationship, that trend will continue. After the first time he collared me and I moved in with him there was a time when we attempted to implement some service and protocol in our lives. It didn’t work.

There was lots of baggage we both were battling back then, issues and assumptions we both were making due to past experiences either with other people or with each other. I desperately wanted some structure. I wanted clearly defined rules and protocols. I wanted all the things I’d heard what M/S is, the things I had read about in books and erotica. I wanted to be controlled by him in every way. When we tried to put those into practice, however, I rebelled. I didn’t trust him. I couldn’t submit in those conditions. He couldn’t control me and I wouldn’t let him.

Fast forward four years or so. The last year we’ve been at our peak as far as our intentional non-egalitarian relationship, which I often refer to as Owner/Brat for lack of a better term. I am owned by him, I am his, but I am not always submissive or obedient. I have the leeway to be a brat, to struggle, things we both really enjoy (though usually I’m only a brat in certain contexts). I had been consciously neglecting the other aspects, however, at least partially because they didn’t work before.

Enter Delving Into Power, a weekend intensive by Lee Harrington (who has some wonderful clips here on the Kink Academy) that Onyx and I attended the first weekend of February. Going through that weekend my Service Submissive self was tapped into and I realized there were aspects I was missing and that Onyx and I were finally in the right place to address service and protocol in our relationship so naturally I began scouring the service and protocol category of Kink Academy to see what other tools I could find.

Read the rest on the Kink Academy Student Blog!

Read all of my Student Blog Posts here

Don’t Be Afraid to Ask

More thinking about my post Tired from the beginning of the month has lead me to this: if you don’t know, ask. Don’t ever be afraid to ask. While it’s not always enjoyable to me to explain how I identify to someone that doesn’t mean it’s not highly appreciated. I would much rather have an hour long conversation (or even five-minute) about my identities than have my gender, sexuality, spirituality, or anything else assumed. You know what they say about to assume…

For the most part I’m pretty open when asked a question directly. I don’t skirt around things and I will take a question at face-value and answer exactly what was posed. I might not offer up additional information, but I am not shy about answering questions when asked directly. While I don’t always enjoy talking about myself (I know, that may be hard to believe considering that’s most of what I do on this blog) that doesn’t mean that I would rather not be asked about something. If I can clarify something or explain something I am always happy to, as long as I have the time. I also try not to assume that the other person will know what I’m talking about.

This doesn’t mean I think they are stupid, but because I use terms in mostly academic ways and since I don’t know if they have read something I’m referencing in my identity or explanation I try not to make assumptions either way and opt to ask questions myself. “Have you heard of…”” “Have you read…?” etc. If not I try to explain as fully as possible, and even if so I often will still mention some of the basic ideas of what I am referencing to make sure we are on the same page. I do not assume anyone is on the same page as I am, but that doesn’t mean they are not as smart as me or any other nonsense like that. Knowledge on one specific subject has nothing to do with intelligence.

Specifically what I was referencing in Tired had to do with two types of people. People with whom I have had conversations regarding identity who then turn around and seem to ignore everything I have expressed about my identity regardless. Or people assuming they know my identity without asking or having a conversation about it. It is difficult for me in either of these situations to come out and say “I don’t identify that way.” I’m just not a confrontational person and it is often difficult for me to assert my identities. I realize not being able to do that is my problem, but I do think that making assumptions about someone else’s identity is never a good idea. Similarly, disregarding a conversation about an identity is also not a good idea.

It’s hard work to have identity conversations in general. I realize this. It’s difficult to ask someone a question about their identity, you can’t always know how that question will be reacted to. Just keep in mind that when you ask make sure to ask something regarding identity rather than pinning an identity to it already such as “how do you identify?” versus “are you a [insert identity here]?” You can use specific terms such as “What is your gender identity?” “What pronoun do you prefer?” “What is your sexual identity?” as well, though the slightly more open-ended “how do you identify?” may get you the widest variety of options.

Please, ask questions, ask clearly, ask for definitions of things if I or someone else uses a term in a way that is unfamiliar to you. Don’t be afraid to ask for clarification. It is far better to ask than to assume. While there may be the occasional person who is offended that you would ask or who doesn’t think it is any of your business that doesn’t mean everyone would be. That said, also think about what you are asking and of whom. Should you be asking complete strangers about what genitals they have (though this isn’t the same as gender identity discussed previously) or who they like to fuck? Maybe it is, depending on the context of wherever you are at the moment, but maybe it’s not. Be smart about it, segue into it, make sure it is appropriate, but don’t be afraid to ask if you sincerely want to know and don’t.

Similarly, if you identify with something out of the norm please don’t scare people away from asking questions, if they’re asking that’s at least a step above assuming your identity and questions are an excellent time to educate them and open their minds. Who knows what kind of chain reaction you might set off. If they ask in an inappropriate way then tell them so politely and educate them as to how to ask in a better manner next time. I can’t say I’m perfect at this, but I’m trying.

It is not easy on either side of the conversation. Sometimes I just wish I could fit into societal standards in one way or another and not have to worry about things like this, not have to figure my identities out in order for me to enjoy them and understand them. I get tired of explaining the same thing over and over to the same people, sometimes I’m tired of explaining in general even to new people who are genuinely interested, but that doesn’t mean I would rather not be asked. I’m glad to challenge normalized ideas and maybe, just maybe, open a mind or two.

Tired

I’m just plain tired. I’m tired of having to explain how I identify, especially to the same people over and over again. I’m tired of people making assumptions about me rather than letting me make my own definitions and letting them know what my labels are. I’m tired of people thinking I’m straight because my partner is cis male or that I’m a lesbian because I enjoy women. I’m tired of people thinking I’m a woman because I dress femme. I try not to let it bother me when someone mislables me, but it hurts every time.

It’s difficult to inhabit middle identities while living in a binary world. There are many days when I wish I could just feel “one or the other” instead of seeing all the wonderful options out in front of me and wanting to have one of every flavor. Call me indecisive if you want, but when I can see the beauty and joy I could get from every option I can’t just pick one, it’s not in my nature.

I’m not straight or a lesbian, I’m queer. Bisexual, maybe, though I don’t like the binary aspect it implies and prefer other terms. Queer is the best description I have. Really I tend to be attracted to other queer people regardless of their gender and specifically because of their intelligence and/or personality. I’ve used intellisexual for quite some time, sapiosexual also fits which is a slightly more common term. I am attracted to people’s brains more than anything else, and usually those brains have to be queer in some way shape or form.

Similarly I do not identify with the term woman. It’s simply not a word that I identify with nor is it a way I see myself or desire for others to see me. While I may often wear feminine drag that does not make me a woman (or any spelling variation thereof). The same goes for girl. My gender identity is genderqueer regardless of the gender expressed within my gender presentation1. My gender presentation is always drag.

While I do associate with the term femme I embrace it as part of my gender presentation. I embrace the gothy glittery drag femmeininity that is all mine most days, though not all days. Femme is my presentation more than anything, but there are also days when I wear my too-small-sports-bra-slash-makeshift-binder and present as fagette. I do think that my “fagette” presentation confuses some people, however, because it still some femininity in it, dressing in boy drag is not a spectrum-banging event for me. I am realizing more and more, though, just how much femme and fagette go hand in hand for me. There are no days when I am femme that I am not a fagette, and no days when I am not genderqueer.

Recently I’ve begun using gender neutral pronouns when I am able and it makes my entire being sing. A friend of mine referred to me using ze and hir without my first requesting it and it nearly brought me to completely unexpected tears to be seen in a way that aligned with my own gender. I catch myself internally wincing when words and identities other than my own are thrown at me in conversation, but often I don’t have the energy or desire to confront the misconception of me in the eyes of others, which just ends up perpetuating it.

I’m trying to get to the point where I am not looking for the validation of others for any of my identities, but it’s difficult not to want that. I want to be seen rather than assumed away as something else. I realize that I am responsible for making myself a whole person in the eyes of others and do not put the responsibility of figuring me out completely on other people but I’m so damn tired of having to correct people. It seems like a petty difference to ask someone to not refer to me using certain language, and yet it cuts me deep whenever it happens. I just haven’t gotten to the point where I am comfortable asserting my gender identity, perhaps because it is such a fluid work-in-progress.

  1. I’m using gender identity and gender presentation to mean two different things. Someone’s gender identity has to do with the internal gender feelings the person has, whereas their gender presentation is the outward gender they show to the world. These do not always go hand-in-hand. []

Self-Consciousness

I used to think I was an exhibitionist. I still do think that to a point, but lately I’ve been so reserved and worried about the way others perceive me I can hardly call myself an exhibitionist. I’m more self-conscious now than I have ever been before in my life. I’m less outrageous, trying to blend more, and just generally unsure of myself. Recently I had two separate conversations on different topics that lead to this point, I’m letting my ego get in the way, my anxiety take over.

Even though it seems like this is the opposite of the ego’s job, it’s still part of the same mold. The same part of you builds yourself up that will knock yourself down. The ego is responsible for the worry and anxiety and stopping you from being you just as it can be responsible for the arrogance and puffed-out chest of confidence. Either extreme isn’t desired, but, as with all things in life, I seek to find a balance, a happy equilibrium within myself.

This might sound crazy coming from someone who blogs about her life, who routinely informs others about her sex, thoughts, and feelings, but especially lately I seem to have a difficult time believing that other people are actually interested in hearing what I have to say. I’m not talking about on here, but in person, when I meet new people or interact with known ones. This was especially true the first few weeks after I got back to Seattle.

When I was in Juneau I was much more comfortable. My motto for Juneau is basically “it’s Juneau, nobody cares,” and I would say it whenever there was a question of etiquette, appropriate dress for an event, or pretty much anything. This isn’t really true, though. Juneau is a small town and there is tons of gossip. Despite thinking it was super liberal when I grew up (and it is compared to the rest of Alaska) there are still lots of non-liberal ideas and people who live there, and it isn’t comfortable to express everything there.

I do think that, for the most part, people in Juneau don’t give a shit about you unless they know you, however, and that’s where my motto came from. I never really got invested in Juneau people. Growing up there I did tons of activism in the high school, I was in many theatre productions, people knew who I was but very few people actually knew me, and I liked it that way. Going back was very similar, only I knew even less people. I knew people could recognize me, and people did quite often, but if they had any preconceived notions of me it didn’t matter, or maybe it mattered less.

Some of this goes back to what I was talking about in Relational Assumptions. I’m worried about what people here will assume about me, I haven’t been able to adopt the same nonchalant attitude because I actually want to be invested here, I want to gain friends and not be a loner like I have been previously. I want to be more outgoing and social, but I need to stop caring so much about what other people think, because I want people to like me for me and not for anything else.

I like being a multifaceted individual, but sometimes it’s exhausting because I’m too worried about other people to express myself fully. A friend, in one of the conversations I mentioned above, mentioned she had learned to instate a complete honesty policy in order to encourage compatible friendships and discourage ones that could turn sour down the road. I think I do this too… to an extent, anyway. I will answer questions honestly but don’t always offer up information unasked, but I want to change this.

I’m trying to shed the trappings of my ego, acknowledge them and move past them, to stop being so self-conscious. Care less what people I don’t know think about me and more about feeling comfortable within myself and expressing myself however that happens. I want to start volunteering information about myself, start realizing that people care what I have to say and actually have an interest in hearing it. Part of the beginning of this change in me came in dying my hair from the reddish brown it has been the last few months back to a bright purple, the rest of it will come soon.

Relational Assumptions

I came to a realization a few nights ago regaring something I’ve sort of mentioned in a previous post. As the baby of the family I was constantly reminded growing up that I was known to some only by my other relationships. I was her sister or his daughter or so on. Since then it’s always been a little bit of an irritation for me. I don’t want to be known by my relationships I want to be known as me, as a whole person, as myself.

I discovered when leaving Juneau for the first time that I had that opportunity. I was no longer bound by the familial or other relationships I was locked in to in my home town. I could be as flamboyant and outrageous as I desired, or I could safely lurk in the shadows, and no one would be the wiser, they wouldn’t have any information about me before I gave it to them.

When I moved to Salt Lake City to be with Onyx I fell back into that role. I was Onyx’s girlfriend, known by my relationship, known by association. Needless to say it irritated me again, and that irritation (among other things, really) kept me from getting to know some people I wish I had. I didn’t see the whole picture.

Upon deciding to return to Seattle I worried quite a bit about being known by my relationship again. In the few months I was gone (and some in the previous year) Onyx developed or strengthened a number of friends and acquaintences and I have been wondering how I will or won’t fit into those. I don’t have to fit in to all or any of them, but I’ve been wondering about it and wondering how my meeting them through him, being known by association, would affect my relationship with them. I realized, though, that this is more my issue than anyone elses.

When going to Tristan Taormino’s workshop at Babeland on Making Open Relationships Work, afterwards when I was able to talk with her, I introduced myself to her in relation to two things: I reviewed her awesome porno Rough Sex, and she knows my older sister. She also recognized me from Twitter as I @replied her regarding attending her workshop. Thinking about it afterwards I wondered why, when I spent so much time worrying about being known by association, why would I knowingly and purposefully put myself in that situation?

What I came up with was a bit of a happy revelation. First, specifically for that situation, she had other ways of associating me other than my sister, which made it a little safer, but I also knew that would be something which would help me stand apart. It was a way for her to remember me, being a help to me rather than a hinderance.

This is only the most recent example, and the rest of the events of the day definitely contributed to this as well, I think, but this is what made it snap in my head.

I’m responsible for making myself a whole person in the eyes of others.

It seems so simple, it seems ridiculously simple, it was one of those “duh” moments where I would have smacked myself on the forehead if I had not been lying in bed in the dark next to Onyx when I wanted to be sleeping but my mind was too buzzy to turn off yet.

What does it mean, though, really? It’s more than just what it says, because I knew that, but it’s the way that sentence applies to this situation that I hadn’t yet put together. Basically it means I need to stop assuming people have preconceived notions about me, stop worrying about what they might possibly already think about me or what they might possibly assume, and actively work to make sure they see me as a person if I care enough to do so.

I mean, I knew it was my responsibility to do so, but instead of embracing that as meaning I should stop worrying and just do it I let my worry overtake me and stop me from even trying to make myself a whole person because I was pidgeonholed into this role. In reality, while I’m sure there are plenty of people who do see me “just” as Onyx’s partner or “just” by my familial relations or whathaveyou, the assumption that someone I don’t know my own self would do that is vastly unfair.

I think this is a step toward becoming less isolated and more outgoing, caring less what people think, being more comfortable in social situations, and being more comfortable to be the real me.

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