Sunday, August 30, 2015

Quiet and Glow-y

School started last Tuesday.  Our long, lazy summer days have come to an end.

We did not spank much this summer.  Tom had his left shoulder replaced at the end of June, and the recovery period is long and very, very, VERY limiting in terms of the level of mobility that is allowed for weeks and weeks.  Even though it has been, theoretically, possible for him to spank me with his right hand, we both find that the activity is much more two-handed than it might seem.

So, except for a few sessions prior to that June 30th surgery, spanking has been mostly off the menu for the last two months.  We are, slowly, working our way back to it, but to me at least, it feels like beginning from the start.  I'm more iffy about the whole business, and more erratic in my capacity for just going with it.  I approach each attempt with some wild mixture of eager anticipation and intense anxiety.  It still IS my primary pathway into sexual satisfaction, but it never has been an easy path, and that does not get better as I get older.  I am not the sturdy masochist I once was.  Achy joints and fragile skin just complicate the story.

Too, my frequent migraines make my life an ongoing series of prodromes, actual headaches, and then post-migrainal after effects.  I find I have very few days when I just feel GOOD.  Not feeling GOOD makes much of the rest of life harder, and the sexual/erotic parts of life are no exception -- especially when the sexual/erotic mode that is best for you is firmly anchored in sadomasochistic impact play.  How I envy the folks who do all of this in some easy, "normal" fashion.  Ah, well...

This morning, however, we hit it just right.  Pun absolutely intended.  I got my spanking, He got to spank, and we were right there together, in a really good place.  The sex was good for us both, and the after glow was comfortable.  I noticed that, in that space, my mind is quiet, and the world seems glow-y.  Not church this bright Sunday morning, but surely a chance to touch the divine.

Wednesday, August 19, 2015


I dreamed up Jimmie a couple of nights ago.  Literally, I dreamed him:  a beautiful young man, with dark eyes, gentle hands, and an uncanny sense of how to please a woman (especially a woman of 60 years who just isn't that easy anymore).

The interesting thing about my dreaming Jimmie is that I put him into a context where I got all the goodie out of the encounter without having to supply anything much in return.  Jimmie and I met at a party.  That's all I really know about that part of the dream.  No real context; just a gathering in someone's home.  There was music and food, and lots of general milling around and social chatter.  Jimmie materialized out of nowhere, and we talked.  We talked for a good long while, and then, after a bit, I suggested to him that we might go downstairs and find someplace quieter.  He agreed, and we wandered off into the basement of the house, and into a back bedroom.  There, Jimmie used his hands and his mouth in ways that were quite wonderful and left me panting in delight.  However, when I offered to return the favor, Jimmie, who had not even unbuttoned his shirt, declined.  He told me that he had gotten into poison ivy, and did not want me to be exposed, and then he was gone, and I awakened.

Not the most sophisticated dream.  There doesn't seem to be much of subtlety to all of that.  I am laying it at the door of an anti-depressant medication that I was given to prevent migraines, and have recently stopped taking.  I feel certain that the medication was suppressing my libido and my sex drive, and that the removal of the drug has turned up the heat on my sexual urges.  And so, Jimmie.  I wonder about the imbalance between us, but then it seemed that neither of us were unhappy, and so maybe that is the lesson:  things don't have to be equal as long as everyone gets what makes them happy.

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Policing in Our Communities

I grew up in a suburb of Denver, Colorado, and Officer McCarthy was a fixture in our schools and neighborhoods.  There wasn't a kid who didn't know him and love him.  He was a one man ambassador for the local police department, working to promote safety and community relations.  Whether he was running a bicycle rodeo, or playing the role of Santa Claus, his big smile and booming voice made us all believe that the police were there for us; a part of us; people we could trust and count on.

I have thought about Officer Ed McCarthy many times over the last 4-1/2 years, wondering what distance has come to separate the inherently good, entirely service oriented Irish cop of my childhood from the brutish, thuggish types that answered my desperate calls for help when our family was in crisis. I've thought about him often in these days when the police have been so often in the news, at the vortex of a rising tide of inexplicable violence tinged with racism.  I remembered him, with fondness, as our city buried a seemingly "good cop" who died trying to talk a young black man out of suicide in the heat of the summer.

What is it, I wonder, that makes for a "good cop?"  Over the years, I've known many law enforcement personnel; parents to the children who have passed through my classroom.  They are as uniformly human as parents of any other profession -- some are wise and kind and perceptive while others are frighteningly angry, mean-spirited, and vindictive...  It is my observation, based on limited data, that not everyone is cut out for police work; and that not all who begin the work should continue it.  The truth is that, in the performance of their duties, police see things that are hard to witness, and that can work to change them for the worse.  Some are strong enough, but not all of them.

Every time I hear another report of a young black man, woman, or child shot by a white police officer, I wonder why it matters what the respective racial identities might be.  Is it measurably worse, or better, for an armed police officer who is black to shoot an unarmed white citizen?   I don't mean to deny the depth of the pain at the heart of the Black Lives Matter movement in this country.  I think that anger and pain is entirely appropriate and justified.  I do however wonder if our fixation on the race of the officers and their victims obscures a very salient fact:  Police should belong to us. They should come from our communities.  They should know us, and we should know them. They should serve as we choose for them to do, and they should yield only the powers with which we endow them.

As police departments have moved toward an increasingly militarized stance; equipped with weaponry and technologies developed for the battlefield, is it any wonder that our streets have come to seem like war zones?  How is it possible to police a neighborhood that is populated entirely by strangers -- the other?  How can we send young men and women out to prevent violence and protect the citizenry, if they do not know those same citizens.  Shouldn't our police be our brothers and our sisters?  Shouldn't the cop who patrols our streets know the elders in our communities; the power brokers; the neediest of our neighbors?  Shouldn't our children flock to greet our neighbors who serve and protect?  And -- shouldn't they be entirely safe and welcome in doing so?

I think there are some BAD cops.  I think there are some very bad cops; people who haven't the moral strength or judgement to fit them for that so very important role.  But I think there are some, even now ... decades from my childhood, who serve with honor and dedication and a sense of mission, and they should be the models for the future of a better kind of policing.  Our police ought to come from us.  They ought to be "of" us; raised in our neighborhoods, and intimately familiar with us.  They ought to derive their powers from our consent, and they should have no power at all except what we give to them.  We ought to be able to clearly define what it is we need them to do, and we ought to negotiate with them about how those needs can and should be met.  From the streets of Detroit to the sidewalks of Liberal, Kansas, there should be no police with power to destroy our children's lives.  They ought to work with us, for us, beside us.  We ought to embrace them and hold them close.

As long as police see the citizens who are theirs to protect as "THEY," there is a problem.  As long as we see our police as "THEY," there is a problem.  Policing is hard work, and it is work that we need to have done well.  But as long as we are not defining the parameters of that police work, we will continue to be served badly, and that is not a function of race.

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Liberal Old School Feminist

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I happened across this blog entry by Margaret and Helen, and it reminded me that I am of one mind with these two women -- feminist to my bones, and appalled by the anti-female bias that is so much of the fabric of the thinking that goes on in Republican political discourse.

Actually, I've been reminded of my liberal feminist leanings several times in the last few weeks.  I guess that the fact that I have been reminded points to the fact that those long-held fiery views have been somewhat more quiet of late.  I am, like Margaret and Helen, of a certain age, and so while I can get furious over threats to women's reproductive freedom, and the associated threats to their overall freedom to live and choose as their male counterparts can, I am no longer personally wrapped up in those issues.  For me, it is more purely political and less directly personal.  Life brings its own changes at every turn, and being 60 is a reality not to be discounted.

I've never made my political views a secret.  I am pro-choice.  I am anti-war, and anti-gun.  I think that everyone ought to have the same rights as everyone else, regardless of race, color, gender, sexual identity, economic status, etc.  I think that there are limits to the potential for the free market to get it right in cases of social well-being and simple justice.  I don't think that anyone should have their religious freedom curtailed, but I am adamant that your religious liberty should not ever impinge on me or anyone else.  I am for the living wage.  I am for universal, free educational access from pre-school through college.  I think that workers ought to be valued for the worth of their contributions -- tell me why the person who mops the floors and scrubs the toilets in the office tower is less valuable than those who sit in the corner offices?  Who values the contributions that each one makes?  I absolutely insist that climate change is a real thing, and that it is we humans that are the primary cause of the whole mess.

I have ALWAYS voted democratic, with only one exception. In the year that Jimmy Carter was elected president, I wrote in my vote for John Anderson.  It wasn't a lean to the right.  It was a declaration that Carter was too conservative in my view.  I will, again, cast my vote for the democratic candidate for president in 2016; whoever that may be.  I am not wildly enthusiastic about Hilary Clinton, but I absolutely think she is the best choice out of the likely options.  I'd be more inclined to vote for Bernie Sanders or Elizabeth Warren, but I am not thinking that those two will turn out to be choices this time around.  So, Hilary it is.

So, yes -- I am unashamedly, irredeemably liberal/progressive in my views.

But for today, let's talk about reproductive freedom and a woman's right to choose what happens to her body.  I was pregnant, for the first time, when I was 20 years old.  I was remarkably naive, and sexually inexperienced, and I thought I was in love.  When I turned up pregnant, I was scared and confused and defiantly determined to "take care of it myself."  I wanted not to marry BECAUSE I was pregnant.  I did not want him to feel trapped into a marriage he did not want, although that was my fear; not his.  I did not know what I should do.  Roe v Wade was, at that time, two years old.  Abortion was legal, although not widely or easily available.  I did consider the possibility.  I also considered leaving town; finding someplace where I could work anonymously and quietly and support myself and my unborn baby.  In the end, I was persuaded to stay, to keep the baby, and to marry that baby's father.  My firstborn is now 39 years old.  I've been divorced from his father for many years.  I am thrilled that I chose to become his mother.  I cannot say, looking back, that I made the correct choice regarding the marriage.  I do however remain convinced that, for right or wrong, all of those choices were mine to make.

I cringe each time the news brings fresh reports of renewed assaults on that right to make a choice.  As our nation veers toward ever more shrill expressions of religious fundamentalism, it seems the chipping away at reproductive freedom is relentless.  Those who would view women as vessels for babies, are more and more strident in their calls for limits to access to contraception, access to safe, legal abortion, and access to fertility treatments.  There is the ever narrower window before our medical science can, in theory, keep a very, very, very young fetus alive; the point of, so called, viability.

Now, we have a presidential candidate who is pushing to apply our Constitution's 5th and 14th amendments to embryos and fetuses.  Because, of course, all life is sacred and worthy of protection ...  unless that life is female or black or brown.  Those lives become far less valuable and worthy at the moment of birth than they are at the moment of conception.  That is every bit as crazy as it sounds.  The truth is that, while we can see the chromosomal information that will result in the eventual formation of a fully formed human infant at the moment of conception, that bit of cellular material is more potential than it is human.  According to the March of Dimes, about 50% of all pregnancies end in miscarriage, many of them before a woman even knows that she is pregnant.

The current target for the anti-female conservatives is Planned Parenthood. Nothing particularly new there.  Planned Parenthood has been in the line of fire for years. This time, it seems that some young doctors with an unfortunate lack of good sense held a shop talk conversation full of graphic details about the abortion procedure and the use of harvested tissues and organs in a public venue.  It seems a remarkable and regrettable lapse in judgement.  However, that being said, the Republican rush to "defund Planned Parenthood" is as appalling as it is predictable.  The fact is that, while Planned Parenthood does provide abortion services to women who choose that option, that is a very small percentage (about 3%) of what the organization does.  Too, there is not one penny of federal funding for abortions at Planned Parenthood.  Some 2,840,000 men and women receive services and education from Planned Parenthood in the U.S. each year.  Other vital medical services and educational programs for women and for men, such as cancer screening, well woman check ups, STD testing, contraceptive services, etc., make up the vast majority of the health care provided by Planned Parenthood.  Many women in difficult economic circumstances, who struggle to pay for regular health care, are served best in Planned Parenthood clinics.  In fact, Planned Parenthood provides the information and access to contraceptive services that work to prevent a great many unplanned pregnancies, and thus reduce the demand for abortion services.

I think this anti-abortion push is grounded in exactly the same sort of argument that conservative fundamentalists make about same-gender marriage:  their religious beliefs tell them that it is wrong, and so they seem convinced that all of us must adhere to their belief system.  I don't intend to insist that those who have religiously based objections to abortion should participate in the practice.  If you think abortion is wrong, then don't have one.  Beyond that, keep your own counsel.  You have no right to impose your beliefs on women who do not believe as you do.

I am aware that this issue of reproductive freedom is not all there is to the feminist agenda.  Today's young women are in the trenches, fighting for equality for women on a wide variety of fronts.  Much of what the youngest feminist activists are about these days seems subtle to me, and I take some pride in that fact.  From my perspective, the good news is that the gross injustices that sent me and my feminist peers to the streets in the 1970's are largely absent from the lives of today's young women.  As the older generation of feminists fought for the right to equal access in schools and workplaces and the world of sports, the younger cadre of feminists see themselves as standing toe to toe with their male counterparts.  That basic equality frees them up to fight the more systemic forms of discrimination, and I am happy to cheer them on.  They make me proud.

If only, we were closer to the day when the idea of gender-based inequities were utterly unthinkable.  If only women could stop fighting against the system that disadvantages them relative to their brothers.  If only we could finally establish, the obvious -- that women's lives are inherently valuable; that women's bodies are their own; that no state and no religious institution has any claim to ownership or control over the lives or bodies of women and girls.  If only...

Sunday, August 9, 2015

The Power of Consensual Power Exchange

There have been some four and a half years of struggle in our lives.  Little bits of that have been shared in what I have chosen to share here and at The Heron Clan.  Most outsiders have some sense of the searing pain we've lived through, but what I've shared has been very limited.  The traumas were so deep and so complex that I simply did not have the strength or insight to lay it all out in the public eye.  I do think, however, that we have come most of the way through the worst days.  We are all much better.  The healing continues, but we have more good days than bad, and we are, generally, feeling good about our life together again.

I tend to not look backwards much.  It is a conscious and deliberate choice for me.  I do not find it useful or helpful to wallow in the pain, fear, and anger of those dark days.  With that said, I do think there is one salient fact about our transit of this passage.  In my view of it all, from this vantage point, I find that I have an increasingly strong sense that it was (to some significant degree) our consensual power exchange that saved us.  I don't want to discount all the help that we found, and were given along the way.  We were held close by a few good friends.  We were listened to and helped significantly by some very, very skilled and talented therapists.  We had excellent medical help to track down some underlying, and sometimes arcane, medical issues that needed treatment as an adjunct to the whole of the healing work that has taken place.  We even had the great good luck to find some fascinating spiritual principles that bore us all up out of the muck of the "alcoholics anonymous cult" that we were all forced to take part in for the first years.  I am continually in awe and so grateful for the many, many gifts that the universe put into our hands.  With all of that, though, there were the strong pillars and powerful boundaries that the power exchange dynamic we have forged gave us... and those structures saw us through the minutes and hours and days when we were alone together trying to find our way.

To be clear, the dominance and submission that pervades our intimate life is different from what it once was.  It is less obvious and less flashy than that early, cocky, "we've got this" thing we once crowed about.  It is, perhaps, more subtle -- but that is really only true in the same way that the individual threads are only barely noticed in the weave of the finest fabrics.  That we do not focus on the single threads, does not diminish the value of each bit in the overall whole.  It turns out that, for us, our D/s dynamic is like that.

Power exchange ties us together.  It is a dynamic that works for us; that we each want.  A lot.  It is so fundamentally who we each are that, even as we found our lives and our relationship in a smoking heap, we remained tied to each other in that delicate balance of consensual power exchange.  Even on days when we did not feel it, and couldn't DO it, it was still there.  It held us in place while we hurt and healed.  It kept us here.  I couldn't bring myself to leave, and he couldn't bring himself to let me go.  It was all we had a lot of the time, but it was so very important.  If either of us had let go, that would have been the end. The strong desire was sometimes confusing, and often painful, but it was also a bond that held us together when we could not see our way through the rubble of our former life.

We don't do this out of some broken place.  If nothing else, this passage has highlighted our various strengths.  We are tenacious and stubborn, sometimes to a fault.  But neither of us is looking at power exchange to fill a gap.  We are capable of building a life without the direction and strength of another person.  We want the power-based relating. It is not a "need."

We clearly understand the difference between fantasy and reality.  Boy, do we have that one down!  If there was an element of fantasy to our "before" life, it was broken to bits in the storm that took us down.  If we were living some kind of "fairy tale" in those days, we got yanked into the real world with a vengeance.  It is really real.  What we have now is solid and sure.  Nothing that we have, and nothing that we do is "pretend."

We discovered that we are equals.  We each bring talents and strengths and limits and failings to the table.  Neither of us is perfect.  That is so very, very clear.  We choose the power dynamic, because it works for us, not because one or the other of us is inherently better or superior.  I've always held that a power exchange cannot work except between people that have power to exchange.  Only equals can make the choice to engage in a consensual power relationship like ours.  This is not a relationship style that lends itself to great unevenness.  Weaklings need not apply.

What we discovered, in the shattered shell of what was, is that each of us had great issues.  What we have learned is that neither one of us can fix the other one's "stuff."  We managed to suppress the FACT of our various fears and traumas and scars in the early intense passion that we felt together, but in the end, they caught up to us, tripped us up, and caused us to fall in a great tumble of arms and legs.  So, we have spent time working on those individual bits and pieces.  That work continues.  I imagine that work will continue for however many years we have left.  The truth is that you can't do D/s if you don't recognize and then work on your own shit.

I had to come to grips with the fact that I am a human, and the fact that he is a human.  I wore myself out trying to be the "perfect" slave, and I put unfair demands on him to be the perfect balance to that.  We both proved ourselves unequal to the task of being other than human.  We make mistakes.  We fall short.  We behave badly.  We get tired.  We feel sad.  Some days there is nothing grand about the two of us, individually or together.  Knowing that; acknowledging that; taking that on as an undeniable reality, frees us up to be who we are together.  Now our power dynamic does not have to be perfect.  Ours does not have to be like anyone else's.  We are learning, finally, to simply be who we truly are together, and that is a good thing.

We've learned to be patient.  Well, more patient.  Sometimes, there is nothing to do but listen and wait.  Nothing has to happen right now, in this relationship.  We can know what we each long for, and what our shared hopes are, and we can work toward those things together.  But it may take time.  We may never get to it all.  We will, surely run out of time before we run out of longings and hopes, but each day we have together is a gift that we will never have again.  We have found the quiet patience that helps us to know that.

We've figured out where the supports are.  We've got friends, and those who have stuck it out through these dark years without judgement or taking sides, are valued beyond any treasure.  We've found some wise people to help us sort it all out, and they are important parts of our lives, and will be going forward.  We've got a life that we share, and that we enjoy.  It isn't grand or showy, but it is comfortable, and we are happy with it.  It is enough for today.

So, as our big, showy, boastful displays of D/s have faded; as we have chosen to talk less about the nitty gritty details; we have learned about the real strength of our power dynamic.  It stood firm through all the bumps and upheaval, and it remains.  It has held us together, and I am convinced that it saved us from washing out into the pounding seas of rage and disappointment.  We are together, and we live in a consensual power exchange relationship.