kink problems

You know when you get A Great Idea, and it sounds like the best thing ever, and you can’t wait to implement it?

And then it falls…flat? Not falls flat like, say, the Edsel (no, I’m not that old; I just read a lot and one day hope to appear on Jeopardy [seriously, I’d love to go on Jeopardy, but mostly just to poke fun at the way Alex Trebek pronounces foreign and foreign-sounding words with such enthusiastic authenticity]). But a disappointing follow-through nonetheless.

At a recent party, T. was in full top mode, and pulled out 3 dice he had bought at the comic-book store (I’m the comics reader; he was just along for the ride and doesn’t really read comics [although I got him hooked on Blue Beetle before it got cancelled]). These weren’t the standard 6-sided dice you see on craps tables or…well, wherever people tend to play dice. (I’m not really a gambler, although I do love $1 blackjack at church festivals.)

These were gaming dice, of the kind used for Dungeons & Dragons and similar games. Neither T. nor I are gamers; he bought the dice mostly because he thought they looked cool, and then he hatched a scheme to use them during kinky play (as opposed to gaming play). One die was 20-sided, one was 8-sided, and one was 4-sided.

The basic idea was this: he laid out 8 beat-y implements (floggers, riding crop, etc.); I rolled the 8-sided die to pick which implement he would use on me. The 20-sided die determined how many strokes I would receive with the aforementioned implement, and the 4-sided die was used to determine if the strokes would be to my front side or back side (odd numbers were front and even numbers were back).

Out of all of the beat-y implements, I really only “like” the floggers. A good flogging leaves me loopy and stoned. The riding crop I can tolerate, but it’s not my favorite. The other evil toys (a plastic “magic wand” from a kid’s magic set, a short heavy lucite rod that I dubbed the “beat-y stick,” and a short piece of wood cut in the basic shape of a hairbrush, but without bristles, bearing the label “bald man’s hairbrush” — it was a goofy thing we found in a souvenir shop on vacation, and we knew it needed to be in our toy bag) were things that really freaking HURT me; it’s hard for me to take them, and when I do, it usually has to involve a good warm-up.

The problem with the execution of the dice game was this: it doesn’t allow for any warm-up. I’ve seen bottoms/subs/slaves who don’t need to be warmed up for impact play; they can jump right in and take one hell of a paddling. I, however, am not like that. So when my roll of the dice came up 8 strokes with the magic wand on my front side, it hurt in ways that I could hardly handle.

We kept on with the dice game for several rounds, until I finally told T. that the lack of warm-up was killing me. We moved to a spanking bench and he spent a long time flogging me — mostly florentine flogging, which I love. I was, in fact, loopy and endorphin-stoned when he was finished, which hasn’t happened to me in a long time. I slept very, VERY well that night.

I don’t think the dice game is bad, or something we’ll never do again. I just think that if we do it in the future — at least with me as the bottom — I’ll need warm-up first, and then we can move into the dice game.

It’s something that I think would also work well as a punishment. T. and I don’t have the kind of a relationship that involves rules and punishment, but if we did, I like the mindfuck-y aspect of the dice game forcing the bottom to be the one to “choose” her punishment.

This was the first time we tried the dice game, so neither of us knew how it would play out; we certainly weren’t expecting our most mind-blowing scene ever (though we also weren’t expecting a failure). And I wouldn’t call it a failure, either. I’ll just call it beta-testing.

Well, hi.

If anyone still checks this blog, thanks for your dedication! My last post was in September 2008; after that, the shit hit the fan in my life in a BIG way.

Over the summer, I had some serious job issues that required all of my mental and emotional energy to stay employed. That lasted until well into October. Things did eventually work out, and thing have been on basically steady ground for a while, employment-wise.

But then, right about the time my job calmed down, I had medical problem after medical problem. Some were severe enough that I ended up in the ER, with the doctor telling me I should have come in sooner. (Possibly the fact that the medical problems manifested right after my job problems got resolved is an indication that the medical problems were a delayed stress reaction affecting my physical health.)

All of that, too, has worked itself out, and things are more or less back to what passes for “normal” in my life. My health is good and my job is as secure as a job can be in this rotten economy.

I have to say, though, when you go through a lot of serious illness, some of which involves significant physical pain, even after you’ve recovered and are no longer in pain, the last thing you want to do is give or receive pain, even in an erotic context.

Or, at least, that’s the last thing *I* wanted to do. A friend suggested that bottoming would have been good for me, because then I would have been in charge of the pain I was undergoing, and I get that — the psychology behind it is pretty smart — but I just couldn’t do it.

Anyway, now that things have calmed down, T. and I have gotten back into the swing of our dastardly, dirty deeds. You can expect my posts to pick back up and be more regular than once every 6 months.

(This could alternatively be titled, “If Teppycat is Bottoming, It MUST Be Time to Talk to Her!”)

After my car’s iPod adapter was recently resurrected (yeah, first-world problems), I was listening to Graydancer‘s podcast, Ropecast, on the way home from work today. One of the things he was talking about with a group of people was play party etiquette, and it reminded me of what has been a constant theme in my kinky public life: if I’m bottoming at a play party, *someone* WILL come up and start talking to me, my top, or both of us.

WTF, right??? I thought everyone knew that actually talking to people WHILE THEY’RE IN A SCENE is uncool. Unbelievably un-fucking-cool, man. But I apparently have a sign tatttooed on my ass that says, “Please, come talk to me; why would I want to achieve subspace or any sort of intimacy with my partner?”

Literally every party I’ve ever played at — except one, which I will describe below — when I’ve been the bottom, people walk right up and start talking to me. Once, at a play party at an event (which means, yeah, a BIG play party, where you’d think people would be adhering to the rules lest they get bounced by the DMs), I was bottoming to T. He had me tied with my wrists above my head, attached to the crossbar of a pillory post. Because I’m self-conscious and have body image issues, I had on underpants (but nothing else). I have a lower-back tattoo (not to be trendy [although it’s nobody’s business *why* I have it]; rather, I had back surgery 5 years ago, and the tattoo serves to partially cover the scar and to also re-claim that part of my body).

While T. was pausing to switch floggers, someone walked up to him and asked him if he would PULL DOWN MY UNDERPANTS SO SHE COULD SEE THE REST OF MY TATTOO.

I think my eyeballs fell out of my head. WHO DOES THAT?!? That’s so fucking rude. Because (1) hello, we’re PLAYING, HERE; and (2) you want to see my tattoo, you come around to my face and ask ME (I have big-time boundary issues when it comes to my body, although I will grant that, if someone had never met me before that event, and then the first thing they saw of me was to watch me bottoming, it wouldn’t be an absurd conclusion to think that I was owned, and the appropriate person to ask would be my master).

But still. Even if I were owned, you still don’t walk up and ask to see someone’s slave’s tattoo while the master is changing floggers!

(Interestingly — or, really, NOT — when *I* top T. at parties, NO ONE comes up to talk to me or him. I have a very effective “Do NOT fuck with me or I will KILL YOU DEAD” demeanor. Plus, I don’t make eye contact with anyone while I’m topping, because I’m just hyper-focused like that.)

As for the party that was the exception, where no one walked up to try to talk to either of us during the scene: I had grumbled at length to T. before the scene about the fact that people always interrupt, and I felt like putting up a sign that said “Stay the Fuck Away!” Because T. is a nicer person than I am, we compromised and, on the back of a chair that was between us and the rest of the party, taped a sign that said, “Do Not Talk To The Animals Or They’ll Bite! You Have Been Warned!”

Worked like a charm. But, seriously? It shouldn’t take a sign, you know?

I tend to assume that, if *I* know about something, then surely everyone knows about it. After all, I’m appallingly naive for a 30-mumble-something woman. So when a friend had a bad experience playing with a new partner, I assumed that, at the very least, her safecall provided a built-in endpoint to the scene.

But she didn’t use a safecall. And I wonder: how many people do?

Her experience is not mine to share in any kind of detail; it was an unfortunately common story, though. She met a top at a local munch, they exchanged e-mail addresses, talked via e-mail for a week or two, went out to dinner once or twice, and then they decided to play. Alone, at her house.

You know, all of that is, more or less, what you’re “supposed” to do when you meet a new potential partner (in the kink world AND the vanilla world, really). I, personally, would be uncomfortable playing with a new partner for the first time in a setting where we were alone, but not everyone feels the way that I do. I’m excessively cautious about some stuff.

Anyway, my friend. The scene went wrong, I found out the next day (which was the first that I had even heard that she had decided to play with this new top). The top didn’t respect my friend’s limits, my friend got freaked out, and eventually they stopped, but the end result was that my friend was really, REALLY upset afterwards, which is quite understandable. She was upset for days, and, in truth, is still kind of spun by it, but is doing fine, basically, now that some time has passed.

When I was pretty new to the local BDSM community, I encountered people who expressed disdain for safecalls, because they found them “insulting.” OF COURSE nothing would go wrong, they insisted. Did I think they were some kind of psycho? How rude of me! These people were generally (but not always) tops/dominants, and I realized right away that they were not people I wanted to play with. If you can’t respect my need for safety, especially when we barely know each other (and, hey, what if *I’m* the psycho, huh? you ever think about that?), then I have no desire to play with you.

And I encountered people who cheerfully admitted that they didn’t use safecalls because they tended to lose track of time when playing, and if you lose track of time and don’t check in with your safecall person, they call the police, and, well THAT’S embarassing. (To which I say: stop viewing your flakiness as a charming quality and get a watch with a goddamn ALARM on it. Set the alarm, call your friend to check in, and then keep playing.)

But when I hear stories like my friend’s experience—and the ones that are even worse, that end with someone being gravely harmed or killed—then I tend to think that maybe the perceived “inconvenience” of setting up a safecall isn’t really an inconvenience at all. It might just save your ass.

A recent question at Fetish Meme asks, “Do you require a safeword? Did you always? Would you refuse to play with someone who refused to either adopt or allow one?”

T. and I have been in this relationship for almost 2 years, and have been playing together for almost 3. We’ve always used — and still do — safewords. They function mostly as a failsafe, at this point; by now, T. and I know each other and know each other’s responses well enough to differentiate enjoyable distress from end-this-NOW-you-asshat! distress.

However, when I top, I’m still getting used to playing as hard as T. often likes it. Despite knowing that he wants me to play that hard, despite knowing that he likes it and needs it, I can’t entirely quiet my inner worrier who keeps exclaiming, “Ohmygod ohmygod ohmygod, that’s too much too hard too painful!” So knowing that he has a safeword, knowing that he’s perfectly willing to call yellow or red if he needs to, makes it a lot easier for me to go hard on him and not hold back.

When I bottom, I always have safewords available, and I don’t hesitate to use them. I haven’t had to use them often, but I *have* used them. And knowing that they were available for me to use didn’t take *anything* away from the power exchange-y-ness of the scene.

Safewords are there to prevent harm. Because if someone gets hurt — physically or mentally — even if it’s unintentional, it’s not a power exchange any more; it’s a problem. Safewords help avoid problems.

I know that there are submissives who don’t like safewords because they think it means that they aren’t totally helpless. But all I want to ask them is this: Is being “totally helpless” worth getting injured or emotionally traumatized because you can’t stop something from happening that you *could* have stopped with a safeword?

I know that there are dominants who don’t like their submissives to have safewords because they like the feeling of being in Total And Utter Control(TM). All I want to say to them is this: When you have to take your submissive to the ER with second-degree burns, tell me how great that Total And Utter Control is, okay?

Frankly, I don’t trust people who won’t use a safeword with me. [Please note: I said “with ME.” If you really want to forgo safewords amongst yourselves, that’s up to you.] If a dom/top won’t give me that failsafe so that I can protect myself, then I damn well don’t trust them. Because unexpected shit happens, and if I’m tied up and I notice it first, I want to be able to call attention to it and get out of those ropes before I get permanently hurt.

If a sub/bottom wants to play without a safeword with me, I won’t do it. The person who I have tied up knows if their hands are getting numb, and they will likely know a hell of a lot sooner than I will, even if I do regular check-ins. I don’t want my partner getting hurt; as a top, I am absolutely vigilant during a scene, but, like I said, there are some things that a restrained person will notice sooner than their top will.

Safewords are absolutely NOT antithetical to power exchange. They’re smart. We’re all human, we’re all breakable, in a million different ways, and sooner or later (usually sooner) the unexpected happens. Safewords are just a way of breaking glass in case of emergency.

I’ve been AWOL for a month — not on purpose, but just because of summer torpor. I’ve actually done stuff recently that I intended to post about, but, again, laziness overtook me. So, without further ado, here’s what I’ve been doing and thinking about recently:

New Ropecast is up. If you’re not listening to Graydancer‘s podcast, Ropecast, I have to ask: why the hell not? I listened to the first half of the newest podcast on my way to work this morning (my commute isn’t long enough to listen to it all in one shot). He talks about floor work, as opposed to suspension, and how there can be a bias towards suspension being The Shit when it comes to ropework. (Er, that’s my paraphrasing, NOT a quote. Graydancer is way more articulate than I am.)

I like that he discussed that topic, because my experience has been similar — people will ooh and ahh over a suspension but then totally ignore beautiful ropework with incredible energy, just because it’s floor work and not suspension. That’s crazy. I’ve seen Master David and shevah, for instance, do “simple” head bondage that just took my breath away with its energy and gorgeous ropework. (I say “simple” because a lot of people would view head bondage as simple when compared with suspension.)

In fact, I think it’s Master David who I heard say, “If you can’t fly on the floor, you’ll never fly in the air.” Too right.

Bob Deegan and the singletail. T. and I were at a recent leather event, where Bob Deegan was one of the presenters. I’d never seen him before, though I’d heard a lot about him. Let me tell you, watching Bob Deegan use the singletail is like watching a gorgeous combination of fencing, tai chi, and dancing. And it left me really REALLY wanting to get a singletail. Although there was a vendor at the event, I decided to be fiscally self-sacrificing and not buy a singletail right now. But it’s now on my list of Toys To Buy And Learn.

Finally, When a scene goes wrong. (If there were audio embedded in this post, you’d hear me sighing heavily here.) There are a lot of ways that a scene can go wrong. (1) You can have equipment failure, such as ropes breaking or cuffs tightening too much (or larger equpiment failure, like a suspension winch getting stuck while the sub is suspended). (2) You can have an atmospheric failure — not the sudden loss of all air in the room, but, you know, when people who are watching your scene decide to start talking LOUDLY to each other, or, worse yet, TO YOU. (3) And then you have the type of failure that results from just not being in the right headspace/frame of mind/mood to pull off the scene. It’s not really a “failure” in the sense that ropes breaking is clearly an equipment failure, but since I can’t think of the best terminology for it, I’m calling it a “headspace failure.”

That happened to me Saturday night. Big time. I was bottoming to T. at a party, and almost *everything* affected me negatively. I didn’t like the music (which was a mix CD that *I* had made, so I *should* have liked it), I could smell the paint on the cross (which had apparently been recently re-painted), the ropes were not staying where they needed to stay, I was too warm, and I was almost painfully aware of the people who were watching. Every piece of equipment we tried was just uncomfortable to me, and it was clear that I could not get into any kind of bottom-y headspace.

I ended up calling red when T. flogged (or maybe spanked; I can’t remember) me a little too hard. It wasn’t excruciating pain, it wasn’t even “Stop this NOW!” pain — I think it was just the unfortunate combination of my shitty headspace and inability to get comfortable PLUS a swat that was a little too hard.

And then, of course, the meltdown. I lost it, crying and berating myself for not being able to get into the scene, for calling red, for not being a good bottom, etc. We ultimately went home after that, although T. didn’t want to leave right then, because he thought that the company of the other party guests (along with food and water) would improve my mood. And he was probably right, but I was so upset with myself that I didn’t think I could sit and talk to people without continuing to cry, which I absolutely did not want to do. So we left.

We talked it through the next day, and it turns out that T. was having a hard time getting into *his* headspace, too, which I didn’t know at the time. I mean, maybe I had picked up on it on a subconscious level, but I certainly wasn’t aware of it in any intellectual capacity. All I knew was how uncomfortable *I* was.

In a weird way, I’m glad it happened, because at least now I know that we can have a scene go wrong — in terms of “headspace failure” — and work through it. I sure the hell would prefer to not repeat it any time soon, though.