The other day, I was listening to the Ropecast (Graydancer’s podcast about shibari and other kinky things), and much to my delight, Midori was a guest. She and Graydancer talked about a variety of topics, including her “Elements of Suffering” performance.

In describing “Elements of Suffering,” Midori talked about the Japanese cultural virtue of enduring. She didn’t elaborate on the reasons that enduring is a Japanese virtue; she just explained that it’s a common theme. And then she related that back in to her “Elements of Suffering” performance, talking about the idea of enduring hardship (or suffering).

When I first started reading books about BDSM (thank you,, for making it easy for shy kinksters to get their hands on good reading material!), one of the first books I read was Janet Hardy and Dossie Easton’s New Bottoming Book. In it, they tell the reader to think about what it is that he or she wants to get out of bottoming. In other words, what are you looking for, what do you want to achieve — why are you doing this?

It wasn’t a question I could answer right away; certainly not until I got involved with other kinky people and started playing at parties. Even then, I was just trying to learn everything I could, experience everything I could (or what I was willing to experience), and see what I liked.

Figuring out why I liked it could come later.

And, eventually, what I realized was that, when I bottom, what I want is to endure. I want to take the flogging/beating/pain and get through it, get past it, and see what’s on the other side. (I also want to be praised for taking the pain, to be told I’m a good girl, but that’s not my primary motivator in bottoming.)

This is very much in contrast with T.’s goal in bottoming; he very often wants to be broken, to be pushed to the point where he can’t take the pain any more. And as much as I’ve gone there with him, as his top, it’s not something I want to experience as a bottom.

Neither way is “right,” of course; when it comes to kink, there’s only what’s right for any given person. And it’s endlessly fascinating to me to see just how many permutations there can be, how many different ways people have to embrace and express their kink.

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.