Welcome to my blog! 🙂
Last Friday, I was texting with a scene friend I’ve known for many years. He is not local, so our time together in person is limited to a couple of parties a year, but we have played countless times and he’s very dear to me. He’s had some health issues lately, so I was texting to see how he was doing and to say I missed him.
He asked about me. Said he really wanted to know what was going on with me. I wanted to tell him the whole story, but, unlike the few other people with whom I’ve shared all the gory details, he has been to parties/socialized with the person in question. So this would be a first, a risky first. Because from what I’d heard, he and this person were friendly.
But I went for it. Instead of going into a long conversation, I went to the draft of the blog I’d saved, the one where I described everything that happened, but didn’t post it. I copied it, pasted it in an email, and hit Send. My heart was pounding the entire time. I told him no rush; I know it’s long. I had to remind myself to breathe.
Several minutes later, he texted me. Next to “I love you,” I think these are three of the sweetest words a person can hear.
There was more to the conversation. He went on to say that this person always seemed a bit too smooth, too slick… a “master manipulator.” But that was all gravy. Those three words made me weep.
The overall situation hasn’t changed, of course. But knowing there is one from the old circle who still cares about me — and believes me — is gratifying.
And in another conversation snippet, on a happier note, I received this text from B:
Yes, please. (He liked my last blog.)
A friend posted a comment, expressing a hope that this “becomes a regular thing.” There was a time when I used to have that sentiment as well, but now, I know better. Things in this scene are ephemeral — friendships, play partners, popularity. Nothing is a “regular thing.” Now, I will take what good times come my way, relish them fully, and for all intents and purposes consider them over, unless I’m proven wrong.
It hurts a lot less that way.
Sorry to be so blah. This past weekend was a national party, and there was the inevitable plethora of tweets with pictures and descriptions of wonderful play times and camaraderie. And the feeling of missing it was like a physical ache. Not so much this particular party, because I’ve never attended this one. Just the phenomenon of the bubble, the escape from reality, the sheer joy of being among hundreds of people who get me and know why I’m there. So strange, given that normally, mass throngs of people are complete anathema to me. But in this case, I forget about that part of me. Or, I did. But I do not think I will have this again. I no longer feel the sense of safety, the welcome. He took that away.
Enough. Back to work. And here’s to new possibilities in July.
Yes, I was on a plane for the first time since 2012. The flight was less than an hour, but still. Oh, and I took an Uber for the first time. And BART. For a woman who almost never goes anywhere, this was monumental. Even more monumental — the trip was to Northern CA to play with B. A 24-hour whirlwind, and a comedy of errors regarding the travel portions. But all so very worth it.
Oh, and while the trip was short, this post is long. Buckle up and get a beverage.
It started with him getting a new strap. He had asked for my opinion when ordering a new one, and had sent me some pictures of his possible choices. (They all looked pretty damn terrifying.) A couple of days later, I received this picture from him:
Oh. My. I commented that it was scary looking, and he replied it was especially scary for me, knowing I was going to receive corporal punishment on my bare bottom with it soon. :-O Say what, now?
At first B suggested coming to me again, but I told him the Saturday plans weren’t really fair to John. However — how about if I went to him, on a weekday, and played at his place? (This was John’s idea.) He liked that, and said he had a full spare bedroom/bathroom suite I could stay in. He even offered me some of his unused miles. 🙂
B was great; he took care of everything, booking the flight for me, even getting me an aisle seat with extra legroom, which I really appreciated, since the tight confines of planes make me feel claustrophobic. He told me how to set up Uber (I’d never used it before) and told me it would be about an hour ride from the airport to his place. Once there, I was to go to a food court area downtown right near his building and wait for him to get off work, maybe another hour or so. Simple, right? Then I’d fly home the next morning, after he dropped me off at the train station and I took the train to BART and then BART to SFO. All seemed quite doable, even for this nervous person who isn’t travel savvy.
I’d looked up Burbank Airport and saw they had economy lots with cheaper parking (the regular lots were $23 per day; the cheap lots $12). My first glitch? Pulled into the airport, drove round and round and got caught up in the swirl of cars, and the economy lots were nowhere in sight. I stopped to ask, and was told, “Oh, you have to exit the airport and then go to blah blah.” Okay, so I tried to leave, and as I drove around, I came to a split in the road with signage, but neither direction said “Exit.” I had a 50/50 chance, so I took one and of course it was wrong and I ended up in the rental car return lot. I had to ask again, and the guy gave me another set of convoluted directions. By now I was freaking out, and did I mention we were having a heat wave and the temperature was triple digits? So as I drove out of that lot, the first thing I saw was a full-price parking lot and I said screw it, saving a few bucks isn’t worth my sanity. So I parked… and then I had to ask yet another person how to find the United terminal (go up that escalator, take the walkway, go across the street, blah blah). But I made it in plenty of time and was at my gate by 12:40 for a 2:00 flight.
When I got to SFO, I looked for the area B told me about where there are Uber pickups, but couldn’t find it, and when I asked, they said, “Oh, we changed that up completely just last week. You have to go to blah blah blah…” Finally found that place, ordered my Uber, and he showed up within 10 minutes. Really nice guy, good driver — we did hit traffic so it took longer than expected, but he turned up the A/C when I asked him to. (I gave him a 20% cash tip; he was quite effusive with his thanks.) Got to the place where B had told me to go, walked in… and discovered it was fully open, no A/C whatsoever, and apparently Northern CA was no cooler than Southern CA. It was like a blast furnace in there. I didn’t like the idea of B picking me up here after I’d sat in this heat for an hour and was sweaty and grubby, but I figured oh well, just go with it.
B came within an hour and we walked to his building, a ginormous high-rise. His apartment was charming — two levels, roomy, big bedrooms and bathrooms. He showed me my room, and the first thing I wanted was a glass of ice water, which he provided. It was about 6:30, and he mentioned dinner. I noticed he’d bought two bags of groceries. “Do you have any dietary restrictions?” he asked. (Uh… yeah, kids, you know what kind of an eater I am.) I said, “Well, I don’t eat red meat”… and the first thing he pulled out of the bag was a huge steak. Oops. Next to come out? A salami and some cheese. Guess what? I don’t eat those either. At this point I was ready to go crawl into a closet, but then things turned around and everything he took out after that — eggs, a fresh sourdough loaf, tomatoes, raspberries — all appealed. “Fried eggs it is,” he announced, “but after you’ve been thoroughly punished. Not good doing that on a full stomach, is it?” I couldn’t agree more. (A side note: the dude on FetLife who always pushes for his stupid buffet munches when we’re all at the Shadow Lane party at the Suncoast irks the hell out of me. Who on earth wants to play after consuming a Las Vegas buffet?? I forecast a lot of ruined shoes with that gluttonous nonsense.)
B is quite the audiophile, with a great deal of high-end stereo equipment and a large selection of record albums. He knew my favorite band, so he put on “Sgt. Pepper” and we sat on the couch for a snack — salami and cheese for him, while I nibbled on some of the raspberries. The acoustics of his music system were marvelous; I could hear every individual instrument.
As you guys might remember, in my last blog about playing with B, I said something like “What is it with UK men and canes?” After the album concluded, B said, “Speaking of Beatles, where is Abbey Road?”
“What city?” I shrugged. I am geographically challenged. (Where is he going with this?)
“London. Which is in England, correct. And is England part of a larger area?”
“The United Kingdom.”
“Yes. And where am I from?”
“And is Ireland part of the UK?”
“Uh… some of it is?”
“Am I from that part?” Uh…
Apparently, he isn’t from the UK. And, as he announced when he firmly took hold of my hand, sat down and pulled me across his lap, saying that the Republic of Ireland is part of the UK is like saying Texas is part of Mexico.
“Well, that’s not so far-fetched!” I protested. “Haven’t you heard of Tex-Mex cuisine?”
I thought that was pretty clever, given it was quick thinking under duress. He wasn’t impressed.
Right off the bat with the small strap. He wasn’t using it very hard, but of course, it stung like a bitch as he hadn’t used his hand first. He gave me sets of ten (I forget how many), and then paused while I caught my breath.
“I’ll bet you’re really, really, really surprised how painful this little strap is,” he mused.
“Yeah,” I gasped, “especially without a warm-up!”
He laughed. “That was the warm-up.”
Oh, fuck me.
After a few minutes of that, after which he pronounced me “a redder shade of crimson,” we went upstairs to where I’d be sleeping (which also happened to be his discipline room) and he had me kneel in a chair at the foot of the bed and then lay my torso on the bed. He had three canes, which he informed me had been soaking in linseed oil. Oh, yippee. I guess I wasn’t about to break any of these suckers.
The scene is a blur. At one point he moved me off the chair and fully onto the bed, with pillows under my hips. I seem to recall the final count was seven sets of twelve, which is eighty-four. Every last one of them spot on. Some harder. Some a bit lighter, but faster. All intense. I had to count every one. And call him “sir.”
(Weird how I’ve mellowed about that word. I used to hate it and refuse to say it. I thought it was too subby. Now, with the right person, it slips out a lot more easily.)
We took a break for some pictures. This one is B’s favorite.
This one is mine. Yes, I’m biting my lip. You would have too.
Afterward, I came down from my high while B gave me some deep tissue massage. I think that had a lot to do with the fact that I had surprisingly little soreness in the next couple of days.
Vaguely, I wondered what happened to the strap he’d bought. I think I even asked him about it. But it didn’t make an appearance, and I forgot about it.
He made me a perfect over-easy fried egg on sourdough bread, with sliced tomatoes. After dinner, we moved to the couch, where he put out the raspberries and some nougat with roasted almonds and whole berries that was to die for. “Right,” he said, “how about some champagne to go with the raspberries?”
I couldn’t help myself — you guys know how much I love champagne — I clapped my hands like a little kid. “Yes, please!” After opening a bottle, pouring us some and putting several raspberries into our glasses, he suggested we go outside to his building’s courtyard, since it was much cooler by now. I had two glasses and was rather tipsy by the time we went out there. It was a beautiful night, quiet, and there was an outdoor enclosed fireplace (not needed in this heat, but it was pretty). We relaxed, finished our champagne, talked. He showed me around — there was a gym, a huge pool, barbecues, all sorts of neat stuff.
Earlier he had asked what I liked in classical music. I like a great deal of it, so I shrugged, not knowing what to choose. “Beethoven, for example?” “What, specifically?” I thought about it and said, “Everyone’s favorite Beethoven symphony is the ninth. I’m a contrarian; mine is the seventh.” So when we went back inside, he put on Beethoven’s seventh symphony for me.
I was blissed out. Comfortably full, mildly buzzed, pleasantly sore, and listening to beautiful music that sounded like I was in a concert hall. What more could I want? So while he was doing whatever he was doing in the kitchen (cleaning up, I figured), I curled up on the couch, rested my head on a pillow, and just let the music wash over me. It was getting late, so I figured bedtime was soon.
At the end of the third movement, B came back in, went to the turntable and lifted the needle. “The last movement will have to wait until morning,” he said, then he crossed to the couch and held out his hand to me. I smiled and got up. “Time for bed?” I asked.
“No,” he replied. “It’s time for you to be punished… again.”
Um… whaaaat? It didn’t register with my foggy brain at first, but I quickly had to switch gears as he pulled me up the stairs at a brisk clip. He hustled me back into the bedroom. “Back over the bed. Now.” I scurried into position, only to have him tell me I’d neglected to take my pants down. Oh dear.
Yeah, it was strap time.
Standing behind me, he said, “Your cane lines have already disappeared. We can’t have that. Give me a number.” Had this been the beginning of the night, I probably would have answered something like, “Are negative numbers acceptable?” Or perhaps, “One.” But at this late hour, already semi-spacey from the earlier scene, faced with this suddenly stern top, I knew better. “Twenty-four,” I said.
I could feel the pause; I think he was a bit nonplussed by my giving him a legitimate number. “That’s a good number,” he said. “Okay, twenty-four. These are going to hurt.”
Again… had it been earlier, or at a party, I may have come back with, “Really? Funny, I was expecting them to tickle.” But I’m really not that foolish. Besides, I kinda wanted them to hurt. 😉
Holy crap, did they. Somehow, I counted out twenty-four hard strokes. None of them wrapped. None went too high or too low. And when the count was done…
“Would you like twelve more?”
I was in the zone, feeling it down into my bones. Bring it. More. Please, more. No more. Yes more. I don’t know anymore. Please.
After thirty-six, he pulled me up into his arms and held me. I buried my face in his shirt; I was shaking and sniveling, in that sort of pre-cry mode I get into, and he asked if I was crying. I shook my head. “No.”
“You can cry if you want to,” he said, then added, “It’s your party.” Which made me giggle. (Only people past A Certain Age will get that reference.) But I just wasn’t quite there. I joked about not wanting to get makeup on his shirt.
A couple of minutes later, after my breathing had leveled off, he pulled back. “I’m giving you twelve more,” he said. I was surprised, and yet I wasn’t. When I got back into position, he added, “And I want you to let it all go this time. If you don’t, I will keep going.”
Which sounds harsh. But it was exactly the push I needed. There are always tears hovering beneath the surface inside me… I guess he sensed that. I made it through the twelve, broke down and wept. He took me back into his arms, and that was really the end this time. I was done.
After I’d calmed down, he had me go look in the mirror. Damn. I wish we’d taken a picture then — solid red. “Feel it,” he said. I did. Ah, hello, leather butt. I’ve missed you.
“Streaky mascara and a welted bottom — you’re ready for bed,” he smiled. Well, not quite. After he said good night and went to his room, I took a shower. No way was I going to put my sweaty body and my semi-melted face on his clean linens.
Can I just say the bathroom was like a four-star hotel? Separate walk-in shower. Oversize bathtub — oh, would I love to take a bubble bath in that. I mean, what’s it like to soak in a tub where your legs fit without bending them, or your feet sticking out? I either have cold feet or cold knees.
Everything was clean and sparkling and new looking. Plus, there was soap, toothpaste, shampoo, conditioner, body lotion — everything a guest could want. That shower felt heavenly and I got into bed around midnight feeling refreshed.
I woke up at 7:00 the next morning, got up and dressed, and wandered downstairs where B was in the kitchen, making espresso. He’d put out more sliced tomatoes, was toasting bread, brought out jam and poured some orange juice and espresso for me. We sat and ate while Mozart played. (I never did get my last movement of Beethoven’s seventh. Oh well.)
“If you don’t eat all your tomatoes, I’m going to spank you,” he announced. Now really, was that necessary? Of course I was going to finish them; I love tomatoes. Apparently wasting food is a punishable sin in Ireland. No argument from me, as I’m a plate cleaner and always have been. But I couldn’t help notice that when he left the table to get ready to go, what did he leave on his plate? Tomatoes! I commented on this, to which he said he could always eat them later, as he lives here, but I have to finish mine because I’m leaving.
(Tops have an answer for everything, don’t they?)
B drove me to the CalTrain station, after giving me detailed instructions on getting the train to BART, and then taking that to SFO. We said goodbye… damn, it went by too quickly! (sigh)
And thus began Part Two of my travel hysteria. I did manage to buy the train ticket and get on the right train, and after about an hour, I got off at Millbrae at BART, which I had never been to before. I asked a guy in a booth where to go for the subway to SFO, and he pointed behind me and said, “It’s this one right here, just scan your ticket and the gate will open.” I did, and then stood by the subway train I thought I was supposed to get on. When it came time to board, I don’t know what possessed me, but I’m sure as hell glad it did — I turned back to the guy and said, “So this will take me to the airport?”
He looked shocked. “Oh, I’m sorry! I didn’t hear you say airport! No, you have to go to Platform 2, which is blah blah blah…” Not nearby. I ran to where he told me to go and saw nothing; no train. Just a schedule that read the SFO train runs every half hour. The one I was supposed to catch was at 10:31… and it was 10:33. Oh, crap.
Now what? B had told me that if I missed the train, I should take an Uber to the airport. But when I tried to leave and went the wrong way and tried to exit through an entry, I got so flustered, a guy who worked there came over to ask if I needed help. I said I needed to get to SFO for a noon flight. He said, “The next train is at 11:01, and it will take you three minutes to get to SFO. You’ll be fine.” So, willing myself to stay calm, I waited until the 11:01 train and boarded; I was the only one on it! The guy was right; it took three minutes and I was at SFO. But of course, I had no idea where I was going; where the hell was the United terminal? I ended up asking three different people because I couldn’t find the damn area. I was quite literally running… finally made it to TSA at 11:25. The line was long, and then we all had to move to another line because the conveyor belt jammed. ARRGGHHHH! Got through that, checking my boarding pass for the millionth time… Gate 71A. I quickly bought a very expensive bottle of water and went to 71A.
My pass said boarding was going to start at 11:40, but that time came and there was no boarding announcement. I felt uneasy. I checked the pass yet again; 71A. But still, no boarding. I went to the United website, found my info, and then saw a link: “Check here for flight updates.” So I clicked it. Sure enough… “Flight blah blah to Burbank is on time, boarding at Gate 79.”
Gate 79????????????????? What happened to 71A?
How far could 79 be from 71A, I thought. As it turns out, pretty damn far. More running. More panic. Aaaaaaand I got to Gate 79 at 11:52. Did I mention my flight was at 12:05? I just made it.
Got on the plane, found my seat. Collapsed in it and took a deep breath. I made it. All was well. All disasters averted. And then as the plane started taxiing, a toddler two rows ahead let out a scream that could break glass. Not just on the plane, but in all 50 states.
I heard Mom chatter nervously, “Oh no no no, we’re not doing that!” Kid had other ideas and screamed again. That warm sensation I felt running down the sides of my neck was my eardrums melting. I thought, if I have to listen to an hour of this, I will lose what’s left of my mind. Fortunately, he quieted down and didn’t scream again. Holy Christ, how can such a tiny person have such a set of lungs??
Home at last! Headed out and on my way back to the parking lot, I found an Express Pay machine, so I figured this is where I pay for my parking ticket. Tried to scan it — it wouldn’t scan. Tried again. Still nothing. What now? I went inside a building marked “Cashier” where a very nice woman greeted me with “Hello, sunshine, how are ya?” (Sunshine? ME??) I told her my parking ticket wouldn’t scan, and she looked at it and said, “Well, honey, that’s because you’re in the wrong place.”
Of course I was.
“Go out that door, go down that walkway, walk all the way down to the signal, cross the street, and you’ll be at your lot. You pay on your way out.” She even walked outside with me and pointed me in the right direction. By then, all I could do was laugh. God, I’m such a dork. But you’ll be happy to know I got out of the parking lot (for $36, thank you very much) and made it home in one piece. I texted both B and John to let them know I’d arrived safely. And then I crashed for a nap.
So… are you wondering if, after eighty-four cane strokes and forty-eight strap strokes, I had any marks? Barely. I took this picture on Friday.
Microscopic. Plenty sore, though, which I always enjoy. However, not quite as sore as the first time B and I played. I have no idea why. Maybe because it had only been a couple of weeks, versus six months before his first visit.
Life felt very mundane on Friday after twenty-four hours of planes, trains and automobiles; canes and straps; and champagne and raspberries. But all good things and fun times must come to an end.
B (’cause I know you’re reading this) — thank you. For being such a wonderful host, and a caring, conscientious top with whom I felt very safe. For welcoming me into your home and making me feel special. For the intensely delicious play experience. You are one of the good ones. ♥
It was really nice to be able to forget about everything for a couple of days. Somehow, I need to make that happen more often.
There is plenty to see, but I’m not going to post it. I know I’ve been saying for a long time that something bad happened to me last year. Let me clear one thing up, lest people think I’m over-dramatizing by revealing too little. I was not physically assaulted or otherwise bodily damaged in any way; I am not covering up for some scene “rape-y guy.” In short, I believed in, trusted and supported someone, and in turn, I got thrown into a world of hurt. Exiting my life as quickly as he entered it, his parting gift was a very long, painfully detailed, damning email — one he said he’d shared with our mutual friends. I had revealed my insecurities and vulnerabilities, and in this missive, they were all gouged with a rusty knife. Essentially, I was painted as needy, neurotic, narcissistic and manipulative. John was stunned, and pronounced it to be “character assassination.” I had no idea who had seen it, or what people were saying/thinking. My self-esteem and confidence took a nosedive.
After this, I dropped out of scene activity. With a couple of exceptions, no one came forward to ask me for my side of things. I sank further into depression until I couldn’t stand it anymore, and sought help. My new therapist said I gave away all my power and suggested I take it back, perhaps by blogging about it and telling my story.
So last week, over three days, I wrote the longest blog post I’ve ever crafted. I dredged up a year and a half of memories and feelings, wept a great deal, and chronicled what happened (but without naming names, or giving away unique personal details).
I then shared it with John. And he said, “This is well written, and all true. And if you post it publicly, no good will come from it, it will just stir shit up, and it will backfire in your face.”
That was hard to hear. But of course, he’s right. After all this time, who would believe me? On top of all the other faults ascribed to me, we could add “vindictive bitch” to the list. Drama queen. Troublemaker.
So it looks like I have to suck this one up, and deal the best I can. My scene life has definitely been altered. I cannot imagine going back to any national party at this point. Not if there’s any chance of encountering the person whose words gutted me. I should be stronger than this. I thought I was. But as time goes by and I don’t feel any different, it’s pretty clear that I’m not.
I know my truth, and John knows it. I will have to be satisfied with that, and do the best I can to move forward.
On a positive note, it seems that B from Northern CA may be flying me to his place on a weeknight for a second go-round. Win-win, no impact on John’s time, and a wonderful adventure for me. Stay tuned.
I’m like that little floppy-eared bastard with the drum… I just keep going and going.
So what’s been going on? This is another long one, kids. But there’s something fun at the end, if you want to slog through. Or just fast-forward. Up to you.
The past few months, I’ve been dealing with two separate issues. One you already know about; a bad bout of depression that was triggered by something that happened at the end of last year and then decided it wasn’t going to go away. And two, I started having shoulder pain a few months ago. At first I thought I just pulled something or another at the gym, so I worked around it, saw the chiropractor, iced it. But that didn’t go away either. Then it started hurting when I wasn’t even moving it. When it started impacting my sleep (damn near every position except on my back hurt), I knew I’d have to do something about it. And I was sick to death of feeling like death every day, too.
So at the end of March, I started making appointments. First, my regular doc to look at my shoulder, and second, with my HMO’s therapy department to 1. see if my meds need tweaking and 2. try to find a new therapist, as the one I had for over twenty-five years retired two years ago.
Going through the questions and interviews and appointments for therapy are so much fun, especially the tests they have you take, asking you to rate various thoughts and feelings and situations 1 through 5 (1 = Never, 5 = All the time). “How often do you have thoughts of hurting yourself?” “Do you use recreational drugs?” “Do you drink?” “Do you have trouble sleeping?” “Do you feel useless, guilty, unloved, hopeless, blah blah blah?” And then you have an appointment with a psychiatrist to assess your needs — said psychiatrist essentially asks you the same questions again. Because I am my father’s daughter, I couldn’t resist a bit of dark humor.
Doctor: Have you ever tried to commit suicide?
Me: Yeah, when I was nineteen.
Me: It was pretty lame; I blew out the pilot lights on the stove and in the heater, turned everything up full blast, closed the windows, and went to sleep. But I woke up.
Doctor: And are you thinking about doing that now?
Me: No, my apartment is all electric now.
What can I say. I saw her trying to hide a laugh. I mean, I get why they have to ask all this stuff. They want to make sure you’re not going to leave the appointment and then go jump in front of a bus. But still… enough. If I haven’t offed myself by now, it ain’t happening.
Anyway, after that, she decided not to switch my meds to something else, just to up the existing a bit, and also suggested I try exercising a little more and to start taking melatonin at night for better sleep quality. And then she referred me to a therapist, who I heard from shortly thereafter.
I’ve had two appointments with her so far and I like her. The first hour, I gave her an overall intro of my younger life: alcoholic dad, hypercritical mom, brother dying, the revolving door of stepmothers, eating disorders and depression, and other general suckage. The second appointment, I told her about Erica Scott and that part of my life. I didn’t get overly detailed, but I needed her to know about the scene, since so much of my current depression is around that. It took all the nerve I had, but I felt better afterward. So I’ll be seeing her regularly. Best part — the copay is only $15.
As for my shoulder, that’s been a lot more challenging. First my doc took an X-ray, found nothing, and suggested I simply stop exercising my upper body until this goes away… in six months or so. Not happening. I’m no doctor, but one thing I do know is you do not stop moving a body part just because it’s injured. You work around it, strengthen the area, keep things moving and flexible. So I asked the doc to refer me to the physical therapy department (after she turned down my request for an MRI). Long story short, I have a vague catch-all term for what’s happening: “Shoulder impingement syndrome.” I’ve had to adjust my workouts, my sleeping position, and the PT has been giving me exercises to do at home, adding another couple every time I see her. I’m up to eight exercises in the series, which take about twenty minutes to a half-hour, and I have to do them twice a day. And that’s on top of regular workouts. Oh, and ice, heat, and Advil/Aleve as needed.
Having shoulder pain is, well, a pain. Never take for granted simple things like pulling a shirt over your head without wanting to scream and cuss. But I’m working on it. You can’t say I’m not being proactive through all this crap.
I’ve been on the new dose of meds for about six weeks now. I do feel a bit better. Through all this, I’ve been highly functional. I got up every morning, got dressed, worked, did what needed doing. But I cried every day, and every night, my last thought before going to sleep was “Please let me die.” That hasn’t been happening for a while. So, progress. And along with a better mood came… guess what. Yeah, you got it. A renewed desire to play.
I had deactivated FetLife, and had no desire to go back on there, because there is someone I don’t want to encounter. So I reactivated some old ads on *shudder* Alt.com and SpankingPersonalAds.com. Yeah, I know. I was opening myself up to CHoS entries once again… and they delivered. Good grief. The very first reply I got after rejoining Alt was a dick pic accompanied with the message, “Want your ass, bitch!” However, there are occasional diamonds in heaps of coal, so I soldiered on. Had a couple of coffee dates; nice men, but just not a fit. One flat-out said he couldn’t imagine giving a woman a spanking and then not having sex afterward. “Guess I’d go jerk off,” he said. Charming.
Then I heard from B, an Irish gentleman who lives in Northern California. I liked how he wrote, I really liked his picture, and we started sending long messages, taking it from the kink site to email. Then he suggested we talk on the phone. I’m not a phone person, as you all know, but I was curious. So he called me one evening at a predetermined time, and we chatted for about two hours. He mentioned that he’d decided when he turned 50 (he’s 51) that he was going to travel to meet people and play, and he asked what my availability was. I said I spend Friday evening through Sunday at John’s, but Monday through Thursday I was home and my time was flexible. He said, “Well, that’s a problem. I work Monday through Friday.”
Well, crap. There goes that, I thought.
Until next day, when he texted me to say he’d enjoyed our conversation, mentioning that he gets chatty when he’s had a glass of wine. I texted back that I enjoyed it too, and I didn’t even have any wine.
He then wrote back that he was going to have to punish me for letting an Irishman drink alone.
Jesus Freaking Christ on a cracker. I was reading this in the locker room at the gym and damn near had a spontaneous orgasm. I answered that I failed to see the logic in this.
His reply: “Just Google ‘Irish stereotypes drinking’ and you will see how punishable this infraction is.” Ye Gods. We bantered a bit back and forth until I finally said that I was at the gym and if he didn’t stop talking like this, I was going to drop a weight on my foot.
Two days later, he texted again and asked what was the closest airport to me, and I said Burbank. He said he could fly out on a Friday night and we could play, and he’d fly home the next day.
I told him I’d have to talk with John about this, because it would impact my time with him and I make a point of trying not to do that, so I’d get back to him. John’s reaction? “Life is short. Try it once.”
I love this man. ♥
So we planned it for the weekend of May 11. One snag — it turned out he was arriving around 11 p.m., so we’d need to play Saturday. Argh… I had planned to meet him Friday night, play, then head on to John’s. Now it was looking like I wasn’t getting to John’s until sometime Saturday afternoon. But I was all in, and that was that. And for once, the stars aligned; as it happened, John had a crew scheduled Saturday morning to cut down a tree in his back yard, and they were going to be chain-sawing and jack-hammering all morning. So it was just as well that I not be there.
I asked B if he could please come early Saturday morning, say around 9:00. We settled on 9:15. In the meantime, he’d friended me on Facebook, so I could read all about him. I had a full name, a number, an email. He said he could provide references; just the fact that he offered that meant (to me) that I didn’t need them. I was ready. Oh, and did I mention I was nervous AF? It had been six months. And did I also mention this guy is very big on caning? What the hell kind of tolerance was I going to have after such a long hiatus?
B didn’t like the idea of playing in his hotel, so he was coming to my apartment. Bright and early, he showed up. Even more handsome than his pictures, with that accent and the most beautiful blue eyes… oh, Christ, was I ready.
He’d brought his suitcase with him, having checked out of his hotel, and as he settled in, he unzipped one compartment and pulled out four canes, an implement that looked like a whole bunch of skinny canes bundled together, two tawses, and one short strap. Easy, Erica. Don’t panic. You’ve got this. Bionic Butt, remember? It’s like riding a bike. Oh, wait… I never learned how to ride a bike. Fuck. When he showed me the tawse, he explained it was a Scottish Lochgelly tawse, and it looked like one mean mofo — two tongues and very thick. He then added, “We probably won’t be using this.” Probably thought it was a bit too harsh for a first session. I certainly didn’t argue.
Mercifully, he did give me a brief warm-up OTK with his hand and the short leather strap, over my jeans. But all too quickly, it was done, and he had me get back up while he searched for the best place to bend me over for caning. The ottoman was too low, the armchair had no swinging room — but my bed was just right.
What is it about UK men and the cane? I have been caned many times by many tops, but no one seems to have the prowess and precision quite like UK tops. B was no exception. He was very methodical in his corporal punishment delivery — I had to count every stroke, I had to say “sir” with each one, and he was measured and even and focused. I’ve often said that a lot of people are afraid of the cane, but they shouldn’t be; the cane is only as bad as the person wielding it, like any other implement. In the right hands, in conscientious hands, it is intense, it hurts, but it’s a good hurt. It’s deep and it’s lingering and it’s…. mmmmmnggghhh. Yeah, that’s the word for it.
He gave me sets of twelve, and occasionally sets of twenty-four. I lost count of how many there were. He used that cane bundle too. We took breaks periodically, his decision. Here I am somewhere in the middle of it all.
Look how spot on those cane strokes are. And yet, I felt all of those implements on my back, plus one more cane not in the picture.
You would think that after six months of no play, of practically re-virginized skin, this would have been enough, yes? You’d be wrong.
He stopped when he thought I’d had enough. He was gauging my skin and my color. And because we had just met and he didn’t know the full scope of my tolerance, he exercised caution. I knew all that and appreciated every bit of it. But…
I still wanted more.
So when we got up, went back into the living room and sat on the couch to talk, I told him so. I said it wasn’t a criticism; I just liked to be pushed a bit. And because I haven’t played for so long, I’m feeling insatiable. He didn’t answer that, and changed the subject. I figured okay, this was great, we had a good intense scene and I got to dip my toes back in the water.
Until about ten minutes later when he suddenly stood up, picked up the tawse, and said, “Back in the bedroom.”
Once there, he said, “I’m going to give you twelve. After that, I will ask you if you want twelve more. You will not want them.” I still had my jeans on; how bad could it be?
Oh, crap. That tawse is one mean son of a bitch. It packed a wallop, even over denim. I felt a bit shaky after the twelve were done.
“Do you want twelve more?” he asked.
“Yes, please,” I replied.
The next twelve were harder, and I was barely able to keep count by the end. He told me to stand, and I did, on shaky legs. “Wow,” I murmured, looking at the wicked thing in his hands. “That was intense. I can’t even imagine how that feels on bare skin.”
He just looked at me, not putting the tawse down. “Want more?” I hesitated. “How about six.” “OK.” “Pants down.”
Took down my jeans, and he gave me six hard ones. And then, he gave me six more. I took thirty-six with that beastly thing.
And I felt so. Damn. Good. I haven’t lost it. I’ve still got it. Now I was done.
Notice the absence of something? Like, I don’t know… wrapping? Unevenness? Perfect balance and distribution. I was impressed.
It was now almost 12:30, so we started to pull our things together. I had already put my weekend suitcase in the car, so all we had to do was gather all his stuff and then I was driving him to the rental car place near the Burbank airport (which was on the way to John’s), so he could drive into Orange County to a shop he wanted to visit there, and then he would fly home from LAX. As he was getting ready, I glanced at my bar top and saw a box that hadn’t been there before. “Is this yours?” I asked. “No,” he said, “it’s yours. It’s a gift.” It was a stove-top espresso pot! In one of our earlier conversations, he had asked me, apropos of nothing, if I liked coffee, and I told him I did. I thought, okay, maybe he’ll bring coffee when he comes over, but then he didn’t, and I forgot about it. Wow. I did not expect a present, and I was really tickled. Thank you, sir, for everything.
I have to admit, what happened last year made me seriously question my judgment in people, my instincts about who is good and who isn’t. But even someone who’s usually pretty accurate about sussing people out could be thoroughly taken in by someone who was so charming and convincing. My instincts are not flawed; they’re just not perfect every time. This time, they were spot on.
I wasn’t sore that evening, which was strangely disappointing. But when I woke up Sunday morning and sat up… holy hell. My butt felt like it had been hit by a bus. Repeatedly. I was sore, deep into the tissues and muscles, but not a mark on me. I think that might have been due to B kneading out the cane strokes in between sets. He asked me which I preferred: having the massage, or having marks. Naturally, I said I like both. I felt the soreness for two days and relished it.
So. Project Erica Taking Her Power Back. Getting my life back, my spirits back, my kink mojo and confidence back. And finding new ways to indulge it, because I can’t go back to the way things were. There’s too much mistrust and pain. Eventually, I will write more about this. I still won’t name names. But I think it’s time to talk about it; I just have to figure out how. Meanwhile… please hold a good thought for me. Healing thoughts for my shoulder and my psyche. And for God’s sake, wish me a local play partner!
And finally, a side note: RIP, Tardar Sauce (yes, that’s how they spelled it), AKA Grumpy Cat. The iconic kitty has passed away at age 7. I mention this because she was my spirit animal, and I related to so many of the memes. But I will always have my little desk mascot.
As always, thanks for reading.
You might want to settle in with your refreshing beverage of choice for this one, as it’s really freaking long.
Recently, someone I’m very fond of, and who is quite prominent in the spanking scene, wrote a piece about the scene and where he feels he stands in it, in particular the large national parties. Lest people accuse me of name-dropping (“oooh, she’s friends with him“), I won’t say who it is. But his post was honest and brave, and it gave me the courage and impetus to do some reflecting of my own.
I have stated, time and again, that throughout life, I have felt like this photo:
The piece that doesn’t fit. The square peg in a round world. Or, as I once heard in a 12-step meeting: “I feel like I’m trespassing on the planet.” Different. Weird. Etc. Throw kinkiness into the mix and you really get the stench of otherness.
I’ve also often said that navigating the scene is like dancing on a double-edged sword. On one side, you have infinite potential for belonging, for acceptance, for connecting with others. For personal fulfillment. For expressing your truest self. But misstep, and that sword can hurt you. Sometimes it’s little cuts that bleed, and leave tiny scars that no one sees but you. And other times, it can outright disembowel you.
The scene is loving. The scene is fickle. It is kind. It is brutal. The scene gives. The scene takes away.
I’ve seen so much in my scene years. Some of it has happened to me, and some things have happened to others. I’ve been loved, hated, accepted, misunderstood, put up on a pedestal, knocked back off it, immortalized on film and in cartoons, stalked, cat-fished, supported, betrayed, judged, defended. I’ve hit the highest highs and the lowest lows, and everything in between.
Just a few random things I’ve borne witness to over the years, that touched me deeply:
When a long-time party-goer had a massive heart attack and nearly died, he ended up in an extended hospital stay, unable to pay his mortgage and his bills. A GoFundMe was set up for him — contributions came pouring in. I believe they ended up with $15-20,000. He survived.
When a young woman mentioned on FetLife that she had a birthday party and no one showed up, a surprise party was arranged for her at one of the national gatherings. When she walked into the room and everyone cheered, she actually turned around, looking for who was being greeted. Then realization dawned, and she burst into tears.
When a woman had devastating losses from a fire, a GoFundMe was set up for her as well. Many came through for her.
A long-time host of room parties, who had been absent for years due to illness, came to his first party in years with his wife. They were given a tribute, complete with speakers (I was one of them) and an award. It was a beautiful recognition of a great scene contributor. Not too long after that, he passed away from cancer.
When a young woman came to her first party, not knowing anyone and having only connected online with a few people on FetLife, the enormity of it all, the noise, the crush of bodies overwhelmed her. The first night, she left the party room in tears. The party might have ended for her there, had it not been for a dear friend of mine intercepting her in the hallway. He pulled her into his room, let her cry, gave her a pep talk. She calmed down and regained her composure, took a break, then went back to the party. Later that weekend, I saw the same woman happily, joyously playing, right in the midst of the main party room.
When a beloved scene member nearly died giving birth to twins and then one of them tragically didn’t make it, a beautiful soul took up a collection to buy the shell-shocked couple a ton of essentials — everything from diapers to formula to clothes — plus a cleaning service and a subscription to Netflix for distraction.
Countless displays of welcome, of support, of love. The more I think about this, the more incidents I come up with. But of course, there is the other side.
I’ve seen relationships form, then crash and burn. I’ve seen countless emotional meltdowns at parties, including several of my own. I’ve seen friendships dissolve, jealousies flare, hurts inflicted. People who put out their time, money and efforts to open their hotel suites to everyone at parties get criticized and picked apart by those who consider themselves entitled to everything they want at someone else’s expense. I read an account of someone who welcomed everyone in their suite for several days/nights at a national party — and then was thoroughly reamed for having the audacity to restrict their suite to friends only on the final night. That’s just one story of many. I have witnessed people being systemically and cruelly shunned from groups. This one hates that one; so-and-so violated so-and-so; stay away from that guy; don’t talk to this woman. Battle lines are drawn; gossip runs rampant. Granted, if someone is a genuine hot mess, a violator, a predator, etc., with accounts from many to back up the concerns, that’s one thing; friends should be warned and safety should be paramount. But sometimes, good people who cross the wrong individuals can find they become pariahs in short order.
The scene can foster closeness and special relationships, but it also provides a sort of pseudo-intimacy. We are in close proximity, we bare our body parts before we even learn each other’s real names, we engage in intimate activity. We are emotionally invested and vulnerable. We open fully and trust quickly. But sometimes, it simply isn’t real. And when reality does hit, it hurts worse. Because we’ve invested so much of ourselves. Not just our bodies, but our hearts and souls.
I have watched people rally and rise above bad times to eventually prevail. And I have seen people disappear, burned out or driven away. The trouble with being too close to the scene is it’s like a personal house of cards. The loss of a key card can cause the whole thing to come down for you. And although you know logically that there are other components of life, at the moment of that crash, it can feel like your entire world is crashing. Your source of support. Your place of belonging.
There have been many ups and downs for me over the years, navigating this scene. Luckily, I was spared the tumult of multiple relationships, of breakups, of having to see exes at gatherings, because I have been with John the entire time. A couple of times, I came very close to dropping out. When I thought I was done shooting because one company didn’t want me, I felt like a has-been and like my time was done. It was the first time I became aware of the fickleness of the scene, how much is about the newest hot young thing. However, I was able to work through that, with the help of a much beloved friend (thank you again, Danny)… and went on to shoot with several other companies for another ten years. I beat the odds, over and over.
Well-placed gossip can destroy someone in this scene. Roughly fifteen years ago, a woman accused me of trying to sabotage her relationship and steal her boyfriend. Ridiculous, since I had John. The man in question had been my play partner, she had been my friend, but when she began dating him, suddenly I became the enemy. Not only was he not to play with me anymore, he wasn’t to communicate with me at all. I don’t know where this jealousy and paranoia came from. I consider myself the least threatening woman on earth, hardly a femme fatale. I was older than her, and not nearly as striking.
Seems like this sort of thing is no big deal, right? Unfortunately, she happened to be a well loved icon of videos — definitely a case of “boys want to meet her, girls want to be her.” And she was telling anyone who would listen to her that I was a relationship wrecker. I lost friends. I was put in the awful state of wondering who was saying what about me and to whom. Or, even worse, having damning words come directly back to me, like the time a friend told me she’d been admonished in no uncertain terms by another that she should “sever all ties with Erica.”
I was devastated and thought I was done. But somehow, with support, I made it through that too. She sabotaged her own relationship, it ended without any of my involvement, and she eventually disappeared. Friends who had believed her ended up apologizing to me (including the “sever all ties” person). It was an ugly and painful time, and I think that came the closest to driving me out. (Please, no guesses. And no, it was not Samantha Woodley.)
But I was younger then. I had time on my side. I could ride it out, even though it seemed impossible at the time. Because there was a greater good. There was something to fight for, to persevere for.
Humans are resilient beings. We have to be. There is so much in life that is devastating and inevitable. Death. Illness. Crushing losses. And then there is the suffering that shouldn’t be inevitable, but it is: the pain from the careless cruelty and indifference of fellow humans.
We are able to move past and survive a whole lot of grief and loss, recover from disappointments, rise above life’s meanness. But I think everyone has a breaking point. Everyone has that one last straw, the one where they realize something has to change. Something has to give… or something has to go.
I am reminded of a woman I knew in the scene many years ago. She, along with her play partner and friend, hosted many room parties at Shadow Lane and was one of the organizers of a spanking group in her hometown. She was someone who had been through her share of pain in life; prolonged illness and death of her first husband with no support from his family, raising two children alone, addiction. But now her kids were older, she’d fallen in love and married again, and it seemed that life was finally going to turn around.
Until she was hit with not one, but two unspeakable betrayals from people she trusted. I will not elaborate on what happened or who was involved, only that the incidents were scene-related. They were her final straw. She withdrew from the groups, disappeared from the online boards. I stopped hearing from her; she lived in another state, so it wasn’t like I could go for coffee or lunch and hang out with her.
She died from acute liver failure at age 50, drinking herself to death.
No, I’m not going to drink myself to death. Or anything myself to death. But I think I’ve experienced my last straw as well. And I don’t think I’m going to get past this one. Unlike with the others, time is not on my side. I know I harp about my age a lot, but this statement has never been more true: I really am too old for this shit. I’m already dealing with a lot of insecurity about the changes in my body, my face. And now that I feel like my confidence, sense of kinship, and trust have disappeared, that’s simply too much to cope with. I can’t put the face on anymore. I don’t want to be seen. When I look in the mirror, the face that gazes back at me looks pale and lifeless.
50 Freaks was this past weekend. This is the first time since this party was conceived that we’ve missed one. The decision was painful and I’ve shed copious tears over it. I hope Joe will understand and forgive me; it had absolutely nothing to do with him. But I simply couldn’t do it. And interwoven with all the sadness and regret was a feeling of relief. All the prep of getting there felt overwhelming and exhausting. I’ve never liked that part; I’ve always found it stressful. But I also always knew there was great joy and welcoming and fun and play and escape on the other side. Now… that has been tainted.
It snowed in Vegas, a rare occurrence. Several flights were canceled. I told myself, meh, it would have been a hassle driving in it (I read about road closures and other traffic nightmares), it would have been freezing, I’d have to bring a ton of heavy clothes, and who feels sexy and spanky when they’re bundled up like an Eskimo? But of course, I knew that was ridiculous. We’d be in a hotel, not in a freaking tent. In our room, we could turn on the heat. In the party room, all the bodies would keep things plenty warm. So that was just a rationale.
God damn, I miss play. So much. Part of me is yearning, fully, bodily, emotionally, to lose myself in the pain, to be spanked to tears, to feel those incomparable endorphins cleanse me. But I don’t know where that is to be found right now. I don’t know who I can trust with it. In case you’re wondering whatever happened to Mr. Woodland — he is not gone. He is great and I would unquestionably scene with him. However, he is very busy dealing with Life at this time and not available.
And more than play, I miss the connection. I miss the bubble of parties, the complete immersion into an altered state for a while. A few days of respite from reality. The hugs. The laughs. I miss the me I was at these events. I don’t know if she’ll ever come back.
I am and will always be a spanko. I just don’t know what my outlets will be now. And like I said, it doesn’t seem like time is on my side. I feel a profound emptiness, a sense of loss. I suppose, like everything else, I just have to let it be there and wait to see what’s ahead.
By the way, the absurdity of this post doesn’t escape me. I can hear people out there thinking, “Oh, boo-hoo, you little snowflake victim. First World Problems. Get over yourself.” One friend I know is dealing with her mother’s terminal cancer. Another lost both her parents within seven weeks at the end of last year. Others are dealing with physical ailments, money worries, dying pets, relationship issues, and life’s other assorted crises and grievous situations.
Right now, John’s health is stable. I am working. I love my quiet, safe apartment. I am lucky enough to live in a strong, progressive and enlightened state during these terrifying times. I don’t wish to minimize any of the good things I’m grateful for. However, this is one of the worst and most long-lasting depressions I’ve had in years. And it is about more than just parties and playing. It’s about feeling like I’m losing a piece of myself. John says I am going through an existential crisis. He’s not one given to exaggeration, although I think this phrase sounds melodramatic. But perhaps I am. I’m questioning everything and everyone, including myself.
They say depression is anger turned inward. I am angry. More than anything, I am angry at myself. I allowed my power to be taken from me, let harsh words break me. I should be stronger than that. But I guess it’s that last straw thing again. Sometimes our well of strength runs dry. I don’t have it in me to go through another episode of wondering who’s saying what to whom. It’s soul-sucking.
I was told, among other things, that I use my depression like a shield, so people will feel sorry for me and not hold me accountable for my actions. That is the lowest of the low blows, cruel, and untrue. I hold myself accountable for my actions. When I fuck up, I say so. No one is harder on me than I am. But if one person believes this of me, then surely others do too. There are flawed humans, as we all are, and then there are those who cross the line and are fatally flawed. I’m not sure which side of the line I’m on… or am considered to be.
I stayed off social media this past weekend. John did his best to keep me distracted, taking me to see a movie, joking and being silly. It was a strange, surreal feeling all weekend, knowing what was going on and not being there. Wondering how everyone was doing. Who made it, and who got held up by the inclement weather. Who played with whom. Two of my favorite people there recently married; I hope they got lots of attention. What dramas occurred, because they always do. Would they have been mine, or someone else’s?
Since our going missing from the party, John has received one text, and I’ve received two messages, asking if we’re okay… and that’s it. Ouch. Humbling indeed. 😦 “It’s not personal,” John said. “People just have short attention spans.” I like his kinder, gentler take on it, rather than mine — that my reputation has been damaged, and people are staying away. Or, even worse, that no one cared all that much to begin with. Out of sight, out of mind. We’re all just faces in the crowd. (Or asses, in this case.)
So no party report, I’m afraid. May not be much of anything from me, at least for a while. I will always love the spanking scene, sharp edges and all, and love some very special people in it. I’ll always be grateful for what it gave to me. I just don’t know if I can be part of it anymore. Or if it even wants me to be.
John has done all he can to assure me that I am indeed lovable, that I matter. He told me that I make his life worth living, every single day. The same goes for you, my beloved fellow misfit. I love you with all my heart.
Carry on, kids.
She seems to have disappeared.
Only her beloved knows where she is these days. He’s the only person who can enter her abyss.
She hadn’t played in months. She wants to, very much. But hasn’t been able to ask for what she needs. Not since voicing her needs and revealing her vulnerability ended up gutting her.
She does her work. She works out. She functions. Always, she functions. But she’s frozen from within.
Can anyone find her? Perhaps this will help.
She used to look like this…
But now, she mostly looks like this…
If you find her, perhaps you can help her find her confidence. Her self-esteem. Her strength and bravery. Her belief in other people.
Perhaps you can tell her who she can trust.