Category Archives: life

I’m not selling out. I’m buying in.

My life right now does not suck.

I’m still healing.  Physically, emotionally, psychologically… I’m not quite yet where I need to be.  Maybe I never shall be.

But right now, my life does not suck.

The energy in my life has taken a complete turn.  Where there was uncertainty, anxiety, mistrust, and pain now I have tolerance, Devotion, affection, and love.

My life is full of music and love.

Trust is at the core of my ability to be happy.

Fear has been driving my life for longer than I’d like to admit.

I made things worse by finding more and more sources of fear to add to the mix and when I didn’t have enough, I invented things to fear.

My proclivity is strongly to turtle when things hurt me.  I pull in, armor up, and tell the world to fuck off while I rally the troops for a sortie.

Love is so much more powerful than fear though.

I have amazing friends.  In some cases these are friends that have been hanging back in the shadows, waiting to serve me when I needed them – my own personal Batman corps.   In some cases these are new friends, people I’ve just met, but still want to help me heal.  In some cases, they’re friendships that have been with me all along, but now take on new significance and import.

The problem with love is that it requires trust.  When I open myself up to love, I’m opening the very heart of me, and the pain that I felt in the past weeks is more intense than anything I’ve gone through before, and I’ve gone through some seriously fucked up shit.

The very idea of making myself vulnerable like that, so soon, so wholly, is terrifying.  But it is also exactly what I need.

So I have begun again to love freely, trust freely, and have no expectations.

I am setting myself up to be crushed again, but now I know that I have my friends who will always be there to help me get back up again.

I am giving my trust and love to everyone right now, and it’s scary as hell, but so unbelievably rewarding that I literally do not have the words.

This past week I was at Bondage a Go Go and we all found out together that Chris Cornell had passed away.  It was a powerful moment for a lot of people.  I stood outside waiting for my car and saw a young woman crying but didn’t put two and two together just yet.  I asked her why she was upset and she evaded, saying that it was not a good reason to be standing on the street and crying, but I told her that I knew exactly what she was feeling and asked if I could give her a hug.   She agreed and so I did.  She wept and I held her for only a fleeting moment.  My car had arrived and I looked down on her and said, “my car is here, are you going to be okay?”  She looked me directly in the eyes and said, “I will be now, thank you.  Go.”  So I did.

It was an anonymous moment with a stranger in the streets of San Francisco, but it was powerful.  It was a moment where fear and pain turned into hope and love.

I don’t even know her name.

In the past, this soon after a tragedy like I’ve recently undergone, I would turtle.  I’d close up and close out the world and drink in the sweet poison of misery.  I’d sell out and join the world of the hopeless and haunted.  But I am fortunate and that is not my path this time.

This time, I’m doubling down on faith and love.

This time, I’m buying in and raising the stakes.

It will either liberate or destroy me.

  • Rant

Pain and when the fight is over

In October of 2011, I was in a terrible car accident that almost killed me.  I was at a dead stop on the highway and a driver in a work van was not paying attention and struck me at full speed – probably close to 75 miles per hour.

I was physically broken by that accident.  Emergency responders had to cut the door off of my car to get me out.  I was concussed, suffered a minor skull fracture, a fractured clavicle, three fractured ribs, an avulsion fracture of my cervical spine, and countless soft tissue injuries, the scar tissue from which still causes me pain today, almost every day.

I can still count the number of pain-free days that I have had since October 2011 on two hands.

But I don’t have to be pain free to function, and I’ve developed a staggering tolerance for pain.

Recently I was in a conflict where I broke my jaw (hence the photo in my entry from earlier this month) and I walked around with a broken jaw for more than a week before I realized that it was broken.  Sure, it hurt, but nothing more than I go through almost every day.

Physical pain and I have been traveling companions for a long time now.

I am only now beginning to realize that emotional pain and I have been traveling companions for most of my life.

Just in the past two years, I’ve been working hard to peel back the layers of my mind and access the deep hurt that has been buried there.  I have developed emotional scars as well, and where I have learned to tune out the physical pain and walk on in the past 5 years since my car accident, I had also developed ways to tune out the emotional pain, I just didn’t realize it.

This is where things start to cycle back on themselves, and I’m not sure if it’s a good thing or a bad thing, but it’s helping me to function again, so I’m just going to live with it for now and examine the consequences later.

I can’t take my anxiety medication right now because of my closed jaw.  The capsules cannot be broken and there is no liquid variant available, so my psychiatrist gave me a different liquid medication instead.  It doesn’t really work for me, so I’ve just stopped taking the meds altogether.

This is dangerous, I know.

This is probably not the right way to go about things, I know.

But those wonderful drugs that opened my viewpoint to allow me to experience more of the emotional spectrum and to be more emotionally available to my partner.. they appear to be a crutch, and it’s possible that my already developed and natural coping mechanisms – while not ideal, perhaps – may actually be more effective in letting me live a somewhat normal life than the drugs have been.

I took them, and I went to counseling, all in an effort to save my relationship and fight for the one that I love.  But my counselor betrayed me and my girlfriend left me and now I’m physically broken again, emotionally vulnerable, and heartbroken in a way that I have never been before.  I rarely leave the house, and there are days when I do not speak to anyone.  Not one word.

But you know what – despite that.. despite the depressing canvas that I’m creating upon, despite the lack of medications, the lack of contact, the isolation from my family, the lack of any available friends, the severing of the best and worst relationship that I have ever had… despite all of this – I’m getting better.

I’m hardening again, and that may ultimately not be a good thing, but the funny thing is that I’m finding that the further I hold the world at bay, the easier it is to deal with.

I’ve cocooned the pain away, and it becomes easier and easier to deal with every day.

I was fighting hard for something that was probably hurting me more than helping.

The fight is over for now, and I have to find a new way to move forward in the world.  Oddly enough, pushing away the pain has led me to be more present and patient.  Or maybe it’s the lack of drugs that has restored my patient nature… either way, the fight is over, and I’m finding new ways to deal with the pain.

I am strong like the Oak.  Pretending to be a willow does not suit me.

 

  • Rant

sometimes life just kicks you in the teeth

I try to represent myself here as the best possible version of me there is. If I ever fail to do so, it is because I either intentionally want to project vulnerability (which does not make it false) or because I made a genuine mistake.

This time, I think it’s just because I’m a little broken – emotionally, physically, mentally… broken.

I like to think of myself as somewhat enlightened – no Bodhisattva or anything, but I like to think that I generally have my shit together, or at least that there is a path that I can follow which will end in me getting my shit together sometime soon.

But sometimes life just has to kick you in the teeth and let you know who is Boss.

I’m a ghost, ungrounded and wandering, infecting the lives of the living while trying to find the things that I need.

I used to preach from my armchair philosopher pulpit, telling people that the soul is a quantum waveform and that the only separation between life and unlife is time. That when we die, our waveform gets to spread through the cosmos, unbounded by time, and your consciousness gets to experience the most impactful parts of your life over and over again. It’s a nice story if you don’t think about it too hard – you get to revisit the best parts of your life over and over again. I get to be there at the birth of my daughter, over and over again. But it’s also the perfect argument for leading a good life. If you lead a tumultuous and drama-filled life, and if your most impactful memories are of the terrors that were done to you when you were powerless, or the horrible things that you were coerced to do in another’s name, while you knew that they were wrong all along… when those are your most impactful memories, the story is a little more grim.

I’ve tried to live a good life – I really have.

It hasn’t actually turned out that way.

I have a powerful mind, and when I let it do it’s thing, it feeds me metaphors to describe every situation, analogies to draw everywhere, magickal ways to connect any two things across space and time. When I let some other folks use it to do some things I didn’t really want to do, I hurt people and I’m never, ever, going to live that down. I didn’t kill anyone, but I surely found other methods of hurting people.. the arbitrary line that I drew at the power over life and death was just an homage to something that doesn’t even really exist.

If there is a God, oxytocin might be the best name for it, but whereas I used to think it was sufficient to explain love in a chemical way, it’s only been since I’ve been seriously altering my own internal chemistry in a measured and controllable way (until recently, anyway… pills don’t always go through wires…) that I’ve begun to understand that there are elements of relationships with people that are not simple manipulations and that cannot be explained away by simple chemistry.

Being in love was the hardest thing I have ever done.

I thought it happened several times over the course of my past, but it only really happened once, and then I chipped away at it, pulled the pieces off, tried to take it apart and see how it worked, how the inside pieces fit together and moved it. But I broke it. A long time ago, I broke it, but it just kept limping along, trying to fix itself, and each time I saw that I got scared – nothing had ever tried to put itself back together before – so I just kept breaking it, over and over again. I wasn’t even trying to see how it worked anymore, it just scared the shit out of me, and despite the fact that I felt lonely and scared whenever I was away from it, I felt lonely and scared every time it would be close to getting fixed again too. So I enslaved it.

It’s the only thing I was ever taught to do.

Power is to be captured and manipulated.

People are to be enslaved and abused.

So I just kept trying to find people who wanted to be enslaved and abused.

“There is something wrong with me,” they would say, “and you are strong, I can see it. You have come back from this before.”

And yes, I had, but not in the way that they were thinking.

I’d lend my hand and say, “certainly – come with me, I can show you the way.”

I knew the way – some of the way on my own, and I have a powerful mind that I could use to find paths to set other people upon.

Sometimes I would carry them, sometimes I would lead them, sometimes I would push, but always, I would enslave and control.

And then I found my nachash and everything changed. I could find no way to move her, so I chipped away, pulled at the parts to try to see how she worked inside, and to my complete and utter astonishment, she opened up and freely gave me everything inside and I had no idea what to do – it was too precious, and too frightening, so I captured it as best I could and broke the other parts that would try to slip out.

I broke it. Over and over again, I broke it, just so that I could keep it under control, because I don’t know any other way.

Say what you will about the men and women of my past, and I certainly have a lot of both good and bad things to say about Simone, but she was actually a pretty good teacher.

It’s been too long to remember her words, so I’m paraphrasing, and I may even be remembering things incorrectly because memory is fallible, but I never understood the importance of this lesson until now.

She said to me –

submissives talk all the time about how they have the real power in the D/s dynamic – that’s bullshit – you are the Dom, you have the power, you have all of the power that exists, your power, her power, the power of the people who are watching your scene if there are any such – until the scene is over or until the safeword is called, all of the power is yours to do with whatever you will and that is why a lot of Doms fail – they can’t decide what to do with all of that power or they limit themselves and leave all of those people who lent them all of that power without satisfaction

But you won’t do that, because I’m training you right. I’m bringing you up from the bottom, and while you’ll learn that if you surrender your power, I will use it against you, you will also learn that there are things that I can do with your power that you cannot. You are going to want those things. The only way you can get those things is to give your power to me and trust me that I’ll use it to give you what you want. It’s exciting because there is no guarantee. It’s exciting because if I do something else with your power you might like that too and you’re too afraid to make the choice yourself. You will remember that when someone else gives you her power that you need to honor that trust. She can always take it away because it still really is her power, but if she does, you both lose.

I thought she was talking about D/s dynamics. I thought that woman was a stone and never loved a soul in all her days, but I see now that I was probably wrong there too.

She probably had her one, and she probably broke him too.

She was trying to teach me about love, but it took my nachash to do that, and then I broke it one final time.

Everything is new again

It’s a new year. I didn’t manage to post anything in January, and if I’m not quick, I’ll miss February too, so I guess I better post something.

It has been an interesting time, hasn’t it?

My personal politics are probably not a surprise to any of my readers, but this is not a political site, and I won’t harp on political issues here, but I am still a feminist and I still hold to my own core values, and when those are being threatened, I speak up.

I did not march in the women’s march in January, but I’d proudly wear a pussy hat any day.

The title of this post is “Everything is new again” and that is true.

We are in a new year, we have a new administration, I have a new job, and I’m about to begin re-engaging with the community in a way that I haven’t for years.

But in many ways, we’re taking a step back.

Scratch that, we’re taking several steps back.

People are people, and each and every one is different. You can’t put people into buckets – they don’t fit and they don’t like it.

I’ve seen the posts by people saying that they’re leaving the country, and while I can understand the sentiment, I think that is slightly cowardly… if you can afford to leave the country, you are not likely to be woefully impacted by the present administration – in fact, if you are someone who can afford to leave the country, you’ll probably benefit from staying right here.

I’ve seen the posts by people saying that they’re going to stand up and stay home and fight. That is what I plan to do.. but remember people, this is a marathon, not a sprint.

I’ve donated money to the Red Cross in the past, and while I still believe that they are a worthy charity to donate to, I think I am going to be a bit more focused with my money and time this year – and next year, and the next year, and the year after that.

And here’s to hoping that it won’t be (as) necessary after that.

  • Rant

Fighting for the things you love

I am in a relationship. It is a complicated relationship, it is definitely not easy, as no relationships are, but this one is worth fighting for, where I have failed to fight for others in the past.

In the past, I’ve always felt justified in blaming the failure of my relationships on external factors or upon the other person, and yet, I’m almost always the one to call an end to things. Not always, but generally, I’ve been the one to give up.

When my first wife, Sabrina, found religion and started to use it as a weapon against me, I could take it no longer and ended the first real relationship of my life – quickly, mercilessly, and without much regret, but regret and pain are not quite the same thing, and that experience surely did hurt.

I went through a series of short term and nontraditional relationships after that, and in most cases, I was the one to give up when things looked the least bit like they were going to crack, but eventually I was tossed out by Sonia and experienced my first case of being the dumped party. It hurt; it scarred me, and every relationship that I have had since then has had to bear the baggage that came with this event. Every time a relationship came close to ending, I feared the upending of my entire life – being thrown out onto the street has a way of refocusing you though…

Despite being somewhat jaded at this point, I decided to once again try to settle in and live life according to the societal norms. I found a new wife, Madison, and we had children together, and no matter how bad things got, I fought to stay in that relationship for the sake of my children. That relationship ended for reasons that were not my choosing.

Then I did the series of short term and nontraditional relationships again – with the same sorts of results for the most part.

The truth is that in all of those cases, there was always a fear that the other person would abandon me, and in most cases that is what actually happened.

In some cases, I pushed things to that conclusion. Consciously and unconsciously, I worked against my own relationships to break them, so that I didn’t have to be hurt when the inevitable abandonment would occur. I could spin it around and say that it was my choice to leave, and in most cases, that is how it would appear to anyone who was not deep within my mind.

In some cases, it really was the other person’s fault. Kendra, for example, was simply batshit crazy, and after spending tens of thousands of dollars to try to get her help and get her life back on track, I simply could no longer afford to keep it up and I told her so.

But my current relationship is different, and very much worth saving.

This is the first time that my partner refused to hear me when I said that it was over.

She has been the first person to see through my bullshit and my baggage and my fear and anxiety and dread and to hold on to the part of me that really does not want her to go.

She is my lighthouse.

She is the blue canary in the outlet by the light switch who watches over me.

She is the one who I want by my side for the rest of my life. Whatever form that takes, she is the one that I always want to come home to, the one that I want to always protect, the one that I want to always have my back.

But in order to do that, I have to clear out this garbage from my past.

I am confronting things about myself that I buried long ago and never wanted to revisit, but those are parts of me and if I do not acknowledge them, they crawl out on their own anyway.

This is a long, painful, and extremely difficult thing for me to do.

I have nightmares almost daily. Even when I am awake and focused on something entirely different, sometimes when I close my eyes, the images that I see on the inside of my eyelids are of inexplicable and horrifying things. I often lie awake at night in the dark and I can feel the demons trying to infect me again, but I have strength, because she is there, sleeping by my side.

I am fighting against myself. I am fighting against the walls that I placed in my own psyche for very good reason, but those walls have to come down and the elements behind them have to be dealt with. I need to re-incorporate those things into my being again. Until I do that, I won’t be whole, and she deserves so much more than a partial boyfriend.

I will kick my own ass so that she can have more of me than anyone ever has. She deserves it, and I want to give it to her.

But when I started this post, I was only meaning to speak in part about my girl and how much she means to me and how much I want to fight for her, because while she may be the most important thing in my life to fight for right now there are going to be many, many, many things that I will have to fight for in the years to come.

I had briefly considered pulling the white male card and just coasting through, hoping that nothing bad happens and nothing touches me, and I am just fucking spoiled to have that option in the first place and I’m a bit disappointed in myself for ever even half-seriously considering it.

I had considered leaving the country. The incoming administration has no love for people like me and the things I represent, but that would be cowardly as well.

I am extremely fortunate. I am not powerless in this world. I do not have much power, but whatever I have I am going to dedicate to fighting for the things in which I believe.

I am donating money now. I will donate time when I am able. I am going to speak of things in my bully pulpit here for as long as I can.

People are people, and until and unless we can recognize that, we may deserve the environmental catastrophe that is coming for us…

But we can, and should, fight against all of those things until they overwhelm us.

My ancestors long fought against impossible odds, and they usually lost, but they won enough that I stand here today, and they kept enough of their values and culture that it is immediately recognizable the world over.

I stand on the shoulders of giants and I stare down the petty and selfish.

I will continue to fight for as long as I can.

Chemical Control

I am a Dom.  Sometimes I don’t act very Dom-like though, and for the past several months, I’ve been out of control and very rarely Dominant.

The essence of Dominance is Control – control of yourself, control of your environment, control of the scene, control of your submissive.  That is the order and hierarchy that the world should adhere to from the perspective of the Dom in me.  Rant’s rules, distilled to the control elements…

But lately, I have NOT been the one in control – the demons in my mind have been controlling me and therefore everything else in that chain – including my saint of a poor submissive girlfriend.  The fact that she stayed with me through all of this is something for which I shall always be grateful and never fully understand.

But let’s back up a bit…

I live in the United States.  California, to be exact, and the San Francisco Bay Area – which is more tolerant than other places in this country, but we still lag behind in a few areas and one of those is that there is still a stigma attached to mental disorder.  People still seem to think that if you are diagnosed as bipolar or depressed or with general anxiety disorder that there is something fundamentally wrong with you and, perhaps more insidiously, that there is something dangerous about you.

To a certain extent these fears have a basis in reality… as I have personally come to learn in the past several months. But more importantly, these sorts of preconceived notions can affect how one perceives such things, even when one has personal experience.

I have battled depression, and recently, anxiety as well.

I knew the demons of depression, and that was part of the problem with this most recent bout of anxiety.  Anxiety and depression look and feel very different, and yet they can cause a lot of the same sorts of symptoms and problems.

When I was controlled by depression, I wanted to kill myself.  I was overwhelmed with the world and I just couldn’t see any way past the horrible realization that everyone I loved would be better off without me dragging them down.  I was despondent and in pain and sometimes even just breathing seemed to be too much effort.  I wanted out and I could see no other way.

Fortunately for me, I was strong enough to recognize that suicide is ultimately an extremely selfish act, and I chose not to be so selfish and got help.  I pulled out of my depression and I thought that I was cured.

I’ve always been neurologically atypical, but it never even occurred to me that I was suffering from anxiety.  I was stressed out and I couldn’t sleep and I was irritable and short to anger and couldn’t concentrate and had all of the other hallmarks of severe general anxiety disorder, but I was sure that I was “just a little stressed” or that once the current crisis abated that things would get back to normal in short order.

But that was masking the problem.  The current crisis always gave way to the next.  And that’s just how life is.  Life is not easy, and if you let every issue balloon out to the point of crisis, you will be fire-fighting all of the time.  There is no shortage of crises to be found anywhere nowadays.

I started fighting with my girlfriend – daily.  We fought about everything and nothing at all.  We spiraled into the same patterns, over and over again.

But never did it even occur to me that I was the problem.

Even that statement isn’t really fair – the problem wasn’t me, the problem was that I was unable to cope with the level of anxiety that I had in my life.   Once again, I was overwhelmed, but this time instead of forcing that inward and causing myself to be depressed, I pushed it out into the world around me, and I lashed out at the people I loved.  I shut out all emotions and I pushed everything and everyone away.

My girlfriend tried to get me to get help.  And I even went along with it, but I didn’t try very hard.  I saw a doctor and I told him what was going on in the broadest of terms and when he told me that I just needed to deal with it, I took that in stride and just figured that I was facing daily stress like we all do and that better time management or organization would help me.

But no amount of organization or time management can fix a broken mind.

As the anxiety got worse, my symptoms did as well.

I got delusional.

I stopped sleeping almost entirely.

I lost the ability to concentrate, even for minutes at a time.  If not for the reputation that I have developed at work, I would have been fired several times over for being behind in my duties or just plain failing to get things done, and the more I failed to get done, or the more behind I would get, the more anxious I would become.

I felt like I was failing at everything.

I can recall many conversations with my therapist or my girlfriend where I said, “I’m failing at everything,” but it was never enough to clue me into the real problem.

My friends and even my family would tell me that I needed to get help, but I was sure that I knew better.

“I know what depression feels like, and this is not that.” – I would tell them.  And I was right, but I was completely missing the point, it wasn’t depression that was sidelining me, it was something else entirely.

Of course, it took things getting really horrible before I actually took the steps that ameliorated the problem.  My body started objecting in the most amazing ways…

My blood pressure went off the charts…  I’d started dropping a lot of weight.  I was sweating like crazy – so much that even the skin on my palms was beginning to peel…  but even that was not enough.  I didn’t go back to a psychiatrist until I had a panic attack.

I was driving on surface streets and had a panic attack and failed to move when the light changed.  People in cars around me honked and leaned out their windows to yell at me and flip me off and I still couldn’t move.

Eventually I was able to begin breathing again and moved my car.  I got home and resolved right away that I needed chemical help for my anxiety.

I found a new doctor (who is pretty amazing, actually) and started a new treatment program and now, three weeks in, I am in control of myself once again.

The difference is as stark as day and night.

Just a few weeks ago, I doubt very much that I could have managed even to sit still long enough to read a blog post of this length, much less actually write it.

The last time I was taking psychoactive pharmaceuticals, I was worried that I was going to be stuck on them for the rest of my life.

I wasn’t.

I may be on the new meds that I am taking now for years to come, but I don’t care one whit…. I am in control again, and it feels good.

Back at the helm.

I am Rant.

Ding Dong the Witch is Dead!

Well, not really.  First of all, she’s not a witch and secondly, her health is fine, but I’m leaving my horrible job and my horrible boss and moving on to a different startup that is founded and run by people that I know and respect.  It’s a massively good thing and I feel like yelling something upbeat and, “Ding dong the witch is dead!” feels about right.

The past several months have been difficult for me.  The only time that I have made for my blog is to answer the direct questions of readers who email me directly.  I need to do better than that, and now that I feel like I have a little more mental and emotional capacity, I plan to do just that.

I’m skipping Nanowrimo this year, and because I’m starting a new job and there are other life changes in the works that require my attention, I’m probably not going to really make any major commitments to writing or anything else in the short term, but this is massively good news for me and everyone in my life.

I’m beginning yet another new chapter – and this one feels really good.   New places, new expectations, and a chance to start again where I’ve not been ‘outed’ and can be seen for the merit of what I know and do instead of what I do in my private life.

Catching up

It has, once again, been a horribly long time since my last post. Part of the reason for that is simply that I’ve been letting life get in the way again, but part of it is because I have been struggling with how to write this next post, what to include, how much to reveal about myself in it, and also just a certain amount of time waiting to see what would happen.

Shortly after my last post, I was outed at work as kinky by a coworker, which is something that I never expected to happen, or that if it did happen, that it would be something of a non-event.

I live in the San Francisco Bay Area, and I work in the tech sector. The former is a well known kink haven and the latter is known to be accepting of all sorts of personality quirks.

So, when there was any reaction at all to my lifestyle choices, I was a bit surprised.

I think that was part of the problem – everyone else was surprised as well – and if there is something that people can almost universally be expected to react poorly to, it is surprises that change fundamental assumptions that we make about some person, place, or thing. I should have expected this and prepared for it a bit better. Perhaps I should not have kept things so compartmentalized in my life, but with a few exceptions, I don’t socialize with my coworkers and even when I do, they tend to fall into the category of ‘vanilla friends’ which makes them a bit easier to hold at arm’s length.

So.. when they found out that I have a ‘secret life’… well… I suddenly became a great deal more interesting.

My role is kind of boring. I’m one of the most senior engineers on my team. I’m a mentor and a role model in some ways. I’m not a manager (though I was once.. it turns out that I am a wonderful leader but a terrible manager) but I am very visible and deal with a lot of different people in my role. It’s been interesting to see how people reacted to the news.

My shrew of a boss either still does not know or is refusing to acknowledge the news. If it is the latter, then she is actually probably a better boss than I give her credit for, but the problem is that I’m pretty sure that she is just so clueless and uninformed that she still doesn’t know and whatever consequences are coming from that vector are still waiting in the wings.

But the more interesting reactions are the ones that I am getting from my peers and from the other cross-functional people that I deal with regularly.

I’ve had some interesting questions posed by a few of the more adventurous of my coworkers, but really nothing too extreme. I wasn’t expecting anyone to say anything though, so that’s an interesting bit of information.

The really surprising thing though is the change in the way that people treat me. It’s a subtle thing, and I have to be very careful when I evaluate such things because my own perception can definitely distort things, but there have been some distinct changes in the way that certain individuals interact with me. Some avoid me more, some act like they know a secret about me and that we’re closer as a result (even though I didn’t divulge the secret myself,) and some act very nervous around me now, like they expect me to pull out a flogger and start wailing on them any minute.

I should have been more careful. I had a headshot as my profile photo on Fetlife. That was how they found me. Someone was trolling Fetlife and saw my picture and went apeshit.

Of course, this means that the person who found me out has to have a Fetlife account as well. I somewhat naively thought that would be some protection – after all, anyone who saw my photo on Fetlife would have to have an account themselves, and would presumably be somewhat discreet as a result, but alas, the world is a bit more complex than such naive assumptions. It turns out that no one cares how I was found out, only that I was… I should have predicted that.

Ultimately, I still don’t know the full impact of the news on my career and work relationships – some of this is still evolving. I’m rarely the object of discrimination, so this has been a new experience for me in some ways. I’ll be sure to post a follow up in a couple of months when the full impact of things is more clear to me, but one thing is absolutely certain. I’m never more sure of my privilege in being born a white male in America as I am now.

Yours in thought,

Rant.

As a postscript and a side-note… I’ve received a few emails lately asking why I don’t allow comments on my posts.   I actually do, and always have, but I set things such that posts older than two weeks old could not be commented on in an effort to avoid necroposting, but since some of my posts are being referenced on other sites now and at the request of those who emailed me, I’ve removed that restriction and you should be able to comment on any post I’ve written.

Posts are still moderated and go through a spam filter, but once you have a post approved, subsequent posts should automatically be approved for you.  Please do not abuse this .

Not dead. Yet…

I’m not dead, yet…

It’s been a shamefully long time since I’ve posted here.  I apologize.

I’m not dead.  I’ve not forgotten this blog.  I’ve not changed my lifestyle – at least not intentionally.  I’ve missed a few emails, and I’ve not been keeping up my normal standard of responses for those that I’ve actually managed to reply to over the past couple of months.

Life gets in the way sometimes, but I’ve let life run over me for long enough and it’s time to start pushing back again.

It’s time to start writing again.  I’ve kept up with reading.  In fact, I’ve read more than 30 books so far this year, and it’s only mid-March.  If I were to devote even just a portion of the time I spend reading, watching TV, or playing video games to writing, I’d easily have 50 more blog entries by now if not a more tangible piece of writing.

Writing is catharsis for me, but I definitely have not spent enough time doing it lately.

In some ways, I feel a bit like a 12-stepper… I keep falling off of the wagon and I keep recommitting myself.  I feel better about it each time, and I stick with it for awhile, but then life gets in the way again.

I’m going to begin a new experiment.

I have nearly a dozen half-finished blog entries on my google drive.  With two notable exceptions, I generally don’t post anything until I’ve reviewed it, edited it, re-reviewed it, and generally feel like it’s both well written and of a reasonable length.  I’ve always been afraid of making too small entries – feeling like people deserve a good chunk of content when they give me their eyeballs for a few minutes.  And in truth, even when writing short pieces like this one, it takes me about ten times as long to write, read, edit, and publish than it does for you to read it.  But I’m going to start trying to be a bit less of a perfectionist.  I’m going to publish more pieces, even if I don’t feel like they’re perfect, and even if I feel like they’re too short or perhaps off topic.

I started this blog as a place to rant about the things that I saw going wrong in my own local BDSM community.  I gave the address to one person and expected my audience to grow to maybe 10 or 20 over time.  I never expected what actually happened, and I didn’t properly set my own expectations.

Eventually this became a place of instruction, and while I enjoyed that for a time, it was too impersonal, too clinical, and too removed from my own feelings on the matter to be compelling.  And then I started to write more personal stories, and that is when I started to find everything a bit overwhelming.  I don’t think even I realized it until now.

Catharsis is difficult to find when the prospect of engaging in your cathartic activity is so daunting, and so I basically quit.

But I’m not really a quitter… and the fact that I haven’t been updating the blog has always stuck in the back of my craw like a … stuck in the back of your craw thing…

So – once more with feeling – I’m back.

You can expect more updates, but they might not be the solid blocks of BDSM University goodness that you’re used to, nor the long winded personal diatribes, but perhaps something more manageable and sustainable.

I’m Rant, I’ve been here all along and I’m not going anywhere, even if I might have been hiding for awhile.

Dividends

Being nice to everyone all of the time is not easy.  In fact, I’m pretty sure that it’s not possible.  I’ve made a conscious effort to be nice to the people that I have the most troubles with, and that’s a bit easier – I’m inclined to be an asshole when I see/hear/interact with these people, and I can use that inclination as a trigger to force myself to act nice.

It’s much more difficult to remember to always be nice to those that I actually like though.

It’s a bit of a paradox, true.  I have reversed my actions, and I’m being nice to people that I dislike 100% of the time, but to those that I actually care about, my actions have been largely unchanged – perhaps even worse for the effort required to be nice to those for whom I carry disdain.

I’m making the effort though.  Most of my interactions are with my family – within which I include my girlfriend – and my coworkers.  Some of my coworkers are friends – some of them I like, but because I see them less frequently, it’s easier to remain nice to them.  It’s really my family, especially my girlfriend, that is suffering from this.

I’ve been doing better this week than I was last week, and I will continue to do better and better as the new forms of action become more commonplace for me, and watching that transformation take place in myself is fascinating.

The dividends are slow in coming though.

My boss is every bit as bad as she has ever been.  If anything, she is still greedily consuming my goodwill and extra effort for her own selfish ends.  She has gone so far as to personally take credit for my work in a couple of cases, which should make me incensed, but I’m able stand apart and realize that this will eventually be her undoing.  Eventually, someone is going to ask her to explain all of this amazing work that she is managing to turn out, and she won’t be able to because she did none of it herself, and does not even understand what it is that I did.  So, her options at that point will either be to give me the credit I really deserve in a rather public assignation, or to bury herself deeper in lies that will eventually end up exposing her.

I suppose I’m giving her all the figurative rope that she can ask for, and she’s tying the noose herself…

But there are some areas of my life that are being improved by this new strategy.

While I’m not as successful as I would like to be in employing these tactics at home, I can think of a couple of recent interactions where I forced myself to say something when I would have normally brooded in silence.  The immediate and short term discomfort that this causes is generally more than offset by the long term gains, but those can sometimes be difficult to foresee.

And yet, I’m often subtly reminded of the improvements that this can bring about in my interactions with strangers…

Today, I decided that I needed to spend some more time at my desk.  I’ve been out of the office a lot lately, and while I am often more productive when I’m not in the office, there is still something of a stigma attached to not be Butt In Seat with middle management.  So – I walked over to Subway to get a sandwich for lunch and with the intent of eating it at my desk.

I’m a bit of a nerd, in case this wasn’t clear by now.  It’s a pet peeve of mine when restaurants charge you tax on transactions that are not legally taxable.  It’s a sneaky practice and it’s illegal and it occasionally makes me angry.  Usually their accounts payable people are smart enough to figure out the discrepancies before they submit their taxes to the state, so it amounts to an extra bonus for the franchise owner – stolen from people who are not awake enough to notice or who don’t know they’re being taken advantage of.

So, back to Subway.  They make sandwiches.  Sometimes they toast them, but I don’t usually like my sandwiches toasted, so I always ask them not to.  The law states that you cannot charge sales tax, eat-in tax, or any other kind of tax on fresh food, prepared without heat, for consumption off of the premises.  I ordered the daily deal sandwich.  It was advertised as $6.00.  I did not get it toasted, and I indicated that I wanted my sandwich, and only the sandwich – no meal deal – to go.

The clerk asked me for $6.52.

Two weeks ago, I would have been belligerent and asked to speak to the manager right away, probably leveled some cold, hard anger at him or her and refused to pay the $0.52 surcharge that was illegally levied at me.

But I didn’t.

I consciously put on my best smile (which isn’t all that great, actually.. I have Resting Bitch Face in spades.. in fact, as a younger man I used to wear glasses with no prescription to the lenses merely to soften the appearance of my face when dealing with people) and I turned it to her in the highest smile power wattage I could manage and said, “I’m sorry, miss, but I believe that you may have made a mistake.  I ordered the daily deal and my transaction should be exactly $6,” just as I handed her a five dollar bill and a single.

She was not quite on the same page that I was with regards to the ideals of being nice to people.

I understand it.  She works in retail with lines of hungry people and was probably suffering from low blood sugar herself, seeing as how this was near the end of the lunch rush, and she probably had to delay her own lunch to take care of all of ours.

Whatever her reasons, her response to me was a bit angry, and while I am paraphrasing, I bet you can get the idea.  “No, dipstick, the sandwich is on special but you still have to pay tax, and you owe me $0.52 or you can’t have your frakking sandwich.”

Apparently she raised her voice enough when she responded to me to attract the attention of the manager, because she started walking towards us as I began my response.

“Gosh, okay… well, this is certainly not worth fighting over and there are others in line here who would probably like to pay for their own sandwiches and get on with their day, but I do feel compelled to inform you that you are breaking the law.  I ordered a sandwich which was not toasted and which I am going to consume off site, so you are not obligated to or allowed to charge me for any tax.”  And as I said this, I handed her another single.

“I didn’t toast it,” was her clipped response as she angrily grabbed at the bill that I was proffering.

“Pardon me?” was my super-eloquent reply, because I didn’t really understand why she was telling me that she didn’t toast my sandwich.  I knew it wasn’t toasted.  I ordered it un-toasted, and I watched the process closely.  In retrospect, I think that she just didn’t understand me and was responding to the one thing that she did understand.

“I said that I didn’t frakking toast your frakking sandwich!”

And then her manager tapped her on the shoulder and told her to go to the back.  The manager gave me back my money, apologized for the behavior of her employee, and stated that I was, of course, correct, and that the cost of my sandwich should have been exactly $6, but that I should take my money and the sandwich with her apologies and hopes that I would return on another occasion.

So I did.

I feel bad for the clerk.  She’s probably going to be dressed down pretty badly, assuming that she gets to keep her job, and it was certainly never my intention that anyone get reprimanded or fired.

If I had it to do over again, I wouldn’t say anything at all.  I’d just forfeit the $0.52 and try to maintain harmony as much as possible.  I certainly don’t need the $0.52.  I waste money in other ways that I’m sure drive people around me insane.  To make such a big deal over less than a buck seems like a real travesty, but it’s not the money that was the issue.

The whole unfortunate event occurred because I was raised to be a Libertarian.  I’m not now, and I don’t really identify with that former version of myself in any way, but there was a time when the government represented the biggest obstacle in my life, and the idea of paying a tax that they were not entitled to collect still sticks in my craw sometimes.

With the physical pain and sleep deprivation and emotional agony that I’ve been going through lately, it’s old vestigial instincts like that one that end up derailing my bliss, and it almost happened again, but I avoided it, and I even got a free lunch out of the deal.

But that clerk certainly did not.

I suspect that she was not informed of the distinction between times when one may and when one may not charge tax, so she was probably justified in feeling upset that I was telling her how to do her job, but she did not have to react with the bile that she did, in the very same way that I would be most likely to do myself, if I were in her shoes.

Likewise, if I’d taken my usual approach, I might have been able to get the $0.52 refunded, but I would have ended up in a foul mood and fouling the mood of at least two other people in the process.

It’s perhaps only stepwise progress, but I’ll take it, and hold on to it as evidence that I’m not completely on the wrong path.

I have to be vigilant.  Everything there is will try to steer me back to the old, familiar, and comfortably miserable path that I’ve been on and off of throughout my entire life.

The dividends are here, they’re just hard to see sometimes, and sometimes there is a price to be paid.

I’ll gladly pay the price to be happy when I can though.

Happiness makes everything better.