Archive for June, 2013
Gold Rush Days! The loggers and miners competition
Kids playing in the dirt pile | Log rolling competition
It’s been gorgeous here. For weeks.
There isn’t a pride parade, but we did attend the Southeast Alaska Gay & Lesbian Association (SEAGLA) pride picnic!
Treadwell mine ruins in Douglas
Sandy beach, near the mine ruins
Rife’s hands are small, but the leaves here are sometimes gargantuan. They seem prehistoric. This is a cow parsnip leaf, they are wild and overgrown everywhere (and cause rashes when exposed to the sap inside the stalks). | Happy 62nd birthday to my mom!
Supermoon. I couldn’t capture it with my iphone camera, but it was a stunning sight down the channel from the bridge, just over the Taku mountains, so bright and yellow and looking even more huge because of the moon illusion
Old growth forest on the walk to Outer Point | Younger forest from the beach
Outer point on Douglas, the northern most tip of the island
The boy | & the dog are loving it here
Alaskan brewing company beer cap with the beach rocks
There was a thunderstorm after we came back in from Outer Point—this is the storm moving in, it’s only about 6pm so the sun won’t set for four or five more hours, but the dark clouds overhead made the sun far away look so dramatic. Thunderstorms are very rare here! All this gorgeous weather, and that kind of sky … global warming is real, man.
And then, OH YEAH, Prop 8 was thrown out of the SCOTUS, and the 3rd part of DOMA was repealed! Nbd … !! We went out to one of the bars to meet a high school friend of mine to borrow her xtra tufs where she was celebrating the DOMA news with a handfull of friends. Kimberly + Marguerite made the “equalipussy” (shown here) and hung it, we did shots and talked about marriage and laws and other gay things. | Here’s the xtra tufs I borrowed (thanks V!) to go on a 3.4-mile hike into a cabin on Point Bridget, which is pretty much the northern most point that Juneau’s road extends.
I took SO many photos on the Blue Mussel cabin camping trip, most of which are still unprocessed on my iphone, that I think I’m going to do a round 2 of This Week In Photos … it’s been a beautiful, outdoorsy, adventurous week.
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At the Northern Exposure kink conference in Anchorage earlier this month, Sarha, our 2013 IMsL and one of the producers of the contest, asked if I’d like to do a short performance set during her weekend finale, the seven deadly sins dinner.
I was lucky enough to land on “lust.” So after a salad (course of envy), halibut, perfect creamed potatoes, and asparagus, the strawberries with melted chocolate came out, and they called me up to the stage.
“The Right One”
These poems are actually kind of … well, old. I wrote them early on when I was living in Seattle, which was probably at least ten years ago now. They’re both on my spoken word album For the Record which was released in 2005 (and is online through bandcamp if you want to listen to it or buy it). The first piece, “Gender Architecture,” is also known as “the boots piece,” and there are some parts of my theories about gender that I’m not sure I still agree with exactly … no, it’s not that I disagree, maybe it’s just that I wouldn’t put it that way, at this point. The second piece is still one of my favorites to perform, especially because of the way the beginning starts, where it’s made to sound like I’m just still casually talking to the audience but then I launch into the poem. It’s kind of a surprise that way. And when the audience energy is good, it’s so, so sexy.
I’d really like to do more spoken word. Adding that to the list, and trying to strip away other things that aren’t as satisfying.
As I’ve been exploring deeper into power theory, like D/s and M/s, and as I’ve been trying to understand how my relationship with Kristen went wrong and in what ways power played into that, I’ve been thinking more and more about responsibility.
I’ve been meditating on the basics: What is it? How does it work? How does one “take responsibility”? What kind of responsibilities does one have—as a partner, as a lover, as a Daddy, as a dominant, as a friend? How does responsibility shift and changes when circumstances are not ideal, such as when someone is grieving (you know, hypothetically)?
Raven Kaldera and Joshua Tenpenny, whose books on M/s I have been recently devouring and whose theories I astutely agree with, mention in one of their books that a dominant’s hunger for responsibility must be equal to or greater than their hunger and lust for power. That resonated deeply with me, so I have been chewing on how to act from a responsible place, how to behave responsibly, how to hunger for responsibility, how to be responsible with my power.
We commonly use “responsibility” to mean our obligations—the things we have agreed to do, or the things other people have put on us to do that we may or may not have agreed to—and how we cope with those obligations. It is my responsibility as a cat owner to make sure my cat is fed, for example.
But when it comes to interpersonal relationships, what our responsibilities are vary greatly from person to person, and from culture to culture. My responsibilities to my parents might mean, to me, calling them on their birthdays and going to visit once a year, but to another person, their responsibilities to their parents might be visiting them every day, or might be sending one holiday card annually. Same with lovers and partners: I might think my responsibility is to respond to texts or emails from lovers is to respond when I can get to it, but my lover might think it rude and irresponsible of me not to reply right away (especially when now, with iMessage, you can see when your texts have been read). I suspect some of the expectations in relationships are built on our love languages (quality time, acts of service, gifts, physical touch, words of affirmation).
The expectations we place upon responsibilities of those around us are often unspoken and unconscious, and therefore difficult to make clear. Making those clear is a key piece of good communication, I believe.
But that’s just one piece. We also use the word “responsibility” to talk about one’s behavior in any given situation, such as, “They’re not being very responsible,” or, “they’re not acting very responsibly.”
I started breaking down the word responsibility into its two parts: response and ability. Response-ability. And that led me to my first conclusion about it: responsibility is your ability to respond to any given situation. But how does one “respond”?
Most of the time, I think we are reacting, not responding. Reacting is the knee-jerk impulse our combination of body, mind, experiences, emotions, and self tells us to have. We get an email from a boss with some critique, we feel insulted. Our lover asks something taxing of us, we feel put out. Not everybody has the same reaction, of course—depending on our unique histories, unique bodies, unique patternings, we react in different ways; many of us have different reactions to the same emotions, too. Some people feel insulted and fight back, some people feel insulted and become paralyzed, some people feel insulted and run away.
I think that responsibility is your ability to take the reaction you have, process it through your thoughtful higher self who wants the best for everyone involved and can see many perspectives, and choose your response and your next actions intentionally.
Let me put that another way. My ability to respond well to a situation, to be responsible in my role or job or relationship, depends upon my ability to notice my knee-jerk reaction and use that as one piece of the data that I gather before I decide what to do next. Other pieces of data you could use as you analyze the situation include:
- What would the high wise imaginary counsel inside your head, made up of all of your mentors and favorite people, advise you to do?
- What would your counsel of very favorite people advise you to do? (Perhaps you should call them to ask?)
- What would the best possible outcome for all people be?
- What would you say if you were really telling the truth about this situation?
- How do your ethics ascribe you to behave?
- What would yourself in ten years say about this situation?
- How do your spiritual or religious beliefs guide you in this quandary?
- Where are the places where your ego, pride, or stoicism are getting in the way?
- Where can you use your great strength to be more vulnerable in this situation?
- Where do you feel this pain, sorrow, longing, anger, or frustration in your body?
- What does your bodywork or therapy point you toward?
I’ve been chewing on this difference, between reaction and response-ability, for at least a year now, trying to figure out how to be sure I am exploring what it means to be responsible with the privilege and power that I hold. Because, as the cliche saying goes, “with great power comes great responsibility,” and as I’ve been seeking more and more great power, I want to make sure I have the great responsibility part down as well. I don’t think “responsibility” dictates a code of behavior specifically so much as it dictates an intentional response, and that is a comfort to me, as I try to continue to sort our my own wounds, heal my own heartache, and continue to pursue my lust for power.
From last week—false outer point beach in Douglas. My phone was dead, so this shot is what rife took. My favorite beach.
Downtown Juneau evening walk. “Welcome to Juneau” sign on the cruise ship docks | 10:30pm dinner at the Warf (that’s mint ice cream “grasshopper” pie)
Perseverence Trail up the Silver Bow Basin, where the first mine in Juneau was constructed. It was warm! | Using the water filter for glacial run off. Probably not necessary, but it wouldn’t hurt. Also, it was delicious.
Us (bugs love hair product so I have mostly gone naked …) | Waterfall at the end of the trail | Shale
The view down the basin from a rock slide
Mica in the rocks | The pool above Ebner Falls
End of the trail (the bridge was out)
View from my mom’s house of downtown Juneau | Rearranging the kitchen! Our big home project this week
Whale Watching! The day was grey but still beautiful | Out on the water
We saw some amazing things, the whales were so playful and we saw them bubble net feeding, tail lobbing, and even two breaching whales right next to our boat! Unfortunately this is the best photo I snapped, but I was looking with my eye more than photographing anything.
The different flukes of the whales commonly seen in Juneau | Post whale watching beer tasting & tour at the Alaskan Beer Company
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Finally! I’ve been working a lot on my management skills lately, and one of the reasons behind learning that skill is to have an intern help me with some of the maintenance of my job that I either can’t get to or that is time consuming and keeps me from what I really should be doing, which is writing more smut.
So here’s the write-up that I came up with. I made a form to submit as an application (resumes are not required, but you can email them to me if you’d like to supplement your application with one).
Summer internship will be July – September, for three months, and then we will decide if we want to keep working together of if I should reopen the application and work with someone new.
Perks include free sex toys, books, and DVDs for review and for personal pleasure, as well as skills, learning, training, experience, and references.
Who I am: Sinclair Sexsmith, mrsexsmith.com and sugarbutch.net. Writer, educator and coach in the sex, gender, and relationships fields; works with queer, genderqueer, trans, butch/femme, and transformational communities interested in personal growth and social change in the fields of queer literature, sexuality education, blogging, and erotic embodiment.
Time commitment: Approximately 5-10 hours a week, minimum of 5. Weekly check-ins. Schedule is flexible. Internship will run for three months and we’ll decide if we want to continue or not.
Location: Telecommuting interns welcome. Must have access to the internet. Slight preference given to Bay Area residents so we can meet in person occasionally.
Projects include, but are not limited to:
- event production & creation
- booking workshops, gigs, clients
- blog maintenance
- editing, proofreading, copywriting
- prioritizing and replying to email
- graphics creation
- social media and marketing
- networking and contacts
- ebook editing, formatting, production
- maintain contact, keeping in touch regularly
- meet deadlines
- have an eye for detail
- catch grammar and spelling typos
- be able to do internet research
- be capable of basic web design (photoshop skills, HTML, wordpress, newsletter creation)
- have access to Gmail, google documents, gchat, Skype
Compensation: Experience and training in the fields above; products for fun and review; references. Willing to work with your school to get you college credit.
Bonus if you are good with graphics creation, back end domain maintenance, if you are skilled at video or sound editing, or press releases, if you have good visions and suggestions for making systems run more smoothly.
Apply online at http://bit.ly/1av4dRu
In early May, I posted a request for donations to help me get on my feet and keep me writing, and promised a special smut sponsor story if you donated $25 or more.
That was more than a month ago, and I finally sent the story. It’s a dirty Daddy/boy story with force play, consensual nonconsent, ass fucking, dirty talk, and age play (all characters are over 18 and playing consensually).
The special bonus smut story is a little late. I got all inspired and touched and eager to write after your slew of donations (thank you, thank you), and life is still getting in the way of writing here regularly. I’m trying to polish the “business” that I have apparently started, and I haven’t quite been able to implement all I need to yet. So that’s still … and blah blah blah I’ve said that a dozen times. Sinclair, repeat after me: I’m writing more smut. I’m writing more smut.
Without further ado:
Excerpt from “Curfew”
- “Please, Sir. Don’t be mad. Am I in trouble?” You touch my thighs gently with your hands, a request, making clear, open eye contact. Your lips tremble a little.
You’re not in trouble, not really. But I’m mad and hard, and there you are. Who’s going to stop me? You’re my boy, after all.
“Take it out.”
You hesitate. “Sir, I have to … I just want to go to bed.”
I fist your hair, the length on top I make you keep long enough for me to grab. “Now,” I hiss in your ear, “Or don’t you want to be able to breathe while you do it? Don’t make me pinch your nose shut, boy.”
You swallow. I can see your neck move from how I’m pulling your head back. Exposed. If I had my knife on me I’d slide it right to that ripple under your jaw, see if I could make the faintest of red appear. If I had to.
So that’s a little taste of that. Much more to come.
From the BV press release:
BUTCH Voices third national conference has extended our call for proposals to June 21st, 2013. We are currently seeking workshops submissions of all kinds, and in all formats: films, performances, skill shares, readings, meditation, and movement—anything and everything that addresses the cultural, sexual, emotional, physical, and psychological relationships that arise in the lives of butches, studs, tombois, aggressives, machas, etc. We are open to all perspectives–queer, feminist, womanist, neither or beyond! We particularly encourage proposals by and for people-over sixty, under twenty-one, by and for the working-class, people of color, and persons with disabilities.
“We have incredible submissions so far,” said Joe LeBlanc, conference founder and board chair. “We have received so many authentic, solid, and heart resonating responses that we want to leave the window open just a bit longer.”
The BUTCH Voices National Conference, happening at the Marriott Oakland City Center in Oakland, California on August 15-18, 2013, has happened twice before and boasted community conversations and regional conferences between national conferences. Each national conference has brought together hundreds of people to discuss issues related to masculine of center identities.
“There is currently a thread on our facebook page,” said Sinclair Sexsmith, media chair of the BUTCH Voices board, “discussing what kind of workshops the attendees would still love to see happen. Ideas range from latino/a butch identity to butch trans women to butch fashion to youth to allyship to hairstyles. We are expecting a wide range of offerings at the third conference. As always, the programming committee’s choices will center around our three initiatives: community building, social and economic justice, and physical and mental health. But there will be a lot of fun, playful things thrown in there, too.”
The full call for proposals is on the BUTCH Voices website at http://www.butchvoices.com/call-for-proposals .
BUTCH Voices expects more than 300 attendees for the weekend gathering in August. More information can be found at www.butchvoices.com.
I’m behind on the pictures post this week evacuee the Northern Exposure conference took up all of my weekend, and then their after party of adventures around Anchorage took up all of yesterday. I’m on a plane right now heading back to Juneau, so here’s the photo essay version of this art week.
Pulse! The annual Body Electric advanced women’s retreat is coming up at the end of July, and I’ve been working on it a lot this past week | Rand Leather wrist cuff (review to come)
cruise ships in downtown Juneau
sunset looking toward the valley. We watched four bald eagles fishing in the harbor while also watching the sun set around 10pm | the boy mowed the lawn (we’re doing a lot of house chores to earn our keep)
Mendenhall Glacier | Mendenhall lake and icebergs
the boy on the sandbar
rainforest | Devil’s club forest
Lupine in the meadow on the Boy Scout Camp hike
Friends walked out to the sandbar as the tide was going out | the boy carved an otter
From the plane flying into Anchorage … Chugak mountains, I think? On the way to Northern Exposure!
Welcome to Northern Exposure! | ha ha | Cleis Press’s contribution to the Northern Exposure vendor room
Epic brunch at Gwennie’s | the Northern Exposure afterparty! We all piled into cars after brunch and took a drive down one of the “most beautiful drives in the US”, Turnagain Arm. This is Beluga point
the Big Game Wildlife Refuge at the end of the Turnagain Arm drive
Baby musk ox | brown bears
the Big Game Wildlife Refuge musk ox
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I’m catching a plane tomorrow for Anchorage, where the third annual Northern Exposure kink conference will be taking place.
NE is run by Sarha, who was just sashed International Ms. Leather 2013 at the IMsL weekend and contest in April in San Francisco. I was on the judging panel for this year’s IMsL contest, and while I promise I didn’t play favorites (Alaska rules!), I’m thrilled that my home state is representing the leather community this year, and I’m really excited to participate in the conference she produces.
The lineup looks pretty incredible. Though NE is remote, Sarha has attracted an incredible group of presenters who are teaching on a wide array of advanced topics. I’m particularly interested in the many M/s workshops that are offered, and I suspect I’ll be sitting in on as many of those as I can, taking copious notes. That’s a recent study subject of mine that I am really enjoying delving deeper into. I’m also really excited that Midori is presenting! I have been in classes of hers before, but it’s been many years, and I’m looking forward to learning from her. Lee Harrington is also going to be teaching!
Northern Exposure happens to coincide with Pride fest, so Sarha hooked me up with the folks over there, and I’m going to be teaching Writing Dirty, my skills for writing about sex class, on Thursday night (tomorrow!). I’m up against Drag Queen Bingo, so I suspect it might be a small class, but I hope we’ll have some good discussions and write some interesting sentences. I LOVE teaching writing classes, and often the ideal class number is something like 7-12, so I will be very happy with a small class.
The boy is coming with me. We’ve met at leather conferences before, but aside from IMsL in April, we haven’t actually come and gone from one together. And at IMsL, we didn’t get to play much (you know, just once or twice a day for short scenes, no big epic gang bang like at Winter Fire, no long, elaborate scene like at last year’s IMsL. I’m glad he’ll be there with me. I’m only teaching one class, Cock Confidence, aside from the writing class for Alaska Pride, so I should have some really nice time to play.
(Hopefully I’ll come back with some good stories to tell y’all.)
And, speaking of IMsL.
International Ms. Leather 2013 Sarha and International Ms. Bootblack 2013 bella join the IMsL and IMsBB alumni on stage at this year’s contest and leather weekend
I’d never judged a leather contest before. I attended IMsL the year before, but I’m not particularly familiar with leather contests. I’ve been more and more involved with the leather scene in the past few years, attending more leather conferences, events, and happy hours, and participating in more conversations online about leather and reading up on leather history and culture, but I’ve only recently really come to understand the difference between BDSM, kink, and leather, which, though related, are slightly different.
I’ve been kinky since as long as I can remember, adding sensation play and power dynamics to my friendships, playtimes, and interactions since my first adolescent sexual experimentations, and probably even a bit before that. I’ve considered myself part of the BDSM communities since … well, at least formally since about 1999 when I got my official membership to the SPCC, the Sex Positive Community Center (now the Center for Sex Positive Culture) in Seattle. But I’d only ever really gone to classes or events to gain a particular skill to take back to my bedroom—I never really stuck around in the leather community.
Until recently. Really it was Dark Odyssey that started me on that path in a significant way. I thought I was familiar with leather culture and the kink/BDSM worlds, but when I started teaching more at leather events, I experienced how different it really was, and realized how I’d longed for leather community even without knowing it. I was on the board of the Lesbian Sex Mafia in New York City around that time, too—clearly seeking some more kinky community, not just to support my own kinky efforts but also to immerse myself in and learn new, different things.
I found a lot of what I was seeking at Dark Odyssey, and I found a lot of people who really felt like my people in a new way. (I’m kind of sad to be missing Fusion, which is next week! But it was either Fusion or Northern Exposure, and I’m so glad to be in Alaska right now. I don’t know if I’ll make it to Summer Camp in Maryland in September, but I would really like to. I’ve been two years in a row and I’ll miss it if I’m not there.)
So when I ran into Glenda Ryder, who runs IMsL, at Summer Camp last summer, I was thrilled to consider the possibility of being a judge for IMsL 2013. I knew very little about the history of leather contests, what it pertains, what a judge would do (aside from the obvious, duh), but I’d attended once (and watched almost exactly 20 minutes of the contest) and was interested in being more involved with leather culture, so I said yes.
The judges judging | The judges brief moment in the spotlight, onstage, when they introduced us
I spent more time with the judges panel than anyone else that weekend, and they were lovely people I’m thrilled to know. (One of my favorite activities was passing dirty fairy tale stories back and forth with Tillie during the contest.) It was great to spend some time with KD Diamond, and Sarah Vibes, both of whom I know from New York, and to meet Woody, the current International Mr. Leather, and hear more about the traditions of leather, fundraising, queerness, and history.I spent so much time at the contest part of the conference itself that weekend in April that I barely had time to do much else—I didn’t attend any of the workshops, though I wish I had. I did send my boy to attend a power exchange relationships class called “Exploring and Deepening M/s, D/s and PowerExchange Relationships” taught by Liza and Jody, which was excellent, from what he relayed, and he took many interesting notes and gathered some concepts we still discuss. I also participated in a author’s meet and greet with Mollena, Laura Antoniou, and Tillie King (one of my fellow judges), hosted by Mr. and Ms. SF Leather, where we read some snippets of our work (and got to see many of the literarily-inclined folks at the conference congregate in one place, which totally got me hard).
Oh! And, here’s a quick sidenote: Laura Antoniou read from her most recent book, The Killer Wore Leather, which is a murder mystery set at a leather contest conference weekend. I picked up the audiobook on Audible.com for the long 5-day drive through Canada to Alaska, and Rife and I have been listening to it and really enjoying it. The reader is excellent, and the story is really fun. It’s kind of amazing to see our community through an outsider’s lens, and it’s also a very tight insider’s satire. If you want to know more about leather community, this book is definitely a fun place to start. Full review to come when we finally finish the book.
I also taught a Flirting & Foreplay class, for which Rife designed a little IMsL flirting bingo card, which was a fantastic hit. I want to do that again, and I think all leather conferences should have a flirting bingo card in their conference bags.
I don’t have tons to say about the actual contest itself, aside from that it was a lot of fun. I enjoyed being behind the scenes but still in an important role as a judge, as someone described it to me that weekend. I don’t always want to have attention on me, but I do like to be important, somehow, so that felt good. I thought the contestants were incredibly well spoken, all had very impressive resumes (and formal leather), and had both new young spunkiness and wise experience from many years of serving and guiding and participating in these communities. I learned a lot.
I’d prefer to go to more classes, and I’m looking forward to being more of a participant at Northern Exposure this coming weekend than I will be working. I hope to have some fun, learn some things, and have lots of conversations about what it’s like to be kinky in Alaska.
I’ve got lots more things to say about Sarha and how she won (she won!) on an excellent platform about outreach to leather in little towns and not just big cities, how she excited (and kinda scared) everyone with her black bear fur lined chaps (where do you think leather comes from, folks?) and how it felt to have my Alaskan identity coming together with my queer and kink identities, too. I could talk about the MC and how unimpressed I was with her racist jokes (just because you “make fun of everybody” does not exclude you from racism). I could talk about the beautiful redhead who had a pet girl on a leash with her all weekend, and a new friendship and relationship that has bloomed from a distance. But this post is already 1600 words long, and it’s time to go to bed, even though it’s 10:44pm and the sky is still light.
It’s going to be even lighter in Anchorage. I’m really looking forward to soaking up all the midnight sun I possibly can.
(Official conference photos by Rich Trove, thanks Rich!, except for the instagram ones taken by me.)