Posts Tagged ‘gratitude’
So, I put this big call for support out there, and you responded—you responded! Thank you! My paypal account is still pinging me occasionally! I am working on a dirty dirty story to send some of you as additional thanks—and then I have barely written this week. That’s because I’ve been eyeball deep in another job of mine, which is coordinating workshops for the Body Electric School.
I’ve been working hard to get the Celebrating the Body Erotic for women workshop in New York City off the ground. It starts tonight and runs through the weekend. The coordinator of these workshops, in addition to being the contact point and the marketer and the one who does all the recruiting to get the workshop to fill up, is also the person who makes sure the space is all set up with the right supplies and objects for the staff and the facilitator to come in and do their jobs of holding the circle strong and bringing the participants through the healing journey.
I’ve done a lot of these workshops by now. I can recite the order of events and what supplies are needed for each ritual off the top of my head, can give alternatives if things are missing, I know the storage locker combination by heart. Also, I like this job. It doesn’t pay much—it barely covers expenses, really. But a big part of the “payment” of this job is attending the workshop as a staff person, being one of the people who holds the container for participants to come into and have a transformational experience.
I love guiding people through transformational experiences. This is probably one of the biggest reasons I’m a top, and feels like a deep calling in me. To encourage releasing trauma, releasing pain, healing wounds, letting things go, and moving forward with more clarity is perhaps what I am most interested in, for myself and for others.
So I won’t be at the CBE this coming weekend. I’m really torn and sad about that. It was my choice to hightail it out to the west coast in April, and I am so glad that I did; I couldn’t stay just to make sure to be there for this workshop, I needed to leave. But I feel guilty that I didn’t finish my commitment, that I am relying on other people to do the work I was supposed to do. My job with Body Electric is changing, in part because I left New York, and in part because I’m getting burnt out. Coordinating is a somewhat endless job done out of love of the work, not out of motivation for compensation. If it was my only volunteer job, that’d be one thing, but my other two main jobs (Sugarbutch and BUTCH Voices) are mostly volunteer as well. I’m trying to figure out how to do these jobs that I love, this work that I love and that I think is so valuable to contribute to this world, and still be able to afford to live.
In some ways, though, I’m relieved to not be visiting New York. From my own personal emotional standpoint, I don’t know if I’m ready to go back there. There are some friends I miss and adore and want very much to catch up with, but for now I’m going to have to do that via Skype and phone calls. It’s hard not to see that city as just full of heartbreak right now, as accosting me at every corner with memories of happier times and being with someone I still love deeply and have so much pain around.
And I’m glad to be focusing on the future, focusing on the west coast, focusing on making friends here, focusing on how to get my work fluid and, well, working.
But I’m still sad to miss the transformational experience that is CBE. It’s such a beautiful process, and I coordinate because I love to be inside of that process, not because I actually get paid. And I coordinate because I get to have those blissful minutes at the center of an energetic vortex, where I can really relax into it and ask the universe or the earth or god or whatever it is to take away a chunk of the pain that I’m still holding on to in my body, to dislodge it and carry it away, back out to sea or out to the stars or out to wherever it goes. I have pursued healing in a lot of different ways, but still, there’s nothing else like this experience.
So I’ll be breathing deep for the circle and the CBE all weekend.
To go back to the thank you at the beginning for a moment, I want to tell you that from the donations that you’ve given, I have:
- Paid my hosting bill for the next two years
- Paid an editor to look over an ebook compilation of 16 short smut stories that I’m working on getting together
- Paid one of the staff folks to take over for the Body Electric workshop this weekend
- Bought an e-course package I’ve had my eye on about utilizing your online business (except way more fun than that sounds) and taking your work to the next level
Thank you for making that possible. I’m really excited to keep writing for you, to keep elevating the work I’m doing. Donations = more smut for you to read, I promise. Thank you.
Sugarbutch turned 6 years old on Sunday, April 29th. It was in 2006 at a corporate office job I’d just started, after obsessively reading every sex blog I could find for about a month, that I started publishing my own sexy fantasy writings.
I’ve told this story many times over the last six years, but here’s how it started. I was in a bed death relationship with my college girlfriend of four years, meaning for about the last two years of our relationship we had sex maybe six times (a few of which were when we almost broke up). I was going nuts, tearing my hair out, getting off multiple times a day. I didn’t know what to do with myself. I had stopped writing for a long time because all I was writing was about how I wanted to get out of that relationship, and that was a reality I wasn’t quite ready to face. So I decided that every time I wanted to have sex, I would either go to the gym, or write erotica, and I ended up writing a lot of erotica (and not really going to the gym much—this was before my gymbunny days). I started liking some of the work I was writing, and I went back to a medium that was one I had relied upon for many years: the online writing project, aka the blog.
I had kept personal writing projects online since 1996—for the last sixteen years, now—in various states of anonymous or semi-anonymous, but this one was the first one that grew to this caliber. Sugarbutch was completely anonymous for a few years, but as it grew, my identity became less and less hidden. (It’s not exactly anonymous anymore, it’s only been semi-anonymous for a few years now, and then I came out on Coming Out Day in October of last year.) I’ve had to deal with writing about the people I slept with without them knowing—and what to say when they later found out, and now I’m a lot more open and always get permission before I write about someone here.
So it started out as a place for me to get out of my bed death relationship, and quickly became a chronicle of that relationship ending. When it ended, I realized that I thought I knew what I wanted in a relationship, I thought I knew what my gender was and who I was attracted to, I thought I knew the kind of sex I wanted to have, but none of that had worked out. So how did I get that? Who was I, and how do I date the girl I want to date? How do I have the kind of sex I want to have? Can I really be who I am and get what I want?
These became the central questions I was exploring—and still explore—on Sugarbutch. It’s always been a personal exploration. As the blog grew, much of the more personal explorations have been put under a password (which you can get if you sign up for the mailing list—the idea is that you can see the more personal things in exchange for interacting with me with integrity).
The initial focus on this blog was where the subtitle of “kinky queer butch top” came from: a) my gender identity (butch), b) my sexual orientation (queer and attracted to femmes) and the process of seeking a serious partnership with someone, and c) exploring my kinkiness through my particular power orientation of masculinity and dominance. I wanted to figure out who I was in those contexts, who I would be to a partner, who I was in the butch/femme world, how I could continue to grow and push myself sexually, and how I could maintain all of those dynamics over a long-term relationship and not fall into another bed death situation.
The first three years of Sugarbutch were a lot of exploring and a lot of rebuilding myself. Early readers will remember the difficulty I had getting out of my relationship with The Ex and the box of darkness gift that one particular rebound relationship gave me.
Then I started dating Kristen, and the last three and (almost) a half years have been exploring with her. Having a steady partner meant that I had a steady sex life that I could explore, and I stepped up the product reviews. It was so much easier to review products frequently when I had a steady partner, it was much harder when I’d bring a new harness to someone that I hadn’t slept with before to try to figure out whether or not it worked for me and us (for example, was it the harness? Or was it the newness of the sexual partner that meant that I wasn’t getting off or fucking comfortably?).
Product reviews, of course, get old pretty quickly, and I never wanted this place to turn into an all-product blog. I’ve scaled back on products significantly, though I’m still interested in keeping up with the strap-on hardware that is being released.
Kristen brought some new sexual explorations, too. It was with her that I started exploring this Daddy identity of mine, a new space that I didn’t really see coming but that fits very well. We’ve also been exploring D/s and pushing our BDSM play to new places, and in the last year or so we’ve been deepening our relationship to the leather communities, being more involved with leather and BDSM retreats and culture. It’s been incredibly rewarding.
And for the past seven months, Kristen and I have been navigating non-monogamy in practice since I started dating rife. It’s been a challenge for our relationship, and while Kristen is totally behind this shift in our relationship (and recently wrote here about her thoughts on non-monogamy), it has not been without difficulty. It’s been very hard to write about because it’s been painful—for both of us—at various times, and it’s been hard to reveal the mistakes I’ve made, the pain it’s sometimes caused, and the ways that we are trying to move forward. I know there has been judgment about that decision from readers, too, so that’s made it harder to write about, but I’m trying to continue to stay open to chronicling my journey—our journey—as an open couple.
So while Sugarbutch used to be an exploration of gender (specifically, how I would be butch), sex (and getting the sex life that I wanted), and relationships (finding a girl to explore and deepen with), the edge now that I’ve been writing about has been non-monogamy (and I’m sure there is tons more to write about that as this expands), Daddy and D/s dynamics, and our deepening relationship to the BDSM and leather worlds.
Those explorations are my personal explorations, my personal edges, my personal work. I know many readers aren’t following me into these worlds, not only because they are edgier, but also because those aren’t as reflective of what you’re going through personally, and it’s harder to follow and relate to. I know many of you don’t agree with or understand what I’m doing (and you’ve said so in comments and emails frequently), and I’m going to continue to do my best to explain what I do and how it comes from a feminist, open, consensual perspective, but I know sometimes those things are just beyond grasp. I find it fascinating to continue to reconcile feminist politics with heavier BDSM theory, and I hope that I can keep writing about that in ways that incite curiosity rather than judgment and hateful comments.
Of course, Sugarbutch is still an exploration of those things that sparked it—sex, gender, relationships. In fact, as I’ve been teaching more and more, leading workshops and writing advice columns and learning more about how to counsel people one-on-one, I am surprised at how much comes back to those three things. They are not simple, after all. Figuring out who we are in the world and what we want are basic, on one level, but they are also Our Life’s Work, and they are not small. Plus, they are ever in flux, constantly changing.
That’s the other major thing that Sugarbutch has evolved into over the last six years: It’s now more than just a place where I go to work out my own shit, it’s also a platform for my work. I’ve turned it into my full-time job (which still scares me), and so part of what happens here is promotion for my books (!), workshops, travels, appearances, retreats, and writing elsewhere.
As I’ve had more of a position of teaching, I’ve been going back to those basics—”basics”—of sex, gender, and relationships, and the things that I’ve learned through this journey to know myself, over and over. I have come to all of this work from a very personal perspective, never assuming that I know what’s best for anyone else, only putting forward what has worked for me and what I’ve discovered—through reflection, writing, and various research—with the hope that something in there might be helpful to you, too. I don’t expect 100% of what I do or say or write to apply to you. Hell, even I don’t agree with 100% of what I’ve said. I revise my ideas constantly, or sometimes someone will ask me, “You just said ___, what did you mean?” at a workshop and I’ll have to backtrack and say, “Yeah, I didn’t mean that at all.” (Or, more likely, “I didn’t articulate that very well, let me explain what I meant.”) I am in a constant state of revising how I understand myself and my relationship to the world, and how I understand all of this work.
These topics are huge, and central, to all of us.
(I debated saying “almost all of us,” but in actuality, I think those issues affect all of us, every one of us, whether we are aware of it or not.)
I have some goals for this sixth year: I want to publish an ebook (or maybe more than one). I want to keep working on my finances and figure out how to be able to afford this patchwork freelance life. I want to get my Cock Confidence Product Guide up and running (I was working on that over the winter but the release of Say Please has pushed it back). I want to continue to collaborate more with Kristen, since her voice hasn’t been heard much here and I hope to do more of that (we have some ideas about what she might do). I want to keep writing elsewhere, and keep publishing my own short stories in anthologies, and hopefully do another erotica anthology soon. I want to keep writing about the things that are pushing my own edges, the non-monogamy and the BDSM and the D/s and Daddy play, even though it is not always well received. I want to keep teaching and doing workshops. I want to keep traveling, and to figure out how to travel better so that I’m away from my girl less and so that my recovery time is easier. I want to write here more, which is frequently a challenge because of the challenging feedback and the personal reveals and the traveling that gets in the way, but I want to keep it up.
I am thrilled to be doing the work that I’m doing. I love that my personal explorations have turned into lessons and guides and ideas for other people to learn more about their own lives, their own genders and sexualities and sexual satisfactions, and I still sincerely hope that what I put forth can help, in any way whatsoever. I am so grateful that you are reading and listening and buying my book and attending my workshops.
Thank you for reading over these last six years, thank you for commenting, thank you for your emails and your questions and your praise and your critiques. I couldn’t do this without you, and I am so grateful that I get to keep doing what I’m doing.
Some of the other anniversary posts:
- Fifth Anniversary
- Fourth Anniversary
- Third Anniversary
- Second Anniversary
- Bed Death, Standard Variety: the post that started it all.
This is the new butch project I’ve been cryptically describing for the last few months: www.butchlab.com.
Here’s what’s over there right now: the Inspiration list, which is the new Top Hot Butches database of folks; the Symposium, which is the blog carnival link round-up (the first of which will be posted later today!); and the Butch Lab blog, which you can subscribe to for updates on the project, interviews, announcements, and all sorts of other things.
I have so much to say about it, so many things to describe and explain. HUGE THANK YOU goes out to the interns who have made this possible: Kyle, Lauren, Sarah, Roxanne, and Yvette, I am so grateful for your help in compiling the Inspiration list and for helping me knock around ideas.
Please forward the URL widely, comment, share, and keep up with the new project. I really hope you enjoy it.
I’ve been wanting to write a post about the changes in gay marriage legistlation that have been happening in the US lately. I’ve even started drafting some notes. But by time I get back to writing it, I find that yet another state has put something new into law.
Suddenly, it’s like a domino effect: Yesterday, the Maine House of Representatives voted to legalize same-sex marriage.
Iowa, Vermont, New Hampshire, and now Maine; DC also passed legistlation to recognize gay marriages performed in other states (something New York and New Jersey also do).
Plus, there’s Massachusetts, which was the first state to let gay couples marry in 2004, who is I’m sure just sittin’ back going, “Whut? What’s the big deal? Oh, gay marriage? Yeah, we did that like five years ago. You guys haven’t done that yet?” (Apparently Massachusetts speaks in a lot of slang.)
Oh, and Connecticut, which began performaing gay marriages last fall.
Not only that, but Nate Silver, genius statistician behind FiveThirtyEight (which kept me sane during the 2008 election, along with Dr. Maddow), developed a model to estimate when other states will follow suit and pass gay marriage rights: “The model predicts that by 2012, almost half of the 50 states would vote against a marriage ban, including several states that had previously voted to ban it.” He recognizes that there could be a backlash, or a paradigmatic shift in favor of permitting gay marriage, and these could be completely off, but it seems quite possible that they are at least going to be partly accurate. And seeing it all in print like that is just … thrilling.
Sugarbutch is definitely not a news source, really, but as long as we’re making some serious headway, I think it deserves mentioning.
Wait, what? Sorry, what did I just say? THE number one gay civil rights issue is … succeeding? I feel like I’m in a cartoon where I have to shake my head and it gets all blurry. Really?
So now we’re equal, right? We’re the same, we’re going to be treated with respect, 11-year-old kids aren’t going to committ suicide because they are being bullied, taunted about their sexuality? Harassment is over, workplace discrimination is over – oh yeah, nobody can get fired for being gay anymore, right?
And don’t even get me started with the transphobia and genderphobia – where genderqueer folks are getting murdered through blatant hate crimes. At least “surprise” is less of a defense these days.
I have issues with the marriage focus of the gay rights movement. I understand that marriage is pretty much the ultimate symbol of a legitimate relationship (in this culture & society), so I understand why it’s important to work for, and I understand that perhaps for many people, it will be an important symbol in the step toward acknowledging the legitimacy of homosexual relationships.
(I could go on here about other legitimate forms of relationships that also deserve governmental tax breaks, the normalizing and construction of monogamy, the question of where is the separation of church and state in this issue, the belief that marriage is the ceremony and civil union should be the legal part, that marriage is also a class and privilege issue … lots of people are having this conversation lately, it’s all been said before.)
BUT: gay marriage is not THE END of the gay rights movements. It really hurts to read that gay advocacy groups are closing their doors because hey, we can get married now! There’s nothing else to fight for, is there?
Look, don’t get me wrong, I am SO GLAD that we’re gaining movement with the gay marriage issue. Thank heavens. Maybe we can now move on to some of the OTHER issues of the movement, like, oh, I don’t know, PEOPLE DYING.
Part of me wants to be snarky and say, “So you think this makes up for all that discrimination? Huh? Huh?” But hey, you’ve come around now, and that’s what matters. So: thanks, Maine. And thanks, Iowa, Vermont, New Hampshire, DC, and all the other states who are helping make history, create change, support equality, justice, and validate all kinds of love.
It was all the promised photos of my ass that did it, wasn't it? I knew it! You all are perverts.Read More