Saturday, January 30, 2010

Why do we, why do I?

This wondering I think doesn't really have an answer. Or maybe it has a number of truths, rather than just one. Mouse used an analogy in one post in which she compared her progress into her slavery to climbing a mountain. Her master guides and encourages and sometimes may even push a little for her to move onward and upward, but she still has to do the climbing herself. I loved this imagery. Really - no one else can do anything for us or make us do anything that doesn't come from within ourselves. Like the mountain guide, others can motivate, instruct, facilitate, demonstrate, act the sherpa, and even cheer-lead. But, the climber must climb.

So what I wonder is, "Why do people choose to climb mountains?" metaphorically speaking of course. Specifically in my case, or our case, what is the drive to want to take a marriage to the next level. Things were by no means headed for disaster, neither of us needed saving, we couldn't even say there were particularly rough patches recently. Of course it could be better, no one is perfect, nor is any dynamic between two imperfect people.

There is the question, "Why this way?" I think that has to do with the stars aligning to present the ideas at a time when we were ready for them. I also think some things about this way fit both of us fairly well, or at least intrigue us enough to give it a go.

But the more basic question is still: Why did we, and why do we still want take apart and re-assemble something that wasn't broken? Why put in effort to something that was ok to begin with? Why climb this particular mountain?

When asked, people claim to climb mountains, "Because they are there," or, "Because they can." That seems an over simplistic answer in this case. When I started pondering this, the answer that came to mind first was that I love my husband. But that's a fact, not a why. Part of it does indeed have to do with the fact that I want to make things better, more enjoyable, more fulfilling for him. Frankly - he has always treated me extremely well, in a lot of large and small ways, some to take care of me, some to push me. I think after I started all this - I realized that I didn't always act the same way towards him. Maybe part of it is selfish; there is no way to deny that the changes have made life more peaceful, that I haven't loved feeling more connected and close to him, and that a lot of the other perks aren't, well, just plain good. But these realizations and rewards didn't come till after we had started down the path.

I know that humans have a drive to accomplish, excel, do better, to move onward and upward. I wonder if this is an example of that; albeit a more complex example that involves not just two individuals, but the interaction of the two as well?

Monday, January 25, 2010

Silly Fish Thoughts

I was talking with a friend recently about some different things I had been thinking. He told me I need a fish tank - whether he meant that I need one to distract me so I stop thinking so many silly things, or to focus my mind to (hopefully) improve the quality of my thinking, I'm not really sure. We do have a small tank with two goldfish. I've found that they don't really either distract me or improve my mental processes, but maybe that's my fault and not the fishes'. This past weekend was a busy one and not filled with deep thinking at all, but I did wonder two random things.

[I'm still working on a name for my husband -he's being no help with that. In fact, he told me that if he liked what I end up choosing, he will reward me, and if he doesn't like it, well... I guess he'll reward himself. But this isn't one of the random things. ]

Anyhow - he who is yet to be named was teasing me about something and I told him he couldn't do "that." He informed me that he could in fact do whatever he pleased. I replied that this was true, but only until I rescind my consent. He proceeded to tell me that I can't rescind anything unless he tells me I can. Now, this was all joking, and laughing, and having fun - we tend to do that a lot, it's sort of our style. But so far I really like all the things he does to me, and I like the changes in our relationship. Even the tougher expectations are things I know in my heart are the better way.

But it did make me think about the whole paradox: I give consent for him to do whatever, whenever, however - or something like that. But I can in fact take back that consent. So, the cold hard reality is that I am ultimately in charge by virtue of veto power; if nothing else, I can veto with my feet. But I don't actually feel that at all. It's like marriage I suppose. Many people take the wedding vow as binding only up to a point, that point being the one at which they no longer care to remain married. I very much believe that taking the forever part seriously is what often keeps people from giving up. Of course, there are instances in which staying with someone is the wrong decision, in any sort of relationship, with any sort of arrangement. Period. But for the rest, having the commitment to fall back on when there is nothing else to fall back on, is indeed something. I have to believe that the same principle applies with this thing we are doing (whatever you want to call it because I have no idea.) I have committed to what we are doing and, joking aside, I feel very deeply that backing out of my end of the deal is NOT an option, despite the quite obvious fact that the option to walk away is absolutely a reality. Further, the premise that I am not the one making the decisions anyhow is sort of the lynchpin of the whole thing. I'm not sure how my brain manages the gymnastics to reconcile this; although, I am the first to admit that times haven't gotten tough so it remains an untested commitment at this point.

[That went deeper than just random fish thinking I guess. I wonder if the fish are helping or making things worse?]

Oops -
Last night before we fell asleep we were talking in bed about silly stuff. We were both naked and quite intertwined. His hands were roaming, as they usually do. Except this time I was focused enough on what he was saying that I didn't notice the direction of the roaming. Apparently I missed something. After a few minutes he rolled over and said good night. I was so confused. He told me that I had not responded to him, I had ignored him, and that was that. I'm not proud: I apologized, explained that I just didn't notice, I hadn't refused - not at all; I even pleaded, I won't say I begged - but I certainly pleaded. But no go. It occurred to me that this was the first time in a very long time that I had (albeit unintentionally) turned him down. This left me with some unpleasant feelings and memories of feelings. This I'm not going to spend any further time thinking about though, I will just make sure to pay attention from now on.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

the female form

I have long found that the female form is amazingly beautiful, in all its variety. I am humbled by the fact that my man has a deep passion for both the visual and tactile experience of my body. As seems fairly common among men, he also appreciates the visual experience of the amazing variety of other female forms. We sometimes view certain tumblr's together and I am now understanding that his appreciation of these types of images doesn't diminish his passion for me. I am told that this interest, fascination, passion, obsession... with the female form accompanies men through a good part of their lives. I expect that, like everything, it must have had a time that marked its beginning. As a mother of growing boys though, I am not at all ready for that time to be now.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

I don't think they meant what I thought

This was a posting on an engineering question board (words in italics are my addition). I don't think they meant it quite the way I interpreted it. But it's good to know the EU has regulations about these sorts of things, 4 hours is a long time.....

Back in the eighties Company........ reported that high vibration amplitudes of Hand Arm Vibration (HAV) combined with high feed forces (the forces required to press the tool to the work surface) can cause micro-fractures in bones and have adverse effects on joints.

In recent years, research seems to have concentrated on vibration exposure assessments. For instance, EU Directive 2002/44/EC states that "As regards hand-arm vibration (HAV), the action level is likely to be exceeded by operators of most main percussive and roto-percussive tools (such as chipping hammer, demolition hammer, rock drill, breaker, impact drill, scabbler, rammer, vibratory rammer), of main rotative tools (e.g. grinder, impact wrench, sander) and main alternative tools (e.g. jig-saw, file). The limit value for exposure to vibration may be exceeded if percussive and roto-percussive tools are used for more than one to two hours a day, or in the case of some rotative tools if used for more than four hours."

Until recently, most risk management guides on the topic HAV concentrate almost entirely on the high vibration amplitudes and barely mention feed forces or the factors that might affect them (posture, work practices, tool design, tool size, task nature, handle design, coupling effects due to gloves [?hands] et cetera).

However, the European Agency for Safety and Health at Work has published "Workplace exposure to vibration in Europe: an expert review" (2008) which notes that with respect to HAV, the authors note that awkward postures, static muscle forces, grip and feed forces should also be taken into account and mention tht there has been progress in force-measurement equipment (as shown by the Vibtool report).

Our lack of data on grip forces and feed forces for using various vibrating hand tools is worrying. Could it possibly be that large gloves (? hands) magnify the grip force needed and amplify injury rates? Does anyone know of any research papers on the topic of the feed forces that are needed to control vibrating hand tools for typical tasks?

Thursday, January 14, 2010

And the light came on...

There is a mantra in the D/s world: make it your own, don't worry about how other people do it. This sounds so simple and so logical. Of course - whatever we do has to be adapted to our circumstances. We have pre-teen sons so I can't run around the house wearing only heels and a collar, even if we did turn the heat up past 60 and assuming I could walk in heels anyhow. On a bit deeper level, punishment and discipine in the way they seem to be most often described just don't feel right to either of us, so we have a different approach entirely. But there are absolutely things to be learned and ideas to be gained from reading about others' thoughts and experiences. I had found myself getting defensive when people would comment that I should not worry about how others do it, just make it our own. I was defensive because I thought that we had been doing it our way, but I also allowed for the possibility that they were onto something deeper that I hadn't quite grasped.

One of my (not always so admirable) personality traits is that I typically do care what other people think about me. I also (not so attractively) care about doing things the "right" way. I try very hard to check myself that my desires and feelings about this dynamic are from my heart and not from wanting to emulate someone or something else. But what I was not grasping was that my whole concept of D/s just wasn't complete.

I read a very personal account of an M/s relationship; not the what's and how's, but the why's. There was nothing about their rules, arrangements or logistics, certainly nothing about their intimate life. But I got to read very specifically and personally what their individual role does for each of them - what need it meets, and how meeting that need for the other brings them joy. Most impressively, I saw how it makes them both more connected and how that connection raises each of them to a higher level. The details of their relationship don't fit ours at all; their desires and motivations and personalities are entirely different from ours, but that is exactly what illuminated so much for me. I experienced a subtle, but very important shift in how I see things.

I had been looking at how to fit the peices of the lifestyle into our reality, now I see that the dynamic can be used to build our reality however we want. It isn't something to be laid overtop of, or crammed to fit into what we are now, but can be used to help build whatever we imagine. These are really abstract metaphors for it though; they express the shift in my understanding, but not what that implies for us in practical terms. In practical terms, what hit me about what I had read was that each of them knew the other and themselves really, really well. Also, they didn't need each other, but they each depended very much on the connection they had with the other.

I don't want the connection between my husband and me to be a generic thing, I want it to be based on an intimate knowlege of each of our personalities, motivations, and ways of being. I have a very strong feeling of wanting to know my husband this well, and of wanting to understand myself this well so that I can let him know me.

Knowing one's spouse is something that could happen without D/s - so what is there about my submitting (or his dominating) that adds anything to this process? There is the notion that if I have a submissive nature, I am being more true to myself to relate to him that way. Likewise for him and dominance. Maybe? Maybe being true to a part of our nature is more honest, with ourselves and with each other. I do think that the particular things I do to submit fulfill something in him, in his dominance, thus strenthening my connection to him. I also think that allowing or expecting me to do those things to submit fulfills something for me, thus strengthening his connection to me. And vice versa for him. None of this makes us dependent on the other, but it builds our relationship.

I have heard people say that D/s is a way to communicate, a language or a frame of reference. It may be that, but more than that, I think it allows us or frees us to communicate. Having the words is one thing, but feeling free to say them another. For example, for me, it's very easy to show him how I feel, but gut wrenching to talk to him about why. Being expected to do that anyhow, and agreeing that I will, is a step towards both of us understanding more. Likewise, I learn more about him because he feels free to ask for or show me what he wants. This is true literally, for speech, but also for feelings, ways of thinking or viewing the world, the more abstract things two people communicate to each other.

However we use the tools of D/s, it will be with the goal of increasing our knowlege of ourselves and each other so that we can use that understanding to strengthen our connection with each other. I'm sure my conceptualization of D/s is still not complete - but I hope that seeing things this way helps me imagine more than I would have. The task will be working out how to take the building materials that D/s offers and build our structure with them.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

What BDSM does for me_SM

SM - These letters I can only talk about as my feelings about and responses to pain. I simply don't have the experience or knowledge to try to talk about sadism or even masochism.

There are ideas I found, and find, very arousing; reading descriptions of pain induced for erotic ends, some things that I never would have imagined, fascinate me in a very arousing way. I think there must be a connection, something in my wiring. How could reading about something with which I had no actual experience whatsoever, and which on the face of it should have been off-putting at the least, have produced such profound physical responses? I imagine someone somewhere has looked into this. I don't think it is just the pairing of the pleasurable with the painful in the writings; other stories which pair pleasure with certain other activities don't produce any response in me at all. Maybe I'm wrong, maybe what turns us on in our heads is not so directly related to what will in real life. In any case, the fascination eventually became strong enough for me to overcome all the reasons to keep it to myself - and I asked my husband to try this route.

My actuality is that, as a prelude, some pain does arouse. Maybe not enough to "count," who knows? The physiology of pain was a big part of what I had to study in school, so I know that the perception, experience, and tolerance of pain is an unbelievably individual thing. Comparisons are odious and all that... Maybe it is arousing to me because of the added attention or expectations - sort of an operant conditioning. I can't answer that, and in the end, maybe it's better not being answered. It works, whether through unusually arranged synapses or some sort of conditioning (ultimately synapses in any case). So let's not mess with it.

There is a more concrete effect during though. Pain focuses me. I had used to be very detached during sex. My mind would wander - not "what shade of white should I paint the ceiling?" wander - but thinking about myself thinking about the experience, almost viewing it from the third person. His control and restraint help bring me back, but also the well placed and timed pain keeps me in the moment and in the place. My focus shifts from myself in the third person to myself in the first person - what I am perceiving and feeling. I am able to experience the sensations - not my analysis of the sensations. More intensity and more pain bring me to 2nd person - to him. My mind reaches out to where he is, what he is doing, how he is moving, what he is communicating to me, what he is feeling. That alone is enough to keep me coming back for more.

I think my relationship with pain is in flux right now. I've had a growing restlessness or craving over the past few weeks. In thinking about it, part of what my mind keeps bringing me back around to is pain. My rational self didn't want to face that until I was helped to say it out loud. Now it resonates more loudly, even though my rational self would still prefer to run the other direction. Of course, I may be dead wrong and regret that I didn't follow reason after all.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

What BDSM does for me_DS

I started to name this "What BDSM is to me" but decided that I am much more prepared to articluate what effect various things have on me than I am to try to define them, even in my own narrow interpretation and limited understanding. I also thought I would have one fairly simple post, but soon realized that I am starting to have definite feelings about a few things, which may take a bit longer. I am sure this will evolve; rather, I optimistically assume it will evolve and expand. So, by the letters, but broken into a few separate posts....

D\s - Dominance\submission
There are different connotations of the initials as I understand it. As a D/s dynamic/lifestyle or whatever term you may want to use to include everyday life and relationship outside of the bedroom, this is one of many areas I can't define or try to compare to others. It certainly impacts and pervades all of our life, but probably wouldn't be considered to fit neatly into any of the categories I run across. It's a definite but subtle shift in how we relate. One aspecct of it is simply a positive feedback loop that could (should) probably exist in any context: if I do something he likes - he tells me so - it turns out that I really like doing things he likes, I like to hear or be shown that he likes them - so I do them more - he likes them more and is maybe willing to ask for or expect nice things, etc.... I'm really not sure why I never understood this before. Shouldn't this be how any good, loving relationship is? I think there must have been some element of wanting fairness and equalness of effort or something like that.

We've been pretty functionally, even happily married a long time. Lots of things are already worked out. Of course I do sometimes disagree with him, and the more strongly I feel about something, the more I have to bite my tongue, hold my temper, and work to be respectful. But this is another positive feedback loop: when I am better able to do this, he is better able to listen vs. being defensive. If I do blow up (yup - still happens), I am much quicker to clear my head, and sincerely apologize - and lo and behold - he's quicker to respond in kind - and things get resolved. Perhaps contrary to the explicit or implicit meanings of the words dominant and submissive, these patterns work both ways. He does nice things for me, and is more thoughtful about disagreements.

So that part is pretty easy, even rewarding. There must be something more to all this that must not be so simple. There are a few things that have changed that are harder for me. Being pushed to talk about things I would rather not and having him question me about things I previously handled entirely myself make me very defensive still. I really have to bite my tongue and work to manage my reaction and mood - not so much of a strength of mine. I'm sure it's good for us but the feel good part isn't so immediate or apparent.

Submission - more specifically

For some long time, when it came to our sex life, I was de facto in charge simply by saying no, and because he respected that. Plain and simple, that killed my interest; of course, I had no idea that was the issue. Quite bluntly, submitting ignites my desire. Overt manifestations of his dominance or control cause all those wonderful feelings of desire and all the incredible physical sensations of want and readiness and craving. No doubt all these good feelings spill over into the more mundane aspects of life, but for purely hedonistic reasons, I really, really like this part.

There is a feeling "submissive" that is talked about in a lot of blogs, and in other writings. I've never tried to describe certain feelings I have that are not exactly sexual, bit not exactly not. Maybe this is what people mean by feeling "submissive." It's certainly a very distinct feeling that was overwhelming in the beginning, but is more leveled off now. Again - to be quite blunt - in the beginning I was insanely horny, always aroused. I thought there was something wrong medically. But beyond that there was, and often still is, another feeling I get around him. It's strongest when I just stand facing him and lean into his body and he puts his arms around me, such a simple, common gesture. I feel a bit nervous, but a quiet nervousness, not an idgity nervous energy. It's a bit like a first date or first kiss feeling, except this is my husband, from 15 plus years. We've seen and awful lot of each other; he watched me give birth twice, it's hard to be more familiar than that. It's a feeling that makes me imagine myself small, it makes me feel drawn into myself, and it makes me still and quiet to my core. And anything that can still me and quiet my internal voice(s) is pretty strong indeed.

Thursday, January 7, 2010


Awhile ago Jz asked about what people would want to do if they had the resources - both time and money, but I think primarily, the freedom from responsibility. I respond to this type of question differently from most people I think. I have actually thought about this quirk of myself occasionally in the past and wondered if it's is a good thing or not. I responded to her question that I am content, and that is along the lines of what my response is to any sort of "if you could", "if you won the lottery" or "when the kids are grown and we are retired" sorts of questions. Depending on my mood, I see this as either a healthy living in the present and contentment with who I am, or as an unimaginative lack of dreams or goals. I have given it enough deep thought to know that whether it's a good character trait or a character flaw, I really can't change it.

Growing up I didn't make christmas wish lists or that kind of thing; there wasn't much point in wanting things in general that just weren't possible. But I don't feel that this trait is some sort of unhealthy, learned helplessness or coping mechanisms. On the other hand, it's also certainly not an altruistic, self-actualized, putting aside of all earthly attachments and moving onto another plane.

I do know that it is only through a sort of privilege that I am this way; there are no unmet needs in my life. I do wish things for other people. There are people in my family who have things very hard and for whom the expression "life isn't fair" truly has meaning. I fervently wish things could be different for them. But I don't, for myself, wish that I had..., or wish that I could...

However, not wanting specific things in the future makes it challenging to try to plan for the future. It is much easier to have a direction and a plan towards something if you have a vision of it, whether it's a career, retirement, or just the next family vacation. In the end, if you don't dream, or consider what your ideal would be, can you move forward in a meaningful way?

I have always made one decision at a time and taken on challenges as they presented themselves. But I wonder if I will get to a time/place and realize that I don't have choices because I didn't make the right plans. On the other hand, the present could be less tolerable if it's always being compared mentally to "what if", or "if only..."

This all holds true with this lifestyle as well. Logically it would be lovely to be able to have a vision of what our ideal realtionship would look like, to have something to move towards. Even if the picture can't be complete because of unknowns, etc - there would still be something to work towards. But, not surprisingly, for my part, I'm pretty content anyhow.

Sunday, January 3, 2010


My husband has a thing for symmetry. Pictures must be hung in even numbered groupings, all level and centered, furniture in balanced and squared arrangements; artistic angles or whimsical off-centeredness make him un-easy. He knows this, but often he will find himself attracted to something without being able to identify why. He fell in love with our current house long before it went on the market and decided to purchase it almost the moment it did. He thought it was the great front porch until I pointed out that the style is one which is square and symmetrical not only side to side, but also front to back and even top to bottom.

The other night, after finally getting to play after what seemed like weeks of either travelling or hosting houseguests, he decided not to uncuff my wrists. He decided I should sleep all night this way. That was totally out of the blue, he'd never even hinted or joked about it before. The next morning I asked him why he wanted that, and why he liked it. He didn't have an answer, or at least not one he was willing to let me in on. I think that beyond whatever other reasons there may be, on some level, it's the symmetry. Part of what made it more awkward to sleep was the fact that both of my arms/hands had to move together and to maintain the same position. The arms maintaining a symmetrical posture even influences the legs and makes an asymetrical posture for them less natural. I'm pretty sure this didn't occur to him though, which leaves me really curious as to what he did like about it.