I vote in every election because …

wrote 200 letters (with hunter’s help) for the Vote Forward campaign and mailed them today to voters in Texas, Alaska, and South Carolina. pretty simple: write a letter to a voter who, by some algorithm, was found to be unlikely to vote. they provide a little template and some blank spots to sign the letter and write in a little bit about why you, the letter writer, vote.

I’ve found it to be meditative, and a positive place to put my anxiety during the lead-up to the election, but also a very curious practice connecting to 200 strangers throughout the country. what would make this particular person vote? I would wonder. what could I possibly say to them that would encourage them to vote, if they’re thinking that they won’t? and why *do* I vote, anyway? how do I narrow that down into two or three sentences?

I ended up writing things like: I believe participating in the process to choose our elected officials is an important way to ensure democracy. I want a say in who makes laws that affect all of us. I care about climate change, health care, and education, and I want to make sure those in government care about it, too. I want to ensure that the people in government know what we, the voters and citizens, care about. I believe voting is an important part of my job as a citizen.

I don’t know if this will encourage any of the folks that I wrote to, but I found myself a little surprised at the answers.

I’m so curious about *why* we vote and why we don’t, and what would inspire more of us to do so. I remember hearing that in australia, voter registration and attendance at a polling booth have been mandatory since the 1920s, and their voter turnout is around 91%; australians can be fined up to nearly $80 AU if they fail to vote. but why would voting not be mandatory? I know: politics. but. things don’t have to stay the same; change is possible.

I know there are many things this country could do to help voter turnout long before voting is made mandatory — we could, for example, not actively try to disenfranchise and prevent people from voting, for example, which seems to consistently be happening through all the elections I remember paying attention to. voting day could be a holiday. we could have more polling places so people wouldn’t have to wait in hours-long lines.

a TED talk I watched the other night talked about the joy of voting, and the question of what we, as a culture, make of voting. is it a cool thing to do? is there social pressure? there certainly is in my circles, but I am in a bubble inside of counterculture radical justice communities — I don’t think I really see the mainstream.

right now, I’m mostly just asking the questions. being curious. open.

preparing 200 letters felt useful, and I’m thrilled to be part of a campaign that sent 16.8 million letters today. between this and also seeing all the news about early voting coming in, I’m feeling hopeful, actually. haven’t felt that way in a long time, maybe not since march.

I might do some text banking next … I also filled out a form to work the polls day of, I’ve never done that, but I never heard anything so I’m unclear if I’ll do that. we’ll see.

what are y’all doing in the next 17 days before november 3 to support people voting? what’s your plan to vote yourself?

Protected: Welcome

This content is password protected. To view it please enter your password below:

On Stepping Away From M/s Language

Content: Discussion of the uses of the words master and slave in a consensual kink context, the politics of using them in community, and the harm they cause.

A few weeks ago, I put this note out on social media:

“Hi everyone; some of you may know that with my boy we are the International Master/slave 2020 and Northwest Master/slave 2019 titleholders in the leather community. We have been planning a conversation about the impact of the words master and slave for a long time, and we want to dive into it more now. We understand that when used by non-Black people, these words cause harm. Personally, we are stepping away from using the words. I’m sorry for the harm they’ve caused, and I’m sorry it’s taken us so long. I’ll detail more about what we’re going to do in a full statement forthcoming; I’m taking some time to consult with community and figure out the way forward. We will have a full statement out within the next week.”

rife and I then published this note on the Facebook page for our leather title:

Running for and winning this title has been an incredible journey, and this is not the title year anyone expected. We’re heartbroken to see our events being cancelled or, at best, moving online. We miss you all and wish we could be having this conversation with you in person.

The changes we are making with our relationship titles reflect our personal journey; our relationship structure itself hasn’t changed. We still want to talk with you about all the nerdy power theory stuff. We’ve just decided that for us, as white folks living in the racist United States, we aren’t going to use the terms “Master” and “slave” any more.

This was a hard choice to make because it has been so valuable to find community around these words, and to be part of a lineage of people exploring conscious, consensual power exchange.

We recognize and affirm that Black leatherfolk have many different views on consensual ownership dynamics, and we honor Black leadership in the M/s community. There are Black people who have done the hard, beautiful work of reclaiming these words and as queers we understand the power behind that. We cannot and will never tell a Black person what to do — many Black folks have chosen to use these words for themselves. These are their words to reclaim. Everyone has a different journey with these words. There are many white folks in M/s community who are aware of the potential impact of these words and use them with care.

We are not judging others’ choices about their use of the words Master and slave. We affirm that your words are your choice. Total power exchange dynamics are psychological edgeplay, and everyone gets to decide for themselves what their comfort level is.

The words Master and slave helped us find this community — our people — where we are validated and seen. At the same time, there have been multiple Black people in our lives – dear friends and leather family- who have told us they are harmed by these terms. We can’t and would never speak for Black people, but we know some Black folks experience our use of those words as violent and triggering. Because they have told us so.

We apologize to the Black people we have harmed in the use of these terms. Whether it was intentional or not, it caused harm and we’re sorry. We know finding new language for our relationship will not solve racism, but it’s a small thing (among many others) that we can do to reduce harm.

In the past, we have been careful with usage when not at M/s events, because we want those around us to consent and opt into hearing M/s language. Just like I wouldn’t highlight my Daddy/boy fetish if I knew someone around me was a survivor of child abuse, our intention was to be respectful and cause less harm to those around us. We would try to cover our back patches when walking through hotel lobbies, and include content warnings on published essays. We didn’t do this perfectly.

Currently, we are:

1. Stepping away from using those words for ourselves and considering other options.
2. Apologizing for the harm we have caused in the past.
3. Creating more conversations about this, and researching and listening to better understand the changes that Black folks are calling for.
4. Supporting Black liberation movements in concrete ways, including financial donations, political action, and volunteer work.

We have many thoughts about using M/s language as white people — currently we have a 17 page document full of notes, and have had countless conversations about it. We want to talk about the intersection of power exchange and anti-racist work, and we want to find more folks who want to do that, too. If you want to be in this conversation with us, please like this post and let us know.

Wouldn’t it be amazing if we had an M/s community that everyone felt they could belong to? What would it be like if we knew that nobody was being left behind because of unintentional impacts of our words?

Most importantly, how can we, as white folks committed to both the M/s community and to racial justice, reconcile the awful history of these words with the beautiful relationships we have? We don’t have the answers, but I hope through conversation we can start to puzzle this together.

It’s not about the relationship structure; we love this way of building relationships and will fiercely defend our heart-soul calling towards it. We are Owner and owned with a total authority transfer dynamic, just like we have been. It’s not about the M/s community; finding y’all has been life changing for us and we love you dearly like the family we always needed. We are not trying to police anyone else’s language or tell you how you should identify. We just want to make sure our words are not harming the Black folks in our leather family (and beyond).

We are invested in the health and longevity of this community. We want to see our spaces thrive and grow for years to come, and will be here producing online events, workshops, and discussion groups for those committed to the path of structured relationships.

With love & in leather,
the Rooks

There is now elaborate conversation happening both on Facebook and where rife published the statement on his personal Fetlife.

If you want to talk to me or both of us about this, I am open to discussion and available. You can contact us both at [email protected] or me at [email protected]

I would love to talk to people who are particularly at the intersection of 24/7 authority exchange and anti-racist work, who are interested in engaging with ideas for supporting the M/s community and leather community in general to work to be a more accessible space for Black folks specifically and POC folks in general. If you’d like to collaborate and discuss, please reach out and let me know.

We are also now collecting other statements and quotes from folks discussing the impact of the words master and slave for them, and publishing them on our Facebook page here. They can be anonymous, with your name, or with a pseudonym. Send them to us at [email protected], or get in touch if you have questions about them.

What about here on Sugarbutch?

Here on Sugarbutch, I’ve taken down posts that use master/slave language. Some of them I’ll be editing and putting back up, but some will stay down because they were primarily about M/s and wouldn’t be the same to edit. I won’t be using M/s language in erotica or in posts about my relationship going forward.

I am however interested in writing about the many, many things which are coming up in response to this statement — things about reclaiming language, about what level of comfort different people have with using them, about other issues of racism in the M/s and leather communities, and more. I haven’t figured out if I can/should post that here, or if I will publish that on Medium or somewhere else — but either way, I will be putting content notes at the beginning of the pieces so people can opt in or out to what they are reading if they wish. Feel free to let me know your preference in the comments, and I will take that into account.

Last, but not least

It has taken me some time to come to not using these words.

We both had reservations about using those words when we started finding the M/s community, but the M/s community has many explanations for why those words are used and has done a lot of work reconciling their history. There are many Black leaders in the M/s community, and I have learned much from them. I hope it’s clear within the statement above, but we are not trying to make commentary of any kind about what it means for Black folks to use these words — only for US, personally, as white folks.

I needed the teachings about authority exchange relationships that the M/s community presents, and they have completely changed my life for the better. I would not have as strong and healthy of a relationship with rife as I do if it were not for that community. I’m incredibly grateful, and I do want to see that community thrive, grow, and continue. I also hope to have a conversation about the use of these words, who it leaves out, and the harm they cause — which is already happening.

I have many other things to share about this process, and I’m slowly gathering my resources to write more about it. I am talking to Black and non-Black leaders in the leather and M/s communities about next steps, following the guidance of what Black folks want. We’ve been having dozens of hours of conversations. I’m doing my best to listen.

I welcome folks to join me and rife in visioning, as we said in our statement, a leather community that is truly inclusive, where all feel safe to show up as their full authentic selves. If you’d like to join the conversation that is already happening, check out on the Facebook page for our title years and the statement on rife’s Fetlife (which has many more comments).

Sheltering 1: Things I Have Learned

1. More than twelve years of working from home as a freelancer / solopreneur / writer has prepared me quite well. I already have a home office set up, I already know how to divide my time and focus and still get things done, even though I’m at home. But this isn’t the same as “working from home,” of course. This is “working during a pandemic.”

2. Why do I wear so many things that are so uncomfortable? It’s hard to justify even “getting dressed,” so why bother wearing things that don’t improve my life? I actually like jeans, though I know not everyone does; I tend to buy the stretchy ones so they are very comfortable and don’t restrict movement. I’m still pretty much every day in a black tee shirt. I hope we can all wear more of what we want to going forward, and less of what doesn’t feel good.

3. Amazing all of the things that we thought we needed to get outside of the home, that we thought we needed to spend a lot of money on, that for me are actually just fine at home. Examples: Haircuts. Eating out at restaurants. Going to the movie theater.

4. I miss the gym. Road trips. Fruit picking at U-pick farms. Body work of all kinds, from massage and acupuncture to pedicures and facials. There’s a lot of overlap between beauty and health. But there’s a lot that I don’t miss.

5. I don’t miss driving everywhere. Being in traffic for hours. All the time between tasks, going from the gym to the grocery store to the cafe to the practitioner’s office.

6. I don’t miss all the time with friends. I miss my friends, sure, but I think I have a lot more socializing than I need or even want, in part because my partner needs it, and in part because I say yes when people ask. Noticing that I don’t really miss it and I’d rather be by myself most of the time is very interesting, very good information.

7. I have been remaking the plans that I made six months ago. It’s all different now. I can’t rely on what was true in November and December. Things I thought I’d do this year are no longer — so what am I going to do? I’m doing a lot of online work, that’s for sure, but that’s not it exactly either.

8. I’m struck by how different this experience is for folks in different situations. I’m sheltering with a partner and cat and dog — not with kids who are usually in school and can’t see friends and are somehow expected to get school work done. Not with roommates I don’t get along with. Not solo, starving for touch. Not working outside of my home at all, not on the front lines, not at a grocery store, not policing the public and whether they are following physical distancing or wearing a mask. I am very privileged in this and I’m aware of that, and I’m grateful for what I have.

9. But I’m also assessing what I have. For me it’s been a huge pause, a vast time of going inward and listening. Quieting. I love it. The opportunity for focus, for clarity. There’s also vast amounts of numbness and confusion, anxiety and stress and fear, of course. But in the moments I can rest in the safety I do have, I can go to another level of assessment about my life and the trajectory of my family and my capital-W Work in the world. Things were already starting to change, but the timeline was longer than it is now. Now, the timeline is different. In some ways, everything is different.

10. I hope we can keep the learnings we are getting from this. The pleasure from cooking at home. How little we actually need to shop or buy things. How much it matters that we have time in our gardens and with our puzzles and crafts. How lovely it is to connect with people long distance. How great our sweatpants are. I hope we can keep that, as we mourn and grieve the over 100,000 who have died in the US, as we work to protect ourselves from the news and the kleptocratic government, as we figure out how to go forward.

Hello, It Is Spring, Let’s Bloom (Playlist)

I was working on this through most of January & February but finally got it done in March. Our adventures leading up to the International contest were really meaningful to me, and I think that was a really valuable ordeal for our relationship to go through. And we came through it much stronger for it.

That is all to say, here is my latest in a long series of playlists of love songs for rife.

1. When Will I Learn – Rob Riccardo
“I guess I forget that I got all the answers.” trust the process, I’ve got this. I tell myself these things a lot these days, and to be honest I trust it all a lot more than I used to. something feels tethered to myself in a way that feels strong. the closing lines, “when will I learn that I’ve got all I need / when will I learn that I’m already free” gets so easily stuck in my head, it’s such a catchy, natural chord progression that really clicks.

2. bad guy – Billie Eilish
it’s just sexy. I can’t believe it took me so long to be introduced to her vocals, I really like her. I think she cheapens the line by adding the “duh”, but I try to just ignore that part.

3. You and I – Reuben and the Dark
the story isn’t quite our story … but the metaphor of it, the running and problems and being scared, and then “you and I are gonna be alright,” and the sweeping epicness of the chorus and the beats, it just feels like a sweeping last scene of a movie where things work out.

4. Indigo – Daniel Champagne
there’s something about these acoustic guitar instrumentals that always feel like they belong on mixes to you. they’re uncluttered, analog, and just happy to be just what they are, a simple acoustic instrument.

5. Golden – Becca Mancari
“there you go again turning golden.” reminds me of the “stay gold” line in the outsiders, a classic butch root for a lot of us, and reminds me of how we can keep coming back to ourselves and each other over and over, that neither of us has tarnished for the other — or rather, that you haven’t tarnished with me. even when things get rough and scratched up, we polish it back up, you do the work, we both do, and you turn golden, stay golden.

6. I’m Just Waiting for Your Love – Tomemitsu, Steady Holiday
you could read it like a solo person asking for a lover, but for us it feels like the waiting time when things are hard between us and I’m waiting for us to come back around and back together. we do that, you know? feels like it’s expand-contract, the nature of the universe. dreaming about your love, waiting for your love. sometimes it’s me that’s in the way of receiving it, but even then I’m still waiting for it to come back to me, and I know it will.

7. Light of a Clear Blue Morning – the Wailin Jennys
I love their harmonies so much. “everything’s gonna be alright / it’s gonna be okay.” I finished this mix in march so it was kind of before the worst of the covid sheltering in place, but it’s interesting how many of my choices are reassuring mantras.

8. You Mean the World To Me – Freya Ridings
it’s the lines “I know that I can be pretty mean / but you mean the world to me” that got me … it’s almost a breakup song, or could easily be read that way, but I think it doesn’t have to be; it’s more about a rift in a relationship, and it’s easy to assume that’s the end, but not necessarily. either way, her core message to the person is how important they are.

9. Swoon – Rising Appalachia
I love “drape me in jasmine vines in this crescent city swoon.”

10. Shine On – May Erlewine
feels like another mantra song, reminding myself and us to just keep shining. “it ain’t easy living in hard times.” (also, the tabs are on her website with the lyrics, might be a fun one to learn.)

11. Don’t Give Up On Me – Andy Grammer
“I’ll hold onto you / no matter what this world’ll throw / it won’t shake me loose,” I guess I have really needed to hear reassurances. it feels comforting, because they feel true. this one feels cheesier/pop-ier than the others, but I still get it stuck in my head and it feels right.

12. Face Your Fear – Curtis Harding
“by the way / maybe / don’t worry / it’s okay.” adding “just” to “face your fear” makes it sound easier than it really is, but in a way it IS that easy, too. well — simple, but not easy.

13. Servant of Love – Patty Griffin
kind of reminds me of the servant master archetype, but also the sweeping progression of her vocals and piano in this I find so incredibly emotional and intense. plus “I long to live by the ocean” … and “words from the deep calling to me.” I long to live like this.

14. Somebody Loved – Kina Grannis
it’s a cover of the Weepies, which I might have actually put on another mix, or maybe you did. they can be a little bit heavy on the twee cutsieness, but I love her voice and it’s such a sweet song. reminds me of the transformative power of a relationship: “you turn me in to somebody loved.”

Rest Is Important, You’re Right It Isn’t Fair, and Other Things I Need To Hear Right Now

Things I need to hear:

It doesn’t matter if you’re not being productive, and also, it does. It is okay to take a break, to focus on resting, to lay in shock on the sofa eating cookies and drinking wine for a week. It is okay to be in pajamas that have been worn for just a few too many days such that you would feel guilty shoving your lover’s face down into them. But also, it’s good to keep going. It maybe even feels better to fold the laundry and put it away, to put on not only fresh pants, but pants at all. It maybe even feels good to do up your hair and wear a nice shirt, put something fancy together just because it’s Tuesday.

You have spent time focusing on feeling good, but you need to mix in some things that are good for you. Wine and cookies and lamenting is not particularly good for you. (You have learned these lessons so many times in so many ways. Yes. Here it is again.) It is extremely hard to go after the things that are the best for you, because you have to actively break some patterns, and breaking patterns is one of the hardest things of all to do, even though they are psychic and not physical. Maybe especially because they are psychic and not physical. Do it anyway.

And then rest. Rest rest rest. It’s okay to do that, too.

Old ways are crumbling, have been crumbling, and we don’t even know what these new ways are yet. What color they’ll be. What flavor. We don’t have any sense of how deep the change will be, how big the loss.

Log off of the social media, even Instagram, the one you say is the better one because people are actually sharing their lives on there and not just parroting headlines. Too much input is too much input. It feels better to write and create, even though it doesn’t seem like it. Even though it feels impossible to put pen to paper and you end up writing “I don’t like this pen” a dozen times before you write any other words.

It’s okay not to write, but it’s also good to write. It’s good to step up and do the hard thing, to practice discipline. To identify that which you are actively avoiding doing and do it. Do it.

Holding the line – long-term discipline – feels better than going after the short-term comfort. Maybe that doesn’t feel true right now, but try it for a little while and see. Does it feel true? If not, then stop. But when you’ve done this before, you remember how good it feels to hold the line.

You cannot solve capitalism by thinking thinking thinking. It isn’t fair. There are people working to make it better. How can you deeply accept the world, even in this state? How can you deeply love the world, even in this state? Keep going. You will make things that will help — yourself if no one else. You will find your feet again, find your grounding again, feel forward into the future again. It makes sense that this is hard, this is the hardest, this is so unusual, this is so unknown. So you get to make it up.

What is your best day? Let’s make that day tomorrow. What is your favorite way to spend an hour? Spend it on this next one. You have more control than you act like you do, and less. You have more power than you act like you do. Spend it. Coax it. Create it. Let’s go.

Some Notes That May Turn Into A Sex Manifesto

Because the boy & I have been together for 9 years, and because we are also adults with jobs and families and obligations and bodies that aren’t always in the mood for sex, and because even the most compatible people have phases of being mis-matched in their desires and drives.

Because it is of incredibly high priority to me to have a rich erotic life.

Because I crave sex frequently. Because I struggle to feel close without the addition of pheromones and the alchemy of fluids. Because I want the physical closeness of losing ourselves in each other, of getting skin-drunk, of the intoxication that comes from tasting you. Because I use it to let my guard down. Because I let my guard down to have it. Because I want my guard down but I don’t always know how to take it down. Because my guard goes up so intensively automatically that I don’t always even notice it’s there. Because I still think about the boner preservation society and what would be on my list.

Because sex is the best way I know how to pray. Because sex is the best way I know how to see god. Because I need the release of orgasm like some people need a workout, to wring things out of my body, to shake and release. Because I have no better way to experience the holiness of my body. Because I start feeling floaty when I don’t have someone on top of me for a little while. Because I crave the feeling of all my senses activated, and you feeling every one.

Sex Manifesto (first draft)

1. The boy should assume that all sexual and erotic play is intended to have some pleasure in it for him. If it is not pleasurable, he is not only invited but expected to speak up about that and let that be clearly known.

2. It is possible that the Dominant will want to engage in erotic play that is not pleasurable to the boy, and the boy should do his best to accept that. However, this play should be intentional and with full knowledge that it is not pleasurable.

3. The boy can expect to have basic needs met before engaging in erotic play, including: hunger, using the bathroom to relieve himself, temperature (especially being too cold), and tiredness. If those needs are not met, he is expected to speak up and let them be clearly known.

4. We have long engaged in erotic play without a safeword, but we do have certain code words and phrases that can and should be used. a) “Mercy” is an accepted code word, and the Dominant will always consider mercy when the boy asks for such. b) “If it pleases you,” can be used to mean “I don’t particularly want to do this, but I will do it because you want me to.” c) “Only if it pleases you,” can be used to mean, “I do not want to do this, but I will because you want me to.” d) “I am a tool for your pleasure,” can be used to mean, “I am focused on servicing you,” meaning, “this is not about my pleasure right now.”

5. Masturbation is encouraged, orgasms are not restricted, and there are no particular requirements for how either should be done. Asking permission to come pleases the Dominant, but is not required at this time.

6. Fantasies are encouraged, porn is encouraged, and other erotic explorations are not just allowed but encouraged.

7. Having sex with other people during dreams is allowed. (Let’s just make this explicit, since the boy’s dream-self sometimes feels guilty.)

Protected: Countdown: Seven

This content is password protected. To view it please enter your password below:

On Receiving a Full Scholarship to College, Twenty Years Later

Twenty years ago, in 2000, the Martin Family Foundation changed my life by giving me a full academic scholarship to the University of Washington.

I was 20. I’d cut my hair off the year before, split up with my high school boyfriend, and was now figuring out what it was to be out and loud and really really queer. I was struggling to afford community college and rent, and while I did have some support from my family, I was also an emancipated minor and had been living on my own for 3 years at that point.

I remember filling out the application. I remember, on the day of the interview, I missed my bus by mere moments and went to the pay phone outside of Pagliacci pizza to call the school and let them know I was going to be late. I was sure I had no chance of receiving the scholarship, based on being late, but they said no problem and switched my time slot with the person after me (who was early). (I think of this often when I’m late, the lesson being: just let them know.)

I blazed in to the interview, at a table full of silver-haired white men, a few of whom were taking notes on laptops (it was 2000, that was uncommon), and I talked about how I wanted to make queer art and write about liberational stories of sex and desire and the transformative potential for feminism to change the world.

When I left, I thought, well, there’s no way that room will give me money for my mission. But I was proud of myself for telling them what I really thought, what I really wanted to study — it was very vulnerable, to be so honest about something that felt so radical.

I remember that much more than I remember getting the call that I’d been accepted.

It meant so much to me that the Martin family heard my young adult queer ambitious heart and said, yes; not only do we believe in what you’re trying to do, we’d like to give you money so you can do that. It still means so much to me.

I never thought I would actually be a professional sexuality, gender, relationships, and kink writer — I didn’t expect to use my women, gender, sexuality studies degree so directly. (I just thought I’d be able to articulate the sexism & homophobia in whatever publishing company I worked at very well.)

In so many ways, my career started with this moment, when this group of men said yes. It gave me the opportunity to believe in myself a little stronger, a little more vigilantly. Someone else listened and said *yes, I’d like to give you money so you can do that* and they did, and I can honestly say it changed my life.

Happy 30th Anniversary, Martin Family Foundation. thank you for all you have done for me and for others at UW & beyond.

I’m Still Not Tired of Your Company, aka A Valentine

Happy Valentine’s Day! To all of you: beloved friends, community acquaintances, readers, family, old friends, and new.

I appreciate you and I’m grateful we have this weird, modern medium to use to keep us connected. Valentine’s day is weird and can be isolating and too full of Hallmark for comfort, but I still think excuses to celebrate love, tell people we love them, and spend quality time together (well, that’s my love language anyway), are all generally positive and I gratefully accept an excuse to focus on it, and let you know that I am glad to know you all.

and:

To this incredible person, my partner, my spouse, my boy of almost 9 years, rife: I love you.

I’m grateful for our intense, beautiful, swoon-worthy courtship, grateful for our years of struggle to figure out how we fit together and what we are really going to do together and how we, two flawed humans, are going to make a life together, and grateful that we are looking forward into the future again with a vision for our partnership that stretches long beyond the horizon that I can see. I adore you. I never get tired of your company — ?? Which still confuses me, because I get tired of almost everybody else, massive introvert that I am. But I love you next to me on the couch, in the woods, crafting and listening to podcasts, or watching another episode of the Great British Baking Show when we should be sleeping. I love the way you take care of your chillest dog and my grouchy old lady cat, and how determined you are to make the world a better place by tending the earth, and how you are so patient and kind, and how you make art out of everything, even the flaws and things I used to label as decay or destruction. that you are in my life inspires me to be better, motivates me to step up and dream bigger, and makes me want to impress you.

I love you — today, & all the days we get to will have together, and the 3,072 days we’ve been together already.

Protected: Six Weeks Out

This content is password protected. To view it please enter your password below:

A Bullet-Point Decade

Inspired by Maggie Stiefvater, who has quickly become one of my favorite authors after reading the Raven Cycle series, here is a bullet-pointed list of what I’ve done this decade.

  • Published Say Please, Best Lesbian Erotica 2012, Sweet & Rough: Queer Kink Erotica, the novella series, Erotix, and Best Lesbian Erotica of the Year Volume 4 (2020) … basically, all of the books that I’ve published came out this decade
  • Published stories in 20+ books, not even sure I can count them all
  • Wrote a column on Autostraddle for a year and a half
  • Met & fell in love with rife … had countless adventures, had a collaring ceremony, received a cover from him in front of the monthly leather group we’ve attended for six years, threw the most incredible 5-day party/destination travel wedding in my hometown
  • Moved from Brooklyn to Oakland, in part to be with the boy and in part because I’ve always wanted to live in the San Francisco Bay Area and I felt complete with New York City
  • Ran for and won a leather title with rife (this is a tiny entry in this list but it is a really huge accomplishment)
  • Traveled to 34 states, 5 provinces in Canada, Puerto Rico, and Mexico
  • Finally figured out what was at the root of some of my health problems: got diagnosed with a systemic candida infection and spent two years (mostly successfully) trying to clear it from my system
  • Got top surgery / a breast reduction surgery that has greatly improved my body
  • Applied for 25+ jobs, 4 grad schools, 2 writing residencies, 5 writing awards that I did not receive
  • Received alumni of the year from my gender studies department at my undergrad college
  • Received three awards from the National Leather Association for my writing
  • Judged three different literary contests — National Leather Association, Lambda Literary Awards, and Publishing Triangle Awards — multiple times
  • Judged the International Ms Leather contest
  • Taught dozens of classes at dozens of venues across the US & Canada
  • Was completely rearranged by the sudden, unexpected death of my dad in 2012
  • Learned brush lettering, rekindled my love for tarot cards, stepped up my journal game with bullet journal techniques (though I was doing something similar to that before the craze started! #beforeitwascool)
  • Dug deep into my own mental health, eventually landing on a diagnosis of c-PTSD, which has been a huge relief slash one of the hardest things I’ve ever faced
  • Witnessed the spiraling out of control death of my ego in 2018 that rearranged me even more than the death and change of 2012 did
  • Committed myself to the spiritual practice of buddhism & kashmir shivism (with a good heap of pagan witchiness thrown in there too)
  • Became a teacher in a lineage in which I’ve studied since 1999 (through Body Trust); founded an erotic embodiment company with three beloveds!
  • Got the root canal in my front tooth rebuilt, which was needed for a long time and was probably a low-level infection in my body for ~ten years
  • Ran a queer reading series in New York City with Cheryl B, which enabled us to host and support incredible queer writers from all over
  • Spent time on the board of the BUTCH Voices conference, running their media team
  • Launched a Patreon for Sugarbutch, which has completely changed my life and finally, finally, finally enabled me to feel like people really do want me to keep writing and publishing here
  • Spent time doing yoga, running (3x 5k races), boxing, and weightlifting, and continue to practice finding the pleasure in moving my body
  • Completed a sacred intimate year-long training, which has been one of the biggest things I’ve ever done for spiritual growth in my life
  • Moved to an apartment in Oakland which is my favorite home I’ve ever lived in, aside from my childhood home … maybe even including that
  • Continue to live with a cat who is now an old lady who is only slightly grumpy and very very cuddly
  • Maintained & grew Sugarbutch! Posting around 5-7x a month for the last thirteen years, since 2006
  • Went back into the workforce after losing my job in 2009, worked at a wine store, a hyperbaric chamber spa, a gender & sexuality research center, and a queer speakers bureau
  • Am beginning the career change into tech by taking classes and learning the lingo, trying to figure out what I’m doing
  • Learned to ride a motorcycle & got a license
  • Had one flying lesson and flew an airplane, just for a minute!

I could probably keep going. Maggie’s list is far more precise and interesting, but “had two #1 NYT bestsellers” wasn’t on my list this decade — perhaps for the next one.

So many of these accomplishments are about teaching & writing, which makes sense, as they’re where I spend the majority of my time. I’m noticing there’s a lot about travel, spirituality, health, and relationships, too. I think I’d like more bucket list items on there, more exciting moments of interest, more hobbies.

It’d be interesting to write a 2030 (!!) decade in review list and vision some of the things I’d like to do in the next ten years. That feels a little too tender and vulnerable to share here, but perhaps I’ll make some notes in my notebook.

Protected: Striking Evolution

This content is password protected. To view it please enter your password below:

These Eight Years

Eight years ago, you offered me a blow job and I didn’t usually date boys but you were so fucking cute. We immediately had chemistry and I immediately wanted to make you wince and melt, and I can guess what you wanted, so we had a scene.

Seven years ago, we were still talking. Getting more serious. Navigating the other partners we both had, navigating my crippling grief, navigating long distance D/s turning into M/s and what does that even mean how could we ever use those words. You were about to leave California and spend the winter in Texas, a slower life, with your dog and your horse and your family ranch, chopping wood and sending me photos of you topless with leather gloves and an axe. I came to visit you four times that winter, for weeks. We finished writing and signed our first temporary contact.

Six years ago, we were settling in to our first apartment together. My cat your dog all our baggage together. My moods and unresolved grief, your deep desire to serve. We made caramel apples and went to a pumpkin patch and I found out you love dressing up for Halloween. You set up a peg board in our bedroom with hooks for all the toys, a hard point in the wall for me to chain you to, a hand-made sling. We had a beautiful collaring ceremony and I told all of my closest folks that I was your owner, and what that meant to me.

Four years ago, I was recovering from some major physical health challenges. A digestive issue had me on a medical diet for six months and was way harder than I expected. A breast reduction surgery was easier than I expected, but significantly changed what I could do – soon, for the better. These changes were helping, they changed things. But it wasn’t enough.

Three years ago, we were in the depth of it. Deep trauma demons clashing in ways that I was pretty sure would be the end of us. My terror up against yours. We still don’t agree on the story of what happened, but that’s how I see it. It would get worse before it got better. But first, I would formally propose.

Two years ago was the summer we got married. It was a leap of faith and my deepest heart’s desire. We can manifest together so well. We visioned, we created. It was so much more beautiful than I expected. We were still in the deep battles, but they were more often our own, and less often each other’s.

One year ago, I was starting to see the forest and not just the trees. I was back to myself. We were still repairing, are still repairing, but we were ourselves again, and better. We were already preparing to run for the leather title in spring 2019 and spending a lot of time talking about our dynamic, our foundation. I had to revisit everything. I had to relearn everything to apply to where we now were, what I now knew. About myself, and about you. In some ways, we were starting over. In some ways, we were stronger than ever.

This year, it has been eight years since our first date, seven since our first contract, six since you were collared, two and a half since we got married. You have stayed past the trauma monsters that have shown up in every other relationship – of course they have – and you have persisted. You have turned toward me again and again where others have turned away.

I have witnessed you change and grow and evolve and strengthen. You are pursuing just what you want: your work, your relationship with the wilderness, your storytelling, your friendships, your community. Your family has grown, your work has grown.

I’ve never passed this precipice before, so I don’t really understand what comes next. How we just keep going, keep asking ourselves what our needs are now, keep asking each other. But apparently that’s ther plan. And I plan to carry it out, until I can’t.

I’ve learned so much about me and us and you. You continue to excite, entice, and enliven me. You bring my life so much joy.

Thank you.

Happy anniversary.

Protected: Disrupt the Cycle

This content is password protected. To view it please enter your password below:

Protected: Two

This content is password protected. To view it please enter your password below:

Protected: Spirolic Breaking

This content is password protected. To view it please enter your password below:

Protected: Under Water

This content is password protected. To view it please enter your password below:

Protected: On the Verge

This content is password protected. To view it please enter your password below:

Making Your Strap-On Part of Your Body

When someone straps on, it’s easy for it to feel like an awkward protrusion rather than something connected to their actual body. But there are ways to practice embodying a strap-on so it feels more like you, which can then make it feel more exciting and more connective when using it during play.

You know how sometimes you put on a bigger backpack than you’re used to, and at first, you knock into the wall, the table, or a friend, because you just aren’t sure where the backpack is in relationship to you? That’s an illustration of one of the great human senses called proprioception.

Proprioception is the “perception or awareness of the position and movement of the body.” After we spend some time with that backpack, generally, we are able to sense how far behind us it extends, and we can be more aware of when we’re going to fit through a door and when we won’t.

The same is true of how we drive a car — ever notice that when you get into a new car, it takes a little while to figure out how to parallel park smoothly? But with your own car, it might be simple — because you already have a sense of the extension of the car in relationship to your body, and you know how to maneuver it.

The same thing is true for a strap-on.

It’s a tool, and a sex toy, yes, but it’s more than that: It can become an extension of your body.

Here’s some ideas of ways to play with proprioception, embodiment, and body-awareness to make your strap-on part of your body.

1. Feel It

Right after you put it on, take a few deep breaths and feel into it. What does it feel like? Maybe it’s awkward, exciting, a turn-on, exhilarating, nerve-wracking. Whatever it is, that’s normal and okay.

If it works for you, you could have a conversation, or put your intention into it while you’re first sensing what it’s like to wear it.

2. Touch It

Use your hands. Feel it, not as a sex toy that you are about to use, but as part of your body. Hold it in your hand. Put your finger on the very tip and see if you can feel your energy all the way into the shaft. Feel the weight and length and girth of it. Move your hips a little and feel what it feels like to have it move with you.

Try that all over again, but this time, close your eyes. What does it feel like now?

3. Practice Wearing It

Even when you’re not going to be using it for sexy playtime, put it on sometimes. Wear it around the house when you are doing chores or doing homework to get used to it. You’ll start to feel how it moves, how it connects to your hips, how the harness feels.

Not all of them are comfortable to put on and wear, I know — but you can figure out a way to wear it without having to move around so much (or put pants on top of it). You could just watch TV.

(Plus, it’s always good to practice putting the harness on and off, since having that be fluid helps with confidence.)

4. Masturbate With It

Dedicate some time to yourself to see what it feels like. No, you don’t have to use it as penetrative (unless you want to) — but use it as if you were using it with someone else.

Jerk off with it, play with it. Use lube, and slide your hand on the shaft. See what it feels like with a vibrator underneath it. See what it feels like when you thrust your hips up to meet your hand, rather than have all the movement come from your hand.

It doesn’t have to bring you to orgasm — the point is just to practice feeling it, and feeling it erotically. It certainly could have an orgasm involved, though!

5. Take Your Time

If you’re with a lover, take some time to yourself right after you put it on. Don’t rush! Feel it, touch it, and move with it until you feel like you have a sense of it as part of your body.

The more you get used to having it connected to your body, the more easily it’ll feel like an extension of you.

Protected: I Want to Tell You

This content is password protected. To view it please enter your password below:

Trauma Is Your Teacher

“You acknowledge the trauma as your teacher, and thank it as the unique lesson your Soul devised for you in this lifetime as a strategy for calling out your best and highest faculties. This is no easy task. You might feel bewildered and resentful, yet your subconscious mind is eager to re-claim this aspect of your lost power and re-integrate it. Ask yourself what gifts the trauma has given you, and why it was necessary for you to receive them. Your Soul knows the answers to these questions.”

— Angels & Demons: A Tarot Spread for Processing Trauma

I live in the space in between the crumpled heap at the bottom of the stairs and the glimpse I catch of potential on the horizon. It could be better; it might be better; hello, look, here I am better for a little while; but look again, here I am crumbled, it doesn’t ever last long.

It is the aftermath. The recovering from the betrayal pain trauma that has never healed. My life is the aftermath, the need for rest and regeneration and healing and pause and allowing myself to feel into the extent of it so that I can actually take the path into the new way of being.

But underneath that: more grief. More loss. The pain so deep the offerings of transformation and nourishment aren’t even visible. Look away, look away, I don’t even trust them.

And underneath that: watching watching watching everything. Observing everything. Making everything into a story that is either true or untrue. This serves me well; often my skills of emotional and psychological insight are greater than those around me, and they learn and are grateful for the insight. But it can become compulsive. I can’t stop seeing every little detail that is wrong wrong wrong. I can’t stop listing every infraction. I can’t stop noticing all the things that should not be the way they are.

Sometimes, when the ghosts come, it is impossible to be awake in the present moment. All there is is indecisiveness, restlessness, carelessness, and a lost path. There is no here/now. There is no building of stability because why? Stability is lost and will surely never be found.

Way down deep in the bottom of it all, I am untrustworthy. I do not trust myself.

In my highest of high selves, connection can pull me out of it. The spark of new love. The spark of insight about being in relationship with myself, with the living earth. Fueling each other, asking each other to share our lives. The mirroring that can happen. The deep feeling of being understood. The deep feeling of life meaning something, because it can be shared and others can witness and feel seen and understood, too.

And when I can get out of my own way, I can see where I am going: king of my own passion. King of my own emotions. King of my own sovereign kingdom. I know where the boundaries are, and I know how to keep them. I know my own strength and I’m not afraid to use it. I have control, mastery. I know my limits. I know how to take my seat and not give it up, to hold my ground and be willing to fight to keep it. I know my worth. I trust my worth.

I trust that I will be okay, regardless of what happens around me.

I can say no, I’m sorry, that just isn’t right, and I’m going to remove myself from that situation. I can say yes, that is the right thing for me. Yes, that is where I am going. Yes, I have a vision I have values I have goals I have experiments to do, and I’m going to do them, they are all in alignment, they are working together harmoniously. Oh, there is something wrong? Totally cool, tell me the details and we will work out a solution.

I will not take things so personally. I will not identify so deeply with the pain, anguish, suffering.

When I can resurrect what has been taken from me, what trauma has strangled and left bleeding, I can get back to my own trust. I can trust my own proprietary experiences. I will build my own stability, a fertile ground where I can grow into the person I have always wanted to spend my life with.

Protected: wake up

This content is password protected. To view it please enter your password below:

Protected: Forgiveness

This content is password protected. To view it please enter your password below:

Things I Didn’t Know I Didn’t Know: Part One

“Feel it fully.”
“Don’t shy away from your feelings.”
“Let all your emotions flow through you without getting attached to them.”
“Don’t push them away or resist them, they’ll just get stronger.”
“Just be with the pain.”

How many times have I heard these things? I’ve been studying self-actualization spiritual self-help psychological philosophy things in the “transformational communities” since I was in high school — that’s a good 20 years now. I couldn’t even count how many times I’ve heard these, or things like these. These kinds of aphorisms are so heavily embedded in almost all the narratives about bettering the self.

I have taken them in and internalized them and really truly believed that that is what I’ve been doing all along.

But I was wrong.

Well, maybe that’s too harsh on myself. (Wouldn’t be the first time.) Maybe it’s more that I was only capable of understanding or implementing it to a certain degree, and now I’ve leveled up, and a new understanding of it is unlocked. It’s harder to see it that way, and much easier to believe that I just had. It. Wrong. This. Whole. Time. But I do actually believe that “everyone is doing the best they can,” because well, if I could do better, I would.

Regardless: these teachings that I’ve been reading for years have led to the habits and techniques I have used over and over as coping strategies for my intense moods, thinking that I knew what they meant.

Some of those include:

  • journaling all the feelings out
  • journaling all my feelings out and telling elaborate stories about them
  • journaling all my feelings out and telling elaborate stories about them and reaffirming those stories any time I re-wrote my feelings
  • journaling all my feelings out and telling elaborate stories about them on the internet for an audience (that has continued to grow over the 12 years I’ve been doing this)
  • talking to friends for hours and going over every little detail of the scenario
  • chatting over telnet chatrooms, ICQ, message boards, Gchat, and iMessage to friends and strangers disclosing every little bit about my feelings that I can think of
  • reading books and listening to podcasts that get down into the wound and poke poke poke at it
  • internalizing the feelings and thoughts and beliefs into part of my identity and forming a self-image around them
  • self-harm
  • seeking experiences that raise the chemicals in my brain so I feel better, but that often results in a bigger crash
  • seeking comfort food & drinks & sometimes drugs to feel better, which has led to all sorts of gut health issues, which they are now discovering is all the more linked to mental health and stability
  • to paraphrase Brene Brown: I’m not an alcoholic, but I am a numb-aholic; I’ll use all sorts of things to numb out and not feel, in the name of coping and managing my feelings

I have absolutely confused coping and treatment — coping being the thing that will make me feel better in the moment, to lift me out of whatever particular hole I’m in so that I can actually be in a better frame of mind to make decisions and connection, and treatment being techniques during episodes and outside of episodes which will ultimately support getting better over time, though they often take more work in the moment.

I always thought I was “sitting with the hurt” while I journaled, talked it through with multiple people, called in sick to work or didn’t get anything done because I was too flooded with feelings, and focused brooding over feelings. That wasn’t the same as pushing the feelings away, denying they were even happening, and pushing through my day to day obligations pretending the feelings weren’t even there! So of course I was “sitting with the hurt,” right?

I mean, maybe? Maybe pushing feelings away is a whole other level of it, and what I’ve been doing is a version of “sitting with it” and feeling the discomfort and pain more than the denial and complete numbness is. So maybe I should give myself some credit here?

But what I now know is this:

I worked with some good therapists in 2017. I saw someone specializing in early childhood trauma, and someone else who primarily worked with mindfulness and trauma. For the first time, I started seeing the emotional reactions I was having as a “part” of me, in a family systems theory way. I started to be able to dialogue with that part — just a little at first, and then more.

This is kind of the stereotypical “inner child” work, and before 2017 I would have told you that I have so done that, I know all about it, I’m so over it, that’s not what I’m going through, it’s not relevant to this now. Ugh. I’m even a little embarrassed to admit that I haven’t already gone through that and triumphed — I mean, I’m 39, you know? I’ve been doing these kind of self-examination healing awareness processes since I was 14. So SO frustrating that I haven’t gone further already!

But. Okay, okay, that’s another judgement place: for whatever reason, I’m at a new place with it now. It’s okay. Maybe other people are over it before they’re 22 or whatever. I wasn’t. This is a new edge for me. Trying to let that be and be kind about it.

So I hit a breaking point in December, 2017. I’ve written some about what’s been going on between me and rife, and all of the old things and relationship trauma it’s been bringing up for me (someday I should go back and read all the posts on it, there aren’t all that many, and figure out what I have or haven’t written about — there’s so much missing, I’m not sure where to start now to keep telling you what’s been happening). In December, I had a “dark night of the soul” kind of month. I had started to make some progress and could, occasionally, watch myself reacting when I was getting triggered, rather than being completely identified with and consumed by the triggered feeling state. But those states were still so constant — sometimes one thing would set me off for a day or two, sometimes a week, sometimes longer.

It became clear to me, though, that having some space between the “adult” functional self part of me and that part of me that was having a trauma reaction was the key to softening the impact of the trauma reaction on me — and on rife. I kept studying, therapizing, and practicing mindfulness as much as possible. My understanding is that cultivating that distance takes a lot of time, so it wouldn’t happen quickly, and that constant, diligent practice is what helps. My intention was to develop a stronger sense of that adult-functioning-part, understand the trauma-reaction (-child) part more, and cultivate my mind’s ability to be less identified and have more distance between the two parts, so that I could not do some of my own self-soothing and not be so overwhelmed and controlled by the triggered response.

One major tool that came to mind here is meditation. At its best, it cultivates the ability to watch the thoughts the mind is putting forth and both stay calm and let the thought go without taking it too seriously and identifying with it. I’ve been studying meditation since high school, but I only really understood how to do it and started a regular practice of it when I was in New York and learning from Sharon Salzberg, then studying at the Interdependence Project. At that same time, I was diving into work with the crew that is now Body Trust, and that too encouraged and bolstered my study of meditation. Body Trust has in the past hosted twice-weekly online morning meditations, and I started those back up in January 2018 — we’ve been going ever since, and I’ve only missed a few, and often meditate more often than twice a week. Still aiming for daily, though that’s only occasionally.

I definitely think that cultivating that practice helped.

In January or February, can’t quite recall, I started diving in to the tarot practice that I’ve been writing about quite a bit, and tried a new experiment with journaling: rather than writing out my feeeeeeelings and telling myself my own version of what is happening, over and over, and seeing the writing which made the story even more true, and sharing the story which made the story even more true, I would try to journal less and write more, and I would use tarot to journal. This helped with distance too, and with softening my identification with the stories. Tarot kicked my ass, man. It told me all sorts of truths that I don’t think I would have come to otherwise, and shook me up out of my habits in ways that really supported the changes.

In March, things came to a head again. (Am I the only one who thinks about pimples when I hear that phrase? I should use a different phrase.) It was another “dark night of the soul,” or maybe it was a different kind. I was facing some decisions about moving forward, and the best path of the three major options was in the long run the least painful, but in the short run felt like dying. Felt like annihilation. Felt like the destruction of everything I knew and loved and trusted. Yeah, that all sounds very dramatic — but that’s how trauma talks and feels, especially when it is being threatened with healing or change. It wants to grip so tightly that it stays right where it is, thank you very much, doing its very important job of protection.

So I tried a new thing — or rather, I tried the same thing I thought I was doing, but I tried it with new tools: I sat still with the pain of it. With the death and annihilation and destruction. I sat in this chair I am sitting in right now and I watched the pain happen. I saw the reactions. Sometimes it took all my effort to sit still. Sometimes I slid down onto the floor and sobbed for an hour. I could barely think about anything else. I woke up and gasped for breath and started crying immediately. It would hit me at odd moments and I found myself on the bathroom floor, on the floor in the shower, on the floor in the closet holding a shirt I was going to put on.

rife wanted to help. I know he did. I was pretty sure he couldn’t. I just needed to feel into it, all the way, and to watch myself feel it, and to be okay with it happening.

This is just going to happen, I’d tell myself. This is just how it is. I don’t know how long this will hurt. Maybe forever. But everyone says that if I sit with it and watch it and soften toward it, it will change. It’s been one day, it’s been two days, it’s been three days and I haven’t seen it change, but what else can I do? This is the best option. This is the way forward.

Sometimes I could say hello. Hello, you who are suffering, you who are in pain. What do you need? Can I hold you? I can tell it hurts so much. I see you hurting. You are safe, you are safe.

Sometimes all I could do was whisper, “I am so angry. I am so sad. I can’t believe this is my best option. I am so angry that I am in this situation, that this is what I have to do to go forward.”

On the fourth day, I was home alone for a long evening, trying to take care of myself while in a moderately triggered state. I sat still for a while. I probably cried for a while. I tried to tell myself some of the little mantra sayings that I’ve collected over the years, the deep beliefs I have in moving through difficulty and joy and making meaning — like: raise your heart. What is the hidden gift? You already have what you need. Resisting pain causes more suffering. You already have what you need. And I got this instinct to go play with the little scraps of paper I’d started to collect all of those sayings on, and somehow, I was divinely driven to create this oracle deck. It’s still a very mysterious process to me; I’d never made anything like them before, and they came together with such perfect moments — like I had exactly 20 blank cards, and I randomly pulled exactly 20 images out of this pile of magazine clippings, and the sayings and the pictures matched up completely.

And the sobbing stopped. Those moments of absolute annihilation and terror stopped. I mean, not really completely, but for the moment — that particular crisis shifted.

It’s not like I now feel like I’m a pro at “sitting with it” and I can just do that and things are fine. But my reactions have extremely shifted, and I understand this skill and technique and what the aphorisms really mean in a way I never have before.

It feels amazing, really — to suddenly really get a concept that I thought I’d been working with for years, for decades. I didn’t know that I didn’t know how it really worked, or could work. I thought I’d been practicing it all this time. It’s still hard not to beat myself up about that, or not to be angry at the world for not telling me sooner that I wasn’t doing it “right.” But for whatever reason, this spring was when I was actually ready to hear it, and now, finally, all the different threads of work and insight and study that I’d been doing came together, and something is … better.

The Mystical and The Profane

In late July, I spent five nights near Albuquerque, New Mexico, at a zen center on a hot springs. Body Trust held our fifth annual Portals of Pleasure advanced retreat for women and non-binary folks, and this year, I co-facilitated.

It was mystical. I spent a lot of time tapped in, channeling, connected. A hollow bone so spirit could fill me. Full-spectrum lit up from inside.

I don’t know if any of these things make sense. I live in fucking California now, and I see (what I judge as) superficial woo everywhere … I have a lot of critique. But I grew up “second generation woo,” as I like to say sometimes. My mom is more into astrology than I am, we celebrated the wheel of the year, and focused more on the mysticism of nature than any religion or beliefs. The spiritual system and lineage I work with now is more of a science than a religion, working with the body, health, connection, pleasure, being stable and centered, food as medicine, and experimenting with energy.

This is our 10th annual retreat, and each year has been a little different. After my spiritual revelation experience in March, I’ve been very tapped in and leaning hard on my spiritual practices, and I really wanted to bring some witchy, mystical — meaning, tapping into the mystery — kinds of things. We spent the five days exploring the idea of wildness, re-wilding, de-taming, un-taming ourselves, opening the body, rooting down into the earth, resourcing ourselves, re-sourcing as in returning to and feeling the source, and exploring desires. The concepts change every year, but a lot of the exercises are the same. I hesitate to go into them here, mostly because a workshop is often a very altered space … we create a container, an energy body, a field of energy and collaboration in which we play. We do rituals, experiments with our bodies, intentions, connection, touch.

I also really wanted to bring forward and teach rituals about dominance and submission, more play with polarities, and more penetration and reception.

All of that — and, of course, the intentions and brilliant teachings of the other facilitators and assistants and “circle technologist” who consulted about group dynamics — wove together, and it was one of the most potent years yet.

I’m struggling to portray what it meant to me, and to describe my personal experiences — spiritual breakthrough experiences? Mystical experiences? Experiences where I felt god? When I got back, and was high and blurry and open and strong and creative and in touch and light and fluffy, a friend asked: do you ever write about this? And I realize, I don’t, not really. At least, I haven’t for a long time. I did, a few years back, but honestly it was a little odd for folks who know me as Sinclair to show up at one of those workshops. They’re deeply intimate, though not really personal, which is a difficult thing to explain to folks. Some people have no problem meeting me in that space, but it has also at times felt like too much.

When I was writing about it more, I was still working with the Body Electric School, but things got very complicated for me in 2012 when my dad died and Kristen and I broke up and I moved to Oakland. Around then, the group of us who worked with Body Electric broke off to create Body Trust, and Sugarbutch and Body Trust started feeling more like two separate projects.

But as Patreons know, I’m still deeply involved with Body Trust, writing blog posts every month, working on our podcast, working on our books, and leading workshops. We have been working more on ephemera than in-person workshops lately, but we still lead this big deep dive of Portals.

If you want to be on the list and know what we’re doing, sign up and you’ll get invites to our workshops and such. The same co-facilitator and I are planning to do a tantra & SM workshop this fall/winter, and I have dreams of leading an embodied writing retreat soon.

A quick PS …

I’ve been reading and thinking and talking a lot about cultural appropriation, and examining my studying of Tantra. The lineage I am learning from is Kashmir Shivism Tantra, passed down from Swami Rama, former head of the Himalayan Institute. A few ‘generations’ back from me, my teachers began to queer things and translate them into different terms. Sometimes I’ve called it “holistic non-binary Tantra,” or “queer Tantra,” or, lately, “neo-classical Tantra” (though calling it that doesn’t so much highlight the queer af parts). I’m not sure how I’m going to go forward with my public talkings about Tantra, but I do know I’m going to remain a devoted student.

Kintsugi

She fingered the teacup at the sink. Hands wet, dishes stacked waiting, overhead light off but the light under the cabinets on which made for dramatic shadows and underbelly.

The teacup was her grandmother’s. Used to be. She didn’t put it in the sink anymore because of the porcelain on porcelain danger. The sliver of gold around the rim and edge of the saucer were still the ring she loved most, even since the one on her finger. Her lips touched it and she was kissing like King Midas was touching, she was drinking like the sorceress at the waterfall. The way it balanced in between her fingers felt like a fine Japanese knife, like a feather compared to a cairn of rocks, like the sacrum loose in the pelvis.

The rest of it was white. It still held it’s gleam, though it could use a deep polish by one of those harsher chemicals. The glass of the glaze was still diligently strong, protecting everything after all these years, protecting hot sweet poured flow like a mountain cradles the lava.

She used to beg her grandmother to get it down from the high glass shelf of the cabinet and let her hold it. Gently, gently, with two hands, only when she was sitting on her bottom, only when her hands were clean and steady. She learned to keep her hands clean and steady. Learned to ask the way her grandmother wanted to hear. Learned to remember the settled feeling in her belly even when it wasn’t in her hand.

The hairline crack was still visible. He fixed the break, the fracture that separated it into half-moons, splitting into duality, no longer whole. He was as precise as she was. He researched how to repair fine porcelain on youtube. He had tears in his eyes as he mixed the chemicals to make the sealant, and again when he smoothed the outside until she couldn’t even feel it with her fingertips. He presented it to her again. He gave it back to her. He as much as raised it in both hands on bended knee.

There was nothing to do but go forward. She cradled it in both hands, careful not to have too much soap. It was reparable, she told herself. The sealant was made from gold, too. A fine river-shape down the side where her thumb sat. It was stronger than it had ever been before. But she knew the line was there. She will always know it is there. And someday it will be more beautiful than it was before.

Protected: knife of wands

This content is password protected. To view it please enter your password below:

Protected: purple

This content is password protected. To view it please enter your password below:

Protected: four: mental power

This content is password protected. To view it please enter your password below:

Protected: stalking prey

This content is password protected. To view it please enter your password below:

Protected: thirty nine

This content is password protected. To view it please enter your password below:

Protected: oracle cards

This content is password protected. To view it please enter your password below: