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(Re)reading The Ethical Slut: Day 0

ethical-slut
On Twitter the other day a friend of mine asked for recommendations on books on polyamory.  I saw tweets giving several recommendations, including, several times, the book The Ethical Slut.  This intrigued me (as mention of the book always does) and I started following the exchanges, stating that I’d like to read along as a blog project.  In the course of the discussion, we found out there was a new (2009) edition.  I decided to order the new edition.

My reasons were complicated.

I first read The Ethical Slut in 1997 (I’ve used the original cover image), the year it came out, which was something of a watershed year for me.  It was the year I turned 30.  The year I left my then husband.  The year I found the newsgroup ASS. The year I began talking with my first play partner (though not actually playing).  The year Paul and I started first emailing then talking on the phone.

I was eager for information, eager for a different way to see the world.  One of the women I got to know on the newsgroup was Janet Hardy.  She’s one one of the authors of The Ethical Slut and always seemed to give good advice.  So I ordered the book and read it. Carefully. Making notes in the margin.

I’m about to crack the cover of the new edition.  But before I do, I want to remember what I took from my first reading of the book (or what I think I took from my reading of the book) some sixteen years ago.

What I remember it being about was negotiation.  About trying to know how I feel and communicating that to those I’m intimate with.  I remember reading about the idea of jealousy not being something that would kill me.  About it being something I could feel, understand where it was coming from and let pass. About the importance of honesty, even when what we have to tell our partners will hurt them.

I remembering the dizzying complexity of the calendaring discussed, my wondering how those involved ever got anything done or ever had any time to themselves.

I remember wondering if I could be polyamorous, if I wanted to be, if Paul did.  I remember the thrilling possibilities of if.

What I discovered is that I can play with other people and it doesn’t change how I feel about Paul or my relationship with him one way or the other.  This has always been true.  But I experienced fierce and painful jealousy when Paul first played with others, especially when we were still long distance, still only seeing each other one month in six.  This seemed unfair, because intellectually I wanted him to explore, to enjoy play partner friendships the way I did.  Still, I hurt when he had feelings for someone else, was not able to believe it didn’t diminish what we had together.

Now, I’m not very interested in finding other people for myself. I have good friends, people I play with when we’re able (which isn’t very often).  But on the other hand, it’s not painful when Paul plays with other people.  What I feel, when I don’t just feel happy about it, are stabs of insecurity, not a sense of being diminished, but a wondering if I can possibly be as wonderful as this other person.  I don’t like myself for feeling this way and try not to indulge it or give it too much space in my brain.  I don’t want these feelings to control my behavior or Paul’s.

So these are my thoughts as I’m about to crack the new edition.  I hear there’s homework in this one.

Want to read along?

People who are reading along:

Marie – Life, Lemons and Spanking

Boneheaded OR Where is The Punishment Book?

Some of you may be wondering what's happened to The Punishment Book and why all the old links are directing to a porn site.  There's an answer.  I made a dumb mistake and lost the domain. 

How did I do this, you ask?

Last year I decided to move my domains from GoDaddy to another host registration because, well, there are a lot of reasons to leave GoDaddy.  Among the domains I moved was The Punishment Book (which I've had since 2005 — a long time in the world of blogs).  However, it seems somehow I only moved one of the PB domains (we had the .org and .net both) and the one I moved isn't the .org one, which was the one that was mapped.  

Following so far?

Since I generally register the blogs for two years when I do them, I wasn't even thinking about it expiring this year.  But expire it did, in January, as I found out today.  In addition, the PB has been sadly neglected of late.  But Dykegirl emailed the PB authors yesterday to ask what had happened to the site.  I went and discovered the crappy porn redirect I mentioned above.  When I went to check on the domain, I discovered it had a new owner. 

A number of emails and phone calls later and what's become clear is that in January, the day the domain expired, someone else bought it.  They then kept the old domain mapping active until far after the 45 day grace period during which time I could have reclaimed the domain.  Sure they'll sell it back to me for a price — too high a price for a site that doesn't exist to make any sort of money — or s/he gets our old traffic.  I hope they choke on it.

Right now I'm working to move the content, which fortunately hasn't been lost, to the domain punishmentbook.net.  The site will be there by the end of the week  is up now.  Some great people out there have already volunteered to help by changing the links on their sites and I'll be busy doing my part to make the change known.

To everyone whose ever written a single comment on or about the PB and most of all to the other PB authors, both current and former, I'm sorry this happened. I'll make up for it the only way I know how, by writing more and encouraging others to write.     

What I Wished For

[Note: this is how I remember the conversations with Paul.  He may have different memories.]

Heading home yesterday on the bus, I posted a Tweet along the lines of

The hottest idea I can think of right now is someone giving me a bath, washing my hair & putting me in pjs. & beating me. A bit.

My thought was we might get to play a bit this weekend when my dad goes away. When I got home, I played some Oblivion (more on that another day), Paul solved the dinner problem with a run to Carl's, and I snuck off to take a nice bath.

I was just undressing when there was a knock at the door. Struggling into my robe, I felt annoyed. Is there no alone time to be had in the apartment? But when I opened the door it wasn't my dad suggesting ice-cream. It was Paul.

"if you leave the door unlocked I'll come in in a bit & wash your hair."

Mmm. Nice.

"but only if I also cane you before bed."

I protested quietly. My dad was home.

Paul countered. My dad after all sleeps soundly. And the small cane is silent.

I left the door unlocked.

Paul came in and carefully and throughly washed and conditioned my hair, rinsing it with many pitchers of water.  I sat in the bath, feeling the warm water run over me, feeling all cared for and clean.

"Clean pjs tonight" he said as he left. I almost retorted that I *always* wear clean pjs as he must know from the laundry pile, but instead was quiet, pouting only to myself.  I thought about being caned with my dad in the other room.  It felt risky and naughty and I knew, knew that Paul was serious.  

Dressed for bed, I sat through some National Geographic program on the Pope (!!!) until my dad announced he was tired and going to bed.  Paul was awfully quick to agree with him he would be tired after so much driving.  We watched a bit more of the program which seemed designed to annoy Paul.  

Finally he reminded me to take my meds (I'd already done so), do any final bedtime things and then go and stand facing the closet. This because I've managed to fill the corner with stuff to take to the dry cleaners.  

When he came in he went to the closet.  I heard the rattle of the rattan canes, the quiet swish as he found the right one and the he took down my pjs and put me across his knee (this is a "nursery cane" made for otk use).  I was warned that my hands would be pinned behind my back if I couldn't keep them in front of me.

The thing about being caned otk is that while it isn't as hard as a longer heavier cane, there can be a lot more strokes a lot more quickly.  I gasped (quietly) and drummed my feet at the sting. Paul put up with my wiggling for a bit and then pinned my legs with his.  The sting went from painful to close to unbearable.  Tears clouded my eyes and I longed to wiggle away or make noise or something.  

But between the strokes, I could hear my dad snoring.

It wasn't a long caning but seemed to go on and on.

I slept insanely well last night. This morning, no marks at all.  

 

Crunchy Oatmeal Raisin Walnuts Cookies

I made oatmeal cookies last night and some friends on Twitter asked for the recipe.  Here it is.  This makes a sort of crunchy oatmeal cookie — for chewier, use all brown sugar.
oatmeal-cookies
Ingredients  
  • 1 cup of flour
  • 3/4 teaspoon of baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon of baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon of salt
  • 1 cup of butter (softened to room temperature)
  • 1 cup of white sugar
  • 1/2 cup of brown sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon of cinnamon
  • 3 cups of old fashioned rolled oats
  • 1 cup of raisins
  • 1 cup of chopped roasted walnuts
Instructions
  1. Heat oven to 350 degrees. Line two cookie sheets with baking parchment.
  2. Roast walnuts until fragrant.
  3. Sift together flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt.
  4. Beat together butters and sugar on low; increase speed until creamed and fluffy.
  5. Add the egg, vanilla and cinnamon. Scrape bowl as needed
  6. On low speed, add dry ingredients until mixed.  Then add oats.  Finally, mix in walnuts and raisins.
  7. Drop on pan by tablespoon in batches of six cookies.
  8. Bake for 14 – 16 minutes, turning sheet halfway through baking.
  9. Cool for 5 minutes on sheet and then remove to cooling rack
  10. Enjoy!

 

Christmas is over, again

your-first-doctor
Christmas is finally and officially over in our house.  The tree is at the compost center, the decorations are boxed and put away and the furniture is back in its usual alignment.  I feel a little sad about it, mostly because it was a great Christmas.  The Doctor Who Christmas special was amazing  My family was mostly great fun (though my mom carries with her a stress force field).  I got some wonderful presents, including a Doctor Who t-shirt with the all-too true “You Never Forget Your First Doctor” warning and a radio controlled tarantula. And people liked the cookies I liked baking.  It’s always hard to box up all the lights and joy.

Still, as Paul pointed out, it’s only 11 months until I can pull it all out again.  Happy 2011 everyone!

Soothing Addiction: Time Team

time-team
I’m not an easy sell when it comes T.V.  I have a short attention span that leaves me unable to stand commercials without wandering away and losing the thread of the program.  At the same time, if I’m going to watch television in the evening it has to be pretty mellow (or at least not disturbing) or I’ll end up hyped up and won’t be able to get to sleep.  There’s only so much Doctor Who out there so I generally either watch Paul playing PS3 games while reading or watch PBS.

Recently, Paul turned me on to a great British show that has the perfect blend of mellow and interesting.  It’s Time Team, produced by Channel 4.  Time Team’s premise is an archeological dig, generally done somewhere in the UK.  It’s hosted by Tony Robinson (who I remember best from Black Adder). Part of what makes Time Team such good television is the archeological team has only three days to dig the site.

What makes the show work for me? There’s very little at stake on a global level, but the people involved, whether local archeological buffs or the team themselves, care passionately about both the dig itself and history / archeology in general.  Tony Robinson is both an enthusiast and experienced at making good television. The team is made of characters who are engaging without being parodies. The locations are generally beautiful and interesting.  And I’m still always impressed and dazzled at the specialists ability to tell a bit of Roman pottery from a shard of modern flower pot.

Look for it.

Bonnie’s Question: Choosing Spanking

[I didn't get a chance to answer this Sunday, but it was such an interesting question I thought I'd reply here and maybe crosspost to the PB.]

This week at her brunch, Bonnie asked: 

Have you or your partner been given a choice between receiving a spanking or something else and chose the spanking? If so, how does the act of consciously choosing to be spanked alter the spankee's mindset?

In discipline or punishment terms, I always choose the not-spanking option.  It's not often that Paul gives me a choice — a large part of what works in our dynamic is that I'm not in control, that I don't get to decide.  But when I've had the option of writing lines or something non-physical I think I've always chosen it.  This is because for me the idea that I could be spanked is the powerful one, more powerful even than the act of being spanked.  

I suppose in reality most of the time I'm being punished I've chosen to be spanked in the sense that I could always opt out.  Probably.  I've never tried to though.  The times I've asked to be spanked / punished for something are few and far between.  Those have been very submissive moments and during the punishments I've found it easier to accept the pain and not struggle against it. 

Play is different.  I do ask for spankings sometimes in play / everyday life.  Those times, when I get them which is almost always, I feel a lovely contentment and gratitude for my partner.  Best of all?  When he pounces on me and spanks me just because he wants to — those times I feel attractive and well loved. 

Holidays: Weekend With Dad

After whining about my father living with us, I sort of feel like I need to write this for a bit of balance.  The fact is, stressful though it may be, I love spending time with my dad, especially when, like this weekend, I want to be busy but don't have a lot of direction in terms of what I want to do.  

Last week was stressful.  I found out at the last minute about a post-doc I wanted to apply for and basically spent every waking moment between Monday and Wednesday night writing a research proposal for it.  Thursday and Friday were recovery days as I'd stressed myself past all comfortable limits.  It's a real long shot but it'll be awesome if I get it. I'm just vaguely proud of myself for getting the proposal in at all.

This weekend my dad and I spent pretty much every waking moment together.  I got up early on Saturday, made coffee for us both.  We then went to visit my great-aunt who's recovering for surgery for sinus cancer.  After a late breakfast with her went went shopping for supplies for soup and over to visit my brother who was home watching the Oregon games.  When we got home, I made nachos, dad made tuna salad and we watched the USC / UCLA game.  Sunday I slept in until 9, then dad made me bacon and eggs for breakfast.  I turned on the computer and researched making cocido (a traditional Mexican soup).  He took me to the pharmacy then did some work for a couple hours.  We made soup, went for a walk and made Christmas plans.  In the evening I helped him find gifts online for his clients.  Finally we watched Time Team and then Antique Roadshow before I collapsed into bed.  

I had a great weekend.  Everything was fun, I felt productive and wasn't worried that either my father or I were driving Paul (who spent a lot of the weekend working) too crazy.  Most satisfying?  I heard from my mom that my dad had had a great weekend and was enthusing to her how much he'd enjoyed spending time with me. 

Next weekend Dad will be in Oregon with my mom.  After that they'll both be here until early January.  As much as I love having time alone and alone with Paul, I'm looking forward to being surrounded by my family at Christmas — especially at having my brother and his family and my parents over to our apartment for Christmas Eve.  It feels happy and right.

Holiday Meme: Question 3

Favourite childhood holiday memory?

When I was nine years old, I wanted a telescope for Christmas.  This was an expensive gift to ask for — not on par with a bike (we got those every 4 – 5 years as we outgrew them) but a lot more than was usually spent at Christmas.  Little did I know that my parents saw this as me asking for an educational present and felt they had to get it.  I didn't believe in Santa at this point and really didn't expect to get one, it was more a wish than a request as far as I was concerned.

But when we got back from midnight mass, when Santa traditionally came in our house (though I didn't believe, my six year old sister was another matter), there it was, all shiny black and white, already set up next to the tree with a red bow around it.  I remember standing in my robe and pajamas looking at the suddenly nearby moon, my dad next to me trying to see if we could see Venus (I'm not sure we ever did).  

That wonderful present should have an amazing story about how I grew up with an understanding of astronomy or physics, but it doesn't.  I was a bookish child and my love would always be literature.  But I still remember the beauty of the moon on that bright cold Christmas night.  It was a perfect moment.

Holiday Meme: Question 2

Do you hang mistletoe?

I have in the past, but like so many things, I have mixed feelings about it.  I love the way it looks, very festive bit of green with a little red ribbon.  However, I've got some negative memories of being embarrassed as a teen by being caught standing (trying not to catch anyone's attention) only to have it pointed out publicly I was "under the mistletoe" and clearly wanted to be kissed.  Since everyone in the room was either related to me (ugh!) or the son of parents' friends (who was now clearly embarrassed too and maybe even thought I'd set this up (cringe and double ugh!), this was not a happy experience.

So much as I love the way mistletoe looks, I've generally refrained from hanging any.