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We are three adults living in a polyamorous triad family. The content here is intended for an adult audience. If you are not an adult, please leave now.


More Medical Wonders

We spent the day Thursday at the local hospital.  This time, the issue was irregular heart rhythms that were interfering with the efficiency of the heart.

The problem was one that had been being tracked for a number of years, and it finally became pronounced enough to warrant medical intervention.  The procedure is called "cardiac ablation," and it involves targeted electrical cautery to nodes in the heart muscle that cause the heart to beat irregularly.

There were difficult moments through the course of the very long, 12-hour day, but in the end, everyone came home to a night in our own beds.  We are two days into the prescribed 72-hour recuperative period during which activity is pretty limited.  Some pretty impressive bruising at the point where the catheters were inserted, and some achy soreness.  And tiredness.  But the news is generally good, and we are glad.


Doctor Grrrrrrrr and Doctor Ahhhhhhh

I had two medical appointments scheduled today -- one at 1:00 and another at 2:30. You may already have a sense of where this is going.

The first appointment was with my migraine specialist.  She is very particular about appointment times.  In the 14 or so months that I have seen this doctor, she has made it clear that it is imperative that I be on time for appointments.  On the one occasion that I arrived five minutes late for an appointment (due to very heavy traffic), she was quite seriously and vocally UNHAPPY with me.

Today, I arrived for my 1:00 appointment at 12:55.  I checked in with the front desk, filled out the usual paperwork, and was shown into an examining room.  The doctor was sitting in her office, clearly eating her lunch, as I passed by on the way to the exam room.  In the exam room, we waited... and waited... and waited...  There was no indication, based on the sounds in the hallway, of anyone else in the office.  None of the usual noises that go with physicians going in and out of exam rooms.  At 2:00, we gathered up our things, opened the exam room door, and told the appointment scheduler that we were sorry, but due to another appointment, we were unable to wait any longer.  The doctor, popped out of her office, but then popped right back in.  She said not a single word.  Her office staff apologized and made me another appointment, ten days hence.  I was, needless to say, furious.  Smoke pouring out of the ears furious.  There are really no viable options to this one, or I'd be looking for another doctor.

The 2:30 appointment was with my glaucoma specialist.  Yes, I do have a whole stable of "specialists."  Appointments with the glaucoma specialist are hugely stressful.  There is never any good news with glaucoma.  The best possible outcome of any appointment is that things have not gotten worse.  Today's appointment was a lengthy one including a visual fields test and a set of photographs of the back of my eyes.  With all of that done, we were taken in to get ready for the doctor.  Getting ready involves a pretty standard eye exam (can you read these letters?), checks of the intraoccular pressures in both eyes, and then drops to dilate the eyes.  Back to the waiting room to allow the dilating drops to do their thing.  It was probably 20 minutes later that we were escorted back to see the doctor.

Glaucoma specialists speak their own language.  The doctor comes in with an assistant; goes to the computer where he reviews the visual fields results and the imaging results; compares everything to previous data; and dictates all sorts of cryptic notes.  That all takes probably 5-10 minutes.  Then he does his own exam, looking at the backs of my eyes, and rechecking the pressures.  Finally, he declares that everything seems to be "stable!"  Pressures, visual field, and imagery -- all stable!!!!  Whoo Hoo!  Stable is like winning the gold medal in downhill skiing at the Olympics.  I could have hugged him, but no one hugs glaucoma doctors.  It just isn't done.

So.  One totally obnoxious, annoying doctor appointment.   One really good doctor appointment.  What a day.




I've been contemplating the path I've taken, in terms of BDSM, to where I find myself now.  To make any sense of that, I need to rehash my meanderings through the various down-side labels that I've used for my part inside of power relationships.  Now, before anyone jumps all over me, I know that my view of all of that is particular to my experience, and it may not match up with your views.  I get that, and I'm really fine with it.  I am trying to sort my own path out here.  Not trying to be prescriptive.  So, if you can, try and be patient with me.  Or enter the conversation.  Or just click on to the next place.  It's all good.

In the BDSM bestiary, there are labels applied to roles and we are inclined to cuss and discuss the varieties of "beast" described  by all the words we use.  On the "down" side of the power based relational dynamic, we find (among a widely shaded pantheon of others) bottoms, submissves, and slaves.  In general, those three are viewed as nesting subsets; each part of the larger set that umbrellas over it.  Hence:
  • All submissives are bottoms, but not all bottoms are submissive.
  • All slaves are submissive, but not all submissives are slaves.

What else, one might be tempted to ask, is there to know?  Pick your "level," and you are ready to "play" at this thing we call BDSM.  Except, of course, it is never, ever that simple.  Well, maybe it is.  For some people.

We BDSM types borrowed the notion of "bottom" from the world of gay men, where the word "bottom" denotes the passive, receptive partner -- especially in anal/oral sex.  Appropriated by the, not-necessarily-gay, BDSM community, the term is generally understood to mean the passive and receptive partner:  the one who submits, suffers, obeys, serves.  In my experience, bottoms are BDSM players who take on the receptive role for a negotiated, pre-defined, agreed to period of time (a scene or an evening, or a weekend).  Some who enjoy the part of "bottom" play regularly with one or several partners who take on the role of "top."  It is a complementary relational arrangement that tends to work for both partners when they can reach a balanced understanding that allows them to play congenially.

The submissive is, most often, a bottom who enjoys giving up some measure of personal autonomy to a partner who will accept the responsibility for those parts of her/his life -- the dominant.  While it is common for bottoms to be passive within the context of BDSM play, the submissive's willingness to allow the dominant to control what happens may extend to a few or many parts of life.  "It is not just play," or, "I'm not just submissive in the bedroom," are the claims made by many submissives.  It is pretty easy, especially if one is new, young, or inexperienced, to believe that being submissive is a level up from being "just a bottom."

Slaves are those who are willing to turn over all of the control, within whatever negotiated limits may be specified at the beginning of the relationship, to become the property of a master.  No rights.  No property.  No options.  No way out.  Slavery is, arguably, the most extreme form of bottoming.  It is also, in some weirdly convoluted sense, the most prestigious manifestation of bottoming.

I came into the BDSM lifestyle, thinking that I might, maybe, possibly be submissive.  I wasn't all that comfortable with the idea.  It really didn't fit with my sense of who I'd worked very hard to be in my life, but it did seem to answer to something that I wanted in some deep, shame-filled, neglected part of my being.  So, I tried to learn how to be submissive.  I read a lot.  I corresponded on lists, trying to learn from those who seemed to know more than I did.  And I wrestled with my inner voices (and a cadre of inner demons) until I finally came to some kind of internal sense of peace over the whole business.  I submitted; giving up control; giving up choices; sinking into silence; swallowing the words and the ideas behind the words; making my mind to conform itself to another's.

And I kept reading, learning, or so I thought, learning to submit; learning to be a better submissive.  I steered a course that avoided the depths where it might be said that I was "topping from the bottom," and so, from day to day and week to week, I said less and less.  Pushed down the thinking that might have given rise to opinions and ideas that would run counter to those of the ones to whom I'd given control.  Except the thoughts were still there.  The ideas never really went away.  I was quiet on the surface while the chatter in my head pushed me further from the true connection that I sought.

Somewhere along the way, I came to believe that the "best" of the downside roles was that of "slave."  Now, in retrospect, I question who, exactly, I thought it would be "best" for.  For him?  It wasn't his idea; not in the beginning, and probably never once in all the time we practiced that particular mode of D/s relating.  I do not think that I was ever "slave" in his perceptions except when putting that notion out on the table might win him an argument; get me to acquiesce to whatever it was that he wanted in the moment.  For me?  For me the idea of belonging totally to someone meant a trade off -- I would give up all the rights given to any adult human if only...; if only doing that would give me safety and security and the assurance that I'd be wanted and treasured, cared for and protected.  The child I was wanted all of that, even as I made choices from the perspective of a grown woman.  He of course knew nothing of that bargain.  It was all in my head.  He never agreed to any of that.  Never made any of those commitments or promises.  That bit of negotiating never happened anywhere except in my own mind.  What came about later ought to really be laid at my door.  Negotiating is not a solitaire game.

Which brings me back around to the "beginning;" if it can be said that bottoming is the "beginning" of all of it.  I have never spent any time bottoming.  It seems to me now, that bottoming is purer if not simpler than its more laden corollaries.  I do not pretend to be any sort of expert at bottoming.  Just bottoming.  I am new to this.  I bottom when he is willing to top; and I do it for me.  Just me.  And I do not feel guilty or selfish about that.  Surprisingly.  I think, when he is choosing to top, he is doing it mostly for him.  The way he wants to do it.  He may be aware of what is happening on my end, but it really isn't his concern.  He is involved, in the event, with getting what he wants out of it all.  As am I.  I used to white knuckle my way through sessions because it was all about him, and for me to SAY anything about what I liked or didn't like or wanted or didn't want -- all of that fell into the realm of "topping from the bottom."  So, he topped, and got whatever he got out of it.  And I suffered.  Because I was trying to be a good submissive; a good slave.  Now, I bottom.  I play because I like to play, and if it gets too intense or there is some part of it that is not good, I say so -- because I want what I want.  Too.

I still take care of him on a number of levels.  I still listen to what he wants and needs.  I still treat him with respect and love.  He still watches what he wants to watch on television, and he seldom thinks to ask me about that.  And that is OK.  With him and with me.  There at those bits of submission and slavery that work for us, and I don't feel the need to reject those parts of who we are.  But it is just the fact that some of that was wrong for us.  Unhealthy for us.  Destructive for us.  Better gone -- a bit of interpersonal history to be noted and recognized and left to move on along the currents of time.

Perhaps it is true in BDSM as in other facets of our lives, that none of us are all one thing or another.  Most of us are conglomerations, mixtures, combos, collages that are built of the parts that work from the ideas and experiences that we encounter along the way.  Spiritually, politically, physically, sexually, intellectually, personally, inter-personally, we take what works; what fits, and leave the rest behind.  I've tried on the trappings of submission and slavery.  For a time, I claimed those labels for myself.  No more.  At present, the best I will claim is to be some mixture of the subsets:  slave, submissive, bottom -- sl-ub-ottom.


Vacation Reflections

We've been vacationing.
One short trip to The Great Smoky Mountains and Gatlinburg, Tennessee.
Another quick trip to Ann Arbor, Michigan and the Ann Arbor Art Fair.
We were home for a couple of days in between.  Just long enough to wash the laundry, and repack everything.  Now we are home for keeps, and it feels great.  I am clear that I have gotten to be a serious homebody, and I am simply happiest here.  If it is left up to me, I would never leave again.  Ever.
It has been a whirl.  I feel like my head is a kaleidoscope full of random impressions.  I don't know that vacationing has any great import, or serious implications.  It was, for us, a break in the routines -- which is what I think vacation is meant to be, after all.  So, without any attempt to make it mean something, here are impressions from about 11 days of vacationing:

So much gets done in the days before vacation starts.
Funny how that works.
Packing our own food.
Breakfast cereal and almond milk.
Fresh fruit.
The makings for French toast.
Tiny little grill for burgers and steak.
Do we really need to leave on schedule?
It is vacation.
Clean socks, and clean underwear.
Swimming clothes.
Morning pills.
Evening pills.
Bedtime pills.
Headache pills.
Phone chargers.
Shoes, jackets, hats...
What might I have forgotten?
Cool, quiet mountain nights and mornings.
So green.  Hardwoods and evergreens.
Rushing, burbling, mountain streams.
Leaping from stone to stone to stone.
Children riding brightly colored tubes along the current.
A picnic lunch on top of the peak.
Looking down into valleys full of drifting clouds.
It DOES look like these mountains are "smoky."
Meeting a volunteer in Cades Cove who shared way more than was expected.
A t-shirt for the grandkid.
With glow in the dark animal tracks!
The required visit to the "knife cathedral."
Great bbq ribs, and amazing fresh trout.
Breakfast at the Apple Barn.
Listening to baseball on the radio.
Late at night when the ionosphere bends the signal just so.
Ants making their busy ways across the cabin floor.
A firefly trapped high up in the rafters.
Sending out midnight distress signals to amaze a sleepless visitor.
Long drive north, and home for a quick respite.
Before we are off again.
Ann Arbor.
University town, extraordinaire.
Home of the annual Arts Festival.
Block after city block of tightly packed white tent booths.
Each with its offered artistic endeavor.
Water colors, oils, acrylics.
Carved stone, wood, metal, leather, fabric.
Colors, bold and muted, splashed, swept, carefully applied.
Music wafting around corners and down alleys.
Restaurants and shops along the streets,
Behind the booths,
Spilling goods and myriad scents out onto the sidewalks.
Small boys, pulling carts, selling water for a dollar a bottle.
Ooohhhs and Ahhhsss.
Amazement and puzzlement.
And after a time, simply overwhelmed weariness.
Friendly people.
This is a city of people who will help.
Stand on a corner, and look confused.
Someone will say, "How can I help?"
"Go that way."
Or, "Try over there."
Eager to help, but also eager to tell their stories.
To own this place; this town.
As theirs.
To tell the visitor how glad they are to meet.
And how lucky it is to be here.
A long warm day.
Bracketed by amazing Lebanese offerings at dinner.
Tio's Mexican food at lunchtime.
Most amazing rellenos, ever!
Dinner at The Gandy Dancer.
Long awaited.
Almost legendary.
Did not disappoint.
Tired to bed.
We slept.
This morning.
Rising at nine, we loaded the car.
Turned our faces homeward.
Glad, at last, to be back with our kitty cats.
Our own beds.
Bits and pieces unpacked and put away
Home seems good.


Pantry Organizing

More straightening and organizing and general paring down...

This is an "after" shot of our pantry.  These shelves are in what would normally be the "laundry room."  Since we have our washer and dryer in the condo where T lives, I don't have those machines in my condo.  So, that space is available to be used as a household pantry.

Its another one of those spots that tends, naturally, toward chaos.  Because Tom does much of the shopping these days, while T and I are at work, the pantry shelves, refrigerator, and cupboards all are subject to having items crammed in wherever they will fit.  By the time we make a circuit around the sun, my efforts at establishing order will all shift to an impossible jumble of stuff piled every which way.

Inevitably, as things pile up, some items get shoved to the bottom and the back, and become "invisible."  When I get into straightening and tidying, I always find a few items that surprise me.  Really?  Who knew we still had this?  Things that are too old or too crummy to be useful to us or anyone else, just have to go away.

So, another project taken care of, and another couple of bags culled out of our stock of stuff.

Bag total?  37.


My Feelings

It is 2014.  I started blogging in 2004.  A decade of life and words have passed, and I am still here, still blogging.  Some.  In this almost ten year span, 2062 posts have been written at one or the other of this suite of blogs.  I've never been a daily blogger.  The writing has been driven more by events and the reactions to those events than it has been by the turning over of the days of the calendar.  Most of what is back there in the archives is wrapped up around me, my thoughts, my reactions, and my feelings about all of that.

Lately, I've tended to eschew writing about my feelings, and with that, I've written less abundantly.  I have not stopped having feelings and reactions, but I have come to believe that, really, no one cares about my feelings -- at least not as much as I do.  In fact, I have learned that no one really cares about anyone else's feelings all that much.  There's some freedom to be had from that knowledge:

  • My feelings are mine.  Completely.  I can feel what I feel; hold on to whatever feelings I find to be true and real for myself; cherish them, and keep them close.
  • I can act for myself by myself.  the choices are all mine.  The responses that I choose to have, based on the feelings I have, do not require the endorsement, or agreement of anyone else.
  • I do not have to take on anyone else's feelings.  If my feelings are mine, then, it follows that no one else's feelings are mine.  If another person has feelings, those feelings belong, entirely, to that other person.  I may choose to empathize with that person's feelings, but they remain "not mine."
  • It is irresponsible and manipulative for me to spew my feelings all over the place in the expectation that others must needs respond to them.  Infants and children operate from that very direct linkage between need and emotion and external response. It is appropriate for the helpless young to expect that adults will perceive their emotional expression of need, and then supply what is needed.  As we mature, it is necessary to learn to understand our own feelings, and then take action to respond to those feelings.
  • Knowing that no one really cares about my feelings fixes my perspective.  I am not the center of the universe.  I've always espoused the notion that I am about being a good animal, but knowing that I am just not as important in the grand scheme of things as my internal melodrama might suggest helps keep me aware of just where I actually stand.  I am just one small, relatively weak animal, living on a small planet, orbiting a pretty ordinary star, at the edge of a moderate sized galaxy, in an inconceivably vast universe.  Nothing that I experience, and nothing that I do will alter the course of the stars one jot.
  • I do not need to be afraid.  I can fall on my face.  I can go out in public with my hair all spikey and uncombed.  I can sport an adolescent zit, right on the end of my nose.  I can wear last year's style trends (or last decade's), I can say the wrong thing, take the wrong turn, be politically incorrect or socially uncool.  None of it matters, because no one is looking at me.  No one cares.  
  • None of the social measures of success matter either.  Awards, notice, recognition, wealth, popularity, ...  meaningless!  What matters; what has always mattered; and what will matter, going forward, is what I think about who I am and what I do.  What I feel matters to me, and only to me.  I don't need boxes full of plaques or a host of admiring fans.  What I need is the certainty, in my own heart and mind, that I am good enough for my own self.
  • I approve of me.  I don't need your approval.  I know who I am and what I am about (mostly).  When I have no idea what I am about, I am really OK with being sort of lost and without my bearings.  It is OK.  Gravity works, and I will not fall off the planet.  Being someone's "good girl," "good wife," "good parent," "good church member," "good employee," "good friend," or "good customer," is just not that important.  Sure, I like hearing that I did something right now and then, but if I screw it up, I'm not going to fall to pieces.  Most of what is screwed up can be repaired.  
  • I've been the Princess of "What If" for most of my adult life.  I am fairly perceptive, but sometimes my gift for reading people launches me off into my own personal brand of science fiction.  All of the private fears and fantasies work to make me totally crazy, but the fact is that almost nothing that I have feared -- or fantasized about -- has panned out.  All of that "what if" stuff depends on everyone around me looking at me and focusing on me and acting with regard to me.  Knowing that probably 99% of the interactions I have in any given day are with people who just do not care takes the power away from those "what ifs."  I can stop worrying.  
  • I can do what I want.  I can say what I think.  I can dance, however badly, if I feel like it.  I can wear stripes with plaid if I am in a mood.  I am me, full grown, and my feelings belong to me.  I can live my life without regrets or fears or limits.  No one cares.