Archive for the ‘M/s’ Category

In my world, there are two types of Masters.  There is the Master whom I belong to, who does not bear the title of Master and is only called that by me and others like him who pursue M/s relationships.  Then there are those who are so highly respected by their communities that their long years of service are acknowledged by giving them the title of Master.  For me, it is often difficult to call someone else “Master X.”  That word, Master is infused with so much weight for me.  To me, it is often a bit like calling someone a god.  A Master is someone in my world who has some power to them that I can’t quite describe or put my finger on.  Words, for once, escape me when I try.  Whatever it is, though, it inspires me to my knees.  I feel it and I bow to it, almost intoxicated by the feeling of just being near it.

I’m conscious of the place the title has in Leather and I use it where it is appropriate.  Usually, though, there is an awkward moment mentally for me, where I have to consciously shift gears from my perception of Master to a more Leather perception of Master.  This awkwardness has everything to do with my own hang-ups and nothing to do with the honorable people who have been recognized with that title.  I understand this, so I make the mental adjustment and then call them as they are.  “Master X, Master Y.”

With Master Barry, there was no awkwardness, no moment of having to shift my perceptions.  He was, simply, Master Barry from the moment I met him and in my mind he fit easily into both of my definitions of Master.

What I know of Master Barry, I know less from personal experience or his own words, than from those who respected and loved him.  I began to come to know him even before I boarded my flight to Calgary this past November.  I remember that people who barely knew me asked me to bring him their regards.  They spoke with a mixture of fondness and respect and these were men who don’t give either out to just anyone.  I was already intrigued as to what sort of man would inspire this.  We flew up to Calgary just after a snowstorm, from Florida and I was embraced by a Community there that was warm enough to even warm us up in the Canadian winter.  Almost the moment we got off the plane, though, it became clear, though, that this was a Community with a broken heart.

Over the weekend, I only briefly saw Master Barry until the contest itself.  Still, from each person I spoke to, I got a slightly different picture of him.  I learned of his great care for his Community from one, I learned of his soft heartedness and loyalty as a Sir to his boy from another.  Each story was like a puzzle piece of this man, this man who was very, very sick and who’s illness had struck at the heart of the strong Community he was a cornerstone for.  As the pieces combined, they did so against the backdrop of a Leather contest where I judged an incredible Sir contestant.  The two storylines fed off of each other, as often happens, each of them giving me a glimpse into the hearts of these two men as well as the men who loved them.  Both, I learned were men strong enough to feel and strong enough to open their hearts to the men around them.

When the contest ended, I set up to bootblack.  I was still flying high from the fantasies and I was eager to play, hoping to entice some there into some hot boot scenes, if I could.  When Master Barry came to my chair and asked me to do his boots, though, my pulse stilled and I became more meditative than playful.  I could sense the great honor this was, even though I didn’t know then that previously he would never have let a girl do his boots.  What began next was the greatest boot scene I’ve had all year and perhaps the most meaningful one I will ever have as a bootblack.

I breathed in deeply, centering myself.  His boy stood next to him and the men were all around us.  As I began cleaning his boots, I could feel his energy.  It was strong even though his body was already weakened by hisillness.  It was calm and strong even now and I knelt at his feet and began to clean his boots.  I quickly noticed something very wrong.  His boots were in terrible condition!  They were dry and cracked, in contrast with his neat leathers.  I wondered how they could have gotten in such a state, but I had a feeling there was a story there.  Gently, I asked him about his boots.  His eyes welled up with tears as he explained.

“These are my boy boots, ” he spoke with effort, “My feet are too swollen from the chemo to wear my regular boots.”

I felt the full weight of this settle quickly on me and I had to breathe deeply not to let my own tears fall.  These were his boy boots, the boots he wore at the beginning of his Leather journey, likely the first Leather he had earned or been given.  It was too much and I felt so small, there at his feet.  Somehow, though, I knew that I couldn’t cry and that this was one of those times to be strong.  I felt like the pain and tears of the men around me were held back by a dam and that if I cried it would poke a hole in that dam and they needed that to cling to.  So, I breathed deeply and explained to him that I would like to condition rather than shine them because they needed it.  He agreed.

I may be a hell-raising Buddhist Atheist now, but I was raised Catholic and the first image that came to my mind as I began to gently rub conditioner into Master Barry’s boy boots was that of Mary washing Jesus’s feet and drying them with her hair.  I put all the love I could into my hands, all the good things I had inside me, I tried to put into my touch.  I tried to channel all the devotion and love I had heard from the men around me about this man into that act…a simple act of caring for one man’s boots.  I don’t know if he felt it, but for me, that act was elevated in those moments into an act almost of worship.  I was attempting, in my own limited way to pay homage to all this man had walked and to his brave fight against a cowardly opponent.  We spoke as I worked.  His words were kind and his love for his boy and for his Community showed clearly in his eyes.  His voice broke when I gave him the regards of those who had sent word with me, tears held back but there for old friends that he missed.

It was one of the greatest honors of my life to kneel at the feet of such a great man and be allowed to serve him.  I think of him often when I come across people who just don’t seem to “get it,” who view Leather as just the wearing of cowhide or bootblacking as just caring for that cowhide.  I think of him when I see a 20-something give themselves a title of “Lord Master Beauregard of White Castle.”  I think of him when I hear the term “Old Guard” used simply as a way to justify one’s point or appropriated by people outside the Leather Community.  When I think of him, I remember that I know what Leather is.  I felt it in my hands when I touched his boots.  I saw it in his eyes when he spoke about others.  I felt it in the bonds of his Community and I feel it now when I speak to those in mourning.  When I think of him, I also remember that I know what a Master is from the way he never used that title when introducing himself to me, but everyone else always used it when speaking or referring to him and in the way he put others ahead of himself, caring for his Community like a father cares for his family.

I am so glad that I made a trip up from warm Florida into the midst of a Calgary winter.  I consider myself so fortunate to have been there in time to have met Master Barry and to, for even a short time, be a part of his world.  I only wish everyone could have experiences like these because, to me, that boot scene, while definitely not my wildest and the boots did not turn out looking perfect from all their cracks and dryness, that boot scene was to me what this is all about.  I have never felt more a bootblack.

Thank you, Master Barry.

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My Master’s Sacrifice

Posted: March 23, 2011 in M/s, Titleholding

I haven’t posted much lately, partly because I’ve been traveling a lot, but partly because I’ve been dealing with something important on the home front.  A few weeks ago at SPLF, my Master noticed a “pop” in his left arm while moving a piece of play furniture to prepare for a scene.  Being the tough guy he is and eager for a rare chance to play together in public, he soldiered on that night, doing a take-down scene with me, followed by a very nice whip scene and later doing a rope scene with a very sweet boy in the men’s dungeon.  By the end of it all, though, it was obvious something was wrong.  His arm had swollen, was painful to move, and didn’t look quite right.  A wonderful man with medical knowledge, Sir Tri, took a look at it and gave us some triage advice and we made plans to have it looked at immediately on Monday, hoping it was just something pulled.  Unfortunately, it was more than that.  He has torn a tendon in his arm that holds the bicep to the bone and the muscle has retracted, requiring surgery.  We are finally preparing for that surgery this Friday, after a slew of tests and scheduling and rescheduling that would try anyone’s patience and wear on anyone’s nerves.

All of this has made me think more about what is really important to me and made me realize that the most important thing to me…is him.

Few people recognize my Master when they see him walk into a room.  Many people recognize me and come up to hug me, having met me here or there, but because someone has to take care of the home front, it’s a rare treat when he is able to travel with me.  So, he largely stays in the background, content to watch me shine while he goes unnoticed.  He never complains except to express how much it does mean when someone remembers and recognizes him.  He accepts so much that is the result of his conscious choice a year ago to share me with the community.  What people don’t realize is what a sacrifice that has been for him.

My Master isn’t the sharing kind when it comes to slaves.  Before this journey all began, we lived a life much different than the one we do now.  He kept me close to him, our protocols formal and his control absolute.  Few touched me.  No one played with me.  I licked only his boots or a few women’s.  I was his treasure, closely guarded, carefully protected.  Then he noticed something.  He saw that I had something to give the community.  He has always valued community service.  He’s quick to move furniture or stack chairs.  He’s always buying the 50/50 raffle tickets.  He’s eager to help out where he can.  In me, he was the first person to see a spark of something that could be used to serve others.  He carefully deliberated and slowly, slowly, he made the choice to loosen his grip and have me share that spark with others.  To say it wasn’t an easy choice for him to make was an understatement.  Even as I competed at Beyond Leather for the SouthEast Community Bootblack title, he agonized over how he could protect me and care for me while still putting me out there in the world to serve others.  He worried over how to keep his ownership of me when I would be exposed to a whole world beyond him.  He worried I would get hurt or led astray or crushed.  Until then, he had felt like he had a secret treasure.  Now he was intentionally choosing to let others know that secret.

Few know how many late nights we spent talking, working out what this all meant and where the new boundaries were.  No one really saw how he worried over me at ILSb/ICBB, trying to care for me as he watched me push myself hard, unable to ease the burden of competing, yet so proud of what I’d done.  When I won, he was the only one there when our flight home got canceled and I experienced a drop like none other, shivering and crying with both our leathers piled on top of me, my teardrops running along the studs on my title mantel.  He’s been strong enough to stand back while I’ve suffered, knowing at times that it wasn’t the right thing to do to step in…no matter how much he wanted to.  He has had to watch some of his worst fears and greatest hopes come true and has had to be strong enough, confident enough in his mastery of me, to stand by as I followed the commands of others.  He’s had to be supportive, yet firm, walking a tightrope between challenging me when I’ve not lived up to my own ideals and soothing me when my best just doesn’t reach them.

Together we’ve had to navigate an ever-changing landscape and make up the rules as we’ve gone along.  Even advice from former titleholders only helps so much since everyone’s year is so different and everyone’s relationships so varied.  Somehow, we’ve managed to grow closer this year, but it’s never been easy and it’s never been guaranteed and we’ve faced many moments where it could have gone either way.  Through those moments, it was often his patience that weathered the storm and kept us together.

Few people would know it, but whatever I am, my Master is the reason and the cause.  I am the visible face of what few see and the personification of his mastery.  I would literally not be here if it was not for his support, encouragement, and the courage he has to put me out there, in the spotlight and in harm’s way and to contentedly and proudly watch from behind the scenes.  Few would understand how hard it was for him to let me go so much, like cutting off an arm and sending it into the world, aching for the loss.  I am looking forward to that reunion even as I fondly look back on everything we’ve done this year and all the amazing experiences and wonderful memories.  Neither of us would trade this chapter in our lives for the world.

And both of us are looking forward to more chapters after, with me by his side…and a step behind, both of us serving the community we love.

So, I prepare now, to serve him and care for him as he recovers, a rare chance in the exciting chaos of this year to recede back to that place, where it is only Master and slave and the only world I travel is his.

Only All That I Am

Posted: March 1, 2011 in M/s

This past weekend I was honored to attend the South Plains LeatherFest in Dallas, Texas, home to the International Master/slave weekend.  Although I attended few classes, spending most of my time bootblacking along with some rather “feisty” play, being immersed in that part of the community led me to think more about my own slavery and the nature of our dynamic as well as those of other Masters/Mistresses and slaves.

In vanilla relationships, we frequently give of ourselves to our partners.  We give them our love, our devotion, our strengths, and generally the best parts of ourselves.  We take each shiny part, wrap it nicely, and hand it to our partners, hoping that they will love us for this idealized version of ourselves.  Inevitably, as months wear on, problems start to crop up as we realize that none of us are perfect and none of us can live up to the idealized image that our partners fell in love with.  At that point, we either begin to adjust to reality and learn to love and accept the real, flawed person in front of us, or our relationships crumble.

To me, this is similar to those who frequently tout the “gift of submission,” and base their power exchange relationships around ideals.  They have often read fantasy novels or have some idealized version of what it means to live in a BDSM relationship.  Slaves frequently imbue their Masters or Mistresses with incredible powers including mind reading and ESP.  Masters and Mistresses believe their slave to be perfect in every way, capable of impeccable service without mistakes and immune to illness or injury.  Together, we build pedestals for each other and we each try to fit into roles that we think match what the other desires.

Then reality sets in.

Slaves get sick and can’t serve and must be cared for.  Masters and Mistresses misread cues and make mistakes.  We discover that we are, each of us, human beings, not cardboard cutouts of our D/s or M/s roles.  We discover that it isn’t enough to give only what is shiny and what we think the other wants of us.  We either adapt to the reality of a human slave enslaved by a very human Master or Mistress or else we give up, trying to find the Master or Mistress or slave in our fantasy worlds.

This is where my Master had work to do with me, from the very beginning.

When we first met, I wanted to give only the parts of myself that were easy to give.  I wanted to only give him the parts that I thought he wanted, the parts that were shiny and nice and I felt safer offering, more confident that he would accept them and value them.  The parts of myself I didn’t like, I tried to hide from him, pushing them away and dealing with them myself so that I would not be a “burden” to him.  After all, if I didn’t like those parts of myself, the risk was very real that he wouldn’t either and then would reject them…and me.

Patiently, he kept pushing me, bit by bit getting those parts of me given up to him.  To my great surprise and actual fascination, he not only accepted those parts of me, but seemed to value them even more than the pieces that were easier to give.  He wanted my vulnerability, my flaws, my ugliness.  To him, having control and ownership of those was a much greater accomplishment than merely getting the “pretty” parts of me.  Having full view into the darkest places of me meant that he owned me fully, completely and that he knew me in a way no one else did or ever has.

He didn’t just want the “gift of submission.”  He wanted the gift of all of me, stubborness, quick tempered, and all.  He wouldn’t settle for just my submission…he wanted complete surrender of everything that I am, even the parts I don’t want to claim myself.

He didn’t want much…only all that I am.

Reality vs. Fantasy in BDSM

Posted: January 4, 2011 in BDSM, M/s

There are those people who love to stir up “debate” (and I use that term very loosely here) just for the sake of debate.  Generally these fall under the category of trolls online, but sometimes they do venture out of dark corners and into real life.  These are the people who seem to have an axe to grind about life in general and will try to find some way that their particular axe is remotely relevant to the conversation in order to bring it up and then regurgitate any number of canned arguments.  Then again, there’s probably a little of this behavior in all of us at times.  This week, though, one of these types did actually get me thinking…and thinking…and thinking, so I guess I should thank the anonymous donor of the fodder from which these thoughts came.

The thoughts were about two different perspectives for viewing our BDSM experiences, one based on BDSM as an escape from reality and another based on BDSM as reality.

The starting point for this mental wandering was the aforementioned person’s online rant about how, basically, the country known as the United States is on a downhill roll and all the groups of people he blamed for this decline.  While I won’t go into details because I’d definitely fit into some of the groups blamed for the downfall of our great nation, what was interesting was the picture he painted of a time now passed which seemed to be absolutely idyllic.  This time was, rather obviously post World War II America, and it got me to thinking how many Americans really do idealize that point in time.  In another, somewhat related rant, he asked others how they planned for their M/s or D/s dynamics to survive the upcoming economic and social apocolypses he had predicted for us all to suffer.  It was then that it hit me that we have two very different perspectives at play here.

The more I learn about M/s dynamics and, indeed BDSM relationships in general, power exchange or not, it seems that there are two very different way to approach living a life that includes kink.  I’m not making value judgments on either since I have seen both work.  I think whether one works better than the other depends entirely on the people involved, but I do see there as being a strong difference between the two.  One perspective sees BDSM, power exchange, and kinky activities in general as an escape from the reality of day to day life.  The other embraces these very same things as reality itself.  Part of my problem in understanding my online friend was that he is coming from one perspective and I am coming from the other.

As an example, I will go back to M/s dynamics because I think this is where the difference can be the most easily described.  On the one hand, we have people who base their dynamics off of any number of sources.  Goreans use the books of John Norman as a starting point.  1950’s households use an idealized version of the 1950’s as well as a world shown in Leave it to Beaver episodes to model theirs.  Then there are Victorian households, medieval households and any number of other archetypes.  Within these structures, those in the dynamic find roles that act as guides for behavior as well as a way to create a comforting haven from the chaos of 21st century life outside.  For many of them, this works wonderfully and gives them a safe place when they walk through the door and fall into their space.

On the other side of the spectrum, you have M/s households that have little to no archetypes and seem to be grounded more in the brute reality of the chaos outside.  These dynamics can sometimes seem unromantic or even difficult to distinguish from vanilla life except when it comes to who makes decisions or how they have sex.  What protocol there is seems to have grown organically from the dynamic without much outside inspiration and these dynamics can seem less driven by ritual than those that do gain inspiration from archetypes.  I’ve seen many very longlasting M/s dynamics that follow this methodology as well.

As a Buddhist, while I enjoy a good fantasy as much as anyone else, I am very wary of doing anything in my day to day life that distracts me from reality.  Perhaps as a consequence, I ended up with a Master who takes a very reality based approach to our M/s dynamic.  There is little fantasy here, but it works for us.  This is not to say I don’t sometimes admire those who can base their dynamic off of a fantasy and then work together to create a reality based off of it.  While it wouldn’t work for me, that doesn’t mean it doesn’t work for many or doesn’t have value.  What it does do, however, is create a very different point of view when considering BDSM and the world around us.

My online friend, while not in an M/s relationship, does take a very similar view to BDSM, treating it mostly as an escape from a reality that, to him, has become very dark.  This leads him to worry about the feasibility of continuing his pursuits as economic and political conditions decline.  To me, this point of view seems similar to those who work on an M/s dynamic, but then set that dynamic aside whenever life sends the inevitable obstacles their way.  This is similar to those who live good times in a power exchange and argue as equals.  This works for many, many people, but it does make it so that they see BDSM as more of a luxury item in their lives, something they can indulge in when they have enough time, the right person, etc.  BDSM is their dessert and they treasure it, but if times get very tough, they can live without it until another opportunity comes along.

For me, it was difficult to relate to this perspective.  BDSM is no longer something I do, if it ever was, it is something I am and a part of my reality and my identity.  Instead of being my escape from reality, my kinks and my M/s dynamic are my way of coping with reality.  When I am stressed out at work, I concentrate on my protocols.  When I worry about bills, I fall back on my communication with my Master.  Each challenge that life sends us is tackled with the same skills we use in play.  We argue as Master and slave, not as equals.  From this perspective, any adversity faced, whether economic, political, or personal, simply leads us both to dig in deeper into our BDSM lives, rather than back out and deal with life as a vanilla couple.  BDSM is not a luxury item, but a necessary survival tool.  It is not dessert, but the bread that sustains us.  Granted, this would not work for everyone and is certainly not the only path, but it gives me a very different perspective from someone for whom BDSM is an escape.

As a Buddhist, I’m guided to focus intently on reality as a spiritual path.  A lot of people think that the goal of meditation is to come to some kind of lofty realization about the universe or my place in it.  The reality, though, is that the goal of my meditation is to empty my mind of all the useless chatter that goes on it, of all the fantasies that I think up to explain who I am and what I am and instead to find the ability to focus on reality and the world around me.  The idea is to stop living in a fog of my own creation and start living in the world, awakened to what’s going on.  My meditation sometimes takes place on a St. Andrews cross to the sound of a whip driving all distraction from my mind.  Other times, it takes place in my Master’s rope.  Still others, it takes place with a pair of boots in front of me.  I find life much easier to deal with when I am in touch with it and I can choose my reactions to it rather than being knocked out of a fog I’ve thought up by life and then having to react to it.

As a result, it is difficult for me to understand those who choose to turn away from the reality of life and carefully create a fiction to replace it.  While I can understand the allure and the comfort in it, I find a hard time understanding how it helps them deal with reality.  Rationally, I can understand that they must then come up with ways to reconcile things when reality and their fantasy collide and it is obvious that many have very good ways of doing this given the timespan that some people manage to do it in.

For me, though, simply facing reality head-on, with BDSM and M/s as tools in my kit to deal with it, is far simpler.

And I like simple.

Really.

Home Fires

Posted: December 27, 2010 in general, M/s, Titleholding

Yesterday, I was sweeping the main room of our house.  A fire was crackling in the fireplace and I was sweeping up the dust and the debris from the kindling as well as whatever had fallen to the floor when we had guests at Christmas.  Classical music played and my Master was researching something online and it suddenly occurred to me.

This…this is the life I’d been dreaming of for so long.

When we often think of BDSM relationships, we often think only of the most obvious trappings that go along with them.  We think of tight latex and leather, whips and rope, floggers and gags.  Still, at that moment, I felt the most complete as a slave that I had in a long time.  I have been a part of my Master’s household for some time now, but this was the first holiday season that we had an actual house for our household.  There, sweeping the hearth and straightening up the dungeon, I felt more like I belonged than I think I ever have, particularly thinking back to the laughter and conversations shared there the day before, the house filled with Leather and BDSM folk, people who share a common bond and often seem closer to us than our blood relatives.

It all just feels so right.

Our home is already starting to take shape as a Leather household, with a commitment to reach out to our community and provide a space for meetings or play and also a warm and welcoming place for discussion.  Our household is more than just a house, but it’s also more than just the members or those who live there.  Our house is the spirit with which we walk our journey and it is a call to reach out to others in whatever way we can along the way.  As I finished sweeping, I settled into my place next to the fire, feeding it.  I love fires, which I’m sure is no surprise considering what a pyromaniac my Master is, and I love building them.  In a lot of ways, building a fire is a lot like building a Leather household.

In the beginning, all you really have are the separate pieces to build a fire and a will to do it.  If there are others around as you build it, they will often tell you that you’re stacking the wood wrong or that you’re using the wrong kindling.  There will always be those who think the wood is too damp or the ashes too thick.  In the end, though, you simply have to decide to do it and commit to it no matter what.  The first flames are fragile and fleeting.  As you add more and more kindling, you start to wonder if the great logs that will sustain the fire long term will ever catch.  You begin to worry that the fire will burn itself out before it has a chance to become stable.  The temptation now is to give up.  This is where your commitment is tested and you have to put in a lot of work adding small sticks until, finally, one of the logs begins to catch.  Now the temptation is to mess with the fire, altering it to the point where what you have worked hard to build is broken and the flames die.  Patience is key here.  You have to simply watch, feeding it bits of wood as needed.  Finally, the logs catch and you have a fire that will last.  It looks like that fire has always been that strong and people who observe it now think you are a master firebuilder because they didn’t see the tentative first steps it took to build.  Now, the temptation is to take that fire for granted, forgetting to feed it new logs now and then and forgetting to tend it, letting the embers cool and die.  Even a strong, mature fire needs tending.

I feel like our household is just at the point where the logs are catching fire and now is a time for patience.  I know we will be doing tending of the fire and adding to it more and more next year as we have more time to reach out, but for now, it feels like it is more time to be patient with each other as we face the challenges of my title year and me being absent a lot from hearth and home.  Still, it is wonderful knowing the warmth of that fire is waiting for me when I get home.

Love is a Battlefield

Posted: December 1, 2010 in BDSM, M/s

Recently, I was in the unique position of trying to explain heterosexual BDSM relationships to a gay Leatherman.  Yes, apparently, this wacky bisexual girl is now the spokesperson for heterosexual BDSM, or at least I attempted to be one night at 3 in the morning.  It seemed like a good idea at the time.

In reality, though, I could no more explain all heterosexual relationships to him than he could explain all gay relationships to me.  We each can only speak of our own experiences.

One theme I kept coming across was that, at least in my experience, heterosexual relationships and sex are either like a game or like a war.  We grow up knowing what strategies our genders employ.  I grew up knowing that mine was to be a defensive position, that women were meant to pretend that we did not like sex or in fact despised it and that, by doing so, we gained power over men, who were meant to always want what we were so reluctant to give.  Their position was to be one of offense, constantly scheming to get what we held back and, in doing so, gain power over us.

Even in the vanilla world, sex was a power exchange.

In this cold war or marketplace of sexuality, I was raised, jealously guarding my chips from the other players and making men jump through the requisite hoops before giving any of them away.  It’s a tiring game and one that turns lovers into adversaries.  I was meant to view any man who expressed admiration or interest as having ulterior motives and not to be trusted.  Since trust is a cornerstone of healthy relationships, everything I grew up learning about how the sexes relate to each other set me up for dysfunctional relationships.  I learned that you absolutely could not communicate honestly and directly with the opposite sex because this would give them inside information that they would use against you in order to get you in bed.  I learned you should never trust a man who seemed to be interested in you.  Only men who didn’t seem to care for me at all could be trusted.

When I entered the world of BDSM and then M/s relationships, I still found some of this thinking, but I found many people who had called a truce in this ongoing war.  Oddly enough, by being clear and direct about what they wanted and what they were prepared to offer, these people were able to remove the conflict and actually build a relationship built on mutual respect and trust.  It seemed ironic that these relationships often, from the outside, resembled exactly what both sides feared might happen if they let down their guard.  I saw women groveling at the feet of men and men led around on leashes by women and yet, these people were honest with each other and with themselves about their wants and needs in a way I had never experienced in the vanilla world.  I couldn’t help but wonder how many vanilla relationships would benefit from being forced to negotiate or write contracts or at least come up with a clear idea of what they wanted from a partner BEFORE they went out looking for one?

Love is a battlefield.

We all too often spend so much time putting on our layers of armor and looking across the field at our lovers like they are an invading army.  The very people we lay naked next to are the ones we often fear the most, so frightened that they will betray us in the most personal ways, splitting our hearts in two.  I don’t think this is unique to any sexual orientation or any configuration of relationships.  The truth is that those we allow closest to us are the ones who can most easily harm us and so we often try to protect ourselves from future hurts by keeping up defenses now.  We hold back words, thoughts, feelings in the hopes that it will help keep us safe or help us keep the upper hand.  We let the invader closer and closer, but how many of us ever really let down all of the defenses and let them in?

As human creatures, we hide our true selves even from ourselves.

We make up stories of who we are, stories that make us feel better about ourselves and keep us from having to face the harsh realities that maybe we aren’t the knights in shining armor we wish we were.  Meanwhile, we glorify courage if it comes in the form of someone submitting for a whip scene or bravely stepping into harm’s way for another, but we barely acknowlege the bravery that it takes to completely lay bare one’s heart to another.  Emotional courage is downplayed and even considered a weakness.  Submitting to the will of another or acting in a selfless way is seen as weak as well.

In the BDSM world, I finally found people that seemed to understand that the courage to be emotionally vulnerable is the most difficult to cultivate and that it takes more strength to bend to the will of another than it does to resist.

In this world, I found emotional giants, people of such rare courage that they were brave enough to be who they really were, not just to themselves, but to the world.  I found people who were strong enough even to deny their own egos and find happiness in serving the needs of another.  I found people who’s strength as they cast aside their armor and threw down their weapons, was inspiring enough to help me begin to lay mine down as well.

And yet…I am still a warrior at times and sometimes I need a reminder that my lovers are not my enemies, but my greatest allies.

This past weekend I had the pleasure of attending the Master/slave Conference in Washington, DC. Words can’t really capture a weekend like this and there’s no way I could capture each of the moments that made the weekend so amazing, but here are a few of my highlights, in no particular order.

Shit. No really, Shit.

The keynote speaker, the elegant and well spoken and accented slave Caroline gave a wonderful speech which used shit as a metaphor for the changes we undergo as we make our way from a starry-eye noob in this lifestyle to a seasoned veteran and the many traps we can fall into. It was good shit as well as some very amusing shit. By the end, I had examined my own shit quite a bit and come to a point where I was ready to change some shit.

Education

If you’ve ever wanted to meet the authors of those books about M/s that are collecting dust on your shelf or if you’ve ever caught yourself reading them and wished you could ask the writer a question, this was your dream conference. I wasn’t able to attend many classes due to my bootblacking schedule, but the ones I did each made about fifteen different lightbulbs go off in my head, whether it was something I really want to journal about, a new tool for my personal dynamic, or fresh ideas for my local M/s community, I took away so much from each session I was able to attend and my Master and I had long discussions afterwards about the classes he attended and what we could take from them.

Honor

I had never attended the formal ceremony where a Master is recognized by his peers and awarded his Master’s cover, the iconic Muir cap by which Masters within the Leather community are recognized. This weekend I was deeply moved and honored to get to be present as Master Jack McGeorge was awarded his cover posthumously. If you do not know who Master McGeorge was, it is well worth a google search to find out. It is ironic that a man who so exemplified what we consider a Master to be and was so widely respected had never actually received his cover, but it was a very emotional moment when his peers, Masters, Sirs, Mistresses, Ma’ams, all Dominants who knew and respected him, all stood up, affirming the judgement to award his cover. His cover was given to his son, who stood proudly with tears on his face as Master McGeorge’s slaves stood, silently bearing witness with tears of their own, their Master just having passed away last year. I can’t help but now look at that cap with a newfound respect for those who are judged worthy to wear it.

Boots…of course.

I spent a lot of hours this weekend bootblacking and, as often happens, I think I learned even more kneeling there and serving than I would have anywhere else. Whether it was hearing from a Master/slave couple who have been together 41 years and their stories, or caring for the boots of Master Taino’s family and listening to theirs, I learned so much from each person in my chair. It was as if all the classes I was missing walked down the hallway and sat in my chair to give my private lessons while I worked on their boots and leathers. I will cherish these memories of a great weekend spent bootblacking! (There were also a few very hot scenes as well…I’m talking to you, Mr. Police-issued gloves!)

History

The second night of the event centered on preserving our history as a theme. A good deal of money was raised to support the Leather Archives and Museum and Momma Vi Johnson announced that the Carter-Johnson Leather Library has been given non-profit status, helping to ensure its future and help it grow in its mission to educate all of us on the legacy we each inherit. I was privileged to spend a good deal of time with Momma Vi this weekend and get to know her and she is definitely a treasure of the community as well as a fellow vampire and lover of boots!

This weekend was a great reminder of all that is worth preserving and passing down as well as what makes the day to day life in a M/s relationship worthwhile and special. I plan on sharing more of what I gained there in blog posts, but no words can ever capture what it was like or what a wonderful event it was. I am honored that I was able to be a part of it!

Thank you to Master Taino, his Family, all the many volunteers, sponsors, and presenters who made this event possible and a heartfelt congratulations to Master Don and slave orja, the 2011 NorthEast Master/slave titleholders!