Monday, July 28, 2008

Knowing and Mystery

I headed out to the redwoods last week, practiced a little mountain biking skills on some trails. I always enjoy learning new things. It's like being a virgin again. There is a balance at play, between forging on with what is established and breaking new ground. Sometimes we get stuck in a rut, other times we're too busy chasing novelty. But when we get it right, we're firing on all cylinders, making the most of what we know and what we are still discovering.

I am always wanting to know. To break through the mysteries. Well, at least I've figured out enough by now to realize that there is no holy grail, no answer to be found on this plane about why we are really here and what is the meaning of my life. So I am learning to enjoy not knowing. The mysteriousness which has worked to compell seekers to me -- the faceless Mistress with her provocative words and images -- is the same quality which I now embrace in myself. In those moments when we are stripped down of our preconceptions and projections, when neither our book knowledge or street smarts can point the way, when we are laid bare-naked in our beingness, illusion falling away to pure energy contained in these walls of flesh and bone... that is when I feel closest to the divine. It can happen in the most unlikely of circumstances, and usually does.


I had endeavored for a month or so to write an account of my pro domme experiences. I decided that it's too early. I am still processing it and do not yet have the benefit of hindsight. One of my friends has told me how much she appreciates that I can completely change my opinion on a subject. And I do believe our fervant insistence on consistency is a plague on our ability to think creatively and explore critically. Yet for a published work, I want to have a certain degree of stability in my philosophy. Years later, I don't want to have to disavow its point of view, prematurely drawn and hastily concluded.

The effort also underscored another push-pull relationship: between looking inwardly to create and looking outwardly to learn. Like I think about how, instead of waiting patiently as my snake tried to break the seal of its old skin during a molt, I sat down on the computer to write about it, thus missing the actual event. That's not what I want, to be holed up away from the living, breathing world as I get lost in the mirror of my own thoughts. It isn't time for that yet.

I've also come to realize how important it is that my writing be about sharing my insights and elucidating my understanding of the world as a kinky, polyamorous woman trying to live out her truth in this age of wall-to-wall vanilla sexuality and monogamy for show. I don't want to be just another person climbing on top of a mountain shouting "Look at me! Pay attention to me!" If I wanted that, I could join a reality show. No, I want to highlight my journey and help guide others who feel lost in this wasteland of both suffocating restrictions and out-of-control mores.

We all hold up our sacred cows. I used to think to be an acclaimed writer would be such a big deal. Yet like everything, it is what it is and no magic pill. I have come to realize that I have a unique perspective afforded by my knowledge and experience in the areas of the modern spiritual movement (that is, the one aligned with meditation, self-awareness and traditionally Buddhist ideas), the cutting edge of technology and philosophy (accelerating change and the singularity, Craig Venter) and sexual freedom and other pleasures (BDSM, sex work, polyamory, club culture), all with the skeptical eye of a born-outsider rooted in the testy soil of Hollywood and nourished in the sensitive hands of San Francisco.

I want to share what I know, while giving myself room to stay out there and learn from the greatest teacher there is - my own direct experience. I believe we are each a learning organ of the universe, and that the knowledge we possess contributes to the evolution of a shared consciousness. And oh how much fun we can have in the process - amen to that!

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Simple Pleasures

I took in the warm weather and good music on the bay this weekend at one of the summer day parties which I look forward to every year. I wore a batik sundress that flowed against my body's curves and let the sun's rays heat my skin, and couldn't help but feel appreciated by all the compliments I received.

Club culture is really my natural playground. From extended family celebrations in childhood to my kiddie raver days to the more sophisticated gatherings of the present - dancing, chatting and lounging with a community of like-minded souls has always been a part of my life. When I was deeply involved (read: obsessed) with my pro domme career, I let a lot of that fall away. The rush of taking on this role of "dominant on demand" temporarily replaced my other outlets for connection. I guess we all get caught up at times. Now I feel like I'm finding myself again.

I've been having fun playing the femme in pretty dresses spiced up with touches of my own unique style. There is something so innocent about taking in the sweet admiration of those moved by my appearance, without that undercurrent of an ulterior motive that comes with being more than just an amateur at seduction. I revel in the simple pleasure of flirtatious compliments from strangers in polite society, the rush of mutual attraction from furtive glances and nuanced body language, the victory of achieving an intriguing sartorial balance of self-expression and the fashion zeitgeist. When I consider what to wear for an event, I allow my mood to guide me, delighting in all the clever little ways we can convey our feelings in our dress. Slight shifts in fabric choice, cut, color and accessories can make a huge difference in messaging, changing the tone from assertive, to exotic, to sleek.

I'm fortunate that in my daily life, I am constantly reminded that I am blessed. Perhaps for some who turn pro, it's an opportunity to feel special. Yet for me, trying to fit into that commercial role squeezed out some of the complexity and artistry of my self-expression, dumbing down my assets for the masses. As I evolve into my next incarnation, I feel myself relaxing back into my natural confidence, wiping away the memory of having my body and face graded on a scale of 1-10 like an everyday product for consumption. When men pay, they are much more scrutinizing and critical. This is the ugly side of turning your womenly charms into a money-making enterprise. At a party, I only hear the good stuff. But when you put yourself out there on the market, you hear the bad stuff too.

Men don't really get how sensitive women can be to this process of evaluation because they haven't been trained their whole lives that their value is intrinsically tied to their physical attractiveness - I suspect most men would have an easier time than most women giving a number rating to their appearance. We are taught that it's ok to poke fun at a man's bald spot or paunch, but that it is extremely rude to do the same with any part of a woman's appearance. We are not allowed to laugh at women's exterior, maybe that's why there are so few ladies in comedy. Women are trained to have a hair-trigger sensitivity to criticism about their appearance, and that certainly doesn't engender a good sense of humor.

So perhaps the trial by fire that women in the entertainment industry are put through is good for them, facing that achilles heel of our fixation on beauty. That may be so, but I have to say I am enjoying my newfound freedom away from the harsh glare of the professional arena. There is both a heightened subtlety and refinement in real-life encounters, as well as an unpredictability and rawness from the unscripted, and the extra leverage to be had as a lifestyle pleasure-seeker. I'm too spoiled by my real life to have stayed a strictly session-based Mistress, which in the end could only satisfy on one level. It feels like I'm melting back into my true role as a radiantly multi-dimensional, intellectually inquisitive, creatively driven woman of the world - and that much wiser for my experience in the trenches.

I am diving back into a regular meditation, yoga and non-violent communication practice, as I am wanting to fully process and understand the roller coaster ride of these past few years. I am giving myself time to step back and see the bigger picture, placing my journey as a pro domme in the greater context of my life as a polyamorous, spiritual adventurer, integrating the positives and shaking off the rest, and endeavoring to come to a meaningful exploration and assessment of it all.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

My World

I got a call the other day from one of my submissives, someone who has known me for several years now. He was on his way to buy a massage table to keep in his house for me. It made my day to know I have such dedicated attendants in my life. Although he has been devoted to me from the beginning of my pro domme days, I only recently allowed him to serve me again in scene, our dynamic's temporary demise the unfortunate side effect of an accidental acid trip. Oh yes, I do have some good stories...

I was lounging in the park with another of my dear submissives, and we mused about how life is sometimes like a BDSM sitcom. During one of our first play dates, I pulled down his pants to find the word "owned" carved on his ass! He had nervously told me beforehand how a recent scene with a friend went too far, and I knew he was worried about my reaction as I examined him. Not really knowing him at the time, I half wondered if this was some bizarre test to see if I'd freak out. In the end, I had a good laugh teasing him about it.

I've been enjoying sharing a nice meal with my submissives. People used to bug me for this, wanting to make a potential session contingent upon going out to dinner. I always refused, sensing that these strangers were more interested in "flexing their muscles," acting romantic (gag), or reinforcing the conventional paradigm as the waitstaff automatically deferred to them, the male in the party. No, it had to come from me, with my tried and true only. It was quite hilarious to watch one of my minions hem and haw when asked to make a decision. "I don't know. You're the expert, you work here. Why don't you decide?" he said to the waitress. It made me realize how much fun can be had at a restaurant, subtly training the waitstaff to direct their attention to me by having my submissive say things like "She's the boss, I'm just here for the ride."

It feels really good to step out of the professional limelight and sit back, enjoying the beautiful relationships I've developed with my chosen few on a much more lifestyle level. It's liberating to be able to take my sissy to the mall, a TENS unit secretly strapped to his privates, while we peruse the latest Victoria's Secret fashions for him. The sales lady doesn't even blink, assuming the 34Bs she's ringing up are for me.

I had thought I would still allow the occasional pro session with former non-regular clients who've seen me before at The Gates. But after one of them recently posted an unauthorized review, I've concluded that a few bad eggs make this an untenable option. I believe that even the most glowing of reviews, done without my permission, is an invasion of my privacy and a signal that the writer of said review does not truly believe or respect my position as a dominant.

When they can jabber on about what an enchanted goddess/all-powerful mistress/blah blah blah to my face and then write about me as a "provider of services" behind my back - I just don't understand some people. It seems like this last reviewer wanted to contradict the announcement of the closing of my stable, letting the guys know that not only am I still an object for public consumption, but that you don't even have to call me "Mistress." Oh really! Isn't it enough to have the privilege of a private meeting with me, why do you have to go write about it on the equivalent of a men's bathroom wall? And then they wonder how I figure out it's them, when I send them the letter of their banishment, letting them know that they have irreparably damaged the trust between us.

I ran into two lovely ladies of The Gates recently at a social event. One lamented to me how hard it was for her to take the reviews. "I remember you said I should never read them," she said, "But when I read them, it's like I see the real power dynamic. I realize I don't really have the power, even though I think of myself as the dominant one."

"No, that's just bitches getting their revenge," I tell her, "They're uncomfortable with their own submission, so they have to re-tool it after the fact as them being served by you. It is one perspective, but not the perspective. Yours is as valid as theirs. Don't buy into it."

Afterwards, I follow up with an email letting her know many esteemed artists, including a highly regarded director, no longer listen to what the critics say about them. They know holding onto the integrity of their vision is key to their being able to continue with their work.

I write to her: "Keep your vision of what you do, don't let a few online trolls taint it for you. The truth as much as anything is that you are using them for your satisfaction and gain. Don't let them pull you into their world, unless you consciously have decided you want to know. And who says just because knowledge is available we should know it. Do you need to see grisly pictures of a crime? It happened. It's true and real. But you are better off without being traumatized by that particular truth. As long as nothing overtly incorrect is being stated (eg more sensual than you get) leave it for them. It wasn't meant for your eyes anyway. I can even have my sub read any new reviews you get on the three main sites and vet them for you - just let me know."

Don't let them oppress you with their words. You will be able to hang in there longer, if you don't expose yourself to it. Take back the power and remember why you love this so much! As for me, I have no regrets, but am relieved to no longer give a shit. I have insulated myself well, surrounding myself with great people who share the same values of authenticity, intelligence, creativity, honesty, caring and discretion. Though I know I can never stop other people from doing what they do, I am content to wash my hands of it and move on. The volatile events of seven years past pushed me to embark on my pro domme adventure, knowing that we must celebrate our lives today in this very moment. And that same drive keeps pushing me further. Carpe diem baby!

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

On Driving (and monkeys)

"People are afraid to merge on freeways in Los Angeles." I am thinking about the opening line in Less Than Zero, that seminal novel for me and so many other kids growing up in LA in the 80s, as I drive away from San Francisco. I am in the lane to the right of the fast lane, musing on how I like this lane better because there is less pressure to put the petal to the metal if someone is trying to ride up your ass. I figure the speed freaks behind me can jump over to the fast lane, which is wide open anyway.

Of course, I look in the rearview mirror and see someone is breathing down my neck. It just amazes me how many people seem to lack basic knowledge of physics - that for every doubling of speed, you are going to need four times the distance to stop (given the same amount of time). It never fails to disturb me when I find that people I know and consider to be thoughtful and considerate are actually terrors on the road: tailgating, cutting off cars, getting into a hissy fit over other drivers. I get the sense that the way we drive is a good glimpse into our inner selves. Sadly, it's often not a pretty picture. Coasting down a hill, letting the momentum take me, all around me cars are lurching and braking, using up all that precious gas. That jittery, greedy mind which stutters, hiccups and howls, always wanting more, more, more...until we suck this planet dry.

So this car is still tailgating me. Why doesn't it just pull into the fast lane? It finally does. I am keeping pace with the car in front of me and we have a respectable distance between us. Despite the fact that the fast lane is wide open in front of and behind him, the car now jumps in front of me. Maybe he (or she) gets nervous being alone in the fast lane, who knows? I laugh as he starts in on car that'd been ahead of me. Eventually, he gives up his pressure tactic and switches back over to the fast lane.

Taking this little incident further in my mind, I wondered what if this driver didn't wise up and change into the faster lane? What if he just kept accelerating dangerously close to the car ahead of him? The other driver could do nothing different, satisfied in the knowledge that if anything happened, it'd be this fool's fault. But for safety's sake, the other driver would likely change into a slower lane to avoid a mishap.

Our cars are lethal weapons, so staying the course when another driver is being overly aggressive is basically stepping up for a duel. Yet many of us would not back off. We've been taught that to do so is to be a coward. That the courageous thing to do is defend your righteousness and not back down. But is that really courage - to act suicidally, even homicidally, to make your point? Well when you put it that way Mistress, of course not! But our relationship with cars is strange because the rules of engagement we use on the road can often seem less rationale and more pushy than how we are face-to-face. There's a strong ego-involvement with our cars: with the way they look, with the way we drive them, and the way we react to other drivers and their cars. It's like how it's so much easier to flame people online rather than insult them to their face, we have that extra layer insulating us. Obviously, with cars this is a false sense of security.

In the western world, more people die in car accidents than anything else. Yet we fear and take measures against the abstract and the rare, not the everyday. When we drive, the first thing on our mind should be protection of ourself and others. What this means for a lot of people is protection not of their body but of their ego. Look at how we project our egos onto our vehicles. We merge our identities with them so completely, we say things like "Look at that car! Did you see what he did? He's crazy!" It's really quite extraordinary how we talk about the car and the driver as if they were one and the same.

People often like to criticize modern society for being too herd-like. But when I drive, I see how uncooperative we can be as a herd! Does that sports car zipping across lanes think he's exercising his individuality by threatening all our lives? Or how about that SUV driver with the glaring headlights, isn't she just affirming her right to be seen and recognized? It's absurd how we get it all mixed up, asserting our desire for individuality when safety should be first, yet moving with the herd on such personal issues as sexuality. Sometimes I wonder how we can be so bone-headed.

I am reminded of animal behavior I studied in my zoology class. In some ways, we are not so different. We are creatures like the rest, constantly jostling for position in the social heirarchy, staking out our territory and seeking to make ourselves attractive to potential mates, just as our fellow earthly brethren do. It's given me a better perspective on people and helped me to not take negative interactions so personally, to realize that a lot of what the average person does is motivated by these endless games, hardwired into us. It's funny how we often overlay logic and reason on our decisions after the fact, to justify actions which may have had more instinctive origins.

We have much to learn about ourselves. Perhaps as we evolve, we can align ourselves more with the peaceful, sex-loving, female-empowered bonobo monkeys and less with the violent, male-dominated, rigidly heirarchical chimpanzees. Out of our two closest primate relatives, I'm betting the bonobos are the better drivers.

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Euphoric, Inquisitive, At Ease...

Euphoric, inquisitive, at ease... I am feeling all these things at the moment. Euphoric because I'm having fun again with my play. Inquisitive to see what new directions my latest adventures take me. At ease with this period of flux and change, yet focused on continuing my learning and growing to better myself as a person.

I went through this period of bitterness about my pro domme work, which infected all my erotic interactions. Perhaps a necessary come-down from such a long time of flying high with it. I had to step back and extricate the things that really were a part of me from the things I took on in playing that role. To even say that it was a role would have been heresy to me just a short while ago, I had I merged my identity so completely with being Mistress Xia, I believed my own propaganda.

It's taken me a while to find myself again. I am slowly teasing out the real from the artifice; the genuine from the mere performance; the "shoulds" embodied in industry standards and protocol with the "wants" of my heart's desire. Learning is such a fascinating process. We set out to know, but since we do not yet know, what we are looking for cannot be preordained. Rather, if we allow ourselves to let go into unknowingness, the truth unfolds before us like a mystery unveiled. In the end, we often end up in a completely different place than we imagined. That's part of the magic of life.

I feel liberated now that I am playing by my own rules, making them up along the way. It's so much easier for me now, away from the glare of the public eye that is cast upon actively practicing pro dommes. The reviews, ads, new inquiries, gossip - I am glad to be done with it, even if it doesn't always seem to be done with me!

I recently refused someone who has served me in session before. In his previous email to me he had included a link to an escort and asked if I could be a reference for him. I told him I thought it inappropriate and distasteful that he would presume to introduce me to this aspect of his sex life, lumping all of us "providers" in the same boat. I know I wouldn't be comfortable having him serve me again. Maybe I'm a bitch and a hypocrite, but that's how I feel. And what is this about anyway, if not my feelings as a Mistress? Is it wrong that I want to feel special? That I want my slaves to act as they would with a proper lady, waiting for any permission I may give before bringing it down to a more casual/crude tone rather than assuming that I am all right with such things? I ask because even I don't know. It's a curious process, trying to figure out all this uncharted territory...

What I do know is that right now, I am having fun again. The little censor in my head which used to monitor my "performance" to make sure I was acting "dominant enough" is creeping away, no longer needed because the people with me aren't there with some ulterior motive to suss me out as a pretender. It's amazing to truly relax into my role, knowing that we are all comfortable with the flow of the power dynamic and not fixated on the "right" and "wrong" way to play. I fell into the trap of buying into that spirit-defeating game of trying to please the peanut gallery, rather than staying true to myself. Thank the Goddess within that I have come to my senses. Sweet times ahead!