Wednesday, February 24, 2010

RuPaul's Drag Race

I've just discovered RuPaul's Drag Race on Logo. A reality show in the same vein as America's Top Model, this show features fabulous drag queens in competition with one another. What really impressed me was the level of self-awareness, maturity and personal evolvement demonstrated by the participants.

I tend to avoid reality shows and find that I don't have much time for TV except for my science fiction favorites like Battlestar Galactica. When visiting friends or family, I occasionally get trapped into watching drivel like Rock of Love or Millionaire Matchmaker (the latter show certainly reinforces my sense of gratitude for the pure and generous relationships with which I have been blessed). Reality show participants in the straight world are commonly narcissistic, emotionally stunted and vindictive. While there definitely was some posturing on RuPaul's Drag Race, there was also a higher degree of self reflection and emotional maturity.

Often after the initial exchange of bad mouthing, the competitors were able to step back and re-analyze the situation in a more objective and forgiving manner. I suppose this is already to obvious to some, but for me it spoke to how those who regularly experience oppression - in this case, for being gay and drag queens - have the potential to be more enlightened than the average person. In a world that does not accept them for who they are, they learn early on to transcend the bullshit and focus on what's truly important. There is a lesson there for us all. This show got me teary-eyed with joy at its whole-hearted embracing of a too-often ridiculed community. Thank heavens for Logo!

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Binary? Guilty as Charged!

A friend commented that it's either all or nothing with me. Yes, when it rains, it pours! I have had more than a few good laughs about that one. I know I can be binary, coming at life in fits and spurts. Over the years, I have smoothed out a little. Yet I know this is part of my nature, that when I'm on, it's all the way. So I work with it, ride it as far as I can, then jump off when necessary - all the while trying to maintain that meta-awareness that can help give me pause at key moments.

I've learned to enjoy the balancing act, finding my own brand of moderation not in a lack of extremism but in a balance of extremes. But it isn't all just leaping from one thing to another. In some ways, I am a slow stewer. I take things in and let them steep. And as more things are taken in, the pressure builds. At some point, all that energy comes bursting through. It only looks sudden and unexpected.

So many of the cliches contain nuggets of wisdom, which makes sense since they 've stayed with us all this time. Three steps forward, two steps back - I think this more aptly describes how we learn that most of us would like to admit. Mistakes are necessary to learn from, yet we delude ourselves into thinking there is a thing called perfection and then kick ourselves for not holding up in comparison. As I have mentioned before, I only really found my rhythm when I allowed myself to start making mistakes. As I've passed my twenties, I've begun to see a split take place between those of us who continue on the path of growth and those who stagnate into bitterness. The difference seems to stem, at least in part, from the degree of flexibility one possesses. Those who are rigid and rate themselves against external standards seem to be at a disadvantage. Whereas those who have learned to balance gentleness and a sense of focus within themselves seem to thrive. You can tell a lot just by looking at someone's face - what expression is it set in? What is the look in their eyes? We can never really hide the truth, though our words may tell another story.

I have an interesting instructor in one of my classes. He challenges with the level of intellectual dexterity he requires, often making students feel a bit stupid for their comments by cutting them off and attacking their points. I like that he's impatient with mental laziness, though I can see his approach has the effect of cowing most of the class into quiet submission. Not surprisingly, our verbal tussling only encouraged me to speak up more as the class went on. He's seen that I won't back down, and that I know how to reason to substantiate my points. The truth is, I do like a good, rational argument - so few people know how to engage in logical debate, it can be exhilarating to find that someone else in the room is actually awake. We will have to see if this observation plays out, but so far he seems to coddle the few boys in the class and be more critical of comments from the rest of us, begrudglingly conceding my points while heaping praise on one of my male peers (I did get the last word in class the other day, which of course, works for me). I find myself stepping back from the immediacy of the class to analyze him as a potential therapy client, observing his body language and tracking his comments for hints of his past experience. I know this is a strategy to leverage my sense of power. But hell, he sits comfortably in his authority at the head of the class, so why not summon mine? I realize a lot of the other students in class, especially with so many of them recently coming from undergrad, are, whether consciously or not, seeking his approval first and foremost. When he doesn't automatically give it to them, they withdraw. His style seems dismissive of this, like by being off-putting he's trying to show us it's about gaining his respect through critical thinking, not having him pat us on the head for being good girls. It should be a stimulating class.

What made me think of that instructor was some comment he made about how, back in the days of Seneca et. al, people wrote things simply to convey their ideas to others and not to gain tenure (obviously one of his hot buttons, as he mentioned it more than once). I too have cursed the nature of society, where one's art and ideas get whored out to make ends meet. Yet here I am, blogging for no other reason than because I feel like it. There is hope, dear professor - you just have to stay open to finding it.

I'm off to South Beach, Miami. Have a great week!

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Coming back to My Life

Having exorcised demons, I am coming back to my life with a vengeance.

Lost in a hall of mirrors, before long I thought the reflection in the mirror was actually me. But my doppelganger liked the things I did not, embraced places I dared not go. I suppose there was some form of liberation there, to sneak in amongst the others, to try to go that way. Yet slowly, almost inperceptibly, I was draining away. I knew it in my dreams, where I would scream out, "I'm a prisoner!" or literally try to walk away in my sleep. My inner self knew what my outer self stubbornly denied. And so I walked that path for a while, long enough to start feeling it as a relentless beat, a pain which wracked me so hard, my body rebelling against the lie, I could no longer move with fluidity. Is this how the rest live? I wondered, and yet I knew the tragic truth.

Live life directly, don't take someone else's word for it - this has been the closest thing to a mantra for me. The mind whined and whimpered in the corner like a little lost dog. A blindness of the senses prevailed, somehow soothing in its suffocation. How could this amnesia overtake me? Falling without reason, too afraid to reach out and find one. I had never been this way before. In my three and a half decades of life, it had been mostly glory, shame banished to the recesses. Yet the dark coil of wanting, yes like a moth to a flame, kept me circling this thing until it was done. I have lived through it. No - not without a scratch - but still, no regrets. For there was beauty, even in the road to destruction.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Going Red

I had a nice long break from grad school over the holidays, it was good to decompress and take stock of my first semester. You might be surprised to hear that I just officially started my graduate studies, since I've mentioned taking classes here and there over the years. I moved up to San Francisco shortly after earning my undergrad degree in History. Once here, I continued to pursue learning for its own sake, seeking out myriad subjects - both in the classroom as well as in the dungeon and elsewhere - which could expand my understanding of the world and enrich my ability to see it in all its greatness. So it has been a long and winding road to get to where I am now, pursuing an advanced degree in this particular field. I wouldn't have had it any other way.

Yet once ensconced in the situation, finding my rhythm within my cohort of classmates, circle of professors and clinical supervisors, I have found myself chafing a bit at the role of clinician-in-training. That little voice in my head that, up until this point, had been advising me to dress a particular way to "look the part" has now rebelled against the idea of being just another pony-tailed, cardigan-wearing, smooth-talking arbiter of convention. That's not really the job I am working towards, now is it? To become an enforcer of the normal? How deathly boring that began to sound.

In a stroke of admittedly impulsive inspiration, I dyed my hair an intense shade of red. The color is a bright burgandy with a hint of magenta, reminiscent of Dr. Pepper. By no means does it look natural! It's Europunk, superhero, anime fun.

It feels great to break out of the mold a little, let that natural-born freakiness come through a bit more. Pretty blondes and brunettes come up to me at school telling me that they love my hair, confiding that they once had it that shade back in the day. All of a sudden, I feel like the cool, edgy chick - which is great, because I am. We'll see how long I keep it this way. My hair, like my entire being, likes to be in flux, endlessly transforming from one stage to another.

Friday, February 5, 2010

The Question of Authority

Several months ago, I started doing over-the-phone counseling and consultations. I have a few different listings, the most popular one being my expert advice on alternative sexualities. It's really quite striking how different it is to chat with men about issues of sexuality using the label of sexual health advisor, as opposed to Mistress. The sense of deference, respectfulness and professional decorum I had wanted and expected as a domme is now there for me. It would seem that as I journey toward becoming an "expert" in the conventional sense, I am finally finding the level of interaction which most suits me.

It is a shame that as a dominant woman, it is so hard to be taken seriously. When men would call me up as Mistress Xia, there would so often be rudeness and a passive-aggressive undertone, with the presumption that letting it all hang out sexually was completely acceptable and without the need to ask for permission. Well, look at the difference between the so-called legitimate telephone advice sites and adult phone sites like Niteflirt - that says it all.

One interesting development in advising as a sex expert is the predominance of men who call wanting to discuss their first sexual experience with another man. of course, I get my fair share of callers who are into kink in one form or another. Yet this other group of men is new to me, in that they certainly did not reveal themselves in any great number during my session days. They are typically in their 40s or 50s, and often had never really entertained the thought of doing such a thing until spontaneously availing themselves of a serendipitous opportunity. Yet in the act itself, they find liberation through an unmatched intensity of eroticism and hang-up free pleasure-taking.

While I suspect some have had these inclinations lying dormant, without their conscious awareness, in discussing their previous interactions with women, I detect a pattern of submissiveness on the men's part and frigidity on the women's part. These men seem to be in need of having the other party be the aggressor, and not a lot of women fit the bill. Moreover, many American women are still quite repressed in their sexual expression, afraid that if they do more than just lay there they will be taken for a slut. And so it makes sense that as some men turn the corner toward middle age, and find that they have never really satisfied their sexual urges in an uninhibited, balls-to-the-wall kind of way, that they would turn to another man.

Sometimes gender roles can be such a troublesome barrier to having hot sex. And so not having to worry about that particular power dynamic can feel incredibly freeing. I am happy to report that pretty much everyone I have talked to on the subject is only minimally distressed by this development, and they typically leave the conversation feeling even better about it than before. For the most part, they are at peace and simply want to be able to express this secret joy with someone, knowing that it probably wouldn't make the best water cooler conversation with the other boys in the office.

I'm so jazzed to be back blogging. There are all these thoughts and ideas, big and small, that I'd like to share. That tap of creative energy has been turned back on and I am feeling like myself again. Thanks universe!

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Pop Culture Tangents of Love & Hate

A former sissy of mine (former in that he no longer serves me - he still is a sissy!) turned me onto Lady Gaga. I just watched her Grammy performance with Elton John. I even got a little weepy, it was so beautiful to see a hitmaker who is also a true artist: provocative, multi-layered, fearless and extremely talented. The Fuse interview I watched of her only confirmed her astonishingly real presence, which makes so many of the others out there seem like mere hustlers in comparison.

It is so refreshing to see a freak-loving pop star really have fun with the elements of the genre. I think we've all grown a bit tired of the vapid popular girls of high school as a template for divadom.

Speaking of which, in an attempt to gauge the status of popular culture (and torture myself with shite), I occasionally channel flip. I found myself on the Disney channel watching the dead-eyed little sister of Britney Spears play just such a character on her own show. Let's forget about the fact that in real life, as a teenage mother, she's not the best role model. The dialogue on this show was mind-numbingly inane, reeking of suffocatingly conformist attitudes. But what really got to me is the way they portray this one character. She is obviously supposed to be the "smart girl," with her glasses and interjections of arcane information, which result in the obligatory "you're so weird" face cringes and eye rolls of everyone else. In one scene, she is french kissing a fat boy. He then asks her if she had tuna for lunch. She shreiks in embarrassment and madly applies breath spray to her mouth. What utter bullshit. Now that Disney has bought Marvel, I am scared of what they will do to my favorite femme comic book heroes and villains. Will they turn them into insecure idiots? I sometimes think these Hollywood players are so lost in their own game, where virtually every woman has to whore it or at least act like one, they forget that the real world (or at least the Bay Area - my refuge!) isn't nearly as fucked up.

I also recently caught up with the latest videos from Shakira. I first fell in love with Shakira when she was still a brunette ingenue and only singing in spanish. I memorized the lyrics to her "Donde Estan Los Ladrones?" album and it helped infuse the passion of the language within me. So it was with mixed feelings that I watched her transform into a blonde vixen, sexing it up and shaking her hips. I was afraid that she had turned into just another generic sexpot. All these years, I've kept my distance. Yet I was intrigued to read an article by her in a year-end report by The Economist about the schools she has started in Columbia. I decided to catch up with her. Watching her current videos, I see a rising maturity, a coming onto her own - I love seeing women emerge into their prime. Before she was a girl, not yet ready to flaunt her sexual power. But now it seems that she has learned to hone that energy, to celebrate it and use it for good. She knows how to play the game, while maintaining her strength and individuality.

These divas of our age - Beyonce, Lady Gaga, Shakira - play the same conceptual role as the famous courtesans of 19th Century France. They are unobtainable objects of desire, universally lusted after, emulated and adored, symbols of brazen feminine sexual power. And they are all doing interesting work at the moment, seemingly feeding off each other's creative impulses. It gives me hope, in some way, that this is happening. It's hard to see when we are in the midst of it, but this and other signs - such as the upsurge in well-written, intelligent shows for television - may be pointing to a cultural renaissance of sorts. We will see. . .

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Back from Exile

It's been over a year since I last posted anything here. My self-imposed exile had a lot to do with moving on from professional domination and starting a new chapter in my life. But in the process, it seems I have also cut out my tongue. I've trifled with the idea of starting another blog under a different name. Yet here is a ready-made audience for me, and there certainly is a draw to knowing that my writing is actually being read! And so here I am, back to my musings in this half-veiled confessional.

Quite some time ago now, I had an acclaimed writer who was my friend, lover and submissive talk up the idea of starting a book. He had such an exalted confidence in me, it was a thrill to know that he thought I have what it takes to "make it" as a great writer. Yet when he walked me through what it might be like, the attention and the criticism in that literary spotlight, I felt myself momentarily live through the majesty and the scrutiny, and I found it all wanting.

Society loves the driven. Too bad I have so little to prove. As the years go by and I gain snippets of the unchanging wisdom which underlies the illusion of this world, I find myself buying into the accepted paradigm of success less and less. We are evolving and it is beyond me or any one person, or even species. I breathe, I move, I feel, I write, and life cycles on.

My exile was for another reason as well. There was a shrinking away, a filling with shame, a brief trip down a torrid and tormented path. It feels like a dream now, one which slowly, relentlessly transformed into something closer to a nightmare. Though I will never deny the bliss and the high adventure - and words can only approximate the finer edges of truth - the unmistakable judgment which eventually burst through the blindness of my self-control is that it was truly a bad romance. It's been months since it all ended, and I am still shaking off the mental fog of that hallucination. Writing again, no doubt, is part of that healing.

I'm back! Welcome to 2010 dear readers. More later, I promise.