Thursday, December 24, 2009

Beloved's Divorce

Beloved is in the process of getting divorced.  If everything goes as planned, it should be finalized on Oct. 1, 2010.  The process has been surprisingly amicable.  Once they went into counceling, Beloved, finally told his wife the polyamorous lifestyle he wanted to live.  Sadly, the lifestyle he wants to live was not the one he & his wife had agreed to when they got engaged.  Although he told her he preferred to keep his marriage, as well as have additional romantic partners (not just sexual) during the therapy session, she rightly did not accept his philosophy.  Why should she?

Although I have never spoken to her, she has my deepest respect.  I was very proud of her for standing up to him & telling him she would not accept that arrangement.  Many women would have blamed themselves or worse.  In addition, she has help to create the man that I love.  Without her, there would be no him.

I can only wish her the very best.  I was completely charmed by her desire to have their marriage of 25-years annulled in the Catholic Church.  Being a good little pagan,  I wasn't even aware they still did that.  Perhaps her intentions are to remarry.  What a wonderful thought.  I hope she finds someone who is worthy of her time, energy & love.  I also hope she finds someone who has her same lovestyle whether, monogamous or otherwise.

Holiday Plans

My plans for the holidays are to enjoy the season alone, as I have for the last 7 years or so.  My boyfriend is visiting his family, including his adult children, from the 23rd to the 27th in upstate New York.  Once he arrived, his mother mentioned I should have come too.  However, because of the nature of our relationship, I would have felt out of place.  Nonetheless, it was kind of her to consider me.  As for me, I find this is a great time for self reflection & making friends with myself again.

RIP: Grandma

My grandmother died last week, at the age of 85.  We were not at all surprised, considering she had battled dementia for the last two years.  We actually prayed for her death, considering she would have been mortified at her own behavior, consisting of biting, spitting, & screaming.

Her dementia was caused from having adult onset diabetes, due to obesity.  The insulin she took for 50-years, eventually caused calcium deposits to form around her brain, impairing her brain function.

Gratefully, I had not seen her since my arrest two years ago.  She was a very difficult woman to love & because I am not very tolerant of mean people, I steered clear of her.  I can now remember her in better times.

We do not have funerals in my family, choosing instead to donate our bodies.  We have memorial services.  Sadly, I was not able to get to the service, due to the snow.  Even the trains were cancelled.

The greatest thing my grandmother taught me was to start taking better care of myself.  Her illness was completely preventable, if she only saw it as important.  I see it as very important.  Thank you, Grandma.

Monday, December 21, 2009

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Friday, October 2, 2009

"whore extraordinaire"

I apologize for not writing more often, my life has become very hectic, since Labor Day. However, you are always in my thoughts!

Beloved moved in yesterday. Things went incredible well & seemingly smooth, with the help of one of our girl crushes. Without her, we would have moved much more slowly, considering we found out she is quite the task master & neat freak. We would have moved a box from one apartment to the other & then chatted for an hour, while sipping homemade Sangria! For Beloved, the move was a bit of a ritual, as he left one life to begin another. From time to time, I would glance at him & he would smile & say something like, “I can’t believe we are really doing this. I am so happy.”

My daddie seems to be doing better, considering he has now begun preparations for his bone marrow transplant. Earlier in the year, things seemed to have fallen apart, when he was not approved for the transplant, because the cancer would not go into remission during the prep time. My mother called me in a state of incredible sadness, as she said, “I don’t know who I am anymore.” She has had to go into retirement, in order to take care of my daddie. Because she is a nurse, she felt lost, not being able to take an active part in hospital life. However, when I spoke to her earlier this week, she said “This retirement thing is not so bad after all!”

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Liberated in Love: Can Open Marriage Work?

tilda swinton

With actress Tilda Swinton declaring that three is company in her relationship, we explore whether giving up monogamy can set you free.

These days, when a bride floats down the aisle we think of a monogamous future in which she and her husband are blissfully faithful forever; anything else seems shocking, bohemian, perverse. Take the unusual and much-talked-about ménage of flame-haired actress Tilda Swinton. She lives in a large, rambling house in Scotland with her twins and their father, playwright John Byrne — and her lover, Sandro Kopp, a beautiful, shaggy-haired artist nearly 20 years younger than she is, sometimes lives there too. When pressed by reporters, she has called her arrangement "sane," which is about the last word most of us would associate with that kind of home life. "We are all a family," she has said. "What you must also know is that we are all very happy."

No doubt there are hidden difficulties that Swinton is not delving into. But is it possible that other ways of life can offer a rich or complicated kind of happiness? Is our idea of love perhaps too narrow, too literal, too unimaginative? The legendary journalist Gay Talese has been married to his glamorous editor wife, Nan, for 50 years this past June, and he is currently writing a book on their extraordinary and epic relationship. Over the years, he has had what he calls "romantic friendships" with other people, but the Taleses have maintained a closer and deeper connection than that of many more ordinary couples. "One can coast on the pillow talk of an affair for years. Affairs don't have the burden of breakfast, lunch, and dinner," Talese says. "But in the end, sex is not that important. The premier affair is marriage. Marriage is the main event."

In the 1910s and '20s, it was fashionable in certain circles to carry on with this type of romantic experiment. Virginia Woolf's sister, Vanessa Bell, a ravishing, statuesque painter who liked to wear gypsyish head scarves, lived on an English country estate with her lover, Duncan Grant, his gay lover, and her children, and her husband sometimes popped by for a week or two. She believed it was more important to live fully than to be conventionally comfortable or secure. One of Bell's frequent guests and ex-flames, the art critic Roger Fry, called her unorthodox household "a triumph of reasonableness over the conventions."

Open marriages have always fascinated and unsettled us because they threaten our assumptions; they raise questions we prefer not be raised. Is it too much to ask that one be attracted to, or intimate with, only one person for the rest of his or her days? How can we balance the comfort and stability of marriage with the desire for novelty and freshness? How does one resolve the yearning for freedom with the need for a settled life? A friend of mine has a pact with her husband that if one of them has a one-night stand while traveling away from the family, it's okay. She tells me, "In a long marriage begun in one's 20s, it seems to me that fetishizing monogamy is a mistake. Our arrangement is that if a partner wants to explore a fleeting intimacy with another while, say, abroad, this is okay, with the caveat that it's like gays in the military: Don't ask, don't tell." They've agreed that a far-flung fling every once in a while is not threatening to their relationship. This pact seems bewildering and scandalous to nearly everyone they describe it to. But for them, the possibility — the idea itself — lets some air into the marriage.

But are open marriages happy? We all know about spiking divorce rates in the '70s and the crazy ice storm that was marriage at that time. In 1972, there was a best-selling book, Open Marriage, that asked, "Is it the 'unfaithful' human being who is the failure, or is it the standard itself?" But its co-author Nena O'Neill recanted several years later, writing that fidelity was central to marriage. Jealousy is not, after all, an easy emotion to overcome. The fantasy that one can transcend rogue feelings like possessiveness and anger is rarely ever true, but one still can't help noticing that there are some unconventional marriages that endure where more traditional unions fail.

Talese says that offbeat marriages can be stronger "because you are both free and you remain together by choice, because of your admiration for each other day by day. I've never for one day in 50 years felt that Nan didn't love me, and she's never felt that I didn't love her."

It is an act of imagination to live differently from everyone else, and maybe, in rare and magnificent moments, it works. 

http://www.harpersbazaar.com/magazine/feature-articles/open-marriages-0809?click=main_srEnjoy.%20let%20me%20know%20wha

LIBERATED IN LOVE: CAN OPEN MARRIAGE WORK

http://www.harpersbazaar.com/magazine/feature-articles/open-marriages-0809?click=main_srEnjoy.%20let%20me%20know%20wha

These days, when a bride floats down the aisle we think of a monogamous future in which she and her husband are blissfully faithful forever; anything else seems shocking, bohemian, perverse. Take the unusual and much-talked-about ménage of flame-haired actress Tilda Swinton. She lives in a large, rambling house in Scotland with her twins and their father, playwright John Byrne — and her lover, Sandro Kopp, a beautiful, shaggy-haired artist nearly 20 years younger than she is, sometimes lives there too. When pressed by reporters, she has called her arrangement "sane," which is about the last word most of us would associate with that kind of home life. "We are all a family," she has said. "What you must also know is that we are all very happy."

No doubt there are hidden difficulties that Swinton is not delving into. But is it possible that other ways of life can offer a rich or complicated kind of happiness? Is our idea of love perhaps too narrow, too literal, too unimaginative? The legendary journalist Gay Talese has been married to his glamorous editor wife, Nan, for 50 years this past June, and he is currently writing a book on their extraordinary and epic relationship. Over the years, he has had what he calls "romantic friendships" with other people, but the Taleses have maintained a closer and deeper connection than that of many more ordinary couples. "One can coast on the pillow talk of an affair for years. Affairs don't have the burden of breakfast, lunch, and dinner," Talese says. "But in the end, sex is not that important. The premier affair is marriage. Marriage is the main event."

In the 1910s and '20s, it was fashionable in certain circles to carry on with this type of romantic experiment. Virginia Woolf's sister, Vanessa Bell, a ravishing, statuesque painter who liked to wear gypsyish head scarves, lived on an English country estate with her lover, Duncan Grant, his gay lover, and her children, and her husband sometimes popped by for a week or two. She believed it was more important to live fully than to be conventionally comfortable or secure. One of Bell's frequent guests and ex-flames, the art critic Roger Fry, called her unorthodox household "a triumph of reasonableness over the conventions."

Open marriages have always fascinated and unsettled us because they threaten our assumptions; they raise questions we prefer not be raised. Is it too much to ask that one be attracted to, or intimate with, only one person for the rest of his or her days? How can we balance the comfort and stability of marriage with the desire for novelty and freshness? How does one resolve the yearning for freedom with the need for a settled life? A friend of mine has a pact with her husband that if one of them has a one-night stand while traveling away from the family, it's okay. She tells me, "In a long marriage begun in one's 20s, it seems to me that fetishizing monogamy is a mistake. Our arrangement is that if a partner wants to explore a fleeting intimacy with another while, say, abroad, this is okay, with the caveat that it's like gays in the military: Don't ask, don't tell." They've agreed that a far-flung fling every once in a while is not threatening to their relationship. This pact seems bewildering and scandalous to nearly everyone they describe it to. But for them, the possibility — the idea itself — lets some air into the marriage.

But are open marriages happy? We all know about spiking divorce rates in the '70s and the crazy ice storm that was marriage at that time. In 1972, there was a best-selling book, Open Marriage, that asked, "Is it the 'unfaithful' human being who is the failure, or is it the standard itself?" But its co-author Nena O'Neill recanted several years later, writing that fidelity was central to marriage. Jealousy is not, after all, an easy emotion to overcome. The fantasy that one can transcend rogue feelings like possessiveness and anger is rarely ever true, but one still can't help noticing that there are some unconventional marriages that endure where more traditional unions fail.

Talese says that offbeat marriages can be stronger "because you are both free and you remain together by choice, because of your admiration for each other day by day. I've never for one day in 50 years felt that Nan didn't love me, and she's never felt that I didn't love her."

It is an act of imagination to live differently from everyone else, and maybe, in rare and magnificent moments, it works.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Beloved Moves In

My Beloved of two years & I have decided to move in together at the end of September. Although I had originally requested that for the fall of 2010, due to circumstances in his life, we choose to move the time frame up a year.

I am a bit nervous, because I have not lived with anyone else in six years. However, as we have gone through the process of picking out a new place, as well as discussing finances, I become more & more comfortable. We communicate incredibly well. I think as long as we keep that up, we will be successful.

Our sex lives will probably become more intense & varied, once he moves in, because he will have the ability to stay with me for extended periods of time. We our planning a trip to a local swing club in celebration, as well as becoming more active in the BDSM, pagan, & poly communities. In addition, we recently had a yummy threesome with one of our favorite girl crushes. Once we move in together, we hope to entertain her more, as well as others.

HowtoGetaBoyfriend-main_Full

Monday, June 29, 2009

Massage Party

I went to massage party recently with Beloved, at the home of one of my girl crushes. I have been at massage parties before & love them, especially when the chemistry is right with everyone involved.

This party concept was apparently new to all the other people involved. I got that hint when, as we were sitting in the kitchen, over & over again they discussed the rules. After a long uncomfortable pause, I got up & said "Yipppeeeeee...Let's get naked", as I grabbed a bottle of wine & some glasses, heading downstairs.

When we got downstairs, people got into their little groups. Beloved came with me, as did the hostess. She apparently was a little uncomfortable with the dynamics of the other group, feeling that we would make her feel more comfortable. I helped further in that endeavor, by stripping to a smile, as did the people in my group.

Our group had been together before, at least by way of hugs, friendship & camaraderie. As Beloved would tell you, he & my girl crush are like two twelve-year-olds, when they are together. They would probably pee on themselves, if someone had told a fart joke. However, Beloved has only admired her physically with his eyes.

On the other hand, I had specifically played with my girl crush. She & I had a short lived physical relationship last year, only to flicker out, when other responsibilities & stresses came to our lives.

I went first. As I lied down, Beloved stayed at the base of feet, knowing I get gushy & mushy, when someone kneads them. My girl crush, naked, with her boobs dangling in my face, stayed at my head. From there, I guided her to all of my yummy points.

After about 15 minutes of pure bliss, we switched with Beloved getting in the middle. Because he of the masculine persuasion, his whole body is a g-spot. Therefore, we did not have to concentrate in on one place. He was perfectly happy to be the center of attention of two nekkid chicks, no matter what they were doing.

Finally, my girl crush went. She lay down before us, as though she was on an altar, stretched out like a cat. I stayed at her feet, with Beloved at her head. We rhythmically began to massage her, starting at the two most distant points & slowing moving towards her center, eventually ending up just above her pelvic bone.

I am pretty sure the other group had a difficulty completing their massages, considering they stared at us in envy the entire time. Our last pose, was the three of us sitting in each other’s laps, like a sandwich, with my girl crush in the middle, smiling & enjoying our energy.

Beloved & His Other Girlfriend Broke Up

Beloved broke up with his other girlfriend recently. Being polyamorous, I am completely accepting & appreciative of other sources of joy in his life. In this case, I knew this relationship would not last long. I even voiced my thoughts to Beloved. However, what attractive, middle aged man is going to say, “No”, to a 20-year-old girl? The relationship lasted about a month & taught both of them a tremendous amount about each other & what they wanted in a partner.

In the end, it is definitely for the best, considering both I & Beloved will be dealing with some major emotional stuff in this upcoming year. I am pretty sure his other girlfriend would not be very helpful. After all, when I was 20, I had difficulty focusing on anyone other than myself for more than a few hours. I am sure the same is the case with most 20-year-olds.

I do believe they will eventually have a physical connection again. I think she needs to go into the world & live a traditional lifestyle, before she can appreciate an alternative one. Either way, she will always be appreciated for the joy she brought to my partner’s life, no matter how short the duration was.

Slipping Through The Cracks

I went for my third probation appointment recently. This time is with a different officer. Apparently my previous officer was no longer working in that office. Now that I think about it, I am sure there is a great deal of turn over. I can’t imagine that the job pays very well or that there is much gratitude.

She went over my case, just as the other had, asking the same questions & completely perplexed as to the amount of the fine ($1000.00) & the length of the probation (3 years). When I explained the circumstances of the arrest & the media attention, she just shook her head. Then, she started pointing at the folders on her desk. I finished her thoughts in words, saying “Yeah, I know it’s a waste for me to be here. However, if I wasn’t, you would not be able to take a break, by enjoying these yummy cookies with me!” I then pulled out a bag of cookies from my bag. She smiled & nodded.

It was then I realized she was in the latter stages of pregnancy. She went on to explain that she was due in September & that I probably would not see her again. Yes, ladies & gentlemen. That means I have to go through the same process with another poor officer, along with my bag of cookies. (The corset cookies were a big hit a few months ago. Perhaps I will bring them next time.)

I mentioned that my last officer requested that I take a pee test every few months, without a specific time frame involved. She agreed, saying that I should take another one, when I visited in September. That means it will be 8 months between pee tests. It seems I have fallen through the cracks yet again. Of course, it really doesn’t make any difference in my case, considering I do not take illegal drugs. However, I wonder how many others in the system have fallen through the cracks too.

For those keeping track, there were only three people in the waiting room, with tattoos on their foreheads!

Wanna Go?: Mystical Journeys

Have you ever heard the call?
It comes in the dark of the night, as the days grow shorter
and the leaves begin to turn to gold and red.
The world begins to turn inward.
The descent begins.
And yet, at this time of year, the harvest reaches its height.
The apples are red in the orchard.
The pumpkins are plump in the field.
All is ready to be cut down that we might live.
Heed the call.

Probably our most introspective event, Mythical Journeys is an opportunity for deeper spiritual work than might be achieved at our other events. Small groups of seekers will be guided through intensive experiences by specially-chosen facilitators. Each facilitator will choose a mythical focus to inform their work, many based upon descent and harvest myths.
We've negotiated a change in date to Columbus Day Weekend which we hope will allow those with limited vacation time to attend. If you don't live too far away, the event is set up so you can work Friday and still arrive at the event Friday night in time for your track to begin. Since this event involves deeper work, all attendees must arrive by Friday evening at 8 PM so that they don't miss anything. In addition, we're asking that children be left at home for this event.

New this year, we're splitting off the meals from the registration price for this event, however, we will be offering a discount if you buy all of your meals ahead of time. Eating at the dining hall has the benefit of bringing much of the group together several times a day, building community, and also allowing our seekers the freedom to work on their deep work without having to worry about where their next meal is coming from. We'll be working closely with the dining hall staff to try to improve the quality of the food. Most tracks will not allow much time for food preparation, so we recommend against it, however, you are welcome to bring easy-to-prepare foods.

Beltane Story

I am frequent visitor to Free Spirit Gatherings, Beltane retreat (http://www.freespiritgathering.org/beltane/index.html). However, I will not be going this year. I would be in the uncomfortable position of going into detail about my life, since the arrest. I feel that I would do much better, if I went with a position of power, for example, once the book is published or as a teacher at a workshop. This time around, I would have to deal with constant questions.

Next year will be completely different; I will walk into the retreat with a sense of purpose & importance. The book will hopefully be published & I will be teaching sex workshops for couples. I look forward to that.

Last year, a naughty hobbyist tried to manipulate himself into my favor during the retreat, by approaching me in the dungeon, announcing he knew who I was & who he was, specifically which whore message board he frequented, & requesting “private time” with me, as he tried to shove his tongue down my throat. He had also called me my whore name in front of others on several occasions.

I was pissed off. Why would someone think it was okay to approach me? I do have a life outside of whoredom. Did he do it, because he thought it made him special? Regardless of his intent, I have little tolerance for stupidity. I told him the only way I would spend private time with him was if he was holding $300.00 in his hand & a ball gag in his mouth. I then walked away. What a schmuck.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Too old for Sex?

Is 50 too old for men to enjoy sex and perform as well as younger men?


While most of us look forward to the honor and privilege of turning 21, some say that some men are now eagerly anticipating "The Big 5-0. So, what’s so good about turning 50? No, it’s not that 50 is the new 40 or 30, but rather if you’re one of the guys, you can look forward to "the best sex you’ve ever had".


You must think that's a crazy statement. Well, forget about the fables praising 18 year old (young) bucks for being the best between the sheets, it now seems (according to studies) that more mature "stallions" have more fun in bed. In fact research shows that men in their 50 have better sex lives than those in their 30s or 40s and just as good (if not better) than those in their 20. That’s because, say experts, men at this age are settled in their lives and careers and have the confidence they need to enjoy sex with comfortable confidence instead of trying to live up to or exceed expectations often stressing them out about frequency and performance.


Also according to recent research, not only do men in their "younger" years have too much stress and anxiety over sex (as well as relationships, family life, and careers), they are also too overwhelmed and "immature" to enjoy it (when it happens). Especially if they are in a stable relationship and/or have been for a while, these mature men, not only have peace of mind about who and what they are, but exude a quite and subtle "sex appeal" that draws their mate closer to them and that allows them to (finally) allow their body and mind to relax and (pardon the pun) enjoy the ride.


What is slightly "ironic" though is that the results also showed a significant correlation between age and reduced sexual functioning, but increased sexual satisfaction. To increase your "sexual functioning", try exercising regularly, don't be afraid of using pills such as viagra, or cialis. Consult your doctor first before trying any kind of sexual enhancement drugs.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Whores Amongst Us

The whores in my former life have been coming out of the woodwork in the past few days. Recently, I was at my grocery store shopping late at night, when low & behold, I turned around and there was L,leaning over the hot dogs and discussing the price with her companion. I immediately left my cart and headed for the exit, wanting nothing to do with anyone still in the business. You would have thought my arrest would have given her a clue about her future, considering she, with her full legal name, where mentioned in my arrest report. I do believe she is intelligent enough to survive outside of the sex industry. Perhaps not focused enough, but definitely intelligent enough.

In addition, Beloved received an email from a group of whores announcing a play party. He giggled, when it occurred to him that they were the same whores who have been putting on the same play parties for years. I told him he should go and enjoy himself.

I always believe in signs from the universe. I am not sure what these signs mean. I want to stay as far away from that world as possible. Perhaps it's just a reminder than I need to take my pee test!

Sunday, April 5, 2009

We Three

As I have mentioned several times, I am polyamourous (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Polyamourous). I believe that I have the ability to fall in love with more than one person. I seem to prefer two partners, although currently I am happily involved with only one. The last time I had two partners was in the early summer of last year.

Happily, my Beloved of 19-months has found someone else to love in addition to me. I am very accepting & supported of his new relationship, although I am not involved with her or their romance. I have known her for about a year & long ago said that they would be involved emotionally with each other, long before Beloved agreed.

I have found myself to be very protective of her. I am protective of her, because she is young (in her early 20’s), inexperienced, attractive, kinky (pain slut & into bondage) & poly. In most realms of the universe, she would be a target for lascivious people. I am pleased that my partner can perhaps be a mentor to her, as well as a lover.

I & Beloved are not sure where their romance will go. In reality, their age difference makes them on different life paths. Beloved will not have children or get married. However, as a girl in her early twenties, chances are likely she will want to go down that path. For the time being, I am simply enjoying the new love & energy she is bringing to Beloved’s life & secondarily to me.

Stronger

It has been just over a year, since my arrest for profiting off an illegal business. In the past year, I have learned many wonderful things that have lead me to love myself more, along with becoming more confident. Less face it, when your mug shot is on the news, you can either be completely accepting of yourself or go into self loathing. I chose to embrace myself, including all of my faults & mistakes. I have become stronger. I know that in that regard, I am incredibly lucky. There are people who live long lives & never fully love themselves. There are people who live long lives & never live a life less than ordinary. I am not one of them.

Cancer Silliness

My mother called me recently & told me that my father is once again in the hospital battling his cancer. However, this time she was pretty sure that if cancer did not kill him that his silliness would.

Apparently, she arrived home to him lying in bed with a thermometer in his hand. When she questioned him on his day’s activities, he replied with “I think the thermometer is broken.” When she asked for more of an explanation, he said the thermometer was broken, because it read 103 degrees. My mother then placed her hand on his head & he was very hot. She said that the thermometer was not broken, because he has cancer & is sick. He cocked his head & said, “Are you sure?” My mother’s reply was “I have been a nurse for 25-years, I am pretty sure I know a broken thermometer from a good one.”

Monday, January 26, 2009

Tinkle Tinkle Little Star

I headed to my probation officer late last month in order to complete my quarterly pee test. Although many people would complain at such a nuisance, it doesn’t bother me in the slightest, considering I don’t use drugs & to me, it’s just another chapter in my book. As in all things in my world, the simplest of things turned into a comedy routine.

I had prepared in advance of the trip, by drinking as much liquids as I possibly could. However, I seemingly drank too much & at the last moment had to pee at my apartment, before heading to Glen Burnie, 20 minutes away.

When I arrived, I patiently sat & waited for my name to be called. Once called, the admin lady walked with me across the hall to pee in my little cup across the hall in the public restroom. I entered the handicap stall, as she looked on. As I had mentioned in an earlier post, I have difficulty peeing in front of other people, particularly while holding a cup between my legs, when sitting on a cold toilet seat. As I explained my situation to the pee lady, she nodded & began a conversation with a cleaning lady, while shutting my stall door.

I tried. I tried. I swear I tried. I even pushed on my tummy, in hopes of getting few drops. No such luck! The pee lady smiling said that I could get friendly with the drinking fountain, while she took her 15 minute break. I agreed, returning the still sterile & empty cup to her & its plastic bag.

Heading for the water fountain, beside the elevator, I noticed a sight that can only be seen in the Department of Parole & Probation. A young girl, perhaps a teenager, strolled by with an infant in tow, along with a 7 month pregnant belly, carrying a handbag with the Playboy Bunny logo on it. Now I know how she got into that predicament!

As I began to guzzle water at one minute increments, my head & tummy began to swell, as my eyes popped out. I knew for sure I would be able to fill up at least a dozen little pee cups. Happily, when the pee lady returned we headed for the potties.

I tried. I tried. I swear I tried. I even pushed on my tummy, in hopes of getting few drops. No such luck! So, I casually started singing “Tinkle Tinkle Little Star”. I guess the idea worked, because low & behold, my pee lady scurried into the next stall & began to pee, while singing “Tinkle Tinkle Little Star”! The next person entered & began singing too. When I finally got up, after barely making it to the pee line in the cup, all four stalls were entertaining grown women singing “Tinkle Tinkle Little Star”.

Relived that the pee lady approved my donation, I left for home. You guessed it, once I arrived; I had to pee like a race horse!

Sushi, Cheeseburgers & Sex

I never realized how much food could be a key to a person’s personality.  I recently without success, started going out with two boys.

After several weeks of gentle coercing, the first willing decided to go to a sushi restaurant, if he could be guaranteed that they had vegetarian sushi.  Luckily, this particular restaurant had a vegetarian sushi platter.  He ordered & enjoyed everything, although he refused the mushrooms.  I also failed to tell him that I had slipped three seafood bites on his platter.  He loved those the most.  I decided not to tell him, because if our relationship continued, he would be angry at me for not being honest & sabotaging his stanch food regiment.  I knew at that point, if a boy was not willing to retry something he did not like from years ago, he was probably not the best choice for me.  That relationship continued for a few weeks, until we decided we were not a good match, considering he was focused on his job & being obsessed with another wench.

On the first date, with the second boy, we went to an Olive Garden.  Now, I would not really consider that the best choice on his behalf.  I don’t think I would run home & coo to my girlfriends “He such a nice guy & he took me to an Olive Garden for dinner!”  However, I quickly realized that his taste in food was limited to “American” & Italian.  While at the Olive Garden, he ordered a dish that was not on the menu.  He ordered spaghetti with plain sauce.  In my head I am thinking “You must be joking.  You are ordering a meal you could have made at home.  How boring.”  That should have been a clue right there.  However, hope springs eternal & I decided to take him for another test run at a local museum.  After the museum, we decided to eat at a more upscale restaurant.  There he ordered a cheeseburger, without the cheese & no tomatoes.  Then, I pointed out two appetizers I was interested in getting, one being the spinach & crab dip, the other being the hummus.  I asked which on he preferred, he replied that he did not like either.  When I asked him to pick something he would enjoy, he went for the most pedestrian choice:  Buffalo wings.  Even those ended up being too spicy for him.  In my head, I was thinking “Really?!”   After the meal, I told him I really enjoyed his time & energy.  However, I was not interested in him romantically.  If a boy is unwilling to have a little meat in his spaghetti sauce & cheese on his cheeseburger, what is he unwilling to have in bed?

sushi

Bacterial Infection

My mom called me calmly yesterday & said that my daddie has been in ICU for the past two days, fighting a bacteria infection. In addition, after doing a scan, it was discovered that his tumors are growing again. It was actually a rather good sign that she waited two days to call. Since she waited, I knew that things could have been a lot worse. She also agreed, saying that he was recovering nicely.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

"You call if Christmas. We call it Yule."


Try though we might, it is not easy to escape the influence of Christmas in this country. It is easy to become jaded and cynical about it, wondering why it is not the magical time we all experienced as children, wondering how it ever got so commercial. For modern pagans who may still observe the holiday because their families do, it is a confusing time of year; how to celebrate this as a seasonal festival when so many of our associations with this holiday have to do with gifts, food and merrymaking?

Even for those who celebrate this day as the birth of Christ, it must be difficult to stay focused on that significance, with the tinsel and shopping and office parties and the newest toys for kids clouding their vision. I for one find that cynicism abounds at this time of year, and that many adults dread the "holidays" because of family issues and stresses that seem to become more pronounced. The emphasis on having a picture-perfect "Martha Stewart" style celebration is a set-up for disappointment; and kids these days are so focused on getting presents that they hardly have time to enjoy the more sensual pleasures of the season (winter activities, traditional foods, music, decorations). Of course Christmas was not always this way; modern societies are far removed from our ancient connections to Nature; yet we still retain customs derived from the agricultural calendars of our ancestors. Perhaps there is something to be said for examining the modern traditions of Christmas in light of their ancient origins. It may be surprising to find that many of the customs still associated with Christmas today are, in fact, derived from ancient pagan traditions.

The seasonal observance of holidays such as Channukah and Kwaanza are tangentially influenced by the overwhelming emphasis on Christmas, and in the United States it has become common in recent years to give a more even representation of these holidays alongside the more popular one: Christmas. Yet the religious significance of the season seems remarkably absent much of the time. And of course the symbols of the season are very secular in nature: trees, mistletoe and holly, Santa Claus, reindeer...how do such symbols relate to the birth of Christ?

Christ's Birthday? or Winter Solstice?

To begin, let us look at the actual reason this holiday exists: for Yule and Christmas are not so very different, underneath it all; both celebrate the arrival of the sun/son; or, if you like, the light of the world...

Ronald Hutton, in his excellent book The Stations of the Sun, has this to say about the story of the Nativity: It "makes sense on a mythological level--an archetypal representation of the birth of a hero at the junction of many worlds, (who is) engendered partly of humans and partly of the divine, born in a location that is neither indoors nor in the open air, belonging partly to humans and partly to animals, and adored by those on the margins of society."

Most modern pagans acknowledge Yule as the rebirth of the light half of the year; some traditions perform the play of the Oak King and the Holly King, just as it is done at Midsummer, to mark the change of the seasons as one of them reigns over the other. It is also generally accepted that the date of Christmas is an arbitrary one; that it was chosen to coincide with the pagan solstice celebration, as a way of "converting" the "heathens" (or country folk, heath-dwellers) to the Christian way of life.

The first written record of the reason for this holiday's occurrence on December 25th was in 354 AD, in Rome, when one scholar wrote: "It was customary for pagans to celebrate the birth of the sun...when the doctors of the Church perceived that the Christians had a leaning to this festival, they took counsel and resolved that the true Nativity should be solemnized on that day."

However, the tradition of celebrating the solstice on this day is not much older, at least according to extant records: it was officially decreed in the year 274 by the emperor Aurelian. A century later, the archbishop of Constantinople observed that fixing the date of the "Nativity of the Sun of Righteousness" was necessary because "while the heathens were busied with their profane rites, the Christians might perform their holy ones without disturbance." Saint Augustine encouraged Christians to honor "He who made the sun, not the sun itself."

As an aside, the word "Yule" is believed to derive from a colloquial Scandinavian term meaning "wheel." There is also some speculation it is dervied from the Old English word for "jolly." But its exact etymology is still debated. The concept of the wheel makes more sense to me, since this date marks the definitive point in the Wheel of the Year, and for many cultures and calendars it is the start of the new year.

We know that the observance of the winter solstice was very significant in ancient times. Since this date represented the moment when the days would again become longer, when light would return to the land, the rural folk who faced lean times in winter had reason to be thankful. The use of candles as decorations and ritual objects, dating from ancient times, clearly indicates the importance of honoring the deities of light. The sun's return meant spring was on its way,and with it, the birth of new animals to the flock, and the softening of the soil tilled by our ancestors who lived as animal herders and farmers. Their celebration of this date as a holy day, when they worshiped and honored the sun as a deity, was an affirmation of their survival of the cold months of winter. They subsisted on the dried meats of the animals they slaughtered at Samhain, and what little produce they could preserve from the final harvest.

Much of the folklore surrounding winter solstice rituals from various cultures has to do with very basic symbols of agriculture and animal husbandry; in other words, the dormancy of winter as a time of scarcity, and the return of the light as a harbinger of new growth. In Frazer's The Golden Bough it is observed that Bethlehem means "House of Bread,"and that this indicates an association of the birth of Christ with ancient rituals honoring a god of grain and vegetation. The Christian mass includes as its central climax the sharing of bread which represent Christ's body; such symbology dates from well before the dawn of Christianity. And the drinking of the fruit of the vine, in addition to honoring ancient harvest deities like Bacchus and Dionysus, was also believed to insure a bountiful grape harvest in the coming year.

In areas where other fruits were the important crop (like apples in England), many rituals developed around blessing the orchards at Yuletide. Called "saining," these rites blessed fruit trees and livestock so that they might bring abundant food in the seasons ahead. Many of the "wassail" songs reflect this in their lyrics, such as "And here is to Cherry and to his right eye; May Yule bring our mistress a good mincemeat pie." During these rites, Cherry, a common name for a roan-colored cow, might even have a cup of cider tossed in his face; the way his head turned in response was considered a way of divining the health of the herd in the months to come.

The Holly and the Ivy; Did Someone Say "Tree Worship?"

Another potent symbol of Yuletide is the use of evergreen plants to decorate indoors, including holly, ivy, and mistletoe. In the British Isles, it has been customary since time immemorial to decorate with flowers or greenery at all seasonal celebrations; the traditional "evergreen" plants were those that flourished in the winter months, and also included rosemary, gorse, bay, cypress, and yew. The tradition of kissing under a bough of greenery first became widespread in the late 18th century; but this was as likely to be made of holly or gorse as it was to be mistletoe. The ancient association of mistletoe with the Druids was mentioned in a Christmas short story by Washington Irving in 1819, around the time of the revival of interest in Druidism in England. But apparently its vibrancy during winter and its lovely white berries were the main reasons for its popularity as "the kissing bush."

Many modern Witches still perform a ritual of the Oak King and Holly King at Midsummer and Midwinter. The Holly King rules the Waning year; the Oak King, the Waxing Year. The two battle each other for dominance at Litha and Yule, respectively. Just as this rite is a symbolic reenactment of the sacrifice of a young male of the tribe, to appease the gods who ruled the seasons; it is clear that Christ, like the Persian god Mithras (also born at Midwinter), is a symbol of rejuvenation and light. In cold climates, basic survival was based upon subsisting from one harvest to the next; honoring the return of the sun was believed to ensure a bountiful crop, and healthy livestock. In the British Isles (the birthplace of modern Witchcraft, and a region bursting with centuries of religious conflict and mystery) many other rites and customs still exist that reflect these "heathen" (heath-dweller, or country folk) ways of life.

Eat, Drink and Be Merry, or, How Not to Diet During the Holidays

One undeniable feature of the Christmas holidays centers around traditional foods, and the time-honored "tradition" of feasting (and, in our sedentary society, over-eating). Many of us who celebrated Christmas as children have vivid memories of special dishes (some we loved, some we hated! my own favorites were a rosemary-roasted chicken prepared by my grandfather, and my dad's fried smelt; but I watched in horror as other family members ate calamari or Yorkshire pudding). The sheer plethora of traditional cookies and sweets of the season, from many cultures but especially prevalent in Germany, Italy and the UK, is testament to an elaborate history of foods created especially for the season of Yule.

Originally, feasting at this season had several purposes: one, to acknowledge the return of the season of growth with eating heartily during a season of scarcity was a way to give physical expression to the hope for abundance in the year to come. Second, in countries where winter meant a very bleak time of inactivity (as in the fishing and farming communities of rural Scotland), a feast was a way of alleviating boredom and depression. Third, the elaborate Yuletide activities of the nobility from the Middle Ages onward gradually developed into status-conscious events wherein households vied with each other for acts of generosity to their communities: for the poor, this meant eating well and receiving much-needed gifts of new clothing or shoes. During the Protestant Reformation, when Yuletide festivities were all but banned, there were still some stubborn monarchs and lords who persisted in their celebratory rites of feasting and of treating their household servants to a fine meal; to do less would be disastrous, as growing levels of poverty meant food shortages in winter.

As Christianity gradually usurped the pagan ways of worship, the custom of Advent, which is a month-long fast before Christmas, reflects these times when people had to survive eating very little. A "fast" meant no eggs, meat or cheese could be consumed, among the wealthy; the poor generally ate very little meat anyway, and so for Advent gave up other staples, such as cider. It then became a custom to feast on the 25th, and to mark this day with acts of hospitality and generosity. The rich were expected to open their doors and purses for all; this could well have been the precursor to the tradition of helping those less fortunate at the holidays, and giving gifts to those who serve others all year, such as mail-carriers, domestic help, etc. But there were instances when the nobility merely entertained their social equals, not their inferiors, on this day. One poem from this period says:
"At Christmas we banquet, the rich and the poor, Who then (but the miser) but openeth his door?"

Until the virtual collapse of the English aristocracy this century, it was still very common to see remnants of these traditions taking place among the rural nobility. For two excellent portrayals of the Christmas celebrations of English country manor homes in the early 20th century, I recommend the films A Handful of Dust (starring Kristin Scott Thomas, Rupert Graves and Sir Alec Guinness) and The Shooting Party (starring Sir John Gielgud and James Mason). The first contains an authentic version of a masque; the second a wonderful exploration of relations between the peasants and the aristocracy,and how this class distinction is blurred during the holidays.

The concept of feasting during the Middle Ages was naturally different from what it became in later centuries, when advances in farming and hygiene allowed more people to be fed more efficiently. As the years wore on, feasting at Yuletide/Christmas became very elaborate, particularly among the nobility. One common table centerpiece for wealthy households was the boar's head; it was first recorded as being requested for Yule by the bishop of Hereford in 1289. So notorious did this dish become, as it was something of a status symbol to be able to serve it, that there were even songs written in its honor, like "The Boar's Head Carol":
"The boar's head in hand bear we, bedecked with bays and rosemary."

As the wild boar gradually became extinct (it all but disappeared from the forests of Scotland bythe 16th century), its presence at the Yuletide feast was more and more reserved for the nobleman who could afford to outfit a hunting party to procure the elusive beast. The symbology of the boar in Celtic myth is well-known; its strength, ruthlessness and intelligence made it a prize among ancient Celtic warriors, as is portrayed among many artifacts and pieces of jewelry and armor from the Bronze Age. It was highly-valued as a food source at military gatherings, wherein men would honor the animal's qualities and invoke them, as they feasted upon its flesh. Its tusks were worn as talismans to confer bravery on the wearer.

Many royal banquets at Christmas had memorable menus that included huge amounts of exotic foods. Richard II once held a feast for 10,000 people that served 200 oxen and 200 tubs of wine. Henry V held one unforgettable event where a dish called brawn (the flesh from the boar's belly) was the main dish; there was also "dates with mottled cream, carp, prawns, turbot, perch, fresh sturgeons with whelks, roasted porpoise, eels and lampreys, leached meats garnished with hawthorn, and marzipan," among other delicacies. The food was not the only spectacle, however; it was also customary to hire entertainment for these feasts; whether harpers, singers, story-tellers, or minstrels. While the feasts hosted by the wealthy were very opulent, it was also common for communities to organize their own, more humble, events, with church parishes pooling their resources to purchase food and drink, and to hire their own entertainment, or to put on their own productions (this tradition is still very much alive in the U. S. with the traditional "Christmas pageant").

It is not hard to see how Christmas, over time, evolved into a holiday of excess, centered upon food, drink and fun; and, of course, gift giving. Though the orgy of shopping makes us numb to the true pleasure of gift giving, its origins at this season were based in very simple values of generosity and hospitality.

Gift giving seems to originate in another December holiday. The feast of Saturnalia (which honored the god Saturn) was long established by the Romans before they invaded Britain, and was celebrated from December 12-17. It was a time when masters waited on servants at mealtime, and gifts of light were given, particularly candles (this may have been in honor of a solar deity for the upcoming solstice). Other traditional gifts exchanged were coins, honey, figs and pastry. Honey and figs were believed to be aphrodisiacs, but also they were highly-prized for their nutritional value (honey is a natural preservative and is believed to restore youthfulness to the skin). The giving of coins predates the traditions in England of handing out coins to the less fortunate, or the opening of a lord's purse to feed his household servants. These Roman customs surrounding the use of candles, and the exchange of gifts at midwinter, shows that many later Yuletide traditions may have originated in the older festival of Saturnalia. It may also be where the tradition of wassailing and caroling door to door, in expectation of gifts of money, arose, but many of these customs developed somewhat naturally over the years out of various practices by both the nobility and the peasant classes of England.

Wassailing, for example, is a well-loved custom that inspired many songs written especially for the occasion.
"Wassail, wassail, all over the town,
Our bowl it is white and our ale it is brown
Our bowl it is made of the white maple tree
With the wassailing bowl, we'll drink to thee.
"

The term wassail in Old English means "your health." The traditional bowl or cup full of mulled wine originates in the fourteenth century; the leader of a gathering would take up a bowl and cry out "Wassail!" and toast the others; the cup would then be passed on to the next person, with a kiss, until all in the room had drunk from it. Interestingly, some modern Wiccan covens observe this tradition when passing cakes and wine in circle. On another note related to modern Wiccan practice, Hutton also observes that a traditional dance developed that over time that was performed with the customary wassailing carols; and that this dance was performed with a ring of men and women holding hands! Sounds like many a Gardnerian ritual circle I have been to...this is one more example of an ancient folk custom of rural Britain being passed down to modern times and utilized in Witchcraft rites.
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