Del in Person! Appearances in 2013!

This past week has seen a lot of activity in my inbox from events that want to schedule a Del appearance, so I thought I’d keep you up to date on places where you can see me in person! Some of these are still in process of being sured up, but I thought I’d give you a heads up just in case!

Feburary

Feb 15-18: Dark Odyssey Winter Fire, Washington, DC. I’ll be teaching three great classes: Non-Parental Littles Play, Leather Traditions and Protocols You Can Use, and Sadoshamanism (with Michelle Belanger). I’ll also likely be helping out with some of the rituals.

March

Mar 15-17: CatalystCon, Washington, DC. I’ll be appearing on a panel titled “Sex and Sexuality from the Trans Perspective”. It has been promised to be a 201/301 level discussion about trans* identity as it relates to sex and sexuality, and I’m happy to contribute! There are some stellar classes there that I look forward to taking as well!

Mar 20: I have a possible gig teaching for the Baltimore Educational and Social Society. This is still in the works, so the date is tentative and obviously I don’t know what I”ll be speaking on.

April

Apr 5-7: Charm City Fetish Fair, Baltimore, MD. I will likely be in attendance, and may be appearing on a panel or giving a class depending on how things shake out. It is an awesome educational event!

Apr 23: I am teaching for Black Rose (Washington, DC) on one of their Tuesday educational evenings. They’ve asked for my class “Oh Bloody Hell, Wound Care in the Dungeon”, which is a great class on how to protect both your partners and your toys should you accidentally (or purposefully) break skin while playing. Great for those who are skittish about blood!

May

May 16-19: Northern Delaware D/s Boot Camp (no website, but you can find them on FetLife), Darlington, MD. I am in the process of securing a one-day appearance with them, so this is still in the “maybe” column, but it’s a great event at Ramblewood if you aren’t a fan of big crowds. Lots of great educators and a fun atmosphere.

June

Jun 12-16: Free Spirit Gathering, Darlington, MD. This is a family friendly Pagan event I attend every year. In addition to driving the “Short Bus” (a mobility aid for those who have a hard time traversing the campground), I will be teaching classes in the Teen/Young Adult track, as well as possibly some geared towards adults.

Jun 19-23: Dark Odyssey: Fusion, Darlington, MD. This is a big kinky festival with a focus on spiritual kink (although there is plenty else to do if that’s not your thing.) I will be working primarily with the brand new “Ordeal Track”, where it will have its own focused programming and rituals, including a culmination ritual that is designed to push your limits and show you what you really can achieve. It will be an extremely fun week, and one of my favorite events all year!

August

Aug 16-18: Etinmoot, Hubbardston, MA. This is a small gathering for people interested in celebrating the Jotuns of Norse tradition. I will be leading either a class or a ritual (or some combination thereof) for Hel, including possibly talking about my experience this past winter.

Well, that’s what I’ve got so far. I’m sure as the year progresses, I will be adding more dates onto this list. If you are a member of a Pagan, Northern Tradition, Shamanic, or other spiritual group; or a kink, fetish, power dynamic, or other BDSM group, and you’d like to have me come speak, teach a class, lead a ritual, or in some other way participate, you can contact me at awesome.del@gmail.com and I’ll be happy to send along a class list.

You can also follow me on various social media for updates as to when and where and what I’ll be teaching. I can be found as “Del Tashlin” on FB and G+, “Wylddelirium” on Twitter, and “Del” on FetLife.

Hope to see some of you soon!

Passwords

“Please don’t write about this in your Livejournal.”

I remember the day he said this; we were having a pretty big fight and I don’t remember what it was we were fighting about but it meant a lot to me. It really bothered me that his first thought, the moment the fight had come to one of those awkward pauses where both parties have stated their case and no compromise was in sight (yet). He was worried that I would telegraph his contrariness, his unwillingness to fulfill whatever need the fight was about, to all of our friends and the masses of anonymous faces on the Internet; make him out to the be the bad guy, the mean boyfriend, the person who cared more about being right than being harmonious.

As time has gone on, the words may change but the sentiment is the same. Any time someone close to me has said or done something less than honorable, has lied or cheated or even was just less than the perfect partner/friend/associate, there’s been a moment where they’ve asked me to keep it private, to never speak or especially write about the turmoil of emotions and hurt feelings I was desperately trying to process. Sometimes it was even okay for me to tell each friend, individually, about what was going on, but never all at once, never in a way that allowed me to just bleed it all out onto the electronic page in one action and never have to have the six million painful conversations over and over again, answering their questions individually, probing into the same wound every day like I’m trying to see if maybe, just maybe, the clotting and scabbing had begun and I could feel a little less open, a little less prone the the infections, the systemic deconstruction of everything I had hoped and dreamed for whatever it was we were talking about, or building together, or tearing apart.

Even now, I have both been guarded about what I say “publicly” about the dissolution of my marriage, a situation in which I was somewhat willingly unaware of the seeping infections that were eating away at my last real hope of finding a singular partner who would really and truly broach the gap between romantic partners and “family”, or Family as he’s desired for me to refer to it as, even now, even that I wake up in the morning and live an entire day without him knowing one moment of what I’m going through. He either refuses to read the things I write about my struggles online, or pretends to, unless I’ve written one negative word or phrase about him. He asks me questions about things I’ve explained in great detail on a blog or Facebook status or some other medium, as though he is happily ignorant of the fact that I’m still sharing the same things I was before. Except then, in the “before”, he had the background, he knew the whole story, he got the veiled references and the vague bitching about a particular person or situation; now he’s out of the loop, and either refuses to try to piece it together or is actively avoiding the parts of me I feel comfortable enough to display.

I have tried to explain to several of my ex-loves, this idea that my life is littered with passwords; there’s the stuff I put out there unprotected, the stuff I’m not worried if people see or steal or retell in their own words. Anyone can find it, probably without trying too hard. (Gods know there’s someone who continually googles “del tashlin”, with no capitalization, almost every single day, to find this blog. Which I find a little creepy. And I am guessing it’s the same person, because there’s never any variation, always the same two words written in the same way, like clockwork, at approximately the same time of day.) There’s another vault, one that’s pretty easy to crack if you’re just willing to talk to me directly, call me up on the phone or even just send me a text or email; I usually answer direct questions with as much honesty as I can muster at the moment. Sure, there are times I will shy away from things that feel too personal, depending on what passwords I’ve assigned the person – and sometimes that changes from moment to moment, depending on the social maelstrom of the day, or week; sometimes depending on who they’re connected to in their lives and if I can trust them not to work their metamour network hard enough that it gets to someone I’d rather not know my personal business. And like all relationships, sometimes there’s a magic moment where someone is granted a provisional password, I decide that our relationship has progressed to a point where I feel a little more comfortable with them, or honestly, if I realize that the person has something (information, skills, objects, time) that I am in need of, and think a little confidence here and there will gain me better access to whatever it is. I’m willing to trade secrets for things I need, and I know I’m not the only person who does this.

Then there are the ones I hold in my heart, the ones who have the administrative password, who are privy to the dirty details and the mess of thoughts and feelings I hold closest to me; the things that feel foundational to who I am as a person, those things that we sometimes feel could be turned into weapons against us if the tides change. I’m usually pretty careful with giving this out, although these days I wonder if I should exercise more caution about it. These people get the whispers in the dark, the opinions I’m not done chewing on, the truths I hold and usually dress up with diplomacy and tact for others, but they get the raw materials. They know how I really feel, what’s tearing me up inside, my insecurities and fears and stupid habits I wish I could rid myself of.

People notice. When I give them a new password, bring them in a little closer, decide that for the moment or for the foreseeable future I’m willing to be a little more forward; there’s usually this moment where they tell me I’m authentic, or self-aware, or sometimes it’s more like “Holy crap. I always thought you were this confident, put together kind of guy and now I’m seeing all the glue and chicken wire that hold you together.” They get to see me when I choose to cry (as opposed to those times when the tears are too automatic and I don’t have the luxury of choosing), when I am strong enough to face a fear head on; they get this awesome intimacy that has nothing to do with genitals or fluttery butterflies or flowers.

This is why I have people in my life that I fumble to give a title to. Our whole culture is built on the idea that the people you hold closest are either related by blood or touching your genitals on a regular basis, and we have words for that. Words that make sense, that carry weight. That awkward moment when you turn to someone and have to ask, “So, are you my boyfriend?” When I was younger, that moment happened more organically; there were clear cut behaviors and actions that qualified you for a title. If you held hands with me in the movie theater, we were “dating”. If you wanted to be identified as a serious part of my life, you were my “boy/girlfriend” – or sometimes that title happened after the first time we had sex. If we were feeling particularly grown up about the affair, we might use the term “lover”. And when we signed some piece of paper in the Court house, or stood up in front of some people and said the right things, we were “spouses” or “husband/wife”. Every body else was relegated to “friend”, or perhaps “acquaintance”, although I don’t know two people who joyfully describe their relationship as an “acquaintanceship”.

But “friend” is so insufficient sometimes; there’s a world of difference between the guy I play board games with and share pleasantries and go to his wedding and maybe get a holiday card from; and the person I choose to call first when something amazing happens to me, or when I’m in the deepest despair, or I’ve been jailed in a foreign country and I need someone to come bail me out. I fumble with the words, the titles, to explain to other people the vast valley that separates the mild affection I feel for someone whose occasional company I enjoy muchly, and the person I’m willing to divulge my most monstrous thoughts.

This is what happened with my partner Winter. If you looked at us, you’d easily see that we have some bond that transgresses a casual friendship. We touch each other with a familiarity that lovers usually share; we have those quizzical inside jokes and references that long time best friends carry with them; we sometimes get naked and do things to each other that involve shiny metal things; we talk openly about our sexual desires and our irrational fears and our biased theories on how the Universe works. No one word can encompass all of this, especially since we’re not really “romantic” with each other, at least not in any sort of traditional way. We don’t go on dates or have long sessions of unhindered sex. We don’t have any long term plans that involve the other – he’s seriously contemplating moving to the left coast, and I have no plans to follow him even though my heart aches at the thought of the distance.

How do I sum this all up in a way that you, the casual reader, the one with the most basic of passwords, can comprehend? So he and I had this odd talk, where I told him that while I was teaching classes on sexuality and relationships that I felt compelled to talk about him, and so I had hastily decided on the word “lover”, even though that didn’t feel appropriate. And he agreed, that our relationship was much more intimate than “friend”, but there wasn’t a really good word or title to sum it all up. Over time, we’ve used various titles depending on the situation, but at least for me, I’ve settled on “partner”, because it not only connotes the idea of a long-term commitment to share lives, but also two people colluding on the same projects, ideas, and working together to bring things into fruition (like “business partner”).

He has the administrative password. He has permission to call me out when I’m being cruel or stupid or making a bad decision. He gets to hear all the gritty details of whatever I’m going through, down to the milliliters of fluid that are coming out of my drain. He’s usually one of the first people I call when something delightful or dreadful happens to me. He was the first person to dare tell me that my marriage was falling apart, that he suspected Mike was cheating on me, that he didn’t approve of the way I was being treated and regarded. And it was he that I called, as I sat on the stoop of the townhouse, when finally Mike and I had the conversation wherein he admitted he had been having an affair for a long time, that he was keeping from me because he was afraid I wouldn’t approve (and I didn’t), and it was Winter who was one of the first people to start helping me put my life back together.

On Sunday night, Mike and I did a “handparting”. It is the complement to a “handfasting”, the Pagan concept of marriage. Our society and most Judeo-Christian religions don’t have a ritual or ceremony for when a partnership dissolves because in their belief system that isn’t supposed to happen. It makes me wonder if part of the flight from traditional religions is this blind denial that more than half of the marriages end in divorce these days, and yet they still deny this occurs, deny their devotees a way to turn to religion for comfort and support when their heart is breaking. I very much wanted to do this, even though we can’t even begin to talk about legal divorce for another six or seven months due to Maryland divorce laws (you can only be granted an immediate divorce in the cases of abandonment or adultery, and in our polyamorous arrangement it would be difficult to define what happened to me as “adultery”, because the law states that I had to feel I didn’t have the same right to do what he did. Although that is technically true – I would never have started a deep emotional and power dynamic driven relationship without being completely up front with him – this is not something that the heteronormative and monogamous-assumptive legal system would be able to grasp the subtleties of.).

I needed to create spiritual space between us. I needed to admit in front of my guides and guardians that he was no longer a part of me, connected to me, where I was willing to accept responsibility for his decisions and actions that might have spiritual “splash back”. I honestly don’t think Mike ever really understood that I was willing to do that before, that I had done it, because he doesn’t see the Universe in exactly the same way I do, but it was something I needed to have happen nonetheless.

I needed to revoke his administrative password.

Because that’s the problem I face with the exes in my life, the ones who were once intimately involved in my day to day life, who were there for the secret tears and the midnight confessions and the tragedies that my Irish upbringing told me weren’t for public consumption. They knew the stories that never made it to the Internet, the veiled references and the vague ranting. And inevitably, whether days or weeks or months after they decided (and something I’ve been chewing on, it was almost always their decision) that I was no longer the person they wanted in their life; they’d hit a firewall. They’d ask a question I no longer felt obligated to answer. They’d read something on Facebook and want to know what I was talking about. They’d hear a rumor about something I’d done or not done, and want to know the whole story. Or they’d just want to talk about something that requires a different password.

They’d bounce. I’d say no, or change the subject, or sometimes would be forced to re-explain the whole password allegory, which I had told them when we first got together as a warning. It’s become part of my “okay, this is actually a relationship” patter – to explain the whole password thing and how my exes are continually frustrated for a while, because they are used to reaching out for something and being granted all-inclusive access, and then when things change they reach for the same thing and they are denied.

And it hurts. I know it hurts them, because they tell me so. They don’t understand that on Monday, they could have a casual conversation with my about my health situation, and by Wednesday that was something I no longer felt inclined to share with them. They’d push for details about a new relationship, or my future plans, or try to figure out what I meant by that very carefully worded answer. Eventually, it would come back to this conversation about passwords, and how they should have considered that having that administrative password meant more than just gaining access to my genitals, but it meant that they got to share the glory and awesomeness that is my life in all it’s gory details, and now they were just a footnote, a single chapter on love and loss, one more dead dream I buried in the backyard.

Then, it comes up again. They’re terrified or ashamed or frightened of what I could possibly be saying to those who still have access; that every little reference to them on the Internet might be rife with meaning they don’t understand anymore, and even a casual reference might be a coded insult to those who have the key. They get very paranoid, and they ask. “Please don’t air our dirty laundry for everyone to see.”

It was totally okay with them for me to write about other relationships that died, or to pour my happy emotions and thoughts about who they were and all the great things they did for me, but the second those feelings were the slightest bit critical, or negative, or could reveal that they aren’t the bastion of perfection that they loved reading about a year ago – what was once something they loved about me became something else, threatening maybe.

Back in the days of Livejournal, I used to tell people when they complained about what I wrote about them (always with aliases, but those in the know knew who I meant), that maybe if they acted honorably, or treated me well, or made decisions they weren’t ashamed of, they wouldn’t have to worry about that. That there are ways of ending a relationship without fear that I will write the truth about their cruelty or dishonorable behavior. Mike is very invested in this fantasy that he is a Knight, a faithful servant of humanity, an example of chivalry, one who treats those in his life with honor and respect. Of course he doesn’t want me to write about the many times he lied, or hid the truth, or did things that were anything less than that image he so desperately cultivated. He even has a damn tattoo of Tiwaz, the rune for Tyr, the God of sacrifice and justice. He took that mark knowing that others who betrayed Tyr’s ideals of loyalty and honor have suffered real life consequences. He still shows it off by rolling up his sleeves whenever he can. And yet, when things were falling apart, and I told him bluntly that there will be repercussions that have nothing to do with me or mine, and everything to do with this lifelong mark on his arm, this reminder that can only be lazered away with terrible pain and expense, to live up to an ideal.

In the handparting, Mike made it clear to me that he wants to have some sort of friendship with me, that he wants to find a way to relate to me as Family. No matter how many times I’ve told him I feel he broke his oath to me, that at our handfasting he promised before our friends and F/family, our Gods and guides, that I was now a member of his Family in a deep and meaningful way – and that you don’t treat your Family the way he treated me. He has said that he wants this, very much, to live up to this oath and find a way for this to happen.

I can’t help but wonder how much of this is because he’s felt that firewall, that uncomfortable feeling of knowing there is more going on beneath the surface and he just doesn’t know how to unlock the code to know it all. He may be struggling against becoming yet another footnote, a single chapter in the autobiography I’m writing in my head, the grand novel of that which is Del’s life. People who know me will attest that being a part of that story makes them feel something, like it matters in some way, and being dropped by the roadside as the merry band travels on is painful.

But what I can’t seem to explain is that is exactly what it feels like when you’re forced to fall out of love with someone. It’s not like it happens all at once, especially when it happens in a moment, a single conversation. When Saif dumped me, on Monday we had had this lovely date where we literally danced to Frank Sinatra and told each other how much we loved the other, and by Wednesday he wanted to demote me from being his primary to being just some person he dated, so he could pursue another relationship without restrictions. How the hell am I supposed to fall out of love with someone in three days?

My only respite is to revoke the password. It’s an immediate action, a defense mechanism of sorts, something I can do to make it clear that they’re not the only ones dishing out the pain and suffering. Not once have I read a single word, privately or online, or had a conversation wherein the person who killed my dream of a partnered future, admits to me that they, too, had to fall out of love with me in bits and pieces. I don’t know if this is hormonal, or something to do with socialization around birth sex, or if it’s just that I don’t operate like other people, turning the stream of love on and off like a faucet. My love is more like a raging river that now I need to find a way to dam, to seal off, in perpetuity, because I’ve never given someone who has done something like that a second chance, and luckily I’ve never been asked to. (At least, not that I remember. It’s possible Joey wanted a second chance, but there was no way on earth that was ever going to happen after what he did to me, and so there was no tension, no decision to be made really, about whether or not I was open to trying again.)

Then we’re back at the beginning. Now that they know the password is gone, and with it goes the sense of security that I will likely refrain from writing about their dirty underpants on the bathroom floor or the fights that go on for days or anything else that my Irish sensibilities keeps me from talking about lest people know that things aren’t perfect inside the relationship. But there’s no way I can hide all the logistical and emotional effects of being dumped, of a marriage coming to an end, the moving out and the name change and the feeling alone and the support settlements and everything else.

Yet I try. Other than obliquely reference that infidelity was involved, I don’t say anything outright mean or cruel. I don’t call him names, or say bad things about his mother, or bring up anything I know he told me in confidence. I also ask those close to me, who are sometimes just as hurt as I am, just as betrayed, because they, too, bought into his image of honor and fidelity, not to vent their rage and/or sadness where others can see. Even when we as a group or one of us singly has to interface with him, like working at an event or even just being at the same party, we have gone to great lengths to treat him with general civility and kindness, even when under the skin we are seething to do something, anything, to make him see what terrible decisions he has made. We even go so far as to never name the person who he cheated on me with, never say anything about her at all, partially because we know she would love to find that chink and turn it into a dramatic soap opera, and we’re not willing to give her that satisfaction. (Even when she tries to tempt us into it, calling me names and insulting me in places where they can plainly see.) We hold our heads high, and know that we are being the better man collectively.

It leaves me to suffer the most only in conversation. The deepest wounds of any breakup involve the secrets, the close confidences, the weak and fearful parts of ourselves that we open up to another person, that now are shredded like a top secret document, beyond all ability to recognize ever again. The parts that take the longest to process, to move through the pain and get to the scab and finally the scar; they require information that hides behind passwords, that the general public don’t get to have. I hide my sobbing and my rage in moments when I am alone, or with someone who can hold that space for me as sacred, as a trust that cannot be broken.

Today I decided I think I need a new tee shirt. It will say:

Warning: I am writing my autobiography as we speak, so be careful what you do or say to me.

The Invisible Third

dedicated to my boyfriend “His Boy”, because he asked for it, and then waited and waited…

You tend to end up dating the kind of people you hang out with. Spirit workers and other spooky-woo types tend to hang together, because we live odd sorts of lives and it’s nice when you don’t have to explain all the weird jewelry and what a geas is and how come you wear a wedding ring but I haven’t met your spouse. It’s convenient to find yourself in situations and telling someone they need to ground and re-shield and they can just do it, rather than need you to launch into an hour-long lesson on what that means and how to do it.

It’s like any other profession – it’s comforting to know that your experiences, frustrations, and jargon are understood by others. And although not all engineers date other engineers, you tend to find that left-brained people tend to drift towards other left-brainers, and vice versa. I’m not saying this happens every single time, but it’s not uncommon.

With that said, it’s no surprise that I have found myself in a V relationship – that is, where two people are dating the same person, but those two people aren’t dating each other. But that’s not the unsurprising part – it’s that the other branch of the V is an Invisible Person. Yes, my boyfriend has a sexual and romantic relationship with his God, and that relationship, as you might expect, is his primary commitment.

Now, to those who haven’t been around people in these sorts of relationships – God spouses, consorts, whores, etc – you might be thinking that it doesn’t affect my relationship with His Boy all that much. I mean, for most people raised in a mainstream religion, what you do with God happens either when you’re all alone, or when you’re surrounded by others who believe the same thing. That’s not how this stuff works at all.

This Invisible Person, whom we affectionately call Mr. Mister, is as “real” to us as any other person. Mr. Mister has wants, needs, desires, boundaries, and faults. He makes demands on His Boy’s time and life, and sometimes those demands rub up against things I may want or need from His Boy. Like any other poly situation, you’d think the answer would be to negotiate and communicate. And sometimes that works, and sometimes that can be more problematic.

In our situation, it happens that I have fairly accurate signal clarity. I don’t say that as a boast; it’s something I’ve been told by countless clients and colleagues over the years. His Boy strains to hear the very smallest whisper from Mr. Mister, and even then his faith is at a point where he second guesses himself a lot. So there’s a lot of talking between Mr. Mister and me, and me relating messages from His Boy when appropriate, and some of His Boy talking to Mr. Mister, but not a lot of Mr. Mister talking directly to His Boy.

It took some negotiation on my part to create strong boundaries around this – Mr. Mister started “showing up” uninvited, either by just being energetically present in the room, or sending me messages to pass on, or in one case, taking over my body with no warning. I had to make it clear to him that I honor he is a part of this relationship, but that there needs to be a strong foundation between His Boy and I that exists separate from Mr. Mister’s influence. Mostly, I asked that he attempt communication with His Boy directly first, and then if that fails, to come to me and I’ll pass the message along. If he wants to be present while we’re spending time together, I just want a little warning so I can prepare, and that it has to be proportionate to the amount of time I get to spend with His Boy without Mr. Mister.

One last little tidbit about our specific situation: this is the first human relationship His Boy has ventured into since making his oaths to Mr. Mister. Everything has a “let’s try this and see if it works” atmosphere to it, and we’re both trying to fail on the side of being too cautious, rather than too lax. It seems sometimes I forget a rule or push a boundary, but overall I’m very aware of what I am free to do with him, and what belongs only to Mr. Mister. It can be tricky sometimes, because a slip of the tongue or a errant touch has put me in Mr. Mister’s sights, and that’s not really somewhere I want to be.

The first step we both took when we decided we wanted to experiment with this relationship is that His Boy spoke to Mr. Mister about it. Well, that’s not entirely true; he sorta agreed to be my boyfriend before asking Mr. Mister if he was allowed to have human relationships. His Boy is still new to this whole God-consort thing, and hadn’t yet fully explored what was now off limits because of his new relationship. When we realized we had forgotten this fairly important step, His Boy did what he could to apologize and then ask. I was in fear for a while there; we weren’t assured that Mr. Mister was going to say yes. Not only had they not discussed human relationships and what was allowed, but His Boy had gone ahead and agreed to the relationship without permission. It’s an odd feeling, knowing that an Invisible Person holds the power to tell your potential partner that sorry, this relationship that you’ve just screwed up all your courage to ask for isn’t in the cards. There was some nail chewing and mental pacing while His Boy communed with Mr. Mister about it.

Then it was my turn. I sought out a diviner, so my signal clarity would not be influenced by what I so desperately wanted. I asked if this was okay with Mr. Mister, what I should be wary of, what belonged to Him vs. what was available to me. It was made abundantly clear to me (and to His Boy through different channels) is that marriage is out of the question, unless there’s a silly legal need (like health insurance) or some other earthly need for it, but no romantic oaths of living together forever. This works well for me, since I am pretty much done with the concept of marriage anyway. It was also made clear that although both His Boy and I find power exchange attractive, we could not enter into any sort of permanent power exchange relationship. And for me specifically, I could not either collar him or be collared by him. Basically, the message was that we could do nothing that might confuse His Boy about who is on the top of the hierarchy of his relationship structure.

I was also told that there were some skills I possessed that Mr. Mister was very interested in, either me teaching His Boy or providing for him. I balked – I have a strong personal rule that I don’t date “jobs”. I did it once, and learned the excruciating way that I can NOT keep my feelings locked in a box, even if I know going in that the relationship is a spiritual setup, rather than a romantic or recreational one. And usually, when the Gods are interested in me for spiritual “dating”, part of the “job” is to force them to come to terms with their issues around relationships, and that always ends in a terrible horrible break up, and most of the time also includes the “client” spreading horrible rumors about me because they can’t deal with how many buttons I was forced to push. I hate it, a lot, so I have asked Him Who Owns my Head (Loki) not to send me more jobs like that. So when Mr. Mister seemed interested in “employing” me as a tool in his relationship with His Boy, I was more than hesitant.

However, I spent about a month communing with Mr. Mister about exactly what he wanted from me, and what He was going to do in exchange. As He is not someone I have taken oaths to or am sworn to work for, there’s absolutely no reason for me to bend my neck and just do what He asks without something tangible in exchange. I also made it clear that “getting to have a relationship” was not enough of a poker chip – it was a big one, no mistake – but for the amount of things he wanted from me, it wasn’t enough on it’s own.

It was made clear at the end of the month that He and I had come to an agreement. I would serve as a sounding board for His Boy while he strengthened his own signal clarity, and when the time is right, I will assist in “fixing” his connection with Mr. Mister so His Boy can hear Him more reliably. I would encourage His Boy to do things in public that Mr. Mister wanted him to do, and remind him when it was appropriate. There was a sexual technique that Mr. Mister wanted me to introduce His Boy to (well, His Boy knew what it was, but he had no experience with it), and since it meant taking a cherry of His Boy’s, I was pretty okay with that. Finally, He was very clear with me that I was to keep a vigilant eye on His Boy’s mental health, and if he slipped into being more symptomatic, went off his meds, or made some other change that would affect his life negatively, I was to put on my Madness Shaman hat and get His Boy back on track. I’m not so pleased about this, as a recent relationship of mine came to an end because no matter how much I tried to assist my partner with their mental health issues, they ignored me and continued to make bad choices until I had no choice but to leave.

Overall, however, it wasn’t too much to ask for, and most of it was something that I thought fell under the category of “being a good boyfriend” anyway. He and I ended the negotiation by me making it clear that if He wanted something else, He had to have a tangible benefit for me in His hand. As Mr. Mister is very “negotiation” oriented, He could appreciate this.

(Not the first time I was happy that Loki taught me not to fear Gods, but to stand up to them and talk to them with moxie, for sure.)

Now His Boy and I have been together for a little longer than six months, and it seems to be working out. Mr. Mister has made less surprise visits, although sometimes He drops little messages in my mind – like recently we were at a party and He told me to give His Boy a good time – and I think His Boy has gotten an unexpected side effect of all of this. He has been much more diligent in setting up and working with Mr. Mister’s altar, sitting in reflection more often, and in general keeping Mr. Mister closer to his heart and head and an active part of his life.

I do believe that at this time in my life, who I date or have relationships with is not really in my hands anymore. I do have some choice, and can say no, but ever since I surrendered the reigns of my life over to Loki, every relationship I’ve had has had some spiritual meaning, lesson, or exchange that has been important in my progression. However much I am angry at the STBX (soon to be ex) at how things ended up, I recognize that without his relationship I would be in a radically different place than I am now. And in some way, maybe that’s an example that His Boy needs in his own life, how to engage in romantic and sexual relationships while balancing that he has a job to do, an Invisible Person who takes precedence, and it’s not something he can hide in order to get laid.

Both His Boy (whose blog can be found at Rock of Eye) and I are hungry to hear from others who have Invisible People in their relationship life. How do you deal with communication, negotiation, boundaries, and other typical relationship issues? Have you figured out interesting ways to acknowledge Their presence in your life and in your relationship? Are you just starting out and want to talk to others who share the same experience? We’re both hoping to hear from people with an entire spectrum of experience, from those who are just figuring this all out, to those who have done it, and maybe even those who did it for a while and then went back to being monogamous to their Invisible partner. If you don’t feel comfortable posting publicly, you can contact me at awesome.del@gmail do

Event Report: Trans*Camp*Out

Event Report
TransCampOut: Longfork, WV
Website
FetLife Group

Quick note: As I’ve said before, I am a traveling sex/kink/spirituality educator, and one of the reasons I started this blog was so I could write about my experiences at various events. This just happens to be the first event I’m writing a report for; there will be more in the future. I can’t promise to write one for every event I attend, but I will try.

First of all, the facts: TransCampOut is a small to medium sized event held at a rustic gay men’s campground in rural West Virginia. Conceived by the leather group La Fraternitie De Loup-Garou, a backpatch club for transmasculine leather people, it is now run by a small staff of dedicated people from all over the country. It’s primary target demographic is transmasculine persons, but is open to people of all genders and orientations.

I have to be honest. I attended this event two years ago and had a less-than-stellar experience. Last year, I was supposed to attend but got sick at the last minute and had to cancel. I was a little surprised that they approached me to return after a no-show, but I very much appreciated being given a second chance. It was being run by different people with a different style of organizing, so I decided to give the event another try.

Overall, I had a really good time. The atmosphere promoted a freedom for people who usually have to hide their bodies for fear of hate or undue judgment; and not just for trans* identified people. I saw all sorts of body types and histories walking around in various states of undress, and no one blinked an eye. Everyone present had an optimistic attitude and an eager, friendly demeanor. You could sit down just about anywhere and people would strike up a conversation with you (and sometimes you’d find yourself in a heady conversation about serious things and it was good!). The organizers busted their asses to provide a meaningful experience, were easy to approach/talk to about event needs, and were actually involved in the event – you could find them attending classes, eating meals, and playing along side everyone else. I never noticed how often organizers tend to corral themselves away at events – I mean, I’m sure they’re super busy with lots to attend to, but finding time to experience the thing they’ve created helps them to better understand the average attendee’s experience, and that is something I definitely noticed with this event.

I reconnected with people I have met before and only see at events like this one, and I also met some new people that I felt a strong connection with. My FetLife friend’s list has definitely swollen after CampOut. My classes were very well attended, and I even got to co-teach with a stranger for the first time! (My BDSM For Bigger Bodies class was scheduled opposite Dave’s Food Play class, and after comparing outlines we realized there was signficant cross-over, so we chose to combine and teach together to great success!) The hook ritual, Into the Deep, was an outrageous success, especially for a hook team that was thrown together last minute.

The things I enjoyed most about this event:

  • The classes: There were a wide variety of classes for everyone, including intermediate and advanced classes. There was a great mix of lectures, demos, and hands-on experiences. The instructors were knowlegable and approachable.
  • The social scene: People were very friendly, and eager to get to know new people. This is a good event to attend solo – as long as you’re willing to strike up a conversation, you’ll likely find people to talk to and hang out with, if not play with or fuck. I met some great people and had some wonderful conversations.
  • The dollar auction: I admit, this is the only event I’ve attended that holds one of these, so in my mind the two have become linked. The concept is that they put an item up for auction, and every bid is one dollar. When you bid, your dollar is added to the pot and taken away from you. The last person to bid wins the item. So although you may have only paid a dollar or two to get said item, the event raises much more from all of your competitors. It’s great fun and I got some amazing items for very cheap.
  • The general feel: It was very welcoming, and open, and accepting. There was a rule in place to not assume pronouns, and I saw more than one attendee standing up for another and reminding people of that rule. (As I was with my service tiger, whose chosen pronoun is “it”, this was very handy, even when we had to correct people.) People of all body types could feel free to wander around in whatever state of dress they felt comfortable with, without fear of judgment. It was relaxed, and flexible, and slow-paced. I liked that a lot.

This is not to say there were no negatives, but both of them were somewhat outside of the organizers’ control. The first was the weather. For an event where most of the attendees are staying in tents and the roads are unpaved and ungraveled, we were hammered with rain. It was bad enough that several attendees left prematurely, their tents having been soaked. The roads to get around camp became dangerous and sometimes impassable (we were lucky to have brought a Range Rover that thrives on challenges like this, but others, who had brought sedans and hybrids, weren’t so lucky). The power went out for a while, although after Fusion I think I’ve learned how to handle that with style. It was hard to predict when you could be outside for a period of time, as the storms kept coming with varying intensity.

The other, more serious challenge for me, was the campground itself. I was staying in a cabin at the top of the hill – a very steep hill that makes the hill at Ramblewood look like child’s play – and the event was at the bottom of the hill. In between were the bathrooms – yes, there was no bathroom in my cabin, so if I awoke in the middle of the night I had to find someone to drive me to the bathroom, since it was not a walkable distance for Dels. Or if I wanted a quick trip in between classes, my options were bushes or a camping toilet someone blessedly thought to bring. But as someone with very limited mobility and chronic pain issues, this was not a friendly campground in the slightest. I get that the event organizers feel nostalgic about it (it’s been using this campground for years) and that there’s something to be said for a transmasculine-focused event happening at a campground that is otherwise restricted for gay men. But the tent field needs serious upgrading (I heard a rumor we’re the only event who still uses it), the roads need to be safer to traverse in foul weather, and there needs to be full bathrooms available to disabled patrons that don’t require long distances.

The only event-related complaint I had was the food. The event had promised to provide food for the attendees and presenters, and frequently there was either very small portions or not enough for everyone present. Because I’m on a strict diet, I brought my own food to supplement, but we ended up either making our own food, going off site, or eating at the small campground-run cafe the entire event (except for one breakfast). If you decide to go to this event, you should bring your own food, and think of the food provided as a supplement. You’ll thank me for it.

I want to be abundantly clear – the event was awesome, and I had a really wonderful time. It was the location I had serious issues with. I used to be a ‘roughing it’ type of guy, but not so much in my current state of health, and so all the mud and the walking around and the peeing in bushes is just not my thing anymore.

I would highly recommend this event for able-bodied trans* people of all genders as a safe place to explore your body and it’s turn ons. I would even recommend this event for SO’s of gender-transgressive people, because there’s a lot of support for you there as well. It’s great for kinksters and leatherpeople of all levels of experience – the classes ran the gamut from the beginner to the advanced. If you enjoy tent camping in the woods, and want the feel of the old time gay leather runs, this event can fulfill that need, regardless of your gender.

Upcoming Apperances Summer/Fall 2012

I figured I’d take a break from the Month of Loki posts to let you guys know about some of the presenting/teaching gigs I have coming up in the next few months.

For those of you who only know me through this blog, I should explain that I am an adult educator who travels nationally teaching about a wide variety of topics, mostly focused on spirituality, sacred sex, kink/BDSM/Leather, and LGBT/queer identity.

In a few days, I’m off to the wilds of rural West Virginia for Trans Camp Out. I’ll be teaching BDSM For Bigger Bodies, Needleplay as SM, and Kink Spirituality. I’m also facilitating a body modification ritual (focused mostly on energy/hook pulls) called Into the Deep. Reg is already closed for this event, but I’ll be sure to let you know how it goes.

I’m super duper excited about my participation in Dark Odyssey Summer Camp. This year, they’re trying to bring a little nostalgia to the “Summer Camp” experience by having some classes that you’d find at any kid’s camp, but with an adult twist. In that vein, I’m going to be playing the part of the “Drama” teacher, which oddly enough, I was a drama teacher at a private summer camp once upon a time. One class will focus on how to apply the foundations of improv to kink play/scenes. Another will be a more traditional improv class, which will create a team for Whose Kink Is It Anyway, an actual improv-troupe performance. But have no fear, I’ll also be teaching a needle play class, if all this goofing around isn’t your…kink.

I am planning on attending and/or possibly teaching at Dark Moon Rising, a pagan BDSM event in Western Mass. (Note: the link goes to last year’s page. This year’s dates are Sept 28-30.)

In October, I’ll be at two awesome events – the first being Black Rose, the hotel event hosted by the DC BDSM organization of the same name. A few weeks later, I’ll be co-leading a Loki intensive at Nine Worlds Festival with Elizabeth Vongvisith. Nine Worlds is a family-friendly Northern Tradition gathering at a lovely campground in Northern Maryland. I may also show up at Queer Invasion, a play party in Hartford, CT, but that’s still in the maybe column.

I’ve got some gigs in the hopper for November, but they aren’t confirmed yet. I’ll start some rumors that I may be found at The Geeky Kink Event II and Brimstone III, but I can’t be entirely certain.

I’m still available for spirituality, kink/BDSM/Leather, or LGBT events, especially over the winter. If you’re an event organizer, feel free to email me at awesome.del at gmail.com if you’d like to see a class list. And if you’re attending an event and think it would be nifty to have me present there, tell the organizers. You’d be surprised how many gigs I’ve landed because someone told an event producer that they really wanted my classes at their event.

It’s worth noting that I also teach classes to small groups of people – I just need my travel and accommodations catered to. So if you wanted to gather together your friends and have me come teach in your living room, that’s a distinct possibility.

Hope to see/meet some of you lovely readers soon!