Petting My Brain

Emotional self-care gets a fair amount of publicity within the BDSM community.  Most frequently, it comes in the form of advice or classes on how to avoid drop, whether it be top drop, sub drop, or, con drop, though there are also other flavors.  I equate that to taking your car in to the mechanic when something needs to be fixed.  But what about regular tune-ups to make sure everything is running as it should?

I realized a need for this in my life a while back.  The symptoms of not doing this regular maintenance were similar to those of drop- generally “down” mood, increased irritability, and lack of energy and motivation.

Eventually I solidified a three-part plan to help me keep my head well-lubricated:

  • More introvert time.  While I very much enjoy social events and activities, they drain me.  I need time to recharge.  That means being alone and having free time.  I may go out mountain biking and enjoying nature, or I may stay inside, put on some jazz, and have some tea.  Most typically, I’ll need to set aside an entire day or two for this, though having just a few hours can help as well.
  • Going to more concerts.  Strangely enough, this is good for my head.  I say “strangely” because I listen to a lot of metal, and most people wouldn’t equate going to a metal show (and especially getting into a mosh pit) as something good for one’s head.  The day after the last show I went to (Eluveitie) I was still completely jazzed all throughout the day.  And it gave a substantial boost to my mood for weeks after.
  • Not getting involved in other peoples’ attention-seeking behavior.  Especially online.  It’s tempting to want to argue one’s own opinion.  Lots of people vomit up their beliefs all over the internet but then get offended (or start throwing around accusations of censorship) if anyone disagrees with them.  Others may back a cause that is very worthwhile, but they do so in an unnecessarily shitty manner.  Before, I’d spend lots of time composing a reply, then edit and re-edit, post, and continue following up and responding.  I’d waste hours on this, and I’d only have simmering aggravation within myself to show for it.  They didn’t change my mind and I didn’t change theirs.  Now, I walk away.  I close that tab in my browser.  I get back to enjoying my life and let the internet venom-mongers argue among themselves.

These are only three points of action, but they’ve made a huge difference in my mood and sense of well-being.  This approach has also had the added effect of making con drop after large weekend events less hard-hitting.  I recover better and more quickly.  I encourage you to do the same, even if your methods may differ.  Find out what works for you.  Get away from the daily crap for a while.  Get your head back together on a regular basis, not just when vacation time rolls around.  It makes more of a difference than you might expect.

Forgive and Forget? How about No?

Forgiveness is a loaded word.  People give it connotations of weakness, or act as if forgiving means absolving that person of responsibility for their choices. I don’t buy it.  My experience with forgiveness is quite different.

Forgiving doesn’t mean forgetting.  It doesn’t mean that you no longer hold the other person responsible for their actions.  It means you’re not going to obsess over it anymore.  It means you have more important things to spend your heart on.  It means making a choice to live in the present rather than always looking back.  It can be hard to see just how much luggage we’re dragging around.  After a prior relationship, I went through the healing process and thought I was mostly out of the woods.  But then I started talking about it instead of working through it all myself.  It hit me then just how much crap  I was still carrying around.  I realized then that I had a lot more work to do.  And I made up my mind to pursue serenity.  Not for anyone else’s benefit, but for mine.

It’s easy to stay angry, but there comes a point when it becomes unhealthy.  I personally don’t want to lug around all that crud.  The anger goes nowhere; It stays within, festering, burning, but not harming the person it’s directed at.  If you’re angry with someone right now, I’m willing to bet you’re thinking about them far more than they’re thinking about you. The anger eats a hole in your belly.  That anger takes up valuable real estate in which you could be putting other more enjoyable emotions.  Which sounds more appealing- Holding on to negative feelings indefinitely or getting rid of all that garbage and living your life with a grin?  If you immediately get flooded with negative emotion upon hearing a certain name or seeing their face, they still have power over you.

It’s alright to be angry for a time.  Embrace the anger, feel it fully.  But don’t live there forever.  Don’t let that anger define you.  If you let anger take over your life, you have lost far more than you could ever imagine.  When you’re 80, will you look back fondly on those years you spent seething about this other person who has long since forgotten about you?  Alternately, you could get off your ass and create lasting memories with people who actually care about you.  Then you’ll have something to relish.

Get Yourself Some Snazz.

In this part of the country (Pittsburgh) it’s easy for a man to stand out visually.  Around here, most guys’ idea of dressing up for a night out consists of throwing on their good Steelers jersey, putting on clean sneakers, and maybe ditching the ball cap.  Women often tell me things like, “You should teach my man how to dress.”  While I’d be up for that, there is the tiny little issue of consent.  If I go over and start rattling off unsolicited advice, I’m going to irritate him and look like a dickwagon in the process.  This subject might make a good class, but I doubt it’d be well attended.  So for those interested (or those who want to drop a few hints in someone’s direction) I present to you roo-roo’s Semi-Official Guide to Dressing like a Big Kid™.

  • One of the most important factors is fit.  A lot of men wear shirts that are one or two sizes too large.  Wearing clothes that fit properly makes you look more in shape and put-together, and less like a little boy playing dress-up.  You could have a $3,000 Armani suit and a $30 suit from the thrift store; if you take that $30 suit to the tailor, it will look much better on you than the suit that cost 100 times as much.   Even if you (and the store staff) think something fits well, try on the next size down anyway; you might be surprised.  At the other extreme, if you can’t move easily while wearing it, or if you feel like you’re going to bust some seams, it’s likely too tight.
  • One specific example of fit:  On most shirts there is a seam where the sleeve meets the body.  The top of this seam should rest on the “corner” of your shoulder.  If the seam is further down your bicep/tricep, it’s too big.
  • Also in regard to fit:  Know your measurements or have them written down somewhere.  Any tailor will do this for you for free or very cheap.  It makes buying clothes much easier, especially when you buy online.
  • Adding a blazer makes almost any outfit sharper.  Even if you’re wearing a plain shirt and jeans, if you throw a blazer on, people will ask, “Why are you so dressed up?”
  • Try swapping out the sneakers in favor of leather shoes or boots.
  • Darker jeans don’t look quite as casual as lighter jeans.  If you’re going out, this is a good thing.  Darker jeans are also less likely to show stains.
  • While we’re on the topic of pants, swap your jeans out of the rotation occasionally.  There are the old standbys of chinos or corduroy, but manufacturers are now creating pants that are a hybrid of chinos and jeans.  Leave the running pants or sweatpants for the gym.
  • Small touches like a pocket square or an odd tie knot will catch peoples’ eye.
  • It’s better to be overdressed than underdressed.
  • Keep your clothing vaguely appropriate for the event/venue.  Wearing a suit to a barbecue isn’t the way to go.  Likewise, putting on slick leather shoes with no tread for a metal concert will most likely make things much harder for you in the mosh pit.  Tossing on a blazer before running Tough Mudder probably isn’t the best idea either.
  • Don’t conflate quality with high prices.  If you know where to shop or are patient enough to wait for markdowns, you can afford clothing that you normally wouldn’t be able to.  Dappered is a terrific resource for this as well as for general advice on looking sharp.  Hit secondhand stores too- They often have solid offerings for excellent prices (but be sure to inspect for damage before buying.)   Buy things out of season: get sweaters in summer, shorts in winter.  Sign up for the email lists from stores and manufacturers; most will send out frequent coupon codes.  Sell crystal meth in your spare time to make extra cash.
  • Don’t concern yourself with the latest fashion trends on the runway.  It’s all horribly overpriced and looks odd.  Classic mens’ looks, on the other hand, never go out of style.
  • Feel free to emulate others’ looks.  Some may take ideas from celebrities.  Others see gay men as being more stylish and try to absorb some ideas from them.  Even magazines and catalogs can provide inspiration.
  • Get a watch.  So many people have ditched watches because they use their phones now for telling time (kids these days, with their newfangled technology.)  A watch is faster, looks more elegant, and you can wear it to BDSM events where phones are prohibited.  It can also be an effective conversation starter at events like that, since the cell-phone-reliant people will be phoneless and ask you for the time.
  • Forget about all the old “rules” you may have heard- No white after Labor Day, no brown in town, belt must be exactly the same shade as shoes, socks have to perfectly match shoes, etc.  These rules are outdated and are no longer relevant.
  • Ask for help.  Getting started in dressing better can feel wobbly at first.  Ask multiple people you trust for their opinions on what you should change, keep, or upgrade.
  • Pay attention to compliments.  When someone compliments you on what you’re wearing, remember what they’re complimenting.  Maybe it’s the color, the fabric, or the way it fits.  If you get multiple compliments on that particular thing, you now have a solid starting point for something that works well for you.
  • Likewise, pay attention when other men get compliments.  Then steal their ideas.
  • If you live in a larger metropolitan area, you most likely learned all this in elementary school.  In that case, you just wasted three minutes of your life reading this post.  I will now proceed to point and laugh at you.
  • Ha ha.

I’m More Equal than You!

I’m seeing more and more of two particular groups butting heads, and it baffles me.  Feminists and men’s rights advocates both claim to want equality, yet they continue to pound each other in the public arena.  You’d think that two groups with a common goal would work together and be a stronger force toward that end, but the exact opposite is happening.

I frequently see people in both camps using underhanded tactics, throwing around insults, minimizing the other group’s problems, etc.  How hard is it to say, “My group has problems.  Your group has different problems.  Let’s work on all these problems”?

Instead, one group will ridicule the other whenever they bring to light the issues they face.  They’ll attempt to change the focus of the conversation back on to them by saying, “Well my group has to deal with this problem and that problem, so you have no right to complain.”  How is this any different than telling a rape victim, “You should shut up about all that; there are people starving to death or dying because they don’t have access to clean water”?  That’d be a really nasty approach, yet self-proclaimed advocates of equality use it all the time.  Playing the “who’s more oppressed” game benefits no one.  It only alienates people.  Trying to one-up others is not the best way to work towards equality.

Or they’ll paint an entire demographic group as being the problem, which is horribly ironic considering they claim to want equality. I’ve seen this tactic on both sides of the aisle as well.  Is it any wonder that people get defensive when you get offensive?  It’s a natural reaction.  Attacking people who have done nothing wrong is only creating a new set of victims.  And potentially a new set of enemies.  It’s counterproductive and immoral.

Or they’ll flat-out deny that problems exist despite evidence to the contrary.  Men’s rights advocates will deny that male privilege exists.  And feminists will deny that female privilege exists.  The simple fact is that both groups are getting screwed over in different ways.  Just because those ways are different shouldn’t negate anyone else’s struggles.  Do the people who are trying to eliminate pancreatic cancer get in fights with those who are working on renal cancer?  Do people battling to end hunger deride those working against domestic violence?

It’s not much different than the troubles in Ireland: Catholics and Protestants murdering each other, killing innocent non-combatants.  Yet both groups claim to be all about Christianity.  And they’re doing something very un-Christlike.

There are a ton of problems in the world that are worth fighting.  Why not work on those problems, rather than attacking those who are also working on them?  We’re on a battlefield, facing the enemy called inequality.  If we lose focus on that enemy and keep fighting each other, we lose the battle without the enemy ever lifting a finger.

 

 

Technology – Now With 50% More Grr!

People have me worried.  At more and more social events, it’s common to see people sitting around, ignoring each other, typing on their phones.  I’m seeing it much more frequently at munches and vanilla get-togethers.  At one point, I was in a room with four other people, all friends who knew each other, all of whom were simultaneously texting or e-mailing on their phones.  A thick silence hung in the air, stale and humid.  Another friend spent half an hour (I timed her) at a munch typing away on her phone, only talking to people when they asked her a direct question.  It makes me wonder why they even show up at social events if they’re not going to interact with those around them. I’ve got no problem with someone texting occasionally, taking a phone call, or getting on Twitter periodically, but when the majority of their time is spent doing that, it’s excessive.

Where is this going to go?  I doubt it’ll get to the point where in-person events will be a thing of the past.  But all these portable devices to constantly link us to each other are a historically new thing, and society is dealing with the etiquette issues that come with them.

It’s unfortunately common to see people to distracted to enjoy the experiences around them.  If something happens, they’re too busy filming it, taking pictures, and tweeting about it to actually experience whatever it may be.  Why not step away from the screen for a while and live life?

I’d written previously about how people are often afraid to hear their own thoughts, so they drown them out with noise.  Is this something similar?  Are people so adamant about avoiding occasional bursts of silence that they have to reach for some sort of device immediately when there’s a lull in conversation?  Or is it simply that attention spans are growing shorter?  Either way, it’ll be interesting to see how this plays out in the years to come.

One of my friends doesn’t have a cell phone, just a home phone.  I’m beginning to see the wisdom in that.

Smooth Operator

Some people compare those who shave their pussies (or cocks) to pedophiles. They say it’s an effort to look like a kid, and to sexualize that. Here’s what I don’t get-

Every time you see an adult with a shaved crotch, *you* think of little kids’ private parts. How exactly does that make *me* a pedophile? I’m perfectly capable of looking at a naked adult and seeing a naked adult. If you’re not able to do that, then it seems you’re the one with the problem.

People shave lots of other body parts- legs, face, head, armpits, etc. So why don’t you think of kids when you see that? Why do you only think of kids when there are genitals involved? Who’s the pedophile here?

Pharmaceutical Companies are Bumwads

Why do we still not have birth control options for men?  As far as non-surgical options go, women have the patch, contraceptive foam, contraceptive film, the sponge, the pill, injections, contraceptive implants, pills that let them have four periods a year, female condoms, an IUD, cervical cap, the ring, diaphragms, etc.  Men have………condoms.  Women have all the high-tech options, while we have to slap a piece of latex over our hardware.  Not only that, but our only option has a failure rate between five and 40 percent, depending which studies you look at.  That rate is even higher for people with piercings.  Would you jump out of a plane if your parachute had a failure rate like that?

To be fair, not all women can use all the options above.  Then again, not all men can use condoms.  They desensitize, which can lead to loss of the erection.  Having multiple options is important.

Why are the pharmaceutical companies so reluctant to research this?  The market is there.  There’s potential for lots of profit.  And they obviously have no moral qualms about contraception since they already manufacture them for women.  Some research companies have looked into male birth control, but recently stopped, even though the clinical trials were going well.

If you e-mail the drug companies about this, you usually get back a form letter which completely sidesteps the question.  “Thank you for your concern.  Keep buying our ridiculously expensive products.”

Women should not have all the responsibility (or all the power) when it comes to birth control.  Why should it always be the woman who has to remember to take a pill, or keep going back for (and paying for) injections?  And how many women wanted babies and played the “oh, sure, I took my pill” routine?  That’s deliberate deception which ruins peoples’ lives.  And they get away with it.  A male pill (or other option for men) would put a stop to that.  Of course, men could do the same if there were a male pill.  That’s why we need individual responsibility and control of our own reproductive assets.  If both people are using birth control, the chances of failure are minimal, as are the chances of deception.

All we can do is make our voices heard.  But it seems that still may not be enough.