Fire Whipping

I spent a magical, fantastic weekend at an (adult) immersive pirate and gypsy festival. I flew in on an airship, and got to experience the hodge-podge of of cultures that come together to play. There were a few highlights of this particular trip, one of which was wearing a corset for three days (yay back support, and weightless titties!). I am a messy eater, and dropped part of a cookie I was eating down my corset. It landed too far down between my boobs to pick it out, so the friend who always “takes my breath away” lacing me up reached up from the bottom of my corset to try and fish it out for me. I lost it. I was in a fit of giggles as soon as his hand touched my stomach. I was laughing which trapped his hand. It was a funny mess that you probably had to witness to be amused by.

I attempted to be smart about traveling with my medications on a summer camping trip. I learned what not to do though. I figured it was going to be hot, and I didn’t want them to melt together, so I put my weekends worth of meds together in a pill box and stuck it in the cooler. It sorta worked– my pills didn’t meld together in the heat like some peoples did, but rather, found a watery grave as the ice melted. A weekend without pills. GREAT.

Thank god I had my pooper-dog with me. He routinely does DPT and self-harm interruption (I don’t notice when I’m scratching at my fingers until they’re wet from blood). I also was fortunate that Pirates are a generous bunch, and would kindly refill your empty cup when you asked permission to board their ship. After spending some time on the green machine, and drinking my fill, I was able to wander the dark without panicking that I was being followed, or that doom was looming overhead. I still wasn’t in the mood to deal with crowds, dancing, or anything that wasn’t wonderfully structured, but I was coping and able to walk around to see what quieter activities were happening.

While most people were at a masquerade ball, I had glimpsed a ball of swirling fire from a few campsites deep from where I was and was determined to find it. The gate was guarded by a cute girl with pierced nipples, and a metallic archway. From the entrance, I could see that it was fireplay– there was a naked man laying on the ground with torches brushing his body before being patted away. I asked if this was a private camp event, or if I could have permission to board their ship.

As far back as I can remember (5th/6th grade erotica books) I’ve been fascinated by the BDSM community, watched from the sidelines, and fantasied. I came in and was immediately covered in a sense of awe and peace. The naked man lay completely relaxed, then rolled over and let the fire pulse over his chest, thighs, and penis. He never once tensed up, or grimaced, and you could just see the quiet power/skill/full attention that the man with the fire exerted.  The circle of people around the fire were all quiet, some talking among each other, but all held captive by the show, and all respectful. We were gathered in various stages of dress, some in full pirate garb, some in fetish wear, and some nude, all with a calm feeling of peace and safety surrounding us.

The show moved on to floggers, paddles and a single tail. There was a safety person, holding onto the person who was going to be whipped, a gloved hand protecting their neck/head. She seemed to enjoy her job, holding onto the squirming, moaning participants. The crowd cheered each time the person said they’d had enough, and we saw the group of people surround the person giving after care and making sure that they were ok, bandaging any open wounds (only saw two which were easily covered with a band aid) soothing the skin and whispering reassuring words.  At one point, the man swirled the whip in the air after a louder moan and made sure that it was a happy sound, not a request to hold off. The layered safety measures, and the peace that all seemed to get from it was cathartic.

I came home at the end of the weekend to discuss with my hubby; I have permission to try it out should I happen upon this again. I understand the release that I can get from pain, and that makes it tempting, but even more so, was the sense of safety and community that I witnessed.


Tip of the iceburg

A service dog is not for everyone. Some days my anxiety is heightened because I have the dog with me. People do stupid shit, and it makes me worry that my fully trained dog might mess up…completely unfounded fear, but a nagging one regardless. People like to stare, talk  to the dog instead of me, rush up and touch, and tell me all about their dead dog who is kinda like mine in the fact that they’re both dogs. Ugh.

Treat the service dog like a boob.
I’m serious. That’s it. That’s all you have to remember.

There are certain things that no person should or would (hopefully) ever do in regards to boobs. The following is a list of things that if you ever said or did any of them, you would earn yourself a well deserved slap.

“Look at that girl’s boobs! *points* Hey, everybody! That girl has boobs!”
“Am I allowed to sit next to you? I don’t want your boobs to bite me or anything. Maybe I should just sit on the other side of the room…”

“Can I touch your boobies!?”

“Why do you have to have those boobs with you? I’m just not so sure they’re necessary.”
“BOOBIES!! *grabs without permission*”
“Are your boobs aggressive? Do they bite?”
“I just don’t know how I feel about letting someone with boobs in here. It’s just unsanitary, you know? You understand, right?”

“Hi, little boobies! I’ve got a treat for you! You want a treat, little boobies?”

“Are you sure your boobs are real? You aren’t blind or in a wheelchair. How do I know you don’t have fake boobs? Do you have paperwork proving that they’re real boobs?”
“Are your boobs going to behave themselves? I don’t want any disruptions.”
“Look, honey! That girl has boobies! Go pet her boobies! What? What do you mean my kid can’t pet your boobs? That’s so rude of you!”
“Are your boobs going to be able to handle this situation? They aren’t going to get scared and freak out, are they?”
“How dare you have boobs when there’s nothing wrong with you! There is a disabled veteran out there that served our country that actually deserves to have those boobs, and needs those boobs, and you took those boobs away from them! You should be ashamed of yourself!”
“I know it’s none of my business, but why do you have boobs?”
“Why is that girl allowed to have boobs in here! I want boobs too!”
As humorous as all of this is, it is actually a genuine problem for people like me who have a legitimate service dog for an invisible illness. Replace the words “boobs” and “boobies” with “dog,” “service dog,” and “puppy,” and you will have a list of actual comments people have made to me- most of them by complete strangers who have never seen me before in their lives, and who began their conversation with me this way.  –Service Dogs and Boobs– A complete guide

You — I am Worthy. Hear me Roar.

One of the most terrifying things that I’ve been through is visual hallucinations. Most of the time they’re paranoid glances caught in the corner of my eye as I turn around, or focus on something else. They put me on edge like nothing else can, seeing shadows that are always people shaped, but have no details.

When I’m highly anxious and driving I see things on the side of the road– a kid on a bike, a hitch hiker holding onto a bag, someone stepping into the road… they’re not necessarily scary sights, but they put you on edge– you don’t want to run anyone over. You also have to live with wondering if you really saw someone on the corner, or if you weren’t paying good enough attention. You sit up straighter, lean towards the steering wheel and become afraid to blink….what if you miss something and that person is actually there? What are they going to do? If they run into your car, its still your fault, right? Driving is stressful, but it still offers the protection of being in an enclosed car that you can speed off in if that shadow starts to chase.

I was discussing “shadow people” and how uncanny and hard to describe it is, when I was introduced to a poem that really worked for me. It’s vague, just like the hallucinations I see, and simultaneously horrifying. This is the reality that we have to live with.

Here’s an excerpt from a blog that deeply resonates with me.:


(Living with Hallucinations) I see you Hiding in the shaded corner of the closet You delight in evading my glances I see you Shifting right in front of me You’re too quick to capture I see you Peering through the broken blinds You pretend the wall divides us I hear you […]

via You — I am Worthy. Hear me Roar.

Right after I finished reading that, I glanced up from the phone and saw the vague shadow of a person crossing the mostly closed blinds of the window. I freaked. Thankfully, I was able to see the tiniest detail- a color, as the shadow crossed. My hallucinations are never in color, always shades of black/grey. I was also not alone, and was able to be reminded that it was dinner time and people were just getting home. We laughed it off, wondered how the hell we would explain this to someone who didn’t know the challenges that we face, and finished closing the blinds.

My normal paranoid, anxious, or even manic hallucinations all follow one basic guideline; you don’t get details. It’s a flash of movement, you know that you saw something, but it leaves you frustrated, wondering where it went or what exactly it was. Our brain is hardwired to see faces in things, but I don’t get to see their face, and that may be part of why it’s so scary. I see faceless people. There’s nothing to relate to with my demons other than that they have a head, and body, something similar to what I have, and I know that my body can be dangerous–theirs must be too.

Baseline Mornings

via Daily Prompt: Savor

A few weeks ago, I was actually at baseline, and it felt fantastic. I was working a graveyard and I paused to think about the things that bring me joy. I found that it’s the simple things in life that I find most rewarding.

Joy is found in the mornings when you sleep in and wake up content, slightly cold, but relaxed and able to turn over to cuddle with hubby’s body heat until he wraps you in a full body hug and doesn’t let go until you fall back asleep. It’s waking up again to the dog splayed on his back crammed between the legs of his people, waiting for the expected morning belly rubs before he jumps up to give all of the kisses and bring you shoes so you can take him outside.

The perfect morning continues with walking down the stairs, one hand balanced on the dog’s back as he keeps pace, pausing at each step. It’s smelling the freshly cut citrus fruit and listening to water boil as you grab a blanket and head out to the porch with a book. Joy is when you have tea in your hand and you test the temperature of the morning with bare toes before settling in with puppy acting as slippers, tea balanced between the tomatoes and the peppers while you stare off in contemplation, enjoying feeling like yourself. You don’t know when that will happen again, but for now, you’re productive, stable, and capable of acknowledging the joy of a perfect morning.


I would like to describe perfection
Not the perfection of a person or people, but of life
Tiny, irregular grains coming together
Forming a whole object, a whole world.
I would like to describe perfection
The gentle violence of night overtaking day
Of waves beating sand into submission
An otter cracking open a clam Seagulls laugh and gently rolling foam
Tall wispy trees against dry sandy heat
Bending without the aid of wind desperate to break free and breathe
The oceans speech, the stories she tells
Tales of life and death, a song of eternity
Always heard, listened to and understood
No quiet murmurs pass her lips
Only sorrowful wails and rejoicing screams
Light succumbs to the dark pinks, purples, oranges and blues
Worshiping the sun and bowing to the moon
Color shroud clouds falling into the deep gray blue
The foghorns howl demanding obedience
Crashing waves, continuous motion Perfection.


via Daily Prompt: Passenger

Just seeing the word “passenger” makes me think of Dexter, and his dark passenger. I’m no murder, but I do understand how he felt like something/someone foreign lived inside of his isolated mind. Those hidden social rules are tricky, and we do need to have our own moral code, because our passenger won’t always understand.

This is how most days work: I wake up just before the alarm, either on my own, or with my trusty companion bringing me shoes/leash telling me that I have to get up on my own, or that he’ll make me get up by threatening to shit on my bedroom floor–either way, sleeping wont be an option. I toss off the blankets, stumble to the bathroom and experience the wonderful side effects of medication before allowing the dog to walk me down the stairs where I swallow 11 pills before taking the dog out on a potty walk. I reminisce on the days that I can do this with ease, and joy of being outside. We come back inside and if I’m not doing well, I put on a podcast, here are a few of my favorites; My Favorite MurderThe Black Tapes,  Generation why and the Mental Illness Happy Hour.

No matter where I am or what I’m doing, my mental illness is always with me. On a good day, I can choke down a handful of pills all in one swallow, attach my service dog to the hands free leash, and set off to be productive. On those days, it feels like I’m the driver, and my illness is just extra baggage that I tossed in the trunk.

Most days, my diagnosis is right next to me, leaning against my shoulder, but forced to walk with its own feet, because my dog refuses to leave my side and force me to battle it alone. We’re connected, and it’s always an open tab in the back of my mind, but it’s stuck in the back seat where it can’t reach the steering wheel.

Thank God that I am able to hold a job– without somewhere I have to be, I can’t function. I work in the school district and have to take a summer job so that I don’t sink into a pit of depression and endless sleeping, or possibly worse, manic, irrational, risky behaviors that leave me sick and exhausted by the time I manage to re-emerge.

The bad days, my passenger is in the front seat, battling me for control of the wheel. It manifests itself in intrusive thoughts, nauseating anxiety, and bloody fingertips as I mindlessly pick off my own cuticles.  It lingers in the withdrawal symptoms on days that I forgot to take my medication, and holds dizzying side conversations when I try to focus.

My passenger will always make sure that I’m never alone; I can always call upon my crazy–it can sit in the quiet calm of my mind, but it can’t hide from me.




From 13 to 25 miles–I reached the beach

Once upon a manic day, I decided that I’d been at the gym long enough–I wanted to test myself on a fundraising bike ride. I told my mother, who has ridden with Cycle Oregon and done century rides. She was excited that I was getting into her sport, and went overboard with buying me supplies (including a new bike!) and going on training rides with me.

I was not overly enthusiastic about those training rides. I was no longer manic, I hadn’t ridden my bike since middle school and was a bit unpleasant company. I din’t take her constant advise well, and god help us if she decided to give some constructive criticism. I figured that I didn’t need to go on training rides, because come day of the ride, I wouldn’t have a choice. I’m a competitive, do or die kind of person. If I don’t have an escape route, or a rescue  you can bet your ass that I’ll jump hurdles and come up with plans b-z to make it happen. If I was on the route with no one to help me, I would survive. I would find the energy to keep going simply because I wouldn’t have a choice, and I’m a survivor.

The furthest I went on one of our training rides was from her house to mine. 13 miles slightly uphill. The months flew by and before I knew it it was time to ride 25 miles to the beach.  I found out that morning that my mother wasn’t doing the century ride like I thought, but joining me for the short ride. I wasn’t as appreciative as I could have been. My idea was survival while hers was company and enjoying the ride. Having a safety net took away some of the need to keep going; if I had problems she would have fixed them. I felt slightly cheated that she took some of the self reliance away from me, and that she wanted to distract me from my breathing and distracting myself by listening to podcasts. I feel a little bad about feeling that way; she was trying to support me, and was proud that I was joining her in one of her activities.

While I did some riding before hand, and my mother got me a new lighter bike and excellent bike shorts, I was not prepared for the fact that we were starting at the bottom of the mountain range. We were 1/2 done by the time we reached the sign proclaiming that we reached the summit. The ride down was a nice breather, and the last chunk of the ride was never ending flat road, with glimpses of sand on the road, so you knew you were close, but never quite there.

I did get some bonding time in with my mother, on the shoulder of a rode next to a stinky cow pasture, but I was tired and grumpy by the time we got to the beach. We ate, wandered around the swag tents, bought a commemorative tshirt and got back to the car to ride home.

I am glad that I did the bike ride. It was a fundraiser for lung diseases, and it showed that I can conquer things that I am not prepared for. I’m not sure if I’ll do it again next year (mostly due to the fundraising minimum) but I am glad that I did it and feel empowered knowing that I could do it again if I wanted to.