Thursday, February 25, 2010

I have a new column in The Stranger about a topic I'm frequently asked for help with: handling intense jealousy.


And a calendar note: I'm out of town from March 15th to March 22nd. I'm going somewhere warm for a few days, which should be lovely. And then I'm going to Kinkfest!

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

It is Thomas Cromwell’s fault I have a bunch of new books.

What? Yes, I know he’s been dead for almost 500 years. Cromwell being the sort of guy he probably was, I’m sure he’d be pleased to know he was still influencing people. Especially a woman like me.

It happened because I wanted to read Wolf Hall, a novel about Thomas Cromwell by Hilary Mantel. So I went to That Big Electronic Bookseller and found it. Easy, right? I should have been gone in sixty seconds. But no. On the same page was this:

The First Tycoon: The Epic Life of Cornelius Vanderbilt by T.J. Stiles.
“A gripping, groundbreaking biography of the combative man whose genius and force of will created modern capitalism. Cornelius “Commodore” Vanderbilt is an American icon. Humbly born on Staten Island during George Washington’s presidency, he rose from boatman to builder of the nation’s largest fleet of steamships to lord of a railroad empire. We see Vanderbilt help to launch the transportation revolution, propel the Gold Rush, reshape Manhattan, and invent the modern corporation—in fact, as T. J. Stiles elegantly argues, Vanderbilt did more than perhaps any other individual to create the economic world we live in today.”
I am a total sucker for biographies. Not quite as bad as I am about “The History Of…” books, but close. So okay, into the cart. But you know how it goes. The crack dealers then showed me this one:

Titan: The Life of John D. Rockefeller, Sr. by Ron Chernow
“Born the son of a flamboyant, bigamous snake-oil salesman and a pious, straitlaced mother, Rockefeller rose from rustic origins to become the world's richest man by creating America's most powerful and feared monopoly, Standard Oil. Rockefeller was likely the most controversial businessman in our nation's history. Critics charged that his empire was built on unscrupulous tactics: grand-scale collusion with the railroads, predatory pricing, industrial espionage, and wholesale bribery of political officials. The titan spent more than thirty years dodging investigations until Teddy Roosevelt and his trustbusters embarked on a marathon crusade to bring Standard Oil to bay.”
Well, hell, if you’re going to read about Vanderbilt, you have to read about Rockefeller, right? Click. Oh, look, on the same page: business books!

Selling in Tough Times: Secrets to Selling When No One Is Buying by Tom Hopkins
Hopkins lobbies for a return to basics to maximize sales in an economic downturn. The first step is to save existing business by going the extra mile, making human contact, and initiating loyalty-building campaigns. Hopkins shows how to quickly tell if a client is right for you, reduce sales resistance, woo clients from the competition, and cut costs while continuing to appear successful.
Yep, that’s my dirty little secret. I don’t read a lot of BDSM porn. I read sales-technique manuals, and they make me kinda… hot. Look, don’t judge me, okay?

But that one led me to: Ignore Everybody by Hugh MacLeod and then Fascinate by Sally Hogshead. I did not ignore. I was fascinated. And it is very dangerous for me to have a Kindle and a credit card.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Mistress Matisse’s Tips For Happy Polyamory, #17

Thou Shalt Not Oust The Incumbent Partner from his/her living space so you can have a date with the mutual lover. This is a violation of important poly tenets Root For The Home Team and (the self-explanatory) Be Very, Very Nice To The Primary.

I have come to the conclusion that one of the reasons my poly life runs rather smoothly is that we have physical space to spread out in. The Big House is, as you may have inferred, fairly big. And I have my own domain as well. (Don’t think for a minute having space for my poly adventures didn’t figure strongly into my choice of workspaces.)

Because nothing creates disgruntlement like a situation where Partner A wants to come home from a long day at work, flop on the couch, eat pizza, and play video games, and Partner B is running around lighting candles and putting on sexy music because they have a date – with someone else. Partner A may very well be able to go over to a buddy’s house and flop/eat/game over there, but there’s probably going to be some resentment about that.

And resentment is what kills relationships. People think it’s the big things, but it’s not. You can forgive your lover One Big Mistake a lot more easily than you’ll forgive ten thousand niggling little irritations.

For one thing, petty resentment is what erodes the sex in relationships. (Any romantic relationships, not just poly ones.) It’s because it’s the easiest thing to deny a partner without actually having to cop to there being something wrong. Most of the time, people don’t consciously think, “Oh, fine – make me wash your dirty dishes again? Turn the TV up to eardrum-shattering levels even though I asked you not to again? See if you get laid tonight.” But the resentment takes root, and it is subtly poisonous.

Everyone annoys his/her partner sometimes. But if you want to be happily poly, you should strive not to let your other involvements impinge on your sweetie’s preferences and comfort, and that starts with not denying them the simple creature comforts of home.

If you're the non-domestic partner, make sure this isn't happening. You do not want the resident partner to be feeling resentful about something as easily fixed as physical space/privacy and start associating that feeling with polyamory in general and you in particular.

Therefore, if you want to have a hot date with someone who lives with a partner, have the date elsewhere.

Monday, February 22, 2010

It's time for a new podcast!

Show notes: First of all, I was not playing with my nipple while we were recording, all right? Let the record show. The bomb shelter we’re doing these things in is freezing cold, so I was actually wearing a leather jacket. A motorcycle-style jacket, so that’s two layers of leather over my chest. You could not have found my nipple with a sonogram. That’s just Monk being silly.

Our first question is a letter from someone who asks what to do when you’re caught in a sexy, kinky situation and you want to do bondage, but you have no rope? Monk and I free associate about improvised bondage equipment. (We did not use the microphone cables for bondage, though. The sound guys frown on that.)

Then a BDSM newcomer asks: explain to me why exactly I should get involved with the BDSM community? The short answer is: they’ll teach you things you might not otherwise know, and they’ll be support for you when things are tough.

Lastly, a sex worker asks a question about emotional relationships with clients. It’s a nuanced issue, and I get sort of uncharacteristically woo-woo about my feeeeeeeeelings in this one, so don't say you weren't warned.