Author: Mark Leathers

Recharge the batteries

Reading Time: 3 minutes

We’re spending a few days on the beach.  We haven’t been on a vacation since last May, so it was time to load up the new SUV and strike out for someplace we’ve never been.  That’s usually how vacations work for us, we try to find a place that we’re both interested in going to, and preferably someplace new.  Find a house to rent, or a suitable hotel with the right amenities (not a Super 8 or Motel 6) and use it as ‘home base’ while we explore the countryside or museums or whatnot.  We’re both interested in the history of the US Civil War (not the current one, the 19th-century version) and have been to Gettysburg and Antietam in this decade.  

‘Christabel’ had been to Rehoboth Beach in Delaware when she was a child.  Me, I’d never even been to the state of Delaware.  Passed it more than a few times driving to NC or VA, but never been through it.   Consequently, it seemed like the right place to go, it was past Labor Day so we’d get a financial break on the room, there’d be fewer people in the area, and most of the local restaurants would still be open.  Granted a lot of the tourist’y’ businesses on the boardwalk would more than likely be closed for the season, but since we’re not big aficionados of Skee-ball, it wouldn’t be a huge disappointment.  And neither of us are in the market for a tattoo.

Getting here was a bit of a pain since I was driving a  new vehicle that I wasn’t completely comfortable with how it all worked.  It has a navigation system, but of course, the default was set to ‘Economy’ not ‘Fastest Route’ so when it came time to get us somewhere, it kept sending us on unfamiliar local routes, that were away from the major highways and byways.  And that takes time, so we spent about 6 hours in Pennsylvania when at most it should have been 4.  Once I finally got the nav system to behave, it got us on the PA Turnpike and that saved a good deal of time and angst.  70 mph will get you where you’re going much faster than two lanes that have 25 & 35 mph zones every time you hit a hamlet.  

When we got to Delaware, we stopped at one of the DOT’s rest stops and had a nice walk through the area before getting back on the road.  While we were there, we called the hotel we booked to be sure they knew we were coming, and not to give our room away.  We didn’t actually hit town until after dark, so it was a little bit of a problem getting to the place, as again the nav system wasn’t well suited for where we were.  But between it, Google Maps and a little cursing, we managed to get to the hotel.  

It’s been a whirlwind several days.  Some ups and downs, and a few headaches along the way, but that’s traveling for you.  Yesterday I was feeling a little homesick, and missing my cat, but I know he’s at the spa and probably having a good time with all the other kitties and puppies there.  At any rate, we’re headed back to New York tomorrow, and we’ll collect him on Saturday.  So we have a little more time here on the coast.  Then it’s back to reality.

Wither, Fetlife?

Reading Time: 4 minutes

As a rule, I don’t spend a great deal of time on Fetlife anymore.  As the time passes by between when I had personal interaction with my slave, I’ve been finding it’s becoming less and less important to my life.  And in a way, that’s sad.  But expected.  While I still am kinky through and through, my non-kinky life takes precedence.  Because work, and life in general become priorities since I’m focusing on them more and more.  The adventures in FB Jail just bring that more home to me, that I’m really unable to express myself openly as a kink-friendly person, without their being consequences.

There have been times in the past when I’ve shuttered my Fetlife account.  Well, shuttered is too strong a term.  On several occasions I’ve contemplated deleting my account and moving on, especially the time when I’d been without anyone (yin to my yang and all that) for a period of 5-6 years.  Spending years looking for someone and not finding them takes a toll on you.  Increasingly going to a place where people post about the wonderful times they have, and you’re definitely not isn’t conducive to wanting to go back day after day.  I had the same experience with the website CollarMe/Collarspace.  Though with that particular site, I pretty much knew going in that any ad that I placed wasn’t going to be getting much in the way of traffic.  And I was right, for the most part the only views I got were either from transpeople or people looking for something else than what I was offering.  One accepts that sort of thing after a while.  I leave my ad up there just because I guess I’m too lazy to delete it.  Over the years the same thing goes for Fetlife, I believe.  I’ve changed my profile a few times, have suspended the account twice in 10 years (could never really bring myself to leave) and just recently accepted the mantle of overseeing a group that seems to be in the throes of dying, just doesn’t know enough to be deleted.  Sounds pretty typical, doesn’t it?

In the recent past, I’ve started two munch groups, only to watch the first one thrive for a little while, until apathy killed it.  The second one I started, in the same general area, except for being about 20 miles closer to me, worked for a while, but again apathy was what made it go away.  People are ok talking to one another online, but ask them to meet in a public place, on an evening, having to travel a little bit to get there, and everything seems to go sideways.  Munches work in many places, I’ve just never lived in an area where people are just so unabashedly lazy about wanting to get together.  I swear it works elsewhere!  Just not here.  There’s a play space on the next lake over, that I’ve been to, just not with anyone to play with myself, so that made it boring for me.  (I’m not a voyeur)  However, others were having a good time, and that suggested to me that interaction was working there, and the group was made up of people who knew one another from several semi-local munch groups among the areas of Ithaca, Syracuse and Elmira.

Ultimately, I haven’t decided what I’m going to do about the Fetlife account.  Probably just leave it up and check in on it once a week.  I get notifications via email if there’s something happening in either of the groups I moderate, or if I get a message.  Otherwise, I think it’s just time to do other things.  Have a little fun for once.

Kink wherever I go

Reading Time: 3 minutes

We’ve had guests of the vanilla persuasion here this week, so my kinkified living situation (ha, I made a funny) has been on vacation as well. Even so, my BDSM addled brain continues unabated and I can confirm that due to something that happened yesterday while we all were out running errands.

After visiting a strip mall to get cat litter (Petco has a deal where one can get 35 lbs./15.87 kgs. of litter for $10) and discovering a women’s clothing store was closed/vacant that one of our out-of-town guests had intended to shop, we jetted down to the local Kohl’s and shopped there instead. Having finished that errand, we still had some time to kill waiting for the appropriate hour for going to dinner.

We have a Hobby Lobby here, and admittedly I’ve never been in one. It’s an experience to be sure. Similar to Michael’s (coincidentally there’s one of them nearby) in that they sell all sorts of items from picture frames to knick-knacks, baking supplies, model kits, painting supplies and so on. The owners of the company are religious, so the store is closed on Sundays (like Chick-fil-a) and they have religious Muzak playing over the sound system. At least its not so annoying you’re going to wish you were deaf. The staff are friendly, even to the point of ebullience.

While we were all there, we pretty much went our separate ways. I just flitted from one area to the next, looking for things that appealed, always keeping an eye out for bargains. Even so, my kinky underpinnings were having a good time. There were plenty of crafty items that could be repurposed, though a Lowes or Home Depot would make many things easier. Wrought iron bars with accompanying elbows could easily be transformed into restraints or even tie down spots on a bed or chair or even a floor or wall. For many years Kink.com and Insex made a mint showing how simple items could be bastardized into something very kinky and extremely versatile. Just have to possess the right imagination and see beyond the original intended purpose.

In the end, I only bought a couple of things. A trivet for my personalized cutting board, and a dual 5×7 picture frame with matting board at 75% off. I can print my own pictures on my inkjet printer and they come out pretty flawless, especially on glossy photopaper. I know a photographer would be able to tell the difference, but I’m not opening a photo gallery anytime soon. I opted not to get the wooden or steel letters that could spell out BDSM somewhere in the house, that’ll be a project for another time.

Not the only game in town

Reading Time: 5 minutes

Over the last few months my pet’s vehicles have undergone a series of problems, and try as we might, we have had only a moderate amount of success in correcting them. Recently, I was again reminded that when you think you have but one option in terms of vehicle repair, it’s not always the best choice.

I will warn those reading though, that I’m in NO way faulting my girl for how she reacted, what she did previous to Wednesday’s escapades. She did what she did because if she did it a different way, she had a pretty good idea what would happen.  Involving me tends to mean a different thing instead of handling it on her own.  It’s just the way I am.

I might as well come right out and say it.  I’m no fan of Wal-Mart.  I honestly believe the company as it was in the beginning, (when Sam Walton was alive) wasn’t out to be the biggest conglomerate in the world.  Or the worst corporative neighbor you could expect to have.  It just ended up that way.  Considering their corporate narrative, they want to eliminate all competition in any area they operate in.  Being the only game in town doesn’t always help your customers.  Especially when you offer shoddy service and products as their only option.

Case in point:  This past Wednesday my girl informed me that she’s been having problems with her primary vehicle.  The front end had been wobbling and she wasn’t sure that one of the front tires might not fall off.  While this is distressing to hear in and of itself, I was aware that less than a month ago, she’d had the vehicle serviced at the local Wal-Mart Auto Center.  And they managed to screw it up.  So she went back.  And supposedly they fixed the problem. Except they didn’t.  They actually made it worse.  Now I’m 6 hours away by car, so there’s no way I can look at the vehicle myself, I have to rely on her to take it somewhere else to be looked at.  Fortunately, she had recently talked to a neighbor in her apartment complex who recommended a tire place nearby that did good service.

Upon going there, she’s informed that not only did Wal-Mart screw up the rotation the second time, they did it so badly that all FOUR tires on the vehicle now have bubbles and might not last another 2 months, even with a proper and balanced rotation.  Holy expletive!  At this point my girl is about at the end of her rope.  She doesn’t have the emergency funds available to buy four new tires, the fellow that owns the tire place said he -could- get used tires, but it probably would only (at best, which I agreed) a stop-gap measure.  So in the near future she’d have to get new tires.  To his credit, the owner of the shop did give her a free rotation, which isn’t exactly inexpensive.  I talked to him on the phone several times during the whole ordeal and I got the impression that he’s a good and responsible business owner.  He definitely understands the need to do a good job if you want to have repeat customers, and he reinforced my own understanding (after 30 years of my own in retail) that repeat (and satisfied) customers are your bread and butter.  Only after getting off the phone was I able to look up his business online and he does have pretty stellar reviews.  You don’t get that by screwing your customers.  Or doing shoddy work.

At a certain point I made a decision in my own mind.  I don’t like the idea of my girl being in a bad situation, and she needed to have these tires.  She was going to get them.  For me, basically a ‘damn the cost, it’s going to happen‘ mindset.  Granted I don’t have enough cash on hand to splurge on four new tires, but sometimes you just have to do what you have to do to fix a situation.  So I went ahead and got them for her.  I talked to the fellow again and was reassured he was going to get it taken care of that day, instead of making her wait for an interminable amount of time.  Unfortunately he wasn’t able to do it the next day due to a personal issue (his shop had recently been burglarized and he was due in court so he had couldn’t be in 2 places at once) so he was going to get it done that day.

After making sure the transaction was accepted, I hung up with my girl and she contacted me a bit later to let me know the owner called and had the tires to put on her vehicle.  Surprisingly, he managed to get it done in about an hour (4 new tires, taking the old ones off the vehicle, removing them from the rims, putting the new tires on, balancing and making sure everything was ok with them takes a bit of time I know for a fact) and he disposed of the old tires for no fee.  So we definitely made out pretty well for this, though I’m still in many ways upset with Wal-Mart for screwing my girl not once but twice.  I impressed on her that she might want to contact their corporate office and file a complaint, due to the imposition that the put her in, not to mention the cost.  They really shouldn’t get off a scot-free.  Too, I highly recommended that she post a positive review on the tire place’s website/Facebook page, so others can see that they did good work and can rely on them for good work.

Wal-Mart says they pride themselves on being good neighbors.  Good neighbors don’t treat you like that.  At least in my experience.

 

Finding the right collar

Reading Time: 5 minutes

As you’re no doubt aware, my pet and I have undergone a change in our dynamic.  Having done that, there’s a need for new material to cement things in a more corporeal way.  A collar.  When I’ve had other pets, slaves, submissives, at some point each one had a collar to wear either day-to-day, when they visited, or even in on a semi-permanent basis.  My pet and I have discussed this at length, but at the end of all, it’s my decision on what she’s going to wear day to day, or when we meet to play.

That being said, it’s not always so easy to find just the right one.  There are so many different choices out there, not to mention you have to take into consideration what might be considered unobtrusive, or gaudy, or inappropriate for one’s work responsibilities.  I know many people that didn’t give that the proper amount of thought, and it had disastrous consequences.  I’d like to make the right choice the first time so that there’s no need to make a second choice because the first one caused problems.

Too, my pet has never been collared before.  When the pendulum was swinging the other way, she wanted me to have a collar that I could wear every day.  I found that to have a myriad of problems, one that I don’t normally wear jewelry (even a wedding ring and I’ve been married almost 25 years!) and when I’m working, something that would be too obvious would be (at least initially I think) would be too much of a topic of conversation.  Perhaps it was me being self-conscious, I’ve spoken to others that have worn or been adorned with eternity collars and ROS’s and most of them say that if there’s attention drawn to you, it’s mostly because you’re the one doing something that brings people’s attention there, not the other way around.

Ecuff02We’ve talked about it at some length, and it would be better to have something that for now would be easily removable if necessary, and wouldn’t get in the way of her work.  With the last submissive I had, we’d agreed instead of a collar she would wear a bracelet that was mostly unremovable.  It had an Allen screw embedded in the steel and she could wear it to work, have it on at home, out and everywhere else that she went with me, or went to by herself or with others.   It worked for the most part, the only thing she and I discovered was that it endured a lot of abuse, as it was continually hitting the counter at the pharmacy where she worked.  Even so, the quality of the steel held up (after all it’s metal) although some of the satin patina was starting to wear a little bit from all the abuse it was taking.  But our relationship ended before it either became more of a problem or some other arrangement could have been made or contemplated.

It’s been a couple of months and believe me, I’ve looked at hundreds of collars.  All different styles, different materials, but I want something that’s going to be sturdy and won’t be required to be replaced over time.  A leather collar won’t do it for day to day, since it will wear over time, seeing as it’s going to be in contact with skin and oils and weather and so on.  Probably some form of a metal collar, but it has to be unobtrusive to a certain degree, as well as durable.  CLT-pendantEarly on in our relationship, I purchased for her a necklace she had been coveting, with a Celtic lion trinity pendant.  The chain that it had come with was a bit flimsy, so I purchased a better one from another vendor and married the two.  She still loves it, but it’s not a day to day thing, and it’s not something I wish to repurpose.  I’m not Irish, even though there’s Irish in her heritage, it’s not ‘out there for all to see‘, so to me, there would be some confusion as to what it all meant, and it’s not really the message I want to be putting out there with it.  Too, the chain might break, it’d get lost and then there’d be more angst to deal with.  So that’s not the option I wish to utilize.

Fortunately, there’s still time.  Our next meeting isn’t scheduled for a few months from now and I expect to have figured it out by then.  So she’ll have a collar.

 

Shipping Shenanigans

Reading Time: 6 minutes

I do a lot of shopping online.  And of course, when you do shop online, you have to deal with shipping issues.  Normally it’s no problem because when you’re shipping to yourself, you already are confident the address that you’re putting down is your own because you live there.  When you’re shipping to others, that’s when the shenanigans begin.

Case in point.  My girl has recently moved to a different part of the state that she lives in, and for her new job I wished to supply her with a few items that will come in handy.  What I’d originally planned on was sending her a spare GPS (Magellan) I have here, along with a car charger for her phone and a charger splitter that I had purchased for my trip to see her last November.  Seeing as I would have had to go to the post office after work, I was thinking that it was entirely possible that the items wouldn’t arrive in time for her needs, so I went to Amazon to have all the items shipped at once, brand new and she could have them before the end of the week.  At least that was my intention.  She’d supplied me a day or so earlier with her new address, but she’d forgotten to mention that there was an apartment number included.  To compound the problem, mail isn’t delivered to the said apartment complex, so her sister with whom she moved in, has a local PO box.  UPS doesn’t deliver to PO boxes, they deliver to physical addresses.

So, I put in the physical address that I had, clicked on the payment option and hit send.  Thinking that all was hunky-dory, I went to work.  Later in the day when my girl and I were chatting via text, I mentioned what I had done and she asked the very reasonable question “Did you put in the apartment number?”  Uh-oh.  Now we have a problem.  Immediately I went to the Amazon app and tried to cancel the order, or have them change the shipping information.  Since there’s no simple way to change that, I tried again to cancel the order.  Naturally, since at least 4 hours had passed, and Amazon expecting things to be just fine, couldn’t cancel the order.  I had to wait until I got home from work to contact them and try to get the address updated.  Which I did.  And the comedy of errors continued.

Amazon seems to prefer that you use their chat system to contact them, rather than making a phone call or using email.  Tuesday evening I used that, spoke to one of their call center people (Jay) and explained my problem.  Well, he seemed to think it wasn’t going to be an issue.  After a few moments of waiting, he stated that he was going to “monitor the shipment and contact the carrier to update the address”  Great, I thought, now we’re getting somewhere!  After having thanked him and given him good feedback on the survey that popped up, I messaged my girl and told her that the items were due to arrive on Thursday.  Except that they didn’t.  Thursday came and UPS didn’t have the correct address.  I know that because I checked the UPS website and was informed that they had tried to deliver, but without an apartment number they could not.  So the box stayed on the little brown truck and was driven around her area all day.  I was at work, without the use of my phone (or computer) so I wasn’t able to do anything until I got home again that evening.

I contacted Amazon again.  New chat, new call center person, more headaches.  What I should have done was contact UPS directly, but since I wasn’t technically the shipper of record, I thought (quite reasonably) that they wouldn’t accept any address changes that I offered them.  So I went to Amazon again.  And was disappointed, again.  The new call center person (Vipan.  These are obviously non-native English speakers because the syntax is all wrong and they’re definitely not in the US..but they seem to try to get you to believe they are) apologized profusely for the problem and recommended that he cancel the entire order, refund my money and I could start a new order with the correct address.  I have to admit I did a double-take with that one.  The order is already nearly at its destination!  Why cause UPS the double problem of shipping something back to you, and then shipping another IDENTICAL package, but with one small addition to the address!?!  I realize Jeff Bezos is a bazillionaire, but I think even he would think that was a bit stupid.  I countered with what I thought was a reasonable suggestion.  Why couldn’t our intrepid customer service rep do what his colleague had suggested on Tuesday?  Contact the shipper and update them on the address.  Well, I was informed that ‘they can’t do that’.  Um, huh?  Excuse me?  Your colleague on Tuesday seemed to think it was not only possible but what he was going to do!  So either he was lying, or you are Sir.  Either way, he could only provide me with 800 numbers to the various shipping companies (USPS & UPS) and I could take the time to do it myself.  I’m actually surprised I didn’t have a real headache at this point.  If I’d known that I would have contacted UPS as soon as I’d had a shipping ID number.

After getting off the chat with our intrepid call center gremlin, I called the UPS number and got an automated system.  I listened to the options, but none of them were for customer service.  Apparently, with UPS, you can’t get a real person.  So, I navigated the menus and came to the part where I could update an address.  Which I did.  I confirmed the correction and hung up.  Thinking that -finally- it was completed, I contacted my girl and informed her that the package should be arriving today.  Although in the back of my mind, I was less than confident this was the last I’d heard about this particular shipment.  And I was right.  This morning at 8 am UPS called looking for the name of the person on the shipment.  After confirming that it was indeed UPS on the phone, I supplied (again) the apartment number to complete the address.  Apparently, the automated system didn’t get it right after all.  I’m hopeful that they’re going to get it to the destination today.

A comedy of errors isn’t always that funny.

Switcheroo

Reading Time: 4 minutes

You, dear reader, may have noticed that there’s been a change in the title and temperament of this blog in the last week or so.  There’s a rather large reason for that, and it is this.  My former Miss and I have undergone a switch.  I’m now in the driver’s seat, and she’s now the passenger on this journey. (When I say ‘passenger’ I don’t mean it literally, she’s still an active and contributing member of our relationship and dynamic) It’s been something that’s been simmering away in the background, and finally this past week we did something about it.

As always with our discussions, they get quite animated, and even though we’re an LDR (Long Distance Relationship) couple, sometimes they get rather loud (or as much as can be made loud through text and other forms of communication).  But, in the end, we came to a mutual understanding, shared many truths (and a few tears) and changed things so that we’re both happier and more centered in us.

Ever since we met in person this past November, I’ve been having feelings and trepidations about our dynamic, and apparently, she had been too.  While our time together was wonderful, and intense, it just didn’t do it for me.  I felt something was lacking, and that I wasn’t pleasing enough for her (she has disputed this, she felt things were all right, for the most part).  There were some hiccups in our play, as happens when people first get together, the things that happen and connect in a purely online environment don’t work in reality.  Just like when you envision someone in a certain position that doesn’t take into account their body makeup, and things like gravity and reality, when you are with that person, in person, in a hotel room, you discover it doesn’t work.  And hopefully, you didn’t build your entire dynamic around that particular thing, because…well disaster!  But we didn’t.  This most definitely isn’t my first online to reality BDSM rodeo.  Not that I prefer this method, it just seems to be the way that I meet potential submissives (or Dominants).  It’s certainly how I met my wife, but that’s another topic/entry, for another time.

During the course of our conversation, my Miss informed me that for several months, she had been feeling more deferential than dominant.  It’s not that she feels she’s not dominant at all, that in fact, she was lying to herself, she just said that she would feel better if someone was directing her, taking charge and being in control.  The biggest fear she had was that I wouldn’t feel the same way (although on the other side of the slash) and that she would lose me in the process.  I reassured her that was NOT the case, it wasn’t going to happen and then I revealed to her my trepidations and thoughts about the last few months as well.  That set off a new round of conversation and sharing and we came to the conclusion that we both had been feeling the same thing and it was time to make a change.  A switcheroo, if you will.

So, the ‘boy’ has now become the Dominant, and my Miss is now my submissive.  She sees herself as my ‘baby girl’, and me as her Daddy, though neither of us is the least bit interested in the DD/lg (Daddy/littlegirl) dynamic.  They’re just titles in this instance.  Seeing her in diapers with a rattle would be a HUGE putoff for me, and I’m 100% positive that she has zero interest in that as well.  Best left to others that are more interested and more engaged in that activity.  I have nothing against DD/lg, I highly respect those that are, but really, it’s just not for me.

In the last week since we made the change, things seem to have improved greatly in our conversations and in our mutual overall outlook.  My girl has embarked on a move to a different part of her state, and she’s taking on a new job, with new responsibilities and she’s now 3 hours closer than she was before.  So in 2018, instead of me having to drive 10 hours to meet her, we both can drive 3 (and change) and meet up more often.  That’s a plus!  I’d say things are looking up, and we can forge ahead towards more interesting and more mutually satisfying times together.  My girl and me.  I love her immensely, and I’m oh so very proud of her.

Here’s to the journey ahead.