A rant in review, three years later

Going through some old notes this morning looking for something, I found this bit from three years ago. I’m happy to see that the Albany community is in a much better place now than when I wrote this in exasperation. My thanks to those on the BoD who have worked this improvement and to those in the community who have supported the change.

Especially after C2K, I’m looking forward to what three more years might bring.

I know none of us are lawyers, but I’ve got one in the family for what that’s worth (nothing…). One thing that really worries me about our stance on the legality of our demos is the assertions that 1) Our demos are breaking laws (I don’t believe that most of them do, but for sake of argument assume they do), 2) That Albany area law enforcement would take an enforcement interest in what we do, and 3) That by holding our demos in non-public locations we’re protecting ourselves legally from that LEO interest.

Not to put too fine a point on it, legally speaking that idea is INSANE.

If in fact we’re breaking laws and if LEO cares about the laws we’re breaking (adultery is illegal in many places, but not something that’s prosecuted frequently), then the venue where we hold our events has no bearing at all on whether we’ll have legal trouble or not. Sufficient details as to what activities are planned to get a warrant are posted on all of our event announcements. If Albany is so small that the police feel the need to prosecute consensual BDSM activities between adults, then there’s nothing at all barring them from getting a warrant and busting up a private party. The “private” location is one subpoena away (and for the record, I’d personally comply with any such location served to me in a heartbeat), and a warrant could easily follow that based on what’s in our public event descriptions.

I truly don’t believe that Albany’s police or the DA care. They have real crimes to worry about. I’ve witnessed things in Rocks that go far beyond anything we have planned for a demo in terms of the level of sexual activity, and as far as I know Rocks hasn’t been busted up, and their plans for downstairs are increasing the level of activity, not curtailing it.

There’s no reason we can’t run events “legit” in Albany. By legit I mean hotel management aware that a private function is in progress and staff refilling water etc. isn’t necessary or acceptable, local police & fire consulted and signed off (if only verbally) that everything we’re doing is okay with them, and any permits, etc secured (not that I anticipate needing any for the one-night hotel stuff we do). All if that is in line with NCSF’s recommendations.

If we can’t at this point in time manage that in the capital of New York State, then why are we even wasting our time trying to put on events? If Smalbany really is that small, it’s just a matter of time until we’re all arrested for something anyways.

We need to expunge APeX of the concept that any of the secrecy we try to maintain is protecting us at all legally. Let’s start with us taking a look at our legal exposure and realistically assessing what we can do to protect ourselves and how effective those protections really are. Once APeX’s leadership can face the realities of our legal position and our status in Albany, then we can have a frank dialog with our membership about what they risk by participating in our events, what steps we can take to protect them, and what ineffective steps we can avoid that would otherwise harm us.

Where was the kaboom?

A yellow tent - the C2K logo

This writing has a sound track…
“Begin Again” • Jason Ross • Anjunabeats Worldwide 06*

I doubt this is true for all personality types, but my own unique breed of braingremlins do not do well when there’s something I’m Responsible For that I can’t actually do yet. Quite a lot of things have to get done to bring a weekend kink event together, and the thought of Letting People Down … Well… Let’s not think about that yet.

The best way to keep the braingremlins from gnawing away is to make a list and get everything done that can possibly be done as soon as it possibly can get done. There’s always a little room for last minute stuff, but if it can’t be fixed with a quick run to Staples or Dom Depot, the gremlins will not rest until it’s out of the way.

A quiet start, but you can feel the energy starting to weave its way in around 1:04.

“Sos” • Ilan Bluestone & Grum • Anjunabeats Worldwide 06

Energy, but flattened out. Square wave bass constrains the maximum amplitude. Interwoven melodies around 0:48, all the things that need doing. Purposeful melody at 1:02. Focus, accomplishment. A moment’s relaxation at 1:15, but the Things are still waiting. They’ll be back. They break through the calm at 1:30. A sharp melody strikes with the background buzz of the squares gone. Just focus. Plenty of time. Knock them out one at a time. But everything else is still looming. Focus gets buried. Forces back through the noise. Focus! Knock down what still needs doing (2:50).

Of course among the numerous things that need doing to run a kink event, there are LOTS of things that just can’t be done very far in advance. Printing name tags before all the last minute sales are done is wasteful and takes longer than just doing it all at once last minute. Oddly, most venues object to showing up with a truck load of dungeon furniture a month before you’re supposed to be there…

So anyone with similar braingremlins to mine probably understands the state of manic calm that falls in the week or two before The Day. Everything that could be finished ahead of time is. All the supplies you need to do the last minute stuff are on-hand, probably packed away in a storage tub ready to go on a truck. The name tag blanks are sitting next to the printer, the design & mail merge spreadsheet are ready. Just gotta paste those last few names in (come on folks… plan ahead a little??? 😉 and hit print. And swear at the printer for an hour because it’s 2016 and still nobody can design a laser printer that’s worth a damn when the weather’s a bit humid…

“You’ve done all you can,” is usually reserved for comfort after an epic failure. The operation was a success (but the patient died). You did all you could, doctor… The week before an event, it’s something of a mantra. You’ve got entire DAYS left you could be preparing, but there’s nothing you can do to advance the cause. You just have to wait it out. Manic calm. I SHOULD BE DOING SOMETHING!!! deep breath You’ve done all you can. For now…

“Alone Tonight (Jason Ross Remix)” • Above & Beyond & Jason Ross • Anjunabeats, Vol. 12

Then go-time arrives. There’s a big empty truck pulling up your driveway and a couple of hundred pounds of stuff on your porch to go in it. Then drive to stop two to pick up more stuff. Then three. rinse, repeat The calm part gets to take a powder, and the manic has full agency to get the job done. Adrenaline is a hell of a drug… No pain, no fatigue (well, not yet…). Just DO.

Self-care is important… I know a lot of people have to force themselves during an event to take a little time, get enough sleep, an actual honest to dog meal. Yeah… The gremlins won’t stand for that.

I’m lucky that I can bank spoons pretty well. I can take a couple of days off before the event, get my head together, do good health things like actually sleeping and eating properly and getting some good runs in. That little pre-cation is saving up for the next few days of self abuse. Once it starts, there’s no time for sleep or band-aids. There’s no bones sticking out. WALK IT OFF! Can’t let people down. I’ll be a little over-drawn on the spool account before the weekend is up, but that’s what the day after is for. Recenter, relax, kick out the manic and get back to normal (whatever that means).

The entire time, I feel Marvin the Martin standing on my shoulder. “Where’s the kaboom?? There’s supposed to be an Earth shattering KABOOM!!” Always waiting for the other shoe to drop. Misters Murphy (no, not The Blue) and Finagle are the ruling law for such things. Prepare all you want, but if anything can go wrong… (It’ll probably be expensive…)

If you’re listening, hit at least 2:02 before continuing. The rhythmic crescendo that starts there & runs through about 2:26 into the bass driven percussion running through 2:57… That’s what it sounds like in my brain when it’s go time.

“Bend Girl” • Kyau & Albert • Anjunabeats, Vol. 12
Relaxed energy. Less manic, but nothing close to quieted down. The race is over, but we’re not stopping yet. This is our victory lap.

So for all the stress and second guessing leading up to an event, it’s a precious gift when everything just falls into place (instead of just falling on the floor). With the help of a few awesome people, I feel comfortable saying C2K 2016 went off about as close to perfect as I could have asked for.

Thank you to everyone who helped. I think everyone had a great weekend, and it wouldn’t have happened without every one of you being amazing. “Whoever comes is the right people.” “Whatever happens is the only thing that could have.”

“Black Room Boy” • Above & Beyond • Group Therapy
This song is me.

And speaking of spoons… If you don’t know the Spoon Theory of mental health, take a minute to look it up. It’s a pretty good abstraction. If someone tells you they’re running low on spoons, you’ll know what they mean and have some idea how to help.

The thing about this weekend though…

Usually I’m all-the-fuck-out of spoons after being in a throng of people for three days, being no more than camp-clean (at best), sleeping on a less than ideal bed with nature to wake me up early…

This weekend I was privileged to be surrounded by all of my spoon-positive people. You’re the people I can be surrounded by and actually walk out feeling recharged, not like I had to deal with people all weekend. You all did so much more than just simply be there, but even if that’s all you’d done, you helped.

This Monday, sure physically I feel like Wile E. Coyote after the steam roller came through, but mentally I’m better than I’ve been in a damned long time. Thank you.

“When it’s over, it’s over.”

“I Love You” • O.M.F.G. • Single

I love you guys. I swear, I’m not day drinking. Just high on a con I don’t have to crash from.

Kids are people too…

So I was searching through my writings for a list of things I needed for C²K, and found something that was written in response to @SomebodyNotOnFet’s Facebook link. The link was:

tl;dr: Doctor Grumpy Pants says you’re parenting wrong if you’re allowing kids to have any kind of self actualized identity or opinions of their own…

My response:

Have to say I disagree with a lot of this. Dear Son is turning out alright…

The idea of using parental dictate as the default teaches children they have no autonomy and must be subordinate to those in authority by default. That sets up a lot of BigBrother state being okay which bothers me to no end. “This is what’s wrong with ‘Murka,” kind of bother… In anything short of a seconds-matter emergency situation, I’ve always tried to explain to Dear Son why what needs to be done and convince him to deal with something that’s for his own good. I can’t think of a good reason to not do that. Certainly, if it needs doing, it needs doing, but don’t start out making demands. Make a request, and sometimes you get the answer you need. If not, explain. If still not, well, that’s when, “You’re the kid, I’m the adult, sorry.” comes in. And even then, it’s I’m genuinely sorry that he has to be forced to do something he doesn’t want to do. I don’t enjoy depriving people of their autonomy, regardless of their age. I certainly don’t treat anyone as if their lack of autonomy should be a default state. It’s a necessary evil sometimes, and that’s life.

I’ve always reserved *demands* for things that are immediate and urgent. “Dad voice,” means you’re about to get hurt or do something supremely dangerous/stupid/expensive, and you need to stop it right now. Never had a problem with getting the required response. I think it’s “crying wolf” to use that in cases where it’s not required. It weakens the effect when you really and truly need them to listen to you without question.

As far as alliance with the school? Fuck that noise. The US public school system should be burned to the ground. I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve sided with Dear Son against the school. Granted, the school wins (because BigBrother, in part…), but the alliance is between Dear Son and me, against the school when necessary. Why the hell would I side with the government against my own kid? As collaborators in this conspiracy, we have an understanding that, “Suck it up, get your paper, and GTFO,” is sometimes the only winning play. Pick your battles. But it’s never a matter of do it because the school said so. We talk about their motivations. We try to find a veneer of a reason, some way of understanding the “why” when we can. A lot of times, that’s led to understanding and acceptance, though usually not enthusiasm for the policy. The life skill of being able to understand what makes others tick is FAR more valuable than anything he’s going to get out of school. He’d never get that if the school and I were in an “alliance” and just smashed his opinions into the dirt without question.

For for all the attempted empathy and understanding, I agree with Dear Son in many cases, the school policy is bullshit, completely unsupported by any good reason, and it still doesn’t matter because we’re both powerless against The Man. The good Dr’s position that you should trust the school to know better? Baaaaaaa. Good sheep…

Screens out of the bedroom. Fuck that noise too. You want to be Dr. Luddite, that’s fine. For most of my life, some sort of electronic device has been my exocortex. The part of my brain that usually works better. I’m a fan of transhuman ideas, and I have no problem whatsoever with having a connected device on hand at all times. Again with the autonomy and me not being more-equal, I never leave my own device *anywhere*, and I wouldn’t expect Dear Son to do differently. There are socially appropriate times to be playing with it, so that’s a thing. Have it to look something up at dinner, no problem. Have it to play flappy goat when people might want to converse with you? Nah. That doesn’t fly. Courtesy is a thing.

As far as kids being sleep deprived? No argument there. It’s not the screens though… That’s more a function of adults insisting that children operate on adult and senior schedules. There’s quite a bit of evidence that humans evolved so that different age groups are most alert at different times of the day. Some part of the tribe is always in their alert period to watch for danger and signal the others. We do kids (and teens especially) a disservice to insist that they be alert early in the morning when their bodies are wired to be alert later in the day. File that under burning the US school system, but anywho. As far as staying up late and being exhausted because angry chickens? Autonomy means living with your own choices. Still gotta get up and do the necessary. If you’re tired because you stayed up too late last night? Here… Lemme jam out a little solo for you on my diminutive violin… Don’t do it again, go to school, have a nice day!!!

I don’t think I’m doing anything good by removing the opportunity for bad choices. Obviously there’s limits to that. I’m not going to leave a couple of lines of coke on the kitchen table so Dear Son can choose not to do it. (For the record, I don’t do cocaine. This is literary hyperbole. We all know rope is my addiction…) But for things where the consequences are fairly benign, I’ve no doubt making your own mistakes and learning from them is far more valuable than never having been given the opportunity to make mistakes.

The whole family meals, time with us wins out over everything else… Nope. Again, Dear Son is an autonomous person with his own desires and goals. Just because I’m a parent doesn’t mean my desires automatically trump his. There are family holiday things that I insist he attend sometimes. Courtesy dictates it, even if it’s not your favorite place to be. There are others (recently a party of adults and distant cousins he doesn’t know) where I could fully understand that six hours in the car to eat lunch & drive home wasn’t a thing he wanted to do. I hope he values the time he & I spend together and wants to spend time with dear old dad sometimes, but I don’t feel I get to dictate who he spends his time with. He’ll be young and have friends in high school once in his life. He should enjoy that to the degree he wants to while he can.

Now, there are limits to how far I’m willing to go to to facilitate that as well. I don’t get to dictate how he spends his time, but neither do his desires necessarily dictate how I spend mine. The whole shuttling kids, à la soccer mom? Na… My time’s not more important than his, but it’s not less either. I’m the one with the car keys, so that tips the scales in my favor a bit. Sometimes we’ve driven an hour out of the way to pick up or drop off at a friends to go to an event or something, but no chance I’d ever structure every evening around playing chauffeur…

If anything, a lot of the Dr’s dictates sound like he’s jealous of the young. “You can’t hang out with friends you have meaningful connections, shared experiences, and have fun with because I don’t have that and so I insist you spend time with me so I’m not lonely.” That’s what I’m getting out of it anyways. Not me. Have fun kid. You’ll be old before you know it, and dead not long after that. Life’s too short not to spend time with the people *you* want to spend it with. I’m also a big subscriber to the idea of choice-family rather than blood-family. Some of the people I consider my closest family members have no blood at all between us. Some people I’ve blood relations to, I could squarely do without (and largely do). Blood doesn’t matter nearly as much to me as it does to some, and I’m not about to insist my child choose blood above all else.

Also, not for nothing, but Dr. Luddite there even *looks* like the canonical example of, “That asshole hard ass dad”…