Thursday, October 31, 2013

Balancing the needs of kink

Kink doesn't lose any traction over time. It only gets stronger and more demanding.`These desires can overwhelm the mind, take up more and more time until there can come a moment when one registers that perhaps one is out of balance; perhaps one should try hard to think about something else.

When in the midst of one's kink, either satiated, or with a lustful appetite for more expression of the kink, there's a sense that one probably should leave the table for one's own health. Yet, there is more meat on the bone, more trifle, Camembert cheese; more chocolates in the box. And, these banquets don't happen every day. Why not a little more?

It can happen to one person or both; that moment when one simply has to stop ingesting; simply has to stop partaking of the delicious treats. That's not a bad thing. It's an acknowledgement to oneself to go a little slower perhaps; to acknowledge that we can be in the grip at times of our own lust.

I don't advocate and am too far into these processes to ever again STOP what I know does me a heap of good. Kink, for me, doesn't work like that. My needs are my needs and they don't go away for very good reasons. It's not some game for me but rather a real need for my body to experience what it does on a daily basis. It's a treatment of sorts and if you take away the treatments I go down hill very fast.

However, it's no bad thing to redistribute daily life every so often. It's been cold and dull here for far too long but the sun has begun to make an appearance late in the day these evenings and it prompts me to get out and about more; to spread my creativity across various pursuits as a form of personal expression; to interact with creative sorts on various non digital platforms and to enjoy my life in every way.

I don't mean that I should suddenly make a bunch of decisions to counteract my desire to make no decisions at all. That would not work. I need my 'bimbo' time. I adore it too much. What I mean is that the longing for the bimbo state can have me going too slow; leave me in a rather catatonic state where the longing for it becomes too much. The longing can hurt me and be counter-productive and if there's no real solution presenting itself in my life right now as to consistency of that experience, then there comes a time when I need to turn the longing off, for my own sake.

The kink won't, and need not go away. It's here to stay. I have no power to alter this nor do I wish to do so. Yet, there is so much of life to explore and it's time I did just a little more of that. It's all about balance - simply redistributing the thoughts patterns so that they are more in line with what works ideally. The formula for that is within the mind of each kinkster, according to the limitations and precinct of one's life as led with other people. Following one's intuition is really the only way to reconstruct balance.

Monday, October 28, 2013

The spine of a person

We might live for a hundred years and over a lifetime fill books with our exploits, achievements and adventures, but we can reduce our essence, the 'spine' of us down to a few words. You're not likely to be able to say what the spine of you is immediately but it is worthy of thought. What scratch can't you itch? Who are you at your very core?

I've given the issue much thought, especially over the past few days. It's crucial to a life well lived and critical to story telling. Behind all the actions and behaviors of a character or a person is a strong theme. Your task is to identify it; recognize it, take the wheel and steer it.

At my core I wish to serve a strong male person who recognizes me for who I am - a woman who thrives with sexual and physical use; who wants to please, who finds joy in making another person's life fulfilled. At my core, I'm a fucktoy. There is just no other explanation. I interpret that use as care and consideration of my needs.

I'm not really competitive about my place in the world. In another era I would have thrived under the tight control of a man with little need for finding my own area of expertise in the world. In this era, I achieve what I can, recognizing that I'm not political or commercial really but acknowledging the societal expectation is there that I use my intellect.

In the periods of time when I am used regularly and able to wallow in the fucktoy mindset, I am deeply happy. There is no other way to achieve that kind of peace or sense of happiness for me because in those time periods I feel deeply loved, in tune with my self and full of a sense of peace with my place in the world.

In periods of time when use is scarce, no amount of achievement, socializing or involvement in society can take the place of the fucktoy mindset. I try to find compensations elsewhere but I am wanting; uncertain; there's an itch I can't scratch.

I was once asked as a young woman what would I choose if I could have a high flying career or a family and I didn't hesitate a moment before I answered that I would choose having a family. I wanted that with every core of my being.

To serve; to belong to someone; to love and to be loved - to feel an intense and deep connection with a strong and dominant male; that's my spine. This is the very core of me, what I do, what I think and who I am. This will never, has never and can never change.

Saturday, October 26, 2013


Meditation can, on the best days, open us to extraordinary inner experiences. I had such an experience last night and I am going to do my best to reconstruct what happened.

The story begins yesterday morning. I received an email which I read just before I left the house for a Yoga session. It's the sort of email that just has you sitting back on your chair, emotionally altered by the words. A correspondent had compared me to a novel character and as I re-read his words I realized he was right. I was very much like this woman in very fundamental ways and it is why I had such a visceral response to the story, I suppose.

During yoga I thought about how wonderful it felt for someone in the world to understand me so deeply and I was truly amazed at how much that meant to me. I had to squeeze my nose tight to stop my eyes from tearing up too much because I can become overwhelmed by this sort of emotion. Other than that, it was a usual sort of day, spent having pleasant conversation over lunch and time in the afternoon with my son watching 'The Perks of  Being a Wallflower'; more about that another time.

I went to the meditation at dusk. It was my first visit to this meditation centre and there were about 60 people there. I knew the background of the man taking the session and I felt immediately comfortable there. I looked about me and they were regular people of varying ages. Most of them had been there before, I learned.

Bill talked first about an article on his website about how not to worry and then we did some sound work. Ummmmm and Ahhhhhhh, whilst our eyes were closed. I felt the reverberation in my body. We all nodded that we did. Then, a woman took us through some gentle exercises. Finally, it was time to settle into the meditation.

Bill turned off the lights and for about ten minutes he made some gentle suggestions, prior to the period of silence. I don't remember what he said but I remember some thoughts bouncing around my head and my awareness of that and then, gradually, the thoughts were losing power and a complete stillness was settling into my mind. I had no sensations in my body whatsoever, just my thumb touching my index finger on both hands and I had absolutely no need to move a muscle. I did not. I was very open to the experience last night.

Just before we moved into silence I felt a huge wave wash over me. It was a wave of deep emotion and I was enveloped in a state of love. It wasn't a sense of love in that worldly sense of love that I recall feeling after an intense spanking; a subspace sort of sense of worldly love; that is, love for all man. Rather, my mind was spontaneously traveling throughout my life bringing up images of when I was loved, felt love and experienced love.

I traveled randomly through my life - Andy, someone who worked for my parents, teaching me how to ride a bike at the age of perhaps six, my father sitting beside me in hospital and crying that I was unwell when I was a teenager, my mother tying my hair into braids, one or other Maria cooking me food, the birth of my children, my wedding day, moments when I have walked home with the children, or been to their nursery school, my husband smiling up at me in the stairwell at an apartment in Connecticut; his making love to me in such an intense way that I was shaking and he needed to wrap me tight in a blanket. On and on and on the images came to me and as each one appeared it prompted another huge tear to fall from my eyes. I saw my life for what it was - a most privileged life - one filled to overflowing with love. I felt extreme happiness.

I didn't scoop up the tears until I had a conscious thought it was close to the meditation's end and I wiped each side of my face in turn, just so that I'd be presentable when the lights came on.  When Bill did turn on the lights he told us that it had been 36 minutes. I could have been 'under' for much longer. He spoke to us for a few moments afterwards and I felt incredibly peaceful and still. Words weren't an option. I was glad to be alive and to be here and yet I felt that I had traveled somewhere else; that I had a sense of what it was to not be here. I had a sense of heaven.

It is said that meditation is a construction of the mind and if that is so, for whatever reason I was ready last night to experience peace; love; joy; free-fall. I'm extremely grateful for the experience. I hope that you have such an opportunity yourself.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Wanting no control

When I am immersed in activities of the mind, using every ounce of intellect I have to create a piece of writing that appeals to academics, I can hunger for some time when I must make absolutely no decisions. When the opportunity comes I grab onto it, luxuriating in the experience of simply following instructions - instructions that are designed for my pleasure (and challenge).

What is hard becomes easy. It doesn't matter what the expectation is for whatever it is I go about filling it. The instruction doesn't pass through my mind but rather 'the bimbo' hears the instruction and immediately, without any thought at all, fulfills it.

Maybe, I know that I can be delivered from excruciatingly boring thought; or from my own expectations of excellence, or from having to climb one more intellectual mountain. Maybe, my mind has been trained to obey. Maybe, I equate challenge and obedience with pleasure.

It's so wonderful to feel myself for these times; to let go of societal expectations to be a certain way. How ironic, it seems to me that the 'postmodern' society paints us into boxes that it is meant to free us from. If I want to be controlled; to give up control; to let go of the role of 'emancipated female' then why  can't I?

It drives me up the wall that it is I that is seen as old-fashioned or behind the times when I am simply arguing for the right to express myself and my desires; to be myself. They aren't other people's desires; simply my own. I ask no-one to change. I ask for respect of my desire to give up control rather than have more.  Who knew the 'postmodern' society could be so constricting?

Tuesday, October 22, 2013


A few days ago I had the sad task of telling my brother, currently living on the other side of the world, that our Uncle, my mother's brother had passed away. I knew he'd be sad. Thirty-six hours passed and  I received a beautiful email, telling me stories of their exploits together when he was just a boy, stories that I hadn't heard before. The tendency was for my brother to spend time with his Uncle whilst I spent time with my mother's sister and mother. I hadn't thought about this much until now, but that's the way it happened.  I'm currently seeing if I can read his message at the Service because it tells the beautiful story of a deeply caring and fun loving man and the impact he had on his young nephew.

As fate would have it my brother was able to see the very good, fantastical and even magical aspect of his Uncle, whilst a few of his many children only saw the bad and stayed away from him in the last years of his life. I didn't see him often myself but my mother remained a wonderful Sister until his dying moments and I often tagged along with her for a visit or he tagged along with my mother for a visit when she came to see me. He was a good man, his heart was in the right place and there's no doubt that he was a natural oral storyteller. His son is a very famous playwright. We all have, on my mother's side, what my father referred to as "the gift of the gab" in some measure or another.

There is so much I could say at this time but blog posts are meant to be pithy, aren't they, so let me get to the point. After death, there's nothing but a void. There are no last chances, no more opportunities to make the peace, to say what you should have said years before, to be kind, to care, to say goodbye. We are here and then we are gone.Take your opportunities whilst you have them and use them well.

I am very pleased to say that my Uncle's youngest daughter has been very kind in the past year or so and she held an 85th birthday party for him and many of his children and siblings came to that; not all. There were a few notable absences, but this is life. We make our decisions and we must live with them.

He wasn't a particularly notable person - a businessman, a father and a husband who always did his best - but he made the most of every situation, thought the best of everyone and stayed positive in spite of enormous setbacks and difficulties.  My uncle once sent some stories of his younger days to his son, the famous one. He returned them, explaining as tactfully as he could I am sure, that they weren't stories but reminiscences. Of course, there is nothing to stop a good story teller like him making use of those memories and turning them into stories. Now that he has passed over, I have my fingers crossed that this is exactly what will happen to them.

Saturday, October 19, 2013

The power exchange dynamic

No matter how well trained we are or how disciplined we are or how accommodating we are, there are going to be moments when things don't go as well as one would like, and I think an exploration of those difficult moments enables one to gauge the dynamic and see just how it works.

In some weeks or even months now I have only had one difficult day. It happened about two weeks ago now. To set it up, it was the first day of the last term of the academic year. I was under some pressure. My husband had wanted to stay an extra day in the country, which was fine except that it put me in a situation where I had to scramble to get in an academic task by the deadline of midnight that same day, and my son was in a similar boat.

So, on the Tuesday when I awoke I was tired (we'd done a lot of physical work in the past three days) and possibly I was not emotionally prepared for the tasks ahead of me - getting sons to train/school etc. How about I got ready fast, my husband suggested as I crawled out of bed, and we'd take the boy to school and then I could drop him off to the office in town on my way to the market?

It set me off. I said something along the lines of "All you have to do is prepare yourself. I have responsibilities and I can't get ready for the day right now. I can't guarantee I will be ready by 8.15 am." Something like that. I was clearly not myself because he came out to the kitchen and offered to take the boy to the train but I declined that offer. Anyways, he can do a good job of cajoling me in such a mood and I can do a decent job of recovering from a setback and we were on our way to the city bright and early with me driving. All good.

We weren't far from home, going around the edge of a park when it was obvious I had to stop. Two enormous trucks had entered the narrow street and I couldn't pass. My husband was immediately agitated and started barking orders about what I was to do about it. I was agitated that he was barking orders. In such a situation it pays to stay very quiet but as I have explained in some detail already, I hadn't woken up in the most bimbo of moods. I didn't really understand what he wanted me to do in the dilemma until I gathered he wanted me to reverse into a driveway as he was beckoning both the truck drivers on.

So, once I could follow what he wanted me to do, and I accept that I was probably making the odd suggestion of my own which isn't something I usually do, I backed into the driveway. However, he was continuing to freak out, and I could only think that somehow, if it is really possible to do so, I was backing into the driveway wrong.

So the trucks moved, we passed, I went into silent mode biting my bottom lip in order to settle myself and he continued to rant on about what I had done wrong, how I hadn't listened and so forth. He's good at recognizing what he did later in the day these days but in the spur of the moment he can remain defensive and he continued to defend how that all had gone down. I stayed as silent as I could but he goads me to talk in these situations and ultimately I said something like "You are all grown up now. You have to learn to get control of your emotions!" Anyways, he was ready to settle down but I wasn't and when I let him out in town he wanted it all to be settled, but all I could manage was "Look, we're sweet, I really have to get out of the bus lane now."

Once I was on my own I headed to a cafe and had a strong black coffee and settled myself: sent a cajoling text, because I did recognize that there is a way to handle these situations and that wasn't it. Later in the day he sent one back and later that night he suggested that I probably haven't been spanked enough; that spankings settle me. Duh!

I've explained endlessly that I talk with someone about my submissive side and that our conversations always have a particular pattern. I'm on the bottom. On this day, I wouldn't say that I was dominant at all but I was very unsettled at the beginning, middle and end of it. I suggested that I sensed something was up with him. What a classic case of transference of which I was completely unaware!!It was me that was unsettled; me that was feeling particularly guilty.

He was slow in his responses, probably sitting there in front of his electrical device thinking "What the f...?". I must say he did a sterling job of keeping his wits about him, ensuring that I understood that he wasn't going to budge or allow me the slightest leeway in the dynamic we share. Ultimately he accused me of not following the guidelines as laid out (How does he know???) and bid me a good afternoon. The guilt was super thick now; embedded into the brain.

I sat there for a bit, wondering how the hell this day had gone so wrong. Then, I did what I know to do pretty well these days. I pulled my socks up, got back to bimbo business as I know to do, got on with my daily tasks both in and outside of the house, made dinner and prepared myself to be charming, gracious, obedient and in my place again. That worked. That suits everybody.

I thought about all this and recognized that I don't have control and nor do I want control. I'm not necessarily that nice when I have more control than suits me. My relationships don't work that way, and they certainly don't work well for me that way. I pondered. What if I'd got the upper hand in these situations that day? What if either one of them, or both of them had not prevailed? What a total mess that would be; what an unmitigated disaster!!

A great deal of my 'training' has been learning about how to interact with a dominant man and I would suggest that the best way to do that is with a great deal of intelligence, restraint, discipline and respect. Apologies are sometimes in order on either or both sides of the coin. I'm not suggesting anything different but I am noting that a dominant must ensure he prevail. Control is paramount for the good order of the relationship.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

The ideal man

Consider the ideal partner for a woman (like me). This is the sort of man that you find in romance novels. He's refined, for sure. He's well-dressed. He cares about his appearance and he is disciplined about his health. He exercises. He eats well and he speaks well. He is kind to animals - all that sort of sweet stuff.

He's attentive. He enjoys your attention. He really wants to be with you in all sorts of situations. More than that, he wants to know your mind - all of it. He wants the dirty thoughts as well.

He likes things to be relatively organized (he certainly doesn't have to be a neat freak!) and his life is balanced. There is room for work, play, the family, the guys and sport/fitness. He fits it all in because it is important to him to do so. It keeps him on a even keel. It keeps him content and an ideal man is definitely content.

Okay. So you have this very cool guy who is suave, sophisticated and especially delightful company.

Now, what?

Well, to be the ideal partner he needs to be naughty and he definitely demands to direct. It is not enough that he is respectful, kind, considerate yadda yadda. He needs to have 'a bit of the bastard' thrown in. He needs to have expectations, to be a bit unpredictable and to throw out a bit of a challenge here and there. He can't just be a good guy. A beautiful piece of jewellery as a gift every now and then is just brilliant and breakfast in bed is bountifully blissful.  But, so is a dare; a demand; declaration of the desire of a dastardly deed.

Keep that in mind, chaps.

Sunday, October 13, 2013


Christopher Koch remarked in an interview that there was a natural order to things that meant that the number three was important: beginning, middle and end; childhood, middle age and old age. When writing a novel, it was important, he felt, to keep that thought firmly in mind to enable the reader to feel connected with the rhythm of life; the natural order of life. He didn't use those words exactly but loving being in nature as he did, I think he'd be all right with them.

My first thought was about the age thing. If I am middle aged, at what point am I classified as 'old'?  Then, I thought about how his comment related to the craft of writing. I thought about my own 'story' as told on this blog and I realized that I had been in the middle of something. Lately, I've felt that I've moved out of the middle stage and have moved onto resolution and conclusion; conceivably 'the end'.

Well then, what was the 'climax' of the story? At what point did we leave the 'old world' forever, making room for the new one to form? If the 'crisis' was that I was losing my sense of belief in an ongoing 'forever type' union was there a 'climax' of some sort? (Well, actually, yes there was but I won't be writing about that here. Let's just say that was a deeply revelatory moment brought on by a piece of literature that prompted a union with my 'best self'. And, just to make it more complicated, what if the climax was that he had a revelatory moment of his own unbeknownst to me where he elected to be his 'best self'??)

How does the new world look, feel and function differently to the way it did before? And, how exactly did I move from the middle, through the crisis (you can't go back, under or around a crisis; you can only go through it) towards 'the end'/denouement of the story? It's a little hard to say and that is why novelists take 'life' and massage it, much like a plasterer works with putty to make some form and shape.

For many, many months there I felt that I was going through something very profound; something challenging and potentially crippling; that I was stuck in some sort of holding pattern much like a captive is held hostage and awaits the next move, never at all sure if there will be a next move. Much like anyone who faces a crisis, whether it be an external or internal crisis (or both), there is an immense sense of struggle, confusion, angst and dismay, to the point where there are moments when it feels that something has to 'give'; something has to change; someone has to change. Whatever. It can't stay this way for too much longer. That's the thought one has. You see characters reach this point in movies all the time until...something gives.

I watched The Upside of Anger last night and looked forward to my favorite moment. Costner, until now angelically patient with the woman who he has befriended (at the point where her husband has gone missing, presumably with his Swedish secretary), kicks down the bathroom door and tells her that he is sick of being her "bitch". It's a great moment. It's the moment when things change. He leaves and he refuses to take her calls. The boot is suddenly on the other foot and she's the one making the advances. She's the one making the calls to him; calls that he refuses to take. When he returns finally it is on his terms; a new sense of respect for his place in her life has evolved. It's enabled her to soften a little. She's still angry and sad at this point of the movie, but she's learning to take control of her emotions, step by step - a step critical to her progress.

In the process of coming to terms with my husband's illness the first instinct was simply to survive. I needed to find a way to stay as whole as I could whilst he was absent from me; absent in the sense that it was clear that I needed to take care of my self. As I learned to do this, I was angry sometimes for sure. Except towards the beginning when I was so confused I had to emote several times, the anger was silent. I didn't talk to him about it, since it was clear he wasn't in a position to hear my pain.

So, I talked a little with others and ultimately I talked to myself - in the shower, on paper, in diaries; here. I did what I knew to do to aid myself, not in the least sure how long I might need to do that, but knowing that I could do only what I could do. I put one foot in front of the other and trusted in the great unknown that there would one day come a 'peace'. In what form that 'peace' would come, I did not know for sure.

The honest truth is that I considered a path alone, if need be. My pain was immense and the thought of remaining in this 'middle' troubled me a great deal. I doubted my fortitude to remain in the middle endlessly. Many 'characters' do you may notice, because the alternative to some sort of 'change' or resolution is to continue to climb to higher and higher levels of crisis management, and no-one can sustain that sort of activity forever.

I read, and then I read some more. I figured by immersing myself in ideas of philosophy and psychology, and by reading novels, some 'truth' would help me. It seemed a better idea than giving up. Somewhere in there, things started to shift. My husband began to come closer to me. I started to become closer to him. We had wonderful conversations; conversations that opened us up to one another and left the vulnerability exposed, in a good way. As silly as it sounds, we 'found' one another; noticed that we were still, in fact, 'there'.

I read in the past few days that in some grief/crises type processes, the behavior of someone can almost insist that others remove themselves. It's not a choice thing on the part of a person but rather a reaction to the other. This happened. Who moved back to the other first? It's almost impossible to say at this juncture. I can't necessarily see it that clearly. I think I learned how to be empathic to him and he began to understand/'see' that I needed him in a particular way. We learned to dance smoothly again and to accept one another for the people that we are. Perhaps, he healed, too. Perhaps he learned to look at life in a new way and to choose life. Perhaps the rest from the rigors of his life invigorated him and he simply did what he needed to do for himself before he could go about healing me. Perhaps, in the interim, I learned skills that enabled me to work on my own for a time. It's all entirely plausible.

 Now, are we still 'in the middle'? I don't believe that we are. 'The end' relates, I suppose, to the end of the novel or the movie, or the story or the end of a life. So, in real life we're not at the end. Yet, we have moved from the middle of the crisis, for sure. For there to be an end to a story, either there is a reversal or a recognition; that is, either there is a new status quo or somebody learns something. In real life, we're sweet together again; accommodating, kind and loving. Not all the time, mind you, thank goodness. He's begun to be quite the top again now and I just love it. It suits me dandy to give up control; to do as told. It arouses him to throw me about the bed, to mitigate my senses; to roar in my ear. It's a life force for me.

How, indeed, do you tell the story when the story has not reached its end? If I were writing the script I could write up scenes of my life, of this 'crisis', and there would be a suitable, satisfying and sustaining conclusion. The changes in the status quo would be subtle for sure, but the changes in the characters would be more profound. You don't go through the eye of the storm and not learn important lessons. Stories demand this sort of reversal and/or recognition. In real life, of course, the story continues, which is why this web journal goes on and on and on...

Thursday, October 10, 2013


Grief is tricky. We lost one of our puppies due to illness a few months ago and it was only a week or so ago that the thought occurred to me that I was coming out of my grief. I was in the park running along with the little girl and it struck me that I felt a lot less sad. I still think of him constantly, mind you, especially in the park where he took it upon himself to be my protector, but I was out there a bit more regularly. It felt good to be back on track with life.

Over the weekend, we had a few days away in the country; a blessed relief from the fast whirl of life. Then, immediately back to expectations, responsibilities and a fast pace of life; the wild and woolly run up to the end of the year.

It didn't pass me by that I began the first day of the final term of the school year agitated. Little things. I didn't actually realize that my anxiety was evident until someone close to me pointed it out. There was perhaps a moment of defensiveness and then I saw it like he saw it: ANXIETY! DANGER! DANGER!

Registering it for what it was I took the necessary steps to aid myself and felt better. Got through Tuesday all right in the end. Wednesday, I did something that brings me pleasure but the self-esteem was down. It troubled me that I still wasn't on top of it. Why? No idea. I simply rode it out as best I could. It would pass soon.

Wednesday afternoon, I knew that something was wrong but I couldn't exactly put my finger on it. Thursday morning and it was clear that my son's anxiety was through the roof. He wasn't getting ready for school in the usual way and we sat there in his room and talked.

Was it about the English essay overdue? Maybe I could sit and talk him through it? No. No. It wasn't that, he said. He knew how to do them, he said. Got one back yesterday and got a very high score. He could have done it last night but he was too upset to do so. He'd talked with friends on the Internet about his feelings but it hadn't helped. He didn't know what it was.

Okay, I said, I'm going to hug you. He wrapped his arms around me as if holding on for dear life. The tears came in great sheets of grief.

"It''s B", he sobbed, "I miss him so much. "He was the best dog in the world."

"Grief has it's own logic, darling. I know. Just let it out."

I suggested he go back to sleep and he asked for the little girl to be with him. Soon he'll wake, shower, eat the breakfast I cook him and we'll be back on track.

There is an end to the stages of grief and we all, in our own good time, end up in the final stage: acceptance. There are good days and bad days and ultimately we accept and drive on. Such is life.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Crossing to Safety: some thoughts

Until I read Crossing to Safety, Wallace Stegnar was unknown to me, which is a shame because he was a wonderful writer. He wrote novels, short stories and essays for 60 years set in American landscapes, mainly in the West, I believe. Crossing to Safety is his last novel, written when he was 78 years old. Knowing that, I was initially a bit put off, wondering if his better days were behind him as a writer, but the further I got into the novel the more I loved it, until I reached a point where nothing could be done until I had read it all.

Stegnar once revealed to a interviewer that he wrote the book  because he wanted to make sense of some friends of his. He creates two couples - the Langs and the Morgans. Sid and Charity Lang are wealthy via old (and new) money whilst the other couple, Sally and  Larry are poor, eventually becoming comfortable by means of Larry's hard work and talent and Charity's kind gestures on Larry's behalf. Larry narrates the story.

Charity is a complex character. She's a wonderfully giving person with her heart in the right place. She orchestrates good things for the Morgans. She wants the people close to her to be happy. She's a tireless worker for charity. There is much to like about Charity. But, there is, as Stegner puts it, a "serpent in the garden".

Charity wants the best for Sid. Even Larry, a lecturer himself in the English department at the University of Wisconsin in the year of 1937 can see that Sid is at risk of not being asked to stay on. He tends to write the sort of things that don't get published in scholarly reviews - poems - and he's at risk of being dumped. Charity knows this. Charity is right about everything, actually, and she advises him over the summer to get busy writing a scholarly book. She arranges their time at the Vermont compound, keeping the morning hours free for Larry to knuckle down to the task whilst the afternoons and evenings are spent having fun with visitors and family.

The problem is that Larry really doesn't have much talent for that sort of thing, and left to his own devises he'd not ambitious at all; perhaps a 'Mr Chips' type at a small university where the staff and faculty would love him, but otherwise he'd prefer to spend his life tinkering. With wealth behind him, it's plausible except for the fact that Charity has burning ambition for him.

All is perfectly well between them so long as Larry (and later, the children) submit to her. She's absolutely lovely whilst she is having her way but is capable of being a nightmare when she is defied. In case you have the wrong idea, I want to point out that Sid is not  a small framed man by any means. Larry, who happens to see Sid and Charity naked when they all go camping thinks of Sid as an Adonis. He feels lacking in stature in his presence. This is a hunk of a man.

Said Wagner in an interview, "There was a Charity. She is dead. But I wanted to get her said. All of her children suffered from her inordinately because she bore down on them. She couldn't do anything except in her own way."

I read in a Book Club transcript that Charity may be a case of a woman who was ahead of her time. If she were born two generations later she'd be fine because she would have her own career to absorb her. Perhaps. I think there is more to it than that. Yes, if she had a career of her own, she'd have less mind space and less time to sort out Larry to her satisfaction but she'd still be Charity; still want things her way.

There are so many scenes to discuss but I found the scenes wherein Charity is dying spellbinding. Foiled at getting Larry away to the family picnic she has devised to celebrate her birthday so that she can sneak off to the hospital without him and without a fuss, she has no choice but to tell him that she does not want him to drive her to hospital (where she will die within a few days). He's aghast; offended and hurt. He loses control.

"Why?" he shouted. "Do you hate me? Am I a handicap, or an embarrassment...I'm your husband. I have a right to be with you..."

Deathly ill, unable to control herself now that he is defying her, she snaps.

"Because I can't stand it when you break down!"

The tussle of wills goes on until he relents.

"All right. All right. Whatever you want..."

That was all she wanted. From her deathbed, practically, she had mastered him once more. Her will would be done. But the moment she had beaten him he was her hurt child. The arm came off the pillow and clenched around him, the lips touched the whorl of his crown.

"It's best, she whispered. "You'll see it is..."

What is really interesting is that through the course of the story Larry doesn't change Charity a scrap and nor does Charity alter Larry in any way. When Larry does as told they are happy and when he doesn't, things are frosty. It's this way almost the whole way through. (Perhaps, I can write of the exception to the rule next time.)

Is this just a case of feminism making strides too late for Charity? I really think not. She was the boss and that was all there was to that.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013


I decided to treat myself to a matinee yesterday. The entire family was doing their own thing and I raced off to the 2.30 pm showing of Woody Allan's latest offering, Blue Jasmine. I loved the movie and was sorry when it ended. I'm a big Woody Allan fan, but this film is really outstanding. My response to the film has a great deal to do with the fact that Cate Blanchett is able to so realistically and convincingly portray Jasmine, a privileged woman who has a nervous breakdown when she loses everything.

The terminology 'nervous breakdown' doesn't seem to be used much these days. I remember hearing those words when I was a little girl. When someone seemed very inside themselves and not of this world, and/or when they would ramble on to themselves, oblivious to those around them, I would ask my mother what was wrong. She would explain that the person had had a 'nervous breakdown.  When I was watching Blue Jasmine this terminology came back to me.

When I got home I immediately googled 'nervous breakdown' and found plenty of material but none more worthwhile than this article.

My husband has had a hard time. Readers who have been with me a while now know that. However, he is much improved; happier. Last night I sent him this link and this morning we discussed it a little, very calmly and very productively.

"I've been in the river for quite a while...", he said. (he means in the River of the Nile = denial)

"Yes. But, look how far you've come lately..."

"I've still got a way to go..."

"You're doing great."

This was a profound conversation; a massive step forward and an example of the fact that Dominant and submissive sometimes have to work together in wondrous ways; that it is not always about the Dominant teaching the submissive a better way. That sort of thought is for those not living in the real world.

I encourage you to take the time to read all '15 things'. This is the best breakdown I have ever read of what makes up a happy and calm disposition to take through life. I've made notes now and I intend to refer to them regularly.

The portrayal of a woman who closes her eyes to her husband's selfish,  stealing, white collar lawless ways is one that resonates for me. Such women, I have known. Even Jasmine admits that on some level she knew that her husband wasn't so clever as to honestly make all that money. It was convenient to turn a blind eye and the living was easy. Woody Allan is so good at this; at making us look at ourselves. But, look at ourselves we must.  It's never too late to learn a better way to live.