Tag Archives: home

A Desperate Blast

Wicked Grounds is one of two kink cafes in the entire country.

For many in the Bay Area community, it’s so much more than that.

Wicked Grounds is this safe haven in a sea of chaos. It’s where many in the Bay get their first taste of kink. Through Wicked, there are classes, munches, demonstrations, podcasts, and talks. There are leaders of the kink and leather community gathering and talking while sipping Caffeinatrixes and munching on pizza bagles. There’s me in my red chair, for what it’s worth, playing cards every week with pain in the ass James while our friends gather and get ready for BaGG.

There’s the safety of knowing that you can walk in and change into lingerie, or fetish gear, or even go topless on a hot day and be okay. There are baristas that put up with WAY too much and take care of their community in ways that we patrons don’t have words for. There’s Mir, the owner/leader of the kinky, queer revolution that put their all into a dream trying to make it happen and hustled unlike any creature has hustled before.

Wicked battles one of the greatest foes known to man right now… the price of rent in SoMA (South of Market), a trendy neighborhood in downtown San Francisco. For months we have watched our backup hang out spots close down (one big one being Brainwash cafe and laundramat). We’ve clung to the haven that is Wicked Grounds, the sanctuary of the wood floor, mismatched tables and chairs, comfy couch that most of us have snuck at least one orgasm on… The safety of it. The people inside. In a world that terrifies us, with a president running the country that would love to erradicate our culture, Wicked Grounds was safety. It was a place to cry, mourn, and hold one another after the election. It was a place to celebrate leather pride and dream ideas like a leather district in downtown SF. I have.. more memories than I can count in that place.

Wicked Grounds gave me my community. My first munch, I met ZebraJim. I met with my first Dominant, Kane, there. After Smith did his damage and Kane stepped back it was to Wicked Grounds that I ran for healing, eager to be around my people but not ready to dive back into the citadel and play parties. I wanted classes, education, munches…warmth. It was at Wicked Grounds that I ended up knelt next to James that day he left his first bite marks in my neck, and so many times at Wicked I have knelt at the feet of James, Chris, Ryan, and even Grey.

Wicked Grounds is the epicenter of our community. We’ve fought for it for nine years, and now it’s in very real danger of disappearing forever. They’ve all but shut down, and have plans to shut their doors forever tomorrow… However the owner, opened up their Patreon again this morning.

Mir laid out exactly what they need to stay in business. 20,000 to get throught the month and 15,000 in Patreon pledges through month. If it sounds like an astronomical amount that’s because it is.. welcome to SoMA. The reach of Wicked Grounds is near and far.. They have a kink education podcast, they started posting newsletters… They were just starting to lead the kinky, queer revolution.

Please, if you can, help this magical place. One of the pledges is literally a dollar a month. I plan on giving all I can to this place on Friday when I get paid. We have the next few days to try to bring a unique, beautiful place back from the brink of death.

Please, help us save our kink. Help us save a huge part of the San Francisco community and a legendary part of leather culture. Help us save Wicked Grounds.

Yours, desperate and pleading

-Rene

https://www.patreon.com/wickedgrounds

 

Advertisements

Goodbye

This entry is not kink related… This is life related… This is life and aging and loss…

A couple of years ago, my first grandfather died. He was my dad’s dad, a happy little elf of a man who was should have been canonized a saint for dealing with my she-bitch of a grandmother. He had dementia, among other health problems, and was the ripe ole age of 84. He had lived a full life, which is not something that could be said about a lot of my relatives.

Right after he passed my dad and I were in the back yard having a drink, something not uncommon for he and I when I’m home. On that balmy summer night he told me about the last real conversation he had with his father, and how they had said goodbye a couple of weeks before he died, when his father was still somewhat himself. They had had one of those very rare good talks that stick with you for the rest of your life. They talked about fatherhood, about what being a good dad really meant, and how much they loved each other and respected one another. Even though one is never quite ready for something like that, my dad said goodbye to his that night and mentally prepared himself for the actual physical goodbye to come.

I did that tonight, not with my father (thank the Gods) but my other grandfather, my DadDad.

I am the reason he’s called DadDad. He had wanted to be Grand Dad and I just couldn’t say it as a young child, and someone DadDad had stuck even though he was my mom’s dad. He always has been, and always will be, a superhero in my mind. He tried out for the New York Yankees back in the day, and would have played for the team if he hadn’t been drafted… He handled my Grammy, who is a force of nature. He tells the best stories about sneaking into his mother’s basement and drinking the house-made alcohol when he was much too young, and flipping a taxi over in Paris with his Navy buddies, and coming home with a baseball bruise so deep that you could see the individual stitches in his skin that led to my Gram SCREAMING at him.

His background is an interesting one..  Before he was even born his father was out of his life. The youngest of four kids, his father had managed to knock up his cousin’s wife and his wife at the same time and left my great-grandmother for the cousin’s wife the moment he figured it out. I’ve heard horror stories about this figment of a man, this great-grandfather that wasn’t so great that would chain his own daughter to a radiator in the basement for entire nights at a time because she gave her brother’s too much food, or would show up when it was convenient to him to see if the family was making money, and if he could get some when he didn’t know his own damn son.

My DadDad not only survived this, but thrived. He had four kids of his own, and then five grandchildren. He survived the loss of his wife and his eldest daughter, and until now has had minor health problems.

Now…

Now his confident, booming voice is soft. His blue eyes that normally sparkle with humor are dull. The man who used to lift grandchildren onto his shoulders with ease and run around the house can now barely walk. He used to love food, as any good Italian man does, and is now going days without eating and rapidly losing weight.

This is part of life. Humans age. They eventually die. My DadDad doesn’t have cancer. He has no deadly disease other than time, and he’s well aware of this on his good days.

Today was a good day. He was more coherent than he’s been in a couple years with me. Normally, he slips between past and present. He’ll call me by my aunt’s name, trailed off mid-story to stare into space, and repeat the same story time and time again. I never mind. I’ve always loved listening to his stories.

Today there were no stories. It was short. His girlfriend (yes, at 84 he has a girlfriend because my DadDad has always been a handsome devil) decided that he needed to spend the weekend with her, which resulted in a fight between her and my mother… While they fought I helped my grandfather into the car and took a knee next to the car door so that I could talk to him. I hadn’t seen him since June, a visit filled with stories about his mother and growing up.

He surprised me by locking his eyes with mine. They were clear, not foggy, and his voice was direct but soft. “Your grandfather’s getting old, kid. I’m not going to be around much longer. I’ve lived a good life though. 84 years… I never thought I would have lived this long.”

I put my head on his shoulder, trying not to cry. He kissed the top of my head and hugged me with shaky hands. “I know you’re being practical… Just try to take care of yourself while you are around, okay DadDad?”

He laughed. He hugged me. “I’ll try.”

We talked about me being in California. He remembered that I lived near San Francisco. That I had a boyfriend who was older but not too old. That I worked “too hard for someone my age”.

“Are you happy, kid?” I told him honestly, that I was. That I was tired, but I was happy.

He smiled, happy but tired in a different way. “Then that’s all that matters. You look good. I’m proud of you, of who you’ve become. I love you, you know that right?”

Of course I know that… I love my DadDad to the moon and back. I know he loves me too.. I’ve never had a fear about our relationship. Never. He’s been a superhero to me since I was a child. He protected me from the sea witch in the Little Mermaid when I was a child and from an abusive partner as an adult. He knew amazing things thanks to street smarts and protected his house and my parent’s house during Hurricane Sandy because of wiring work he had done thirty years before. He was, and in my mind always will be, invincible. Even with his body failing I see a quiet contentment in him that I hope to one day have. His spirit is invincible, untouched by age and decay, and the memory of his smile and that sparkle in his eye when he laughs will remain long after his body is gone.

I apologize for this entry being so long… This blog has become an outlet for honesty and emotion… and I can think of nothing else right now but this goodbye. Tonight I saw MY DadDad. I don’t think I’ll ever get to see that again.

Goodbyes are hard. They are part of growing up, of life and the passage of time…but that doesn’t mean letting go of a superhero is easy. They live on in legend though, always.

Yours with a heavy heart,

-Rene

Sure

I haven’t been to a play party in about three weeks, and have been away from San Francisco since Friday.

Coming home this time is different than it was in June. The finality and the sadness of the last visit isn’t there. I have enough time to decompress, spend time with my family and friends, and visit all of my old haunts.

There is the seashore of course, the local mall, the city, my home with its wooded backyard and crickets that ease me to sleep at night. There is also a very strange cemetery my best friend at the time and I would visit as teenagers.

It is around the block and down the street from my home, directly across from the entrance to my high school (I hated high school, so it seemed oddly fitting at the time). Aesthetically, I loved it. The stones were old, the last one laid there the year that I was born, and largely forgotten. The entire cemetery was Jewish, except for this small Dutch section in the back. My town was founded by Dutch immigrants in the 1800’s, and the only stone still visible reads from 1864. The others are too dilapidated to read anything, and too overgrown by ivy and other plant life to even resemble stones anymore. They, along with the newer Jewish stones (clustered with groups taken from Scarlet Fever epidemics in 1912 and ’14, as well as World War 2 casualties) watch generations of youth pass by the silent gates, few paying them any mind as time passes.

Well, I suppose I was one of the few. This place, as a youth, was where I did all my great thinking.

There is one tombstone I always visit. Aaron, a little 12 year old boy taken by Scarlet Fever in 1912. His stone is flat on the ground, and often was overgrown when I got there. I would clean it, sit on the crumbling wall beside his stone, and we would talk. Or, I would talk to him. I would mention the feelings of claustrophobia, trapped in a place I never felt like I belonged. I would talk about dreams of college, of great things, of leaving Hawthorne in the dust and never returning.

As I aged and entered college, giving me the freedom to actually live away from home, visiting the cemetery became a comfort of constants. The stones were always there, with names I began to recognize as time went on, still and silent but not at the same time. Even as distance separated my old friend and I, she and I would return to the graveyard on weekend when I came home, and we would traverse the stones as we had in our youth. I would talk to Aaron about what I was seeing and doing, and would wonder what he would have become if he had seen past the age of 12.

My self in high school was…haunted. I think that’s why I took comfort in the cemetery. If I was haunted, I might as well hang out somewhere where there were ghosts. My friend had even more demons to battle. She was a cutter, a rather serious one, as well as suffering from major depressive disorder and other mental problems she was aware of but never diagnosed with. I was continually struggling with my weight and my self-worth, and had developed an eating disorder by high school (because no one ever suspects the fat chicks of being bulimic). I felt the judgment of my extended family and of my small town on a daily basis, and it felt like the only things I could but could not control would be my body.

I still have a love-hate relationship with food. I love to cook, especially for someone like Kane who truly appreciates it. I love family recipes and the social aspects of food. I love when my mother bakes chocolate croissants or sticky buns. I hate stepping on the scale after, of seeing the numbers go up and feeling my pants get tighter because I looked at an M&M. I still have my demons. It would be a lie to say they were gone. But I haven’t binged and purged since I was 20.

Dragon stopped cutting when she was 21. We are both 23 now, and still in touch from time to time even though neither approves of the other’s romantic relationship. I think she’s too codependent on her boyfriend of three years, and that happiness can not revolve around this “us against the world” ideal. She thinks that I need to be with someone closer to my own age, and that I’m too sex obsessed. We agree to disagree to keep the peace, but we have both grown from the 16 year old damaged souls that used to visit the old cemetery together.

Later this week, we will go back together. We will take photos together, in the cemetery, documenting where we are now vs where we were. Pausing at this transition time between young woman and full grown to see the progress we’ve made, and the women we’ve become both separately and together.

My mother told me when I graduated high school that by the time I was done with college I would no longer recognize myself. I would be an entirely different person. I didn’t believe her at the time. I was so sure of myself and my identity. I was a good girl, who was going to be a psychologist to make money and marry her high school sweetheart who didn’t care she was fat.

Well, my mother was right. I left that little girl behind a long time ago. I believe that I shed off the last layers of her just a few months ago, when I finally allowed myself the freedom to admit my submissive nature. To let myself be a sub, and serve, and know that there was nothing wrong with wanting to serve.

It is a fool’s errand to fall for a married man. To devote yourself to him is emotional suicide. To fall for him is death of the heart, and yet here I am, hopes blazing. Coming home has made me face my past, my demons, and to look for my future. I see Kane beside me as I visit these old haunts. I want show him. I feel like he belongs there, and I’m not ashamed to say it. There is only so much selflessness in me. Eventually the selfishness wins out.

My name is Rena. I am an artist from a microscopic town in New Jersey that I outgrew a long time ago, but still draw comfort from. I am in love with Kane. Hopelessly. Completely, Totally. And I see my future with him. I see us working in the studio together, pushing each other creatively. I see coming home and him meeting my family, being a part of my life here. And knowing that he sees it too… I don’t have words.

My parents know all the details about him, and the wife, and that life..and they like him still. They trust him with me, which is not something they could say about my previous boyfriends. They trust him with my heart, and watching our interactions see what I see.

If this ends in me being heartbroken it is completely worth it for the hope I feel now. Better this than dark oblivion. I have a man I adore, I worship, I serve willingly and freely, who fulfills me as much as I do him. I feel his love even from 3000 miles away, his support.

I hold my head higher as I walk through Hawthorne. Someone loves me. And I love them, and I can finally see a clear future forming, away from this place but a part of it at the same time.

I have quite a lot to catch Aaron up on. Some things never change.

Yours apologize for all the mush lately…still getting used to this whole “in love” thing…

-Rena

Roots

My roots are planted deep in Jersey soil. They were fed by the lights from the New York City skyline and the waves crashing off of the Jersey Shore.

They grew strong with stories told by a dad who always knew to do voices for every storybook character, and afternoons of baking with a mom who used the time as impromptu sex ed (Cut the scones in half. Hey Rena, do you know what a woody is?).

These roots wrapped around not one, but two family matriarchs, and withstood even as both left the mortal plane.

My roots carry echoes of summers spent in a grandmother’s swimming pool and winters full of snowmen (and sometimes snowdogs). They know laughter, tears, loss, and luck. They’ve seen their parent trees as human and flawed, and still are filled with love for them, and they stretch, achingly sometimes, to maintain that connection between where they are and where they are going.

These roots have grown, twisted, and turned as time has gone by. They’ve stretched up to Boston and Cambridge, circling there for four long years before beginning a long journey, inching their way to San Francisco. Wood splinters, it wears. Fires can destroy them and water can wear them away, but still my roots held strong as they grew. They were a steady path to follow back, a safety harness when my wings took me too far too fast.

My roots, everlasting and full of love, call me home for more changes, more twists and turns, as my life continues to unfold. It’s time to follow them back to the beginning; to recharge and remember the little girl who loved to play in the woods behind her yard and who would talk to Peter Pan. It’s time to go home.

I will see San Francisco in two weeks. It’s time for a recharge.