Tuesday, December 12, 2017


New York, New York. December 12, 2017.

Monday, December 11, 2017


Fort Tryon Park, New York, New York. December 9, 2017.

Tuesday, December 05, 2017

Labyrinth

It had spiraled so fast.

Kay and I celebrated five years together. Shortly afterward, she dumped me for a new guy. Now, a few weeks later, I was without her at kink camp. I felt discarded, reeling, out of place in a familiar space. Kink camp was full of memories of her, most beautiful, some painful—most painfully, and most recently, with the new guy who displaced me.

“Oh yeah, welcome to the club,” a friend commiserated. “You’re not in the game until you’ve had your heart broken at kink camp. This is where my lover dumped me.” She went on to enumerate the many legendary break ups within the community that occurred on these very grounds. Someone should put up an historical marker, I thought: “So-and-so was crushed here.” 

I was booked to present classes, organize an orgy, host a storytelling show and run a cabin. I would be surrounded by friends and love. That would give me strength.

But, I also knew, I was vulnerable. My feelings were unstable. My body was failing me. My spirit was broken. Fortunately, my mind was sharp. Knowing that returning to camp might trigger a sadness I could not control, I asked three friends to act as my emotional buoys. If I ever feel lost at sea, I told them, I want to know I can come to you for support. I may never come to you. I may come to you at any time. Without hesitation, all three agreed. None knew I had asked anyone else.

I asked two of these people as they are friends to both Kay and me. They had known us as a couple. They knew I was hurting and they knew she was hurting. They loved each of us. The last part was the most critical: I knew that, no matter how I felt or what I said, they would not respond by denigrating her. It’s easy for people to say to a friend that his ex is a bitch or a jackass whom he’s better off without. I couldn’t hear that, as it’s not true. Kay is a kind, caring person. I loved her. I was in misery without her. We were in a bad place, but that wasn’t because either of us is a bad person.

The third person I asked was Lee Harrington.

In the aftermath of my break-up, Lee had been a good confident, sharing the wisdom he’s gathered in life, not least of which was the experience of his own current break-up. “It’s interesting to hear your story,” he said, “Because in my narrative, I’m in Kay’s position. I’m the one breaking someone’s heart by following my own.” He had fallen in love with someone living in Anchorage, Alaska, and decided to move there, leaving behind his partner of many years.

Lee had met Kay, but didn’t know her well. This didn’t matter. I could trust that Lee wouldn’t stoop to negativity. When I made this request, he replied, “Of course. I’m honored to be asked.” 

Be careful what you ask for: you may just receive it.  

Lee knew I wasn’t eating. At every meal, he would appear by my side. Not to scold me for picking at my food, but just to be present. He’d sit and join in conversation with my other friends, touching my back, and being there. 

If he saw me crossing the campus, he’d change his path to intersect with mine. He’d ask what I’d been doing and what I was doing next. He’d tell me where he’d been and where he’d next be. All by way of casually checking in on me and letting me know where he could be found.

He often passed by my cabin—at a dead end on the way to nothing—to chat.

I’ve seen Lee present at events many times. He’s a great teacher and has taught me many skills, particularly with rope, at which he is a master and I’m his clumsy pupil. Lee is a shaman of spiritual sexuality, a guide to those who seek that path. I’ve not been very curious about “woo woo,” the self-deprecating phrase Lee uses to refer to something he takes very seriously, and so, I had not learned much about his views and teachings. In that regard.

On the Saturday night of camp, Lee was to lead a spirit walk. In deference to my love for him and his care for me, and in acknowledgement that we would soon be living far apart, I decided to join the walk. 

We convened at one o’clcok in the morning. We were about a dozen in number. Lee told us that this was to be a silent journey and we were to use no flashlights. Our destination was the labyrinth. We were to follow him along a path in the woods. We walked, listening to the sticks and leaves crunching underfoot. I walked in the rear, barely able to distinguish the dark form of the person ahead of me or my feet below, which I watched to avoid tripping. As a result of walking in darkness, we moved slowly and carefully. 

Lee stopped the procession and illuminated a flashlight. He spoke words intended to help us reach a meditative state. His voice was clear, his words simple and poetic. He then doused the light and continued along the dark path.

Once more he stopped, lighting his face and speaking in a deliberate, rhythmic tone. Once more he extinguished the light and moved onward.

We arrived at the labyrinth. The labyrinth is a permanent fixture at camp. I had seen it many times by daylight. It’s a gravel circle about fifteen feet in diameter, with its paths demarcated by slightly raised stones of a darker color. Now, it was illuminated only by a dozen votive candles around its circumference. A drummer sat on a bench, providing a steady heartbeat.

Lee instructed us to take places around the labyrinth, standing and facing its center, directing our energy there. As our number roughly matched the number of votives, we gravitated to the candles, each of us standing near one.

Lee told us that each of us in turn would follow our path into the labyrinth. Once at its center, we would mediate on anything we cared to choose for as long as we chose. Then we would follow our path out of the labyrinth and return to the outer circle, making way for the next person. We would move around the circle in a clockwise fashion; as it happened, the final walk would be mine.

“There are many paths in the labyrinth,” Lee intoned. “Some are short and some are long. Some are easy and some are hard.” With that, Lee sat in a beatific pose at the labyrinth’s entrance.

The first walker entered. He made his way around and around, closing in on the center, stopping once it was reached. I could only make out his dark shape as he stood silently for a few moments. I remembered to direct positive thoughts toward him. We’re meeting tonight in an amazing place, I thought. We are fortunate. You are good. You are loved. In time, he raised his arms with a sudden victorious gesture. He then followed his path out of the labyrinth, taking his place near me. We each stepped to the left to make room as the next person entered the labyrinth.

And so it went, each person walking to the center, meditating, returning. In time, it was my turn. I entered the labyrinth.

In the darkness, I couldn’t see beyond the next step. The candlelight was, if anything, more distracting than illuminating, causing peripheral glares. I landed one step, then the next, walking with care along my spiraling path, the drum beating my steps.

I reached the center. I looked around at the others and back to Lee. I closed my eyes.

I meditated on Kay.

I love her so much, I thought. I need and want her in my life. I know she is trying to be friends. I am trying, too. I know the pain will subside and that will help. I do not want to hurt her, as I do not want to be hurt by her. I hope she will be full of forgiveness for me, as I try to be full of forgiveness for her.

I opened my eyes. I looked around at the forms facing me, their features lost in the darkness. I looked down and began my walk away from the labyrinth’s center. I followed my path as it lead around, twisting in ways the path inside had not. Soon, I realized I was heading back inward. I couldn’t correct the path.

I found myself back at the center.

I felt a wave of disappointment that was nearly claustrophobic. The labyrinth walls were only inches high. I knew I could escape just by walking off the path. But don’t seek escape, I told myself: you are back at the center. Meditate. Focus. Why was I back at the center?

I meditated on my return.

I had meditated on Kay and our relationship, primarily on hopes of building on our past in creating our future. Perhaps this was not what I should hope. We are not together and we will not be together again in the same way. She has made that plain. But even if she offered, I couldn’t go back—I couldn’t bear more heartache. My hope should be that I find my way without centering on Kay. I needed to find my own path.

I opened my eyes. I took a step. I took another. In a few steps, I was out of the labyrinth.

Lee was standing, smiling. He opened his arms. I walked into them. We held each other for a long time. When we released one another, we kissed.

Lee turned to face the others. He called us into a closing circle, gave thanks and wished us well on our journeys. I held hands with those who had shared this experience together. We left the labyrinth area along a more direct path, Lee lighting the way with his flashlight.

As the company parted, Lee and I made our way to a fire pit. We found friends there and sat to talk. Lee and I began to talk about personal histories, sex culture and shared interests. Those around the fire joined in and still, primarily sat, listening to our exchange.

Gradually, people began to head off to their beds. Lee and I were alone, continuing our conversation, until the night’s chill told us it was time to part. It was nearly dawn.

We embraced again. “Isn’t that strange how I wound up back at the center?” I asked. “No one else had that happen. I’m glad it did, though. I got more clarity.”


Lee put his hands on my cheeks and looked into my eyes. “There are many paths in the labyrinth,” he said. “Some are short and some are long. Some are easy and some are hard.”

Monday, December 04, 2017


New York, New York. November 13, 2017.

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

My Celia

One Life, Take Two began on November twenty-eight, two thousand-four, thirteen years ago today, with this post. Enjoy!

It’s been over a year since the break up.

For most of that year, I have hosted sex parties in Manhattan. I suppose I will need to catch you up on how that transpired. I’ve made great friends and lovers at these parties, and yet I haven’t often had the feeling of falling head over heels for someone.

Until my Celia.

I met Celia at a party at my place last spring. She arrived late with a guy who comes sometimes. The regulars were already naked, well fucked and relaxed.

Celia sat on a bed and chatted with us. She was dressed in jeans and a black t-shirt, worn backwards so that the logo was illegible. As we talked, Jane removed Celia’s clothes, and had soon stripped her naked. Jane kissed her torso as Celia leaned back, opening her thighs; we heard her gasp as Jane’s mouth reached her clit.

Being gracious like she is, Jane soon turned and offered me Celia’s body. I set to licking Jane's drool from Celia's labia.

As we fucked, as we did almost immediately, I decided not to stop fucking her. This is not the best form at a sex party, particularly for the host; one really should offer new guests an opportunity to work the room.

I doubt that Celia cared much for etiquette. She had gorgeous hazel-green eyes, focused intently on mine. I kept her gaze, noticing details at the periphery. Celia had a lovely face: aquiline nose, pre-Raphaelite features, framed in long black hair.

I was soon very curious to know more about the woman I was fucking, and so thought maybe we could take a break to chat.

"I would really like to talk with you," I said, meaning "Maybe we can stop and talk."

"Sure . . . what do you want to talk about?" she replied, as if I meant we should have a conversation while fucking. I was willing.

"So, where did you grow up?," I asked. I learned that she grew up in New England, she is an art student, and she would be working on a farm all summer. Within those first few moments, I gleaned that we had art in common, the sex was great, and I wouldn't be able to see her again for months.

I finally let her have sex with some of the others. Later we kissed, as intently as we had gazed. As she left, she stood in the door, giving me long, hungry kisses, as her date waited for her.

As it happened, she had an art show up, and as it happened, I was in the neighborhood the very next day. I was glad to see her art was good.

The summer passed.

Two weeks ago, I got an email from her, saying she was back in town and wanted to return to the sex parties. Cool!

I suggested we get together, and proposed we go check out the new Museum of Modern Art on opening day, as I had special tickets. It turned out she did too.

Later, we learned that the opening day was free to the public. So much for special access.

We decided to meet at an exhibition by Barbara Nitke at Art@Large gallery, get lunch, and see the museum--which we knew would be hellishly crowded. Nitke’s photos have to do with sadomasochism (SM). While not into SM herself, Nitke has an empathic insight into the lives of those who are. There is a strong sense of intimacy and care in her photographs.

Celia was late for our date, which was fine with me. We saw Nitke's work together. Celia says she knew many of the images, having seen Nitke lecture at the Eulenspeigel Society, a New York based organization for those into SM.

(I catalogued those details—Celia already knew Nitke and the Eulenspeigel Society?)

We lunched, and talked about out first encounter. It was her first sex party, she said, and her moment with Jane was her first encounter with a woman. She liked it, but she was taking downers at the time, which she regretted.

I referred to this as a pretty unusual second date. She agreed: first sex, then a lunch date. We were doing it backwards. She says she is surprised that she feels so shy.

She talked about her gaggle of girlfriends, and how she makes nude films of them, but can't imagine sex with them--though she really wants to be bisexual, as it's hip (it is?) and of course, there are more options for sex if you are bi.

She opines that the MoMA is going to be crazy crowded, and maybe we shouldn't go. This leaves her with two hours to kill before her yoga class . . . what can we do? Well, I suggest, we can go to my place and kiss. She looks at me like she can't believe I suggested this. I can't believe it myself--I am really getting bold.

"Okay," she says, "but I really am feeling shy about this. Is it too early to drink? Do you have any bourbon?"

"A girl after my own heart." I actually said that out loud.

Soon, we are at my place, on my couch, sipping bourbon. Soon, we are kissing. Fully clothed. For a long, sweet time.

Soon we are nude, in my bed, kissing. Touching. For a long, sweet time. She is so into gazing, touching, kissing, and I am melting, melting, melting. As the time passes, and her yoga class approaches, I think it will be wise not to start fucking. But I do go down on her. And she cums. And she cums again as I kiss her and hold her very close.

I should mention that she does intense yoga five times a week. And she is a semi-pro athlete. She has a strong, lean body. When she held me firmly, she knocked the breath out of me. Mind you, I was pretty breathless.

I tell her to go, it's time. She declines to leave. We fuck. Like all the foreplay, it's slow, and intense. At one point, I'm on top of her, holding myself up with my arms at full length. She is about to cum. She sits up, putting her arms around my shoulders. She lifts her ass from the bed. She is clinging to me, hanging from my body in air, pushing herself down on me. She cums. I can scarcely believe she made my body work that way.

We are back to kissing, touching . . . she discovered my sensitive nipples, and slowly tortured them. Exquisitely.

I am laying on top of her, tracing a finger along her nose, her lips, her cheeks. I take a breath. "You are really beautiful," I say. "You don't have to be. I would be nice to you anyway. But it helps that you are."

She looks down at me. "Are you bi?" she asks. I say I am. "I do well with the bi guys," she says. Why is that, you think? "Must be my physique," she says, flexing a bicep that would give pause to Charles Atlas.

She said she was hungry. I went to the kitchen and produced Spanish rice, steamed shrimp, and fresh calamari sauteed in garlic. We eat nude.

As we eat, we talk about the Nitke photos. She mentions liking one in which a man is fully bound to a flotation board, adrift in a pool. I say that there was such a sense of risk in that position. She says she likes the feeling of being bound.

I recall how she came when I was holding her, on top of her, as she pulled me closer to crush her.

"I can bind you," I offer. She produces rope and ankle bracelets from her bag, saying they were intended for a possible film shoot later that night. I dig up handcuffs and other stuff. She is soon strapped to my bed on all fours.

I torture her nipples. I tell her I am going to verbally abuse her. "Yes," she murmurs. I ask her why, with all that we've been doing, she has not sucked my cock? "Are you bad at it or something?" I ask. She opens her mouth, wide. I feed her my cock, and fuck her face hard. She can take it very well, so I commend her. Then I slap her for making me wait for that.

We had already established that she is an ass virgin, and so I take her to task for this. How can I let her fuck my friends if she can't even do anal? So I move around and give her a hard spanking. I lick her hole, and blow air in her. She moans. She can't help but fart. I spank her for this, and do it again. "This will burn, but only for a second," I warn. I take a sip of bourbon, and blow it up her ass. I plug it with my thumb, and then a butt plug.

I fuck her pussy.

"Can you take candle wax?," I ask. Never tried it, she mumbles. I drip wax on her back and ass for a very long time. She squirms until I tell her to be still. (Later she asked: was I making too much noise? I can try to be less responsive. Oh no, I say. You did very well.)

In time, I release her and take her to the shower. I wash her body, and flake off the wax. We go back to bed and it's tender again. She falls asleep. I read.

We woke up entangled, touching . . . her fingers are never still when they can be caressing. We spend the morning in bed. There was a joy in this, so palpable, for me at least, that I had to take care lest blurting out, "I am so in love with you."

I had to remind myself, I really don’t know Celia so well. Not yet.

I make her breakfast—bacon, eggs, and her first helping of grits. We were both very sated. We talk about how she just broke up with her boyfriend, and she had broken with her other two lovers in the last month. I say I am hers, when she wants me. Her eyes fix on mine. “That’s right,” she smiles.

My friend Todd calls. He reminds me that we are going to fuck this woman from Texas that night. I had offered to host, and said I would line up some others to join us. I had invited Thomas, that was easy, but I was so busy with Celia all weekend, I didn’t do much more.

I asked Celia if she wanted to do a group thing that night. She pondered it but declined. She was already well sexed. So was I, really.

Around two or three, I kissed goodbye to my Celia. I had a gang bang in a few hours. I would spend that time in the thrall of my Celia, picking up flecks of candle wax, and writing to my friend Dacia about her.

Sunday, November 26, 2017

Heard, Not Seen

“ . . . and that’s when Charlie returned the everlasting gobstopper.” I paused for a moment before stepping away from the microphone. That was my story.

Scattered claps gave sway to noisy applause and hoots. I smiled, nodding my head in appreciation.

I returned to the microphone to introduce the next storyteller. I shook her hand as she approached, surrendering the stage.

I made my way through the crowd to join those standing in the rear. People smiled and patted me on my back. I nodded thanks as my mind rehearsed my just-finished performance.

I remembered that I had left out a detail. Once we started talking, Charlie told me that she had been understandably nervous about our first date. She said that when she opened the door nude, she had very nearly closed it again. “Why?” I asked. “Shy?”

“No, because you’re short. Your profile said you’re five nine.”

“I am five nine!” I protested. “It says so on my driver’s license.”

“You’re not five nine,” she insisted. “I’m five nine. You’re five eight, tops. I figured if he’s lying about that, what else might he have faked?”

Taking umbrage at having my honesty called into doubt, I insisted on being measured. I’m five eight. 

It’s a funny anecdote, but I hadn’t been able to fit into my story. I needed to tell it in about five minutes. You learn to let go of some byways.

(Much later, when she first heard me tell the story onstage, Charlie challenged one detail. I had reached out to her after our break, not the reverse. Funny that I remembered it otherwise.)

I had been coming to town each month for nearly a year. Since the summer, I had featured stories of my ongoing struggle as my girlfriend included another man in our relationship. Suddenly, I was dumped in his favor. By this time, my stories had stockpiled into nearly an hour of heartbreak and woe I could refer to as my polyamorous country album. Now, for the first time in months, I had told a story that sounded hopeful about moving on.  

A woman tapped me on the shoulder. “I wanted to say something about your story,” she began.

“Thanks, glad you liked it,” I whispered, pointing to the stage. “But I’m trying to hear this person now.”

“No, I didn’t like it, not at all,” she whispered back. “I think it’s misogynist. My heart went out to that poor woman you silenced.”

“Oh, okay, but can we talk about this later?” I turned back to the show before realizing I might be seen as silencing her. “I do value your input,” I added. “I just need to focus on the storyteller on stage.”

“I understand.” She smiled, again patting my shoulder. “Great show. My first time.” 

I nodded. “Welcome.” Laughter summoned me back to the storyteller on stage.

After closing out the show, I stood by the door to say goodbye and to thank everyone for coming. A sizeable group was heading down the street to a private after-party. I would join them after settling up at the venue.

That task complete, I collected my travel bag and headed to the party. I signed in with the doorman and took the elevator upstairs.  I was greeted with a round of hellos as I removed my shoes. I checked in with people as I poured a whiskey, looking around for my naysayer.

I found her sitting next to a couch, watching as one woman hogtied another on the floor. Both the dominant and the submissive were fully clothed. The dominant was bossy. “Do you like this? I can do anything with you.” Her gagged submissive nodded assent, eyes welling.

“Hey,” I said, squatting nearby. “Thanks again for reaching out to me after my story. What was it you wanted to say?”

She looked over and shushed me. “Please, I need to watch this scene. We can talk after.”

“Sorry.” I stood and pointed toward to the patio. “See you there,” I mouthed. She waved me on.

I was mingling with the smokers when she found me. “Sorry we keep missing each other,” she smiled.

“We meet at last. Sorry to interrupt before, I didn’t get that you were a part of that scene.”

“I wasn’t. I just like to watch.” She paused. “I mean, I watch scenes to be sure they’re safe and consensual. So, anyway, back to your story . . .”

“Yes.” I stood erect. “I’m ready for your critique.”

“Well, like I said, the whole thing just struck me as misogynist.”

“So you said. Why is that?”

“It was just so . . . I don’t know, typical. The man is dominant, the woman is submissive. That situation is so cliché, so inherently patriarchal and demeaning.”

I nodded. “Well, okay, I can hear that. Although it’s not meant as a parable. It’s a true story. It really happened between me and my girlfriend on our first date.”

“I know, I get that. Which is why I’m glad you’re receptive to learning to do better.” She smiled. “It just feels like a lost opportunity, you know?  Here were all these people, listening, and you didn’t say very much about negotiation or consent. Which is so crucial.”

“I’m pretty sure I mentioned that we negotiated everything previously via email. Did I miss that part?”

“No, you did say it, but you didn’t emphasize it enough. You went into it all as a sexy scene, so all these people think that cliché is all there is to BDSM. Man gets what he wants, selfishly, while women are silenced, yet again.”

“Yeah, but, as I said, this scene came from our negotiation. This was what we both wanted.” I explained that communication is very much a part of our respective lives. I’m a storyteller, always sending out words. She’s a psychotherapist, always listening. Silence in our initial scenes became our way of communicating without the continuous presence of talk, and ultimately, it broke down into conversation.

“I understand, but is that really the message you want to give all these people?” she went on. “You had an opportunity to frame this differently and to empower her voice.”

“If this was a class on kink, of course, I might have emphasized the role of negotiation. Now, a good class is generally an hour or ninety minutes. A good story needs the teller to get through a beginning, middle and end in five or so minutes.” I felt like a comedian required to explain why a joke is actually funny. I returned to the central plot of my story. “Anyway, yes, I get that more can be said on the subject of negotiation and consent in kink. In this story, I was concerned with the relationship of two people, myself and my girlfriend. I certainly didn’t mean to diminish her in any way. I hope she comes off insightful and smart, because she is.”

“You say you admire her. Good! If she is so capable, why not let her speak for herself?” She jabbed a finger against my chest. “Give her a voice in her own story. Silencing her is an act of misogyny.”

Someone tugged at my elbow. I took this as an opportunity to extricate myself. “All food for thought. Thanks. I really appreciate you taking the time to share with me.”

“Of course,” she smiled. “We share an educator’s instinct. Let’s all do better.” 

“Thanks again,” I said, turning to my next conversation. “And put your name in the hat next time!”

“Oh, no, that’s not for me,” she laughed. “My private life is private.”

I reflected on our conversation the next afternoon as I took the bus back to New York. The show had gone well. It had felt good to move my monthly stories beyond the installments on hurt and heartbreak to this new direction. I heard good feedback from the regulars, who seemed genuinely happy to see me feeling optimistic. Still, this woman’s feedback bothered me.

Perhaps we might’ve talked more about words and their meanings. I didn’t know her personal background in BDSM—and anyway, as she said, her personal life is personal—but at some level, we had a conversation about words that we may understand differently. I’ve learned to speak in an inherited vocabulary of kink. For example, I initially rejected the commonly used word “play” as entirely too general and infantile.

“Do you want to play?”

“No, I want you to beat my ass until my face is covered in snot and then skull fuck me. I’m not playing. I’m real.”

But over time, I’ve accepted “play” as the word others have chosen for what we all do. I just have to define how I mean it in each instance.

People may want to call me “Sir” or “Daddy” or whatever, and I can either refuse to play along, or I can accept such terms as intended: honorifics that define my role as others understand it. I may be a male “dominant” and my partner a female “submissive,” but this doesn’t mean we accept or rehearse ascribed positions within a cultural patriarchy. These are just the unfortunate words we’re given to describe what we like to do. My partner and I know this. Our understanding of these terms may not be clear to those outside the kink community, or to many within it, but they are clear to us as the primary participants in our own relationship.

It stung to have my story defined as “misogynist.” That’s a strong word. I felt cornered into a defensive posture. If I could just explain what I meant, how my girlfriend and I respected one another, then my naysayer would retract that awful accusation. It mattered to me that she understand my meaning.

I had considered the word “misogyny” to define a fact, as a condition of fixed meaning. A thing either is or is not misogynous according to clearly understood attributes—no ifs, ands or buts.

But in fact, as her use made clear, it is also a matter of opinion. She believed our scene to be misogynous. Charlie and I do not share that opinion.  She was firm and unshakeable in her view. Our shared intimacy is no match for her certitude.

When asked about my shows or my stories, she may dismiss them as misogynous, carrying forward her opinion to be repeated by others until some hear it without question. “Oh, Jefferson? Never heard his stories, but he’s a misogynist.” Hearsay and opinion are readily churned into fact.

Of course, it nettled. People are supposed to like my stories.

I was still pretty thin skinned about bad reviews. 

Monday, November 13, 2017



Hawkins, Indiana. November 13, 1984.

Monday, October 30, 2017


Listening at Get Lucky Erotica Group. Lucky. New York, New York. October 26, 2017.

New York, New York. October 7, 2016. Photograph by Kenny.

Monday, October 23, 2017

Seen, Not Heard

She opened the door, nude, my drink in hand—bourbon, three fingers, neat. As instructed. Good. She was a knock out, but that was beside the point. I wasn’t there to judge a beauty contest.

Turning forty had led her to consider the crossroads of approaching middle age, between the vicissitudes of the past and the potentials and limitations of the future. It had been a while since her previous long-term relationship; she had preferred a measured solitude in ordering her life from the relative chaos of her youth. She marked this transition in life’s passage with an elaborate tattoo empathizing an elemental grounding. Now, with her body artfully manifesting years of cerebral reflection, her mind moved to sex, and specifically, to kink. That’s where she found me.

I took the cup from her hand, closing the door behind me. Sipping bourbon, I kept my eyes on her face as my right hand caressed her body, cupping a breast, touching a nipple, tracing her waist to her hip and thigh. My fingers found her wet. I slipped a finger into her, then a second, then a third. Three fingers, neat. I lifted her to her toes. She swallowed a gasp as I walked her, backward, into her home. 

We had worked out the details of this first meeting via email. She had access to this blog and to photographs of me. I knew only what she told me. I asked that she send me no photographs and keep her name to herself. One so rarely has an opportunity for anonymity, I said; let’s enjoy it while we can. In fact, I suggested, let’s conduct the date without words. I reserved the option to give direction, but she was prohibited from speaking—although, obviously, she could disregard that prohibition if needed. She liked the imposition of silence.

I hadn’t anticipated that her silence might accompany the absence of quiet. She had installed a noise machine near her front door, to prevent our sounds from reaching the neighbors. More privacy was afforded by a wall of sound: Tom Petty, cranked loud. She was an American girl, currently perched on the hook of my hand.

I took another sip of bourbon as I scanned the room. Removing my coat would require removing my fingers from her body.  Instead, I stepped from my shoes and guided us into her living room. I sat in a cushioned chair. I placed the cup on the floor, and, with my free left hand, loosened my belt and unzipped. She got the idea and reached for my cock. I retrieved my fingers as she slid my pants from my body, one leg at a time. “Let’s not neglect the socks,” I suggested. My socks were folded and placed on my pants, also neatly folded.

I offered her my coat. She took it, looking around for a moment before vanishing back toward the entry. I could hear a door open and the rattling of clothes hangers. Resourceful, I thought, adding my shirt to her neat laundry pile.

She returned to find me nude and waiting, nodding to the beat. I suggested she crawl to suck my cock. She lowered herself to her knees and slinked toward me, her eyes on her prey. She took my cock curiously, and then, hungrily.

My eyes lighted on a clock. We can spend an hour at this, I decided, reaching for my bourbon. Tom Petty has a deep catalogue.

She no doubt wondered how long she would be sucking cock. I offered no time frame for the first half hour, and then observed, “You should plan on cocksucking that duration of time again.” Her brow furrowed as she calculated her endurance. Her hips swayed to the music. I propped a leg on her wagging back, giving myself to her attentions. Her body fell still. Only her head moved as she took me.  

The hour passed. I raised my empty cup. She sat back on her haunches, confused before understanding my unspoken order. She raised herself on uncertain legs before disappearing back to the entry.

When she returned, I took the cup from her hand and filled my mouth. I put down the cup.

A moment later, she was on the floor in hand cuffs. I bent her hips firmly back as we fucked.

When we were spent, I swallowed my drink, dressed and left. I sent her an email commending our first date and offering to meet for more. She readily accepted.

On my next visit, she opened the door, nude, my drink in hand—bourbon, three fingers, neat. I moistened my fingers and slid them inside her, leading her backwards to the designated blowjob chair. Prince had replaced Tom Petty. Otherwise, our itinerary remained unchanged.

And so it went, as winter passed into spring. Same rules, same time frame, same wordlessness. Sometimes I brought a cane, sometimes a flogger. She always had bourbon and she always chose a single artist’s playlist.

One day, my offer of a date received this reply:

Hello-

I’m really unsure about seeing you again . . .  

I’m clear about what I will not be and that is only an objectified sexual plaything. More unclear about what I am willing to be, but have a sense of wanting someone who can take in the whole of me and who is open to a deeper level of connection and sharing.

A reflection on our time together; I was longing for someone to show up . . . getting glimpses, but mostly felt in the presence of a detached artist, who is absolutely fantastic at his craft but completely unaware of his medium.      

My hope is that you’re open to a conversation/negotiation around what I’ve mentioned here, where your willingness lays and the possibility of meeting again.  

I look forward to your response . . .

xo

I replied in the moment:

Very good response! Thank you for saying what you think. This is like the moment Charlie returned Wonka’s  everlasting gobstopper.

And yet, we did not.

I continued to arrive to find her nude, my drink in hand—bourbon, three fingers, neat. The Stones, The Police, The Pixies. Sex, spankings, silence. Abrupt departures, no words.

Perhaps we were in a rut. But this worked and anything else would be a change.

Finally, she wrote to call it quits This had been fun, she said, and no hard feelings, but it wasn’t what she wanted now. Besides, her work schedule was going to blow up soon, and she thought solitude might be better for her. I replied with my good wishes and suggested we stay in touch.

Despite my intentions to comply with her request, to reveal more of myself and to get to know her, I was, in that moment, feeling my self slip away. The edifice of the chocolate factory no longer held. Reality, in all its brutality, was crashing everything to the ground.

She followed me on social media. She saw that I was melting, melting. She contacted me to ask if I was okay. I replied that I was the opposite of okay. She said that if I wanted to talk about it, she would be glad to listen. I said I’d be at her place shortly.

She opened the door, fully clothed. There was no music. I had to ask for a drink.

We sat on her couch and she sat back, listening. I relayed the narrative of my girlfriend’s decision to dump me for another guy, a friend of mine. It’s a long story, and I didn’t yet know how to tell it concisely. Too much was happening. It was all happening too fast. It was still happening.  

She nodded as I spoke. When I had exhausted my supply of words, she said, “You’ve told me what’s happening but not how you feel about it. How do you feel now?”

“I have no idea how to feel anything,” I said, finishing my drink. I laughed. “So, that’s what’s new with me. What’s your story?”

“This is the first time you’ve asked about me,” she replied, a bit surprised. She either didn’t notice or chose to ignore my empty cup as she began. She was raised upstate, on the edge of the Adirondacks. When she was nineteen, she was diagnosed with cancer. While she was sick, her five-year-old brother died of cancer. She survived. Her early twenties were a blur, “just really fucked up,” she said. She found her way out of that and arrived in New York, where she is now a psychotherapist and a practicing Buddhist seeking ordination. She recently turned forty. After that, who knows?

She folded her hands in her lap. That was her story.

I sat silently. “You are so much more interesting than me,” I said.

“You’re pretty interesting,” she smiled. “But yeah, that’s me.”

“You survived cancer. Your baby brother died of cancer.” I nodded. “But I’ve had my heart broken! You don’t know what real pain is!”

“That’s one competition you’re welcome to win,” she laughed, pushing imaginary chips my way.

She had expressed such profound loss and tragedy so matter-of-factly, offering a considered assessment of her life to date. Of course I turned it into a joke.

I could not listen beyond my surface noise. I struggled to regurgitate barely digested hurt. 

“I was surprised by your posts about heartbreak,” she went on. “I didn’t even realize you had a girlfriend.”

“Oh, I’m sorry!” I exclaimed. “I guess we never talked about it because we never talked, but I thought you knew. It’s in my blog and so on. I didn’t mean to mislead you.”

“It’s not that. I mean, I figured you must be seeing someone. It’s just . . .” she paused. “I had no idea that you have the capacity for human emotion.”

That’s when Charlie returned the everlasting gobstopper.

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Cheers


Meet Linda Lovelace

When I was twelve, my father did something I’d never known him to do: he acquired a best friend. This is not to say my father was not friendly or personable. In fact, I’d wager my father is the friendliest person produced by the American South in the twentieth century. But at that time, in his early thirties, he was busy with a wife, four boys, two jobs and a mortgage. Dad had no time to cultivate a buddy.

That changed when the bachelor came to work at Dad’s car dealership. The bachelor, with no family or obligations of his own, was soon spending weekends at our place helping Dad with various projects. The two of them built an extended back porch, put in a pool and transformed a perfectly good two-car garage into a den, complete with a brick fireplace—rarely necessary in Alabama—and an eight-foot wet bar, in which my teetotaler father stored the unopened liquor bottles he had received as gifts over the years. Soon, the bachelor had Dad drinking Miller Lite. It was really something.

Soon, the bachelor decided to upgrade his home entertainment system with a video disc player. My father acquired his now obsolete VCR, our initial foray into video technology. It came with three tapes. The first was Smokey and The Bandit, which became the first movie my brothers and I watched repeatedly. To this day, we can recite whole swaths of dialogue and sing every Jerry Reed song. The second was National Lampoon’s Disco Beaver From Outer Space, an unsuccessful follow-up to Animal House. The third was Deep Throat.

As the oldest son, I was afforded the privilege of a later bedtime than “the kids,” as I referred to my younger siblings. After they groused off to bed on school nights, I settled in with Mom and Dad to watch the television shows denied to children. I delighted in recounting Mission Impossible plots over breakfast as the kids sulked into their corn flakes.

We were watching television one night when my mother suggested looking at the third video tape. Neither of my parents had watched Deep Throat. They knew it was racy, possibly even naughty, but I was a mature young teen who enjoyed adult fare like National Lampoon, so why not try it out?

“Deep Throat” opens with Linda Lovelace in sunglasses, driving though Miami to the movie’s bouncy theme music. She drives and drives as the credits roll, then drives and drives more as the music plays on. She’s on her way to see her doctor with a very heavy concern: she’s never had an orgasm. She weeps her sorrow to the doctor, played by Geraldo Rivera. (The role was actually played by Harry Reems, but to my young eyes, the actor was presumably the guy on television with a bushy moustache.)

Doctor Geraldo Rivera gave Linda Lovelace a quick examination and made a shocking discovery. Many women orgasm from stimulation of the “glitterus”—or so the word sounded to my young ears—and by some abnormality, her glitterus was located deep in her throat. The only way she could achieve orgasm, he diagnosed, was by sucking a cock at least nine inches long. Linda Lovelace wept. It was hopeless. She would never have an orgasm, for where-oh-where would she find someone with a nine-inch cock?

Doctor Geraldo Rivera unzipped. Bow chicka bow bow! Ecstatically, Linda Lovelace set herself to the task of swallowing the good doctor’s cure.

I sat between my parents, watching. I looked neither left nor right. No one said a word.

We sat frozen for the duration of Deep Throat.

After the movie ended, my mother got up to turn off the television. “Okay, time for bed!” she ordered. I put up no disagreement, hurriedly mumbling “Good night, I love you,” as I rushed to my room, eyes averted.

One may think my parents were freethinkers for watching porn with their eldest child, but in fact, we had no idea what we were getting into. It was the first time any of us had seen explicit sex. Before the advent of video tapes, the only places to encounter stag films were bachelor parties and adult theaters in seedy sections of big cities. My parents had no experience with such places. The only theaters they visited were cineplexes and drive-ins with four children in tow. The bachelor’s video introduced blowjobs into our family’s garage-cum-den-cum-grindhouse.   

The next morning, I ate breakfast with the kids in silence. The third video vanished, never to be seen again.

Years later, now an adult living in New York City, I visited the annual Tattoo Convention at the Roseland Ballroom. I don’t have ink of my own, but I like art and flesh, so I’m an admirer. As I toured the near-empty second floor balcony, I turned a corner and nearly tripped over an easel with a sign reading “Meet Linda Lovelace!” Two women were seated at a table some distance away, as if prepared for a queue that never materialized. I smiled and waved. They waved me over.

I introduced myself. One of the pair replied with her name and introduced her companion as Linda Lovelace.

“Nice to meet you. Big fan,” I blurted. I tried to cover. “You know, Deep Throat was my first porn movie.”

“Yeah, it was a lot of people’s first,” Linda Lovelace replied flatly. “Some firsts for me, too.”

I laughed at the joke. She didn’t smile. I pressed on. “Yeah, but how many people watched it with their parents?”

She nodded, unimpressed. “So, you want to get an autograph? You can buy a picture for ten dollars or the book for fifteen.” She indicated a stack of The Complete Linda Lovelace by Eric Danville. I asked for a book and paid her friend. “How do you want it signed?” Linda Lovelace asked.

“How about ‘To Jefferson?”

Linda Lovelace carefully creased back the book’s cover to the title page and took up a pen. She sounded out the words as she wrote:  “To . . . Jeff . . er . . . son . . .” Her companion and I exchanged glances. I wondered if Linda Lovelace had suffered some disorder that caused her to write so slowly. I knew very little about her.   

By the time I met her, Linda Lovelace was one of life’s walking wounded. As a young woman, Linda Susan Boreman emerged as “Linda Lovelace,” immediately cast as a national punchline. Although few people actually saw Deep Throat, everyone had heard of the film and its star. Johnny Carson got a reliable laugh from dropping her name. Woodward and Bernstein used the film title in identifying their secret informant on the Watergate scandal, certain readers would get the reference. The smart set enjoyed the era’s “porn chic,” opining that X-rated fare indicated a new direction for sex in mainstream cinema.

Linda Lovelace herself felt used by the filmmakers and her unsought notoriety. She had been paid flat fees and never saw profits from the film, its sequels or merchandise. She renounced Deep Throat, claiming that her abusive husband, Chuck Trayner, had forced her to perform. Coming out as a survivor led to her embrace by second-wave feminists. Linda Lovelace was pushed to the front lines of a campaign against pornography, speaking on campuses and marching through Times Square buffeted by Gloria Steinem and Bella Abzug behind a banner proclaiming “Porn Hurts Women.”  She testified before Congress, “When you see the movie Deep Throat, you are watching me being raped. There was a gun to my head the entire time.”

Linda Lovelace came to feel used on all sides of the debate about pornography. She became a born-again Christian and retired into a private life about we which know little other than its continued hardships. Not long after I met her, Linda Susan Boreman would die from injuries sustained in a car accident at age fifty-three.

But that day, she was still Linda Lovelace, relying on her disavowed celebrity to survive by selling autographs at an uninterested tattoo convention. I quietly watched as she inscribed my book, slowly looping the “e” to the “l” in “Lovelace.”

“You have very nice handwriting,” I observed.

Linda Lovelace looked up. “Thanks. I’m proud of my handwriting. I learned cursive as a fourth-grader in Catholic school in Yonkers.” She returned to complete her signature. “I always say, you should always have something in this life that you’re proud of.”

Linda Lovelace smiled as she gave me the book. I shook her hand and left the pair at the table on an empty ballroom balcony. I carried away Linda Lovelace’s signature and life lesson: always have something in this life that you’re proud of.  

A lesson I’ve always tried to apply to my own life in pornography.

Tuesday, August 01, 2017

Lake Tahoe

Secret Cove. Lake Tahoe, Nevada. August 1, 2017.

Saturday, June 10, 2017


On the rocks. Mohonk, New York. June 10, 2017.

Thursday, December 01, 2016

World AIDS Day





From Lester Blum's series "I Still Remember," currently on view at the LGBTQ Center of Durham, North Carolina. I wore the leather jacket of my high school boyfriend Donnie, who died of AIDS-related complications in 1992. Paddles. November, 2015.


Monday, November 28, 2016

Twelfth Blogoversary


New York, NY. October 7, 2016. Photograph by Kenny.

Twelve years ago today, I posted my first story to this blog.

My wife and I separated in two-thousand-three, after fifteen years of sexless monogamy. I started dating and returning to my pre-marital roots in bisexuality and general sluttiness with friends. It was a time of extraordinary transition, as I adjusted to a new life, divided between time as a newly divorced father and a bold arena of sex in New York and online.

At the suggestion of a drinking buddy, I started this blog to document the surreality of it all. One evening, I sat with her, bourbons in hand, and created a new name for myself—“Jefferson”—never imagining it would stick

I really had no idea what a blog was. I thought of the Internet as a kind of safe deposit box, a place I could store my writing. I knew it was public but I had no idea anyone could unlock my stories without the magic code of its URL. Little did I realize that people might search for “orgy” or “blowjob” and wind up reading my life. The blog quickly became popular. Soon, readers wanted to meet me, even have sex with me, based solely on my writing. After spending half of my twenties and all of my thirties in a monogamous dry spell, it felt amazing to be desired.

Blogging changed my life. It led to romance, love, travel, community, storytelling and, now and then, controversy. Eventually, my ex-wife would discover this blog and use it to sue for full custody of our kids and out me to my entire family. To her chagrin, my family continued to love me. The State of New York was unimpressed by my ex-wife’s anger and sustained joint custody. In the process of venting her ire, she outed me in the expectation of doing harm. Instead, she gave me freedom: I was no longer anxious about leading a double life. My life became one of great transparency.

Not that this is without complications.

Recently, I posted a couple of stories from the time my freedom and my blog were new. One Life, Take Two was launched just two weeks after the reelection of George W. Bush, as recounted in Cockblock the Vote. Timeline aficionados may note: the story of March twenty-ninth,two-thousand-five, took place just days before Aprils Fool’s, when I first met Madeline in the flesh. The saga of our early romance, as described in our respective blogs, was compiled in Jefferson and Madeline.
 
I've enjoyed revisiting my blog, my beautiful, beautiful blog. I may continue. I may not. For now, meet My Celia. Enjoy!

My Celia                        

It’s been over a year since the break up.

For most of that year, I have hosted sex parties in Manhattan. I suppose I will need to catch you up on how that transpired. I’ve made great friends and lovers at these parties, and yet I haven’t often had the feeling of falling head over heels for someone.

Until my Celia.

I met Celia at a party at my place last spring. She arrived late with a guy who comes sometimes. The regulars were already naked, well fucked and relaxed.

Celia sat on a bed and chatted with us. She was dressed in jeans and a black t-shirt, worn backwards so that the logo was illegible. As we talked, Jane removed Celia’s clothes, and had soon stripped her naked. Jane kissed her torso as Celia leaned back, opening her thighs; we heard her gasp as Jane’s mouth reached her clit.

Being gracious like she is, Jane soon turned and offered me Celia’s body. I set to licking Jane's drool from Celia's labia.

As we fucked, as we did almost immediately, I decided not to stop fucking her. This is not the best form at a sex party, particularly for the host; one really should offer new guests an opportunity to work the room.

I doubt that Celia cared much for etiquette. She had gorgeous hazel-green eyes, focused intently on mine. I kept her gaze, noticing details at the periphery. Celia had a lovely face: aquiline nose, pre-Raphaelite features, framed in long black hair.

I was soon very curious to know more about the woman I was fucking, and so thought maybe we could take a break to chat.

"I would really like to talk with you," I said, meaning "Maybe we can stop and talk."

"Sure . . . what do you want to talk about?" she replied, as if I meant we should have a conversation while fucking. I was willing.

"So, where did you grow up?," I asked. I learned that she grew up in New England, she is an art student, and she would be working on a farm all summer. Within those first few moments, I gleaned that we had art in common, the sex was great, and I wouldn't be able to see her again for months.

I finally let her have sex with some of the others. Later we kissed, as intently as we had gazed. As she left, she stood in the door, giving me long, hungry kisses, as her date waited for her.

As it happened, she had an art show up, and as it happened, I was in the neighborhood the very next day. I was glad to see her art was good.

The summer passed.

Two weeks ago, I got an email from her, saying she was back in town and wanted to return to the sex parties. Cool!

I suggested we get together, and proposed we go check out the new Museum of Modern Art on opening day, as I had special tickets. It turned out she did too.

Later, we learned that the opening day was free to the public. So much for special access.

We decided to meet at an exhibition by Barbara Nitke at Art@Large gallery, get lunch, and see the museum--which we knew would be hellishly crowded. Nitke’s photos have to do with sadomasochism (SM). While not into SM herself, Nitke has an empathic insight into the lives of those who are. There is a strong sense of intimacy and care in her photographs.

Celia was late for our date, which was fine with me. We saw Nitke's work together. Celia says she knew many of the images, having seen Nitke lecture at the Eulenspeigel Society, a New York based organization for those into SM.

(I catalogued those details—Celia already knew Nitke and the Eulenspeigel Society?)

We lunched, and talked about out first encounter. It was her first sex party, she said, and her moment with Jane was her first encounter with a woman. She liked it, but she was taking downers at the time, which she regretted.

I referred to this as a pretty unusual second date. She agreed: first sex, then a lunch date. We were doing it backwards. She says she is surprised that she feels so shy.

She talked about her gaggle of girlfriends, and how she makes nude films of them, but can't imagine sex with them—though she really wants to be bisexual, as it's hip (it is?) and of course, there are more options for sex if you are bi.

She opines that the MoMA is going to be crazy crowded, and maybe we shouldn't go. This leaves her with two hours to kill before her yoga class . . . what can we do? Well, I suggest, we can go to my place and kiss. She looks at me like she can't believe I suggested this. I can't believe it myself—I am really getting bold.

"Okay," she says, "but I really am feeling shy about this. Is it too early to drink? Do you have any bourbon?"

"A girl after my own heart." I actually said that out loud.

Soon, we are at my place, on my couch, sipping bourbon. Soon, we are kissing. Fully clothed. For a long, sweet time.

Soon we are nude, in my bed, kissing. Touching. For a long, sweet time. She is so into gazing, touching, kissing, and I am melting, melting, melting. As the time passes, and her yoga class approaches, I think it will be wise not to start fucking. But I do go down on her. And she cums. And she cums again as I kiss her and hold her very close.

I should mention that she does intense yoga five times a week. And she is a semi-pro athlete. She has a strong, lean body. When she held me firmly, she knocked the breath out of me. Mind you, I was pretty breathless.

I tell her to go, it's time. She declines to leave. We fuck. Like all the foreplay, it's slow, and intense. At one point, I'm on top of her, holding myself up with my arms at full length. She is about to cum. She sits up, putting her arms around my shoulders. She lifts her ass from the bed. She is clinging to me, hanging from my body in air, pushing herself down on me. She cums. I can scarcely believe she made my body work that way.

We are back to kissing, touching . . . she discovered my sensitive nipples, and slowly tortured them. Exquisitely.

I am laying on top of her, tracing a finger along her nose, her lips, her cheeks. I take a breath. "You are really beautiful," I say. "You don't have to be. I would be nice to you anyway. But it helps that you are."

She looks down at me. "Are you bi?" she asks. I say I am. "I do well with the bi guys," she says. Why is that, you think? "Must be my physique," she says, flexing a bicep that would give pause to Charles Atlas.

She said she was hungry. I went to the kitchen and produced Spanish rice, steamed shrimp, and fresh calamari sauteed in garlic. We eat nude.

As we eat, we talk about the Nitke photos. She mentions liking one in which a man is fully bound to a flotation board, adrift in a pool. I say that there was such a sense of risk in that position. She says she likes the feeling of being bound.

I recall how she came when I was holding her, on top of her, as she pulled me closer to crush her.

"I can bind you," I offer. She produces rope and ankle bracelets from her bag, saying they were intended for a possible film shoot later that night. I dig up handcuffs and other stuff. She is soon strapped to my bed on all fours.

I torture her nipples. I tell her I am going to verbally abuse her. "Yes," she murmurs. I ask her why, with all that we've been doing, she has not sucked my cock? "Are you bad at it or something?" I ask. She opens her mouth, wide. I feed her my cock, and fuck her face hard. She can take it very well, so I commend her. Then I slap her for making me wait for that.

We had already established that she is an ass virgin, and so I take her to task for this. How can I let her fuck my friends if she can't even do anal? So I move around and give her a hard spanking. I lick her hole, and blow air in her. She moans. She can't help but fart. I spank her for this, and do it again. "This will burn, but only for a second," I warn. I take a sip of bourbon, and blow it up her ass. I plug it with my thumb, and then a butt plug.

I fuck her pussy.

"Can you take candle wax?," I ask. Never tried it, she mumbles. I drip wax on her back and ass for a very long time. She squirms until I tell her to be still. (Later she asked: was I making too much noise? I can try to be less responsive. Oh no, I say. You did very well.)

In time, I release her and take her to the shower. I wash her body, and flake off the wax. We go back to bed and it's tender again. She falls asleep. I read.

We woke up entangled, touching . . . her fingers are never still when they can be caressing. We spend the morning in bed. There was a joy in this, so palpable, for me at least, that I had to take care lest blurting out, "I am so in love with you."

I had to remind myself, I really don’t know Celia so well. Not yet.

I make her breakfast—bacon, eggs, and her first helping of grits. We were both very sated. We talk about how she just broke up with her boyfriend, and she had broken with her other two lovers in the last month. I say I am hers, when she wants me. Her eyes fix on mine. “That’s right,” she smiles.

My friend Todd calls. He reminds me that we are going to fuck this woman from Texas that night. I had offered to host, and said I would line up some others to join us. I had invited Thomas, that was easy, but I was so busy with Celia all weekend, I didn’t do much more.

I asked Celia if she wanted to do a group thing that night. She pondered it but declined. She was already well sexed. So was I, really.

Around two or three, I kissed goodbye to my Celia. I had a gang bang in a few hours. I would spend that time in the thrall of my Celia, picking up flecks of candle wax, and writing to my friend Dacia about her.


The blog continues with Preparations.