December 20, 2017 at 12:37 pm #28145
Nothing more than…feelings….
Reading through Slack last night, I caught the messages of TheCreators, but before they decided to offer their thanks and ask for our feedback, @larry seemed to be more interested in how our experience at the MSE made us feel. After all, if everything else is smoke and mirrors, perhaps the only real things that happened on whichever night we happened to attend were our feelings.
Since I am relatively new to all of this (never went to Tension, didn’t really check out anything until after I was asked to sign the waiver,) I suppose the things I felt are more important than what I saw or did, as most of us will have seen or done similar things.
So…the waiver–was by far the most intimidating thing I’ve yet signed my name to. Having heard only from my boyfriend and friend about their own experiences, I was left with a sense of anxious dread. After all, I am legally blind, and I was decidedly worried that maybe, just maybe, I wouldn’t be able to do everything that was needed at this whole MSE. But I signed the waiver anyway, told myself I’d get through it, and inwardly bit my nails for a week or two–or maybe up until that night. It’s hard to say, as anxiety was a large part of why I decided to throw caution to the wind anyway and force myself out of my comfort zone.
Then I got to the forums–to a day of going down the rabbit hole. I spent the whole day just trying to wrap my head around the ideas and people that were a part of this experience. I joined the Slack, said a lot of (likely) dumb things, and did my best to learn the acronyms of doom. To say that I felt intimidated is an understatement. But that underlying pinning of anxiety was a part of all of this, too.
There is the old adage that knowledge is power, after all, and I reasoned that the more I knew, the less worried I would be. Strangely, however, once I accepted that I was never going to “get it” all, I was able to let go of that fear and just be in the moment. Whatever I needed to know, I would absorb or I wouldn’t, and come the day of the MSE, whatever I did or didn’t know would either be important or it wouldn’t; but at least I had a starting point, and that was good enough. Besides, …as the letters went out, I reasoned that anything I really needed to know wouldn’t be hidden from me, and as I continued to lurk I picked up little things–impressions and information that I wasn’t sure were important, but I took them in as part of the experience. Either they were important or they weren’t, and I’d figure it out at the MSE.
Part of the fun of learning “all the things” was that I got to share these things with my boyfriend, admittedly in very disjointed fashion, as I had no clue what was important and what wasn’t, and I had to express that to him up front. “Hey, there’s all this crap, and I have no idea what’s relevant and what’s not. You probably have a better idea since you went to Tension…” etc. The funny thing, of course, is that he really didn’t have a lot more information than I did, but he found things that I hadn’t found regarding who was who and so on that I hadn’t seen or read. So, this added to my treasure trove of knowledge, and at least I had a partner in my ignorance to share my anxieties with. This made things better. I might have had my doubts and fears and anxieties, but at least I could share them with him, and he could understand and relate.
It grew to the point where I wasn’t sure who was part of the experience and who wasn’t, but I like to believe that I am a truthful person with myself; and I figured that if I made friends, I made friends, and if I just had my boyfriend, then I just had my boyfriend. I tried reaching out a little, but it wasn’t easy. I didn’t want to be a “drama queen” seeking attention and trying to become “important.” In general that just makes people tend to have visceral reactions to you–both negatively and positively, and I have had my fair share of that crap; so,…I decided I’d just be the watcher in the shadows, learning what I could while observing those around me.
I was looking for signs of the ARG–hoping for phone calls or e-mails, or even just something weird on the website, and when I didn’t find any of those things, I will admit to feeling a little disappointed. But I hadn’t been around long, after all; so, I couldn’t really blame TPTB (the powers that be, for those of you still learning acronyms.) How could they know if I were truly interested in this bag of mixed marbles or if I was just a passerby in the world of LUST? So I reasoned, and so I accepted that, for now, this was probably for the best.
You see, I’m not the sort of person to obsessively check my phone or stress about whether or not I’ve missed something, and I didn’t want to become that person just because of LUST. That seemed counterproductive, and with the holidays I’ve had a lot of stuff to do anyway. So there really wasn’t any need to be disappointed. But if I’m being honest, …it’s still there somewhere, adrift in that miasma of thoughts that I don’t tend to look at too often because it doesn’t have any useful purpose other than making me unhappy.
So listening, watching, being extremely busy with RL, writing little bits of myself into the area that goes under my name, making a lyric friend in @superstar, but worried that if I jumped too far too fast I might scare them off, and introducing myself to @rpearl and @persephone (and not getting much back from either of them,) I waited for the MSE, and I kept my eyes and ears open.
As the date drew nearer, I was more and more excited to be going, as I had the perfect outfit, and we’d ordered the perfect masks, and …it was going to be fun. Sure, …we might have to endure some nudity and risque situations, but that was all boundary pushing, and I’d signed up for that. So no use being upset about it; might as well enjoy it.
Now let me just say that I am not an exhibitionist. I don’t have a good opinion of my own body, and I often tend to be self-conscious and body-image conscious. This often stresses me out, and while I’m working on losing weight, this is a process–a long, slow, difficult process. But I am committed to it, because I want to be “beautiful”. Not that girl that everyone points to when they talk about “fat”. But, for whatever reason, I was feeling really good about myself that Friday night when we went to the MSE. I’d shaved, and washed my hair, and plucked and make-uped, and perfumed–suffice to say, I was the best me I was going to get.
Over the weeks prior, I’d think about what might be expected of me–nudity, being berated, belittled, or whatever else might make me feel truly uncomfortable. Some of it I faced, and some of it I knew I wouldn’t know what I would do about it until I was in the moment; so, I just left it as “This is a possibility,” and moved on. I didn’t look in the spoilers channel, though god knows I wanted to. I didn’t want to spoil the experience, though, and I wanted it to be without knowledge of what I would be entering into. I wanted it to be authentic and genuine from my point of view; so, …I waited.
I was, of course, nervous when I got there. I hadn’t heard of anyone going that would be in my time slot; so, I was somewhat relieved when @unseenpresence and Megan (@MeganMayhem from Slack) turned up. While I didn’t “know” them, I knew of them, and I could at least put a face to a name. You see, I’d been feeling a little …lonely isn’t quite the right word, but maybe something more along the lines of “on the outside looking in”. To be fair, that hasn’t changed, but somehow meeting someone and putting a face to a name was comforting.
Unfortunately, I live out in Orange and a lot of people live near LA, which means that a lot of stuff that goes on is up there. It’s a bit of a drive for us (also, I can’t drive; so,…no wandering out on my own without having to pay someone to drive me;) so, joining people for fun evenings out on the spur of the moment wasn’t something we were going to do. Hence…feeling a little on the outside of all of this, and wishing I lived closer. I am, admittedly, pretty shy, though–at least until I get to know people. But even then, I tend to worry that I’m never anyone’s first choice to have a conversation with (which is okay, really.) I prefer listening, anyway. Most people have far more interesting things to offer to a conversation than I do, and I really do just like learning about people–especially if I feel like we might become friends. Usually, though, when I’m meeting new people, we have something in common, and I wasn’t sure if the kind of people that were drawn to LUST were going to be the kind of people I had -anything- in common with. *laughing grin* I’m still not sure, but …vomiting up my feelings I am; so,…take that as you wish.
I felt good knowing some of the characters, being able to point them out to my boyfriend as the night progressed, but I definitely felt out of my element. I was grateful that Morgan had given me a role to assume. Me, but not me. An elite (which I am so far from it’s laughable) and a spy. I’ve done LARPing in the past; so, …this was a hearkening back to those days. I used to be part of the Camarilla, and I played a Ventrue (because they got to wear the best clothes.) So, I knew how to take charge of a situation if needs be. I knew how to wall myself off from a world of darkness. I’d done it before; so, I did it again. I was a wealthy socialite, invited to some lame-ass party that I was going to because, sadly, I had nothing better to do. It wasn’t that I was interested in the party, but that I was interested in just “being seen.” And maybe something interesting would happen.
I went in there with the idea that nothing was going to shock me, but I would try to bring back something with me for all the people who had been playing this game far longer than I had been. I knew I didn’t know much, but I could, at the very least, try. Morgan had said to keep my eyes and ears open–to remain vigilant. So, of course I wasn’t going to take drugs–though I found it amusing that outside Deacon asked me if I had any. I took charge in the car, because people complaining isn’t the way I view people with actual power behave. They demand that things conform to their desires. And thus, music was changed. I didn’t -have- to be at that party; so, when Mason told me not to waste his time, I found it amusing. Sure…fine…I’d take off clothing, but I’d had the impression I was going to get a chance to tease it out a bit. Sadly, I never did. The art of seduction was nowhere present in the whole night I was there. It was just open sexuality–no teases, no attempts at anything real. And I can’t decide if I’m saddened by that or not. The most real thing in that whole performance was Alexis; her voice and those songs had more passion in them than the people who were there. I would have loved to spend the evening just listening and singing along with her. She has my dream job.
I suppose I’ve got this bad habit of wanting to observe things before I get too involved in them; so, when we were thrust into the Lounge, I wanted to get as far away from the pack as possible. I wanted to watch, catch my breath, …and I guess just…allow myself to become a part of the atmosphere. That wasn’t easy, and there were plenty of people that tried to distract me from that, but I maintained my willful desire and did my best to ignore the props. I looked for the things that didn’t fit–those bits of paper left idly at the tables, and though I was dissuaded from pursuing them in any meaningful fashion, I knew that they had the “meaning” I’d been looking for. Like Alexis, they had a passion all their own. And so, like any good spy, I took one, hid it in my purse, and pretended it didn’t matter.
The rest of the night was an exercise in embarrassment for me–though I will confess that I was extremely attracted to the beautiful black woman that looked like she’d stepped right out of the pages of “Goddesses of the World”. She knew the art of seduction, and perhaps that’s part of what drew me to her. Glances, touches, the subtle flirtation that made her seem more real than the rest of the room.
Being one of those selected to anoint the two “chosen” brought me back to those days when I wanted to believe in magic and the subtle power of druidism or wicca. The whole idea of tantric massage, magic, sex, etc. There was a time when I’d wanted to believe those things, and I expect there are people here who do, but I am not one of them. I’ve seen how these ideas can be used to control people and manipulate them, and …it’s another pleasant illusion as far as I’m concerned. That’s not to say it can’t be a pleasurable illusion, of course….
Still, …I found it hard to feel anything other than what was necessary for the role–fertility, ritual, a believer in these things that my god might be reborn, power… That was the role and illusion that was needed, and so it was the one I adopted.
So, …it was with a slight sense of confusion that I was left alone in the Red Room while others were directed in various ways. Disconcerting was the first part of that–lined up, ensured we were supposed to be there. For a moment, I almost thought we were going to be thrown out–and for a moment, there was a real sense of fear there. I didn’t want my evening to end. I didn’t want to be the sole person left out of the “reason we were there.” Though, to be fair, I’d figured that out after clothes started coming off. Still, …I wanted to see it through.
So, as people were led away, many of them without most of their clothes on, and me still in more or less everything I came in, I had no idea what to do. The girls in the back of the room caught my attention, because the impressions I’d gotten beforehand were that most of them were there against their wills–or at least they’d been manipulated in some way to be there. So, …I chose a path–to help them if I could, knowing that they would want and need to be helped. I forged the bond through ritual–doing as I was asked, playing the clown, and was rewarded with a cry for help only to be forced forward at the end to kneel and endure the ritual of ensuring consummation. It was a truly medieval experience, and I’ll admit to feeling petrified of having to help ensure that one of our friends and Megan were “stimulated” in order to create the right situation for them to copulate. There were subtle pushes against my back, urging me forward which I resisted, assuming (correctly) that before anything further would occur, we would be stopped. The TMC (The Midnight Commission) had said they weren’t going to allow this to occur, after all, and I wasn’t going to be the first person to move forward toward the bed. After all, …I liked to watch, but this idea that there was going to be sex without a condom was laughable; so, I waited and was rewarded with the fake speech that sounded rehearsed, and I gave the fake reply of how well-spoken it all was, and wondered why Noah was still a slave to the System. I also wondered, with some amusement, if he was in love with his own mother. Perhaps it was the whole idea that tonight was some Oedipal end to Horace where Noah took over the company–that it might slowly corrupt that resistance he’d once had even while he believed that he was changing things.
In either case, I didn’t have a lot of time to wrap my head around that until afterward, while I was still trying to decide if there really was a difference between BoS and OSDM. There was the awkward scene in the room leading out as most people sought to find their clothing, and I was relieved to find that the page I had stolen was still in my purse. But I didn’t know the man leading us away from the event; so, I certainly wasn’t going to say much of anything. Others were happy to speak of their experiences as if they’d just been through a show, but I was still the spy, the elite socialite, and I wasn’t going to lose that persona until I was certain “they” wouldn’t see.
I wrestled with the idea of keeping these things to myself, but I knew I wasn’t part of the important people yet, and I knew that coming from me, the information I had wouldn’t be seen as genuine; so, when we reached the parking lot, I told Megan I had a gift for her–delivering unto her that which I had managed to smuggle out–assuming that it wasn’t all part of the plan, of course.
I felt a sense of accomplishment in this, though–that I had set out to infiltrate and gather information. And I had done what I could. I wasn’t sure if Megan were a part of everything–a part of the show, but if she was, then at least the page would get back to the table somehow for others to take or see. And while I wasn’t sure if I identified with the BoS, at the very least, I’d done what had been asked of me by them. And for me, …that could be enough.
In the days following, I listened and I watched, wondering if my experience had been somehow less than others based on things being so different between the descriptions. But as I continued watching and listening, I learned that we all had similar and different experiences, and we all would. Each of us came into the experience with our own perceptions and thoughts about what the night was going to be about, and so, we’d each get a different experience based on those preconceived thoughts and notions. As the tales of various characters came to light, I found myself trying to decide if it mattered whether we were BoS or OSDM and eventually coming to the conclusion that this was just another part of the illusion. The sides didn’t matter.
It was all about the experience–and how it had changed us, even a little, even subtly. And, perhaps, that was the real seduction of the evening, because I knew that I wanted to share this with my friends. That I thought they’d enjoy it.
And while I am still left with a hopeful wonder of “why” for the story–who is behind it all, what are they looking for? I am certain that I will not be leaving any time soon.
Besides, …I still want to know what that page was all about, because even if it’s nothing more than smoke and mirrors, there are elements of truth lying within it.
December 20, 2017 at 12:49 pm #28146
One last thing:
I feel guilty that I didn’t get a chance to help Jenna. Even if all of this was just a game–just an illusion, I wish I could have gotten her out–if nothing more than to assuage that need that she expressed. I know I didn’t really have a chance, but…I still wish I’d thought of it as I was being ushered out…something…. And sure, I mentioned it to Megan in the parking lot, but…it lingers still–not strongly and not obsessively (as I know there wasn’t really more I could do;) but it’s there.
December 20, 2017 at 1:05 pm #28148CandaceParticipant
@argentrose same! The fact that I didn’t even TRY to help Jenna just kills me. I should’ve done something. Anything. But I just accepted that there would be nothing I could do and did nothing. I feel like I let her down when she trusted me. I thought I had no options but, what if we DID?! what if we could have saved her?! I mean Larry drove Stephenie home that night. Nothing is impossible in this world. I need to remember not to forget that.
December 20, 2017 at 1:18 pm #28150
December 20, 2017 at 1:20 pm #28151Lawrence MeyersParticipant
@argentrose I am so grateful for such a detailed account. Having never met you, it’s a privilege to get to know you through your words. And as someone new to this insanity, your account will be so valuable to The Creators. I can tell you that many people have felt, and do feel, very much as you did.
You forged your own path and that is the exact point of this whole thing. You create your own narrative in many ways. The Creators just facilitate it.
You feel what you feel. Many people have expressed that they have trouble feeling things in real life, and that these experiences have gotten to them, even just a little.
Feel good that you went at all, that you experienced what you did, and most of all, WELCOME!
December 20, 2017 at 1:57 pm #28153RpearlParticipant
@argentrose I completely apologize for not answering your last message. I was feverishly ill and bedridden the entire week leading up to the MSE and was sleeping for close to 18 hours a day. I’m so thankful (SO SO thankful) that I got over the illness right in time for saturday but I’ve thought about you more than once and was wondering what your experience was and how you were doing. I’ll DM you and we can talk more!
February 10, 2018 at 10:47 am #28504
@rpearl — I’m so sorry to hear that you were ill before the MSE. As you can see, this is VERY late in coming, but…I had a pretty wild beginning to my new year and didn’t get a chance to write back here until …well, now. In either case, I hope you’re feeling wonderfully, now. And hopefully we’ll get to hang out sometime!
To everyone else: Thank you for your replies and your thoughts here. I should have said that long before now, and I really am grateful for everything you all posted here. It’s good to know, sometimes, that you’re not the only one.
As for where I’ve been–if you’ve been monitoring the Slack, you’ll note that I posted a few days ago about having a really…stressful beginning to my new year. On the Friday before Christmas (and we were inordinately busy this year with parties, planning, etc.) I got a call from my Mom telling me my Dad had been admitted to the hospital. At the time, they didn’t know why and were waiting for the doctor to come and talk with them. Throughout the rest of that day, I was agonizing over whether I should head back home to Texas or not, but when we found out my Dad was having heart surgery, I knew I couldn’t leave my Mom to deal with that alone–especially if something happened. So, three days to Christmas, I booked a plane for IAH on Christmas Day, as, at the time, we thought the surgery would be on the 26th (turns out, they decided to put him in on Christmas Eve, but at least I was there for when he got out of the ICU.)
Suffice to say, I had no idea when I’d be back to California, and everything that I had been doing kind of just went out the window–this included. I was there until the 26th of January, and then came home to a wonderful night on the town in LA at L.A. Prime with my beloved.
It was strange and put a lot of things into perspective, but when I came home, I wasn’t sure what to make of all my old hobbies, including Lust. I’d moved forward in a lot of ways since I last posted above, and I wasn’t certain I still belonged here. I wasn’t certain I wanted to devote time to a “not real” thing after all the stuff that had happened back in Texas.
But, as I was able to relax a bit, and once I started reading the Slack again, I realized that I missed you guys, and I missed this. It may all be a game, but … I think I have enjoyed the few interactions I have had thus far, and I am definitely looking forward to more.
Now, I need to catch up on all the crazy that’s been going on the past few days, but thank you for the warm welcome, and feel free to hit me up in PM’s or whatever. I’m happy to spend time with anyone who’d like a bit of company–lunch, dinner, coffee, whatever. And even if it’s just on Skype or Discord, or even the phone, you just give me a call and we’ll chat. Although, …warn me first if you’re calling, ’cause I don’t know a lot of you, and I don’t want to miss making a new friend. <3
December 20, 2017 at 2:26 pm #28154Unseen PresenceParticipant
@argentrose I’m glad, really glad, that me being in your group at least was of some small comfort (and for what it’s worth, I was having EXACTLY the same reaction because I recognized both your and Meghan’s names–so what goes around comes around!)
I’m also really glad that you gave such a detailed reaction to your feelings throughout. I am certain the Creators are writing everything those of us newer to this world are saying to use against us some day (in awesome, scary, terrible, fantastic ways) so the more details we give them, the better. 🙂
Also, at some point I’ll chat with you about your experiences with the Camarilla. I’m fascinated with people who come at this from the LARP side of things (like I did.)
While I’ve already spoken about my feelings in a couple of ways and on a couple of threads already, I wanted to add a few more comments here in the spirit of sharing as you did.
I continue to have more reactions to what happened as the days move forward. Like you, I’m both unhappy with my current body image AND working on it day by day to fix that. I’m 10 lbs. smaller than I was when I BOUGHT the tickets for the MSE…and was a little disappointed with myself that I wasn’t smaller still. And while I don’t have any problems with other people’s nudity (neither male nor female forms bother me in any way, although I myself am heterosexual when it comes to preference), I am more self-conscious of my own than I want to be. And I have to admit to being a little glad that I only ended up about half-naked (top half), a little disappointed with myself that I was uncomfortable (and occasionally covering myself) even with that much AND somewhat disappointed that I wasn’t pushed farther. I don’t know what I would have done if I’d been pushed to get naked (as opposed to the only moment where it -could- have happened, which was the circle-jerk request by Rico, which only came across as funny to me, not sincere)…but I was a little disappointed that I DIDN’T get pushed. So if the Creators are reading this one, a simple note to you: I give you permission to go farther with me–while I don’t know where my limitations ARE, I know we’re nowhere near them yet.
Thanks again, @argentrose. I’m glad you were there.
December 20, 2017 at 3:51 pm #28155Robert FullerParticipant
@unseenpresence I feel the same way about being pushed. And that brings up an interesting point about Rico, because that was my impression as well, that the circle-jerk request was just a funny, casual suggestion. And yet, some guys apparently did get naked for him. So I’m wondering if, with other groups, he broached the removal of pants and underwear as an instruction rather than as a suggestion. It seems like there’s a fine line between the two, but we obviously respond much more strongly to the former than to the latter (I absolutely would have gotten naked if he had told me to, but as a suggestion? Naw, not feeling it. I certainly wasn’t going to be the only one.) There’s a lot to ponder there regarding submission and agency and the participant-Experience relationship, and what it is we lust for.
- This reply was modified 4 months ago by Robert Fuller.
December 20, 2017 at 4:09 pm #28159Unseen PresenceParticipant
I’m curious, too, whether it was given differently in other groups or if others were just more ready to toss off their clothes. I know one friend of mine took his suggestion literally, stripped instantly and was ready to start following through–simply because my friend was ALSO looking for the edge of being uncomfortable. And apparently, in that case it was Rico who got flummoxed.
So yes, definitely a good deal to contemplate about from both a participant and a creator standpoint. As a participant, how do we make it clear to creators AND individuals within an event like this what we’re expecting and when we can be pushed? It’s pretty common to require that participants not be able to touch any actor unless invited to, which makes sense from a number of perspectives, so it means that participants have to make it clear in other ways.
Meanwhile, from a creator standpoint, how DO you generate experiences that match what someone is expecting? How do you -really- know what someone is going to be willing to experience, even if it makes them uncomfortable? That’s part of what I was hoping the questions when we bought the tickets were about–so I gave answers that I’d hoped would make that clear. But my roommate was never ASKED her questions, so I don’t personally feel like for either of us there was much specificity or even knowledge about what we would have been ready to do or to try. My roommate has expressed several times that she was MORE than ready to get naked–but no one ever asked or even prompted or suggested it to her.
Interesting points, indeed. It’s why I think the OSDM is where I have to hang my hat for the time being, at least. They’re clearly having the type of parties I need to attend to get over my own body issues. Plus…Cecilia Sinclair! Maybe I can persuade her to use those switch/whip skills on me at some point (and that’s saying something, because I’ve never been terribly interested in that before.)
I guess Lust is already working its changes on me.
December 20, 2017 at 6:23 pm #28160Robert FullerParticipant
Yeah, I was disappointed that the answers I gave weren’t utilized, and that my experience wasn’t personalized. That was my fear going in, first when I got the e-mail about the masks, and secondly after Morgan’s opening speech. The one thing I didn’t want was anonymity, but that’s what I got.
We need to make sure you end up in a room with Cecilia and a whip at some point.
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