Sunday, December 26, 2010

Merry Christmas!

My boyfriend, Mr. Shiny, is not a gifty person. He accepts gifts, but isn't particularly touched by the gesture. This makes shopping for him a little tricky, but it also means I can show him a link at Amazon and say "Hey, do you want this thing?" and it won't detract from the gift. He wants the thing or he doesn't, and seeing it first doesn't matter very much.

I am not like that. I'm not massively gifty, but I like opening presents and I like it when people give me things. Even if it's a lame present, I appreciate the gesture.

For Christmas this year, I wanted a tree. I always had trees growing up and my apartment is big enough, darnit, I should have a tree. My best friend, Mrs. Bean, also wanted a tree, and we both wanted to give her daughter, Sprout, the whole tree experience. So we went out with my parents and Mr. Shiny to stalk the wily christmas tree in its native environs. After spotting our prey, we pounced and cut it down in the beginning of its life. Then we mercilessly dragged the body out past the shocked expressions of its surviving family. I propped the corpse up in my living room and festooned it with shiny baubles and blinky lights, and I call it "festive".

Mr. Shiny was a bit bemused by all of this, but he was game. He hung lights and bah-humbug'd with the best of us.

A few weeks later I located an ornament he found acceptable and he hung it on the tree; it's a gesture I'm finding surprisingly meaningful.

Now, the other thing is that I don't get very many christmas presents. This year, most of them came at different times or were unwrapped or were something like "vacation", so I didn't have anything to put under the tree. I really appreciate all those gifts, but I was still pretty sad about the naked tree-base. I collected a bunch of items from around the house, mostly things I had just bought at the store, and had Mrs. Bean wrap them for me. Then I had presents! Awesome! She also gave me another wrapped thing to add to the pile.

I told Mr. Shiny that I would like a something from him for Christmas, even if it was just a dumb little thing. I didn't say anything more about it, but I was hoping for some kind of a thing. I think I also half-expected him to come in and tell me to turn around, he had to wrap it -- but that is a gifty expectation, and he's not a gifty fellow, remember?

He came over on Christmas Eve, and we had a nice dinner but nothing special, and chilled out for a while. He asked me a bit about what the holiday meant to me and what my family had done over the years.

Then he hypnotized me.

In the trance, he brought out all these wonderful memories of Christmas and presents and family. Things I haven't thought of in years! Like the melty mints Mom put in my stocking every year for at least five years. Or when I asked for a car and got Hot Wheels. Or the beautiful jewelry or toys or sweaters... and how Mom and Dad had the routine of stepping away from the group for a few minutes and catching up with us later, when we liked something and they wanted to get it for us. He reminded me of all the excitement and the sneaking around to find the presents ahead of time and the embarassing pictures Dad would take.

Then all these wonderful Christmas memories, he melted into a puddle of wonderful goo, and I was melting with it, all red and green and sparkly.

Then he told me I'd feel that way the next morning, on Christmas.

Now, this might well be the first Christmas morning in my life that had a blowjob before the cinnamon rolls... but all day, I felt happy. Very playful. A little distracted by shiny and craving sugar. I annoyed the cats, I annoyed Mr. Shiny, I played a video game, I ate way too many cinnamon rolls. I opened presents and was pleased -- I like apple butter! and I really needed those rechargable batteries! I threw wrapping paper at the cats and missed; I put wrapping paper on their heads and they looked at me and went back to sleep.

Mr. Shiny went home a while ago and I had a brief moment of "oh well" disappointment that I didn't get to unwrap anything from him today.* Then I remembered what he'd done for me yesterday. I realised that no, he did not give me a random trinket; instead, he skipped back through my life and fetched out some of the most lovely moments. He wrapped them up with his words and gave them back to me.

Those moments are mine, and they always were; but now they're his, too, and ours, anchored to this day, this Christmas, with the man I love so very, very much.

And my snoring cats.

* Besides him. That doesn't count. Come on, people, we're talking
Christmas here. Be wholesome.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

On Hypnosis: Part Two

Hypnosis is defined in lots of ways; people who do it and study it all disagree on what exactly it is, how it works, what it can do, and so on. Most people agree that it involves the subject being extra-bonus suggestible. What it theoretically can do is "anything that the mind can do." This isn't a terribly useful answer, though, because most people have absolutely no idea what the mind can do, and most people's minds can only do a subset of what the human mind in general is capable of.

Assume all the caveats about the subject consenting and the hypnotist crafting the appropriate suggestion and the two of them having a good rapport and all that jazz.

Hypnotic suggestions work very well for things that the person can do, on purpose, on their own. If you are capable of deciding to sashay across the room meowing like an Irish cat and then doing a somersault pratfall while singing a Russian drinking song about vodka, then a hypnotist can cause you to do that. If you don't know how an Irish cat meows or a Russian drinking song, you are likely to approximate it to the best of your ability... which can sometimes be pretty hilarious.

Hypnosis can, less reliably, affect things that a person's brain can do but that the person does not know how to do on their own. You know that your brain does lots of things automatically that you don't think about, like keep your heart beating. Things that happen in your brain affect your heart rate, and many people have a bit of skill at calming themselves down, but almost nobody can deliberately and arbitrarily alter their heart rate. I think of it as hidden buttons and levers in the mind.

Because the hypnotist is talking to your subconscious, and because your subconscious knows more about these hidden buttons and levers, a hypnotist can craft suggestions to do things that the subject's conscious mind cannot do. For example, my brain knows how to have an orgasm, but I can't decide "Ok, I will have an orgasm now!"* But Mr. Shiny can tell me to have an orgasm, and I do. His suggestion can flip that lever in my brain.

An ex of mine could change his resting metabolic rate, so that he produced more or less body heat. It wasn't just his subjective experience of heat or cold, a lot of people can do that. ("I'm cold!" "Think warm thoughts." It kind of works.) He actually changed how much heat his body produced. It was incredibly useful on cold winter nights. Hypnosis can do that, too.

Some people can have lucid dreaming, where they control their dreams. A hypnotist can change what you dream about.

There's a mind-body health connection, too. Conditions involving the immune system and conditions related to stress response can be affected by what the patient is thinking and feeling. Pain, in particular, is highly subjective and dependent upon the patient's mental condition. Hypnosis can affect all of these conditions.

All those wacky human tricks that someone in the world has figured out how to do using meditation or religion? Hypnosis can do that, too. But not for every subject, and certainly not for every hypnotist. Some people are more suggestible than others. People also have internal safeguards that prevent someone from mucking around, although there's techniques for getting around a lot of that.

Perhaps most importantly, what a hypnotist can do with a subject depends on what the subject believes, deep down at the bottom of their heart, that the hypnotist can do to them.

WARNING! Do not let an undertrained hypnotist attempt to modify your physical health or your pain response! If you are a hypnotist, do not do this without training. Mr. Shiny can make my asthma better... which means that if he screwed up one day, he could also make it worse.

* Well, I almost can. I'm learning a lot about coming by observing what happens when he triggers me.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Possibly The Coolest Shit Ever

Recently, Mr. Shiny tried a new imagery with me. Imagery often doesn't do a whole lot for me in trance, and most of the imagery-stuff he's done with me hasn't gone anywhere. I'm okay at visualizing myself ("see the blood flowing through your head"), mediocre at visualizing my environment ("you're in a dark corridor"), and downright terrible at visualizing other objects ("you're holding a beautiful gem").

He does imagery with me sometimes anyway, because he thinks I'll like it or for his own reasons. The recent imagery is about laying in a vat of wonderful liquid. I automatically think of a comfortable liquid to lie in as being warm; he calls it cool; so it's both, which is neat. I can breathe it, which is good because before long I find myself slowly sinking into it until eventually I'm completely submerged. Also, the deeper I sink, the deeper the trance goes, and I sink deeper with every breath. It's a warm comfortable happy thing, and I went very deep.

That's plenty good right there, you know? I love being that deep for him, and anything he uses to get me there is automatically excellent. But that's not the coolest shit ever.

I noticed after I came out that I could breathe cleanly and openly. I have asthma, have had it all my life. It's been bad this fall. I take medication every day, and have to monitor and manage my asthma all the time. Even at my best, my lungs are a little bit inflamed and tight.

So this... it wasn't like taking a hit of the albuterol; it was better. It was like my lungs had never needed the inhaler. I lay there breathing and exulting and breathing.

A few years back, they discontinued the inhaler I had used my entire life, because of the propellant, and switched everyone over to a different formulation. It took me a while to adapt because the flavor changed. The inhaler I grew up with literally saved my life countless times, and that's what it tasted like.


So when I say this is better than any inhaler, I'm saying a lot.