I’m washing the dishes after dinner as always. But it’s late, later than usual. We delayed our normal dinner time of 6 PM to accommodate the schedule of a guest, so cleanup, too, was pushed back. And, with the added person, there are a few extra dishes. So I’m still cleaning, later than usual. Last night, after dinner, Mistress ordered me to leave the dishes for the morning, deciding that I didn’t feel up to doing them due to a health flareup. So I spent extra time doing the dishes this morning, too, after the other meal I serve and clean up after every day—brunch at 9:30 AM.
And, as I’m finishing the last of the dishes for the day, admittedly eager to get back to some writing I was doing, I have the thought: imagine how much I could get done if I wasn’t always cleaning or cooking.
I regret the thought immediately, looking around as if someone could’ve overheard it, unsure if that’s something like internal enslavement or the paranoid schizophrenia, or maybe something normal. But Mistress and the guest are both gone—they went out—so even if I’d spoken it aloud, no one would’ve heard me.
But, I think, in reverse, isn’t that kind of the idea of our service dynamic? Imagine how much Mistress could get done if she never had to clean or cook or do any of the other tasks that take about forty hours of my average week. Imagine if I could be that powerful difference. Even subtracting things she might do faster or easier or neglect altogether without me, that’s a lot of time. It’s hard to get serious amounts of work done without that kind of maintenance support. My mind goes back to the Manifesto for Maintenance Art.
And she’s using that time well and all—being an independent entrepreneur—that’s not the issue. And overall, I’m happiest in that dynamic. But it’s human, I think, to occasionally wonder, But what about my time? It’s not actually that I don’t do anything other than cook and clean. No, I’m not allowed to have a traditional job or anything, and I don’t pine for that. But I still go hmm when I, increasingly, see people discussing my dynamic in terms of me not working—or largely not working—outside of my service.
Firstly, it feels a little weird, because, as mentioned, service is a full time job, and it would definitely be weird to say, So and so doesn’t work, except for their full time job, in any other scenario, so sometimes I wonder if anyone else views this as legitimate. Some of them must, the way I see the stay at home spouse role discussed.
Secondly, my time tracking shows that I spend another forty hours a week on things I consider work that aren’t service. Nine to five, no, but significant to me, yes. Writing, webinars, running TNG, going to butler school. Some make money, some don’t—and I know that part will sway some people’s definitions. Some of those things might come back to service or kink in the end, but not all of them. Yes, service must always be the top priority—but there’s some room for other things.
And I know it’s false, but I still don’t identify as an erotica author or as a BDSM blogger (or, really, as a blogger at all, but that’s beside the point here), even though that’s what I’m best known for at this point. In my mental model of myself, I still write primarily vanilla, nonromantic, nonsexual fiction, like Contrivance, which was my main project for the better part of eleven years (and a sequel is brewing).
But even knowing a significant portion of what I write at this point does come back to kink, a lot of it, still, does not. And writing erotica or kink blogging isn’t really a service to Mistress. She couldn’t care less if I do it or not. I’ve also embarked into vanilla webinars, into blogging about schizophrenia and productivity, other vanilla things. And I do those things because I love them, because, to my surprise, some people think I’m good at them, and I dare to think they make a positive impact—representation, education, bringing people together.
So, yes, I do things other than cook and clean and serve. Still, I do all of the cooking and cleaning and serving that enables Mistress to do something good with her time. If we assume she does the equivalent of working full time, then she works full time once over, on her own endeavors, and I work full time twice over—once to support her endeavors (which also, incidentally, feeds me and keeps my environment clean), and once on my own projects.
If I had the time that’s usually spent serving and supporting to myself, would it really all go towards my own projects? Probably, largely—I’m a bit of a workaholic. But what does that gain me—the ability to basically work twice as fast, in the long run? Yes, but wouldn’t it maybe be better, to do twice as much—to split my time—like I am now? Diversify what I do a little? Not to mention that her work that I’m supporting is different from my own, mixing up the benefits to the world further. Plus, rote cooking and cleaning is a nice, physical brain break from my largely more mental work.
A recent conversation between friends summed this up nicely:
“Pretty sure if Hannah wasn’t a slave she’d just take over the world.”
“Eh, she still might. It’ll just take longer.”
Yes, I conclude to myself as I finish drying dishes and finish up cleaning the kitchen—it’s better this way.
A few days later, I sit in my office, stuck and conflicted.
Mistress is again out with a friend, and, having just finished what I was doing, I’m not entirely sure what to do now.
Every little idea that occurs to me seems to be blocked by rules, and by my unwillingness to interrupt her. I kind of want to get the listings up for a weekend intensive I have planned, but I still need to do the final run of the dates, the obligation and possible schedule changes, by Mistress, though we’ve discussed the intensive itself. There’s a picture on my phone I want to upload to FetLife, but I need her permission. I have to go to the bathroom—and I won’t need her permission for that once she actually leaves, but her and the friend are lingering just outside, and it’ll be easier to wait for them to properly leave than to interrupt her now. I think about taking a shower, but again I need to wait for her to properly leave to not need permission, and she’ll still need to inspect my job of shaving and such when she gets back. I have some medical phone calls I could make, but again, either she needs to leave properly or I need permission; she’s already approved the changes I’m calling about. I can’t currently leave the house to do anything except to get the mail without permission, and even that requires notification.
I feel like I’m running into wall after wall, bouncing back into an impossibly small space. My life feels like it’s on hold right now, unless I’m willing to interrupt her—which feels bothersome when it’s unnecessary and she’s socializing—and that assumes, for some of those, that she also sees it and responds. I currently need her attention to do literally anything that comes to mind first, though a few things open up once she’s out out, and eventually, more comes to mind (like writing this).
Our protocol typically takes into account practicality—hence why there are exceptions when she’s out or asleep or such. In her presence, I can’t leave the room, sit on the furniture, shift from most of my slave positions, or speak without permission (actually, I’m not even allowed to ask about the furniture, and I have to ask if there’s anything else she wants before I can ask for permission to leave, and curtsy if I get it, and asking permission to speak if she doesn’t speak to me first is a slave position, not a verbal question—and I still have speech restrictions). But, if she’s off alone in her office, I can roam around the rest of the house and sit on the furniture. If she’s asleep and it’s the middle of the night, I gain permissions like being able to temporarily unleash myself, no Leashing Position, let myself up from the blanket on the floor at the foot of the bed I sleep on, and go to the bathroom, and releash myself (though, for first leashing for the night or final unleashing for the morning, I need to wake her). If she’s out of the house or if we’re in vanilla company—usually somewhat rare—I gain some things, too.
Now, maybe the most practical and unobtrusive thing is not needing permission or to notify her of anything at all, so we clearly don’t make every compromise for practicality, because we also prioritize rules, rituals, protocols, permissions. Pleasing isn’t always practical, and really, pleasing comes first, unless it’s very unpractical. Likewise, there’s effort for her to put in, too.
So on days when the leash feels a little short, like today, I remind myself that pleasing comes first, before whatever I want to do, before peak practicality. I remind myself that without that leash, I more frequently feel equally stuck, not cornered into a small space but torn between infinite directions that go infinite distances, trying to figure out which one is best. I still want to be pleasing without a leash to guide me—and I don’t know which way to go. One reason I like being a slave is because trying to be perfectly pleasing to one person is a lot easier, a good compromise, compared to trying to be perfect to the world—which is impossible, yet I crave anyway. And the leash cuts down choices immensely, makes the right path to pleasing clear, and yes, I have to face the fact that it cuts down a lot, that my world gets very small, that I truly come second, but I’m not lost; I know how to please. I don’t have to wonder.
And that’s worth it, for me.