02 May, 2016

Casual sex, part 2 (of 2, I hope)

MEANT TO BE READ IN CONJUNCTION WITH THE LAST ENTRY

Eva reads all my blogs (except the political ones) before they go live. The last one, which took a lot out of me in the writing, she assessed as "powerful...but not clear". Also, she informed me, I was labouring under a misconception. An eight month affair, says Eva, is not casual sex.

"But I went for the sex, and I kept going back for the sex. Sex was the be-all and end-all of that relationship. Judy and I had one Scrabble game: the highest point total (547)  I've ever scored at Scrabble, before or since, and I lost. That game took place in my bedroom, of course, and led to incredibly hot sex, of course."

Judy, says Eva, was a fuck-buddy. Which isn't casual, quite. Casual is a one night stand, a random hookup...which is something I've never done in my life. I think I intended Judy to be a one night stand (it being easier to hide one incidence of cheating than an ongoing affair)....but I succumbed, again and again, to the draw of a relationship based almost entirely on sex. And when love made an appearance in that relationship, I bolted.  Which sounds almost...(almost...)  the backwards of something I would do today.

But my wife tells me I've never done actual casual sex. Thank you, love, for offering me that out if I choose to take it.

The truth is I've lumped fuck-buddies and "friends with benefits" (ugh, I hate that phrase) in with casual sex and devalued the whole thing to pretty much zero for more than twenty years. Anything that didn't involve a mutual commitment was, in my mind, tainted. More than tainted, actually: outright disgusting. By extension, the people who engaged in casual sex were also tainted and dirty, if not outright disgusting.

I see now that I'm blaming casual sex for my own shitty behaviour surrounding casual sex. I was a jerk. I cheated, repeatedly and unrepentantly. I hurt not one but two women, badly. They're far from the only women I've hurt in my life, but the nature of the hurt really imprinted on me and I vowed never to let lust get in the way of an "honest" relationship ever again.

This, of course, is a knee-jerk reaction, and I'm famous for those. If somebody tells me I'm pulling too far to the right, my instant reaction is to lean as far to the left as I possibly can, which has damn near capsized me more than once.

What I SHOULD have done was break up with the live-in girlfriend (she was never meant to be: all three of us, the third being the man who was her boyfriend before me and who still IS her husband now, suspected as much.)  The relationship with Judy still would have happened. It might well have ended differently; it might not have. No matter, I could have done what guys in their early twenties are supposed to do, and play the field. Had I done that, I wouldn't feel the need to look down my nose at people whose behaviour reminds me even slightly of my own back then.

In short, I was a typical immature young man. I offer no excuses for my pitiful behaviour and the only defence I can muster is that I resolved to do better going forward. And I largely have. I try very, very hard not to hurt anyone anymore if I can possibly help it.

______________

Some people are undoubtedly reading this tell-all and drawing conclusions about my polyamory. After all, more than a few cheaters seize on poly as a way to justify cheating, don't they? And isn't the poly community kind of obsessed with casual sex, to the point where there's pressure to call ANY kind of ethical non-monogamy "poly"?

True and true. But in telling you about Judy, I haven't told you about Mel and Pam and Pat and (before them) Danielle and Nicole and Laura and (after them) Tina and Jennifer and send in the trumpet...

Theirs are completely different stories. Nary a whiff of sex, licit or otherwise, casual or otherwise,  in any of them. And I've only named some highlights: I could go on and on, right up to the present day and many of my readers might find THEIR names in the list. The only thing this list of women have in common is that I've loved them, or still do. Deeply. Some of them, to this day, have no idea how deeply. Some of them suspect. A choice few know.

I've committed to myself, and sometimes to them if I've figured out they'd understand, that I'd be there for any one of them in any way I could, as long as I know them. There are some of them I'm intensely physically attracted to, and about five I can think of right now that I'd kill to spend a night just cuddling, no sex necessary. Highly unlikely any of that will happen: some are in committed monogamous relationships, others have made it clear they don't feel the same way about me (which doesn't lessen my love for them: I love people because they're loveable, not because they love me back). This is why I'm trying to date within my species. It's hard to get attention on dating sites, given that I'm lacking the requisite vagina, but I'm trying, with the loving support of my wife.

That's polyamory for you. I see it as an opportunity to let love blossom where it will. Where I drew the line -- unjustly, I see now -- is when it came to sex. I felt sex without love just had to be cheap.

It is possible to be polyamorous, to have more than one committed relationship, and to engage in the various levels of casual sex. Possible? Pretty common, actually.  Can't Help But Fly (The Poly Song) has this to say on that:

there's no better way to love me then through honesty and trusting
it's not indiscriminate fucking, it's indiscriminate loving

Nothing dirty about that at all.

You've got your random hookups, your fuck buddies and friends with benefits (still hate that phrase: I have many close friends I don't have sex with who nevertheless are huge benefits in my life) and your comets. That's a newly coined poly term I really like to describe the kind of intense periodic relationship you have with someone you actually see relatively rarely. None of these are bad IF THEY ARE APPROACHED HONESTLY FROM ALL SIDES.

I used to think, up until about yesterday, that all of that was  in the realm of Things I Just Couldn't Do. If I'm really being honest with myself, though, I could. I just have to get past how  I did what I did last time, because how I did it was not the way to do it.


______
Whew. Thanks for reading that. We now return you to your regularly scheduled Breadbin.


01 May, 2016

Casual sex

Question: "Men: How should we women tell you we're interested in you?"

My answer:

Okay, women, I'm going to let you know something. We know you're interested in us. Or...we think we do. We're about 99% sure. But 99% isn't good enough. The price of inaction on our part is at worst a lifetime of regret. That pales next to the price of action, which could be anything from a crushing rejection to, in certain contexts, jail time. So the best way to show us you are interested is to TELL us. Using those words. Then define "interested". What are you interested in? A hot night of sex? A platonic date? Marriage? TELL US, and that way we can't possibly misinterpret what we think you might be trying to show us.

This yielded the inevitable backlash about a lack of testosterone on my part that I was just talking about last blog. When I questioned it, hoping somebody would come forward and explain things calmly and rationally, I got this from  "curious_charlie":

It's okay to be attracted to someone, and it's okay to express that attraction. Everything you said is coming from [a] mental and emotional model of the world where these things are not OK....Furthermore, if rejection would be "crushing", you're already doing it wrong. You're far too attached to the outcome....


Well, now, this got me thinking. Sometimes that's not advisable, thinking.

Break it down. No problem with "it's okay to be attracted to someone, and it's okay to express that attraction"...at least in theory. It's considerably harder in practice, because I get caught up in how it must sound from the woman's perspective, and freeze: is she creeped out? Does she think I'm going to grope her in a minute? I stress that I'm not that kind of man...but does she know that for sure?
That isn't a lack of testosterone, by the way. That's many, many women telling me how they feel when guys approach them.

I'm especially careful with the I-love-you's after one dear friend responded to one of mine with a "wait, do you love me or are you in love with me?" Now, to me there's no difference, but based on vocal stress patterns it was perfectly clear the answer she wanted to hear.  Since I'll take and give love on whatever terms it's offered, to whatever extent it's offered, I wasn't even lying.

"...if rejection would be "crushing", you're doing it wrong. You're far too attached to the outcome."

This is also true, of course. In an ideal world, we wouldn't be attached to any outcome: the Buddhists teach that, and it's helpful if you want to be happy in life.  But most of us haven't attained that level of enlightenment: rejection *stings*.

This is kind of a good thing, I'm thinking (oh-oh, here he goes with the thinking...): It means you care. If rejection doesn't hurt you as a man, then women are just interchangeable to you. Okay, that one won't take me. Moving on...THAT, I reject.

And yet...that seems to be the attitude of a great many men. Check out dating site traffic patterns: all you have to do to get copious amounts of attention on any dating site is have a vagina. That's it. Most of the attention you get, if you have a vagina, will be in the form of crude mass texts:

Sunday May 1 23:21

hey baby dtf?

cc: all
encl:  my dick


I find everything about that sickening. There's no there there at all. It's so...so...casual. And everybody knows I don't do casual sex.

If "everybody knows" such-and-such, then it ain't so, by at least ten thousand to one. — Robert A. Heinlein

 _____________________

1992

Wow, this is getting steamy.

I'm sitting in a computer lab in Wilfrid Laurier University's oh-so-creatively-named Central Teaching Building. I should be writing some essay or other, but the pull of connecting with other human beings online is too great.

Well, one human being, right now. And if this bulge in my jeans gets any more pronounced, quick furtive look around  a different sort of pulling may be in order shortly.

Her name's Judy; she lives about a three minute walk from my place; all the rest is noise. Very pretty noise, but increasingly loud. So loud, in fact, that it's blotting out more than just the essay. It has certainly blotted out all trace of my live-in girlfriend. I should probably be ashamed of this, but shut up I'm listening here.

Judy, it is coming clear to me, likes sex. She likes sex a lot. She has things she could teach me, if I'd care to learn them.

 This is an interesting proposition, given that to date my sexual experience has been minimal and very grudgingly given. That live-in girlfriend actually wrote me a letter a while ago in which she promised to get my 'needs' satisfied: that translated into once a week perfunctory lie-back-and-think-of-England drudgery. They say sex is like pizza because even bad sex is still sex, but let's face it, the sex I'm getting lately tastes like pizza with mustard and cornflakes. (So is the sex I'm giving, lately, and yes, I'm actually rationalizing what I'm about to do by telling myself I'll actually become a better lover out of the bargain. What a dick I am.

What a dick I have.

What I'm about to do is get up and go to Judy's house and...


...and we're playing Nintendo. Or rather, she is, and I'm just finding new and interesting ways to die. I haven't been a gamer since the days of the Atari 2600 and its ONE joystick with ONE button, and this Nintendo controller is just impossible to work, especially with Judy practically leaning over me.

"I'm sorry, I'm no good at this", I said as I died again, and she looked at me all doe-eyed and asked "so what are you good at?" and threw her controller away and pulled me down on top of her all in one motion and yes, this is a bed we're laying on with silk sheets and everything and...

...and everything. Including things I'd never done before. The noise built and built and built, chords coruscating like musical rain, sparkles of tingly things, holy shit this feels fucking amazing this feels amazing fucking....

..and boom goes the dynamite.

I luxuriated in the afterglow, marred only slightly by my conscience yammering at me. Shut up, conscience, I said. That was too much fun to be wrong.

"Well, that was fun", said Judy, purring like a cat who'd just got the canary. "Let's do that again, soon".

We did. Over a period of about eight months, we did a lot, in a lot of places...including that computer lab where we first "met", at three thirty in the morning.

I was not Judy's only partner, and she wasn't shy about the fact. She kept a wicker basket of condoms in plain view by her bed, at least at first. In a perverse way this excited me: here was a woman who really did enjoy the rub and the thrust and the lick, who engaged in it for its own sake. Casual, fun...and mindblowing.

I went over to Judy's three or four times a week. That basket disappeared after a month or so. She began pressuring me to spend the night. I wanted to do this but sensed it would mean discovery and doom, and so I kept putting it off. This didn't bother Judy, until it did, and when it did, I started making myself scarce. Not cutting it off entirely--the sex was too good for that--but turning it into a once a week thing, then once a fortnight, each time paying the price of denying her a full night, each time leaving with my emotions completely askew.

And one day she...

One day she wrote me a love letter. The kind of sappy, cloying thing I couldn't write without going into sugar shock. It was on the computer, and it came with a huge ASCII art heart she had put a ton of effort into, and she begged me to leave my girlfriend and come be with her. Be her one and only.

I panicked. She threatened to expose me. I panicked some more, and broke things off in a flurry of things I didn't mean and shouldn't have said. I went home, where as it turned out my live-in girlfriend had (of course) figured out what I'd been up to and taken a lover of her own. And everything went to shit.

_________________

Surprised?

I've thought about that episode a lot over the years. It says a great many unflattering things about who I was, and (I tell myself) it taught me a great many more things about who I shouldn't be.

It also poisoned my mind towards casual sex.  I had engaged in it at a time I shouldn't have, at all; it was so good it was scary; and it ended horrifically, again thanks entirely to me. But through the dark magic of transference -- because I couldn't really be that much of an asshole, could I? -- Judy got blamed for my own actions and attitudes.

I have a (male) friend who once lamented to me that sex, in a sane world, should be a sport: you should be able to go down to the sex court, reserve a block of time, and go have fun, either as a duo or as a team, and why not? Provided everybody's consenting and free of disease, where's the harm?

It's funny, you know. Many people are terrified of emotions and run from them when they show up. I did, once. Now I find them to be a huge safety valve. Love as an excuse for lust: the only permissible excuse, in fact.  I've spent almost a quarter century building this mindset, and it suits me well, but today I realized it's built on a lie.











"Nicknames"

My time online is split between Facebook and Reddit (the latter being a jumping-off point for who knows where).
If you're not a Redditor, good for you: it's an enormous time-sink. If you have absolutely no idea what I'm talking about, this video explains the site much better than I can, and just might turn you into a Redditor too. Suffice it to say that its slogan -- "The Front Page Of the Internet" -- is just a tease of what Reddit actually is.

The place has its downsides. The biggest one, as far as I am concerned, is the downvote button.
Reddit comments are supposed to be upvoted (made more visible) if they contribute to the discussion and downvoted if they don't. That's almost never what happens. Usually people downvote stuff they don't like, and much of the time you don't even find out why. Since the Reddit userbase skews young, any post espousing a conservative, religious, or establishment viewpoint (outside subforums devoted to conservatism, religion, or establishmentarianism) tend to be ruthlessly downvoted. So you get a 'hivemind' and those who oppose it are ostracized.

High school, in other words.

You get points ("karma", inexplicably NOT called "cReddits") when your links or comments are upvoted, and lose those points if they're downvoted. After seven years, my comment karma is sitting at 47000 and change; I only have 380 in link karma. Those numbers, particularly the link karma, are very low for someone who has been on the site as long as I have. That's because I don't submit very much content. I've started putting up some of these blogs...doing so pulls in readers like you wouldn't believe. But it's a tricky business: there's no telling how total strangers will react to things I've written.

I admit to keeping half an eye on my comment karma. It's always nice to know people agree with you, or at least think you've contributed something substantive to the topic at hand.

Some of the tricks to getting massively upvoted:

  • get in on any thread early. The earlier the better. 
  • Piggyback off an already highly voted comment.
  • keep your comment short: Reddit has no attention span.
  • Refer to famous or infamous content (this is called 'going meta').
  • Pun, if appropriate (and sometimes even if not). 
  • Or, if you're really good, put a kick-ass post together that is nicely formatted (avoid the 'wall of text' at all costs) and answers a question in a cogent, entertaining way. 
  • DON'T be controversial, or at least, know when you can get away with voicing an opinion contrary to the hivemind and when you can't. 
There is often no telling what will catch Reddit's fancy in any given moment. I've put many a post out there expecting huge upvotes and gotten nothing, or even downvotes; at other times I've stated some innocuous comment that shouldn't even attract attention and gotten a few hundred upvotes out of it. 

Downvotes don't bother me. They certainly don't make me change my mind, not unless they are accompanied with an explanation that makes sense (and many people just reflexively hit that downvote button and move on). 

Sometimes the mere fact of the downvotes is telling. Some of the most disliked posts of mine on Reddit have had to do with my attitudes on love, most notably that love MAKES someone beautiful while (physical) beauty alone doesn't make someone loveable. Physical appearance doesn't matter very much to me at all. Oh, how people hate to hear that: along with the downvotes I get comments questioning my sexuality and insisting I am the most "beta" male in the history of males. 

Big whup. I've had family question my sexuality, not quite to my face. I'll put it to rest here once and for all, I'm straight...and given enough emotional attachment, I can be slightly bent. I'm a strong gay ally, but that comes from having kith and kin who are very much gay, also from having been treated as if I was gay myself, growing up...something that still persists in the anonymity of the Internet, where people don't actually know me.

As for 'beta' male: I claim that particular label with pride!

I've yet to meet a self-described alpha male I could stomach for more than ten minutes. They're the ones who treat women as receptacles, for one thing; they always seem like they're just about to explode, for another; and for a third, their interests (guns and cars and women they've raped or are planning on raping head the list)...yeah. I'll be a gay as a cock-flavoured lollipop if it'll keep those people away from me. (And it will: just a little spritz of camp is excellent alpha-male repellent.)

...

Anyway. That kind of derailed. Downvotes. I was talking about downvotes. Sometimes, a barrage of downvotes makes for good blogfodder.

_______________________

The NHL just held its draft lottery (pardon me for a minute: LEAFS WON! THE TORONTO MAPLE LEAFS WON SOMETHING!...there, that felt good). 

Don't worry, this is only on hockey for a minute.

It wasn't a given that Toronto would select first overall; in fact, before they won the right to do so, their most likely destiny was to pick fourth. Mock drafts this year tend to have a player named Jesse Puljujärvi slated fourth overall. Some wit on the Leaf subreddit referred to him as "Pool Party" and it stuck.

This really rubbed me the wrong way. "Puljujärvi" isn't even that hard to pronounce: in Finnish, Js are pronounced like English Ys, and that umlaut yields a short vowel sound that's slightly elongated: YESse POhlyuhyaarvee. "Pool Party" just sounds disrespectful to me. Can't we call people by their names? Hell, drop the umlaut if you want to...many people don't know how to type one. Just don't call a human being "Pool Party". 

Well, downvote me to hell and set me on fire. Apparently I'm a (pool) party pooper who can't accept nicknames. 

Um, no.

A nickname is complimentary. Hockey nicknames: "The Great One" (Gretzky, of course)..."The Great 8"--Alexander Ovechkin, whom I'm hoping will win the Stanley Cup this year). Or nicknames are quirky...take mine, "Macaw", so coined by my father when I was two because "all I ever did was squawk and shit". I still go by that one 42 years later.

"Pool Party"...well, I'll grant you it doesn't sound offensive. Who doesn't like a pool party? It's just when you realize that the guy's actual name is Puljujärvi that it gets a little bit...racist.

Yes, I said racist. Maybe that's not quite the right word, but "Pool Party" in this case is closer to a racial slur than it is to a nickname.  "Hey, Pool Party! I can't be bothered to learn what your name is, because it's too goddamn foreign, so I'm going to use some English words I know how to say instead. And that will be your NAME! That will be the thing I call you by, from now until your career is over!  

I'm betting Jesse will laugh off the moniker bestowed upon him. I'm also betting that deep inside, each time he's called "Pool Party", he'll wince and grimace a little.  

Here's another instance of a nickname that's not a nickname at all...also from hockey. You've heard of Sidney Crosby, right? Plays for the Pittsburgh, like "Super" Mario Lemieux before him.  Guess what he's called?

Well, yeah, he used to be called Sid the Kid, and you used to hear him called 'The Next One" before he proved to be just that. And among his teammates, he's called "Creature", because of his superhuman lower body strength. But the epithet I most often hear applied to Sidney Crosby is...wait for it...."Cindy".

Misogyny? Homophobia? Both? So much misplaced hate in five little letters. Strong women of my acquaintance (and pretty much all the women of my acquaintance are strong) may wonder what's so bad about being called a girl's name. Nothing at all, says this man, but remember, this man is a proud beta. To an alpha male (and the sporting life is full of them, which is one good reason I don't play sports) the only thing more lame and weak than a girl is that special breed of girly-man known as a "faggot". And believe you me, that's another of Sidney Crosby's "nicknames". That may be the only thing Mr. Crosby and I have in common.

Am I being too sensitive? Too...girly? I don't give a shit. Names are defining. They are words of power. Like all words, they should be chosen with care and applied without rancour. Some guy comes from a foreign country where they have dots over some of their letters and he won't do you a favour and change his last name? Fine: learn how he pronounces it and call him that. Somebody plays hockey ten thousand times better than you ever did or will?

Yeah, you go on and call him a girl. Because the girls can outplay you, too.

Downvote away.









26 April, 2016

The Day The Music Died

I got some sad news last night. 
Aunt Lynne sent me a link to an Ingersoll Times obituary with the caption "Ken -- is this someone from your past?"
It is. She was.
Claire Martineau, née Panter, was my music teacher in my OAC year at Ingersoll District Collegiate Institute. Only one year. More's the pity.

I had crushes on practically everyone in high school, but never a teacher. Until her.

Part of my crush on Miss Panter stemmed from the minuscule eight year age difference (and she seemed younger than that). Part of it came from her telling me to call her Claire when nobody else was around. And she was undoubtedly, as the obituary states, an old soul: caring and compassionate.

But the biggest reason for that crush was musical. Claire Martineau was a wonderful teacher, competent (at least) on every instrument in the band (virtuosic on clarinet), not to mention being a phenomenal guitarist and damn fine piano player. 

Musicians will understand this: there's a bond that forms very quickly when you play together. At its deepest -- if you like the person you're playing with and you like the music you're playing -- it approaches telepathy. It felt that way, anyway, with Miss Panter on guitar and me playing piano. It's a jam session I've never forgotten: we moved seamlessly from Beatles tunes to my own compositions...which she managed to play backup on despite never having heard before. At one point, at the end of a chorus to a song I'd written, I dropped out and let her vamp for a bit. She improvised a bridge that was pure genius and then brought the verse back in a different key: my turn to anticipate, and somehow I knew what she was doing as she did it. 

Exhilarating doesn't even begin to describe it. Playing music like that is almost sexual. 

I played baritone in high school band. If you haven't heard of a baritone, it's basically a smaller (and thus higher-pitched) tuba, and outside of high schools and British brass bands it's almost unheard of. 

This is a very early example of me backing myself into a corner: I got quite proficient on the baritone. Nowhere near as good on my instrument as my friend Craig was on his -- he's a professional trumpeter now, and as far as I was concerned he was then, too. But I wasn't bad: I was certainly good enough to continue on to university for music. Except neither the baritone nor its close cousin the euphonium were recognized instruments. I would have had to start all over on trombone or French horn, and while I was a fair musician, I certainly couldn't pick up anything and be any good at it. 

Miss Panter called for volunteers to go play at a public school (Zorra Highland, as I recall). Only two people stepped forward: Audrey Graham (trumpet) and myself.  Picture 'When The Saints Go Marching In' as a duet between Audrey and I, belted out while marching all over the gym with Miss Panter playing spoons behind us. So much fun.  

The band at IDCI in 1989-90 was the ugly stepsister to the orchestra. The head of the music department at the time didn't seem to consider you a real musician if you didn't play a stringed instrument. I'm very glad to hear there's a jazz band and a guitar ensemble at IDCI now thanks to Claire Martineau. I have little doubt the entire music department is substantially better from having her head it. 

Fifty-two is much too young to die. And the manner of her death -- she had beat leukemia and elected a stem cell treatment to prevent or forestall its return, only to die of graft vs. host disease. Words fail me. 

Mrs. Martineau -- Miss Panter -- I can't even begin to imagine the music you're playing now. Some day I hope we can repeat that jam session and improve on it.

25 April, 2016

"I Could Never Do That"

It's by far the most common reaction people get when they out themselves as polyamorous: so common, in fact, as to be almost universal. "I could never do that." It's sometimes followed by a quick explanation: "I'm the jealous kind", perhaps, or "I'm a one-woman man". And then that's followed, almost always, by "...but if it works for you, more power to you."
Far be it from me to contradict the almost all of you who say "I could never do that", or to imply to any one of you that your words are not sincere. Having observed this reaction dozens of times, to the point where I silently echo it as it's being spoken, perhaps it merely seems like a reflexive defence mechanism to me.  (Not when YOU say it, I repeat...but just maybe when HE does.)

Many people have suggested my polyamory posts haven't elicited a reaction because the subject is taboo, because of any number of personal feelings on polyamory (it's weird! It's wrong!), because people just don't know what to think. Some of them might even be wrestling with the thought that they could be poly (again, I'm not naming a single name here: I have none to name. But if that is you, or could be...)

I believe the universality of the reaction to coming out as polyamorous is more proof of that taboo. I've had quite a gratifying number of people tell me (privately, and in a few cases even publicly) that my poly posts are interesting, even "fascinating", and simmering just underneath the interest is a "but how does it work?" that people are loath to blurt out.

So. Generally speaking:

Loving more than one person at once is dead simple. We all do it, after all...quick: name four people you love right now.

....

That wasn't hard, was it?

Letting those people love more than just you is also dead simple. Quick: name four people your partner loves.
....


Been a while since I posted that. I first read it in second grade, thought "of course", and promptly forgot about it. In high school, I could hardly help but notice how jealousy was held in high regard, as proof of love (?!) , and that poem was twigged in my memory, along with another Shel Silverstein effort I never forgot at all:

Of course, the loves you have for those multiple people you love aren't romantic. Nor are the loves your partner has. There's love, see, and then there's romantic love. The proof of romantic love is exclusivity. This is axiomatic: it's been drilled into us at every turn since we were toddlers. The princess must find her prince: he must be male, he should be dashing and brave, and it goes without saying there must only be one of him.

I have this mental tic: if somebody says "it goes without saying", I immediately ask why. George Carlin taught me that. So did Robert Heinlein; so did several other writers and thinkers I respect and admire.

I've generally found that the world is going right to hell on the road of unexamined assumptions. "The rich get richer, the poor get poorer, that's just the way it is." "They hate us because of our freedom." "She's fat because she's lazy and ignorant." "My God is better than your God."  Oh yeah? Sez who?


This is the polyamory flag, designed by Jim Evans. Blue represents honesty and openness; red, passion; and black, solidarity with those who have had to fight for recognition and equality. The pi in the center has a double meaning: the Greek letter pi is the first letter in 'polyamory' and...at the risk of sounding cheesy:


It is my belief, backed up by most of a lifetime of experience, that love is NOT like money, despite the fact it is very often treated exactly that way. Many of us have a scarcity model of love: any love I give to you is not available to give to someone else. 

"Last Christmas, I gave you my heart/
The very next day, you gave it away/
This year, to save me from tears, I'll give it to someone special"...

Ugh, I hate that carol. But look at those lines closely. She gave him (the lyrics elsewhere suggest it's probably a him, though not necessarily) her heart last Christmas. But mysteriously, even though he went and gave it away (the very next day! to whom? How does that even work?) ... she's still got her heart! She's giving it to someone else this year! How did that happen, I thought she gave it away! Hmmm, maybe it's possible to 'give someone your heart' AND STILL HAVE IT to give to someone else.

Funny, the things you find when you really look.

 Love is wonderfully strange in that the more you give away, the more you have to give. Come at life from a perspective of abundant love and you really start to notice how loveable so many people are, how deserving of love. And what I find heart-wrenching: most of the truly loveable people I've met have no idea they are that way. They think, instead, that they are worthless. I so want to hold these people,  for an hour or a night, and get a start on convincing them otherwise. If I can love them -- and I do -- then others can, too.  And you know what makes me happy? When they discover that's true for themselves. Showing someone she's loveable and seeing the light kindle in her eyes...I live for that.

Now, the reason most people give that they could never live like this is that they are too prone to jealousy. I find that very interesting, because I don't really understand it. 

I'm not kidding. I'd really like someone to explain it to me. See, here's how I see it. Let's say your partner works and you don't, or on a day you don't. She goes off to work and leaves you alone for eight or nine or ten hours. Unless you are truly deranged (and I think even the most devoutly monogamous person can agree this would be insane)...you don't get jealous of the time she's spending at work. She might even be friends with other men at work and it might not have even crossed your mind to be jealous. 

Then she comes home, has supper with you -- lovely meal -- and she goes out with some girlfriends. Again, you're not jealous: they're 'just girlfriends'. 

(If she happens to be bisexual, there's a whole lot wrong with your dismissive attitude: who's to say a relationship with another woman can't be a threat to your own? Many males, especially towards the alpha end of the spectrum, never even consider that. There's a whole other post there and I'd trying to make the opposite point about threats to your relationship anyway, so I'll let it go for now.) 

Now. Let's suppose further that this is her routine for weeks on end, and it gets to the point where she's skipping supper with you most nights and truth be told, not even really there when she IS in front of you. Now you're jealous...and you have every right and reason to be. You are being neglected, possibly even being treated as a doormat. Nobody deserves that, least of all you! 

That's jealousy's function. It's an alarm that trips when you're feeling insecure. Sometimes that insecurity is warranted, as in the case above where you're being virtually ignored and taken for granted. Often, though, it isn't. Often you may be feeling insecure and you've got no reason to. She's just at work, making money to support you both, and enjoying her career. She's just out with the girls, having fun.

She's just with another man.

Whoa, whoa, where did that come from, that's no good, why is there a JUST there, holy shit this is the end of the world---

Calm down a second. Have some dip. Remember this is not happening, this is a hypothetical exercise we're running here--

--Jesus Jesus Jesus she doesn't love me I'm not good enough what the almighty fuck--

(30 minutes later)

Okay. Let's look at this rationally. 

If she's with another guy (or girl: I really don't want to be heterosexist here)  and she hasn't told you that this was happening or even a possibility, yep, your freakout is completely justified. This would be cheating. It happens, inexplicably, in poly relationships too. Some people just gotta be arseholes, I guess. 

BUT.

Suppose your relationship is structured such that this is acceptable provided you know about it and have consented to it (remember: multiple committed relationships with the KNOWLEDGE AND CONSENT of ALL involved).

First off, what does that look like in practice? Depends on the relationship, of course, but in general it's no different than if she's going out with the girls. "I'm seeing Billy-Bob tonight, I think we're doing dinner somewhere and then maybe a movie". Or "remember, honey, tonight's my sleepover night". I am aware of no case in which it's "Eleanor's going to sit on my face for a while  and then I'm going to drill her into next July". We're poly, not cuckolds. Each relationship has its own space....even for those polyfidelitous trios and quads who live under the same roof, each relationship has its own space and those spaces are respected or things get VERY messy, VERY quickly. 

If this is your relationship structure, do you still have a reason to be jealous?

Maybe he's better in bed than I am. Maybe he's a better provider. Maybe he's stronger. Maybe maybe maybe.

Yes, maybe he is. And the funny thing is that he's saying the same about you and he's right, just like you're right. This isn't either/or, this is both/and. There is no better or worse, there is different. Your friends like different things and you do different things with them. Lovers are the same. You cherish each person for who they are while they are with you. 

Maybe he'll decide to leave me.

Yep, maybe he will. He could die in a car crash on the way home from work today and the end effect would be the same as far as you're concerned. He could have decided to leave you at the end of that last argument you had, remember that one? You were both stomping around the house for hours, not speaking to each other. But he didn't leave and neither did you because you both make the choice every day to honour the commitment you made to each other all those years ago. So he has other commitments. So do you. What, you can only have one commitment in life?

I will say this on a personal note. My marriage is not a prison: Eva's free to go at any time and so am I. We both know it: we agreed to it before we got married (and we were, for all intents and purposes, married on our third date). Should that happen (and seventeen years after that third date I'd rate those chances as exceedingly unlikely), of course I'd be sad, angry, quite possibly jealous as hell. But fight to hold someone back when it no longer serves them to be in this relationship as it currently exists? I could never do that to another human being, much less one I love as much as I love my wife. 

But...but....right now she could be sharing an intimate moment. Right NOW, while I'm sitting here alone. Maybe he's fucking her brains out right now and she's in orbit somewhere and I can't get that picture out of my head.

Ahem.
--------------------------
I wish I had written this song. This is my philosophy of love set to  music. Every...single...line of it is pure perfection. The answer to virtually any problem that can come up in a polyamorous relationship can be solved conclusively by the conscientious application of one or another verse in this song.

"You love to hear me sing even if you didn't write the note/
I love to hear you laugh even if I didn't tell the joke"

That's called 'compersion' or 'mudita': joy unadulterated by self-interest. It is the opposite of jealousy and it's something that comes naturally to some polyamorous people and can be learned by others.  Are you happy he's happy? Shared joy, remember, is multiplied. If you're not happy she's happy, you're jealous. Is that jealousy reasonable or not? Probably not.

Which again doesn't mean you should just stopper up your own needs. NOBODY IN ANY RELATIONSHIP, mono or poly, SHOULD EVER FEEL TAKEN FOR GRANTED. That's where that justified jealousy comes in. 
And so, if it gets a bit much (and it will: NRE ("new relationship energy") is a bucking bronco)... you talk. Pssst...hey, sweetie, over here. I'm glad you're enjoying your time with her, but don't forget about me. 
It's a balancing act, no different from work and home life, or making sure each of your children knows he's loved.  Maybe a bit more complicated now and again, but no different. Many poly people are aware of the lonelies and try to schedule their dates at the same time their partners are occupied elsewhere. Many others just appreciate the time to themselves. 

Living in this poly bubble, I easily forget that this is not normal, that other people find it strange and even a bit intimidating. (Sad, that: there shouldn't be anything intimidating about love.) My goal in writing this, as with all my poly blogs, is to get people THINKING about polyamory. There are many people who are hard-wired monogamous and happy being that way, and there is nothing wrong with that. But there are just as many, possibly more, people, who are monogamous by default: who feel an "extra" attraction and stifle it because it goes without saying that's wrong and it means I love my partner less or don't really love him at all.

Those unexamined assumptions are the source of so much pain in the world...

If a girl asks you to dance-then dance with the girl.
If it feels right, then you should hold hands with the girl. 
'Cause I believe that god is love and love she keeps telling me
to step back, relax and deconstruct your jealousy.
'Cause jealousy is fear--some days I'm scared of losing you:
 but you and I are free to leave if we choose to!
I'm taking down the bricks of this invisible wall,
and when the wind of love blows, now we both can feel it all...

"Can't Help But Fly" (The Poly Song)
Naima Infinity



23 April, 2016

Food and Drink

"'Shall I tell you the saddest words I ever heard?'...
'I always wanted to go there...and do that...but I never did.'
'To go what place, Mordecai? To do what thing?'
But Mordecai said no more. He was dead.
'I am sorry, Mirza Esther.'
'So am I. So was he. Here was a man in the very last flicker of his life, lamenting something that had once piqued his curiosity, but he had neglected to go and see it or do it or have it -- and now he never could.'...
Hoping to make her feel better, I said, 'But if he had seized the chance, you might be sorrier now. I have noticed that sinful temptations abound in these lands. In all lands, I suppose. I myself once had to confess to a priest for having too freely followed where my curiosity led me --'
'Confess it if you must, but do not ever abjure it or ignore it. That is what I am trying to tell you. If a man is to have a fault, it should be a passionate one, like insatiable curiosity. It would be a pity to be damned for something paltry.'
--THE JOURNEYER, Gary Jennings

---------

My faults are anything but passionate. My lack of passion is actually, probably, my biggest fault of all. It's laziness mixed with risk aversion, and its effects are noticeable in my life to anyone with half an eye to look. It even trickles down into my eating and drinking habits.

I like comfort food. I like food and drink that I already know I like (particularly when I have to pay money for it). My palette is bland, boring, meat-and-potatoes:  the essence of old WASP.

I'm not a teetotaller, but you can count my alcohol servings per year on one finger, usually...and sometimes you don't even half to lift that finger. That's because I've been seriously drunk once, and something happened that would never have happened to me sober. That I actually enjoyed it was even more unnerving, because I like to plan my enjoyments and be in control of myself when they happen. What excess alcohol does to me is take my inner risk analyst, bind him head and foot, and shove him in a room deep in my spine, where I can't even hear him screaming.
Before you ask, yes, I can handle my liquor: it took a nontrivial amount of it to subdue Mr. Risk Analyst. I distinctly remember thinking, "um, I should definitely be feeling drunk along about now" and it still being half an hour before I suddenly did. And quite often, when I do venture out of my gustatory comfort zone, I discover I enjoy foods I never thought I'd try. But Mr. Risk Analyst insists on chittering at me that just means you're overdue for something gross and disgusting. Don't try anything else, you might hate it.

Well, you know what? Enough of that. That attitude is so deeply engrained I have no idea if it's fully removable... but it can be subdued. And sometimes it should be.

Eva and Mark and I went to the Waterloo Region Food and Drink Show this evening (not sure how long that link will be live: the show ends tomorrow). It was held at the Kitchener Memorial Auditorium -- "The Aud" -- and I figured it would be an excellent time to take some small steps into the odd, at least for me.

This food show wasn't anything to rival the scale of the Good Food Festival that used to take place at the International Center in Mississauga. We went to that one three years running, and each year it declined: more money to get in, less free stuff, until one year it wasn't worth it anymore. I'm not the only one who felt that way, because it seems as if that show no longer exists. The first year, though, you honestly felt like you were scamming the vendors with their eager permission and participation.

But back to the here and now:  there were quite a few local restaurants and purveyors of gourmet food, along with craft beers, wines, and spirits of all sorts.
We figured on going there around suppertime, thinking the crowds might be a little more manageable. If that was indeed the case, I'm glad we didn't go at any other time, because ugh. I used to be a people person, but then people ruined that for me. The noise crashed in on me from all angles, making it impossible for me to discern whatever it was Eva just said to me. And that hubbub was leavened not at all by a squealing saxophone (on one side of the Aud) and a bluesy swagger of a guitarist (on the other). You won't often hear me say this, but the music could have up and gone away and improved the general atmosphere.

But the food. And the drink.

Pulled pork is evidently The Thing this year: it was everywhere. At least seven vendors I saw were offering pulled pork on a bun for a token or two. I like pulled pork, I liked the pulled pork I tried, and...okay, let's move on to something more interesting.

Zoup. I have heard amazing things about this place in uptown Waterloo, but never gone. The soups on offer at the feswere chicken pot pie, tomato basil and lobster bisque.
Everybody, including me, was expecting me to go for the chicken pot pie. That's the epitome of comfort food. There was no risk at all involved in it: I knew I'd love it. Eva and Mark both got some of it, and I opened my mouth and said

"Lobster bisque, please."

Then I hurriedly slapped a gag on Mr. Risk Analyst, who was bleating something about how I'd never tried anything like this, the closest thing I'd ever had to it was clam chowder, what if I hate it, I just wasted my m--"

It was good. It was really good. Creamy, redolent of the sea, a little bit of pepper that actually seemed to enhance the flavour rather than drown it (and that in and of itself was something of a revelation to me: my atttitude towards spice can charitably be called get it the fuck away from me.)

I almost can't wait for winter again just so I have a climactic excuse to go in to Zoup for some hot creamy goodness. (That sounds dirty...what can I say. It's basically a mouthgasm.) I'm not sure hot and sticky weather lends itself to a soup place. Hmmm. Something to think about. I may not be able to wait that long.

Incidentally, I did get to try the chicken pot pie soup (one of the nice benefits of a wife who has gone through weight loss surgery is that even the samples are too big for her and I get a bite or two of anything she tries. It was every bit as good as I expected...which put it on par with the stuff I'd never tried before.

It is not easy for me to haul ass out of bed at the equivalent of three in the morning to go to a place full of babbling crowds and eat food that isn't breakfast. I was trying not to fall asleep. Out of the corner of one drooping eye appeared something called "bulletproof coffee." Sounded like just what the doctor ordered.

Now, I share the world's addiction to go juice...but it has to be heavily adulterated  for me to be able to drink it. Story here if you're sick of this one already. My standard coffee prescription is now three cream, one sugar, and in a pinch I can get by without any sugar at all. But that cream is essential, because black coffee tastes like a giant cup of asshole.

I inquired as to what this bulletproof coffee was, and was told it was high octane beans -- "no mould"...

???
Mould in my coffee? This put me queasily in stomach of the day I found out what's in  cheap vanilla (DON'T READ THIS IF YOU DON'T WANT TO FIND OUT THAT YOUR STORE-BOUGHT VANILLA ICE CREAM HAS BEAVER TAINT JUICE IN IT).

But she said this bulletproof coffee did NOT have mould in it: just high quality beans and assorted fatty oils. Nobody mentioned the butter, but that would have actually been a nice buttery selling point.

She told me to come back in a few minutes, as the coffee had to steep. And when I returned and exchanged four tokens for a goodish size cup...I didn't see any colouring agents. Or sugar or sweetener, for that matter. There were people pressing in on me like those trash compactor walls in the first Star Wars movie and I had to get some air before I suffocated and well I guess I'm going to try black coffee.

Have you ever taken a tentative sip of something, expecting to spit it across the room, only to find out it tasted absolutely nothing like you expected? For a minute you hate it anyway, and then you get a rush of brains to the head and you think wait a minute, this doesn't taste like hate, this tastes like...good.

Really good. As good or better than my Tim Horton's or McCafé with a whack of cream.
Now...was it the butter? Butter makes everything better, right? Was it the fact I've never had a quality cuppa in my life? Dear God, let me not turn into a coffee snob.

Moving on: let's have some alcohol. The sedative effect will counteract the caffeine stimulant. Here are some vodka coolers...I've had those before, they're good, I'll get one of th--

BLUEBERRY WINE

--e nice big glasses of blueberry wine over there.

Oh, dear, this stuff is intoxicating.  In more than one sense of the word. Surprisingly complex flavour: blueberry is just one part of it. I want more. I want. I want! This stuff is positively lush-ious!

Money isn't such that I can easily afford a wine habit. But I'm going to create one. A small one. Because that was worth it.

I'm kind of proud of myself. These were trivial departures for me, but the journey of a thousand miles does begin with a single bite. Or sip, as it were.

Thank you, Eva and Mark. That was a wonderful evening.


21 April, 2016

Back By Rather Popular Demand


PREAMBLE


Two people privately messaged me on Facebook in the past two weeks telling me "it's a shame" I wouldn't be posting any more blogs about polyamory.
Everything I said here  is true. I have no least wish to throw my polyamory in people's faces, and there is a great deal to be said for simply living my life quietly and upending assumptions that way.

But also: I got the distinct impression I was making people uncomfortable.

I write primarily for me. But any writer would be a liar if he said he didn't crave feedback. And I've noticed over the last two years that my poly posts have attracted my highest readership numbers...but less than zero reaction.

Now, if I had self-esteem coming out the proverbial wazoo, I would tell myself those posts do such a good job at explaining things and reassuring people I'm not a ravening sex maniac out to sabotage their monogamous relationships that nobody feels the need to comment.
That's not what I tell myself. Instead, I imagine that people don't want to engage on this topic because it disturbs them. And so I thought maybe it's best if I just retire the topic.

Then the aforementioned two people messaged me, and I thought, hmmm. How many others feel the same way?

Last night I read John Michael Greer's latest blog (completely unrelated topic) and saw this:

Straight talk about uncomfortable subjects has been this blog’s bread and butter since I first started posting just shy of ten years ago, so I’ve had some experience with the way that blog readers squirm. Normally, when I touch on a hot-button issue, readers who find that subject too uncomfortable go out of their way to act as though I haven’t mentioned it at all. 

ding ding ding

I'd better check. And so I asked on Facebook.

The response was unequivocal. People do want to read about polyamory. Folks who had never before commented on my timeline told me so.

If you're not one of those people who wants to read about polyamory,  I'm going to say something very un-Ken-like.

Too bad.

And if you are one of those people and you're looking for prurient private details, to you I ALSO say "too bad". I take privacy seriously.

-------------

DATING WITHIN YOUR SPECIES

There are any number of assumptions monogamous people make about people like me. I've covered several before that have to do with people ignoring one or more elements of the definition of polyamory: the philosophy and practice of maintaining multiple

  • committed
  • loving
relationships with the
  • knowledge
and 
  • consent
of all involved. 

The commitment is probably the biggest thing that gets missed, but it's also kind of incredible how many people insist that it has to be cheating. 

But there's a whole other class of assumptions I haven't touched on, that have to do with polyamory in general. Here are a couple:

ASSUMPTION #1: IT FAILS

There is no evidence that monogamy is better in terms of relationship longevity, happiness, health, sexual satisfaction, or emotional intimacy. There is also no evidence that polyamory is better. So you may as well go with what feels best to you – and your partner(s).

Everyone seems to know somebody who tried some sort of open relationship and it went kablooey. Everybody also knows of monogamous relationships that did the same thing: most of us have, in fact, lived through more then one of those. But because poly is 'different', it's seen as inherently unstable. It isn't.

ASSUMPTION #2: IT'S FULL OF DRAMA

Most people imagine that any open relationship must be just chock-full of drama...probably because they can't imagine opening their own without calling down the apocalypse. The reality is that ANY relationship is only as dramatic as the people in it. Drama signals a communication issue, or a respect/trust issue, and that holds true no matter whether you are mono or poly, open or closed.

Polyamory does add some layers of complexity, of course. In a typical mono partnership there are only three relationships:

A
B
AB

(Your relationship with yourself is critical to your relationship with others).

Add just one person and you've suddenly got SEVEN relationships:

A
B
C
AB
AC
BC
ABC

...and it ramps up from there. Of course, not every relationship there must be as close as every other, but the essence of polyamory is that all relationships are recognized and respected.

It can be a challenge. And that's why it's important  to date within your species. Mono/poly relationships do exist and can work, but they're Ph.D. level for all involved. Much easier if everyone's maybe not on the same page, but at least in the same book.

Dating sites haven't really figured out polyamory yet.

OKCupid, by far the most poly-friendly of the large dating sites, is just as clueless as any other. Here's how OKCupid works: you answer a whole bunch of questions for yourself, and then indicate what answers to the same questions you would accept from a prospective partner.  You select how important the question is to you (a little, somewhat, or very) ... and that's it.

The questions are extremely wide-ranging. Your attitudes on everything from bondage to communism to video games are probed. The site is poly-friendly only because there are questions regarding  jealousy (man, some people think it's a necessary component of love!) and open relationships in general. But the bug (or feature) of polyamory is that any single relationship need not provide everything. Unless you're looking for carbon copies of your existing relationship, it poses a bit of an issue.

 I hate to use the sexual as an example, because damnit there's more to this than sex, but it really is a perfect illustration.

"Are you kinky?

  • Bring it on! Break out those whips and chains!
  • I'm not all that experienced, but I have an open mind.
  • Umm,  I really should be going now."
Now, I know how I'd answer that question for myself: my biggest kink (other than being polyamorous, it seems) is just how vanilla I am. But I happen to know two things: 1) there is a HUGE overlap between the poly and kink communities and 2) most kinky people do appreciate vanilla on occasion. So how do I rate that in terms of answers I'll accept from others? And what level of importance is this, really, given that any prospective partner is perfectly free to go exercise their kinks as needed? The same holds true for more innocent things like adventurous eating, or art exhibition vs. academic panel, or what have you. I might have a preference for myself, but I'm not going to impose my preference on you.

You know what *really* stings? The 95% and 96% matches--there are a couple of them like this--who absolutely will not consider an open relationship. I try not to look too closely at those people, because I'll just be wisted away. So much in common, so much to offer...and off limits. 

(I won't lie. There are people in my life I wish were poly, But they aren't, and I am, so that's that.)

At any rate. This is part of My Poly Life. Part of who I am, part of how I see the world. I'm not an "either/or", person...I'm more of a "both/and". As such, it suddenly occurs to me that I can still write, passionately, about polyamory AND simply live it quietly as proof it can work.

Thank you, folks, for being willing (in some cases, even eager!) to read my poly prattle. 

18 April, 2016

Assisted Suicide

Euthanasia-- from the Greek eu 'well, good' + thanatos 'death'.

I could just end this blog here and you'd fully grasp my opinion on the matter. Because I suffer from logorrhea (more Greek: logos 'word' + rhoia 'flow'), I won't.

I understand why abortion is a difficult topic: on one side you have people who believe everyone has an inalienable right to be born, without regard to the circumstances they're born into, and on the other you've got people talking about women's rights over their own bodies and completely sidestepping the developing body inside. I've staked out a middle ground on that one: personally I'm not highly keen on abortion but I would never, ever seek to make my choice (that's what pro-life is, a choice) the law of the land.

At the other end, though? I draw a blank as to why there's even debate about assisted suicide. It's very, very hard not to characterize one side of this particular debate as a bunch of amoral monsters. The funny thing is, those amoral monsters seem to consider euthanasia itself amoral and monstrous.

I don't get it. It's a full-on mental block.

Damnit, we euthanize pets. You don't walk into work the day after you put your old dog down and face outrage, do you? It's a hard decision, determining exactly when that pet's quality of life has ebbed to the point where they're better off dead--and it hurts like hell to make it, but make it we do. There aren't gangs of rogue vets with needles going around killing off dogs once they hit the age of ten, and I'm unaware of any lobby group suggesting that vets should be going to jail for murdering defenceless animals.

But turn the pet into your grandmother, or your father, or any other human being and all of a sudden these people come out of the woodwork saying no! This person must suffer, and suffer, and suffer long beyond the point when the pain is unbearable! Not matter how they feel about it! Oh, they'll let you know when it's time for them to die! They'll do it by....dying! Bwah-ha-ha-ha! 

Sorry for the evil mastermind chortle, but c'mon. Doesn't that seem like the plot of some kind of torture porn? Saw XIII, perhaps, set in "Mercy" General Hospital?

It's good that our country has finally recognized that our lives are our own (whose else would they be, after all) and this includes our deaths. Long ago I determined that if I'm ever unable to communicate and unable to even recognize my loved ones, I want out. And if I've been rendered incapable of seeing myself out, well, then, somebody's going to have to give me a hand.

The problem is that in this draft legislation, my feelings on my own death are still legally irrelevant. There is no 'advanced consent' written in. To get the right to assisted suicide, I must be a mentally competent adult,  suffering "intolerably", and my death must be "reasonably foreseeable".

So if I develop spinal stenosis, the disease that afflicted the woman behind this legislation in the first place, I'm S.O.L. Stenosis is excruciating...but not fatal. You can live with it for years. You might call it living. Kay Carter didn't. Neither do I.

"Reasonably foreseeable?" Tell you something, friends and neighbours, I'm not sure about your immortality, but for me, my death was "reasonably foreseeable" the instant I was born. (Actually, in my case, well before. I beat some odds just getting into this world.)

So let's talk about those odds, that miraculous cure. They do happen, through mechanisms we don't understand. Prayer (or meditation, which in my belief system is the same thing) may even be one of those mechanisms: the scientific studies of the efficacy of prayer are fatally flawed seventeen different ways. How exactly do you measure the reverence of the praying person? Or the reverence of she who is prayed for?  How do you reliably measure the effort of prayer or meditation, which in religious and philosophical traditions is absolutely critical to its outcome? And what if the soul you're praying for has determined it's time to move on? (I happen to believe this is the case in each and every death: yes, even "accidental" death or "wrongful" death. I have no scientific basis for this belief: I can't. Nevertheless, I believe). Can prayers then be said to be 'immoral'? Do 'immoral' prayers work?

Sorry, a little die-gression there.

Miraculous events do occur. I wouldn't bank on one myself. But that's just it; I'm talking about myself here. MY life. MY death. MY terms. You bloody bet it's selfish: Self-ish, as opposed to "everybody else-ish". You are perfectly free to make your own terms up: if you derive some unknown pleasure from suffering intolerably, who am I to take that away from you? And who are you to say I must share your fate?

Eight in ten Canadians support advanced consent for assisted suicide. (Poll was commissioned by Dying With Dignity, through Ipsos Reid and is available at the link if you want to dispute methodology.) Frankly, this is one of those issues where it wouldn't matter if support were at EIGHT per cent...because, quite simply, the other 92% would never have to worry about it.

People on the other side are acting very much as if the option of euthanasia necessarily means the obligation to undergo it. I've never understood this widespread mental quirk. I saw it with gay marriage: opponent after opponent said gay marriage somehow 'devalued' their 'traditional' marriage (without ever once explaining how). It was as if the push for marriage equality was really a covert attempt to outlaw straight marriage. Ludicrous.

Let me live and  let me die on my own time and terms, and I will permit you the same.

And there's an end to it.