24 February, 2017

Once There Was A Tux...

and when there was a Tux
he loved his Mommy and his...Mommy and his Mommy too...
...he also loved the Daddy
and the Mark
and the Bubble-cat
(and his Peach)
and his Cheese
and his Biscuits
and Car-Rides
and Timmy-Treats
and...)

so many people and things our Tux loved.
And we loved him.

God, we loved our Tux.

_____________________

He would have been killed if we hadn't taken him.

That's the thing I try to keep top of mind as Mommy takes him on his last Car-Ride today. (Mommy and Tux came to pick up the Daddy at work, as well...two Car-Rides in one day!)

He would have been killed if we hadn't taken him: they made that quite clear to us at the Humane Society, where he'd languished for almost two of his six months waiting for someone who could deal with his separation anxiety. I was a bit reticent on that, but they kept giving us things...snacks, a leash, I get it, we're this dog's last hope.

Ours, too, in a way. We had been denied children not long before Tux joined our family. That's also hitting us hard tonight.

Getting him in the car took three people and a small pile of expletives, I remember that. I THINK he thought the car was just another cage we'd leave him in. But when we got in the cage with him and took him to what soon became known as Tux's House, well, then his attitude towards Car-Rides did a complete 180.

Tux was...an adjustment. He clawed our library door, clawed up a whole lot of carpet in our spare bedroom (and tried to claw through that door, too) until Mommy caved a little and let him sleep in our room. Of course, Daddy then caved A LOT and let him sleep in our bed, and from then on all was right with Tux's world.

As long as we were home.

If we weren't home, we'd better have put the garbage somewhere he couldn't get it. And if the sink wasn't empty when we left, it would be when we got back, its contents scattered from arsehole to breakfast, and how he got silverware out of the bottom of the sink is a mystery for the ages. You'd laugh at it and clean it up and remind yourself next time that the house needed to be Tux-proofed.

He mellowed as he aged, as dogs do. His love for Eva became the tiniest sliver less all-consuming...not so as anyone would notice, mind you. Tux loved his Daddy



 but he lurved his Mommy unto his last day.

taken this morning

Guests in our house, once barked at, became possible sources of affection for our Tux.  It's fair to say that that Puppy-Tux, whom the pound saw fit to kill because of his rambunctiousness, grew into a docile and very friendly dog indeed.
________
Very early, I got into the habit of calling him Tuxes. I have no idea why...there was only one of him, with his curly-fry for a tail and his INCREDIBLY persistent paw that would come up every time he met you. Nothing we tried would shake him of that shake-a-paw habit, and we never knew what we were supposed to do with that proffered paw.  Accept it and he'd jerk it back and offer it again; say "NO" and it would sink, and then hover, as if to say I know I'm not supposed to do this, but I literally have no idea what else to do.

Tuxes, though. It was "outside-Tuxes" and "cuddle-Tuxes" and "does Tuxes want his Things?" (said Things being Cheese and Biscuits). Very occasionally I would invite him to "Pre-wash" my dinner plate, said invitation shamelessly stolen from my Dad.

Tux has been to Daddy's Daddy's house twice; the first time is detailed here with some good pictures, and the second time is here with some more.)

Tux knew that "he" referred to him. You had to be very careful how you phrased things in his presence. It was time-sensitive, though. Say "cheese" in the morning and Tux would perk right up, because Cheese was one of his morning Things. If you said it at any other time of day, though, he'd let it pass unless it was directed right at him.

He loved squeak toys. His companion, Georgia-Peach, loved them too, except she loved to destroy them, and so for many years Tux had no toys. When Peach went where Tux is now,  we stopped on the way home from the vet to buy Tux a squeaky squirrel. He accepted it but did nothing with it for twenty four hours...and then suddenly we heard it squeaking and knew he knew Georgia wasn't coming back.

Everyone has tales of how smart their pet is. For me, there are two instances that stand out in our Tux's life to that end. The first happened more than once. Tux, who never was much of a fetch-and-retriever despite being a Lab/Collie cross, would go--without the slightest bit of prompting from us--and retrieve Georgia's Georgia-Ball if it got too close to the Baby Gate of Doom. He would drop it right in front of her, then go back to his place on the couch.
The other thing he did one night in bed, glomming to Eva (did I mention how much Tux lurved his Mommy?) Eva, exasperated, said "turn around, Tux". That's not a command we'd ever given him before. Nevertheless, he got up, turned around, and laid down again. It wasn't a co-incidence, because from that moment on, "turn around, Tux" was part of his vocabulary, right in there with "kisses from the Tux" and "get the squirrel". That last was not his squeaky squirrel ("Squeak")...that referred to actual squirrels who lived in the Squirrel's House (our shed). Tell Tux to "get the squirrel" and he'd go to one of the trees, where the squirrels would taunt him. Tell him to go to the Squirrel's House, and he'd unfailingly trot right to our shed.

Daddy: Everybody loves the Tux!
Mommy: naaaawwww, NOBODY loves that Tux.
Daddy: Mommy loves her Tuxes. Daddy loves his Tuxes. Mark loves his Tuxes. EVERYBODY loves the Tux!

Tux was happy when Mark joined his pack. He and Mark developed a very strong bond in a very short time.
_____

He was, all things considered, a pretty healthy dog. Needed hypoallergenic food, had dental surgery once when one of his teeth rotted and his mouth smelled like death. But other than that he was fine until he got cancer in his nose, of all places.

It made it harder and harder for Tux to breathe. Eventually it broke his nose and deformed his face and once again we were hit with the enigma that all pet owners eventually wrestle with: is it time?

A hard decision to make in Tux's case. From the back of the nose to the tail, as of this afternoon, this was still...mostly...Tux. He still eagerly accepted his Treats and his  Car-Ride to come and get the Daddy at work today, both with alacrity. But you never know when that cancer was going to spread into his brain and turn him vicious in an instant; even more so, you don't know when that tumour was going to swell and make it impossible for Tux to breathe at all, even just when sleeping. He'd only eaten about a quarter of a cup of actual food in the past week.

Mark took Tux for a Car Ride the other day and prepared him. Tux was reminded of the names of all the animals he would soon be meeting on the other side: Mark's beloved cat Olivia, with whom Tux had a brief acquaintance; Georgia-Peach (who has been top of mind for me the past three weeks or so); a bevy of other pets, both his and ours. He was told to say hi to them for us and to let them know we'll be with them--and him--soon.

Tux went for his final Car-Ride just before 5:00 p.m. today, with Mommy alone. This was to keep him calm: the vet was not his favourite place to be as it was and let's just say Eva still has the ability, when called upon, to cloak her emotions. Ken never had that ability. Ken's been in a bad state all day. Mark, too.

Tux died a little after 5:00 p.m. on Mommy's lap, and so he died as he lived, and he died a happy Tux. He is now where the Good Boys go, and we will see him by and by...actually, I wouldn't be surprised if Eva sees him in the next few days and weeks. Love that strong doesn't let a little thing like death get in its way.

TUXEDO BREADNER, 2004?-2017
"Everybody Loved The Tux"




19 February, 2017

"Love Needs to See and Be Seen"

I really need to get to Grand River Unitarian Congregation more often.  

I don't know how many times I've been since July. Not near enough. Despite my comfort in the place, there always seems to be some reason not to go. Groceries need bought, and Sunday morning seems to be the most convenient time to get them. The sermon topic for the week doesn't appeal (and c'mon, Ken, the whole place is about opening your mind and heart, who knows what you're missing out on?) Or just the thought of the 100-minute commute each way is a turn-off.

Eva drove me this morning, which saved over an hour of that commute. I wasn't going to miss a sermon topic like "Love and the World's Religions". 

I'm not going to lie and say the entire service spoke to me. The story for the children this week -- this one -- is, while very touching, also distinctly disturbing. What kind of mother creeps into her adult son's bedroom to recite the ritual poem to him as he sleeps? As a woman behind me joked, "a mother with serious abandonment issues". 

But most of the rest of the service was very illuminating. The attitudes towards love in four world religions (Hinduism, Buddhism, Judaism and Islam) were covered and commonalities were noted. One of the things that struck me is the importance of love seeing and being seen. 
The rituals of various religions, from the simple devotional to what seem, to outsiders, to be the tedious intricacies of Orthodox Judaism,  are all about calling God to mind and heart. There are, of course, half a hundred ways of expressing that last sentence without using the word 'God'. But regardless, the insight there had somehow escaped me. 

I have always looked upon the 'rules' of religion with a jaundiced and jaded eye. What kind of God really gives a fart in a glove what you eat or what you wear? Is He/She/It really that petty? 

Well, maybe it's not about pettiness. Maybe it's about mindfulness. You wear the tassels and touch the Mesuzah in Judaism to remind yourself of God's presence. The calls to prayer in Islam and Judaism have certain cleansing rituals and gestures attached to it, all of which are supposed to remind you that you're (my phrasing) leaving the World behind and entering Eternity for a time. Hinduism has an entire Path to the Godhead based on love. and it is vitally important on that path to love (see) and serve (be seen by) God. And again, if 'God' rubs you the wrong way, substitute Truth/Joy/Love/The Universe/Nature/whatever signifies for you.

 Suddenly all that legalistic crap takes on meaning and significance, not necessarily to me, but I at last understand why it would have significance to others. Which means it now passes my inner smell test. For that alone, I'm glad I went today.

I also couldn't help but put my own spin on "see and be seen".

For fuck's sake, I hear you thinking, is he going to make EVERYTHING about fucking polyamory? 

No, he isn't. But this he will. 

You have to understand that this path has intellectual, emotional and spiritual components for me. Logically, it seems wrong to express unconditional love (which is what many faith traditions call us to do) by placing conditions and limits on it. Emotionally, abundant love is tremendously rewarding both to give and to receive. And spiritually, without meaning to sound cuckoo, expressing love for as many as I can, in whatever form they will accept, is profoundly connective. When I am with a friend or a partner, emotionally or physically, I am seeing and cherishing that person for all that they are and feeling at one with them. That's a powerful feeling. 

 I wrote a blog yesterday on 'coming out to yourself'. There's one forthcoming on coming out to others. It struck me that coming out to yourself is embracing a new way of seeing love. And coming out to others is being seen to embrace it. Seeing and being seen.
 
What I see when I look at polyamory is a call to love. I've been accused of making that love sexual entirely too often, which is ironic because sexuality is NOT the focus of my polyamory, never has been and never will be.  Connection is. That's not to say sex has no place: of course it does. But as I just said, for me, physical expressions of love are just one more way to connect. I have believed that since I was a virgin.

There is an infamous scene in Stephen King's novel IT. Anybody who has read IT knows immediately what I'm talking about: it's undoubtedly the most controversial thing King has yet written. A group of pre-teen 'Losers' has, in the tradition of King's child-heroes, done battle with an evil they couldn't fully understand. In the sewers beneath their city, they confronted 'It' and hurt 'It' badly, temporarily repelling the evil. But then the kids get lost trying to make it back to the surface, and worse, they feel themselves losing the connection they had made to each other. 

Beverly Marsh, the lone female in the Loser's Club, thinks she knows what she has to do. And she does it: offers herself, sexually, to each of the other boys in an act meant to re-unify them. You can read her stream of consciousness as she freely gives herself to each of her friends in turn: she reflects on the power of sex, the way many girls her age and older seem to think of it as some nameless, dreadful thing...they even refer to sex as "It". Have you done It, will I like It...she concludes they're right about the power at least, it feels like it's flowing in and out of her at once. She feels love for each of her friends in turn, tells them she loves them, and when they've finished, they feel bound together again, and they know their way out. 

I may have been the only person in existence who read that scene with neither revulsion nor titillation, but simple acceptance: sex unifies. (No, wait, Eva told me -- no surprise -- that was her reaction as well.)  Several years later, when I had sex for the first time, I found that to be empirically true. Sex unifies.

Other things unify too, of course. You don't have to share bodies to share minds, hearts, souls, pain, love. I have had more than a few people, with whom I have never been and will never be sexual, tell me they feel connected to me in a way they don't feel with anyone else. I value that. I value that highly. And of course one connection doesn't devalue another. 

At any rate, I strive to see everyone as loveable and worthy of love. In whatever form. That seeing has permeated my existence and brought me inexpressible joy. Seeing this, I want it to be seen. That's why I have so doggedly put my thoughts to screen, covering the same ground over and over but adding something new each time, spiralling out in an imitation of how I see my love rippling out from me. 

I would NEVER suggest that polyamory is a religious concept. That sounds FAR too much like I'm heading up some kind of cult -- and people who don't know me at all have indeed made that accusation. Nothing could be further from the truth. Polyamory is simply being open to multiple committed relationships conducted without deceit. Religious, no. But (perhaps, for some) spiritual. 

I'll be talking about coming out to others -- being seen -- in my next blog. For now, suffice it to say that it's difficult to suppress the wonderful feelings that accrue, loving and being loved by many. Sadly necessary, sometimes, when some people who are determined to misunderstand what polyamory is about, but difficult. Shared joy increases. 







18 February, 2017

Coming Out, Part I: To Yourself

So you think you might be polyamorous.

It's a scary thought, isn't it? At first, it can feel like you're going insane, literally splitting in half. How can you have such deep, committed feelings for two people at once?  Society has told you since you were tiny that this is impossible. One of the loves is obviously not real. Hard to tell which one it is. Maybe it's the new one: "it's just a crush", you rationalize, even as you find yourself thinking thoughts not just carnal but alarmingly domestic about him or her. Not just sleeping with, but actually sleeping with, and waking up next to, and sharing household tasks, and you already have someone you do that with, happily, and so...

Or maybe it's the established partnership. There must be something profoundly wrong with it if you're thinking such thoughts about another, right? You thought you had found The One. Damn those other numbers coming along to invalidate The One.

Either, or. Either, or. Must think in binary terms: that's how we're conditioned. There is hot and there is cold, there is light and there is dark. There is romantic love, and then there is...something that can't be romantic love. (No offence meant to asexuals and aromantics: they have enough problems feeling "normal" as it is without throwing 'extra' people into the mix.)

But maybe binary doesn't serve you. Maybe you find yourself thinking there is more than either/or. Maybe, just maybe, there's both/and.  Maybe BOTH loves are equally valid.

That's hard to even articulate for people who have grown up inside the box. That box has everything "normal" people need for a happy, successful life. Deviants think outside the box. That's the next line of attack: if you insist that two loves are real and valid, then there's something wrong with you. To wit: you're selfish and greedy and you can't commit.

This attack will come at you in a whole bunch of different ways, from outright accusations expressed with maximum venom to claimed "acceptance" (i.e. "I think it's great that you're sowing your wild oats while you're young") designed to convince you this is a phase you are going through, and ultimately, you will, of course, straighten up and fly right. Romantic comedies are chock-full of this.

For some odd reason, Mother Culture seems to have a vested interest in making sure you comply to the amatonormative ideal: one partner, "forsaking all others", "'til death do us part". Never mind how few people actually live that ideal (and I hasten to say, more power to you if you're doing so); never mind that what this is really saying is that the only SUCCESSFUL relationship involves somebody DYING. No, if there are two people in your heart instead of one, you're wrong. And many people can't live with that.

It's when you decide you can that your journey really begins. Getting out of that box is challenging and risky and scary...or alternatively, stimulating, rewarding, and exciting. (I'm finding myself constantly reframing negative words like that. I'm not sure if it's a byproduct of loving more or simply what comes of looking for, and finding, the good in everything and everybody. Or maybe loving more comes from looking for, and finding, the good in everything and everybody?)

People come to realize they are poly in many different ways. For some, like me, the realization comes at a very young age. I knew in grade three that one love didn't cancel another out. Granted, my idea of romantic love in grade three involved kissing tag at recess, but the principle has held true my whole life long.
If you're young and say you're poly, it will, of course, be seen as proof of immaturity: mature people simply Don't Do That Kind Of Thing. (There are, of course, many, many immature polyamorous people....just as there are many, many immature monogamous people.
For others, it comes as a result of many failed attempts at monogamy. Maybe you're a repeat cheater (a "recheater"?) and, well, shit, you don't feel the way cheaters feel. You don't feel selfish at all. It's just that, as Elvis put it, you can't help falling in love. (NOTE: I DO NOT CONDONE CHEATING).  You seem not to want, but to actually need, more than one partner.

Oh, how fraught this is. Because there are so many selfish assholes of any gender out there using EXACTLY this line of reasoning to try to validate cheating to themselves and their partners, I'm extremely hesitant to suggest that sometimes, sometimes, it's actually true. Incidentally: the path to successful poly from a cheating start is PERILOUS and almost always involves starting over with a new partner on an honest footing...but it can be done with a LOT of work and honest communication. I will deliberately repeat that word "honest" over and over: polyamory is, by definition, honest. If you can't be honest with yourself and with others, don't even think of trying to live the poly life. I *beg* you. Liars and cheats spoil it for the rest of us: it's not for me alone that I refuse to consider a partner if she's married and monogamous. I have a community's reputation to consider, not just mine.

For still others, cheating is not involved, but the dilemma comes rather later in life. Perhaps your partner has come out as poly and you're initially scared you'll lose him, but also you find you're intrigued by possibilities, which are endless. Or maybe you're the one wrestling with that "extra" more-than-just-attraction and wondering if it's possible to integrate it into your life.

It is.

But that too, is scary: lots of applecarts to be upset, lots of lifelong assumptions to reconsider. Mental work. Quite a bit of it.

I want to get this right out there, because you'll hear it if you spend much time around poly people at all: you can't fix a relationship by adding more people to it. Poly doesn't create new problems in an existing relationship, but it does have a way of forcing people to address the holes that are there already. If you are strongly dissatisfied with your relationship in any way, be it emotional, intellectual, or sexual, additional partners may mask those problems for a time by giving you an outlet...but that won't last forever.

It is more than fair to ask yourself what you want out of polyamory. Again, this is usually seen as selfish. It shouldn't be, any more than asking what you want out of a career is. For those hung up on 'selfish', remember: in poly, your partners can have other partners of their own. In monogamy, they can't. Which lovestyle is selfish? Potentially both. Potentially neither.

So what do you want? The "multiple" and "committed" are givens, but the rest is fluid. Sexual relationships? Romantic ones? Both? Can you imagine yourself as part of a polycule, in a sort of "love-web" where some or all of you might live together? Sharing beds or no? Do you see yourself in a triad situation? A quad? Is that triad or quad open or closed?

Or do you think you're more of a "solo poly" person, not desiring financial or child-rearing entanglements, but fully desiring deep, committed loveships? Maybe you simply want the freedom to explore new connections, let each one have its own space to blossom however it will.  (That would be like me).

Poly comes in a myriad of forms, and those forms may or may not change over time. To be poly, you don't need to necessarily embrace change with open arms -- change is scary for ME, and I'm practicing a kind of poly that several self-declared poly people have told me they couldn't manage...living with a partner and metamour.

What you DO need in poly is an open mind and an open heart. You can't pre-design your relationships to fit expectations you have, because (a) that's treating people as things (big no-no) and (b) you can't predict the future. (Did you predict loving two people at once?)

Be open to the possibility that things may turn out BETTER than you imagine they will, too. (That's good advice in any life context, by the way.) If you're open to that notion, it stands a better chance of becoming your reality.

You will want to find other poly people to help in your coming-out process. I don't mean just as potential dating stock, either. The poly community has stitched itself together by sharing thoughts you're thinking yourself. Platonic friends who really get you are treasures.

Read. There are hundreds of books on poly, both fiction and nonfiction. The most seminal non-fiction works are

MORE THAN TWO, Franklin Veaux and Eve Rickert (a link to the website is in my sidebar). I wrote the top positive review of this book on Amazon.ca. As I wrote there, this is a detailed atlas of the world of poly. It's  indispensable to anyone beset with doubts, jealousies, or simple questions about How This Works. The top critical review suggests it has a "poly-er than thou" attitude about it, which I really didn't find myself.  What I found especially valuable here is the shared life experiences of the authors and those they've talked to.

THE ETHICAL SLUT: A PRACTICAL GUIDE TO POLYAMORY, OPEN RELATIONSHIPS AND OTHER ADVENTURES, Dossie Easton and Janet Hardy (link)

Eva loved this one. It's written by your earthy and adventurous aunt, and it covers more than just poly. Like MORE THAN TWO, it really can be read by anyone seeking drama-free relationships of any kind.

OPENING UP: A GUIDE TO CREATING AND SUSTAINING OPEN RELATIONSHIPS, Tristan Taormino (link)

I communicated somewhat regularly with Taormino on USENET'S alt.polyamory forum back in '93. She's gone on to write perhaps the most accessible book to those starting out there is. This is the book you might actually get away with springing on a partner (if you do so respectfully and they're openminded enough not to reject it, and you, out of hand).

You'll know you're starting to accept you're poly when you find yourself questioning society's closely held ideals on love and relationships whenever they pop up, which is ALL THE TIME. Start looking around and you'll find notions of "The One" and "your soulmate" (singular) are absolutely everywhere, trying to shame those who don't feel the way others do. We used to see this with same-sex relationships, but they have normalized (interestingly, they've done so largely by adopting the 'right' ideal: marriage to one, exclusive partner.) Those who don't conform to this, straight, gay, or bi, face pressure to do so or be branded deviant and immoral.

Last thing: it's normal to be scared. It's normal to have doubts. It's normal to wonder if it's worth it. I'm here to tell you it can be. It really, really can be.

Boring Isn't Boring At All

You're free to disagree: this post may, in fact, bore the pants off you.

It's Family Day weekend in Ontario. They created Family Day a few years back mostly, it seems, to break up the long run between Christmas and Easter.

I have this weekend off. I asked to be scheduled on Monday--time and a half at Walmart is still less than regular time at Sobeys, and the money is welcome--but they didn't oblige me. Which doesn't bother me overmuch: I don't get three days off in a row very often, and even more rarely do I get to share them with Eva.

So we started this morning with a trip to the St. Jacobs Farmer's Market, which is about a four minute drive from home. I tend to question just what a huge tourist attraction this place is -- there are actually two hotels adjacent to serve all the people coming from cities with farmer's markets of their own. But each time I go there, I'm wowed by the scale of the place and the vast selection of delicious foodstuffs, crafts, and such on offer, and I'm forced to recognize anew that yes, a farmer's market can be special, and this one is.
Don't go in hungry. Or then again, maybe you should. I had perogies for breakfast this morning, the kind of fresh made authentic perogies that I have no idea how to recreate at home, so far above the frozen things you get in a grocery store that there really is no comparison. Mark got me a northern Québec tourtière from one vendor that I'm really looking forward to trying (I've never had one). I hope the thing is more authentic than the way it was spelled -- "Northern Quebec tourtierre", missing two accents and with a superfluous 'r', and yes, I notice these things, they irk me to no end.  
I would have liked a little more time to browse around. I love the little kitsch nooks with their humorous plaques (best one seen this morning was "A YAWN IS A SILENT SCREAM FOR COFFEE") and shirts (one I wanted to buy Eva: "Canadian Grown With Dutch Ingredients") and such. But there's one problem with crowded places: they're too damned crowded. We normally get in and out of that place promptly at opening for just that reason, and I slept in until seven this morning (ah, luxury), so that wasn't an option (and apparently I'm in love with parentheses this morning).
It wasn't as bad as I thought it would be, but it got progressively worse the longer we were there. I expressed the fervent hope that in the wake of the fire there four years ago (I see I was a little more cynical in that blog) that they would make the aisles wider to accommodate the throngs when they rebuilt. They may have, I don't rightly recall. But it's like expressways: add more lanes and you just get more traffic to fill them. Except on expressways you don't have cars randomly stopping in clumps RIGHT IN THE %^^*ING MIDDLE to talk to other cars. Grrr.

Then to Walmart, because I can't seem to stay away from that place. It takes a hell of a sale to lure us elsewhere when we get ten percent off everything, including ad-matched items. Of course, I have to check my department and touch base with the associate in it. I doubt they notice this from me, but I can't seem to help it. No matter where I work, I find myself feeling responsible for things running smoothly even when I'm not there.
I have help now--good help. You get two kinds of employees in retail, seemingly: slackers and go-getters. Walmart, by virtue of it paying a pittance, attracts a higher than usual proportion of the former. I have one of the latter type in my department now, and I'm damned glad to. Since I took over it a month ago, I've been essentially running it on my own, and there's only so much I can do.

Groceries procured, it's time to come home and relax for a bit before more shopping later. Other plans for this weekend include church tomorrow for me. I'm not missing a sermon on "Love and the World's Religions", even if it isn't Rev. Jess giving it. That will probably spawn a blog post. We have our friend Glitch and his son Gidget coming tomorrow evening (tacos, yay).

We have another episode of Cardinal on Netflix to watch. l'm starting to get invested in this one. It's based on a book called FORTY WORDS FOR SORROW, by Canadian (and LAW AND ORDER alumnus) writer Giles Blunt.  The two leads are played to perfection and the series has captured the best element of Blunt's writing: his setting -- a thinly veiled North Bay, Ontario -- is a character in itself.

The Leafs play two games this weekend, so those will be watched as well, as much for the enjoyment of a team FINALLY on the rise as for the filial duty of keeping Ken Breadner Sr. apprised. He's in Florida right now, and despite having two teams and more Canadians than you can shake a toque at in the winter, you can forget about media coverage of hockey games there.

We have our basement to continue work on. There's new carpet down there now, and things are finally accelerating towards us having more living space and less CRAP.

I have two separate poly posts to write, on coming out to yourself and on coming out to others.  And more housework. And enjoying the unseasonably warm temperatures: it's 9 here now, on it's way to at least 13, and fresh air will be admitted into the Breadbin presently.

It's Family Day weeekend, we're a family like any other, and it's going to be nice.

12 February, 2017

V.D.

Administrivia  first: I must apologize for the really bitchy tone of my last few posts. It is not an excuse, but an explanation: our Sleep Number bed has stopped providing anything like "sleep" and so its nights were numbered. Rated for 18 years. It lasted a little over half that.
I have been tired the last little while. Fatigue is a common complaint of mine, but this has been something altogether different. I adapted enough to function, but my customary calmness and warmth has been in regrettably short supply.
We have a new bed again now. We're down to a queen again, which opens up some space in our bedroom; more importantly, we have an extra-firm mattress for durability topped by six inches of memory foam for comfort. I'm sore in different places this morning, but a good deal less tired. Normal personality reboot continues apace. I am sorry to all those I have pissed on in my pissed off state.

_________________________


To those people who believe Valentine's Day is a silly, contrived, over-commercialized and ultimately pointless celebration...I offer no argument. Except to say this: if you're going to commercialize the hell out of something and arbitrarily celebrate it, I would put "love" forward as a good candidate. Certainly love beats mindless consumerism itself, which is all Christmas is if you're not a Christian.

In my heart of hearts, I've always wanted V-Day to be something. I've had some really shitty Valentine's experiences. You can say (and mean) that any time spent together is Valentine's Day, but an atmosphere of love, even commercialized, sort of begs participation. I used to work up a fine veneer of cynical disinterestedness, but you never really forget being the only kid in the class with no Valentine's cards, or whose attempt at giving such cards was rebuffed -- twice -- in spectacular, shredding fashion.

Rereading that blog, I'm struck by this:

Real love, I have found, is best experienced in the quiet moments, totally independent of what day it is. Real love doesn't care if anyone's looking, but neither does it seek an audience...


I'm proud of those two sentences, even as I struggle with them. (You teach what you have to learn, right?) Being polyamorous means, for me and at times, caring if people are looking, still. It shouldn't, for me, but it does. People say some very hurtful things and refuse to understand. It happens with my loves; it happens with my friends whom people assume are my loves, and it happens with me, when people misinterpret (sometimes wilfully) my words and actions.
And being poly also means wanting to shout it out to the high heavens, yes to seek an audience, a wide one, because it's abundant love and it's glorious and shared joy increases.

Poly folks have their own Valentine's Day a month later: March 14th, 3.14, "Pi Day". A substantial number of poly people are geeks; "pi" is the first letter in "poly" in Greek; and as I posted once before, "love is not a pie, cut up your eight slices and then you're done...love is pi: irrational and infinite". Oh, and also, this is probably done for scheduling reasons--trying to make time for everyone can get...challenging. Imagine a family reunion when some of the family works continental, some straight nights, and some of them are overseas for the foreseeable future.

In fact, scheduling is probably the biggest challenge in healthy polyamory. Not seeing a love as often as you'd like can breed insecurity all around: the "scorned" love feels, well, scorned, and the otherwise occupied love feels pressure that in most cases shouldn't exist. Such insecurities compound around the holidays.

Google "polyamory Valentine's Day" and you'll find a few dozen primers on how to make it work. Most of the advice boils down to the same single word that makes or breaks all relationships: communicate. What are your desires for the relationship, on that day and all days? What are your partner's? Critically, what are your metamour's? You may well find yourself with three different sets of desires, and that requires juggling and honesty and compromise.

This is where I believe my preferred form of polyamory has some advantages. I practice kitchen table polyamory, which emphasizes family connections. The opposite is parallel poly, where you may not know much about your metamours beyond their names.  That kind of poly places huge pressures  on a "hinge" partner to satisfy all metamours without their direct involvement with each other.

In any event, yes, I think V.D. is important. NOT because it's the only day of the year you can express love, but because having a day set aside specifically to express such a binding force seems eminently reasonable to me. Whomever you love, howsoever you love, happy Valentine's Day.

07 February, 2017

"I Wish I Could Help You"

Grrrrr.

THIS right here is why I am not a Christian.


Well, to be fair, there are other reasons. Lots of them:

  • the superiority complex Christianity has over other religions (and often, other sects of itself!) 
  • Hell. Sorry, doesn't exist as anything other than a tool to enforce obeisance. 
  • Institutionalized racism, sexism, homophobia, and a whole lot else -- and yes, there are 'liberal' denominations and churches, but they're looked down upon by the 'true believers'
  • have you actually read your Bible? There's no better argument for atheism, or at least nonbelief in the God being peddled within, than a good thorough reading of Christianity's "hole-y" text. It starts right in Genesis with multiple Gods doing the creating (well, there's two different creation myths); the OT God is so clearly human it's a farce. Jealous, judgemental, capricious, and not to put too fine a point on it, a POINTLESSLY violent being. The NT is not much better: the Gospels are ridden with contradictions and people like Paul, who never even met Jesus except "in a dream", somehow have free rein to slander women and gays. Jesus Himself was much more in line with what a God ought to be -- forgiving people as they murder you is pretty godly -- it's really too bad that
  • Jesus of Nazareth and much of the rest of Christianity was lifted wholesale from Mithraism, which was probably in turn lifted from something still older. Ecclesiastes did have it right: there is nothing new under the sun (or the Son, as may be). 
But all of that, all of that I might be able to get past, and I'd still be hit with that poster above.

That poster is not Christian. It is not godly. It is, in fact, evil.

I say it's evil because it's the backwards of "live". To live is to love, and that poster is telling us that loving is not our job, it's God's.

If "my love for you" is not helping you find happiness, then one of two things follows: 
  • I'm not expressing my love for you adequately, or in a way you are receptive to
OR
  • our relationship has run its course and served its purpose, and it's time to move on to the next grandest version of the greatest vision we ever had about who we are.
Communication should adequately determine which case applies.

This poster is no less than the total abdication of our responsibility as human beings. I actually have little doubt I could find some Christians who would agree with me on this: aren't we supposed to embody God's love? Are we not all sons (let's use 'children') of God? 

Let's stop "wishing" we could do these things and actually TRY TO DO THEM. Hugs work wonders at taking pain away: that's been scientifically proven (oh, no, science, how unGodly!) Let's actually try loving people and see where that might lead. Maybe by telling, and showing, people how amazing we think they are, they might discover that yes, they are, in fact, amazing.  

I wouldn't be saying this if it hadn't worked for me. Repeatedly. And on me.

Most importantly, we do NOT walk ANYWHERE on our own (with or without God). We are SURROUNDED by people, animals, even plants to those who are receptive to their energies, all of which can re-center us and remind us who we are. Who are we: we are co-creators. We create our reality through our thoughts, words, and actions. You can choose to use Christian parlance ("the indwelling Spirit") if you want -- words really don't matter, even though wars get fought over precisely how doctrine is to be expressed (and isn't that disgusting?) The point is, we are all here to love each other, not to force people to walk their paths alone and hope (to God) they're praying hard enough that they might be granted some measure of self-worth.   

Because that's what this poster says, at root. Problems in your life? You're not PRAYING hard enough.

Grrrrrr.
  
If I've got any of this wrong, well, I'm cheerfully toddling off to Hell, and I hope to find most of you down there with me. In the meantime, I'm just going to go about loving as many as I can, as much as I can, for as long as I can.
 

05 February, 2017

Guilty For Feeling Good

I feel good.

Very good, actually. Not the kind of ersatz mania I used to be prone to, but a sense of calmness and peace that only grows as time progresses.  A falling-together. A "trust the process, embrace the journey" mindset that has eluded me for most, perhaps all, of my life.

And I find it difficult to talk about.

Not just because some of it is profoundly personal. I feel the need to suppress the expression of my happiness because at every turn I am confronted with people who are anything BUT happy. Relationships in turmoil, friends hurting in ways so deep I can hardly fathom their suffering, to say nothing of the deeply unsettling state of the world, a state that seems to be worsening with every passing minute.

"Shared pain is lessened and shared happiness increases"...you've read it enough from me that you must be sick of it by now. (I'd highly encourage those of my readers who are human beings to seek out and treasure the source of Callahan's Law. Start with CALLAHAN'S LADY.)
Yes, it's true: I live by that maxim, perhaps more than any other. But I'll admit: I find it much easier to share my pain than my joy, especially when so many around me are struggling with pains of their own, and even the great joys around me are tinged with pain. Add to that the disquieting sense that perhaps I'm experiencing more joy than I deserve, that at any moment it will all evaporate like a fevered dream upon waking, and, well...

It feels almost morally wrong to feel so good right now.

That last, rather hastily contrived and poorly executed blog? Not one of my better efforts. That was me writing off steam, venting a pressure that was growing insupportable. The classic Ken Breadner knee-jerk, in other words. I've taken several steps back from that pile of pixellated poop and will come at Trump from a much more nuanced angle next time out. Or maybe the time after. It may not be as bad as I had thought: it may in fact be worse. But I fell right into the Trump trap, meeting his histrionics with histrionics of my own. We're going to have to use every tool at our disposal to fight that man and what he represents. Pointless drama alone ain't going to cut it, folks.

Orwell's 1984, Margaret Atwood's The Handmaid's Tale...both novels that seem to be serving almost as playbooks for the Trump administration. The thing to remember about both these dystopias is that they do not endure. (Many people don't realize this about 1984; read the Appendix.) Or as I would like to phrase it, 'it's always darkest before the dawn'.

I'm about to turn 45. And I feel younger than I did two or five years ago. My life is by no means perfect, but the important parts of it are coming together. I have more, not less, energy to devote to others, both those near and dear and those in the wider world. With any luck--and that's something I'm coming to believe is actually earned--you'll hear about some of this in the coming months.

Folks, I am feeling joy. And I will share that joy as best I can. But I will always be mindful of your pain, and will strive to lessen it any way I can, too.

Love to all.