Category: All About Me


Orange rose - A dark orange-red rose in full bloom, surround by green foliage. Photo by Sabina Bajracharya, via Wiki Free Images.

Orange rose – A dark orange-red rose in full bloom, surround by green foliage. Photo by Sabina Bajracharya, via Wiki Free Images.

So it’s October. Samhain is coming. And I’ve started listening to Pavani Moray’s podcast, Bespoken Bones (also linked in my Blogs And Pods list, on the right).

It’s a podcast about (1) sexuality, sexual healing, and sexual pleasure, but also (2) ancestors, transgenerational(?) sexual mores, and practices like ancestor veneration. I find this just an absolutely fascinating combination for a bunch of reasons. So I thought I’d just use this as a jumping off point and talk about this stuff for a little bit.

First thing, you may have seen on my instagram a few days ago that I posted a cover shot of Jane Meredith’ and Gede Parma’s book, Magic of the Iron Pentacle: Reclaiming Sex, Pride, Self, Power, and Passion. In the post, I mentioned that I wasn’t too deep into it yet. What I didn’t say was that the reason I wasn’t too deep into it yet was that I got part-way through the first chapter, the Sex chapter, and just started balking.

And I was balking, for the most part, at Jane Meredith’s essay about birth as part of sex.

And, like, yes, part of that was that there was some biological reductionism going on there which, particularly in a book with at least one queer author, I found more than a little disappointing, but I want to try and unpack what else was bugging me about that chapter.

So, to begin: My understanding, such as it is, of the Iron Pentacle, is that the whole point of having those specific five things as its elements is that they are things that are often demonized (literally or not) by Christianity, and as such by cultural-Christianity, particularly when it comes to marginalized people who are expected to feel shame around their own existence in the world for their (our) “failure” to be Real Human Beings (cis, het, abled, neurotypical, white, men).

And, I mean, I do realize that I’ve spent a long time conflating Feri – the magico-religious tradition where the Iron Pentacle comes from – with the Radical Faries, who are a queer new-age-ish, contemporary-pagan-ish, secular-spiritual-ish bunch of loosely-affiliated counter-cultural groups that reject homonormativity and the idea that gay people are Just Like Everybody Else (Everybody Else meaning straight, monogamously-married, would-be parents).

Like, yes there’s definitely overlap between those communities.

But also my long-time assumption that Feri came from the Radical Fairies is (a) maaaaaybe not actually the case, but also (b) kind of colouring my expectations for what I’ll find in a book on the Iron Pentacle.

Secondly: I’m a cis lady. More specifically, I’m a cis, white, middle-class-raised, university-educated lady. Which means I spent the first 28 years of my life under the expectation that, between the age of 20 and 30, I would get pregnant and give vaginal birth, ideally 2-3 times, and that if I failed to do this I was somehow both failing to Gender Correctly and letting a bunch of people down whose own identities, for some reason, were heavily invested in my reproductive capacity.

At twenty-eight, I came the conclusion that (a) I didn’t actually want to have kids, (b) my bisexuality was way gayer than I’d initially thought, and (c) I would be better off in non-monogamous relationships. So I got the heck divorced and started dating other polyamourous women and, while this didn’t mean I got to stop being vigilant about avoiding pregnancy, my various girlfriends and other partners have never seen my intentionally-child-free status as some kind of a deliberate afront to their own life goals or gender identities. Thank all the gods.

What I’m saying is that, while having my own sexual desires (let alone acting on them) was, for a long time, something that I was taught to keep my mouth shut about and to sort of go along to get along, if you will, my early belief that I did want to birth babies and raise children was always treated by others as a part of myself that I should embrace, and it was my rejection of that belief, when I realized that it wasn’t true, that was “radical” or “subversive” or otherwise pushing outside of what Gayle Rubin calls the Charmed Circle of Acceptable Human Sexuality.

Seriously. Dating women, and being fairly loud about it, is probably the main reason I’m not getting any questions from random co-workers and/or relatives about “So… why don’t you have kids yet??” because being a big homo also puts me outside of that Charmed Circle AND, up until very, very recently, would have meant that any children I did want to have would have been forbidden to me by the state due to lesbianism making one an unfit mother.

So, for all of these reasons, I was surprised and frankly put off by seeing “Let’s reclaim birth-giving as part of sexuality!”

And yet.

My culture tends to go really hard on the idea of separating “mother” and “whore” or – to put it more broadly – “virtuous woman who genders properly” and “unvirtuous woman who breaks femininity through her unladylike behaviour”.

All that ways that Black and Indigenous women are hypersexualized by white people, have their sexual consent ignored, have their children stolen from them in a million directly and indirectly lethal ways, have their motherhood disregarded or else treated as pathological or even parasitic. All the ways that poor women are characterized as slutty, how deliberate sexuality is cast as “low class”, how the lives of sexworkers of every gender, are treated as utterly disposable, how women with a history of sexwork, or sexual voraciouness, are often fired, or won’t be hired, how they lose class mobility and economic security if their sexuality is seen as not belonging to one specific male individual. How sexworkers have their kids taken away. How little girls are held responsible, and characterized as sluts, when grown adults rape them. How a million, zillion “sex after parenthood” books have to address the “but I’m a mom, I’m not supposed to want that…” element of getting your (monogamous, vanilla, hetero-married) sex life back once there are kids sleeping down the hall. The way that birth is sanitized in pop culture, having all the (vast, vast) sweating, bleeding, shitting, bodily messiness of it airbrushed right on out.

So it’s not entirely weird that one might want to write, or build into one’s spiritual practice, a reminder that “birth is part of sex”.

And it’s not weird that “Sex”, when defined as (among other things) the Creative Power of the Universe, would include the actual creation of other lives.

But it still felt really weird to run into this so directly.

 

Sliding back to Bespoken Bones for a bit, and the way that sacred sexuality can be related to ancestor veneration.

So, this is kind of two things.

Like, we have our ancestors of biology – the literal human, and otherwise evolutionary, lineages that resulted in our respective living human bodies. The story that Starhawk tells, in Earth Path about The Oldest Ancestors, and they way they shared breath, green to red to green, and the way we still do that with out plant-kingdom cousins every time we, ourselves, breathe in, breathe out, breathe in. The way I wonder how my pre-Christian, and even just pre-Reformation (pre-machanized worldview) folk-Christianity-practicing, ancestors related to and with the other lives around them. The way my wife told me that she could smell the earth on my maternal grandfather – not in the sense of literal dirt, but in the sense that my mom’s dad, even after he stopped farming in his mid-60s, spent his whole life in a relationship with the ground under his feet. The way I can see my ancestors faces in my own reflection and in the ways people paint and draw me in their art classes.

That I wouldn’t be here if not for these specific chains of birth and sex and birth and sex and birth that have resulted in me, that continue to result in my nibblings and second generation cousins.

But there’s also our ancestors of spirit, to use (iirc) Lee Harrington’s term. What Katheryn Payne is talking about, in her Brazen Femme essay, “Whores and Bitches Who Sleep With Women”, when she asks “Do you know your lineage?”

The queer femmes who came before me and gave me words for what I am. The leather dykes and the femme dyke sex workers who kept a space for me to step into when so much of the rest of feminism was trying really hard to make us disappear. The second wave feminist, lesbian goddess worshippers whose writing – so much of it published right around when I was born – I found in my local public library and read over and over again in my teens. The poets, almost all of them queer as hell, who taught me how to be a poet. The kinky spirit workers and ordeal facilitators whose work introduced me to the whole realm of sacred sexuality that exists beyond the chalice and the blade.

Ancestors who I trace through communities of sexual affinity as much as I trace them through anything else.

So these are two ways that sex and ancestry are related to each other.

 

And then I listen to Lee Harrington’s interview with Pavani on this podcast, and he talks about making explicitly sexual offerings, on a regular basis, to spirits and deities who have traditionally watched over queer people or who have been called to in queer ritual and queer mysteries.

And I wonder if my own lady of sexual sovereignty would enjoy something like that (and then I get an immediate answer of Yes flashing through the back of my head, more than once, so… apparently I have something to add to my practices).

And then I wonder about my lady of queerness – who for Reasons that I’ll get to in a second – would also want something like this. And then I think about the ways that I recognize her as sensual, and recognize some of my interactions with her as sexual or sexually charged, but haven’t tended to think of her as explicitly a Goddess of Sex, even though she is both a goddess of queer desire AND a goddess of birth (and aiding in birth), which kind of does bring me back to that whole Iron Pentacle situation again. Oh, hai.

So that’s something to think about.

 

To take things (maybe?) a step farther:

Back in… late August, iirc, I got to take an online workshop with Lee Harrington about sex magic. One of the things that came up, however briefly, in the discussion was the possibility of using sex magic specifically as a battery for destructive magic. For letting go, for releasing (hahaha…) people or events or emotional/physical/somatic Stuff. Storm Faerywolf describes the point of orgasm as the moment when we enter into constant dance of creation-and-destruction-and-creation[1], so I can see how that would work.

And I think about this, and about the ways that sexual trauma can be intergenerational whether or not incest is a thing in your particular family.

I think about how, after a particular relative died, my grandmother felt at liberty to tell my mom The Family Secret (in-so-far as it was a secret, which apparently, not so much). And my mom told me.

And I thought: That explains a LOT.

I think about how, years and years and YEARS later, the ritual I did using sex magic to “puncture my tank” in order to free up space for a better relationship to my own sexuality unexpectedly, wound up including me making a heartfelt phone call, if you want to call it that, to my maternal great-grandmother (who at least knew me in life) and to her mother, my great-great-grandmother, and telling them:

This shouldn’t have happened to you. I’m glad I’m alive, and that I’m the person I am, and that I have you as ancestors, even though it means I also have a rapist as an ancestor, but that doesn’t make your rape your fault, it doesn’t mean you deserved it. And it doesn’t mean you deserved to have your mother-daughter relationships fucked up all the way down our whole family line. None of us deserved that, and that includes you. That shouldn’t have happened to you, and I’m sorry it did.

I really hope they heard me.

And I really hope they believe me.

 

… So.

Not exactly sex magic. But a ritual that involved it, and also involved talking to my biological ancestors. So… they can be combined. Apparently.

And then.

And then I take this a step farther. A step farther in a different direction, maybe, but still a step farther. And I think about age play. How being a Mommy, in the D/s sense, is having a net-positive effect on my own attachment Issues when my relationship with my Actual Mom was pretty fraught for about 3/4 of my life-to-date and has only recently started feeling comfortable after decades of feeling anything but. How, too, being in this explicitly sexual – and spiritually-sexual – relationship with someone who calls me “Mommy” is also potentially a path towards understanding and better-relating-to my Fetch, which is to say the part of my soul who is my inner child, my sexual self, and my shadow (all the parts of me I reject or keep hidden) all wrapped up in one gangly, adolescent-looking being.

Not entirely sure about that last bit, but… it feels relevant. It feels likely.

So I’m going with it.

 

Anyway.

Obviously this is all rambling Things And Stuff. But it was on my mind, and I wanted to talk about it. Maybe I’ll talk about it more later on.

But, for the moment, thank you for listening.

 

Cheers,

Ms Syren.

 

[1] Now I’m thinking of Neil Gaiman’s Endless, and how Destruction went off to build stuff, saying that every act of creation is also an act of destruction.

So, as-you-know-bob, I’ve been working on reconnecting with my sexuality for the better part of the past year.
That work is ongoing, and feels like it’s going well. There’s been a LOT of chakra-related energy work going on, which I continue to find very effective. I’ve recently been (re?-)introduced to the link between my second chakra (desires, boundaries, connections, exchanges, etc) and my fifth chakra (voice, truth, communication… and a lot of other Suit Of Air stuff, as it happens).
I’ve also – very recently – started working on another second chakra Thing, which is money.
 
Seriously, folks, this is even harder to talk about than sex stuff, which I at least have experience talking about after running this blog for approaching a decade.
I’m reading a bunch of “psychology of wealth” books and I’m telling you they are a mixed bag and, to one extent or another, they’ve all pushed my buttons, rubbed me the wrong way, or made my skin crawl.
Which is, tbh, as much a desperate disclaimer and/or a plea to readers not to Get Mad At Me for wanting not to be broke all the time anymore, as it is a statement of fact about how I’m reacting to what I’m reading and/or a telling look at what a lot of my “money mindset blocks” are built around.
 
But something that I’m noticing is that a lot of the stuff – the mental/emotional blocks and tendencies towards self-sabotage – that gets talked about, across this small sample of a board I’ve got going on, when it comes to money stuff are things that also turn up in books and blogs and self-help-videos about sexual empowerment AND about relationship/attachment trauma.
And that is something that I find fascinating, surprising-but-also-not-surprising-at-all, and pretty useful and relevant in terms of how I go about doing this work.
 
These connections – the stuff around shame and worthiness/unworthiness, the stuff around learning unhelpful coping mechanisms in childhood, the stuff around trust and fear – remind me of the various things I’ve heard fellow sexworkers say (and read them write) about the kinds of relationships they have with money. Stuff like this piece by Kitty Stryker or articles in $pread Magazine about calculating your rates, or about how “Everyone asks about my relationship with men, nobody asks about my relationship with money”. My own experiences earning a lot of cash in a short number of hours doing various kinds of fetish work, and the GLEE and freedom I felt doing so.
 
I can’t help seeing the connections between, say the way temp work and retail work consistently involve being undervalued (under-paid, but also treated as disposable and intentionally kept on limited and unpredictable hours) and the low self-worth that comes with it[1] versus the feelings of confidence, joy, self-worth, and personal power that come with making $120 for letting someone lick my shoes or spend half an hour as my footstool, or earning my rent by spending a few hours allowing someone the privilege of filming themselves giving me a make-believe gyno exam.
 
My Notice Pleasure Project, as well as very nearly ALL of the therapy and life-coaching I’ve had, is SO MUCH about learning how to have good boundaries, how to voice my desires, how to allow my Self and my desires to take up space (rather than making myself smaller and smaller, more and more invisible in the hopes that a starvation diet will start to feel like enough), how to say No to what doesn’t feed me, or doesn’t feed me enough, so that I can make room for the great, big, enthusiastic YES that comes for that which DOES feed me, fill me, fulfill me.
 
I felt ashamed of my sexual desires when my partners seemed to be avoiding and rejecting me.
I felt ashamed of my emotional and relational needs when the people I was involved with were emotionally unavailable or unwilling/unable to offer me mutuality in our relationships.
 
I don’t feel shame in sexually desiring my partners when my partners share and reflect that desire.
I don’t feel shame around asking for companionship and emotional intimacy when my partners are emotionally available to, and supportive of, me.
 
So it makes sense that I also feel ashamed of wanting better-than-poverty wages, of wanting my work, my time, and my considerable skills to be valued and well-compensated, when my clients and employers are actively trying to underpay and undervalue me. (See also: this whole cartoon from Eat The Rich Comic).
It makes sense that I wouldn’t feel shame about wanting my time, work, and skills to be valued and well-compensated when they’re already being valued and well-compensated.
 
Two and a half years ago, the Ask a Feelings-Witch column at GUTS Magazine received a letter from someone asking how to heal the mental disconnect they had between “wealth” (actual cash money) and “abundance” (friendship, skill-sets, sharing).
It was me. I wrote that letter.
I wrote that letter dripping with disgust and self-loathing.
When I read the response, back when it was first published, it took me a couple of tries to even be able to read it all the way through.
Fast-forward to now and, while I now have to remind myself that when someone who is (as of about six months after that article went up) a professional therapist – and as such, even with offering sliding scale rates, is still making more money per hour than I’ve personally been paid anywhere outside of sexwork – says “It is okay to want, wish for, hope for, and like money. I’m not sure I feel like there is an ethical justification for holding onto fistfulls of it[…]”, they are speaking from the position of easily making 2-5 times as much as you have ever made in a given year, and so means something different when they say “fist-fulls” than when you say it. They probably DON’T mean “It’s okay to want money, just not as much as I’m making” OR “You, Ms Syren, do not deserve nice things” …even though that’s often how I hear it.
 
Anyway. I’m going to re-read that answer, now that I’m in a headspace that’s more able to even consider this stuff, see if I can get more use of it, and see if there are any points of commonality with it and this second chakra stuff about boundaries and self-worth that I’m chewing on right now.
 
 
Cheers,
Ms Syren.
 
 
[1] When I switched from part-time retail to “full-time” temp work (full-time multi-month minimum-wage contracts, but with weeks of unemployment between contracts), the part of my contract that said “You have to submit your time sheet by X day or you won’t be paid on the next week’s payday”… I literally thought they meant they just wouldn’t pay me – like at all – for that week’s work.
That was how high my expectation of abuse was by that point[2]. And I literally just sighed, thought “Fine, whatever”, and signed the papers.
I’m happy (and relieved) to report that I haven’t felt that worthless in more than a decade. But, ye gods, what a pit that’s been to climb out of. O.O
 
[2] I was, at that point, in an abusive home relationship too, which was part of it, but still.

Relevant to my Notice Pleasure Project.

CaptainAwkward.com

This piece written by Cass Ball is great.

And you can safely replace “20s” with “any part of adulthood.”

Now’s the part where I physically restrain myself from quoting the entire thing:

“When I’m coming from a place of scarcity, a place where everything feels like it isn’t enough,I often feel that I’m insufficient without more experience, and therefore at risk of lowering my boundaries and putting myself in unsafe situations. Ironically, feeling like I’m “too much,” like my needs are a burden, is also a form of scarcity: it indicates that I don’t think I’m worthy of my needs being met. When I’m approaching sex from a place of abundance, I can value my needs and feel that they’re just right, and I therefore can communicate both pleasure and boundaries with equal confidence and clarity. Coming from a place of abundance means that I can be with another person…

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Dreaming Accountability

we carry each other

This is beautiful.

Sex Geek

killing patient zero

I just wanna tell a little story about a thing that happened during today’s HotDocs screening of the documentary Killing Patient Zero at Hart House. It’s not about the film exactly, except that it kind of is.

(The film is a devastating doc that thoroughly debunks the myth about Gaetan Dugas, supposed original spreader of HIV/AIDS. It’s kind to every source; it carefully investigates history and exonerates a man who in fact helped doctors figure out that “gay cancer” was indeed an STI. SEE IT.)

So it’s a packed house. Heavily gay / queer audience, by my read, not surprisingly. The film is about halfway through. Suddenly a woman’s voice rises in the middle of the theatre. Calling out a man’s name in increasing panic. “Are you okay? Are you okay? OMG, somebody call 911!”

Murmurs in the crowd. Lights go up, film stops. There’s a flurry of activity. Staff…

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Handy! And I’ll be blogging about my own related experiences shortly, so here’s some pre-reading, if you will. 😉

Let's Queer Things Up!

I’ve learned in life that when you observe a pattern about yourself, it might be worth examining (okay, this is an understatement — I can pretty much guarantee you that you’ll come out wiser).

One of my big “aha” moments this year was around a relationship pattern that I hadn’t noticed before. I realized that I’m a people-pleaser.

Being liked by others, especially in my personal life, came at the expense of voicing my true feelings and needs. It was more important to be liked than it was to have relationships that felt honest and nourishing.

And it’s a lonely place to be — it can feel like no one knows your true feelings or self, and that you are secondary in relationships that should feel equal. Unsurprisingly, this can lead to a hell of a lot of resentment.

And thus… a pattern emerged.

My favorite kind of person to…

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So… it’s been a few days, and maybe you’re picking up on this whole Alphabetical Prompts Series that I’ve been doing.
It’s a series of my own devising, so the “alphabet” part, while handy, is meant more as a jumping off point than a requirement. Not every single thing is going to have a sequentially alphabetical subject line (which should help me avoid awkward titles where I try to shoe-horn an “X” in there, or similar).
As it happens, the main goal of these posts is the “notice pleasure” portion at the bottom of them, and the rest is more of an excuse to make this a regular/semi-scheduled kind of thing.
 
See. I know (this is more Brené Brown) that one way to develop shame-resilience[1] is to practice gratitude around the areas where you feel that shame. So I thought, “Oh, hey. I have a huuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuge vat of shame around sex stuff”. Just massive heaps of “I’m not worthy” and “I’m so bad at this” and “Stop pestering people” and “I’m a bad lover” and all the rest of that crap. And it gets in the damn way when I’m trying to do things.
Things like flirting, or getting fisted, or getting off with a partner, or initiating sex, or whatever. It gets in the way, and I get kind of tangled up in it, and trying to get out again is this whole separate mess from the actual difficulties that I have around things like navigating my over-active trauma responses (for example) and kind of just make everything worse and harder to deal with.
 
Because the trauma stuff happened quite a while ago now. And, yeah, I know that Healing Isn’t Linear and stuff is going to keep on resurfacing whether I like it or not and sometimes it’s going to surprise me or catch me off guard, and other times it’s going to leave me the heck alone, and still other times it’s just going to be, like, “Oh. Hey trauma. You’re coming along on this ride, are you?” and it’s just going to be a thing…
But it would still be nice if it was just navigating the hiccoughs of “Oh, my limbic system is having a moment” rather than it being, like, “Oh. My limbic system is having a moment, and now I have all these FEEEEELINGS about that, and I have to stop everything and PROCESS”.
Which.
I’m allowed to stop everything and process?
But also I would like to not have to.
 
So I thought that maybe I could develop some resilience around pleasure-and-sex-related shame specifically by starting a gratitude practice where I notice pleasure – both broadly physical/emotional and more specifically sexual – in my day-to-day life. Maybe being more explicit about things that feel pleasurable, particularly (but not exclusively) sexually pleasurable, in this really public (but also protected, because it’s in writing and you-all are on the other side of the internet) way will also help me to get comfortable with both recognizing and naming what I enjoy.
 
And I thought: Oh hey, maybe I can also use those posts to write about stuff that relates directly, or less-directly, to my relationship with my own sexuality. Because it’s not like this blog doesn’t need some attention and, hey, maybe if I’m thinking about it – especially if I’m making a point of thinking about it in a pro-active, positive kind of way – maybe that will help things along, too.
 
So. Here I am.
I’m going kind of hard right now, partly because it’s Explore More Week – so I’ve got lots of stuff to chew on – and partly because I’ve got a lot of time at home to devote to it right now. Plus, I’m on Week Twelve of my Empress Project and, you know, I’d like to have something to report. >.>
But, after the impending new moon, this will most-likely switch to being an “every two weeks” kind of longer-term deal.
We shall seen.
Regardless, here’s hoping it helps.
 
~*~
 
Notice Pleasure: Home-made cookies. Rubbing my wife’s calves (and my hands) with birch & black pepper Muscle Rub ointment – the way it makes my hands warm and how the smell (which is very minty) makes me aware of my deep breaths. Casually nattering about plants and seeds and creative projects with friends I haven’t seen in a while. Hot, greasy pizza with extra cheese and really good bacon. Waking up slowly and being affectionate with a partner. Feeling the promise of spring in (relatively) warm air & humid air and longer hours of daylight.
 
 
Cheers,
Ms Syren.
 
 
[1] It’s not that you stop feeling shame, or even that you stop feeling shame about specific things (although… sometimes?), it’s that you get better at navigating shame and at not getting stuck in it, and you recover more quickly when you do. That’s shame-resilience.

So, I’m re-reading Come as You Are by Dr. Emily Nagoski. It’s a fun, chatty read with lots of easy-to-digest brain science in there about your amygdala and attachment theory and so-on. My kind of thing. But also I’m re-reading it because I’m… kind of tired of getting in my own way?
The first time I read this – three and a bit years ago, shortly after it came out, iirc – I was mostly paying attention to the survivor story.
(This is one of those books where there are “case studies” – herein, presented as “When chatting with one of my Nerd Friends” type anecdotes, probably because the book is basically written as though the reader is, likewise, one of said (Nerd?) Friends – illustrating the various ways that the “dual control model” of human sexuality can show up in a given person).
This time around, while that “how to manage your triggers” stuff is still relevant, I’m reading it again with an eye towards a different case study, where the “breaks” are being applied to the character’s sexual appetites in a different way. Not trauma, but day-to-day living stress and performance anxieties.
Not exactly an unusual situation, I know.
 
So. One of the things the author suggests is to look at the stuff that stresses you out, and figure out which bits you actually have some control over.
Like, if you have a crap boss, you can’t control how they treat you or what kind of last-minute tasks they pile on your desk. So that’s not a stressor you have much/any control over. But maybe you can decide that you will 100% NOT be available by email after business hours are over. Maybe. I don’t know your situation.
In my case, one of the things that stresses me out is – unexpectedly(?) not-so-unexpectedly(?) – my messy house.
And I do have some control over that, as long as I don’t get my knickers in a twist about whether or not “I’m doing ALL the cleaning around here”.
 
One of the exercises in the book is to write down some specifics about a bunch of great sexual experiences and then a bunch of specifics about pretty-crappy sexual experiences, and then see if there are any patterns. A lot of my Great Sexual Experiences have taken place outside of my house. In hotel rooms or while otherwise staying somewhere where The Mess is both (a) Not My Problem, and (b) not actually there, to begin with. Visits to distant sweethearts who have used my impending arrival to motivate them to Clean All The Things, or to put up their art work, or to finally finish unpacking. Hotel-stays where my wife and I were able to get away from work stress, and get adequate sleep, but were incidentally also sleeping in a bed with fresh sheets, in a room that got vacuumed regularly and didn’t have enough Life Stuff in it for it to ever get cluttered, because it was so temporary.
 
So, for the moment, one of the things I’m doing is trying to improve the sort of background “ambience” of the house.
I mean, we’ll see how long it lasts since, at the moment, I have two weeks of almost entirely from-home work and, thus, an extra 2 hours per day, since I don’t have to walk or bus anywhere to make us some money. BUT I figure, if I can make things a tiny bit nicer every day, the baseline will slowly (sloooooooooowly) improve until some part of me isn’t constantly thinking “Ick. Everything is disgusting, and I feel gross just being here”.
 
So I swept the main floor yesterday, and I swept upstairs today. Tomorrow I’ll clean the bathroom, or I’ll do a fast mop-up of the kitchen floor or I’ll vacuum the rugs. It feels like Horrible Entropy is 100% threatening, but as long as I keep on top of One Small Thing (like, seriously, 20 minutes of Thing will usually about do it), I think it might (might) be achievable.
 
~*~
 
Notice Pleasure: Early morning kisses. Catching up on the couch. Exchanging selfies. Impromptu dates. Unexpected shivers. Needle scenes. Lingering eye-contact. Knowing that both of my sweethearts miss me back.

So. This isn’t entirely in line with the themes of this blog, but it doesn’t totally fit with Urban Meliad either. I’m putting it here because it’s been a while and because… Because The Season Of Light started over a month ago and I’m having Polyam Feels and chewing on that thing where “queer adulthood” runs on a different time-line and frequently doesn’t necessarily include some of the major markers of “adulthood” (like monogamously pairing off, or having babies) that our cultures (cultures-of-origin?? I don’t even know) pass down to us.
 
As you folks will have probably picked up, if you’ve been reading this for a while (or know me In Real Life), my relationship with my mom is… substantially, noticeably, blessedly better than it was twenty years ago. And even ten years ago. But it’s still got some fraught elements.
Hoy.
I tell you.
Look. At this point, I can kind of laugh about it. It’s been 20 years of figuring out how to navigate this as two adults (Okay… 19 is maybe not an “adult” in anything but the legal sense, but you get the idea) who live in different places, and I can kind of see the humour in my mom being My Mom.
But it’s also kind of hard.
 
It’s weird how things line up. And I know I’m doing this in-around U.S. Thanksgiving. I’m writing in Canada, so the timing is entirely random. But it means there might be at least a few readers who can relate to this pretty hard right at the moment.
 
On the one hand: My mom is super game to include one of my metamours – and probably more than one, if her open door policy during my high school years is anything to go by – in her Xmas and Thanksgiving and similar celebratory-meal plans. She’s done up stockings for C to open multiple years in a row now.
Which, I realize, is fucking rare.
There aren’t a lot of polyamourous people whose parents are down to hang out with their kid-in-law’s other partners, so that’s pretty great.
On the other hand: Her reaction to me having more than one partner at a time was – last time this happened – to blink at me, murmur “I guess I thought you’d get tired of this”, and proceed to refer to my partner as “your friend” until the relationship… transitioned into whatever the hell it is now. Some kind of weird, slightly fraught-in-its-own-right family ties.
So we’ll see how she handles the news that I have two partners again, this time ’round.
 
I feel like a Bad Daughter.
 
I love that I make family laterally rather than in, or in addition to, inter-generational silos. But when my personal “family responsibilities” rub up against the expectations of my family of origin, I have a hard time.
I feel uncomfortable with the possibility that someone will want to know why I’m okay with dropping air fare to see my girlfriend but not okay with doing the same thing to fly out and see my sister at Christmas. (Never mind that I’m not Christian and, technically, neither is she. Never mind that leaving my wife behind to see my sister and her kids feels weird and gross in a way that leaving her behind while I see a different partner doesn’t at all).
 
I love that I’m a polytheist animist who celebrates Midwinter and builds a spider’s web of community connections with the end goal of having the venn diagram of my social groups be one big, inter-supportive circle that isn’t reliant on me to keep those connections going. But it still feels weird and uncomfortable and sad in a way I wish it didn’t, when my mom asks me what my plans for the 25th of December are and then, when I tell her my calendar is wide open that day, informs me that, actually, she’ll be in a different province, visiting the grandchildren. That all of my relatives with reliable paycheques would rather congregate in Calgary than turn up in Ottawa, where both the matriarch and the queer, low-income relatives, happen to live.
 
Sometimes I want to take a family photo.
To gather my girlfriend and my wife, and my metamours (difficult, at this point, since half of them live in one National Capital, and the rest live in DC and Baltimore), my Inheritor/Leather-Sister and my Sister-from-another-Mister who witnessed my marriage, my meta-metamours and my dom/me/s-in-law. The exes-who-are-still-family. And more: The femme poets who taught me, and their beloveds and their kids. The Yoots, who are in their 20s and even 30s now, who are raising up the cohorts coming up after them. The leather bikers who survived the plague, who are old enough to remember when being themselves wasn’t just unprotected but illegal. All my leather kin. All my queer fam. And take a fucking Sears Portrait Studio photo that we send out to all my relatives to say: THIS. This is my family. This is who danced at my wedding, right beside you. This is who I love, right alongside you.
 
I don’t want to have to ask “Is it alright if we include [metamour] in these plans?” Even knowing the answer will be “Of course!”
I want the reaction to “My vegetarian partner’s going to be visiting in late April” to be “Bring her to Easter brunch! I’m already making strata without the ham because the grand-kids’ll be here!”
 
I know that there are a LOT of queers out there who loathe Gay Marriage, and would rather burn the institution down that further infect our weird, non-traditional-family-building community with couple-privilege.
I know that there are a LOT of queers out there, too, who have little-to-nothing but shitty, invalidating-at-best memories of their families-of-origin and would rather create things newly out of whole cloth than try to create words like “unctie” so that our siblings’ kids have a word for us that fits both our genders and our fam-of-O’s kinship diagrams or structural language.
 
I have to admit… I’m not exactly on board. I want my queer fam to have words for themselves. I want them to be introduced to their nibblings as “This is Unctie So-and-so” from birth, so that it never feels strange or clunky in their mouths, so that my people can be their whole selves around their families-of-origin. I want to be able to say “wife” when I introduce my long-standing D/s partner and sweetheart. It’s just, I’d also like it if her other long-standing partners could include her as covered by their secondary-health-insurance benefits. It’s just, I’d also like it if I could say “wife” or “spouse” about more than one person at a time, should I be blessed with more than one life-partner who’s stayed with me for years, decades, my life-time, and to have those words not illicit awkward exchanges of eye-contact, or a refusal to engage, from my family-of-origin.
Most of the year, this is no big deal.
But it comes up hard when the nights get long and people start talking faaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaamily.

The Bias

Header Image: “The 95 Twee-ses” by Annalee.So you’ve been called out. You are baffled. Shocked. Why would someone shame you in public like that? It isn’t fair! If they’d talked to you privately, this wouldn’t have happened! How dare they?

Among people who’ve been criticized in public, this is a common refrain. Maybe they acknowledge that they caused harm or maybe they don’t, but the real issue they’re focused on is that they’ve been treated unfairly. The internet dropped on their head without any warning.

They want to know why no one took them aside to explain what they’ve done wrong and to give them a chance to fix it. Don’t they deserve the benefit of the doubt?

Many of the people I’ve seen doing this are being disingenuous and deserve every ounce of scorn they get for pretending they didn’t know better. But I’d like to address the…

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