Monday, February 27, 2012

Motivation Mondays: Shae's Goals Are Awesome

A few weekends ago I Amy and I stayed home from a party and did goal-setting using Your Best Year Yet. The goals we came up with are awesome, but nowhere near as awesome as my niece Shae's:

Friday, February 24, 2012

Made-Up Leap Day Tradition/ Mmmmm, Fire.

I totally had this idea before I watched 30 Rock last night.  Last Leap Day, I decided to make an album in collaboration with my friend Gregg Yeti--we came up with The Suddenly Nervous.

This year on Leap Day, I will be getting my author photo done by a friend who is also a fire masseur. I'm still not exactly sure what that is but I REALLY look forward to finding out.

So I propose that  Leap Day is for pushing your personal envelope in as fun a way you can come up with. Good luck!

Poetic License Horoscope for Feb 24-March 2

Poetic License Horoscope for Feb 24-March 2

Pisces (Feb. 20-March 20): “My mother was of the sky. My father was of the earth. And I am of the universe, and you know what it’s worth.” (The Beatles) If you happen to be lonely this week or just a little off, don’t worry. There’s probably a lake or a river nearby, some bright clouds to look at. Be sure and wear a warm hat, the stars do worry.

Aries (March 21-April 18): Last weekend, my wife and I went to see Portlandia Live!  One of the things they showed us was a slide of a birthday card that Carrie had made for her mother when she was little. It was signed, “Your famous daughter, Carrie Brownstein.” This week, have a child’s amount of faith in yourself.

Taurus (April 19-May 18): The stars would like to thank every Jungian character who ever wandered into our life and helped us see our shadow selves. It is perfectly acceptable to fall in love with your very worst fears, as long as you remember to break up eventually.

Gemini (May 19-June 21): This week, take one negative belief about yourself and rewrite it as a compliment. If everybody says you’re too sensitive, call it perceptive. If they’ve called you flighty, thank your imagination. If you’ve heard before that you’re too emotional, hug yourself and call it sincere.

Cancer (June 22-July 23): The stars love those books wherein the author does something special for a year and then writes about it. Think of a year-long adventure for yourself, even if it’s just a small one. Record your efforts in writing, in mirror-fog, or on the tops of cakes. Celebrate everything you learn.

Leo (July 24- Aug. 23): At the beginning of the week, our beloved car was broken into, the passenger-side window was smashed and there was glass everywhere. My wife was heartbroken and I wanted to kill whoever did it, but I couldn’t help but be selfishly happy that she’d have to be home for the day. Don’t wait for things to get broken, though, just make a little time to stop.

Virgo (Aug. 24-Sept. 23): Okay, so you live in your head a lot, Virgo, but it’s time to take your body on some adventures. That can mean sex, or nature walks, or learning new recipes, or some nifty combination of all three. Get lots of real treats.

Libra (Sept. 24-Oct. 21): This week it’s time to bring some of your photographs into the physical realm. Print them out or order prints. Make a scrapbook, or bulletin board, or a wall of friends like teenage girls sometimes do. You’ll be amazed by the cheer of sudden company.

Scorpio (Oct. 22-Nov. 22): “Every new beginning comes from some other beginning’s end.” (Semisonic) If you’ve had to let something go lately, don’t despair. It only means that something better, prettier, shinier is on its way. Don’t change a thing, just go ahead and start looking.

Sagittarius (Nov. 23-Dec 22): “Hand down we like, we like what we like. Hands down we like, we love, we choose you. We got an eye, an eye for what’s romance. We’ve got our eyes, our eyes trained on you…We love the sound, the sound is what found us, sound is the blood between me and you.” (Wild Flag, Romance)

Capricorn (Dec. 23-Jan. 20): Meditate on Carrie Brownstein’s voice this week. Listen to Sleater-Kinney and let it sandpaper out your insides, screech your soul clean. That reminds the stars, we need to get Wild Flag tickets.

Aquarius (Jan 21-Feb. 19): To the Aquarius starting a new job this week: may the sun shine through the front window in welcome. May you get in many pleasant side-conversations with co-workers. May you never forget your morning coffee at home. Most importantly, may you still have time for parties.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

A Screed from Environmental Conservation Class

I'm realizing more and more that food is an important factor in a quest for body-freedom. I could probably write a mountain of paragraphs about that, but I'll start with pasting in the essay I handed in this morning. The assignment was to connect The Tragedy of the Commons with Food, Inc. As anybody who reads my facebook knows, I'm kind of obsessed about evil soybean seeds lately.

It isn't my best writing ever, it kind of resembles something I'd've written as a bratty teen, but I'm really not sorry that I used the phrase "destroying the fabric of democracy."

Monsanto’s ownership of genetically modified seed species is an example of the tragedy of the commons.  Their monopoly impacts the large-scale commons of the air, the world economy, biodiversity, constitutional law, and the right to sustain our bodies ethically.

At first, it would seem that farmers have the right to choose whichever seeds they want to plant on their own private property, but for several reasons that is not the case. The air is a large scale commons that covers all of the private land, and birds fly around up there. As in the example we heard in class, if a bird flies over a non-Monsanto soybean field and deposits a seed, then the owner of that field can be sued for patent infringement. This takes farmers’ right to choose what they plant and limits consumers’ choices.

The U.S. economy is a large-scale commons as well. Monsanto’s tactics, such as putting seed savers out of business by suing them for “inciting others to break the patent,” further limits the number of economic choices that farmers have. If farmers are accused of crossing Monsanto, they are often blacklisted from buying their seeds, and since there are very few other soybean options, these farmers often go out of business. We saw examples of this in Food, Inc.

Genetically modified seed technology affects the economy on a global scale as well. On Chris Jordan’s website, one of the most devastating photos “depicts 200,000 heirloom agricultural plant seeds, equal to the number of farmers in India who have committed suicide since 1997, when Monsanto introduced its genetically modified cotton seeds containing terminator technology into that region.” ( To paraphrase Annie Leonard in The Story of Stuff, not just resources but “whole communities are being wasted.” (

Ecosystems are also a commons. According to the Encyclopedia of Earth, “Biological diversity is of fundamental importance to the functioning of all natural and human-engineered ecosystems, and by extension to the ecosystem services that nature provides free of charge to human society. (  By bullying the world’s soybean population down to a single strain, Monsanto is robbing us of the benefits of millions of years of evolution and risking the safety of our entire world food supply.

Our legal system is also a commons, and I believe that Monsanto is putting our Constitutional rights at a huge risk by placing gag orders on farmers who have crossed them. If we allow the people with the most resources to take away expression from those with fewer resources, we are destroying the fabric of democracy.

I am livid at the way that my own body is in some ways enslaved to this system that is hurting everyone’s long term goals in the name of a few people’s short term gains. I plan to make an effort to buy better-sourced food, speak out when I can, and educate my students about better ways to shop and eat.

A Nice Omen

The other night I was on a sad pajama-getting errand and I noticed this mural around the corner from my pal's house. I must've walked past it six or seven times before without noticing it, but I'm glad I finally did. My phone's camera really stinks though, sorry.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Another Song of the Week: Romance

She should be the boss of everyone:

Song of the Week: I Got My Mind Set on You

Portlandia Live reminded me how much I like this George Harrison hit from when I was in about seventh grade. I used to sing it on the school bus, adding in the name of whomever I had a crush on at that moment. Here's a snippet from the show we saw at the Trocadero as well as the original.


Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Poly Living Conference Part Six: What Have We Learned from This?

After Amy picked me up from the snuggle party, I sobbed my face off all the way home. I was saying things like “But all those people are so nice! I’m just not good enough for them!” Amy tried to argue as she always does, but mostly she just listened. We watched Zooey Deschanel host SNL up until the news, then went to bed.

The next day, I cried some more, and it felt like it was coming right out of my heart. It felt like productive crying, similar to the way it feels when you’ve finished some particularly unpleasant homework. Transformative, kind of.

Here’s a list of what I got out of the experience I’ve just spent so many paragraphs on:

  1. I love those books where the author spends a year doing something special and then writes about it. This blog was inspired by one of those, The Happiness Project, but my favorite is Helping Me Help Myself, by Beth Lisick. This feels like the beginning of one of those projects.

For the rest of the year, I’m going to enjoy a reasonable number of sex-positive body adventures and write as much as I can about them. They won’t all go on here, so feel free to write me for the location of this blog’s id, if you don’t already know.

  1. Happiness, self-worth, and sex-goddess-hood are so close and will do so much for me and for Amy, but to get there I’ll need to surround myself with poly and poly-friendly people more often. I need to follow my body’s advice to make everything better, and that means community building first.

  1. I need to not approach community-building from a caretaking standpoint—I need to let the community take care of me for a while. I’m sure I’ll have plenty of chances to give back later on.

  1. Amy and I are strong and amazing. I’m proud of the way we’ve worked to reinvent marriage for ourselves, the way every couple really does. It’s like a miracle.

  1. The snuggle party helped me confront some of my fears and let them go. I think it’s so cool how that happens sometimes. Though it isn’t good to date your fears, of course, I’m glad of all of the Jungian characters who’ve come into my life and somehow helped me to see and love my shadow self, to confront my hang-ups, limits, and flaws and hopefully sometimes let them go.  Special thanks to all the good/bad influences, though in the future, I’d mostly just like to have fun.

Consumerism and Self Worth

I've been thinking a lot lately about the ways in which consumerism erodes individual self worth. The Story of Stuff goes a long way towards illustrating some of them. That golden arrow just gives me the creeps.

Do I have to love the television a little less? Probably.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Poly Living Conference Part Five: Of Course I Cried in the Snuggle Party

It’s kind of funny that this day happened more than a week ago and I’ve still got so many paragraphs to go…

My pal Shappy wrote a blurb for my book a couple of weeks ago and said this:  “Jane has a polymorphous heart and we all love her for it even when she runs to the bathroom for a good cry during a birthday party for someone's kitty cat!" That seems apt for this next part of the story.

I wasn’t the only one taking a break during kitty-cat time. I ran into M in the restroom and on the way out, I said half-jokingly “You know you can order me around a little if you want.” We got to talking about D/s relationships and what can go wrong if folks don’t know what they’re doing—as we opened the door to go back in she gave me a shush and I don’t know why, but that made me feel so bad, like I was too bad to be part of the snuggle party. I wanted to talk to her some more but I worried about getting fixated—I didn’t want to ruin the party for her. It’s funny how much the situation amplified my emotions and fears. In the long run I think that’ll end up to have been therapeutic.

People had stopped being kitties and had paired up, quadrangled, etc. Some were in gentle hug or massage situations and some were a bit more grindy. There was some cheerful making out and just a few spankings here and there—that made me happy even if it wasn’t what I wanted at the moment.

But my back pain had come backs and it started to hurt in my belly and diaphragm area as well. When the guy who’d liked my massage skills came back for more, I said sure, if we could trade off. As I rubbed his shoulders I just hurt more and more. I lay down on my front so he could rub my back but my middle just hurt so much that I had to sit up and get some space. A few other people sat in the chairs on the side of the cuddle area, all with sort of bewildered expressions. All women, all looking unhappy—what were we doing here?

V. the nice Aspergian gentleman from lunch, came over and asked if I was “into massage.” (Just a side note: I am decidedly not into being asked if I am “into” things. Also I don’t care for the word “lifestyle.”) I told him I was having some space but I didn’t mind talking. He was really sad because his relationship of five and a half years had just broken up, partly because of his Asperger’s symptoms. (I’d say he was about 60 and had just been diagnosed.) He said he didn’t understand why you just get cut off from somebody sometimes, and I sure don’t understand that either. I told him that I felt foolish, because his relationship had been so long and here I was feeling all sad over someone I’d known for only two months, and half of that just online. I said that I missed the friendship most and he said “Oh, did you know each other for years?” and I said “No, just the two months” and that made me feel like a crazy person.

I wanted to help V with his sadness but I was feeling really bad so I went over to ask Kamala if she had a minute to help me. I felt terrible for interrupting her fun, but she was one of three “cuddle caddies” designated to help the rest of us…carry our stuff, I guess.

She told me to take some nice sighing breaths and that helped a lot. Then she asked if I had a grief, if I’d recently had a breakup. I told her about the Bill thing and about how he was a lot of new things and first-in-a-long-time things but I didn’t really understand what the big deal was. She said “So he embodied what your body was deprived of for so long.” That made me feel understood and understanding about the grief—I started to cry a little and my belly started to feel a little better but I was very very worried about ruining everybody’s good time.

She told me that grief causes pain like that when you fight it and try to dismiss it. She told me that bonobo chimps have a town crier, a chimp who cries all of the tears so that the rest of the group doesn’t have to. She thanked me for crying so that she could have this great time. That made me laugh a whole lot, which faded the pain even more.

“No such thing as too emotional” guy came over and offered me a hug. He was humming something while he hugged me, I think it was some “healing energy” that I hadn’t consented to, but I decided to let it slide. I stayed and chatted for a few minutes, but was very excited when I found out it was 10:30, the time Amy was planning to pick me up. I interrupted a cuddle or two to say some goodbyes, put my coat on over my pajamas, and went out to the lobby to wait.

Next: What have we learned from this?

Friday, February 17, 2012

Poly Living Conference Part Four: Negotiating a Three Person Snuggle Experience

The next part of the snuggle party seemed especially daunting, because I’ve never been particularly fond of group projects. We were to choose two people to work with and negotiate how we would like to spend a five minute snuggle experience. I picked M, the nice woman from the body workshop who’d told me goddesshood is immanent, and R, a very warm-seeming beardy guy who was decidedly belle of the Poly Living ball.

M was wearing fuzzy bright blue pajamas with little polar bears on them and R had on a fancy shirt and MAGENTA VELVETEEN stretch pants. There should be an award for best pants worn to a snuggle party. Kamala told us to sit as close together as we felt comfortable and we sat in a cute knees-touching triangle. After we’d Namaste-ed each other, she told us to close our eyes and direct our attention to the person on the right. We were supposed to get a sense of the person this way and think of the best way to enjoy ourselves with them. M was to my right. She was very comfy and cozy to be next to and I imagined her petting my hair. Next we had to focus on the person to our left. I felt leery of R because he was so popular and I was worried I would get attached—when I’m not going for complete hermits, I tend to go for the social butterfly type, one extreme or the other. Anyway, my reticence was overcome by the awesomeness of his pants, so I decided I would like to pet them. On the shin, no higher.

Next we were instructed to open our eyes and each go in turn saying what we wanted to do with our five minutes. It was pretty easy to arrive at a pants-petting consensus, since we all had on very soft PJs. We spent a couple of minutes doing this and it felt exceedingly pleasant. I no longer felt any reservations about either of them, or anything else, for that matter. It was very platonic pants-petting, I feel like I should point out.

R’s a fan of rubbing feet, so he asked if I would like a foot rub. M offered to pet my hair while he did that. I wondered it they’d felt my energy or whatever and felt like I needed some help and care, but whatever the reason, I was happy they’d asked. As I settled between them, M asked if there’s a special way I like my hair petted. Nobody’s ever asked me that before! I felt so special! R asked how I like my feet rubbed and I said firmer than not. Those few minutes of just being cared for so sweetly and generously felt soooo nice. Both of these strangers felt so warm and safe, it was amazing. I was leaning on M and could feel her heart behind me. She said I had such beautiful hair.

Because I never do stop yammering, we got to chatting while the snuggling was happening and I learned that she is a professional domina. She must be really good at her job. When time was called I told her I hoped she could give me some advice about finding a dom. She volunteered for the job and I kind of felt like a jerk for saying I’m looking for a guy.

In snuggle parties as in life, I had a hard time moving on. I didn’t want to move away from M and R ever, but everyone was instructed to form a new triad. I thanked M and R and raised my hand until I found a new pair of people. I didn’t feel as drawn to these two, and I probably should have sat the next part out. It was a frustrating negotiation for me. I wanted to talk to them more than touch them, so when the negotiation started, I said “I just want to hear your hopes and dreams.” but they kept mistaking that for a request to reiterate physical wishes, and it kept looping around in a sort of who’s-on-first situation.

This is a frustration I’ve been having in my body-focused adventures. I do want to live in my body more, to entertain it more, but I feel like people often want to skip over the other parts of being human. Granted, this is the opposite of the just-friends problem I’ve been having for most of my adult life. Maybe people just take the I-like-you-as-a-person stuff as a given, I don’t know.

Anyway, we settled on rubbing each other’s backs in a row, like people used to do at raves. The guy called me the best masseuse ever, but I told him I was worried my energy was too bad for that. (Jeez, this is the most I’ve used the word energy in that James Redfield way since the early Nineties!) He said, “That’s okay, I’ll just be your only client.” The lady of the group said she’s too much of a giver to get a massage without giving one. That kind of pissed me off, I don’t know why.

After that, it was time for “free play.” Kamala ushered in the free snuggle portion of the evening by instructing everyone to get on their knees and pretend to be kitty cats. Um, NO. This was where I drew the line. There’s a whole bunch of things I’ll do, but grown people pretending to be little fuzzy animals is I decided it was time for a pee-break so I found my shoes and crept out of the room.

Next time: of COURSE I cried at the snuggle party.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Poetic License Horoscope for Feb 17-23

Aquarius (Jan 21-Feb. 19): Happy birthday to a favorite Aquarius poet, Hannah McDonald! May the coming year be filled with nerdy love, shiny things, sexy subtext, fancy gelato, and lots and lots of dancing.

Pisces (Feb. 20-March 20): I asked a Pisces that I met at a snuggle party what he’d like from the stars this week, and he said “I’d like to find my community. Oh, and also a million dollars.” Well, I can promise you this—you’ll find whoever you need to find and you will certainly be a snuggle millionaire.

Aries (March 21-April 18): “I ask for what I want and I say no to what I don’t want.” (The Ethical Slut) This week, if something is a maybe, let it be a no for now. Practice your boundaries and take time to yourself whenever needed—there’ll be times later to smush everyone with big big hugs, I promise.

Taurus (April 19-May 18): The stars have been doing some, uh, research into the world of BDSM. The best thing we’ve learned about so far is “aftercare” wherein hurty activities are followed by comforting ones. Apply this practice to your everyday life whenever possible. I recommend pajamas, blankets, and anything with Zooey Deschanel in it.

Gemini (May 19-June 21): Collect up all of the Valentines from earlier in the week and build something—a castle, a fort, a simple house of pink and red cards. It’s the symbol of your coming love year, so be thorough.

Cancer (June 22-July 23):  Find as many ways as possible to stop pretending.

Leo (July 24- Aug. 23): If you end up with a day off in the middle of the week, don’t spend it on practical things. Lounge around reading magic-themed young adult novels, snuggle with loved ones and cats, make soup that takes a long time and smells delicious.

Virgo (Aug. 24-Sept. 23): Who doesn’t love a good bonobo story? A very nice Tantric practitioner recently told me that bonobo chimp groups have a “town crier”—one chimp who is designated to cry all the tears for everyone. You don’t always have to be that chimp, but it’s okay if you are sometimes.

Libra (Sept. 24-Oct. 21): I’ve decided that I will wear pajamas to any place I can from no on. I just love pajamas so much. I also love how nice a brand new pair of socks feels. Do yourself as many cozy favors as possible this week, even if you’re not quite as ridiculous as the stars are.

Scorpio (Oct. 22-Nov. 22): “If we look at our lives, we will see clearly how many unimportant tasks, so-called “responsibilities,” accumulate and fill them up. One master compares them to “housekeeping in a dream.” (Soygal Rinpoche) This week, pick four things you think you have to do, and skip them.

Sagittarius (Nov. 23-Dec 22):  I spent some time in my friends’ former neighborhood the other day. It was fun, but it made me realize how much I’d been missing them since they’d moved away. Then a Valentine came from them the next day, with hand-drawn cartoons of them, speech bubbles saying how much they missed us too. Appreciate the miracle of time spent together, and maybe send a little note.

Capricorn (Dec. 23-Jan. 20): I’ve been reading the Percy Jackson books, about the modern-day children of the Greek gods and goddesses. They’re pretty good but it burns me up that they keep characterizing Aphrodite’s children as vain and less powerful than the other heroes. This is just so much (vaguely sexist) bullshit. This week, build altars to the awe-inspiring powers of love and aesthetics. Stop at nothing.

Poly Living Conference Part Three: Some Background and Intro to Tantric Snuggling

Poly Living Conference Part Three: A Little Background and Intro to Tantric Snuggling

Just a little poly side note: a letter of mine got read on Poly Weekly this week. I feel so special! Plus it’s a nice racy episode. Enjoy!

I wanted to give you a little emotional background info before I start talking about the snuggle party.

Towards the end of December, an enormous chasm of grief opened up. This didn’t put too much of a damper on Christmas, thought it did give kind of a dark tint to our yearly family debates about whether Baby, It’sCold Outside is romantic or creepy. (romantic!) Overall, though, anhedonia is no match for Christmas spirit.  The chasm of grief sort of had a person associated with it, this quasi-BDSM relationship that I’ve written about elsewhere, but one person could not possibly inspire all of that sadness.

The grief was/is all that my body has been though and everything I’ve deprived it of in order to keep myself “safe.” It’s about the way’s in which my fear of men has alienated relationships and friendships and kept me separate in some ways from a whole gender, putting barriers into friendships and relationships. It’s kept me from knowing guys for who they really are. I think the sadness was also a reaction to the fact that I’d jest been through HUGE changes, all kinds of firsts and first-in-a-long-times, and I was trying to treat it like it was no big deal. It was a big fucking deal.

In the time since the chasm opened up, I’ve taken a lot of steps to move myself kindly and gently forward, to be open to more new experiences, and I really got bored with the grief. At the time of the conference, I still had some mentionitis about the guy, but I was feeling pretty good most of the time.

Anyway, back to the story. Here’s how the conference described the snuggle party:

“A SACRED SNUGGLE PARTY is a sweet sensual event where we create a safe space to flirt, touch, massage, run Tantric energy, play, laugh, cry, and share intimacy, vulnerability or whatever else spontaneously arises.  After a number of fun icebreakers, it becomes a drug and alcohol-free play party where we can relax and connect with like-minded people. Singles, couples, triads, pods, and celibates of any race, or experience level are welcome. All sexual orientations are celebrated.  This is a fun laboratory to practice expressing what feels good and what doesn’t, asking to get your needs met, setting boundaries, and perhaps even overcoming competition, envy and rejection! The evening event will close with a sacred ritual in which each player shares their most valuable lesson.”

I wasn’t convinced until I was sure that it was an organized activity with a facilitator. So many other things in life could use facilitators, I think.

When Amy heard that I wanted to go, she suggested that I get some new pajamas for it. She also brought me some gum in case dinner was too spicy. This is the kind of support I get—can’t get over how lucky I am. It was a drizzly day, so we also stopped and got me some fresh socks before we went back to the hotel. Amy hung out in the hotel atrium while I changed into my pjs. Then we got to cuddle on the hotel couch for a little bit before it was time for the party.

The snuggle party was in Ballroom A—your standard carpeted hotel meeting hall. Everyone who was staying at the hotel brought down blankets and comforters and smoothed them all out at the center of the room to make a nice soft cuddle space. A nice man from one of the couples brought down an extra pillow for me. I’d say there were about 30 people there, diverse in age, race, etc, dressed in all different styles, not as hippie-ish as you’re picturing. We all sat in a circle, getting ready to be oriented. Kamala Devi was the facilitator. She led us in some Tantric breathing and some Om-ing. I am fairly agnostic about body energy, but as soon as I sat down in that circle, if I have sacred energy, it was out of whack. I started to feel anxious-sore, like I’d been sitting there way too long. I had little prickles in my legs and an icky pain in my lower back. I tried some stretching and yoga poses, but I kept getting hurtier.

The first snuggle party was more eye-gazing. You had to look at somebody and tell him or her what your fears were, what blocked you from having a great snuggle party experience. Everything I said boiled down to “I’m nervous and I’m trying not to bolt.”  I couldn't really put whatever I was afraid of into words. The folks I ended up talking to feared being rejected or not being able to ward off unwanted affection. These seemed like very reasonable things to worry about.

After that came Kamala’s instructions about saying yes and no. You had to always ask someone before you touch him or her, and you had to say a clear yes or no. That’s part of what we were supposed to be there to practice. If you felt like something was a maybe, she said, say no, because you can always change your mind later. I’ve heard this instruction from sexperts before, but I have to admit I’ve been lazy about using it.

After that, we each had to stand up in the circle and say one thing we were a yes to and one thing we were a no to. The most frequent nos were kissing and tickling, and the most frequent yesses were massage. I said “I’m a yes to friendly and a no to sexy.” I was truly freaked out by the idea of doing anything sexual in this context. It was a clothes-on event, but still.

Next time, negotiating a three person snuggle experience. 

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Poly Living Conference Part Two: Cute Lunch and the Best Amy-Date Ever

After the body workshop it was time for lunch. I knew I should continue to keep mingling, but I felt lazy about it. Luckily, a very nice asbergian gentleman, V, was getting a lunch group together and they asked if I wanted to join. I hadn’t imagined there’s be anyplace to walk to from the Embassy Suites by the airport—seems like not really a place at all. But everyone was walking to a Ruby Tuesdays.

I liked walking down the misty grey road with a bunch of people who were recently strangers. I got to meet (after just having seen them naked-yay!) the couple who runs the discussions for the Philly Poly Meetup Group, and they were so charming that I’m sure I’ll be dragging Amy to a lot more discussions in the near future.

We were a party of eight, then ten, then twelve. I sat near my new discussion group pals and a few folks who were new to or just considering identifying as poly. Two were in mono-poly situations like I am. One guy had been told by the lady he’s dating that he is mentally ill for wanting to be at the conference. I kinda want to punch that lady in the face. I feel really lucky that I’ve always had such good support from Amy.

I felt very protective of everybody at the table and also like I wanted to write endorsements for their OK Cupid pages. (You should totally be able to do that!) Guilt was a common theme in people’s stories, and I wanted to offer them a whole lot of support because guilt has held me back so much.

One of my new friends, bless his heart, said, “Well, if you’re bi, it makes sense that you should at least get one of each.” So simple! And yet I spent all of that time trying to be gay, even though I’d never ask anyone else to make that kind of a compromise and Amy never asked me not to be bi. Anyway, it felt physically different to be there surrounded by poly folks, and I’d like to give my body that treat a lot more often.

Whenever I go to a big event, I try to volunteer for something so that I’ll be forced to talk to more people. So after lunch I had a shift to mind the Philadelphia Mindful Polyamory Meetup group’s table. Mostly I just went on and on about how awesome their karaoke night is. I also yammered a whole whole bunch about love to the girl at the next table. She was inspired by my habit of asking new OKC pals for playlists, which I still do even though it gets my heart into trouble sometimes.

Because I was planning to be at the conference until late at night, Amy came and picked me up for a dinner date. I was so happy to see her—she seemed to have an extra glow, even her coat, even the tips of her hair. This is how love feels when I’m settled into my skin. We kissed more than a nine-years-married couple might expect to. When we got back to the city, we stopped at the West Philly Capogiro, the one with the boozy gelato flavors. The bourbon butterscotch is ridiculous. We sat side by side on a plush bench and caught up on our magazines, trading my Entertainment Weekly for her Believer. We were both giddy and kind of flooded with well-being. Amy was extra happy because she’d spent the day working on design. It was an ordinary date but it self super-romantic for some reason. This is what life could be like all the time, I think, if Amy got a little more creative time and I got a little more self-esteem.

Next up—we stop and get fresh socks for the snuggle party.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Poly Living Conference Part One: Icebreakers to Half-Naked

In The Notorious Bettie Page,  there’s a scene where she’s naked in the woods and the scene is just about how unselfconscious she is, how much she just enjoyed being there. That image has been my goal for a while, not so much the being-naked, (and not really the looking like Bettie, either—I’m not Kenley from Project Runway) but the idea of being as trusting, vulnerable, and comfortable in my skin as she was. I caught a glimpse of that version of myself at the Poly Living conference, and it feels like a pretty big breakthrough.

Saturdays are usually my stay in bed day with Amy, so I admit to being a little bit grumpy on the way there. I made a couple of goals for the day—to have fun, make a few connections, and push myself to be a little more open.

When I got there, I picked the icebreakeriest-sounding workshop. At the beginning of new experiences, I always imagine myself as shy, but of course this is rarely the case. We played that pretty standard icebreaker game called “allies”—one person stands in the middle and says something about his or herself, and anyone who has that thing in common steps into the circle. My favorite was the guy who got up and said “There’s no such thing as too emotional.” I skipped to the center to join him on that one. Mine was “I’ve just recently discovered my kinky side” and almost everyone moved to the center with me—hooray!

The first thing that always strikes me about poly gatherings is the diversity in ages. I think society trains us to think of sex and lovey-doveyness as the province of the young, so I am always happy to see poly folks of every age. In isolation, I feel like I might only have a few urgent years to goof around, but that is very silly and clearly not the case. I like the idea that anyone can decide to reinvent romance for his- or herself at any time in life. This gives me the feeling like maybe I can relax and take my time, and that’s good.

Anyway, after the circle thing, we arranged ourselves into spectrums, how long we’ve identified as poly, how out we are, how many sweeties, etc. I just love any situation where I can learn a how lot of really personal information about people all at once, so I left my grumpiness far behind.

As that workshop was wrapping up, I ended up disclosing my Bettie Page image to the “no such thing as too emo” guy and he suggested I take the “My Body and Me” workshop that was coming up next.

It’s occurring to me that going to a whole bunch of workshops about love might seem a little weird, but it’s my approach to anything—just suck up as much knowledge as I can. This is a research project after all.

The body workshop was in a mini conference room, very cozy. Everyone took off their shoes as they came in so I did the same. The facilitator was a cute bespectacled lady of indeterminate age—polyamory must be good for the skin because I kept meeting ladies who seemed my age but were sometimes decades older.

Anyway, the nice lady got naked pretty fast, narrating her way through the process.—her metamour had just gotten her this very nice purple push-up bra that made excited about her boobs, a photographer made her happy by renaming her stretch marks “texture.” and then she took off her pink leopard-print undies and was naked.

We were instructed to introduce ourselves in two words or less, and everyone opted to go by their OK Cupid names. The first exercise was to pair up with someone and stare into his or her eyes-which is SO HARD to do with a stranger but CLEARLY very good for you. Then you had to tell this person all kinds of statements that begin with “If you really knew me…” If it were up to me most of life would be conducted in this way.

As the conversations were happening, people around the room started getting progressively more naked. My eye-gazing friend’s partner was naked as can be right behind me, so she kept getting distracted and forgetting what she was saying. It was adorable. None of this felt awkward or unsafe to me at all—just kind of pleasant and normal. My body started to feel warm and relaxed the way it does sometimes after singing a lot or yoga.

Nothing about what we were doing seemed particularly magical, just talking about our bodies in pairs and groups. After a while I decided I was gonna get my money’s worth, so I took off my sweater but left on my bra and shiny scarf. I felt warm and my hair felt nice on my back.

At the end everybody had to go around and say what they’d gotten out of the experience. I said “I feel like I’m THIS CLOSE to settling into my skin and being the sex goddess I’ve always wanted to be. I guess what I’ve gotten from this is that I should take every opportunity to push myself in that direction, and that it’s safe to do so.”

Afterwards, there was a “mill and hug” and hugging naked or partly naked strangers was surprisingly easy to navigate. A girl I’ll call M came up to me and said she felt like she knew me, and that she could see that I would be that goddess, she could see it already. We’ll hear a lot more from M when I get to the snuggle party portion of the story.

I guess I want to make it clear that I don’t think I’m superspecial or anything—I sincerely think everyone is a sex god or goddess in his or her own way, (even if, like me, they get weepy at the snuggle party) and that part of being alive is to find and express that in our own way.

Next time, a nice poly lunch and the cutest date with Amy ever.

Songs of the Week: Valentine's Is Hurty

Things are pretty adorable over here in the Lawson-Cassady household, but I've been thinking a lot lately about love, hurt, freedom, and...outfits?

Don't watch the middle video if you might get triggered or traumatized...

Zooey Deschanel Is My Spirit Animal/Love Song of the Day

Saturday at the Poly Living conference was wonderful and emotionally intense and complicated. Be ready for about a million paragraphs about it this week. I could not have been happier when we got home at 11:20 and I remembered that my adorahero was about to host SNL:

Friday, February 10, 2012

Poetic License Horoscope for Feb 10-16

Poetic License Horoscope for Feb 10-16

Aquarius (Jan 21-Feb. 19): As long as the weather stays mild, put a walk on the calendar with someone you sort of know. See what you can learn, how much you can change each other.

Pisces (Feb. 20-March 20): Like everyone, you need to be liked, loved, and snuggled in lots of different ways. Send frilly Valentines to every valued member of the team, including pets. Maybe chocolates for the MVPs.

Aries (March 21-April 18): This Valentine’s Day, give yourself a reward for each of your love milestones this year—every couch you’ve slept on, every walk of the-opposite-of-shame, every movie watched while snuggling, every prolonged series of flirty texts. You’ve accomplished a lot, and this coming year will be even better.

Taurus (April 19-May 18): Look up Madeline Peyroux’s cover of Elliott Smith’s Between the Bars. Think about love, freedom, addiction, and potential. Get chills if you want to.

Gemini (May 19-June 21): Your whole year is a Valentine, a never-ending stream of conversation hearts and ridiculous love songs and lavish hugs from children. Everything you do and make is so fruitful. Keep going, make everything.

Cancer (June 22-July 23): Whether it’s you or your alter-ego, you’re sure to be glutted with unusual Valentines this year, in the form of pretty cakes or unexpected party-connections. Your whole life is festive and adorable, don’t forget it.

Leo (July 24- Aug. 23): Enjoy the days that are only naps, maps, and walks, when silence falls over you and yours like a welcome blessing, like the moon on water. Notice the shapes in everything and revel in your life’s design.

Virgo (Aug. 24-Sept. 23): See Pisces, but go ahead and spill out some pink champagne on the pavement for the missing team member(s). He/she/they are on their way, we promise.

Libra (Sept. 24-Oct. 21): “And my checks have baby farm animals on them, bitch!” (Zooey Deschanel on The New Girl.) You are, as always, the perfect combination of adorable and fierce. Feel free to add ribbons to anything you want to.

Scorpio (Oct. 22-Nov. 22): This week, you are a state champion racing turtle; persistent, wholehearted, and at just the right pace. You’re the best and soon, you’ll have the trophies to show for it.

Sagittarius (Nov. 23-Dec 22):  You’re quite a catch, Sagittarius, and soon, fate will submit to your every whim. Be sure to write a very specific list of everything you want from the Universe. You are sure to get it.

Capricorn (Dec. 23-Jan. 20): Listen to Close to Me by The Cure and think about what closeness really is: the smells and everyday mistakes of intimacy, the song-exchange of friendship, the warmth of breakfast. Get whichever parts of closeness you can.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Song of the Week: Close to Me

So, inspired by my nice therapist, I'm meditating this week on what closeness in romance actually is. The subject makes my tummy hurt, but it has to be reckoned with.

What Your Favorite Porn Says About You

I don't write a lot about sex directly on here, but this Psychology Today article is interesting to think about. It comes via Polyamory Weekly.

Friday, February 3, 2012

Triads and Quadrangles: Ohno, Did I Date the Beeper King?

Of course not. The dude I've been recovering from for the past month or so was mostly just an odd guy doing his best. No one gets all the blame for a good/bad match, some things just don't work out. And yet. I was watching a 30 Rock rerun the other day and when Dennis (who also plays Mayhem in those insurance commercials) entered a scene by calling Liz "Dummy" I felt a spark of recognition. Liz had dialed her ex in a fit of nostalgia brought on by a gas leak. He was smug about it until she explained that she wasn't nostalgic for him, she was nostalgic for a time when she could afford to make mistakes.

(Side note: early on, the guy told me he'd once spit iced tea on Girl Talk. The only way that that could've been more deal-breakery is if he'd spit on a unicorn.

When I first started dating last fall, I thought that being poly meant that I could be really flexible about the guys I dated. After all, I wasn't looking for a husband. But being in more than one relationship really means that I need to take better care of myself than maybe I would've when I was single. The amount of heartbreak-aftercare that Amy has performed in the last month is a testament to the strength of her love, but it also just kind of stinks.

Over the course of my adult life, I have gotten into the habit of breaking myself all the way down and building myself up from scratch. This year is the first year I've had a definite plan to fulfill, and I simply can't afford to spend time on things that drain me like that. Even things that are really good kissers.

There's still a little gasleak of feelings, I'll admit, and I do miss some stuff about him, especially the friendship element of our whatever-that-was, but all that I can do is go forward. I'ts inspiring, though, to think of the fact that I need to keep myself happy not just for me, but for the whole team. I'm going to do my best to take care of myself and keep healing. Team Jane, thank you. I know I'll make mistakes in the future and I'm sure this isn't my last heartbreak, but I'll do my best to honor your wonderfulness.

Songs of Poly Karaoke Part 3

I'm not really very bitter, and the nice folks of the poly meetup group don't seem to be either, but the songs were last night. I would sing Fuck You every week if I didn't think it would make me seem like a sociopath.

My pal Sam say this video is how he pictures my future love life. A little clean cut for me, but still:

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Friday Love Poem: List for #OKCSupportGroup

These days, most of my adventures are IRL and a lot has changed since I wrote this back in November, but still.

List for the OK Cupid Support Group
with thanks to Olivia Conti

  1. It’s important to know your your  from your you’re, of course, but also keep in mind that “less” is an amount and “fewer” is a number. Am I a bad person if this distracts me from the cute thing you said about the fireflies?
  2. What would a girl do these days if she didn’t like beardy guys? Seriously, if you look like you might be in Band of Horses, I’m in.
  3. I don’t like chatting. It gets out of control with all the potential misspelling. Send me a nice note.
He: “C sharp?”
Why is this not cute?

  1. I started a FetLife profile, but then I realized that no matter how emphatic, snuggling is not a fetish.
  2. Me: I can’t tell if this guy is a serial killer, or just kind of metal.
    Amy: I think maybe you are less likely to be murdered than you think.
  1. Dear guys who changed his mind and decided he didn’t like me back after all,
I’m still mad at you for kissing that other guy who changed his mind and decided he didn’t like me back after all either. Also I am still mad that you switched to a cuter picture before I could press “hide.”

  1. My iPod has benefitted more from this experience than any other part of my body. I’ll hopefully add “so far.”
8.You had me at the party scene from Beyond the Valley of the Dolls.
You had me at “I just got the entire Mystery Science Theater 3000 series on DVD.”
You had me at the Elvis song that I opened at work-it made all the librarians swoon.
You had me at the industrial remix of Britney Spears’s Toxic.
You had me at the industrial remix of My Moon My Man by Feist.
You had me at sending Billy Joel’s Allentown because it reminded you of the Occupy movement.

  1. As much as we love to nitpick about grammar, there is nothing cuter than a typo
    in a sentence that’s asking you out.

Poetic License Horoscope for Feb 2-9

Photo by Rob Bender

Poetic License Horoscope for Feb 2-9

Aquarius (Jan 21-Feb. 19): “Any time will do.” (TV on the Radio) No matter how much your logistics change, your self and your calendar will remain intact. You will still have time for emphatic snuggles, parties, and many, many episodes of that sci fi series you like.

Pisces (Feb. 20-March 20): Whenever I ask people what they’d like the stars to predict for them, they almost always ask for a reduction of stress. I wish I could give each of them a hug, a cupcake, and some indulgent magazines, tuck them into a duvet and cover them in kittens. Do a little bit of that for yourself this week, and send me a picture.

Aries (March 21-April 18): I you think you’ve got to choose between love and rest, there’s no need. Invite a snuggle pal over, tuck yourselves into bed and turn on an episode of Radiolab. It’ll give you the most angelic sleep, and you can always go back and listen later.

Taurus (April 19-May 18): See Pisces.

Gemini (May 19-June 21): If you didn’t feel too inspired back when the year started, consider this another chance at a fresh start. Groundhog Day resolutions may seem inauspicious, but it’s never too late to try again. And again. And again.

Cancer (June 22-July 23): This week, write love letters to all of your favorite inanimate objects. Tell the toaster how accurately it warms your crusts. Tell the coffeemaker that you love waking up to its face. Tell the TV you’ll never forsake it, then maybe go outside.

Leo (July 24- Aug 23): This morning I found a helpful list of knots in my inbox: Somerville, Bowline, Alpine Butterfly, Square Knot, Half Hitch, Overhand Knot, Lark’s Head, and St Josephine. I’m passing this list on to you because I’m sure you’ll know what to do with it better than I do.

Virgo (Aug. 24-Sept. 23): Though common sense advice will always point your heart towards openness, it’s okay if it’s taking you a while to get there. You have all the time in the world for aesthetically pleasing trust falls. Take a break and learn to trust yourself.

Libra (Sept. 24-Oct. 21): Congratulations! You have everything you need.

Scorpio (Oct. 22-Nov. 22): I just wanted to tell you that a pal of mine built a model of Fallingwater out of Legos. This may inspire you meditate on nature, playfulness, and unity, or it might just be really neat.

Sagittarius (Nov. 23-Dec 22):  It’s tempting sometimes to catalog your mistakes, to weave them into a necklace, but don’t. Instead, please bless and thank every detour and see what miracles await.

Capricorn (Dec. 23-Jan. 20): Make a list of all your scattered friends and call them. Build shadowboxes out of the details of their lives that keep becoming new. Hang their memories in your kitchen for company, and spend some time in there making some soup.