semperfiona: (three)
As long-time readers are aware, except for a couple of individuals, I'm not precisely out at work. I talk about everybody in my life, I just don't use relationship tags for anyone. People get called by name when I talk about them, which I do regularly, often in contexts like 'we're going to visit Tammie's cousin' or 'Chris's parents are coming to see us' or 'we all went to see the Hobbit at that new dinner theater' or whatever.

But today, Thuy had come to ask me some work-related questions. She saw our family picture on my desk, and she asked me who the picture was. For some reason I don't comprehend, I just said, 'that's my girlfriend and my boyfriend and my daughter and me'. She made me repeat myself several times, asking 'her boyfriend' and things like that, and I just repeated the original statement or replaced 'my' with 'our'. I'm pretty sure she went away thinking I was taking the piss, despite the absolute and complete truth of every word.

People see what they want to see.
semperfiona: A pile of conversation hearts (love hearts)
Well. Mom and Dad are visiting this weekend. They're staying in a hotel, like they do when they visit, on account of there's not enough space for guests--or so we always say, never having clarified exactly which rooms upstairs are used for what and who sleeps where.

Tonight we were all sitting around in the living room here, talking about furniture and home remodeling and such, and Chris just casually explained all the rooms upstairs. "Oh, we keep the TV and sectional in the biggest bedroom, the littlest one is my office..."

Dad asked whether the front room was still Rosa's, got a yes. "And we sleep in the last one."

And continued on to some other topic entirely. The Thing We Do Not Talk About just went completely unremarked.

It's not like we've been completely avoiding pda or petnames or the like, but that was a step further.

Now I wait to see whether I get interventioned or whether we just go on Not Talking About It.
semperfiona: (pumpkin pie)
Thursday night, we went to Left Bank Books to hear Tristan Taormino read from her new book, Opening Up: a guide to creating and sustaining open relationships. I don't quite know what I expected her to be like, but whatever it was, she was unlike it. The book, which I have now already read, is a very good and basic guide to different kinds of polyamorous relationships. Of the three poly guidebooks we have so far, it is the one I'd feel most comfortable giving to a poly newbie or a curious non-poly person. There were not too many things in it that were new to me, but there are some good resources all-in-one-place for legal and practical issues. We've already had one request to borrow it.

After the reading, we went across the street to Llywellyn's for dinner. The chicken salad sandwich was excellent, and after dinner Tammie looked at me and asked, "Shall we see whether they have some pie-like substance?" Sure enough, while they didn't have pie per se, they had cherry cobbler.

Now, Tammie and I have a long-running but amicable dispute over what the word "cobbler" means. In her family and her traditions, it's a one-crust pie: pie filling in a pan with a standard pie crust sealed over the top and baked. Like this:

In mine, it's different: the pie filling in a pan is the same, but instead of pie crust it is topped with biscuity globs of dough that are usually (in my own baking) flavored with a bit of cinnamon. Like this:

Apparently the "cobbler" dispute goes beyond House Rivendell, because both of those images show up on the first page of results in the Google image search "cobbler".

In any case, Llywellyn's cobbler was of the second sort, and a very good example of it indeed. The biscuity globs were spicy and flavorful (nutmeg and cloves) and contained chunks of pecans. The cherry filling was just the right blend of tart and sweet, and if it had ever known the inside of a can I'll eat my lime-green sparkly fedora.

Verdict: delicious, and a welcome entry in the pie and near-pie realm.
semperfiona: A pile of conversation hearts (love hearts)
1. Leave me a casual comment of no particular significance, like a lyric to your current favorite song, your favorite kind of sandwich, or maybe your favorite game. Any remark, meaningless or not.
2. I will respond by asking you five personal questions so I can get to know you better.
3. Update your LJ with the answers to the questions.
4. Include this explanation and offer to ask someone else in your own post.
5. When others respond with a desultory comment, you will ask them five questions.
---------------------------------------
Questions from beauty_moves )

Contracts

Dec. 15th, 2006 05:51 pm
semperfiona: (Default)
Someone reposted a link to a poly contract today, and I started thinking about my own history with contracts.

Back in 1998, after Ray and I had started having marital issues but were still trying to work them out through counseling, I wanted to attend Ambercon East in Boston (I wanted to meet [livejournal.com profile] devilmuse IRL, as well as do some face-to-face Amber gaming).

He was paranoid that I was going with the intention of cheating on him, and would not accept any of my assurances. The counselor suggested a written contract, and while I felt it unnecessary--not to mention insulting--I went along with it. The contract I wrote up contained exactly one sentence. It said "I promise to honor and respect our marriage during my trip to Boston."

Meanwhile, he had written a long detailed list of all the things I was not allowed to do while away. It included everything from "I will not get a tattoo or piercing" to "I will not engage in [long list of behaviors starting with kissing and going on to sex] with anyone". (He may have specified names; I don't remember.) Anyone who knows me will guess what my reaction to that was: immediate seeking of loopholes and forgotten items. I do not do well with long lists of rules created by someone else to prescribe my behavior.

I can't remember, in the end, which contract got signed, but I think I did actually convince him to use mine. In either case I chose to live by mine: a much more far-reaching document.

What is of course lacking from both of them is any indication of what his responsibilities were. That "wasn't important" at the time, because I was the one who had expressed a desire to open our relationship, so I was the one who had to prove myself.

It's my belief that if you can't trust me without a piece of paper, you won't trust me with one either. This was borne out by the fact that Ray accused me in his annulment testimony of having cheated on him on that very weekend in Boston!
semperfiona: (sleepy rosa)
Sunday morning, I went to pick up Rosa at her dad's house. She wanted to
wear a particular pair of shoes, but he didn't want to let her. I told
him it was okay if she wore them, it was only to the car, etc. He told
me not to contradict him in front of her.

Whatever, he does it to me all the time. In exactly the same situation,
even.

But what's interesting is Rosa's comments after we had left. She said,
"This seems familiar." I asked for clarification, and she started
talking about when Ray and I broke up. I told her she couldn't possibly
remember that, and she said, "My daddy told me. He said you [and he] had
a fight because you wanted to live with other people and he wanted to
only live with you."

I admit, I don't know whether that was his phrasing or hers. But that
statement manages to tell Rosa about something that's none of her
business, while oversimplifying it to the point that it ceases to be
true.

It's been bothering me for days. I can't see any appropriate way to
respond.
semperfiona: (Default)
Last night I went to the first meeting of the "Pleasure Activism and Polyamory Reading and Discussion Group" with Pam and her other friend Sandy who had seen a flyer and mentioned it to her. None of us really knew what it was. We got to Subterranean Books and sat down. Gradually a number of people filtered in, many of whom I recognized from the Pagan Picnic or other places. I think everybody there knew at least one other person until the last two filtered in and were strangers to everyone.

The facilitator showed up a bit after the scheduled time and had us each introduce ourselves with something about our experiences or knowledge of polyamory and pleasure activism. The latter was a new term to nearly everyone so we spoke about what it might mean, or what the words connoted in combination. After he then talked about the term and his ideas for what the group would be: literally a reading group, choosing chapters from books such as The Ethical Slut and Love Without Limits or authors such as Pat Califia and Carol Queen, and discussing them each week. I was amused to find I own a large number of the books on his suggested reading list already.

After assigning each person a book to choose a reading from (Mine was The Erotic Silence of the American Wife because I was the only one there who already owned it) the meeting ended.

A large group of us then went to Saleem's ("Where Garlic is King") for a late dinner afterwards and the last of us didn't leave until midnight, having had one of those lovely wide-ranging conversations that I really enjoy. This one was a little bit fraught for me, because too many of the people were near- or total strangers to me, but it was still enjoyable.

I woke up this morning with the aftertaste of garlic in my mouth. I'd forgotten about that particular aftereffect, since the last time I ate at Saleem's was six years ago.

Unfortunately on further consideration, I think the schedule of the reading group meetings is going to conflict with a number of things I already have planned, and then my Fridays with Rosa. I will probably end up a casual attender rather than a core group member.

Now to go outside and rake up last year's remaining leaves that Ray didn't do when he lived here, and then a matinee movie with the lovely Jen.

One other interesting point. The last two days in a row I've woken up early and refreshed. This is good, maybe my low-grade depression of the last few weeks is ending.
semperfiona: (Default)
It really bugs me when multiple people write as a unit. "We are a bisexual couple...blah blah blah," as just landed in my inbox from one of my mailing lists. It wasn't a personal ad exactly, but still contained far too many lines like "we enjoy bowling and hiking" for a simple response to the topic of the thread.

Somehow this habit seems to be quite common among "couples looking for a third". I don't think I could ever be that third, not like that. I may be a hot bi babe, but I don't want to date couples, especially not couples so joined at the hip that they speak for each other. How does anyone get in? It'd be like inserting a knife between the stones of Macchu Picchu. Rarely successful, and not very healthy for the knife.

I want to get to know individuals. If they happen to know and love each other also, well, all the better. But my relationships need to be with individuals not groups. ("I think", and "so far", and all the other caveats that must be applied for someone still new to the practice of polyamory.)

And it may be my own fanatical private or independent streak, but I can not get my mind around the concept of two people sharing one email address. My own parents do that. Yet even they wouldn't open each other's private snailmail, though they almost always show it to each other afterwards.

If I want someone to read something that was sent to me, I'll either forward it or call them to read over my shoulder. But the default is always, it's mine mine mine. I share only as I choose. The idea that all my mail might be read by someone else at any time, like if I shared my address with someone, makes me shudder convulsively.
semperfiona: (Default)
Our affection for others is the one thing that is an infinite resource. We can never care too much, or for too many.
--Charles deLint, Spiritwalk
semperfiona: (Default)
It's really difficult to find Valentine's Day cards that I can feel comfortable giving to people. As a poly person, I don't feel right about sending a card that says "You're the only one I'll ever love", or "I didn't know what love was until I met you," or other such monogamous sentiments. And Hallmark isn't particularly helpful for non-heterosexuals, either. Almost all the cards were either addressed specifically to a man from a woman, or to a woman from a man. Many of the ones that had text that felt okay had pictures of a male-female couple. I don't want to send that to my girlfriend!

I know there are online card stores that have e-cards for alternative relationships, but I want to send a physical object that someone can keep on their desk and smile at!

I did eventually find some things that will work. They're not entirely ideal, but I think the point will get across.
semperfiona: (Default)
Been thinking about Kirk just now. It's been almost a year since I've seen him, and the previous time was over two years before that. We've been staying very weakly connected by playing backgammon and go at It's Your Turn, but even if we sent little messages with every move, which we don't, it's not at all the same kind of intense connection we used to have before everything fell apart in 1997-98. I miss that, and I miss him. I think i'm going to make a point to call him sometime during the yule season.


Kirk is the oldest friend I have; we met in college in 1989. The four of us, he and his girlfriend Lore, and I and my boyfriend Jim, were nearly inseparable. Oddly, and the four of us even remarked on it at times, the pairings seemed to be wrong-way-round. Kirk and I were much more compatible than Jim and I, and Jim and Lore were very compatible as well.
Kirk told me the following spring that he had been in love with me for several months, and that Lore had agreed that he and I could sleep together if I was willing. But I was still trying to hang on to the shreds of my relationship with Jim, so I turned him down. After that we still managed to maintain the friendship as close and cuddly as ever, perhaps even a bit more so, with regular flirting and teasing.
Come the next year, I moved to St. Louis to start a job. I returned to B'ton to visit him several times over the next year, and then I met and began dating Ray. Ray and I even went to B'ton once to vist Kirk together. I remember Kirk telling Ray pretty much exactly how he felt about me and Ray saying that it was ok as long as...what were his criteria? Probably words to the effect of "as long as nothing happens and I know it's one-sided".
Ray and I got married--Kirk was my "maid of honor"--and we moved to the UK. Kirk and I wrote lots of long letters back and forth, and sometime in there I realized that I loved him and always had. He met the wonderful Laura and decided to marry her. Ray and I flew home and I was "best man" at the wedding. I told Kirk during a long conversation alone something of what I'd come to realize, and we again agreed that it was not possible.
Then sometime after Ray and I moved home again, Kirk told me that he and Laura were opening their marriage. This floored me. I had never even considered such a thing to be possible, even if some of the situations with Lore and Jim came close. I started remembering all the novels I'd read, with things like group marriages, and did a 'net search on exactly that phrase, which led me to alt.polyamory.
In May 1997 I went to B'ton again, alone this time, and finally expressed my full feelings. And again we decided to put our feelings on hold until I could talk to Ray and gain his consent.
That talk is what started us on the road that ended up in divorce. Ray was incapable of accepting even the fact of my feelings, let alone any physical expression of them. He went to his priest that week and was told that "most men would have divorced her already"--for having feelings!
We tried, or at least I tried, to reach compromise, but it was not possible, even after four different periods of counseling with three different counselors. Ray was adamant on "Marriage is..." and would not admit even the tiniest corner of a compromise.
In the course of all that, while I was fighting to keep the marriage at all costs, the towering oak of my friendship with Kirk was cut down. The roots are still alive, I think, and there is a sapling there, but it is fragile and slender.
Ironically, Kirk and Laura have since re-closed their marriage, but I've decided that I am truly poly. I could list five or six people that I love "like that".

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