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When the World Was So New and All

The above is a quote from one of Rudyard Kipling’s stories, written, I believe, for his young son. In political outlook and the like, Kipling was actually pretty diametrically opposed to most of the things I most believe in; but the man had some turn-of-phrase. Poems, short stories, nearly everything I’ve ever read by him, I either liked or loved, if not for the sentiments expressed, for the way they were expressed. But more often than not, I love the actual story, as well, because the emotional impact is so high (even when the morality you’re being spoonfed is very much not to ones taste) …but you can’t tell me there’s not a lot to admire, in a lot of the man’s works. Example: I will not be judged for my love of the story Rikki Tikki Tavi, because that mongoose is a BOSS.

The reason I’m quoting the above, however, has to do with the phrase itself, rather than one of Kipling’s stories. In “Just So Stories for Little Children,” the phrase is used to denote a time when everything was unfolding, the laws of nature hadn’t been fully worked out yet, the animals exist but are still finding their feet (paws, tails, the wrinkles in their skin) and thus, things go a bit off-course from time to time, but they work out okay in the end. I always liked the idea of the earth being new, and fresh, and bright; of there being an air of expectation about the world, and a receptiveness to the idea that things might change, eve suddenly, and that’s fine too. I didn’t deal very well with unexpected change, as a child–but I hoped for a time when maybe I would.

That time is upon me now, it seems. At the age of 31, I have finally learned, at least occasionally, that activities can change, or be added, or be taken away, without ruining the construction of the whole (the whole being my life). I have begun several new projects lately, and while they have all been hit and miss, I have both the feeling that there are more hits than misses, AND that the misses are not catastrophic events. When a thing happens that I did not expect, apparently, I can sometimes roll with it, take it as it comes, and carry on, more or less unscathed.

Is this what being an adult is like? Is this feeling that one wrong move will not destroy me… maturity?

I don’t know, but whatever this liberating notion is, I shall cultivate it. For maybe the first time in my existence, I really feel like all of the following is true: I’m not a victim of circumstance, my choices are my own, I have various options to choose from, and whatever happens, no one needs to worry for me, because I’ll be alright in the end. This, chickadees… this is real freedom. Not the freedom that’s just another word for, nothin’ left to lose (thank you, Kris Kristofferson and Janis Joplin) but… freedom that literally means, “I can move around with relative confidence in myself and the world around me.”

In the privacy of my first-ever own home, I started singing the song below over a decade ago, when I left the safety of my mother’s house to make a new life half a world away… and, like a self-fulfilling prophecy you can only mention to yourself, it’s finally started to come true. It *is* like a brave new world (that has such creatures in it–and they are my friends, for the most part!) and I wish to live forever, in this world that is so brave and new and all.

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“Samson” (Regina Spektor)

A few months back, I heard a beautiful song, by an artist I wish I’d started listening to years ago. During the first flush of love for a new singer/songwriter, I went off to YouTube and listened to several of her songs; but mostly, this one on repeat. In the course of reading numerous user comments, I kept stumbling over the idea that the song is actually about a cancer patient and/or specifically, should have been written in response to the book, “The Fault in Our Stars”. One of the comments was, also, arguing that the song is about the biblical couple, Samson and Delilah (it absolutely *is* about that Samson) and I penned a response touching on all of the above points–I never posted it, because I hadn’t yet read or seen “TFIOS”. Having read it now, I feel justified in blogging my response to this heartrending, exquisite song:

(Do remember, this is a response to the pithy and well-thought-out comment “Duh, this song is totally about Samson and Delilah from the Bible, geez, if you’d read it you’d know that–she sings that she LOVES him, Delilah was the lover of Samson…”)

Yes… but the song also says, “History books forgot about us, and the Bible didn’t mention us… not even once”. Are you suggesting that the Bible and/or other books don’t mention Delilah? Also–Samson had at least one love, before he met Delilah (he was married, according to the Bible, about 20 years before the whole Delilah thing)–can you tell me how someone else could have been with Samson first (“I loved you first”) if that person *was* Delilah?

Or–and maybe this is far-fetched, but bear with me–maybe song is actually a metaphor for something else. Say, the girl singing is meant to be a modern-day Samson’s first love (before Delilah, or any other women) and when he leaves her, she can’t get over it (“you are my sweetest downfall”) but, sadly, the girl he chooses (a “Delilah” character) turns out to be *his* downfall (you know the story: strength-sapping haircut, his eventual death) and what we’re listening to now is his first, pre-Delilah love, mourning the fact that her Samson is gone and no one even knows about their relationship.

If, as other posters have suggested, this song is about a friend/lover of Regina’s who had cancer, the song itself makes even more sense. “Your hair was long when we first met,” fits the Samson theme, but it also makes sense for a modern-day cancer patient who’s had/having chemo; and the idea that he went back to bed, weak and too sick to eat anything other than a slice of white bread, after she cuts his hair first, before “Delilah”/cancer can remove it all… I don’t know about you, but I find that a very compelling explanation for the imagery in the song. It also adds a layer of meaning to why she really can’t get over him… I think if your first love dies tragically and unexpectedly, it’s going to have a longer-lasting impact than if you break up and he starts dating a girl you think is bad for him.

Thoughts?

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Men

This American Woman

I once dated a guy who made me a mix tape (technically a CD) and one of the songs he put on was, “American Woman” (which is a great song, and he’s English, and I’m American, and we had a very adversarial relationship, so it fit, but… anyways). A great song, but not really what I’d expect to hear, if I were expecting a mix of lovesongs. Which, y’know. Having given him the soppiest CD I’d ever heard, not 2 months earlier (and to this day, I regret wasting all that sugar-sweetness on someone so unmoved by it) I sort of *did* expect something reciprocal.

That was my first mistake, in that relationship. When you’re with someone who always brings a gun to a knife-fight, for whom the Horn of Gondor is never enough, no, they need the One Ring… expecting what is right and deserved and equal is a futile hope. In a relationship like that, the only reciprocation comes when they’ve broken you enough that the meanest hint of human kindness feels like an outpouring of the Balm of Gilead.

Which, you know. Is meant for–let me recall that song I sang in high school–making the wounded whole, and healing the sin-sick soul.

When *you* are the one wounding someone, and making them soul-sick, you don’t get to be the balm that makes it all better, as well. That’s not love–that’s emotional abuse–and although it works in the short term (turning a would-be lover into a tearful, sighing, queasy-stomached dependant, eternally hanging on your next word, a word they’re never quite sure is coming) eventually, the spell wears off and the person who thought they loved you, who *does* love you in some way, realizes that, mostly, they’ve just been played.

Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me.

Fool me a hundred times, and I’ll burn everything we ever were on a pyre of self-preservation; and I’ll rise, jewel-toned plumage brilliant in the sun, eyes as hot as the flames, a strange, dark-haired Mother of Dragons, from the ashes of you, me, and the fiction in the space between.

And then I will scorch you to the bone and eat you alive, you fucking shitbag.

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Men

Love As A Battleground

Have you ever fallen in love–I mean really, truly, head-over-feet in love–with someone, even though you *knew* it was a terrible idea? Like, you were already convinced when it started out, that you were about to bodyslam your own heart into a floor made of railroad spikes, but the visceral, unable-to-be-ignored pull of this person tugged you right off the platform of your own good intentions, and into the path of what was, in fact, a fucking train?

I have done that exactly 3 times in my life–and one of them was last year.

The first time, I was 17-going-on-18, and I can be forgiven. As the song so helpfully informs us, “young hearts are foolish; they make such mistakes. They are much too eager to give their love away…” and I really, really was. Think of the most hopelessly romantic teenager you know, times it by a factor of 3 or 4, make sure you imagine them as female, long brown hair, 100 lbs overweight and plagued by cystic acne and lopsided breasts, and that’s me.

Like Janis Ian, I learned the truth at 17. I got over it. I left one love for another, and had at least some comfort in being loved, however badly and selfishly and superficially, by the man I went on to marry.

We’ve been divorced since my youngest child was a toddler, but we’re on good terms, these days. And he gave my children just enough of his DNA to widen their eyes from the narrow slits their mother possesses, to give them a touch of effortless grace I will never claim, and some hint of slender proportion in the sweet clean lines of their little bodies. Also, he is much kinder to me, now that he doesn’t have to put up with my incessant demands, every day.

My ex-husband is not a bad man; merely a very weak one. I can’t blame another for a failing I share with them. And the boy I loved when I was 17 was too clever for his own good (or mine) too morally and ethically and intellectually fine to be ignored, but that was hardly his fault.

The man I fell for last year deserves at least some portion of the blame. He knew, going in, that he could never handle my polyamorous lifestyle… and he let me fall for him anyway. Made me fall, really–how dare he ham for me while driving, how dare he amuse me with a dozen flawless accents every time I ask, how dare he sing to me when it’s just the 2 of us, how dare he look at me with tears in his eyes while we make love.

But worse: how dare he tell me that if I can do this, he will do that? How dare he tell me that if I were more of one thing, he could love me fully? How dare he keep spinning the line that if I’ll just jump through this hoop, now this one, now this one, he’ll commit to me, to this lifestyle I share with the men I love, and try to make it work forever? “Whatever I do, you raise the same objections,” my Soldier.

He cannot love me the way I need to be loved, any more than I can stop loving him.

But I’ve seen this movie, and I know how it ends; and shame on me, for kissing him with my eyes closed so tight.

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Butcher, Baker, Candlestick Maker

So. How to say this delicately…

….I have a third, now. I’m going to have to start giving them nicknames or something, because “my fiancé” and “my boyfriend” just aren’t descriptive enough, anymore (and especially not when you could argue that I have 2 boyfriends).

I’m not actually going to call them the butcher, baker, and candlestick maker. I just thought that’d be cute for the title. I have decided to name them according to their attributes: okay, I’m keeping my fiancé, because that’s just the best description; he’s the one who keeps the home fires burning, the one who chips in with the bills, the one who assists me in my decision-making… he’s just generally the wind beneath my wings. Fiancé–until he becomes my husband–will always be appropriate for him.

The next one (chronologically, I mean–I am not in the habit of ordering my men into any other kind of ranking system) I’m going to call the Soldier. This is more of an in-joke (he’ll get it; it doesn’t take *too* much erudite knowledge to work it out, and if you know your Shakespeare, you’ll work it out, too) but it fits, in every way aside from his actual profession. Suffice it to say that he’s past the point in his life where he composes woeful ballads to his mistress’s eyebrows.

Finally, the new one–who I loosely contemplated just calling, “The Boy” and thought better of, since if everyone else gets a detailed description, why shouldn’t he?–I will be calling by the only suitable moniker available… the Jester. I will now attempt to describe (because this is the first entry about him, and he deserves a little time centre-stage) why that title fits him so well.

First of all, you may have gathered this already, but he’s quite young. Not creepily young, I haven’t pulled him in off the street on his way to school or anything, but he’s young enough that it gives me a frisson of… unease, periodically. I have chosen to make this slight hint of danger into a hint of spice instead, and am seasoning my meals accordingly. (That’s a sex joke! Enjoy.)

Secondly, and most unexpectedly, I find myself at my ease around him. I will do things in front of him that I would be nervous doing around anyone else… partly, I chalk this up to the fact that some of my siblings are much younger than I am, and so, I’m used to putting myself forward in front of that sort of audience; I’ve had years and years of letting go of my (enormous yet eggshell-brittle) ego, and saying, “Look, here, I’ll do it, you have a go as well, see, I’m not very good and *I’m* fine, you can give it a try!” because that is what the eldest child does. You make yourself go first, so the little ones don’t have to, and you let go of any notion of whether or not you’re good or bad or indifferent, and you just do the thing, because you’re being an example, and you want them to see that it’s okay to try, and fail, and try again–and in that way, in teaching your siblings how, you yourself get a chance to play (even when you’ve outgrown it, by rights).

I have also been a mother for nearly a decade, now. We don’t ever have to discuss THAT in detail during this entry, but the skills are much the same. In fact, my kids have made me *better* at, well, being an older sibling–just like being the eldest of 6 (the blood relatives, anyway) made me a better mother.

Moving back to the Jester. In classic jester style, he does put himself out there before I even get a chance to, but because of the age difference dynamic, I can join in (whereas I struggle, with people my own age). And even though this backfires (he’s younger, fitter, quicker, more agile, just plain prettier than I am) and I wind up looking less good by comparison with him, I don’t mind. I’m used to that–it’s the natural by-product of having 5 siblings, all younger than you, and all unfailingly superior in a variety of ways.

Final point (there are more reasons to call him a jester, but 3 is enough for now)–he makes me laugh. A lot. More or less constantly, in fact. In other words, he’s a… jester? Like every fool in every decent play, he’s funny because he’s clever, and he gets away with saying more than he should because you can’t deny the truth under the punchline. (He’s also shit-hot at general slapstick and clowning and pratfalls, with a wickedly expressive face, which helps–but it’s his quick wit that turns him into a jester, rather than a good-looking acrobat.) I don’t know how obvious it is, but I’m not the world’s most well-adjusted or upbeat person, and I *do* take it upon myself to be the leader of our little group of friends, plus being the head of my own household, plus often being the person that people go to with their problems… and somehow, I seem to wind up calling the shots, even when it’s not obviously my job to do so. There’s a running joke (running for over 5 years now–and is it even a joke?) that I’m the Queen of my own little kingdom (I know, it should be queendom, but gender norms are not welcome in MY kingdom). Whatever I call this, make no mistake, I am running this show, and *that* makes me the Queen.

And I don’t know about you–but I reckon the natural sidekick for the Queen, is her Jester.

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Love and Heartbreak, Part 1

So. Sorry (as much as I ever am) for my recent disappearing act. You know how it is: your life is full, so’s your time, you’re scribbling soppy poems on napkins but not uploading much of it as actual work.

Your boyfriend’s trying to break up with you. Etc.

It was inevitable, right? That’s got to be the consensus. For someone who’s apparently so good at polyamory, I’ve got a nasty habit of attracting serial monogamists to my little fold… it was only a matter of time before one of them broke ranks.

This one, though. He’s always been the troublemaker of the lot… oh, hell. I haven’t even mentioned *that* yet, have I? I’ve added to my flock–the duo has become a trio. And I need to talk about that before I get into the same thing happening in reverse, don’t I?

I’ll be right back–I’m off to write that hit blog entry, “never alone in my principles nor anywhere else” (and someone please tell me the movie reference, because it’s THE BEST).

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Polyamory, A Quick Point or Two (Also, on Prostitution…)

I’d apologize for the delay since I last blogged, but there was good reason for it; a thing happened, and I needed some time to process it. Having done so, I’m just going to make a few points:

1. This should go without saying–but as the saying goes, even a slut gets to choose their own sexual partners. Likewise, just because a person says yes once, doesn’t mean they mean yes every other time the option of sex is on the table… so anytime a person starts assuming there’s some sort of previously-given consent, at a time when their partner politely indicates they’d rather not shag, it’s a slippery slope.

2. Any time a person says, “If you don’t do A, I won’t do B,” that’s coercion; and it has no place inside any equilateral relationship. That kind of setting of boundaries, of actions and consequences, of options and rewards, belongs in a different relationship dynamic: parent/child, teacher/student, Domme/sub. And in the latter situation particularly, express (and regularly-reaffirmed!) consent is an absolute must.

3. A thing happened recently, and although I was in no physical danger (and did nothing against my own wishes–in the end) someone gave a darn good try at manipulating me into doing something I wasn’t so keen on. Like I say, it was a near-miss rather than what could have been an act of coercion and/or abuse… but that’s because I’m lucky and was with other people I could go to with the situation, and also, because I realized (in a kind of vague, I-just-won’t-do-that-and-will-analyse-it-later, way) that I was uncomfortable with a “suggestion” made by someone else, and so just didn’t do it. Good stuff, right?

But the fact remains. Not once, but twice in a span of a few days, someone gave me a sexual ultimatum and/or didn’t take no for an answer the first time I said it (and I allowed myself to be talked around, rather than being forced–but it’s still not a pleasant experience, lying there and weighing up the pros and cons of just going along with something, or standing up for yourself a little more firmly). Yesterday, I managed to work it all through in my head, and I had a little cry, and I’ve come away and done a little blog post now, and I feel significantly better for both of those. Mostly, though, I just think it’s shitty any time one person thinks they have some sort of proprietary relationship over anyone else’s sexuality.

Some people might think that the above situations are only the natural result of daring to live my life away from the boundaries of established convention–after all, if I’m living outside society’s rules, how can I expect them to protect me?–but that’s not the basis of polyamory AT ALL. On the contrary, polyamory is absolutely about choosing ones own sexual partners, every time, in every situation, and never feeling like you have to express love in a sexual way unless you really, truly want to, with that person. And if someone consistently refuses to play by the rules–because there *are* rules, in these kinds of relationships, the most sacred of which is respect for the people involved!–then maybe it’s time to let that person go.

After all, there is no romantic relationship model in which Person A has some unspoken right to choose whom Person B will have sex with… that’s a different dynamic again, and we call it the pimp/whore dynamic.

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