Friday, December 23, 2011

Cleaning Up the Phone.


A few months ago, I got a new phone, a Kyocera Echo.  The 5 megapixel camera isn't the best possible camera on a phone, but it's also a huge improvement over the BlackBerry I had previously.  I decided today to clean up my SD card, so here are my 14 favorite photos from my phone so far.

My boss and I saw this giant pumpkin after a job in early November.  We just had to stop and take pictures.

 
Sunrise from home.

The three inside kitties.  Skelly (tortie on the left) is a grumpy old ladycat, and it's rare to see her cuddling with the whippersnappers. 

Skelly thought the sink was the best place to hang out, so Conway (orange blur) had to see what was so great about it.


These are the three outside kitties.  They appeared while we were out around the fire one night over the summer.  They're pushing six months now, all female, and I'm desperately trying to get help to get them spayed before they go into heat.  The local shelter has failed me, and the girls are far too friendly to continue being outside cats.  Where we live, there aren't a whole lot of resources for getting help with spaying... the closest place with a good program involves an hour drive and would still cost money we can't really afford to spend.  They're not as chubby as Greg (right) appears in this photo.  Yes, Greg.  We thought she was a boy for a long time.

Monkeypants and Octavia.  It's always hard to tell which is which, but judging by the pointy tail on the sitting kitty, I think that's Monkeypants and the blur is Octavia.  Taking pictures of these kittens is hard.  When they're not running away from the camera, they're turning away from it.  I can play with my phone in other ways, and they act normal, but as soon as I start trying to take pictures... Yep, they're cats.


In the middle of an encounter in Dungeons and Dragons.  We had so many status effects and zones going on, I wanted to capture the moment.  Yes, I play D&D... and recently started running a game for the guys, which will probably be the subject of a blog post soon.

I made a dice bag for a friend, and thought it looked like a monster.  Ptah agreed that it should have googly eyes and little fangs, so I painted them on to the photo.

I love the fog, and I get many opportunities to see it living on a bay.  Many mornings, there will be fog on the bay, and blue skies at the house... those are the best.

I am not religious by any means... but I absolutely love the Christmas tree.  Bringing green into the home, the shiny things and colored lights, it's all just so pleasant and lovely.  I hadn't had a real tree since leaving my parent's houses, though, and I was utterly determined to have one this year.  We happened upon a tree of reasonable size and value the day before Thanksgiving, as well as finding a ton of decorations at the thrift store and an antique iron stand for way cheap.  I had a couple strings of lights, in orange, purple, and cat (as shown in the photo below).  We didn't have a topper, so I constructed one with the dark red and light blue twiggy artsy things you can just see above, a giant glittery red and gold fake feather thing, and fabric roses with glittery edges.  Like a bouquet of sparkle at the top of the tree.  I think it's prettier than just about every tree topper I've ever seen.  Love the tree.

Cat lights! The copper leaf is from our trip to Leavenworth for Oktoberfest and fall color viewing.  It's nice, and also a pleasant memory for all three of us.

Yes, I did take this while driving.  The road is not heavily traveled, and I slowed down.  I wish the quality was better, but I like the way the road curves, and the moon was so flipping bright that night.


Ice on the windshield.  I love the patterns and the colors.  You can also tell that the ice was starting to melt where the sun was hitting.  This was one of those days where the sunny parts were lovely, but the shade never thawed.  Working on days like that isn't so bad, and it's definitely better than working when it's hot outside.

One of the places where we work regularly has a bunch of nice rhododendron plants.  Occasionally, they'll do wacky things, like this one blooming in December.  This photo was taken after a couple of soft freezes, but we hadn't had a hard freeze yet.  The flowers were probably mush only a couple of days later.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Okay, screw that. Let's talk about my birthday instead.

     The Facebook recap thing just took too much time and energy, and wasn't nearly as profound and insightful as I was hoping it might be.  So I'm not continuing it (for now) and this is the blog entry you get instead.

     This year, my birthday did not feel like a birthday.  Other than being a prime number, thirty-one really isn't that interesting, and we're sort of isolated where we live.  I tried to plan a surprise party for Thoth (his birthday is the day after mine), but it didn't work out so well what with people being broke, not able to drive the distance, not free at the time I tried to plan the party, or generally being dumb bitches... Okay, that was a joke.  Sort of.  So we ended up having a few people over to the house and nerding out for several hours playing D&D.  It was good times, and I still managed to surprise Thoth.

   As for my actual birthday, it consisted of:
          -Getting up early to drive Ptah to work.
          -Work.
          -Getting taken out for Thai lunch with my boss.
          -Talking to my first husband on the phone for nearly an hour.
          -Getting disappointed when the store was out of gluten-free cake, buying brownies and frosting instead.
          -Eating frosting out of the container, as I did not feel like making the brownies.
          -Working on what will be my first attempt at running a D&D session.
          -Additional frosting.
          -Cutting myself viciously on a birthday card envelope.
          -Talking my mom on the phone.
          -More frosting.
          -Sleep.

     I know, super exciting, right? I've had the blahs lately, and that certainly doesn't help.  Add in a general restlessness, and a lame birthday, and well... I'm just kind of down.  Not exactly depressed, just down.  Today, for Thoth's birthday, we all went to a local Chinese restaurant that offers gluten-free food.  I just found this out a few days ago, so it was our first time there.  They even deliver to our house!

     Now that is exciting.
         

Sunday, November 13, 2011

The Past Year, According to Facebook. Part One.



As I near my thirty-first birthday, I thought it might be fun to read through my Facebook posts over the past year or so.  It's been a good and interesting year, so I was curious what I had to say about it while it was actually happening. This post has taken more time and space than I intended, so it will be done in multiple installments.  Let us review some of my favorite moments together...

(o|=] 
You've just been 1upped!
Oh, I make myself laugh sometimes...


Okay... Brain and body activate! ...Hmm, that didn't work, maybe I need to find a keycode. Anyone know what level it's on?
    

... And I would walk five hundred miles, and I would walk five hundred mowin'. ...Just to be the girl who mowed a thousand miles to fall down on your lawn!




Ahh... New insoles for my work boots. It's like hugs for my feet.


thinks the collective you should say something nice about someone.


JENI has received Key Item, "Hope."


http://www.npr.org/2010/11/10/131226399/a-veteran-s-day-without-veterans


And now... it is time. For Super Happy Fun Time EGG NOG!!!


All the troubleshooting guides in the world apparently can't replace someone looking at things and saying "This doesn't look right..." or "I wonder what happens if I do THIS? Let's find out! "The wireless adapter for [Thoth's] ancient laptop hasn't worked for a couple of years, so I decided to check out the situation. Ten minutes later, it works.

"I suppose it's a holdover from their Viking ancestry. It would be difficult to rape and pillage with the subtlety of a humanist."  -Pushing Daisies.

is sitting in a booth in a cafe, listening to soul music, waiting for it to turn into a Tarantino movie. Maybe Samuel L. Jackson will come in and buy my coffee.


Okay, so... do I be a good girl and go to bed? Or do I play Final Fantasy VII for a while, end up playing it too long, sleep through my alarm and get mad at myself for sleeping so late? Past experience and this big mug of cocoa say it's probably the latter.

       


So this was going through my head earlier while driving: "Come see I-5 ON ICE! The thrills! The chills! Witness the danger, the speeds and graceful slides! Catch the both-hands-on-the-wheel excitement, BEFORE IT'S TOO LATE! For a limited time only, at an on-ramp near you."  Time for a nap, then back to it.

Dear drivers on I-5 this morning: Just because the freeway looks *a little* better does not mean that it is. You know those black patches? That's called "black ice," you may have heard of it once or three hundred times. And all that plowing? It just made the roads a smooth sheet of ice. Your insistence on driving fast and tailgating me is not the smartest thing to do.  Sincerely, Jeni.

http://hyperboleandahalf.blogspot.com/2010/11/dogs-dont-understand-basic-concepts.html


Today marks a year since I started showing signs of gluten intolerance.
Anyway, I'm thankful for...
the excellent friends I've acquired.
the family who make the word mean something.
my kitties.
the fact that while we may be barely scraping by, we *are* scraping by.
the modern conveniences that I enjoy.
the love of someone who appreciates who I am.
hope in the future.


I'm suddenly so full of hope that I'm getting suspicious.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/dr-david-perlmutter-md/gluten-impacts-the-brain_b_785901.html


Thanks you guys, you're pretty fantastic.  Now that I've had birthday cereal and lounged around in my birthday robe, I think it's time for some birthday room cleaning. *sigh* Where's my rich fiend who wants to take me out for dinner?

http://twolumps.net/d/20101201.html

This day can go to hell. At least I'll be closing it with grown-up egg nog.

http://www.qwantz.com/index.php?comic=1851


is having an awesome time with some of my favorite people... [Thoth] wins.





I really, really enjoyed my weekend. The first birthday party I've had since childhood was a clear success, even if not *everything* went according to plan. Thanks to [Thoth] for setting everything up, and everyone who came to celebrate with me.  My thirties are off to a fantastic start.

http://www.ted.com/talks/denis_dutton_a_darwinian_theory_of_beauty.html

You know what's frustrating? Trying to plan for a future which is currently full of nothing but unknown variables.  Can anyone solve for n?

"How the past chews on your shoes, And these memories lick my ear."  Except that I feel the same way about memories licking my ear as as when actual dogs do it. Ick. Be gone, thoughts of the past!

1/2 cocoa + 1/2 irish cream = tasty. And warm.


It always feels good to purge a few "friends." Especially when I end up with a prime number
.

http://tinybuddha.com/blog/10-ways-to-let-go-and-overcome-a-bad-mood/

It's sewing time,
Open up your thread case
And grab yourself needle and thread.
It's sewing time,
Check for scissor location
And don't run with them in hand.
***
Prepare to sew a jacket,
Fix that messed up placket
You have some buttons to add.
Sewing time,
I don't like the button holes
So it'll close with ribbon instead. Yeah.

***
I don't like those stupid button holes,
I don't like those stupid button ho-oles,
I don't like those stupid button holes,
button hooooooles.


Well... it's technically the next day, but I haven't gone to bed yet, so I'm going to say that I got all three of my goals done today.  In the past few days I was inspired to think and write, to finally play fabric hax0r with the jacket, and to play with pastels at the first available opportunity... so who's going to accidentally inspire me to do something cool next?

is putting a corset on in a bowling alley bathroom. You only wish you were this classy.


I just saw the most hideous chimaera at Safeway. Sweat pants with denim accents. for those occasions that are too classy for sweats, but aren't classy enough for jeans.


Framing things in a positive manner is an important key to happiness. For example, the way the car vibrates on the freeway can be a reminder of the fact that we need new struts and a tune up... Or it can feel like the space shuttle launching us into orbit. Maybe that makes my mom's place the International Space Station.

***
Ooh, and my phone camera is now the Hubble Space Telescope. That's why it takes such crappy indoor and close up photos; it was made to capture the details of the universe at great distance and without atmospheric interference.

Health, wealth and happiness to you and yours in the coming year. *clink*  It always seemed like more of a New Year's toast to me, and I don't have the special wafer to share, and I'm not even Polish... but I've always liked that one, as far as toasts go. The sentiment stands.

is trying to reconcile her fondness for self-determinism with the fact that sometimes life just won't stop flinging poo.


*strongly worded unverified statement on a subject I know nothing about*


I came up with the best idea! D&D-style character sheets... for sex! It would make picking people up much easier: a sheet with your skills, feats, and base stats clearly marked. Say you're looking for someone with high Dexterity and Constitution, but a low Bluff and Hide... you'd know right away!

***
"Oh, I see that you don't have proficiency in Wands, but you did take the Able Learner feat, so I'll give you a shot." "Well, I was really looking for more of a Ranger, and less of a Paladin, sorry." "Oof, I see you have a high Bluff skill; I'm really not into women who fake it."
I randomly have "Promise of a New Day" by Paula Abdul stuck in my head... a song I haven't heard in *at least* seventeen years. On that note, I hope 2011 is a better year for all who could use one, and at least as good a year for those of you who enjoyed 2010. Let us either find our bliss or hold onto it, eh?


I feel like it should be really difficult to be in a bad mood while smelling like a cupcake. And yet somehow I manage.




Yay, we get to buy food! [Thoth] will get his lard breakfast smoothies after all.


wishes so many people didn't equip that Manipulate materia.


I would say that I have faith that things will be alright, but I don't. I have *confidence* that we will choose to make things alright.













 

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Six Months

     Today marks six months of official, capital-r Relationship for Ptah and me.  Which also means that today marks six months of actually doing this poly thing I wanted for so many years.

     Our time-based celebration thing isn't based on a first date or a first kiss... May 10th is known to us as Beach Day.  Beach Day was the first day we both had off of work (and alone) after our budding feelings started becoming impossible to ignore.  It was a magnificent and warm May day, and I had been wanting to spend some time at a beach we had driven by together, so we went.  We collected pebbles, beach glass, and shells.  He took pictures, and I drew in the sand with a stick.  We removed our shoes and walked barefoot on the sand.  We rolled up our pants and sank into it as well, a few times getting squirted by burrowed clams.  We smiled and laughed until it hurt... we fell in love that day.  Truly and irrevocably in love. 





     Of course it feels like longer than six months, after knowing each other for years.  We've had our ups and downs, and there will be more.  But there will also be more time, and I look forward to it.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Post 22: the one in which I raise my eyebrow at modern entertainment:

     So now that they've made a movie about Rock 'Em Sock 'Em Robots, and apparently the tiny bit of sense that the movie industry still made to me is gone, I figure that Hollywood will probably continue the trend of making movies from games we played as kids. Here I will throw out some ideas for all of the movie producers reading my blog. Don't worry guys, I totally won't sue when these get made.

     First up is Connect Four: That obviously has to be an *ahem* adult movie. Enough said.

     Hungry Hungry Hippos
: So a biology student has a summer job working at a zoo which (for reasons never explained) has a lab run by Student's immediate superior. One day, Student has a mishap in which he (it has to be a he, because it's a clumsy mistake, and the only females allowed to be clumsy in movies like this are the kind who are dumb as a rock and yet somehow attract all of the men.) accidentally mixes two compounds which should NEVER BE MIXED and knocks them into the bucket he's carrying. Which is holding hippo food, of course. A series of near-disasters happen, which lead the viewer to be "surprised" when Student makes it out of the hippo area alive. But the transformation doesn't happen until later, when Boss guy goes into the hippo pens, gets eaten, and the hippos escape... AND THEY'RE HUNGRY. So hungry hippos rampage the city, eating many, many people, until Student somehow becomes a mega-genius and fixes everything. And manages to score a really dumb but super hot girl.

     Candy Land
: Lord Licorice is the local drug kingpin in this gritty drug drama full of skinny, greasy people in their late teens and early twenties. Princess Lolly is a trust-fund girl who is somehow making it through college while trying to consume all of the hard drugs on campus, Queen Frostine is a middle-aged part-time real estate agent who finds escape from her life of frustration and feeling her age in the cocaine she dabbled with in her youth. Plumpy has tried pretty much everything he can think of to lose weight... he eats well and is active, but he's still a "big boy" who gets teased mercilessly at school and resorts to trying methamphetamines. He loses weight, but also his wonderful personality. All of these sad lives have one thing in common: the influence of Lord Licorice, who gets his in the end... but there's always something else to get people down, and someone else so sell them an escape. A story with no happy ending, it leaves the viewer with a feeling of futility and the need to take a shower. (The Wikipedia article actually makes reference to a Candy Land movie being made. Yes, seriously.)

     Snakes and Ladders
: (I played this version more than Chutes and Ladders, and Snakes is more ripe for a story. Chutes and Ladders would probably have to be about the early years of the Mario Brothers.) This is essentially a sequel to Snakes on a Plane. This time, a city floods. People are forced to the rooftops, which are of course reached in most part by ladders. The waters finally recede, and the are OMG SNAKES!!! on all of the ladders, preventing people from getting down. They're hungry! They need potable water! Some lady is about to give birth! And they're all stuck on these roofs because of the snakes! The whole movie is basically a reason to have Samuel L. Jackson shout "We need to get these motherfuckin' snakes off of these motherfuckin' ladders!"

     Mouse Trap
: This would be a horror movie, in which the evil murderer thinks up ever more creative and complicated ways to kill people. Including convincing the cops that the murderer is someone else and that that particular victim is about to kill someone, thereby forcing the cops to kill that victim. Not terribly innovative or original, but the movie will pretend that it is.

     Clue
is already a movie. Battleship and Risk are obviously war movies; the former at sea, the latter on land. Monopoly is obviously a commentary on corporate greed, possibly even an unbalanced "documentary." I'm sure I could do this with many other movies, but these are what came to mind over one short work day, and I think it's enough for now. Go, Hollywood, go.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Because I know you're curious, I hereby present: How It Works

     One of the more common questions when people find out I'm in a polyamorous relationship is "How does that work?" I think people get the general idea of pursuing multiple relationships, and probably are wondering how we deal with the practical concerns inherent in eschewing the "traditional" and expected forms of relationships out there.  There is a lot more to think about when you're writing your own rules.  So I've decided to post How It Works for my V.  Some of it is philosophy, some of it is practical concern, some of it is guidelines for behavior.  Every polyamorous person will have their own idea of How It Works, this is simply How It Works for us.

     Many people prefer a primary/secondary model of polyamory, where there is one main couple, and the people in the couple can pursue additional relationships as long as the couple remains "most important" according to whatever definition the couple is using.  For some, that means no children or cohabitation with anyone else, for others it means that your time with your OSO (other significant other) would be determined or approved by your spouse.  I believe in allowing relationships to find their own level, and not determining how I'm going to treat a relationship which is purely theoretical with no regard to the theoretical person I haven't even met yet.  For some people this model is truly fulfilling, for me it is not appealing.  I don't like rigid rules to begin with.

     Along those same lines, some people think they should be able to have veto power over relationships or potential relationships that their partners have.  Most of the people I've talked to who have veto power don't want to use it, and only give it to their partner because they trust their partner to not use it unless they are making a really terrible decision.  The knowledge that you can potentially veto what you feel is a horrendous mistake can bring comfort and security to a situation which is full of potential emotional danger.  I, however, do not want the concept of veto power in my relationships.  I will listen to my partners if they have concerns, and I will express the same to them.  If they do something, or pursue a relationship I really don't agree with, I will decide the best course of action I can take a that time.  Even up to ending our relationship if things get that bad, but I will not tell someone else how to live their life, and what love they can or cannot pursue. 

     I will help guide them as is wanted, but love will not be denied in my house because of anyone's insecurity.

     I don't believe in keeping secrets between partners.  I'm sure that there are possible exceptions (beyond gifts or other happy surprises), but for the most part anything one partner says to me might be repeated to the other.  It's part of a more general love of honesty and distaste for deception... but I also don't want to have to keep track of anyone's secrets.

     I will encourage my partners to form new relationships which enrich their lives, and expect that they continue to respect our own relationships.  They should encourage and expect the same in me.

     If additional physical relationships are pursued, safer-sex practices will be used, and discussed before the beginning of the relationship. 
     
     As far as practical concerns in the home: We do not all sleep together.  The sleeping schedule is every other night with each partner.  If I wish to sleep alone, I do so and the schedule is resumed the next night.  If a schedule change is desired, and an agreement is reached, the person who did not request the change has a second night in a row.  Rent and bills are split pretty much evenly, but we're flexible on how that is accomplished.  We share domestic duties, but the majority of them currently fall on Thoth, as he is currently unemployed.

And, perhaps most important of all: anything can be revised, and renegotiated at any time. 

    

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Sometimes Comparison is Actually a Paladin.

     There's a saying on the polyamory-focused forum I frequent: comparison is the thief of joy.  And it's true in many cases. Thinking "Person A rubs my feet so well, but Person B does not. I wish Person B would rub my feet more." can be harmful to happiness. We tend to do this a lot, it's one of the major plot points in many a Sad Housewife romance.  Sad Housewife meets Attractive and Attentive Guy, starts comparing all of the good things about AAAGuy against all of the annoying things that Boring Husband started doing (like not rinsing his spit out of the sink when he brushes his teeth) as he became comfortable and secure in their relationship.  Usually, of course, Tragedy Strikes! and Sad Housewife is forced to realize that Boring Husband was who she always really wanted.  If it's a super progressive story, they both realize that they need to put more effort into communicating, and you know, actually being active participants in their own relationship.

     Anyway, back to the lecture at hand... there's nothing wrong, though, with comparison when it's more similar to "Person A is really good at foot massages, but Person B gives excellent back rubs.  I'm so lucky to have access to both."  It's still a comparison, obviously, but doesn't have any of the negative connotation of the previous example, and acknowledges good things about both parties.

     The reason I started thinking about this was, to be honest, that I have occasionally worried that I might love one partner more than the other.  What I realized, though, is that I don't love one more than the other; I love them differently.

     If I were going to use metaphor (and OF COURSE I'm going to use metaphor!), I would compare my feelings to bodies of water.  My love for Thoth is a placid lake... I can float leisurely around in it, take in the scenery, and a nap if I want.  I don't have to worry about what's around the next bend, and I know where most of the snags are.  I can be confident that this is a safe place to spend my time.  I wasn't always so secure in it, but as time has gone on, I've learned that I can trust this relationship... even if it isn't always exactly exciting, and it's never going to be "perfect," I know I can rely on it.

     My love for Ptah is more like a mighty river.  There are long calm stretches where I can drift, but then BAM! Rapids or a waterfall appear.  I'm getting better at navigating them, and the river has grown a little wider and less swift, but it's still a river and not a lake.  It's a little more exciting, and I have to pay more attention lest I run into a boulder and capsize, but it's still a wonderful experience.  It's tested me and encouraged me to grow, and given me great rewards. 

     There's certainly nothing wrong with being affected differently by them.  They aren't the same person, have very different personalities (and yet a few big similarities), and probably see me very differently too.  That's one of the good and interesting things about knowing different people, let alone having romantic relationships with them.  I'm not sure why I was having such a had time accepting these differing feelings in myself, other than the fact that being unfair to either of the guys has been one of my biggest concerns.  I've seen and read so many of the mistakes other people have made... but the one that worried me the most was that I might find out I wasn't as poly as I thought I was.  I thought and dreamed about a situation like this for so long, that I was afraid I wouldn't be able to handle it in real life.  I didn't trust myself.

     Okay, I still don't trust myself sometimes.  I keep proving myself wrong, though, and not fucking everything up... so maybe eventually I'll really be able to believe that I can do this.  Just maybe I'll be able to be as kind to myself as I try to be with them, and as they are with me.  You know, someday.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Recipe (sort of): Roasted Root Vegetable Soup

     The days have suddenly turned from the height of summer to impending autumn.  At least in my corner of the world, it only took about a week to make the transition; the suddenness of it has left my body and brain confused and a bit down.  However, autumn comes with many benefits.  I can tolerate the temperatures better, I appreciate the coziness of home better, and I love soup.  Partly because it's economical, partly because it's easy to make a ton, partly because soups are very forgiving and don't require much in the way of exactitude to be delicious.  Well, not that I make anything that requires a lot of exactitude.  I'm into flexibility in general, perhaps to a fault.

     I had the day off today, so I cooked.  We had a bunch of root vegetables in the fridge, so root vegetable soup it is.  If you need an exact recipe, you won't find it here, but I have written down my process.  I was going to include pictures, but they didn't turn out very well; I need to find my real camera.

I started by peeling and cutting into bite-sized pieces:
-1 butternut squash
-1 rutabaga
-1 turnip
-2 small parsnips
-3 potatoes
-1 sweet onion
-7 or 8 cloves of garlic

     I heated the oven to 350 degrees.  I put the garlic and onion onto a cookie sheet and drizzled a small amount of olive oil on them, and a few shakes of salt and pepper.  The potatoes, parsnips, turnip, and rutabaga got put into a plastic bag into which I drizzled more olive oil, salt and pepper.  I shook them in the bag to coat evenly, then they went onto the sheet with the garlic and onion.  I repeated that process for the squash, which then went into its own pan.  Partly because there was no room on the cookie sheet, but also because I wanted it to be easy to separate some of the squash out.

     The vegetables then went into the oven.  When I started to be able to smell them, I stirred them around, and returned them to the oven for a bit... 20 minutes, maybe? (I did say it was sort of a recipe.)  When they were done, I put 3/4ths of the onion in a pot with a splash of balsamic vinegar, so that they could carmelize a bit, while I cut up my 1.71 pounds of boneless, skinless chicken, which then went into the pot. 

     When the chicken was well on its way to browned, I poured about a third of a bottle of wine in with it.  We happened to have merlot, but I think it would be good with pretty much any type of wine, as long as you know how to adjust the other flavors.  A couple tablespoons of chicken bullion and garlic powder, and then simmer while I pureed 2/3rds of the squash with enough coconut milk and half and half to cover it in the blender, and the remaining 1/4 onion.  When the chicken was thoroughly cooked by wine, I added the puree and the rest of the vegetables.  Stirring it all together, I decided to add a glass of water to thin it out a bit, a couple of dashes of Italian seasoning, cayenne pepper, ginger, a bit more bullion, and pepper, as well as another splash of balsamic vinegar.  15 minutes or so on low heat for the spices to release their flavors and everything to meld together, and done.  The whole process took about two hours, and I'm left with enough delicious food for the three of us to eat for a few days.  Though I'll probably put half of it in the freezer for a later date.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Overcoming language barriers, such as they are.

     Becoming a person who reacts to emotions with thought instead of blame takes work.  It takes introspection, the ability to be honest with oneself, the desire to confront fears instead of catering to them, and the belief that it is possible to change oneself.  When I first started on this path, I failed more often than I succeeded... it's a process, and one that will likely never be completed, but I would rather keep trying and take control of my own emotional health and happiness than give it to anyone/anything else. 

     Part of taking responsibility for my own feelings, actions and reactions, and emotional growth was moving away from the blame-focused language that most of us are taught.  One of the biggest offenders, of course, is the "____ makes me feel ___" phrasing that is so common in even most healthy people's vocabulary.  Now, I have heard, read, and talked about this many times in my life, usually with the suggestion of changing to "I feel ___ when ___ happens."  Which is alright... it's certainly an improvement, but it still means that the actions must necessarily trigger the emotion.  The language itself assumes that a feeling is a static and necessary reaction when ___ happens.  It's no wonder that most of us struggle with learning that challenging feelings neither necessarily follow from certain actions, or are things that we can't take the power out of.

     When I decided that I wanted to stop telling people that they were "making" me do anything, I started with mentally replacing "making" with "forcing."  Almost no one would ever say "You're forcing me to feel guilty" or "It forces me to feel angry when you buy things we don't need."  And yet, that is exactly what "making" means in these situations: your action forces me to feel something I don't want to feel (so you must change, because you are causing this, and my feelings will not change).  So when I would start slipping into blame-heavy, powerless language, and imagined myself saying "Oh man, this ice cream is so good, it forces me to want more even though I'm full" which would then lead to me imagining the ice cream holding me at knife-point, which would then lead to my recognition at how ridiculous the language was... which led to my recognition of how ridiculous the concept of giving power over my emotional state to everyone and everything but myself was.

     So I try phrasing like "___ action has been causing ___ reaction from me, and I'm trying to figure out why so I can have a healthier reaction."  Or "___ event from my past trained my emotions to do ___ when ___ happens, so I'm trying to retrain my emotions.  Don't excuse my behavior, but try to be kind while I work on this."  It takes more words, but the language takes responsibility for my emotions off of my friends/partners/ice cream and places the responsibility squarely on myself.  Which also means it places the power to change those reactions squarely on myself. 

     And, at least in my case, when I changed my language, the actual content and action that I wished to achieve in myself followed a little easier.  It's sort of a version of faking it until I started making it, I suppose.

     I've managed to trick my brain in a similar fashion when it comes to changing the word "negative" to the word "challenging" in my vocabulary.  I first ran across the idea in Opening Up*  (most helpful book ever, by the way) where author Tristan Taormino refers to the "benefits and challenges" rather than "positives and negatives" of various relationship styles.  I really decided that I liked considering what had heretofore been concrete negatives to be challenges that might take more work, but were entirely possible to overcome.  I've had a little more practice with this technique, as I have been consciously working at it for nearly two years, but I still struggle with the application sometimes.

     I do, however, manage to nearly always phrase things as "positives and challenges" or "benefits and challenges."  I would like to extend the sentiment to feelings; "You seem to have some negative feelings about this, and that has affected my mood" can become "Your feelings are challenging for me right now" as well.  Like above, changing my phrasing has helped change my perspective, or at least given me some practice at becoming ever closer to who I want to be.  Perhaps someday I will automatically see challenges rather than negatives, but for now it takes a conscious nudge at least part of the time. 

   Work in progress, as always.


*http://www.amazon.com/Opening-Up-Creating-Sustaining-Relationships/dp/157344295X/ref=tmm_pap_title_0

Friday, September 9, 2011

I'm a lover and a fighter, really.

     The longer I spend being a self-actualized individual, and the more work I put into taking responsibility for my own feelings and happiness... the harder it is to interact with more "normal" people.  Unfortunately, it's human nature to place importance on protecting our insecurities, rather than confronting them and growing more confident as a whole.  It's in our natures to shift blame for the negatives in our lives, while refusing to take blame for the negative things in others' lives.  I understand these things when a person has not been exposed to any other way of thinking.  The problem I have with many people, though, is that they refuse to grow, to take those responsibilities, to confront those insecurities.  Even when presented with other options.

     I have a problem with people choosing to remain willfully ignorant.

     Now, it's not like I expect an overnight change from anyone.  I had to be presented with these concepts multiple times before I really latched onto them.  But I listened anyway.  I paid attention, and I kept reading, and I started implementing tactics for emotional management as I thought they might be useful.  I've managed to get myself to the point where I can experience feelings without attacking, blame-shifting, and with time and consideration before bringing my feelings to anyone else.  I've put time and effort into appreciating the good things in my life, and figuring out how to mitigate the challenging things that come along... most of the time.  Of course, no one's perfect, and I'm rather far from it.

     Recently, there has been a shake-up in my friend group.  One friend has had insecurity triggered by my relationship with Ptah, and refuses to not only admit it, but take responsibility for it.  This person's idea of "working on" their feelings is to suggest ways in which we can alter our behavior to better suit their idea of how we should be acting.  If you're reading this blog, chances are you can figure out how well that goes over with me.  If this (not the relationship, but the personal and emotional growth we've been working on) was a new thing, I could understand these feelings better.  But Ptah and I have been vocal and clear examples of this growth for some time.  Unfortunately, when we've talked about these things, we've been met with indifference at best, and hostility at worst.  It can't be said that this person has not been shown another path by conversation and example; they simply choose to remain in their current mindset.

     A mindset which refuses to take responsibility for reactions to feelings, expects others to mitigate their insecurities, and believes that they have the right to dictate how we express our relationship. 

     I am angry at some of this (and was admittedly very angry when we finally had a confrontation about this and a few other subjects... I regret how it happened, the attitudes we all took, but not the content), but for the most part I feel sad.  Sad that they feel that a life of frustration at other people's actions is safer than introspection and self-improvement.  Sad that I apparently have not been able to get through to them how much better life is when one takes the responsibility and power of determining one's own happiness.  But I don't know how, at this point.  I don't know how to get through to someone who won't listen, and won't see the wonderful transformation that has happened in their allegedly good friends.  I've done what I can, and can do no more... but I still feel sadness over it.

     One of the things that has bothered me the most through this experience is that I have been expected to hide and not recognize the progress I've made with myself.  The inner transformation Ptah has made, in particular, has been impressive, and I feel he especially should be complimented on the work he's done with himself.  It seems to me like a good friend should be happy for this, and happy to see the love we've found, instead of feeling threatened and only pointing out perceived negatives.  It seems to me like a good friend wouldn't expect me (us) to play down our own happiness in order to help them feel better in the short term. 

     If I end up only having three friends in my life, I'm okay with that.  I will not suffer that sort of negativity just to keep the illusion of closeness with people.  I will do my best to be an example of what self-awareness and self-care and self-responsibility can do for a person.  I will do my best to be kind and gentle when I can, and protect myself and those I love when necessary.  I will try to not let anger get in the way of care and concern.  I know that I will fail in these things at times, but I will keep trying.  It's all I can do, and I can do no more. 

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

The Psychology of Roses

     I've never been a big fan of roses.  As a plant, they are difficult to keep healthy and require a lot of care.  They are covered with pokey, hurty bits that like to make me bleed.  They look dead for much of the year, and when they finally bloom there is still a very low beauty to pain-in-the-ass ratio.  The flowers are pretty, yeah, and sometimes they smell good, but I do not find the effort worth the result.  As a romantic gift, I find them even more wanting.  Overpriced because of emotional value-based inflation, uncreative at best, and they do nothing but look pretty, then die.  (I have to admit here that the only time I have ever been given flowers they were a handful of daisies High School Boyfriend gathered on his way to the bus one morning.  So I may be a bit biased.)

     Psychologically, I understand the reasons many people like to grow and care for roses.  There is a tangible result to the work involved when it (finally) blooms.  It gives people a sense of accomplishment to tame the wild thorny rose, to keep it trimmed and civilized.  If you don't, the rose will return to its natural, wild state.  So to cultivate roses is to change the world, in a sense.

     Unfortunately, most people seem to feel the same way about those they love.  If only we try hard enough, we can change someone's nature and make them civilized/happier/less of an alcoholic/more affectionate/interested in family/more how we want them to be.  The ability to accept and appreciate people who what they are, and not who we would like them to be or think they might become in the future, seems to be a rare quality.  This is obviously related to my idea of turning "I love you, but..." into "I love you because," but it's not quite the same.  Changing one's opinion in that manner takes conscious thought, but loving people for who they are and not some distant ideal should be a natural and automatic trait.  Ideally, that is.

     Personally, I like the wild roses.  The full and bushy habit, the delicate and sweet-smelling flowers, the resilience, the ability to grow many places... I find all of those things much better than being difficult and the need to fit a description that doesn't come naturally.

    

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Busy Bee

     Between working six days a week, trying to get a house together, and keeping two relationships together... as well as yard work, domestic chores, sleep, and making time for myself... I've had little time to sit and do things like write.  But other than busy, life has been good.

     The one thing (other than money, time, and fun) that I really feel I'm missing is a social space to be around other poly people.  The nearest gathering is an hour and a half away, and on a weekday once a month.  I'm going to try to get a gathering together on meetup.com or something.

     When I have the time, that is.

Thursday, June 30, 2011

The stress needs to stop. Now.

     We've moved into our house, but other than that, life has been creatively coming up with whatever stressors it can.  I won't go into details at this point, but a lack of free time and brainspace has meant that I have little time for writing, enjoying my new house, building and rebuilding my relationships, or being the introvert I am.  I cut the knuckle of my primary finger today, and that was the final straw... I had a breakdown on the living room floor of the apartment I was supposed to be helping to clean.

     Go me.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Some things I enjoy.

-The golden light of late afternoon.
-The smell of a cool summer evening after a warm day.
-Expensive dark chocolate, especially with orange or strawberry.
-A long drive with no destination.
-The smell of the sea.
-The smell of a lake or river.
-Blue-green.
-Eyes.  (Irises.  Watching pupils dilate with emotion. Seeing the corners show your heart.)
-Old-growth forest, the soft sound of footfalls on needle-covered ground.  Dappled and scattered light.
-Sweet white wine.
-Work with a tangible result.
-Using my body as a tool for work or pleasure.
-Accepting myself for who I am, inside and out.
-Watching another realize that they will be okay.
-Seeing the sky lighten and the sun come blazing over the horizon.
-Form.
-Function.
-Form and function as comfortable yet still exciting mates, exploring their potential together.
-Pleasant surprises; finding out that my worries were nothing more than wasted energy.
-Lips.
-Fingertips.
-Learning all I can learn about anything at all.
-Enlightening conversation.
-Crawling around in someone's brain for awhile.
-Bonding.
-Oxytocin.
-Ibuprofen.
-Iced tea.
-Chai tea.
-Mudslide mix and coconut rum.
-Cooking for others.
-Giving affirmation.
-Speaking the Love Languages.
-Mugs with handles, made of glass or clay.
-Avoiding plastic whenever possible.
-Considering the possibilities, and reviewing choices as necessary.
-Forgiving myself and letting go.
-Bridges.
-Rolling the car windows down, and tasting my location.
-Seeing not only the forest, but each tree, the branches, and the needles or leaves.
-Honey on cornbread.
-Walking on moss and clover barefoot.
-Cheese.
-Beachcombing.
-Making lists.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Ch-Ch-Ch-Changes

     I was going to make a comment here based on the lyrics of the David Bowie song, but it seems that there are several interpretations of what the lyrics actually are.  So scrap that plan. 

     You know, I read a biography of David Bowie when I was a teenager... I wasn't a big fan or anything, I would just go to the library and occasionally pick a random biography to read.  People at depth have always interested me.  This interest led to my reading about the previously mentioned David Bowie, Janis Joplin, Calvin Klein, Harvey Milk, Vincent Van Gogh, and several other people who were apparently unmemorable to me.  I also read several books on massage techniques, indoor and outdoor gardening, and international cooking as a teen.  I didn't really have anything better to do, it would seem.

     Anyway, there are some changes coming up for my newly-formed V.  We're moving in together.  We found a house to rent which will provide the things that we will need, along with a nice yard and beach access.  We're excited.  I'm sure that issues will arise as we figure out how to navigate this thing called a relationship, but I'm also confident that we will find ways to make things work and be happy.  I may have read more, and this may be what I've striven for over the past *checks watch* 15 years or so, but the guys are the ones who are good at this whole poly thing.  I consider myself very fortunate.

     One of the things that has always appealed to me about polyamory is the shared burden aspect.  The more contributing adults you get together, the lighter everyone's load is.  And although I wish we had more time to normalize before moving in together, this is the biggest reason we can't wait.  Separately, we have barely been holding on financially; together we will make a good team.  I love it.  And I love my menfolk for going on this adventure with me.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Why Falling In Love With Your Best Friend Is Awesome

     I've been having an interesting time lately; my relationship with my best friend has taken a decidedly not-platonic turn.  The feelings caught us by surprise, but looking back... it's not really that surprising.  We've always gotten along well, we have a ton of quirks and things in common, and we knew each other to an extent that many people never know their supposed significant others.  We practiced speaking four out of five of the Love Languages for some time; and recently added Physical Touch into the mix.  Who knew foot rubs were actually so dangerous? I mean, other than Pulp Fiction.

     I have to admit, feeling so giddy with someone while being this age and comfortable with myself and our transforming relationship is way cool.  So what I suppose I really mean is why me falling in love with my best friend in our particular situation is awesome, but you probably already knew that.  It's so awesome that I even made a list of some reasons.

-No worries about when to say "I love you;" it's already been said.
-Instant history: we already have shared experiences to build upon.
-Knowing that after the "in love" goes away, we will still have a sold relationship, no matter the form it takes.
-No surprise character flaws; we've known about them for the years we've known each other.
-We already know what it's like to be around each other for days and weeks at a time.
-No uncomfortable "getting to know each other" phase, only the wonder of new discoveries in a new context.
-I don't have to explain polyamory or bring up my husband; they know each other, they get along, and my ideas have been the subject of conversation several times.

     We're still figuring things out, and who knows where this path will lead? What I do know is that this new form of an old relationship is currently giving us much happiness, and I'm content with that.

    
    

Friday, April 22, 2011

Love.

     I've always been bothered when people think that love shouldn't be explained.  That it's some random emotion for which we can't find a definition or reason.  I feel like considering love unknowable tends to lead to all sorts of things which aren't healthy and don't make people happy.  How many of us have known someone who stays with someone who treats them badly in the name of love they can't explain? I would wager that all of us have.    

     And so, I have a definition of the word "love" that I use; to love someone is to want them to be happy and healthy.  Also, if it is beneficial for both parties, I want for them to be near.  According to my own definition, I love every person, and I'm okay with that.  There are a couple of additional parts to the definition when it comes to romantic love... like I want to consider that person when I make plans for my future... but those are really just specific additions to the terms in the original definition.  And so I stand by the concise phrasing I like to use.

     Unfortunately, it seems that most people have a much different definition of love; to them, the nearness is the primary value, their own happiness secondary, and the happiness of the person they love only allowable if  said person's happiness does not trigger their insecurities or discomfort.  This is not a happy or healthy way to go about love, and since I love everyone according to my definition, I would like to see people move away from such a negative and possessive view of it.  Either we love people, or we want to possess them and dictate their actions; the two philosophies are incompatible in my mind.

   One of the common things people do which exemplifies this desire to change and control and stifle someone else's personality is the "I love you, but..." and then the naming of a defining personality trait which the person possesses and did when you met.  Such as "I love you, but I really hate it when you act like that."  I, of course, am guilty of this myself.  So, in the interest of trying to be more positive, I'm going to try to turn some of the "I love you, but..." into "I love you because..."  One I might say about myself would be "I love you, but you can be demanding at times."  So let us turn that into "I love you because you value competence in action."

     A value I might give for my husband would be "I love you, but I don't like it when you focus on other people and pretty much ignore me."  A more positive thing to think and say might be "I love you because you tend to focus on whoever needs your attention the most in a group, and you trust me to be able to take care of myself."  It's the same action in the same circumstance, but once I recognize that the action which triggers my own insecurity is actually a positive thing, I am able to fully feel the benefit of what it is.  Of course this can be taken to unhealthy extremes... no one should ever try to turn an "I love you but I don't like it when you abuse me" into an "I love you because you have a strong will," for example. 

     I think that in the future, when I feel stress in a relationship of any sort, be it familial, friendly, or romantic, something I might find useful would be to make a list with the "I love you buts" on one side, and the "I love you becauses" on the other.  If our "but" side is heavier than our "because" side, it would probably do us good to examine why we continue the relationship.  By heavier, I don't necessarily mean more populated... it's nearly always easier to come up with a bunch of little things that bug us than a few really big things which make us happy.  But if the negative side of the equation is loaded with major unresolvable issues and the positive side is full of rarely applicable traits, we definitely have some considering to do. 

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

A Bit of Backstory...

     I made reference to the fact that polyamory was something I started considering when I was 15; I thought I would explain a little.

     My home life was not the best.  My parents split when I was 8, but that was mostly a good thing.  The adults I knew wouldn't believe me, but I was really glad that they didn't live together anymore... Mom and Dad got along much better living apart, and I was happy that there were no more screaming matches.  A few years later, they both chose new partners who didn't really feel that I fit into the picture.  My parents individually chose to deal with those partners.  Maybe it was low self-esteem, I'm not entirely sure.  All I knew was that I became the lowest priority in both households.  At my mom's it was mostly having my needs ignored for an alcoholic who would disappear for weeks at a time, then later taking care of my siblings as a second parent whenever I was around and he wasn't.  At my dad's there was occasionally outright hostility from my stepmother in addition to being ignored much of the time.

     As a result of not feeling like my house was a home, spending time at my mother's where it was also not home, spending time at the homes of friends and family whenever possible, and the emotional strain it put on me, I exhibited some signs of traumatic stress.  Namely, that I felt like I was a different person when I was in each of these places, and that I was actually living multiple lives.  There were times in my teen years when I carried on more than one less-than-serious relationship at a time... I didn't feel like I was being unfaithful, because I felt like I was a different person living more than one timeline.  There are still occasionally memories which pop up and cause me to realize that while my brain remembers it as a singular event, it was really occurring simultaneously with other events that happened in different locations. 

      Most of the time, it wasn't really an issue.  I had more boyfriends than anyone knew about, but most of them were also not serious.  Until, of course, they were.  Shortly before I turned 15, I met a boy and fell in love.  Shortly after my birthday, I met another boy and fell in love again.  This time, Boy #1 and I had a correspondence via mail, and Boy #2 and I went to school together.  They fulfilled very different roles for me; #1 was creative, emotional, and needed a certain amount of nurturing which I was able to provide.  #2 was quite different; logical, intelligent (in fact, one of only two people I've met who have been on the same level as me intellectually), and the strong caretaker I also needed emotionally.  I loved these differences, and appreciated the fact that they provided very different things for me.  I realized that I wanted all of those aspects in my life, and wondered at the fact that more people didn't.  I wanted it to be okay to have two boyfriends, but I just *knew* that it never would be.

     So the guilt ate away at me.  I was a whore, a slut, a liar and cheater who didn't deserve love in any form... as far as my brain was concerned.  I eventually came clean to both of them, after breaking up with Boy #2 since he came into my life second.  #1 didn't really care, and I found out later that he had been carrying on a relationship with another girl for the first couple of months we were "dating."  Which maybe should have bothered me, especially since he lied about it, but I didn't care.  In fact, I was happy that he had someone to take care of him while I wasn't around.  He also ended up having a relationship with my best friend, which also didn't bother me.

*****
(I wrote the previous in January, was interrupted, and put the post on hold.  Knowing that I had this monster post to get back into has kept me from the blog since, but I finally decided to suck it up and continue.)
*****

     Eventually, Boy #1 moved away and I found out that he had been lying about some other things.  I resumed my relationship with boy #2, but the guilt from my past actions still weighed on me and grew into a giant brain dragon.  I became convinced that I was a terrible person (my mom helped some with that, actually, but that's another story for another time.) and eventually broke up with him because I was convinced that I would hurt him... 

     Yeah, well it made sense when I was 16 and crazy.

     Later, when I was 17 and crazy, I had another poly prelude type experience.  Boy #1 had returned to the area, and we tried having a relationship again.  I was also sort of having a relationship with his best friend.  They both knew about it; they lived together.  The funny thing was, there were jealousy issues, but it wasn't how you'd think.  Boy #1 was actually jealous that I was taking up some of Best Friend's time, not that I was dating someone else.  That situation was one of the happiest of my teen years, but it ended on a bad note when Boy #1 said I couldn't come over anymore, and Best Friend was too passive to do anything about it.  

     It was shortly after that fiasco that I met First Husband.  He knew about my somewhat unusual relationship history, and accepted it.  In fact, it kind of turned him on.  There were a couple of periods where I carried on emotional and somewhat physical relationships with others while we were together.  He knew something of the emotional content, and thought that it wasn't really any different than having a best friend of the same gender, but I lied (well, lied by omission) about the physical aspects.

     A few years later, we ran into Best Friend where he was working.  First Husband had actually known him before I had met either of them, and we each rekindled our friendships... which led to a lot more story, and I feel that the next chapter deserves its own blog post.  When I feel up to the task, that is.