Revelations

I’ve been evolving my feelings about how and when to reveal that I’m not monogamous. My general principle has been to hold the information back, not because I want to hide it, but because I don’t want to make people uncomfortable. A corollary worry is that if I mention my open marriage, someone will think I’m hitting on them. I know this has happened a few times. However, as time goes by, I’m realizing that I’m overestimating three things:

  1. The extent to which the rest of the country’s (world’s?) attitudes mirror the ones I tended to encounter in Indiana.
  2. The extent to which people are uncomfortable with knowing about things that they disapprove of.
  3. The extent to which anyone cares even a little bit what I’m doing in my private life if they’re not involved.

That last one can’t be overemphasized. Folks in general really are just remarkably tolerant of whatever you’re doing, or at least whatever I’m doing.  I’m aware that for various other people that’s not always the case.

For a long time now, I wasn’t telling anyone if I hadn’t known them for a while, and even then only if it came up in conversation.  The latter is still important, it’s not like I blurt out that I sleep around to anyone I meet, but I’m relaxing on the former restriction. I’m not sure what the effects have been; I’m made many new friends in the meantime, but can’t be sure how many people were put off by knowing this about me.

I still try to avoid it in situations where I think it might come off as hitting on someone.  I mean, unless I’m intending to do that, but frankly as I’ve discussed here before, it’s incredibly uncommon for me to approach someone in person, partly because of the difficulty in navigating that piece of information but mostly just because asking people out is super weird and I’ll take any excuse not to do it.

Now, for some time now most of the people I’ve been meeting have been in the slam poetry and alt lit communities, and it’s more than possible that those people are much more open to being around someone open/poly than the baseline. But some number of people I work with now know, both in and out of the office, just as a result of incidental conversations or, ah, seeing me out and about with, say, Ravaella.

It’s analogous in interesting ways to being bi, although obviously a lot less marginalized (yes, straight poly folks, it is). It’s something that I don’t necessarily want to talk about all the time but that I have to tell people or they won’t know. Having an invisible identity means doing that balancing act an awful lot, and mine aren’t even that invisible. Straight people don’t have to talk about how they’re straight, monogamous people don’t have to talk about how they’re monogamous. I guess I could publicly make out with guys more often, maybe, kill both birds at once.

Moving forward

I’ve been thinking of moving this site to my main writing site, NickSimmonds.com, to sort of consolidate everything in one place. I haven’t done so primarily because this site is sort of semi-secret; it’s not that anyone shouldn’t know anything here, it’s that I have friends and family who’d just rather not be confronted with my love life.  It probably wouldn’t be a huge problem, but I still feel a need for a little bit of separation. Like, if my mom goes looking and finds this site, then she’s welcome to read it, but that doesn’t mean that I want to put it in front of her face every time I write a new post.

It’s also, as I’ve pointed out before, no longer accurately named. At six years or so of writing on the subject–however intermittently–I’m no longer reasonably considered a novice in the world of open dating.

There some value, too, in having it more accessible. I’ve been seeing Ravaella Huntinghawk, half-elven monk, for a couple of months now, and she only recently stumbled across the thing (Hi, Ravaella).  I certainly could have sent her the link, but didn’t think to. I’ve often found as a writer that it’s useful to let new paramours find out about me through my writing, or at least find out that either all the stories I’ve been telling are true or I’m an incredibly prepared liar.

Things with Ravaella have gotten more intense more quickly than I was prepared for. I have found myself holding back a touch because it’s unclear how into the poly lifestyle she’s going to be, and that’s a recipe for a certain kind of hurt. You can see that in what happened previously with Ravamorel; I’m often someone’s one experiment in open relationships before they go back to monogamy, and it’s worth it, but there’s a melancholy to it. I’m sort of always gaining new and exciting people but I’m also sort of always just post breakup with someone.

I think I’m past the holding back, though, and now I’m just in the moment with everything. I’m really, really into her, and things are going well. If anything, I can’t manage to see her nearly as often as I want to.

Honestly, the one thing I’m sort of missing now is a local non-dating friend that I can go do arbitrary things with, rather than seeing each other at Events. I haven’t had, say, a “best friend” for a long time, and this is the sort of place that people seem to move away from a lot, as I mentioned here.

In any event, things are good. If you’re in Providence and free on Jan 15th, I’ll be performing in the semifinals slam at AS220. Hope to see you there.

Constant Contact

I have a not-date in about an hour with Ravamorel.  We haven’t seen each other in a while.  She met a new guy and I got… dumped, I guess?  I’m not sure what you call it when someone stops seeing you because the shape of their relationship no longer fits you.  I suppose this is somewhat similar to what happened with Eilella earlier, although Ravamorel and I had gotten considerably more serious.  Stage 13, I suppose, is what I’ve settled on here.

I pretty much always remain friends with someone after we stop seeing each other. I can imagine circumstances under which I wouldn’t, where one or both of us had done something awful and that ended things, but that’s just never been the case with me.  I’ve lost contact with a few people, which is always a little sad, but mostly the people who’ve been in my life remain in my life. I just don’t sleep with people if I wouldn’t otherwise want to spend time with them.  So, I am shortly going to do whatever you call it when you and an exish sort of person go to the zoo together.

That said, I know there are people who can’t manage to remain in contact after even an amicable breakup, and I don’t mean to sit in judgment of them. I probably do that, but I don’t mean to.

Anyway, she’s here.

Location, location, location

Been a long time, I shouldn’t have left you

Without a dope beat to step to

-Rakim

So I find myself these days seeing a number of people at various distances.  Carrie lives with me, of course, but there’s Ravamorel Shortankard (chaotic good gnome barbarian) in Watertown I see about weekly, Caarsadi Hollysword (neutral evil elf assassin) in Medford whom I manage to see something like monthly, and then Lorakhan Serpenthelm the Other (neutral good half-elf shadowdancer) who lives in Austin, and we seem to be on a “whenever we’re around each other” schedule.  And occasional walk-ons, various people I have seen and may see again but probably not on any even semi-regular basis.

What’s weird is that for some time now I haven’t been seeing anyone in Providence aside from Carrie.  Since Lorakhan moved away, no one else has popped up on my radar.  A couple of abortive conversations have happened on OkCupid, but have gone nowhere, and meeting people in person is as much a non-starter as ever with the poly info dump required before we even touch the let’s-get-a-drink-and-make-eyes-at-each-other stage.

What’s more, I am realizing I just don’t know a lot of local folks. I have made lots of friends in the area, but an awfully large swath of those keep moving to bigger cities. The kinds of folks I get along with seem to be more often than not the kind that want to live in NYC, SF, Seattle, or at least Boston.

I’m more than happy to travel to or host the folks that I’m seeing, and of course for local color one can’t do any better than my wife, but there’s a niche for someone local who can just duck out with me on a whim, and it’s an empty niche these days. There are occasions when I need to get out of the house with someone and Carrie isn’t around or isn’t interested, and some subset of those occasions it would be nice to end up making out at the end.  Maybe “booty call” is the term.

I’m going to try to get back into the swing of writing, so lets hope I don’t neglect this blog quite so horribly in the next few months. I started taking classes, and got a bit overwhelmed by the time requirements, but now that I’ve got my feet under me it’s not so bad. Plus I’m drinking coffee for the first time in my life, so I’ll probably have some extra hours and with any luck more focus.

Verité

Someone just claimed to me that Bill of Kill Bill was polyamorous.  If so, he had the strictest “one penis policy” ever in the history of nonmonogamy.

I’ve decided to use “a social movement around the practice of nonmonogamy” as my personal definition of “polyamory” (revised from “the social etc” on the advice of a friend).  Anything else I’ve ever heard requires telling someone who identifies as poly that they’re wrong, and that seems ridiculous to me.

Anyway, under this definition my objections to the term are gone, so I suppose I can go ahead and embrace it as a label.  I know you were all holding your breath.  Four years into seeing Carrie, I’m finally willing to ID as “polyamorous”.

Rounding out this incoherent post, I feel like this video should be embraced by the community:

Check out these lyrics:

We formed a new religion
No sins as long as there’s permission
And deception is the only felony
So never fuck nobody without telling me
Sunglasses and Advil, last night was mad real
Sun coming up, 5 a.m., I wonder if they got cabs still?
Thinking ‘bout the girl in all leopard
Who was rubbing the wood like Kiki Shepherd
Two tattoos: one read “No Apologies”
The other said “Love Is Cursed by Monogamy”
It’s something that the pastor don’t preach
It’s something that a teacher can’t teach

Sometimes Kanye speaks truth.

Policies

Some of you who follow the RSS feed may have seen a post appear and disappear recently, or noticed the links on a couple of sites if you were watching for the couple of minutes that they were up.  I had run the idea past the person involved, but when it was finally written it was uncomfortable in tone, so I dropped it.  I thought I’d make explicit the sort of privacy policy that’s running in my head.

If I mention you in this blog, and don’t have your permission to use your name, I will anonymize you as previously mentioned.  If the topic feels at all sensitive, I’ll first ask you about it.  If I ever post anything that makes you uncomfortable, just let me know and it will come down immediately.  I’ll try to avoid that by discussing it beforehand, but obviously that won’t always be sufficient.

I won’t tell anyone else’s stories without their explicit consent, either.  This is a place where I’ll talk about my relationships with other people, but not their relationships-once-removed with other folks, except as they tangentially relate to me.  I don’t mind relating stories that someone wants related, but I’m not going to snag them without asking.

If you and I are seeing each other and you’d rather not be mentioned at all, let me know and you won’t come up, even anonymously.

If you’re not mentioned or involved and something I’ve posted makes you uncomfortable, I suppose you should tell me but I do reserve the right to ignore that.

La de dum.: just shut up.

(trigger warning: rape discussion)

First, a story.

So, my first semester of my freshman year of college, I took this Intro to Women’s Studies class. The class met for five hours a week, one two hour session and one three hour session, and the breakdown of students was what I eventually discovered to be the typical…

Everyone should go read that essay.

All right. If you’re done (or if you’re not going to do it), let’s talk about the flip side of this.

Let’s talk about Revenge of the Nerds.

I’m sure all of you know this movie, and some of you already know where I’m going, but it was a fairly standard 80s narrative about a bunch of underdog guys going to college and getting picked on the way that they all were in high school—and in a way that, as far as I can tell, doesn’t actually happen in college.  It’s a movie squarely aimed at high school and younger kids.  Boys.  Aimed at boys, not at kids.

It’s an escapist movie that tells boys that, while they may not be the biggest in their school, eventually smarts will win out.  No one cares who was the best football player.  The end is also especially good, as it emphasizes the fact that all of these things are felt by almost everyone, and people who coast through life are a tiny minority with no real power if the rest of us come together.

It also teaches the standard boys’ movie lessons: women are to be competed over, their autonomy doesn’t matter, and rape is okay.  Literally, in every single case.

The “nerds” get back at the “jocks” over and over by victimizing women, not through direct conflict.  The whole narrative is an expression of male power over each other based on what they can get or force women to do.

One of the first “triumphs” of the nerds is when they stage a panty raid (which is bad enough as a trope, treating sexualized theft as a harmless prank) which is just a smoke screen for installing cameras all over the place while the women are distracted, which they then use to spy on said women in the showers.  This is clearly played as a way of getting back at the men that those women are dating.  The only person who complains even a little about this is the resident camp gay.

That pales in comparison to the moon walk scene, though.  You may remember this as the moment when the protagonist finally “got the girl”, but here’s what actually happens: he dresses up like her boyfriend, explicitly refuses to reveal his identity, and has sex with her while she still thinks he’s someone else.  It is hard to come up with a more clear-cut case of a rape scene that a movie treats as perfectly acceptable; in fact, he’s somehow so good at rape that she decides she loves him.

But here’s the really, truly awful thing about this movie; without critical media skills, when I watched this as a child, I lapped it up.  I took it exactly as presented, thought the theft/voyeurism scene was harmless fun, and didn’t think anything of the rape scene beyond a childish fascination with sex and being happy the guy got the girl.

I watched a rape scene, and I was rooting for the rapist.  Not only that, but I was an adult before I even realized it was rape.

This is what can be so hard about acknowledging rape culture as a man.  Imagine if I’d never come to my current understanding, as is perfectly possible.  Imagine if I’d never learned to look past my cultural bias.  Imagine what I’d be capable of. Me.

Feminism, as a man, is difficult not only because you’re breaking out of other kinds of programming.  It’s difficult because you have to look in the mirror and face the monster.  I won’t say that I forgive the guys who can’t do it, but I understand.

There but for the grace of several fantastic women in my life go not only I.  It’s possible that if I had reached sexual maturity without being broken of this sort of thinking, there’d be more victims of sexual assault in the world.

Processing

So I got into an argument with a bunch of poly folks who were using the word “processing” over and over without explaining what they meant, which turns out to be something like “sitting down and talking through your feelings with your significant other(s)”.  Setting aside that I think that’s a weird word to use for that, my complain was (of course) of a piece with my endless irritation with poly jargon.

The response that I got was that it’s a standard usage of the word (it’s not), and that monogamous folks use it all the time when they’re going through therapy.

*headdesk*

If you’re telling me that poly folks all talk about their relationships as if they were in therapy all the time, you’re rather proving my point.

Link

you are not a unique flower

You know why else you say you’re a geek?  Geeks are unique flowers.  You’ve got all these offbeat, original ideas, and you like things that aren’t popular, and sure, you’re a little awkward, but smart people like you.  Besides, you don’t care what other people think.

Uh, I don’t mean to burst your bubble or anything, but Star Wars?  Popular.  Monty Python?  Popular.  Robots?  Extremely popular.  Neil Gaiman?  Popular.  Douglas Adams? You’re not doing any better here.  Portal II, comic books, Dune, computers, XKCD, gaming, Doctor Who, science, Neal Stephenson, Star Trek, dragons, monkeys, ninjas, pirates — this could go on forever.  And for that matter, glasses?  Full-blown fashionable.

 

I married this person. ❤

Nominal

It’s been pointed out that the name of my blog doesn’t really work now that I’m four years into a primary relationship, married, and have been navigating open relationships at least semi-successfully for some time.

I’ll probably migrate to my own hosting sometime soon, and rename the blog then.  I currently don’t have any options lined up, but if someone wants to make a suggestion I am all ears.  Eyes, actually I guess.  Unless you call me and tell me and then I guess it’s ears.