Two great tastes that taste great together…

(Book review #7 – original post @ Cannonball Read 8)powercircuits-ravenkaldera

Warning: This book and review deal with power dynamics being carried out in real life adults that some might not be comfortable with, and may also contain some triggering words that have a very different meaning in the kink scene. Please note that everyone involved has agreed to be so; this book is about consensual power dynamics and conscious relationship style choices, not coercion. As the author states in the synopsis on the back of the book:

“Power Circuits is an alliance between two alternative lifestyles: polyamory, or multiple open and honest romantic relationships; and power dynamics, relationships that choose to be consciously and deliberately unequal in power.”

So I’ve been in the kink scene for just over eighteen years. Of those eighteen years, I’ve been polyamorous or involved in open relationships for about fifteen years. In the course of those fifteen years, I’ve read and written a lot about polyamory. I’ve also read and written (albeit less than poly) about kink stuff. Thing is, up until I found this book a few months ago on an Amazon search, I had never seen the two put together. Sure, some poly books touch on the overlap between the poly community and the kink scene, but never anything in depth that I remember. And yeah, some kink books go into threesome and multiple partners, but the subject of love seems to be mostly avoided. But this book…THIS book puts the two great tastes together in ONE book! And really well, I might add. It’s been a while since I brought a pencil with me as diligently while reading as I did with this book. It’s full of underlined passages, notes in the margin, and I even spent a few weeks using it for a series of writing prompts while exploring more about D/s & M/s relationships this summer.

One of the things I love about this book is how it’s organized. There’re about 100 pages of Part One: “Background and Basics” that I breezed through because the author’s style is so accessible and smooth. This section covers some basic definitions, why he decided to write this book (basically because, as I said above, no one ever had before), some common pitfalls, a rough outline of various intensity levels to power dynamics, a chapter on queer templates called “Polyamory and Power Dynamics in Nonheterosexual Communities”, and, of course, the ever present poly mantra of “communicate, communicate, communicate.” I was especially grateful that during all this explanation of terms, Kaldera had a very open perspective on power dynamics and throughout the book, in fact, is guided by the principle that the people in each relationship should work out what they want and not subscribe blindly to being a Dominant or submissive in a certain way. He write on page 19 that “there is also great variety in the levels of power dynamic between relationships with any given partner…many ongoing polyamorous families end up looking more like constellations than simple geometric forms.” But my favorite part is when he elaborated on it on page 54:

We don’t believe in saying that subs or slaves or masters or mistresses “ought” to have certain rights or limits. These are all negotiated in intensely personal ways between the people involved, and the only way to judge is if everyone involved says that they’re completely happy with the situation. Beyond that, it’s up to them. There is no one “right” way to do this. There’s only the ways that work to make everyone content with their choices, and the ways that make someone in the relationship miserable. That will be different for everyone.

Part Two: Essays from The Ones in Charge and that was where my pencil really had a field day. There was so much information in there! And different perspectives and relationship constructs…it made me so happy. One of the Masters talks about how he focuses on a “personal angle of self-improvement and overcoming internal conflict” and holds these guiding themes as his ideal:

…make the girl the best that she can be, along the lines of self-actualization described by psychologists Abraham Maslow and Carl Rogers. To that end, preserving elements of the girl’s ego is not only important, but core to what I wish to accomplish.

AND

My artistic urges revolve around the collaborative fusion of audience and artist, so the final creation is a gestalt of my will and the will of my slave or submissive, each one different.

That Master sums up his section by urging readers to “set out to find what is right and then build your own terms around it. Never let the words dictate the realities.” That’s what I strive for.

Another author in this section talks similarly about he views polyamory/non-monogamy:

My concept of non-monogamy is based on the firm conviction that we can’t control love, and so we’re much better off learning how to navigate our lack of control than investing in futile measures to clamp down. In other words: there is no such thing as forever, because you can’t possibly know today how you will feel in twenty years. There is no such thing as “the one” because we are all evolving and changing at every moment, and we all have infinite potential to meet others with whom we could share a few steps or many leagues on our journey.

Part Three: Essays from the Ones Who Surrender also saw a lot of my pencil, especially since it had a whole chapter based on being a cuckquean, which is not something that’s often written about – especially from a kink perspective. There are six different essays in this section (two more than the “Ones in Charge” section, which I find interesting in a good way) and besides the cuckquean one, my favorite was the one that talked about (and was titled) Being in a Leather Family. For a long time, I’ve been peripherally tied to the leather community through friends and work, but have never really explored it myself. This one essay made me want to dive in headfirst once I move back to the East coast this fall and to my home kink scene.

My favorite parts were the ones that said “the role of Master and slave was more important than sex in its own way” and that “there are many, many kinds of love.” Because YES. This! But the best part, I think, and the part that really made me want to learn more about the leather community was this:

It’s part of the queerness that created the leather family – the part that says, “They’ll never accept me out there, because they don’t understand me, so I will create my own family designed around affirming my sexuality and my lifestyle.” That’s queerness, even when it’s a leather family full of straight people. That, not sex, is what binds us together.

The last section is called Families Speak and touches on parenting within this dynamic and contains an interview with a poly/power dynamic family and the Kaldera. This section contains probably my favorite anecdote. The family is talking about one of their contracts, because in these types of relationships, sometimes there are contracts that spell out what type of power is involved and what is expected of all parties. These can get very wordy, very over-the-top, and, in my opinion, a little dramatic. Sometimes. But this family has an ageplay dynamic that led them to do one of their contracts with much more levity and I think it’s perfect:

Our contract very much reflects who we are as people, because part of our dynamic and part of our personalities is that both of us are “littles”. So if you read our contract, that would shine through loud and clear. The title of the contract is “Da Rulz” and it says things like, “The dominant, he can haz the power.”

This pretty much encapsulates what I love about this book so much. It helps and encourages people to find what works for them, to be honest with their partners about what they want, and to always communicate, communicate, communicate. The author spends about a third of the book giving his experiences and input, but then opens the rest of it to people who are doing it and how. Also, none of the people shy away from talking about how many mistakes they made getting to where they are now and saying that these relationship styles are not for everyone. It’s not a proselytizing book in the slightest, but it is worth it’s weight in gold for people who are navigating these waters because it is part of who they are.

Is polyamory worth it?

It’s been a long standing joke in my family (both blood and chosen) that my life is anything but simple. I’m kind of the black sheep, tending to gravitate towards experiences, interests, and people that are complex. I’m the one who taught my very vanilla sister about the separate subjects of furries (which was great, because she was able to be a safe person to talk to when she found out one of her co-workers was a furry), polyamory, and kink (and how no, the latter is not always about sex and for me it very seldomly is about sex at all, and no, my kink does not involve being a lamppost. True conversations.) I’m the one who broadened my dad’s world when I handed him an invitation to my poly wedding (two coming outs in one awkward card, as he didn’t know I was poly or pansexual!) I have this blog where I write publicly about being kinky, being poly, taking my clothes off in front of strangers, body image, sex, random cum stains in the shape of Pacman that amuse me and how that related to a happy compersion poly moment, and openly admit to being a cuckquean.

Sometimes…okay a lot of times, and especially over the past few months, being the black sheep and not able to just do or feel uncomplicated things hurts. When you don’t fall under the umbrella of social expectation, you kind of have to navigate your own way around instead of relying on what society in general tells you. While this touches on all parts of my life, from my job(s), to my kink drive, to the way I dress, and so much more, it’s never so apparent to me as when I consider love.

Recently, I may or may not’ve wound up driving and crying with my sister because while she’s vanilla as hell, she loves me and listens unconditionally. And the last two months or so have been…hard. Through a combination of life and work stressors, issues with metamours, and feeling unable to find support and connection with the certain people I either usually do or was hoping to, I’ve been a bit upset and floundering. Ever since May, it feels like I’ve leveled up in life, but with that comes an entirely new world that I’m unfamiliar with. There’s some advanced/complicated poly stuff going on, in addition to navigating a cross country move for work, in addition to my submissive and Domme sides resurfacing again in major ways and it’s all been really, really hard to deal with sometimes.

And during this drive with my sister that may or may not’ve happened, she asked me a very pointed question:

“Are you sure polyamory is worth all this pain?”

I could tell she wasn’t just asking about my current situation. She knows what I went through in my triad marriage and when it ended, in addition to my other poly relationships. To her, a woman who’s been married to the same man for 20 years, what I was going through seemed so foreign and complex. A simple choice could fix it. I paused, tears streaming down my face, nose running, heart aching, and gave the question its due even while my core was screaming its answer.

But before I get to my answer, though, let me reference a post Ferrett recently wrote that made me tear up. He talked about driving three hours to hold his girlfriend’s hand before she went into surgery. And how when the medical staff asked who she had waiting for her, she replied honestly that it was her husband…AND her boyfriend. Which flummoxed the staff to the point where, instead of continually repeating herself, she just wound up summarizing with “‘Look, I lead an alternative lifestyle, all right?'”

This hit him hard, as evidenced by the entirety of the post. It, in turn, had a pretty big impact on me. Because he goes on to talk about all the times we don’t talk about these alternative choices, especially, if you’re poly or kinky or both, who we love.

These paragraphs, specifically, were what brought me to tears:

Yet my girlfriend did not give a fuck. She was exhausted, and tired, and when she was stripped raw the last thing she wanted to give up was to acknowledge the love that was sitting out there in that lobby for her and fuck, I’m crying now.

But it’s a moment. It’s a moment where her don’t-give-a-fuck punched a hole through to another world where I saw what it might be like not to have really good reasons not to just be buried under a tide of assumptions, and in that moment our love felt realer than it ever had before, this thing where yeah, we don’t live together and we’re never going to get married and we’ll never have once-a-week dates and all the traditional pathways designated as “serious about each other” somehow didn’t fucking matter.

We don’t call each other, but I’ll drive out to hold her hand when she needs me.

We only get to see each other once every couple of months, but she’ll fucking face down a bunch of surgeons in the place of her to tell them, Give that man respect for what he is.

Between that post and the post he wrote called “Yes, of course” about his wife’s reaction to him driving three hours out to be with his girlfriend when she went into surgery, I just…felt a recognition. I know what my answer is. I’ve always known. And recently, despite or maybe even because of the pain I’ve been going through, I feel I finally found where I want to be with relationships.

Yes, it’s fucking worth it.

It’s taken me nearly 15 years to get to a place of polyamory that’s basically relationship anarchy/fluid (not to imply that it’s more evolved, it’s just that it’s where I evolved to) and yes, it’s fucking worth it. I want and actively chose this support network of complex ties and feelings and yes, love, in its many shapes and forms. I don’t always have to know how to define a particular relationship, but I sure as hell know when I love someone and all the tears are worth being able to say it and hear it back.

The feeling of making a new connection and exploring it and finding and developing another piece of myself with another person is totally worth the half a box of tissues I went through that night.

When I get on a plane, there are about five or six people that know when I take off and when I land and those people also are told that I love them. I’m not “in a relationship” with all of them, and I don’t even know how the hell to define all of them, but I know they are important to me and I to them and if I’m staring down mortality, I want that to be known. I want love to be the thing I focus on, not fear. And it’s actually been part of what helps me get over some residual anxiety when it comes to flying. That’s totally worth frustrating interactions with a metamour.

The poly and kinky support network I’ve built over the years that spans nearly ten different states and a fuckton of people, the books and articles I’ve read, the conversations I’ve had sorting through my own shit or helping someone else sort through theirs is totally worth the pain of break ups, of sifting through complex emotions, or being stood up.

I mean, it’s not the structure itself that causes the hurt. When I got divorced from my poly triad, I was asked why I would continue to be polyamorous after all that pain and I replied that polyamory wasn’t to blame for my relationship ending any more or less than monogamy is the reason for monogamous divorces. It’s not the relationship style, it’s the people involved. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t. That’s universal. No relationship style that I know of is immune to…humanity and its wondrous variety.

And on the flip side are moments like my husband texting me today that he thinks the person at the deli where he ate lunch is totally my type. Or the compersion of seeing someone I care about twitterpated with NRE over a connection with someone new. Or when my husband came home today and I told him that I had spent some of my day negotiating to do a needle scene at GKENE and he made up a little song to the tune of “I’ll Be There” by the Jackson 5. However for him, since he doesn’t like needle play, it went more like this (complete with chair dance choreography and him spinning me in my desk chair):

You and I must make a pact, when he’s putting needles in your back
When that’s happening, I won’t be there…

That freedom to explore who I am, who I love, and what I want at my own pace, at my own comfort level, with the people I choose to, and the beautifully complex tapestry of people and experiences that ensue, including impromptu chair dances, are totally fucking worth it.

Fucking February and All The Feels

Fair warning disclaimer: This post is going to be long, all over the fucking place, full of links to blogs I’m finding helpful, free-association lyrics, fast-forwarding and rewinding, and just a whole bunch of stuff I’m trying to extract from my brain and heart.

For some reason, over the past four years, February has had a habit of kicking me right in the feels. Without fail, by the end of the month for the past four years, I’m inundated and overwhelmed by whatever has happened in the few weeks of this brutal, brilliant, abbreviated month. I mean, for fuck’s sake, it’s the shortest month of the year…how does it ALWAYS manage to pack a gut punch and a half? It probably doesn’t help that Valentine’s Day, with all it’s socially trappings and expectations, is in there, along with my wedding anniversary. Which my husband did the sweetest thing as an anniversary gift. At Wicked Faire this year, he had the DJ tech person play our wedding song during the Later Night Atrium Dance Party so we could dance to it. (Cue the chorus of “awwwwws”).

All told, it was a mostly good weekend for us personally, except for the one night he fucked up a promise. That hurt. But we’ve discussed it, he’s apologized, and we’ve moved on. And the next night’s anniversary present helped. But I’m glad that it didn’t affect him hanging out with his girlfriend and that he got to spend one of the nights with her. Long distance relationships suck, especially when you only see each other a few times a year and you’re also working during those times.

Anyway, this year, February’s Fucking Feelfest snuck up on me. I though I could escape the flood and was dealing with the past and present well. And maybe I am. But it all finally overtook me last night.

This year, there were good things on the horizon early on in the month and exciting things that happened and I made strides that I hadn’t expected. For instance, I got my ass back up on the burlesque stage, went completely topless for the first time on a public stage, pushed myself in some ways within my own relationship only to find it really didn’t need pushing at all and was completely fine, stood up for myself when things were not going as promised and mostly handled it productively.

These were the normal ups and downs, with some extra awesome thrown in. For example, seriously, so happy about performing at the last Wicked Faire. This song was floating in my brain most of the day Saturday:

I don’t know why I’m frightened
I know my way around here
The cardboard trees, the painted scenes, the sound here
Yes, a world to rediscover
But I’m not in any hurry
And I need a moment
The whispered conversations in overcrowded hallways
The atmosphere as thrilling here as always
Feel the early morning madness
Feel the magic in the making
Why everything’s as if we never said goodbye
I’ve spent so many mornings
Just trying to resist you
I’m trembling now
You can’t know how I’ve missed you
Missed the fairy-tale adventures
In this ever-spinning playground
We were young together

“As If we Never Said Goodbye” – Sunset Boulevard

But there were also some crazy, head-exploding moments from the weekend, including seeing someone in an entirely new light and trying to reconcile all of that then freaking out a little and doing my best to not run in the opposite direction for fear of fucking everything up, having him laugh at me, not knowing the current style of his relationship with his girlfriend and not wanting to inadvertently hurt her which would suck because she’s amazing, and just generally it took a lot to keep that together and to myself and sometimes I failed spectacularly. Added to that was the fact that I still had to do my job, and had that performance I was just talking about, and for some reason, decided this was the event I was going to experience the party side of the nights so I got into two room parties I’d only ever heard of previously. Wound up having some intense, awesome experiences and conversations. The more I opened up, I found, the more there were awesome people around to further the amazing experiences, from an really cool guided imagery massage that helped me sober up to a really interesting conversation about poly and couple privilege that has rocked my brain a little and given me a perspective on it that I never considered before.

Woman, open the door; don’t let it sting.

I wanna breathe that fire again.

-“Read My Mind” by the Killers

And there’s a part of me that’s just aching to breathe the fire I’ve felt before again. To rise from the ashes and explore feelings I get so rarely. And I have to temper that with other people, distance, time…life. But it ties into me wanting to get back into playing and unearthing my kink drive again, which has been dormant for way too long. Sure, she gets out and makes a quick walk around the block sometimes, but on a whole…I know I can go deeper. I have gone deeper. I need to go deeper again. Thankfully, there are a few interesting prospects on the horizon, but it’s coming back down to a game of hurry up and wait. But I am grateful for those people in my life who are there and want to explore and play with me. They are some truly excellent people.

Then there’s the thing where all of the people and things that are happening currently remind me or touch on some part of my past. The metamour who might be core monagamous or poly-friendly, but there’s no real way to know yet is dredging up some things from how I used to be when I first got into poly which is, in turn, pointing out some glaring mistakes I made that I now regret. Part of me wishes I could tell that to my two exes, but since they’re not talking to me, it’s a moot subject. Well, maybe not moot. Just I only get to have internal realizations and not apologize directly.  And really, there’s so much more to it than the mistakes I made anyway, but those are the only things I can control and apologize for. And god, I would apologize for the apparently standard practice of poly newbies to create rules up the wazoo in a fucked up attempt of protecting the primariness and specialness that I was so desperately afraid of losing. In my case, and in many cases, from what I’m reading and have read over the years, it tends to have the opposite affect of and instead pushes people away. Also, knowing now how better to handle jealousy and where it comes from, this article that I read years ago on the subject makes so much more sense.

Really, jealousy is just a fear of something being lost or taken away. It’s a feeling that points out where you feel there is an imbalance. And the “feel “part of that is the most important, to me, at least. Because it’s not always the case. Something isn’t necessarily being taken away. Sometimes it is. But sometimes new and wonderful things can be there to replace it if we let them. But for me, I’ve finally learned that when I’m feeling jealous, it generally doesn’t mean that I want the other person to stop what they’re doing, but that I’d really like some of what they’re doing, maybe at some point in the future.

For example, when I get jealous of the screen of emojis I see my husband texting to a love interest, it doesn’t mean he has to stop sending emojis or stop texting that person. It means I tell him that I’d really like to get some of those at some point, too, to spice up our texts. It has nothing to do with limiting or controlling his behavior anymore, in an attempt to reinforce that I’m The Most Important Snowflake Ever. I come from a place of love and knowing that he can send emojis to more than one person and it’s okay. But it’s equally okay to say something in a non-accusatory way about trying to get some sweet, sweet emoji loving, too. But on the flip side, if he’s doing that during a pre-set date night with me, then that’s a problem and I’d ask him to stop and let his sweetie know that we’re on a date and he can sext her lots later or tomorrow. In that latter case, it’s not about controlling my partner’s behavior, but both of us honoring and respecting the time and attention of the partner we’ve agreed to spend a certain amount of time with.

I’ve been struggling with this concept of poly with no rules for a while now, but it’s making more sense to me. The more I let go of my fear with my husband and begin to open up to the people he wants to explore with and the people I want to explore with, the more I find this ringing true. But it’s still struggling with my hierarchical core. But what I’m finding more and more is that once I transcend the fear of abandonment and realize I will be okay whether or not I have a primary, the stronger my primary relationship gets and the happier we both are pursuing the feelings and desires we have outside of each other. It’s a weird paradox, kinda like that quote about taking a leap and building your wings on the way down. And it’s come with its fair share of tears, anxiety, confusion, and loneliness. But it’s also been balanced out with a joy and openness and relief I didn’t expect. Also, I still think “no rules” can coexist with hierarchy, but it can get complicated.

Along the lines of where my head is kinda at right now, there’s this article that focuses more on solo polyamory, but has a quote I adore:

“…falling in love doesn’t equate to inhibiting your freedoms or my own. When I fall for you, it means you mean something to me, and I ultimately want to be a part of your life that makes you happy and builds you up. I’m not expecting anything from our relationship beyond the present moment, but I’m also not closed to the idea of a deeper connection developing. I want to see what happens when neither one of us is pushing or angling for anything.”

SO MUCH THAT.

Man, love is fucking complicated.

And just like in that article, I had to learn the hard way that love does not equal compatibility, nor does it alone solve relationship problems, nor does it mean I have to sacrifice myself endlessly in the name of love. These were hard lessons to learn. Four years ago in February, a day after Wicked Faire ended, I woke up and asked my now ex-husband a question that was the catalyst for us all (I was in a triad marriage) to begin the long, painful process of ending a relationships/marriages that had stretched from 10 to 13 years.

And it sucks because even though there are multiple reasons why it’s probably the best thing that ever happened to me and I’m better off now, and they are, too, it still hurts. There’s the part of me that wanted my first real love to want me more than anything else. Want to stay with me forever. “true love” was supposed to be in my favor. I started out as the primary, after all.

How sad and sweet it is that I actually felt that way. My understanding about the nature of love has evolved so much over the past four years that it’s kind of staggering and I have to catch myself up sometimes. Remind myself that what feels familiar is not what I actually believe anymore. Remind myself that there’s so much of the stuff in this article that I used to do because I was so afraid. Demotion, displacement, intrusion…well, I tried not to do too much of the intrusion. But god…I was a wreck when we first opened up our relationship. In between being in love with our then girlfriend, I was a goddamned wreck. My boyfriend’s chemistry with her was palpable, and for an empath who hadn’t even begun to learn much about being an empath, that just fucking wrecked me. I couldn’t feel her in the same way as I felt him and her. I now know, since hindsight is 20/20, that that also had to do with the fact that I was a cuckquean, but had no clue about that word or what it entailed way back then. This all created some intense drama and difficulty that was sometimes balanced with moments of poly clarity and brilliance. Sometimes balanced.

Fuck, it’s been a long road.

More than anything, I’m really happy to have discovered this piece about Casual Love by Carsie Blanton because it sums up my feelings about love. I used to think it was this precious commodity that came with specific things that I should have or get or that other people should do to ensure my primacy and specialness. Now I endeavor to understand and embrace love in all it’s messy glory. For friends that are awesome even when they’re annoying, for family even when they cut you so deep you examine everything about who you are, for lovers who make really fucking huge mistakes, and for all the good that all of the above do, and all the experiences that we’ve shared and could share in the future.

It’s funny; a friend and possible D/s partner texted me recently to tell me he had an odd realization about me that he wanted to share. Apparently, he feels I don’t have a mean bone in my body and I have an openness and kindness in my face that’s apparent.

Upon reading this, I was struck with two conflicting reactions. Being touched and outright laughter.

It’s an incredible compliment to be considered so open and kind. It’s also hysterical that people don’t think I don’t have a mean bone in my body. I’m human, for fuck’s sake. As I told him, I believe everyone has a light and dark side, including me. I just try really hard not to indulge or dwell in it. All humans have both inside.

Granted, I’ve spent the better part of two decades trying to over-correct for the mistakes I saw people making around me when I was growing up, like racism, homophobia, xenophobia, fear of any new experiences or people or things. I respect and honor my dark side and work my ass off not to let fear run my life. It doesn’t mean I don’t feel fear, or that I never have mean thoughts, or that I haven’t done stupid, thoughtless, bad things. Again, see HUMAN. But I over-analyze so much about relationships and people and that includes myself, so I prefer to err on the side of joy, wonder, and discovery. This quote from Rainer Maria Rilke is one of my favorites and it’s kind of my motto:

“We must assume our existence as broadly as we in any way can; everything, even the unheard-of, must be possible in it. That is at bottom the only courage that is demanded of us: to have courage for the most strange, the most singular and the most inexplicable that we may encounter. That mankind has in this sense been cowardly has done life endless harm…But fear of the inexplicable has not alone impoverished the existence of the individual; the relationship between one human being and another has also been cramped by it, as though it had been lifted out of the riverbed of endless possibilities and set down in a fallow spot on the bank, to which nothing happens. For it is not inertia alone that is responsible for human relationships repeating themselves from case to case, indescribably monotonous and unrenewed: it is shyness before any sort of new, unforeseeable experience with which one does not think oneself able to cope. But only someone who is ready for everything, who excludes nothing, not even the most enigmatical, will live the relation to another as something alive and will himself draw exhaustively from his own existence.”

I think this approach to being open to enigmatical things was what led to me exploring my first ever casual sex experience at Wicked Faire last year. (again, y’know, February). Which was great, but I still kinda went stone butch in that I had no problem giving sexually the person I was with, but wasn’t able to accept sexual reciprocation. I’m not disappointed; this person gave me some AWESOME and totally fulfilling sensation play that I was craving.

But now I’m trying to sort through some even more mysterious feelings and trying not to get too far ahead of myself, because there are other people involved and I’m states away and have a lot on my plate and it’s just got levels of complexity and…yeah.

It’s a lot to sort through and last night, after talking with the new person, I just got off the phone and needed to drive. And cry. And sing. At the top of my lungs. The open highway called me and I just let it all come in. Felt it all. The past, the pain, the sensation, the burlesque and creativity, the love, the loss, the moving on, the fear, the desire, the concern…just so much to feel and process.

And just some bonus content…a playlist of songs I can’t get out of my head lately that fit various parts of all this:

  1. Read My Mind – The Killers
  2. Just Enough – Charlotte Sometimes
  3. I Get Off – Halestorm
  4. Dreams – Brandi Carlile
  5. All This and Heaven Too – Florence + the Machine
  6. Amazed – Poe
  7. Epoch – HUMANWINE
  8. Holding On To Good – Delta Rae
  9. Fearless Love – Melissa Etheridge
  10. Independent Love Song – Scarlett
  11. Suddenly – Les Mis MPS
  12. As If We’ve Never Said Goodbye – Glee version, from Sunset Boulevard
  13. Arsonist’s Lullaby – Hozier
  14. Have to Drive – Amanda Fucking Palmer
  15. Time Ago – Black Lab
  16. The Winner Takes It All – Meryl Streep, Mamma Mia
  17. Fake Plastic trees – Radiohead
  18. Wild Awake – Tylan
  19. Under Pressure – Queen/David Bowie

Just how ‘open’ do you wanna be…?

The past few months have brought me to the crux of an interesting quandary. The title of the post says, or rather, asks it all. Just how “open” do I wanna be? About my life. My path, proclivities, feelings, loves, desires.

Years ago, after the first Susie Bright book I read (Full Exposure – OMG, go read it), I felt positive I wanted to be like her. Around that time, I offered to and wound up giving a talk on polyamory at a friend’s local convention. I was green beyond belief but I was, as Linda Ronstadt sang, “Willin'”.

Willin’ to walk into a space with people I (mostly) didn’t know and talk about the fact that I didn’t think there was anything wrong with loving (and potentially sleeping) with more than one person. In fact, if I remember correctly, I was there with my then boyfriend and girlfriend. (Now ex-husband and ex-wife, but hey, that’s for another day.) And not only was I there to talk about how there wasn’t anything wrong with it, but ways to do it, books about it, conflicts that might come up (Hey, Jealousy…apparently, I’m writing in song titles tonight), compersion, etc. I was terrified to do it, but also high as a muthafucking kite when I was done. I was a poly activist! I was fighting the good fight and spreading the word about opening up relationships.

*sigh*

I was so young.

My heart was in the right place(s), though. A few people came up to me after the “class” to thank me. Ask questions. And while I did my best to answer them or point them in a good direction, I never really went anywhere with it. Or my dreams to write.

I did write a book way back in 2007. (Paperback Writer…I wish. More like Still Editing and Once You’re Done Maybe If You’re Lucky You’ll Be a Paperback Writer…The Beatles were SO right to go with the title that actually pops.) As the parenthetical says, I’m “still working on it.” I’ve done other things. Wrote a non-fic polyamory piece about how the Sims 2 was NOT a poly-friendly game. (Srsly. For short: it’s basically considered cheating if you take up with anyone who’s not your steady person and then, a FUCKING 6′ TALL BUNNY appears OUT OF NOWHERE, that ONLY YOU CAN SEE to prove you’ve gone insane from crying at the betrayal. That’s NOT OKAY, MAXIS.) for a close friend/mentor’s event magazine.

Tried my hand at the YA short story game after I wound up being introduced to an incredible person/now colleague and (most importantly) friend. Published six short stories, commissioned and paid for and everything. It in no way paid the bills, but it was totally the first time I’d ever been paid to write things that meant something to me. Lesbian polyamory. Asexuality. Internalized misogyny. YA pregnancy. Coping with a parent’s alcohol addiction. (Man, the tags on this post are turning into word salad.) I suppose this can all be considered “building my portfolio”, but it’s never really felt even that cohesive or important when I think about them all individually. After all, I wasn’t

  1. being offered a publishing contract
  2. in print, (beyond a non-circulating event magazine that doubled as the Playbill for the event)
  3. writing regularly
  4. making enough to earn a living from it.
  5. remotely famous

Amanda Palmer, in preparation for writing her book, (The Art of Asking – another OMG just go read it and then go read this article/interview about it from Brain Pickings by Maria Popova) I think, asked people how they knew they were successful. How/when they felt like “real” artists/writers/singers/actors/creators. It got written into her book like this:

There’s no “correct path” to becoming a real artist. You might think you’ll gain legitimacy by going to university, getting published, getting signed to a record label. But it’s all bullshit, and it’s all in your head. You’re an artist when you say you are. And you’re a good artist when you make somebody else experience or feel something deep or unexpected.

It’s so simple and true and yet…and yet I still felt that thrill the first time I was in print, yet without pay. And then when my writing was liked by people. And then when I was paid for online writing. And most recently when the online writing I was asked to do was liked by people AND I was published in print and given a contract for my short story. It was like a beacon to forge ahead with those dreams. To do those things that I’ve been aching to do for years now but just never really knew how.

Sure, I had a few secret blogs that I thought I would just see if they “took off”. There are also a few secret blogs I kept secret and locked for reasons or to specific people. There’s also a not-so-secret other social networking site that I’ve been on and writing on for years. But recently, I’ve begun to tire of this cloak and dagger game of hiding who and what I am. Of being ashamed of my evolving sexuality and desires. Fuck, we’re living in the 50 Shades of Grey era. The good Christian housewives and stylists in the Southern salon where I had my hair did earlier this year were talking about kink and sex, for fuck’s sake. So when someone I’ve worked with as my gig doing programming for Jeff Mach Events asked if I’d be up for doing a guest blog post on kinkyasexuals.wordpress.com about being in the asexual spectrum and being into D/s, I thought, FUCK YES I’LL DO THAT THING. The next thought, when she asked if I had a blog or website I wanted to link up to the post was, FUCK YES I NEED A BLOG OR WEBSITE TO DO THAT THING. (BTW, you can read that post right here on my blog now, too!)

So I looked at all the myriad tried and failed attempts at making something of my dreams and realized they were either too specific and not what I wanted to do or behind barriers I couldn’t open up myself, so I set up this blog to blow open my own barriered writing. I started rebranding a lot of my social media presence (“presence”…if it can be called that…I mean, I’m not Jen Lancaster, The Bloggess, Amanda Palmer, Tristan Taormino, Lori Duron, Cecilia Tan, Dossie Easton, Janet Hardy, or Susie Bright, but they’re the stars I see in my eyes I look up for guidance of who I want to be and what I want to do. A little piece here and a little piece there…more on that later) to fit who I am and what I want to write about and stand up for.

And now, here I am, with a newly published short story in the First Annual Geeky Kink Anthology, a guest blog, and my own brandy new blog with some new stuff and some relevant writings from the past few years that I posted other places.

I’m terrified and excited all at once. This puts many things I’ve only begun talking about exploring (demisexuality, cuckqueandom), mixes it with things I’ve been doing for 15+ years (poly and kinkery) and sees what happens.

It’s scary to think about being this open because things start happening like my dad calling me to congratulate me on my newly published story. My newly published, kinky, cuckqueanarific short story. I had that moment of panic thinking he’d actually read it when I realized that one of my sisters, who’s on Facebook, where I talk about things in a slightly more controlled manner, must’ve seen me being over the moon about the anthology (and subsequently terrified before the first public reading I did of it…but that’s also another story) and then told me dad. *exhale and graciously accept congrats.

Then there’s the conversation I had with my ex-mother-in-law-turned-dear-motherlyfriend (and yet another story for another time) who is…fairly conservative. But she did eventually know about and support her son’s relationship with two women. But still, fairly conservative. But as my new husband said when he joined us for lunch a few weeks ago (srsly, that WILL be another story for another time) she’s also delightful and loves me and when I decided to take the plunge and tell her about the short story being published…in the vaguest of terms…she was elated for me and asked where to find the book. I hedged and told her she might not want to read it since it’s erotica. To which she replied, “oh, please. We’re all adults. I’ve read 50 Shades of Grey.” I damn near fell over on the spot. But it just went to show me that maybe I wouldn’t lose the people I loved if I was out and proud and me. And, um, wrote about it.

There will, inevitably, come a day when someone calls me a slut for sharing these things. For loving more than one person and having an open relationship, for liking the thought of my husband fucking other people, for enjoying consensual pain and sensation play, and, ironically, for favoring all of these above random and/or casual sexual encounters. I dearly hope I won’t lose vanilla connections. But like the above-mentioned nine women I mentioned, I have to write about what I know. So there will be some (a lot of) poly in here. There’s some (a way whole bunch of) kink. Some art and music. Some gender issues. Some geekery. Some geographic, socioeconomic snark. Some mental health issues but finding the humor in it all with brilliant humanity and a lot of spunk and snark.

Those are my goals. Those are the pieces that touch me deeply so I hope writing about them will be able to touch others deeply. The art and music may come in the form of burlesque, the gender issues may not quite be a gender-evolving child, and I know nothing of Lululemon, but it’s the spirit of it all that I want to share. And here’s where I start finding my own little corner of that sky. (Cause BAM, I hadn’t thrown in a song title in a while. Oh, did I mention I’m kinda obsessed with music and musicals? Yup, that’s a passionate thing, too.)

Welcome to our world. Thank you for being here. ❤