[CBR10 – Review 1/13] Giant Days, Vol. 2

(Cannonball Read book review #1 – original post @ CBR10)

Last year, I signed up for Cannonball Read 9. Unlike 2013, where I completed my first (and only, thus far) FULL Cannonball of reading AND reviewing 52 books in one year, last year I was a bit more pragmatic. I went for a quarter Cannonball, or 13 books. Unfortunately, last year turned out to be not so much a “reading year” for me as it was more a “I’m slowly going to get more and more upset with my previous job year and struggle to do the best I can because I adore the job but hate a lot of things that are happening in conjunction with said job” year. Didn’t leave a lot of time or energy for reading and writing. My grand count of books read is 5 and books reviewed was 0.

But. One of the books that I read last year was the first in a series of graphic novels that I found through a friend on Facebook towards the end of last year. The series is called Giant Days and it’s a really refreshing story of three women who become friends in college, the subsequent adventures they go on, and all that good stuff. My local library system carried it and with a few requests from neighboring libraries, I had all five volumes in my hands. Volume 1 was great, but I finished that at the tail end of 2017. Given that I’m at the tail end of my renewals for volume 2, it’s high time I reviewed and returned the book.

So without further ado, Giant Days volume 2 picks up with the three main characters Daisy, Esther, and Susan getting ready for the hall ball. They’re in England, so this turned out to be a college version of a school dance. We go with them shopping, where they wind up at a thrift store in mostly ill-fitting dresses, complaining. Except Esther. As the Goth Gal of the Group, who we later finds out has a brother (sewing machine, a cute little joke that comes up later) who can work miracles with ill-fitting dresses, she seems in her element searching for something to wear in the thrift shop. She settles on a Victorian looking wedding gown.

The next people we see shopping for hall ball clothes are two other students: McGraw, a fairly well put-together love/hate interest for Susan and Ed Gemmell, a basket case of a guy who has a thing for Esther. Once they get measured and all for their suits, we fast forward to the actual hall ball. The illustrations are great for showing a nice variety of people, to give it a cool party vibe, but Daisy, who was home-schooled and fairly sheltered, runs into a woman she had a thing for who rejected her and she spirals into an episode of “I don’t even know what my sexuality is”.

The advice her Susan gives is basically to “kiss both kinds of face. Maybe you’ll enjoy them both equally. That’s fine. Let love rule. It’s the 90’s. Get used to it.”

To which Daisy replies, “it’s the 2010’s, Susan. You’re living in the past. Buy a calendar.”

This kind of banter is one of the things I love about this series. They are snarky, flawed, fun, genuine characters. They’re not drawn to titillate, they’re created to be related to. And they’re great friends to each other, too boot. When Esther starting freaking out that she hadn’t been going to classes for more than a month and exams were coming up, she was all too human in telling her friends part of why she was freaking out:

I may not have taken it seriously. I may have asked many stupid questions I thought were funny. I may be quite the jack-ass.”

And when there’s a giant hill to climb in the snow that keeps besting Susan, she winds up at the bottom on her back in a snow bank saying, “No, I’m fine. I’m my own hero. I’m everything I wished I could be.”

I love this sarcastic, real life storyline. I love that it’s drawn exceptionally well by Lissa Treiman and Max Sarin and the dialogue, by John Allison, is just spot on. And can totally pass a Bechdel test. While they do talk about men, there are many other conversations they have that don’t have anything to do with men. It’s all really relatable. The book covers the hall ball, Susan hooking up with McGraw and hides it from her friends, Daisy awkward kissing Ed to see if she likes Boy Face, and Esther later bonding with Ed, who is trying to hide the fact that he’s in love with her. They then go on to winter break, where a hometown woman that McGraw and Susan grew up with try to kill her for something Susan did before she went away to University, and Daisy and Esther trying to save her, and then back to school where Esther proceeds to freak out about how she hasn’t gone to classes in a few weeks. Maybe months.

One of my favorite scenes was after she had decided to further procrastinate studying revising (cause it’s British) and go to a Goth concert, despite Daisy being awesome and trying to help her revise. After the concert, she’s in full-on desperation mode (and full-on skull makeup), looking for divine intervention of her exams:

“Gentle Jesus, I know I’m dressed as a church burner, but I’m good really. Show me the way.”

She then proceeds to go into a church to ask the Reverend for help, who basically tells her to go to more classes lectures. She winds up falling for the hot student TA invigilator, because she has a thing for “milquetoast handsome” boys, but he winds up being a stuffy ass and she dumps him quite spectacularly during a dinner party hosted by a professor.

By the end of this volume, the women are back in their dorm staging an intervention for Daisy, who got a little too into the TV show set in Texas about high school football called Friday Night Lights and may’ve started talking in a Southern drawl and wearing “sports casual” (when she’s normally just casual). Susan and Esther help her out of it. Which is basically what this series is about. These three friends and the adventures they go on (sometimes mundane, getting waaaaaayyyyy too into a TV show, type adventures) as they grow, figure out who they are, and what they want. I love that they’re pretty strong, badass, relatable characters in a graphic novel, since comics and graphic novels have had some serious issues with using women as sex objects and/or side stories. This series is just a whole lotta fun and I can’t wait to read and review Volume 3.

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[New Year, New You] Week 2 – Goals (and little victories)

And welcome to my second entry in The New Year, New You Project, an experiment in #MagicalRadicalTransformation (or the longest hashtag ever….no that’s not a challenge. Although now I’m curious…aaaaand now I’m back. Nope. Not even close to the longest hashtag ever.) Did I mention I have a tendency to procrastinate? And that it sometimes gets in the way of my goals? Why, what a timely…time for this experiment to feature a blog post about goals. For those of you who want to see where challenge/experiment came from and missed my first post, check out my dear friend Deb’s original blog post for this week. She’s the creator of this experiment and has done all twenty-three of the writing prompts (with some damn impressive results, I might add) so I’ve decided I got a situation what needs fixing, so this is part of how I’m gonna do it. I’m likely gonna come up with a more succinct and uniform way to explain these and link to her posts but for now, we’re still beginning the beginning, so longhand it is.

What do you want to accomplish in 2012 using both magical and mundane means?  

From here, as she did with the first, she lists some helpful influences: dieties/moon phases/days of the week/inspirational song for your brainmeat. For me, though, I generally let the universal mind guide me. (Well, y’know, once I’ve managed to control  my urge towards procrastination, and kick my own ass out of a depression/anxiety spiral.) But she had to go and mention music. Oh, the music for this one. I read ahead a few days ago to prep for what was coming next and saw the song she suggested. Florence + the Machine’s What the Water Gave Me. Most times, when I’ve read the title and listened to the song, cause I’ve been a fan of Florence + the Machine for years, my associations are mostly with bodies of water. And I feel very akin to bodies of water. I adore swimming. I was a water fitness instructor. I go to the ocean when I need to find my inner zen. So that’s what I normally associate with “water”. So I was thinking about that this week, but it never really stuck. Until today. Do you know what happened today? A BOMB CYCLONE of snow. And y’know what snow is? D’ya pick up what I’m putting down?

Snow has not ever been the first thought I had when listening to this song, but today…it just fit. And the snow/water gave me a lot today.

First, it gave me…a NON-snow day! I had to go into work. But honestly…it didn’t bother me. Last night, my boss changed our training destination to a place that was more Northern than our usual Southerly Thursday training location because reports were coming in that the BOMB CYCLONE (side note: first THUNDERSNOW, now BOMB CYCLONE. I don’t know when weather phenomenon started being named like Coney Island rides or metal bands, but I am All In for this trend.) was going to be worse lower in the state, so that was nice. And though the roads were a little rough, I don’t mind driving in the snow, so I got in fine. We had a slightly abbreviated training and then got sent home in the early afternoon.

And once I got home, I decided to make the most of what the water was giving me:

Time.

Clear as literal day Opportunity. Daylight where not only did I not have to go anywhere else, I truly shouldn’t go anywhere else. Hours to do things I’ve been trying to get myself to do, and have only barely begun to do, the things I know I NEED to do to really kick this magical radical transformation into high gear.

So. I ate a quick, weird lunch (a chicken cutlet and a banana), grabbed a bottle of water, and told my husband (who’d also got sent home early) that I was going upstairs to do some cleaning.

AND I ACTUALLY DID IT!

Slowly, organically, I listened to what the water was telling me. I lit incense and a candle. I put on Florence + the Machine. I drank the water. And started cleaning. My bedside table. The top of the chest at the foot of the bed. The cluttered area with a random tote of costumes and shoes. The stack of suitcases from the former life/old job/previous year’s events that I had at least finally emptied out weeks ago but hadn’t managed to actually put the suitcases themselves away. All done. Also decked out my new uke hardcase with even more buttons than my old one had, which, incidentally, was now the best specialized toy bag for my long impact toys that wouldn’t fit in my other two, smaller toy bags. I took pictures the incense and candle on my altar. I danced. I texted a few friends. I cleared space and physically started moving myself into the future. I’m not fully sure what I’m moving towards, but finally, finally the gnawing calling is stronger than the fear, the procrastination, the depression/anxiety, the grief.

Don’t get me wrong. There’s still a fuckton of grief. There are relationships that feel like they’ve entered their last dying gasp and not ending the way I ever wanted or thought they would. There’s so much loss that I’m constantly struggling to process. But I keep pushing through. And thankfully, this challenge is one of the things helping to push me through.

Speaking of, we’ll get back to what else the water gave me today. But let’s actually cover the meat of this week’s prompt: Goals.

Here are the four top questions (and all their important sub-questions) that she listed for the prompt:

How are you going to accomplish these large goals in your daily life?  You need to start breaking it up into bite sized pieces.  Our particular Experiment goes until Valentine’s Day.  What can you reasonably expect to accomplish by then?  How will you do it?

  1. What magical acts (rituals, spellwork, whatever it is you do) can you do to help you accomplish this goal?  If you are into Planetary magic, you may want to consider looking into the Gates work that RO does to help you accomplish your goals.  Thinking strategically in magic isn’t something that comes naturally to a lot of us either.  Check out Jason’s books on Strategic Sorcery if that’s something you need some guidance on.
  2. Use your preferred method of divination to figure out both what you can do to make sure these goals will happen and also to figure out what road blocks keep you from this.
  3. Consult whatever inner or outer spirits you may work with as to what’s blocking you from achieving your goals.  If you’re the meditative type, when meditating consult your spirits there.  If you aren’t the meditative type, when you are just about to drift off to sleep when your mind is relaxed, ask what’s preventing you from achieving these goals.  In terms of “who” you’re asking, you can ask personal spirit guides or god/dess/es, your Younger Self, Talking Self, and Higher Self or even personifications of the traits you’re either trying to emulate or discourage.  Whatever works for your personal cosmos.

For #1, since I started a few weeks after she did, I’m gonna be going to the end of February…or possibly the beginning of March, which I think is appropriate for me. I’ve been gearing up for a winter of Work, inner and outer, and as I said before, this will help guide me. But breaking it down into more bite-sized pieces is going to be a challenge in and of itself.

In my last post, I wrote that these things are the most important to me:

music, writing, spirituality, authentic connections, emotional support, constructive selfishness (a phrase I learned from my therapist today and holy fuck, is it a great concept. Like self care, but…bigger.), kink, creativity, becoming healthier.

That’s a lot to tackle in twenty-one weeks. I’mma group things to make it a little more manageable:

  • Creativity – music, writing, drawing
  • Spirituality – practicing more, meditating again, yoga
  • Kink – honoring all sides of the slash, seeking out play, educating myself more about the scene, honing my classes
  • Health – mental, physical, emotional
  • Authentic Relationships – better communication, being my most authentic self, fixing my own fuck ups and holding others accountable for theirs, seeking better connections and not settling
  • Cleaning – organizing, downsizing, not living like a trash panda

Eventually, I’m hoping following these things will help me get on the path to my next career and back on my Path towards the Destiny I have. I’ve gotten so many signs that lately that I have one, I just don’t fully know what it is. But I’m working on it.

So! Let’s go even more bite-sized.

  • Creativity
    • music: practicing uke 5x per week for at least 20 minutes, making at least one video a month of uke playing/singing and posting it somewhere on the interwebs, crafting new burlesque routines
    • writing: this prompt will take care of once a week for twenty-three weeks. I’m also signing up for Cannonball Read
    • drawing: I’m planning on announcing a project I have for myself on FB soon that will help with all the creativity and the authentic connections.
  • Spirituality
    • these writing prompts are helping me practice more
    • reading Deb’s book Glamour Magic: The Witchcraft Revolution to Get What You Want (which will also help the creativity, as I’ll be writing a review of it for Cannonball Read)
    • seeking out tarot and continuing with my Angel divination deck
    • intentionally visiting nature more
    • trying to find another yoga instructor/class
    • meditate again (this one’s hard because it’s tied to kink for me in that I meditate best on my knees. But I have some difficulty with kneeling currently, from a combination of knee pain I should try to overcome and some recent grief associated with some relationship issues)
  • Kink
    • seeking out play that will put me on both sides of the slash
    • seeking out people I can bounce with
    • actually writing up and posting my class descriptions
    • applying for at least one event
    • reaching out to people in the scene to learn more
    • reading more
    • taking more photos
  • Health
    • mental/emotional – therapy, letting go of the past, allowing myself to feel my emotions as they happen, all the others help with this one, too
    • physical – more activity. Current job will help with this. Once I am out of training, walk around floor for at least 20 minutes a day. Eating better. Taking gluten, sugar, and dairy mostly out of my diet. Drinking more water
  • Authentic relationships
    • seeking out the people who are authentic in my life
    • moving away from those who aren’t
    • making sure I am clear to the universe that these two things are my intention
    • making myself vulnerable
    • work on holding space for myself and for others in pain
    • personal responsibility
    • gratitude. Endless gratitude and expressing it to the authentic, glorious people in my life
  • Cleaning
    • organizing costumes
    • organizing closet
    • donating items
    • selling things
    • coming up with a schedule for regular household cleaning

So this is a lot. And I haven’t even fully gotten to numbers three and four yet. But I think those are things I’m gonna think on for the next week. Also going to have a smaller, more manageable list of quantifiable goals by next week, as opposed to this ginormous, all over the place list.

For now, I just want to list some of the little victories I’m seeing as I feel myself redirecting back on the Path towards these goals. Today I:

  • made myself a hot breakfast before work instead of not eating or buying crap from Dunkin’
  • went to work in BOMB CYCLONE
  • ate a reasonable, if not weird, lunch
  • started a pile of clothing I’m giving away/selling
  • relocated a few things that’ve been laying around the bedroom to their rightful places in the house
  • cleaned off my bedside table
  • cleaned off the chest at the foot of the bed
  • had tea and finished reading the first book of 2018
  • practiced uke
  • wrote this post
  • did laundry (might’ve ruined a new pair of pants in the process, but we’ll see)
  • texted/messaged some friends
  • talked some to nesting partner and spent some quality time over dinner with them

This is long. And I’m tired, as it’s 1:41am. But I’m doing it. Slowly, surely, I’m getting back to it all. For me, this time. Not for anyone else.

New Year, New ME, bitches. Let’s do this.

[New Year, New You] Week 1 – Making Way

So a dear friend of mine, who is an author, crafter, and all around glamourous Amazon (or Glamazon, as RuPaul calls them), started a series of 23 writing prompts called New Year, New You designed to fix your situation. And she decided to start this a few years back, before the turn of the new year because why wait. Fix that shit now. 

The first prompt starts here, and it is all about making way for the change you are about to start working towards. She breaks it down into three bite-sized sections for week one:

Let’s start with the easy part.  Time to clean your house.

“Let’s start with the easy part.” Bitch, you almost made me laugh. I love her dearly, but FUUUUUCCCCKKKKKKK.

*whining*

I don’t wanna clean. I wanna keep living in the stacks of clothes and costumes and unpacked bags from this past year. This keeps all that shit in nice tidy piles where I don’t have to deal with it. Because I don’t wanna deal with the job that I left that I loved parts of but couldn’t stay at. Or the costumes pieces full of promise of burlesque routines and exercise I can’t seem to find time to put together or do. And pfffffttttt, what’s the use of putting away laundry? If it’s not put away, it’s much more handy. I mean, seriously…it’s much closer on the floor or piled on a chair than in the closet all the way over there. (for the record, my closet is about 10 feet from my bed. The chair is about 8 feet. I mean, c’mon. That’s TWO WHOLE FEET MORE.

What?

It’s just…I’ve been having such a mental block this past year, not wanting to deal with anything. Getting from day to day took most of my spoons, and now I have a new job to learn, and that new job takes more (but different) spoons than the last.

Urgh.

But she’s right. She’s fucking right. I can’t expect to move forward with a clear head and create good magical mojo when the space around me, that I live in, is chaotic.

Is your time being well spent?

Sometimes.

Next.

Just because someone hands you a big rock doesn’t mean you have to carry it.

Naaaaahhhhhhhh. I’m not carrying any big rocks. No secrets here. No heartbreak. No difficult decisions. No taking on another person’s shit as my own. No endlessly throwing energy into a void. No toxicity. No negativity. No seemingly endless confidences, only some of which I agreed to up front, that are weighing me down. No anger or disappointment or disillusionment or confusion or desperation or depression here. No health issues. No fear. None whatsoever.

*headdesk*

Alrrightee. Now that we know the mega shitstorm of situation fixing I need to do, the next part of her post was taking stock of what she’s done.

So.

Things I’ve done so far:

  1. Started tackling the piles. Eliminated a big one on the chair. Enlisted nesting partner’s help to put their laundry away while I packed away my summer clothes and then put most of my laundry away. Last week, I organized and condensed the pile of costumes and leftover event bags from this year. It’s not perfect, but it’s progress.
  2. Been thinking a lot about how I spend my time lately. Things that are important to me. This boils down to music, writing, spirituality, authentic connections, emotional support, constructive selfishness (a phrase I learned from my therapist today and holy fuck, is it a great concept. Like self care, but…bigger.), kink, creativity, becoming healthier. I spent Christmas Eve with a fantastic friend establishing the first annual Queermas Eve full of playing music (and then taking a deep breath and posting the cover on my FB. I’m contemplating creating a YouTube channel to start putting up my uke sessions in the new year, as a way to continue to push myself to play more and grow), really vulnerable talking & sharing, a Wawa adventure, and some cuddling with a side of kink. It was pretty fucking great. I felt seen, heard, supported and supportive, in turn. I felt an energetic connection, joy, excitement, peaceful. Again, pretty fucking great. And a great reminder of what I’m looking for. What’s important to me. I did a fairly in depth full moon ritual that I felt proud of. Have been practicing uke more. And clearly have picked up writing again. And reading. I didn’t accomplish the quarter Cannonball Run I signed up for for 2017, but I’ve forgiven myself. I’m just glad I started reading again this year at all. In previous years, I’ve read 52 books, or 26 books. Last year, it was something like…five? Which blows. Currently, though, I’m in the middle of a few books. The best is Brene Brown’s “Rising Strong”. So topical in my life right now. I’m going to a play party this weekend and have one topping scene set up and have reached out to a few people to see if I can get some a bottoming scene in before the new year. And I’m trying to own up to my mistakes, take responsibility for my fuck ups, and also seek out authentic connections and emotional support. Hafta cultivate that constructive selfishness. Also have to work towards scheduling time for things instead of flying by the seat of my pants on a regular basis in an attempt to Do Everything (and usually falling way the fuck short on that.)
  3. There are too many rocks. Just in case your sarcasm detector is broke, all you have to do is take everything I said above under the rock section and remove all the “no’s”. Then you’ll have all the rocks that have created an avalanche on top of me and might begin to understand why I feel like I have almost nothing left to give anyone anymore. I’m beyond tapped out. The immolation period of a phoenix fucking SUCKS.

So, there you have it. There’s a lot of situation to fix, but I’ve begun to Make Way.

Free writing: Failure

Feeling like a failure. Work. Wife. Life. Health. Creativity. Magic. Goals. D/s. Adulting. Activism.

Not good enough.

Who the hell am I?

Reading Brene Brown helps. Rising Strong. I need to rise strong. I feel beaten down. Broken.

Connecting with people helps.

Music helps.

My sister helped talk me off a proverbial ledge tonight by reminding me how I’m not a failure. As did my best (non blood) friend. I did my best. I’m doing my best. There is an epic level of insanity and change happening.

Say it out loud: I am human. I am not a bad person. I have worth.

And I will trust a small circle of people around me when I can’t believe in myself. Or do something for myself.

I just…want to do so much. Make gifts for friends and family that I don’t have time to make. Buy things I can’t afford. Celebrate something. The fear and folly of life? I have no idea.

Hope. Celebrate hope.

So disjointed. So much effort and so few spoons. Life unraveling, phoenix in fire. The immolation period hurts like fuck.

No answers right now. Just boatloads of questions and a long, lonely winter ahead to work through it all. Manifest some change. Figure out what’s next. What I want. What’s and who’s important to me.

Nothing major.

Just start.

My best friend sent this to me today after I sent him an email jam-packed with pain that I’ve been having a hard time articulating.

Start now.
Start where you are.
Start with fear.
Start with pain.
Start with doubt.
Start with hands shaking.
Start with voice trembling but start.
Start and don’t stop.
Start where you are, with what you have.
Just . . . start.

-Ijeoma Umebinyuo

When I first read it, paralysis side-swiped me. But I’ve surrendered to it, and marinated in it, and as I was cruising a website, I remembered something about someone I recently met. That they’re a photographer. And the description of how they shoot and how they regard their models was enough to make me at least reach out and inquire about what it would take to do a shoot. Because I made a promise to myself earlier this year to work for: 

Radical personal body acceptance including:

  • more photo shoots
  • more acceptance of the three parts of my body I have the most trouble loving
  • actively hone body self confidence and increase time spent with people who bolster that in me and themselves and others

Also, it made me look up Ijeoma Umebinyuo and holy fuck, she amazing and now I need to read her book.

And even though I updated the list that promise was part of in March, to include a resurgence of interest I had then in sex, that part didn’t change.

I realized, I’m also starting in other ways, recently, too. I’m pursuing some play opportunities with old and new friends, writing ISOs for events again, and I made arrangements to go a new(ish) kink event with a friend next weekend.

It might be time for a 3/4 year check in post for that bucket list, now that I think about it, because I’ve also discovered two things that weren’t on my radar when this year began that I now want to try. Also, I’m behind in reading and want to kick my own ass into gear for that.

Now I just also have to figure out how to take better care of my body. Been trying to take better care of my mind. Got a therapist, who’s awesome. Started writing more, including writing about my pronouns and struggle with gender. I want to write more even more frequently, and I’m trying to write more songs. Went to a song writers meet up a few months ago. Have to go back soon. Also sang in public on the boardwalk. Want to do that again soon. Have been trying to find different ways to communicate with people to get needs met. Trying to make my life better. It just hurts a lot and is really difficult right now. But.

I’m starting.

“Said woman take it slow, and it’ll work itself out fine.”

Title from the song “Patience” by Guns N Roses

What do you do with neediness?

An ache in your body that can only be soothed by contact with certain people? And sometimes, only by certain types of contact?

I don’t want to be too clingy with anyone in my life. But it’s a hard balance between not being too clingy and feeling so hungry…for interaction, connection, touch, sensation, service, submission.

There are things I don’t know yet with the burgeoning new relationship that hasn’t quite gotten off the ground yet. I mean…there’s chemistry. Dear god, there’s chemistry. And mutual interest. But who knows what it’s going to look like and feel like once we actually have time alone together? So we wait and see. I’ve got a laundry list of questions and such that are…too early to ask. Or I’m too scared. I’m afraid to want it too much. Eventually, there will come a time. Some have come up naturally so far.

This whole thing is unfolding in many unexpected but awesome ways, so I’m just going to trust in it to keep doing that with some gentle direction. Not a death grip. Not with panic. So I pull back. Gently…trying to avoid the desire to run fast and furious in the opposite direction the way I’m used to. Giving it room to breathe and grow.

And with my husband, there’s a balance of when he’s got his own stuff going on and how to help support him while also trying to get what I need. And when his stuff is off, and he pulls away, as it currently is, balancing that with my stuff being off is…difficult. I wind up feeling exhausted and sad and really needy and I don’t want to be that.

I’ve been wanting to go back to the fetish club in town, but I’ve either been too tired or we had date night planned or I’ve been too raw to be around people I don’t know that well yet. Hopefully this weekend, as it would be good to find local connections.

So. I listen to music. I write. I try to reach out to the few other people who understand. I try to take it slow and not get too ahead of myself.  I’ve been kneeling every day just for practice and reconnecting to the feeling. I’m glad I started now because if anyone were to tell me to at any point in soon, I might’ve just started crying like I did by myself that first time. Or not. Who knows? I’m just glad I’m dealing with some of this now so it doesn’t spill over and color everything. Just gonna keep trying to find other ways to feed the need that’s been sleeping for so long.And the ones that haven’t been but have nowhere currently to…find rest and release.

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