Posts Tagged family

You’re having sex with *how* many people?!?

Subtitle: Part One of an Ongoing Series Dedicated to the Deconstruction of  Arguments Against Polyamory or NAMBLA

This is not a fully researched, peer-reviewed, cited and documented critical analysis. You won’t find dry, scholarly lecturing using enormous words that only three people in the history of people understand the meaning of and one of those three people went insane in the 1960’s trying to decide whether it was an historic moment or a historic moment and is now wandering in the woods sans underwear, unavailable to answer questions. No, these are my thoughts, off the top of my head, about some arguments against polyamory that I made up off of the bottom of my head. Exactly why the top and bottom parts of my brain are having an argument is better left for a different blog post.

What is polyamory, you ask? I’m glad you asked, friend, glad you asked! Poly, from the greek poly meaning many; –amor, from the latin amor, meaning love; and –y, from the Aztec qxztyclx, meaning, well, no one is sure what it means and the scholarship is sorely lacking on exactly why it is considered part of the etymology of the word “polyamory” so for our purposes, we’ll simply ignore it. Therefore, polyamory directly translates into “many loves (plus that bizarre part we’re going to ignore)”. Polyamory is a having loving, intimate relationships with more than one person, all of whom are aware of all of the relationships. Consent and communication are at the core of this configuration. Let’s take a moment to visualize a standard-issue V-configuration (technical term) consisting of A) one person, B) another person and C) some third person who’s gender is inconsequential to our discussion and therefore is being omitted to preserve our feminist street cred. Now that we’ve all pictured a hot threesome with myself, Captain Jack Harkness and Kathy Ireland, let’s get back to our V-configuration. Person A is in a loving, intimate relationship with person B. Person B is in a loving, intimate relationship with person C. Person C may or may not be interested in Captain Jack Harkness, but that’s beside the point. The point is that there are multiple loving, intimate relationships between these three people that they are all aware of and consent to. Ergo, polyamory!

Perhaps the easiest way to understand polyamory is to contrast it against its non-identical cousin monogamy. Even though monogamy prefers to go by its nickname from high school, The Bull, we’re going to refer to it as monogamy because The Bull is a really stupid nickname that deserves to be left among the detritus of other high school memories such as wedgies, swirlies and that one time you threw up on that really cute girl’s shoes at the dance in the gym. Monogamy should be familiar with anyone who is familiar with Disney World. At Disney World they have these new-fangled contraptions called monorails. These monorails are similar to their sibling duorails only, being born second, they got shafted in the inheritance department and only ended up with one single rail. Hence we now refer to anything that only has one something as mono. Monogamous people are people who only have one gamy. Since the word gamy is offensive to the indigenous peoples of the south antarctic island of Halakalmoniqua, we’re going to use its more popular (and arguably less offensive) synonym, spouse.

To summarize, monogamous people only have one spouse or partner. Polyamorous people have >1 partners. That’s pretty much it. Simple. Non-complex. Quite straightforward.

Or so it would seem. Not everyone on the third planet orbiting a medium sized yellow star called Sol is cool with the whole >1 part of polyamory. Hence, conflict. Hence, strife. Hence, turmoil. Hence, this blog.

What possible problem could anyone find with >1? In a great number of areas of life, having >1 of something is considered a point of pride. In the case of money the further one gets from 1 in a positive direction on the number line, the more wealthy one is considered. In the case of relationships, this dynamic changes. That’s what we are going to be discussing in this epic, sensational, only partially fictionalized ongoing series of blog posts.

Kathy Ireland in a bikini

I used to have this picture of Kathy on the inside of my locker door in high school.

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You’re happy? Srsly?

R U HAPPEE?

R U HAPPEE?

The Goddess was talking to my mother on the phone the other night. She was telling my mom about some friends having marital problems and how that depresses her. See, my wife is an extremely cheerful person who can’t help but see the good in everyone. Sometimes that leads to gullibility, but mostly it’s quite endearing. So when she hears about others having troubles, it always shocks and surprises her.

My mother couldn’t understand why she would be so shocked to hear that someone wasn’t happy in their life.

“I’m happy,” replied my wife, “so I just kind of expect that everyone else is too.”

“C’mon, you mean to tell me you’re actually happy? That you’re happy about your life? I can’t believe that.” was my mother’s incredulous response.

This blew my wife away, that my mother couldn’t believe that she was really, truly, unabashedly happy about her life. Me, not so much blowing away going on. I grew up with the woman. If there’s one constant in her life it’s being able to find something to bitch about. My mother would probably be unhappy if she couldn’t find fault with something.

But enough about my mother. As surprising as this may sound, coming from someone who has dealt with depression their whole life, I would say that I am happy. My life is pretty darn good. Even when I’m depressed, I recognize that there is a neurological issue that is affecting me, but that external to that life is good.

So, how about you: are you happy?

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I love kids!

Their minds are amazing. The simplicity of their logic sometimes gets right to the crux of the matter. Watching them grow and learn is such a thrill.

I met my wife and kids at the bookstore the other day. We were switching cars so that I could take the young’uns home and she could go out. After a few minutes of perusing such literary classics as Fancy Nancy and The Boxcar Children, the two rugrats and I went outside with the kids while my wife checked out with the armful of books they had selected.

The bookstore had some nice benches right outside the front entrance. My daughter eschewed the bench for the pleasures of sitting on the ground (“See dese ants? They are my babies! I yuv dem!”). My son sat with me on the bench and proceeded to chat. He’s a big fan of chatting.

“I know you don’t believe in god,” he said.

We’ve always told him that various people believe different things. He knows that the ancient greeks (among others) had a number of different gods. He liked the story about the sun being pulled through the sky by a god in a chariot. Especially since he knows that the sun is ginormous ball of plasma out in space. And we’ve explained the Jesus thing to some degree; christmas and easter kinda needed that part so that he wasn’t thoroughly lost when visiting my mother. But we never had much talk about “god” in general.

A while back he mentioned god and it occurred to me to ask what he thought god was. “He’s just this guy who invented nature,” was the reply. Not bad for someone with limited exposure to religious types. We left it there.

He’s been curious about this lately. And since his favorite past time is listening to the conversations of my wife and I, he’s starting to pick up on things that we used to talk over his head about. So he wanted to know about hell. “Some people believe…” we began as we usually do, “that if you don’t believe in their god you go to a place called hell where you are tortured for all eternity.” “That doesn’t sound very nice,” he phlegmatically replied. And he left it alone.

He heard the term atheist and wanted to know what that was. “It’s someone who doesn’t believe in gods,” I told him. “Are you an atheist?” he wanted to know. “Yes,” I replied. And he left it alone.

I’ve been reluctant to follow up with him on this subject. He is an extremely inquisitive kid, so I figured that if he wanted to know more he would ask. I didn’t want to indoctrinate him by preaching my set of beliefs (or lack thereof) any more than I wanted my mother to indoctrinate him with stories of Jesus. I hadn’t come up with any sort of official “talk” to have with him about religion, though my wife and I have discussed how we want to handle it.

“I know you don’t believe in god,” he would occasionally say out of the blue to me. “That’s right,” I would reply, always expecting the usual follow-up question from him: why? But he never went there. I suspect that he was pondering it, as much as a 6 year old can ponder anything, given their attention spans.

So this time, when he told me that he knew I didn’t believe in god, I wasn’t really expecting the conversation to go anywhere. “Why don’t you believe in him?” came the next question. Without missing a beat, and much to my own surprise, I replied, “Because there is no evidence for a god. No one has seen it or found any evidence that one exists.” He responded, “Oh, kinda like Santa Claus. No one sees him, either.”

Oh shit, now I had stepped in it. It’s one thing to have an existential discussion about a deity, but Santa? My wife was gonna kill me. She loves Santa. She’s quite aware that we provide “Santa’s” presents. She’s been up with me at 3 am on christmas morning still wrapping gifts. But she still believes. She loves the magic and the thrill of it, the spirit of Santa. It’s woo, but it’s fun. I don’t buy the crap about how when the “lie” of Santa is revealed it destroys children. I wasn’t devastated when I figured out that Santa had the same handwriting as my dad. For us, it’s about an attitude of giving and knowing doesn’t make it any less rewarding. All that being said, we weren’t going to keep the charade going until he went away to college. The expectation was that as he got older he would begin to figure it out. We wouldn’t lie if he flat-out asked if we were Santa.

Fortunately, I was able to steer the conversation back to the safer topic of god. As we drove home, he asked a few more questions about my lack of belief. I explained that I thought that the natural world was already such an amazing place that I didn’t feel that we needed to invoke the supernatural to appreciate it. I started talking about the wonder of the universe, of it’s origins in the Big Bang, of the evolution of life and how it led to us.

After a few minutes of listening, he said, “You know what? I’m with you. I don’t believe in god either.” This wasn’t quite what I had expected. “You know,” I said, “you don’t need to make up your mind right this second about this. I’m not trying to convince you or tell you to believe a certain way.” “I know,” he replied, “I just agree with you. God doesn’t make sense.” I went on to continue to assure him that he didn’t have to make a decision right now and that he would have plenty of opportunities throughout his life to evaluate the evidence and ask questions and make up his mind.

So for now, the Turkey doesn’t believe in god.

Update: Edited for grammar so my wife quits making fun of me 🙂

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They’re letting me out

My sister is going to watch the lizardlings and the Goddess and I are going out on a DATE tonight! We’re going to see 500 Days of Summer. But don’t worry, I’ve got a nice juicy post coming soon wherein I give my brother an electronic whipping for being a moron. And if you’re good little boys and girls (or anything in between) I might give you a review of the movie. How’s that for incentive?

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Death, depression and delight

I’ve been fairly silent lately on the intertubes. For once it’s not my own laziness that’s caused my brief absence. On Friday May 8th my wife’s 29 year old cousin died unexpectedly. My wife comes from a big close-knit Greek family; this was a huge tragedy for the whole family. We immediately left for Atlanta to help out where we could and just to be there for the family. He was survived by both his parents and his 5 siblings. No parent should have to go through the death of a child. Parents are supposed to die first, that’s just the way it is, the way we expect the natural order of life to progress. Unfortunately, life and death don’t always comply with our wishes.

It was amazing and shocking to experience the emotional shock this event produced within myself. I have a not-so-secret secret to tell: death scares the living crap out of me. The daily anxiety that I deal with is nothing compared to the existential dread that washes over me like an ice cold waterfall when I try to contemplate my own demise.

I really didn’t intend to make this about myself. At times like these we try to be there to support loved ones.  But I think it’s also quite natural during these circumstances to imagine what would happen if you were put in the same situation. When a death occurs, people think about death and about life and what it all means. And since I can’t peer into others’ brains and know how their thinking about it, all I have to go on is how it affects me.

I may have mentioned this before, but I have chronic clinical depression.  I take meds everyday to bring my mood up to an approximation of what a “normal” person must feel like. I envision it like a line graph charting the mood of an individual. You can kind of  find a baseline “happiness” level after normalizing the variable highs and lows. My own baseline is significantly below the standard. My peaks don’t go as high as others’ and my lows are much lower. The meds are supposed to bring my baseline up closer to where the standard is. But it seems like sometimes depression can overwhelm the meds and plummet me back down to those depths. I was shocked at how quickly the death of a close family member dropped me down there. I shouldn’t have been surprised, I suppose. After all, we’re talking about the ending of a life of someone in my family. It’s supposed to be depressing. I guess I just didn’t realize how it would trip me over the edge of what I consider emotional depression into clinical depression. That’s how I think of it, anyway. I’m no neurologist.

At any rate, the most surprising thing was probably the anxiety. I’ve been lucky enough to get to deal with anxiety on a daily basis, so I thought I had a pretty good handle on it; what it felt like, how to deal with it, what kind of effects it would produce, etc. But this storm took me by surprise. By that Sunday I was on my way to a full-blown panic attack. And the sucky thing about it is that one little intellectual part of my brain kept functioning, analyzing my reactions, trying to understand and deal with it but unable to take control over the rest of my brain, which was running around screaming inside my skull. I had never before experienced that kind of deep pain and panic, not even in the past when I would have panic attacks almost regularly. They didn’t have the same almost stabbing sensation of exquisite fear crystallized in the center of my brain.

The human spirit has an amazing capability for recovery. We posses all sorts of mechanisms for getting through traumatic events. My own crisis didn’t last for more than a couple of days. Not to say that his death doesn’t affect me still. I only mean that the irrational fear subsided after a couple of days and I was able to process things more like a real person. The existential dread has gone and now what remains is the sadness of knowing that I will never see him again and the empathy for his family who now have to put the pieces back together and maintain that sense of family with such a large part of it taken away. Even after all this introspection I’m no closer to understanding how I would manage to get through something like this happening to one of my children.

And so, delight. My wife’s aunt, the mother of the deceased, raises dogs. She had a litter of 14 week old puppies just waiting for new homes. Seeing the delight of children in the presence of a puppy has to help to start healing the pain, in some small way. So we came home with a new family member, a four-legged fluffy cotton-ball called Happy. And her presence does help pierce the veil of depression and bring back some of the joy in life that seemingly gets ripped out when a family member dies. And every day a new sun rises, new experiences come our way and it would be a shame to miss them, even the painful ones. They are what remind us that we are alive.

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Of Politics and Teeth Pulling

2009/01/20 – Inauguration Day!

Barack Hussein Obama, the United States’ first African-American president, will be sworn in today. Even more symbolic is that the event takes place the day after the annual celebration of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. But you probably already knew all that. You’d have to be living under a rock to have missed that news. It is an historic event (yes, I prefer “an historic” to “a historic”. Deal with it). The loonies on the right are chanting “anti-Christ!” while the loonies on the left are celebrating it like the second coming of Jesus, minus all the Revelation drama of course. The rest of us are holding our breath until noon, when we can exhale the enormous sigh of relief we’ve been suppressing since November. Ding dong, the Bush is gone… The old administration passes away and the new takes control in the 44th peaceful transfer of power since the founding of this country. That fact alone is worthy of celebration, considering what other parts of the world have to go through/have gone through when control of the government of their countries change. The fact that we can peacefully transition from a government based on secrecy, lies, false pretenses, anti-intellectualism, religious encroachment and abuses of civil liberties in the name of protection, to one of (potentially, hopefully) respect, intelligence, integrity, science, common sense and the promotion of true civil rights both home and abroad; that fact is especially praise-worthy.

And yet, even in the face of these momentous events, life goes on. The cascade of tiny events that make up most of our days collect into the foundations of our lives, preempting even the celebratory atmosphere of these historic days. Children must be fed, beds made, laundry done and the bacteria that eat away at our teeth don’t recognise holidays. My Turkey, only six years old, had to have a tooth extracted yesterday. The sobbing of a child, wracked with pain, and their accusations, uttered from around a mouthful of bloody gauze, of “I trusted you! You said it wouldn’t be bad!” are enough to drown out the cheers and celebrations, no matter the historic importance of the day.

Fortunately, the pain subsided, then disappeared; the accusations were forgotten and my Turkey hugged me and thanked me for taking care of him. And now we can start to focus on the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity of witnessing a member of one of the most oppressed and discouraged populations of this country rise above rampant racism and prejudice and be sworn in as President of the United States of America, sweeping into office with an unprecedented 80+% approval rating by those he is to govern.

January 2009 will be remembered both for its historic inauguration and (at least in my family) for the extraction of the offending tooth.

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Soggy night

We had a mini-disaster tonight. I was replacing the inner parts of the downstairs toilet and was following the instructions, but the wrong thingy got unscrewed. You’d be amazed at the volume of water that can come shooting out of that little pipe sticking out of the wall behind the toilet. I know I was. Within seconds I was soaked and the bathroom started filling up with water. Jenny managed to figure out how to shut off the water to the house, but not before the water had flooded the laundry room, hall, master bedroom and master closet. The good news is that only the master room and closet are carpeted, the rest is tile. So we called in the troops (Jen’s mom, step-dad and brother) and used every single towel in the house, as well as a couple baskets full of dirty clothes to soak up all the water and prevent it from spreading. So now the closet is emptied into the living room and half the bedroom is shoved up against the wall. The carpet is pulled up and we have one fan graciously donated by our good friend Jenny running.

Tomorrow a guy is coming to evaluate the damage and set up more high-powered fans to dry the carpet. When everything is dry, the padding will probably have to be replaced and the carpet put back down and re-seamed.

I’m off to open the futon upstairs and collapse into a (hopefully) deep sleep.

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Blown away

My 5 year old son blew me away this morning. He made his own Lego spaceship, all by himself! He identified all the parts and it was really cool. As soon as I download the pics, I’ll put them up. I knew that he enjoyed the stuff I made, but it’s a special thrill to see him create his own.

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Happy Birthday?


Well, I made an attempt at creating a happy birthday for my wife today. My son had come up with the idea to make Mommy a cake. And it had to have cherries in it. So I found a fairly simple recipe for a cherry upside-down cake. Made it last night and it didn’t turn out too badly. Today, I came home early, popped the cake in the oven to warm, and ran to my mother-in-law’s to pick up my son so that we could surprise mommy. Things got crazy, we didn’t go straight home. I just forgot one little thing. I left the cake in the oven. This was the result.

Oh, well. Happy birthday, little darlin’. Love ya’.

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