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April 14, 2010

Folks What Loves Me

Filed under: Uncategorized — thirdxlucky @ 5:12 am

I’m feeling a touch of The Emo tonight.

I just got off the phone with Jackie, who’s flying to Austin to meet me for the weekend. Our birthdays are in the same week and, despite our respective jet-setting lifestyles, we’ve spent them together almost every year since my 23rd. That’s a bunch of years.

How can I have so many deep, loving, long-standing, emotionally intimate, intellectually fulfilling and spiritually inspiring friendships with so many amazing people…and still feel this empty and lonely sometimes?

It’s gotta be something chemical. Maybe. I dunno. Maybe it’s just part of the human condition. Whatever that means. Meh.

Anyway. The Emo seems to be going around tonight (if Facebook is any indication.) I’m sure it’ll blow over. I just need snuggles and to be around people who find me delightful. It’ll be good to be in Austin soon and to see Jackie, Whitney and Deke.

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April 11, 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — thirdxlucky @ 3:58 pm

Something to think more about:

Polyamory as an alternative hegemony (applied top-down qua pre-existing framework) vs Polyamory as an offshoot of creative problem-solving (developed ground-up out of the unique needs of a given relationship).

Filed under: Uncategorized — thirdxlucky @ 3:20 am

We just celebrated my Dad’s 60th birthday. Check out my brother’s birthday toast:

To my father, D, who has been and continues to be an inspiration to us all: May you be buried in a cask of Hundred Year Oak – and may we plant that tree together tomorrow.

My brother, ladies and gentlemen. What a suave motherfucker.

Then we all got to sit down and have the, “So, now that I’m 60, I should probably start talking to you all about what happens when I die” family meeting. It’s an important conversation to have and I’m glad he’s thinking about it, still, depressing. He and my step-Mom keep making those uncomfortable jokes like, “Well, at least you’ll have some inheritance – unless we live to be 95!” and all us kids are just sitting there grimacing like…Jesus! Live to be a hundred. You can move in with us. We’ll support you. Seriously. Quit joking about this shit.

I love my Dad. It’s true that he’s an inspiration. I realized, as we were walking around the Farmer’s Market today picking out veggies for dinner, that my father does not have an iconoclastic bone in his body – but he has a moral compass that answers to no one. The man has got integrity. Which is an important quality for any aspiring icon-breaker to emulate. (The iconoclasm itself I probably get from my crazy mother. One of the many hereditary gifts – including some madness, itself – that I might appreciate more if I didn’t associate them with having to wrangle my crazy mother.) My Dad and I probably disagree about almost everything but I still want to be like him when I grow up.

He and my step-mom want to be cremated and have the ashes spread in their garden.

Happy Birthday, Dad. Here’s to 95 and beyond.

Filed under: Uncategorized — thirdxlucky @ 2:22 am

Here’s a more concise way of describing what I was talking about here:

Because the complex logistics of polyamorous dating require so much more processing power than monogamous dating does, things often start feeling very serious very fast. Sometimes unsustainably fast. I want to avoid this by pointing it out when I see it happening.

April 10, 2010

Global Voices

Filed under: Uncategorized — thirdxlucky @ 4:41 pm

via Asa at The Widening Gyre:

Global Voices

Global Voices is a community of more than 200 bloggers around the world who work together to bring you translations and reports from blogs and citizen media everywhere, with emphasis on voices that are not ordinarily heard in international mainstream media.

“Global Voices seeks to aggregate, curate, and amplify the global conversation online – shining light on places and people other media often ignore. We work to develop tools, institutions and relationships that will help all voices, everywhere, to be heard.”

Millions of people are blogging, podcasting, and uploading photos, videos, and information across the globe, but unless you know where to look, it can be difficult to find respected and credible voices. Our international team of volunteer authors and part-time editors are active participants in the blogospheres they write about on Global Voices.

I haven’t had much chance to check this out yet, but I’m excited about it.

Also, in case you’ve never read it, Violet‘s excellent post about ethnocentrism, old vs. new media, and the downfall of Western Civilization: Bring On the Hordes

The Talking-Equals-Drama Fallacy distilled

Filed under: Uncategorized — thirdxlucky @ 4:23 pm

OR How Application of the Talking-Equals-Drama Fallacy Impedes Poly Relationships

OR

What on Earth are you going to do with a degree in Philosophy?

[Ed. I’m laying this out in the form of a philosophical argument because it gives me a way to think through it clearly. If I’m a good girl, I’ll rewrite it later as a bit of snappy prose and maybe publish it in the poly ‘zine. I came up with most of this while I was lying half asleep on the fold-out couch in my Dad’s freezing study and/or out this morning wandering around town looking for a toothbrush, since I left mine at home (absentminded, what?)…so no part of it is complete. But you get to see my notes. ‘Cause that’s what we do here on the Internet!]

– Definition of Terms –

TALKING in this context means having meta-conversation about a given relationship within the context of that relationship. (Not necessarily just emotional processing, also strategizing, defining, decision-making, boundary-setting, information-sharing, etc.)

DRAMA is an incredibly sticky, nebulous, fraught term that is more often used as an epithet than a descriptor…but in this very narrow context, I’m using it to mean displaying a disproportionate emotional response to a given situation or “Making something out to be a bigger deal than it is.”

[Ed. I’m wary about using the word ’emotional’ here, because I’m not sure that drama is always emotional (and because ’emotion’ – much like ‘drama’ – is loaded with so many gender connotations)…but I need some kind of limiting factor because displaying a disproportionate, say, military response to a situation isn’t ‘drama’, that’s ‘tyranny’. This definition obviously also problematic because who determines what kind of emotional response is ‘proportionate’? The fact that we even think such a thing might be possible points to a whole rat’s nest of issues in contemporary patriarchy…that would be interesting to explore, but that fall totally outside the scope of this argument. In any case, I don’t think ’emotional’ is the right word here, but I’m leaving it as a placeholder until I come up with something that works better.]

Heteronormativity is fairly well defined by people who aren’t me. (I think it’s interesting that polyamory is mentioned – albeit briefly – in that article as being non-heteronormative. I mean, of course it is. I’m just not used to seeing it picked up on.)

I want to say something a little more specific, though, about heteronormative monogamous dating scripts. Which means I also need to define ‘script’. And probably ‘dating’.

ROMANTIC COMEDY CULTURE – [Mostly, I just want to use this term because I coined it and I think it’s clever. (P.S. Current Google hits for “romantic comedy culture” used as a single phrase: 1 – and it’s a total throwaway.) I think defining it is also outside the scope of the argument, however. I’ll see if I can make it work, though, and maybe try to do a good, solid, definition piece at some point later.]

RELATIONSHIP –

SELF-FULFILLING PROPHECY –

– Premises –

[Ed. Oh dear. I just realized this acronyms out as the TED Fallacy. Which is painfully appropriate on levels that I probably shouldn’t go into in public. (“TED! TED! TED!”)]

1) From previous post.

2)

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Application of TED Fallacy leading to instability in poly relationships – Two strands:
1) Applied to a relationship by people external to it – People take the relationship/people in the relationship less seriously because they appear to be engaging in ‘drama’…lack of community support…self-fulfilling prophecy.

2) Applied to a relationship by people internal to it – People experience a speeded-up intensifying of the relationship based on unconscious beliefs about where their feelings fall along the heteronormative dating timeline. Sometimes before the relationship is ‘ready’…unsustainable. Study where people self-report increased happiness because they see that they are smiling.

– – –

I really want to keep thinking about this, but I need to go shower and do my real job…

The Talking-Equals-Drama Fallacy

Filed under: Uncategorized — thirdxlucky @ 5:00 am

I want to name the following phenomenon:

In the standard monogamous dating script, certain “levels” in a relationship correspond broadly with certain types of relationship talk. When you first start dating someone, you have exploratory are we interested in each other? are we compatible? type conversations. As the relationship gets more serious, conversations become more what are our expectations of each other? what are our boundaries? When a relationship reaches the ‘commitment’ stage, people might talk about what are we doing with our lives? are we doing that together and, if so, how? Each level of conversation is more complex and emotionally loaded than previous levels, because there are more issues to consider and the stakes are higher. Finally, if they make it through all the levels, two people get married and, at least ideally according to the script, the Define the Relationship talks cease – the relationship has now been clearly defined until death do them part.

What’s important here is that these various degrees of DTR talk aren’t simply consequences of increasing seriousness in a relationship – they often serve as markers to people that their relationship has “leveled up.” It’s often by way of these very conversations that people take their relationship to the next level of commitment. I’m sure we’ve all heard, for example, that someone knew she was ready to “get serious” with so-and-so when they agreed to be exclusive. It’s not just the fact of their exclusivity that makes it a serious relationship; being de-facto exclusive with someone you’re dating just because there doesn’t happen to be anyone else around you’re sleeping with doesn’t automatically indicate a serious relationship. That they talked about being exclusive and decided to do it together matters.

Let’s call this…the Conversation-Commitment Correspondence Chart – just to be cute.

So what? Why do I care about this?

Because, for obvious logistical reasons, polyamory requires having Define the Relationship talks on a different schedule from monogamous dating. You can’t really spend five or six leisurely dates exploring your compatibility with someone cute before you bother to mention that you’re married. Not unless you’re a douche. We have to be explicit about our relationship expectations and boundaries much earlier on. This seems like common sense, not a big deal, until you run into the following problem:

Having been raised in Romantic Comedy Society, most of us have subconsciously internalized the Conversation-Commitment Correspondance Chart. Being poly means we might need to have, say, a Level 2 conversation with someone with whom we’re only in a Level 1 relationship. But because those conversations serve as emotional markers, not just planning tools, our subconscious brain then sometimes sends up a little jet that says, “Hey! She and you just talked about Big Deal Things and made Big Deal Decisions. That must mean you have Big Deal Feelings for each other!” (Or you must have Big Deal feelings for her, even though she doesn’t appear to have them for you. Or she must have Big Deal feelings for you, even though you don’t seem to feel them for her. You see where I’m going with this.)

I know people who’ve gone on one or two dates or slept together a couple of times, and call each other “boyfriend” and “girlfriend”. It’s peoples’ prerogative to use whatever lables work for them. (Although I’m not gonna lie, if someone I’d had coffee and made out with started calling me his or her girlfriend, I’d be pretty weirded out.) But no matter what your philosophy on labels, it’s tougher and more complicated to break up with a girlfriend then it is to simply not go on any more dates with someone you went on a few dates with.

I suspect this is part of the reason why monogamous people believe poly relationships involve a lot of “drama” – they see us expressing what appear to be very strong emotions, having very complex relationship conversations and using high-level relationship terminology with people who, comparatively speaking, we barely know. And it’s true, partly because our subconscious brains have tagged certain topics and decisions according to a monogamous development scale, that poly relationships tend to develop very fast. Sometimes too fast to be sustainable.

Traditional Poly Culture, such as it exists, has come up with some ways around this problem of artificially sped-up emotional investment. Mostly they involve replacing triggery monogamous-style DTRs with alternative relationship-defining rituals – but I suspect many of us in the younger generation find these inelegant and kind of embarrassing. I don’t want to write out contracts with my lovers and insist that potential new ones read and sign them before we go on a first date. For one thing, my boundaries and expectations of any relationship are going to shift and grow as the relationship grows; they can’t be functionally encapsulated in a form letter. Plus, that just sounds like the ultimate mood-killer.

So, how do we avoid the trap of embedded monogamous programming while maintaining room for the spontaneity and deliciousness of a surprise first kiss?

Here’s one way: Name it. If we have a quick shorthand to point out when it’s happening AS it’s happening, we can level down the exaggerated emotional intensity and sense of impending Big Dealitude without derailing the important and useful conversations about needs, desires, boundaries and expectations that have to happen earlier for polyfolk than they do for monogamous folk. Call it a bit of anti-magic. We need a clear and clever phrase to snap ourselves out of unconsciously running this internalized monogamy-centric script on our own brains.

I’m going to ponder possible names overnight, and when I come up with one, I’ll make it the title of this post. If you have any ideas, throw ’em out there.

(I am almost tempted to call it The ‘Talking-Equals-Drama’ Fallacy…but that seems a little broad for this very specific phenomenon.)

April 8, 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — thirdxlucky @ 5:09 pm
Tags: ,

The Revolution Starts at Home: Confronting Partner Abuse in Activist Communities

I just re-found this. I didn’t have the chance to read it when it first came out, but I’d like to try and print a copy now to share with the Poly group and maybe take it on the boat with me. It’s about 50 pages long. I’m wondering if I can get away with printing it on my work printer.

I know there are other things going on that make this relevant to other people, but it’s weighing heavily on my mind right now because, while I’m back East, I’m going to visit Matthew…

Restorative Justice and Abuse

Filed under: Uncategorized — thirdxlucky @ 4:57 pm
Tags: ,

I was writing this as a footnote on a previous post, but it got long enough I thought I should just give it its own entry.

Jessie also suggested something that hadn’t occurred to either of us until last night, but seems so obvious now: Applying a community-based Restorative Justice model to dealing with perpetrators of abuse. I have some problems with the restorative justice model I learned*; it would take some tweaking and it would only work in certain situations (RJ only works when the perpetrator is willing to own and take responsibility for their crime) – but those situations seem to be the ones in which healing and restoration matters most for the sake of the abuse-victim i.e. the ones in which the abuser and victim are strongly tied together by other family or family-like relationships.

* I’ve never felt comfortable with the way that traditional RJ tends to manifest as just a giant clusterfuck of guilt-tripping – largely because, if someone really is ready to genuinely take responsibility for how they’ve hurt another person, they’re probably feeling pretty guilty already. Having ten people then sit in a circle and tell them what an irredeemable asshole they are just seems like a way to get them to shut back down – and there’s no progress to be made there.

I don’t actually think the ‘guilt-trip’ method is built in to the model however, The idea is behind “Affected Community” sharing is to help the perpetrator come to a deep understanding of their impact on the person or people they harmed – to increase their compassion. Guilt is not a terribly effective way of making people more compassionate; it’s mostly a good way of making people defensive.

I think RJ participants often turn to this sort of shaming behavior in word or tone of voice – rather than genuine compassion-inducing behavior – because we still have the retributive paradigm lodged deep in our mindset, and it tells us the primary purpose of justice is to punish the perpetrator rather than to redress the harm to the victim. Also, I think we just don’t know how to do anything else. For RJ to work well, especially on something as emotionally complex and volatile as abuse, we’d need much more skilled facilitators and affected community members with a lot of consciousness about compassion, human psychology, and non-violent communication.

Most importantly, I think, we need to fill the circle with people who love the abuser. I don’t mean to get all Carebears in Wonderland about this, but seriously folks, truth and reconciliation is a healing action. It doesn’t work for anybody – including and especially not the victim – unless it, itself, steps outside the cycle of violence.

Also: Whoa, check it out! A whole list of links and resources around RJ and Domestic Violence: Applying Restorative Justice to Domestic Violence – Web Resources

Non-Imaginary Date-Type Thing

Filed under: Uncategorized — thirdxlucky @ 4:01 pm

I think it went very well. 🙂

Awkwardness being pretty much inevitable (at least for me), it’s nice having someone you feel comfortable being awkward with.

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And man is she cute.

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