Transitive

Oct. 8th, 2016 03:14 pm
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For the longest time there were two categories of people in the world: those I trusted and those I did not. You'll be shocked to know I took this to extremes both ways, and didn't know how to navigate the middle ground. It's been a long, slow process but I'm learning to put people in the middle now. I can place a little more trust in people I don't know personally; I can play around the edges of mildly risky interactions rather than keeping myself rolled up tight and safe. I can be close and open (oh, English, really?) with people and trust them so far, but maintain watchfulness and self-preservation. I feel like the whole process doesn't damage me anymore.

Now, in the kind of real, exciting news that drives the world forward: I am doing another cider buy, 5 carboys this fall near the end of the month, and I'm gaining confidence in my ability to write again after the accident. Cider is cider, the play will go over on my canning blog; writing is... like being whole again. Nearly being able to hold things in my head again. Interplay and structure of thought. Thank goodness. I hadn't realised the extent to which I was personally diminished by the absence until it came back enough to feel again. I imagine it'll come and go, but it's very good when it's here.

It's raining. Josh is here before he starts a new job which will offer a cycle of serious absence and then serious presence. I've been driving a lot and loving how it saves time and makes me not-sick on the bus (straight up time savings is one thing, but I'm really starting to notice the time saved by not having to lie down when I feel awful after the bus too). Finances are a little rough but I'm feeling confident about my ability to navigate them, at least subject to my talking to my bank.

Fall festival is coming up next weekend; I need some ritual in my life and I am so looking forward to it.

I've realised that after I graduate I'll still be in training (doing "school") for another two years anyhow, which somewhat reduces my drive to plough through as fast as possible. If I'm one course behind and need to do something by distance, well, I'll be doing that for awhile anyhow.

Nothing is perfect, but things are deeply okay and some are really very wonderful.
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Well. More love in my life, my ribcage stretching open like wings. Friends, sweethearts: I'm in the middle of a season of connection. I'm renewing old ties, and the age of those ties has meaning. I'm forming new ones.

I'm not spending an excess of time on school, and basically none that isn't in plain sight. That may hurt me long-term. Having written these words, between that last sentence and this, I was inspired to send off an overdue email or two. Writing is good accountability.

Another love post is ripening. My relationship landscape is shifting again and I haven't taken the time, yet, to feel out all the various ramifications. I'm noticing a new level of ...comfort? confidence? in my people now. I trust folks to stick around, not just in the manner best for them, but also in ways that are good for me. It's been a long road since my first couple of posts, since I couldn't believe I had anything to offer or that anyone would find me interesting over the long haul.

I like the long haul.

My car has become what my home used to be, the place I can sing aloud to myself and no one can see me, the place I can expand to fill the space. I am finding ways to exist in my home more-or-less happily. I am spending too much money. I am attending most classes. I am telling myself that I will take my bike to school, or do yoga, but I keep putting those off (yoga: see also: too much money). I am petting Mella the bare mimimum she will allow, but talking to the rabbits more.

I am daydreaming, a lot, about having my own home.

After such a hard winter followed by a numbingly difficult summer, I am back to feeling myself surrounded by love and warmth every day. I am interested in people. I am... human again. It is the paramount wonder of the world.
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Well. Back in school. Best Forestry Student In Canada, according to one metric (it's on a medal and everything). Proud of it, I guess? But here's the thing. Good-student-ness and happiness don't coexist well for me. I was originally a good student because I was terrified as well as innately curious. I've retained my innate curiosity, perhaps currently my most valued trait (it's only in the last couple years I've considered anything more than "a machine made for loving things" to be my most valued trait), I'm still attuned to details. School requires a particular ability to create absolutely nothing, though, to make something that will be sent down a black hole and never seen again, and when I'm not seeking approval to convince myself I'm allowed to exist (kinda done with that) I find that hard to stomach.

But! I have discovered that if I ignore that part of school by alloting myself a very short amount of time for that stuff (think "I am being paid hourly for half an hour of work here" mindset) I can go on and enjoy things. I am currently both in school and enjoying things. What am I enjoying?

I am enjoying asking my instructors questions about First Nations (Canada) vs American Indian situations, and about what to do in particularly ethically sticky work situations I've encountered.

I am enjoying volunteering with a Canadian forestry organization in what is also a student rep/student council position and thus meeting folks like the Chief Forester (who is a woman for the first time and who is delightful in person) and older folks in the forest industry who are technically retired and have lots of stories and young women with whom I feel some level of comradeship.

I am enjoying my people, so many people I love so much.

I am enjoying plotting this fall's boozemaking when the apples are pressed (three cysers, maybe?) and also tasting some of the things I made two years ago at this time.

I am enjoying living in the same room as my rabbits, being more intimate with them after a summer of not-so-much contact.

I am enjoying having my own bed, both to lounge in alone and to invite people into it as I see fit.

I am enjoying proximity to my mom.

I am enjoying Suhaylah, my SUV, who affords me the ability to travel despite increasingly awful transit systems in Vancouver which often make me sick even if they're not overcrowded or late or taking an hour and a half to two hours to get somewhere.

I am enjoying anticipation of having a home, a real home where I could live and put things and maybe stay there for more than eight months at a time. I've been looking at houses in Fort and I can do that there.

I want to go into detail about people, but it's long past my bedtime and I'd be here for hours. I haven't seen half the people I need to see, but I *can* and that is wonderful.

So anyhow, my overwhelming experience right now is not that of school, it's that of my life around school, which is excellent. School is a problem when it's my focus.

Conifex in Fort St James has said they want me back after I graduate, so I'm tryins g to treat this window as the last, most extended vacation I'll have down south. It's working so far.

Moving twice a year for school is very difficult, worse than moving twice a year for the rest of my life because there is such a long distance at play. My nail clippers are currently in Williams Lake and my bedside lamp has been missing in the stack of boxes for two years (I hate typing with long nails). It's hard to do hobbies, I'm tired of setting up my computer, I didn't get to tuck my garden in for the winter nor do I get to ever live near that garden again, the air always feels to dry or too damp, and I miss my bed which I haven't got out of the storage locker yet.

I always live my life for the next day, or the day after that. The trick seems to be including short as well as long term in "the next day". Use long term to pull myself through short term; use short term to recharge my soul so it's strong enough to be pulled.

Anyhow, tired. Missed you, felt lonely. Late to bed now. Be well. A couple years and you can come visit me and stay in a guest cabin I made you with my own hands. How lovely will that be?
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I'm settling in here a little. A desk has been cleared for me, home to my sewing machine and my desktop computer. This means my music is accessible again, especially good because I left my cell phone on top of the land cruiser when I was taking lumber off before work and it fell off in the middle of a highway of logging trucks: no more cell phone. I have another on order but it'll be awhile to get here.

Went down to Vancouver to visit James last weekend. It was really good. That's settling into me more comfortably. I feel serious about it, and slightly overwhelmed by the logistics of that plus Josh plus career, but since nothing else is settled at all in my life right now it doesn't feel imminently overwhelming.

Starting to feel angry about Dave again, incidentally. It... feels good? Feels nice to be angry at someone who could be an hour late for a date and didn't care enough about relationship ground rules to notice when he broke them, let alone apologise. Being able to feel angry about it is liberating. I suspect the reason it's taking me so long to get past the anger part and into the 'we weren't good in a relationship' stage is that I haven't devoted any space to the anger yet. Either way, here it is.

The main garden is unrolling across the lawn like a carpet. Greenhouse is built, wired to ventilate at a high enough temperature, and planted. Raspberry bed is made, rose bed is dug and planted and has ornamental patterns of lettuces and tomatoes in it. This week we should plant fruit trees. I'm very happy.

Every day I want to go back to Fort in the summer more. It's difficult for logistics but it feels astonishingly like home. Even though this city lot in Williams Lake is also feeling a little homey and every garden I plant roots me somewhere, the city is not my home.

Revisiting thoughts of kids, but that's another post. Now I go help Josh with some experimental deep-dish pizza done with a really really high hydration dough.
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It has been a very hard week, and now I'm happy again.

This post would be so different had I written it this morning; I'd thought to do so. This journal has never sought to be a dispassionate recounting of external facts, not even close, and any story I tell here would be told differently a week later, and then different again a year later, or five years. I'm glad to be telling the story now and not earlier.

I haven't been sleeping well, and I have just started bleeding. These are maybe the root of everything, especially the former. Josh hasn't lived with a partner before; I didn't really come up here with the energy or intention of settling into permanent patterns nor really thought about making patterns with him. Our sleep logistics have not worked themselves out well, and I have been spending time on James as well, and work has been running longer than I expected many days. Sleep, food, and time to think to myself are the three things I should never be without. I've been without too much sleep, and it has felt terrible. A little more of it and soon everything would feel like the end of the world.

I had a nap this afternoon, and maybe I can put these things in a way where they are not the end of the world.

Work is the first and biggest thing. The people I worked with last summer, my first forestry job, were first intriguing and then important to me. I'm having a harder time finding my way into this set of people; the summer students are diverse in personality but not so much in age, they are (we are?) very much thrown together without other people's involvement, and although I can get along with everyone ok, more-or-less, I'm having trouble finding my way into really liking or caring about them. You know me, you've been reading what I write for so long, so you know what a strange statement that is for me. I can usually like people I spend time with.

The whole office is a little bit like that, and maybe if I spent a bunch of time with the individuals it would help a bit, but there's this sense of group othering that I'm never very comfortable with. Conversations can centre around "can you believe this group of people did or said this thing?" without seeking to understand the ins and outs of why or how. I don't like those. I miss the folks from last summer. I both hope I find a way to like this place where I am now, and am giving serious thought to going back there next summer even though it is very far away from Vancouver. And from both Josh and James.

I was going to end this post with him, leave you on a beautiful note, and talk about the garden and the rabbits in the middle, but here we are and he's come up in the same way he came into my life in the last little while: abruptly, surprisingly, but at the right time. I've been embracing that.

Here's the story: over a year ago I went to a friend's... birthday party? It was near Dave's apartment, I'd just moved in for a month before moving up to Fort St James, and a handful of us ended up going for drinks and then back to Dave and my place to hang out. The apartment was all boxes halfway between being unpacked and put in storage, it's a wonder we invited people back, but there we were and it was a lovely evening. There was a person I didn't know who ended up back at the apartment with us, no doubt participating in the discussion: eye-catching long tawny-gold hair and compact assurance, quiet but expressive in face and gesture, some combination of elegant movement and solid sensibility, a little well of gravity in the corner of the apartment I spent most of the evening either looking at or looking away from. Honestly I did more of the latter: Dave and I hadn't discussed how we'd handle flirting or dating while we were both living in that one-bedroom apartment or really in small party situations like that, so I kept myself under wraps. The closer you get to a source of gravity, after all, the harder it pulls, and I was leaving the city's orbit.

I went so far as to get him on facebook and that was a month of job-seeking, packing, exams, rough times with Dave, little energy, and then I was out of town. The next year I was mostly absent; away in Fort, and also emotionally absent when I came back to school. The source of gravity was still there, a tiny trickle of awareness across facebook when I looked at it, a little temptation which I had no energy to meet. When my exams were almost done I suddenly came alive again and there he was, as apparently eager for a date as I was, less than a week before I left town. The whole thing moved at... I was going to say 'my speed' but it was remarkably mutual, and so here I am up in Williams Lake living delightedly with Josh and putting in a garden but with, again, a long distance relationship. A joyful, loving, competent-with-the-internet, visiting-soon, who knows what will happen next? long distance relationship.

I am very pleased. I am (when I don't get enough sleep) drowned in poly guilt but sometimes clear-headedly ok. I am putting in work when I can. I am happy. He is wonderful in every way I could want.

So that's James.

Josh and I are putting in the garden still; it's slow and we have less time and energy than expected, but the plastic is going up on the greenhouse today. We haven't had our last frost yet and so many plants get hauled into the garage when the temperature is forecast low; we may finally be able to move just to floating row cover for the tender things until we get the beds in the greenhouse built. We have been enabling each other buying things that grow; lately iris and daylily and roses in addition to the veggies we've started from seed. We have fruit trees to plant. My soul feels good.

Mella has bonded to the baby rabbits, and they don't fight at all. They lie around snuggled all up together sometimes, or groom each other, and when I'm petting Mella, Odin will come up to be petted and Juniper will come up to lick her in the spots my petting has missed. The little ones have un-litter-trained Mella, but that can be dealt with. It's good to have them with me.

Next weekend Josh and I are going camping at Chilko Lake, which is "out west." From Williams Lake everything is "out west," "out east," "down south," or rarely "up north". The coast doesn't really exist in this dry land except as a mythic place. It is sort of its own centre for the surrounding smaller towns; neither Prince George nor Vancouver really has a pull, though Kelowna is perhaps the metropolitan centre it orbits.

It's dinner time now, grilled hamburgers and salad and contemplating the garden-to-be. I'm ok. I will try to sleep more; I will keep switching strategies until I find one that works. I like being happy, and my afternoon nap gave that back to me after a week without.

I can get through this summer.

Talk to you soon.
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There's always a bit of a crash, some bouncing, like a cork shooting up and then bobbing in the water until equilibrium is established.

Here's the crash, or the front edge of it. My neck hurts; I haven't pinned down a physio up here yet and pain is wearing. I hadn't realised just how much mine was doing to keep everything functional. I'm tired. I'm... worn out, wanting to rest and curl up in a quiet loved space but there's still so much to do.

And of course I realised that, at least for me, there is no arriving. This is still journey, still passage through, rather than a stopping point. I have lovely things in my life: I do things to keep them lovely. I will have to work at my job, not merely doing the work but learning on a very steep curve both the work and the lay of the land. I will have to do a great deal of work on myself; poly guilt has been strong the last couple days and I'm feeling done with school being so bad for me and I believe I have some spiritual work that must be done in this next year. I will need to be driving daily for awhile so I will deal with the aftermath of my accident very soon. My body will be very demanding when I start physical labour again and I can't let that drown everything else out, though it always clarifies things immensely.

I need to put together my feelings about Dave, and how that ended. I need to go back and nose out what's going on with my end of my connections to people. When I came down from Fort I had essentially been in an environment without close connections but also without feeling obligated. When I left my last job the excellent therapist I had at the time suggested I could have close connections without that sense of crippling obligation. The idea of it was shattering. I seem to believe I am not allowed to have connection without heavy obligation; I jettison connections to avoid it? Maybe?

Here's where it all degenerates. I don't have a narrative to hang anything on right now. Some of my old stories to myself are changing. I need time to walk those old paths again and update my map as necessary. I need time to mourn losses and cherish things that remain valuable. I need to find my well here, to regain the source of my strength. I probably need to spend a surprising amount of time alone and undistracted to do this work.

The process of meeting a new person and getting close to him very quickly has jangled and stirred everything up in there. It's been too long since I've looked, seen, tidied. This is perhaps one function of long rambling nights with old friends: to re-tell your stories, to update someone who knows, to channel the whole chaotic storm of it into a story that informs the rest of everything. This was good for me, this was bad for me, this was a problem, this was safe: I guess these things change as we do.

I had hoped I'd sit down here and the narrative would emerge. I'd hoped that by channelling everything into words I'd understand. There are too many edges and as-yet disconnected pieces, though. This will take some time.
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I'm alive. I can't even tell you. Here I am. I'm finally shedding my winter skin. I'm becoming human, I'm alive, there's a beating flashing core to my soul, the world pulls me into it, I can love things, I can want things, I'm alive. I'm remembering how to feel the kind of joy that I swear is visible in an aura around me, pouring out of my skin. I'm remembering who I am. This is who I am. I had almost forgotten there.

It's been a bad four months. School is bad. It's autodepression, flick the switch on with the first contact in the semester and then off again when it finishes. What does this to me? Sitting all day? Accepting someone else's absolute authority? Having no freedom to plan my time? Anyways, school is done for four months, and basically with my last exam I came alive, I came awake, I felt like I turned on a light and unfamiliar nothingness suddenly gave way to my very favourite room. I am my very favourite room. I love living here. So many years making myself, that partnership where all the bits of me shape each other until they fit, and it's for nothing when I'm in school, but it is Very Good in just living.

I was in a car accident that I could well have not walked away from in February. My car rolled; Taoshi was lost. I could have died there, and I would have died unhappy and not-me, but I didn't die. Thank goodness, thank every blessed thing, that I still have the chance to die properly, as myself, at some future date.

I don't want that date to be soon. Words are failing me. I'm sitting in bed listening to music for the first time in four months and it's filling the house, the air is vibrating with it, and my skin and the music are one continuous physical sensation, much as my... happiness, I suppose? is one single continuous piece with Devendra Banhart's voice. In the room next door to me my rabbits -- Mella with whom I have developed a close relationship since we lost Taoshi, and the two babies I need to bond her to named Juniper and Odin -- and they actively enjoy my presence, they are happier when we engage, and they are mine for their lives and I love them very much. When I think a little further outwards I can see, in my mind's eye, the beginnings of my garden. We've started tomatoes (stupice, cherokee chocolate, green zebra, sungold, Siberian, San Marzano, black plum, and silvery fir tree) and four kinds of peppers, and the two cold-weather lettuces (warm weather varieties to follow) and herbs (summer savory, thyme, thai basil and romano basil and sweet basil, curled and flat parsley, lovage that refuses to come up, sweet ciciley) and so many greens (including sorrel and good king henry and lamb's quarters and purslane and strawberry blite) and several kinds of melons and two zucchinis and three new kinds of scented geraniums and three kinds of carrots and chard and kale and ground cherries (two kinds!) and tomatillos and celeriac and and and and... It's still freezing out at night up here in Williams Lake (this was my first night in Williams Lake) and today the sky is bright and clear and beautiful and I will vacuum with the windows wide open and sing and alarm the rabbits with my noise and scandalize the neighbors.

I'm alive. I'm inhabiting my personality. I want to say it again and again and again because it is such a strong combination of relief and joy. When I was in school this semester I was actively afraid that I wouldn't be able to come back to myself, but here I am. What's the best gift you could ever be given? Double it, triple it. That's the feeling.

There's a bunch of great relationship stuff happening in my life right now. I start my summer job with a new company on Monday, and I'm terrified but very optimistic about that. My place in Vancouver will be there for me when I return in the fall so I won't need to house hunt. I have excellent friends and I got to see some of them before I left. I have a future that I can enjoy anticipating. I have so many blessings. But... everything is overshadowed by the simple fact that I can appreciate, notice, and think about these things. I'd lost that.

And here I am, even enjoying words again, enjoying the sensation of spinning pieces of myself out into the void. I have enough of myself to fill a page now.

Alive.

Shifts.

Nov. 11th, 2015 01:44 am
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I am now a driver, with a licence.

I am increasingly living rurally, with a total of 12 months left in the city over the next year and a half.

I am dating Dave and also Josh, who buys plants with me and owns more grow lights than I do (by number, but maybe not by total area covered).

I am feeling the isolation of living temporarily in a place and distance relationshipping on weekends and going up to camp many weeks and so being unsettled where I live. Also of working ten hour days where I have little energy to do my own life. I suspect school will not change this substantially.

I am feeling a desire to go far off from people, to hole up in some forest with a cabin and a wood stove and explore my own life rhythms again.

I am a fully sighted person, with no glasses. I think my eyes are beautiful; I see them unmediated for the first time and they really are this color. Eye medication after my PRK surgery stops in a month. I was startled by how affordable the surgery was (less than a year's tuition or living expenses) and by how quickly I take sight for granted.

I am struggling with this winter a little. It is beautiful in Fort St James though, and there are good people everywhere, it seems.

I miss biking.

I miss snuggles more often than just on weekends.

I miss my people, unsurprisingly.

I'd like to talk to folks who do my job but who aren't at my company. I look forward to school for that.

And now back to sleep.
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I'm heading down from camp, got several hours' drive ahead of us. I'm thinking about transience, a suitable subject for fall I suppose. I came to Fort St James and enjoyed the community, especially at first, but I haven't really settled here. I've met people I like, but I haven't made friends. I've been acting on the assumption that I won't be here for long and so I haven't settled in deeply because I don't want to form roots and then tear them out. As a creature of extremes I am either very present or completely disconnected; I don't know that I could have chosen a middle path.

And now that the end of the summer is in sight, I'm uprooting myself completely. I'm looking forward - already - to a sort of distributed Vancouver/Williams Lake existence that feels like home. I'm not sure how that will work for me, but I suspect better than this summer did in the sense that I won't be isolated, and worse than this summer in the sense that I won't be outside nearly as much.

I said I didn't root here and that's not completely true. These woods will always be a home to me, familiar when I return. I really would like to see them through a full season sometime, see the landscape in snow, complete the cycle that began for me with budbreak and will end when the leaves drop after this incandescent fall and cold begins.

Maybe I'll come back here after graduation, or maybe somewhere near here, and my first year will go like that. The future two years on is opaque to me; it's only the next year and a half, and then the far distance, that I have a sense for.

Either way, right now I an walking lightly on the world. I'm not shaping any part of it very strongly to my will or desire. It makes me feel a little immaterial, a little like a ghost, a little ineffectual. It's fine, but it's not a useful feeling and I suspect it will be especially unhelpful at school. I'm not particularly looking forward to adding a third location to my potential home-feeling places. I think that would be spreading myself so thin I might disappear altogether.

I don't feel easily pinned down right now partly because of that feeling of transience, of unreality. I feel like there is no "me" to pin down, merely a collection of waiting for the endurance test of school to be over.

I don't know. Transience. That's where I am right now.

It also occurs to me that a home is a lot like a partner where it requires time and attention from me, but provides me with support and happiness and engagement in return. I suppose I don't have time for any of those right now anyhow.
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I'm home. Back at my address, in the bed I've slept in from the beginning of May until two weeks ago. Now I'm in it and it is empty. There is no one here with me.

It's been awhile.

I went from the maritimes to camp with a one-night stop here. Josh was here that night, in town through a combination of luck and finesse. When I came back from camp he also came up; we went camping on the beach and now he's on the road back to Williams Lake and I'm here, in bed with my laptop, alone.

I didn't feel alone quite so keenly before. This was an adventure, heading north to work, and I accepted a level of isolation. That was part of what I enjoyed about it. Dave's visits were lovely interludes, and though I missed him he was definitely part of another life and when he left I returned to mine here.

Now I am building a life here in the interior, and there's a person in it. Not the casual friendly acquaintanceships I've made with so many people that I enjoy as an ambient source of companionship, but something that pulls so hard it burns and rattles and tears. More, I am bridging the two lives for much longer than I prefer; school will last two more years and in that time I am bound to oscillate back and forth.

And in the middle of that duality of a life I took a duality of a vacation. On the one hand I went to Dave's family, to the lovely family island in the middle of a lake with few walls and no running water and all his family that shared so many of his traits and time spent Doing Things. On the other hand I went to camp and then came back and nested in bed then went and nested again beside a lake where the only other people in sight were on far-away boats with a half-stranger to whom I am intimately and roughly tied.

I came back and went into a grocery store. It had walls and people, worse than Vancouver airport two weeks ago which contained more people in that moment than Fort Saint James. I am having trouble looking at the faces of strangers. I am missing trees. And I am missing rooms full of people who know me and care about me and who might have perspective on the kaleidoscope of my life right now. I feel as if the perspective has been knocked right out of me.

I own a car now. As of later this year I'll have a drivers' license. I can walk through the bush. When I've been outside I feel a hundred feet tall and glowing with well-being. I feel capable in so many ways.

Yet, I am still a student. I am somewhat at the financial and scheduling whim of school. I must live in certain places in certain times. I am transitory in a rented room, with the things I love in a storage locker. I can't negotiate for long-term work or settle somewhere. I can't complete my transition into my new life. I can't remain settled in my old one, so far away from where I am now.

And I am still feeling out a new love, sometimes quickly, sometimes so carefully and softly.

I don't know. But here I am, home.

Let's see if routine soothes the burn of re-entry.
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From the distance at night I used to think Vancouver looked like a collection of jewels. Now, maybe it's the clouds, but it looks like a forest fire to me. And jewels, but also a forest fire.

Two

Jul. 23rd, 2015 10:48 am
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Office work, third day, and I have space to think behind the layer of repetitive tasks.

I am thinking about pain, and about choice.

It's always been easy for me to accept my own discomfort in the service of something; I understand that it's usually the price of whatever I want. In relationships, closeness will mean that sometimes edges rub up against each other or knock bits off. Sometimes it will hurt me to be close to someone, or to care about them even from a distance.

I haven't spent a lot of time thinking of that as a normal state of affairs for my partners as well. It's always been hard for me to see people I love in pain, and sometimes it makes me nearly frantic (protip: this helps nothing). I've played with the idea on here that it's ok for me to sometimes cause a lover pain, because that happens, but I'm only now struck with a much larger idea: sometimes someone will be in pain regardless of me, and I'll be powerless there, and they will just hurt, maybe for a long time, and that's how it will be.

This is perhaps the most terrifying thought I've had. That it's normal, that it's part of the deal, to just stand with all those impulses to protect and cherish. That it's part of the deal to witness an entire lifetime's worth of pain in a loved one.

For better or worse, hm? That carries more weight now.

As for choice? Intentionality is a powerful thing.

More later, maybe.
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Yes, it's a long time later.

1. What type of non-monogamous relationships do you have?

All my relationships are non-monogamous.

I currently have what I would consider a full partnership where we're very emotionally intimate and we spend a lot of time (3 or 4/7 days per week) together. We are seek each other's advice frequently but not permission, even for big changes like moving across the country. This hasn't been decided to be a permanent relationship; to do that we'd need to sort out the career/long distance/living/children situation and neither of us has been inclined to do that yet.

I also have a wide range of people who fall in the 'close friends and/or I love them and sexual intimacy is not off the table'. In practice this means I cycle into and out of closer contact with them, into and out of sexual relationships, into and out of frequent contact.

In the past I've enjoyed relatively stable arrangements with one domestic(live in) partner and one dating (2-3 days per week) partner but I'm too busy for that right now.

Revised: I currently have a part time/long distance partnership with Dave as described above, that has somewhat de-escalated with distance. The question of it permanence has still not been decided. I have a girlfriend who I've been seeing occasionally for quite awhile who is an important emotional and conversational person in my life. Now I suddenly have another boyfriend who is too new to classify, but at the least promises to be an adventure, conversation, and activity partner.

2. When did you first realize you were non-monogamous?

It's been difficult for me to accept that I'm nonmonogamous. I have been practicing nonmonogamy since I was fifteen or sixteen, but because of internalised biases against it and the difficulty of swimming against that current I have often needed to re-realise that this is an immutable orientation for me. I think I may have finally learned my lesson three or four years ago for good?

3. What have been the best and worst experiences you’ve had coming out as non-monogamous?

The best experience lies in being able to accept and present myself as I am, to feel like I'm authentically interacting with the world. I know this is maybe supposed to be asking about other people's responses to me, but it's my own response to granting myself freedom to speak about who I am and my experiences that really make me happy here.

The worst experiences, without a doubt, are when people tell me I don't really love my partners, when my partners tell me I don't really love them, or when I'm told it's just a phase. My ability to love is pretty deep in my identity and takes up a lot of my time and attention; having all that brushed off or ignored is the worst form of not being seen.

4. How do you feel about your non-monogamy?

This is a dangerous question. I mostly don't feel anything particular about it, I just accept it. Sometimes I find it very frustrating and painful, especially when it is a source of incompatibility in a relationship or when it leads me to feel excluded from casual conversations about my life. In actual practice, when I'm actually experiencing my people, I feel free and secure and comfortable and happy. A lot of the time I think it would be more convenient to be monogamous, it would give me a bigger dating pool and less need to sort quite so many internalised messages out and there would be less scheduling and less social and legal discrimination. The dangerous part is that I'm not monogamous, and when I try to act as though I am there are negative consequences, so thinking about the inconvenience doesn't benefit me.

5. How did your family react to you being non-monogamous?

Very neutrally.

6. What does marriage mean to you?

It's a public, social sanction of strong intention between two people who have identified significant life compatibilities and compatible life goals and are going to try to keep those lined up together "forever". I know other people use it for other things. Marriage being limited to single couples, I feel a little wary of it.

7. What do you think about hierarchical non-monogamy?

As generally practiced it may be too rigid for my tastes, maybe? Because all my people feel so different, it's hard and kinda gross to set up categories like that. I tend to prefer to have a fairly clear sense of my priorities in different areas with different folks. I can easily get behind being with one partner who is prioritized in many ways, but... I dunno. It's a pretty broad concept. Super happy for other folk to practice this way.

8. What’s a favorite picture you associate with non-monogamy?

I'm not particularly visual.

9. What’s your view on group sex?

I'm not sure what aspect of group sex this is supposed to address. Interpersonal logistics on group sex can be complicated; I've had some that was lovely and some that felt uncomfy and coerced. Easiest for me is pre-existing groups/couples having sex in parallel in the same space.

Needless to say, it should never be coerced. Not entirely sure what it has to do directly with poly, either. :P

10. What involvement have you had with non-monogamy groups or organizations?

Vanpoly and livejournal poly and dot poly snark community involvement for many years when I was starting. None now. I don't seem to enjoy poly communities much, preferring to figure my relationships out within themselves and find a different reason to socialize with folks, like maybe common interests.

11. What’s the stupidest argument or comment you’ve heard about non-monogamy?

Many folks don't have much knowledge about it. Usually I'm being asked questions, not told things. The undercurrent that I can't possibly love my partners makes me incredibly angry though.

12. What’s your favorite blog or site related to non-monogamy?

I more-or-less stopped reading poly sites several years ago. When I started I went to VanPoly, read a mailing list, was on the livejournal poly community and the lj poly snark community.

This journal, chronicling as it does most of my poly stuff, is probably my favourite resource for myself: I can se what mistakes I've made before, how they felt at the time, and make decisions with that data.

I haven't found books on poly to be super helpful. I think anything that helps with empathy and good communication in general would be excellent as a resource though.

13. What would you like to say to people?

Get over it. It really has nothing to do with you.It's just something I'm doing over here in my own time, with my own energy. I'm cool answering your questions if you ask them, I don't mind at all, and in return I'd love if you would stop interpreting my personal behaviour in the light of whether it would fit you or based on the assumptions in your own relationship(s).

I still make hard decisions. In your relationship you make hard decisions. There's no real difference at the heart of it. I'm not some free-spirit person who doesn't live by the rules of consequence. I get consequences. And I probably don't want to have sex with you, it takes someone very particular and special to get me engaged.

14. What do you want to end this series of questions on?

A sense of having created a coherent picture of my relationship style, but I don't think that will occur. Maybe a sense of understanding from others.

15. How do you feel about jealousy?

It's a great indicator emotion. It's unpleasant, like all the indicator emotions, so it calls attention to something. That something, for me, is usually needing more time/attention from a partner, or a different kind of time/attention. If it's ongoing it feels terrible and I can't imagine enjoying a relationship that was primarily or largely driven by huge ongoing jealousy issues. That needs some talking out.

16. How do you feel about compersion?

Compersion is pretty great. It took me years to develop a really good sense of it, but I definitely enjoy seeing my partners happy. It requires a certain lens or effort to achieve sometimes, but gets easier with practice.

17. How do you experience love?

This question has, maybe, this whole journal as an answer and then some.

18. Do you think non-monogamy is more natural than monogamy?

The word natural gets such a big side-eye from me. Too many weird assumptions. I think people often will see and like shiny new folks. What they do with that will vary. Um. Social structures around types of sexual and familial relationships will also vary, as will individuals' desires and actions in and out of those structures.

19. Are you currently looking for any more relationships?
No, my dance card is pretty full. Now that I've met another very interesting person I don't think I'll even have time for additional weekend flings even though I'm long distance.

20. What would your ideal relationships be?

I'll have to come back to this. Big answer.

21. Do you want to live with one or more of your partners?

Yes, I love domestic reationships with someone who fits me well. Where we'd live is a big question for me now.

22. How do your desires about having children fit with your non-monogamy?

I don't think this changes them substantially. Some partners would want to be involved with children, some would not, and a flexible relationship structure enables people to settle where they're comfortable in that regard.

23. Are you out about being non-monogamous?

At home, yes. I wasn't going to come out much up here in this small town, but now that I have two actively visiting partners I certainly will. This process started today and will be... interesting.

24. What’s your favorite book about non-monogamy?

Nope.

25. How do you feel about the portrayal of non-monogamy in the media?

Damaging. Gross. Took me/is taking me decades to resolve all the awful messaging baked into everything. I do not only really love my partners if I sacrifice everything for them. I really love my partners by knowing what I can offer, knowing my limitations and capabilities, and being honest about that. I still hear the little voice saying "if you really loved me you'd give up everyone else for me" though.

That voice is wrong.

My relationships are also just as weird and wonderful as anyone else's, with as much chance of failure. Unfairness to a partner comes from not taking their needs into account, not from the act of taking other lovers on its own.

26. What’s been the most rewarding thing about non-monogamy?

The amazing people in my life. Having the freedom to explore connections with folks without having to stuff them into boxes where they don't belong.

27. What’s been the most challenging thing about non-monogamy?

Knowing myself, my needs, and what I can offer with such certainty that it can't be shaken by externals.

28. What do you think is important for a successful non-monogamous relationship?

Self-knowledge. Communication. Love. Empathy. Time and energy.
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Well, now I'm in two distance relationships.
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Off for first real date with new boy. Can barely type straight.
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I went flying. A co-worker is a hobby pilot, and took me and Dave in a tiny plane from Vanderhoof to Smithers to Terrace to Burns Lake and back. Looking down at the land changing from a low open valley to gravel-spike snowy mountains, watching the rivers meander and crash and the patchwork quilts of green, it hammered me with the same emotion love always drives into me: a frantic restlessness, a need to do or prove as if the love can't just exist without action. This is dragon-slaying love, questing love, poetry-writing love. It is not lying together and feeling breath and heartbeat love. I look forward to its maturation.

This land. Love. And here I am in it. I never know what to do with what I want when I get it, though I am so good at getting it.

And I passed a check-cruise this week, so I'm officially up to standard at my job, and I'm not always so far behind anymore, and I'm not exhausted at the end of each day. We're on easy ground this week, so that likely helps, but I'm no longer feeling like work is impossible and I'm no good. It's gonna be ok.
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So I've been habitually posting on weekends. Then Dave came up for a weekend, then I went to a music festival for a weekend. This coming weekend my mom is coming to visit, and the one following that I'm going to hang out with a new um-maybe-friend in Williams Lake and eat oysters and see what physical proximity does to our interaction, then the one following that I'm heading to the Mission Folk Fest, and then to the other side of Canada for the first time to visit Nova Scotia with Dave. So there's a lot to catch up on, obviously, and I may not update lots.

I do, however, have lots of things going on in my head.

The level of casual friendly to strangers here is about the same as the level of casual friendly in Vancouver to someone you've been introduced to through a friend but not previously spoken to much. It's turned up a notch from Vancouver-stranger. I like it. It's ok to talk to folks, coworkers are more invite-able to things, every interaction is just a little bit closer or at least allows for more than the equivalent one in the city.

One of the fun/frustrating things about sex is that you basically reinvent it with each person (unless I guess you wanna follow the standard het escalator vanilla template?). You never quite know what's coming down that pipe.

The Smithers music festival was fun; it had more different types of music than I was expecting. I went up with two co-workers, Jeremy who was the instigator and who's my fellow summer hire, and Brett. It was nice to hang out with them some; they definitely viewed it as a drinking/hanging around experience, and were maybe slightly distressed that I wouldn't accept drinks. Thy hung out in a group together; I realized I'm maybe more independent than I think I am, an definitely moreso than my twenty-year-old self could have understood. I danced a bunch and stayed in a tent. It was really, really good for me. I discovered a couple local bands, one called Black Spruce Bog who write about things like salmon and who might play over here in Fort St James in the fall.

Instead of getting a ride home with my co-workers, I caught a ride with the okc person I met a couple weeks ago. It was basically an excuse to talk, and talk we did... and then the next night we spoke on the phone pretty late too. He lives about four hours away, towards Vancouver, so he's not entirely local, but he's close enough for visits. I'm enjoying the feeling of spark with someone. We'll see where this goes.

Interest in someone else is definitely making me miss Dave extra-much-a lot. Poly is always like this for me; my desire for long-term/current partners always flares up when I find a new connection elsewhere. I love how contrasts highlight each person's individuality. So even though Dave was just here, the separation is hard right now. I just got extended at work, so I'll be here, likely, till November. That's a long time to be away, and I guess that's also hitting me.

I have no idea what will happen in the future. My original goal taking co-op at school was to do a co-op term in a different place each time, to get to know different parts of BC and see where I wanted to end up. I really like it up here, though, I like the company I work for and I like the town. I likely could come back next summer no problem; it wouldn't let me go work on the coast or Vancouver Island to check them out. It's really far to visit.

I don't know.

An 8 month/4 month lifestyle split between locations is maybe even possible for awhile. Do I want that? It's early to tell. I need to sit with it. But, it's definitely in my mind as a possibility.

We'll also see how I feel about the town and the job in six months when I'm not flush with the novelty of it, or when the winter comes. If I'm here during snow, I've promised myself I'll learn to cross-country ski on the lake. How out of character is that?

Everyone here is really outdoorsy, not the Vancouver weekend-outdoorsy but they all seem to play on multiple sports teams and kayak and hike and camp all the time, not just once in awhile. And everyone means everyone.

And there are so many places that are logging-road or boat access only that you can go and there are trees and water and no people.

Yeah, typical poly dilemma of always feeling like, even when some things you love are here, others are distant. It's not like I'm any different with places than with people.

I want to write more, I may tonight, but now I have to (get this) clean my room for my mom. Ha. Since I'm going to install her here when she gets here, it likely shouldn't have clothes and sex toys in her way.

I'm really happy here. It's miraculous how repeatable and reliable the method for making me happy is. Outdoors all day, some space, some people, enough sleep.

Be well, folks. Love you.

Two

Jun. 21st, 2015 06:00 pm
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I had such a great solstice. Five people, fire, well-marinaded steak on sticks, wine. Apparently a lot of folks in this town are closet pagan or sympathisers. Sunset and sunrise both left color in the sky at the same time. Great first okc date yesterday morning. Dave coming up soon. Filled with so much well-being I don't know what to do. Luxuriating.

Dog on the Floor in the Pet Food Aisle
 
(Ruth L. Schwartz)

It's so simple, really, 
the tenderness we need 
lives everywhere, 
there is no place it does not live,

and we seek it
savagely, 
and we flail and hurl and fling
ourselves toward the brass ring of it, 
as if it were a narrow chance, 
a shining and unlikely prize...

It is hard to pinch the air
between our fingers, but we are determined. 
It is hard to survive by denying
ourselves, but we are accustomed. 
It is hard to live inside the flawed 
and gritty chambers we believe ourselves to be,
but we have strapped our bodies in,
we watch our lives through airplane windows, 
small and dim and scarred,

and even so, life noses up, 
rolling before us
like a black dog,
its brown eyes steady as the sun,
its belly in the air, asking for touch.


Lecturing My Body 

Here's the deal: You
take care of me,
I'll take care of you.
The body's a car
Whatever's-not-the-car,
that's the driver.
Or the car's an animal,
the driver a zookeeper.
The animal's a ditch,
the zookeeper a wheelbarrow.
A wheelbarrow bringing
tobacco, whiskey
& even love because,
well, just because.

By Jefferson Carter
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This is a busy weekend. I had plans for it, or rather, I have plans for it.

Today I'm meeting someone from okcupid; we were going to meet at the beach and bbq some food but it's raining.

I was going to go to a coworkers' and have a fire and do meat and wine around it tonight for Solstice I'm not sure if he knows it's for solstice), but it's raining.

It rained on us at work on Thursday for the last half of the day, and Friday all day, and that was comfortable and felt like home. It was the first time I've been in the bush and got rained on, and the folks I was out with seemed a little less comfortable with it than I was, so that was something. It felt good to be able to use one skill, at least, that I already have.

Incidentally, I'd made a shepherd's pie the night before and been suffused with the glow you get when you know you'll come in out of a long, cold, wet workday and get fed really well for minimal work, then got back to the office and there were hamburgers waiting for us. My fridge is getting very well-stocked.

I'm not sure what's going on with my plans today, though. They are all outdoor plans, and the outdoors doesn't seem super conducive right now. I guess we'll see what happens. What I really want is a hot tub to sit in, out in the rain, and listen to the sound of falling raindrops on the lake.

Other than that, Dave will be up here within a week, so that's awesome. Tomorrow is national aboriginal day as well as solstice, so there should be things going on around town; I believe there are fireworks.

The garden is still pouring out cucumbers, and it's about to start pouring out spinach and swiss chard too. That's pretty exciting. There's also a ton of raspberry leaves for tea, and likely strawberries as soon as the rain turns off and the sun turns back on.

I've been bidding on/buying a few vintage kimonos on ebay lately; they're beautiful, and although I can't indulge myself in many of them they are a nice thing to collect intermittently as long as I'm careful about only getting things that I both really love and that are below my entertainment budget threshold. I love the landscape-patterned ones, full of trees and bridges and people and boats and houses. There are some absolutely breathtaking ones that are ink-wash painted misty mountain- and sea-scapes, which I can't afford but can enjoy looking at, too.

Over the week a couple of my coworkers went up to camp; I dogsat for one of them, and got taken out for a walk by a very energetic terrier in the rain. It was nice. I'm certainly not ready for full dog ownership with my life the way it is, but I might try to see if there are any organizations that hook walkers up with seniors or other folks who keep a dog but can't quite manage the physicality of a walk. I know there are organizations like that in the UK.

...or maybe I shouldn't add anything else to my plate?

Registration at UBC starts on the 30th. I'm trying to get my work situation sorted by then, to figure out whether I'm staying for another (part-)term or whether I'll be back in school for September. I've gone through all the correct hoops at work, I'm just waiting on my supervisor to figure out how much work there will be. I guess I can always register and then drop courses, come to think of it.

I definitely always feel better the day after (or the same day that) I go outside for work. Right now I'm feeling comfy and cozy and lazy and enjoying being indoors while the rain is out there. It doesn't hurt that hanging out with folks today is on the horizon.

Hope all is as well with all y'all.
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Swing, swing, swing. My mood is all out of kilter lately. I'm going to blame total lack of physical contact. I think I may prioritize seeking out a snuggle/sex person up here over, say, making rosepetal jam or sewing; fewer (the correct number of) hours in a work-week mean I do have some time to decide with.

I guess I've found myself in a distance relationship. I haven't been in a proper one since way back, when I was seeing Jan. I dug up the album Jan gave me then, downloaded it and looked at it in the music player and felt the sharpest and most physical manifestation of pain and quickly put on a different song by a different musician. That was a couple of hours ago, while Dave was out on a date and I was about to shower after my weekly two hours' lawn-mowing. Just now, as I sat down to write, I put on one of those songs and everything feels familiar.

I was speaking with Graydon the other day about the persistence of self of lack thereof, about continuity of personality. The conversation was about death, but I was telling him that I don't/can't remember what it was like to be me ten or fifteen years ago. I can go read it in this journal, but I can't immerse myself in what it felt like.

I was wrong. This music and this situation can do it. I remember this feeling. I remember how many years it took me to decouple the experience of love and pain, to feel them separately and not as one singular emotion. I have not decoupled them. I have merely sought out the rare, rare circumstances where I don't feel them both at once and spent long enough there that one does not necessarily echo the other.

Necessarily.

I want to tell you something, but I'm not sure how to word it. I guess it's this: I know what I want out of my life. That thing changes, the knowing flickers brighter and dimmer, but the things which guide my knowing remain. I know what I like when I experience it. I know what's good for me. I want the things I like, the things that are good for me.

I also want to cast things which hurt away from me. Or, back up. There are two kinds of hurt: bruises and well-used muscles, adversity that feels good. And there's suffering that doesn't feel good and leaves lingering wounds, pain to no purpose, broken hopes and disappointment and self-imposed loneliness and capricious meanness. I want to cast that second kind out of my life; I go away from it automatically a lot of the time now. But it's not always clear which is which, and it's also not always clear when a little of the latter must be endured to get the things I like or need.

I'm circling my subject. I always do that. I tell stories, speak of the conversations which initiated my thoughts, wander through generalities, and eventually I even get to the point sometimes.

I'm in a long distance relationship with Dave. I initiated that by coming up here and not ending the relationship. But, this is my job, my career, it's what I'm doing. So. I need to have a conversation with him about what happens next. I also need to have a conversation with myself about what happens next. I've thought it might be nice to have seasonal relationships, six months away makes the next six months together so much sweeter, might fit my migratory tendencies pretty well and keep me from sealing my life too closely to someone else's and drowning them too. I need to play with these ideas. I need to maybe try them more fully.

I'm proceeding on my career front up here, but I feel like I'm waiting on my home and relationship front. I'm dawdling along, existing, not pushing anything, just waiting for things to happen to me. That's not my best position to be in.

I should do something about that.

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