Head Down

May. 11th, 2017 08:18 pm
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In Fort. First week of work. Busy getting up to speed, there's a bunch of learning curve around many things, both mind and body. Househunting, but don't have anything to come home to right now, so my days are mostly focused on work. Hobbies will come when I have a space for them and have settled in. It's nice, in a way, to be able to focus so much. It would be nicer to have someone waiting at home to distract me.

Josh is keeping himself very busy on the coast fixing up a new boat; there's a six or seven week span where I'm seeing him only for a single day. Tucker is coming up one week a month, but this is not that week. No new dogs till I have a home for them. I am getting my rabbits in two weekends, which will be excellent. My current landlady is really great to talk to and live with, but not the same as someone waiting to snuggle me.

More about work and houses when I know.

How do you decide if a house is the right house?
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I'm good at doing things in my life that I'll like; good at making it into an edifice that suits me, that fits me. In general I'm purposeful about shaping my life to fit myself. I consider knowing what I want and need to be a practice, an ongoing activity that requires increments of time and effort on a regular basis to achieve. I get some pretty good results this way.

People are a little more difficult. My relationship to my relationships with people (apologies) is more complicated than I can easily get a handle on. Maybe it's only difficult because I don't like the answers.

I've been reading a bit of poly stuff lately (seems people have continued writing and evolving ideas on it in the last fifteen or so years) and a bunch of terminology has been helpful: comet, nesting partner, anchor partner, relationship anarchy. No one's used the term kite string, but I can visualise it as a slender anchor that would snap with too much wind. These words have been helping me to think about what I want from relationships, especially romantic or sexual relationships. I haven't really been mindful about them lately.

There is some degree to which I take what I can get. In general I like people, and I like being close or intimate with them in a lot of cases. Any one person is fairly unique, an opportunity I will not get again, and I don't like losing those opportunities. I want to experience people.

There is some degree to which I want more than I can have. I've been in a lot of relationships. Very few were entered with the idea they would end, and yet somehow here we are, with so much water under the bridge. There was something about all those people that was not a good fit, was not right, was not enough to stay together. Sometimes it was only they didn't want to stay with me. Sometimes, I didn't find them a good match. Here's a secret that's maybe not a secret if you've been reading all these years (I know you haven't, but I have): I want someone to stay, to weave through my life for a really long time. Many of my relationships are founded on principles that should lend themselves to some form of permanency, but I think those principles are inherently contradictory; I want someone sturdy and independent enough to survive me, but pliable enough to shape their life around mine; I want someone who grows and changes enough to keep my interest, but who retains a recogniseable self to which I can attach. I want someone who can live with me, share the daily routines of breakfast and bedtime, but I don't want my home or my heart to need to exclude my many loves for someone else's comfort. I think many of these may be impossibly contradictory, even granted that humans can contain multitudes.

There is some degree to which I want less than I get. My life is intensely engrossing and fulfilling. I really like my life, I really like engaging with it, and a relationship where I feel I need to stop my life or put it on hold is frustrating. It's a waste of time when often there are things I'd enjoy more, but frequently as a relationship gets older I feel like time spent is a duty rather than a joy or contribution, and yet I'm committed to it. Truth is, sometimes I'd rather be writing (or brewing, or on the pottery wheel, or dancing, or reading, or staring out the window, or researching houses, or or or).

There is some degree to which I don't trust other people. I have spent a great deal of time and effort shaping this life, and it's easy to steamroll someone else who likes it, and equally easy to be uncomfortable with how little mindful effort some people put into their own lives. I see that one's own user manual is becoming a Thing, now; I've been working on mine for more than a decade and someone who hasn't put that work into their own, who doesn't engage in /both/ introspection and active self-work, just seems like a lot of extra work for me. If you haven't bothered to learn how to make your life work on your own, how can your life work with mine, and why on earth should you think I should bother to put that effort in for you?

There is some degree to which I don't like other people near. This springs from the lack of trust. People are messy creatures, walls and emotions everywhere, and learning to navigate that together is a lot of work and gets in the way of other things I might be doing. More to the point, it often hurts and is disruptive and is made worthwhile when it becomes a shared journey. I don't like someone flailing in and it becoming my job. People are not my job, though partnership might be. People are their own job. I consider myself my own biggest work. If someone does not consider themselves significant work, pretty much all they can do play bull in my china shop.

Well.

No answers here, but there is a little clarity.

Building

Nov. 15th, 2016 09:36 am
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The words are starting to come, in bits and pieces and fits and starts and little flashes behind my eyes. I've been running around with my arms outstretched, gathering up the world, and soon I will see if I can shape it into something.

In the meantime, in other news, here is Steinbeck:

"Results, not causes; results, not causes. The causes lie deep and simply — the causes are a hunger in a stomach, multiplied a million times; a hunger in a single soul, hunger for joy and some security, multiplied a million times; muscles and mind aching to grow, to work, to create, multiplied a million times. The last clear definite function of man — muscles aching to work, minds aching to create beyond the single need — this is man. To build a wall, to build a house, a dam, and in the wall and house and dam to put something of Manself, and to Manself take back something of the wall, the house, the dam; to take hard muscles from the lifting, to take the clear lines and form from conceiving. For man, unlike any other thing organic or inorganic in the universe, grows beyond his work, walks up the stairs of his concepts, emerges ahead of his accomplishments. This you may say of man — when theories change and crash, when schools, philosophies, when narrow dark alleys of thought, national, religious, economic, grow and disintegrate, man reaches, stumbles forward, painfully, mistakenly sometimes. Having stepped forward, he may slip back, but only half a step, never the full step back. This you may say and know it and know it. This you may know when the bombs plummet out of the black planes on the market place, when prisoners are stuck like pigs, when the crushed bodies drain filthily in the dust. You may know it in this way. If the step were not being taken, if the stumbling-forward ache were not alive, the bombs would not fall, the throats would not be cut. Fear the time when the bombs stop falling while the bombers live — for every bomb is proof that the spirit has not died. And fear the time when the strikes stop while the great owners live — for every little beaten strike is proof that the step is being taken. And this you can know — fear the time when Manself will not suffer and die for a concept, for this one quality is the foundation of Manself, and this one quality is man, distinctive in the universe."

Abundance

Oct. 12th, 2016 06:40 pm
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Well now, here I am again, and so soon.

I guess I have some things to say.

I guess I have some work to do.

I'm at one of those places in my life where everything is pointing me to working through something, making some mindful decisions, but where I'm scared because I don't think I can get what I want and I'd hate to choose a thing mindfully and then be left bereft.

Going to school was a risk like that, where I knew I could take my life up in my hands and shape it to get the things I wanted: a home, a permanent garden, some assurance for the future that wasn't dependent on friends liking me and thusly being supportive. I went back to school. I started going away for the summers. I did these things to further my own life. As happens when I work strongly on my life, other things changed. A relationship ended because there was no future for it with this new plan of mine. I met someone else. I met another someone else. And I have met another someone else.

Now.

What can I do with this, and what do I want to do with this?

The most recent someone is a conversationalist. We talk, we overanalyse, we pick things apart. In short, we do a lot of that internal work that I can only do if I'm writing or talking. I haven't been writing lately, but I have been talking. I've been poking around in there.

He posted something the other day about his wife, a fragment of poetry by Elsse Matthessen

"Only another fifty years,"
I say, "and then I promise
to let you go."

It has undone me. It's a couple words that have brought me to the heart of a thing that's been ravelling for awhile.

I have people who have been around for a long time, but the people who have been around forever have moved on, and the people that I meet recently come near and then drift away again, or sometimes are forcibly ejected. Either way, I have not found continuity in relationships. I have not found a relationship that could be made to fit actual-me forward into the future, one where I would not need to make myself smaller or resentful to maintain closeness. I have loved a lot of people; I still do. I enjoy time with people. I like knowing them deeply. But.

But.

I've always wanted someone who knows my context; someone with whom I share my day-to-day until the patterns come clear to both of us; someone I learn to read and who reads me, and who can communicate volumes with a glance across a crowded room with that knowledge. I want... daily routine, not every day but often enough, and mutual caretaking, and the kind of trust that's built on years. I want that, and I thought I had it with Kynnin when I was fourteen, and many of my relationships since I've been hopeful about it.

I am well loved right now. I am so well loved. It feels impossible to turn down a gift like that, and yet I think it's what's giving me the space here to think about what I want.

Maybe thinking about what I want isn't good. I can think it to pieces, after all, and I *want* everything: Josh and our greenhouses and making a pizza oven and a still together and that lovely house (but not Josh who doesn't want other people in his space and cares for me very much but just cannot say yes unless he's sure of logistics when I want someone who is willing to bend logistics for me the way I do for other people?), James who loves me so much and a supportive, nourishing home full of the feeling of family and kindness (but not James who is dependent on me as his whole support network in a northern town and who prefers to background in the world rather than reaching his power out into it when I want someone who proactively creates their life and with whom I perhaps do not share so many activities as all that?), Tucker and who knows what yet with words and poetry and his way of catching the nuances of my meaning and his interest in opening up my insides (but not Tucker who is otherwise committed to his wife and life in Vancouver and who, well, honestly is so new to me I don't even know what else yet but that is a pretty big start). I want someone who takes joy in my poly-ness and who can communicate their needs in a household. I want someone I can hook into for a long time and who puts just as much shoulder against the universe, who pushes hard enough to change it, just like I do: but I want them to do it for me.

And I am not willing to give so much of myself up now as I was, so maybe the cracks will show sooner now, or at least I can't put as much hope in any on thing as I did. I am not willing to take a terrible job I dislike. I am not willing to give up my other loves. I am not willing to sacrifice a home that is open, hospitable, and welcoming. I am not willing to sacrifice my land where I plant trees from which I will, in my lifetime, harvest the fruit. These things are me, and to be permanently partnered would require these things to be loved *as* me, to be accepted as extensions of my actual-self.

I don't know. I mean, I do know. I'm that person for myself, I am my own person. Other people come and go but I am my own heart. I suppose that's sad and huge all at once. I know I haven't met anyone else who would have been as fully up to the task as I have been.

There's more work to be done on this, but this is as far as I can go for now.

it had something to do
with death . . . it had something
to do with love.
-Li-Young Lee
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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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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.
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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.

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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So, my plan did not involve canning or brewing up here. I brought my bow, I was going to practice, and I was going to work a lot.

Well, I'm working a lot.

There is such abundance of foraging foods here, though; I guess that's what you get when you're not really in a city. There are so many dandelions and spruce buds everywhere that I've got supplies to do a small batch of dandelion jelly, one of pickled dandelion buds, and one of spruce tip syrup or jelly (likely the former). The Amelanchier alnifolia is in full bloom, promising a great crop in the summer. I suspect I'll do something about that too. I'll need to haul everything back down to Vancouver when I'm done here, but it's good for my soul to make these things.

I'm also cooking meals a lot. I have a lovely source of local beef, there are lots of greens growing around, I'm stocked up on flour and butter and bacon and potatoes. I've been making myself the kind of traditional meals that have different parts: a meat component, a starch component, a veggie component. I've never really eaten that way before, since so much of what I make has been single-pot foods like stews or soups or casseroles. I think the grill helps with this, since I can grill my meat and bannock or potatoes, and then just make veggies to go on the side.

This was my first full week of bush work at work. That is, every day (it was a short week because of the long weekend, so just four days in a row) I put on heavy spiked caulk boots, headscarf, vest full of equipment, and hard hat and walked multiple kilometers in straight lines through a mix of underbrush, standing, and fallen trees. I am covered in sweat after the first ten minutes, which continues until I get back to the truck. The moose tracks never really went in the direction I was going. The work when we got to the plots was not particularly hard, though it too involved some climbing, but getting there is one of the more trenuous things I've done. There are tangles of trees that go on for great distances, so I need to walk on logs (thus the spiked boots) which is nice, or climb over them crosswise through spiky dead branches which is not so nice. There are swamps or thick underbrush areas that require high-kneed steps and have considerably more drag than walking through water. There are puddles of ephemeral orchids and green things unfurling and soon there will be flowers. Everything smells like pine and fir and spruce. There are so many bugs: flies that bomb past but can't get at me because I'm entirely covered except for my face, mosquitoes that make it hard to concentrate and stay away from my sprayed clothing so I just have to worry about them on my wrists and face, and these awful terrible bugs that fly straight into the eyes and stay there until they're pulled out. I imagine, awfully, that they are laying eggs. Believe me, it's a lot harder to walk on a log three to six feet up with no handholds when there are things shooting into your eyes. I don't walk on logs higher than that, or the really narrow ones, though I suspect that will come with time.

I am covered in bruises from the waist down, where I hit short sharp branch stubs while climbing over trees. I am full of thorn scratches. I have bug bites on my hands and to a lesser extent on my feet from when I take my boots off for the way home. I am tired a lot as I build strength. Last night, Friday night, I came home and showered and the feeling of being clean was astonishing. I am, however, very happy. I'm reminded that in order for my life to feel meaningful and fulfilling I don't need to necessarily do any particular moral thing, I just need to be outside for three to seven hours doing heavy work four days a week. I really miss people. I really miss physical contact. There are plenty of things I'd like to be doing but all I have time for is cooking, eating, sleeping, and working. But, I am happy.

I also have a feeling I haven't had much before: I feel completely unsexualized, but at the same time very pretty. I'm not sure how to describe this. No one is looking at me. I am covered head to tow in shapeless garments with equipment strapped over. Even my hair and throat are covered. My form, including the tan on my face, is a direct expression of the function I am fulfilling and is completely secondary to it. I do not view myself through the lens of desirability, do not think of it. When I look in the mirror I see myself happy, I am nearly always smiling (I pretty much only look in a mirror in the truck as I'm leaving the field and right after work to see how much dirt I need to scrape off each day), and I feel like a part of the outdoors I've been working in. That is beautiful. I really do feel like I'm outside the trap of sexiness.

I am not entirely outside the trap of surface though. I am meeting strangers all the time. I am careful what I say to them, especially in regards to poly etc. There are office politics. I do not feel completely comfy with anyone, and I am not sure I should. I am not always sure how to act. So though I am more comfortable with myself, I am also more watchful. This doesn't mean I don't enjoy the company of people up here, it just means I am always thinking, a little bit, about how I should be behaving.

It's hard and frustrating to be learning a whole new set of skills. I've been landscaping for a long time; I haven't had to learn a whole job from the ground up for a long time. I am literally learning from walking on up with this one. It's been thee weeks (admittedly only one and a bit in the field) and I feel like I should be competent. I am not. I want to feel productive and useful. Sometimes I'm not the one responsible for a lack of productivity -- a new GPS and software system mandated by the ministry for what I do is responsible for at least a week and a half of downtime as it gets implemented, other people forget to charge their equipment, etc -- but I like the feeling of making good progress and I'm not doing that right now.

It is beautiful here. I miss Dave. I get to eat outside. The earth is generous. So many feelings. Now, though, I will go make chimichurri sauce and pick dandelion flowers and stop thinking about it and just enjoy.

Week 2

May. 18th, 2015 08:41 pm
greenstorm: (Default)
Well.

My language is shifting to match people here. Speech is slowing down, my accent is altering. I'm such a chameleon that way.

Two notable things have happened this week: I've been let out into the bush to work, and Dave came to visit for the long weekend.

I was/am hired to work out in the woods, but in order to do that I need to be trained; I have more-or-less no idea what I'm doing. The work itself is conceptually pretty easy, mostly measuring, a little bit of tree and fungus ID. I could learn that pretty quick. The catch is, I'm doing this in the bush. I could call it trackless wilderness, but that would be misleading; there are plenty of moose tracks, sometimes bear, occasionally wolf. The tracks aren't useful to me, since I need to move in a straight line from one place to another while navigating from random sample plot to random sample plot. Moving through the forest -- heavy with underbrush and blowdown, since it's territory where the pine beetle came through and left dead standing trees 10-15 years ago and half of them fell over and the other half had no canopy so the underbrush wasn't light-limited and came right up, densely in some places -- that's another thing.

Lots of things have thorns in this forest. Roses, gooseberries, other roses, raspberries all have mild scratchy thorns that leave my thighs looking like I washed a cat with them. Devil's club thorns go in and cause infection, they need to be pulled out but they break off pretty easily. Stubs of branches on dead pines aren't meant to be thorns, but they gouge and bruise pretty good when you need to climb over a pile of a couple trunks or more (this happens often in some areas).There are mosquitoes that get at me when I'm counting hair-width tree rings (I'm pretty well covered otherwise). I'm sleeping lots, getting sun, eating well, and pretty happy, so I'm healing really fast, but I sure do look pretty beat up at the end of it all.

I wear caulk boots in the bush, that's logging boots with spikes on the bottom so I can walk on logs without slipping. They're great, but I need to re-map surfaces in my brain: bare logs or bark are stable surfaces on which I can balance amazingly well but dry rocks are slippery. I suspect it wont take me long to be walking along logs high up from the ground; right now a tree lying 3' up is about as high as I can walk along. Walking along logs is great, though, because it's a quick, smooth path across the bush if you can find a tree going the way you want to go, and don't let me get started about swamps.

So the skill I'm learning is walking quickly and safely through the bush. I have been practicing it two days. By the end of each day I feel like I can barely lift my feet on those boots, let alone lift them to climb over the frequent 3' high tree trunks or tangles of tree trunks that block my path. I am so. Slow. It's been a long time since I had to learn a brand-new skill, and it's frustrating. I want to be past this part and actually able to help contribute rather than slowing everything down.

But... I get to be outside. In the woods. I have figured out how to dress comfortably (3L hydration pack in the vest that holds my many lbs of equipment, headscarf down my back under my hard hat for mosquitoes, long light men's dress shirt for mosquitoes and sun, light gloves, I wonder if they have thorn-proof kevlar I can put on the front of my army pants?). I see moose tracks every day. I eat sitting on a log surrounded by only the sounds of the forest. I get to see the understory proceed into spring one day at a time, leaves unfurling out of the litter, flowers starting up on the stems, the way I understand time passing in my bones. I come home smelling like pine and "balsam". I sleep well. I smile often. Walking around the office after work feels good in my legs and my hips.

I am making friends with this place.

And so I was very happy for Dave to come up and see it, for him to visit and learn what kind of place I'm staying. I wanted him to meet the woman I live with, who's lived here all her life and is friendly and independently interdependent and interesting. I wanted him to se my smile when I got off work. I wanted to show him the woods and the lake.

He came up. We slept a lot, went out and bought beef from the ranch up the hill, used the BBQ every night, had a fire and got too tired waiting for the stars to come out so we went to bed by 11pm, had lots of sex, made s'mores, got slightly but not seriously lost in the woods and bitten by mosquitoes, snuggled, fit into the little shower together, tried to make plans with my supervisor/colleague and never succeeded, walked on the beach in the heavy cold wind, and drank a milkshake. It was pretty close to perfect.

I love him a lot.

Then he went home, and I can feel his absence pretty strongly tonight after even just a few nights sleeping together. It's better for me to be here alone right now, it's what I want, but I miss him. I like how the rhythms of our lives intersect and influence each other.

So it's bedtime here anyway, and I don't feel like writing too much about it, so I'll go down to bed now and curl myself around the warmth that he leaves inside me and read wildcrafting books and smell the smoke left in my hair from last night.

Be well.
greenstorm: (Default)
Last night, when I unexpectedly got a call offering me an apartment I never thought would be given me (fer gawdsakes, I answered 'do you have bad credit' with 'yes, MSP' on the application!) and accepted because someone was asking me a question on the phone so I said yes, the next thing I did was call Dave. Sure, there were maybe three minutes of staring into space, but my brain wasn't processing and I wasn't thinking so in that space I just dialed his number.

That's partnerspace.

He didn't answer, he was busy, and when next he looked at his phone he didn't hurry to call me back or keep his phone next to him in case I called again. He did make space at the end of his evening to talk to me, and I was pretty confident that he would do that.

That's him.

I'm poly because it's important to me that no arbitrary restrictions be placed on my connections with folks. Time, energy, desire: these can be shifted and bucked sometimes but in the end they are absolute restrictions. Eating together, fucking, kissing, talking until sunrise, saying good night, reaching out in a time of emotional need, walking around the city in the rain: these are intimacies and I cannot honestly set some above others, call some relationship-fodder and others friendships, and call them poison with one set of people and soulfood with another.

I can wrap my understanding around logistics, even logistics that involve emotions: I can't date everyone because time limits me, no other penises in you while we're trying to conceive a baby because I want to be sure, we don't have time or emotional energy to process extra change while we're moving so let's put off starting anything new for a few months, I'm really into this new person so I'll be a bit scarce and can you lean on your support network a little bit harder?

The logistics of dating Dave involve that he is essentially in a domestic poly relationship with his communal house. They have dinner together most nights; he has to cook dinner at a specific time. He has chores and obligations at home. He catches up on his small-talk and general socialization there. He is committed to this relationship, and often it stresses him out in ways that impact or limit his relationship with me, and often it offers him opportunities and support that, were I his full and only partner, I would probably otherwise be giving. This home-partner of his is less restrictive than dating someone with kids or someone with a sexual partner in some ways; in other ways it is more restrictive, and in still others there are striking similarities. It's a funny balance, and I have trouble keeping it sometimes.

The logistics of dating Dave involve how he swings between a general fuzzy non-focus and tightbeam searching regard unpredictably. He swings between an obliviousness so intense as to be jawdropping and a kind of casual unflinching insight into himself and general relationships that leaves me racing to catch up. He swings between casual disregard and thoughtful, care-full intimacy.

The logistics of dating Dave involve that he has never yet said anything in the heat of anger or pain to me. Instead he will say, "I'm feeling defensive, can we wait a little bit to talk about this" or "I'm frustrated right now, let's bring this up another time". I feel safe from lashing out, from deliberate hurt. In contrast to this, which makes me feel intensely cared-for, I also sometimes feel forgotten or unimportant.

It makes me nervous that he apologizes with the tongue of angels. I don't want to feel better about things; I want them fixed so they aren't a problem again. I worry that being without the sting of unhappiness, I won't fix a thing. On the other hand I also know through both experience and pure logic that things cannot always go perfectly between people, even in the best system, and so maybe I should set that aside and enjoy... peace? Being seen and understood in an apology? Either way I want to learn to do it.

To drop these yoked opposites for a moment, to burrow into my spaces of pure desire, I want to learn from him and with him. I want this self-contained competent exploratory curious caring person right there at my shoulder while we navigate whateverthefuck this life thing is. I want to see how he does the things he's so good at. I want to do things that bring surprise and respect to his face. I want his advice because, whether I accept it or not, it's always worth considering. I want to know there's someone there who'll always say 'we'll make it work' and who I can, however skeptically, still believe somewhere inside.

And I want him, the /him/ of him, biker's thighs and a rug of fur, blue-ringed gold eyes and hands to match my own in size and almost in workman's roughness, careful deliberate easy movement and eyes that crinkle just right with each smile and the smell of home on the side of his neck where it meets his shoulder and something about a voice pitched to hit a spot right behind the centre of my breastbone and the totally unconscious warmth that pours out of his whole self.

This isn't a post with answers. It is merely, as they say, what it is: a shape in my head that I do not want to forget.
greenstorm: (Default)
Impossible to capture the perfect day, but they do happen. Each has a different face.

Waking to snuggles and the inimitable touch and interaction of a loved one and sunrise at the foot of the bed. Breakfast: s'mores and scrambled eggs and bacon, cooked for me, but in my very own cherished home. Lazing and every kind of touch until my body is near brimming with it, then bottling my first successful batch of lovely-tasting graff. Magicking together a full-on thanksgiving meal with turkey, roast veggies, miso-maple squash, orange-cashew quinoa, mashed potatoes, perfect gravy, and my whole dear family in 2.5 hours then relaxing while someone else does the dishes. A house full of love, the perfect playlist on my computer. Turkey stock with frozen hoarded celery leaves already boiling as the door shuts for the last time, leaving me so tired and a little lonely with clothes to fold off my bed but--

I am so lucky. My life is so full of love. I'd never hoped for any of this. I had never known how good it could be, when I was waiting to see which brother would kill himself, with mom depressed and stressed and busy, trying to figure out what was important in my own life and struggling to know what I wanted. My week has been a parade of people I care about and am close to and enjoy and who in turn care about me. My weekend has been a closer, deeper nesting into people I am learning to be vulnerable to. Next week will be more folks I love, more folks who love me, all so bewilderingly and fascinatingly and dazzlingly different each from each until the tapestry of my life might as well be woven from the sun itself, too bright to encompass with these senses I am given.

The loneliness is itself part of the perfection of tonight, this reaching outwards from the base of my sternum and the way my ribcage cranks open as if it could fir the world in there.

Now, bedtime and another day.

I am blessed indeed.
greenstorm: (Default)
Dave says, going to your place feels like a vacation.

It's only after he's left, when I've spent the evening eating hot dogs with home-canned tomato jam and tending my booze and animals that I realise: living at my place feels like a vacation for me too.

My space is perfectly suited to me. There's nowhere in the world except outside in an interesting ecosystem that I can go and be this much myself, with my skin off and my mind filling the container I'm in, out to the walls. There are few other places I can go and have so many things I love to do available to me, set up for my pleasure at a moment's notice. There's nowhere else in the world I can go and be so undisturbed by the outside world.

So tonight I do an enjoyable activity with myself, and exchange a bit of online chatter with people, and drink and spill tastes of a bunch of my wines &c, and hang out with my bunnies, and snuggle myself into a blanket. It feels like a good date with someone I really trust and who loves doing cool things. I do simultaneously feel an outward-reaching, a desire for company, but this kind of joy in myself can't come in company easily or often.

More and more I think about having a wedding with myself, buying a proper ring, having a ceremony (big & conventional or private, I don't know) and wearing that ring with the knowledge that should I ever form a partnership with anyone else again their ring will, not replace mine, but be beside it. That formal commitment to myself is awfully compelling.

Because even when I fuck up, I'm always here for me. I can always rely on myself to come through in the end.

And that's pretty important.
greenstorm: (Default)
It's been too long since I've written; I have too much to say. It's been too soon since I've written; I can't step back and pick out a pattern.

When I look up from the keyboard I see seagulls picked out in brilliant pink-white by the setting sun, highlighted against a dark background. I have a three-song playlist on: The Lumineers and Temper Trap, Stubborn Love and Ho Hey and I'm Gonna Wait. I've been listening to it for three days, and it's primed me for something. There are two contented rabbits curled up within sight, and a dying rat in the other room. Bananas are frying quietly behind the music, and their smell of caramel and cinnamon matches the golden dying sunlight. I'm in my house, alone. I've been folded open but there's no one here to receive me but you. So, receive me.

Blake is gone. Nothing has changed in this regard except: we've had contact three times or so, tiny facebook exchanges where he sends me a link or I send him a piece of information about the graff I've been brewing. Last night I sent him a bottle of it along with the stuff he'd left here. He sent me a thank you, he'd drink it when he wasn't sick.

That's twice he's let me know when he's in a bad way. I disregard it because I have to, because being a prop for someone who can't support themselves is one of the things I fear most, because I don't want to set precedent, because I don't want to bow to manipulation instead of an open request, because... I choose to disregard it. But it is hard, and it hurts. I love him and I don't want to see him unwell or unhappy. I miss him and although I need so much distance it hurts me in so many places. I feel like, when he hints at being not-so-well, he's extending me trust and I'm proving unworthy of it when I deliberately turn my gaze away.

It's better to feel pain than nothing at all; the opposite of love's indifference.

Blake isn't the only person I'm deliberately turning my gaze from these days. Some things went down with Graydon that weren't okay with me and I had a couple choices; I could put the work into engaging and explaining and processing and fixing, or I could just turn away. I've turned away, left all that hard work and struggle behind me, sought out a different path. So here I am on a path that feels free and unnatural and rubs against my moral grain or my feeling of being a good person who tries hard for people I love. Here I am alone in a room talking to a keyboard.

The future is certainly unwritten. I trust it both more and less than I should, I think. I trust it to bring my people back to me if it can without harming them or me, not just Blake and Graydon but my very dear others who are off on adventures and lives of their own. I know, though, that I've tethered myself to too many people to ever have them all close at once again. I have-- oh, my dears, I haven't told you of my startling, disturbing abundance yet! --I have so much, sometimes my flesh can barely hold in everything I've been given but the absence will also always be there.

She'll tear a hole in you, the one you can't repair/ But I still love her, I don't really care.

I am becoming a magnet again. People are responding to me as if I were January sunshine. I don't think I'm ready for it. I'm trying to be busy living my own life, spreading myself lightly, certainly falling for Dave but also doing too much brewing and dancing alone in my livingroom and being good friends with my amazing neighbour and starting the ball rolling on switching jobs and dating and reconnecting with oh so very many people and reading poetry too late at night and keeping my fridge marginally cleaned out and, and, and...

...and always, at the beginning of things, I can give people what they want. We've been down this spiral of talk before, I can't live here, but I keep coming back to it. I love intimacy with people. I love closeness and the insides of folks when they open up and are such an incandescent complicated irreproducible pattern inside.

People want to be loved. But on the whole they want something more from that love than I can give them. They want safety and there is no safety on this earth. They want strength but my strength is all from personal momentum and cannot be long lent. They want to lay down the burden of their selves but I consider carrying that self a holy act.

All that comes later, though. Right now people look at me and see that I see them. They open up, let me reach in, bare their bellies. I love that they do this. I've been through it too many times not to be afraid. I suppose that's why I love the self-contained ones, people who are aloof and for whom I don't seem like I could ever be necessary.

I'm too tired to continue. I've been crying as I write. I haven't cried like this in a long time. Winter's finally over. As I've been recently reminded, it's time to move to to spring: renewed warmth but also all the rainstorms that drive decay and growth.
greenstorm: (Default)
These are the moments I wish I could hold onto forever, when I feel perfectly happy, perfectly at peace, perfectly fitted into the world around me, perfectly overflowed with an abundance of love nearly unixed with pain or loss of any sort. I try to etch them into my memory, but of course they're soon gone.

This was a thanksgiving, tonight my brothers and my mom came over. I cooked for them, it was sort of last-minutey, the food was perfect, they were all here and relatively happy, we talked for three hours, they went home with basically all the leftovers, we have an American thanksgiving plotted in the future.

I will never, have never got used to such an abundance of people, such an abundance of love. I have family who love me, who are fascinating people, who I love back. I have a network of people, a constellation with stars near and far, tied to me with industrial cables or with strands of gossamer. I am a kite, a child on a swing, a climber in a cliffside hammock. I may look down, but I am borne up.

I am plotting a gathering in my home, of my loved friend-folks, in December. I'm pretty excited.
greenstorm: (Default)
I'm reaching for words.

The wheel always turns.

All these things I wrote years ago are true: http://greenstorm.livejournal.com/699961.html

It is still true that I have no good definition for love. It's still true that everyone is so different. It's true that I'm so numb and torn up that I'm not sure what I feel.

I see people, I don't see people, I spend quality time with myself, I burn useless time with myself, I achieve goals, I ignore goals and they float by, I impress people, I disappoint them, I do good things, I do bad things, I do useful things, I sleep lots, I don't sleep enough. None of this helps me.

It's not my springtime yet. Winter should be a time for resting and regathering resources, readying for the energy and growth of a season ahead. It's for feeding a little life, With dried tubers. I don't have enough resources right now to burst into bloom.

I can smell my wine and plan projects. That feels good.

I can clean my house. That feels accomplished. It makes me more comfortable.

I can have conversations. They leave me satisfied or achingly lonely. Likewise sex, though it can be both at once.

I can't love people much. I'm afraid, and there's a roaring in my ears. I'd rather not be afraid. It will happen anyhow, won't it? And everything will eventually be ok, in the end.

The end is just very far away.
greenstorm: (Default)
Tonight Andrew gets home, so I'll be living in my home again, full-time, hereafter.

I've been chipping away at it, and it's going faster than I expected; I guess I had forgotten what it was like for something to be done, then stay done (except, of course, the animals).

An incredible amount of garbage is coming out of this place. I wasn't doing much critical sorting in the last while, and so things that weren't immediately disgusting but were useless/broken built up. Things didn't get put away to the extent that I need to create places for them. And did I mention a lot of my plants died in that interlude where I wasn't coming home much?

It feels So. Good. to clean things. It feels amazing to see something wrong and just-- fix it. Immediately. It feels so good for my floors to be emerging. I do clearly need more shelves, I need to figure out how I'm going to force that into a budget. There is just not enough space for everything to go somewhere.

I continue to be careful about spreading around my attention; getting together with friends sometimes and lovers other, with any given person only once per week, making some solitude in there (which sure, I've been using to nap or clean house, but whatcha gonna do). I've also been enjoying time to chat online with folks; it really is a mode of interaction I appreciate. It feels like my native tongue.

I cannot wait to have people over to my place.

I love anticipating when I'm next gonna see someone now, instead of feeling anxious if they're not around for a bit. I quite enjoy that switch.

I discovered a program called Snapchat. It's a surprisingly intimate-feeling photo-messaging program, and I've been using it a fair bit. Somehow the impermanence, mutability, and control of my own image has felt really empowering. I'm learning to take pictures of myself that I think are pretty.

I have in no way figured out how to cope with my sex drive. Despite having maybe 5 people who could be considered lovers to some degree or another I am not getting laid a whole lot, and when I do it takes significant time because that's what happens when you see someone infrequently enough that you don't drop into routine. So I can't just up the frequency of those dates; I'd never get anything else done. I'm in pretty much my ideal sexual environment right now, so I need to come up with some strategies, or maybe it will settle over time.

The people around me continue to amaze me with their awesomeness, forthrightness, with the sheer fun or love or caring or interestingness of interactions with them.

My grief process peeks out around the edges once in awhile but is still pretty much in hiding. Not sure what it'll take for it to feel safe.
greenstorm: (Default)
Blake and I broke up on Friday night. He was drunk enough that I felt I had to check in the morning to make sure he remembered. It had been coming for awhile, obviously, but I was hoping it would be a transition rather than a breakup. It still may be. I'm afraid that the timing might break that, or at least delay it. He's been really hurt by my poly-ness, and I'm not feeling like keeping it really under wraps for the rest of the month, till he moves out. I'm not talking about bringing anyone home to the house or anything, but...

...last night was my first overnight date in maybe a year or more? Out of the house for the night, not worried about or checking in with anyone (well, worried about Blake, but I can't imagine contacting him while I'm away would help anything). Also my first new sex partner in over two years. It was fun, and strange, much like you'd expect an unusual experience to be. I'd forgotten how much opacity there is in newness. I'd forgotten what it was like to touch someone as a surface, as I'm still learning to read them, before the skin is merely as close as you can come to the familiar light within. But that's not why I'm here.

I'm here because I'm thinking hard about what happened. I'm here because I don't want to forget, but remembering is so heavy.

He said some things, Friday night, that were terrible. He was in a lot of mental pain, and drunk, and he chose to say terrible things to me. He knew, because we were intimate because I had confided in him, what would hurt me, so he said it. I think at the time he believed it, and it sounded a lot like what my crazybrain tells me in the middle of a bad episode. You don't need to know what he said.

But that moment was the culmination of a very long time of his feeling awful about my doing poly, but assuring me that he wanted me to stay in the relationship and would become ok with it eventually, and of my believing him and still staying with him. I tried reducing my frequency of dates (one every three months!) in the hopes that it would take some pressure off, but it didn't. He could have admitted it sucked for him and left at any time, and I thought hey, as an adult he has a right to decide what amount of discomfort he wants to stay through, and when he will leave. But here's the thing.

He was not enthusiastically consenting to my being poly. And seen in that light, with consent seen not as mouthing of words but as a consistent set of supportive actions and behaviours, he was not consenting. And I was accepting the one in exchange for the other because... well, for reasons that I no longer will, I think. I have been there before, I don't want to be there again. And again. And again. But also I don't want to be there again because I'm tired of hurting people by being with them, just by existing as myself.

I have a network of people who love me enough to ask about my other people sometimes, to be happy for me when I'm happy with them. That's a network of friends/lovers that proves I can still include sex in an intimate dynamic without totally alienating people, even if the relationships are cyclic or rarefied or erratic. I can hold onto those people, lovers and friends, and know that what I want is coming from them, so it's not impossible to find in other people. I don't need to settle for grudging consent.

And by all the gods, I need to remember that.

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