US Supreme Court decides on same sex marriage…

So, here we are Down Under, about 10 years behind half of Europe and 12 years behind Canada and watching the US – ultra conservative right wing nut job land of the freeee, and home of the brave – finally legalising same-sex marriage.  Or as I like to think of it, they’ve decided to stop the fucking legal discrimination against people for no good reason.

disneylandcastle rainbow empire state buildling rainbowTotal side note:  We saw the Empire State Building lit up in rainbow colours the night that Fred Phelps of the Westboro Baptist Church carked it – we just happened to be at the observation deck of the Rockefeller Centre when news of his passing was released.

whitehouse rainbow 2 whitehouse rainbow 1 niagra falls

Social media of course has been having as much of a field day with this decision as the main stream media has…Screen Shot 2015-06-29 at 6.17.51 pm

So I guess the big question is:  What’s up Australia?  

Where the hell is our rainbow coloured legal decision?  It’s pretty damn obvious by all the polls that approximately 75% of Australians support marriage equality, but no, we have a government prepared to IGNORE over 15 million people on this particular topic.  Nice job… and a lot of it coming down to that bane of our existence the ultra-conservative Tony Abbott.  How this arse clown got voted in, is completely beyond me.  How he continues to stay in the top job when so many of his part publicly distance themselves at every opportunity likewise astonishes political onlookers.  Seriously, we are just about the last to the party on this.  So much for that famous laid back, happy-go-lucky, laconic Aussie image.


If my friends list is anything to go by, (and it’s probably not because my friends tend to be unusually intelligent and understanding by anyone’s standards), there are so many rainbows floating around, you’d swear we’re all gay or bi or something.

rainbow friends

Personally, I believe any consenting adult should be able to enter into any marriage that makes them happy – whether that is a traditional monogamous religiously sanctioned marriage, a civil union, a same-sex marriage, religious or otherwise or a polyamorous multiple partners swinging from the chandeliers on weekends, love-in.  We seriously need to get out of each other’s bedrooms and mind our own business.


It’s a Tuesday.

One of the things that amazes me most about being in chronic pain is how on earth do I manage to stay asleep through the pain signals my brain is receiving, right up until the moment when consciousness returns and the first thing I notice is that my inescapable pain filled body is still there, still doing its thing?  How do I sleep through that at all?

I woke up this morning and did my usual ‘body check’.  Tension headache from Sunday?  Yep, still here – no doubt the result of sitting on an uncomfortable barstool for a few hours on Saturday night.  Anything unusual hurting?  Yes, my right should blade is in agony, and I don’t use that word lightly. I don’t remember doing anything odd or strange yesterday that would cause a flare up of pain in my shoulder blade area, but it is certainly talking to me this morning, loud and clear. I sort of lever/roll myself out of bed, my neck, back, hips and shoulders all sort of going ‘snap, crackle, pop’ as the stiffness of sleeping so dead still (yay Valium) works itself out, and put my feet on the floor.  My feet hurt, though no more than usual –  it’s a shooting sort of pain.  I’ve obviously been clenching my toes in my sleep again which causes tension through the arches of my foot and up my shins.  A quick stretch and a rub of my hands followed by a fumbled attempt to pick up my phone to check the time, also indicates that I have been doing my best ineffectual little fists of rage all night too, so my hands are a bit, ‘best not boil the kettle this early, lest one tip hot water all over oneself’ unreliable to say the least.  My teeth are feeling pretty icky lately – my ‘barometer’ tooth, the right upper lateral incisor, feels like it’s been moving, which of course it hasn’t – it’s just had my bottom lateral incisor pushing against it all night as I have been subconsciously clenching my teeth against pain all night. The muscles which run from the back of my jaw up to my cheekbones feel tight and horrible, not spongy and malleable like they’re supposed to, and when I open my mouth to yawn, it feels like of an old rubber band being overstretched that just might snap… cra-cra-crack-crack.

I stumble to the bathroom to pee and am screwing up my face against the pain in my hips as they complain about the very ordinary effort of being upright.  Bending down to lift up the toilet seat sends a shooting pain up the left side of my neck, again.  I go to pee and have to wait a moment… like everything else in my entire body, my entire pelvic floor also tenses up when I sleep and I have to consciously will it to relax in order to be able to go.  I stand up and face the handbasin to wash my hands, the cold water actually feels good – the colder the better, at least it’s not a pain sensation.  At this point I usually avoid looking in the mirror – I am fairly confident that I look as bad as I feel, and I just don’t really want to see the evidence of my pain all over my face, I especially hate seeing it in my eyes, as I know that means other people can see it too.  I wash my hands and lean over the basin (more cracking rubber band sensations in my lower back) to splash cold water on my face.  A few facefuls of bracing cold water and I feel like I’m trying to flush away the Valium induced drug hang over – it doesn’t really work, but I do it habitually anyway.

Back to my room and I pick up pants and a jumper that I carefully left on the end of my bed… god knows if they get kicked off and end up on the floor, I’m kinda fucked when it comes to picking them up.  Hang onto the bed end, one leg in, the other leg in, hips are going – ‘what the hell do you think you doing?’ Yes, it is rather adventurous to think one should be able to put on pants without an increase in pain.  And yay, I notice I am clenching my teeth some more from the effort of ignoring Putting On Pants Pain.  Stop doing that!  I do some jaw exercises as I get my jumper on with the minimal amount of lifting my arms over my head – ever wondered why so many of my jumpers have zippers up the front… wonder no more. They’re definitely not purchased to show off my cleavage to best advantage.  Next big obstacle… the bedroom door knob.  Slippery little sucker; it often gives me grief.

Walk to the kitchen… all 15 paces of it, thinking, ‘Oh you little shit, right shoulder blade, what the hell have I done to you?’  I grab a heatpack and put it in the microwave, wishing for not the first time that the microwave wasn’t in one of those face height (well, for someone of only 5′ in height, it’s at face height) wall wells, and thinking I’d be better off it if was on the bench.  The heatpack must weigh about 2kgs if that, but when I want to pick it up above my shoulder in the morning, I’m not happy about the extra 12″ higher that I have to lift it from bench height to face height.  I punch the buttons with seemingly unwarranted ill humour towards the appliance, and wait for the comforting noise of the microwave doing it’s heating things up, thing.

I turn around and lean over on the centre island bench with my forearms laying flat and my forehead resting on my arms… gently stretching out my lower back and trying to dissuade it from screaming at me.  I usually find myself staying in that position for a full 2 mins and 25 secs, shifting my weight from leg to leg as I persuade my hips to move even a little bit without pain.  I lift my head up, usually just in time before the microwave does it’s godawful and annoying, ‘beep beep beep’ schtick – my internal timer for 2:30min periods is pretty good, after hundreds and hundreds of similar waits for a heatpack to warm up.  I grab the heatpack out, still in a drug fucked haze and walk away from the microwave -usually having forgot to press the cancel button… the 2 or 3 seconds I have left on the microwave timer will annoy me later, but I’m not compis mentis enough to deal with that just yet.

I stumble to the living room and push a puppy out of the way – sorry puppy, no cuddles for you until I get this roaring fucking nightmare in my right shoulder blade to shut the fuck up a bit… though in all fairness, this morning it’s a right shoulder blade, tomorrow it could be the back of my hips, or the top of my neck or the middle of my back or wherever the fuck the tension and pain wanted to ‘settle’ for the night.  I sit down and position the heatpack behind me and wait… ten, nine, eight, seven, six, five, four, three, two, one, a half, a quarter, *sob* oh, fucking hurry up.  Finally, there it is.  Heat.  Heat sensations radiating through my spine instead of pain sensations.  I know it’s not actually taking the pain away – not really.  It’s just tricking the nerve endings into sending some different signal other than a pain signal to my brain.  Okay puppy, you can come for a cuddle now.  My back SHOULD be fine.  I SHOULD not be in pain.  But my nervous system is shot to shit after four nasty car accidents and my nerves send pain signals to my brain 24/7.

So what’s the point?  The whole morning heatpack ritual isn’t actually fixing anything so why am I doing it?  It’s pretty simple really.  When you’re tired, it’s awfully hard to ignore being in pain.  When you’re drowsy, or in my case completely drug fucked, it’s pretty hard to push those thoughts and sensations of pain to the back of your mind in order to be able to think about anything else.  In the mornings, because I am tired and drowsy, the pain is overwhelming.  Once I wake up a bit and can master my consciousness somewhat, I am able to apply the energy necessary to compartmentalise the pain to some place in the back of my head to be able to engage with the world in some hopefully useful capacity.  It doesn’t mean the pain is gone – it’s not – I’ve just learned to ignore it to a certain extent.  It’s why sleep, even the drug induced Valium unconsciousness that I call sleep, is so important.  Without it, my ability to ignore or manage my pain is significantly diminished.

I’d like to be able to say that today was a bad day.  If it was, maybe that would make this whole situation more bearable. I would like to be able to say that today my pain was particularly bad and that I went through this bullshit routine to get over this one, particularly  bad day, but I can’t – for me, this is just a Tuesday.

chronic pain 2

​I Grew Up in a Polyamorous Household

Interesting article penned by Benedict Smith.  I find different peoples views on polyamorous lifestyles to be very interesting – though this is the first article I have found written from the perspective of a child reared in a household with open relationships.


Few cultural symbols have as much heft as the “traditional” nuclear family. You know the one: two heterosexual parents, two kids, one dog, two tablespoons of white picket fence, whisk gently. Don’t get me wrong, there’s nothing wrong with that—it’s just not how I was raised.

My parents are polyamorous, a Greek/Latin mishmash word meaning romantic non-monogamy with the consent of everyone involved. As a kid, I lived with my dad, my mom, my mom’s partner, and for a while, my mom’s partner’s partner. Mom might have up to four partners at a time. Dad had partners too. I was raised by an interconnected network of grownups whose relationships weren’t exclusive but remained committed for years, even decades.

They first explained it to me when I was about eight. My four-year-old brother asked why James, my mom’s partner, had been spending so much time with us.

“Because I love him,” Mom said, matter-of-factly.

“Well, that’s good,” my brother replied, “because I love him too.”

It was never really any more complicated than that. Looking back, that’s what I find most extraordinary about our situation: how mind-numbingly ordinary it all was. I almost wish it were more exciting than that—a wide-eyed kid, stumbling into amphetamine-fueled sexfests to find a gaggle of ass-naked circus mimes, nuns, and poultry—but we were just as run-of-the-mill-dysfunctional as every other family on the block.

I never resented my parents for hanging out with their partners. We all went on trips to the movies and narrow boat holidays together. Having more adults around the house meant there was more love and support, and more adults to look after us. Dad and James didn’t get jealous or resent each other either, far from the alpha male antler clattering you might expect. They were good friends.

I do remember the first time James told me off. I was eight and had almost toddled into traffic, when he pulled me to the pavement and shouted at me for not looking left and right. I remember thinking:Oh, this grown-up is allowed to discipline me too? But it didn’t take me long to realize that it also meant that another grown-up had my back—and would keep me from being flattened by oncoming traffic—and that this was a good thing after all.

It’s fortunate I was living in relative familial bliss at home, because school was a living nightmare. I had a stutter and a penchant for 80s power ballads—telling anyone about my domestic situation would be to give myself a wedgie by proxy. I mean, one kid got picked on by (weirdly patriarchal) bullies just for having a stay-at-home dad—I wasn’t about to profess that Mom had four boyfriends. I had only one best friend (any more would’ve interfered with my spiritual path of devotedly studying Star Wars encyclopedias and reveling in epiphanic early masturbatory experiences). He was the only one who knew about my parents, and he just shrugged it off.

Our church community, on the other hand, did find out about my parents’ arrangement. We were very close to our parish at a local Anglo-Catholic church in East London—my mom even taught at Sunday school. We never lied about our family dynamic; we just didn’t want to broadcast it. James was called “a family friend,” which worked for a while. Eventually though, we were outed. Someone trawled the web and tracked down my mom’s LiveJournal page, and word got out that my family was poly.

Most people tried to understand, but not everyone could. One family was so condemning of our parents’ lifestyle that they forbade their kids from playing with us. This later escalated into a particularly nasty phone call to social services, essentially conflating polyamorous parenting with child abuse, and sending a swarm of social workers into our home. I remember sitting on the living room floor with my Robot Wars toys, Hypno-Disc in one hand, Sir Killalot in the other, trying to convince them that my parents weren’t hurting me.

“Good parents are good parents, whether there are one or two or three or four of them. Fortunately, mine were incredible.”

Nowadays, if I mention to people that I have poly parents, reactions oscillate between “that’s so weird” and “that’s so cool.” Most people enjoy the novelty of it. Some feel threatened, but they’re usually OK once I reassure them that it’s not a criticism of their monogamy.

All in all, my upbringing shaped my personality for the better. I got to speak to adults from all manner of varying backgrounds, whether they were my parents’ partners, or parents’ partners’ partners, or whoever. I lived with people who were straight, gay, bi, trans, writers, scientists, psychologists, adoptees, Bermudians, Hongkongers, people of wealth, and benefits claimants. Maturing in that melting pot really cultivated and broadened my worldview, and helped me become the guy I am today.

I never envied my friends with monogamous parents. I knew kids who lived with two parents or one, or stepparents, or grandparents, or aunts and uncles. So what I had didn’t feel odd. I’d imagine there’s very little variation between the ways monogamous and poly parents fuck up their kids. Good parents are good parents, whether there are one or two or three or four of them. Fortunately, mine were incredible.

I don’t think polyamory is superior to monogamy in any way—it’s just different. But I wish it wasn’t so stigmatized. Only 17 percent of human cultures are strictly monogamous; the vast majority of human societies embrace a mix of marriage types. There is no traditional family. In his book Sex at Dawn, author Christopher Ryan argues that human monogamy only dates back as far as the agricultural revolution. Prior to this, we lived in small foraging communities and shared our property (food, shelter, wooden clubs, saber-tooth loincloths, etc). Then, post-agriculture, monogamy developed, out of concerns regarding paternity, and the inheritance of material goods. Ryan argues that our modern romantic attitudes are needlessly puritanical, “an outdated Victorian sense of human sexuality that conflates desire with property rights.” Since the 20th century, many of us have begun to return to ourpolyamorous roots, following the sexual revolution, and feminism, and by extension the increased financial independence of women. This upward trend will only continue.

A lot of people ask me whether having poly parents has shaped the way I look at love as an adult, which is hard to answer. Growing up with polyamory as the norm, monogamy seemed alien and counterintuitive. We can love more than one friend or family member at the same time, so the idea that romantic love only worked linearly was befuddling. I’m in my 20s now, and I tend to have multiple partners (though that’s more my libido than a philosophical conviction). I don’t consider myself poly, but I am open to having either multiple partners or just one.

Life is mostly pain and struggle; the rest is love and deep dish pizza. For the cosmic blink of a moment we spend on this tiny dust speck of a planet, can we simply accept that love is love, including love that happens to be interracial, same-sex, or poly? Discrimination against love is a disease of the heart—and we get enough of that from the pizza.


Reposted from Vice (mainly because the Vice article is full of ads and shit and a really stupid Slutever video has been embedded int he middle of this interesting article – you can find it here if you want the same content surrounded by crap). Drawing by Kelsey Wrotten.

Bad things happen to good people.

I have to get this out of my head, it has been causing so much anxiety and stress for the past two weeks… and yet I have not written about it, nor have I put it on Facebook or anything like that as I do not wish to elicit undue sympathy from the people around me – because ultimately, while this terrible tragedy has been unfolding and is affecting me quite deeply, at the heart of it, I feel this is not actually happening to me but more to people who I love dearly.

Two weeks ago, on Sunday May 17th, my cousin Neatsi had a very bad asthma attack.  I heard about it on Monday morning when my mother rang in tears to tell me that she was in the HB ICU.  It seems the attack was so severe that she suffered both respiratory and cardiac failure (though I am still unsure which caused which).  The extended family, who were able, rushed to HB to be with the immediate family, and a loose roster soon began as people took turns sitting at her beside, waiting for her to wake up and not wanting her to wake alone.  I was unable to go with them, as I have had a ridiculously bad flu that hasn’t been responding to treatment, and the last thing someone with respiratory problems needs, when on a respirator in an intensive care unit, is someone coming to town and giving the entire family support network some sort of flu bug thing.

So I have been stuck at home feeling completely impotent, phoning as often as I could while not wanting to make a pest of myself, and waiting, waiting, waiting for news… convinced that when it came, surely none of it could be good.  Neatsi was experiencing fevers and having seizures, despite being heavily sedated, and at the beginning, was not breathing on her own at all.  I was so fearful that they would determine that she had suffered brain damage and that the life support would have to be turned off… the idea of which was just horrific.

However, a few days later her sedation was reduced and she was breathing occasionally on her own.  Her CT scans to determine the extent of any brain damage were inconclusive, as the neurologists said there was too much swelling on her brain to be sure what state her brain was in.  I was also told by a friend in nursing, who I trusted to give it to me straight up, that the sedation needed to be lifted before a CT or MRI could show adequate brain function, as the sedation itself significantly suppresses normal brain activity and thereby giving inaccurate results.  As the first week wore on, I found myself worrying about what seemed (to me) to be an even worse outcome – that she would start breathing on her own but with little to no normal brain function remaining and not be able to be turned off!  This whole thing was turning into nightmare after nightmare and me still not able to go north to give the family what little support I could.

I have about 38 first cousins (I say ‘about’ because one of my aunts had about 13? or maybe, 15? children… I honestly don’t know how many, as I lost count and certainly can’t remember their names), but this family, this aunt and uncle and their three children were quite honestly the ones I have the most fond memories of.  We spent many happy holidays together and while I was closest in friendship with their middle daughter, I have lots of wonderful memories of how outgoing and happy Neatsi always was.  She always just seemed so carefree and happy-go-lucky… and to think of her in the ICU, in a coma has been just gut wrenching.  I will say without hesitation that my aunt and uncle, M&D, who were going through this ordeal are my favourite relatives, and I feel I have not been there for them.  Yes, I know we are not supposed to voice such things, but it is true.  I used to be quite concerned growing up that M&D were my elder sister’s godparents and if anything happened to my parents, in my young mind, my elder sister would get to go live with the favourite aunt and uncle and I would end up living with my godparents, who were most definitely NOT my favourite people.  Even though we spent a lot of time together as small kids, and grew up quite close, over time we have gone on to have very different lives.  I would not recognise Neatsi’s husband in the street and barely know him at all, and could hardly recognise or name her four children.  For me, this ordeal has been focused less on Neatsi, and more on her mother and father, her sister and brother… and I have been worrying excessively for them to the point of causing me anxiety.

Towards the end of the first week, Neatsi’s sedation had been reduced, and she was moving quite a bit more – twitching, eye fluttering, yawning, breathing more on her own.  However with the reduction in sedation, she also experienced more fevers and continued seizures, even though she was showing no signs of infection.  Last week, on Monday, Neatsi had another CT scan, and a meeting was set between her doctors and the family.  The doctors informed the family that Neatsi’s brain damage was as severe as everyone was dreading.  Her scans showed no function other than involuntary functions and one doctor was apparently so blunt as to offer that, ‘her brain is completely mush’.  It was of course the worst possible news.

With the risk of passing any horrible flu onto my cousin through her visitors in the ICU now a moot point, I hightailed it to HB to check in on everyone to see how they were coping, even though I was still coughing and spluttering and was still having inexplicable high temperatures of my own.  :/  When I got there, I found the family in varying states of denial, acceptance, putting on a brave face and delayed shock, even though it had been 10 days since Neatsi’s asthma attack.  My mother and my aunt M looked exhausted… and while I was able to offer nothing more than a hug, a shoulder and an ear, I was glad I went and was able to see for myself how everyone was holding up. Being stuck at home anxiously waiting for the phone to ring has been harrowing.

The next day, Wednesday, the family had to face turning off the life support systems that had been keeping Neatsi’s body alive, and as predicted, she was now breathing on her own, so her body did not expire straight away.  It was a full 28 hrs later that she finally stopped breathing… I was in a another waiting room of another hospital waiting for Mr K who was having a small procedure done when I got the call that Neatsi’s body had breathed its lasts… I honestly feel she has been gone the whole time she was in the ICU.

In some ways I was thankful and relieved (and feel very guilty at feeling relieved) that it was going to be over soon and that everyone would be able to grieve and hopefully begin to heal.  But I have also been feeling mortified for her four children who have just lost their mother.

Unfortunately this episode is not going to fade into memory easily – Neatsi’s husband has made a complaint to the Qld Ambulance Service.  It seems the security cameras on the front of their home have determined that Neatsi was not given oxygen for quite some time after the ambulance arrived.  Neatsi was conscious and talking when they were called and when they turned up, and had been using her own nebuliser in an attempt to manage the asthma attack until they arrived.  Her husband claims that the ambos did the same thing – put her on a nebuliser and did not put her on oxygen until she went into respiratory/cardiac arrest… some 40 minutes after their arrival.  Two ambulances attended the incident from two different despatch areas, one arriving 35 minutes after the first.   I don’t know.  I don’t have all the details, but I am sure the QAS would not have failed to see the seriousness of the situation and I strongly doubt they failed in their duties – they have such a difficult job, I would not ever criticise them without knowing the facts.  But Neatsi’s husband is looking for someone to blame, which I guess is understandable, but this will have the unfortunate side effect of not allowing the family to start the necessary grieving process until it is resolved.  It now seems Neatsi has been moved to Brisbane for an autopsy as part of a full coronial inquest, which no doubt means the delay in her funeral is only one problem, as an inquest can take many months to reach determinations.

For my part, I am not even there, and this whole thing feels like it is happening not to me directly, but to a handful of people who I love dearly, and I feel quite keenly that I am not able to offer them any useful support whatsoever.  These last two weeks have drummed home how futile and useless the ‘thoughts and prayers’ etc., we tend to offer at these times really are.  At the moment I can only hope that the bureaucracy that must be endured will turn it’s machinery swiftly so that Neatsi can be laid to rest and the family can start to heal.

Neatsi honey, if you are out there somewhere, I hope you are at rest… and I sincerely hope you know how much your children and your family are going to miss your gentle heart.