Twenty years later…

Time seems to pass so quickly and this all feels like it happened just last year, but this story unfurled a little over twenty years ago… starting around the middle of1996, maybe???  I had been single for while, I mean, not very long in the big scheme of things, but I was lamenting the lack of intelligent and refined young gentlemen in my general circle of acquaintance to a friend of mine, Peter.  It was a typical, ‘Where have all the good men gone?’ conversation – I was sick of meeting guys who couldn’t hold up their end in a meaty conversation, guys who didn’t know or care about anything outside their own small world, guys who wanted to get you into bed but who had nothing of any substance to offer you over breakfast.  Peter offered me a some very good advice: ‘You need to separate the wheat from the chaff.’ said Pete, ‘What you need is a good pick up line…’  I had no idea where he was going with this, but he then said to me, ‘Next time you meet someone, ask them what they think of the Chinese Government disbanding the Hong Kong legislature.’  I laughed in his face – Oh right… how is that going to help me meet an interesting guy?!

But over the next few months, I found Pete’s pick up line was extremely useful: I would be out with the girls at a bar, and a guy would offer to buy me a drink or we’d be playing pool or something, and I’d pull out my conversation starter, ‘So… what do you think of the Chinese Government disbanding the Hong Kong legislature?’  I got a lot of blank looks, a lot of ‘Huh?’ responses.  I got one, ‘Are you drunk?’, and one guy who literally just turned and walked away.  It turned out that Pete’s one liner was a huge success at getting rid of repetitive conversations about cars or surfing, etc.  So I kept it. And used it to good effect.

Several months after I started applying my pick up line to my all and sundry social interactions at the Alex Hills and Colmslie Taverns, (Yes, I know, in hindsight, there was my problem, right there!), my sister came home from her first Rowany Festival (a large medieval camping event that is held annually near Sydney).  She was full of enthusiastic stories about the tavern, the wars, the wonderful people she’d met, and all the general merrymaking and shenanigans she’d experienced.  She showed me a whole pile of photographs of armoured fighters all decked out for war, and medieval campsites, and costumed people playing games on the green… it all looked like a lot of fun.  She showed me one picture of herself with some friends, and I said to her, ‘Who’s he?’

She replied that his name was ‘William the Admirer’, but that she didn’t know his real name, and then she related a story where ‘William’ was engaged in a flattery competition that involved several guys who were engaged in offering delicate sentiments to compliment the Princess at the time, and how ‘William’ had declared to all that he would henceforth change his name to ‘William the Admirer’ in honour of the Princess and her beauty and accomplishments… or something like that.  I laughed, but at the same time was quite taken by the idea of a young man who could pull off something like that in a social situation, and told my sister that she should invite him to a party that we were hosting soon, so that I could meet him… and so she did.  Several times apparently.  Each time she saw him, she apparently reiterated the invitation and he had promised he would come so that I could meet him.

The party in question was one of our then, annual Tequila Parties (complete with sombreros, ponchos, heavily laced sangria, nachos galore and a pinata filled with alcohol minis and condoms!), and when the night in question rolled around, I kept an eye out to see if the young man in question was going to turn up… but alas, he never did.  So I did what every sensible young woman does when being stood up by a man who didn’t know he had a date – got blind rotten drunk to the point where I was doing tequila shots and thinking, ‘This tequila tastes strange…’ only to double check the bottle and find it was vodka!  After that, I pretty much forgot all about ‘William the Admirer’.

About a month passed, and my sister informed me that she was going to a housewarming party in Annerley and would I like to come? At the time, I wasn’t really all that keen on going a party where I wouldn’t know anyone, so I declined the invitation… and then she said to me, ‘That guy from the photo is going to be there.’  Oh well, in that case, I decided ‘What the hell.’, I’d go.

We went to the party and I met a lot of new people and engaged in a lot of small talk – as you do when you are surrounded by people who know each other very well, but who you know not at all.  They were all laughing and telling stories and I was politely watching the party warm up.  Several hours and several vodkas later, it was obvious that the elusive ‘William the Admirer’ was not going to be making an appearance – yet again.  So much for that!  Unbeknownst to me, he was on a date (Which was going disastrously – that’s what you get for letting your mother set you up on a blind date!), and he was probably delivering his unfortunate date home around the time I was rounding on my sixth or seventh drink*! (*important plot point)

I was sitting outside under the patio when I saw him enter the dining room and thought to myself, ‘Hey there’s that guy from the photo! Finally, I’ll get to meet him!’ This much I do remember… from there though, things get a little hazy and versions of the story start to differ.  🙂  Apparently, while I am thinking this, he claims to have been thinking, ‘Who is that short blonde girl in the pink jumper, outside?’ (Yes, somethings never change).  I’m not sure how we actually met, though I am confident no one made an actual introduction, but HE claims that he was standing in the dining room, talking to Stefano and that *I* came up to him in a very familiar manner and said, ‘Hello’, and put my hand in his pocket!  What a brazen hussy!  As I said, it was getting late, I had more than a few drinks, and my recollection is pretty sketchy but… it is possible that this occurred in this manner. I guess?!  :/  Stefano looks at him, he looks at Stefano, and they go, ‘Okay then.’

Over the next hour or so, I sobered up a quite a bit as we are exchanging pleasantries, and I think to myself, ‘I like him. A lot. He seems smart.’.  Still a little tipsy, I asked him a very important question, ‘So… what do you think of the Chinese Government disbanding the Hong Kong legislature?’ He looks at me for a moment, and then launches into a full-on dissertation on the political climate in China, and how the residents of Hong Kong are going to be affected by the move from English to Chinese rule and… I stop him right there, and confess that I don’t care, but I am won.  He knew what I was talking about and that was more than good enough for me.  🙂

We talked and canoodled until 5am, and three weeks later he declared he was going to marry me – to which I smiled incredulously and verbally patted him on the head by saying, ‘Ahuh, sure.’  But he proved me wrong and two years later we were married.

Mr K, I hunted you down from a photograph, and I am so very glad I did.  Sometimes the last twenty years feel as though they have been filled with more trials than triumphs, but the one constant has been us, and I am so looking forward to the next twenty years  <3

*and doubly glad that your date that night crashed and burned!  😉

yaleman

Ten years ago today, I found myself fronting up to start the first full time job I had had for nearly a decade working for a company I didn’t even remotely try to hide by calling it ‘Goliath’ on this blog.

Something like this is not ordinarily remarkable, but it coincided with a very difficult moment in my life… my father had just passed away from Motor Neurone Disease, and by ‘just’ I mean, yesterday – the day before I started this job, and my entire family was upset and stressed as all fuck.  There are posts about how conflicted I felt about taking the job in light of my father having just died, and how I didn’t want people to think I was a heartless baggage for going to work the very day after he passed away, but I also felt quite strongly that Dad would not really have applauded me for sitting around crying and passing up a job opportunity, when we were three years expecting his death…  As I said, It was a messy, emotional, stressful and fucked up week.

So on the Monday morning that I was starting that job, January 22nd 2007, I fronted up to a high-rise building in Roma Street for the start of four weeks of orientation/training . There were lots of geeky looking guys in my training group, who all seemed to know way more about what we were supposed to be doing there that I did.  I, on the other hand, was hired for my ‘customer service skills’, they figured (rightly or wrongly?!) that they could teach me the technical shit.  So there I am in orientation, feeling guilty about being at work and not at home with my family who were all still crying their eyes out, feeling a bit dazed after having spent all the previous day calling friends and relatives to let them know that my father had passed away, and feeling somewhat overwhelmed as a lot of the technical stuff they were teaching us was going over my head in my ridiculously stressed state.

On our morning tea break, I had to tell the instructors that I was going to need some time off on Tuesday afternoon to go to the funeral home, and the whole of Thursday off to go to the funeral, and they both looked at me like I had sprouted a second head and asked if I should even be there… unbeknownst to me, as soon as I walked away from that conversation they put bets on that I would go home that evening and never come back.

But come back I did, and I persevered through what was an extremely difficult week – both on the home front and the new work front.  After a few days, it became apparent to me that there was a stupidly tall guy with a deep voice and enormous hands, who had a slightly familiar look about him that I couldn’t quite place, who really seemed to know what he was doing.  I mean, the trainers were giving us information and then confirming with this guy that the information was correct.  ‘yaleman’ was his name, and I couldn’t understand how one of the ‘newbies’ knew what the hell they were talking about or why the subject matter experts, who were teaching us all these systems were deferring to him on their own training materials, but self preservation kicked in pretty quick and I decided I needed to be get to know him, because I knew I was going to need someone knowledgeable once we hit the floor and were dealing with customers!  It was a semi-calculated and mercenary move on my part… but I knew I needed all the help I could get if I wasn’t going to sink completely!

I actually used the whole, ‘You look familiar’, line on him, saying ‘Haven’t I seen you at a party at Blokenstein or somewhere?’ to which he replied in the negative, but I swear he seemed really familiar – it turns out that yes, I probably had seen him before, and potentially as much as eight years before, when I was a patient at the IVF clinic that his mother worked in… he used to come in after school and then commute home with his mother, and it is entirely possible that I saw him there in the waiting room on a number of occasions as I often had late afternoon appointments – but we didn’t figure out that connection for several months.

In the meantime, we were all let loose on the unsuspecting public, and I really felt sorry for some of the people who got me on the end of the phone – I sometimes took twice as long to solve their problems; issues that any self respecting IT geek could pick up in minutes would elude me completely, resulting in an hour long call (why the hell does Internet Explorer have a ‘Work Offline’ option anyway?!), but I was seriously thankful that I had yale on Dbabble (the inter-office chat platform) to help me with my curly questions.  I was constantly asking him how to do this, how to do that, how to use this program, what does this error mean… I still understood very little of how the whole shebang worked, but thanks to yale I learned the best place to start and the most effective order in which to work through each problem, and eventually got into the rhythm of the place.

All the while we were forming a friendship.  Him, being a typical IT geek had no idea whatsoever how to talk to women… Instead, he would ‘poke’ me as I walked past, making me start, and once sending my neck into spasms as I whipped around. I put an end to that poking nonsense pretty quick (mind you he still does it to other women he fancies that he has no idea how to talk to!).  We ended up working the same shifts quite often… this was not an accident, as my ‘phone a friend’ on the floor, I asked Rachel, who set our rosters, to put me on at the same time as him, telling her we commuted to work together.  We’d quite often do the 3pm-11pm shift and after that it’s hard to just go home, switch off and go to sleep, so we ended up hanging out after the late shift – he’d drive me home or I’d drive him home, even though we lived on opposite sides of the city, just for some company and a chance to unwind.

We’d sit and chat quite a lot and got to know each other fairly well.  Then came the crisis of yale’s flatmate moving in with his girlfriend, leaving him with no where to live.  I asked my Mum, who was still living in the granny flat under our house since Dad passed away, if she wanted a lodger for a few months while he got himself sorted… I think it was good for her to move back upstairs into the house proper, but little did I know he would stay for the next seven years!

Our friendship turned pretty quickly into something more, as we grew closer – until one night when I was dropping him home, he got out of the car and tried to say an affectionate, ‘Goodbye’ that came out, ‘I love you’.  I teased him mercilessly for the Freudian slip and he tried to claim that all his friends said that to one another but it was true.  We were forming a loving relationship based on friendship, attraction, respect, and his vast IT knowledge!  😉

Those early days were so much fun – that amazing time of getting to really know someone can be very heady, but also be pretty nuts. The few times we disagreed on things, yale would get all emotional and irrational and throw these unproductive tantrums, and I couldn’t stand it.  If he had his way, it would be raised voices, punched walls, slammed doors, and roaring off in the car up the street, followed by the silent treatment and a waiting for one party or the other to apologise.  The first time this happened, he got as far as the front yard when I told him that if he got in the car and left, then he should stay gone as he would not be welcome back.  If he wanted to continue to be in a relationship, then he had best come back inside, calm down and talk the issue through (I have no idea what the issue was). For all his high IQ, amazing capacity for knowledge and extreme proficiency at work, his inability to handle confrontation, and his non-existent conflict resolution and interpersonal skills were infuriating!  In his defence though, even Mr K who has crazy good communication and interpersonal skills, says I am very difficult to debate… Seriously, I don’t understand why these men don’t recognise irrefutable logic when they see it, and just damn well do things my way without an arguement – but so be it! 😉

We have since been through a lot together, in particular a serious car accident that turned us both upside down for several years, fucking with both, our ability to work and landing us with chronic whiplash problems… well, more problems in my case.  We have taken up shooting as a sport, and even though I will never ever be able to shoot as well as he does, I really love it and enjoy our trips to the range.  We’ve been going to the SCA together and my friends are now all his friends too.  yale has taken over the IT management of my house and I have no idea how to access my own router anymore, because I just haven’t needed to do it. He reaches high things, and lifts heavy things for me and I analyse work politics and translate what women say, for him.

Probably every six months or so, I would remind him not to get too attached and would prod him to really consider if he wants a ‘proper’ relationship with diamonds, and white picket fences, and children and happily ever after because I can’t offer him those things.  And every six months or so, he would tell me that he is truly happy and he doesn’t think he wants those things. I worry that I have given him unrealistic expectations of what intimate relationships are like, and now other women seem frivolous, jealous, unpredictable, and annoying or even disingenuous.  I don’t play games, and now he has no time for them either.

I never would have guessed that ten years later we would still be together.  It certainly wasn’t conscious planned and I have to acknowledge that all our lives would be a lot less complicated if we were all living a more traditional lifestyle!  I know some people don’t understand our choices and worse, understand them but don’t approve.  But I feel so fortunate to have yale in my life these last ten years… to have his love, his friendship, his support and acceptance.  He has taught me as much about myself, as I have taught him.  We have laughed, and cried, and encouraged and commiserated together.  It is an amazing privilege to be loved by him, he is a truly amazing person, full of generosity, warmth, strength and compassion.

yale, I know you will be reading this at some point… I think you know that you and Mr K are my rocks.  It is no exaggeration to say that I would not be here without you guys.  Some people never find one real love in their entire lives, and I am literally at a loss for words to describe how fortunate I feel to have found you both.  <3

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

 

​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.

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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.

Marital Bliss Mountain Doesn’t Exist.

Some friends of mine have recently hit a seriously distressing break up – adultery mixed with close friends and squire relationships does not for an amicable split, make.  It’s hard to have a relationship break up these days with maybe a thousand friends of friends watching on via Facebook.

And everyone has an opinion, whether the situation has anything to do with them or not. The problem is, there is no, “I’ve made it!  This is it!” when it comes to relationships. You can’t just say “I’m married now, I can relax”, or “I’ve found The One (TM), no more work required”. There’s no Mystical Love Mountain that you can orienteer to, conquer and then victoriously plant your flag at the top and say: “Mission accomplished!”

The human experience of life and love is far removed from mountaineering, and is rather more like the constantly undulating waves of a stormy ocean… an endless superposition of the cycles of love and loss, joy and sadness.

Only it’s not endless… we’re all going to die someday.

So that puts a finite limit on how long we get to spend in a relationship anyone and basically means at the outset that every single person you love… you will eventually lose someday.  Some of those loves may end in an acrimonious breakup next week or next month, other loves may end seventy years from now in a nursing home surrounded by family.  Which ever way your fates pan out, doesn’t really matter because either way it’s never easy, and the longer it takes… the more it’s going to hurt, the harder it is to recover and the longer you will grieve. This is just the natural way of things.  

For many people the realisation of this very true reality is crushing… but it doesn’t need to be.  Over time, we can learn to ride the waves of the sometimes stormy, Relationship Ocean, and instead of letting it push you under such that you never want to love again – you can love and lose and chose to carry on.

You can try and find perpetual joy to carry in your heart and allow it to co-exist with the occasional, yet inevitable, moments of reflective sadness, rather than the other way around.

Shake the water from your hair, climb back into your boat, and sail forth on the tumultuous seas with courage and optimism for the future.  We can all learn to be better versions of ourselves.  And we can learn to take the potentially infinite cycle of love and heartbreak without being actually broken.

Personally, I believe that taking the risks are worth it as the payoff can be life affirming, but the choice is for each of us to make for ourselves.

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