28 February 2009

on asexuality & intimacy

thursday night, i had the privilege of seeing David Jay, of the Asexual Visibility and Education Network, speak on campus. it was really interesting: he talked more about intimacy and about how we do and can relate to other people than about sex or a lack of it.

i say this as if i think asexuality is ordinary, but really, it's just that i've been exposed to so many different ways of approaching and experiencing sex that this is just another one.
it takes a lot to shock me, and almost nothing surprises me anymore.
our LGBTQ student group, with which i am deeply involved, brought him to speak. before the event, someone asked me, "what does asexuality have to do with being queer?" my response? "how is it not? it's another way of looking at sex that doesn't fit the accepted standard." but i digress.

i particularly liked what he had to say about the major things that go into any successful relationship:
shared passion: you're not going to get along with anyone unless you have something in common. i think you could probably define "passion" loosely, although obviously the stronger the definition you can apply, the stronger the relationship has the potential to become. however, i also find this risky, and moreso in (monogamous) romantic relationships than in more community-oriented ones, because balance is so important. one person cannot be your entire life, so if your shared passion is (only) for each other, you run a serious risk of getting quite literally lost in each other. on the other hand, if you start dating someone based on a shared passion for, say, environmental activism, but that's all your relationship is, it's not likely to succeed either, because you're prone to getting lost in the activism. and we could argue about what it means for a relationship to be "successful."
emotional expression: in my understanding, this includes all means of expressing whatever emotion(s) you feel for a person, whether verbal or physical. presumably, in the relationships in question, those emotions are largely positive, but i don't just want to say "love" or "affection" because i believe the english language has a severe lack of words for such things, and i don't want to leave anything out. how do you feel about each other? how and to what extent do you express that? there has to be some communication of those emotions.
explicit expectations: you've gotta talk about it all, and make everything very clear. something i'm working on lately.
*i should probably note at this point that my exposure to asexuality was preceded by my exposure to (and experience with) polyamory--something else i've been meaning to write about for a long time. this means that COMMUNICATION is incredibly important to me (which may be further evidenced by my recent posts on storytelling/language/etc). i don't believe you can build any successful relationship, be it romantic, sexual, or otherwise, without open, honest communication, so this part of the talk really struck me.

in another part of the discussion, he brought up a bunch of binaries that need to be broken.
the point (or one of them) being that there are spectra everywhere, and especially, it seems, where most people are least likely to expect them. the one that i feel requires the most attention on my part is the dichotomy of partnered intimacy versus community intimacy--which relates to the dichotomy of "partnered or single." this stems also from my exposure to/experience with polyamory, as well as experiences in which i have felt very definitely neither partnered nor single (a friend of mine asked me the other day, "how are things with your not-girlfriend?").

but yes: partnered intimacy and community intimacy. the last (serious romantic) relationship i was in was an open relationship, which we defined essentially as "do whatever you want, but you must tell the other person everything, and both people must be okay with it." this was very liberating for me, as i have shown a tendency to fall in love with more than one person at the same time, but i had never been in a situation where that was acceptable. i think most people assume that if you love someone else, it must mean your love for one person is somehow less....but this has not been my experience. and where would that leave parents who have 5 or 6 children? growing up, my mom always told me that the heart never runs out of love; it always makes room for more. maybe that's why my views are unorthodox! i further believe that love can never be bad: if something you call love is leading you to do hurtful things, then it's not really love, and you should probably reexamine what's actually going on. real love helps you to love everyone better, so why should it keep you from any one specific kind of love? [this is beginning to sound like it should belong to another post.]

in that light, partnered intimacy should never keep you from other forms of more community-based intimacy, and there's a whole range of possibilities in between. what i've found is that i really like being in a primary relationship, having that base to come back to, someone who i know will be there no matter what else happens, on a level that's different from but which enables and supports other relationships. but i also develop very deep friendships--and where is the line?

i haven't yet figured out how to make multiple romantic/sexual relationships work, and i'm not sure i want to. [i know i don't want to at the current time, for any number of reasons.] you could say i'm monogamously-minded with a polyamorous philosophy, which doesn't sound like it makes any sense. i [think i] would prefer to be in a monogamous relationship, but i'm not closed to the possibility of an open relationship, or polyfidelity, or any of the other options that i don't know about yet. people should do what makes them happy. the key is that open, honest communication: everyone involved must understand and accept the desires and expectations of everyone else involved. this is how you build successful relationships, sexual or non-sexual, romantic or platonic, monogamous or polyamorous.

[all three of the people who i know read this blog were in attendance on thursday night--i'm really curious to hear all of your thoughts on it!]

24 February 2009


seeking a new title for the blog. "temporary insanity" began in late 2005, when i had the random impulse to start a blog even though i had nothing to say. now, three-and-a-half years later, it's becoming quite obvious that there's nothing temporary about it. suggestions welcome!

23 February 2009

on doing what's comfortable

i've said too many times in the past few days, "this is the first time in my life that i've ever wanted to do what's comfortable." it's true on a lot of levels. this is not to say that everything i want to do right now is the easy thing--and that's part of what's causing me problems with the statement.

This--the This that is so foremost in my life right now that to acknowledge it would probably make you nervous--will not be easy. nor do i want it to be: it's part of that not usually wanting to do what's comfortable thing. [i feel like you will read this and be convinced that i'm doing something wrong.]

the bigger question, it seems, or at least the one it seems like most people think should be bigger--it is comprised of all the other questions, after all--is: should i stay or should i go? is now a good time to uproot myself again, start over from scratch, try to make myself fit into a new city?

i am extremely unmotivated to do this.

the short version:
grad school applications are out to three cities: the one i live in now, one where i have (extended) family close by, and one where i know no one. we could probably draw up extensive pro/con lists for each. i want to stay where i am. i know people here, i know the department i'd be going into (academic incest is on the con list), i know the city. and i love this city.

i had a conversation last night on losing, and potentially re-finding, that sense of home. it's an elusive thing, really. my parents' house hasn't been home for me since i was 14 or 15, although i'm not uncomfortable there [anymore]. dorms, particularly the one i lived in freshman year, are really hard to call home in any sense. i got close with my junior year on-campus apartment, where i had my own room and a window, and i've been close with my current apartment until recently. i was much closer over the summer. but my home feeling, at the rare times i have it, tends to be connected more with a person than with a place. why would i move hundreds of miles away from the people who have been much like home to me, from those who are becoming more like it every day? furthermore, why would i leave the city that has been more like a home than any place i have ever lived?

in that sense, i want to do what is comfortable. i want to stay in the city i know, with people i know, and a bus system i know.

in another sense, i wonder if this would really be all that comfortable. academically, maybe i'd find a better fit elsewhere. maybe i'm scared to look; maybe i don't know how. maybe i'll find that once my academic life changes, my personal relationships will also change, and i will no longer be able to find that home i'm creating. wouldn't it be so much worse to think i was staying in the same place, but find it instead completely different? i suppose there's no way to predict this, but i have a weird feeling about it.

i've already decided that wherever i end up, i need to live in an apartment by myself. this will be more comfortable in some ways, but less so in others. my ideal living situation is to be on the same block as a few good friends, but have space that is only my own. i need to have people around, but i also need solitude. finding the balance can be tricky, and i think it would be easier if i stayed here, where i don't need to find the people too. i'll go crazy if left by myself for too long, and for as outgoing as people tell me i appear, i'm actually quite shy and have a hard time making friends.

i've never been one to take the easy way out. i never want to choose the easy way simply because it's easy. i'm an overachiever and a procrastinator; i had to tell myself firmly to stop adding commitments to my life when i ran out of free time, and then i had to remind myself constantly for quite a while. generally speaking, i would rather be in a queer relationship than a straight one, for any number of reasons, and you can say anything you'd like about that. i don't want to give up when i don't know what to do, even if i don't even know how to figure it out.

the part i am avoiding is doing what is easy in relationships. this post is long enough already, and i'm not entirely sure what would be appropriate, for the topic or the forum.

20 February 2009

gender. fuck.

my life is consumed with gender!

the other day i did my hair different. spiked it up a little bit. (somebody told me "i like the 'i ran into a door' look you're going with"--i'm hoping that's just the "hang on, i'm still learning how to use hair gel and it looks like shit" phase.) anyway, there is this girl at work who always greets me with "hey girl!" and usually departs with "see you later girl!" and it really gets on my nerves, but she's just so nice about it that i feel bad bringing it up. (i don't mind being a woman, i actually kinda like it most of the time, but i can't stand girls.)

so on tuesday, she comes in at the end of my shift: "hey girl, how ya doin'?"

and then a short time later: "dude, i really like your hair!"

i love it.

18 February 2009

mix tape vii

in lieu of actual writing, while i should be writing something else.

"people you should hear about (folk/rock/world/weird)"
recorded for a random mix cd exchange in january

1) "Molly O'Malley's" - Peter Mayer
2) "You Will Love This Song" - Amber Rubarth
3) "Cinema 4" - Brad Yoder
4) "Tire Swing" - Kimya Dawson
5) "Where Irish Eyes Are Burning" - the Ike Reilly Assassination
6) "Mix Tape" - from Avenue Q
7) "Boom Bang" -Rob Giles
8) "Romans" - Joy Ike
9) "Learn To Breathe" - Lost Iniquity
10) "Violins" - Julie Sokolow
11) "So Nice!" - Win A Sheep Free
12) "Porch Songs" - Chris Pureka
13) "Mixtape" - Butch Walker
14) "Until Morale Improves, The Beatings Will Continue" - Murder By Death
15) "Satellite (Show Me the Worth of the World)" - Tabla Beat Science
16) "Never The Same" - Supreme Beings of Leisure
17) "Good" - Earl Greyhound
18) "I Love You (Demo)" - The Velvet Underground
19) "Wonderwall" - Cat Power

14 February 2009

storytelling, part 3

(as a response to comments in part 2.)

on Genie: what if, instead of experiencing other people as a criterion for personhood, we posit that in order to exist as a person, a human must possess language? or, if it makes you feel better in the case of the very young, the potential to learn language?
[interesting: this debate keeps making me think back to morality & medicine class, where a substantial portion of the semester was spent talking about what makes someone a person (specifically with regard to arguments on abortion, euthanasia, and life support). none of the solutions we came up with seemed quite right.]

the depth of connection that can be achieved when reading something written across a potentially vast span of time or distance is, yes, profoundly spiritual.

How do i want my story to be told?
for years, i've had an agreement with a friend that whichever of us dies second will edit the journals of the first for publication. the problem with this is that both of us have been keeping journals for so long (and have plans to continue doing so for many more years before that time), so really what it will amount to is one person finally reading the other's journals, becoming overwhelmed by the sheer volume of them, and remembering that no one would be interested in publishing them anyway.

i feel like there's a simple, sound-bite answer to this question, and i think it is, "in bits and pieces."

How do i want my story to relate to all of the others?
to the universal story that we each tell a part of?
i want to make sure that when a fly hits my part of the web, the spider, waiting elsewhere, will know.

as for the influence i wish to have on one other person's story, i'll take that question as rhetorical, at least for now. but, in order to decide whether it will remain so, i will ask for clarification: am i choosing the person as well as the way in which i influence their story, or is it any given person?

and to Alex: me too. let's go.

stream-of-consciousness xiv

i don't really write these here anymore, because i feel it no longer suits what i want this blog to be. but i'm at work on a saturday morning, mildly hungover, and realizing that when i was putting things in a bag yesterday i forgot not only socks, but also anything to do at work. and i have nothing to write in.

i think i've come to this shift from my own house once this semester.

this isn't really stream of consciousness. i'm thinking too much.

i haven't written more than a line or two in my paper journal in the past several days--i've been too busy living to take the time to write it down. the last time i did get to write there, one of the things i jotted down was along the lines of, "writing here is similar to sleeping: the day can't be completed or resolved until i do." which sometimes makes for interesting weekends....

don't get me wrong. i've slept.
perhaps not as much as i should, but i feel rested.

my internal radio is particularly interesting this morning. actually....i'm not sure if that's true. but i'm amused by it. woke up with "devil in jersey city" which eventually became "i kissed a boy" and it's going back and forth between the two....just started playing the intro to "porch songs" which is one of chris pureka's only two happy songs....i wonder if that will play through.

"haven't you ever wondered?"
"no, never"
"you just haven't met the right one yet"

so many times during that dinner i had to just smile to myself and try so hard not to laugh out loud.

the Vagina Monologues will need their own entry.
but not yet.
Briana's coming tonight! i'm excited.
every night, there's one person in the audience. funny how that works.

i want to write a response to that comment on "storytelling, part 2," but i think that will merit its own entry too. some good questions in that one. and i'm definitely not done with the storytelling sequence, but it will be of unpredictable length. i'd like it to continue all year, if not longer.

now i've forgotten the rest of the things i wanted to write down....or i'm trying too hard to censor. it shouldn't be hard to tell. i should be working on something, i'm sure, but i have a hard time with that....i want to go home and go back to sleep. wasn't that last saturday, too? that didn't end too well. i ended up blowing off the whole day. my little eventually supplied enough force to overcome my inertia and we went to the waterfront, got the almost-last couple of things for my outfit. (the very last came during a solitary excursion to the south side on monday. sometimes i like wandering this city by myself. need to get to the strip district again soon. here's that stream-of-consciousness we were talking about.)

what i really want to write about....this is bad. see, it's all i've talked about for the last....weeks? i don't know. there are the people who are getting annoyed with me, the people who are living vicariously through me, and the people who won't admit they're getting annoyed with me. and then there's the entire cast of the monologues: "so how are things with that girl??" and i smile and say "i don't know!"

or when i'm walking with my roommate and we're talking and i say something and then i pause and at the exact same moment i say "i'm in trouble" and he says "you're screwed"....

and i write this because i want you to read it, and i know you will read it, but i don't want to take responsibility for it. so i stop before saying the things i actually want to say, because that might change things. and this, i do not want to do. (gah, yoda-speak. coming from where? stupid brain. it causes me all sorts of problems. thinking too much and not thinking enough.)

i said a lot of stupid things last night, and i'm sorry for some of them.

scream loud....scream sayonara.

10 February 2009

storytelling, part 2

let's begin with a hypothesis:
People want to be Known.

we could get all existential about it;
if no one else recognizes or acknowledges your presence, your experience, how do you know you exist?
(for that matter, even if they do, they could all just be figments of your imagination, but i'm really not an existentialist because that philosophy annoys me. cogito ergo sum and all that. i'm satisfied to let it lie. we all need one or two solid underlying assumptions that we don't have to question, and if they're untrue, we're probably better off not knowing. i find the assumption that i do, in fact, exist, to be one of those. if i'm not real, it doesn't matter whether i think i am anyway!)

i think it goes beyond that, however. i believe that part of what makes us human--part of what makes us persons (and we could debate that distinction as well; feel free to leave comments)--is a drive to seek interpersonal connection. part of this might also stem from my spirituality: i believe that humans have an instinctual drive to seek the divine, and i believe that the divine is present in every person, so it makes sense that each human would seek meaningful interaction with other persons.

every time i take up this subject, i end up writing something i didn't expect!

one of my major motivations is to help people become known. it's why i chose my profession (speech-language pathology, for those of you reading the cliffs notes version), it's why i write, it's why i like listening to people. the first, because i want to enable others to express themselves more effectively; the second, because i want to make myself known, hopefully beyond the place & time i'm present to speak for myself; the last, because i want to be able to tell others' stories so that they may reach more people than they could alone--and to help them know themselves. [because we know that the storyteller often learns as much from a good telling as the listener.]

it is my hope to eventually be able to tell the stories of many other people. there are so many good stories out there just waiting for an audience! this may be part of the reason why i so enjoy making up stories about people when i can't figure them out--i know there's a story there, even if it's inaccessible to me, and i know it's a good story. None of us are stock characters (i.e., sometimes all of our pieces don't belong to the same puzzle). Everyone is dynamic and multifaceted and fascinating.

there is a man i see almost every day, somewhere in my neighborhood, with an umbrella and a newspaper and a cigar. he must be at least 70 years old, and i want to ask him to tell me his story. we've never spoken, but when i smiled at him the other morning, he smiled back. maybe someday. if i ever get to ask, and he asks me "what story?", i will answer, "whichever one you think is most important."

08 February 2009

storytelling, part 1

like everyone else, i've been tagged about four million times for the Facebook "25 random things" meme. (the main reason i haven't done it is that shortly before that fad started, i wrote a "50 random things" meme, so i figure it would be redundant.) i got to thinking about this last night, and coincidentally stumbled across a link (in somebody's Facebook status, no less) to a New York Times blog post on the same phenomenon, which linked to several other articles, and then....well, it was like Wikipedia-hopping, but with online news media. this post has nothing to do with any of those articles; i just thought it was kinda funny that as soon as i started thinking "wow, i should write about this," i found out that everybody else already had.

why is it that so many people have jumped on this meme, been so quick to reveal the intimate--often unnecessarily so--details of their lives to anyone within their privacy settings (which are so often frightfully unspecific)? one theory, and the one i'm most inclined to agree with, is that people recognize and leap at the opportunity to present themselves the way they want to be presented. as a corollary to this: People want to be Known.

this is where it grabs me.
i realized (and subsequently wrote down) over Creating Change:
"my journey this year is focused on the telling of tales."
and perhaps my whole journey is. (why write?)

several of the workshops i went to over that conference were about the use of personal stories to effect change. personal stories can be so powerful, for so many reasons, which i may discuss in another post, but not here.

i also scribbled somewhere recently, unfortunately undated and in an uncertain frame of mind, "The ability to tell our stories is crucial to our development as persons," later revised to "our development of a personal identity." think about it: if you can't tell your own story, how do you know who you are? we are nothing if not the sum of our experiences, external and internal. each person not only has stories, but is a story, or a series of them.

i have a hard time thinking of my life as a novel. it's more like a collection of short stories. maybe that speaks to my attention span, or maybe it speaks to the fact that i have a really hard time putting together one cohesive Story. (i wrote about this a little at the New Year.) or, maybe, it speaks to the fact that things don't always flow together that neatly.

either way, people need to be able to tell their stories--at least to themselves. whether it is oral or manual or written, narrative or poem or song, storytelling is an important way of making ideas, memories, experiences concrete and crystallized. i frequently say that i can't remember anything unless i write it down--which is why i knew when i stopped writing anything for a month in high school that i couldn't go on like that: there was no story. the best of my stories are the ones that are well-rehearsed: i wrote them down somewhere and i've told them many times, and they are inevitably the ones that figure most prominently in my sense of identity.

so how does it come back to people wanting to be Known?....
(why write? because i fear impermanence.)
this seems like a good place to break, and remark that "part 1" in the title implies the eventual existence of a part 2.

05 February 2009


how was it i put it to someone last night?:
"i've come out of my shell a lot since sophomore year. i mean, i was out of it then; i've thrown it back into the ocean by now."

i'm not sure how true this is. but it feels like a decent fit.

02 February 2009

thoughts on Superbowl XLIII (from Pittsburgh)

i played in a riot last night.

you could probably say some negative things about it: destruction and violence are not the most appropriate ways to celebrate. but even though the results may not all have been entirely positive, you can't deny how amazing it is to be surrounded by that much happy.

thousands of people swarmed the streets, a sea of people so broad i couldn't see the other side. and i found myself more than once in the middle of it, people, people cheering and screaming and smiling and laughing and drinking and climbing and breaking and burning and loving. and to whatever ends that energy goes, it is fantastic, phantasmal, and i love every minute of it. (until it starts getting scary and the police on their horses push kids into walls and the embers from the bonfire are burning my clothes and the man who thinks i'm a dude who just tried some shit with his girlfriend grabs me by the collar and i'm convinced he's going to punch me in the face so i kick him as hard as i can and run, as much as one can run when one has a friend in either hand and a sea of people so dense and viscous the fluid friction is almost too great to overcome. but even those moments i love, because this is humanity--these are people--my people--and they are Real and Living and Alive.)

(i could rant about police behavior and whether the methods they choose to address this kind of celebration are appropriate, but i don't feel like it right now.)

thoughts on Creating Change 2009

hearing a transman validate my identity as a genderqueer person was probably the most affirming experience of the entire weekend.

you learn so much more from informal interactions with your peers than you do in any workshop.

my journey this year is focused on the telling of stories.

sleep is optional, but beneficial.

being 21 often just gives you new and more expensive places to be bored.

the intersectionality of identities is one of the most important things we ignore.

if all of the people who were in Denver this weekend as part of this movement can keep the energy that was present during the plenary sessions, particularly the first and last, Change is Coming and there is nothing they can do about it!! however, speaking from experience, it's hard to keep that energy for very long.

every time i go to Creating Change, i leave with some new concept of my identity. this year, i think that concept is that i need to keep thinking about it. i have a need to articulate my identity, and maybe that's what i need to work on: labels aren't (shouldn't be?) as important as we make them.