What is Love?

Is there a distinction between loving someone and being “in love?” It seems the answer may be different for different people and different situations. I’ve been in a relationship situation in which I told my partner “I love you,” and they said “I love you too, but I’m not in love with you.” This was at first confusing to me because I had thought they were the same thing and when I said “I love you,” I meant that I was “in love.” 

However, I’ve always been troubled by the fact that it’s such a big deal to say “I love you.” It scares people because they feel pressure to say it back and believe there are all sorts of expectations that come along with it. I’ve felt pressure when someone says it to me first, but I’m generally fine saying it first and being ok with the fact that the other person might not be feeling the same way. It’s my expression of my own personal feelings, not a way to trap the other person into some higher form of mutual obligation. I just want them to know how much I care about them and how warm & fuzzy they make me feel. 

I do acknowledge that there are different forms of love that we have for different categories of people in our lives: friendship love, family love, romantic love. For me, I believe one of the things that has happened is that I haven’t previously dated anyone who has started out as a good friend, so the feelings of caring/excitement/desire have all happened simultaneously, which is why I haven’t needed to distinguish between them in romantic relationships. However, what if you’re dating a good friend with whom you already have some baseline of love and affection for already? What additional needs to happen in order to feel “in love?” It’s not just the added element of sexy times, although I’m sure that can be influential. I suppose it’s just one of those things that you just know when you know.

Also, I came across this interesting article about “casual love”

http://brighterthanabuoy.blogspot.com/2014/01/casual-love.html?m=1

I do think that it would be great if being in love weren’t so scary for people. For me, I don’t seek to love people indiscriminately and honestly my eyes roll a bit about the kinda woo woo idea of “loving everyone,” but I do think that it would be great if expressing romantic love weren’t so loaded and it could mean happy feelings and not obligation and stress.

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TSA Adventures

Yesterday I had a minor moment of panic when I realized that I bought plane tickets several months ago and had since changed the gender on my drivers license and didn’t have any identification with me that still said female (annoyingly, folks need to specify a gender when buying tickets). When changing my drivers license, I had intended to carry several forms of ID to curb travel-related issues, but had totally forgotten when packing for this trip. I pulled out my boarding pass and was relieved to see that gender was not indicated on the paper form, so I’d probably be ok getting through security since I thought they just checked to see if I had a legit flight and the names match. Apparently, they scan the boarding passes at the security check, but the attendant didn’t seem to notice any mismatch and just commented on my unusual surname (I get that a lot). So, that part went alright.

In the past, I’ve gotten lots of double takes and looking at my documents when opting out of the creepy full-body scanning machine and requesting a pat down instead. Up til now, they’ve always called for a female assist after looking at my ID, sometimes even after calling me sir earlier. This time, I was curious to see what they’d do. One reason I had been hesitant to change my identification documents was because I wasn’t really comfortable with getting a pat-down from a dude. Although, I think that’s in large part due to my residual man hate from my lesbian separatist days. Anyway, I figure it really shouldn’t matter who does the pat down since they’re professionals and it’s in public and such (or so we hope). Also, my partner traveling with me did remind me that I do enjoy massages by big man hands, so that’s true. However, when I told the TSA person by the scanner machine that I’m opting out, they didn’t even check my documentation and just called for a female assist. I thought that was interesting.

However, my main worry the entire time was that they would confiscate the 4 cans of tuna I had in my roller bag since I wasn’t sure if they’d think it’s too much liquid or whatever. They did flag it during the bag scan (“There’s a big something there,” said the bag scan person lol), but since I was already opting out, they did the bag check during my pat down. The agent opened my bag and was just like, “Oh, it must just be all the fruit in there. You’re fine.” Um yeah, I also had two obscenely large carrots and a spaghetti squash in there, none of which are fruits, but whatever. So yay tuna!!!

PS- Know your rights while traveling trans:

http://transequality.org/Resources/AirportSecurity_November2013.pdf

Poly Philosophy Versus Self-Identification

We’ve been having weekly poly dinners on the farm lately and the main topic from this past week was about how we each classify polyamory and “what counts” as poly. Specifically, there was a question about whether swinging is poly. Some folks were in the camp of “everything that’s not monogamy counts as poly” and others were more in favor of both swinging and poly being subsets of a broader umbrella term such as “open relationships” or “non-monogamy,” with polyamory focused on “many loves” and swinging as just sexual. One person disliked the term “non-monogamy” because they don’t like being identified as not something.

Shortly after this conversation, I listened to two podcasts from Polyamory Weekly that dealt with this very issue:

I personally agree with the host’s position that while we may have different definitions of poly or think that relationship models should fit a certain way in the grand scheme of things or that something is or is not poly, the way that people choose to self-identify trumps our opinions. When someone self-identifies as poly and it doesn’t match your definition, it’s useful to ask clarifying questions from them or say something from your own experience instead of saying “well, that’s not poly” and being all judgy and pushing them away without support. Also, I found it useful to remember that there’s not one ultimate definition of monogamy either =:-)

Also, this infographic is really cool if y’all haven’t seen it before:

nonmonogamy2.5.1-small

Tacit’s Map of Non-Monogamy

Skirting the Issue

At community dance parties, I have long been enamored of boys dancing in their hippie skirts. I enjoy seeing guys in skirts in general, but there’s something about watching them dance real hard in flowing peasant skirts that is really aesthetically pleasing for me to watch. Of course, the next thought I have is, “Well, if they look good in skirts, maybe I would too!” So, I gave it a shot!

I found a rainbow tie-dyed skirt in commie clothes a couple weeks ago and put it over my jeans right before dinner (it was still a bit chilly out). I felt slightly self-conscious since it was my first time wearing a skirt around the community and it’s been a reeeeealy long time since I’ve worn a skirt in general. I was very anti-skirt while growing up and while I was still seen as/identified as female. However, there’s something about being a boi in a skirt that somehow makes it ok again for me.

Anyway, the dance party was awesome and I really did enjoy the way that I could dance with the skirt on. There’s just something cool and beautiful about the way it moves around when I dance that pleases me. Also, it was the first party where I literally danced my pants off because it ended up getting super toasty and I took off the jeans I had on underneath the skirt. I also ended up taking my shirt off, which was cool. I felt a little self-conscious just because of general body image issues (read: feeling fat), but decided to ignore that part of my brain and just have a good time. One of my friends said that I look more butch in a skirt than I do in pants, so that’s fun =:-D

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Ok, so I didn’t look this butch, but yum =;-)

Waving Bye Bye to the Second Wave

So I (perhaps foolishly) volunteered to help run a women’s conference held at my community. I had a feeling that it might not jive with my ideas about gender (single-gender spaces kinda make me cringe in general), but I was willing to set that aside and try it out for this year to see if a) it was actually more inclusive than I originally thought or b) I could make it more radical from within.

At the first meeting, I mentioned that I was curious about the current policy surrounding who is welcome and folks on the committee seemed cool at first and kinda made fun of the old school womyn-born-womyn-type participants. The current wording says that “female-identified and/or woman-born” participants are welcome to attend, which is inclusive of trans women. Apparently, they tried a few years ago to change it to welcome all “non-male” identified participants, but when a masculine-presenting male-assigned-at-birth person (who did not identify as male) showed up, other participants felt uncomfortable/unsafe and it was a big issue. So the language went back to “female-identified and/or woman-born.”

While this is a better policy than other such gatherings (i.e. MichFest ugh), I had issue with the “woman-born” part because people are not born a certain gender. So, I suggested changing the wording to “woman-identified and/or female-assigned-at-birth” since FAAB is a more generally acceptable phrase in the trans community. My thought was that this change would update the conference, bringing it into more currently acceptable wording, but not necessarily altering the target audience. The flyer ended up saying “Open to all women: female-identified and/or female-assigned-at-birth” and I suggested that it would be better to take out the first part (to be more inclusive of genderqueer folks) and change “female-identified” to “woman-identified,” since it’s pretty obvious from the title of the conference that it’s primarily intended for women.

This started a whole discussion about what language to use and who our target audience really is. It also revealed that although folks on our committee are a bit more gender savvy than the old school participants, they were still not understanding some of what I was saying because they are not really a part of the trans/queer community. They were concerned that the “female-assigned-at-birth” language would alienate and/or confuse cisgender women and brought up the fact that attendance has gone down since being more accepting of trans folks (some participants even suggested that “trans people can come every other year”). So, the icky feelings that I was kinda feeling before (since the word “women” was being used in every sentence during our meetings) were further compounded with the fact that the organizers were apparently more interested in keeping attendance up (utilizing pretty ancient marketing techniques to reach out to the “old school” participants they are seeking to keep happy) than challenging people’s ideologies and welcoming the chance to discuss modern gender issues.

Soooo I’m quitting! My partner pointed out that the work we do here is like a vote for what we want/like/support. So, I would rather be doing something else with my time that’s more in line with my ideals than catering to second wave feminists blindly holding on to an archaic moon gathering.

/rant

Putting the “amour” in Metamour

Last week, my sweetie (going to use “co” pronouns in my blog from now on) came to visit me in community! There were several things I was hoping to get out of the visit:

  • to have co see the farm and what it’s like for me to live here
  • to have co spend more time with my long-term partner
  • to have co meet my friends and feel like a part of my community
  • to have lots of sex =;-)

I can say with confidence that all of these goals were met, PLUS the visit exceeded my expectations in several ways. First of all, co liked the farm and liked my friends and fit in really well in the community. It’s totally valid that my sweetie doesn’t see living here as a thing that would work for cos career plans, but it’s great that co is excited to visit me while I’m living here.

Secondly, co got along SUPER well with my long-term partner. In the first couple days, they both got more comfortable being around each other and talking to each other and cuddling me together. Eventually, our triple cuddles got closer and closer and in a really fun cargo net adventure, my sweetie and my long-term partner both also cuddled and kissed each other. I obviously don’t see it as a requirement that my partners have a physical relationship with each other (or even a close friendship for that matter), but it had crossed my mind as a possibility. I wasn’t confident that they would necessarily click in a dating way since they have pretty different personalities/interests, but I was pretty sure that they would have good sex and/or kink chemistry if they wanted to explore that. It ended up being SUPER hot and I’m totally glad it happened. We even ended up tying my sweetie up to the net and both me and my long-term partner had tons of fun teasing co hehehe…

Cuddling/making out was it for that night. However, the next night, I started out being co-massaged by the two of them and it turned into the first threesome for all of us! Now we’re all pretty keen on group sex. Also, we are having a lot of fun taking pics/videos of each other in various combinations and getting off on seeing our people having fun with other people. I’m so glad we’re all perverts =;-P

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Still my favorite Kimchi comic =:-D

It’s been kinda hard for me to settle back down into my “regular life” after having such an amazing vacation-type week. It was just so great to have both of my people in the same place and everything just felt so right to me. I had a mild bout of post-visit depression after my sweetie left; not having co across the hallway, not seeing cos toothbrush in the bathroom, etc. It was like coming down from a total high.

Also, as excited as I was about new developments, I think I was also a little worried about how all of our relationships may or may not change in light of new dynamics. Specifically, I am really excited about my sweetie having a deeper relationship with both me and my long-term partner, but I also want to make sure I still have a separate relationship with each person that is special and unique. I think I feel more this way in regards to my sweetie because our relationship is still so relatively new and I haven’t had these feelings surrounding my long-term partner because we’ve been together so long and I don’t really see anything as a potential threat. However, I know that these worried thoughts are irrational and I have a lot of confidence about the stability of both of my relationships, so I think I was just mostly bummed about missing my sweetie after co left.

Of course, in the past couple days, communication and intensity of feelings between me and my sweetie have been consistent with our usual, so my slightly worried feelings were happily unfounded. PLUS my long-term partner has been extra into me lately, so I think it’s all working out and I’m feeling really good about our new situation. Oh btw, I had about 20 orgasms in a week, which is certainly a record for me and possibly a world record =;-)

In conclusion, I’m the luckiest boi in the world and I feel super privileged to have two such awesome people in my life!

dMv adventures!

I got my new driver’s license and decided to change the gender (well, “sex” technically) marker to M so that I have legal documents in more than one gender. I originally thought it would be best to keep all my documents the same since I can’t change my birth certificate (need a hysto for New York State) and I was also unsure about changing it in general from one incorrect gender to another equally incorrect gender. However, I decided it might be useful. I still have my passport and older licenses that say F, so I can pull out whichever seems most convenient at the time (not like I really use my license for anything though). Too bad it has to have gender at all…

The waiting at the dmv was annoying, but went fairly ok. My hope was that I could just mark M on my paperwork and monitor my presentation enough that the person would just put it in and not notice the inconsistency with my other documentation. I almost got away with it, except when the “verifier” came over to double check stuff. My agent was apparently training in verification and was paying extra attention to my passport and noticed the F on it. After the verifier left, she said, “Ok, personal question: Are you changing your gender?” I said yes. She asked if I had “done it” and I said yes. Then she asked if I had any documentation and I said yes and gave her the letter from my surgeon (which is full of a lot of DSM bullshit, but it gets the job done). So, I did end up getting the M, but my hopes of doing it without pulling out my documents failed. Oh well. My dmv agent was really nice about everything. She talked kinda loud and then wanted to tell me about all the other trans folks who she’s seen come through, but I’d rather deal with awkwardly well-meaning people than mean people. Oh, and now I get to apply for my selective service exemption lol. I might try to get exempt under pacifism instead of trans stuff (well, to them, “mental illness” ugh), but I’ll have to see what the requirements are.

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Both my sex and my class are M because of my motorcycle endorsement. I think I’m just gonna say that my gender is motorcycle =;-)

Validation Day <3

Instead of celebrating Valentine’s Day on February 14, my community celebrates Validation Day. Here’s some info about this lovely v-day alternative:

This tradition that ensures that February 14th is special for everyone, not just those with romantic interests. A card is handmade for each member, individually designed with the recipients’ interests in mind. The cards are available for the first two weeks in February, during which time members are encouraged to write “validations” in each card. For example: “I appreciate your hard work as our garden manager-thanks for helping provide us with yummy organic veggies!” Or for a new parent: “I love seeing you blossom as a new dad, caring for the beautiful child you’ve brought into our world” Or a simple: “Seeing your quiet smile lightens my heart.” The result is a personal card filled with loving, positive validations by the people we share our lives with. The finished products are handed out by the kids at a special Validation Day dinner.

This year, I made validation day cards for 3 members and wrote in almost everyone’s card. Since I’m pretty new, a lot of them were basic “Hope to get to know you better!”-type things, but I think that’s still important. I also got lots of lovely validations in my card, including one that my long-term partner solicited from my sweetie to print out and paste in my card!

Kimchi Cuddles celebrates Validation Day too!

Another fun part of validation day is a game called six creatures. In the weeks leading up to v-day, people can opt-in to the game. Then, about a week prior, each participant gets a game card with the list of all the other players and six options to check next to their names:

  1. ants – work dates
  2. puppies – play/social dates
  3. kittens – cuddle dates
  4. fish – kiss at the v-day party
  5. rabbits – sex date
  6. doves – relationship

The game cards are due a few days before v-day and the person designated “Ironlips” evaluates the cards and finds the matches. Participants are then given their results the night of the validation day party with only the matches shown, therefore, you can be a bit daring with putting down your intentions without a lot of fear of rejection. Also, the rejection aspect is further minimized by the fact that everyone has different rules they go by when playing the game. For instance, some people make it a rule that they never request sex dates or relationships from people. I ended up with several work date matches, several play date matches, one cuddle match (not including my current partner), and four kissing matches (once again, not counting my current partner).

I had volunteered to DJ for part of the party, but by the time I finished my set, all the people who said they’d kiss me had left the party. However, I did kiss/cuddle with someone who was not a six creatures kiss match and I can no longer say that I’ve never kissed a cis boy! My long-term partner and I were a little nervous about the event because when we started doing the poly thing, we really envisioned more of an open relationship style with fun make-outs with other people and coming home to each other, but then I fell really hard for my current sweetie and that complicated things. I was kind of afraid that I’m unable to do things more casually, however, I was relieved that on v-day both my partner and I made out with other folks and it really wasn’t a big deal. My partner and I actually ended up making out with the same third person at one point and it was very nice to be the middle cuddler. I felt very validated =:-)

Also, this is funny: http://www.buzzfeed.com/tasneemnashrulla/52-hilarious-activistpickuplines-for-valentines-day

Moving, Poly, and Pronouns, Oh My!

New Home: My long-term partner and I got accepted to the intentional community we were looking at and are now new members! It’s been a bit of an adjustment, in terms of moving to a new place, organizing all my stuff, renovating my new room, meeting a bunch of new people, and settling into a new work scene. On top of all that, I’ve been sick the past 2 weeks, but am now on antibiotics and am feeling much better. Unfortunately, living in community is a bit like kindergarten and illness travels around, especially in the winter.

Poly Stuff: My sweetie is planning to visit me this weekend on the farm, as long as they feel well enough to travel, so that’s fun. I’m excited to have them see my new home and to have both of my partners spend more time with each other. It’s sometimes hard for my long-term partner to adjust to sharing me after six years of having me to herself, but she’s trying really hard. Even though we talked about poly stuff for several years before trying it, we still could not predict exactly what our poly situation would look like and how we would feel about it. We were both surprised about our reactions. She was surprised about how protective she feels about me/our relationship, even though she wants to be the cool poly person. I was surprised about my complete lack of jealousy regarding what my partner does with other people. However, some of our reactions may be related to the fact that I found another serious partner sooner than my long-term partner and so we have different perspectives and challenges to deal with. I understand that it’s hard to share me when she doesn’t have someone else to hang out with when I’m with my other partner and she understands that it’s super sucky to maintain a long-distance relationship and keep in mind everyone’s needs. Lucky for the three of us, we’re all really considerate and good communicators, so I’m optimistic about the long-range outlook. A few weeks back, I sent my mom an article explaining some more about poly stuff in hopes she can eventually understand and support my love life, but she hasn’t said anything about it. Luckily, she’s not treating me any differently the last few times we’ve talked/visited. I’m not sure that she’s avoiding it or being fake/polite. I think mostly that my mom is very caught up in day-to-day things and that she just doesn’t talk about deeper stuff unless prompted. I think ultimately that letting time pass will help a lot. I’m currently not planning to bring up poly stuff again to her as an abstract idea, but I’m still committed to not hiding things and being free to mention my other partners when relevant to see how that goes. I’m also getting used to the idea that I’m an adult and can make my own decisions and that it’s ok if my mom doesn’t agree with how I run my love life. Although it would be great if she does come to understand/support me, I’m grateful that at least she’s still being nice to me.

Pronouns: I’m generally cool with either masculine, gender-neutral, or alternative gender pronouns these days (basically anything but “she”), but I find that people get worried/confused when they have choices because they’re still not sure they’re using the “right” one. I would think that giving people options would make them more at ease, but it tends to have the opposite effect. Even if I make a slight decision and say I prefer gender-neutral pronouns, everyone’s all like “Which ones?!?!” While this is annoying to me, I know it’s because they mean well and are worried out of respect for me and my gender identity. So, in the interest of not confusing people and to try out a new pronoun, I’ve decided to go with “co/cos/coself” for my current pronouns. “Co” is the gender-neutral term used in my community (and supposedly was gotten from another intentional community at some point). I like it because it is already in general use (at least here on the farm), it’s easy to say, and it’s distinctive (doesn’t sound like other pronouns). I was confused at first about how to conjugate the possessive (“co’s” or “cos”), but from looking at community policy and some other (very limited) internet sources, I believe it’s conjugated similarly to “it,” so “cos” would be the possessive and “co’s” would be the contraction for “co is.” I’m curious to see if perhaps this pronoun can catch on in the broader gender-fun movement.

Coming Out as Poly

I talked to my mom about being poly yesterday. I didn’t use those words, but introduced the concept. I wanted to 1) get it over with and 2) talk to my mom alone first, so the convo started in the Walmart parking lot and then continued in the car. We had been catching up on various things and so I said something like, “Oh, and another awesome life thing that you may be interested in is that [my long-term partner] and I have been talking for a long time and recently decided to open up our relationship and date other people in addition to each other. This is especially relevant since I’ve been seeing someone for about a month now, so I may be talking to them on the phone occasionally or mentioning them and I eventually want you to get to know them.”
She handled it rather well, considering it’s well outside her relationship framework. She said she thought my long-term partner and I were in a committed relationship and I assured her that we were and that we’re still very much in love and have a very stable relationship. She said that it seems like “playing with fire” and is afraid my long-term partner and I are putting our current relationship in danger. I explained that we know there are potential risks, but we feel that it’s something we still want to try and since we’ve been talking for years about potential issues, we’re managing to avoid several pitfalls thus far. She said she doesn’t quite get why it’s appealing and that it seems like betrayal to see other people. This could be in part because my dad cheated on her, which caused their divorce, so I think she’s wary of anything that resembles that. I explained that the key is that everyone involved knows about everyone else and is consenting to be in this relationship model. Then she said that it would be something she could never discuss with my step-dad as an option for herself, which I thought was interesting (they have kind of a strained relationship at the moment). I simply said that it doesn’t work for everyone, but that I’m feeling very good about my current arrangement. I confessed that I was worried about bringing it up since I come out as something else every time I see her and worry that I’ll eventually be too weird and she won’t like me. Of course, I said this in my funny way and she laughed and said even if I do stuff she doesn’t like or understand, she’ll still like me =:-)
The worst part of the convo was that she said that the rest of my immediate family probably won’t understand/like it (meaning, my step-dad, little sister, and little brother), so that part is weird for me. However, she didn’t explicitly say not to say anything. So I figure I’ll proceed cautiously, but I don’t want to hide who I am or who I love. So anyway, then my mom asked if I wanted fries from McDonalds and the conversation wandered off, so I’m thinking that she perhaps needs time to think about it and will bring it up more if she has further questions. And I’ll bring it up again if it comes up organically, since I’m too old to deal with lying and closets and such. Fuck that shit. So yeah, bottom line is that the initial convo has happened and it didn’t go amazingly, but didn’t go poorly, which is pretty par for the course. If the past is precedent, then everyone will come around more in time. My mom is very loving and family-oriented, so when she sees that I’m happy and gets to know more about my other partner(s), I’m thinking she’ll be fine.
My little brother (who is very nosy) has been poking around my phone and asking me about who I’m writing emails to and such, so I’ve said that [my sweetie/climbing partner] is my “partner in climb,” which is funny and may do for now, but isn’t the entire story.
Anyway, I’d be open to any insights/advice from folks who read this about poly coming out tips for dealing with parents. I know I don’t need their approval, but I want my other partner(s) to be a visible part of my life and meet my family and such, similar to how any other singular relationship progresses.
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