theferrett: (Meazel)

I’m a firm believer in rerouting around your neuroses when you can’t find a path straight through.

Take me, for example: a combination of terminal shyness and a New England upbringing leaves me unable to talk to strangers unless they’ve introduced themselves first. I’ve tried, but my whole brain locks up: “THEY DON’T WANT TO TALK TO YOU!” it shrieks.  “YOU’RE MAKING A FOOL OF YOURSELF!”  And that psychic sucker-punch is so overwhelming that I freeze up.

I’ve worked on it for twenty years.  But even after all this time, it’s still like shouting into a tsunami.  Yeah, I’m better at it, but “better” means “I will walk, voluntarily, into a room full of strangers to socialize and then freeze up,” as opposed to hiding out into my hotel room.  It’s like trying to fight the knee-jerk reflex; I can wrestle my natural reaction down when the doctor taps on my leg, but I can’t stop the initial motion.

So rather than talking to strangers, I have restructured my life to minimize strangers.  I started a blog to yammer at people.  I have lots of conversations online, if it’s a place I intend to go, so that I have a ton of people I kinda-sorta know.  I dress in loud clothing, almost a costume, so that anyone who might recognize me will assuredly recognize me, what with the hats and the nails and the bright shirts and stacked boots, and hence amplify the likelihood that someone will introduce themselves to me.

All of these techniques are far more effective than facing it head-on.  In a very odd but real way, my entire blogging career has been an extremely elaborate method to combat my social anxiety.

Which, I think, is an underutilized method.  Not the blogging, but the sideways approach.  Therapists are often all about “FACE THAT FUCKER HEAD-ON, ANNIHILATE IT,” when often a better approach involves changing your life so you minimize contact with this hot button as much as possible.  If it’s going to cause a full-body flush, then what can you do to work around it?  It may be elaborate, and silly to many… but what matters is effectiveness.

I know for me, these strange and bizarre workarounds get me through conventions – and the effort I’ve put into them has produced far more friendships, contentment, and love than the “just talk to them anyway!” path.  Yeah, it’s quirky, and in a way it feels cowardly at times… but the reward is actual happiness, as opposed to the grim satisfaction of knowing you’ve met your enemy head-on and have staggered away bleeding and bewildered.

It’s okay to have odd habits.  If they work.

Cross-posted from Ferrett's Real Blog.

theferrett: (Meazel)

Barnes and Noble’s quarterly results came out today, and they’re not good; sales down 10%, store-to-store comparisons down, Nook sales down.  It looks like B&N is sliding the way of Borders…. though since they’re much better managed and essentially the only big dog left in the show, I think they’ll have more fight in ‘em.

That said, I’m actually terrified of Amazon winning the book war.  Or any war involving retail.

It’s not because I think Amazon is an evil company – well, okay, they are an evil company, but pretty much all companies are evil.  As The Corporation accurately said, corporations are sociopaths, feral beasts designed to devour the competition and minimize costs at any price.  There’s some human element of resistance flitting about within the soul of the Beast, but not much, and as a result I think cheering for Apple over Microsoft or Google is like having a favorite killer bear.  They’re all going to turn on you, if they’re hungry.

No, I worry about the end of cheap gas.

Right now, Amazon’s high because shipping is pretty damn cheap.  We can afford to have UPS drivers going from home to home, delivering shit right to your door… which is a colossal usage of energy, if you think about it.  Before, you shipped books from a warehouse to a mostly-central location, but now the pattern is increasingly, “Let’s not deliver one large package to the shop in the middle of town, but hundreds of smaller packages to everyone in the town.”

And if prices rise sharply, then what happens?  Suddenly, Amazon.com – or any other delivery service – will become unaffordable.  (Sure, that $25 free shipping is genius, but if it suddenly cost you $10 for every package, would you bother?)  And if that happens, and Amazon has consumed the other competition, there won’t be the infrastructure to buy locally.  All the bookshops will be gone, the Best Buys and Circuit Cities demolished, and what the fuck will we do then?

Oh, I know, you bold believers in capitalism think, “Oh, we’ll just flex back!  No problem!  Business is almighty, it’ll adapt!”  But that’s a lot of retail expertise lost, and a lot of poor and rural neighborhoods underserved, and I think we’ll find that when delivering door-to-door becomes unfeasible, a lot of people will be left without the ability to get stuff.  Or, more accurately, they’ll be able to get stuff at ridiculously high delivery prices that will cripple their budget.

As a result, I’m always a little against Amazon.  Which is silly, on some levels; I work for an internet retailer, and it’s like rooting against my own job security.  But still.  I want the brick and mortars around, because in the back of my mind the collapse is coming, the end of oil is coming, the zombies are coming, and dammit we should be prepared.

Cross-posted from Ferrett's Real Blog.

theferrett: (Meazel)

About six months ago, I started painting my nails pretty colors.  This has been a matter of some debate amongst my friends.  I used to send pictures of my pretty pretty princess nails to everyone, and then a friend of mine told me, “I’m glad they make you happy, but I really don’t like your nails, so please stop sending me photos whenever you get a manicure.”

Fair enough.  Not everyone has to like what I do.

I’ve also had someone on Fet go, “Well, you’re a submissive, so we’re not really compatible…” and I went, “Wait, when did I ever say I was a submissive?”  Turns out that “having pretty pretty princess nails” == “Automatically submissive” to some.

Ironically, for me, my nails are a sign of confidence and strength.  See, I’d been a life-long nail-biter, sometimes chewing my nails bloody. The first order of business after I’d lost all eight of my front teeth to gum disease was finding a way to bite my nails with my eye-teeth… which I did.  It drove Gini nuts, but I was weak, a slave to the satisfaction of feeling my nails crunch underneath my incisors.

Then, one day, I discovered that some of my girlfriends really liked scratching.  Like, deep, bloody, scratching.  So in prep for a weekend away, I grew my nails out.  Which was a real test of my willpower – I kept finding my fingers in my mouth, having drifted up there thanks to years of habit, and I’d have to yank them away angrily.  Every ten minutes, I’d start to bite my nails, and then I’d remember that I was trying something new and I’d stop.

And lo!  After forty years of biting and chewing and grazing, I managed to stop a bad habit.  It was amazing.  (And so was the sex. Goooo, Skinner Box!)

So when I had my long nails, it was deeply and bizarrely empowering to me.  Not only were they a sign of the sadistic experimentations I was going through, but it was a sign of new-found willpower.  It felt good, because here I was, a man of 42, and my nails were the sign that I was still changing my life in bold ways.  I did not have to succumb to the stasis of middle age.  I could quash old bad habits and find new pleasures – a fact made physically manifest whenever I went to type and discovered my nails clattering on the keyboard.

Then a girlfriend said, “Wait, you’ve never had a manicure?  Oh my God, it’s luxurious.”  And when I was in town, she took me to her manicurist, and I got taken straight back to my childhood. Because I realized, in that parlor….

…I could have the WORLD Magazine nails.

I wrote an essay on how eight-year-old me longed to have artwork on his fingertips, and to me that’s still one of the strongest memories of my childhood – wanting something that was perfectly reasonable, yet being told by literally everyone I knew that having colorful nails was not an option for me.  The pictures of those fingernails were so detailed, it was like carrying a museum on your right hand, and why wouldn’t you want that?  But that’s not what boys do.

Boys wear olive colors, and gray , and black.  They wear identical suits, and if you’re lucky, you can have a different kind of shirt collar.  And after that, I sort of gave up.  I wore nothing but black shirts and slacks for years, and now that I look back at it it’s probably all related to being told that boys don’t get to have the fun colors.

So when Jen took me to the manicurist and I realized that I was a grown-up now, and I could dive into the damn ball-pit if I wanted, it was freeing.  Intoxicating.  I could be exactly what I wanted to be, and eight-year-old me did a goddamned victory lap.  My nails would be as colorful as I wanted.

And it wasn’t due to rebellion.  I wasn’t doing this because “Society says I must do X, so I will do Y to show them.”  It was because I wanted to sport bold, tropical colors, and for the first time in a long time I was able to just do what I wanted.  (Which is an entirely different thing than rebelling, though it looks pretty much the same from the outside.)

I call them my pretty pretty princess nails, which is a bit of rebellion – I know boys aren’t supposed to have these things, so I might as well embrace the genderfloomp and take pride in it.  To me, they’re a sign of who I’ve become – which is, to say, an older fatter man who nevertheless has the evolutionary potential of a teenager.  The nails reflect a changing sexuality, a greater willpower, a willingness to reinvestigate old, closed-off avenue.  Who I am now isn’t who I was five years ago, and what does that mean for who I might be a decade from now?  The future is vibrating with all sorts of awesome, and I see that awesome reflected in my shiny shiny nails.

Now, the nails also carry a sadness in them, because I recognize that they’re a significant sign of privilege.  I work at home, so I don’t have to worry about the office.  I’m a middle-aged white dude in a respectable income bracket in a liberal area of Ohio, so I can get away with this shit; if I was a teenaged kid in Arkansas or a senior citizen in a nursing home, this would all be off the table.  This is all something I get to do because society has decided that I’m a person who should be able to buck the system and not get his ass beat for it, which I recognize.

(That’s what you do with privilege, man.  Recognize.  And work when you can to change the system.  All it takes.)

The thing is, part of the issue is that in this society, women are the only ones who should decorate themselves.  And you see men increasingly want to peacock a little, and when they do, they are so fucking terrified.  Take a look at the descriptions behind this new nail polish for men - oh, sorry, nail armor.  (Or “War Paint.”)  They have to cloak this urge to have colors in all sorts of misguided and cancerous masculinity – men who beat other men use this!  It’s a long tradition among warriors!  Our colors are chrome and steel and military, so people won’t fucking mock you!

It’s sad, because the truth is, you’re gonna get mocked anyway.  Just admit that you want to be pretty.  You want to have flair.  You want to stand out.  And that’s all cool, man.  But when you have to cloak this not feminine, but human desire to decorate yourself in such negations as “No self respecting man should ever have to buy cotton balls” (and then pay $3.95 for something that should cost two bucks tops down at CVS), then you have failed.

Be what you wanna be.  Not everyone likes my nails.  I do.

I’m cool with that.

Cross-posted from Ferrett's Real Blog.

theferrett: (Meazel)

I’m fond of saying, “I don’t have one-night stands, I have three-day relationships.”  I’m also fond of saying, “I have slept with over a hundred women. This sounds good until you realize that it means over a hundred women have decided I was too much trouble.” When I was single, I’d burn through seven or eight girlfriends in a year.

And I do burn through relationships quickly, due to a bizarre combination of absolute self-worth and total utter confidence.  I’ve never thought much of myself, but I come from a family that was big on therapy, big on talking everything out, big on exposing your feelings.  So the moment I have any twinges about anything, I go straight to my lover and say, “This is bothering me.”

Note the lack of an intermediary step: is this worth bothering her for?

So I’d fall in love, and things would be decent, and I’d carp and create fights because this wasn’t a big problem now, but it would be in a few months, and it was better to hash this out now before it came to a head.  Except I was continually anticipating problems that might have worked themselves out, given time, and I was asking for large behavioral changes that may have been premature (after all, I was always willing to be mutable, and so must the rest of the world), and as such I’d be lucky if I lasted two months with anyone.  I’d fall deeply in love, then grind it to shreds.

And I always thought this was a failing.  I did, yes, eventually find True Love with my wife, but even that involved a two-year adjustment period that should by all rights have ended in a hostile divorce.  I should shut up more, be less protective of my own rights.

A friend of mine is having me rethink that.

My friend is recently quote-unquote single after having been kicked unceremoniously out on his ear by his ex.  He’d never discussed her problems much with her – all that emotional talk gives him hives – and so, month by month, over the course of a decade, his ex got increasingly sick of his shit until one day he woke up and found himself being ejected from her life.  He thought things were fine.

Why wouldn’t he?  Nobody had said anything.

Watching him date now, he’s re-committed quickly, and is now dating someone he dislikes.  We’re hanging out, and he goes, “Oh, fuck, that’s right, I have a date with her.”  When asked why he’s so reluctant, well, she doesn’t really like the same movies that he does, and they don’t have much to talk about so they have to go to movies or else there’s awkward silence, and they don’t have the same life’s plans.  Also, he’s pretty sure they’re both rebound-dating, though they’ve never discussed it.

They have a lot of sex, apparently.  At least there’s that.  And maybe my friend leaves all the bitching to me, and has more enjoyment than he lets on; I always allow for that possibility.

Yet when I ask why they don’t talk about it, well, turns out that he hates emotional discussions so much that once again, he’s hooked up with someone who also hates to have emotional discussions.  He keeps saying, “Yeah, this one’s doomed,” and talking (to me, not her) about how they have nothing in common, and expressing the concept that, since he’s busy, this is better than being single again.

This has been going on for, oh, three months.  I have a feeling that unless the new girlfriend does anything – which is doubtful, since she also appears to be of the “Wouldn’t say shit if she had a mouthful” persuasion – this could drag on for another six months, maybe a year.  And yes, there’s regular sex – always the consolation prize in your Relationship Despair Crackerjacks – but on the other hand, when this sputters to the inevitable conclusion, I don’t think there will be a lot of Lessons Learned.  The next relationship, I think, will be a lot like the past two relationships, because when questioning What’s Happening becomes anathema, you can’t really examine the wreckage to figure out what wrong.

I had wreckage.  Junkyards of wreckage.  But I did sift through them, trying to figure out why this plane had crashed.

I dunno.  Maybe my relentless conversations have been a boon to me, in the long run.  Yeah, I got caught in the quagmire a couple of times – but usually, if we were at all incompatible, we’d discover this quickly, chew our arms off in fights, and move on.  It was over in six, eight weeks tops, and I could find someone else I liked.  I thought of my relentless number of relationships as a bug, but perhaps on balance it’s more of a feature – things don’t drag on with me, usually, they often just crash. Which enabled me to a) learn a lesson, if I could, and b) eventually find the great loves who I’m currently involved with.

Don’t get me wrong.  I’m not saying my path is ideal; there’s a balance to be had, in terms of learning when to keep my mouth shut, and I’m always evolving with that.  But for years, all I saw was the down side of a rapidly fluctuating love life.  There was a subtle benefit of all those breakups, one I overlooked.

You shouldn’t choose either of these paths, obviously.  But I think, if you have to have one, hopefully you luck out and take the path of destruction.  Maybe.

Cross-posted from Ferrett's Real Blog.

theferrett: (Meazel)

Snippet #1:
I awoke this morning to go see Gini, who had risen several hours back, in our living room.

“Congratulations on getting up and working out early with Erin!” I said.  “I’m glad it went well!”

“Thank you.”

“I had to tell you that I knew it happened, or you’d think I was ignoring your accomplishment,” I continued.  “Even though I already read that it went well thanks to Facebook.”

“You could have just liked my status,” she replied. “Then I would have known.”

“It might have been hours before you saw my like.  And until then, you’d think that I didn’t care about your accomplishment at all.  I couldn’t risk that.”  I paused.  “Come to think of it, social media is causing me to have some a lot of redundant conversations lately.”

Snippet #2:
My sad triumph over Thanksgiving was this:

I was making the Bosworth stuffing and listening to AC/DC, because they’d finally caved to iTunes and so I filled in the gaps in my collection.  And I was assembling the sausage and toast and all the other secret ingredients in a bowl in the kitchen, rocking out to “For Those About To Rock.” Full volume.  I was doing a very metal stuffing, strutting as I went to get the eggs.

Then we got to the intense part, where Brian Johnson shouts “FOR THOSE ABOUT TO ROCK!” and the band falls silent and then there is that empty pause where you know oh, shit, here comes the thunder… and then wham, he shouts “FIRE!” and a barrage of cannons go off and there, my friends, is the thunder.

And I thought, shit, I’m not going to do this, am I? 

And as Brian screamed “FOR THOSE ABOUT TO ROCK!” I hoisted the egg up in the air, in full-on Freddie Mercury rage pose.

And when he screamed “FIRE!” I slammed the egg down in one smooth motion on the edge of the bowl, hard as I could.

It went perfectly.

In that moment, I was the heavy metal god of stuffing, the iron maiden chef, the Ronnie James Dio of bird filling, and had angels descended to lift me up to heaven, I could not have possibly been more satisfied with the trajectory of my life in that moment, for it had led to this one moment of perfect, rebellious grace.

Then I made the rest of the stuffing.  Even Rock Gods have to finish the meal, you know.

Cross-posted from Ferrett's Real Blog.

theferrett: (Meazel)

I have always wanted to eat fire.

Me, con fieroIt’s a strange hobby to want to have – but I’ve never done it, out of a combination of “lack of teachers” and “severe danger.”  The concern is not burning your lips – you will do that, on a regular basis, blistering your gums.  (Fortunately, thanks to the heavy blood flow in your mouth, it heals quickly.)  Nor is it the drinking poison, which you also do on a regular basis, since you’re swallowing trace amounts of naptha.

The big concern is inhaling at the wrong time.  Suck in a surprised breath and you cook your vocal chords, sear your lungs.  That shit is permanent.

Still, I’d always wanted to try it.  The one book I’d ever found on the topic, a fifty-page pamphlet, didn’t really provide enough information for me to feel comfortable doing it on my own.  So when, stumbling around Amazon, I discovered a comprehensive tome on the topic had finally been written, I immediately downloaded it.  And after making my way through it, I can’t recommend The Professional’s Guide To Fire Eating enough – it explains the danger and the nature of the tricks quite thoroughly.

If I was a normal person, I’d probably start learning straight away.  My love of BDSM-related fireplay has had me handling a lot of fire lately – I’ve got the torches, I clearly have zero fear about setting myself on fire, and I have the experience to understand what’s heated and what’s not.

But there’s one danger I’d never thought about:

The heat ruins your teeth.  Cracks your enamel. Most fire eaters need major dental work by the time they’re fifty.

I’ve had major dental work.

For those of you new here, I spent five years without front teeth because I had severe gum disease.  It took five years of various gum surgeries to build up my gums to the point where they could hold implants, and now I have a row of artificial teeth.  Exposing those to fire could ruin them, putting me in the hock for another $10,000 round of painful surgeries.

So.  It’s a stupid hobby to take up, I agree.  I probably shouldn’t have done it anyway.  But now I cannot, and I feel a strange sadness for a thing that I’m now ready for, but cannot do.

Cross-posted from Ferrett's Real Blog.

theferrett: (Meazel)

Fashion experts say that we do not dress to make ourselves look good; we dress to remind ourselves of the times we felt sexiest.  Sadly, this is more difficult for me, as my sexiest time was when I was in fishnets and high heels, doing Frank-n-Furter at the Rocky Horror Picture Show.  And that outfit’s a little exhausting to pull off in the Midwest.

But I do like walking around in heels.  It improves my posture.  It makes my ass look better.  And, as Gini noted, when I have heels on, I strut everywhere.

Problem was, finding the appropriate boots.  I didn’t want stripper boots because, well, midwest.  I didn’t want cowboy boots because I think cowboy boots imply a certain rest of a look that I wasn’t going to pull off.  So what I really wanted, after some research, was Cuban-heeled boots, a.k.a. “Beatle Boots,” with a subtle heel that wasn’t too bad.

Ordered a pair.

Those Cubans have narrow feet, man.

So I was heartbroken for quite some time at these misfit shoes, begging my shoe-happy friends to find me links – and eventually, Nex0s shot me a link to a wide version of the Cuban heels!  I waited at the door like a kid about to get his Red Ryder BB Gun, and eventually the shoes arrived!  And they fit!

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The pictures, sadly, don’t do the boots justice.  It’s not the boots themselves; you have to know my slump-shouldered posture by heart, and then see the difference as I stand taller, forced into better posture by differing pedal physics.

I’ve worn the heels a couple of times (working at home, it seems a bit ridiculous to lounge around in them), and I have to say it’s quite the adjustment.  While I got used to running up and down toilet-paper-slicked aisles in my heels, I never actually navigated stairs.  So I look good until I get to a staircase, and then suddenly I’m a trembling foal.

Also, I have but one speed in these suckers: strut.  It’s a sedate military pace, which means if I’m caught in the rain I will march, looking good, to the car, while everyone else flees.  It’s causing some problems.  But hey, as Frank Zappa said, beauty knows no pain.

In other news, yes, I did my nails as a glittery whore-red, and my nails, I forgot to show you them:

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My manicurist – I have one now – loves this shade.  She told me, “I am not painting your nails blue any longer!”  And these do get compliments.  You can’t really see how glittery my nails are in this shot, but trust me, they’re like little disco balls at the ends of my fingers.  At some point, I’ll discuss why I paint my nails and the privilege wrapped therein, but that’s for a different day.  Now, just admire the pretty.

Also admire the pretty of my pedicure and my amazing pajama pants.  Yekaterina says that my pedicure should match my pants.  I’m not a guy who matches with anything, Yekaterina.

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Cross-posted from Ferrett's Real Blog.

theferrett: (Meazel)

The latest tragic geekstorm is this: fake nerd girls. Women are pretending to be nerdy, because it’s trendy!  How dare they?!

In other breaking news, my eighteen year-old self is has just flown through the time barrier to punch every one of these complainers in the nuts.

Seriously, guys?  Your complaint is that comic books have become so popular that cute girls are emulating you?  I feel an attack of Condescending Wonka coming on:

condescending_wonka

“But Ferrett, you don’t understand!” the haters complain.  “These girls?  They’re not real fans.  They just watched, like, the Justice League cartoon and the only Green Lantern they know is Kyle Rayner!  They don’t deserve to wear the T-shirt!”

Really, dipweed?  Who decided what level of knowledge someone had to possess before they could become a fan?

The thing that constantly amazes me about minority groups is how, after being beaten up by the outside world for not fitting in, they retreat to a hidden locale where they’re accepted among others like themselves… and then manufacture reasons why other people can’t fit in with their group.  Hey, we’re gay – but those creepy bisexuals are playing at their gaydom, kissing women for male approval!  Hey, we’re a bunch of dominants and submissives, inflicting pain for pleasure – but those switches, the ones who alternate between dispensing pain and receiving it, well, they’re not really committed to the scene!

One of the Great Nerd Dysfunctions is that we confuse “depth of knowledge” for “depth of love.”  It’s a given in many nerd communities that you can’t be a True Doctor Who Fan until you’ve watched all fifty years of the show, seen every episode from every Doctor, and can discuss the differences between the BBC audio dramas and the novelizations.  Because that’s what you’re supposed to do, if you’re a nerd: consume relentlessly.  Become an authority.  Acquire the mantle of respectability, so when those Doctor Who Dick Wars come a-knockin’, you know exactly what happened to the footage from lost Shada, and which episode it was later reused in, and the embarrassing reason why.

And if someone doesn’t know all of that stuff and yet they claim to be a fan, well, they haven’t put in the same work as you.  Therefore, they cannot love as deeply as you do.

Read: they are not as good as you.

But the truth is, knowledge does not equal enthusiasm.  I’ve known Star Wars “fans” who had counted the number of shots were fired in the hallway battle in A New Hope, and they treated their fandom with a grim, possessive bullishness: I have invested my life in this, and even though I hate this new book series and this new set of toys is crap, I must have all the things or it doesn’t count. They often speak bitterly about the crappy novels they’ve read, the way Lucas is fucking things up, the way Disney will now fuck things up, showing not a love of Star Wars but a constant disappointment that it does not match up with the imaginary construct in their head.

Whereas there are people who have never heard of the novelizations, but love the fucking fuck out of the six hours they’ve invested in the movies.

So who’s better?  Trick question: the answer is, “neither.”  They both express love in their own way.

Point is that the real complaint of a lot of these disgruntled fanboys is, “They don’t know as much as I do!”  Which is true.  But that doesn’t make these fans fakers.  It means they love a small part of a much vaster whole, but that love is deep and real.  Maybe they’ll choose to explore more, when they get the chance.  Maybe they don’t get pleasure from tracking down every last scrap of continuity.  Who the hell cares? Fandom is large.  I do not have to have read every last Star Wars novel to call myself a Star Wars fan. That girl does not have to know about every being who’s taken on the mantle of the Green Lantern ring to have the heroic adventures of that incarnation of Kyle Rayner resonate with her.

What you’re upset about is that they’re not respecting your hierarchy.  And in that, you can fuck off.  You tried to escape hierarchies when you were on the bottom, and now you’re trying to manufacture one where you’re on the top?  That makes you a petty, shallow sonuvabitch.

Plus, there’s a hidden misogyny in there, in that you hardly ever see this sort of kerfluffle about guys wearing Green Lantern shirts and not meaning it.  The geek refuge is all too often the He-Man’s Woman-Haters Club meeting, where any guy who wears the clothes is accepted without question, but any woman has to pass the secret test.

Why?  For fuck’s sake, I’ve been playing Magic since The Dark, which puts me in the old grognard club of Magic players.  I’ve edited a Magic site.  I’ve been a Magic celebrity, such as it was.  And when I talk to some some twenty-something college kid and discover we both play and he tells me, “I love Magic!  I’m totally into it.  I have, like, all the cards,” I don’t think, oh, you ignorant fuck, let me show you how it’s done.  I think, boy, I’m glad he’s getting such pleasure out of it, and he’s gonna learn soon how many cards he doesn’t have, and I hope that encourages him to get all the ones he wants.  It’s okay that he doesn’t have all the dual lands like I do, or that he’s never played Rochester Draft, or that he’s probably not really understanding of what Standard is or how it works.

I think he has a love.  A love that may lead him down the same paths as me, or it may not.  But the joy he gets in slinging cards, incompetently, with his buddies over the lunchroom table is no less true.

And that’s why yes.  You can wear the T-shirt.

Cross-posted from Ferrett's Real Blog.

theferrett: (Meazel)

Doonesbury was my first indication that men should never cry.

It didn’t tell me directly, but rather through a punchline that I didn’t get.  I was reading through the pile of Doonesbury comics at my favorite teacher’s house, and one of the punchlines was, “And who can forget Ed Muskie’s ‘melting snowflakes’?”  Like much of Doonesbury, I didn’t quite get it – I was nine, for Christ’s sake – and I’m not quite sure why I asked about that punchline when so many others flew over my head.

But Mrs. Montlick explained to me that there was a politician called Ed Muskie, and some people were saying some very mean things about his wife, and while he was giving a speech defending her, Muskie broke down and cried.  In front of everyone.  And this was viewed as such an awful thing that he lied and told everyone his tears were just snowflakes from a blizzard, melting on his cheeks.  But no one believed him, and after that he wasn’t fit to run in politics any more.

I thought that was pretty awful.

Then, when I was ten and got lost on the new bus system and got off on the wrong stop, I walked for hours until I finally found a familiar landmark: the diner where my grandmother worked.  I was hysterical at that point, a small boy with snot-wet cheeks, and when I got in the owner was exceptionally kind.  He gave me a free soda, and called my gramma, and explained that everything would be all right, and was so kind and comforting that soon my terror had been reduced to a few sniffles.

Just before Gramma showed up, though, he gave me a serious look.  “A piece of advice, kid.  Never cry.  Men don’t cry.”

I don’t, usually.  I get ridiculously upset, sometimes enough to cut myself, but when I cry it’s often this thin trickle, a leaky toilet.  I do it in private, hugging a pillow; I hate for Gini to see me weep.  I have no problems sharing the emotions with her, but the tears are hard to come by.

Then there’s last night’s speech, where Obama thanked his supporters, and he started to cry:

And I thought, in a sort of terrified wonder: he’s crying.  The President of the United States is crying.

And I don’t know.  I’m sure Presidents have cried before on camera… or maybe they haven’t.  It’s terribly unmasculine, is all.  We all know crying is the sign of a nutcase out of control, it’s what insipid women do when they’re breaking down in the face of hard choices, and you can’t respect a crier.  I know.  I’ve been friends with a lot of very tough women who cry easily, and they all hate it, scrubbing the tears from their face and furious that this happening at work, it makes them look bad, why does their stupid body have to respond this way.

The President is crying.  And why wouldn’t he?  This has to be the most emotional thing of his life.  I mean, when he got elected, that was momentous, but he couldn’t really have had any idea what was at stake until he was in the Captain’s Seat and being brought every insoluable decision for four years straight.  He, more than anyone, knew how much would be lost for him and the people he loved if he had lost.  He, more than anyone, knew how many people believed in him, and how many people didn’t, and to get the mandate that yes, it was narrow, but we sided with you must have been shattering.

Why wouldn’t he cry?

Why wouldn’t that be okay?

Cross-posted from Ferrett's Real Blog.

theferrett: (Meazel)

One of the reasons monogamy is so damned pervasive is that you can win at monogamy.  Every relationship in a monogamous setting has the goal baked right in: Date. Get engaged.  Move in together. Marry. Don’t cheat. Die.

…aaaaand you’ve won at monogamy!  Collect your prize from the funeral director in the form of happy signs from your mourners.  They’ll all praise your legendary love.  Fifty years together and they were still holding hands on their deathbed?  My God, how inspiring.

Me being stupid, I ported that ideology straight into my poly, a subtle corrosion I didn’t notice until about six months ago.

Polyamory’s got a lot of overlap with monogamy, because like Soylent Green, both are made of people.  But once you remove that core assumption that “exclusive sex is what defines us,” then everything else gets kicked strangely, bizarrely, up for play.  How are you supposed to have children?  Can you hold hands with your lover in public?  How does the insurance work?

After a while in polyamory, you start to feel exactly how many aspects in a relationship are actually not fundaments, but rather questions that we assume don’t need to be negotiated. And those unquestioned assumptions are like poisons, leaking into the ground water – a subtle corrosion that can harm you in small ways over time.

My corrosion was approaching long-term poly relationships as though they were monogamous.

Here’s the secret truth of poly: it allows you to successfully date people you could never marry.  You see the pressures of the Great Monogamous Victory crushing otherwise-happy relationships: I think we all know a couple who got along just fine as long as they had separate apartments and just had fun going to movies , but the moment they moved in together they devoured each other.  But that monogamy train, man, it keeps on moving; if you’ve been dating casually for a while, well, eventually you gotta Get Serious.

Getting Serious involves stepping right in the lion cage with their worst faults.  Does she have a temper?  Well, as her boyfriend, you’re gonna be called on to calm her down when she starts getting angry, or at least to stand support as she breathes vitriol upon whatever’s pissing her off.  Is he lazy?  Well, you’re the one who’s going to be trying to pay the bills while his unemployed ass spends the weekend in his underwear playing Halo 4.

Getting Serious means you become, to a large extent, your lover’s primary therapist, because you’re with them 24/7 and you have to learn to deal with all of their moods. You might find his jealousy exasperating, but you can’t really walk away – as the primary, your responsibility to either defuse, reassure, or route around it.  And I know, I know, it doesn’t necessarily have to work like that – but for most of functioning monogamy, if you’re relying on someone else to satisfy your emotional needs, and that someone is someone you can be sexually attracted to, then Bad Things are gonna creep in around the edges.

But with poly, if you hate the way your lover spends her weekends doing nothing but playing Borderlands 2, you can designate that as Not Your Problem.  That laziness does not mean she is a bad person; it means there are certain circumstances under which you shouldn’t be hanging out.  You don’t have to merge your lives.  You can go on dates when your slothful partner feels like rousting themselves, and leave them to their own devices the rest of the time.

In other words, you can maintain light sexual relationships for as long as you’re comfortable with them.  You don’t have to take it to the next level.  There is no next level.  There’s only what you want to have – and if that involves wanting to deal with her temper, then you can do that, too.

Now.  The problem I made was approaching every poly relationship as if they were all going to reach Gini’s level.

My wife is my primary partner, but that term is so weaksauce when it comes to what Gini and I have.  We fit together in every way that really matters, having spent thirteen years in the Pit Of Monogamy wrestling with each other’s issues… and we’ve been victorious because, over time, we’ve come to implicitly trust in each other’s good will.  Which is not to say that Gini doesn’t knife me in the heart occasionally, but when she does I know that there’s no malice in it.  She’s spent so much time trying to be kind and courteous and respectful of me that any bruises I get must, logically, be by accident.

Gini is the great love of my life.

Every woman I date, then, must therefore be on the path to become a similarly great love.

And the problem is that when you uncork that kind of sweeping romance at someone, it’s hard to say no; I’m passionate and poetic, so when I’d mutter yes, we’re meant to be together in their ears, they’d reply yes, this is special, it’s so amazing, isn’t it? And we’d start dating, and subconsciously what I’d be trying to do was groom them to be as intense and critical in my life as Gini is.  Because hey, Gini was the best thing in my life, and therefore all paths must lead to something very like Gini.

But that’s the Monogamous Victory speaking.  I’d swapped out “Get married, die” for “Have someone else as wonderful for me as Gini is,” but the victory condition was there all the same. And as such, I had to Get Serious with every woman I dated, as soon as possible, or I was losing.

Which led to tons of dysfunction.  When we had a disagreement, it was critical not just to resolve the disagreement, but to approach this as a primary relationship and to ask all the followup questions that sprung from that: why did you think that poorly of me?  What assumptions were we both making that led to this?  Do you understand how exactly that hurt, and why, and grasp every reason why you must never do that again?

I believe in open communication.  But there are also times when too much communication can smother a relationship.  And all the while, I was having these Great Loves that I thought were the Next Big Thing, each of which evaporated in less than a year.  And my poor, poor partners had to deal with a string of ridiculous NRE, followed by ridiculously strained conversations as I tried to turn what was a pretty good LDR into ZOMG THIS MUST BE CRITICAL TO OUR LIVES TOGETHER FOREVER.

Which is ridiculous.  Gini is the best thing that ever happened to me, a lucky lightning strike, and cultivating every relationship as though eternal beauty was the goal led to, ironically, premature collapse.  If I’d just been able to go, “Hey, that’s pretty cool, can we have a good time when we’re together?” I’d probably still be dating half of them. As it was, I was inadvertently slighting Gini (as if every relationship could become what we had made!) and applying a constant, hideous pressure to relationships that didn’t need them.

They crumbled.  As they must.

But that’s the thing about poly: you have so many opinions that you’ve inhaled from monogamy, unwittingly taking it into your system, that you don’t realize how it’s affecting your life.  For me, I carried this subliminal concern that every relationship had to go somewhere.  But they don’t.  Sometimes, they can just be what they are, hanging about.  Stasis is not necessarily a bad thing, in polyamory.

Relationships are not Pokemon, man.  They don’t need to evolve.

Cross-posted from Ferrett's Real Blog.

theferrett: (Meazel)

Ever since I became a Hat Person thanks to stumbling across a flattering trilby in a California head shop, I have switched hats twice a year: at the beginning of summer, and the beginning of winter.  Summer brings a light straw hat, and winter is a heftier, darker build.

The ironic thing is that for many years, all I ever wore was black jeans and a black T-shirt.  That was all I ever wore, black – a sort of low-rent Neil Gaiman.  My wife complained endlessly, saying I should spruce up, I was getting too old for the standard nerd outfit.  Then I got the hat, and the hat chained into looking silly with just black shirts so I started wearing colorful Hawaiian shirts at Gini’s urging, and then Jen introduced me to the many delights of manicures and pretty pretty princess nails – and here I am, in my mid-forties, inadvertently peacocking my way through the world.

(It’s proof that peacocking works, though.  I get more women starting conversations with me about my nails, and guys are drawn to the hat.  It’s a little frightening how much clothes do actually make the man.)

Anyway, Gini did a double-take when she discovered that this season’s hat would cost me $150, and I cheerfully reminded her that black shirts and T-shirts cost nothing.  She did this to me.  All these new expenditures were exactly what she wanted, and if I’m going to buy a pricey hat from the best hatter in Ohio, well, you made the bed, my love, and it’s time to sleep in it.

Which is a long-winded way of saying here, look at my hat.

The Weasel's Hat

I’ve got the hat, I’ve got the shirt, and I’ve got the sparkly nails.  I swear to God, if I could just find a good source for a men’s cuban heel in a wide 8-1/2 side that fits (those cubans have some slim feet, man), I’d be in fucking heaven.

 

Cross-posted from Ferrett's Real Blog.

theferrett: (Meazel)

There’s an essay going around FetLife called “Please, PLEASE Defriend Me If…“, and I’ll quote the relevant parts here:

You don’t understand why it’s just not cool for a white person to be throwing around the word Nigger with impunity.

You believe blackface is just awesome.

You think that showing consideration for the historical and social contexts surrounding taboo play (incest, rape, racial, etc) equals your kink being poopoo’d on. Pro-tip: it is possible to indulge in taboo and NOT be an asshole.

You believe that racism is not a big deal anymore and black people just be trippin’.

You believe that sexism is not a big deal anymore and women just be trippin’.

You often use the phrase “no-homo” or “that’s so gay” and don’t understand why that’s a problem.

You think trans folk are annoying when they ask you to use their preferred pronouns.

You think being a decent thoughtful human being is somehow stifling, and not compatible with being a “real” kinkster/fetishist/pervert/BDSMer/whatever your kinky label may be.

You think white privilege, male privilege, cis-gender privilege, etc are not “real” things.

You don’t understand why women don’t find street harassment flattering.

You think creationism is just as valid a “theory” as evolution.

You believe in black-supremacy, white-supremacy, male-supremacy, female-supremacy, or any other type of supremacy.

You don’t believe rape-culture exists.

You don’t support gay marriage.

While I find every one of these types of thoughts to be odious and troubling and as irritating as the original poster does, let me make an alternate plea:

Please, please stay friended to me.

While others may not want to be your teachable moment, I do.  If I tell you to go away, chances are good you won’t learn; you’ll just hang about with your other friends, all of whom think this stuff is perfectly fine, and never have to think about your opinions again ever except maybe, if you even remember, that one time a jerk defriended you over stupid shit.

I won’t let you off that easy.  No, you have to walk away from me.

In the meantime, we’re going to argue.  A lot.  Because I believe that while I’ll lose a hundred arguments, I’ll win one occasionally, and that one makes all the difference in the world.  Because I believe that reminding people that yes, people they like have differing opinions is a good thing.  Because I believe that getting called on your shit makes you a better person.  Because I believe that if I walk away, all I do is teach you the lesson that “some people don’t have a sense of humor,” and let you frame the argument as someone oversensitive getting their panties in a wad, and let you get away with a sense of superiority that you do not fucking deserve.

Don’t get me wrong.  I won’t brook personal insults, and I try not to give them.  (I fail, on occasion.  I always feel bad.)  You have to be civil, and I have to be engaged, and I have to accept the prospect that on occasion, I may even be convinced by you.  Otherwise, we’re not having an exchange of ideas, but are just throwing speeches at each other.  And if you’re sufficiently abusive, the ban button’s always an option.

Yet I think it’s important.  If you believe all of this ignorant tripe, well, I may be the only dissenting voice you hear.  And I do think that people can change – because I used to be much less sensitive to transsexual issues until transsexual friends called me on that shit, and I used to not really understand exactly what a level-up being straight and male was, and I learned by making painful mistakes where people reminded me that hey, you’re actually kinda hurting folks with those opinions.  I didn’t change my behavior out of some fuzzy concept of “political correctness,” I changed because I saw people were genuinely injured by some of my thoughts – and for me, it came down to, “I can be a dick and say whatever I want,” or “I can phrase things differently and make life easier for people.”

I would like to give you my whips, friend.  To remind you, challenge you, and I hope, change you.  I’m patient.  Yeah, maybe only one in a hundred people can truly change their minds, but 1% could have made the difference in the 2000 and 2004 elections.  And no, not everyone wants to do this, nor should you expect them to, but I mostly view my blog as a public space and so I will. (There are days I don’t feel like arguing, and I reserve the right not to respond to your every comment.  Like George Martin, I am not your bitch.)

You’re gonna get pissed off.  You’re gonna piss me off.  But you and I, we differ, and we’re gonna hash it out right fucking here.

Stick around.

Cross-posted from Ferrett's Real Blog.

theferrett: (Meazel)

I’m having a depressive incident today – not quite suicidal, but the serious mood dive where you stare at things and can’t concentrate for all the swarms of self-loathing flitting about.

I’m trying to think about Why This Is.  Is it because of my terror of starting a new novel, and potentially failing at it? Is it some unexpected fallout from the Jezebel post the other day?  Is it a slightly awkward conversation I had with an old friend/crush last night?

The thing is, if I find a reason, I’ll feel better.  “Oh, that’s it,” I’ll go, and having found the core of my anguish, I’ll manage to get on with my day.

Except I probably haven’t.  I think for many people – myself included – the process of self-analysis is actually making up reasonable-sounding explanations for this incoherent mass of emotions at the center.  You don’t really find the reason, because there often isn’t a single reason – no, it’s this intertwined mixture of chemicals and subconscious bits floating about in your brain, nothing tractable, a mess.

But you find a reason.  It jines up with the random signals bouncing around in your head, like a line drawn neatly through several points of static, and you decide that this is the Reason.

And you feel better.  Because even though it makes no legitimate sense, you’ve just Learned A Lesson and Made Sense Of The Universe and Had A Personal Breakthrough, and the triumph suffuses your system, and you feel more rational and focused.  And lo!  Things are solved, for a time.

Right now, I’m deciding that this is a bunch of blog-fear I’m working through, as I always feel terrified whenever something I have is about to go out to a wide audience, and this is the sort of, say, sub-drop that you feel after an intense scene.  That’s probably not it.  But as I decide that is the reason, I feel a shadow lifting, and I find myself a little happier, and more able to start buckling down and doing real work.

It’s bullshit.

Useful, useful bullshit.

Cross-posted from Ferrett's Real Blog.

theferrett: (Meazel)

After graduating Clarion, I wrote short stories for four years.  I did this because short stories were easier to write; I could take drastic differences in tone and approach, attacking a different problem with each story, and get it all done in 5,000 words.

I got published in a few venues, and then I got my first professional publication, which set me on my way.  What would happen next was predictable: I’d sell more short stories to a mix of markets, until eventually I got my third pro sale (which was my entry to the Science Fiction Writers of America), and I’d sell more stories until my name was out there.  Then maybe I’d get nominated for a major award.  Then I’d write a novel, and I’d get an agent to sell it, and that novel would get good reviews.  And I’d keep writing novels until I made a name for myself, and then I’d be a Real Writer….

Except that didn’t happen.  My finished novel is circulating among agents, and has gotten some interest, but has not been an automatic sale.  In the meantime, I started work on another Very Salable Novel, which imploded after six months of writes and rewrites, and I eventually determined that I couldn’t write it at all.

Now I’ve got a third novel I’m planning, and my so-called career is a weight around my ankles.

I’ve literally been unable to get out of bed in the morning, harried by thoughts that OMG I don’t want to start it, because what if I fail?  If I don’t get it published, then I’ve wasted time.  My career is supposed to move smoothly from “well thought-of short stories” to “starred review first novel,” and if that doesn’t happen then who am I?  I’m certainly not a Real Writer.  I’m just some fraud, throwing out words but not moving down the correct path.

Plus, as I’ve gotten desperate to push this stalled career along, I’ve started thinking in terms of commercialism.  “People like happy endings,” I think.  “Maybe I should write happy endings.  People liked Sauerkraut Station, what lessons can I learn from that?  Sauerkraut Station was a Little House on the Prairie riff, what else can I emulate?”

The problem?  Sauerkraut Station wasn’t a goddamned commercial fiction.  It was this unwieldy, horrible novella I was convinced I’d never sell, let alone get any acclaim for; I liked it, and for the longest time I was the only one who did.  My best stories, as always, are the ones I write for myself.

What I’ve come to realize is that my writing career needs to get fucked.  All it ever does is make me compare myself to other writers, wondering where I’m ahead or behind on the curve, bringing unwarranted feelings of envy for people who write delightful stuff.  All it ever does is make me feel like shit for not hitting arbitrary goals.  All it ever does it is make me feel as though there will be some point in my life when I’ll feel so confident about writing that I’ll know how to do things… and the truth is, writing’s complicated.  I’m going to be taking huge chances all the time.  If I ever did get to the point where I knew how to toss off a bestselling novel, I’d start experimenting on the side with the things I didn’t understand.

I am never going to feel comfortable with this.

So fuck my writing career.  I’m still going to write, of course.  I’ve got this novel I’m excited about right now.  But when I write it, I’m not going to think of the agent who’d want it, or whether it’ll fit in this market, or what will happen if I don’t get it published.  I’m just going to put the words on the fucking paper, and make it the kind of thing that is as good as I can get it, and everything else will happen in its time.

I called a mulligan on my writing career, once.  I’m doing it again.  From today forward, I have no plan aside from my fingers, on these keys.  Writing.

Maybe someone will even like it.

Cross-posted from Ferrett's Real Blog.

theferrett: (Meazel)

I don’t consider myself a ‘Bad Dude’ nor a ‘Nice Guy’ but I can spot a bruised ego and bad writing when I see it. I hate labels because they put limits on people. Your premise that ‘Nice Guys’ don’t get sex is ignorant. Then again, I consider the source. By the way, 1990′s Hawaiian shirts, a goatee, fedora, fingernail polish, and back hair don’t make you a ‘Bad Ass’ dude. What they do make you is just like your writing? Out of touch and needing to be noticed…

Now, that’s the sort of comment that leaves me a little stung, but not for the reasons you’d think.

It was left on the FetLife cross-post of my “Why Nice Guys Don’t Get Sex: Reason #1 In An Infinite Series” essay, and that sort of furious essay reminds me of middle school.  Now, I don’t begrudge a few angry comments; after all, that post was about a behavior I find odious (and took aim at), and made some generalizations that could sting if you were caught in the cross-fire, so I don’t mind a few slams back. It’s only fair, after all.

(My favorite is the guy who claimed that women are having sex with all those assholes only because you’re such a wonderful guy, they know they don’t deserve you, and so they close their eyes and fantasize about you guiltily the entire time they’re banging jerks.  Um, I’m sure that happens often.)

But the angry comment here, when analyzed, is pretty detailed.  See, my default profile pic on FetLife doesn’t even have me wearing a hat.  Nor does it display my sad, thatchy abundance of back hair.  So to leave this comment, the guy had to go through all of my pictures, specifically taking stock of all my many flaws, just so he could leave a comment that was meant to be personal and cutting.

He failed, sadly.  They usually do.  If he’d read any of my writing or my status updates (which he probably didn’t do because that would be too time-consuming), he’d have known that I don’t consider myself a Badass at all.  I’m a neurotic train wreck who occasional partakes in ritualized acts of violence for sexualized pleasure, sure!  But note that I don’t call myself a Dom, or a Master.  I don’t swagger much, except occasionally when it comes to rejoicing in my fireplay skills (and even that’s mostly out of a vaguely surprised “I did it!”).  In fact, most of my writing is about me fucking up in some way, using it as an example to talk about How Not To Do This.

So it’s like, “Dude, if you were going to do the research, you should have done it all the way.”  There are plenty of ways you could have hurt my feelings – you just didn’t dig deep enough.

(Which is what most insults are, weirdly.  If you look at what people are picking on you about, it usually reflects what they’re most terrified of being.  Dude is probably very concerned about his badass status, and as such thought that trying to remove mine would be devastating.)

What wounds me is the time.  I see a lot of dipshit writings on the Internet that I disagree with.  If motivated, occasionally I’ll even argue them in the comments.  But it would take a lot to get me to do research to try to find personalized ways to insult them. I’ve spent time looking up links to defang someone’s argument, absolutely, but spending time rooting through their profile to try to find the things that I think would hurt them?

That’s mean.  And yet here’s the guy, taking time to do craft a personalized insult to a stranger.  The actual insult doesn’t hurt; the intent does.  It makes me wonder whether what I wrote was actually that bad, causing a self-reflection that’s troubling… And yeah, I probably could have written it better.  I’ll get ‘em next time, tiger.

Yet there’s that pathetic attempt.  Someone took a shot at me, and missed.  And I wonder if that’s how Superman feels as the bullets bounce off him, going, “Do they really mean to do that?  Do they know what they’re trying to do?”

Not that I’m Superman, of course.  More like Jimmy Olsen; occasionally lucky, given more adventures than he truly deserves, but a little too cocky to be a true hero.

Cross-posted from Ferrett's Real Blog.

theferrett: (Meazel)

If I have a female friend, usually there’s some mild attraction, since the reasons I would want someone as a friend have a lot of overlap with the reasons I’d want them as a lover.

Not always.  But the thing is, I’m intensely sapiosexual – which is to say I value people’s thoughts over their bodies.  (I have attractions to women who I literally do not know what they look like, but hoo boy can they express themselves.)  So for me, friendship is in a very real way a form of attraction.  I don’t necessarily share the fundamentals of that attraction with them (most of my female friends don’t want to know), but it’s there, a constant backbeat of desire.

And yes, it gets tiring on occasion, all these silly crushes fulminating in my mind.  I don’t know how to turn it off.  Attraction is as attraction does; the most I can do is not follow up.

Cross-posted from Ferrett's Real Blog.

theferrett: (Meazel)

“I’m still numb,” the Facebook post reads.  “Sitting in the hospital, I can’t imagine this happened to me.”

Followed by a comment of “OH MY GOD WHAT HAPPENED?!?! ARE U YOU ALL RIGHT?!?”

Followed by me wanting to punch someone in the face.

It’s a small mercy, I admit, but if I see someone posting incomplete snippets about some major tragedy in their lives, I click on their name and see what else they’ve posted recently.  Because, you know, if someone’s undergoing a mind-shattering trauma, the last thing they probably want to do is bring lazy sons-of-bitches up to date on something they posted about half an hour ago.

Yet I always see that flood of slothful, inconsiderate ignorance, and the only reason I don’t start a flame war with these morons is because, well, “moderating a flame war between two friends in the middle of a mind-shattering trauma” is probably actually the last thing they want to do.  But still.  These people are oafs, selfishly shouldering their way to the front of the line and saying, “Yeah, I could click something to find out what’s going on, but instead why don’t I suck up more of your time and energy with demands for news you’ve already given?”

How self-centered do you have to be, really?  Not to see what else they’ve been up to, and find the news so easily discovered?  Do you think you’re actually being a friend by offering not support, but a redundant demand?

What dicks.  I hate them with a tabasco-fiery passion.  Unless I click through to that poor suffering bastard’s Timeline to discover that no, they’ve given no other updates and are just being annoyingly cryptic about the nature of this hospital stay, in which case I’ll ask, “OH MY GOD WHAT HAPPENED?!?! ARE U YOU ALL RIGHT?!?”

Cross-posted from Ferrett's Real Blog.

theferrett: (Meazel)

I was raised in a house of healthy confrontation. Have a problem?  Go talk it out.  Which means that arguing and debating and hashing out opinions is, quite literally, what I was raised to do. It’s a skill that probably made me the blogger I am today.

What I can’t do, however, is accept compliments.

People have noted that if you want my attention on-line, it’s easily gotten by striking up a disagreement.  But nice comments leave me dumbstruck.  Tell me you liked a story of mine, and I’ll shuffle my feet and stare at the screen and blush, which evinces itself as complete silence.

And in the wake of all the kind and supportive comments left wishing me well on my mother’s recent cancer scare, I feel inadequate to the love, support, and positive kindness you people have offered me over the years.  I’ve tried to pay it back when I could, mainly because you’ve largely been so kind that it’s impossible to really give back everything I’ve been given… but rest assured.  I do read every comment.  I do feel blessed every time someone says I wrote an essay well, or they wished they’d said that, or even just offers a hand in an hour of need. You folks give a lot of energy here, and I feel sometimes ashamed that I don’t give it back, but I assure you every nice word ever said gets cuddled and put into a handy sack that sometimes gets me through blue times better than you know.

So let me thank you.  For being kind.  And generous.  And surprisingly insightful as commentors, and willing to call me on my bullshit when I have it, and just much kinder to me than sometimes I can bear.

Thanks for lending your voice.  Thanks for being beautiful.  Thanks for being there.

 

Cross-posted from Ferrett's Real Blog.

theferrett: (Meazel)

“Baby, we’re poly; you can date all the women you want.  But no guys.”

That’s the kind of polyamory that drives me crazy.

Look, if your guy is such a brobdignagian studmuffin that after shuddering in the shadow of His tremendous cock you need no others, then great!  As the woman, you’ve made the choice not to seek other menstuffs.  I support that.  What I do not support is the polyamory model where the guy, majestically, allows his woman to date all the chicks she wants, but never men.

And it’s fucking everywhere.  As a blogger with a reasonably sizable audience, I usually enstate a cooldown time between “a friend of mine does something that vexes me” and “the day I blog about it,” just so they don’t feel like I’m picking on them.  But it never stops.  Every other fucking week, I have a good pal who meets a guy who’s wonderfully encouraging, because he wants her to have all the loving relationships she can handle – as long as they have boobs!  And no penis.  That penis is scary, y’all.

It’s so everywhere, and I just fucking hate it.

Now, not every poly relationship is the same, and I’m sure that YOUR poon-but-no-peen relationship is based on factual evidence that men are the crushers of dreams.  But what I usually see, when I look at these restrictive gardens, is a monstrous selfishness: Oh, you can have all of the sex you want, so long as it turns me on.  I think lesbian sex is the spice, and maybe if I’m lucky I’ll end up as the filling in your slut sandwich, so go on and have your fun.  Besides, we all know that women’s relationships aren’t nearly as deep or threatening as guy relationships, so it’s fun to indulge you – it’s like watching two kittens play!  You girls are so cute.

The reason I hate it is because that’s a form of polyamory, but more often than not it’s one that’s selfish, misogynistic, and dysfunctional.  It’s often a way of saying, “Everything in this relationship needs to serve my needs.”  Because I’ve talked to a lot of those women while their man is out on a date with a new girlfriend, and it’s not like they don’t get the usual poly-quivers of jealousy and terror (as these dude-types are invariably a) arrow-straight and b) always willing to find just one more woman to fuck, as long as she’s cute).  The women sit at home, not at all turned on by this new potential threat to their relationship, trying bravely to be fair because, “Well, this is an open relationship, this balancing of affections is just part of how it works.”

Except it doesn’t.  Does he ever sit at home, worried about her on a date with a guy?  No.  It’s a one-way street because when she’s flirting with a hottie male at the club he gets all OMG HIS COCK WILL SUPPLANT MINE, and that shit is just too terrible for any man to deal with – so no, just fool around with harmless little women.  (If you’ve read some of my previous rants on how dumb guys approach penises, you’ll know what I think of the whole ubercock routine.)

Look, my wife dates other men.  Is it always easy on my ego?  No.  But even the best polyamory involves a few inadvertent shots to the self-esteem.  There are people who will tell you that good polyamory involves never being jealous or insecure, and I’ll say fuck those inhuman robots right in their crankcase.  Poly has a lot of benefits when it works – but even the best of relationships will occasionally have these monkeybrain down times of, “If she’s having a really good time with someone else, can she really love me?”

Yes.  Yes, she can.  But walling off a whole fucking sex just so you don’t have to have your dark night of the soul is selfish.  Just go fucking monogamous, dude – there’s nothing wrong with that.  But no, you want your hot threesomes, and you want to sex up as many chicks as you can, and she’s conveniently bisexual so you can just let her have her explorations as long as it’s not threatening to you.

I shall repeat: If you’re the woman, and you really don’t want any men, then I say that’s great.  (As witness this excellent essay a friend of mine wrote on her trouble with “The ‘H’ Word” over on FetLife, which should be required reading.)  But if the reason you don’t want any men is because he’d melt down in jealousy, then that’s a marker of potential problem – and one where, in my experience, the woman will jump through hoops to avoid bruising his ego, but when he eventually finds someone who threatens her, suddenly he’s all “Baby, you’ve got to learn to be more open-minded!”

Generally, that means, “You have to be more open-minded about doing only things that make me happy.”  And “All the sacrifices in this poly are going to be yours.”  And “Women can’t really get attached to other women in a meaningful way.”  And I hate that.  Hate all of it.  Hate it, hate it, hate it.

Cross-posted from Ferrett's Real Blog.

theferrett: (Meazel)

“The good news is, my husband said you can see me for the weekend,” she told me.  “We can rent a hotel, have wild sex, cuddle, anything you like.  But there’s one condition.”

“Which is?”

“You have to see the new Twilight movie with me.”

(Cue Darth Vader-style NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO)

The running gag was that seeing Breaking Dawn, Part 1 with her was proof of my devotion.  Certainly I’m no Twilight fan.  So we got good and drunk beforehand – I felt like a teenager, smuggling in little airplane bottles of vodka to covertly dump into my Sprite – and held hands, and watched the merriment of big dumb sparklepires.

And I liked it.

Not the movie – which, like most things society holds in poor esteem, wasn’t nearly as bad as everyone’s scorn but certainly wasn’t good either – but rather, her excitement.  Watching her bounce in her seat before the movie, the way she squeezed my hand when things got exciting, the way she kept leaning over to explain who this werewolf was and why he was important.

And I realize: I get off on other people’s enthusiasm.

I’ve listened for hours to folks going on and on about hobbies that I have zero interest in.  Manga, football, accounting, Battlestar Galactica, Ru Paul’s Drag Race, BBS communities I’ll never log into, you name it.  But if they’re willing to share that enthusiasm with me, then I’ll match it, because what I like is seeing people’s faces light up as they share their world with me.

Now, there’s a fine difference, because there are a lot of people who aren’t there to share their world with me.  There’s any number of yammerers who are there to show me how very smart they are, bombarding me with facts on bocci ball to demonstrate their mastery of the subject.  And there’s the stereotypically breathless fan who, annoyingly, cannot even fathom that the world does not share her love of Yaoi, and so keeps quietly assuming that I’m intensely familiar with the fine differences between yaoi and gei comi.

Yet I love that moment of connection, where someone takes me by the hand and escorts me into their world and says, “This may be silly, but this is something I adore and I want to show you every bit of it.”  Because it is an act of trust, and a form of love, and a whole bunch of new things to learn about.  And so in those three hours, and over the rest of the weekend, I learned of the Twilight mythology, and how vampires breed in Stephenie Meyers’ world, and what scenes they left out of the movie – and maybe it wasn’t high literature or high cinema, but it was full of things I didn’t know that were critical to her.

We’re no longer dating, and I wouldn’t go see Breaking Dawn, Part 2 on my own.  Oh, I could go with Gini, who’s read the books… but that’s a very different thing than going on opening day with a dear friend who’s trembling with excitement, burning to know how they adapted the rather boring second and not particularly satisfying last half of the book, so enthused to be there that they’re radiating a glow that suffuses me.

She’s gone.  So’s that world.  And there are other people with their new hobbies – there always are – but that doesn’t mean that when the new Twilight comes out I won’t be a little sad that no, that particular happiness is something I’m no longer connected with.

A strange thing, missing a movie I didn’t particularly enjoy, in a series I barely know.  But as with most things, it’s all about the people you’re with.

Cross-posted from Ferrett's Real Blog.

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