Monthly Archives: February 2012

High Functioning Polyamory

Three years ago, before Wes and I were officially engaged (though we had been planning on getting married for most of the time we had been together), we went to an Outback Steakhouse and ended up having a very interesting conversation.

I always mention that we were at Outback when we had this conversation because I find it hilarious.  If these blogs start getting a lot of attention, I think we should pitch some sort of advertising campaign in collaboration with them.  Imagine it: It could be a campaign advertising that Outback is a great choice for date nights for couples of all types.  A person with a terrible Aussie accent would say, “G’Day! Are you looking to have a strange, possibly uncomfortable, possibly illuminatin’ conversation about your relationship?  Why not do it ovah a Bloomin’ Onion?  Want to have a date night with ALL your girlfriends and boyfriends? Walkabout right on ovah here to Outback Steakhouse!”  We’ll make millions.

The conversation resulted in both of us agreeing that logically and rationally, non-monogamy was a prudent choice for us.  It wasn’t that either of us had any outside relationship prospects at the time.  It was simply that we both wanted the healthiest, most rewarding relationship possible and for us this meant not wanting to impose limitations on each other’s happiness. 

I’ll fully admit that this was not easy for me when we actually started practicing a non-monogamous lifestyle.  As it turned out, I had a lot of jealous, possessive, and negative tendencies that bubbled up to the surface A LOT in the beginning (and still do from time to time, but not nearly as severely as before).  For the first year and a half of this relationship change, I did not date at all.  I spent the time working out a lot of personal issues that desperately needed to be gotten through.  There were times when I felt like I was getting an unfair end of the deal, simply because I wasn’t dating.  I wasn’t participating…but then I realized that I really was.  Every time I had a problem, I got through it because my ultimate goal was to be happy.  The non-monogamy was not the thing making me unhappy.  It was my irrationality, my insecurity, my bad habits, that were making me unhappy.  Non-monogamy does not cause problems that do not exist in monogamy.  It simply illuminates the issues that are already there.

When we first made this decision together, I had an undefined vision of a successful future.  In the beginning, the vision simply consisted of me being super well-adjusted and happy.  I figured that in several years, maybe I would be dating someone but that in the immediate future, I would just happy that Wes and I had so much freedom in general.  I hated the lousy attributes I mentioned above.  They stood squarely in the way of me being the person that I wanted to be.  In the beginning, I could only see a future in which my brain was fixed…without a lobotomy.  And I assumed that this was going to take an incredibly long time.

In October 2010, Wes met Jessie.  Jessie changed everything.  Before Jessie, we merely had an open relationship.  After Jessie, we had a polyamorous relationship.  The introduction of Jessie into our lives kickstarted a major time of change for me.  I could see pretty quickly that she and the relationship she would have with Wes was special and that it needed to be supported and embraced.  Again, this was not initially easy because of how I am wired, but it was important to get over it.  It was important to get over it not just for the sake of Wes and Jessie, but for my sake, because I really liked her.

In June 2010, Wes and I got officially engaged.  We asked Jessie to be in our wedding party and then Jessie came to the beach for the last couple of days of our honeymoon.  I remember at the wedding reception, Jessie had mentioned that Wes invited her to come down on Thursday night instead of Friday during the day.  I had been unaware of this, but it was fine.  A friend heard her say this and said something like, “It’s their HONEYMOON, Jessie,” as though her presence was somehow inappropriate.  Well, as it turned out, the nights/day Jessie were there were by far the highlights of an already excellent trip.  The whole week Wes and I kept thinking of things to do (mostly “down the Shore” boardwalk silliness) and would say, “Ooh, we should do that on Friday with Jessie”.  A few weeks after that, I realized that I really wanted her to move in with us (another something that I hadn’t envisioned being not only ok with but honestly happy about happening for many years). And so she moved in! We have a wall by the front door (as many people do, unless you’re living in one of those houses that’s just a door…which is just weird) that I like to call the Trio Wall (to myself, and I should come up with a better name than that…).  It has our three masks from Halloween, an Old Timey photo of the three of us from the Boardwalk during our honeymoon and a picture of the three of us in steampunk outfits in Santa’s village.  We have a photo with us dressed up as pirates with Santa too, but that’s not hanging up yet.   (Jessie encourages us to eat lots of candy and dress up in silly costumes.  She does not have to twist our arms).  And finally, we have an ornament of the three of us that Ginny made us.  Every morning, I get to look at that wall when I leave the house and it makes me smile.  I just can’t see my life in any other way and still be as satisfying.

**EDIT** Wes and Jessie pointed out yesterday that I left out a relatively important part of this story.  I left out the part where I had my first boyfriend outside of the relationship.  I am amused that I left that out and that perhaps it speaks volumes about how that short lived relationship panned out, but they are correct in pointing out that the relationship itself was representative of a very important turning point in my life and in our path through poly.  In March of 2011, right around my 30th birthday I noticed that I had developed on a crush on a friend of mine. 

This was huge.  When I was initially working on my emotional issues, etc., I sincerely was not attracted to anyone.  For that year and a half I had no interest in anyone as a romantic partner.  I couldn’t conceive of dealing with jealousy/possessiveness issues with both Wes and some other person too.  It would have been a nightmare.  But, when I found myself attracted to this friend I realized that I had been successful in dealing with a lot of stuff, and it took me by surprise.  We dated for about a month.  It started out well, ended sort of stupidly, but I will be forever thankful that my initial experience was relatively positive because I think that experience helped me be ready when I met Shaun and Ginny. **End Edit**

We had met Shaun and Ginny in April 2011.  They had recently moved back to Philly from Atlanta.  Ginny messaged Wes on OKCupid and she came to karaoke. A few weeks later, she brought Shaun along and he met me.  Unfortunately, I was in a considerably foul mood.  Lucky for me there are second and third chances to make good impressions.  Exactly a week after we got married, Wes and Ginny started dating and about a week after that, Shaun and I were as well.  A couple of months later, I, too was dating Ginny and, well, here we are!  It sounds complicated, but these days it feels very simple.

I was taken by surprise by how immediately comfortable I was with them both.  I was surprised further by my own capacity to love and how much love I got in return.  It wasn’t always easy in the beginning, but it appears that we are all pretty comfortable with each other and see a real future as a wonderful family.  I will say again that this was not something I expected when I signed on for this whole polyamory thing.  But after Jessie, Shaun and Ginny came around, the future I envisioned was more defined and significantly more awesome than I could have ever imagined.

The other day I was chatting with Ginny and she announced that she and Shaun had figured out where they were going on their honeymoon.  She said they’d be gone for a week and I said that I was appreciative of having the advanced notice to sufficiently prepare for being without them (BARF…I know).  Then Ginny said, “You should come at the end of the week!” She’s going to be at a conference at the end of the week and thought it would be nice if I could keep Shaun company.

At first thought I wanted to accept the invitation immediately.  Why on Earth wouldn’t I want to go hang out with them in an awesome city to which I had never been?  Then the next thought was that there were various reasons why Wes wouldn’t go (vacation time he doesn’t necessarily have yet and the fact the Ginny was going to be tied up at the conference all day every day, so she wouldn’t have much time) and I felt crappy about that.  I talked to him about it and he said, “What, you don’t think I can make it 4 days without you???” followed by, “I won’t promise that I won’t feel left out, but that’s not a reason not to do something”.  Then I got all paranoid because I heard my friend’s voice in my head, “It’s their HONEYMOON, Gina”…and I was terrified that I would be a burden or intrusive or something.  So I talked to Shaun about it and he asked, “Did you feel that way about Jessie joining you on your honeymoon?” “Um, no…”I said, “She made it better”. “Exactly…”he said.  I asked Ginny and she reiterated that she wants me there, that me being there would allow her extra time to spend with colleagues at the conference and such.

So, what am I doing after all these conversations?  Well, I’m going to accept what everyone has said and I’m going to go.  I feel lucky and thankful.  As a thank you for Wes and Jessie being awesome, and because me being in Austin will give them a rare weekend alone together, I want to make whatever fabulous date night they want happen.  As for thanking Shaun and Ginny for being awesome, I’ll have to do that when I get there.  I will likely do it with booze and terrible jokes.

A couple of days ago, Shaun posted about how much he loves polyamory and that he hopes that having us all post on here will start to show the general public how functional and happy we are, how normal this life can become.  I suppose looking at all this, you wouldn’t really describe it as normal, but it is comfortable and amazing and oh, so very worth it.  If you had told me several years ago that I could ever be this happy, this healthy, this inspired, I would have assumed you were talking about me getting that lobotomy I mentioned earlier.  I didn’t think I was capable of it.  I had resigned myself to a life of being kind of alright.  I didn’t know that on that night, at Outback, when Wes and I had the first conversation that it would truly improve my life this much.

Well, here’s to happy little surprises.

Bring on the Drum Circles!

Since I’ve gotten my daily quota of thinking and writing extensively about zombies out of the way, I thought I would write about something really crazy: The usefulness of protest.

When I was 15, I was in that phase that a lot of white children of Baby Boomers go through, the “Idolizing the late 60’s” phase.  You know what I’m talking about, right?  “Oh man, I wish I could have gone to Woodstock.” “Music was so much better then.  Monterey Pop?  Man!” “Protests are really awesome.  Look at what college was like back then.  Peace, man.  The will of the people!”  And so on and so forth.

One day there was some announcement that there were going to be big budget cuts for the Philadelphia public school system.  Big surprise, I know.  So someone somewhere organized a protest and students were encouraged to walk out during class to participate.  I decided to go with some friends because I figured it was time to put my non-existent money where my mouth was.  I took the “dreaded” unexcused absence because I’m a bad ass…apparently.  A bunch of students wussed out and got early dismissals so that the protest wouldn’t count against their PERMANENT RECORD.  Way to be committed, guys.

Anyway, I get there and found a bunch of people outside City Hall screaming incoherently, waving around signs that said things like “We are the future!” and “Abortion is wrong! Here is a photo of a bloody fetus!  This is totes relevant!”  Someone brought a paper mache Grim Reaper with no explanation of who was dying.  I’m assuming it was my chances at a better education or something.

Long story short, first I was extremely confused and then I was extremely disappointed.  I got the distinct impression that the organizers of the protest didn’t really have a useful plan.  They just wanted to yell and scream and not effectively tell the government where exactly they should get the extra money from.  Now, I’m not saying that it wasn’t likely true that there was money bleeding everywhere into useless crap, but the presenters at the protest did not educate anyone who attended.  I left knowing nothing more about the budget cuts than when I arrived, which was very little to begin with.  To make things worse, I’m fairly certain that they cut the budget.  It was hard to tell since we were always scraping for money anyway.  Needless to say, I came away from it with a view of protests that was pretty grim.

To me this seemed very different from something like the civil rights protests on the 60’s.  It seemed to me, from a hindsight perspective of course, that the purpose of those marches was pure visibility.  We are here.  We are strong.  We are organized.   We deserve to participate equally in society.  We are a threat because of our commitment and because of our numbers.  Perhaps it seemed useless because the vast majority of students attending were under 18.  We couldn’t vote.  We weren’t a threat to anyone.  The worst we could do was to not show up to school and I don’t know that this would hurt anyone other than ourselves.  I remember that contemporaries of mine were up at the podium “delivering speeches”.  But apparently they had not been given the memo that a speech is generally not a lot of yelling “It’s our money and we want it now!”  I was being represented by dolts who had clearly missed the point.  I think the organizers thought that if City Hall saw that students themselves were outraged that they would listen.  But they’re not going to listen if you’re acting your age and not saying anything.  In addition, perhaps the protest I attended lacked that sense of danger and sacrifice that has made other ones so much more meaningful.  Absolutely nothing was going to happen to us.  We weren’t going to get arrested (unless we turned violent, I suppose).  No one was going to come out and mow us down with water or gunfire.  We were just there being a pain in the ass for a while…but not a particularly notable pain in the ass.

So I figured I’d pack up my hippie skirts and love beads and never go to a rally or a protest again.

Recently though, especially after following the various Occupy movements, I began to think again about the role of protest and its usefulness.  I remember hearing a lot of comments about the movements pertaining to the fact that they didn’t really have a cohesive message/collective definitive goal.  I mentioned this to a friend and he said that he didn’t want them to decide on a message because when ultimate goals and uniform messages are chosen, they become divisive.  The power of the Occupy movements was the sheer number and diversity of people involved.  I saw the wisdom in what he was saying.  The general idea behind the Occupy movements was that most of the country is in the 99% and our interests should be served.  The interests of the 1% are irrelevant to the vast majority of the voting public, and yet you would not know that looking at public policy.

I started to understand.  Visibility is key.  In the beginning, you need enough organization to give people a reason to join you, but not so much that people get turned off.  When you want people to know you are here and you care that they see you, you want as many people of as many varying backgrounds as possible.  I think that perhaps the protest from way back when was a failure because there just weren’t enough voting adults there to show that these screaming kids are echoing what their parents want and what everyone should want for their population’s education.  Unification would only have been successful had it appeared that kids parents told them to walk out and were now walking along beside them.

As I mentioned before, in a few weeks, I, along with Wes, Shaun and Ginny, will be attending the first ever Reason Rally in Washington, DC.  I am really freaking excited and I think I’m excited because of this new understanding of the purpose of organizing just to be seen.  We are currently in a very strange time politically…or at least it seems rather new and peculiar to me (but that is likely because I am only now becoming really aware of things).  With Rick Santorum appearing to be a viable candidate for president, I find that I have a little seed of terror growing in my heart.  Our country is so very young and yet one of the main underlying ideals of its founding is being continually threatened.  A United States without separation of Church and State is a country that I would be unable to recognize.  And yet, it’s already happening as the open assault on women’s autonomy over their bodies is viciously attacked, as Constitutionally aware teens are being publically torn apart for wanting their public schools free from a faith they do not share, as politicians are chastised for not being Christian as if that has anything at all to do with the American government and what it was meant to be.  I look forward to this humongous gathering of atheists, humanists and secularists.  I want us to take the place by storm and point out definitively:

We are here.  We are strong.  We are organized.

And while I don’t hope for any kind of idiotic violence or ignorant displays, I do recognize that non-believers are threatening.  Not because we’re going to do anything to you but because we exist and many of exist morally, awesomely and well.  Many of us, if not most (I’m just admitting that I certainly don’t know every non-believer out there.  If the Awesome Atheist is any indication, there are definitely some of us who are Grade A Assholes…the A is for Assholes.  That’s how you know it’s real.) are normal, law abiding pleasant people.  All we want is a government that represents everyone’s interests and the only government that can do that effectively is a secular one.

Will you be joining us?  Here’s a bunch of great info to help make that possible from Blag Hag!

*Snicker* He Doesn’t Know About the Three Seashells

As I mentioned yesterday, while I am not new to considering myself an atheist, I most certainly am new to really thinking critically about it, reading and writing about it.  In the past, when I kept a LiveJournal, I would mention it here and there, but it wasn’t something that I particularly engaged people about.  Wes also has been an atheist forever and so there wasn’t really any debate about it at home.  We both thought the same and were comfortable in that.

When I met Shaun he was wearing one of many atheist themed t-shirts that he owns.  He was the first very out atheist I had ever met.  Not to say that Wes and I (or a few of our other atheist friends) were hiding it, but it wasn’t something that we actively advertised.  When the subject of religion came up, we would always announce our atheism immediately, without shame.  But we didn’t have t-shirts and buttons to show it.  I used to have a Crazy Eddie’s Electronics t-shirt that I really liked…but…that doesn’t seem to be relevant here.

It was around then that I started adding several prominent atheist/skeptic bloggers to my Google Reader.  I asked for suggestions of more and Shaun pointed me here.  What I found was, well, a lot of stuff that was over my head on first glance.  I would have to read sections of posts over and over again to understand them.  As I read and got to know Shaun more, I realized that it wasn’t that these things were over my head, but rather that Shaun (having earned an undergrad degree in religious anthropology and a Master’s degree in philosophy) simply had a breadth of knowledge that would take me an eternity to catch up on.  What I’m saying is, I read really slowly and don’t prioritize reading in my daily life.  I’ve been trying to finish The Stand for over a year.  It’s going to happen!  I BELIEVE IN MYSELF.  It’s not that I don’t see the value (far from it…I have started to change my bad reading habits this year.  I have started with keeping up with several blogs), it’s just that I have a lot going on, so I pick what is the best or most satisfying use of my time at any given moment.

So when Shaun asked me to start blogging here, I think I initially laughed at him.  Or, at least, I did so in my head.  I do that a lot.  I thought about it though and decided that it would be a good experience, and that it would encourage me to write more, both here and on my other blog.  He said that he wanted diverse points of view on here, which apparently meant his, Ginny’s point of view fueled by her past and her current master’s program, and my “hilarious” one.  OK, I’ll bite.  I can see the value in that.  I mean, who doesn’t enjoy hilarity?

I’ve written a couple of posts, and I’m happy with them.  But seeing them next to Shaun and Ginny’s both cracked me up and intimidated me.  Note that it isn’t stopping me, but there was something odd about seeing it in such stark contrast.  As I wrote my most recent post, I kept thinking, “Oy, I’m about to make some statement about religion…Do I even know what the hell I’m talking about?  Eh, probably not, but once I get into the part about the New Age, well…no one’s going to touch that with a ten foot aura.”

Can one measure auras in feet?  Can they be measured in metric, or is that too logical? Clearly they should stick with imperial units, but instead of feet, they should be measured in fathoms…or even better, hogsheads because…what the fuck do you use hogsheads for anyway and why is there a conversion for them in every composition book?  TELL ME!

Right, so, intelligent discourse. 

So as is the seeming tradition, I was having a morning text conversation with Shaun as I ate my cereal at my desk at work and he commuted to his job.  These conversations are an infinite source of entertainment for me as the subjects are never predictable.  Today I mentioned my insecurity about being the idiot writer on here and this is what ensued:

Me: Good morning! After reading through your and Ginny’s posts from the weekend, I am once again feeling like the dumb one.  But if my role is comic relief, then so be it!

Shaun: It’s not like we are actually smarter, it’s just that we tend to be less hilarious.

Me: I think seeing the posts next to each other showed me the stark contrast.  Not that I’m not writing things with depth, I am just aware of how little I actually know.

Shaun: Well, if we were posting on a blog about chemistry or toilets, the tables would be quite turned!

Me: Haha, awesome. I’m glad this is the legacy I have created for myself.

Shaun: Your arcane toilet knowledge is legendary!

Me: You know, it’s something I’ve worked really hard at.  Soon bathroom activities will be incomprehensible like in Demolition Man and people will yearn for a simpler time.  I will be able to tell those stories.  It’s called the Folk Process, or something.

Shaun: So, in the future we won’t take shits? That’s either awesome or disturbing, but either way it is fodder for science fiction.

Me: Dude, I don’t know how the three seashells work either.  I’d be screwed in that future.

So, as you can see, Shaun has invited a person who references Demolition Man in text message when it’s really not warranted to write here.  Here’s the promise I will make: I will continue to read and learn, and I will always try to back up my statements with evidence.  But really, there’s a whole lot I don’t know.  I realize everyone can (and should) say that, but I’m talking contextually to the rest of this blog.  I think that writing here will inspire me to go after more knowledge.  Sometimes gaining this knowledge will drive me nuts (I have been going through a period of growth recently where I keep getting disappointed in people and feeling hopeless about the world, but I think it will result in me feeling stronger), but ultimately, it’s always worth it.  Choosing ignorance never makes sense to me.  Why would you want to be in the dark when you don’t have to be?  Because it’s easier?  I suppose, but that never seemed easy to me because I always knew that the answers were there if you wanted them…and I always want them.

Stay tuned for a detailed critical essay of Judge Dredd.  Now that will be some fine literature!

My Warped History with Religion

I remember sitting in a World History class in highschool when we were doing a section about organized religion.  We were talking about the five major religion.

I grew up near Fabric Row in Philadelphia.  Historically this part of town is very Jewish.  In the early days of the 20th century, Fabric Row was part of a very large marketplace that was primarily run by Jewish families.  Today there is still a highly concentrated Jewish population there.  When I started school at 5, I was introduced to  the kids of the neighborhood…who were mostly Jewish.  As I got older, this didn’t particularly change.  I was among them.  My mother’s entire family is Russian Jew.  My father, I suppose, would be Catholic if only because his father was 100% Italian and in his words, “When you’re Italian, you’re just Roman Catholic…it doesn’t really mean anything”.  So, I’m half Jewish, but the “right” half to become a citizen of Israel, if I so desired…and also to avoid “Shiksa” status, if you care about such things.  This was basically the case with all of my friends.  In addition, very few of the Jews I knew were particularly religious.  They participated in rituals and went through their bar/batmitvahs, but no one seemed to actually care about “God” itself.  None of them prayed as far as I knew.  The most I heard anyone talk about religion is when they were whining about having to eat matzo during Passover.

Meanwhile, while my mother liked the idea of the cultural side of Judaism, she didn’t believe in any of it.  Instead, she was into astrology and the New Age.  My parents were both in EST (a New Age group that was very popular in the 70’s and 80’s)…

Side note: So, I totally went to look up a page on EST so that I link information about it here and all I found was that the founder used to be a used car dealer and is now on the run from the law.  HOT!

Anyway, my parents eventually rejected EST because, while a lot of the ideas that they were teaching were good (personal control and responsibility), it turned out that they were full of crap.  But, my mom still thinks about astrology and numerology and things like that.  This was very prevalent in my life when I was very young.  Also prevalent was the idea that organized religion was a pox on the world.

When I was five years old, my dad took me out walking around on South Street.  A middle aged man came up to me standing with my dad and spoke to me directly.  He  went to hand me a lollipop but before he let me take it, he asked, “Do you take Jesus to be your Lord and Savior?”

Without skipping a beat, I looked the guy in the eye and said, “I’m not really into Jesus.  I’ll take the lollipop though.”  My dad was astounded.  And looking back, I mark this as my first point of consciousness about my atheism.

So, for those following along, my perspective on religion/atheism at the time was that the biggest religion in the world was Judaism but that it was pretty meaningless because everyone was an atheist anyway.  I honestly believed that atheists were the majority.  Even more hilarious, I thought atheist Jews were the majority.  In addition, what I did know of spirituality in my own home was a spirituality centered around the stars, the spiritual significance of numbers and possibly crystals and past lives.  I was raised that the Universe will give you the things you want if you ask for it.  It was magic and I liked the idea of it…but I don’t think I ever really believed in it.  Needless to say, I had a peculiar and incorrect view of the world.

So I’m sitting in this class and it is revealed to me the Judaism is the smallest religion of the “big five”.  I was surprised.  Part one of my peculiar world view gone.  Then I got older and when I was a senior in highschool I was suddenly made aware that really very people I knew were atheists and that they found atheists utterly insulting.

I wrote an essay in for English about how I didn’t see why anyone needed prayer to be officially sanctioned in school.  It was in response to an article I read about a group of teens that formed a prayer group that would meet before school everyday.    The teens started the group because they felt deprived not being able to pray during class time.

I didn’t get it.  I mean, couldn’t you just pray to yourself during math class or something?  So…I wrote about it and the essay was handed out to the entire class (without my name) to be workshopped as a piece of writing.

Oy…it was a poorly written piece in my opinion.  But, of course, no one was getting on my case about the syntax or bad structure.  They were all up in arms about my disrespect for religion.  Suddenly I looked around the room (no one knowing that it was me who wrote it) and saw room full of people completely offended and hateful about the fact that I didn’t see prayer in school as appropriate.

I graduated and then went to Drexel and met Wes.  At the time, I was identifying as an atheist, but I still had the remains of liking the idea of the stars dictating my destiny and getting what I wanted from “The Universe”.  I don’t really remember how it happened that I lost the last of this, but I don’t remember it being cathartic.  It was just another thing that I got rid of when I thought about it rationally.

I am happy to be more aware now, to finally be joining in the “New Atheist” party.  I sort of regret that I am so late to it, but better late than never, right?  As I have started reading many atheist bloggers, I finally feel a sense of community in that aspect of my life.  Next month, just after I turn 31, I will be attending the Reason Rally and I have to tell you that I am really quite excited about it.  Before now, I don’t know that I ever defined atheism as an important thing about me to myself, but as I see the country inching towards theocracy I find that it is highly important.

Like I said, better late than never.

OMG, Burlesque!

Hello!  I meant to write earlier today, but seeing that I had the work day from hell (hell being other people…demanding that I do a lot annoying, time consuming, stress inducing, curse yielding, insanity producing tasks) I had barely a second to myself to use company time to blog.  As such, I am updating this with the magic of mobile technology while waiting for the train to go into Philadelphia, because I multitask like that.

Do you notice that the word multitask has tit in the middle of it?  SO DID I!

Speaking of tits…

See what I did there? I totally left out the hyphen to make a joke in bad taste for the purposes of promoting my burlesque show tonight!  That’s what we in the biz call clever writing.

I’m not sure what business I’m talking about.  Probably used car dealer ad writing.

Many months ago, Shaun wrote a post introducing me to his audience.  In it, he stated that I’m a chemist, am in a band, do a lot of theater stuff and “other things that might not be appropriate to mention here”.  I’m assuming he wasn’t talking about my bisexuality (as he, nor I really, knew about that yet).  And I also assume that he wasn’t talking about that I think nuclear holocaust jokes are funny…in the right context…which is usually in the context of zombies and the fact that my grandfather has a sliderule used to calculate the number of megadeaths that would be caused by a blast.

No, likely he was talking about the fact that last July I officially became a burlesque dancer.  In fact, we consider our anniversary to be the evening of my first performance when he couldn’t help but show his interest.  There’s something to be said for a woman you like saying “yeah, it’s been nice talking to you.  Would you like to come see me strip artfully in public?”

Tonight I am doing my second ever performance, along with my husband, my husband’s girlfriend, my girlfriend (who happens to also be my husband’s other girldfriend and Shaun’s fiancee) and a few other people who haven’t managed to join our fabulous polyamorous web of fabulousness.  Also, Shaun’s running lights and sound.  It’s family affair!

Some day I’ll draw you a diagram.

Burlesque is a wonderful thing.  Yeah, at it’s heart it is stripping, but because it comes from the days of Vaudville, it is truly the art of the strip tease.  There is an artfulness to it and it is most certainly theatrical.  It is generally enjoyed by boys and girls alike.  It is empowering!  When you do a burlesque number, you are dancing because you want to…and the audience is privelaged to get to see it.

I adore it.  It makes me feel sexy and confident and puts me in touch with a strong feminity that I generally deny myself on a day to day basis.

Anyway, if you’re local and would like to check it out, swing by the Shubin Theatre (4th and Bainbridge) tonight and tomorrow at 8pm!

This shameless self promotion was not only authorized but requested by Shaun, so send your complaints to him!

Hello! And Thanks for All the Odd Looks

Hello, good readers of Atheist, polyamorous, skeptics!  Gina here, of The Martinelli Variety Hour fame!  In an exciting turn of events, Shaun has invited me to contribute on here, since I’m one of those atheist, polyamorous skeptics he’s always going on about.  And since I am the author of a blog being officially followed by a whopping SIXTEEN people, you know that I’m going to really jazz up this place with the celebrity that I bring to the table.  I also happen to be dating him and his fiancee.  These things are unrelated…I think.

What’s that? You have not read my blog?  You are not one of those sixteen people?  Oh…well…fine.  I know.  I’m not particularly famous, but one time one of my posts got a lot of hits and I was on the news many, many years ago for walking around in an American flag unitard on Independence Day.  It was back in the days before YouTube, so you probably missed it.  But let me just tell you, as a five year old, I made this country look good with the power of patriotic spandex.

Mental note: Patriotic Spandex would be a fabulous name for a band…possibly for an ironic Tim McGraw tribute band.  Or, like, a hair metal band that sings songs about missing the days of McCarthyism.

Second Mental Note: I will write a song called “You Have Been Blacklisted from My Love”

So…yes, Shaun wanted me to start contributing here because these types of brilliant observations are what I offer as a blogger.  For the most part, I will be writing on my own blog and cross posting here when the subject is relevant.  I write about polyamory, atheism, and feminism a lot over there.  I also write a lot about toilets and other subjects not appropriate for this blog over there, so…take that for what it’s worth.  But if you’d like to know about me, my family and my super sweet personal life, feel free to check it out.

Anyway, as an intro to my presence here, I wanted to talk about something relevant that happened to me recently.  Warnings: I am kind of long winded, and I like to curse.  The F-Bomb is one of my favorite words to use, especially when surrounded by really good vocabulary.  Full disclosure: I also really like the word F-Bomb.  Anyway, onto my story.

Generally in my life, the subjects of polyamory, atheism and feminism are sort of separate things.  Sometimes, two of them intersect.  It is a rare thing when all three intersect, but it has been known to happen.  Take, for example, my recent experience at an atheist meetup in the area.

So, if you read this blog or generally any blog dealing with the skeptic community, you might have noticed that there is an ongoing debate about the low amount of women at skeptic events.  Apparently, this is a subject of great controversy because women sometimes speak out about wanting to feel comfortable and accepted at events they attend and therefore they are cunts…or something.  I don’t know.  I think a bunch of other things were said, but that’s ultimately the conclusion a lot of people seem to come to.  Other people like to be apologists about it and say that you should just be better at being comfortable in uncomfortable situations because dudes are dudes, yo, and you are totes hot.  Don’t you like being told that you are hot?  Other people still find it necessary to ask the question, “Why are women uncomfortable in the first place?”

So, I show up to the meetup.  Days before I had expressed an interest to Shaun because I thought that starting to be a presence at the local meetup would move the whole “women feeling cool about being places with men” thing forward.  His immediate response was, “You know you’re going to be hit on constantly, right?”  Later, he invited me to the next one and I asked if it was going to be horrible and he assured me that most of the people were nice.  So, I get there and find that the meetup consists of a long table with about 12 people sitting at it: one woman and a bunch of dudes.

What I experienced was not what I expected (me getting hit on relentlessly).

I sat down next to Shaun and was promptly not acknowledged by anyone there (except Shaun, of course).  I had met a couple of the other people there before, so I took the initiative to say hello, shake hands, whatever and that’s fine because it’s not everyone else’s job, necessarily, to get me to be social.  But, no one else, for several minutes looked at me, made eye contact with me or said a word to me.  At some point, the other guy sitting next to me turned around and introduced himself.  He happened to be in his 50’s and polyamorous and was clearly a hippie back in the days of hippies.  He was pleasant and I enjoyed talking to him.  The people sitting directly across from me refused to acknowledge my existence for most of the time I was there.

Then this other guy started talking about how when he goes to a bar, he likes to go up to women and treat them like crap so that he can figure out how much they can handle…because he’s an asshole apparently and wants women who put up with assholes.  I guess there’s nothing fundamentally wrong with this strategy, but I found it strange that he chose to start talking about basically verbally abusing strange women in bars for the purposes of sex right around the time I got there.  As in, he started this story a few minutes after I sat down as though on cue.  I remember making a comment like “Cool idea, bro!” but I think I said it pretty quietly.

After a few minutes he began to tell us a tale of how he picked up this woman at a bar once who invited him back to her place.  Shaun would tell me later that this guy identifies as polyamorous.  This an important point to, um, point out.  Anyway, the guy goes back to her apartment and upon entry into the bedroom, he sees a men’s suit hanging on the door.

“Yo, are you married?” he asked.

“Yeah, but he won’t be back for another hour,” she said.

“Whaaa?” He…um…gurgled.

“He doesn’t mind.”

The guy went on to say something like “Oh yeah, I’m sure, har har” and I piped in, “Well, you don’t know.  You don’t know what their rules are or what the structure of their relationship is.  She wasn’t necessarily lying.”

The guy sitting next to him, who had managed to not talk to me at all even though I said things directly to him says, “Yeah, he might be into cuckolding.”  And they laughed because (A) how absurd and (B) there are no other possibilities.

I was sitting on a beer and almost spit it out everywhere while Shaun laughed and reminded me that this was an atheist meetup and not a polyamory meetup.  But the one dude was poly, so…I don’t get the point of his story.  All it really did was serve as a way to kind of mock nonmonogamy and objectify a woman and paint her as a probable liar.

Finally, as a few people started to leave the meetup, I was able to engage in conversation with some people, but only after really being outgoing and talkative myself.  I made a lot of effort to get into the whole thing and was met with minimal results.

So, I’m telling this story because my experience was benign but typical.  I am telling this story because I think it answers the question why a lot of women don’t feel like getting more involved.  No one called me names or hit on me or anything like that, but my presence wasn’t valued.  By some of the people’s reactions it is possible that my presence was intimidating either because of the simple fact that I was female and making eye contact or because I was confident and outgoing.  Whatever the reason, I left feeling like the whole thing had been sort of a waste of time, except that I got to hang out with Shaun and a few of his close friends.  That was, of course, enjoyable.

Will I go back?  Yes, probably.  I will go back, not because it was a particularly great way to spend an evening for me, but because by continuing to be a presence there it could turn into a great way to spend an evening and me being there could start to make it more comfortable for other women to be there too.  It is a simple step towards something important and it’s something that I can be a part of.

So hello out there.  I hope you enjoy whatever I might put on here.  Let the games begin!