Wednesday, December 14, 2011

commitment

choose                        life love or pleasure
                                                                                    kiss the flame
                                                                                       touch skin
                                                                    give
                                                                     her
                                                                     to
                                                                    me
                                                               but you
                                                                      I
                                                                    we
                                                  do not                      live
                                               only my body would drag together
                                                           this discovery
                                                           of feeling full                  
                                                                  with
                                                                  you
                                                                 here 

Sunday, December 11, 2011

moment ii


I'm cleaning my room for the first time in months. I haven't been here in longer, as I've been living the life of a college student bumming sleep in friends' dorms for the past semester.  It's Christmas Eve and as I ruminate on how this year has turned out, I fold clothes and pile them like Eiffel towers on my bed. I listen to my iPod on shuffle and sing along as I change to moving m stack of books from one corner of the room to the other. Cleaning is just a matter of replacement, I've found. You move things from one undesirable place, usually somewhere inconvenient and open like the bed or the floor, to another undesirable place, usually somewhere already crammed with countless other things that have been moved like drawers and closets fitted with doors ready to precipitate open and spill its contents. And so life goes. 
I sigh a deep heavy sigh and twirl around to face my cleaned room. I am met with the unforgivingly cruel glare of Alex from A Clockwork Orange; John Travolta and Samuel L. Jackson, both intent on shooting me; John Lennon, shaded glasses hiding the expression in his timeless eyes; the old man on the stairway headed to heaven shining his light ahead of him to light both our ways; David and several  Madonnas and Modigliani's babe and Chirico's statues and Monet's girls all staring glassily my way; and Gonzo, good old heart-achingly human Gonzo, boring holes into my mind as though searching for that sweet, sweet naively and hopefulness that I cradled six months ago when I was on top of the world and had figured out the secret to happiness.  
Which was, I thought, Just Being and going back to the Sixties (not just the Hippie Era, you know, but the whole beauty of the time, the glorious insight to what people really are). And I remember that time when I thought drugs were perhaps a good thing if you used them correctly and goddamn I was going to use them ( correctly)  and live a life that everyone only dreamed of but was too chained down by responsibilities to live-- travelling 'round learning philosophy and religion and people and hitchhiking and jumping trains and learning learning learning about the world. Oh, but Gonzo, you knew best, because not several months after those giddy-hearted days, I spiraled into a depression that left me cold, distant, disillusioned, unmercifully apathetic, and completely unable to connect to any other human being. Gone were the days of salvation, of precious Hope, of soaring dreams so common of the adolescent.
Blinking my eyes in the hard light of the lamp, I raise my hands to the ceiling and whisper woefully to the lonesome fan,
Me?

Friday, August 12, 2011

Polyamory: The Basics

What is polyamory? Some of you may have heard of it, some of you may have not. Most of you are probably familiar with the concept but don't quite know the word to describe it. So let's start with the formal definition:

Polyamory literally means "many loves", from the Greek word "poly" (many) and the Latin word "amore" (love). So, a polyamorous relationship is theoretically a romantic (and perhaps sexual) relationship in which there are more than two parties involved and all parties know of each other and consent to this kind of relationship. It is based on romantic love, where sexual activity may or may not be included. It is based on complete and utter honesty and freely flowing communication, and is, in essence, just like any other relationship, except more people are involved.

To dispel confusion that may have risen from this definition, I'm going to do a little Q&A section now, to answer some frequently asked questions (and comments) that many may have.

Is there a difference between polygamy and polyamory?
Yes. Polygamy is also polyamory, but it also has the label of marriage slung over it. So, those who are in a polygamous relationship are also in a polyamorous one, the only difference being that you're married to one (or more) of your partners.

So polyamory is basically cheating except your partner lets you.
Absolutely not. Cheating is not an absolute list of actions or behaviours that your partner may do. What may be cheating to you may not be cheating to me. For example, some people might consider flirting with others while in a relationship to be cheating, but I personally don't count that as such. Every single relationship is different and the rules change with each single relationship you have. You have to make them with your partner(s) and everyone needs to know beforehand and consent. Rules change, of course, so communication and honesty in any relationship, especially in a poly one is key. If your partner lets you 'cheat', that's not called cheating, by the way. Absolutely everyone needs to know what's going on. If your "mistress" does not know you have a wife but your wife knows you have a mistress, that's called dishonesty, and usually, by everyone's standards, dishonesty is cheating.

What's the difference between an open relationship and a polyamorous one?
Usually, an open relationship is one in which a couple decides to stay with each other and also have usually, only sexual relationships with others, leaving the romantic and emotional components to them two. In a poly relationship, the couple agrees that falling in love with someone else while still being in love with each other is an okay situation.

If you truly love someone, you don't want or need anyone else, so going to someone else for sex or love is wrong and it means you don't really love who you're with anymore.
I really love this statement because this is one of the most important obstacles you need to get through to understand polyamory. There are several models of love out there, but I'm going to discuss the two that the statement above points to. The first is the "starvation model", which says that once you love someone, in order to love someone else, you have to retract the love you have from the first person and place it to the second person. It's basically saying that love is an object or like money, because once you give this object or the money to someone, you have less (or none) to give to everyone else.

And this is just not true. Love is not money, love is not an object. Think of it this way. Do you only have one single friend that you love, or do you have more than one that you love differently, but still truly love? Do you only love one of your children with all of your heart, and leave your other one without affection, because you cannot possibly love both at the same time? How about your family? You may say "Well, romantic love is different than friendship love or family love or child love." And you're right, it is. But it is still love, and only because you love someone definitely does not mean you cannot love someone else, obviously. People rarely only stay with one person their entire lives, they usually have multiple partners. What's the difference between serial monogamy and polyamory other than a timeline? There can come a time where two (or more) people will come into your life and you love them both and you will think you have to choose.

Why choose? If you love both of them, but differently, but still both, why must you choose, unless the two don't consent to that type of relationship?

The second model is the "scarcity model" which says that once we fall in love with another person, the switch is turned off and we just physically cannot feel any other type of romantic emotion for anyone else until our emotions for the first person disintegrate. And that's just not true. Our emotions don't work as switches, they are more like a spectrum.

Well, you're just being selfish, because you're not choosing and you want them all and you just can't have your cake and eat it too.
How is giving your love and allowing your partner to love other people selfish? If anything, it is the least selfish kind of relationship. Why can't you have your cake and eat it too? I never understood this concept. Why not? Who's stopping you, other than perhaps the one who you're loving not understand or not accepting that type of relationship.

So how do you make this all work? It sounds really complicated.
It is. And it takes a lot of work, just as any other kind of relationship does. But it gets easier if you go by the tenets of complete and utter honesty with everyone involved, brutal and open communication even if it hurts, and knowing that feelings change, rules change, people change, and that is okay. You also need to manage your time a bit better, because instead of hanging out with one person, you might be hanging out with more.

Polyamory is for those who can't commit.
Actually, if you're in a relationship with more than one person, that's twice the commitment. Commitment is not based on the rule of one, it is based on the rule of promising that you will be honest, caring, loving, that you will try to be a good partner, and uphold a relationship for as long as it lasts with that person, to act upon their needs and desires, to listen to them, and to basically be a good partner. You can have more than one commitment, and that doesn't make each one less valuable or valid.

So which one is the right kind of relationship, polyamory or monogamy?
It depends on what's right for you. This isn't one of those 1+1 = 2 kinds of situations. There is no right kind of relationship. You answer for yourself, and you do what feels right for you. If you are poly and you are forcing yourself to be monogamous, you'll only hurt you and your partner. If you're monogamous and cannot for the life of you be poly, than don't. Don't do anything you don't want to. This isn't something you should force yourself to do. Relationships are to help you grow and love and carry on,  not to cage you and force you to submit to something you don't feel comfortable with. Every single person's needs and desires are different and that is okay. Everyone will need a different kind of relationship and that. is. perfectly. fine.

If my partner wants to be in a relationship with someone else, does that mean I'm not adequate enough for them? Am I not special anymore?
If they want to dump you, that means you're not adequate for them. If they still want to be with you, that means you are. But you have to understand that you cannot and will not be everything that they want. Nobody is perfect and that is alright. If they are into some kinky thing that you really can't stand, and they go to someone else, why does that pain you? With more partners, they can teach you something you may really like, or you may learn something and use it in the bedroom or beyond and it might really change your relationship positively. You get to interact with new people and possibly make friends (and even lovers). This does not mean that you are not special to them. You are. Each love is different, and even if they love someone else, they will still love you the same way they did when they didn't love that other person. The things you did with them, you will still do. Those precious moments are still valuable.

Don't you ever get jealous?
Yes! I love this question! Jealousy is one of those things that is the most frightful feelings that will potentially ruin your relationship if you don't fix it. Of course, people get jealous all the time. Some people may not, and to those, I bow down to you and envy you immensely. Jealousy is a very green monster, but she is not to be cherished and she is not to be ran away from. Contrary to popular belief, being jealous is not a positive thing. It is a very, very bad thing. It means that you are insecure in some form or another and there is an underlying problem that you must take care of. Jealousy itself is only a symptom of the problem, not the problem itself.

So how do you get rid of it? Well, it depends on why you're jealous. If you're feeling insecure that they don't love you, communication may help. Introspection and mending your personal insecurities, whether they be physical or emotional will help. Communication will help. Removing yourself from the situation emotionally and logically dissecting the problem will give you a new perspective and make you see what you need to work on. Communication will also help. Have you noticed how many times I've said communication? That's because you need to do it. You need to talk to your partner(s) and tell them what you're feeling. Don't be afraid, don't be ashamed of this. The more you keep it in, the more it will fester and the more it will consume you completely. Being completely honest and communicating with your partner(s) will make the process of healing quicker.

Do not expect this problem to disappear within a day. This requires long, hard work, several months or years, or maybe even a lifetime to conquer. But it is possible. Trust me.

Monogamous relationships are more stable than poly ones.
Poly people are only now coming out. For decades, at least in the United States, the poly kind of relationship has been looked down upon. Not enough data has really been provided for this, at least not from what I've seen. Either way, I think each relationship is different and the type of relationship is not the problem, it's the people in it. Neither monogamy nor polyamory "fail" or "succeed", only the people in it do.

What if I don't want to have sex or love my partner's partner?
You don't have to. That's called a menage a trois (French) which is basically a triangle. Each person has sex or romantic relationships with the other two. But you have to be civil to a point, and it does help if you're friends with your partner's partner.

How about STD's? Children?
The STD game is not any different in poly relationships than it is when you're in a monogamous one or even single. Check and tell. After every time. Easy peasy. With children, it's a bit more difficult, but the thing is, that if your partners are good people, the more "parents" and people there are in the child or children's life/lives, the more love and affection and attention they will get (don't spoil them), and that will only be better for them as they grow up. It is up to you to choose partners who will not abuse your children or you.

I'm interested in this kind of relationship, but I don't think or know if my partner is. How do I approach them about this?
Gently. You suggest to them this relationship, you tell them about it, and you reassure them that you still love them. You should probably be strong in your current relationship before you bring more people into it though. Contrary to popular belief, if your current relationship is shit, bringing more emotions, feelings, and people into it, will not make it any better, it will probably fall to pieces.

So I have the people, what do I do?
You need to see that everyone is on the same page, that everyone wants more or less everything that everyone else does, and if they don't, that a compromise can be set. Everyone needs to be happy in this relationship. You are doing this relationship because you want to, not because you have to. If you're doing this just to please your partner, don't do it. You and everyone else will regret it later.

The above should do it for the simple basics of polyamory. Know that if you are poly, you are not alone. There is a world of loving around you. If you're monogamous and would never be able to do this, that's okay. If you want to try, do so, but do so carefully and attentively. Don't lie, be honest, be open, etc. You have the hearts of more than just one person in your hand so tread carefully.

And last, I would like to put some links up that helped me a lot when I first began this journey:

www.xeromag.com/fvpoly.html this is very similar to what I just wrote above.
www.xeromag.com/fvpolyjealousy.htmlwww.xeromag.com/fvpolyrefrigerator.html, and www.xeromag.com/fvpolypiano.html are all ways to deal with your jealousy. Check out the rest of the site because it is very helpful and has articles on how to date a couple, poly do's and dont's, ways to communicate, myths, mistakes, how to deal with polyamory if 
you're a monogamous person, etc. 
http://www.polyamory.org
Also, the book Opening Up: Creating and Sustaining Open Relationships by Tristan Taormino is absolutely fantastic and you should definitely read it, even if you already are jogging down the non-monogamy road. 



Wednesday, August 10, 2011

to be

She walks across the grass, legs elegantly bending the blades, sure steady boots moulding her step into the ground. Her long golden hair, ending far below her waist, ripples in the flecks of sunshine that shower down past the enveloping branches of the trees. She makes her way resolutely to the swingset, her choice already made from afar. She is dressed all in black on this still summer day, cooler than past days, but warmer than the ones to come. She gently drops her purse and sweater and sits on the swing, calmly grasps the chains, and digs her toes into the earth

high and higher, her hair dancing now behind her
wind rustling through the empty spaces between fabric and skin

she smiles
a smile that can only be described as

pure                                       complete                                                           joy

enjoying life as only children can,

simply

being Happy as only children can,

by Being


fixes her eyes upwards
and mine travel there too
where I see a network of translucent green
the veins and blood of the leaves
weaving a web of protection
of safety
of love

looks only upwards as she swings higher
her teeth shining brighter
her smile widening further
her eyes open

open

open





and in those moments,










SHE IS
i am learning to take simple actions, events
and turn them into webs of thoughts & metaphors

a walk in the park
a fish whose fading heartbeat pulses under my fingers
five ducklings who test the might of a surging river
all gently advancing to something beyond
all weave into a maze of patterns
ribbons of human realization and aha moments
an endless realm of conclusions and re-conclusions
pursing of lips, the gears of our minds creaking

i am learning to make something out of nothing
not with my limbs, but with my mind & mouth
body decomposing into the earth
slowly ridden by Nature's most efficient mercenaries
only lips & brain rising victorious above
the enveloping blades of green  

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

happiness

We do not comprehend the meaning of happiness. Humans were not made for it, thought they so desperately desire and crave it. We say constantly I want to be happy, all I want it to be happy, but when you get down to it, we're all just lying to ourselves. Because we don't really want happiness, even though we think we do. No, because each time we grasp it, each time we hold the most precious moment in this world, we fling it away from us. We are masochists and liars, deluding ourselves, and for what cause?

Progress. For if we were truly happy, we would never have come this far. We would never have fought off our competitors, never evolved into these creatures that we are now. We would never have risen to such great heights, those of Modern Technology, Medicine, and Science. Never would we have transformed this earth into cold steel, never have built monuments of such grand Beauty. We would never have developed Art, for Art comes from misery, rarely happiness.

We cannot physically compel ourselves to keep what we desire for if we did, it would be the end of us. We would perish. We would decompose in the crushing claws of Bliss. We would die with smiles upon our faces, those structures of metal crumbling around us, grass and flowers spreading themselves under our fingernails. We would slowly be consumed by our temptations, drowning in our laughter.

No, we must struggle until our deaths, struggle with Death herself, grappling for Life and choking against Time, pleading for more, more, constantly more. We cannot possibly be content with anything, not even ourselves, for that would destroy the very essence of who we are, the most basic elements in our beings. It would be betrayal of mind and body. We must constantly whine and plead and grovel for that which we crave, but truly despise. Because if we don't, if we refuse to delude ourselves, we will perish explosively and in luminescent Truth not even properly born, but in the womb of our mothers. We would see the pointlessness of human Life and this realization would consume us so completely, we would have no choice but to cease to exist. 

 
What we most want and Love is not Happiness, but Misery, for through it
we survive. 

Monday, July 11, 2011

A Response to a Critique on Open Marriage

 Closing the Book on Open Marriage by W. Bradford Wilcox

The Open Marriage, by Nena and George O’Neill, was published in 1972, as the sexual revolution gathered steam in America. The best-selling book encouraged spouses to “to strip marriage of its antiquated ideals” and, most famously in one chapter, to explore sexual partnerships outside their marriage, if they so desired. 

This is true. However, as the Wikipedia article (which Wilcox provides as a source) describes, the concepts of sexual partnerships outside of marriage  "entered the cultural consciousness and the term "open marriage" became a synonym for sexually non-monogamous marriage, much to the regret of the O'Neills. In the 1977 publication of The Marriage Premise, Nena O'Neill advocated sexual fidelity in the chapter of that name." Even though the writers did touch upon the idea, they didn't necessarily believe that this mode of marriage was the best one for everyone, only perhaps for some.

Fortunately, the book has since come to be seen as an antiquated relic of the Me Decade, when all too many men and women put their own desires—in the sexual arena, as in so many other arenas—ahead of the needs of their spouse, their marriage, and their children. While swinging may have seemed reasonable to some at the height of the sexual revolution, many couples and the vast majority of Americans have since turned away from the idea. Source, please. 

In fact, notwithstanding the recent marital misbehavior of athletes, actors, and politicians, public tolerance for marital infidelity has fallen since the 1970s, with fully 79 percent of American adults now saying that infidelity is“always wrong.”  Okay, okay, hold up. Infidelity is one thing and having an open marriage is another. Infidelity does not mean having sex outside of a relationship. Infidelity means that, usually, one is having sex outside of a relationship without the consent of one's partner. It requires no communication and no honesty. If you and your partner are in agreement that one or both of you will have sexual and/or romantic relations outside of the relationship/marriage, then that is not infidelity and that is not cheating. Second of all, the link provided has absolutely nothing to do with infidelity. Moreover, recent research from the National Marriage Project indicates that infidelity has also declined in recent years to the point where just 16 percent of married men and 10 percent of married women now report that they have been unfaithful. Key word is "report". Yes, there are a large amount of those who are cheating on their spouses who don't report that fact. I'd also like to see this recent research and how the survey was directed. So, clearly, in contemporary America that vast majority of couples reject infidelity in theory and practice. I'm not sure how true this is, but even so, that has absolutely nothing to do with open marriage. Again infidelity does not equal consentual agreement of having sex outside of the marriage. The former requires no consent and no knowledge of such an action and the latter requires both consent and knowledge. See the difference?

Unfortunately, sex-advice columnist Dan Savage and academic apologists for open marriage would like to turn back the clock to this dark chapter in American marital history. Dark chapter? Are you serious? Tell me, what's the divorce rate today? Savage, who got a big plug in a recent The New York Times Sunday Magazine cover story, argues for a more “realistic” marital ethic that makes a place for nonmonogamy for some couples (so long as both parties consent), and is more forgiving of the occasional affair. Again, affair is a term that is linked with infidelity. There is no such thing as an affair in an open relationship unless the sexual possibility was not discussed beforehand. In his view, “we’re not wired for monogamy,” some spouses can actually enrich their marriage by spicing up their sex or emotional lives with an extramarital relationship, and a one-size-fits-all sexual ethic cannot begin to cover the variability of human sexual desire. I agree with Savage. Some people are monogamous, some are not. That is totally fine and we should have relationships in which we are happy, not constricted by societal or personal restrictions. 

By the way, the article linked above is actually a pretty good read. 

Savage-style love has also been getting a pass from some progressive family scholars. Family sociologist Judith Stacey signaled her basic agreement with Savage’s philosophy in the Times profile: “What integrity means for me is we shouldn’t impose a single vow of monogamy as a superior standard for all relationships.” And in a recent New York Press article, family historian Stephanie Coontz said “nonmonogamy” is “one of the ways that some people may handle the pressures of a world where people want partnerships but live long lives and have frequent opportunities.”

So, what is the problem with a little “nonmonogamy” in marriage, so long as everyone is open and honest about it? There are at least five problems with open marriage.

1. Even today, sex often results in pregnancy. In the heat of the moment, couples do not always use contraception. And for those who do, more than 10 percent of women aged 15-44 engaging in “typical use” contraception get pregnant over the course of a year, according to a recent Guttmacher Institute study. So, open marriages pose a real risk that children will be born without the benefit of two, married parents. Of course it does. Any kind of sexual relationship in which one doesn't use contraceptives (or even if one does) carries the risk of producing something living within the womb of the woman. This doesn't just include open marriages or relationships though, this also includes monogamous marriages as well as monogamous relationships, especially if there is sexual infidelity involved. That's why it's important to always use the contraceptive, yes? I promise you that somebody who uses protection in an open marriage is less likely to have surprises than somebody who doesn't in a monogamous marriage. As a further thought, only because you are in an open relationship does not necessarily mean that you have more sexual partners than someone who is in a monogamous relationship. Ever heard of serial monogamy? It depends completely on the person's willingness to use the correct protection and how many partners one decides to have.

As an aside, what does it matter if a baby is born without two married parents? I thought American society was over the issue of having a child out of wedlock. A child can be raised very well by parents who have not been married. 


2. Monogamous, married sex is more likely to deliver long-lasting satisfaction than the quick thrill offered by infidelity.Again, open marriage does not equal infidelity. I don't understand how Wilcox can come to this conclusion when the very definition of open marriage is "a marriage in which the partners agree that each may engage in extramarital sexual relationships, without this being regarded as infidelity"According to the renowned University of Chicago Sex Survey, a “monogamous sexual partnership embedded in a formal marriage evidently produces the greatest satisfaction and pleasure.” This study found that both women and men like the emotional security that fidelity affords, and are more likely to report that they are “anxious,” “scared,” and “guilty” when they have had sex with multiple partners in the last year. It would help if the link provided was of the actual results rather than the abstract of the study. It would also help if there were a study that isn't about 20 years old. Until the proper link is provided, I will disbelieve this point. 

3.People often do not realize what they are really consenting to when it comes to open marriage. Absolutely untrue to a degree of complete bullshit I don't even know how to react to. People do know exactly what they're getting into when it comes to an open marriage. People know exactly what an open marriage is and if they don't, they can look it up quite easily. What may be a bit more confusing is what a marriage is in the first place because it seems that nowadays, people have different definitions of it. But open ones are quite clear. If you are married to someone and you do not realize what you are consenting to when you say 'yes' to open marriage, then you're absolutely, undeniably stupid. Sexual relationships require some combination of time, money, and emotional effort. No, actually that would be a romantic relationship. The only thing that a sexual relationship requires of you is time. If money is included, you're going to a prostitute for her services, and if emotional effort is required, that's not simply sexual, that's also a bit more romantic. Efforts devoted to an outside partner can detract from efforts to invest in your spouse. Again, absolutely not. How much effort are you putting into an outside partner? How much time are you spending with your one-night stand? The only effort you need to put into that partner is a penis/vagina/both/fingers/tongue/insertable object, and that takes at the very most several hours and at the very least several seconds. Don't tell me you'd be paying attention more closely to your spouse in those several seconds of premature ejaculation. Women who have sex with multiple partners are significantly more likely to end up depressed than women who do not. Please, give me the source! This statement is so incredibly sexist. Wilcox assumes that (all) women cannot deal with the emotional and sexual consequences of having more than one partner because of their, I assume, inability to cope with no-strings-attached sex. Let me tell you, from a woman's point a view, that I am actually happier having sex with multiple partners than with only one. And, because sex is an emotionally bonding experience for many (but not all), extramarital sex can easily lead to the breakup of an existing marriage, even when all parties go into the situation with their eyes open. Okay, here's the deal. If you view sex as an emotionally bonding experience and you cannot have no-strings-attached sex, then an open marriage or even an open relationship, or possibly even a polyamorous relationship, is not for you. You are free to be in your monogamous marriage all you'd like. HOWEVER. For those who are okay with romantic-free sex, their relationships are not likely to crumble because of that. If you are okay with something, you are okay with it. If you aren't, you aren't, and you will have issues with the situation if you pretend that you are. That is not the relationship's fault, that is your fault for not being honest with your partner and yourself. If you go into something with your eyes open and then later change your mind and see that you are not okay with the idea, that's perfectly fine. In that case, you should speak with your partner and if your marriage fails because of that, it's because you and your spouse were not compatible, not because the institution of marriage is flawed. The institution is rarely flawed, it is the people in the institution who fuck up that are flawed. 

4. Swinging increases your risk of acquiring a sexually-transmitted disease (STD). One of the best predictors of acquiring an STD is having sex with multiple partners, which is precisely what swinging is all about. Note here also that even consistent condom use often does not protect against STDs that are passed through genital skin to skin contact, such as herpes, HPV, and chancroid. Yes, of course. You know, however, how that can be avoided? Checking that your potential sex partner has no STDs. Sound simple? Betya it is. Problem solved, not a problem anymore. 

5. Open marriages put children at riskThis is the general website, this is not the source. Children are markedly more likely to be physically, emotionally, and especially sexually abused when they are exposed to a revolving carousel of romantic partners in the home, according to a recent federal report on child abuse. I'd love to see the source on that too though I don't doubt it. However, the statement is a bit wrong. "Romantic" partners are not necessarily "sexual" partners. Now Wilcox is stepping into the category of polyamorous marriages. I'd also like to say something about parenting. If your child gets abused because you were not careful who you were having sex (or a relationship) with, then that's your fault, that's not the fault of the institution. You are a bad parent and you should choose your partners more carefully. I'd also like to note that a divorced parent also fits the description of having a "revolving carousel of romantic partners in the home", but Wilcox is not raging against them. And we know nothing of the emotional impact on children of being exposed to open infidelity on the part of their parents. The words "open" and "infidelity" cannot exist within the same sentence. If we know nothing of the emotional impact on children then maybe we should shut the fuck up about it, pardon my French. Actually, I have a feeling, that if children were exposed to more liberal and open, honest relationships between their parents and adults they knew, they would grow up to be much more healthy sexual and emotional people. If you are honest with your relationships and your children about those relationships, I do not see how that could hurt the child. 

And here, for the benefit, a link: www.lovemore.com/articles/thinkkids.php

When it comes to marriage, one of the few bright spots to emerge over the last forty years is increasing public support for sexual fidelity—in both theory and practice. Indeed, social science tells us that married couples who remain faithful to one another enjoy higher-quality marriages, lower rates of divorce, and, yes, higher levels of emotional satisfaction with their sex life. Again, I'd love to see the source on this. Now, Wilcox is throwing around the word "faithful". Faithful means whatever the couple wants it to mean. Every couple has its own set of rules. Having sex outside of a relationship for one may not be deemed unfaithful, but for another, it may. The rules change with each different relationship. Sexual fidelity also increases the odds that children are born into and reared in a stable, two-parent home. Wilcox stresses the 'two parent' thing. Does this mean that divorced parents, or one parent rearing the child offer instability within the child's life? Because I can testify to that being utter bullshit. I do agree that both female and male presences allow for the child to have a more rounded emotional well being, but this does not require two married parents, two parents living together, only two parents, or two parents of heterosexual inclinations. Females and males can be included in the child's life through the appearances of friends, parents who see their children frequently, family, different partners, etc. and all of the options I have mentioned can be as or even more loving than the "missing" parent. There are plenty of children who have had emotional, mental, sexual, verbal abuse directed toward them in their household with two parents. 

For all these reasons, and even though Savage is right to point out that fidelity can be a difficult virtue to live, turning the clock back to the swinging seventies is a stupid idea. Better for the sake of adults, children, and marriage as an institution to keep the book closed on open marriage.

No. Just no. The permeating issues in this article were:

1. Infidelity does not equal open marriage or relationship. As I said before, infidelity means no honesty or communication or consent, whereas an open marriage requires complete honesty, communication, and consent.
2. No reasonable sources.
3. Blanket statements. Not everyone is the same. Not all women are happy with romantic sex. Not everyone is happier in a monogamous marriage. Not everyone, not everyone, not everyone.
4. The issue I had most with this article and with all articles like these, is everyone's needs and desires in the love world are different. Why can't you just leave everybody alone to do their own thing if it's consentual and it doesn't hurt anyone? STDs, pregnancy, and abuse of children can happen quite well in monogamous relationships and in absolutely no relationships at all. It all depends on how you yourself pick your partners and how you yourself raise your child. It's all based on you and the responsibility is all yours to not get riddled with STDs or riddle anyone with them, get pregnant (or get someone else pregnant), and take good care of your child. Yes, accidents do happen but with protection, carefulness, asking people to show you their STD tests, and being honest, open, and good with yourself, your partner, and your child, most of these issues can be easily solved. 

Sunday, July 10, 2011

reality

We already live in the matrix. We will never really know the real thing, only the perception of the real thing, and that is how we define it. All of our perceptions of reality come through our senses. We see, we smell, we touch things and our thoughts are also part of our senses. We cannot interact with this world except through them. We must say that reality comes from within, within our thoughts and our brains. 

And this reality, it is patterns and stability. We walk into the room today and we see the table in the middle of the floor on the same old faded carpet we saw yesterday. And we will walk into the room tomorrow and see the same objects. And we will touch them and smell them and taste them and we will register that the table smells of wood and it tastes of cold and a singular bitterness. We will see the fibers and the colours of the carpets and we sill sit and run our hands across the leather sofas and feel softness. 

Yet what makes these objects more real than our dreams? For we can reconstruct dreams over and over again also, night after night, going through the same streets and feeling the rain on our skin, panting and feeling fear. We can touch the sweet grass underneath our bodies and see the blue, blue sky over us and close our eyes. But we cannot share them with others like we can with our rooms and our gravity. We cannot say to others Look, here is the table and carpet and couch for they will not and cannot see. We cannot share the rules of the dream world with others because there are no rules to share. When we run toward the walls, we go through them, right through yet when we open our eyes, when we approach the wall, we come back bloodied and pained. Over and over again, without fail. Reality does not end, it keeps on going, keeps on controlling you. When you jump off a building, you die, you do not keep on falling, for there is always an end to the height. Only those things that never end, never cease to be are illusory. 

And yet, the lives we live are not strictly real, for we are blinded by the visors of perception. Instead, we converge closer and closer to a point, or a limit, to that ideal absolute reality we so much desire to find. With time, with knowledge, we inch further and whether we ever do reach that magic number is only to be seen. 

Friday, July 8, 2011

airplanes

It was the night that he went missing and you called me at 2 a.m., high on legal grade ex, spewing out your heart to me, telling me that you wanted to be with me, that I was what made you sane, asking if I was willing to give you another try. I whispered that I'd think about it and tell you in the morning and hesitantly whispered I love you after you so easily said it first. I couldn't go to sleep after that and so I looked outside, hand lifting my head toward the windowsill, wondering how your body would feel next to mine, how your lips would taste, how my hands would curve around your breasts, hips, and legs. I decided I would very much like to know those parts of you and to explore you with all my senses, but that was not the problem that kept me awake. Neither was it that I was almost positively sure that a relationship would you would end up deep in the ground, like the first and the second and the third times had. 

It was the lack of airplanes in the sky. Every night for the past two weeks I had been here in this faraway state in which strangers would look at me strangely as I sang along to my iPod, walking the streets in the scorching heat at midday. The days were filled with constantly checking my internet sites, and reading, and writing, and going out to bring in the mail while looking out at the street, where rabbits hopped in real (not that synthetic, scratchy shit we had back home), soft grass. The nights though, were filled with staring up at the ceiling, listening to classic rock and dubstep, naked underneath the covers, watching the airplanes cross the sky every several minutes. 

I've never felt more safe than when I'm in an airplane, flying alone to some destination several hours away. Whether it's only two or twelve hours, the flying behemoth is my sanctuary for that duration of time. In the middle of the sky, suspended between time zones and countries, only clouds so sculpted you'd think they could hold you up above and beneath you, there's a certain peace that you feel deep within you. Your worries, your fears, your hopes, your thoughts all melt away as your brain switches off and you listen to music, read a book, watch a movie, eat airplane food. Even if you talk to the one sitting beside you, the conversation is simple, for you know you will probably never see that person again in several hours. You are truly alone in that tiny, cramped space that you have to call your own, near the window aisle or stuck in the middle between a crying baby and an obese person. But that seat, small as it is, is your own for these few moments and you claim it, fight off the screams of the child and the sprawling flesh and you come up, victorious, sweating and annoyed, filling your seat and leaning back your chair to avoid forehead contact with the one in front of you. It is the only place where I can truly meditate, legs crossed, watching Fight Club, or listening to Bob Dylan drone about basements and medicine. In those hours, nobody and nothing matters, not even I matter and the world is all right once again. 

And so, that night, straining my ears and eyes for the flickering lights and rumble, I knew, in the pit of my stomach, that I would not hear from him in a while and sighing, I texted you OK, and crossed my arms, waiting for the Sandman to pour his grains over my body and let me in peace.

Friday, July 1, 2011

The Age of Ecstasy

Disclaimer: This post does not have to do with those who do not do drugs, or who do drugs infrequently. This also does not have to do with those who read the news and who are quite aware of their country's state of affairs. This post has to do with frequent ecstasy (and other entactogens) users (who are using the substances for recreational purposes rather than medical ones), however this is not a post bashing those specific drugs. 

Every generation seems to indulge in several drugs that for that time period become popular. The 60s had LSD, shrooms, mescaline, and speed; the 70s had cocaine and heroine; the 80s had crack; and the 90s had ecstasy and methamphetamine. This generation seems to not only use the drugs mentioned above (and marijuana) but also new designer drugs that are created by usually modifying the molecular structure of an already existing drug in order to get past drug laws. The popularity of certain drugs within a generation usually show the mindset and social attitude of that time period, and the 2000s are no different.

Several months ago, my friend came up with the idea that we are the ecstasy generation. Though I don't necessarily believe that our generation's drug of choice is ecstasy, its use is still widely prevalent throughout the United States in raves. The drug first became popular in the 1980s, its use increased throughout the years and the world and nowadays, it can be seen taken mostly in party settings. Though its usage has decreased slightly because of the production of substitutes such as mephedrone, the stimulant entactogen (drugs that make you feel more sociable, touchy-feely, and empathetic) component is what makes this type of drug so popular, especially today. (From now on, I will refer to all entactogens in this post simply as ecstasy, for brevity's sake.)

So the question is, why do we like these kinds of drugs so much? (By 'we', I mean those who use them frequently) Why do we get hooked on drugs that make us stimulated, that allow us to be more empathetic, to socially connect with others easily, and that allow us to be uninhibited by our fears? The surface answer is obvious: who wouldn't want to feel like that? The deeper answer is a bit more complicated. The other reason why we would be so enamoured by a drug like that is if we couldn't behave those ways while sober. What's the point of taking something if it makes you do the exact same thing while sober? If you could interact well with others and be open and not feel inhibited and awkward normally, there would be no reason to take ecstasy over and over again, unless it would be purely for the heightened senses and hyperactivity. It's hard to believe though, that most long-term users would state the former effects as their primary cause for taking the drug, so I'll assume that the basis for ecstasy's popularity is its entactogenic qualities.

There are three main reasons why ecstasy is so popular among today's generation: the failure of physical communication,apathy, and a pervading, deep depression.

Before the 21st century, people had more difficulty travelling and communicating. In olden times, the means of transportation were mostly boat and horses and communication was either done by writing letters or by physically speaking. These methods were all painfully slow but the beauty of them was that people actually maintained relationships with each other. A boat trip lasted weeks to months or years, and travellers could meet new people and communicate with them in no hurry. Letters took weeks to be received and though people one hundred years ago probably didn't have more to talk about than we do now, they had more time to go through and tell about. Nowadays, we have planes, cars, IMs, text messaging, phones, Skype, AIM, Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, and a ton other devices that are supposed to make communication easier. And they do. It's now more convenient to talk to someone in China when you live in the United States than it was fifty years ago. The problem isn't necessarily communication (although the depth of the conversations could be debatable), it's that we don't actually hang out with people anymore. We prefer to sit behind our computers and video chat our friends than physically get off our couches and go outside to play soccer, or go watch a movie at a movie theatre, or go to a park, or a museum, or read, or interact with others and not be separated by a screen and text. It's hard to talk face-to-face with someone else because then, they can see your emotions, your sarcasm, your eyes. It's harder to tell them your secrets if they're looking at you and judging you for them. It's harder to walk to the nearest DVD rental store than to log into your Netflix account or wait until the DVDs come to your door.

Of course, people still go to coffee places, parties, clubs, and raves and get to meet people that way. But how many actually go up to a complete stranger in Starbucks and begin a conversation with them? How many people at raves develop friendships (not hookups) with those that they are dancing with? With all of the opportunities technology has given us, there is no reason why we shouldn't be meeting new people and actually developing relationships with them instead of adding them on Facebook and forgetting them along with the other 500 people we're "friends" with. Before, we had the excuse of distance and inability, but now our only excuse is ourselves and our lack of desire to connect. Even if we do go out and talk to others, we're awkward and nervous. We're afraid of rejection and we don't know what to say. So why not take something that wipes all those fears and insecurities away? Why not take a pill that will make us more confident and sociable and that will allow us to be more connected and empathetic with others?

The second issue is apathy. Before the 21st century, the majority of the United States (and the world) were living in order to survive. People had to worry about their next meal, clean water, whether they were going to have a roof over their heads during the night, whether they could survive, whether their children could survive. Even after this mentality disappeared in the more developed countries, there were still threats of the two world wars, of the Cold War, the Vietnam War, and economic recession. That's not to say that there aren't still wars going on or that there isn't a recession, but it seems that most of my generation doesn't realize that. People were more involved in those times because they had no choice but to be involved--if they weren't, either they or a member of their family or a close friend died and their lives would change monumentally. There's more distance today between wars that our governments are involved in and ourselves. Other than taxes, gas, and food prices shifting, we don't notice much else that changes. Social unrest comes more from internal issues such as domestic shootings rather than external ones. There are wars being fought, but they're not here, they're over there, somewhere very far and distant. I've also noticed that I have never actually learned anywhere, either in school or from other sources, an account of the United States history from the mid 1970s to the present. Ignorance may be a major cause of my peers' apathy.

Even if we're not more apathetic about our external surroundings than past generations, we certainly seem to be more apathetic about ourselves and our own lives. By "apathy", I don't just mean not caring about anything, I mean such a deep apathy that we believe our lives are so meaningless and boring that we sink into depression. To quote Brad Pitt from Fight Club,

"We're the middle children of history, man. No purpose or place. We have no Great War. No Great Depression. Our Great War's a spiritual war... our Great Depression is our lives. We've all been raised on television to believe that one day we'd all be millionaires, and movie gods, and rock stars. But we won't. And we're slowly learning that fact."

It's not news that there has been an increase in depression for the past fifty years in the United States. I personally know a large number of people who do drugs just to escape reality and who are so eager to do so that they refuse to know what exactly they're taking, as long as they don't have to deal with this world. Some of them do it because they think their life is meaningless and boring and nothing exciting is ever going to happen (and if they do go to interact with others, they still believe that's boring too). Some do it because they are so disgusted by what they see around them, that they just want to escape and forget about it. And that is an extremely painful and sad thing to experience, because in a way the latter users are right. We, who are privileged, can look at those who are not and we can see how much poverty, misery, cruelty, and unfairness exists in this world, solely because of ourselves, humans. There is an unbelievable amount of horribleness that we face right now, and even more in certain cases, in the decades and centuries to come.

One can say that even twenty or fifty years ago, this was the case, that the world was more horrible then than it is now with all of our technological and scientific advances. And in those times, people used ways to forget and escape reality also--they used numbing agents such as alcohol and opium. People use them and others, such as prescription drugs, today even more so than before to numb the pain, but it seems that those agents are a constant. People have always drank their suffering away, they have always searched for a substance to dull the agony. Entactogens, on the other hand, have only been produced recently, and those manufacturers are catering to today's desires and needs. Of course, alcohol and psychedelics are also entactogenic, but they are not made to be so. If you feel lovey toward someone else, or sociable, those are simple side effects, whereas ecstasy is purposefully created to allow people to feel that way. Either way, the above reasons are perfectly good reasons to want to escape reality but they are also the most dangerous.

Ecstasy makes you feel incredible. It allows you to have in-depth social connections with others that otherwise you would not have achieved, if you are a shy, awkward, nervous person. It makes you excited and allows you to enjoy music more, makes you want to dance and talk with others. It allows you to forget about your shitty existence for several hours and just have fun and be joyful. And on the surface, that's really great. But there's a difference between doing a drug several times and doing a drug frequently and intensely. It doesn't matter what drug you take, if you take it long enough and immensely, there will be long-term negative consequences, such as addiction (not for psychedelics), memory and cognitive impairment, organ damage, and emotional issues. For ecstasy, liver damage and concentration and memory impairment are certain if you do it too much.  There have also been a number of users who have become clinically depressed while they were still using the drug or after they stopped but this study was countered by other scientists claiming that it was unconvincing due to methodological errors (though there is evidence that those who use ecstasy and other drugs have higher symptoms of depression than those who do not). In addition, there's the study that shows MDMA reduces the amount of serotonin transporters (basically kills your joy receptors for a period of time) in animals, yet these kinds of experiments on humans have not been pursued. There have not been enough studies done to pinpoint exactly what the drug's long-term effects are other than organ damage, addiction, tolerance, concentration impairment, memory loss, and possible mental health issues.

Even if there are no or few negative long-term effects of using the drug, I'd like to address a serious issue that comes from not only doing ecstasy but any other drug as well because of the desire to escape reality in a negative way, namely to escape it because it's too painful. Reality is here and it's not vanishing. It will always be here and you either have to come back to it or you need to stay in another world. That other world can be provided by drugs, sleep, or death. Unfortunately, you cannot sleep forever, unless you're in a coma and drugs do not last a lifetime, they last several hours to several days, at the most. If you want to bar reality, you must continuously do them and cross the line, which eventually, all drug users must decide whether to cross or not. The line I'm talking about is the line between reality and the world that drugs can give you. When I was talking to my friend about this, she said that there's no hopping the line. You either stay on one side or stay on the other, you either stay sober or you delve into the drug world and if you can, you get out and (try to) stay sober. You cannot put one foot in one world and one foot in the other and think that it will be okay. Personally, I don't know if I believe that and I don't know if it must be that way. I hope that moderation is the key to drug use and that if you do your drugs responsibly and not viciously, that you can inhabit both worlds and comfortably. But what I do know is that if you don't do that, you will certainly come up with mental health issues. There is only a certain amount of time that you can hate reality and try to escape from it before you go down in flames or you straighten up.

People will always do drugs for different reasons. The issue is not that they do the drug, it's the reason for why they do it. It's like jealousy--it's not the problem, it's only the symptom of the problem. Ecstasy and entactogens in themselves are positive substances for those who do not abuse them, but for those who do, they are propagators of a vicious cycle which only they can stop. So, the reasons for frequent ecstasy use are the inability to physically communicate, apathy in the form of not caring/boredom, and depression with one's surroundings and with reality. So now the most important question is, other than drugs, how do we solve these problems?

The issue with communication is not that we're not empathetic. We are extremely empathetic and we can communicate, we even desire to do so. We love using Facebook, phones, texting, etc. Most of our lives seem to be based on keeping in touch with others and being social. But we're insecure with ourselves and our abilities to reach out and meet new people. We hide behind computer screens and we're afraid that we'll be judged and rejected by those outside our front door. But the thing is, we probably won't. There's not much rejection to fear when you're meeting new people--in fact, more rejection comes from you than from others. You decide which people to keep in your life (to an extent) and so if you meet someone who doesn't appeal to you, you can cut them out. We need to dig a bit into ourselves and understand why we're so afraid of being judged and rejected, why we're so insecure with others and if those fears are founded. It's true that once one gets to know another better, emotional attachment can complicate a relationship, but not necessarily in a bad way. If one has trust issues, one must analyse the reasons and decide whether it is reasonable to be so fearful, and what one could potentially gain from developing new relationships from people. We must take our hearts into our mouths and just push head forward and hope for the best. We may be surprised with what we find.

For those who constantly whine about their lives being boring and being bored, I first asked myself how someone could get to the point of complete apathy. Not caring comes from lack of motivation--if you have motivation to do something, or even be interested in something, you will care. Your mind will be occupied and what's more important, you'll have fun and you won't think your life's that uninteresting anymore. So, where did the motivation go? I think that it's both inherent and learned, that you're born with a little bit of motivation (human nature) and that that either develops and grows or gets cut down by your surroundings. The lack of motivation comes from a lack of response to your earlier needs (like attention) as a child. For example, if a child is left alone the entire day while his parents go off to work or if he is given negative attention instead may start him on the road to apathy. Once he is old enough to go to school, he may already be de-motivated or the abominable United States public education school system may do that instead. Obviously, one needs to have Once the deed is done, how can you put motivation back into a person? By talking to several friends and asking their opinions, we concluded several solutions:

The first involves the support of one's friends--you acknowledge them as a person; repeat the mantra that they're worthy and not boring, that they're capable of doing and doing well; you encourage them and hold their hand when they falter, give them a push when they slide back. On the other hand, the friends are not going to make you believe all of that, only you can. You have to believe in yourself, you have to gain that self-respect back, to get going at least for a little while. Ultimately, it's up to you. Everyone is worthy of love and support, everyone is worthy of being happy, worthy of living a life that meets up to one's highest standards--unless one denies those rights to someone else.

The second solution is fighting the thought of boredom. We can control what we think and what our mindset is in certain situations. For example, we can rethink our simple moods--we can decide to be happy instead of sad, or we can convince ourselves of a certain idea that we may not believe but is true ("He's not cheating on me even though I'm afraid he is") by logically going through the concept over and over again until we believe it. We can resign ourselves to being bored and believe everything else around is boring or we can find something and try to see if we enjoy it. We can pick up a new sport, or play an instrument, read for a while, or talk to a friend about something we've never considered. We can keep ourselves busy until we find something we truly enjoy. Boredom is only there if we decide it to be there.

The third solution is a bit harsher--in order to realize what's meaningful to you and in order to care, you must crash. You must have those things that you take for granted taken away from you and crawl out of hell on hands and feet and perhaps that effort will make you realize what is truly important for you. Some people never understand unless they are put in a position in which they must change their mindset or else they risk ruining their lives.

The third type of people are those who are depressed because of what they see going around them.
The fact still stands that even though there are events in this world that happen that shouldn't and wouldn't happen in a less hateful world, we who are privileged enough to have a roof over our heads, three good meals every single day, an education, no deaths that surround us, we should be able to at least look up at the sky and say "My life is good, it is better than others', and if I care that much, I will do something or at least try to do something to help their plight." Trying to escape from the horror of reality is impossible without causing oneself suffering. Reality is what we must cope with and if we don't like it, we should make an effort to change it, especially if we are in capable positions to do so.

The last point I want to touch on is those who do ecstasy for medical reasons. I spoke to one person who took it because she had severe anxiety and it helped her develop relationships with people that otherwise, she would not have been able to form. There are those who have post-traumatic stress disorder that may be helped by this particular drug (as one study has already shown). There are those who are seriously depressed and who have chemical imbalances who use ecstasy to ameliorate their symptoms. Those people who take the drug frequently may be taking it to self-medicate. I believe that ecstasy, as I said before, can produce positive results if taken carefully and in the right dosage and I do believe that it could be part of the solution to the first problem I stated above (communication issues) and others. But I also believe that one should try to think of other solutions and see if they work, instead of plunging into drugs from the get-go or taking them trivially instead of with care and seriousness.