Friday, August 29, 2008

Holding doors

While I wait for unresolved issues to resolve themselves, here's a topic that I've been meaning to write about...

One of the things that gives me conflicted feelings is chivalrous behavior. Case in point: whenever I'm in the elevator with men of a certain age, I'm usually faced with the somewhat awkward gesture of them letting me get in or out first. Of course this doesn't apply in crowded subways during rush hour where it's every man, woman and child for themselves! I say awkward because sometimes the gesture is so exaggerated that they literally have to step out of the way to let me pass, when it would be just as easy if they went ahead of me and got out of the way.

Of course I understand that these men are simply being polite, and showing courtesy the way they were raised to, and most do not mean to imply the paternalistic overtones stemming from the origin of such social graces. Still, bad habits or not, I would think that at some point, these men would examine these chivalric behaviors and conclude that in today's world, where we aspire to equality between the sexes, that these gestures are a little outdated. While it's still polite and appreciated to hold doors for people to keep it from slamming in their faces, this awkward shuffle when men make a deliberate show of allowing women to pass first is just a little embarrassing. While I'm certainly not the kind of person to make a big scene about it, there is one thing I can do to make my point, if only to myself - I'm going to stop thanking them for this small female privilege extended to me.

Of course, I'm talking about strangers here. I actually think it's nice holding doors for loved ones. Tara and I have a system - she's usually the first one to a door so she holds it open for me, and if there's a second door inside, I'll hold it for her. These little niceties are fine as a way of showing affection for loved ones, but when strangers do it, it's a tiny bit uncomfortable for me.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008


I've only got a few minutes to get caught up on things, so this is gonna be quick. I just don't want to fall behind on things.

As I said before, there are things happening that I'm not ready to talk about. Tara and Bee came over last Thursday night and we had a wide-ranging talk about some of the "big issues" we're dealing with. It was just the first step in what is probably going to be a series of discussions over the next several months, so there's not much I can say about it just yet.

Friday I had to work until almost 8 p.m. and so didn't have time to do much of anything before bringing Tara back to my place for our regular sleepover. We stopped at the grocery store to get some things to make breakfast in the morning, but other than that we just had a quiet evening of reading and snuggling. I finished "The Stolen Child" (loved it) and have now started on the Harry Potter series with the first volume.

Saturday my superintendent came over to fix my broken closet shelf, and in the evening we had dinner and started our Heroes TV marathon. We had to deal with some unpleasantness about my Blackberry, but managed to salvage the evening before it got too late. Later, Tara and I talked on the phone about the incident and the issues and feelings it raised. Eventually we settled things down, but the result was that I didn't get to bed until about a quarter to 5 in the morning.

Perhaps because of my weird sleep window, I was groggy all day Sunday, although Tara did take me out to the bookstore because Bee was in class learning about floral essences used in healing. We spent a few hours looking at books (I bought a new copy of The Usual Suspects, which is currently out of print) and made a couple other stops before she dropped me home and I just crashed on the bed and took a nap. Since I didn't feel like coming over to their house, they came over for a redux of Saturday night and we watched a couple more episodes of Heroes, which everybody is loving immensely.

Last night was date night, but we had a little wrinkle when Bee decided she was too tired to go to yoga. Tara still came over, but our energy was a little off. In a way, I feel a little guilty being with her when I know Bee is not otherwise occupied and would prefer that she stayed with her. I know that Tara and I have a right to creating our own space and keeping it inviolate when the others change their plans at the last minute, but emotionally, I can't help but feel a little uncomfortable when our delicate and complex web of scheduling goes awry. I've always been rather empathic, but never more so than in recent history, and I tend to let how other people's feelings (or things I perceive might affect their feelings) affect my emotions. Regardless, Tara and I had a nice evening with dinner at Burger King and watching an old official bootlegged U2 concert from the Joshua Tree era.

Today I had lunch with Lyndell, one of my polyamorous friends who is coordinating the PolyPride Weekend Event in October here in the city. She wanted to lend some of my PR expertise to her efforts, and I gave her a brainful of advice over salads. Hopefully some of my ideas will help her to promote the event, and I'm planning to attend this year for the first time. It's Oct. 4 in Central Park.

All for now - if I don't see you here again this week, happy Labor Day weekend everyone!

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Decision 2008

There is a lot happening in my life under the surface that I'm not ready to talk about in this space yet. Some of you have gotten snippits of it via private emails, and of course, my family each has their own individual level of involvement they are dealing with. Perhaps there are changes coming in the near future; perhaps not - I guess it depends on how courageous, open-hearted and flexible we're all willing to be (myself included).

I came across this article today about open marriages, a chapter excerpted from a book by noted polyamorist Jenny Block called "Open: Love, Sex and Life in an Open Marriage." It's probably one of the best articles I've seen that describes the level of communication and issues management that I feel is required to make a multi-partner relationship work.

Unfortunately, in reading this article, and in listening to last night's PolyNYC speaker at my monthly group meeting, I realize how far I have yet to go in being successful at the poly ideal of having a responsible, consensual non-monogamous relationship. There's no reason to give up - but I feel I should be trying harder instead of letting things take their own course, which I've been doing for a while now. I have to be more vocal about who I am and what I want out of life. I didn't come all this way to settle into a life dictated to me by society, or even by people who are close to me. I have to choose my path, instead of letting it choose me.

Perhaps the first step on that path will be taken tonight.

Monday, August 18, 2008

King Crimson

Another dull week starting at the office - it seemed this weekend was way too short. However, we ended on a good note last night, having a blast at the King Crimson concert at the Nokia Theater in Times Square. Despite Robert Fripp (the guitar player) getting huffy about someone taking his picture near the end of the show, the band came out for three encores, including their big hit "Elephant Talk" (not to be confused with the Henry Mancini tune "Baby Elephant Walk"). There were some electrifying drum duets with Pat Mastelotto and Gavin Harrison (the drummer from Porcupine Tree), and Tony Levin did his usual magic with the Chapman stick and his patented "funk fingers" on bass. I actually spotted Tony in the lobby before the concert - he's a pretty distinctive looking guy. I recognized him from Peter Gabriel's Secret World concert, one of my all-time favorite concerts on DVD.

The rest of the weekend was pretty blah. I put together my rolling laptop desk that came in the mail this week - I'm going to use it as a book stand to hold heavy books so I can read them without having to hold them up (like my "Absolute Sandman" volumes by Neil Gaiman). I didn't leave the apartment on Sunday except for the concert because I was tossing and turning all Saturday night. Tara called me at 2:30 a.m. Sunday because she had a difficult evening with Bee after our Saturday night movie and I was still pretty awake. We talked for a little bit and I went back to sleep, but she didn't get to bed until close to 5 a.m.

Friday night we all went to the mall for dinner and then to the big bookstore in Paramus. I got a couple DVDs that were on sale (To Kill a Mockingbird and the director's cut of Dark City), and a couple comic trade paperbacks, and an out-of-print copy of Mike Carey's "The Devil You Know" in hardcover (they sell used books too). As readers know, I've been smitten with Mike Carey's "Lucifer" series for Vertigo Comics, so I thought I'd give his novel a try.

Speaking of smitten, as the rest of my family laments to postponement of the next Harry Potter movie, the net effect is that the movie version of Twilight will be pushed forward three weeks to Nov. 21, so that's good news for me because I'm dying to see that one. However, I probably won't insist on seeing the earliest shows because I don't want to deal with screaming teenage girls any more than I have to.

Tara and I spent a peaceful night together at my apartment on Friday (other than my closet shelf collapsing with a terrific noise as we were getting ready for bed). Saturday morning we woke up too early at about 8:30 and made snugglebunnies, and promptly fell back asleep until about 11:30, whereupon Bug came to take her to the comic store and other errands while I snoozed until about 2 p.m.

I finally got up and ran my usual Saturday errands and made Saturday night dinner, and we watched Pixar's A Bug's Life in the evening. It's probably the last movie we'll watch for a while because we've decided to do a run of the NBC TV show Heroes for the next several weeks, starting with the beginning of Episode One this weekend.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Book arrangement

Tara and I had our regular Monday date night and we did something a little different - we organized my bookshelves. Not the most romantic thing to do on a date, but she loves arranging books and I'm too lazy to take on a task that big without help.

Long-time readers will remember what my apartment looks like from my home theater post ("My new theater" - Nov. 25, 2007). I have a three-level built-in bookshelf above my 42-inch flatscreen TV, and I also have another three-shelf standalone bookshelf in the bedroom that has my slightly damaged 37-inch flatscreen on it.

We started with the top shelf in the living room, stacking books from right to left, tallest to shortest. Then we put all the comic trade paperbacks on the left side of the middle shelf, and all the other paperbacks (grouped by author) on the right side. The bottom shelf holds the Harry Potter box I got for my birthday and all the leftovers.

In the bedroom, we put all the books having to do with magick/paganism, and Sherlock Holmes, along with my Lord of the Rings hardcovers on the bottom shelf. The top and middle shelves hold some of my large DVD box sets (Buffy the Vampire Slayer, The Matrix, Star Trek, Angel, Alien Quadrilogy, etc.) and my *ahem* adult videos. Putting all these DVDs on the bookshelf in the bedroom frees up enough room to finally stop stacking DVD on top of my DVD cabinet in the living room.

Tara also alphabatized all my comics and put them in the small box I bought at the comic store last weekend. The only problem is, I haven't really figured out an unobtrusive place to put that box, so it's sitting next to my file cabinet next to my computer desk. I also cleared out my old catalogs and magazines, putting the ones I wanted to keep in the box I keep in the bathroom.

After it was all done, we sat on the couch and just admired our work for a while, and talked about books and comics. I wish I'd thought to take a before picture so all you bibliophiles could get a kick out of it. It was a lot messier than the picture I took way back in November. We finished the night with some quiet cuddling in bed, said goodnight and she went home.

It was actually a pretty cool date after all.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Photos from the Cloisters

Cloisters in the summer

Fort Tryon Park in the background


Poly vs. Mono - Round 1

It was a bit of an up and down weekend for me, and things with Tara continue to be challenging, although our love remains undiminished. It only seems to be the form that love takes which causes disagreement between us. Such is the conflict that seems inevitable when polyamorous and monogamistic mindsets collide.

Friday, I picked up Tara after work because she would be spending the night with me for the first time since the July 4 weekend, a drought mainly stemming from Bee's physical health problems this summer. We went to the mall to do some shopping, watched some baseball in the evening and had some nice snuggle time before bed. In the morning she made me pancakes and I made her bacon for breakfast, followed by more snugglebunnies. I dropped her off at home in the early afternoon and proceeded to run my weekend errands.

I had a mind to visit the Cloisters in the city since it was such a nice day on Saturday, and luckily Bee was able to get off work early so that we could all go together for a couple of hours and see the gardens in their late summer glory. I took some pictures, but I'll have to post them later. Saturday night I made a different version of my curry chicken and onions for myself (I omitted the limes and jalapenos this time, since I didn't have any on hand) and the usual fried tofu with hot bean sauce for Bug, and vegetable dumplings for Bee, plus some spinach sauteed in black bean and garlic sauce. We watched The Truman Show for our movie and called it an early night. That was probably the best 24 hours as a family we've had in a long time.

Sunday morning started with a surprise visit from Tara, who came over because she had some bad dreams and wanted to talk to me. She crept into my apartment and snuggled next to me while we talked. We resolved the dream issue, but we ended up extending the conversation to larger issues and it got a little agitated. We settled down enough to enjoy some quick canoodling before I took her to the diner for breakfast. Unfortunately our difficult conversation continued during our meal and on the ride home.

After we parted, I was emotionally exhausted and pretty much checked out mentally the rest of the afternoon and evening, watching baseball and the Olympics on TV and napping to stave off the crying spells between doing about four loads of laundry. Tara and I talked a couple times on the phone in the evening and eventually settled down, but our issues continue to be a ticking time bomb that we will have to deal with someday.

In all, I think we both agree that the positives outweigh the negatives over the last few days, and in our relationship in general. This weekend we let each other know where we stand on certain issues, and acknowledged our shortcomings to each other. Truthfully, if we just stopped thinking about what might happen in the future and just focused on the time we spend together in the present, I think we'd be fine. Despite our many incompatibilities, being with her is just about the only time when I'm truly happy and content.

Friday, August 08, 2008

Twilight mania

Here's an article in today's Wall Street Journal about the cultural impact of the Twilight novels. I'm going to miss reading those ... proof that there is indeed a big part of me that is totally teenage girl.

"True Love Waits" - Wall Street Journal, Aug. 8, 2008

Thursday, August 07, 2008


I don't have a lot to say right now. Things are getting better with Tara, but they still seem a little strained. I'm trying to do my part by not pushing and letting things flow but I'm not well known for my patience. I'm sure we'll get back there eventually.

Monday night Tara took me to the mall and we went to Borders so I could buy her a book and browse around together. She picked out a thick graphic novel and then we went to McDonald's for a quick bite. We took a walk through Macy's, but it was closing time so we didn't get to see much. After a quick stop at the grocery store, we came back to my place and just snuggled on the bed for a few minutes before she had to go because it was getting late and we were both tired. Luckily, she made it home okay, because Bug had a flat tire in their car the very next morning.

Tuesday night we all went out to the movies, intending to see the Mummy, but it sold out as soon as we stepped in the box office door. So we saw Wall-E again instead, and it was fun, although Bug had a severe headache and we all felt badly for her. Wednesday I had to work late, so we didn't get to see each other at all, and today I'm feeling really run down, so our date night is probably going to be rather sedentary.

None of this makes particularly interesting copy, but I did want to give my congratulations to Joanna and her husband Perky on the birth of their first child, Braum, who was born on Sunday via emergency C-section. Everybody is doing well, and I'm really happy for Jo.

Tomorrow evening is Battery Park City Parks' Sunset Jam on the Hudson, a drumming circle I'm thinking about checking out. There's also live music at the South Street Seaport at 7 p.m. the same night, so that might be fun too. So many things to do in the city - I really should try to explore more and do some new things. Maybe that will keep me from moping around so much.

Sunday, August 03, 2008

Vacation's end

I'm back but I don't know for how long. Just had a rough conversation with Tara on the phone tonight, one where we both were close to breaking up the relationship. I guess a lot will depend on how things go tomorrow night when we see each other.

Things have been mostly quiet this week since last Tuesday, mostly because we tacitly agreed to a truce since everyone is on vacation. Tara, Bee and I went to Watkins Glen, New York and stayed overnight Wednesday (Bug chose to remain home to watch the cats). I booked a fantastic suite at the brand-new Harbor Hotel on the shores of Seneca Lake, the largest of the Finger Lakes. The hotel had been open less than two weeks, and we were only the second group of guests to stay in the room (which the front desk quipped was the best room in the hotel). The balcony had a magnificent panoramic view of the lake and Seneca Harbor.

Seneca Lake from Harbor Hotel

You can also see a short video of the entire view by clicking here. Make sure to turn your volume down because the air conditioner is pretty loud out on the balcony.

We all slept together in the king size bed, which was sometimes cozy, sometimes uncomfortable. Surprisingly, Bee and I did most of the cuddling because Tara was exhausted from the trip up. Reminds me of the first night we slept in the same room together in Houston when she crashed while I was in the shower.

Bedroom of Harbor Hotel

Here is a reverse view of the hotel from the stone dike that shelters the harbor. Our room was on the top floor, just to the right of the center.

View of Harbor Hotel from Seneca Lake

Here is one of the hidden waterfalls that flows into the lake. We found it driving along one of the highways that borders the lake, but it would have been easy to miss it.

A hidden waterfall

And here is a representative photo of the glen itself, which is a gorge formed by flowing water as glaciers retreated in the distant past.

Watkins Glen State Park

We came back Thursday evening and I kept to myself until Friday night, which was the launch party for Stephenie Meyer's Breaking Dawn, the final chapter in the Twilight Saga. We all met up at the bookstore around 10:30 pm and they handed out books at midnight. I just finished the 750-page novel earlier this afternoon. Here's a picture at the book party:

Picking up Breaking Dawn

Anyway, it's been an up and down vacation for me. Tara and I are going through some difficult times, but I actually had a lovely time on my trip. Bee and I were very open in sharing our physical space, which was a welcome, if brief, respite. There were some very profound moments of happiness in the glen, seeing the beauty of the water, rocks, plants and animals there. We had a nice time Saturday night as usual, when we saw the 1980's sci-fi movie Tron together at my apartment. And I enjoyed my book immensely, as you'd probably guess from me reading it in a little more than 24 hours.

I'm just plagued by a great deal of doubt about whether my relationship with Tara - and by extension, to my family - is really working for everybody. We both seem to be very unhappy a lot, and yet we still love each other so much. What do two people do when they can't bear to be apart, yet can't seem to stop driving each other crazy? I don't have any answers. But it's hard being in a relationship where both people are waiting to see if the other one has it in them to leave first. And we're both pretty stubborn, so this could take a while to figure out.