Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Poly parties

It's Wednesday at work, and I'm looking forward to going home and chilling out for the evening. It seems like it's been a non-stop whirlwind since I started working last week, and indeed it has.

As you recall from my last post, I started my new job on Thursday sleep-deprived because of a mix-up in communications where I didn't think I was going to start so I stayed out late in the city the night before at my poly women's meeting, only to find out that I was expected to come in at 8 a.m. And that's pretty much been par for the course as my body tries to adjust to a different sleep cycle that requires me to leave the apartment at 7 a.m. to beat traffic down to Princeton each morning.

And then of course last weekend I was camping for the wedding, which was lots of fun but not overly conducive to a restful sleep. Sunday evening was fairly restful as I got caught up on laundry and putting things away from the camping trip, but I still wound up going to bed late and waking up early Monday morning.

But enough griping since I don't want anyone to think I'm in any way unhappy about having a job or spending time with my lovely girlfriend. Monday evening I took off a little early after work to drive into the city for two different parties. First up was the monthly Poly Cocktail Hour at China 1 Restaurant, where I met up with my Open Love NY friends Buck, Donna, Lyndell, Simon, and Leon, and also was pleasantly surprised to see so many members of my women's poly group there as well - Sylwia, Barbara and Oxy showed up. I said hello to other regulars (Derek, Norman, and a few I haven't learned their names yet) and met some new people, but didn't really engage with any of them since there were so many of my friends there and I wanted to spend time with them. Oxy and I started talking about boobs and she let me touch her ample, all-natural bosom (she's an F cup) which I did ever so gently with the tip of my finger.

Simon, Sylwia, Barbara and Oxy

I only mention this because of what happened later in the evening at the second party, which was Diana and Kerry's MTV True Life viewing party. I took a cab down to Fulton Street near South Street Seaport where Diana's friend Hookah Mike rents a huge, six-bedroom loft that he shares with five roommates. The apartment has two large common areas in an open floor plan with 12-foot ceilings; one area includes the windows and the other connected to the kitchen and dining areas. This place was so big, they had room for a ping-pong table in between these two common areas, which each had its own projection TV and sofa/loveseat/coffee table. I say all this because I've never seen such a spacious apartment in the city and I was a little overwhelmed. I can't begin to imagine what a place like that must cost in monthly rent!

Watching MTV True Life projected on the wall

I only saw a few people there I knew - Birgitte (past president of Polyamorous NYC), Reid (co-founder of Cuddle Party), Hannah (a butch genderqueer I met a few months ago at Poly Cocktail Hour), Diana's boyfriend Ed and Kerry’s boyfriend Kyler - but most of the people seemed to be friends of Diana who had helped or participated in the MTV show, plus several of Diana's partners of course. The show started 30 minutes later than it was supposed to, which caused some confusion, but once it started, it was a non-stop rollercoaster of laughter, groans and general hysterics. Kerry, Diana and Ed, who starred in the show, didn't get to see it prior to airing, so they had the biggest reactions since they were on the screen most of the time.

Kyler and Kerry

My participation was reduced to a brief cameo, as I was in the background for a couple shots and got one close-up that lasted about half a second. None of my dialogue was used (which I’m a bit relieved about) so it's not likely anyone is going to notice me (although I was wearing a very sexy, low-cut turquoise silk top seen below with Erika, Birgitte's girlfriend).

Erika and me at the Slipper Room back in May

During the show, I was sitting on the floor next to Hannah, who was sitting next to a Korean girl, who introduced herself to me as Nari. I immediately was sure we'd met before because she seemed very familiar - it turns out she is quite famous as an associate producer for the Travel Channel who appeared on Anthony Bourdain's No Reservations show when they went to Seoul, South Korea. I've seen that particular episode several times because I love Korean food, and it's also one of the funniest episodes of the show, with Nari's bubbly and youthful optimism in stark contrast to Tony's world-weary cynicism clashing at every turn. And I'm not the only one who liked the episode – you can read plenty of Nari's fan mail in the comments section of her recent post about Vancouver on the Travel Channel blog.

Since Nari works in television, she had a lot to say about how it looked like MTV took advantage of the three poly men from North Carolina who appeared on the show. We all agreed that Diana and Kerry (and Ed) did a great job presenting polyamory as a legitimate and workable (albeit complicated) lovestyle, requiring good communication, maturity and flexibility to be successful. Unfortunately, the flip side with the poly men showed the opposite is also true, that without those qualities, polyamory can result in major drama and heartache. It was also pointed out repeatedly that the NC men lacked any kind of poly support network or the experience of someone like Diana that might have helped them learn how to handle things better.

Of course I am reminded of my own experience with trying to start a poly family where the problem was a complete lack of buy-in to polyamory as a sustainable lovestyle by the other three-fourths of the family. My ex-girlfriend often lamented what she saw as my need to be part of a larger community to help deal with our poly situation, something she had no interest in doing. Predictably, people who find themselves in poly situations without adequate resources or experience find it a lot harder to make things work in the end.

Once the show wrapped up, people started to drift toward Hookah Mike's bedroom to talk about the show. I was talking to Nari and her fiance Sam and showing her some of my pictures on my camera. I asked Sam to take a picture of us, and he took several while Nari started getting really frisky with me. Sam sort of encouraged it while he was taking the photos too. After the photo shoot Sam wanted to go home, and said he would wait for Nari downstairs. Nari wanted to take me to a karaoke bar or do something else since the party seemed to be winding down, but I demurred, saying I had to get home and get some sleep as it was around midnight.

Me and Nari chewing scenery

She was very persistent however, so I settled for chatting with her while she smoked a cigarette while we sat on the window ledge. If anyone has seen the episode with Nari on the Travel Channel, let me tell you: she is every bit as energetic and perky in person as she was on the show. We both look much younger than we actually are - she’s 27 but looks like she’s 17 and still gets carded for cigarettes. Her first guess at my age was 28 and it took her about five guesses to get high enough. I found out that she was getting married to Sam this Friday, and I asked if she was poly. She said no, but that she and Sam were very open and poly-friendly.

We talked about our exes and she told me about her first girlfriend in college. She didn't say she was bisexual, but she did say that while she loves cock, she also loves big boobs and can't wait to get pregnant so that her boobs will grow bigger (she's almost totally flat-chested). I asked her if she would like to feel mine, and she dove in with gusto, putting a two-handed grab on my chest that would make any NFL wide receiver green with envy.

I think it was right about then that Sam walked in, complaining that he had been waiting for half an hour because he'd been locked out downstairs. They got into a bit of a fight, and I tried to explain that I wasn't trying to keep Nari from leaving or doing anything inappropriate, at least given that we were at a party with mostly sex-positive, polyamorous people. Sam practically dragged her away, but not before Nari planted a goodbye kiss on me. After they left, I and two other people who had watched this scene unfold sat looking stunned at each other, wondering what it was all about. They certainly did not seem like they belonged at that party, nor should be getting married in four days. Shortly after, I said goodbye to everyone and left myself, passing the couple once more on the street on the way to get Yoshi from the garage.

Tuesday night after work I stopped by Il Trapezio Cafe in Nutley, NJ to attend a book reading by my client, author and academic Serena Anderlini-D'Onofrio, who has just published Gaia and the New Politics of Love: Notes for a Poly Planet. Several of my friends also attended - Buck and Donna, Murray and Sandy, and Adele from my women's group, who works a few blocks away at the public library. We had a nice lively discussion, and Serena signed a book and gave it to me. I've been working for her for the past three months, but I have to end our working relationship now because I simply don't have the time anymore. But hopefully the seeds we've sown in the media will bear some fruit in the coming months that will contribute to the success of her book.

Book reading in Nutley

So now I'm all caught up on the weird and fun stuff that's been happening lately, I'm looking forward to a couple of quiet nights at home, watching movies and catching up on sleep before the weekend. Rosh Hashanah (Jewish New Year) begins on Friday at sundown and ends Sunday at nightfall (which I guess is full dark), so I'm going to visit Polina at Stony Brook to watch her marching band Saturday night, and then celebrating with her family on Sunday.

Postscript: A shout goes out to my best friend Lori, who just accepted a marriage proposal today from her boyfriend of 2 and a half years, Erik. The date is set for May on the anniversary of their first meeting. Congratulations!