Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Mabon circle

It was a fairly busy weekend for me but full of good and productive things. It seems like I’m finally starting to adjust to an early sleep schedule, but I still need to work on keeping my apartment clean when I don’t have unlimited time to pick up after myself. It’s not terrible by most people’s standards, but I’ve gotten used to keeping things tidy, especially when I have company over (which is a lot rarer occurrence these days).

So this weekend, I left directly from work on Friday and drove up to Middletown, NY to visit with Buck and Donna so that we could transcribe a poly timeline that was created back in March at the national poly leadership summit I attended as a volunteer. The original scroll of the timeline will be housed at the Kinsey Institute, which has a poly library of historical documents, but we wanted to capture the information on an Excel spreadsheet so it can be used and expanded on a future Web site. Friday night we all had dinner together at a Mexican restaurant, followed by some group cuddling on the couch back at Buck’s place before bed.

Saturday Donna had another engagement upstate, so Buck and I had the day to ourselves. We started with him getting a haircut at a nearby salon, which was also hosting a bridal party that morning. It was actually quite fascinating watching the bride getting her hair done, and it gave me a new appreciation of how much work it takes to create these beautiful hairstyles for special occasions.

Afterwards we had brunch at a Perkins restaurant and then went to Sunshine Studios so I could buy the Woodstock Chimes Emperor wind gong I saw last month when we visited for the Open Love NY leadership retreat. We spent the entire afternoon transcribing the timeline scroll, which extends from about 500 BCE (before Common Era) to 2050 CE and charts the growth of polyamory in the categories of Self, Group, Movement and Culture.

On Sunday I went into the city to meet up with Polina and attend my first group circle at a friend's house for Mabon. It was quite a big step for me to share my spiritual practices with other people, but as part of my continued growth and dedication to my practice, I felt it was a good opportunity to see how it feels as part of a group. My friend Katie (who is married to Patrick, one of the board members of Polyamorous NYC) organizes a family-friendly circle with her five-year-old daughter Evie to teach kids about paganism. Katie and her girlfriend Laura, and her daughter and I joined Evie in circle, and it was a lovely experience. The presence of the children made the circle feel more casual, but also brought a nurturing energy to it.

As Mabon is a time of harvest where we give thanks for the bounty we reap from our efforts throughout the year, I have two major things to be thankful for – my new job and my relationship with Polina. As I said in circle, these are the things that I’ve worked on and put effort into this year that I’m thankful have borne fruit.

Polina arrived afterwards and joined us for the potluck lunch party around the same time that Patrick and little Jasper came home from gymnastics class. I gave Polina a DVD of the MTV True Life episode she hadn’t seen yet (my big national TV debut) and she brought me a present from her trip to Switzerland, an aluminum water bottle with pictures of Swiss postage stamps on it. She also returned my copy of Stephenie Meyer’s New Moon, which she managed to slog through so we can see the movie together when it comes out on November 20.

Polina and I left around 3:30 p.m. and decided to watch a movie, but we couldn’t find a theater nearby that was playing anything we liked. So we stopped in our usual frozen yogurt place on Christopher Street to relax and have another check-in about our relationship, which is moving toward a more poly structure as we both pursue new people while continuing to nurture our bond to each other.

We both acknowledged how our relationship has progressed in the past several weeks, even given the disapproval of her family and the limitations we currently have on spending time together (although I think we are both a little surprised that we’ve managed to see each other three weekends in row after our month-long separation in late August and early September). We had a very candid talk, followed by as much snogging as we could get away with in public, before heading back to Yoshi and dropping her off at her grandmother’s house for Yom Kippur services that evening.

In other news, the job has been going very well so far, other than the commute is rather long. Through familiarity with the route, I have it down to about an hour’s drive time each way. I get to focus on writing all day long, without having to deal with budgets, team supervision, client meetings or any of the other managerial/administrative things that I had to do at my last two jobs in public relations agencies. I also keep pretty regular hours since I’m a contracted employee (unless they want to pay me overtime) and it’s nice being fed a nutritious lunch every day in the free company cafeteria.

However, I’m getting renewed interest from PR firms I interviewed with over the summer as the economy bounces back, and I admit it would be a good thing to live and work in the city, all else being equal, so that I could spend more time with Polina and my other friends. Career-wise, I’d probably be better off staying in Princeton and getting more in-house communications experience, but we’ll see if I get an offer that makes it worth making another jump.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

SBU football, Thriller and Rosh Hashanah

As you can probably tell from the headline, it was another busy weekend for me and Polina. I'm really happy that we continue to find reasons and ways to see each other as much as possible instead of going for several weeks or a month between visits. While we stay in touch constantly via phone, text and video chat, there is no substitute for touch and smell and feeling her energy shine from her eyes.

Friday night I left straight from work to head into the city to meet Angel, who had invited me to a party celebrating the first anniversary of Spice NYC, a queer party planning organization. The party was held at Leopard Lounge, above a bar called Sin Sin on 2nd Avenue and Fifth Street. I was early, so I went to get my nails done and browsed at a few shops before meeting her outside the door. She was toting her suitcase full of sex toys to show at the party and we sat at a booth while she set up a raffle for a dildo she was giving away. It was actually quite funny watching her show people a giant pink dildo and trying to get them to buy raffle tickets.

Me and Angel

I left as the party was getting hot because it was still a long way out to Stony Brook University, where Polina goes to school. I bought a Garmin GPS unit on Friday since I no longer have my family to help me with directions when I get lost (I used to call them Oracle based on the DC Comics character) so I made decent time once I got out of Manhattan. Our friend Afiya was also visiting, so they came out and met me in the parking lot just after midnight when I arrived. I changed out of my work clothes and we went to another room on her floor to watch "Robin Hood: Men in Tights" and an episode of "Entourage" with a couple guys before returning to sleep.

Saturday morning we met up with several of Polina's friends to have brunch, which turned out to be a late lunch since we were waiting on people to show up.

Waiting on friends at Roth Pond

After lunch Polina left with her friends to get ready for band rehearsal while Afiya and I wandered around the campus looking for stuff to do. We found some people practicing walking on a slack rope tied between two trees, so Afiya gave that a try, without much success. We played basketball in the athletic center for a little while before they kicked us out. Afiya and I have yet to play a one-on-one match, which we've been trash-talking about for months now. Eventually I'll get to kick her butt somewhere. We parked Yoshi at the stadium and hung out, sitting on Yoshi's inverted couch out the back, tailgate style. We threw my softball around with her using my glove and I used batting gloves which are lightly padded in the palm - it's actually good practice for cricket, which doesn't allow fielding gloves except for the wicketkeeper.

Eventually it was time to go into the stadium, and we watched the pre-game show and visited Polina in the stands:

Cymbal player

The halftime show was very entertaining, and I captured it on video using my camera, while Afiya took pictures from higher in the bleachers. They played Jefferson Airplane's "White Rabbit", Blue Oyster Cult's "(Don't Fear) The Reaper" (also known as the cowbell song from Will Ferrell's classic Saturday Night Live skit), "Thriller" by Michael Jackson (where the whole band gets to mimic the famous dance steps, and Penny gets to do them while holding cymbals), "Bye Bye Bye" by N*SYNC and "Disturbia" by Rihanna.

But while the band was very exciting, for once they could not compete with the football game, as SBU won the game 21-20 on a touchdown in the final two minutes and a missed field goal attempt by Brown University as the clock expired. Fans from the student red zone stormed the field in an amazing display of school spirit:


After the game the three of us went to an Indian restaurant to grab a quick bite before we were to drop Afiya at the train station, but we ended up missing the train by about a minute, so we dropped her off at her home on Long Island on the way back to Staten Island. All of Penny's grandparents were there, plus another family friend visiting for Rosh Hashanah, so we slept downstairs in the living room, her on the couch and me on my air mattress.

The next morning we had breakfast together and drove into the city to Pier 45 where Penny's Jewish community group The New Shul had a ceremonial throwing of bread into the Hudson River to symbolize tossing away your sins to the fishes. We then walked to Washington Square Park for a brief lesson by the rabbi, and Penny and I recorded a digital video greeting for her Dutch boyfriend Peter, who is having a commitment ceremony with his girlfriend Floor in Amsterdam this weekend.

Penny greeting friends in the park

We stopped off at the group's art installation called The House of Awe & Repentance before going back to my place so Penny could do some homework and I could make us some food. I made her an improv meal of turkey bacon, white rice and kim chee, while I had some fried rice with very un-kosher Chinese sausage. We drove back to the city so I could drop her off at her grandmother's apartment for a birthday party which was for family only. Unfortunately, that meant I wasn't able to take her back to SBU as we'd planned, so she had to take the train back early Monday morning and call a friend to pick her up from the station.

Finally, I want to wish everyone a very happy Mabon, or Fall Equinox, which is today.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

The Way I Loved You

Taylor Swift has been in the news a lot lately, and I've been listening non-stop to her album Fearless since I checked it out of the library last week. But while I like all the tracks, the one song that is on my mind at the moment is track 10, "The Way I Loved You."

As you can see from the lyrics if you click on the link, the song is about how someone can have a seemingly perfect relationship and somehow long for a volatile and tumultuous one that develops somewhat equal parts of both pain and passion. And this is interesting to me because both Polina and I have one thing in common - we both recently ended ex-relationships that fit this description. But having gone through them, we've also both realized that we're not the sort who long to have that kind of relationship back.

It remains to be seen for both of us if our aversion to relationship drama will extend into future relationships, since we are both open to dating new people. But for now, I think we both appreciate how our relationship has become one that is stable, nurturing, positive and transparent. We work closely on specific issues together to improve our communication, and we both put forth effort to meet each other's needs.

But I think the big secret to the success of our relationship so far is our ability to enjoy the present, to live in the moment, and not to dwell or obsess over future scenarios or obstacles we have yet to face. If our relationship works well on many different levels over a long period of time, we can eventually overcome a lot of the issues that seem insurmountable right now. But for right now, we focus on loving each other as best we can, and letting the future unfold as it will.

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!

Sunday, September 13, 2009

A wedding story

I had the most lovely time with Polina and her tribe this weekend as we went camping in Barryville, NY to celebrate her sister Ella's wedding. I've heard much about Ella, but have never actually met her until yesterday, her wedding day.

I arrived at the campground around noon on Saturday and had a nice reunion with Polina - we hadn't seen each other for a month and it was wonderful to hold her and kiss her again. She helped me set up my tent and we socialized a bit and helped set things up. Here's a photo of Yoshi and my brandy-new tent with my air mattress and sleeping bag (which I bought last year for a trip to Assateague Island that got cancelled due to a bout of food poisoning):

Green van, green tent

The campground was called Luke's Landing, and it sits on the upper part of the Delaware River, an area with lots of river rafting outfits. The campground is the home of a music festival organized in part by the groom, Sasha, so it's an area with lots of good memories for both families. Here's the gorgeous view from just outside my tent at my campsite - you can hear the gurgling of the river very clearly:

View of the Delaware River

At around 2 p.m. Polina and I went to get changed into our party clothes and put on some makeup. I wore a diaphanous beaded orange and yellow dress with a silk wrap, an outfit that has an interesting back story. After the fire of 2005, I found this dress at a Lohemann's store in Houston, so it was one of, if not the first dress in my current wardrobe. One of the straps was damaged, and it's a braided string of beads, so I had to have my tailor find the same beads and rebraid the strap. Then, a year later, I was visiting Mandy and Colleen in Columbus, Ohio and we went to the Columbus Fine Arts Museum. I saw the orange silk wrap, so the wrap and dress were bought separately and are a perfect match, even down to the pattern of circles on both. The dress survived the second fire in 2007 since it was in a protective bag, but I had never had an occasion to wear it until now - yesterday was the first time it's ever been worn in public.

Speaking of perfect matches, you can see from the photo that Polina's bangs, which had previously been colored a deep shade of red, have faded to a light orange and yellow blonde, which we took great delight in pointing out that it matched my dress perfectly:


The wedding started at 3 p.m. with some games presided by Polina's eldest sister Sophie, where Sasha was given several tests, such as guessing people's hands while blindfolded, and picking out his bride's lipstick mark from several others in the wedding party. Each time he guessed wrong on the latter game, the woman he thought was Ella would get to place a lipstick mark on his face. He only had to endure this twice (Polina was his second wrong guess) before he successfully recognized his bride's lips. After completing all the tests, he was allowed to go find Ella, who was hiding on the other side of the campground near my tent, and together they walked back to the party to start the wedding ceremony.

The wedding took place under open sky outside the main tent under a huppah, which symbolises their home, and the house they hope to build someday. The families of both bride and groom are led into the huppah and several rituals are performed of walking circles clockwise and counter-clockwise, sharing wine and exchanging rings.

The wedding party

Once the rings and vows are exchanged, the newlyweds are wrapped into the talles of the huppah, where they share their first kiss as a married couple and Sasha breaks a glass to remember the fragility of our world:

First kiss

After the wedding recession, everyone gets to throw rice on them and the feasting and drinking begins in earnest. There were lots of toasts (Polina and her family sang a song in Russian about how the couple met that reminded me of the Brady Bunch theme) and as night fell, even a heavy downpour did not dampen our spirited dancing, nor the determination of a fellow named Roman who managed to start a bonfire.

We gradually migrated to the bonfire, where we sang songs (Sophie played many songs on guitar) and talked until the wee hours, until people started drifting off and it was just me and Polina, her sisters, mom and grandmother. We sang lullabys, showtunes and Beatles songs, and I managed to play and sing "All I Want Is You" by U2 and "Leaving on a Jet Plane" by John Denver on the guitar. Around 2 a.m. we decided the fire was low enough to leave for the night, so we said good night and I dropped Polina, her mom and grandmother at their tent and retired to mine (which luckily was not too wet because I'd stupidly left only the bug screens closed when I left the tent that afternoon).

In the morning we had some breakfast and chatted a bit before breaking down campsites and starting the cleanup. Polina had to leave early to catch her ride back to Stony Brook University, so we had a nice goodbye before I finished packing up my tent. I asked Ella if I could take some of the extra mugs (they were used for coffee and tea during the wedding, but some people didn't take them home) so I could finally replace the mugs I've been using since the 2005 fire, which were part of a china set that someone donated to me. It's nice to have mugs that remind me of happier things than the fire, and this weekend was certainly one of the happier times in my recent memory.

On the way home I stopped at High Point State Park, the highest elevation in the State of New Jersey, just south of the New York border, and visited the Veteran's Memorial obelisk at the summit. It was a beautiful day after the rain and clouds of the two previous days, and it was wonderful to feel the wind whipping through my hair at top of the mountain. Here's the view of the glacier lake in the park:

High Point State Park

Tomorrow after work I'll head to Poly Cocktail Hour for a bit, then to Diana and Kerry's viewing party for the MTV True Life premiere. But I will certainly remember this weekend for a long time to come, not just for the fun I had, but also as a milestone in my relationship with Polina where we officially were recognized as a couple by her family and close friends. The way I was accepted as Polina's girlfriend, with such warmth and open-mindedness, was both humbling and gratifying, and I hope to see many of those people again soon.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

First day at work

Just got back from my first day at work, an 11-hour one at that, so I'm pretty beat. But there's so much going on, I have to write a few lines just to keep up with my fast-moving life.

Tuesday night I went to Madison, NJ about 30 minutes away to hang out with my friend Kerry. She's been feeling a little apprehensive about the upcoming MTV premiere of True Life titled "I'm Polyamorous" in which she and her now-ex girlfriend Diana will be featured and wanted some advice. I'll probably also appear in a cameo from the party at the Slipper Room way back in May ("Birthdays, MTV and Polina" - May 6, 2009) but not for more than a few seconds, I'm sure. If you want to catch it, the show premieres this Monday at 10 p.m. ET ("TNG poly documentary coming to MTV" - Polyamory in the News).

The worst of it was that I had a job interview the next morning with a PR firm in Hackensack, so even though I felt like crap I managed to drag myself out of bed and get to the interview, a few minutes late because I got lost due to poor directions. The interview was fine, but it will be a few weeks at least before I hear anything. I also got emails that morning saying that I wasn't going to start my job on Thursday as expected, so I figured I'd at least be able to sleep late the next day, as I had plenty left to do on Wednesday.

After the interview I went into the city for a haircut with Edison, and he did his usual thorough job. I had a few hours to kill before the Women's Poly Meeting, so I walked around the Lower East Side and had dinner at Whole Foods before my friends all showed up. We had a new woman named Sheila who had responded to my PolyNYC personal ad, and we've been emailing back and forth a bit, which is how she knew about the meeting. Afterwards, I took my friend and group co-founder Sylwia back to Weehawken before heading home.

When I got home at midnight, I found emails that contradicted the previous ones, and asked me to come in to my new job at 8 am! Yikes! So instead of sleeping in, I got about 4 hours of sleep and showed up a half-hour early (since I didn't know what traffic would be like). The first day was very good - got all set up on a computer with two screens in a quiet corner of the HR department. I found out that they serve free lunch every day, which is wonderful, and they also have free sodas and snacks for employees. They even have an indoor half-court basketball hoop and locker rooms for working out. It's a 90 minute drive down there without traffic, and god only knows how long during rush hour. At this point, I'm inclined to go early and stay late just to rack up paychecks and avoid sitting in traffic. My paycheck today is almost double my weekly unemployment check!

That is all for now - I'm off to bed.

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Labor Day retreat

Hello everybody! Well, it's been a while since my last post, and a lot has happened. In a nutshell, Tara and I formalized our breakup on Sept. 1 (exchanged house keys, agreed not to visit/talk with each other anymore, etc.), got confirmation on my new job starting Sept. 10 in Princeton, and just got back from a three-night weekend retreat at my friend Buck's house in Middletown, NY with Open Love NY leaders Simon, Donna, and Kyle. How's that for an eventful week?

As the first two items are the most important but the most personal, I will focus this post on the most recent event, the trip to Middletown this weekend. The purpose of the trip was to do some bonding among the Open Love NY leadership and talk about our mission and vision for the fledgling group. We also had a lot of fun together hanging out, going to the Renaissance Festival, shopping and cooking together.

Friday night Simon and I drove up together and met Buck, Donna and Buck's daughter Clara at Buck's house. Simon, Buck, Donna and I went to a Mexican restaurant called El Bandito for dinner, which was pretty good food for the northeast. We also stopped at a hippie store across the street and I saw a wonderful gong windchime that I fell in love with, and resolved to buy later.

Saturday Kyle arrived by train, and we all went out to Sugarloaf, a quaint village filled with artisan crafts stores of all kinds: clothes, magick shops, artworks, herbs, records, etc. We visited all the stores, but didn't buy much other than some fresh vegetables for dinner. We stopped by Donna's condo in Chester, NY to visit with her son and his fiancee who live with her, then back home so Donna could start dinner. Buck and I went out to the grocery store for a few things (he let me drive his BMW Z3 because his back was hurting) and when we came back we sat down to a meal of salad, stuffed artichokes, un-chicken parmagiana, portobello mushrooms stuffed with a broccoli rabe, angel hair pasta with tomato-vegetable sauce and ice cream for dessert.

Sunday we got up early to go to the New York Renaissance Faire in Tuxedo, NY, only the second time I've been to this particular event (although I've been to the Texas Ren Faire many times). Here we are at the front gate:

Simon, me, Donna, Buck and Kyle

The first show we saw were some aerial acrobatics, like those my friend Kerry can do, in the context of a play about the tales of Scheherazade:


The best thing about going to the Faire was that now that I have a job in front of me, I felt a little more comfortable spending money (which makes it so much more fun!) I bought several things at various shops, including a gorgeous purple leather mask that reminded me of Neil Gaiman's characterization of Death of the Endless from Sandman (I also got an ankh to complete the image), a pewter talisman for poets and writers (appropriate for someone starting a writing job), a new sterling silver talisman of a seven-pointed faery star, and a replacement pair of goddess earrings I had bought the last Faire that I subsequently lost in the fire of 2007. I also bought a pair of lace-up leather bracers, or wrist guards, for Polina.

We also saw the glassblowing demonstration, which is always a fan favorite - here they are just finishing a small flower vase:


Kyle's new boyfriend Mike joined us for the day and we saw a comedy show starring two nuns called "Hey Nunnie Nunnie!" that was quite funny. We also saw the jousting and a bit of the stunt show. Interestingly, this year the Faire was rebranded as a "family festival" so unlike past events, you could not buy sharpened swords or other weapons (although swords for stage play or display were available) nor could you buy any whips, floggers, handcuffs or other kinky items that have been available in years past.

We came home and ate leftovers from the huge meal the night before, and sat up to watch The Unbearable Lightness of Being, one of my all-time favorite movies which has a quasi-poly theme and generated a lively discussion into the wee hours of the morning.

Monday we actually buckled down to get some work done on our work for various poly groups, including Open Love NY. We started working on recording a timeline of polyamory for the Polyamory Leadership Network, and the bylaws for OLNY. I also tried to go back to get that wind chime gong, but the store was closed for Labor Day, so I gave Buck the money to pick it up for me later. We worked on things for as long as we could, then Simon, Kyle and I drove back to Wayne so they could take a bus back into Manhattan.

Here's a picture of our group at our lunch on Monday: