Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Samhain 2012

It has been a bit of an unusual week to be sure, with the widespread disruption of Sandy. I am greatly fortunate not to have been directly affected at all. My electricity flickered a few times on Monday night, but never went out, so for me it was a non-event. The primary effect has been that I've been pretty much housebound since Sunday night until today, since there is no subway or rail service to Princeton, and the Nearing office has been closed and without power until it was partially restored today.

Today is Samhain, pagan new year, what most Americans now celebrate as Halloween. Recognizing that I wanted to make an extra effort this year, I arranged to have the day off, which is also good because I've been working 12-hour days from home, trying to get a load of documents edited. So it was nice to have the break.

Besides my spirit practice, I'm also finishing my love letter writing project today. So for those of you who received them this year, I wanted to give you some background on the tools and materials used to make them. As it happens, there was a pen fair at the Art Brown International Pen Store on 45th a few blocks away, so it was time for me to buy a new fountain pen. I haven't had a nice fountain pen since I lost several in the fire of 2005.

There were some gorgeous limited edition Italian-made Delta pens that were 50% off, but that still put them a little out of my price range. Eventually I found a Waterford Celebration fountain pen with a star crystal cap, 18k gold fine-tip nib that had the heft and smoothness I was looking for. I also got some Iroshizuku asa-gao (Morning Glory) ink, from a line of inks made by PILOT and inspired by Japanese flowers in a handmade glass bottle.


The paper is cotton fiber (Crane & Co., naturally) and scented lightly with Chopard Casmir perfume, which is Irene Adler's prop perfume in "Sherlock: A Scandal in Belgravia."

As for the rest of my day, I went to visit the Met, which had been closed Tuesday due to Sandy, but reopened just in time for me today, and with free admission to boot. Unfortunately, many of the galleries weren't open, but I did see all the special exhibits and some of my old favorites. Also, since the subways aren't running, I rode my bike Mario about 40 blocks up to the museum, and snapped a photo of the damaged crane on 57th Street.


At the Met, the exhibit on Bernini's sculptures in clay in the Lehman wing was truly inspiring, and made me want to watch "Angels & Demons" again just to admire the scenery. The inventive and beautiful furniture and salon pieces of Roentgens must be seen to be believed. I wish someone would mass produce working replicas at reasonable prices so I could get a proper writing desk.

I also explored more fully the new Islamic wing, since the last time I visited it had just opened and was packed. The first picture is one of the main rug rooms with a striking ceiling, and the second is a replica of a  reception room from a large house in Damascus, circa 1707.



Tonight I'm going to charge my new amulet for the year, plus cleanse and prepare my new wand for magickal work. As I mentioned in my last post, I found the wand at the Pennsylvania RenFaire when I visited with Morgan. The handle is Burmese rosewood and the shaft is willow, which is a type of wood I've always been drawn to (cricket bats are made of willow, as you may know). The detail on the handle is dichroic coffee beans.

I had ordered the amulet online a couple weeks ago, but I wasn't sure it was going to get here in time, and I wasn't sure if it would be suitable for me. I never really know until I hold it in my hands. So last weekend I went down to Stick Stone & Bone, my magickal store in the West Village to have a look. I found one that I thought might be suitable, although it wasn't exactly right for me. I didn't want to take the chance of not having a new amulet for Samhain, so I got it anyway.


But when I came home to drop stuff off and prepare for my yoga teacher Emily's party that night, I found that the other amulet had arrived in the mail while I was out. I liked that one much better - it's black onyx in a convex shape on one side (like a scrying ball) circled with roughly wrought silver, and the other side has a pentacle that can be hidden by turning it against the skin. No matter how much we like to think we have religious freedom here, it still takes guts to wear a pentacle openly. Which is too bad because it represents balance between all the elements, a worthy state for anyone to aspire to. So I returned the other amulet to the store on my way to Emily's place and I'll get something else later with the store credit.


I'm not sure when trains are going to be running, or if Ryan and Beth's wedding is going to actually happen this weekend since they haven't restored power at the venue yet. It all reminds me of when my friend Joanna invited me to her wedding in Ohio and I couldn't attend because a freak blizzard grounded all flights into the state of Ohio ("Blizzards & waterfalls" - March 10, 2008). This story is not going to get me invited to many more weddings!

Being cooped up and working from home (even though I'm doing it more and more) also reminds me of my one and only snow day with Bonnie and Hiba back in 2010. Since many people were messaging me Monday night as Sandy bore down on us, I decided to text Hiba and tell her I was reminded of our snow day. She texted me back and agreed, saying she had just told Bonnie the day before that it reminded her of it too.

A blessed Samhain to all, and may the new year be filled with peace, love and light.

Friday, October 26, 2012


Sorry that I've been away so long. Things have been rather hectic at work and at home, but hopefully they will get better soon.

Big news first - I submitted my resignation as President of Open Love NY, effective Oct. 31. It's something that's long overdue. So now, hopefully, other people will step up and it will become a more diffuse leadership structure - we've already elected co-presidents to take my place.

I'm looking forward to having more time to pursue other things in my newly single life, once my commitment anniversary with Puck passes in a couple weeks. A lot of that will be exploring new areas outside kink and poly, but I haven't decided on a direction yet.

While work has been busy with the merger integration we're currently undergoing, my personal situation has improved in the sense that I've been able to manage my commute more to my liking, doing more work at home and on the train and being in the office less, or at least taking express trains so I'm not spending as much time actually traveling.

So now, an update on my busy social life. Two weekends ago I was just getting over a cold, so managed to feel well enough to attend Becker's 31st birthday at Shake Shack down in Battery Park City. I had visited a cool notions shop called Tinsel Trading Company in the Fashion District near the apartment to get him a box of long kitchen matches with a vintage map of New York printed on it, plus a set of vintage cigar box stickers (since Kacey told me she gave him a cigar box to store things).

Afterward we walked around the World Financial Center and I snapped this lovely photo of them together:


From there I took the ferry to Staten Island to meet up with Puck and friends for their play reading and to have dinner. We watched "The Avengers" on the projector and settled everyone in for bed.

On Sunday, Puck's roommate Adele and her friend Evan came with us to Anachronism. Puck dressed up as Delirium from Neil Gaiman's Sandman (as they did at Steampunk World's Fair earlier this year) and this time I joined them as Delirium's sister, Death.

Death and Delirium

We had dinner at a nice Japanese hole-in-the-wall place on St. Marks before heading over to Element, the club for the event. Unfortunately, we didn't realize that Anachronism was a 21+ event, so Evan and Adele had to go back to my apartment and wait for us. We stayed for a couple sets of performers, including a band called Amour Obscura, then we left for home.

Last week I had stuff every single night of the week, which was a bit exhausting in the cumulative. Monday I had dinner with Jet, Piper's partner, to get her up to speed on OLNY so she can join the leadership team. Tuesday I met with Antonia, a friend doing a dissertation on polyamory and the differences in attitudes and activism between the U.S. and her native Germany.

Wednesday was movie night at work, where I hosted my theme, "Men Out of Time (Without a DeLorean)" and we watched "The Final Countdown," a 1980 movie starring Kirk Douglas and Martin Sheen. Thursday night was a doubleheader, with the Open Love NY leadership meeting at my apartment until 9 pm, then Natalie, Kacey and Becker came over to watch Elementary at 10.

Friday I left from work to go visit Morgan in Harrisburg and the Pennsylvania Renaissance Faire, one I've never been to before.


Morgan got some tea and spices, and I got a cauldron, a wand and a new altar cover for my spirit practice, something I hope to have more focus on in the coming year. I wasn't able to find a pendant yet, but I still have a few more days to look until Samhain arrives on the 31st. I also got this year's holiday ornament, a tiny bear dressed as a pumpkin, wearing a witch hat and holding a broomstick. To me, the ornament symbolizes Morgan, who has been a welcome new presence in my life this year since meeting him for the first time on our road trip in March ("Road Trip 2012" - March 14, 2012), then going to SPWF ("Steampunk World's Fair" - May 25, 2012) and him attending my birthday ("Birthday dinner" - July 16, 2012). It also symbolizes to me a renewed focus on my magical practice.

Later that evening, we went out to a very nice Italian/Mediterranean restaurant called Mangia Qui and had grilled octopus, caprese, duck and filet mignon, served up scrumptiously.




We also found time to go see "Argo" at the movie theater, which was a really good spy thriller. Ben Affleck is coming into his own as a director. It would make a good recruiting film for the CIA. I stayed another night and came back Sunday in time for yoga, even taking time to stop by the Nordstroms Rack in Grove Hill, PA to buy some rain boots.

Tuesday night was Open Love NY, my last as presiding President. Then we had four first-timers at the Poly Women's Group, plus Tamara, Loli, Sylwia and myself, so it was the biggest crowd in a while.

Tonight I'm doing a marathon of "Sherlock", watching "The Great Game" and "Scandal in Belgravia" with Katie, then Natalie and Kacey are coming over later to watch "Elementary". Everybody has been coming over pretty consistently to watch that show, so it's been nice to have that as a regular event, along with my usual movie nights with Kacey. Hopefully Piper's life will settle soon so we can also resume our Kubrick marathon, as I'm eager to watch "Lolita" and "Dr. Strangelove" again.

Monday, October 08, 2012

Fourth anniversary

Four years ago today, Puck and I met each other on the Great Hill in Central Park, helping to set up for the Poly Pride Rally in 2008. For the past three years, we've celebrated this anniversary, either by attending the Rally together, or being together somewhere else when that wasn't possible.

This year, for some inexplicable reason, the Poly Pride Rally did not happen, with no explanation from the organizers. So perhaps it's fitting that our celebrations are changing as well. After four years, Puck and I are "graduating" in a sense from being girlfriends to being "frubbles," our word that best describes what our relationship has become.

"Frubble" is a poly term that is a synonym of "compersion," which is the feeling of happiness in sharing a partner with someone else, to be happy when someone you love is happy with someone else. It's often called the opposite of jealousy. So we decided that it worked just as well to use as a relationship as well as a feeling. By calling ourselves frubbles, we're saying that we love each other in a way where our greatest wish is to see each other find more love. It takes off some of the assumptions and baggage of calling each other "girlfriends," but it means more than being "friends."

We are family in a way that means we're always looking out for one another, but we don't have any formal agreements to keep. No obligations. Living our own lives but never being too far away. We are each other's John Watsons, the sidekicks to our own starring roles.

The graduation analogy works well to describe the change. In the past four years, we've learned a lot about each other, and about ourselves, during a very formative period in each of our lives. Puck was only 17 when we met, and was taking a year off between high school and university to travel. I was only 4 years into my new life, working at Agent K in the city and living in New Jersey near Tara's family. Neither of us had any friends in the New York kink scene.

During the time we've been girlfriends, we've followed a curriculum of sorts, having relationship conversations, applying poly theories, making agreements, testing results. We've seen other relationships with metamours come, stick around, or go. We've figured out what works for us and what doesn't. Now, we're leaving that structure, that test environment behind, and we're moving forward where possibilities are less defined and less predictable. In a sense, we are graduating from the structure of "relationship school" and entering the expansive freedom of the "real world." We're not so much changing our relationship as much as we are acknowledging a change to the environment in which we relate to each other.

For this anniversary, I drove out to SBU on Friday to visit them. I met up with them off-campus at a meeting of the LGBTA leaders, where I shared a short testimonial of my personal experience of coming out in Houston. On Saturday we had breakfast at our favorite diner, then went to the historic part of Stony Brook to visit a community apple fair, where we shared an apple fritter and took pictures in a church cemetery. We also drove around a bit near the Grist Mill pond to see the gorgeous antique and modern homes nestled in the woods, one of the places I visited with Bonnie's family.


We came back and took a nap before we opened Puck's presents - the tailored Calvin Klein suit and all the accessories I've been picking up for the last month or so. In addition to the Nordstrom's white French cuff dress shirt, I got them two pairs of coordinating ties and cufflinks. One set is a Brioni light blue tie with white dots and a transparent overlay of a leaf pattern with cerulean blue oval cufflinks. The other is a Calvin Klein silver check tie with gray lenticular pyramid-shaped checkerboard cufflinks. I also got them brass collar stays, a magnetic money clip, a Calvin Klein belt and black suspenders with tiny white polka dots. Add the Oxford shoes I got them earlier this year and a pair of Calvin Klein trouser socks and the outfit was complete.


After all that was tried on and cleared away, we ventured out again to Port Jefferson to watch the waning sunset over the crashing waves on a windswept beach. We even found a pair of swings on the beach, something we had forgotten to do at last weekend's camping trip, so we rectified that by taking a ride on the swings. Then we went to the theater to see Looper, which was pretty good, and then a romantic dinner at Pentimento, a place that Puck and Ryan discovered together.


Sunday was a much more low-key day - we got up and had brunch at the commons, then hung out at the Sci-fi Forum for a bit. We came back and hung up their posters and artwork on the walls. Puck's roommate Adele joined us to make a meat pie for lunch, made from ground lamb, carrots, onions and celery in a rice flour pie crust. We watched an episode of Doctor Who before I left for home.

Although this is the fourth anniversary of our meeting and starting this journey together, there is still one more formal anniversary to recognize before we dissolve our commitment - the anniversary of our year and a day commitment to each other. We made that commitment to each other on Nov. 6, two days before their 21st birthday. So on Nov. 7, we will fulfill that commitment and start our journey anew.

Happy Anniversary, my dearest Puck. In every ending there is a new beginning, and so it shall be with us. I look forward to many more years of adventures together. I love you.

Monday, October 01, 2012

Free love letters 2012

For me, October is a special month for a number of reasons. It ends with pagan new year (Samhain) on Oct. 31 and time for the cycle of the year to start anew. The weather is usually as perfect as it gets, and I love the smell of fall.

But most of all, I've come to realize that October is the month I most associate with my loved ones - past and present - because I've physically met all my past lovers in the month of October. Coincidence? Maybe. But I wouldn't be surprised if I met someone new (or something happens with a person who is already in my life) this month that turns out to be the start of a new relationship.

Puck and I have our own traditions for celebrating our anniversary (our fourth and final this year) but last year, I started a project that I want to continue in order to mark October as my own month dedicated to love. As you can see from this blog I am a pretty prolific writer, so I came up with an idea after reading this article in the Wall Street Journal: "Stationery's New Followers" - Aug. 25, 2011

I wanted to do something to celebrate love that didn't have anything to do with a specific person. The idea of love is bigger than one relationship between two people - love is what binds us all together and the most powerful force for good we have in the world. I wanted to do something for the sake of art, without any other purpose or agenda beyond putting something beautiful out in the world.

So each October, I write a personalized love letter to anyone who requests one by sending me their physical mailing address. You can make the request through any means available to you - Facebook, email, phone, text, whatever. Everyone who gives me an address will get a letter - guaranteed - whether we've known each other a minute or a decade. Each love letter will be handwritten with liquid ink on cotton paper and sent via U.S. Mail - not by email, text, IM, Twitter or Facebook post. I'll even spring for international delivery for anyone overseas.

Your letter may be long or short, funny or sincere. It might be perfumed or decorated with a wax seal. It might recall some tiny, distant memory of our time together, or it might be five pages long if we have a history. It might be lyrics to a love song that reminds me of you. It could be a story I've always wanted to share with you, but never found the right moment to tell it.

But whatever it is, it will be honest, and it will be about you and me - and whatever is between us and how it relates to the experience of love. And for those moments it takes you to read it, you and I will share a personal and physical connection that is so rare in this fleeting digital world.

No response will be expected - the letter will be my gift to you, in honor of all the love that has found me in Octobers past. And obviously, requests received after Oct. 31 will have to wait until next year.