bounce elephant

P is for...

I've been waffling on whether I wanted to start a new journal somewhere or write privately in this one or what. I think I'm going to try to write this entry, post it, and see how I feel about it. 

The reason I've been waffling...is because some major stuff has happened that I am unable to talk about openly in my offline life, so even though I'm not ashamed about it, it feels slightly uncomfortable to write about it publicly. Particularly when it may seem like a radical departure from what my life used to be. 

A year ago, JR and I attended an event where a coworker gave a thesis presentation, along with several others. It was a fascinating, inspiring evening, one of my favorite events since I've returned to college. That evening I met my coworker's wife, and after that we became online friends. 

JR and I will be celebrating our six year anniversary in April. We love each other very deeply and have always had a pretty idyllic marriage. We also don't have any family at this point, and tend to be extremely loving/community oriented. So, at some point in the past two years when I laughed and asked him: "Are we going to become swingers?" --it wasn't dramatically out of context. 

Except, of course I didn't mean swingers. I meant poly. And, yeah. That's exactly what are now. From extremely monogamous to extremely poly, in the course of a few short months. 

This is going to sound almost cavalier as I bust through the chronology of events, because I just don't have the stamina to write a super super gushy detailed entry. I just want to layout the basic framework so I can process some stuff I need to process, now. Just trust me when I say, nothing has happened that didn't feel right. Nothing has happened that didn't make sense for our lives.

It started with my coworkers wife. I'll call her TM. Coworker is JM. (They've been together for 10 years, married for six, and are both my age.)

Sometime during the past year, TM started a tumblr where she made it clear that she was interested in women. I tend to be much, much more gay than straight, so this perked me right up. It appeared she was in the same situation as me, married to a man but still very attracted to women. Living in conservative areas = not something you run into everyday. 

We celebrated Solstice together, the four of us plus two other couples. It was pretty much a perfect evening. TM and I got closer than the relationship we'd already established online, and after Solstice I asked her out for a coffee date. Meaning, I had a crush on her but figured we'd just become close friends. 

Date one, we talked endlessly. About everything. Our pasts, our presents, our goals. We talked about our sexuality. The topic of having girlfriends outside of our marriage came up, and she casually informed me that JM knew and was ok with the fact that she wanted to have a girlfriend, but that she hadn't had the right opportunity or met the right person. 

It spiraled from there. After my "date" with TM, I talked at length with JR about the idea of me dating, and he was very positive and encouraging of my feelings for TM. Over the next week she and I emailed and texted, and by the following week I told her outright that I had a crush on her. We started dating. It progressed rapidly. We fell in love. 

Like, for real. For really real. I love her in ways I never thought possible. It's not a question of loving JR less--I love him as much as I always have, if not more. I just love her deeply, too. 

Here's where it got more complicated. 

Everything was progressing beautifully between her and I. I think because we've both demonstrated that we can sustain a long term, loving relationship, we were able to recreate a similar dynamic between ourselves. Our relationship became something extremely powerful, in a very short amount of time. Basically, it followed a similar trajectory to my relationship with JR--we had a rapidfire beginning that may have been too fast for anyone looking at our situation, but never felt wrong or weird to us. Everything felt right, every step of the way. 

And somewhere along the way, JR and JM started to feel a little sad and left out. They were seeing how happy TM and I were, together, and were trying to figure out if they wanted to start dating too, or how they could enhance the amount of love in their own lives. Because TM and I love and adore our husbands, and because JM, JR and I had already been friends for a couple years, it didn't seem weird to start spending time together as a group. Not in a sexual way, just as a "we're family now" kind of way. 

Annnd then, of course, pandora's box got opened. After spending some time together as a group, being cuddly and emotionally intimidate, JR and TM started having feelings for each other (as I anticipated they would.)  But what surprised me is that JM and I started having feelings for each other, too. 

It wasn't his feelings that were surprising. TM had told me early in our relationship that JM had a crush on me, which I thought it was sweet and flattering, but really didn't reciprocate. Until..we started spending time together, and there was touching, and late night talking, and voila. Turns out he and I have incredible, undeniable chemistry. 

Dammit. 

Things were going so smoothly for awhile there that everything almost seemed simple. TM and I were married to our husbands. TM and I were dating. That was the presumed end of it, we'd just be three happy couples and carry on with our lives. 

Now, there are five couples. Prepare for something that looks like a math problem: I'm with JR, JM, and TM. TM is with me, JR, and JM. JM is with me and TM. JR is with me and TM. JR is bi and would be happy having a relationship with JM, but JM is straight so they're just emotionally gay for each other.

Relationships all over the place. And one big poly family group. 

It's been a lot to come to terms with. 

Last week was really hard. TM and I both had some major old issues resurface regarding rejection/abandonment, and kind of broke down emotionally. Really broke down. The group got us through it, thankfully, and by the weekend, everything was beautiful again. In fact, more beautiful than beautiful. Some of the happiest moments of my life happened this past weekend, with the four of us together. 

This week, the focus has been trying to re-stabilize (or just plain old stabilize) the individual relationships. TM and I finally got some alone time  on Tuesday. Tonight is date night between JR and TM, and JM and I. 

I'm nervous as hell. JM and I have amazing physical chemistry (no sex, we're all getting tested next week as a precaution), but what's wound up happening is that I'm in love with him, and I don't really know how to process it. Especially because TM needed me to put the brakes on my relationship with him last week, so she wasn't as triggered. Now JR, JM and TM are all telling me they love me and everything is ok and we can all move forward...but I'm stuck. I feel stuck, emotionally and physically. And seeing JR and TM developing their relationship after I had already put the brakes on my relationship with JM has been pretty upsetting for me. 

They know this, of course. We all communicate extensively and well. JR is slowing things down with TM because I can't handle more than that, at the moment. But I'm just not quite sure where to go from here. 

A lot of what's been triggered for me involves my birth family, and how horrible that dynamic was, so I'm trying to work through some of the heavier aspects of my abusive past so I can embrace this new group dynamic. Which is the polar opposite of anything I've ever known. I don't know how to feel and accept love from multiple people at the same time. I've never had to, before. I don't know how to demonstrate love for multiple people at the same time, either, in a balanced way. I'm trying to learn, but I'm basically fumbling around in the dark. I also know that a lot of it comes down to being totally open and vulnerable and authentic and...I just don't feel that way right now. 

I feel scared. I'm still feeling the hurt of last week, even after our beautiful weekend. I'm still feeling unsteady and like I can't move without ruining everything. I'm terrified of setting off an emotional bomb without even meaning to. And I am so, so fatigued of living in a heavy emotional place and processing things and feeling so uncertain that I just want to pretend everything is fine and move forward. But the really annoying part is that they're all tuned into me, so I can't even get away with that. 

I'm really not used to all of this emotion, period. I know that the only way for me to feel better is throw myself into self-care, which is why I decided to journal today...but I'm also not sure this is something I can process through with words. I think this may be one of those situations that can only be soothed by experience and time. And I have to find a way to be open to that, instead of creating a self fulfilling prophecy. Which JR seems to think I'm doing. Holding everyone at arms length, even though I'm trying to keep everything together. 

I'm going to go take care of myself and think things through a bit more. 
bounce elephant

Placeholder

I am still alive but not really journaling at all anymore...dunno why exactly, I kind of loss the flavor for it this semester. Things have been busy, and I'm really focused on audition prep and getting through this semester, and I guess with all the assignments and busywork, all I want to fill my free time with is time spent with my husband/animals, running, and playing piano. 

I've thought about rebooting or rebranding or whatever, but I dunno. I think I'll probably sit down to reflect on the going ons of the last couple months once the semester is over, but right now it's just go go go, breathe, go go go. 

Hope all is well in internetlandia!
bounce elephant

LJ updateyness

I have been writing, just not posting here--which wasn't a deliberate choice, my writing has just been rushed and sporadic enough that I haven't taken the time to re-post. Eventually I'll get around to it, there's probably half a dozen entries I need to get up here. 

Highlights over the past two months include starting school, the school/my "program" being completely incompetent and disorganized and causing all sorts of scheduling issues, me finally applying for my school/program of choice (still waiting to hear back), reaching a place of greater independence in terms of my family and realizing that my best efforts at cultivating a relationship have basically failed, dealing with the emotional aftermath of that realization, and filling in the gaps of the school/family stress with lots of husband, friend and animal related happiness. 

I am busy and fulfilled. Piano is going well. Running is going well. Life, generally speaking, is going well. I am undoubtedly nervous about getting into the school, but...it's nervous excitement, built on a foundation of hope. And I'm definitely still processing all the shit regarding my family--I mainly mean my mom and sister--largely because I've forced myself to "play nice" for the past couple years in an effort to TRY to bridge the gaps between us. Now that I no longer feel obligated to so, a lot of previously censored feelings have come rumbling to the surface. I think I've addressed the bulk of the anger, so now I'm having periodic "can you believe the crap they did?" moments. They really are not nice people, and I'm relieved the pressure to engage with them is gone--although honestly, I know there's layers of family related sediment that I'll have to sort through as time goes on. Thus is the nature of things. 

Prepping for dinner and Torchwood with friends now, but I just wanted to get this up as a placeholder. Hope you're all doing ok. 
bounce elephant

Quick thought

 Something that was never really imparted on me when I was younger was a sense of bodily autonomy. I didn't know that I had the right to say "No." I didn't feel connected to my physical form. I didn't feel comfortable in it, I didn't like it, I didn't know how to deal with it.

So I think one of my favorite things about having an active lifestyle is that it's given me a really strong sense of ownership. This is MY body. *I* take care of it, I know it better than anyone else, and no matter what's going on around me, I'm confident that my body is strong and competent--because I've worked to make it that way.

It's kind of existential I guess, but it's really affected my sense of self and the way I interact with the world. I use the word "empowering" too often, but really, that's the only way to describe it. I've taken back what was rightfully mine, and it feels really good.



PS: I know haven't been writing much this summer. Everything is good. Running around outside, hanging out with a new group of friends, still doing Project 365, two summer classes, piano practice, video games...things are just good. Fall semester starts in a month and I have a pretty awesome schedule. So, yeah. Best summer I can remember, actually. 
bounce elephant

Time starts now

  I'm working on 100 miles for this week. So far I'm at 56, all biking. I've been focusing on cycling to make sure my hip gets a full recovery from whatever I did to it earlier this year (overtraining, stressed the hell out of my hip flexor)--but I'm still able to run, so I'd like to get out there at least once this week. I know biking is doing wonders for my hip and thigh strength, so I feel like it can only help in the long run.

My life right now is dominated by fitness and piano. Piano has been to a lesser extent, but...I think my focus has finally begun creeping back. I have to remind myself that I've only been pursuing piano on a professional level for less than a year, that there are some emotional adjustments going on that I've had to sort through very quickly. Still, I've been feeling guilty and conflicted for not being driven to practice as much as I need to over the past month. I know sometimes the creative spirit needs a vacation, and I know that my practice sessions are much more inspired and thorough right now, but still...it's been hard coming to terms with "how I should feel" about this. In ways, I think it helps that I'm feeling much more "part" of the fitness community lately, like I actually belong somewhere and have a connection with a extended group of people. I've said it before, but being a pianist can be so isolating. I'm slowly realizing that I need to accept my life as a musician is a going to be a much more personal, introspective journey--that's just the nature of the beast. But, I can find community elsewhere--and may still find a musical community down the road.

For now, I just need to remember this: there are only two months remaining. Two months of time to practice without the pressures of school. Two months to get a handle on my audition material. Two months before my life begins hurtling towards its next destination. Two months. Two months.

This is my time. Fuck yeah.
bounce elephant

Freckles

Lately, most of my thoughts always find their way back to running or biking. I had a muscle spasm last night around my left shoulder blade, and the first thing I did when I woke up this morning was go for a long walk to loosen it, so I could bike again in the evening. And I did. I think I'm solar powered; I'm addicted to being outside.

I seem to recall I was like this as a kid...then I lost it for awhile. It's good to be back.
bounce elephant

State of affairs = two thumbs up

 Yesterday:

We drove to the small, artsy town that huddles at the base of the mountains, right on the outskirt of our city. We had lunch at our newly discovered organic/vegetarian and vegan friendly cafe. The owner recognized us and said "My favorite happy couple!!" (after only meeting us once before, it was cute.) Later she said, "I don't mean to assume, maybe you were just having a peppy day..." and JR and I grinned at each other and laughed and said, "Oh, we're happy." After lunch we walked around the city, played games in an arcade filled with old console machines, and got some chocolate from our favorite local chocolatier. It was fantastic.

Today:

I got up and went for a nice bike ride before it got too hot, then came back and took Tess for a run. She did amazingly well, the longest and best run she's had with me. When we got home I gave her a cool-off shower and she napped contentedly under the A/C. I had a productive piano practice session, then we left Tess out while we ran to the store (she's old enough now that we've begun transitioning to more "out of kennel" time while we're gone.) JR and I had a snack and sat and talked at Whole Foods, came home--and received our much-anticipated financial aid disbursement from the school, along with a book I've been eagerly waiting for. So, we headed out again (this time with Tess in tow), blissfully deposited the money, stopped by a local pet-center with super nice products to get Tess a beautiful new "comfort" harness and collar (it's purple and looks SMASHING against her black fur), then drove to a park to sit under a tree and read while the sun set.

And all I can think is, "We are ok. We are ok. Once again, we are ok. This summer is going to be so amazing, and life is so good."

In general:

I've been getting up each morning and immediately heading out for a run or bike ride, which sometimes doesn't go perfectly but generally, I adore. I feel like I'm revisiting my "constantly playing in the summer sun" tendency from when I was a kid. I'm also getting freckly, which I haven't been for some time. Oh, and I decided recently that I may as well make the transition to vegan, since we're already pretty close, and it's been going really well. (I love me some almond milk. And coconut yogurt. <3 ) JR and I have started hanging out with some of his coworkers at a weekly pub-quiz night, which is really solid entertainment. And, JR and I had this fantastic long talk about future plans and daydreaming about our goals, and it was just so good and centering for us as a couple, and made me feel revitalized about where we're at and where we're going. I just feel really...satisfied and safe and positive right now. "The future looks bright," and all that good stuff. B^)

In na-na land:

There *was* a brief "potential" drama flare with my sister--she randomly decided to write me a letter that insisted I needed to forgive her for blatantly lying to me and shutting me out for months without explanation, because I'm a big cuntbag who hurt her feelings and also I MADE her fat (ok maybe not in those words, but that was the general idea), and OH btw? JR and I should have dinner with our parents and her, because our cousin and aunt and uncle came to town and it would look really good if my sister could manipulate me into magically making everything "pleasant."

Yeah. So, after vacillating about how I should handle it and talking very briefly with my parents to get a sense of how they felt about it (she was basically putting me in a lose-lose situation, setting me up to look like the "bad" daughter, which is a game she's played for years), I ultimately decided to ignore it. Not reply. So far, so good. She's moving into my parent's basement this weekend (what?? Her BA and MA in Communication without any specialization and any networking and any job experience didn't MAGICALLY land her a 50K+/year job where she can travel any time she wants, as she insisted it would...? I am SHOCKED. : O ), so she'll be in the same city as us now...but I don't anticipate it will cause any major issues. My parents live 30 minutes away and my dad always hangs out with me outside of the house, and if my mom wants to spend time with me, well, she'll have to do the same.

Basically, I just don't have the patience or desire to get sucked into any of my sister's game-playing. Again. : / We've had a few falling-outs in our lifetime and at this point, I just think it's best if she and I avoid mixing. I'm not even sure what it would take for us to have a functioning relationship, so...I can't even speculate that it's a possibility. I just gotta do my own thing, and she can do hers, whatever that may be.



And that's that, I think! Just thought it was time for a big old brain vomit, so there ya go. Hope all is well out there, lovely peeples.
bounce elephant

Choke

 When I was younger, it was generally imparted on me that I was somehow broken and needed to strive to be "normal." To fit in. So I worked hard to find stability in myself and my life, and got to a place of profound health and well-being (better than even THEY imagined)...and discovered that a good majority of the people around me, including those who'd insisted I needed to change, were struggling with dysfunction of their own. Basically, I was an outsider when I was unstable--and still felt like an outsider thanks to the reserve of coping and communication skills I'd accumulated. People around me didn't deal with the world the same way I did, and that made me feel like an anomaly.

But I dealt with it. As it turns out, it's much nicer being a misfit for being happy and healthy than it is to be "weird" for being MORE dysfunctional than the dysfunctional people around you. And, my current misfittery isn't externally noticeable, or any real detriment in navigating the murky nuances of society. It's more...a sense that JR and I are a bit on the outskirts, and we're often confused and grasping for answers when we interact with people who communicate and engage in ways we can't relate to. We puzzle over it like two Vulcans trying to assess an alien culture.

(...you know, I can't really talk about this without sounding like a snob or whatever, so I'm just going to acknowledge that possibility and keep plowing forward. I've got shit on my mind and if this journal isn't the place for it, then I don't know what the point of it is.)

Anyway, so we're misfits. But I'm discovering more and more (in the past year, especially) that the trajectory of my life is shooting off in a direction that seems to be shockingly contrary to the "standard" protocol of being a human being, at least in American society. And THIS is weird. It makes me feel weird--not because I'm legitimately weird or particularly concerned about being weird--because the choices I'm making, the choices that make me so happy and fulfilled, the choices that seem so honest and obvious to me, seem to be so completely foreign and unthinkable to a huge chunk of my cultural and peer group.

When we went to the U2 concert, we got caught up in a wave of people pouring towards the stadium. And when we were leaving the concert, the same thing happened in reverse. Except the crowd bottlenecked at a tiny bridge that led to the lightrail station, and we were all left standing shoulder to shoulder in a baa-ing herd (literally, many of the people around me started baa-ing). I've never been so firmly "one of the crowd" in my life. There was no way to escape, nothing to do except trudge quietly forward, or stop when the pool of bodies commanded it. If a bomb had fallen on us at that moment, or a truck had careened wildly in our direction, we all would have been flattened like inconsequential ants on a hill.

In my daily life, it's almost as though I were stuck in that throng of people, but realized it wasn't working for me and there was a more satisfying way for me to independently manage the situation, so I quietly worked my way to the edge of things. Once I got there, I began slinking away so as not to attract attention--and when it became obvious my path was clear, that it was going to work, I began a full on sprint. I could breathe! I could move my arms, move my limbs, fill my lungs, go where I pleased. But as it happened, the crowd behind me kept growing, and growing, and growing, with more and more people joining the mass, until pretty soon it seemed more like I was ESCAPING them, rather than simply making a "different choice." Like the momentum of their unified movement has a gravity of its own.

Here's the brass tacks of it all. One by one, every female blogger on my google reader has done the following in the past couple years: pursued their awesome talents, gotten pregnant, quit their jobs, and (drumroll)--become a stay at home mommy. These were accomplished photographers, marathon runners, fitness junkies, television producers, etc. I check my old facebook account, and it's there too. Girls I went to HS with--they went on to college, got degrees, established careers, got married, got a house in the suburbs, got pregnant, quit their jobs, and are now stay at home mommies. Most of them blog now, too, usually with a tint of desperation. Even on campus, I'll hear girls and women say: "Oh, I'm finishing my degree, but really, all I want to do is be a stay at home mommy." Old female friends of ours who used to be so focused and motivated, now seem fearful of their ambition: "Eh, I'll just have a baby" Like, "Eh, I'll just default."

It wouldn't be so unsettling if it wasn't EVERYFREAKINGWHERE I turn. And the worst part is that most of them seem so resigned and (dare I say it?)...unhappy....either opting to completely lose their individual identities and start reciting the most tired cliches possible, or blearily, wearily discussing how tired and stressed and depressed they are. How their marriages are struggling. How they feel unfulfilled.

And I'm over here like...yay, great. So this is how it is, I guess? This growing gap between me and...I dunno, my gender. Fine, there's always kind of been a disparity there. But in the meantime, it's making me feel like, culturally, the only real expectation of ME (simply for having two x chromosomes) involves my uterus. The uterus I don't want to use. Like it's "cute" if women try to cultivate their talents, it's cute if they get an education, it's cute if they try to have jobs and careers, but at the end of the day, they better choke on it and submit to their real role.

The crowd is swelling behind me, and the bigger it gets, the more desperate I feel to break free.
bounce elephant

Catching up--lots of Project 365 photos

 Wow, I got really behind on posting these over here. I guess I've made it almost halfway through the year now...? And I'm pretty pleased with how the project has been going so far. There's definitely been some half-assed or less successful pictures, but mostly I feel stronger as a photographer and have a clearer sense of my own style. 


Anyway onto the photos! Favorites from the past month+: