When I was in college, I was extremely active in extracurricular activities. Basically, I had two jobs. The main one was supposed to be getting all my school work done well and on time, but I spent a whole shitload of time leading student groups and writing a column for the school paper and performing in The Vagina Monologues and writing my blog and doing research assistantships and, you know, having a social life. I didn't sleep enough. My grades were pretty good, but they weren't stellar. I don't think I understood at the time what the opportunity costs were of these millions of activities.

Now I work at an awesome sex and BDSM shop. My boss is generous and clearly values me as an employee. My coworkers are great, and I've made lots of good friends here. I get to do buying for the store, and I spend lots of time working to make it better. I have agency and responsibility. As jobs go, it's pretty great.

But it's still retail. It's not my life's passion or magnum opus. It's a high energy service job with random lulls in between activity. While there are no customers in the store I can theoretically work on, say, this blog or my PhD applications or my insurance claims. However, I'll always have to drop whatever it is on a millisecond's notice if a customer walks in. This makes it hard to concentrate on outside projects during my work day, and I'm tired after my week of 40+ hours.

I understand now what it's like to do a job that takes up all your energy, one that distracts from any other job you might want to do. I only do laundry about every 3 or 4 months. My room is often messy. I mostly only read books on the subway, and I've been (very) slow at writing on here. It's been a long time since I performed or did anything which would let me call myself an activist. Do I cook or do the dishes? Nope.

I'm excited now, though, because I'm researching schools where I can get my PhD (in Cultural Studies or American Studies). The prospect of going into a rigorous program and getting to spend the bulk of my attention on something I'm passionate about, something I want to turn into a career, is now very appealing. I'm psyched to take hard classes with lots of reading, and to do big research projects on stuff that fascinates me.

At this point, I don't even want to do any extra curricular stuff. If I get to spend my work time on the work I actually want to do, my free time will actually be free. I'll get to rest, to have fun, and to recharge to keep my main work going. In undergraduate I was really just there to do the next thing and to learn about myself and do a lot of personal growth. The outside activity was good for that, but I wasn't ready for a career or a true work focus. Now I can hardly wait to get to do all those hours of work on something that excites and interests me.

Working full time at regular-joe jobs for a few years has given me that excitement. The relative boredom and energy drain of these jobs has indeed been a distraction, but it's helped me figure out what I want instead. For that, I'm extremely grateful.

That Whole God Thing

I was raised Catholic, but not in the usual way. We went to a very alternative Catholic church in Massachusetts called Community of God’s Love when I was little. We didn’t use gendered pronouns in referring to God. (“God,” for instance, was “Creator.”) Women sometimes gave the sermons or even led the mass, we had a lot of queer congregation members, and the politics of the church were extremely liberal in general.

When we moved to California we found a slightly less radical church where I served as an altar girl and started studying for my Confirmation. When we got a new, more conservative priest who decided that girls could no longer serve at the altar, it was the last straw for my mother. She already felt that the Catholic church unfairly excluded women. If this church wasn’t going to welcome her daughters as full participants, then she wanted no more to do with it.

My whole family left the church when I was 11, and my mom now says she’s an atheist.

I know that at some point in my life I was enthusiastic about the idea of religion. I did, after all, hold up that Bible every week at Mass and carry the crucifix around the church for the Stations of the Cross on Good Friday.

Since we stopped going to church, though, and through my upbringing in secular coastal cities, I’ve grown very uncomfortable with the idea of the divine.

I don’t regret at all not being Catholic; I think it’s in many ways a screwed up political institution.* My grandfather has been giving me optimistic crucifixes for birthdays and Christmases for years, and I have no compunction in never wearing them. I do miss the presence of some spiritual community, though.

I feel very self conscious about spirituality. I’m drawn to it, particularly to the kinds that embrace women and sex, but I’m also very awkward about the idea of being too New Age or woo-woo or superstitious or whatever. Perhaps I’ve spent a lot of time around people who judged others for believing in much of anything that couldn’t be proven.

I’ve nonetheless had some very powerful experiences which make me believe in some kind of energetic connection that underlies everything and which we as beings can access. I want to write about those in more depth in future entries, but suffice it to say for now that I feel called to explore.

I’m not necessarily excited about the idea of deities, except as metaphors for particular kinds of divine energy, but there’s a lot I can learn. I’d like to consider this post a resolution to give myself permission to go there. I want to not be shy about the pull I feel towards the divine. So I’m coming out as a (novice) spiritual seeker. Here I am, and I’m going somewhere in that direction.

*The Church does a lot of good charitable things, but also a lot of messed up gender and politics things.

Friends Without Benefits

I have a bad habit.

I find it much easier to meet new people through sex and dating than through friendship. Whenever I'm in a new city, the first people I develop new relationships with are people I bang. Sometimes those relationships turn into friendships later (or are just friends with benefits going forward) and that's great. But I have a much harder time pursuing and maintaining friendships without the hang-out motivator of sex.

This means I don't have all that many friends I don't sleep with. If you narrow it to friends I've never even made out with, not to mention people with whom I feel no sexual tension or chemistry, I'm pretty sure that's a number I can count on just one hand. Maybe two.

I would really like to have some of those friendships that aren't about sex at all. I think it's gotten even harder to find since I've been spending most (read: all) off my time in the kink/polyamorous/sex positive community. Sex is a persistent background, even if it's not something I'm having or planning to have with any given person.

Now, this isn't so bad. I have lots of wonderful friends. I just miss the kind of friendship where I could be really intimate with someone, be physically affectionate with them and spend lots of time with them and talk about everything, without having to constantly enforce a boundary that the friendship won't turn sexual. I’d like that boundary to feel a little more natural.

In a lot of the platonic friendships I have now, I feel like not having sex is a line I'm drawing and not something the other person would necessarily choose if I weren't. They might be okay with not fooling around, but they’d also be happy if we did.

I can't quite explain why that's an icky feeling. It's sort of like I'm constantly having to reject people I care about, like I'm constantly being asked for something I don't want to give. Even if the asking is a subtle or sub-conscious, I'm aware of it. I also sometimes start to feel like I'm not valuable except in my sexual attractiveness and skill, which is obviously not much fun.

I would love to have even just one or two friends who are here, in New York City, who are not attracted to me at all. Not one whit. And to whom I am not attracted in the slightest, either.

Perhaps I need to think of this the same way I’d think of dating. It seems normal to me to go on dates and do things one on one when I’m considering a romantic or sexual relationship with someone. I surely can do the same thing, make a point to spend alone time with someone I think I’d like, when I want a sex-free friendship. And maybe do it with someone outside this sex-focused bubble where I spend my time. I guess that’s a plan.

Coming Out Kinky

Back in college when I was uber-involved in the queer student group, we used to have educational meetings around National Coming Out Day. One of the things we talked about what the Cass Identity Model of coming out, which described several stages in the process of coming out as gay.

The initial few stages are things like "identity confusion" and "identity tolerance," but what I'm interested in for this post is the second-to-last one, "Identity pride." Cass describes a phase when a gay person feels like they have to tell everybody about their newly realized orientation, where they divide the world into gay and straight people and mostly only feel comfortable with the other gay ones, where they might be a gay activist, where they surround themselves completely with the gay community. This is the last phase before "identity synthesis" in which one's sexual orientation is understood as just one of many aspect of self.

I think I’ve been in that uber-gay phase, except with kink. It’s really a similar process, I think, to come out as kinky as it is to come out as gay. They’re both marginalized sexualities which have potential legal and life-altering consequences. You can lose your job or your children for being kinky. You can be jailed for assault, even if it was consensual. It definitely can have social consequences. You can end up in therapy to “fix” your kinkiness. Parents don’t necessarily want to know about it.*

I’ve been practically cloistered in the kink community for the last year and a half. I work at a kinky sex shop. I live with kinky roommates. My boyfriend is kinky. My friends are kinky. I go to kinky parties and classes. My vacations are at kinky retreats. It’s been a little ridiculously consistent.

I think I’m starting to get over that stage of my coming out process. I did need it. I needed to learn about what I like and to feel okay with it. I needed to explore and I needed help in giving myself permission for that. I needed to meet people with whom I could play in this way and with whom I could talk about my kinks. I’m extremely thankful for the relationships that I’ve made in the kinky community, especially with my boyfriend and my roommates and coworkers.

But I’m ready for a little more variety. I have so many interests. I’m passionate about gender politics. I’m interested in spirituality. I’d like to do yoga, and I’m interested in health. I care about the environment. I love to write, and to read just about everything. I love to learn and study and be intellectual. I like to perform. These are all things I’ve neglected to one degree or another for the last year and a half.

Just sayin’ it’s time to branch out a little, and maybe write about it here!

*There are nuances to this argument and it’s an aside to my main point. There are of course differences between the social and legal impacts of kink and queer sexuality. But there are also lots of similarities.

A Serious Relationship

I’ve been dating my boyfriend for almost a year now. (It’ll be a year in mid-October.)

If I’m honest, he’s part of the reason I haven’t been writing here. Not because he doesn’t support my blogging or writing in general. One of the things that he did initially that I liked was read what I’d written here and talk to me about it. It means something when a person takes an interest in what you have to say.

I haven’t been writing because I’ve felt weird talking about a budding relationship, especially one that was quickly becoming intimate and seemed like it had the potential to last me for a while. If I’m going to talk about my relationship with him, it’ll be with him and not to the internet.

Of course, this blog has been a lot about my love life. I’ve at least spent a significant portion of time writing about my thoughts on relationships, if not the ones I was actually having.

I still don’t want to write about my primary relationship, except perhaps to report things we’ve decided together or discoveries we’ve made. I can tell stories about what we’re doing, etc. I just don’t want to muse about it here the way I do about other things.

Suffice it to say I’m in a solid primary relationship with a boy who I love and who loves me. We’re polyamorous in the sense that we play with and date other people but do not (so far) have actual relationships other than the primary one. He’s kinky, he’s smart, he takes care of me and I take care of him. He listens when I talk and shares himself with me. We’re in similar life stages, and maybe even have similar goals for the future. (Although part of this stage is not being totally sure of those goals.) Things are good.

Back in November, I referred to him as Roy G. Biv after our pube-dying date. It’s a code name he made up, and I think it’s what I’ll use to refer to him here (if I do refer to him here). But I probably won’t do it that much.

On living, loving, learning, and fucking with the materials I've got at hand.

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