Category Archives: poly

Persephone Syndrome

To some, myths are stories. To others they are facts as real as any figure or number in a text book. To others still they are allegories or intuitive attempts to make sense of humanity. I belong to the latter category and I’ve long had an obsessive interest in religion and mystery cults largely inspired by the nightly reading of Greek mythology was blessed indeed to receive as a young child. It filled my imagination and did provide a guide to making sense of the confusing and conflicting acts of those around me and the confusion of my own consciousness.

The story of Persephone has been running through my mind as of late. Most know of it as an agrarian allegory. To the uninitiated, I shall summarize though bear in mind that her tale varies from tradition to tradition, time to time, and place to place. Greek mythology holds a stronghold in the imagination but this tale predates their dominance in the historical record. Most commonly, Persephone is the daughter of Demeter and Zeus and she is often know simply as “The Maiden.”

Persephone was a gorgeous little hippie baby, totally raised on organic food with lots of time in the company of nymphs and her mother Demeter who was a great goddess of fertility. Things were working out for them as the fields were vast as the sky and the world was warm and fruitful. Persephone had been gathering flowers and singing songs when she came across one she’d never seen before: a narcissus. When she plucked it from the ground a cavernous hole emerged with the thunder of a great chariot pulled by four terrible and beautiful black stallions driven by Hades, the god of the underworld. He had struck a deal with Zeus pointing out that someone had to be the keeper of the place where souls go and this was a shitty job, so far as godly duties go.

Hades wasn’t evil, he just tended to the more unpleasant part of life. There were no blue skies, golden rays of sunlight, or pretty little singing maidens for him to be sure. Moreover, his social life sucked. Everyone was polite when he made an appearance but no one really wants the god of the dead to arrive at their parties. He asked for a wife and Zeus, the patriarch that he was, told him to plant the Narcissus and to snatch his daughter Persephone when her mother wasn’t looking.

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Musings On Mold

I can’t remember the PIN number to my handy-dandy, hippie-dippie credit union bank card. I’ve had it for sometime and I’ve never experienced a problem like this before in my life. All of the other uncharacteristic “brain farts” or missing pieces I could vaguely explain away to myself as cannabis or the one-size-fits all favorite, “getting older.”

There are things you know you forget. There are things you know are the most vulnerable to being forgotten during stressful times. Then there are things you just don’t forget.

My PIN number is one of things I just don’t forget and when I stood at the register of the grocery store trying to pick up just a few items for my anti-mold diet staring at my dumb fingers at the keypad with neither the muscle memory to type it out nor the ability to recall the sequence I knew that it was going to be a long recovery process.

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Dawn Of The Dykes

It was 2007 and I was about to graduate from college with a B.A. in hand. I actually skipped the traditional cap and gown for a 50s inspired red and white polka dot dress and a pair of sunglasses but that would happen a few months down the line from one of the biggest collegiate staged queer shows in the country. The “Queer Fashion Show” had actually started out when some gay men decided to host a fashion show to show off their designs. Well, one thing led to another and soon the it became a blowout extravaganza with a cast exceeding 100 and an array of dance, film, song, spoken word, skits, and maybe one fashion entry a year. It was where you wanted to be if you were out in the redwoods of Santa Cruz.

I had been part of previous casts. I danced in a queer retelling of “The Taming Of The Shrew” rebranded as “The Taming Of The Gay” in which a homophobic king reigns over the land with “gaygents” who always entered and danced to Prodigy monitored the kingdom for gay activity, including that of the young prince. In a stunning turn of events, one of the “gaygents” was actually the superheo (and director and choreographer of the piece) SUPERGAY who leads a team of rainbow clad freedom operatives to take on the gaygents, free the prince, and then marry him in a double ceremony with his lesbian sister.

I was also in a piece titled “Drag King Divas” where a huge gender queer cast performed in ruffled tux shirts, oversized bowties, and superfag dance steps to Motown hits. For my time on the catwalk I went to FU Tattoo and got myself a corset piercing by Pat Blackstorm who was a great piercer and willing to work with my weird situation. Another project was about body image and I was in a cast split into those of nearly naked and covered in trashbags thrown out onto the catwalk and ripped out of the bags to be shamed for our obvious flaws and adorned with giant signs before we revolt and tear everything up in an act of self-love and teamwork. That piece was the subject of a parody the following year which was a source of needed humor.

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“What do you care what other people think!”

Rocking a Feynman diagram necklace by Surly Amy, image links to her shop!

One of my favorite scientists is Richard Feynman. I’m a HUGE fan. His work in physics was an vital stepping stone in our understanding of particle behavior but his process of working and the personality he brought is what continues to endear him to me. As a hardcore fucking nerd, I’ve always loved the way geeks fall in love. There are a lot of unscrupulous scientists who have committed horrible deeds and I grieve the way a lot of our collective knowledge has been uncovered and implemented. Still, the study of science has always been scrutinized and dehumanized. When it uncovered information that counters the prevailing cultural climate, it’s the science and the people who identified it, who are castigated.

Making fun of “four-eyed” nerds is a lighter form of the systemic torture, incarceration, and murder of knowledge seekers that has plagued humanity for a long time. I think its remnants are seen in the way we dehumanize geeks and nerds as those who could never get laid and certainly never fall in love or get googly eyed and read poetry and enjoy living life. Prejudice and privilege are why we haven’t just sorted out resources (we have enough, we really do) to ensure that all humans get to eat nutritious food, receive medical care and vaccinations so they can live beyond the age of 5, have access to our bodies of collected wisdom and knowledge, have a safe place to sleep, and get a chance to experience play and pleasure so that we can all live in peace and explore the universe together. We could, you know. It pisses me off that we act like it’s just inevitable that don’t. Inevitable is a stupid word for human behavior, any way. Not even William Gibson saw iPhones coming.

Richard Feynman won my heart with the way he instilled life into physics. He was a prankster, a lover, and a wild-eyed maniac who loved ideas. When his favorite strip club was tackling puritanical interference, he came forward openly to testify in its defense in Los Angeles by constructing a long defense about how he spent many hours scrawling physics equations onto cocktail napkins because people need a place to escape to and that this was good for society. One of my favorite stories about his van which he decorated by painting his work onto the exterior. One day, he was parking his car outside a university when someone said, “You know that those are Feynman diagrams on your fan, right?” His response was shout, “I am Richard Feynman!” with a grand gesture before charging towards his destination.

Anyway, here’s Richard Feynman talking about partner negotiation with his much beloved first wife who died tragically young of an illness she suffered the entirety of their truncated marriage:

Arlene and I began to mold each other’s personality. She lived in a family that was very polite, and was very sensitive to other people’s feelings. She taught me to be more sensitive to those things, too. On the other hand, her family felt that “white lies” were okay.

I thought one should have the attitude of, “What do you care what other people think!” I said, “We should listen to other people’s opinions and take them into account. Then, if they don’t make sense and we think they’re wrong, then that’s that!”

Arlene caught onto the idea right away. It was easy to talk her into thinking that in our relationship, we must be very honest with each other and say everything straight, with absolute frankness. It worked very well, and we became very much in love–a love like no other that I know of.

After that summer I went away to college at MIT. (I couldn’t go to Columbia because of the Jewish quota.) [NOTE- there was a cap on the number of spaces available to Jewish students at the time of Feynman's studies] I began getting letter from friends that said things like, “You should see how Arlene is going out with Harold,” or “She’s doing this and she’s doing that, while you’re all alone up in Boston.” Well, I was taking out girls in Boston, but they didn’t mean a thing to me, and I knew the same was true with Arlene.

Excerpt from What Do You Care What Other People Think? by Richard Feynman

 

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Interview with the authors of the Ethical Slut

Me with Zille Defeu being close taken by Sleek Images

As you may have figured out by now, Zille Defeu and I are close and love any chance to get together and make trouble. Back at IMSL, we took notes, snapped photos, and even interviewed Janet Hardy and Dossie Easton on the new edition of their book (grab your copy here). 

Me with Lochai taken by Sleek Images
But the best thing of all was to be able to do an interview with the fabulous authors themselves. For those of you who haven’t read The Ethical Slut well, go grab the new edition pronto. Many of us refer to it as the bible because it brought out the ideas of a poly lifestyle in a positive and constructive manner. So without further ado, please watch the interview.
As a note, I spent the day channeling my favorite journalist Dr. Hunter S. Thompson. That explains the hats, glasses, and cigarette holder. Please enjoy! Also, leave lots of positive feedback there. Some people don’t like people using YouTube to talk about real sexual issues. I promise that the content features no nudity and no real profanity. It’s just four women talking about a book. 

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Filed under interview, politics, poly, sex news, sexuality, zille defeu