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Feb. 6th, 2008


What book am I?

You're The Mists of Avalon!

by Marion Zimmer Bradley

You're obsessed with Camelot in all its forms, from Arthurian legend
to the Kennedy administration. Your favorite movie from childhood was "The Sword in
the Stone". But more than tales of wizardry and Cuban missiles, you've focused on
women. You know that they truly hold all the power. You always wished you could meet
Jackie Kennedy.

Not sure about the Jackie Kennedy part. But otherwise, pretty close...

Take the Book Quiz
at the Blue Pyramid.

Nov. 14th, 2007


Musical Dualists

Composition of Classical music, according to the Italian Renaissance principle of bel canto, ("beautiful singing") is one of the best examples of mankind's ability to discover an existing physical principle, and to use that discovery to create new works of science and art, which then increase humanity's power to build civilization.

The Schiller Institute describes six “species of human singing voice” and describe them as soprano, alto or mezzosoprano, tenor, baritone, and bass. For the most part, women's voices make up the first two and men's voices the last two, with a fair bit of overlap in the middle. But as the chart at the link shows, there is a lot of overlap up and down the ranges, especially when you take vocal registers into account. Natural ability may cause someone to fall more closely into one of those ranges, but practice and training can extend that range. Desire can impact how much effort a person puts into extending that range. Lack of use (and even lack of belief in one's ability) can cause a range to contract over time.

Sometime in the 15th century, people realized that dividing a vocal range into a simple binary of “women's voices” and “men's voices” didn't fully describe the reality of human ability. I think we're in a similar position now when it comes to the concept of sexuality and gender. Growing up, I believed there were men and women, and each was attracted to each. Period, end of story, a neat binary that encompassed both sex and sexuality (“gay” existed only as an epithet on the school grounds. At least in my experience). But as I've grown older, I've met people who don't fit into those easy binaries. I've met people who describe themselves as gay/lesbian. But that didn't shake my world too much. I mean, that just meant that gender and sexual expression were two different binaries: male/female and gay/straight.

By high school I matured into a baritone by inclination and my range is is pretty low – I can sing bass and baritone but have always struggled in the upper registers. But in my youth I listened to popular rock and even the hair bands and most of those singers were tenors or even sang/screamed falsetto (upper register) to hit the highest notes. So, I wanted to sing along with Geddy Lee, Bret Michaels, Sammy Hagar. Because I wanted to, I pushed my voice – and my range – to the point where I can hit those notes. It may not sound good (or even feel good some of the times) but I wanted to so I can do it. Mostly, I enjoy being able to hit those high notes and will sing along with Van Halen as willingly as with Jethro Tull.

I've since discovered that gender and sexuality don't fit into binaries any easier (or with any better results) than singing. Male, female, trans and intersex. Hmm. Not just a simple either/or, zero/one there. Gay, lesbian, straight male, straight female, and bisexual. Nope. Not a simple approach at all. In my opinion, I find using a singing metaphor to be a better approach. It gets me out of thinking in binary terms and it fits my experiences more closely.

I know people who, whether by inclination or desire, have a wider range of sexual expression than I do. A whole host of ranges exist that don't fit neatly into any one set. For some, they love one gender primarily, but because of the person or because of the situation, they have become more comfortable with extending their sexual range to include a person or persons of their non-primary gender. Others show no inclination towards one set of gender, but see people first and slippery bits later. Others are attracted to only one gender or type, but may be curious or willing to expand that range in the right situation. It may not be something they do all the time or in any situation, but they have been able to “increase humanity's power to build civilization” by recognizing that who they love and desire isn't fixed to one of two points.

Now that's something to sing about.

Nov. 9th, 2007


NaNoWriMo Support

Many folks participate in National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo). Someone who is special to me is working on his third novel. He hopes to publish this one!


Oct. 21st, 2007


I Am Who Others Difference Themselves From

Some time ago I read a post that was discussing coming out as gay, trans, queer in any number of permutations that are considered “other” in our society. As I read the post and the comments (if I could remember the exact post I would link it, but it was more than a month ago) I realized something: I'm the one everyone on that post was differencing themselves from. I'm straight, white, middle class, and male. Mine is the default, assumed position. I've never had to come out about anything. My sexual preferences are the cultural assumption. My race and class are the ones our political establishment most often cater to (the exception being I'm not rich enough to be catered to by President Select Bush and his cronies). I'm so privileged and entitled that my 40th birthday had come and gone before I realized I was privileged. Of course it was easy to “make it” in the US as a straight white middle class male. The cards are shuffled in my favor.

That default position has been nuanced somewhat lately. In the later years of my marriage, when I was most struggling with being monogamous, I discovered a community that considered non-monogamy to be an ethical and conscientious choice. I started learning more about it and considering if I might be part of that community. After my divorce I began meeting more polyamorous people. I now have a girlfriend, Sam, who has a wonderful husband, BP. I discovered that I am polyamorous. And that differences me from the mainstream, if ever so slightly.

I'm certainly not going to try to compare my situation with someone who comes out as gay or trans or female or a person of color. Mine is still the default position in every way that matters. For one thing, I'm not sure if there is any kind of “poly-dar” that can identify me by a look as not one of the monogamous mainstream. Okay, that time in the A Woman's Touch adult store where I went with Sam and her husband made it pretty obvious. BP and I kept bringing her toys that we found interesting. But other than that, I can pass as mono. Hell, I was married for 18 years. I have mono cred.

Through my own minor delta of difference from the mainstream, I am getting even the merest glimpse into the range of effort that others have had to go through to build a position for themselves from the mainstream that is healthy and noble and able to withstand all the pressures to conform, or worse, to be ashamed for their difference. I marvel at the strength that such efforts show: strength of character, purpose, identity. As I further explore what it means to be poly, I will have to decide how much I “come out” as poly and to whom. I just hope I show the same strength of character.


Oct. 12th, 2007

Wild Elf


When I got married nearly twenty years ago, I told my bride-to-be that she did not have to take my last name. She thought “Modestus” was too long and too hard to type and she'd spent over 20 years being used to the name she had from birth. I agreed. I had no strong desire for her to change her identity to match mine. I didn't think that needed to be a part of the wedding. For me, the relationship was more important than the names.

Not for my coworker Dave3. I once complained about how hard it was to find old friends from high school when most had married and changed their last names (I'm talking to YOU Christine, Margaret, Marnie!). He looked up at me and sadly shook his head. “Not me. If my wife hadn't changed her name, I wouldn't have married her.”

Um. Okay. Why is that such a big deal? I wondered. But, I didn't have to think about it too hard because the Mrs had decided to change her name to mine. Over the next nearly-twenty years, she often groused about how long it was to sign “Modestus” as her last name. Her folks often called her by the name they'd given her (I was never sure how to feel about that). She opened a business and of course, that was the name she signed all the papers with. I never had to think about my identity and I no longer thought about hers. I made an offer, she made a decision, and we moved on.

And then we got divorced.

My first and most visceral reaction was I want my name back. I didn't care about most of the crap in the house or even the house itself. But my name was one “thing” I wanted “back.”

But then I got over it. Quickly, I'm happy to say. Sam asked me what I wanted more, the marriage to be done or my last name back. Easy answer, the marriage was ended and the ex still has the same last name as I do. Part of where I got to was the realization that she has had my last name for long enough for it to become her last name. Nearly as long as she had the name her parents gave her.

Identity is a funny thing. What constitutes our identity? I don't understand why any woman would want to simply substitute the name she's had for her whole life for another, just because she's married. Subsuming her identity to his isn't what is going to make them a family. I can understand the couple deciding to combine or otherwise join names, creating a new identity for them-as-couple out of the elements that made up them-as-singles. But being poly, I can see that it gets even more complicated in group marriage situations or triads or other consensual nonmonogamy. I can see each person in a family (of whatever shape or constitution) keeping the name they've had the longest and coming up with a plan for kids.

Ah, kids. It makes no sense anymore to change names just because children are anticipated or planned. So many new-model families are out there with half- and step- and other combinations that last names are already all over the place. I can see lessening the confusing, but the kids will take what they get. From those people I know, it always sounded more like the desire was to not have to answer questions than to have the kids understand without thinking about it.

Tradition is one hefty hammer that people so often get pounded with. I distrust “choices” that aren't really choices. But I'm also not the person who has to make that kind of choice. I'm the default position. But it seems to me that we shouldn't be so actively engaging in efforts to remove or subsume or substitute one person's identity with that of another. Even if we share the same last name.

Oct. 10th, 2007


What Kind of Reader are You?

What Kind of Reader Are You?
Your Result: Dedicated Reader

You are always trying to find the time to get back to your book. You are convinced that the world would be a much better place if only everyone read more.

Obsessive-Compulsive Bookworm
Book Snob
Literate Good Citizen
Fad Reader
What Kind of Reader Are You?
Create Your Own Quiz

Letters to My Younger Sself

This is an idea I saw on Deliciously Naughty's website and I thought it was a great idea.

Read the lettersCollapse )

Oct. 9th, 2007


Seventy Year Old Girl

"So, down the street lives this seventy year old girl, and...."

I didn't hear much more than that. It wasn't my conversation, just one I had the privilege of overhearing while in the open air of the cube farm where I work. That bit of curious description came from a coworker of mine, Dave3, a generally decent guy, but one for whom the concept of feminism is as foreign as tits on a bull (another fun expression of his) and about as useful in his estimation.

I knew better than to try to engage him on this one. I had with another coworker, Tim. "I made a desk visit to this girl over in accounting. . . ."

"Desk visit to this who?" I would ask, a smile on my face. They know me as the crazy liberal anyway, so being outed as a feminist or feminist-ally came as a surprise to exactly no one.

"So, I made a desk visit to this woman over in accounting and. . . ."

But with Dave3, that wasn't going to happen. One day I had complained about how difficult it was to track down old friends from high school because so many of them had changed their last names (another post in itself). He looked up at me and growled: "If my wife hadn't changed her name to mine I would never have married her."

Nope. Didn't really know where to go with that one, either. And, seeing as he's a coworker and not my family, I knew that trying to educate him wouldn't be met with either success or welcome.

I was lucky. When I was around 18 or so I met a wonderful girl of about 14 who I'll call Sam. She is brilliant and insightful, then as now, and because she had started school early and then skipped a grade, was only two years behind me, Sophomore to my Senior. From that day to this she has always challenged me to be a better person, to think about what words mean, about who I want to be. On that day, I must have been feeling my oats. I'd turned 18 not long before and felt very pleased with myself now that I was a "man." In conversation, I called a mutual friend of ours -- who was my same age -- a "girl." Sam gave me that same half smiling, half challenging expression that I had given Tim. "Ah. Um. Woman. Young woman?"

Lessons can be that easy. And that hard.

Oct. 4th, 2007



So mostly I'm writing this to get the last post off of the "front page." Just got back from a family visit. All in all it was a pretty good visit, given the disparate opinions, points of view, religions, and what not of my family. It's a very surreal experience discussing gay marriage with my 80 year old father who has been married since 1950. Gay marriage they are fine with. Gay parenting is fine, too. Unmarried they are less sanguine about, but a loving relationship is not something to be taken lightly, no matter what the plumbing of those involved. But when I edged the discussion to something other than singles or couples to triads, quads, or more, not a chance. Too far beyond the pale.

I'm still struggling with how much to tell whom when. A handful of my closest friends know that I'm dating a married woman with the full knowledge and consent of her husband. No one in my family does. And I don't see that changing any time soon.

I've had long practice at that sort of thing. They didn't know for 20 years that I wore an earring! They don't know that I'm a free thinker, that the religion that they hold so dear is to me a silly set of superstitions, a tool created millennia ago to beat others into line or to carefully carve groups up into Us or Them. They certainly don't know anything about my sex life, my love life. I think I'll keep it that way.

Sep. 26th, 2007



Okay, so I followed a link from a link and got to a link and took a quiz.

My Erotic Personality is The Student. Take the Erotic Personality Quiz on SageVivant.com and discover yours!I took Sage Vivant's Erotic Personality Quiz and discovered I'm a Student!

What is your Erotic Personality? Find out now.

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