Rings and Things

Being separated is hard, but we’re doing our best to keep as chipper as possible. The DDC is helping lift our spirits and support all round, but its still no substitute for when we can get our polycule back together.

In theory, we can after relaxation of restrictions were announced, but given how high infections and deaths are – exceeding what they were when we went into lockdown – there’s a wariness of believing the UK government’s competence and motives. In some ways this makes it even harder, but we’ll get through and it’ll be all the better for it when we do.

In the meantime, I finally had delivery of a set of rings that the core triad of myself, Lady M and mre S wanted to adopt to signify our link. We had some issues with a lost shipment and needing to reorder among the chaos of lockdown, but we finally have three simple matching rings that are staying in their boxes until we can all get together. They’re enamelled steel with the polyam symbol etched and painted on them – simple, discrete, and one more reason to hope for better times to come.

I was talking to a colleague yesterday after an LGBTQ+ staff network Teams meeting about the DDC and our gaming group.

On describing the mix of characters and their quirks I was told that it was a group they’d love to read a novel about. I think thats a wonderful tribute to the invention and warmth of the players and their alter egos. My little writeups here barely scratch the surface of what a joy they are to DM and game with.

DDC Shenanigans

Life continues to ebb and flow in its complexities, but the DDC continues to be a creative and entertaining source of comfort, support, and humour in all the oddness around us.

Our latest set of things has been creating quizzes and games to play through shared screens in Discord. Whoever is running the quiz sets up a PowerPoint document with questions and answers revealed in turn, while everyone works together to find the answers. Mre B created the template based on their running similar things with their friends, and myr s has taken up the baton to create rounds tailored to our various strengths and foibles.

Roughly once a week we gather of an evening to play. We start with general levity, and yet despite there not being any competition between players, there’s soon a very serious air as people try to identify TV theme tunes from sight reading music, interpret kinks by their formal clinical names, identify pop culture characters from pets dressed up as those characters, and puns based on shows where one character has been changed – and that was just for starters.

Lateral thinking, chat, and everyone trying to resist googling any answers – a fun combination that is proving as much a draw as the weekly Dungeons and Dragons session.

Oh, and then we used Roll20 to make a Trivial Pursuit board and grabbed four different sets to make a monstrous random hodgepodge of topics from Star Wars, Stranger Things, Harry Potter, and a general family edition. That got very silly, very fast. We’ll have to do that again…

The Unexpected AMA

We did a thing this weekend, quite unexpectedly, when Lady B messaged the polycule to ask if we’d be willing to gather on Discord and be part of an AMA (Ask Me Anything) on her Facebook stream.

As followers and supporters of her series of streams about her experiences of transition, we of course agreed. A couple of hours and some muffled stubbing of toes later, we were gathered round our respective devices for what was intended to be a quick half hour that turned into an hour and a half of us spinning off on tangents and laughing a lot.

I’ll add a link below to the streams recording – but I must add that the first five to ten minutes is completely silent due to a technical hitch known as “flicking the wrong switch” in Lady B’s kit.

Nevertheless, it was fun, and a good chance to talk a bit about who we are and how we relate, and our thoughts on being the oddballs that we are. So, enjoy the stream.

Little Gifts

All the yum, to be savoured at leisure

Its been our turn to receive little somethings from the DDC – not as part of any schedule or expectation, but simply as nice things to do. Its always nice to get things in the post, but thoughtful things from loved ones rather than Amazon orders do put a bigger smile on the face.

In this instance, across two deliveries, it was things picked out by myr s and the cub as “just because” morale boosters for both myself and Lady M. The first was a hamper of cheese and chutneys – they know our foodie nature so well – that the cub had spotted and picked out

We don’t have a Groot problem, we’ve got plenty

While the second delivery contained a new Groot Funko for Lady M, and a really well stocked art roll of pencils, charcoal, and chalks for me to get lost in my artwork with.

The notes and letters that came with them are a wonderful boon and reassurance – just whats needed as lockdown continues.

They Know

Being a geeky little polycule, sometimes the best gifts are simple, and sometimes you just have to embrace the madness. In the run up to Valentine’s Day I was browsing Etsy and found someone making little lego-style lightsabers for keyrings with accompanying tags that recreated the famous exchange between Han and Leia: “I love you.” “I know.”

Although there were options to buy multiples, the site would only make them available in pairs, so rather than just getting us one each I got two identical sets – and then as I gave them out, invited both Lady M and myr s to select one for their keys and I’d have the other.

As you can see, they both opted for the same piece and so now I have this double token to put a smile on my face. Simple things please me.

A Filthy Mind Is Good To Find

I was chatting about internal lives recently, especially where it comes to issues of attraction, and fantasy, as you do. Innuendo and sometimes not even single-entendres feature heavily in many of the conversations I have with partners and friends – so this always means keeping at least half an eye on boundaries.

You might think that this is particularly true with regard to some of my older colleagues, but as they spent some time trying to see if I was shockable I consider them fair game for as much veiled near-bone ribbing as possible. One of the great joys of getting older has been finding people generally not being particularly precious, or at least being more thick skinned. So while still remaining within the bounds of decency, the jokes and conversations and can and do get a little pointed.

So far so normal in general, but the real debate was around recognising the internalised tensions that some people have about recognising and owning attraction and boundaries. The conversation then meandered around the differences between ethical non-monogamy and cheating and how this informs mainstream representation of relationships in the media, such as the ubiquitous love triangle that always has polyam viewers wanting to throw things at the screen.

This belief that someone who is polyamorous will uncritically listen to and support someone in an affair is one of the major annoyances that I and my partners have encountered again and again.

Even with my hyperactive brain and ability to fall in love several times a day, I have no guilt over crushes and attractions – and I’m lucky enough in my dynamics that I can even mention them and it becomes a source of amusement or sometimes mutual quiet agreement where we fantasise out loud for a brief period before getting on with the day.

I long ago accepted that I have a filthy mind, and that fantasy is a strong element of my internal life. That’s just who I am. But breaking trust and hearts? Causing hurt? Why add to the cruelty of the world? It’s selfish and destructive.

It generally boils down to this: even if you can’t pin down where the line in the sand for your relationships is, you know when you’re crossing it. If you don’t know, then you need to have some sober conversations to check in and make sure you’ve agreed where those lines are.

Counselling Nuggets

I’ve been going to the same counsellor now for the best part of twenty years. Initially it was do deal with issues around trauma, depression, anxiety, and prolific self harm, but these days is as much a clear space to keep grounded and to work through and process life in general. Lady M has recently started seeing one too.

I mention this because we had a huge power cut a couple of evenings ago in our neighborhood. With our usual aplomb we both said ‘candles’, turned on the torches on our phones, and soon had enough light from various sources to relax on the sofa and have a quiet natter about life, the universe, and everything else our attention latched onto.

Lady M started recounting how she was talking about our polycule in session, and how supportive her counsellor had been. From various online discussions I’ve become aware of just how lucky we are to have found people who have not been judgemental, let alone supportive of how and who we love. Some of it seems in support of something that makes us happy, and some of it is recognition of the emotional labour and honesty required to make these – and indeed any – relationships flourish.

While all of us are out – and in general have had positive regard from co-workers and most of our families, it has still been hugely important to have these structured places to be able to talk in depth about each other and what’s going on in our collective and individual lives. Humour plays a huge part in how we talk about and to each other – and while it’s not my place to recount what Lady M says she talked about and the responses she got, I do want to share something from one of my recent sessions.

I’d been talking about myr s and their embracing of their non-binary journey and was asked how the changes made me feel. I said that the great advantage to my partners of my being bisexual was that I can put my hands in their pants and be very happy with whatever I found there. It took my counsellor a good couple of minutes to stop chuckling.

Happy Valentines Day

In a show of total disorganisation this year, we’re all working or in different places today, but its still a day that mixes humour, love, inappropriate comments, and a smidgen of soppiness thanks to technology and a degree of bloodymindedness. I managed to press a card into Lady M’s hand this morning as she scuttled out the door before dawn – and will have to wait a couple of weeks before I can do the same for myr s (but at least card and token presents have been arranged for both for as and when we get the time to stop and draw breath).

I even debated getting something for Lady J, our metamour, and do have a suitable card of admiration that steers away from smushiness that I’m still debating filling out. I have after all been accorded the accolade of being one of the few humans she can tolerate, so it seems churlish not to throw something her way if only to make her roll her eyes at a dreadful joke.

One of the things I’ve learned to embrace over the years is that love takes many forms, and even on a day concerned with romantic love there’s no reason not to celebrate and acknowledge the various connections that have significance should I want to. That said, I am glad that my counselling session due today has been rescheduled to Monday evening – because with the best will in the world, and no matter how much I love my counsellor, tonight is not a night where I necessarily want to be doing a lot of emotional labour.

Instead I intend to close the doors when I get home and largely switch my brains off. There may even be cuddles on the sofa and a bottle of wine. One of the benefits of being a slushy and soppy polycule is that we actively work on being present and there for each other all the time – which includes giving each other space as much as showering each other with tokens of admiration. In some ways it takes away some of the sense of pressure of any individual day – but there’s no harm in indulging the opportunity to ham it up every now and then.

Wednesday

What do you mean it’s only Wednesday? An awful lot seems to have somehow got crammed in already and yet we’re still not yet quite done with Hump Day?

Today we had flakily working systems and people on both sides of the desk being grumpy – which I suppose is still better than yesterday’s experience of nothing working at all.

Closer to home we had the car in the garage for a service that lasted three days and I’m pretty sure must have involved the sacrifice of a junior engineer from all the mess left over.

It’s going to be one of those weeks, isn’t it? And yet there’s been some good stuff. It hasn’t been universally horrible. I got featured again today by Over40Cosplay on Instagram and Facebook, and I took a photo on the way home that I quite like:

Evening All

I’ve also had a quiet evening of watching Mock The Week from four years ago and enjoying the relative innocence of those times, so I suppose that’s been a good remedy for a week where everything has just felt far more complicated than it has otherwise needed to be.

In other news I’ve pretty much got everything sorted for Valentine’s Day. It’s generally an expensive, or at least complex, set of weeks these days as we navigate VDay, then my birthday, then my anniversary with Lady M, and then my collaring anniversary with myr s. Schedules being what they are I won’t get to catch up with myr s this month, but I do get to cherish Lady M. Next month will just be a complex dance of us all taking weekends in turn and arranging general catch-ups where we can.

At least we’ve finally got round to setting up a shared Google Calendar and now we just have to get into the habit of using and consulting it. These are skills and practices that I had not considered before polyamory. It’s just as well I manage timetables and rotas on a daily basis..!

New Year, new them

There will be a couple of small changes to how I refer to one of my partners on this blog – and indeed in day to day life – as they continue to evolve and become more comfortable in their expression of who they are. As a loving partner it is no great effort to support and acknowledge them and the smile on their face as I do makes the world a brighter place.

I’ve previously mentioned how lady s had been more comfortable in talking about their gender identity following bouts of dysphoria, and they’re now far happier to use more gender-neutral terms to describe themselves and interact with the wider world. A change of forename and middle name has begun, while still retaining their surname to keep life simpler for the cub. A mix of feminine and neutral pronouns is now being used as well – and so for the purposes of this blog I will start using the latter. It intersects nicely with our existing dynamic. A change of title has also been agreed.

The graphic above is a list I found of a variety of gender-neutral titles used around the world (which of course also appealed to the word-magpie writer that I am, collecting elements I can weave into my fiction). Some of them were familiar, and some of them were new to me – and this formed part of the discussions around how to proceed from here.

Myr stood out in the end for a couple of reasons. One was the sheer geekiness of it being a Game of Thrones reference: the city of Myr being referenced in several ways through the books and tv series. The other reason again referred back to our dynamic – though mainly in an ironic and tongue in cheek way.

So that leads me back to myr s – who remains the same loving and amazing person they ever were, but now comfortable to begin expressing themselves in a more genuine and comfortable way. Love you.