On Nomenclature in Relationship Pluralism

I’ve got *huge* linguistic issues with a lot of the jargon in this sphere. I can’t abide defining myself in the negative, or qualifying my behavior with blanket judgments, so the term “ethical non-monogamy” makes me cringe far too hard to use it. And besides that, the use of these words concedes arguments about the default nature of that behavior – that anything outside of monogamy is de facto unethical, and that monogamy is the natural human state from which I deviate – and I’m cool with neither of those things. Would you buy a muffin from an Edible Non-Toxic Bakery? ‘Cause that seems hella shady to me.

I understand the spirit of “relationship anarchy” but anarchy is like altruism or an amphisbaena – it doesn’t exist in nature. There’s always a power differential, shifty though it may be. There are always rules, as long as there are others. The goal was to imply freedom from hierarchy, and I get that, but the conveyed message is too often one of freedom from order, which in relationship terms translates to toxicity and/or bullshit drama and that’s not what I’m trying to bring to the table.

Regarding “polyamory”, it was a lovely umbrella term for a while, but the Church of All Worlds folks definitely poured the foundations with hierarchy in the mix, and that’s been more and more evident as ENM and RA become more established regions of the map to emigrate to. I appreciate the “solo poly” attempt to retrofit the term, but I still have trouble reconciling the “solo” bit – especially as someone with a nesting partner and kids, it feels dismissive of my larger contexts.

Therefore, I reject these options and substitute my own descriptive, affirmative, linguistically neutral term: “relationship pluralism”. I have lots of relationships. The one thing I’m trying to describe is the numerousness, because basically everything else is an organic derivation based on the person or people, which could fit under any of the other headers (and probably under some that weren’t mentioned). It’s not the opposite of a thing, and it’s not inherently bad, or tiered, or fraught with subtext. It’s just n+1. Neatly wrapped.

Self-Professed Disaffinity for Drama and The Frequency and Intensity of Abusive Behavior | An Inverse Relationship

Think of the phrase “I hate drama.” and from whom you’ve heard it. Now rate those folks on a scale from 1 – 10, 1 being the least abusive personality possible, and 10 being like. Bill O’Reilly crossed with Depp, Trump, and Archie Bunker. (You may need a spreadsheet.) Now add those values up, divide by the number of people. If the average is at 5 or below, I will eat a hat.

Why make this claim? Because “drama” isn’t a word you actually use if you have any intention of doing your share of the emotional labor, or if it even occurs to you that the feelings of others might be real. The term itself implies theater, facsimile, lies, and manipulation – and it’s enjoyed a lot of success invalidating many a worldview. It is usually the first sort of gaslighting we encounter: “Your feeling and opinions do not match [my] reality. Your reaction is therefore invalid and only exists as a play you’re putting on about your pain.”

These people seem to be willing to do anything, no matter where it falls on an ethical spectrum, to avoid facing real reactionary emotions from real people, to the point of invalidating their entire existence. So beware the line “I hate drama” – it could very easily mean “the only drama I like is my own and I will destroy you if you call me out on it.” These folks are psychologically incapable of separating their own theatrical interpretation of and overwrought response to something – some aren’t even aware that they’re not abiding by the Digital Age’s Social Contract, and/or reject its existence too.

Yeah, yeah. Hanlon’s Razor. I don’t buy that anymore. Not after 2016. Stupid or evil isn’t a dichotomy. It’s a bit of both every time.

People only ever insult you with material they’ve been attacked with, though. So this person has, in all likelihood, been dismissed as overdramatic when reacting to something, but there’s a difference between a reason and an excuse…

Timelines Long Gone

This has become more my journal than a blog – if you knew the mountains of unfinished drafts I’ve left behind, searching for thoughts that might be useful to The World, you’d understand. (Okay. It’s like 50. I’m probably going to do a mysqldump to solid state drives eventually, or sapphire and platinum, or whatever’s available that’ll last a few lifetimes, until another Curator comes along in the family to copy it over to the next medium for subsequent generations. Data inheritance is a real thing that y’all should prepare for, and you can’t trust a cloud service to survive hundreds of years in an ever-changing and possibly multi-world market. Futurist Tip™.)

But, when it is a blog, I’ve tended to turn the lens backwards. I recognize the irony. I’m working up the conviction of self that’s required to Speak to The World (and about The Future no less). It’s not a small task, and anyone who says differently is selling something.

There’s also the part where, I did not fucking see any of this coming. The truth of human nature is as dark as the history books paint it to be. If we fail to drive each other to moral excellence, however that process occurs, we crash and burn. I’ve seen it on the micro and the macro. (There’s a rather good book on the former – Knots by R.D. Laing – which I highly recommend.) Our history is pretty much completely war. People seeking power, and people seeking to retain their power. With brief interludes of peace, so there’s time to rebuilt fortresses and armies. And for every war fought, an entire subset of infinity dies – futures, changes, innovations, atrocities, love, strife, peril, and joy, on a scale well beyond the initial scope.

This is the Universe of Unlikely Outcomes now, and I really only got a sense of that when rain paused the last game in the World Series so the Cubs’ could get a tropey baseball movie speech about… whatever it is baseball players care about… and then suddenly we’re in extra innings and a team that hasn’t won in almost 70 years, did. Nothing fancy. A guy wearing a leather clam on his hand just scooped up the covered ball of twine out of the air, and poof.

The real problem with unlikely outcomes is, it doesn’t take any supernatural prescience to peg what is least probable. So now I have to figure out how not to just call all the obvious shit, and make this at least somewhat entertaining.

Wish me luck.

Emotionally Unstuck In Time

A Metaphor for Life with PTSD

Nothing special was happening. My partner was on the bed, smoking a cigarette. I was at my desk, in my chair – a frequent occurrence. The pup was lounging on his back, just under the corner of the bed he frequently tries to make a meal out of. The lights were low (which is terrible for video conferencing, but amazing for me not getting migraines), and nothing interesting was on the browser. I think it was just my Facebook feed.

And yet…

Suddenly, the moment looked brand new. Even though nothing about the environment had changed, the way I felt about it had changed. Everything was awash with novelty, the way sunlight bathes a room. Even though my memory said nothing was different – everything felt different. And it was the good kind of different. I felt a satisfied nostalgia – the opposite of saudade or hiraeth – a lot like the feeling of coming home after a long vacation.

It was an odd moment to return to, though – we’re not out of the woods yet on a lot of different fronts. So why now, and why the sense of wonder and possibility? The only conclusion that makes sense to me is that, emotionally, I’ve come from elsewhen – probably the future – to guide things toward their ideal outcomes.

Talking to my partner about this, though, I discover that it’s far from my pet mythology alone. We’ve concluded that the non-linear emotional self is a symptom of PTSD – that in emotionally escaping our trauma, we unstick our emotional selves from our physical/mental selves (which seem to rely more heavily on the wetware). And even if it’s Fluffy Bunny Bullshit™, it helps me make my own narrative make sense. This way, being struck with the emotional freight train of my trauma, it’s a side effect of being unstuck. Those moments have their own gravity. They pull us back, willing or not. But we can also use the effect to our advantage. We’re uniquely poised to steer the timeline, if we do it by feel, on the fly, by the seat of our pants. We just need to trust these moments when they present themselves. Learn to recognize the sense of potential, that anti-saudade. Learn to use it to aim for The Best of All Possible Worlds. And maybe – just maybe – we can even avoid some of the future trauma that will have unglued in the first place: there’s plenty of room for paradox in this model.

The Kindernet

So, right now, we have a unique opportunity.

Whether you realize it or not, we are currently building a new layer of internet on top of the existing one. Because we have too many internet-enable devices. You may have heard of IPv6 already, and how we’re planning to migrate to its 128bit addresses from 32bit IPv4. Probably the vast majority of this work hasn’t been done. (This site, for instance, hasn’t been configured for IPv6 yet – but that’s likely to change shortly.) But that’s what makes this moment magical. Admittedly, it’s quite a long moment – IPv6 began in 2006 or so.

This isn’t exactly a “migration” though. Right now, just about every internet enabled device at least has the capacity to operate on both networks. And there are translations that let IPv6 users network with IPv4. And this is the perfect chance for us to develop a second internet, inside the greater internet, that’s exclusively for kids.

Now. You may be asking, “Okay. But why would we want to?”

Because for a few decades, our children have had access to The Untempered Schism of humanity’s darkest side. They’ve been able to learn anything they could think of about our hatred, our rage, our bigotry and our phobias – from gay to xeno. And the results speak for themselves. What we end up with are maladaptive malcontented maladroits. Mass murderers. Misogynistic misanthropes. Morally misconfigured monsters. With Boomers and GenX, this effect is still subtle. From telegraph, to radio, to telephone, to television, the exponential curve was still a bit slow, and in its infancy. But now that x > 1, with Catalanians and Millennials, we’re seeing some seriously fucked up shit. It is this cesspool – which, in the interests of free speech, I have to protect to some degree – that has poisoned so many who were so young, and has sent the culture reeling backwards like a sprinter on a bungee. But the answer doesn’t have to be binary. “Do we squelch free speech or not?” How about neither. We just separate it from the spaces where our children learn and grow – from where they spend their formative years.

We already do this to some extent – many of you will have seen the iceberg image depicting the current effective internet layers. It’s basically:

Surface Web Google, Wiki, Bing, Etc.
Deep Web Academic, Multilingual, Financial, Governmental, Social Media, Scientific, Legal, Medical, Etc.
Dark Web Illegal, Encrypted, Protests, Trafficking, Ultraprivate, Etc.


I propose we use the deprecated IPv4 infrastructure, and repurpose it to add another layer to the top – and create a kindernet where children can explore a version of cyberspace that is decidedly more controlled and refined.

Kindernet YouTube Kids, Kiddle, NickJr, SimpleWiki, Starfall, Etc.


With the dramatically reduced traffic and use post-migration, it will be possible (with the help of artificially intelligent crawlers) to identify and blacklist adult content providers who attempt to operate in kinderspace, and depending on what kinds of rules/laws were broken, to either revoke kindernet access, impose a fine, or charge them criminally.

It won’t be possible until migrations have all taken place, and at least 75% – 80% of networked devices run on IPv6 by default. But soon, we’re going to have a choice, about what to do with Cyberspace 1.0. Do we just build on top of it and let it fade away like so much of our outdated infrastructure has over the millennia? Or do we repurpose it for the good of humanity? I think the answer is clear, and I want very much for us to have this conversation on a global scale. If we want to stay civilized, while also allowing for the existence of the uncivilized, we need to make a space for children to be saturated by and absorb those more noble values, rather than letting them wander into those cacophonous echochambers of immorality that are, at present, far too easy to find.

Lost in the Labyrinth

Yes, I know that technically, a labyrinth is usually a circuitous yet linear route, while a maze has dead ends, false paths, and is generally much harder to navigate – but, if I used the precise term, I’d lose the alliterative allure, so I opted for a slight inaccuracy… assuming, of course, that you’re a believer in free will – otherwise, a labyrinth is pretty much the same thing as a maze – only the endpoint differs, but the path is the same straight shot through curved space.

So, we’ll assume free will (which may eventually require a post of its own) and get to the point – or not, because the point is that I’m not sure which way to go from here. The grumbling goblins of the gamble have flipped all my markers. The skies are uniformly grey. The turns ahead and behind look exactly the same, as though the path were in fact fractal. In other lives, I’ve carried the FractalBlade and hacked away at self-repeating patterns. I’ve invoked the Flower of Life as Omicron Six. Personified (or tried to, at least) modest wisdom as Abayvynon, the stooping dragon. I’ve wallflowered flambouyantly, the InvisoWizard. I’ve worn SalineScars, and bled sorrow into my inkwell. I’ve harnessed TheDarkElectric and PositronicShock, recharging off of negativity. I’ve been Tesseractivity, the transcension of psychospiritual threespace. And now, as Protospect personified, I’m remembering futures that I’ll never live, and all my possible pasts have yet to catch up.

Which may beg the question, is it time for another incarnation? Do I have another life in me? I’m counting 9 already… Or, is it possible to “go back and get it” (as a symbol I’ve incidentally made a rather large part of my life keeps suggesting)? To resurrect those other selves, without losing this one? Who am I now, anyway? I haven’t said a lot, no matter the vast oceans I’ve felt and thought. I’m still not sure what to do with my voice. Is my journey important? If so, which parts? Am I still moving? …is it in circles?

See what I mean?

Even if you can see the futures, the trick is navigating to the right one. I haven’t mastered that at all. I’m so far off course that there’s no possible way back, and every path forward is a trial by some element or other – primarily fire, but I can see several trials by water, earth, air, and spirit that take things into territory I’m frankly not prepared to traverse. (Am I being too vague? Or not vague enough?) So, fire first. And, if I’m going to endure burning, shouldn’t I try to give light? What do I even say? Is mine just a cautionary tale, or am I the anti-hero on a journey of redemption? Or both? Or neither? Will time ever tell? Or am I just stuck here?

I don’t want to be stuck here. I want to be alive. In motion. Free. But I’m not willing to leave family behind. I won’t make the Buddha’s mistake – not again, at least. If I’m going to find Enlightenment, or even just the way out of this serpentine mess, it won’t be without them – it’ll be because of them.

The Birthday Suit Selfie Party

So, I have this really entertaining birthday tradition, and it’s starting to get a bit of attention. And I should probably lay it out – for participants, for the curious, and for those who want to echo the meme in their own spheres. Therefore! Here it is. The official Birthday Suit Selfie Party Manifesto!

The Birthday Suit Selfie Party was concocted on a whim, because I was tired of being bored and lonely on my birthday. Most of my friends are scattered across the country, so actual parties aren’t an option. And we don’t really do gifts in my world because everyone’s poor. So aside from a snailmail card here and there, dozens and dozens of “Happy Birthday!” posts to my Timeline, and homemade confections with candles and singing children, nothing really eventful or magical happened. But, I wanted connection. I wanted interaction. I wanted the day to be as special for me as it seems to be for other folks. And I’m at least little bit in love with pretty much all of my friends, whether they know it or not. So, the BSSP was born.

In the beginning, it was totally unplanned. I posted the call early in the morning, before the parade of Timeline posts had begun, hoping to trade some of them in for something more original and interesting. I really only expected a few of my lovers and some of my flirtatious friends to participate, but I got a bigger turnout than I expected, and from some surprising sources. Which was, frankly, pretty fucking awesome. And I realized just what I had created – a fun, sex-positive, body-positive, birthday connection machine. Presents that costs nothing. Personal interaction. Closeness. Excitement. Liberation.

That first year, once I understood what I had created, I had tentatively named the endeavor Operation Birthday Suit. For year two, it became the annual Birthday Suit Selfie Solicitation. But I think that was too starchy. We’re having fun here! It’s a celebration! So now, at least until I find something better, it’s the Birthday Suit Selfie Party – BSSP for short. Also for hashtags, I guess.

I know it’s not for everyone. Being “-positive” about anything, though, means accepting that some people aren’t comfortable with it. And that’s totally fine. The BSSP isn’t for them. If it’s not fun for someone, it won’t be fun for me either. The whole point is to get closer with my friends. I don’t want to alienate anybody. And, for those who’re going to adopt my tradition, this is very important: be prepared to meet people in their comfort zone, or don’t play this game at all. Be gracious and forgiving if people bow out. Be supportive of people who’re venturing out of their comfort zone to connect with you. Be appreciative of every entry, because it’s not just a picture – it represents the trust that person chose to extend to you. Don’t wreck this for the rest of us. It’s lighthearted, good-natured, no-pressure, flirtatious fun.

I’m not saying it’s not pervy. It totally is pervy. But I’ve turned it into a birthday tradition because it’s so much more than pervy. It helps me reinvigorate old connections, and forge new connections. It helps others find a way to reveal their bodies and/or their sexuality in a safe, fun context – it creates a positivity bubble that insulates itself pretty well against the negativity of the world, if only briefly. And if done right, it can enrich the lives of everyone involved, even those who decide not to play.

So that’s what the BSSP is all about. Feel free to run with it on your own. Just, be respectful. Be kind. Be open to the possibility that for some folks, just asking them is pulling them out of their zone. Be prepared to make a graceful and apologetic exit. Be accommodating of people’s need for privacy and security. Be ready for surprises, and hilarity, and yes, some high octane hotness. But perhaps most importantly? Celebrate your life, and the people in it for all the joy they bring you, naked or not.

(Also, set filters appropriately on your solicitation post. That’s probably pretty important too.)

P.S. – Special thanks to everyone who helped make my Third Annual Birthday Suit Selfie Party a wild success! Also, if you’re looking for the rewards Crista promised you, you can find them here.

The House That Silence Built

I’ve been silent for years. For just about everything that matters. At least, when it comes to you, la gente del mundo, the general public. I used to write for the world. Back when I felt like my pain and joy still mattered to anyone but me, before I let Them whittle away my self-worth. Before I let Them break me. Though I’m not sure I could have stopped Them even if I’d known then how to try. I know now that it’s not quite possible to do it alone.

But that’s what I’ve always been – alone. My life, it’s all about me being on the outside looking in. The sole child in a cluster of adults. A genius surrounded by the average. A goy among the jews, a whiteboy in the ghetto. The agnostic keeping grounds at church. A criminal in the cops’ employ. A dropout serving academics. A quasigenderless polyamorous omnisexual gynephile in Cishetmonoville. A technomancer for the hippies. French vanilla at the Baskin-Robbins of kink. I was very groucho about it all when I was a kid, claiming that I wouldn’t want to join any club that would have me as a member, but the truth of it was, I’ve always desperately wanted to belong somewhere, just like anyone. I just grew to accept where I belonged was “outside”.

That unfulfilled drive, though. It led me to some strange places. While eventually I did find several niches for myself as an accepted outsider, because that’s what’s familiar to me, I’ve longed to know how the rest of you live. Early on, all anyone had to do to get my attention was include me. So I developed this fantasy of absolute inclusion, in a world that couldn’t reject me without collapsing in on itself – many of you will recognize this concept as “a family”.

Okay. There it was. Right there. I started to uncover the details of my past, only to realize that I can’t tell the whole story yet – some things still remain unresolved and precarious. And I started to put this post on ice, like I’ve done with so many others, but no. Breaking my silence was the whole point. So, even without the context of my history, know that chasing this fantasy brought me a decade of strife and turmoil. I’ve had my children used against me, and ripped away from me, both in more ways than one. I’ve endured years of physical and emotional abuse, just to stay with them. And that changed me. Bound me. Frankly, broke me a little more than I thought I could have been broken before.

However… Crista Anne appeared during the worst part of that still-undisclosed storm, and she’s stayed with me ever since. I’m not alone anymore. My dream of absolute inclusion is now a reality, thanks mostly to her. And now that enough time has passed, I’m actually free to run diagnostics and take inventory – and what I’ve found is that I never dealt with my feelings about the decade-long gauntlet I ran. I didn’t put it all in neat little boxes first, either, I just crammed it all into the backrooms of my mind. I still have no idea how to process it all. But if I leave it where it is, I’ll never have room for all the rewards I know this new life has to offer. Therefore, out with the old, and in with the new – no matter how hard it is, I know it’ll be worthwhile.

So there you go. Not a blank canvas anymore. This is me, for better or worse. Hi, everybody. I’m Val, and this is my voice. I’m going to work on using it more often.

Why This Blog Is Still Empty

This tree has yet to bear any fruit. Occasionally, my thoughts will return to its baren branches, and I’ll hang some tinsel.

So what’s the issue?

The issue is, everything’s a soundbyte, a meme, a boosted peak. The same prechewed morsels, foisted upon anyone in range, all the savory goodness of the thing sucked out. A copy of a copy of a copy. The irony being, of course, that I’m not the only one sharing this sentiment either.

The issue is, it’s all just sandcastles, waiting for the tide. But on the off chance that mine might stand forever, what should it be a monument to? What is the form of my lasting contribution to humanity? Am I the future’s forgotten ancestor, just another name and some dates on a family tree? Will my genes survive the evolutionary process? Will my thoughts? Does it matter?

The issue is, I have a gift, but I can’t find the hat full of names to draw from for Secret Santa, and I don’t know what’s inside unless somebody asks me.

I will pick an audience, and gather my thoughts into coherent form. Shortly. Maybe.