Posted by: scintillatingspeck | November 24, 2015

Asking for help.

I think I’m ready to do some asking, now.  It doesn’t guarantee any particular response, or even any response at all, from others.  It does allow me to articulate my thoughts more fully, to engage at least individually in the important work of figuring out what might happen next and how I can prioritize things.

I don’t think broadcasting this via my blog (or via Facebook, or any other online platform, for that matter) is the key component of asking for help.  I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about broadcasting as hiding, in fact.  It’s one of the reasons I’ve been avoiding Facebook—not because I want to be disengaged, but because I fear that at times, it counter-intuitively creates conditions that lead to disengagement.  I might have more to say about that at some point soon.  I want to emphasize, though, that I don’t see this blog post as an end point in asking for help, but rather a starting point, a way to give myself a little extra oomph in approaching individuals directly, or perhaps opening the door to people who might want to offer some ideas or encouragement.

I’m partly inspired by a friend of mine who finds it very, very hard to ask for help, and is willing to make that fact plain to me.  Who here also understands that it’s even hard to acknowledge that asking for help is hard?  It’s so &$^%ing hard!  I felt it would be important not only to ask for help with a specific issue (yes, people, I will get to it, and I will stick to ONE issue) but to write about the hurdles in asking for help at all.  I have a wee suspicion that this is a widespread problem in a culture such as ours.

Why is it so hard to ask for help?  What are my fears?

  • I fear that I’ll be perceived as weak and not having my sh*t together.  The truth is, I don’t feel like I have it together nearly as much as I would like.  If I am honest with myself, I can also see that I’m not as much of a mess as my most insidious demons would like to harass me about, but I’m also lacking some key resources and support.
  • I fear that I’ll be perceived as all neediness and no strength, as if it’s an all-or-nothing proposition.
  • I fear that I’ll feel really vulnerable and this might manifest itself in some ugly ways, like getting snarly, or saying/doing other embarrassing things that make me feel like a toddler.
  • I fear that nobody will respond or want to help and I’ll feel unloved and abandoned.
  • I fear that somebody will respond in all the wrong ways.
  • I fear that I will radically increase the chances that I’ll go into a downward shame spiral, even though I believe that needing and asking for help is not shameful.
  • I fear that people will be disgusted when I continue to have needs and either burn out or avoid me entirely.
  • I fear that people will forget that I want to help them.  I fear that they won’t ask for help themselves, and I’ll be the dumb-ass putting myself out there while they don’t.  I fear that they’ll think I’m not capable of helping, just because I have my own needs, or because they perceive me as weak.

Well.  Do you think we might be living in a highly individualist, competitive culture or something?

OK, onwards to the request for help.



I need help figuring out a strategy for moving forward with my book.  I want to identify each and every hurdle that’s facing me, and see if those hurdles are surmountable or not.  If not, I will need to identify a strategy for dealing with that, too.

It’s striking me that this is a bit similar to some previous challenges on this whole trajectory.  When I was launching my Kickstarter campaign, I had somewhat of a strategy but no assurances of any success.  It’s still astonishing to me that I pulled off the fundraising AND the three-month, cross-country trip in 2014.  While solo parenting a 7-year-old.  While negotiating and carrying out the separation process with my husband.  While unschooling.  While doing it all on a financial shoestring.  It had a huge, HUGE impact on my life and the lives of my family members, and we’re still processing everything.  I don’t want to forget, though, that I pulled off some stuff that I wasn’t sure was possible.

It’s clear that I was naïve about what would be involved in writing a book under my current circumstances.  The other stuff (fundraising, budgeting, long-distance traveling, camping, parenting, trying to be a decent guest, etc.) I actually had some experience with, even though, all combined, it pretty much kicked my ass.  Writing a book is something I’ve never done before, not to mention a deeply personal book about my life.  It doesn’t help that I seem prone to severe shame episodes about the fact that I have not yet produced a book to present to my financial backers.

What are the hurdles I can identify so far?  I’m a little tempted to separate them into categories (like logistical hurdles, emotional/mental hurdles, book-writing-process hurdles) but I’m going to resist that inclination, since they all seem to bleed into each other.  I need help determining how to prioritize this list, given the other priorities in my life.

  • Time.  Clearly, time is finite.  Currently, the bulk of my time commitments involve parenting/unschooling my 8 year old and attending to our basic necessities.  There is a lot more detail I could go into, but I’d rather not do that here and now.
  • Money.  Also finite.  Of the funds that were raised through Kickstarter, approximately half were spent on the trip, and another half is being held in reserve for printing/shipping rewards (i.e. the book).  I did not budget for anything like child care, or editing, or help with writing, mostly because I wanted to set a fundraising goal that I thought could actually be reached.  Although I’m earning a small amount doing some part-time work from home, it’s small.  Lily and I are dependent on Tom for income, and that income covers two households, and no, it is not a six-figure income.  You can probably figure out that I am not flush with cash.  I think it was in August or September that I posted something to Facebook, asking for help finding writing support, and I was fairly devastated to realize that almost all of the suggestions involved paying money that I don’t have.  Please bear that in mind if you are tempted to write something like “Here’s this great writing coach.”  I respect that there are wonderful writing coaches and such out there who are deservedly seeking to be paid, but unless you are willing to sit down with me and reexamine my budget (what whole swaths would I cut out?  The electric bills?  The one paid homeschool activity Lily still does?  The internet connection?), please refrain from suggesting stuff that costs more than, say, $10-20.
  • Concentration.  It has not escaped my notice that my concentration has frequently been shot.  I think this is due to stress, depression, insomnia, and parenting.  It is almost impossible to write when I can’t concentrate enough to string a sentence together.  I find myself looking for rare opportunities when I’ve had enough sleep and feel calm and balanced enough and also am not distracted by my child.  This doesn’t happen a lot.  (However, it is happening right now, which is why I’m seizing the chance to write this blog post!)
  • Emotional regulation.  I resisted calling this simply “depression” although that certainly falls under this heading; I just hate the word “depression” and other associated “diagnoses.”  I’m sure you can find other writings on this blog where I rant about that.  Regardless, it’s a hurdle, and one that I’m trying hard to address on a daily basis.  I’m pretty darn sure that this would need to be near or at the top of a prioritized list of What I Need to Address.  The point is, when one is depressed, nothing can effectively happen.  Not even staying alive, sometimes.  I need assistance from people who agree that “staying alive” is a top priority.
  • Feelings of vulnerability.  This writing process is bringing up intense feelings of exposure and fear.  I need strategies for dealing with that.  I need help with managing fears about potential backlashes or discrimination in the future.
  • Self-doubt.  I don’t know if I can actually do this.  I find myself doubting my writing skills and whether I have anything useful or eloquent or important to say.  The inner gargoyles sometimes get the better of me and don’t shut up when I need them to shut up and let me write.  They are mean little bastards.
  • Wanting to protect others.  A lot of the stuff I need to write about involves other people and intimate details about our lives.  Some of them I can make pretty much anonymous, by changing names and identifying details.  Others I can never make anonymous, like my child and my husband.  I need help managing this.  I need to be able to write freely and then make determinations later about how to present the material.  I desperately wish I had an editor.  I have no money to pay an editor.  I’m not willing to accept volunteer editing offers unless I am sure that it’s a good match.  I would take choosing an editor as seriously as choosing a spouse.  I may have to be resigned to the idea that there will be no editor.
  • Confusion about scope.  I have devoted a lot of thought to trying to figure out where my story begins and ends.  The beginning, in particular, is elusive to me.  Clearly, it doesn’t start when my trip starts—it starts quite a while before that, because I need to get into all the reasons why the trip/project felt so immensely urgent.  When I composed the text on the original Kickstarter page about why I wanted to do this, I had a whole bunch of HUGE life questions, and I don’t feel I can address each one in totality—it would turn into the Jen Encyclopedia.  Egads.  NO, that is not what I want.  I need someone to talk to, confidentially, about the arc of my life, and which pieces make sense to include in this book, and which don’t.
  • Continuing struggles with theme(s).  My elevator speech about this trip/project has always centered on themes about home, community, and connection.  I feel like I am continually reaching to refine it even further, to zero in on the most relevant theme, lest it become impossibly broad.  The closest I’ve come so far is something like intimacy or intimate connection but in the context of a culture of dissociation and disengagement.  I need to flesh this out more in dialogue with someone I can trust.  I want it to be the touchstone I can return to, throughout.
  • Confusion about audience.  I have long been asking, who am I writing this for?  Writing advice is often about getting clear about who your audience is, and writing for them.  Clearly, a lot of this writing process is for me, but it can’t only be about me since I want to actually publish it.  I want to talk to someone about this.

Alright, dears.  I have come to the end of the time I have to devote to this, today.  May it be sufficient.  I request your help, of any degree or type.  You can respond to me in comments on my blog, or privately by email (scintillatingspeck at gmail dot com), or by calling me on the phone, or Skyping (jen.hartley), or letter-writing, or (gasp) talking to me in person.  If you comment on Facebook, I will not see it, so please don’t.  (One of the other issues I wanted to ask for help with is whether I should consider using Facebook again to a limited degree, but I’ll leave that for another day.)

I’m grateful for your witness and your presence in my life.  Paz y amor.

Posted by: scintillatingspeck | November 21, 2015

Mulling over how to ask for help.

I almost titled this “Asking for Help.”  Then Inner Wise Woman stepped in and said No, dear.  You are not going to write and post this tonight, when you are very tired, drained, and jangled.  You are going to take a step back.  You can take some notes.  You can devote some thought to it.  But you are not going to dash off some words, in this instance.  You are right to ask for help.  Make your request as thorough, well-considered, and specific as possible.  You can’t do that tonight—you’re too fried.

Me: Okay.  Yeah.  I am.  You mean I can just go to bed?  Not worry that it will all be lost to memory lapses and confusion?

IWW: You can just go to bed.  I see you already took down some notes.  It will be okay.

Me: Really?  How am I supposed to trust that?

IWW: Honey.  Go to bed.  You posting slipshoddily will not help.  You staying up fretting will not help.  Sleep, however, will help.

Spoon me to sleep, loves?

Posted by: scintillatingspeck | November 17, 2015


I was thinking today: it seems that an audience is not what I want or need.  Removed, out there, faceless, watching.  Disengaged.  Examining me like an object, a curiosity.  Expecting to be passive.  I think, at least for now, I don’t want to set myself up as a performer.  The words “attention whore” come to mind—I don’t think it’s wrong to need some attention, but some kinds seem preferable to others, “others” being “stuff that makes me feel like a consumable object, a commodity, a depersonalized achievement machine.”  Have I been an attention whore?  Probably.

I need people in my life who want to engage with me.  I need people who feel some resonance with my ideas and sentiments, and respond.  It doesn’t mean that anyone will automatically show up with any consistency just because I say “I need this,” but it seems important to legitimize it to myself.  I need people who want the same thing.

I would like to recognize the people who have spoken and written with me of late.  You make me feel like a human.  It means everything to me that you took the time to write an email, or a comment, or talked to me on the phone, or visited with me, or made plans with me and Lily.  Please don’t stop.  I’ll keep doing my best not to stop, either.  Thank you for seeing me.  Thank you for letting me see you.  There are long gaps of loneliness in between points of connection and it’s easy for me to lose track of where we are—I start believing I’m more alone than I am in actuality.  I try to re-read your words and recall spoken phrases that are especially consoling, and/or especially real.


Posted by: scintillatingspeck | November 16, 2015

Hilltown healing.

Just west of where I live in the Pioneer Valley of western Massachusetts, there is an area called the Hilltowns, one of the most enchanting places I’ve been graced to see.  It’s all rolling, rural delight with rivers and fields and stone walls and everything about New England that I love.  Today Lily and I and our friends went off on a jaunt to Glendale Falls in Middlefield; we drove down country roads (singing “Free to Be You and Me” most of the way) amidst the cows and panoramas and neatly stacked cord wood and wildness and ended up at the falls, where we would proceed to see no other human beings for the several hours we were there, just our little band of five.  And the trees, and the rushing, dancing water, and woodland critters, and the still-lush mosses, and a heart-shaped rock, and a very sweet dog.  That was just fine by us.

There is healing in those hills.















there’s a land that I see
where the children are free
and I say it ain’t far
to this land from where we are

take my hand, come with me
where the children are free
come with me, take my hand
and we’ll live

in a land where the river runs free
in a land through the green country
in a land to a shining sea
and you and me are free to be
you and me

Posted by: scintillatingspeck | November 15, 2015


My horoscope in this week’s Valley Advocate (by Rob Brezsny):

You have the answers you need, but you keep sniffing around as if there were different or better answers to be had.  Moreover, you’ve been offered blessings that could enable you to catalyze greater intimacy, but you’re barely taking advantage of them—apparently because you underestimate their potency.  Here’s what I think: As long as you neglect the gifts you have already been granted, they won’t provide you with their full value.  If you give them your rapt appreciation, they will bloom.

I’m sitting with this and letting it roll around in my awareness.

What are these blessings and gifts and answers?!  I know I’ve been too depressed, too often, to see clearly.  The only sense I can make of this is that I must concentrate on the connections I already have, reach out to people, and make sure they feel my care.  Frequently, this feels appallingly difficult.  What do I say?  Who do I touch?  What if I’m an incompetent oddball?  What if I’m an emotional pretzel?  What if I reach out to people who don’t really want or need me?  What if I neglect a whole bunch of others because I’m confused and addled?  What if I’ve already screwed everything up beyond recognition?

I guess it doesn’t make sense to wait until I have my life or brain or spirit pieced together until I touch people.  And probably I convince myself that I’m more incapacitated than I actually am, if I keep dwelling on being a giant, contorted weirdo.  I suppose I should tell myself “I’m a graceful little flower with all the inner and outer resources I need” but that makes me want to barf.  It would be nice if I could get away from all this wildly distorted perceptual crap.

Tom told me the other day, “You’re gorgeous.”  It baffled me.  I think I have to believe that he really means it.  He is not one to make stuff up.  What is he seeing?  Why am I reminded of this comment just now?  I think there is such a large breach between how he sees me and how I see myself.  Not just how I look, mind you, but who I am.  I can’t see myself all that well, lately.  But I ask myself, who do I know who is gorgeous? and all these gorgeous, beloved souls present themselves quite easily in my mind, and I’m grateful to see their tenderness, brilliance, sensitivity, beauty, eloquence, and grace.  And some of them are quite broken indeed.  I think it’s safe to say that I don’t know a single person who really has it together.  Maybe we’re not meant to have it together.


Posted by: scintillatingspeck | November 14, 2015

Stumbling towards intimacy.


I haven’t called you all that blanket term in a while.  I haven’t had it in me.  I mean, I’ve had love in me, but I’ve been needing to burrow into a different heart-mind space for a while, something much more private and secluded.  For some reason, though, maybe just for right now, I feel like addressing you as loves, because I need to remember that we are not so far apart as it often seems.

I made a decision to activate the “publicize” feature on this WordPress blog, so that each time I publish a new post, it will automatically get posted to my Facebook page.  Why am I doing this now, especially since I did not cross-post many of my more recent blog posts?

You know it’s not just a technical issue to me, right?  I am in the throes of examining authenticity, intimacy, performance, trying very hard to penetrate the opacity of my needs.  Wow, that sounds so abstract.  It bothers me deeply.

I’ve been staying away from Facebook for the past several weeks.  I think I need to stay away longer.  I don’t know if I will be going “back”.  Why is this necessary?  What is so intensely troubling about Facebook?  Can I even begin to articulate it?

I think Facebook gives a dangerous illusion of presence.  For all I know, when people go to my Facebook page now, it’s as if I’m “there,” except I’m not.  There are several years’ worth of words, conversations, photos, poems, writings, a whole archive of self-ness.  Except that is an edited self.  Except that it enabled me to hide as much as (or more than?) it enabled me to reveal myself.  Except it was a huge diversion from the (messy and terrifying) project of interacting with people in my immediate surroundings.  Except it was eroding the intimacy I sought as my own personal grail.

I don’t even know if people realize I’m “gone.”  I feel like I need to put all these words in quotes, “back,” “there,” “gone,” because I don’t think Facebook is really a place.  I’m not sure what it is.  Yes, I have heard many arguments about how it increases contact and connection and blah blah blah.  Yes, I know that the people behind the profiles are real and that our relational bonds are real.  (For dog’s sake, I traveled 10,000 miles last year and proved it.)  I don’t know if most of those connections have any longevity in them, although to me this is not the ultimate measure of their worth.

I’ve been tired of maintaining a persona and her corresponding performance.  I’m not sure how much I am valued by acquaintances beyond my ability to entertain or provoke particular thoughts or feelings.  I’m pretty sure this is not exclusive to Facebook or even exclusive to relating via Internet, although the ability to edit so intensively seems to be a big hurdle to cultivating authenticity and even tolerance for one’s own, or others’, foibles or clumsiness.  I have tried to write in ways that feel radically vulnerable, only to feel that I might be wasting my breath, or that I might be making myself too vulnerable, or that writing itself might be a hurdle to being seen, known, understood, or loved.

Why, then, would I decide to keep writing on this blog, and even enable it to be automatically shared on Facebook?  What’s that about?

I think it comes back to loves.  I have never given up on love, self-love, love for you, love for crazy humans, love for living beings, love for earth, incomprehensible love, oceanic love, eccentric love, love that brilliantly defies any definition or structure we seek to impose upon it.  I’m just a fallible, deeply imperfect person, but I’m this conduit of love, and I think we all are, if we are honest with ourselves.  And what does my own river of love do?  It guides me where I need to go, whether it makes sense to me or not.  It wants to reunite with the sea.  It flows because it must.  It tells me, keep writing.  Keep communicating.  Don’t shut down.  Let people find you even if you need to insulate yourself from some of the sheer insanity and pain.  Don’t be dead.

It bothers me to think of people “liking” this post on Facebook, or commenting there, thinking I’m seeing it.  I’m not seeing it.  It probably doesn’t matter to them that I’m not seeing it.  Maybe what matters is only the illusion that they’re communicating with me.  I know I’ve said this a whole bunch of times, but I will repeat myself: if you want to communicate with me, YOU CAN.  Just don’t do it through Facebook.  There are people I know who will only communicate with me through Facebook.  It is hard to escape the conclusion that Facebook matters to them more than me.  Is that a far-fetched conclusion?  Not many people take another step and email me or contact me some other way.  I think most people would sooner let our entire connection drop than pursue a less convenient method of engagement.  I’m guessing three-quarters of my Facebook contacts have already forgotten I exist.

Does it matter?  I guess it matters only insofar as so much of my social existence revolved around Facebook for a significant chunk of time, and now I’m having to face into some withering social realities.  Most of it is so un-pretty, lonely, and sad.

Meanwhile, though, I am doing a ton of self-assigned homework.  Homework, home-work, work on my home, which is my heart.  I am reading about the social impacts of technology and social media.  I am thinking a lot and crying sometimes.  I am in contact with a few beloved people.  I’m giving my mind some space to range freely, ask questions, ask more questions, daydream, nightdream.  My process is not super-rational but more amorphous and non-linear.  Sometimes I think I’m crazy.  Sometimes I feel unbelievably desperate and anguished.  Sometimes I think I’m absolutely on the scent of my grail, which I’m sure is not an object but a living, pulsing Being, neither singular nor plural.

Posted by: scintillatingspeck | November 9, 2015


Who among the ranks of We the Sensitive hasn’t heard the words, “you’re too sensitive”?

In WEIRD-ville (WEIRD being an acronym standing for Western, Educated, Industrialized, Rich and Democratic), it becomes internalized from a young age.  You’re too sensitive.  Don’t be sensitive.  Don’t feel so much.  Don’t notice so much.  How embarrassing your emotions are.

This seems to me to be the exact opposite of what’s needed in WEIRD-ville.  Everywhere I go, I see numb, busy, distracted people who are disconnected from their feelings and priorities.  People who will do anything rather than see and hear their own hearts.  People even prefer electric shocks to being alone with their own thoughts for 15 minutes.

Denizens of WEIRD-ville, you aren’t being sensitive enough.


What if we could allow ourselves the leeway to experience the full range of our feelings?  I don’t know about you, but my first reaction to that is but then all hell would break loose.  Not because of what I fear in other people, but what I fear in myself.

I’ve been getting more opportunity to be alone and feel my feelings.  Feel my feelings.  That phrase just cries out for mockery, doesn’t it?  I’ll hold back, not because I actually like sounding all gooey self-helpy, but because if I don’t, my inner screeching gargoyles will go to town and take over, and I need to put them in their place.  I get to say phrases that make me want to barf, dammit.

What’s all the aloneness about?  Am I actually more alone than before?  I think I was able to maintain a marginally less-lonely feeling when I was still spending time on Facebook, and now I’ve ripped that perceptual illusion down.  I went into a minor frenzy of increased blogging for a bit, as compensation, but in ceasing to cross-post blog links to Facebook, it was clear I wasn’t getting much “traffic.”  This felt crappy.  I wanted to understand why it felt so crappy.  My instincts were telling me to blog less, interact less, seek less audience, seek less feedback, slow everything the hell down.  It felt scary and painful.

I’m still in the middle of it.  I’m going to keep with it, too, because I want to hear my own heart.  I want to honor my own feelings and my own story.  It’s too easily outshouted and numbed.  I see ever more clearly the ways I have been numbing and hiding.  I, who could possibly qualify as the homecoming queen of sensitivity, want to be more sensitive.  I want to create an oasis of space-time to protect this sensitivity.  And I only want to reveal myself to very few people right now.

Lily and Mama under the scintillating tree.  Art in the Orchard, Easthampton, MA.  Photo credit: Lise McGuinness.

Lily and Mama under the sparkly tree. Art in the Orchard, Easthampton, MA. Photo credit: Lise McGuinness.


Posted by: scintillatingspeck | November 3, 2015

Don’t post.

Don’t post your naked anguish, love.

You seem quite certain about this, Inner Wise Woman, and I guess I’ve decided to listen to you.


You know, you could tell me if there’s an alternative, because I don’t know where to go with this.

You’re not supposed to know.

Well, that’s just great.  I get to flounder and drown all by myself.

No.  You get to see it through.  You get to keep riding out the pain.


Pretty much.

I hate it.

I know.

Posted by: scintillatingspeck | November 1, 2015

Bisexual vs. pansexual vs. queer?

I’ve been thinking for a while about identity labels, their utility, and their limitations.  (This seems to crop up in most areas of life, as you may have noticed recently in my post on homeschooling/unschooling/independent learning/whatever).  On the one hand, I sometimes become annoyed with language and some people getting all persnickety about Defining Stuff, as if “identity” wasn’t essentially a squirmy, uncontainable otter sliding off the riverbank into the water.  On another hand, I think about how much many (most?) of us want to be seen, known, recognized, understood, and supported and having to wrangle the foibles of language in order to manage that.

Also, I was thinking it’s been a while since I wrote anything about sexual identity.  It’s not a burning issue on my mind, honestly, but a) I would like a mental respite from some of the other stuff I’ve been grappling with, and b) sexual things are generally interesting, in my opinion.

So what’s this about bisexual vs. pansexual vs. queer?  I guess I’ve become gradually more aware of the proliferation of terminology in the [insert endless, partially indecipherable acronym relating to sexual and gender identity trying to encompass everything here] community.  I am not at the forefront of [endless acronym] activism, although there have been times in my life when I was quite a bit more active (like in my early 20s, in Boston).  The word “pansexual” just wasn’t a thing, then.  (Although I knew a few too many people who would smirkingly claim to be “trisexual,” i.e., “I’ll try anything, baby.”)

But now we are in the era of pansexual being a thing.  I had to look it up in a few places to figure out if it is now uncool to use the word “bisexual.”  I wasn’t sure.  Call me a doofus.  Apparently I was still deferring to the authority of the book “Masters and Johnson on Sex and Human Loving” which I read in 1988 at age 16, saw the span of sexual identity very tidily and linearly defined as either heterosexual, homosexual, or bisexual, and concluded, well, duh, obviously the one that fits me here is bisexual. 

I’m actually not worried about being uncool.  There are a vast array of ways I’m uncool, and that is really okay.  But I was intrigued at the possibility of sexual identity being approached in less rigid, linear ways, and wondering if there were problems with the term “bisexual” that I should know about.  It turns out that there have been a whole bunch of discussions and arguments about it, of course.  One criticism of “bisexual” is that it reinforces binary conceptions of gender, i.e., that it erases the possibility of attraction to gender fluidity beyond cis-gendered maleness and femaleness.  So, in essence, by saying “I’m bisexual” you could be saying “I’m reinforcing rigid beliefs about gender” and/or “I’m attracted to cis-gendered men and women but not to anyone transgender or gender fluid.”  Meanwhile, there are many bisexuals saying, no no no, that’s not what I mean by “bisexual” at all, and why are you messing with my label that has worked for me for years or decades?  “Pansexual” seems to be much more encompassing and inclusive, but runs into problems like a) a large number of people don’t know what it means and b) it leads to jokes about being attracted to kitchen cooking vessels.  (Personally, I have no shame about my attraction to kitchen cooking vessels, or to good cooks.)  “Queer” is another term that many find preferable, since it is clearly a statement of non-straightness, but that seems to run into the issue of people assuming you’re gay rather than bi/pan since there are still rampant assumptions of you-must-be-either-straight-or-gay-or-lying.  And then there are all the political implications of allying oneself with particular labels.

In all cases, whether one claims the term bisexual or pansexual or queer (or any other sexual identity label), there is a whole lot missing in terms of one’s very particular attractions, behaviors, history, and changes over time.  And those are the parts I, at least, find most interesting.  If I tell you I’m bisexual, what does that really tell you about me?  Or if I tell you I’m bisexual and polyamorous?  Or a pansexual relationship anarchist?  This may be conjuring up images of a wild sex maniac.  Appealing as that image is at times, I’m very sorry to burst the bubble and say that I am not having sex all the time, not even close, nor am I having it indiscriminately with any creature with a pulse, nor do I think sex is the measure of intimacy (although it can play a part).  Do the labels tell you about the depth of my love?  the ways I calibrate my integrity?  the path I’ve traversed through relationships, marriage, becoming a mother?  the striving for autonomy, authenticity, connection, interdependence?  the interweavings with sexual/relational otherness?  Is this a story that anyone wants to hear or has time for?

Because swapping stories about such things, the stories full of questions and details and idiosyncrasies, seems so much more real and alive than little stand-alone words, words that can’t contain the richness of human experience.

Posted by: scintillatingspeck | October 31, 2015


What is the appropriate use of a blog?  of Facebook, or social media in general?  of any platform that is public or semi-public?  What is public?  Is “public” or “private” a well-defined thing?  Which boundaries are sensible to maintain, and which are pleading to be dismantled?

These questions are much on my mind lately, as I’ve been abstaining completely from Facebook, putting somewhat more energy into blogging, and thinking a lot about what I need in terms of self-expression and intimate connection.  The question of propriety seems pretty key to moving forward with a harmonious use of technology, rather than feeling harmed or victimized by it.  I know if I’ve been feeling victimized, I have to ask myself: what can I do to see what part I’ve played in this, and to give myself agency and empowerment to change things?

Propriety is a term I ordinarily have a hard time with; for me it conjures up images of ladies in white gloves, with prim little purses, legs crossed, looking down their noses at wild-haired, wind-blown, scandalous me.  I will never be proper, of course.  I don’t want to be.  But I do want to be as free and relaxed and effectively functioning as possible, for my sake and Lily’s and all those we care about, and so it seems imperative to deeply question what conditions are necessary for fostering well-being.  I want to understand if there is an appropriate way for me to approach technology, and I realize it’s not limited just to Facebook or blogging, but extends to writing in general, or how I present myself to the world at large, sometimes to the exclusion of presenting myself to individual people, if that makes sense.  (And yes, I’m going to let that clunky sentence stand, as a spiritual practice.)

(As an aside: I have to laugh at myself, heartily.  I had no idea I was going to write that.  None.  But it makes such sense.  On the surface of my mind was the thought that I would post a photo of Lily in her Spider Queen finery, and maybe write about the dream I had last night that I was back at the Castle at Nobles and my bike was stolen, and what the heck that might be about.)

Mostly I don’t want to draw hard lines about propriety.  I feel like much of my life is an experiment in pushing the edges of conventional propriety.  At the same time, I’m keenly invested in clarifying what constitutes behaving with integrity as well as living sanely.  Right now, it feels most sane for me to keep avoiding Facebook; to contact people on an individual basis, and remind them that they can contact me, too (yes, you can, at scintillatingspeck [at] gmail [dot] com, or other means that we can discuss); to keep writing in ways that feel appropriately vulnerable and not leaving me feeling hollow; and to keep seeking out intimate connection in the ways and places where it’s most likely to manifest.

Okay, I will still post a photo of the Spider Queen.  This photo was taken yesterday, just before we went to a party, where we were fed in body and soul.

Lily the Spider Queen

Lily the Spider Queen

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