Thursday, September 21, 2017

No trust

Awhile ago Sthenno came over to my place and asked me an odd question.  By odd I mean the sort of thing normal people consider odd, but it was completely normal for the two of us.  He asked me if I experience gratitude or trust.

I said no.

You might suddenly be wondering how I get by in the world without trust, so I will clarify.  Obviously there are people in the world who I think do things that align with my values, and who I believe will act in my best interests, as long as those don't interfere with their best interests too much.  When I say trust, what I mean is that I think these things about them.  I generally think they have sound judgement and their weighting functions for decision making are ones that don't worry me.

But most people have something else that they feel when they trust someone that I clearly don't feel.  When I think about people going to war who trust their leaders that murdering other people is a good idea, I cannot fathom it.  When religious people believe their clergy who say contradictory or absurd things, it strikes me as preposterous.  They are clearly feeling something they call trust and it is an emotion I either don't have, or have so little of that I might as well not have it.

I think Sthenno is even more extreme in this way than I am.  I have almost no experience of trust, but he has basically zero.  To me trust is sort of like saying "I believe X".  You only say it when it is bloody obvious X is false but you have decided to pretend it is true anyway.  People don't say "I believe in gravity" because we know gravity is true.  They say it about things that we have no reason to believe in, like God, or feng shui, or the Loch Ness Monster.  Trust is similar.  It is often like saying that you believe in a person or what that person says, even when they have not given sufficient reason for you to do so.  There is a big emotional thing there that most people experience but which is mostly foreign to me.

Gratitude is a similar sort of thing.  I think this may actually have a lot to do with my issues surrounding gifts and debt.  It seems plausible that because I don't experience gratitude, and possibly because I don't experience trust, I view many exchanges through an economic lens.  When people do nice things for me I notice and I appreciate it, but when other people talk about gratitude it becomes glaringly obvious to me that there is something they are experiencing that is just not part of my makeup.  When people express gratitude I am often standing there, trying to do whatever is socially mandated, while completely not getting it at all.

If someone says they have gratitude for the great weather, I find that totally baffling.  The weather just happens.  That emotional response is weird to me.  Same with gifts, really.  I can appreciate a gift, but it is clear people are expecting a emotional reaction from me that they never get.  I pretend to have it in order to make social situations work but I have never quite gotten it.

I was bad at this as a kid because I didn't have the reactions most people did and I hadn't yet worked out how to fake it or dodge it.  As an adult I still find this part of the world confusing and bizarre but I have all my systems in place to do the thing that makes people calm, and which keeps them thinking that I am having the internal experience they expect me to.

I do look forward to getting old though, in particular the part where everyone just gives up on me ever changing and accepts that I am cantankerous and bizarre.  Then I can stop doing the stuff that gets me by these situations and just be me and they can all sigh and talk about how there is no point in trying to change me, and they might as well just cope with it until I die.

There are many things about getting old that suck, but I am looking forward to that part at least.

Monday, September 18, 2017

Too much power

I went on a camping trip this weekend with Wendy's lab group.  All in all it was fantastic, with us lucking into some of the best weather you could hope for.  The downpour even waited until 15 minutes after we were in our cars heading home.  One of the most amusing parts of it was this:


I snapped my paddle with the intense force of my paddling.  RAWR!

(Let us not speak of the fact that the paddle was obviously old, grey, and the varnish was all falling off in flakes.  Surely that has little to do with it.)

Thankfully the place that rented us the gear gave us several extra paddles.  Perhaps this is the cost of doing business when you are happy to rent out paddles that are so beat up they are bound to snap under normal use?

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Big man

In the one and a half years since I started lifting weights I have put on about 30 pounds.  Throughout my adult life I always stayed between 165 and 175 pounds depending on how much physical activity I was getting, which generally meant that when I was working and walking a lot my weight was closer to the top of the range just due to muscle mass in my legs, I think.  Recently I weighed myself and I clocked in at 206 which is by far the heaviest I have ever been.  This isn't something I do often - I think I have only weighed myself roughly once every six months since I started lifting.  It is encouraging though, for some odd reason, to know that I have packed that much muscle on.  I keep trying to imagine 30 packages of ground beef stuck to my body and the image of it is absolutely hilarious.

I suspect I will be adding on a lot more meat in the next few months.  Like a lot of men who take up weight lifting I mostly just did upper body work.  I was really wanting to get big arms, more than anything else, and my legs seemed just fine as they were.  However, I recently decided that I should really balance things out more so I started doing squats and other leg exercises consistently.

I figured that I am a pretty strong dude now, so I would need huge amounts of weight.  After all, my benchpress is around 300 pounds now, and squat numbers are usually a lot higher than bench numbers, so surely I must be able to squat a ton of weight.  Right?

Wrong.

I mean, obviously, stupidly wrong.

It turns out if you don't do leg work your legs don't get stronger.  I know, I know, who would have thought?

Anyway I ended up putting 90 pounds on a bar and doing squats with that.  I would have liked to do more but my gym in my building doesn't have a squat rack so I had to toss the weight up over my head, and also that was all the weight available so I couldn't put more on even if I wanted to.  Because the weight wasn't so large I did a ton of reps and my legs *burned*.  I had trouble sitting down on the toilet for two days to such a degree that I had to use my hands to lower myself so I didn't just fall.

It turns out that doing tons of reps on low weight causes soreness that is quite unlike doing heavy weight for only a few reps.  I went back again after three days to do another leg day and ended up having to dial it way back because my legs were in agony after just a few reps.  My ability to recover from my high rep leg workout is just miserable compared to my ability to recover from normal lifting, it would seem.

At any rate I intend on doing a lot of work with lower weights in my home gym until I am in better shape.  Once I really can't do anything with what I have here I will need to get a proper gym membership but clearly I have some work to do before that is necessary.

This does make me wonder how heavy I am going to be six months from now.  I expect my upper body to continue to pack on weight slowly but if I go really hard on my legs I should put on a bunch of weight there too.  It seems quite reasonable to imagine I might add on ten pounds on top and ten pounds on the bottom and end up at 225 by the middle of winter, and somehow that seems absurd to me.  In my head weighing 225 pounds is massive, and it doesn't feel like it is the sort of thing that applies to me, and yet it also seems like a completely reasonable goal.

It is as though the numbers corresponding to my weight both represent me, and are also completely divorced from my idea of who I am.  It is an odd thing for someone who was so consistent in terms of weight for so many years.

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Dissatisfied

I read an article yesterday about why people cheat on each other in relationships.  Specifically it tried to explain why people who claim they are happy in their relationships end up cheating.

It is the sort of thing that is simultaneously something I want people to seriously think about and also makes me laugh out loud at how absurd it is.

Really?  You wonder how people are attracted to more than one person, and how they might want to act on that attraction?  Even if their current official partner is a good person and makes them happy?

Years ago I would have read along with this sort of thing, nodding at how it questioned our societal standard of putting your partner on a pedestal and pretending they are the only thing you will ever want ever again.  Before I was polyamorous I will still realistic!  Of course most people will be attracted to lots of people.  They will have friends they want to hop into bed with, lust after people on the street or on porn sites, and sometimes find themselves falling in love by accident.

But these days it all strikes me as preposterous.  Are people still sitting around pretending that it is abnormal to be attracted to more than one person?  Is anyone really still thinking that everyone in our lives offers the same experience, so that once you have one person you care about there isn't any reason at all to meet other people?

"If this were a good relationship, I wouldn't want anyone else" is a pile of nonsense.  There are friends I want to go paintballing with, and friends I want to play board games with.  There are people who I would happily take camping so we can get drunk around the fire and yell about things, and people who I would definitely leave in town.

As time goes by my tolerance for this kind of foolishness has drained away.  Have whatever relationship rules you want, exclusive or not, that is your business.  But this idea that we should all be astonished when someone who has a good relationship has other attractions needs to die in a fire.

No matter what your relationship rules are you need to know that your partner can't be your everything, and presuming that they will be is a recipe for misery.

Sunday, September 10, 2017

Ringless

I have stopped wearing my wedding ring.  (Don't panic.)

There are all kinds of reasons for this that people would expect; perhaps my marriage is a mess, I am trying to have a sneaky affair, or I am worried about sports related injuries.  None of the above are correct.  Instead it is something extremely mundane.  I took my ring off to do my weight lifting the other day and took a look at my finger and realized that the skin under my ring on the front of my hand my finger was kind of flaky and crunchy and looked distinctly wrong.  It isn't any sort of crisis but I decided I should leave the ring off until it fixes itself, and since the ring has been a constant resident for the past 12 years that might take awhile.  Who knows how long it has been like this!

It feels WEIRD.

I am constantly touching the base of my finger and being surprised by what I don't feel.  I go to rotate the ring as a way to fidget and nothing is there to play with.  My hand just feels constantly, subtly wrong.  It is like biting your mouth or tongue by accident; you aren't aware of the shape of your mouth until something changes and than you suddenly can't be aware of anything else.

It is kind of funny though because I have been thinking about taking off my ring for a couple years now.  I like my spouse and my marriage, but the institution of marriage itself has all kinds of issues that trouble me.  I dislike the history of patriarchy that is embedded in it.  I grumble at the assumption that a marriage's success is based on somebody dying rather than the joy that it brings while it lasts.

Becoming polyamorous brought new issues to the fore.  I am wearing an obvious symbol of one particular relationship but not symbols of any other relationships.  I have chosen to announce to the world one thing through my bodily decoration, and I don't feel like this is the thing I *should* be announcing, if I can only pick one thing.  I don't want people to think I am "taken" because I am not, and I don't want to pile on additional veneration of my domestic, legally binding partnership because it doesn't need any help being seen as the most important thing.

I don't like jewellery in general, and I don't like my wedding ring in particular.  I like my marriage, and initially I was happy to have a simple symbol of it, but that glow has faded.  I have changed, and my views on my golden symbol have shifted too.

It isn't as though I have some seething, festering hatred for my wedding band - I have plenty of more important things to seethe at.  However, I do feel like it is not the right thing.  It is a symbol, and the point of symbols is to tell other people about me.  But much of what people conclude when they see the symbol is incorrect.  When I look at my wedding ring now it it a thing that just isn't quite right anymore.

There is a cost to taking it off.  People make assumptions when they see a finger that obviously had a wedding band on it for a long time but is now bare, and those assumptions are not likely to be correct.  There is also the real concern that people will assume that this change reflects a negative change in my marriage and I don't like that conclusion.  It does reflect a change in my marriage to some extent, but that change is a good thing, not a bad thing.  However, I can see people who are skeptical of polyamory seeing this as a sign that everything is falling to bits.

I suspect Wendy wears her band for another reason that was never really mine - to prevent harassment.  It is a preemptive strike, a way to signal to men that they ought not to hit on her.  "Sorry, I have a boyfriend" should not be the best way to get men to leave a woman alone, but sadly it usually is, and a wedding ring is pretty much that phrase in jewellery form.

Being hit on by people I don't want to be involved with has never been a struggle for me, for a variety of reasons...

The more I look at my hands, newly not decorated, the more this seems like the right thing.  I don't need to make a decision yet, not until I lose the plausible deniability of my finger healing up, but the more I don't wear the ring the more I lean towards putting it away forever.

Friday, September 8, 2017

Home Alone

I ran into an article today on the topic of letting children ride public transit alone.  It talks about a man in Vancouver who let his four children of ages 7, 8, 9, 11 ride the bus to school without adult supervision.  A seven year old on the bus alone seems possible depending on the seven year old, but in the company of an 11 year old I feel it is perfectly reasonable considering he spent considerable time training them to do this.

The government did not like this however and forbade it.  Once his eldest child reaches 12 they can then supervise the younger ones, and while that seems older than the limit I would choose it doesn't seem absurd.

But the article also talked about the rules here in Ontario and those made me choke a little.  Apparently here children cannot legally be left alone until age 16.

16!  The same age at which they can legally hop behind the wheel of a car and start driving.  Apparently sitting at home alone for a short period is equivalent in terms of responsibility to being the operator of a powerful and potentially dangerous piece of machinery.  It boggles my mind.

It is especially galling because nobody obeys that law.  Children are expected to arrive at Pinkie Pie's school by themselves - while parents are certainly welcome to drop them off, it is obvious to anyone at the school that nearly all of them arrive on their own.  So even though by law the great majority of the parents of the children in the school are in violation, and even though the people in the school are undoubtedly aware of it, nothing happens.

I *hate* laws like that.

Having laws on the books that are stupid and which are not enforced just leaves people in a terrible state where they risk something horrible happening to their family if they do what basically everyone does, and when everyone is doing the right thing it is especially crappy.  Obey the law, do a disservice to your children.  Disobey the law, be worried that they will take your children away.

Even if nobody actually obeys the law and it never gets enforced its mere existence is a problem.  I think people will generally have a lot more respect for laws and those who enforce them if laws themselves are consistently enforced.  When people know that the rules are fair, reasonable, and consistently enforced they have more reason to think that they themselves should play by the rules.

When it is clear that laws are arbitrary, destructive, and ignored, then it fosters the idea that the legal system should be ignored.

And if that law should happen to be enforced, as in my case, or the case of nearly all parents, it would be a disaster.  Should this happen, it won't occur to people with money, and influence, and access to lawyers.  It will happen to someone who is poor and powerless.

That is what gets me.  Not that anyone is going to take my kid away, that won't happen.  But that somebody might decide to do this to someone who doesn't know how to fight back or cannot do so.

Thursday, September 7, 2017

A disreputable sort

Today I ran to Pinkie Pie's school.  It is about a twenty minute walk but I sprinted most of the way in order to make a delivery - a lunch that was discovered in the kitchen five minutes after Pinkie Pie had already gone to school.  It was my fault as I had failed to put it in her backpack so off I ran to deliver it.  Children looked at me askance as I ran down the street, everyone's gaze flickering to my bare feet and then back to my face again.

Because of course I was running in bare feet.  Putting on socks would have taken time, and sandals are crap for running.

However, unbeknownst to me Pinkie Pie had taken an alternate route to school to meet a friend on the way and I got there far before she did.  I wasn't terribly surprised to find that I got there first so I sat on a bench in front of the school and waited.

And waited.

During my wait the traffic on the street in front of me came to a stop and a man on a motorcycle began questioning me.  He demanded to know why I was barefoot, and I answered that I am often barefoot.  Then he demanded to know why I was at the school.  He was clearly agitated, and at first I couldn't figure out what he was about, at least partly because our conversation was impeded by traffic noise and him wearing a helmet.

Soon though it became clear what his problem was - he was convinced I was some sort of pedophile.  Because a male, near children?  It couldn't be that I was delivering a lunch, or meeting a teacher, or making inquiries about my children.  No, it must be that I am a violent criminal deviant.

Now, of course he would have given a pass to a well dressed man.  Those types of people aren't to be suspected of things.  But to break the cultural norm against wearing shoes, that means you must be twisted and evil.  Perhaps even worse, you might be poor!

Before I had to make the choice between politely telling him the truth, giving him the finger, or telling him to bring the fucking noise, traffic began moving again and he decided that stopping the street completely to yell at a stranger on the sidewalk was not the thing to do and he sped off.  He hesitated though, clearly angry that he didn't have the time to interrogate me properly for the suspicious activity of sitting on a public bench while dressed in a way he wasn't used to.

Finally Pinkie Pie showed up about fifteen minutes later.  She was surprised to see me, but glad that the lunch had been delivered.

This kind of crap really grinds my gears.  I hate that people feel entitled to a position of authority on the basis of another person's presumed poverty, and the sexist bullshit of thinking that a male couldn't possibly have anything legitimate to do with a school twists it into something even worse.  I have encountered this before, particularly when I took Pinkie Pie to the park when she was small.  When she was playing away from me and our relationship wasn't clear I would often get death stares from people who clearly concluded that a male near children must have nefarious purposes.

I can't help but wonder how these interactions would have gone if I wasn't large and strong.  How bad might it be to add physical intimidation into the mix?  I at least have the advantage that even if people feel entitled to be assholes to me, they don't try to push me around with brute force.