I’ve been in Seattle for just over a week now, but it already feels like much longer. Choosing to arrive so close to SEAF weekend may not have been the wisest choice, but I did want to make it to the Festival.
Speaking of which, it’s been great to see all the artwork there, and I’ve already bought a few things from the Festival Store. Good thing I still have website clients to support my time in Seattle this summer! I foresee a much lighter wallet in the near future.
One wood sculpture I spotted and fell instantly in love with: $1400. *Sigh*
Otherwise, I’m settling into this new/familiar city rather quickly. I’m finally more or less unpacked and exploring more of Seattle on my own. It is SO nice to have my car with me!
Will try to update here more, and I also should post updates about my pending webcomic soon.
So much to do…
While getting brunch with the Programmer this morning, I talked with him quite a bit about my spending the summer in Seattle. The conversation inevitably turned to the topic of poly management. The Programmer mentioned something that has made me realize what might be holding me back from fully accepting poly in my own life.
He told me that he views his poly group as a family, and that he sees his partners’ partners as akin to his own partners. In this framework, it’s pretty obvious to each member that it’s not a zero-sum game, and everyone wants everyone else to succeed.
Everyone wants everyone else to succeed in a family? The concept was difficult for me to grasp at first. How is that intrinsic to being a member of a family?
Enter in my own familial experience.
Not only did I spend most of my childhood either in school or under minimal supervision at home – and thus I believe never bonding very strongly with my immediate family members – I’ve never really been close to anyone in my family for most of my life. I had no interest in participating in the ‘family time’ my mother continually attempted to implement, and I was often happier going off on my own, whether it was hiking in the woods or working on school projects.
So, then. What does family actually mean to me? I hear the word, and its meaning (aided by indoctrination through popular media) and my personal association are at complete odds. I don’t think of community, closeness, or support network. I think of obligation, filial piety, and tradition.
Usually, it feels like a necessary evil.
I think of growing up being constantly compared, academically and physically, against my cousins and against my parents’ own accomplishments. How can I think of family as anything other than a zero-sum game against that kind of background? I think of my mother’s recent trip to Taiwan for a family reunion, and all of the married nieces and nephews with their children that will remind her so starkly of my lack of pursuit of a family of my own.
Perhaps, if I had a better idea of how to find or build the kind of community I want and create new, positive associations to this word, family, I’d be better equipped to fully accept polyamory.
Whoops! How quickly the time passes. Already it’s May, and I am once again in the throes of travel preparation. In a little less than two weeks, I’ll be heading to Shibaricon, which I attended once before in 2010. This time, however, I’ll be staying with Max.
That marks somewhat of a ‘first’ in our relationship, as we’ve never attended a conference this way. When we attended Shibaricon in 2010, we had separate rooms and pre-arranged playdates, though we certainly saw a lot more of each other than I had expected or, indeed, had hoped. So it’s exciting to have progressed further – though this was made possible, of course, by the fact that none of Max’s other partners are planning to go themselves.
Given that the only other event I’ve attended in this capacity with Max was at Folsom Fringe during our very first extended encounter in 2009, it’ll be interesting to explore just how much has changed in three years.
The other big news in my life is that I’m planning a three-month-long summer sojourn in Seattle after Shibaricon (hello alliteration!). I’ve been thinking about doing this since the winter, and I finally committed to it last week by finding a room to rent and subletting out my SF room. So yeah, that’s a big deal.
Amidst the preparation for all of that excitement, I’ve also been drawing more and taking more photographs – even submitting some of my work to a few shows and galleries. I got a few images accepted for the SEAF store, and I’m excited to attend this year to see all of the artwork they’ve picked out for the festival.
My biggest personal project is a kinky webcomic that I’ve been planning for – well, it’s lived in my brain since the latter half of my college years. I even drew a few test strips to get a feel for working in that format, but it’s been a long time since I’ve attempted any more. This time, I’ve got more experience and content to draw from (literally!), and I’m pretty excited about making this a reality!
So, bear with me as I more or less abandon this space in favor of a more visual medium. And, if you’d like to be kept abreast of the webcomic’s progress, including where it will appear once I start publishing it, feel free to send me a note! My contact email can be found in the sidebar under the RSS feed icon.
I’ll keep the archives up for now. Who knows, I may become inspired to write more now that I’ve started drawing more as well!
I was 7, perhaps, or 8. Maybe older; time has faded some of the relevant facts, but others stand out the starker in comparison. My mother is sitting at our dining table, and it is late at night. She’s just come home, and others are seated around her: an aunt, and my father.
I’ve only passed through the dining room on my way to my bedroom. My aunt turns to me from where she has been listening to my mother talk of her night, and asks me, in Chinese, “Aren’t you worried? Your mother was just in a car accident!”
I shrug, keep walking. The shrug is more out of shyness and discomfort than anything else. Behind me, I hear my mother tell my aunt, also in Chinese, “See, she doesn’t care! She doesn’t care what happens to me.”
I kept walking, not looking back, and closed my bedroom door behind me.
I’ve never talked to my mother of that night, but it continues to come back to me at random moments, like tonight. You see, what I never told my mother, my aunt, or my father, was that I did not know the Chinese phrase for “car accident.”
I thought that my aunt had told me that my mother had been in heavy traffic. In my mind, that explained why she’d gotten home so late, and so I summarily dismissed the matter from my mind.
There are many things one might draw from this memory. I’ve gone through them all. But, tonight, I just wanted to record it here. A small scrap of a memory, but significant all the same.
(I’ve been sitting on this story for days, wondering if I should attempt to finish it before posting. I think I’ll try submitting this in parts. It’s getting pretty long, anyway. Also, this is one of two stories I’ve started writing, based partially on a comment Max made to me while I was home for the holidays. I’d taken a few pictures of our wooded backyard to show him, and he’d noted how deep the woods ran…)
I stopped and leaned heavily against a tree, trying to catch my breath. My throat was dry from breathing in the cold, crisp winter air, and from striding quickly up and down rocky wooded hillsides for an hour.
An hour. I swallowed the threat of panic that the thought brought with it. Instead, I straightened up and took stock of my surroundings, peering around for any familiar landmarks.
Trees. Trees, rocks, and more trees. Everything painted in the same dreary greys and browns of New England winter. For the hundredth time, I cursed aloud to myself for letting my mind wander as I hiked through the woods – childhood woods that I’d practically grown up in. I’d come out of my reverie to see, with shock, how low the sun was, and had promptly turned around, thinking I’d be back at the house well before sunset.
It was only after walking for half an hour that I’d grown anxious. Surely I hadn’t wandered this far into the woods? Perhaps just over this next hill…
But no. After I had crested that hill, only more woods came into view. That was when I’d become truly worried. I had agreed to housesit for my mother while she was out of town, grateful for a brief respite from the city grind. I’d come to appreciate the stillness that living in a small rural town offered after moving to San Francisco. Why not give myself a little vacation after having worked steadily these past two years?
To think that I’d get lost behind the woods of my mother’s house on the second day of my vacation. There wasn’t even anyone waiting for my return, nor to come looking for me after realizing I’d been gone too long. I sighed loudly, cursing again. I had stopped checking my phone for a signal half an hour ago, opting instead to turn it off to preserve its battery. In the twenty-odd years that my mother had lived here, the cell phone signal in our area had never changed. That is to say, there never was one.
The quiet stillness that I’d been so looking forward to took on a more malignant air here, where I couldn’t even hear any birdsong. I started walking again, trying to ignore the fact that the air was growing chillier as the sun sank lower in the sky.
I aimed for elevation, thinking – hoping – that if I got high enough above the treeline, I could at least spot a road or rooftop. The terrain was rocky and, despite there being no snow, the leaf layer was slippery underfoot. As I climbed up towards a rocky outcrop, I could feel my calf muscles straining. I reached the top of the crag and sat down to rest.
The landscape remained unchanged; a sea of grey, leafless branches stretching out to infinity. I could feel the panic welling up in my throat, harder to swallow back this time. I felt like screaming, if only to give voice to all that panic and anxiety. I bit my lip to stop myself. I couldn’t lose it, not now.
Where the hell was I? Curse these damnable woods!
I nearly jumped out of my skin at the sound of another human voice. I’d been so distracted and distraught, I hadn’t noticed the footsteps behind me. I spun around.
Standing a few feet away from me, a slim hiking stick resting in one hand, was a man in a faded leather jacket. A small hiker’s backpack rested on his shoulders, and the other hand held lightly onto one strap. A short beard framed his face. I was still sitting and found myself having to look up at him. His brow was furrowed, and as I scrambled to my feet, he asked, “Are you hurt?”
His voice was gruff and low, and, if I had not felt such relief at being found by someone, I might have noticed an edge to his words. I shook my head.
“No, but I think I’ve gotten a little turned around. Thank goodness you found me! Could you point me back to the main road?”
“Of course. If you just head that way, you’ll find an old logging road about a fifteen minute’s hike away – ” He gestured off to my right with his hiking stick, and I turned to follow the direction he was pointing in.
The stick caught me in the ear. My head jerked back – in surprise more than pain, – and I stumbled. Before I could fully register what was happening, I felt a hand grab my wrist and pull it sharply up behind my back. My shoulder screamed, I arched my back, and I buckled as he put weight against the arm.
I landed jarringly on my knees. The man gave a short, sharp push of my caught arm, and I fell the rest of the way, my face landing in a pile of leaves and dirt. His knee dug into the small of my back, pinning me down against the forest floor. My brain finally caught up to the danger I was in, and I screamed as loudly as I could.
My ears rang. Any attempt to struggle made my shoulder seize in pain. His grip around my wrist was vice-like, and I heard myself pleading with him as he twisted my other arm to my back.
“Why are you – ? Please, no – please don’t hurt me… What do you want?”
His only response was to dig his fingers into my hair and pull my head back. I felt the cold air brush against my exposed throat and shuddered. He did not say a word, did not try to stop my screaming. Instead, he was tying something around my hair in a rough, tight ponytail. Then I felt the same material being wrapped tightly around my wrists. It felt like twine, a thin length digging painfully into my skin.
I whimpered. The cold sharpened the pain in my shoulder and the added pain from whatever bound my wrists to my hair.
With a final, cruel tug, he finished binding my wrists, and I finally felt him take his weight off the knee in my back. He ran his hands down the sides of my waist, then hooked two fingers through the belt loops of my jeans and pulled.
This renewed my attempts to struggle, and I twisted my hips wildly and kicked out, trying to dislodge his hands. His knee came down hard again, knocking the wind out of me. He leaned over my body until I could feel the bristles of his beard brushing against my cheek. I felt his breath warm my skin as he finally spoke again.
“Scream and struggle all you want, girl. There’s no one around us for miles. There is no logging road.”
My whole body convulsed as the weight of his words sank in. I shivered, feeling his hands return to my waist. The cold air hit my hips and ass as he slid the jeans off.