Polyamorous Fairytales Are the Best Fairytales

A very clever writer named Natalie Zina Walschots is putting together a collection of Polyamorous Fairytales that I’m pretty stoked about, and selfishly I’d like you to help support that project so that I can read them (because happy poly fairies are awesome).

The project is in the pre-Kickstarter stage at the moment, with a super-cool Christmas sweater (and t-shirt… and sweatshirt) fundraiser. Now’s your chance to buy one of these original-design shirts (which feature four different triple-stag poly-friendly motifs) and get in with the cool kids.



Visit the Hearts On Our Sleeve page at Teespring to see all the designs, styles and prices. But do it fast! They’re only available for a limited time.

Here’s a how Natalie describes the project: “Everyone is looking for their fairytale ending, and everyone’s perfect happily-ever-after is beautifully, gloriously different. Love is big and strange, plentiful and ever-changing. It unlocks new rooms in our hearts–rooms we had no idea were waiting. Fairytales are similarly strange narratives, full of peril and transformation, and it’s no wonder we turn to them as the template for our own love stories. More than anything else, fairytales have been my guide through my own arduous quests, monstrous riddles, and magic spells to be broken.

But fairytales, for all their curiosity and subversiveness, still often end with a neat pair: a prince and a princess, a queen and a king. A rescue and a marriage and a tidy coupling. However, there are so many kinds of happy endings, so many love stories, that end in other wonderful configurations. Princesses who walk off hand in hand instead of competing for the prince. Companies of knights who lovingly adventure together for the rest of their days. Magicians and nymphs who love liminal space snap moving between them. Witches with wonderful friends who shoo away all their suitors and are thrilled on their own. Kings and queens who delightedly look forward to the occasional visit from the dashing duke two kingdoms over. There aren’t enough of those stories in the world.”

For more info about the project you can visit the Facebook page.


Good and Evil

mother gooseNo formal blog post today — I’m a mom and I get the weekend off for Mother’s Day (since my boss – me – says so). But I do have a kind of neat photo essay I created over at Medium.com to share, entitled:  In the Eye of the Beholder: Good and Evil.  It’s the first of my experiments with the format; although I hope to do more.

Have a great weekend!


Going to Extremes

I am an addict.

Managing my addictions is not quite as simple as managing my ‘drug of choice.’  I can turn anything into an addiction.  Drugs and alcohol?  Certainly.  Been there, done various kinds of that.  But I can turn anything into a drug.

It’s not an intentional thing, but I am vulnerable.  I am blessed with a genetic pre-disposition for both addiction and mania.  And even when I try to manage the known enemies — when I try to avoid excesses of drugs, alcohol, coffee, sugar — my brain has a way of filling that void.  Of turning interest into obsession.

Anything to turn up the charge.

I am never clear on whether it is the mania that grows from the obsession, or whether obsession breeds mania.  I only know that the second I become immersed in a thing and once it captures my undivided attention, there is no turning back.  I become consumed.  I cannot pace myself.  I can’t not do it.  Time away from that thing is an irritation and makes me anxious.

I do it with people.  I do it with activities and projects.  Until the inevitable day that I crash and burn.

Some of these episodes are short-lived, like the time I pulled an all-nighter in my early 20s determined to build a scale model of my boyfriend’s motorcycle for his birthday.

Others can go on for months:  What started out as a half-hour on my exercise bike a few times a week rapidly became spinning for 5 or 6 hours a night, anorexia and a 30-lb weight loss in the space of a few months.  And then there was the time I renovated a rental house from top to bottom, including ripping out all the carpets, tearing down wallpaper, refinishing the floors and ripping out the kitchen cupboards.  I was also rescuing, (hoarding) and refinishing furniture at the same time as part of what I imagined to be my way of making the world more beautiful and solving the landfill crisis.

I have done this with people too, and it’s one of the things that keeps me from forming close friendships.  Whether romantic or platonic, when that rush of adrenaline starts, I am prone to go to extremes.  I struggle to hold back my feelings.  I have made mix tapes, sent flowers, bought gifts and written long elaborate letters.  In my overzealous determination to get to know everything about the other person and drink them in, I can be (I imagine) quite intimidating.

And so I have to take care.  I have to take care not to take notice.  Not to over-examine.  I struggle to remain casual about things.  Not to check my weight on the scale.  To move, but not to exercise.  To be crap at housecleaning.  To let people take the lead in relationships.  To not keep lists.  Because focus becomes hyper-focus and it tips the scales into obsession and mania.  And mania can kill.


There is always a but.

Writing is an obsession.  And it’s when it becomes obsession that I get results.  Where I suddenly have drive.

I don’t know how to resolve those two things.  

I know that mania is unhealthy.  I know that obsession breeds mania.  But the high that comes from writing is what keeps me going.  Writing gets me high.  Writing is the high.

And it’s more than that.  Writing at this point is both necessary and inevitable.  I have been writing for decades even when I wasn’t writing.  Even when I resisted putting my thoughts down on paper out of fear and some misguided deference to my journalist father, the words were still writing themselves in my head.

The obsession was still there.  It didn’t disappear or waver.  I wasn’t controlling anything by locking it inside.  The dam had to burst sometime.

So now I write, and play a dangerous (and dangerously satisfying) game of control — letting the stories out one-by-one, controlling the rate of flow, so none of us drown.


This is My Story, Not My History

There is a huge difference between a memoir and a biography.  It’s not that I don’t care if my recollections are accurate — I do.  But a memoir isn’t about facts.  It’s about impressions and personal experience.  I can understand why biographies appeal to historians and genealogists:  their focus is on dates and where a person fits into history.  Memoirs just serve a different purpose.  Memoirs are about storytelling.

reena7 - Version 2When I write about my personal experiences, I do so honestly and earnestly, but with limitations.  These are the things I remember.  That’s not quite the same thing as reality.  It’s close, but it’s coloured by my perceptions.  There are pieces of the puzzle I don’t have.  I make certain assumptions about the motivations of the other players in my story, but there is limit to my insight.  If you ask my siblings about their recollections, I’m sure they have very different memories.  And the simplest explanation that I have for this is that they are not me, and I am not them.

I would also be foolish to deny that my mental illness has fundamentally impacted my perception of events in my life.  But it is conversely true that events in my life have impacted and moulded my mental illness.  They are tied up in one another and I cannot pry them apart.

But my intent is never malicious.  I strive for honesty of emotion.  This is my story and these are my feelings.  They don’t necessarily have to be fair, but they are real.  How I felt back then and how the past has impacted my present — that’s real.  Even if I get it wrong.  Because even if I strive for it, objective reality is pretty difficult to glean, especially if the other players in your history aren’t forthcoming.

As an example, I give you the (true) story of the pillowcase:

I once described to my mother how, as a child, I would lie awake at night for hours, unable to sleep.  My entire body would feel electrified and I would visualize repeating patterns of light behind my closed eyes, turning in spirals over and over.  (I’ve had bouts of this during my hypomanic phases of insomnia, so I realize now this was probably a precursor.)

She said, “That reminds me of your father.  Right after you were born, I remember I would sometimes wake up to find him staring at the pattern on the pillowcase.”

An innocuous statement.

Fast forward to several years later and my father, in an off-hand comment, said “There were times when I was sleeping around so much that when I woke up, I had to check the pillowcase to remind myself whose bed I was in.”


The first person (my mother) doesn’t have all the information.  Her recollection is mostly subjective.  The second person (my father) knows the missing information.  You could argue that his recollection is objective.  But the meat of the story is the third person:  me.  The child in the middle.  The one who now has to carry this guilty knowledge.

That a thing happened to a person is simply history.

What it does to them and how it shapes them — that is storytelling.