Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Wily Wednesdays - Colored Pencil Still Life

I was recently chatting with my brother about one of his still life paintings, which featured a little R2-D2 unit, and it reminded me of the colored pencil still life I made in high school. Feeling a little nostalgic as I look at some of these objects, and I love that I still have that pendant. I wore the crap out of that thing when I was a young'un.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Wily Wednesdays - Beaded Jewelry

This week is another birthday installment of mid-week creativity. Kai's thick, black, stylized glasses have just been asking for a chain, so I finally decided to remedy the situation with a custom strand of beads. The black and sparkly white beads were intentional, as they match the color scheme of her glasses. Moonstone is a particular favorite of hers (and it's grown on me, too), so I added a few of those to complete the pattern. She also has an elegant black and white dress that I drew inspiration from, and I love the way they go together.

The office was covered in beading supplies when I was finished with the chain, so I didn't want to stop. I crafted a dragonfly necklace for Kai, and then a dyed-jade and hematite necklace for myself.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Obligatory Reading: The Ethical Slut

Book Review: The Ethical Slut: A Practical Guide to Polyamory, Open Relationships & Other Adventures, by Dossie Easton and Janet W. Hardy

At the very least, I would classify myself as a theoretical non-monogamist, so I guess I could only avoid reading this book for so long. In polyamory circles, I see it recommended more than any other text, so I felt obligated to finally borrow a copy from the library. My verdict is a half-hearted shrug.

There are good parts worth mentioning. Know yourself, love yourself, communicate, be honest, set boundaries, process jealousy, practice safer sex, shed prudish societal conventions that no longer work for you, etc., etc. – this is all great universal advice for living and relating to others. It provides you with a bird’s-eye view of a different way of thinking about relationships, and if you’ve never pondered any of these concepts for a moment, then maybe this is a decent appetizer to the world of non-monogamy. Mulling over jealousy and insecurity, in particular, are useful exercises for any person, from sluts to monogamists. But if you’re looking for real depth on the subject, or if you’re looking for an answer to a more specific question about polyamory, this isn’t the place to find it.

As pretty much everyone knows, The Ethical Slut is always peddled as the polyamory bible, and because of this, well, it’s got big shoes to fill, so I’m judging it harshly. In a nutshell: it lacks depth, and I don’t think it lives up to all the hype. Some might find the conversational, sometimes cutesy tone friendly and disarming, but I just found it annoying. I would have preferred something far more professional and less anecdotal.

Another aspect that bothered me is the focus on sex. Yes, it’s called The Ethical Slut, so I can’t blame it for going on about sexual exploration with multiple partners. But is it making a case for casual sex, or for polyamory? While the two can overlap, they aren’t necessarily synonymous. Perhaps I should be criticizing the cheerleaders of this book instead of the book itself, but it doesn’t seem like the best go-to manual for educating oneself on the complex nuances of maintaining multiple romantic relationships. Personally, while the idea of sex with several people can be a stressor, it doesn’t really top the list of things I find tricky to navigate when a relationship is opened up to more partners. I find insecurities develop around much more fundamental issues, of which sex is an offshoot.

Also, while the authors do acknowledge the many different ways people may choose to arrange and define their intimate relationships, I feel as though they only pay lip service to those who choose monogamy. It highlights a problem I have in general with many polyamorists, this self-righteous idea that non-monogamy is superior or more evolved than monogamy. It’s different, for sure, but not inherently better. And it absolutely presents some unique problems of its own. Given that we’re representing a minority alternative lifestyle, there’s an advocacy facet to consider when talking about polyamory, and if you treat it as something better, rather than something that is merely different but still acceptable, the arrogance alone is going to repel people. There are perfectly legitimate, healthy reasons to be monogamous, and I feel that needs to be acknowledged more. As a parallel, when I advocate for gay rights and equality (and I myself am queer as the rainbow), I don’t make the mistake of stating that homosexuality is better than heterosexuality (tempting though it may be since I personally feel that way). That’s just my experience, because that’s what works for me. I just worry when I see popular texts like this treating a lifestyle as superior, rather than a different but equal choice, that we kind of set ourselves back. In fact, it makes me not want to identify with this group.

Okay, fine, I guess you could say I’m nitpicking. It’s not a bad book, it does have practical, generic advice, but the end result is that I’m looking elsewhere for a text that does non-monogamy justice.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Wily Wednesdays - Bread Llama for Lammas

Since it is Lammas today, I think a pagan entry is appropriate. Kai's groaning at my play on words, but I couldn't resist. I don't often do bread sculpting, so this turned out nothing like a llama, but you get the idea. Kai's bread man is on the left.