Minneapolis and alt.polycon on Friday
(October 12, 1996)
Friday morning, I saw Victor and Lynn off to their community organizing and college courses (respectively), talked with Steve, and returned to Malcolm X's Autobiography before Victor came back at about 2 in the afternoon. He then drove me around to show off the city and talked about life in an area where people are so righteously normal that the local paper has a comic strip called "It's A Normal Life" – a title encouraging fear rather than humor in me. We also went to a used record store, where he got a spoken word LP by J.R.R. Tolkien and I happily bought a live LP by Ian Dury and the Blockheads, an early LP by Leonard Cohen, and the first solo LP by Martha Davis (The Motels' singer) for my 16-foot vinyl shrine. I love music but never buy CDs – I prefer the LP sound.
And then we went to alt.polycon, where I hung out in the nonsmoking consuite and began decorating my badge with stickers. I really like doing this a lot, and it's become so much a part of the Friday night entertainment at Potlatch that we advertise it in our Progress Reports. However, it was even more fun at alt.polycon because some bright person decided to use the different stickers to indicate something about the attendee rather than have them be "just" an artistic expression. By the time that I got there, the rainbow of hearts had already been coded, so I put a purple heart on my badge for queers and a blue heart for folks looking for new loves – even though I was mostly there for intellectual stimulation rather than physical gratification. However, several other stickers were still undefined, so I put sailing-ships on my badge and the decoding sheet, where I wrote "Loves in Many Cities." By the end of the con, I had also put a peach in both places for "Still Going out with My High School Girlfriend" (Jerri). Ultimately, my badge also had a propeller beanie for SF fans, a witch cap for pagans, a blue moon for intentional community theorists, and a question mark for psychological geeks – along with a quotation box and a yin/yang that I've forgotten how to decode.
I went out to dinner with the dinner group that I'd been assigned to, and had a great dinner conversation. I don't remember most of my companions' names, but Holly Wilper's laminated nametag with her name highlighted and different connecting lines to show the various relationships to other folks in the polyamorous household she lived in was very impressive. I've been trying to cure myself of name-amnesia for awhile now with limited success; next time I'll know to take notes.
And then we made our way back to Friday night's panels. The first of these, "Advanced Polyamory: A Review of the Basics," was led by Elise (the con chair) and Debbie (half of the programming department). One of the funnier moments was when Elise said "If I go slow, I make smaller mistakes," and someone asked why she was online with GoFast.Net, to much laughter. A bit later, when talking about the fact that her different needs could be met by different people, she said "by not expecting everybody to be a saint, I can better appreciate the saintliness of others." For her part, Debbie talked about the challenges and opportunities of polyamory for people with a commitment to ongoing personal growth and development. The second (and last) Friday night panel was "How We Solved It," led by Aahz, Stef Jones, Jennie D-O'C (the other half of the programming department), and Iain O'Cain. Aahz spoke about his decision to stop having other lovers while building a relationship with his partner. Stef spoke movingly about reconciling her desire to socialize as a couple with her partner's desire to socialize as an individual; I liked seeing the other side of that issue. Jennie and Iain spoke about their formation of a "V" with her at it's apex, and some of the social consequences they faced as a result. At some point, everybody there went around the circle to say what we liked about polyamory; I talked about the love behind my peach sticker.
Go to Part 7: alt.polycon: Saturday Morning and Early Afternoon
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