alt.polycon Saturday Late Afternoon and Early Evening
(October 13, 1996)
Next came the "Putting Together a Poly Household" panel featuring Lynn Litterer and Betsy Lundsten, which was particularly good. Among the level-headed suggestions was to set up a new house together, instead of moving into one person's current space or having one person do all the set-up work. Other ideas were to be clear about whether one's disagreements are based on a roommate issue or a relationship issue, and to make a list about what's important to everybody (rough categories might be cleaning, money, meals/food, and maintenance). Another topic was whether to pay for the housework people do – or possibly pay somebody outside to do it. One final piece of advice was to think about having a "relationship bank," which would function somewhat like an informal credit union with folks "borrowing" or "investing" money and/or time. My own experience with a similar system failed miserably, but it seemed to be working well for many others.
Then came the "Commitment Agreements and Ceremonies" panel with Aahz, Elise, and Iain O'Cain. Perhaps the best advice from this panel was to have folks re-commit to their agreements every so often, taking into account where they've been, where they want to go, and what they've accomplished so far. This sounded a lot like John Lennon's song "Happy Xmas (War Is Over), which I listen to every holiday season. It also helps avoid the "squeaky-wheel poly" relationship nets, which can form when one assumes there's not a problem until it's been spoken of – and which can result in the most talkative member getting the most attention, even if they need it the least of all. I was also struck with Elise's mention that her wedding vows included "in appreciation and annoyance." Other useful ideas were to always remember that you are loved by the other person(s) you're involved with, and to appreciate the positive in the other relationships which your loves have.
Debbie and I had planned to have dinner together during the next panel, which was "alt.polyamory: The Future of the Newsgroup." She had also hoped to dine with Natalie, , but Natalie had previously set up other dinner plans so I had Debbie all to myself for a couple of hours. This is always enjoyable: Debbie's one of the smartest, most politically-savvy people I know. We also share an abiding commitment to both personal and political transformation, while having the kinds of very different life experiences that make for mutually challenging and enlightening chats. I was especially interested in hearing her views on a Malcolm X activist training center I had been developing here in Seattle to help folks coming off drugs get hooked up with non-profit work, so that's where we started. I believe part of Malcolm's effectiveness was his experiences as a former user – and that the larger community would be served by treating ex-users as potential Malcolm Xes and providing them with opportunities to become so. Debbie said I had a lot of good ideas, and we talked awhile about activism and getting things done. We then moved on to classism (a favorite topic of ours: Debbie pointed out at Wiscon that I'm a "class traitor" as a child of privilege who's eschewed most of the advantages I could take over others, – in part because I was adopted out of a poor family – and she calls herself a member of the "owning class"). This led to the dysfunctionality which comes from being poor, and the craziness inherent to all dysfunction. We also talked about my then-recent realization that I'm an anarchist – years after most everybody who knows me already figured it out. She pointed out that my anarchism comes from my guts rather than my brain, and we went on another intriguing tangent about the consequences of developing a moral base from scratch.
We then walked back to the hotel, where I suddenly realized that I'd been so caught up in our talk that I'd forgotten my program book at the restaurant, so I ran all the way back there to retrieve it.
Go to Part 9: alt.polycon: Saturday Night
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