Monday, August 26, 2013

A Defense of the Primary/Secondary Model: In Which I Finally Bang Patrick Monahan

The titles "primary" and "secondary" for partners is not reflective of their importance, the depth of the relationship, or simply, who comes first when shit hits the fan. Primary and secondary refer to the investment partners have made with each other. In other words, how much their individual lives are entangled with each other. There are many ways partners can invest in each other.

The most obvious (because it usually happens first) is friendship. Friends look out for you. Tell you the truth when you need to hear it. Listen to you when everything goes wrong. And won't think any less of you because of any of this. Friendship, even though basic and foundational, should not be overlooked. Partners who are solid friends can last through emotional tsunamis. Friends, the ones who are worth while anyway, will put you ahead of themselves when you really need it. They make no requirements other than honesty and decency (sometimes not even that), and they make little or no demands on your time, affections, loyalty, (other non-demands).

Romance is another basic entanglement that most partners share with each other. This is where shit gets emotional. Cause somehow it's just way more hurtful if your partner cancels a date, than if your friend does (the reason is irrelevant). Emotional attachment means, among other things, that you care about what this person thinks about you. If a friend doesn't like my new haircut, well, screw them. They'll get over it. But if my romantic partner doesn't like it ... later, you'll find me at the wig shop.

Sex gets way more face time than it should. For some, like me, there is no experiential difference between sex and romance. But I know for others (maybe most), sex is the only reason to bother with any of the other components of relationships. Thus, I have given "sex" it's own distinction. There's nothing wrong with sex-only relationships when it's mutual. However, when looking for something more, it's best to keep in mind that sex is only one way of relating. Over-emphasizing sex in a relationships, or placing a higher value on sex-only relationships could get you to a place where you don't want to be. Then again, maybe you do.

Finance. First comes love, then comes marriage ... I am not saying that love has to lead to marriage, or should. But marriage is one way that partners become financially entangled. You buy a house, share a bank account, provide health care, are legally considered next-of-kin. This is way more serious than friendship, romance, sex or even all combined. If you want to be rid of a friend (they're seriously crampin' your style), you can stonewall communications, and the relationship is over. If you decide your romantic partner is too co-dependent, you can break up with them. But, once you entangle your finances with a partner or multiple partners, it's gonna take a lot more than a phone call to break things up. It also means there is more to consider when ending the relationship. Can you support yourself? Are you in desperate need of the health care provided by your partner's job? Is there somewhere else for you to live? This level of entanglement can be a stronger bond depending on how interdependent you and your partner(s) are financially. Then again, it may play only very minor roll, and be very easy to break off because everyone's rollin' in the dough. For others though, it could be a life-changing decision.

Parenting is probably the most obvious of relationship entanglements. And the hardest to draw clear boundary lines for. Whether a relationship between parents is on or off, they will have to find a way to communicate. A relationship that involves parenting is never really over, even if you break up and move on, chances are communication between exes will still take place. In my opinion, parenting is the most important relationship area when it comes to getting it right, as success or failure effects more than just the happiness of the partners. I would never say that nontraditional arrangements can't or shouldn't work. But clear communication is needed about responsibilities, expectation and intent of the level of involvement.There may be occasions when a partner's parental responsibilities may not be demanding, but overall, this can be the deepest entanglement for most partners.

Business. And of course when partners are involved in some kind of business together, this can have an impact on their overall attachment to each other. It could also be a sub-group of finance, as business is often tied to livelihood.

Partners can share any one or more of these entanglements. And there are numerous combinations. (Can someone else do the math on that please?) The more two partners are entangled, the more important that relationship is to the individuals. An individual may choose to use the words primary/secondary or not, but regardless of the label, they will still make choices based on this model.

There is no "right" way to have a relationship. What I love about poly is the freedom to let each relationship be what it wants to be without trying to force a cultural model upon it. Friends can be deeply financially entangled, but not romantically involved. Married partners may live separately, and be financially independent of each other, but have a deep romantic relationship. Any relationship may have all the mentioned entanglements, or only one. (None, of course, would mean no relationship.) And as time moves along, relationships may change, adding or dropping entanglements according to the wishes or circumstances of each partner.

The depth and number attachments a relationship has will designate partners as primary or secondary. Meaning, when decisions have to be made (relocation, change of job, birth of a child, whom to marry/divorce, metamores not getting along, etc.), primary relationships will take precedence. This doesn't mean that the other relationships are less important or have less depth. It means that the dynamics of the individual's self-designated primary relationship are more important to that individual's life goals.

Time For an Example and a Whole Lot of Sex

In my model of a completely realistic poly family (see diagram), I am partnered with Brad, Patrick, and Ryan. My relationship with Brad includes friendship, romance, and finance, and a shared dwelling, but (glaringly) lacks sex. (Wait ... who made this damn model anyway? We need to fix that! Stat!) Anywho, Pat is my go-to guy for sex. And with Ryan, I share hot hot sex, steamy romance, and business (we make movies together, yeah that's how I roll). Now, we all know how complicated poly families can get, so for the sake of making a point, without spiraling helplessly out of control, I made this family simple. You can assume Pat and Ryan are both banging other hot movie stars, but they don't affect my point.

When things are peachy, relationships are easy. Brad doesn't mind how many nights I spend on set with Ryan in exotic locales, mostly because he's got Angie and Scarlet on call. Of course Pat's out on tour over the summer, but usually home November-March, and we spend our time together then. See, one big happy poly family. (God, I love my life!)

Now, let's add the secret ingredient: life! This is where shit gets complicated. Angie decides it's time to move. She's got a new lover 5 hours away. This means Brad won't get to see their mutual children very often. He has a few choices. He could move too. But, of course, this would affect me. Do I want to move? If I move, I won't see Pat as much when he's home during the summer. Unless, of course he wants to come stay with me during the summer. But Brad and Pat don't get along that well. (Country vs. Pop music, or something).

Brad has got to make a choice. Which relationship is primary to him (over the other)? And let's not forget poor Scarlet. She needs love--er ... I mean, Brad, too. In this scenario, Brad has to determine the depth and importance of his connections with each of his partners. Perhaps he is hoping the sex-only with Scarlet will eventually develop into something more, so this is his primary concern. Or maybe, being a parent is what he considers the most important thing in his life.

If Brad does decide to move, it won't affect our financial relationship much, seeing as how my last movie was a box office hit. But it would hamper our friendship/romantic relationship. Now I've got to determine which relationship is primary to me. To do so, I need to evaluate the depth and importance of each relationship and what moving will mean for each of those. Will I lose a good chunk of time with Pat? Will I be unable to make more movies with Ryan (unlikely)? Brad and I have been friends for a very long time, and this might be the most important relationship. Am I willing to let the others suffer to keep this relationship fully intact?

The label primary/secondary isn't important. However, understanding that all relationships have different levels of involvement is. It is foolish to think that all relationships are equal to each other. Life will demand that you shake things up every now and again. Understanding the degree of entanglements of your partners' other relationships will save you much heartache.

If Brad decides to move closer to Angie, for example, and I choose to stay closer to Ryan and Pat, I know this does not mean "he likes her better than me" or that she is "primary" and I am "secondary". I understand that being a father is important to Brad, and this is what really makes him happy, so this is his primary concern for the time being. I support his decision. Brad, in turn, recognizes that my other relationships have a stronger hold on me at this time in my life, they are my primary concern, and that my decision to stay in no way means that I love him less or love them more.

Let me explain ... No, there is too much. Let me sum up ... Using labels like primary/secondary, can save your partners a lot of heartache by letting them know where your desires/life goals lay at any one point in your relationship. The distinctions of friendship, romance, sex, etc. are arbitrary. I used the most common attachments between partners merely as examples to make a point. The bonds that partners can have with each other can only be defined by those individuals. You may not choose to use the words primary/secondary. But communicating how and why particular relationships may take precedence over others will go along way to keeping everyone on the same page when life happens. The labels are not important, but communication is essential.

Monday, August 19, 2013

Who Am I?: Major Depressive Disorder and Identity

Major Depressive Disorder is the result of brain functioning which produces (or fails to produce) sufficient chemicals. It is a disorder I have struggled with all my life. At some point I should probably post an entry detailing my particular journey through personal madness. But for now, it suffices to say that I cannot remember a time when I did not view the world through an angry grey lens. As a child, I assumed everyone experienced the world the way I did. And at 17, I was (voluntarily) admitted to the nut house and began the long road to recovery.

Of course you never really "recover" from your brain's faulty chemistry. But neither does choking down a lottery of medical cocktails solve all your problems. I had to do some of the work too. And that's what I want to address today. Who is this "I"? 

Thanks to (being dragged kicking and screaming* to) read Richard Carrier's Sense and Goodness Without God, I have been better able to clarify just what it is that I believe makes up the "self". The "self", or the individual, is composed of a unique set of desires, thoughts, decisions, values, abilities, and all of those are (directly or indirectly) the result of the brain's functioning. 

What this means is that, when it comes to depression or moodiness, my brain fails to function like most other brains. So I say to myself, "Self, how can this be you? How can you be a person who loathes yourself? Are you really this person who unfairly compares yourself to others? Finding faults in others to feel better about yourself? Being angry with anyone who is 'prettier', 'smarter', or 'more successful'?" I mean, is this who I am?

Truth is, I like to think of "myself" as the person I am when my cocktail has supplied me with the necessary chemicals. I'm thoughtful, confident, and gracious. I help others to the best of my ability. And I find I have unlimited stores of patience with myself and others.

When I'm feeling poorly, I'm self conscious around people whom I don't trust not to judge me, who might think, 'Well, that's just who she is, negative, argumentative, and lazy." But I don't really see myself as "that" person. I prefer to assign those attributes to the disorder. I aspire to keep my dark side from interfering with my behavior and relationships. The depressed person is not really me. I am this other person who is happy, and compassionate, and patient and generous.

But this, of course, isn't true. I am that depressed person. That person is me. As much as I don't like it. 

One funny thing about medication (which they don't tell you about initially) is that it doesn't last forever. By that I mean, your body builds up a tolerance to it. This is true of all medications (as far as I know) not just antidepressants or psychiatric medications. So, it came to pass, on the eighth year of my second brand of happiness-in-a-pill, that my mood, energy, empathy, and ability to feel pleasure plummeted. It was time for a new med.

Changing medications which alter one's mood is a bit like playing Russian Roulette. The effects could be minimal, the switch could be easy. And the first time I changed meds, this was my experience. However, back to reality, this time around it has been a bit more difficult. Among other unpleasant side effects, I have noticed a sudden inability to tolerate criticism in any form. (A quality whose reverse--the ability to accept and effectively utilize criticism--I take great pride in, when I'm feeling "myself".)

A stranger passes me on the street, I smile as I normally would, he looks away, a neutral expression, no smile. And my thoughts run rampant. It's like opening the Pamplona bull gate! I start jumping to all kinds of conclusions that I know aren't true, and running for my life before one of those bulls gores me. He hates me. I'm ugly. I'm worthless. Everyone hates me. There's no point to living. I am pitifully out numbered.

Thankfully, years of meditation and Cognitive Behavioral Therapy have enabled me to nab these thoughts right out of the gate, wrestle them to the ground and strangle them outright. (That's right, bull fighting, baby!) But that can't stop the emotions and tears that inevitably follow.

TheLordofDarkness and I have been fighting more often than usual during this Great Transition, and, I suspect, in large part because of it. Every problem he tries to express to me I hear as criticism, and it's all I can do to keep those pesky, terrifying thoughts at bay. I have no energy or mental aptitude left to address the actual problem. Is this who I really am?

The answer is "yes" (as discussed above), but that is not all. I am also the person who decides I don't want to be this way. I am the person who tackles the terrible thoughts, and refuses to let them control my behavior. I am the person who calls the doctor and I am the person who has the courage to say, "No, I am not okay. I need a change. I need some help." This is me too. 

Don't get me wrong, the most terrifying experience a person can have is when her own brain is trying to kill itself. When the self is trying to kill the self. Suicide is a alluring and deceptive mistress. Yep, this is still me. But not all of me. Because, while I have one voice that says suicide is easier than dealing with pain, there is another voice telling me that it doesn't have to be painful, and I can make it through, and I should ask for help. And I can always make the choice. Ultimately, this defines who I am: my choices.

*Have we not yet created a tongue-in-cheek font? I'd use it here if there was one. Can someone please get on that?!

As a personal side note, you may be sick of reading mental health stories like mine and roll your eyes at things like what I'm about to say. And if that is the case, feel free to stop reading. I give you a free pass. For everyone else, if you suspect you or someone you care about is suffering from a mental illness, PLEASE ASK FOR HELP! Do not let anyone tell you how you are feeling or what you need, except a mental health professional. The worst that can happen is that you suffer a small amount of embarrassment being told there is nothing really wrong with you. If you do have a mental disorder and you choose not to seek help, the best you can ever hope for is a miserable, unhappy life. The worst, is no life at all.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

My Experience at Zen Retreat

 This past weekend I had the opportunity to attend my first Zen retreat. I say, opportunity, because when you're a full-time mom going away for four days is a major production involving--but not limited to--overnight accommodations for children, transportation to child's various activities all over town, explanations and reassurances in three-year-old language that "Mommy still loves you" and "Mommy will be back soon", the packing of children's clothing, "blankies", snacks, summer workbooks, play scripts, computers/video games/portable gaming systems, and leaving the house in general order in the hope that it will retain some of this order upon returning. Anyway, you get the idea. (TheDarkLord wishes everyone to know that the house did maintain some semblance of order upon my return. This is his personal accomplishment.)

I had been to this particular retreat location before, in the Appalachian hills, at least 100 miles from the nearest Wal-mart. As I drive in, I am greeted by a resident (someone who lives at the location usually as a zen teacher) with a Korean name. And I'm assigned a room, a double, which I am to share with a stranger, in silence, for the four days. 

At zen retreat, silence is maintained beginning with the first sitting period and ending with the final sitting period on the last day. The exception to this of course is during work period when you can speak what is "necessary" for completing tasks--cooking, cleaning, yard work, etc.--with others. 

Initially, the idea of complete silence for four days was greatly intriguing. I mean, currently I live in a house with a preschooler and an ADHD elementary school student who compete with each other over how many times they can say "Mama!" in a single day. But after the first 24 hours, I was surprised to find it a little lonely. To meditate, and eat and sleep next to someone and have no dialogue with them. To know nothing about them, sometimes not even their name.

The general retreat schedule was as follows: 5:30 wake up (A shower was not an option for me at this hour, as I could not possibly be awake enough to be sure I wouldn't drown.); 6:00 thirty minutes of chanting, mostly in Korean, ten minuets of walking meditation, and thirty minutes of sitting, another ten minutes of walking, and another thirty minutes of sitting (all of this without coffee or a morsel of breakfast).

Finally, it's time for breakfast, and all 17 of us march from the temple to our nourishment in silence. Just the crunching of shoes on the path. The batting away of bugs (eeeeeeeeeenpt!) which have the propensity to kamikaze into my ear, mouth or eyes. Breakfast is another ritual. (There are several youtube videos on Oryoki, mindful eating, though none of them were quite like the one I experienced.) Essentially, you have four nesting bowls wrapped inside a napkin which serves as a sort of place mat, a spoon and chopsticks on top of this, and everything underneath your lap napkin. A small piece of paper on top, so you know which seat is yours, as no one can speak to tell you such a thing. 

I won't go into the entire ritual as the obsessive-compulsiveness of it might just bore you to death. I found the entire ritual both soothing and pointless. Yes, there is a certain dance to all of it, the sound of water poured from bowl to bowl, the clicking of the spoons, the silence as each participant finishes and falls still, the fact that you have washed your own bowl (with hot tea) by the completion of the ritual without ever having left your seat. But this, among some of the other rituals felt like something "extra" to me. More on that below.

After breakfast was a work period, followed by alternating sitting and walking periods, 30 and 10 minutes respectively, so that by lunch time I have logged 3 hours of cushion time just for the one day. Yes, my ass was hurting. Who ever said it was easy just sitting around all day?

Lunch was much the same as dinner. I should mention that the food was excellent! And you were permitted to take as much as you wanted "but not more than you can eat". At the first afternoon sitting, the zen master gave a talk, followed by interviews. Interviews are conducted during sitting meditation. Interviews, as I have been told, are a chance to ask questions and/or receive instruction about your practice. So, one by one, mediators left the temple and then returned. More on my interviews later. 

We had a rest period from 4:30 until dinner at 5:30, which consisted of leftovers from lunch and dinner. Nothing to sneeze at. The leftovers were better than any meal at my house! The meal was informal (though silent) and only a handful of individuals came. We ate in silence and washed the dishes in silence and turned the light off when we left.

The evening of course was another 90 minutes of chanting and sitting, followed by a hike back to our quarters in the pitch black. At 9:30, lights out. At which point, I'm not too proud to confess, I played Plants vs. Zombies until I fell asleep.

Overall Impressions

From my very first encounter with zen what I found attractive about it was it's simplicity. Zen teachs that you didn't need anything extra to attain enlightenment. That enlightenment can be attained now, today. (By enlightenment, I am thinking of satisfaction, and contentment with the self and the universe.) That rituals and ceremonies aren't necessary. The work of zen is done on the cushion. It is you and your thoughts, and nothing else. Or, as my favorite Kung Fu panda would say: there is no secret ingredient, it's just you. 

For me, then, the practice of zen is: when it's time to sit, I sit. When it's time to walk, I walk. When it's time to eat, drink or lay down, I do that. That is all. There is nothing more that is needed. Nothing extra.

Most of what I have learned about zen has come from books. One of the most insightful reads has been, and continues to be, Zen Mind, Beginner's Mind by Shunryu Suzuki. A classic by many counts. He writes, 
"If you do something in the  spirit of non-achievement, there is a good quality in it. So just to do something without any particular effort is enough. When you make some special effort to achieve something, some excessive quality, some extra element is involved in it ... you should get rid of that something which is extra ... When you practice zazen, just practice zazen ... if something extra comes, you should try to stop it ... try not to achieve anything special. You already have everything."
It was all the extras, then, which I found incredibly distracting during retreat. To just sit, and just walk, and just eat, it seemed, wasn't enough.

Interviews With the Zen Master

I had two interviews with the zen master during my four days. And these short one-on-one sessions left me with a similar feeling as the retreat rituals. Unessential, useless, extra. It was not a bad experience by any means, and being my first time speaking with the man, I'm sure it would be difficult to give personalized instruction.

The impression I have is that interviews are a chance to ask "the master" or the teacher deep and profound questions about one's practice or the nature of reality or other zen paradoxes. But, again, for me, zen is quite simple. It's usefulness and beauty are based solely on that simplicity. And complicated discussions about how many bodhisattvas can stand on the head of a needle, seem more like mental gymnastics, a hierarchy of fools, than actual practical advice.

So, upon entering my interviews, I am always asked the same question: do I have any questions. And you've probably figured out by now that the answer has always been "no". There's a paradox for you, boys and girls. Now what is the zen master to do with me (who presumes to know everything) for the rest of the ten minute interview? After all, this is the main event, no? This is what we all came here for. 

I bear the zen master no ill will. He is an intelligent and kind soul, and I'm sure he has brought insight and comfort to many. But, truth be told, I walked away from my interviews thinking, What was the point of that? Did I miss something? 

To sum up ... while zen meditation may very well be a solid tool for focusing one's mind, gaining a clarity of oneself and situation, like everything else, it has carelessly bogged itself down with religion. It almost seems like there is some human compulsion to take a small grain of truth, a sincere moment of clarity and build up myths and ritual structures around it. As if without them, the truth might disappear! All conjecture of course. 

Bottom line: a total lack of simplicity at retreat was disrupting my zen!

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Packing Up My History: How Personal Narratives Can Hold You Back

For the first week since February, I have failed to make a post. Circumstances have made it suddenly obligatory that TheLordofDarkness and I clean out the basement of our former house, which we had been using for storage. And said project monopolized all of my physical and mental energy for the week. Sadly, I have a few more weeks yet to go. 

So I descend to the cellar of my personal history and sort through all of the stuff I have accumulated in my adulthood, but don't actually use. Why do I keep this stuff? I suspect it has something to do with using physical objects to anchor my non-physical identity.

I am thinking of  "identity" as my personal narrative, the collection of my individual experiences, what makes me me and not you. These solid objects -- books, Strawberry Shortcake dolls I played with as a kid, my daughter's baby clothes, a picture that is too ugly to hang on the wall -- all of these are what make me special, unique. They point to an individual who is most definitely here.

And if I lose these "things" that make me me ... what will happen to me? Will I cease to exist? Of course not. But I feel this pulling (mine is in my stomach) when I hand over my "treasures" because there just isn't any room for them any more.

Things I Have Held On To
  1. Dance clothes. These are the leotard, tights and shoes I danced in during undergrad. I took a ballet class partly for exercise and partly for nostalgia, remembering my long hours of dance class at the performing arts school I attended.
  2. Grandfather's shirts. My grandfather had a particular style of dress from which he never varied: jeans, a long-sleeved flannel, cowboy boots and a large shinny belt buckle, donning the seal of the state of North Dakota. Nothing quite like sinking into his lap, his chuckle and the aroma of Lucky Strikes. 
  3. Gymnastics uniform. Ah, yes. This is probably where the greatest pride of my youth lies. Tumbling, swinging, flying, chin high, sticking your flat chest out, proud as a peacock. This is my proudest me at my proudest moment.
  4. Childhood Winnie-the-Pooh lamp. Somehow, hanging on to this feels like being that child again. Reading bedtime stories with my dad. Dreaming that I could be anything I wanted to be. When I look at this lamp, I think I would like to be that child again.
  5. Religious artwork handmade by my aunt. This is a tough one. I feel bad giving it away as my aunt is a professional artist, and a particularly good one. But I will never hang it up in my house. I can't give it to another family member as they all have one exactly like it. Giving it away feels like betraying my family. So, it collects dust.
  6. Textbooks. Containing a good portion of the knowledge I have accumulated, some of which I have rejected but am grateful to have learned nonetheless. I have fooled myself into thinking I will look at them again someday. 
    Damn those cute baby girl clothes!
  7. Children's clothing. I have not yet given up on the idea of blessing humanity with yet another of my gorgeous offspring. However, truth be told, there are some baby clothes, like that pink baby dress with the lacy ruffles, that I will probably still hold onto long after the rest have been hauled off to Goodwill. I have dreams of my Dementia-ed self spending my nursing home days clinging to such relics, and gazing longingly over pictures of my angels. And, repeating it again the next day, as I will have forgotten the entire previous day.
So, I pack each of these pieces of myself away in boxes, and rent a storage unit to hold them until I can afford a residence capable of housing "all" of me.

I wonder if these bits of myself are holding me back from being the me that I right now. Am I fully able to let go of these narratives of myself? Some individuals are so attached to their material possessions, extensions of themselves, they could not possibly live without them. Am I like this? Am I enough right now, without all these trinkets?

A popular Zen teaching is that you have everything you need to be happy at this very moment, you only have to realize it. This teaching is sometimes illustrated using Magic Eye artwork. At first glance, the page is merely covered in seemingly random patches of color, shapes and lines, but once your eyes adjust, you see a 3D image of a whale, or a beach house, or a space ship. The 3D image was there even when you couldn't see it. It just took an adjustment of perspective. 

An adjustment of perspective, not a change of circumstances, is what I needed to see that I can be happy in this moment without anything extra. Without all my stuff. Just me is enough.

Monday, August 5, 2013

A Weiner Dog With Mustard Please

Did I miss something?! I mean, I don't follow politics, and I wouldn't consider myself a Weiner fan, but this recent controversy over the mayoral candidate is flat out stupid. As far as I can tell, Anthony Weiner got caught (again) texting nude photos of himself to women he had been chatting with (for a period of time) online. This is news worthy?

Refresh  my memory. Since when is it illegal to send naked pictures of oneself over the wire? Oh, wait, were there children in the pictures? Receiving the pictures? No? Oh, okay. So then he must be imposing his sexy pictures on unwilling ladies? No? Um, okay ... so, exactly what has he done that every other hot-blooded American male hasn't done or thought about doing? And since when is said activity illegal?

Sometimes, when engaging with those inflicted with the monogamy-is-right mindset, I get the feeling that their disapproval stems from more than just cultural deviation. In other words, they're jealous. They wish polyamory was an option for them. Maybe they feel that time has passed them by, or that their current partner would "never go for it". But they look at me, in all my slutty happiness, and think, if only ... At first sight, they are intrigued by the thought of poly, then, in the very next breath they're running down the (obvious) gamut of poly critiques.

What's the rub? Well, if I'm not allowed to be a happy slut, then no one else should be allowed either. I spent my life suffering needlessly. The least you can do is suffer in the same way. I didn't get to be happy in my life-long relationship(s), why should you get to sleep with whomever you want and get away with it? 

Suggestion: are Weiner's critics merely jealous that he indulges (shamelessly) in his own sexual fantasies, while they've had to deny themselves in the name of decency? And, yes, I want to use the word "jealous", because jealous is: Why does she get a bigger piece of chocolate cake? and Why doesn't he have as many grey hairs as I do? Jealous is I'd rather see you brought down to my level so we can both suffer, than watch you enjoy something I don't have, even if I don't really want it.

How many men, I wonder, deny themselves opportunities to indulge their (legal, mind you) sexual fantasies because they have been convinced by the morally superior (and usually hypocritical) that said fantasies are "wrong"? How many do engage in said explicit activities but fear discovery, especially by a spouse, because their spouse has been indoctrinated that "good husbands" don't engage in said activity? So, why should Weiner be allowed to do what ever he wants and just get away with it? Politicians can't be sexual! They must be chaste, monogamous, and, let's just say it, asexual. Is that really so much to ask?

Or maybe, Weiner's critics still live in the delusional world where monogamous love lasts for a lifetime and is completely satisfying. I keep forgetting that some people believe this fairytale. Sigh.

My mother actually says she doesn't understand why Weiner's wife stays with him, and stands by him. HELLO! That's an easy one: because she wants to. Is this really even a discussion topic? Again, with the happily-ever-after. So, he likes showing off his body! What is the big fucking deal? He's not even sleeping with these other women (reportedly). And even if he were, how is it anyone else's business but his and his wife? She accepts him and his behavior (at least publicly).
Sydney Leathers

And who is this chick with the purple lipstick going on about, I thought he had changed, and He's lying to everyone? Sydney Leathers says she felt manipulated by him? Are you kidding? She develops a relationship of some kind with this man who has a known "issue" (because it was such a scandal the first time). Then she's shocked when he sends her naked photos and runs straight to the media! And we're supposed to believe that Leathers is the one being manipulated here.

Of course if Weiner (or Leathers) was caught gazing at Playboy or pursuing through Hustler, well that's an acceptable form of sexual expression. And just when I thought our culture had progressed a smidgen.