The Ride Begins Again…

Tomorrow morning I start on a 35,000 miles, 18-month bicycle ride around the United States and Canada with my partner (Anna), our friend (also named Anna), and our dog (Higgs-Bosom – The Dog Particle). I started this blog just over two years ago to track my (mostly) solo bicycle ride from Washington DC to Los Angeles. It is funny how things come full circle.

Anyway, because of the upcoming ride I will have some new writing responsibilities and this blog is going to change a bit. I will still write as often as possible in an uncensored way about the subjects I love (Burning Man, sex, spirituality, BDSM, LGBT, science, transhumanism, polyamory, open relationships, drug legalization, social issues, MDMA, anarchy, libertarianism, veganism, etc) but I really don’t know how much time I will have to spend writing. My Facebook page will probably also lack it’s normal traffic but if you want to add me there to see the articles and stuff I find interesting please do. If you are interested in following my other writing I will be blogging at two other sites:

  • Barely Functional Adults: This is going to be an uncensored blog about our bike ride. Because we are all adults and enjoy adult things (drugs, sex, being naked, swearing, sinning, etc) this blog will cover those things. Some highlights we are looking forward to include visiting nude beaches, going to festivals, the World Naked Bike Ride, Burning Man, and banging in every state. We will be updating 2-3 times per week. (www.BarelyFunctionalAdults.wordpress.com).
  • 10 Legs, Will Travel: This blog will be censored, updated daily, and basically rated “PG”. We all subscribe to the Dan Savage view of dealing with parents/family… basically, there are things parents have a right not to know about their adult children’s lives and they have a responsibility not to snoop. This blog will provide our families with a place to hear about our journey, look at pictures, and keep track of us without hearing about hanging out in the Orgy Dome or seeing our nipples, butts, pubic mounds, etc. (www.10LegsWillTravel.wordpress.com).
  • There are also other social networks:
    • Instagram: 10LegsWillTravel (we will probably take tons of pictures… the Anna’s are both great photographers)
    • SnapChat: pneiger (in case you want to send us pics of your junk)
    • Twitter: pneiger (though this is just my Facebook and blog linked, I don’t actually use it)
    • FourSquare: Peter Neiger

Anyway, I hope you will follow our other travels and still check out this blog from time to time. I will do my best to keep up with everything but it is likely I will only have internet access a couple of times a day… and I’m also working on college courses, Khan Academy, and some other writing so my downtime will be limited. Below is our basic route but if you have any advice on places to check out or know people with open lawn/floor space for us to sleep please shoot an email to 10LegsWillTravel@gmail.com . Much peace and love to you all.

Map Update (1)

Saying Good Bye

To be honest, I thought someday I would get used to it. You think after all the transitions in my life… Oregon to military, military to college, college to Washington DC, Washington DC to Los Angeles… I would get used to saying good bye to new friends. It still isn’t fucking easier. Maybe it isn’t supposed to be. Maybe the difficulty, the held back tears, the moments of second-guessing all are a testament to the love I’ve found and the bonds I’ve formed. Maybe it is a good thing that it is hard… it still sucks though. 

Yesterday I want to a Game of Thrones party at my best friend’s house. It was the last opportunity to say good bye to a lot of the friends I have made while in Los Angeles. And the good byes aren’t over, this weekend at Lucidity I will say good bye to another group of beautiful souls who have helped me learn to love myself and others. These are people who I have come to look forward to seeing, people I meet with a warm embrace, people that I can open up to (even though some of them would rather me not). I wish I would have spent more time with them, made them more of a priority, and tried to build a stronger friendship and forge more memories. But alas, what’s done is done. There are no more days for new memories in LA, at least not for a while.

While it hurts to leave these people, I am not sad about the future. Because I have been through this before I know that many of these friends will be in my life forever. Hell, my best friend and I have known each other almost 25 years and have only lived in the same city for about 10 total. I hold on to people who mean something to me, thanks to Facebook and the internet that is easier than ever but it is more than convenience, it is in my nature. I may not talk to them much (hell, I don’t talk to them much now) but they are always in my heart and they always pop into my head at the best times… “Oh man, I have to call Josh, he has got to hear about this”, “Hey, Dagny would love that”, “Oh Blayne… if only you could mow down on these cheesesticks with me”, “Damn, where’s James when I need him?”, “I wonder what Emmett would think of that?”… I wish I contacted them more than I do. In a very real way they are part of my family and when thinking of them I am home.

Home isn’t geography for me. It is where I can be unapologetically me. It is where honesty, love, and peace prevail above politics, social status, or religion. And the people I say good bye to as I start the next chapter of my life will always be my family and home. I know that if I need them they will be there. I love them and will miss them… but I know that any physical separation means nothing when our minds and spirits are connected. They are my ka-tet and that is a bond that doesn’t break, no matter how far I roam. 

Sex Nerds

I had a great article from Vice brought to my attention yesterday. The article, which hit home for me in a lot of ways, is about sex nerds. Not nerds having sex, that is a different (but can be overlapping) category. Sex nerds are people who enjoy being nerdy about the subject of sex. We like to read about it, write about it, and ponder it from every angle. It isn’t about having a high sex drive or pursuing personal orgasms (truth be told, my sex drive is probably about average), no, it is about analyzing, questioning, and discussing the different aspects of sex.

Like most nerds (a positive term in my mind), sex nerds like to throw out social norms and see what is left. They aren’t content to just view the world or do things that are popular unless they hold up to greater scrutiny. “That’s the way it has always been done” is blasphemy. Instead, things like gender, relationships, kinks, and fetishes are all open to analysis, experimentation, and confirmation. And what nerds are finding about sex is fascinating.

Sex nerds tend to be open to multi-partner relationships in some form. Whether it is polyamory, monogamish, or a variety of “open” relationships we have found that jealousy and “traditional” relationships are not the only way to happily organize intimacy. Jealousy may be more of a social construct than a natural reaction. We are told that we should be jealous when our partners are flirted with, make out with someone, fantasize about another person, or have hook up… but why? Can’t jealousy, like many other negative emotions be controlled, subdued, and shown for what it is… an unnecessary display of anger towards something that may not happen and is often beyond our control. Jealousy is about possessing another person’s body and mind, it is about controlling them, treating them as an object. It may be “normal” but that doesn’t make it good.

Nerds also tend to be much more fluid with their gender and sexuality. Why should we view 1/2 of the population as off-limits to intimacy and love simply because of the way they were born? Certainly, we all have a certain level of sexual orientation. We find some things more attractive than others and are turned off by certain attributes, but is that purely biology or has there been immense pressure by churches, governments, and society as a whole to subdue sexuality. Men receive constant pressure to have no attraction to other men while women are often told they must be “pure” for their future spouse. Gender, like sex in general, has been a way to control the actions of others. And nerds, as is often the case, don’t give a fuck about social norms and are going to surround themselves with more accepting people.

Technology and the internet has really created revolutionary opportunities for nerds (and anyone who has interests that aren’t “normal”). There is an ability to connect and discuss things that would normally be off-limits. No matter how strange you are the internet allows you to find similar people… which of course complicates things. As nerds figure out that sex isn’t always just vanilla, that relationships can thrive with multiple people, and as gender is recognized as being non-binary new terms are needed. Polyamory, pansexuality, and all the different types of kink start to be defined and enter mainstream. And I hope it does continue to enter the mainstream.

Being a sex nerd is more nerd than it is sex. It isn’t about putting on a Tidus outfit and finding a cute Yuna to bend over a hotel room bed at a conference. It is about diving deeper into one of our most carnal drives to find a way to do it better, more intimately, and boldly try things that have never been tried before. And isn’t that what we all really want? To be able to explore a vital part of human existence safely, with consenting partners, and without fear of unfair judgement from others?

Who’s Been Sleeping in Your Head? The Secret World of Sexual Fantasies

As is often the case on road trips and long flights I was able to get some good reading and writing done… maybe I need to find a way to do this more. Anyway, I finished reading “Who’s Been Sleeping in Your Head?” by Brett Kahr. This 400-page book is the culmination of a multi-year study conducted primarily in the UK (though there are some US participants) about people’s sexual fantasies. These fantasies are what goes through a person’s head during masturbation and sex with a partner. The research was conducted through online surveys completed by over 23,000 people and 122 intensive face-to-face interviews with volunteers. It appears to be the most comprehensive attempt to catalog and interpret human sexual fantasies that anyone has ever done.

While I found the intentions of the study and premise of the book fascinating my feelings towards the book are bitter-sweet. As a Freudian psychotherapist Kahr spent much of his time focusing, analyzing, and, in my opinion, unjustifiably fishing or hoping for childhood trauma to explain sexual fantasies that people had. He mentions alternative approaches like evolutionary psychology only twice and only in passing. I understand that he is a Freudian but if his attempt was to objectively or comprehensively attempt to look into sexual fantasies and their foundation (if one exists) he should have brought in some alternative view points. To him humans seem to be born as a blank slate with no genetic predispositions or tendencies in place from evolution.

Kahr often at times come off as a bit judgemental and sex-negative, and even a bit LGBTphobic. He focuses several times on homosexuality possibly being linked to childhood trauma and child rearing but little acknowledgement of a biological aspect. He also seems to see all cross-dressers as “transvestites”. It also seemed like a negative judgement when he penned the term “intra-marital affair” to describe thinking about someone other than your spouse, as if thinking of another is a form of cheating. Some may agree that fantasies are cheating (but if they really are based in trauma or evolution it is cheating we have little to no control over) not everyone does and I think it weakens the betrayal of true affairs if we attach that phrase to a passing thought during masturbation.

Clearly, I have some problems with Kahr’s approach, but I want to give him some benefit of the doubt, it is possible that there is a generational gap and cultural one between he and I. He is British and a bit older than I, while Americans and our friends across the pond are similar in many ways I can’t help but wonder if the stereotypes about prudish non-sexual Brits might have some truth to it. It has also been almost a decade since this project started and a lot has changed in sexual research and views on fantasies in the last 10 years, particularly with the exponential growth of internet access and the pornography that comes with it.

There were also some wonderful things within the book though, and I actually very highly recommend it. Kahr’s analysis later in the book provides a lot of great information and provides some support to his hypothesis in some of the cases. There clearly can be a trauma at the foundation of sexual fantasies, and many of these trauma fantasies are causing great distress and harm to the individuals. In cases where people can’t live the lives they want or have the relationships they desire it is a problem, such as the case of “Julius” who has only been able to masturbate to mental images of a girl who tormented him in his adolescence and he has not had a long-term relationship in nearly 50 years.

I would have loved to see more research and questions about the ramifications of opening up about your fantasies to your significant others. Kahr mentions a few in one chapter but for the most part glosses over any potential benefits and instead focuses on trauma and harm. In my experience being open and honest with your partner about desires and what goes on in your head can have a bonding effect and open the door for new real life experiences. If we decide to enter into a partnership something as intimate and important as sex should not be a taboo subject. Much of the negative aspects seem to come from our social stigmas against sexuality as much as childhood events. As a culture if we can admit that sex is a healthy and enjoyable part of the human experience we can reduce the pain, suffering, and shame that seems to accompany so many fantasies.

Kahr does admit that this is just a beginning, and like a good scientist he hopes others will dive into the data, conduct their own studies, and come up with alternative hypothesis. I would love to see a larger sample size of humans from more diverse backgrounds. What is true for Brits (and in this case a few Americans) may not be true for Australians, Italians, Russians, Kenyans, Colombians, Thai, Egyptians, etc. The more information the better and it looks like this is a field ripe for research and exploration.

I definitely recommend this book for many different people. If you just have an interest in sexuality there is a lot to love about this book, as well if you are interested in seeing how a Freudian interprets things, though I would recommend skipping or skimming Section II if you get bored with it. You can only read poorly written erotica for pages and pages for so long before it becomes a blur. It is also a good resource for people who have anxiety about what goes on in their own heads. It will become quickly clear that “normal” fantasies don’t exist, and because of that there is really nothing that is “weird” or “abnormal”. Some people don’t fantasize at all, some think only about their spouse, some focus more on feelings while others have elaborate situations they play in their head, some people think of college professors, siblings, strangers, movie stars, and inanimate objects. Some people like to be raped, piss on people while they are shitting, or change genders. Some like to be whipped while others like to be bought a nice romantic dinner followed by a massage and some cunnilingus. The limits to human sexual fantasies are only restricted by the combined imagination of billions of people.

The Future

Making plans for the long-term is a funny thing. It is almost always out of our control and the universe has a way of throwing us unexpected curveballs, but we humans insist on making plans and pursuing them. This doesn’t seem to be a bad idea as long as you don’t continue down a failed or impossible path because you refuse to reevaluate your plans. I am no different than anyone else in this respect. I make plans… no specifics or expectations but I do try to align myself along a certain path and make preparations for where I think my life is going. This last week was an eye-opener in that respect and I have begun to make more plans for life after the 2-year bicycle ride.

We have all heard the cliche that you should do what you are passionate about. Your career, your life, your happiness can (should?) all be aligned. To be honest, until recently this never really rang true in my life, at least not in a long-term sense. I’ve had jobs in many places but nothing that really kept me passionate or in one place/career for long. I think that may be changing though. I have found what I am passionate about…. sex. Not just having an orgasm (that is awesome too) but about helping people and relationships deal with unhealthy views of sex. Particularly people who don’t fall into traditional orientations. I want to help individuals and couples dealing with the issues that are somewhat unique to LGBT, polyamorous, and sexually open relationships. People who would normally not be able to go to a therapist for fear of being judged, over analyzed, or told they should stop their non-traditional life to find happiness.

Luckily, I have a friend who is interested in going along a similar path. After literally dozens of hours talking we have a little plan… a plan that may shift, alter, and change but it is at least a guideline. While on my bike ride I am going research programs to get into Marriage and Family Therapy with a specialization in sex, I need to study and take the GRE’s, read all the literature we can get our hands on, and also work on getting any necessary prereq’s out of the way via free online programs or community college online courses. I am confident this can be done while on the trail.

After getting into and finishing a program my friend and I would like to set up a practice together. As a male/female team who has overlapping but different interests I think our practice could be incredibly successful. The end goal isn’t simply a practice in a city though. We would also like to round out our education with yoga and massage therapy, and then put together retreats to peaceful locations that people can sign up for. These retreats could have a variety of uses… single people dealing with sex or body issues, couples looking to bring together more intimacy and exploration, or some other random awesomeness we haven’t solidified. In addition, we may also jointly do some research or write a book or three together. 

All in all, I am excited. It has been a long time since I was really passionate or interested in a particular career or skill set. Hopefully following this path will continue to lead me to a happy life. If people have any recommendations, resources, or whatever I am always open to advice. 

How Much Do You Need?

I stumbled upon this article this morning and it really spoke to me. The article is titled “You Don’t Have To Be Rich In Your 20′s” has kind of a corny title but touches on something that I think is very important. Much of our 20′s and 30′s are spent in an unnecessary rush to secure money, settle into one location, and set up a sense of security. This may not be the best way to live. We no longer live in a time when you need to jump straight into a career or family in your early adulthood, there is time to explore your desires and creativity. Too often we are encouraged to sacrifice our wishes, our sense of adventure, our drive to explore, and the incredible life lessons that come from loving, heartbreak, and making “mistakes”.

There is such a rush to gain some sort of sense of security, security which is more of an illusion than reality. Big bank accounts, owning a home, settling into a job that makes you miserable, and jumping into a family while young sounds like security but it is fleeting and can dissappear much more quickly than it came. And what good is this security anyway if you are told to subdue your life, desires, and friendships… what is the point of falling in line and feeling safe it if it kills your soul? Life is something to be actively experienced, not viewed from a distance behind a white picket fence or a computer monitor. We probably only get one chance at life on this rock, I think that one chance shouldn’t be gambled away on the safe bet. Whether you are 20, 40, 45, or 95 years old it is not too late to get an adrenaline rush, scare yourself, travel to new lands, fall in love, and go to the grave assured that you had a kick ass time. 

The whole article is good and a quick read, check it out if you have a few minutes. (You Don’t Have To Be Rich In Your 20′s)

Dating Just to Date

My roommate and I found ourselves discussing dating for some reason tonight. It is a subject that comes up regularly, I think because nobody in this house really falls into the traditional model of dating. I was raised to believe that the purpose of dating was simply to find the “one and only” and served no purpose other than that. If you were with someone who you couldn’t see yourself with long-term (or forever) then you shouldn’t be with them… dating is a means to an end, and not an end itself. In my old age now I don’t think this is right for most people, particularly people in college and early career (or adventuring) phases.

I’ve been around the block a time or two. I’ve dated a few people, been engaged once, and had friendships to varying degrees from bang-buddies to deep non-sexual friends. Sadly, there is a lot of pressure to settle for a person if you love them, even if there are important parts of your future plans that don’t align. We are told that things will just work out, which roughly translates to one of you will give up, give in, and possibly harbor resentment. It seems there must be a better way, I believe we should encourage dating just for dating sake.

The women I have loved have wonderful lives, probably in part because we broke up. But our relationships were not failed relationships. They involved two people who had adventures and experiences together, challenged each others beliefs, and had a lot of damn fun. I learned a lot about myself during that time, and because of those lessons I am a better partner now to my current lover. Dating should be a way to explore how you handle emotions, intellectual stimulation, new sexual experiences, and explore new cultures and environments. Maybe you find someone you can do that forever with, but more likely than not most of your relationships will end, but again, that doesn’t mean they are failures.

There are so many people in this world. There is no reason to settle quickly when your long-term goals don’t quite match up. If you want kids and your partner doesn’t it is better to enjoy the dating and end it when it is time to move on instead of abandoning the things that are important to you. Whether it is marriage itself, children, or your lifestyle choices you can find someone that matches up… and the search is a lot of fun.

If I could go back and talk to my past self I would encourage younger Peter to enjoy dating more, stop looking for “the one and only”, and look at each relationship as a success if you learned something from it or had great memories. There is no rush to lifelong partnership, in fact, it is all a journey… something to be enjoyed and experienced as fully as possible. And even if the person you are dating is a perfect match there is no rush to marry because there is a lot of life ahead of you. You can marry at 30 and still have plenty of kids or whatever else you want. Don’t rush younger Peter, enjoy the ride.