rax: (Rarity had the most horrible day!)
So people know: I was in the hospital in California yesterday for a kidney stone. I've had them a few times before and usually can push fluids and tough them out. In this case, pushing fluids and trying to tough it out had my heart rate and blood pressure at kinda scary-low numbers and it was very good that I went to the hospital. I now have a bunch of meds and also a built-in excuse for not doing any of the 8000 intense family activities Krinn's family have planned. (I really appreciate being able to go to like... 2000-4000 of them? but they're very intense and family stuff in general is kind of PTSD-y for me for Reasons.) I mean, don't get me wrong, I would rather that this had not happened, but I am okay, and should continue to be okay, and thank y'all for the well-wishes &c.

More later. (If you're not on my life updates email list, and want to be, poke me.)

rax: (Twilight finds this reading interesting!)
I spent this past weekend at a Magic tournament called "Cardmaggedon" which was... much smaller than expected, but that meant I won $150 despite not doing super well, so, hooray? I've gone to big tournaments a few times in the last couple of months (one in LA, one in Oakland, and this one in Las Vegas) and the LA trip I took with a group of friends and the other two I was supposed to end up with friends but ended up alone. Not totally alone --- a friend from outside Magic happened to be at the first day of the Oakland event and that was great, and people I know but don't consider (close?) friends from Tucson were in Vegas --- but pretty much "done playing cards, walk/transit back to place I am staying, order food, read more about magic" alone. This kind of sucks, as raxes are extroverts and really like having people around for that kind of recharge time. But I would do it again. (And, in fact, am doing it again in Denver in less than three weeks.)

I really enjoy games --- you know this if you've known me for any period of time. I particularly like this game, in its many formats and its different types of skilltesting and its pushing my collector/accumulator/sorter buttons. I have strong mixed feelings about travel. I would have expected that I would not be about all of the travel required to play in big Magic tournaments very often. I... think I actually am? It's tricky, because the people I have to travel with are mostly acquaintances who I may like rather a lot but have no idea how to interact with --- they have very different social norms and expectations from me, and while we're on a team together, they've all been friends for a long time and they're all guys and probably it's as hard for them to figure out how to interact with me as it is for me with them. We're not close enough at this point that I'm invited to share rides or hotel rooms (I've offered, but been declined) --- so I'm mostly on my own for that. [0]

Something else I've noticed about this is that when I go and play or judge card game tournaments for a while I drop everything else on the floor because it is just less important. I send some <3 texts or IMs or something to my partners and might have a lazy conversation in the evening or something, but unlike most of my travel, I'm not staring at work email, I'm not trying to get a bunch of other things done, I am engaged and deeply focused in a way that is really rewarding and makes me want to do more of it. So even with all of the downsides I described up there I'm kind of tempted to structure my life to involve more going to these tournaments and trying to get better at this game, in combination with the Pokemon judging I already do (which is also increasing in intensity both in terms of how much of it I am doing and how much I am enjoying it/engaged by it). How bad of an idea is this?

(ps this is posted on Christmas morning because I had all but a couple of sentences done and I am waiting for a server install to finish, not because this is _particularly_ on my mind today, but because I am starting to stretch out for my end-of-year-email --- it's going to be a long one this year, y'all.)

[0] I do have the friend I keep trying to go to these events with, but we're obviously cursed as this time she had to say "I can't come play Magic because my mother is in a coma" (her mother is out of the coma now hooray!); I also have some friends locally who are totally down to come to one or two events a year with me but uh. I would use up my one or two events a year in a month at the pace I want to be going. :P
rax: (catgirl makeup)
SHORT VERSION: Catgirl [0] Goth Rave, address friendslocked Somerville MA
upper floors, doors at 9 PM music at 10 PM, dress goth wear black wear
cat ears, if that's hard for you, cat ears and cheap eyeliner will be
provided at the door. Please ask before passing on the invite.

some animal theory bullshit as usual )

Ten Songs

Oct. 20th, 2014 10:02 pm
rax: (Benten guitar case)
My dear friend [personal profile] outstretched  said I should join her and others in picking ten formative songs and writing about them. So here you go. Feel free to join us, if you'd like. (See hers and another friend's.)

loooooooong )
rax: (RAWKFAWX)
Life is pretty good! Here are some updates that were too large to send to Twitter! It’s an exclam day! I'm vaguely sick but I took cold medicine so I'm still enthusiastic and excitable and a bit loopy!
  • Magic: I’m playing Magic! I meant not to get into it super seriously, but I got recruited into a team, cardagain.com, and now I’m editing for their website and sponsored to play in major events. Oops! It’s super fun, and while if you don’t play Magic you don’t care, we recently got Travis Woo as a writer, and you can see a cool new article of his here! If you like it and want to share it around that would be awesome too I guess? I dunno, I'm terrible at social media. cardagain wants to be, like, magiccards.info plus tcgplayer when we grow up, and some of the features (visual decklists sorted by CMC) are already very cool.
  • Computers: The Homestuck Shipping World Cup kind of took up a hobby slot this summer. I don’t really care about the event at this point, and didn’t really participate as a fan, but I’m on the mod team, and did almost all of the coding. I feel like a way more proficient programmer than six months ago. Not _good_, but proficient, which feels nice. I can take python and sqlite and make them do things that someone might want software to do. It’s been very confidence boosty, and I _finally_ learned git. I’ve also gotten to play sysadmin, since it’s all hosted off of my server. I originally planned this as a way to have a record of me being able to do things with computers if I lost my job, but…
  • Work: I was worried I might lose my job because the work I had been doing was kind of drying up, but instead, I got promoted into new responsibilities! I’m doing new and different stuff, which is really refreshing! I’m not good at it and that’s mostly great because I get to learn things but it’s occasionally terrifying!
  • Therapy: I’ve been doing the therapy thing again after all the horrible bullshit from a year or two back. In the past I used to do mean things to future rax, and in the more recent past, I started doing nice things for future rax, and that’s treated me very well for the last few years. Right now I’m trying to figure out doing nice things for past rax. It’s super cool. It’s definitely hard and going to stay hard and… intersects with some kind of spirituality in weird ways I haven’t figured out yet? I dunno. I’ll talk more about that if I figure it out, maybe.
  • Travel: Has been awesome!!! So many wonderful people and I get to see them in so many wonderful places, between Boston and SF and Seattle and random road trips from those places and so on and so forth. (Also, I edited /home/rax/random-text/people-history/people-i-have-kissed for the first time in a long time, and it was great. <3)
  • Music: Has taken a bit of a back seat! But I’m getting back in the groove and have two DJ sets in September and one or two in November and I’ve already started working on them because it remains _super fun_.

That’s about it. Hope y’all are doing wel!
rax: (catgirl makeup)
Every year Catgirl Goth Rave is a pretty big deal for me, and y'all who don't go probably get annoyed with me for posting about it, emailing about it, &c. so often. For me and for a lot of people who attend it's a chance to see a lot of friends in a type of environment I don't often get to spend time in, and to have friends share artistic/musical creations and, increasingly, traditions with each other. (I think everyone spends at least some time watching Kim's ridiculous video loop, which was first made for, like CGR 3?) But this year is especially a big deal for me, and I can tell because I'm alternating between bouncing hopelessly and kinda freaking out, and I want to share why to combination share myself/steel myself/understand through writing. Once I'm done with this post I'm going to go find something spicy and hearty to eat, then it will be SETUP MODE followed by PARTY MODE followed by SLEEP MODE.

This year I am DJing. I am learning to DJ for this party, and it will be the first time I've played music in front of other people in any significant way in like... fifteen years? Maybe only thirteen. "A long time." I had a pretty hardcore music education as a kid, getting steeped in music theory as well as reaching a pretty high proficiency level on a number of instruments (violin, piano, voice, tuba...) --- this is one of the tremendous gifts my parents gave me. Unfortunately it came along with one of their tremendous ungifts.

cut for vague-ish descriptions of abuse )

I've tried to get over this a bunch of times, between occasional plucking away at a bass while listening to music and trying to start a band with friends and having all of one rehearsal and keeping a tuba in my cramped dorm room for years while basically never touching it and all manner of other things. None of them took; I couldn't do it. I actually bought the equipment and software that I'm going to use to DJ tonight in order to try getting over this with electronic composition, which hasn't worked for me yet, but has a little for my brother.  Two things are different this time:
  • I'm back in therapy dealing with other abuse, and weirdly (or maybe not-so-weirdly), that's helped me manage my feelings around this and take care of myself while also pushing myself.
  • I'm doing this for CATGIRL FUCKING GOTH RAVE --- I'm not doing this (just) for me, I am doing this as a gift to all of my friends.
Typically the gift I've given is finding a bunch of real DJs and getting them to entertain my friends, and running all of the logisitics, because that's the sort of thing I genuinely like doing. This year, for a host of reasons, there weren't enough people to make music, and for a while I was worried we wouldn't really have anyone at all. Luckily a couple of good friends are back to spin, and I'm filling in a slot --- at 10 PM tonight, I'm going to get in front of a bunch of people I care about, and share music with them, and after the party's over, I'm going to upload it, and share it with all of you, mistakes and all, and if you take the time to listen to it, I hope you enjoy it.

And if, after I'm done, I find myself on the floor crying, this time it won't be because I'm afraid. <3
rax: (Horo whiskers)
This post discusses trauma, abuse, gender, furry, and theory. It's written kinda flowery-like, but fuck it, I feel flowery. Please read it if you'd like. <3

I am become menagerie. )


footnotes )

rax: (kotone/silver hug awwwwwwwwh)
Today we're going to be talking about what it's like coming out of the hole I was in!

For a while I blamed the hole entirely on grad school but that's not entirely fair. I was already pretty fucked up when the first PhD program started, from a few things. First, the MA program, while not as stressful/bad for me as the PhD programs by far, was a lot of work, and that whole thing where my advisor refused to read my thesis or show up to my thesis defense was pretty bad. Second, the whole moving-to-Indiana thing (not helped by leaving a year later) was pretty draining and was kind of the worst a move could have gone without technically being entirely successful: no one was injured, no significant objects were broken or lost, no major unexpected costs were incurred. And yet. Then there was the dissolution of my relationship with Cassandra, which, well. I am going to continue (and make spoken) my unspoken policy of not talking about it publically on the Internet, but it made me very sad for a very long time and in some ways I am still recovering. I do not regret it, but I do regret that it was the right choice.

Which is remarkably like how I feel about leaving school.

When I left, I expected that things would get better, and then they would get worse, and then they would gradually get actually better again. I had the general gist of it right, but it turns out that I misunderstood just how poorly I was doing. I did in fact have a rush of energy for a few days, and then plunge into a hole of "oh god all of the things I have been putting off indefinitely are still real and still problems and they are my problems and I cannot escape them by working on grad school anymore." That was ugly for a while and I was worse for longer than I expected. I'm still not done, but I can tell that I'm doing better, weirdly, by noticing myself doing things that a few years ago would have been signs I was slipping down from where I wanted to be:
  • actually taking time for myself to just fuck off (more on this later)
  • putting every single little five-minute task on my tasklist
  • isolating myself from other people more than usual
  • caring an unproductive amount about cleanliness/organization
  • a couple of other things that aren't important to this blog post
Right now though these are all improvements. I've been doing things that I've wanted to do since I moved here --- there is now a working hot tub in my yard, and after today the circulating pond next to it should work as well. The leak in the irrigation system is (a) found and (b) getting fixed. (That was a huge pain, it was hidden in this really random place and only came on at 4 AM and ugh. I happened to wake up ridiculous stupid early one morning and realize "wait why does it sound like it is raining when I go to do dishes at 4 AM because I am a weirdo.") The house is clean...ish. (Waaaaaaaaaaaay better than it was.) Today, assuming the ibuprofen I'm about to take I just took fixes this weird headache, I'll be putting up shelves, reorganizing my Shaymin collection, and starting to put up art in rooms that aren't the dining room. I've lived here for how long and a lot of my favorite art is still sitting on the floor next to the walls I want to put it on? More than a year? Yeah fuck that. I'm nesting, yo. It is avian as shit up in here.

Also I make kombucha now (anyone local want a SCOBY?). And am starting to do hikes with a lot of vertical in them instead of just flat ones. And am starting to cook interesting things again. And am still making a play to qualify for the Pokemon World Championships in the summer. And all of this is good.

The thing where in the evening after dinner I pretty much do whatever I want and don't feel obligated to be productive is really nice. I've been reading, talking to friends, playing silly games (including the occasional "Watch Rax Beat Some Old NES Game In One Sitting" in the living room, which is hilarious --- I might give the Zelda Second Quest a shot someday soon if I feel like it), sitting in the hot tub, cleaning things up in a leisurely way... It's really nice. I'm not sure this is actually bad. I do think it's important that as I pick up projects and work I care about, that it take up some of this time. But right now I am recovering, and part of the work of recovering is to chill the fuck out. And that's really, really good.
I have to decide in the next couple of weeks whether or not to permanently withdraw from grad school. I'd hoped that I would be able to take one or two extra classes and get an MA, but it turns out I'd have to take like four, because of UA's transfer credit rules. That's annoying --- between UA and IU I have enough or more than enough classes for an MA at either university --- but I cannot get one at either. Luckily I already have an MA, and while a second one would be nice, I don't need it. What I value the most is what I've learned. I went to grad school to make myself a better person and hopefully to make the world a better place. I don't think grad school is a useful way to do either of those, for me, anymore; I've learned a lot but I experientially know that this program, and the last one, made me worse off in more ways than they did better, and I don't think I was doing the rest of the world any favors by being there either. I should move on, let someone else have the funding slot who needs the money, read books on my own, and continue my scholarship in a different way.

So... yeah. That's the last while in a nutshell. How are y'all doing? <3

out.

Aug. 29th, 2012 04:41 pm
rax: (vulpix is not pleased)
Just left graduate school. Still have to do some paperwork but that's it. I will have the option of returning next semester, but most likely won't.

Apparently the amount of time that I am willing to work full-time and attend school full-time is: Five years and one week. You know what, that's pretty fucking good. I'll take it. There are things that would be worth burning myself down further for. This program is not one of them

To do:
  • paperwork to finalize leaving
  • drown self in pokemon over weekend
  • spend some time making my house the place I am living in and not the place I am surviving in
  • ???
I'm not glad this was the right thing to do. But it was the right thing to do, and I'm glad I did it.

rax: (Horo whiskers)
A while back I complained about wanting to replace my gender with a set of outward-facing spikes. I've been feeling prickly, wanting the space between me and other people to be delineated and defended, and some of that prickliness has been about gender. I've also been bonding with the desert, and spending time (though not as much as I'd like) among cacti and thorny trees and tiny flowers and birds and lizards. And I realized that... actually cactus works way better than male or female as a gender for me. It's a little tongue in cheek, but I mean, look at this. Cacti:
  • care more about sunlight and water and safety than appearances, but still blossom in (bright pink, for many species) flowers when they feel like it
  • are covered in spines to protect them from being consumed, but need the touch of the animals that know how to interact with them safely (particularly but not only for reproduction)
  • won't hurt you if you don't hurt them!
  • move between periods of relative stasis and calm and very sudden changes in shape and size depending on the resources available to them
  • are perfectly comfortable when birds nest in them --- sometimes literally inside them, in the case of cacti like the saguaro --- and keep those new spaces opened up in them for other animals to live in when the first occupants move out
  • over time, develop patches that are smoother and safe to touch, but only for those who take the time to tell the difference
  • are simple in construction yet labyrinthine on the inside (seriously, look at this blog post I found, unless you are one of those people squicked by fractal structures full of holes, in which case NEVER LOOK INSIDE A CACTUS)
Seriously though, doesn't that make sense? This makes so much more sense to express my social and sexual relations than the gender binary I'm expected to be using. To be clear, I don't identify as a cactus --- if nothing else, I travel far too much --- but I find it a very useful metaphor, so I'm rolling with it. (Normally I wouldn't feel the need to be explicit about something like that, but since I am a fox and saying that isn't really any more believable than claiming cactushood, I figure it's best to be clear.) When I finally get whiskers, I can call them my thorns, too. =^_^=

Randomly: I made a comment about this at Anthrocon, and "#gendercactus" briefly became a twitter meme among bronies, though it appears to be out of Twitter's search cache at this point so I guess it didn't have staying power. Zury joked that I had managed to hit zero-day appropriation.
rax: (mijumaru plays the tuba all up in here)
So first of all it is pretty great to start my mornings to wake up at 5:30ish, work for an hour, and then go take a one to two mile walk, and then go back to work. Like, seriously. This lifestyle, I like it, even though it is ludicrously wholesome; it is just too warm for extended walking in the afternoon when I am done with work at 2:30 or so. Well, technically, Rik and I went out a couple of times even though it was in the 90s and did long walks, but we brought a ton of water and also I was kinda zonked afterwards. A mile or two in the morning is refreshing and almost upwaking like a shower would be, which is pretty great. I don't know if I will be able to spare the time for this when I am in school again, but on the other hand going to school gives me structured exercise in the process of biking there, so probably it is okay? And I will still have weekends.

I just got back from Boston, where my schedule looked like this:
  • Attend the first day of Steer Roast. (a party thrown by my old dorm every year, which does involve roasting a steer but I completely ignore that part; alums way older than me, as well as a lot of friends of mine from ten years ago, come back into town and we all hang out and it's awesome)
  • Skip the second and third days of Steer Roast to work on final papers.
  • Attend a conference for work, taking a training for advanced users of a software package I had never seen before; this was both really challenging and really rewarding, in that I mostly caught up enough to get a lot out of the training, even though there would be a lot more work to do if I were going to deploy this thing. But I have books, and a dev environment set up on my machine!
  • Spend two days catching up on work, seeing a small fraction of the people I would have liked to see, and having an extremely pleasant Providence double-date with my girlfriend, her wife, and her wife's girlfriend, during which we concluded that the worldBoston is extremely small as we all knew all of the others' friends in like four different ways.
  • Spend the greater part of the weekend bridesqueering [0], including both fun parties and a bunch of carrying stuff, and helping to make sure two of my dear friends wed without troubles.
  • When I wasn't doing that, three(!!!) people drove in to see me from different states, which was pretty amazing. [personal profile] outstretched  even did my nails! [1]
Okay so that was the Boston trip. Now I have this whole summer stretching out in front of me where all I have to do is work my job. I have a bunch of things planned, of course, but none of them are for school, and that is amazing. (I'll be talking about school in a different post.) My plans include doing some art, meeting more people in Tucson by actually going to events and doing activities [2], traveling a bunch (another wedding, Anthrocon, Pokémon Nationals, seeing Rik, work might send me to Singapore?), continuing to groove on how awesome living with [personal profile] krinndnz  has been, reading books that are not assigned by a professor, and spending a lot of time out in the desert. This plan is, I argue, pretty awesome.

In a bunch of ways I am still kind of getting back into my own head after the debacle that was my year in Indiana. There were awesome things there --- I met some great people, I learned a lot of things, I feel like some aspects of my lifestyle changed for the better --- but between the breakup and the overwork and the comparative loneliness, I sort of worked my way out of my head to go live somewhere more nebulous, and that's not actually what I want. One of the things I'm trying to do both in my academic practice and in my practice of living is to take myself more seriously as part of the process of taking others more seriously. It's had really interesting effects on how I think about species, which obviously is part of my academic project but at least as importantly affects how I interact with myself on a day to day basis. I'm not quite sure how to express this yet other than it's good. But... it's good? It's good.

Any of y'all have exciting summer plans? :)

[0] Bridesqueering: Like being a bridesmaid, a bridesmatron, a bridesman, or a bridesmotherfucker, but with one's gender or marital status expressed as some combination of "none of the above" and "none of your business." Unrelated to bridequeering, where you try to get the bride to make out queerly at the bachelorette party.

[1] You can see an awful picture here. It looks better in person, but even in this photo you can tell it matches my color scheme, and color scheme trumps gender stereotypes for what I do with my appearance, so I will probably keep doing this.

[2] other than Pokémon ^^;;

rax: (Twilight finds this reading confounding.)
So I got my copy of the Silicon Dawn Tarot today. (You should all go buy one.) Because I'm having angst over this lately, I decided to ask it about graduate school --- how it was going, why am I here, what am I getting out of it. I realized that rather than traditional tarot spreads, most of which other than three-card draw I've never really liked, I should use an arrangement of cards that meant something to me personally, a means of organizing information that felt natural to me.

Thus, the Pokemon Spread was born.
cut for huge image and tons of text )

rax: (vulpix is not pleased)
So, gender!

For a while now I've been mumbling about maybe using gender-neutral pronouns or something because I have this discomfort with gender. My name is Rachel, and I present myself as female, and you might think I'd be reasonably happy about both of those because I picked them. And in some ways I am! Because damn, are they better than the alternative.

Except that "the alternative" is a false choice; I don't have to choose either or. I could pick preferred pronouns of "they" or "ey" or "hir" or "xyzzy" and most of you would respect it and a lot of you would even use it most or all of the time. That's pretty awesome! I could say that my gender was "neuter" or "other" or "awesome" and that would be great. It's something I appreciate about my friends and even some of my family that this is true. I appreciate it a lot, and I work to extend the same courtesy to everyone, though particularly those folks who ask me for it.

Problem is: I can't get that from strangers, and that's who I actually want it from. I don't care that much if my friends treat me as female, because I think it has way less impact on how they treat me overall; sure, there's some amount of ingrained gender bias and I did notice people treating me differently before and after transition, but people who know me well think of me as more than a gender, even though they do think of me as having a gender. And I am OK with that. I did pick it, after all, even though I picked it from fewer options than I realize now that I might have had.

What really bothers me is when strangers and acquaintances and use gendered language for me. I don't want to be Mrs. Dillon (which I've been called like ten times today) and I don't want to be Ms. Dillon either. Mx. Dillon is tolerable, at least; I'd rather not have a title at all, but if I have to I would like it to not be dependent on my vagina. [0] I feel similarly about pronouns and social expectations and all manner of things. But at the moment I don't really have any desire to declare my gender other or change my pronouns or change much about my presentation, because I don't think it would change the situations I really care about. I want people on the phone who I will never talk to again to not use sir or ma'am, because it shouldn't matter, and they make it matter and I don't like it. I don't care if people I know well use that kind of language, though. Usually. [1]

I don't really have a point here, other than this is more formed than my usual pointing at gender and going "Urgh! Meh!" and so I figured I would write it down. I realize that I could ask random people on the phone to not use gendered language, and I could enforce that in all social situations, but it isn't worth it for me right now; the effort threshhold of saying "I prefer you not refer to me as ma'am or sir" to the clerk at the store is higher, to me, than just dealing with it. I recognize that not to be the case for some people and I totally support that! It's just not me, right now.

This comes up in part because I've had people in my new department ask me pronoun preference and I said "she or they, whichever" and they were like "...whichever?" and I was like "Yeah, basically." Because that's where I'm at, right now? It's a moving target, who knows where if anywhere it is going. If you wanna call me "they" and "Mx." I am neutral to vaguely positive on that. "male pronouns are still wrong, thanks"

[0] Or more correctly the social expectation that I have a vagina, and thus a particular set of social obligations, based on the way I am presented and present myself.

[1] There's one coworker who calls me darling, who does not accept correction on this (when I asked him not to, he started calling me sir, which is worse). In basically all other ways I really like working with him. I'm mostly used to it, but it's kinda frustrating.

rax: (Pinkie Pie does not exude decorum.)
I got my grades back for the semester. Out of three classes, I got two As.

...

and an A+.

Now to a certain extent, when you are in graduate school, anything less than an A means you sort of screwed up. An A- means "you could have done better, but that was OK," a B+ means "this was kinda borderline, really," a B means "you need to get better at this material," and anything lower means "you should consider leaving graduate school." This depends on your program, of course, but most funded positions require you keep your GPA around a 3.5 (a couple I've heard of are as low as a 3, but I've also seen positions that required a 3.85 just to keep funding) and so this matters. Still, getting As means I did not screw up, and the A+? Well, that apparently reflects better than just not screwing up.

This matters a lot to me because I screwed up my undergrad so hard. I only managed to get my final GPA to like a 3.2 because my senior year I took thirteen classes in two semesters and averaged a 3.8 in them. (I'm converting to a 4.0 scale for convenience here; my undergrad had a 5.0 scale.) Other than that year, where I worked like a crazy person, my undergrad work was atrocious, and that combined with some other things has sometimes made me feel like a giant flake academically. This year marks four full years of graduate school --- three years in my MA program, and one year toward the PhD --- all of them while working full-time for a tech company. In all four of those years, I have never gotten a grade that was not an A, except for this A+; I feel like I have karmically purged my four years of undergrad. I did all of the work, I went to all of my classes, I took my education seriously, I feel like I genuinely understand a whole lot more as a result of this work even though I still have a long way to go. It feels really good. I am not a fuckup.

Now all I have to do is... around five more years of school, and then I'll have a PhD! yay
rax: (Kotone is getting shit done.)
  • On the whole LJ autopost to Facebook and Twitter thing --- yeah I agree that the being able to crosspost content out from under a friendslock is lame, but I think it could be useful. As much as a lot of my core social group uses LJ (or Dreamwidth, but I think I have all of four friends with DW presence and no parallel LJ presence), there are a good number of people important to me --- including almost everyone in Bloomington --- who don't use the service at all. They use Facebook (which I hate), and Twitter (if I'm lucky). If I can find a way to get crossposts to Facebook and Twitter working that encourage commenting on LJ and not on Facebook, that would be really useful for me, and maybe my family wouldn't think I hate them all just because I don't comment on their Facebook posts.
  • The transomatechnics class is encouraging me to "be creative in my mode of writing" and attempt things that bring in first-person narrative. ...should I take a stab at postfurry theory? I'm so tempted. It has nothing to do with where I see my dissertation going... OK that's a lie. The construction of authenticity of identities that didn't even exist fifty years ago [0] totally has something to do with one direction my dissertation could go. But, urgh. I have other stuff I want to write too. We will see! I should do more readings before I decide, probably.
  • I think I finally grok abjection as described by Julia Kristeva --- I read her essay, and went whaaaaaaat, and then read it again, and then tried to explain it to people to see if I understood it, and then read a couple of summaries online (this one was my favorite) and I feel ready to dive in, and at least confident that I know what things I don't know about it. (Why are we reading this before Deleuze?) The David Wills Prosthesis piece I still don't really get; I talked it over some with [personal profile] chagrined  and I have a bit of a better sense, but I am still really looking forward to talking about it in class because ummm help. I'm also gonna read it one more time after I leave this coffeeshop (it's too loud to really get reading done in here right now) in the hope that having kicked around in my brain for a week will make it make more sense the third time. Here's hoping...
  • Oh my god this is adorable.
  • If I spewed notes on the papers and books I was reading into this journal, would you find that awesome, annoying, or other? It would be a lot of notes, and I can't promise my thoughts will be terribly baked. The alternative is making another journal just for notes on readings --- I want to archive them somewhere, and I'd like to have the option of making them public.
  • My Pokédex is at 350 as of last night, when I played for a half hour to reward myself for finishing a book. (The book was Meatless Days, which is sadly not about veganism but is still an awesome memoir.)
  • I deleted the word "actually" from this post four times. I might have missed one. I need to fix this tic.

[0] There were people with animal/animalistic identities five years ago and probably five thousand; I'm not familiar with people identifying as animalized constructions of inorganic material before I met Nick, Rik, and Peggy the last twenty years or so. If anyone has cites for earlier examples PLEASE SEND ME THEM. <3
rax: (Horo apple)
A couple people have asked me why I'm vegan recently, and it got me thinking about how some of the reasons are the same as when I started and some of them are rather different. One of the questions was in terms of what living with me would look like, and that was interesting for a whole host of reasons, not least of which the fact that I'm going to be looking for housemates very soon. So I thought I'd free-write about it and share and see what other people thought about it, too.

When I first started doing the vegetarian thing, in 2004, it was so that I could get fresh produce instead of cafeteria food while I was working at a summer camp, and because I couldn't afford much of anything else. It turned out that I enjoyed it, although when I got more money and a different job I went back to eating meat, then gave up meat and kept eating fish, and by the end of November had just said "screw it I'm a vegetarian now." But I pretty much rejected any political premise for this --- sure some of it was in the back of my mind, but at the time I was going all California health-conscious and working out like crazy (for me, anyway, which is not as much as maybe it should be) and I associate the decision with that more than anything. 

I did veganism for Lent a couple of years --- maybe three? And the last time, 2008, it stuck. Partially I stuck with it because I had become lactose-intolerant from going vegan earlier and it was easier just to cut dairy out of my diet entirely. At the time, I wrote "I am not vegan because I believe it is wrong to eat animals or animal products." This has changed; I don't go so far as most abolitionist vegans [0] and think that animal lives are worth as much as human lives. I think it's important to prioritize human life and experience and to consider the people preparing and shipping and growing our food when we talk about "cruelty-free" products and diet. And I think there are some situations in which eating animal products isn't wrong, or at least, its wrongness doesn't matter very much, since it's stacked up against the wrongness of starving oneself (or malnourishing oneself, or what have you). But for people who have the time and Internet access to read my rambly thoughts about veganism, and who have the financial resources to make most to all of their own food choices, I think it's wrong to eat meat.

The thing is... I don't really care if you do it. We all do things that are wrong in this sense all the time. I think it's wrong to perpetuate economic inequities, but I'm not sending most of my income to charity organizations or to the government. [1] I think it's wrong to go to war most to all of the time, but I'm not out there protesting right now. I think it's wrong to make individual transportation dependent on fossil fuels whose extraction and marketing is hardly "cruelty-free" but I own a car. [2] It is my assumption that people who eat meat probably work to improve the world around them in different tiny ways from the ones I do, and it's not my place to tell them they should be improving the world in the tiny ways I find the most important. (I'm also not going to try to convince anyone that being vegan is one of the ways they should choose to do this; other people have done it much better.)

In terms of relationships, close friendships, and housemates? It is convenient and comfortable to spend time with people doing the same tiny things as me, and I like having housemates who are also vegan biker queer &c. &c. I'm basically unbothered by vegetarian food in my environment but sometimes the smell of cooking meat kinda weirds me out. Luckily our new house has a vent fan over the stove, so as long as potential new housemates do a good job with the dishes, I don't really mind. Kissing meat-eaters can be weird if it's right after a meal, but luckily my current onmivore paramour (which is super fun to say out loud) has quietly made this not an issue at all without my ever having to say anything. [3] I like to be able to cook for people, and I'm happy to meet their restrictions when doing so if they have allergies or preferences, although at this point if their preferences include "every meal must have animal products" we're probably not going to eat together very often because that's not a preference I can meet in my kitchen.

The environmental veg*n idea (mentioned in this comment) also holds some sway for me --- that producing meat requires more environmental resources (food, water, space, and so on) and it's good to take up fewer resources. I've heard anything from "meat takes twice as many resources" to "meat takes ten times as many resources" and I don't know what to believe, but not even Serious Meat Apologists claim it doesn't take more so I figure the claim, if not the scale, is true. It's hard to sit there and pat myself on the back for taking up fewer resources with my food choices when I live on arable land and grow grass, have central air, and own a car. But at least I don't eat animals too, I guess. ;)

A lot of vegans are down on them, and often for good reason, but vegan fake meat products really help me with all of this. Sure, they're more resource-intensive than raw produce, and they're mass-produced, and they're not as good for you, and so on, but they allow me access to the kinds of meals I find nostalgic (vegan calzones!!!!! <3 <3 <3 <3 <3) and the kinds of meals I can serve much more easily to omnivorous friends. Plus, they taste really good. ^^;; Over time I'm working on making my own (spiced seitan!) and abstracting the things I cook away from "fake meat" --- like marinated tempeh instead of "fake beef in a box" --- but I don't think the concept is inherently wrong given the cultural and nostalgic value that meat-seeming food has for a lot of people.

I should come back to this at the end of 2012 and see what I think then. In the meantime, it's time to have some granola with soy yogurt, and maybe some juice, and then get to work. :P

[0] Some would, either grinning enthusiastically or rolling their eyes, say "yet." I don't expect this to happen, but I also didn't expect to get where I am now, so who knows.

[1] Well, that might be even worse, really.

[2] I care a lot about this one too, thus all the walking and biking and such, but if I really cared, I could certainly live without a car. I just don't, because having one is nice, and I'm unwilling to give up the usefulness for the principle. Whether this is pragmatism or moral incontinence  depends on your perspective, I guess.

[3] He did once taste of cheap candy, but what can you do. ;)

Lately I've been working on talking about things when I think it's important to talk about them, even when doing so makes me uncomfortable. I've also, very recently, been trying to be more frank about what I don't know, and willing to be publically uncertain. So here's a post that contains a bunch of things that make me uncomfortable to share, and that I have absolutely no idea what to do about. As such, it might also contain a lot of things other people have said before or said better; I might be totally off base or missing something obvious. Please let me know if so.

I roll with a pack of genderheads, and sometimes conversation turns to rape[1].Trigger warning (though no explicit detail). )

October 2016

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