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: (vulpix is not pleased)
Hi all! Today I am leaving Seattle to go up to Vancouver for the Pokemon World Championships. I mostly won't be answering texts or my phone, since it will cost me money, though I'll try to keep people posted about how I'm doing. I'll post updates to Twitter (@raxvulpine) --- which I otherwise don't use --- and here when I can. The main reason to follow Twitter would be to see if I'm going to be in a featured match --- some matches will be streamed on www.twitch.tv/pokemon and if I know I'm going to get featured I will let people know. You can also see standings once the event starts Saturday at http://www.pokemonworldchampionships.com/2013/standings/ ; I am in the TCG, Masters Division.

I also got some positive press going into the event, being picked as part of a fantasy draft:

For the first time, a female player was chosen in our draft! After qualifying through the last chance tournament at US Nationals, Rachel Dillon from Arizona will be playing in this year’s World Championships (and for the Black Ballistas). Historically the Pokémon TCG has been a male dominated game, but that doesn’t mean things can’t change. Rachel did knock Jason Klaczynski out of the last chance tournament, so she’s a great player who’s on a roll.

So that's pretty awesome, although pronouns argh. Expect a post about gender, Pokemon, and competitive gaming in general when I get back.
rax: (Twilight finds this reading confounding.)
I have a few problems/goals I want to ask the internet for suggestions regarding. So, hi Internet! There are a jillion things I could be doing, but these particular things are taking up a bunch of space in my head, so I want to get them resolved or at least in progress so they won't do that anymore. These issues include the emotional and the logistical.
  • I'm making awesome friends in Tucson who do not share the value with me that you should refer to people by the pronouns that those people prefer. This is obnoxious. I don't want to not be friends with them, and occasional requests for correction are doing jack all. I've been trying to present more neutrally with them so that there is some kind of physical cue, but everything I do just codes feminine or butch to them as far as I can tell. Is there something clever I can do here? If I say "I prefer they and would appreciate if you used that pronoun," they sort of nod and say yes and then just don't, and they aren't really open to talking about it. I don't expect to get it 100% of the time and that's fine, but I'd feel more comfortable with it if it happened sometimes, or if I felt I'd exhausted my options. (Maybe I'll ask Zury to pull them aside or something? I don't feel like it's done much good coming from me.)
  • I have this water feature --- a little circulating pond and waterfall thing --- and it's full of nasty plant gunk and algae and whatnot such that the thing is kind of clogged and also gross. That's fine, I can clean it! But... how? My current plan is to drain it, let it dry, sweep it out, pull stuff out with gloved hands if necessary, and then fill it back up. This feels pretty reasonable, but how do I drain a pond? I am considering some sort of shopvac, but I don't know what kind to get --- I probably want something where I can just suck up the water and let it go into the ground, not have to fill the tank, empty it out, fill the tank, empty it out a billion times. Who do I even ask this question? A hardware store? (I can't redirect the pump I already have elsewhere because the piping is all underground... I think. I should doublecheck that when it's not dark out.)
  • How stupid of an idea is a king-size bed? (I have a lifestyle that occasionally but not often calls for three people sleeping in a single bed, or I would not evenbe considering this.) If it's not stupid, how expensive of an idea is it? I'm used to platform beds with futon mattresses, and knew how to shop for those mostly, but then Dream On Futon in Cambridge closed and it turns out all I know how to do is buy things from them that are good and buy things from Amazon that look good but are actually kind of shitty. It's not even that I expect the Internet to have the answer to the question "what bed do I want, if any" --- that's a synthesizing-information thing that I'm good at --- but I don't even know where to start. Bonus points for things that aren't "go somewhere where people will try to sell me something," although I guess at some point if I decide I want to upgrade I will need to patronize an establishment and disburse funds.
  • I think I answered this last one with a duckduckgo search, so nevermind.
Thanks for reading, even if you don't have any suggestions. :)
rax: (Twilight thinks Deleuze is on crack too.)
Random things:
  • This morning Krinn convinced me not to write a mail client with the most effective threat I have ever had made to me. (Recently our office mail server upgraded, and while in theory getting new webmail and access to Apple Mail and Outlook 2012 should make things better, each of those three clients has some critical flaw I can't chase down that makes me have to run a minimum of two of them at all times. I now understand why people write mail clients.) She said: "If you try to write a mail client, all of your Shaymins will stop smiling." I think I actually gasped. The image is SO SAD. Good work, Krinn. <3
  • I dreamt last night about being part of a band that did abstract process-as-performance shows where we dragged beanbag chairs on stage and had shitty rehearsals at various venues. It was awesome. I think the other members of the band were punk kids from our Pokemon league and from Albuquerque's. If no one has done this schtick yet, someone should. *finger on nose*
  • [personal profile] rushthatspeaks 's blog (and in particular this book review) got me thinking about generation ships --- which, if I understand correctly, are giant spaeships meant to serve as a habitat for many generations of human as they go off to colonize some new planet. I mean, I have never actually read a book or really consumed any media that used generation ships, because I'm a very sporadic consumer of science fiction, but the idea in and of itself makes sense and has some plausibility benefits over AND THEN THEY WOKE UP FROM CRYOSTASIS ON "EARTH, BUT WITH CAT PEOPLE" or what have you. What it did get me thinking about was Lyotard's essay "Can Thought Go On Without A Body?," which I am pretty sure is in The Inhuman. He talks about the difficulty of producing machines capable of thought, with the idea of sending them outside of the sphere of influence of the sun so that  thought will persist after the sun explodes/implodes/whatever. The reason he thinks it wouldn't work is that machines don't have gender --- that is, some difference between some fo them that has an almost religious inscrutability and implies the imbrication of the other with the self. Or something, I'm butchering his argument. The point is, if I take that argument at face value, I actually think generation ships could be the cure for gender, if that inscrutable difference as expressed in the people on the generation ship was the difference between the people who did and didn't stay on Earth. Maybe? I dunno. Been chewing on it, figured I'd share. (Also: Does gender need a cure? "Curing gender" is not unproblematic, but boy are there some interesting thought experiments and maybe stories in here. Haha. "Boy." GENDER WHY)
  • It turns out I can make fairly spicy lentil curry by just milling good black pepper into it until my arms are tired and then asking someone else to do the same. :D :D :D :D :D :D :D :D :D :D :D I have been trying and failing to make reasonable curry since losing nightshades from my diet, and apparently the trick was to start from an Ethiopian recipe and modify, rather than starting from an Indian one? Once I've got it at "I know what I'm doing" I will post a recipe or something.
  • I hate to do anything that even comes off as complaining about weather when I know a number of my friends are still stuck under snowdrifts, but on Sunday Rik and I walked for five miles or so and it was cold enough with the wind that my legs were covered in hives. Stupid cold allergy, and arguably, stupid me for walking five miles in shorts in February. It seems mostly better although my calves are still itchy as all get out, and while this is mostly not a huge deal I scratch in my sleep. :( I think as fashion disastery as this is, the best solution I have without spending money might be shorts, leg warmers, and sandals. ... ... ... how does one go about selecting good hiking pants? I don't know how to garment.
  • There's still a long-form life update email... coming... soon... ish? Hope y'all are doing well!
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: (Horo whiskers)
This document describes the proper procedures for referring to [livejournal.com profile] rax using third-person pronouns. It supersedes all previous such documentation.

The correct pronoun for referring to [livejournal.com profile] rax is now "they." This is true whether you are referring to them as [livejournal.com profile] rax , Rax, Rachel, Rach, Kitty-Fox, or any other approved appellation. The pronoun "she" from pronoun release 2.0 is deprecated but still supported; there are not currenly plans to cease supporting this pronoun because the tech industry vertical maintains support for the 2.0 reference API as a requirement. Calls to the 2.0 system may occasionally produce warning messages encouraging you to update your pronoun usage, depending on the context of your statement. Use of the 1.0 pronoun API is explicitly unsupported and may lead to erratic and unexpected results; it is not recommended. If you find old documentation or legacy code that refers to [livejournal.com profile] rax with legacy pronouns, please inform them so that the situation may be remedied.

[livejournal.com profile] rax offers limited support for other gender-neutral pronoun calls; while "ey" and "xie" are not explicitly supported, these pronouns have been successful in limited field testing. If there is interest, a patch release may be offered in the future supporting these alternate pronoun sets. Please contact your sales representative for more information.

This change to the pronoun API does not constitute a change in the core [livejournal.com profile] rax gender identities module; no such changes are planned, although all things are possible. For more information about the core gender identities module, please contact Customer Support.

Life update

Nov. 9th, 2011 09:11 am
rax: (N hearts you! This is dangerous.)
I am not just a machine that does tasklists, I promise. Of course this post is also a list, but it's not a tasklist, so at least it's something?
  • School: Is going better, overall, at least for me. I'm excited about my final projects even if they weren't what I initially hoped to be doing, and I'm seeing people on campus I can build alliances with. I'm also getting excited about theory again, which is never a bad thing. Occasionally I say things that make me sound a little crazy: "Yes, but I want to be interpellated as an animal by the state," but I'm actually being challeged in really productive ways by one professor and I appreciate that a lot.
  • Work: Remains... workly? Distance is beting harder these past couple of weeks than normal but after this weekend I will be less of a stressball and have some plans for trying to work on that. I'm getting some longer-term stuff done and that always feels a little more distancing because I am not talking to people about it every day. That doesn't mean it's not important.
  • Pokémon: I'll be in Providence playing competitive Pokémon this weekend. A: This is awesome. B: How is this my life. I don't actually think I'll do very well, because I've been putting my free time into school, work, and relationships rather than obsessively testing things in a card game. I am OK with this. It should still be fun.
  • Relationships: I got to see Ruth recently, which was great and amazingly stress-reducing and involved a lot of exciting cookery. (Getting together with people I am involved with or attracted to almost always results in our producing lots of food. I ... do not know what to make of this? Except mmmmm, seitan.) It looks like I will get to see her more often in a few months, which is even more exciting! Also, we're coming up on three years. Holy crap. Also, I got to have Rik over for like eleven days which just... wow. At first having both Rik and Krinn here was super confusing, but once I figured it out, that was really nice. It's amazing to feel so supported and to spend time with people who I love dearly. Also Rik made me a cake when I turned 27 again. <3 Clearly I need to trick everyone into moving to the same city in five years. The distance is hard, and having Rik leave Monday and then tomorrow leaving Krinn (who is amazing and wonderful to live with and I am sad when she leaves for work in the morning which is not to say that I'm unhappy that she has a job but that I would like to be sufficiently spoiled as to have someone to lean on at all times) to go to Boston is currently feeling way harder than I expected it to. It's kind of a crash. But Boston is Boston, so I think I will be OK.
  • Real estate: Pending extreme fuckery, the house in Bloomington will be sold as of tomorrow. That was an expensive mistake. Live and learn? Or maybe "make sure your advisor is happy somewhere before you buy real estate there?" I don't know. I'm not sure what the moral of this story was other than "ha ha sometimes you get fucked over by things that have nothing to do with you." I already knew that lesson, life. Why the repeats? Lucky for me, I am in a good enough state that getting fucked over only makes me sad, not in any sort of serious danger. Go team Nokia bought my startup I guess. When it's all over and done with, I am ritually washing my hands of Indiana.
  • Pronouns: I'll be writing another post about this soon, but my preferred pronoun is now "they." I'd appreciate it if you used that pronoun when referring to me. If you could hold your questions until the pronoun post, which I hope to write right after this one if work stays quiet, I'd appreciate it.
  • Overall: I am happier in Tucson than I was in Bloomington; I feel safer in Tuscon than I did in Bloomington; I am glad that I moved here. I still need to develop more of a local social group, but I feel better equipped to do that here and I've made some progress. I have friends. Who are not students. This rocks. Living in multiple time zones is still weird --- half of my clocks are set to Eastern time for work and half are set to local --- but it's producing interesting shifts in my thinking that I don't know how to express yet. I'm a huge stressball right now but I foresee things getting better; I have all of my hard assignments done except final papers and those are fun because I get to pick the topic and write about the stuff I've been thinking all semester, and I have some vacation days to actually use and have my time in California in December be calming. And some projects for fun that I am working on that are silly but fulfilling. So: Yay!
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.

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