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.

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: (I have the technology. I can evolve you.)
  • Realized this morning while talking to Krinn that I am simultaneously very stressed and not depressed at all, which is unusual for me. It's kind of amazing, because I am not depressed, fuck yes. But in the past when I've been super stressed the depression was kind of a coping mechanism around not caring that much because, you know, nothing really matters. (Anyone can see.) And so why bother engaging with the stress? Right now, I care, dammit. I want to do well in my classes. I want to do well in my job. I want to support my friends and loved ones. And daaaaaang that's a lot of work. I will take it over the alternative, although I really want to reduce the stress, because I can feel it weighing on me (and I'm grinding my teeth in my sleep a lot, ugh --- this is something that has happened intermittently to me since I was small, and tends to go away when I get my stress levels back down to manageable, although apparently it has been pretty consistent lately; at one point I tried a mouthguard and it stopped the grinding but also caused me to wake up all the time, which was not worth it). 
  • Grad school: Classes are getting better, which is pretty great, and I am enjoying the majority of my readings a fair bit, even though occasionally I look at something like Descartes and think "While I understand that I should have read this in order to get a PhD in something humanitiesy, this is so fucking dumb." [0] I've also been spending time meeting faculty from other departments and traversing the academy in order to find people to work with on my research. I'm not quite sure where this process will end up yet but if nothing else the conversations are really exciting and fun. I actually found someone in academia who knew what a furry was! That was pretty awesome. There is also stupid departmental drama but it does not merit my or your attention to discuss further. [1] Overall I am feeling more excited and motivated, which was good, because I was at a really low point like a month ago.
  • Work: Has been slow this week, which is nice because I had a paper due yesterday. This working 6-2 or 6:30-2:30 thing is a little crazy, but ultimately works out. In general work is pretty awesome. I need to figure out when I next go and visit them; sometimes the phone can be a little tough. On the plus side, I am actually helping customers do real work of value, which is a hard feeling to beat. And I have metrics! And I do well at them! Oh, if only gender studies had metrics.
  • Pokemon: This is sort of my main leisure-time activity? I played in some tournaments, came away with one Championship Point (if you get enough, you get an invite to the World Championships), and most importantly had a lot of fun. I got a little down at one event where I made a stupid mistake and lost a chance at a very high place because of it, but what can you do? ... If you are me the answer is apparently "play a bunch of games of speed chess afterward to calm your nerves." One of the people I played with said "It's cool, dude, this is just for fun" and my response was "This is how I have fun." He gave me a look, which was fair, but I wasn't joking. I will be going to a Regionals tournament, which should be much bigger and allow me to meet lots of new people. It's sort of like meeting new people through chess, except everyone isn't either a middle-aged man or a nine-year-old prodigy. [2]
  • Tucson: Making friends is slow but proceeds apace; feeling enmeshed in the community will take some more work, which I hope to put in over time. But oh my god the climate, the geography, the materiality of this place are so perfect for me. I love the mountains. I love the sky. I love the air, I love the bike lanes, I love the plant life, I even love the terrifying peccaries who show up in packs and hold my house under siege. (Seriously. Pigs the size of small wolves.) I wish I had more time to engage with it all. I need to prioritize engaging with it all. I, just, it's mid-October and the high today is 93. HOW DID I EVER LIVE ANYWHERE ELSE.
  • House in Bloomington: Is pending a sale with a signed offer. I am not counting my chickens until they hit puberty, but this is promising. I will be losing a ton of money but I am just, barely, by a finger, in the range of acceptable losses.
  • Friends and loved ones: A lot of people very dear to me are going through some really bad shit right now, and that is part of why I am so stressed. There's not so much I can do about it, but I do what I can; if there's something I can do for you that I don't realize, please drop me a line. I don't have a lot of temporal resources, but I have many other kinds. And I care. <3
  • In conclusion: I'm a stressball (oh god am I a stressball, fur flying everywhere) but I am nonetheless happy. Reducing stress levels is probably important longterm, but I prefer this situation to a whole lot of recent alternatives.

[0] Terrifying thought: Do other people think this about the authors I like??
[1] It is based on real issues and has real effects on people I care about, and thus is worth mentioning, but the way to deal with that is not to rehash it all on LJ.
[2] This is sort of an unfair characterization --- in particular there were a couple of awesome women who were also very strong players in the Boston chess scene --- but it's how it feels at large events especially. And I'm being nice to Pokemon; while there are a lot more women in the game overall, the top levels are still mostly male, and a lot of the online community is awfully... representative of structural gender inequalities and biases. So far though tournaments and leagues have been super pleasant, and the only person I've seen do something obviously sexist was a twelve-year-old who shat a brick when I called him on it.
rax: (kotone/silver hug awwwwwwwwh)
  • I've listed my house for sale; I'm hoping to keep my losses under 10K. Ow. I'm very lucky to begin with to (a) own a house and (b) be able to soak a loss of 10K not happily but without serious suffering. I am totally in the first world problems zone here, maybe the 0.5th world problems zone. Nonetheless... Ow. Chances I will still be living here in three months? Vanishingly slim. I'm in touch with a realtor in Tucson; obviously I'm not picking a new place until I am For Sure Absolute Reals guaranteed a position there, but things look likely and I feel confident and so that's the plan I'm working with. I may even have a full house on arrival, but I don't want to jinx that too much, so I'll talk more about it later. 
  • You may be unsurprised to hear that despite no longer being in classes at all, I am only a bit less busy than I was a month ago, thanks to work eating more of my time and having to deal with the house and Arizona stuff and all manner of nonsense and froofery. I'm way less stressed, though if you hadn't seen me a month ago you probably wouldn't believe that given how stressed I still am, but if you did, you know. :)
  • As part of being less stressed, and also as part of having a houseguest, I've been making more interesting food recently! I've done vegan pizza a couple of times, seitan lentil curry, vegan chicken fried steak (inspired by though different from this recipe), pancakes... we're talking about doing some kind of seitan in cherry-currant sauce over couscous tonight, though we have a bunch of oil left over from last night and we might just see what's left in the house that we can fry. :) We were mumbling about onion rings...
  • In the last few weeks I've learned that, upon re-reading my prose, I can usually take a few words out of every paragraph and improve the paragraph by so doing. I think this is a fine thing, as long as I remember to go and do this all the time. I suspect that some of my older writing may be hella wordy, unless using crazy long clauses is something I've picked up recently by reading crazy long-winded philosophers. Either way oh my god I keep catching myself using five words to say things like "to" or "and." ^^;; This may have something to do with why I always find myself struggling against the top edge of wordcount limits and not the bottom one... (see also last semester's 12000 word final paper, which was just ridiculous)
  • Speaking of which, that paper's been in submission --- revised, down to 8000 words --- to a journal for almost two and a half months. I suspect I am at least going to get a peer review back... This is exciting and also terrifying. Oh, I have a talk proposal out to a conference, too. I need to submit more of those this summer; I have a couple of papers that are some revision away from a reasonable conference talk, I think. And one paper that... man, I like the theoretical moves I was making, but I dunno about the paper as a whole. I may take one section out of it and build it into something else and let the rest go. I'm gonna sit on it for a while and then come back to it and see what I think.
rax: (Silver whaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaat)
  • Of three classes being taken, one class is completely done, one class just needs a couple of hours of revision on the paper and I should be able to submit it this weekend, and the other one (the paper is due in six days) is at 12/25 pages with an outline as well as an outline for an extra section in case I need more text. Which I doubt I will. But just in case. The class I was teaching-assisting for has 38/70 exams graded and then maybe an hour of administrivia and that should also be done this weekend. So that will leave me with just the one paper to finish. I really, really, really want to be done with it by Tuesday so I can send it in and spend Wednesday through Friday relaxing, spending time with my friends, doing a small amount of job work, and playing the growing pile of unopened JRPGs on the bedside table. ^^;; I would looooooooooooove to finish it this weekend... but I probably won't. And even if I do I will want to revise it on Monday or Tuesday because I doubt I could write 15 pages in the next two days at a quality level I am comfortable with. Ugh.
  • As part of my plot to do every productive thing I can think of that isn't the paper I am brain-blocked on, and because of something that happened to one of my colleagues, I really want to get automated backups running for my colo machine. (My laptop uses Time Machine, which I need to leave running again sometime soon, but that's not a huge deal in the same way honestly.) I have a Debian machine in colo and a Debian machine in my house. Both have DNS. I'm sure there's some obvious solution. Please help? (And if the solution is "rsync" can you explain what I actually have to do? I have no brain left. The inside of my head is full of gender.)
  • Because it is Final Paper Time here at... our house still doesn't have a name [0]... the table is covered in books, one pile per person. It's entertaining how obvious our sub-disciplines are from our respective piles of books; it's awesome how many of my pile have animals on the front cover. (Oddly, my pile also includes a burly 10" wrench and a pair of black cat ears. It's finals time. These things happen.)
  • Seriously my brain has turned to mush. I'm trying to think thinky thoughts because I'm supposed to be writing a brilliant paper. I wanna just hand in "foxes are pretty! I like to look at them gambol in the snow. Also, trampolines! Here are twenty-five pages of pictures of foxes I found on Google Image Search!" However I will not do this. Probably.
  • The Sacred Book of the Werewolf is an even more amazing book if you stir it up with Deleuze and Guattari and see what happens. I am just sayin'. A new reading of this book may be the most useful thing I get out of Deleuze and Guattari, but even if it is it will not have been a waste of my time. We will see.
  • Making these posts a weekly tasklist item was a brilliant plan.

[0] Gender Haüs? The Pokemon Center? Tailechery? Radical Plane of Immanence? I still have nothing I like. I love my house, but I still miss Cathedral.


Dec. 5th, 2010 11:20 pm
rax: (Benten metal sign)
  • Spent the weekend with a houseguest, which was enjoyable and forced me to spend at least some time playing board games instead of working on final papers. (God do I miss having someone around who will just play game after game of two player advanced Race for the Galaxy with me.) We also made an apple pie! 
  • Finished a draft of my Concepts of Gender paper, and it's... well, it's either really awesome or completely insane. There's a lot in there and I think a lot of what is in there is good and I don't know if it all hangs together. Luckily a classmate and I are swapping papers and she will be honest with me about whether it works or not. ...whether I have the time to fix it if it doesn't work is another question, and depends on how quickly I progress with my other paper. But I can at least fix the most obvious things, and professors understand that we have finite time to produce these papers in. They're not meant to be first drafts, but they're also not meant to be journal-ready.
  • And that's about it. Although I'm working on another post and I might or might not friends-lock it, I haven't decided yet. Providing useful information to people is good! Providing deeply personal information to the world at large is bad! I guess I'll decide and you'll see.
  • Oh, and CATGIRL GOTH RAVE. Expect an invite under friendslock with location information within the next 24 hours; I am just waiting on my host to send me address/directions.
rax: (eevee love hug smiling)
Rik arrives in around twelve hours on a flight from Seattle and will be here for a week. I was up stupid late last night anyway; this will be fine. Because RIK. <3

The electrician says there's no electrical damage and the way I handled it probably prevented it from being a lot worse. EDIT: The power is fine! And the stove even still powers on! Although the control buttons are... not super responsive and kinda melted and it should probably still be replaced.

I think this is a good time to take a walk and get lunch, which will cross off two more items on my emergency today tasklist. Then uh maybe it's OK to play Pokemon for an hour or two before I move on to the next task.

rax: (Benten guitar case)
If any of you are still fresh and would like to come help us with packing and moving --- we're pretty done with the packing but the kitchen might not be totally done and eredien's still finishing her stuff in the bedroom --- that would be super awesome. I'm sure we'll still be going in an hour or two. Most of us who are here have been working at this for 10-12 hours and some fresh blood would be awesome. We have extra vegan pizza.

If you can't or don't want to or are far away, no problem, supportive vibes are also accepted. You know where to beam them.

We're going to get this done. It just might suck.



rax: (klax rax)
So I gave my talk.

The auditorium was almost completely full and there were a bunch of people standing. I mostly recognized the teachers who knew me, but there was one who I didn't; she asked if I remembered her and I said no and she was really sad, but then she reminded me who she was and I was able to say "Oh yes now I do!" and that it was better for me to not lie because that way we could re-establish a connection. So that was OK. Hilariously, a couple of teachers came up to the front of the auditorium to talk to me while people were filing in, walked right past me, and up to the high school boy wearing makeup and girl jeans who had helped to organize the event. [0] ("What's she going to look like?" "It can't be that hard, just find the boy in girl clothes.") I don't know if that counts as passing or not. :)

I ended up doing about 30 minutes of direct speaking and then 15 minutes of Q&A. I stood at the bottom of the auditorium where I could lean against the stage if I wanted, held a microphone in my right hand, and held 4"x5" pink note cards in my left hand, which I tossed aside when I was done with them. (Audiences eat it up. Conferences, colleges, high school kids, doesn't matter. I'm not even sure why. It's so simple! I guess the first time they don't expect it --- who throws their note cards when they're done with them? --- and then it lends a sort of rhythm to the talk and gets people to pay attention.) I managed not to talk with my hands so much that I displaced the microphone, although I'm used to (preferred) not bothering with a mic or just using a podium. But using a podium for this would have been really distancing, and I wanted to establish as much rapport as I could.

I introduced myself and talked about how this sort of event would never have happened while I was in high school --- we never talked about any of this stuff. Then I laid out an outline and actually got through the whole thing. I tried to explain what trans was, inasmuch as I even know, and went over some basic terminology, like what it means if someone is a "trans man" versus a "trans woman." [1] I didn't get to get into passing, but that was OK; I explained that transition isn't just surgery and talked about language and presentation and legalities and hormones. I tried to explain why "What causes this to happen?," while interesting, is a dangerous question by talking about the John/Joan experiment, which seemed to get a lot of people's attention.

They'd focused in the all-school presentations on bullying and the perpetrator-bystander-ally-victim model. I explained some of the language they shouldn't use or it would be bullying (they got a real kick out of "shemale" being a "porn word" but I think it made the point). The thing I tried to get across that was trickier was that a lot of the time, with trans people, you can hurt someone a lot by accident if you use the wrong name or pronouns, and it compounds itself quickly if not controlled because other people start to do the same thing. I used the story of the teachers on Monday night who were genuinely friendly but kept flubbing the pronouns and how awkward that was and I don't know how much it got across to the kids but it definitely got the adults thinking. And to a certain extent I was educating the teachers as much as I was educating the students, so I think that's good :)

The question and answer session was difficult but actually really fun. I can prepare talks reasonably well and am OK to good at giving them, but I really like being called on to do and say things on the spot, and you can usually tell the best parts of my talks because I don't look at my notes for a while. Taking questions on trans issues is always difficult because people are absolutely going to ask rude and personal questions, everything from "What people are willing to sleep with you?" (my glib response is always "Bisexuals!") to "Does it feel different to have a penis or a vagina?" which I responded to with an explanation of how it's sort of like healing a broken arm. It's tricky to balance keeping the answers interesting and true without making the whole thing a referendum on my sex life; luckily a bunch of the questions were actually really good and I had prepped answers to some of the obvious questions so I was able to play it cool. I actually got spontaneous applause on a bunch of my answers, so I think I did OK.

After I got flooded by high school students thanking me and wanting a hug and wanting to tell me about how they were trying to start a GSA, which was awesome and scarier than giving the talk, I walked through the school for a bit. It's very different from how it used to be --- there's a second floor where there used to not be one! A group of boys laughed at me amongst themselves, one of them saying "Oh my god look at how he walks," and I just said "It's the shoes, and I can hear you" and kept walking. It's very nice to get made fun of in high school and just seriously not care. I'm sure some of the students came for the spectacle, to laugh at me and not with me, and that's fine. Some of them will keep laughing at me, and maybe I planted a germ in their minds, and that's all I can do.

That took more out of me than I expected, but I could do it again more easily, and I could do it again at a high school that wasn't my alma mater much more easily. So I'll probably keep those notecards, with a little shuffling, and maybe I'll get a chance to use them again. There's a videotape; if it isn't hideous, when I get a copy, I'll post it.

[0] Who looked astonishingly like Kevin Barnes.

[1] I'm always surprised how many people get this wrong. A trans man is a man who is trans, and could also be called ftm in a different set of nomenclature.

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