Cllllassssss
newchaotic

I am in a class right now with four other classmates.  It’s a “feminist research methods” class and is focused upon us integrating feminist principles into our own projects.  Finally I settled upon looking at gender identity, although my project itself is still a bit vague.  But to me, it’s a frightening thing to talk about my thoughts on gender every week with people who are open-minded and liberal, but do lack any background in queer theory and the like.  So when I described myself as genderqueer in one class, I think my class took that to mean that I’m a lesbian.  We can talk more about that later. 

One of the people in my class told me that ze was very happy that ze’d met me and listened to me, and recounted a few stories:

The first is that ze is pretty sure that zir child (who around 20) is gay.  As ze said “She doesn’t talk to me about it, but you know, we watch the L word together.”  (Yes, I know, I rolled my eyes a bit too; but then did meet that person, who had many of the cultural cues that are associated with non-hetero-ness – short hair, baggy clothes, awesome swagger).   Apparently, at one point, the two of them were watching the show and friends stopped by, and my classmate was embarrassed and left the room.  Then, in zir room, suddenly thought “What am I doing?  I am abandoning my kid, and showing them that I don’t accept them” and so ze went back out.

Another thing this classmate brought up was that zir other child (who’s in midteens) snuck out of the house one night.  When my classmate discovered this, ze angrily phoned and then texted, asking what was going on, and said something like “Whoever you’re out with, he or she has no respect.”  Afterwards, the teenager thanked my classmate for not immediately assuming the person ze was out with was male, and ended up admitting to finding female people attractive as well. 

So my thoughts on this?  On one hand, I’m a bit frustrated.  It feels like my classmates (and prof) aren’t really listening to what I’m saying about gender, and continuing to conflate gender identity with sexual orientation.

On the other hand, I’m glad that my presence is opening up those thought processes.  Really glad – it’s so positive to hear that sort of thing. 


Humans
newchaotic
Lately, I have been feeling chronically disappointed.  Recently, someone on FB posted some mild genderfucking (using female terms when they, as far as I can see, ID as male), so I messaged zir and tried to open up conversation.  I got a fairly innocuous "I'm pointing out ridiculous binaries" response, I tried to follow up, but received a similar response once again, just worded differently.  I know this person to also be vegan, alternative thinking, leans towards anarchist politics...  Was it naive of me to think that these commonalities would mean connection would happen?  Despite having some wonderful people in my life, I still feel isolated.  I was really hoping to find someone else to discuss these issues with...or at least talk to and not feel like a radical freak (token treehugger/queer/dissenter).  With the average person, I feel unable to discuss anything but the most trivial of life happenings.  Find commonality...that is what Case always advocates.  I can do that...but it always feel shortlived.  Like, a new person and I may discover that we both love the company of cats, but ze may think of cats in ownership terms and think there's nothing wrong with "purchasing" purebreds to select custom traits.  Someone not sharing my values doesn't mean I can't enjoy zir company, or even become friends, but it does mean that our conversation is circumscribed.
I am writing down my thoughts, with the final purpose of creating a zine by the end of the semester.  Or perhaps adding it to the queer zine that Margeaux and co. are supposedly making.  I need to think more on how to preserve both my mental health and my values, and how to be both compassionate and assertive.

Said to Tiff via text:
newchaotic
The more I come into a way of life that is authentic to myself and my values, the farther away I get from generally accepted social norms.

Perception
newchaotic
Sometimes I realize that my default position is assuming that humans with different eye colours naturally see the world in different shades.  Perhaps that's why I am so baffled by Mel at times - because she perceives events so very differently than me, but her eyes are deep brown like mine.  I remember once, standing with her in her previous kitchen as we just looked at each other, probably for a few minutes.  Case held us both, and when we finally broke our gaze he commented that it was the most beautiful moment, because Mel and I had such similar eyes.  
Today I gazed out my kitchen window and tried to imagine inhabiting another body.  This body was fair, and had fictional-lagoon eyes.  And I made up the rules with romantic abandon: every time I blinked, the body would change, between my conventional body and the imagined one.  Blink.  Brown.  Blink.  Blue.  Blink.  The perspective change was like the tests at the eye doctors, wherein the optometrist tries out each pane of prescription glass in front of ones eyes through a monstrous metal mask with sliding glass eyeholes.  Click!  Click!  And with each, the room changes shape, the contours shift, focus blurs and sharpens alarmingly.
What astounded me about the exercise was that I really felt it.  Without any discernible change, nonetheless I felt the difference acutely - the minimal effort needed to distort my reality.  At other times, I focus on parts of my body - like my legs, or back, and just with that attention I can will pain and discomfort into my knees, unbearable heaviness upon my arms that no longer even support themselves, I can feel like it's the first time I have ever recognized my feet as belonging to my geography.  Mapping out the ways in which I can control my bodily experience is both terrifying and enlightening.  It sheds light on the placebo effect: I know what I'm doing and am disoriented, so how is someone who doesn't even realize what zir mind is doing supposed to stand a chance of thinking critically?
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(don't) breathe in
newchaotic
The smoke is so bad in Prince George right now that the busses are running with free fares, and citizens are advised to stay indoors and refrain from physical activity.  Through the haze running a dingy orange, the sun glares feeble as a fluorescent light.  The mountains have been vanquished, or are hiding.  My friends and I tie fabric pieces around our noses and mouths - Case in a bright pink scarf, Tiare in a ragged scrap of floral, me in a yellow paisley bandanna.  We are bandits in the bandanna'd bicycle brigade, and we feel oddly badass.   On the few instances where I've ridden my bicycle unmasked, the smoke takes the initiative to parch my poor respiratory system and coat my lungs in powdery dessication.  Case and I both cough during the nights, in sudden dry fits. Regardless of our tobacco proclivities, my hometown makes smokers of us all.
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Gala adventures
newchaotic
Last night after work, Chey and Heather invited me out to Shane Lake to roast veggie dogs.  Mel came, and Case after some friendly peer pressure (he was very tired and worried about getting tasks done).  At Shane Lake, we made the veggie dogs and sat at the picnic table munching on watermelon and cherries.  Case played his harmonica.  At one point, Mel and I snuck away, gathered pine cones and sticks, and went back to launch a volley attack from a path that runs parallel to the firepit area.  The others tried to come around the right side to fight back, and then we managed to get around the other side without them seeing and back to the firepit, so when they returned we acted like nothing had happened.  We drove back in Heathers car, with Case and Mel and I lazily affectionate in the backseat - the kind of affection that's made up mostly of hand-holding and sleepy smiles. 

We had a scattered nap after dinner, but I was too restless to really fall asleep until the last half hour or so.  Tiare had invited me out to Gala, and I was very set on going, so I set my alarm for 10:30 and got up then.  If I had not committed, I may have been content to just go to bed for the night, but I'm glad I dragged myself out of bed.  Case and Mel both decided to come along as well.

One of the memories of the night was watching Case dance. He's changed even since I met him; when I met him he was more reserved, if anything, and (in his own words) was adept at passing as "straight white male."  He used to wear baggier dark pants, a somber jacket, although he had his pink sweater and jaunty scarves.  Last night he was wearing his green pants (left behind by his previous roommate, Christina), that they show off his legs, and a striped red and white shirt (which likewise was a gift from a female-bodied friend) that is tight around his waist ).  He is such a very small man, although he's average height, and he actually has relatively broad shoulders.  But his chest and hips are so compact, I can wrap my arms around his torso and grab my elbows. Last night his size was especially noticeable against a backdrop of other male-identified creatures, like our friend Nathan, who is tall and broad and lanky.  Watching the two of them dance was both adorable and hot, and often amusing (such as when Nathan just picked Case up and spun him in circles).
Mel and I, sharing a chair and watching, discussed Case and I asked "What is it about him?  I can't pin it down" and she answered after a breath, "He has his own way of moving."  And he does. 
I'm so glad Mel came out.  She's usually not into crowds, and has been stressed lately so it was brave of her.  She adamantly told us that she doesn't dance, and every time I returned to her she was smiling.  Several people told us we were "matching" (both wearing black tank tops) even though we had different pants on (green khaki shorts for her, jeans for me).  I was so proud to be there associated with them; makes me regret having to miss Pride.  It's lovely to be in a place where we can just be us, co-adventurers, where people aren't staring; at Gala, at least many of the people are used to being stared at themselves.
After the bar closed we hung around outside.  There were many hugs goodbye.  The most amusing was Nathan hugging Tiare, because he had to lean so far over for it, and she was wearing her jacket with the long elf-like hood so I commented that they looked very Tolkein-esque.  Mel and Case and I took off on our bicycles, leaving behind the crass crowds still milling at the Generator and the hovering taxi cabs and the stumbling walkers, and we seemed weightless and poised like a debonair flock of bike-birds swooping elegantly along the traffic lanes which, temporarily, were completely ours.

On "conversion"
newchaotic
I became vegetarian in February, when I realized that I had eaten flesh only once in the month preceding.  It just made sense, suddenly, but I didn't give it much thought.  That was also the time when I started galvanizing on environmenal issues.  I see it as a timing thing - after moving out for a month, I settled down into deciding how I wanted to live.  It was a week after going veg that I met Case - this articulate, intense guy with "vegan" buttons on his bag.  We discussed it that first night.  He's since told me that it had been a very long time since he had talked about animal rights (A.R.) stuff in quite awhile.  Later that week I was texting with a good friend and mentioned I'd met someone cool, and of course was asked to describe this person so I mentioned he was an activist, vegan, musician, blond, not my usual type at all.  She replied that "vegans are stupid" and when I asked why, she said something like "name one good reason for being vegan."  I was more than a little hurt, defensive, but in truth I couldn't think of anything, because it was all too new.  I think I replied something about not wanting to argue about it.  Really, that series of texts spurred me to do more reading because it made me acknowledge that I knew almost nothing in that area.  So I started reading - blogs, vegan outreach stuff, and got into some academic literature.  I made vegan banana bread and gave away my leather boots.  Still I existed in that weird veg*n-ish territory.  I wrote an essay for my Feminist Theory course about feminism and vegetarianism, and the interlocking oppressions of exploitation of female humans and nonhuman animals.  In the meantime, Case and I became closer, although we talked very little about A.R. issues.  We met Mel: bike enthusiast and vegan of over 14 years, she became our co-adventurer and rounded out our basement community of 3.  It wasn't until my birthday dinner that I tentatively told my dad, who was cooking, if my meal could be made without milk or eggs (he made a smashing vegan bean lasagna). 
Mel and Case and I were chatting once about our reasons and motivations for going vegan.  I mentioned that I was freshly vegetarian when I met Case, and Mel said wryly "So he converted you."  Case and I both bristled at that.  Case tells the story as "We talked about it when we met, then barely again and she went off and read a whole bunch and came back more knowledgeable than me."  So...what do I think was the turning point? 
Meeting Case was a catalyst, for sure.  He normalized the whole thing for me.  But I like to think I would have come this route eventually. I read blogs of all sorts - some were angry, some tried the fun and perky vegan route, some simply recounted oppositions that they faced every day.  In those, and some of the academic sources I read, I started to see that to abstain from flesh while still consuming pre-flesh and bodily fluids of non-human animals was arbitrary at best, and irresponsible and morbid at worst.  Most importantly, I had to examine my own stance as a feminist: how could I say that I, as a feminist, am against all forms of oppression while actively engaging in the oppression of a whole demographic?  I couldn't. 
I love my little community.  I find the problem is that after being with them, the "real world" is jarring in its ignorance.  Do you know how difficult it is to repeat the same arguments to every single person you come across?  (I'm sure you do: society isn't particularly tactful or accepting to anyone deemed "deviant".) 
So, conversion: I was "converted" in the sense of gaining knowledge and arguments so compelling that I knew I could not continue living the way I had been.  This knowledge has concretized in my mind and is now the integral to what forms my moral stance.  Animal rights issues are not my main concern in life right now, but not exploiting other sentient beings if I can help it seems a pretty basic thing to live by.
I still worry, though, that outsiders (that is, family, pre-veg friends, coworkers) will perceive my recent lifestyle changes as "conversion" in the more negative sense: that, still young and naive, I've been tricked and convinced into extremism.  I often have to defend myself, most often to my family (understandably, right: they love me, they see that I'm changing and they don't quite understand the purposes and motivatins of these changes).  Ah well.  It's not nearly enough to deter me, not even close.

Answers in green
newchaotic
A few days ago, my mom went through a cleaning spurt at the family house and decided that Carly's boxes and things on shelves were no longer welcome, at least in their present quantities.  Part of this was due to my small twin-size bed being moved underneath the loft bed in the spare bedroom, so my stuff that had been under there was packed up.  Anyways, we did a full truck load of old items ferried to the Alward house, and I've been dealing with the aftermath since.

As I was writing a to-do list, I became overwhelmed with it once I hit more than 20 small tasks of varying difficulties and time commitments.   Empty big box, set up keyboard, clean hamper, fold big blankets. . . Weary already, I opted to sit and chat with Chey.  Finally when I could avoid it no longer, I devised a new method of motivation:  I tore the task list into bits (retaining each separate entry) and then folded them up, ballot style.  These bits I put in a hat, and asked Heather to pick the first one out for me: "organize corner papers."  That, friends, has been on my to-do lists for the last few months, but has always been easily pushed aside.  Not so much this time, so I did that task, then picked out another.  And so on.  I got 8 done that first night, 3 yesterday, and 7 today.  As I do each to-do item I find I usually come up with a new one in addition, so I write those down and stick them in the hat too.  Slowly, though, the number is decreasing, and the number of finished tasks stuck to my wall with blue sticky-tac increases in satisfying manner.

This morning I looked up sources for my essay, then did some "hat-tasks" as I've taken to calling them (hamper-cleaning, online banking, garbage-emptying, recyling sorting, to name a few).  I headed over to Case's and made a rendition of Waldorf salad, with rice, vegan mayonnaise, apples, mixed nuts, corn, and lots of dill.  Yum!  We talked, and then watched youtube videos, then took an extended reading break.  The break was planned to be the length of one cigarrette, but we kept reading - Case sitting, smoking in his infuriatingly elegant way (I hate how beautiful he is when he smokes.  It bothers me that he can look so serene, so lovely, while enacting a habit that I despise); and smiling up at me as I paced around the plank-and concrete-block benches around the fire pit outside and read from The Butcher of Penetang, a gloriously readably poetic collection of short stories centred around Northern BC.  Punctuated by visits from the upstairs housemates and the kitties Dante and X, we read through dusk so that when we finally bustled inside at 10 our hands were too cold to touch each other.  Warm tea soothed our hands and we listened to an painfully overdone CBC program on sexual bullying in Toronto high schools.  Case is playing his horn now, and the promise of an early bedtime will cap off the night nicely.

Couch Adventures
newchaotic
Yesterday was my day off, and I spent it well.  In the morning did two loads of laundry, hung up on the line, and dishes (dishes in the sink, not on the line).  Then I headed to my parent's house via bus n' bike.  Picked up the truck and trailer from there and then picked up Case, and we headed to Mel's house.  Mel is away on field work right now but she is moving into Case's by the end of the month so we did one load of boxes and furniture to make the moving next weekend less stressful.  And my goodness, we certainly picked up some stress with this load!  The main culprit was the couch, coupled with Case's very non-couch friendly house.  There was no way it could make it through his basement entrance, and so we ended up taking it through the upstairs entrance, from which there's a wee narrow staircase.  
To get it in the door we had to lift it above the patio/deck walls.  The staircase is immediately within and to the left of the back doorway, and that took probably 10 minutes of maneuvering/balancing, edging it through and balancing it on the banister while Case slid it over and then stood underneath it on the stairs.  Then, on the way down the stairs, we decided that there was no way it would actually fit that way.  "But it will definitely fit EVEN LESS through the other entrance!" I lamented, "There has to be a way.  There's a couch downstairs, I doubt they built the house around it."  So we stood and crouched there - Case wedged between the couch and the stairwell, me at the top holding the other side.   And contemplated.  Then, Case had the brainwave that the feet could come off of the couch. 
That was the breakthrough.  He managed to get the feet off of his side fairly easily, and I got one off, but the screws on the last one were really tightly screwed.  Case ran to get a hex wrench - because if I let go, the couch would slide farther down.  He had to run down through the downstairs, then find the wrench in the garage and then come through the upstairs door, unscrew the leg, and then run back around again.  During this time the couch kept slipping and slipping until at one point I realized that I wasn't holding it up anymore - it was so thoroughly wedged between the wall and banister that it had just settled naturally in.  With the leg off, we managed to slowly move it step-by-step down.  Dante, one of the kitties who lives there, came and, as he tends to do, needed to investigate...however, having a curious kitty investigating a moving couch is not the best idea.  It seemed like he took issue with the couch being in his usual route downstairs, and so with each step he ran down and tried to stick his whole head underneath the couch - which made me really freak out once when the couch just about came down on his head!  I had to forcible pick him up one-handed and toss him up the stairs, yelling "Dante WE ARE NOT FRIENDS RIGHT NOW" in order for him to understand that he was not welcome there (he has since forgiven me). 
Whew!  Once we got it downstairs, the space right there is sort of like the centre of a wheel's spokes - there's a bedroom door, the laundry room door, the staircase opening, the main hallway and the entrance to the living room, all open to this one little area.  So we had to put the couch in various angles through all these openings - doing lots of jumping underneath and overtop, wedging and unwedging and tipping it and edging it back and forth -  to finally get it into the living room.  Then I collapsed and laughed for awhile. 

And that, friends, is the story of a couch.
 

After that we finished moving everything else from the truck and trailer in, then drove those back to my parent's.  We had some home-made sangria there and chatted with my parents, and then had a leisurely bike-ride back down to our area.  During the evening we mostly lazed around, had leftover vegan-sloppy-joes (yum!) and corn-on-the-cob.  Melanie (Marli's Melanie, not our Mel) stopped by to see if we wanted to go for an evening bike ride but we were too tired out.  Was still nice to see her. 

This morning I worked.  It's Father's Day, so I drew my dad a picture of a road-bike with drop-handlebars, rather stylistic in just black and green using the India ink and quill pens from the gallery's art activity room.  I also bought him a bike bell, and I used sticky-backed vinyl to cover it in blue with yellow letters that say "Ding!"  I think it's cute anyways.  

Cheers all

Continuation
newchaotic
So, an update.  The original poster commented:

 
"men can ALOT of things better than women , why do you think they are the leaders of our countries or our bosses because they can do it better , women cant they are whiney emotional bitches i dunno about you but i would not want THAT to be what our countries are run by . Im just so sick and tired of these "feminists" ranting and raving about how  nothing is fair and equal to woman , well its only unfair and unequal because you make it so , women are underpaid because we basically choose to be, by our choice of careers or educational path , MEN are the ones who have the initiative to go farther in there careers , women dont , men go for the higher degrees women generally dont . SO DONT bitch and complain about it when it is your fault to begin with . Also what is wrong with staying at home cooking , cleaning , taking care of your man and raising children NOTHING! just because a group of closet lesbians who hated guys decided to get all pissy and form a group against men and there "treatment" of women,doesnt mean u have to attack the ideas or beliefs of the women who dont believe what u believe . i personally dont want ideas pushed upon me that i believe are ridiculous to begin with . i could really care less if i can vote or not , i could really care less if men make more than me , i would love nothing more than to stay at home cook clean for my man and raise my kids and actually be there for them and not off at work if i didnt have to be . keep your femnazi bullshit to yourself ..haha no one gives a shit."

At which point, my jaw hit the floor.  I mean, I've heard of women who think like this, but to actually hear one spew on about closet lesbians, idea-pushing, man-hating, and generally victim-blaming, was astounding.  Not to mention the heavy dosage of internalized hatred.  How can a person paint all women as "whiny emotional bitches" unfit to run countries, who are selfish for going to work, and are complaining and just not working hard enough. 

As well, someone else (one of the friends who "liked" the original post) commented:

"Who's to say what's offensive anyway? Just because a few feminists think that something's offensive, does the whole society have to change their way of doing things? It’s just the way things have always been. so why don't people stop making a big deal of it."
 

And this is someone who I've laughed and chatted with, who has been in a class on Feminist poetry with me. To hear her take that side is distresing.

I had to write my response (nevermind that I had the knowledge that it would doubtless be percieved as "feminazi bullshit"), then go back to it 3 or 4 times over the course of an hour to tweak it and cut it down.  The result, far from perfect but somewhat addressing the direct issues brought up:
 
"Wow...I am really sorry to hear such negative views of women. Fighting for equality is "bitching and complaining", but somehow the inequality is somehow our fault to begin with? So we caused our own suffering, and now we should just shut up and live with it and never strive to go farther? Men are the leaders of our countries because there's been... See More a system constructed that privileges them and allows them to get there, while females are told that they shouldn't even try to start with. But aside from that, there are many competent, strong, intelligent female leaders, and to imply that a women would be inadequate to run a country or any municipality is problematic.

Staying home and having a family is fine, and you'll find that many feminists are now emphasizing choice, and the importance of self-determination; I find disturbing the idea that homemaking is somehow inherently female, or the most authentic/moral way of being.

What disturbs me the most about this conversation is that it's another example of members of a group continually bashing themselves. How can anyone have a positive self-esteem with that sort of inward hatred?"

I think now is where I'll step back.  It is just so ver y hard to comprehend, let alone deal with, this sort of sentiment coming from people that are in my social spheres.  Especially since I am used to my safe intellectual/activist bubble with Case and Mel - last night we discussed privilege and racial issues, the exclusion/inclusion aspects of the so-called "queer community," and the anarchal leanings in Hawksley Workman's albums.  It's quite a contrast.

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