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April 24, 2009

Filed under: Uncategorized — thirdxlucky @ 10:43 pm

When it comes to social justice work, I think it’s important that we be both daring enough to try experiments in good faith and sensitive enough to let our compassion for ourselves and others give us pause. Both these things are necessary ingredients for meaningful change, and navigating the balance between them may be the most difficult thing we have to do, because each one is already a lifetime’s work on its own.


April 22, 2009


Filed under: Uncategorized — thirdxlucky @ 8:45 am

August usually spends Tuesday nights at E’s, since it’s one of the only nights they get without her son there. Today is Tuesday, so I was going to use having the house to myself as an opportunity to do some writing. I’ve got a handful of essays in the works about anti-racist activism, mental health, queerness, my family, body image, how I keep waking up with the Human League’s “Don’t You Want Me, Baby?” stuck in my head…

Only, I didn’t have the house to myself.

With August’s previous girlfriend, if it was her “night” Aug effectively dropped off the planet. This was their sacred alone time and I was not to call or intrude in any way unless it was an emergency. After they moved in together, I was the one who got “nights” and she extended the same…courtesy. Ultimately, I think the fact that she and I had a totally dysfunctional relationship with each other contributed to their eventual breakup. It certainly put a strain on my relationship with Aug, not to mention just being a really stressful for me individually (and for her too, I assume).

After they split, I told August I never wanted to do anything like that again. If we’re going to do non-monogamy in a sustainable way, we can’t keep compartmentalizing our relationships. (I’ve been guilty of it too.) Especially not when there are multiple serious, long-term commitments involved. We can’t each be trying to maintain multiple separate lives, running parallel to but essentially in denial of each others’ existence. It just doesn’t work like that. But, not having a script for this, I wasn’t really sure how it does work…

Tonight being E’s “night”, I expected they’d go out and I’d stay home and write – or, more likely, play on the Internet. Instead, August invited her over for dinner. He made enchiladas and we all sat around the dining room table and ate together with our roommate. When the food was gone we hung out drinking wine, then all four of us piled into the kitchen to help with cleanup, and ended up lounging in the living room watching Venture Bros. It was mellow. Domestic. Sweet.

The most awkward part, ironically, was Metz rambling on awkwardly about how he was rambling to try and make things less awkward between me and E. Which, I guess, isn’t too surprising considering his only exposure to this situation has been my strained relationship with August’s ex… But it wasn’t necessary. I feel comfortable around E. It’s not that I think we’re bound to be bestest buddies or anything; simply that she’s a person who I met only recently and don’t know too well yet, but who seems cool and who is cared about very much by one of the most important people in my life. It feels nice – and natural – to be eating dinner with her at my house.

Finally, as it was starting to get late (and we’d finished all the wine), Aug and E got up to go. I hugged them both goodnight. Then they went home, and probably had sex three or four times in succession, ’cause that’s how they do. Meanwhile, I curled up in the living room with my laptop. I didn’t have the hours I’d expected to spend writing…

But this was better.

April 19, 2009

Filed under: Uncategorized — thirdxlucky @ 5:49 pm

Incidentally, a comment I read on some mental health forum or other yesterday made a good point: If you’re afraid of schizophrenia (which is, I think, really what I lot of people mean when we say “going crazy”), you’re probably not schizophrenic because a) schizophrenics don’t know their hallucinations are hallucinations and b) schizophrenics’ hallucinations don’t tend to inspire fear in themselves; they experience them as normalcy.

However, apparently, fear of schizophrenia is a common symptom of both OCD and various anxiety disorders…
Like I said, a penchant for self-diagnosis plus the Internet is a dangerous thing. 😛

Anyway! Apart from work and a couple of gatherings in Denver, I’ve basically been holed up in Louisville since I got back, so I haven’t been exposed to much of the Boulderiness of Boulder. But it was all made up for yesterday evening. We had possibly one of the Boulderiest nights I’ve ever experienced.

First, we went to see August’s mom’s bluegrass band play. At a fundraiser for Naropa’s preschool. Attractive, well-dressed, affluent hippies perused a silent auction for items like Whole Foods gift certificates and holistic massage therapy, and there was a buffet with compostable plates and cutlery provided by a sustainable catering company and augmented by parents’ donations of good ol’ homecooking i.e. bite-sized samosas, vegan polenta, and KT’s BBQ.

Then we went a few blocks over to the progressive liberal Methodist Church to see my boss’s GALA Women’s Chorus sing. They were performing an epic anti-war cantata based on the words of Gandhi, Jesus, Buddha and Mohammed, originally written for the Portland Gay Men’s Chorus and presented here reworked for womens’ voices by the composer and his partner/librettist. They also sung an Ecuadorian folk tune, a song based on the writings of Rumi, and a James Joyce poem set to music. At intermission, the choir director encouraged us to visit the lobby where we could visit tables set up by the Rocky Mountain Peace and Justice Center and view blankets, hats, booties etc. made by “Afghans for Afghans,” a group of Boulder-based knitters devoted to making clothes to send to Afghanistan.

I had a small revelation while reading the program notes about all the highly acclaimed and nationally recognized activists involved in the production. It wasn’t about how peace is better than war, mmkay. It was that I don’t want to be involved in the kind of movement where people show their appreciation for your work by giving you awards. I want to be involved in the kind of movement where, when people appreciate your work, they ask you over for dinner and invite you to babysit their kids.

After the concert, we headed to North Boulder for a 4/20-themed “Joint” birthday party hosted by a couple of former CU students. Half of the partygoers were people we knew from the Boulder Polyamory Meetup. We talked about Facebook and OkCupid and how the hostess ended up with a wheelchair that that belongs to the airport, and tried to avoid getting a contact high just from being surrounded by so much potsmoke.

Finally, to top it all off, we drove outside of Boulder to one of its sprawling suburban subdivisions, to drink Lefthand microbrews while playing Wii-MarioKart with a guy who works for Crocs. And his dog.

Um. Whoa.

The thought that was running through my head the whole evening – apart from “Whoa privilege!”, “Mmm…samosas.” and “MarioKart is kinda awesome,” was: Man. It’s a good thing Eric isn’t here for this – he would catch on fire!

Filed under: Uncategorized — thirdxlucky @ 4:46 pm

Well, it’s Bee Day.

August’s mom and brother have decided to start beekeeping. They’ve been preparing for about six months, building a patio area for the hives, reading up about bee agriculture etc. and today the actual bees have arrived via a giant shipment from Utah.

I did come up to the house at least. I thought about not coming at all, but it’s such a big, exciting moment for everyone involved, I wanted to at least show up and support. I’m happy to help build stuff and paint stuff and do whatever is necessary that doesn’t involve interacting with the actual bees. I thought it might be interesting to at least try and see them, but I started thinking about it in the shower this morning and flipped, so I decided that wasn’t wise. They’re here now, so I’m hiding out in the house.

I’m trying not to freak out. I’m doing okay so far, except that some of August’s relatives think it’s funny to try and push my buttons. Once I started crying in front of one them, and I think he got the point and backed off. The more well-meaning people keep trying to convince me there’s “nothing to be afraid of. They’re fuzzy and friendly!” It’s hard trying to explain to virtual strangers that I’m not afraid of being stung – I’m really not. I’ve been stung before. It’s not that bad. I don’t feel any animosity toward bees. I don’t think they’re going to hurt me. Hell, since “fear pheremones” are supposedly what make them aggressive, I’d probably be a great beekeeper. Except the phrase “ball of bees” makes me feel crazy. It’s not fear it’s…revulsion.

But you don’t tell a bunch of people who are super excited about their new, interesting, community building, eco-friendly project that sticking your hand into a box of bees might as well be the same as sticking your hand into a writhing nest of cockroaches, as far as you’re concerned. That’d just be rude. So, like I said, I’m hiding out in the house and just letting people think I’m a baby who’s terribly afraid of pain.

Ugh. Anyway, theoretically, I do think the whole beekeeping thing is really interesting! Hopefully, once they’re installed in the hive and flying around and doing the things bees are supposed to do (which doesn’t include being stuffed into boxes, trucked across country by the tens of thousands and delivered on your doorstep), I’ll be able to check them out without having panic attack. Yay.

April 18, 2009

Filed under: Uncategorized — thirdxlucky @ 8:15 pm

It’s difficult to resist self-diagnosis with the Internet at your fingertips.

My latest disquieting discovery: Schizoaffective Disorder.

I mentioned before that I wanted to talk about mental health and my relationship to my mother at some point. I don’t know how deep into that I’m ready to get yet…but what I’m about to write seems as good a place as any to start. And right now, I need to get it out in the open, somewhere.

I don’t know how common or rare any of this is, because I’ve been afraid to talk about it for most of my life. My brother says this sort of thing happens to everybody. August says he’s never experienced anything even remotely like it.

For as long as I can remember, I’ve experienced mild paranoid hallucinations. They vary in intensity but occur on a very frequent basis, at least a couple of times a week. Mostly it’s a brief, upsetting annoyance that makes me act jumpy and distracted; but at worst it’s overwhelming and debilitating, causing me to freak out and break down crying in public, start yelling at myself or others, or just curl up and hide somewhere afraid to move, like some kind of panic attack. Sometimes they only last a few instants. Sometimes they cling, or recur for days on end.

They’re worse at night, in the dark or, for some reason, when I’m in water: the shower, the ocean, the swimming pool. And I know a few things that tend to exacerbate them: lack of sleep; lack of exercise; depression; stress; reading, watching or thinking about things that trigger me i.e. horror movies, swarms of bugs, graphic depictions of rape and violence, particularly psychological torture. So I try to be conscientious about avoiding those things.

But I don’t know how to suppress them entirely. And sometimes I get triggered accidentally, because I don’t know what I’m getting myself into. Last night I picked up a book of plays by Sarah Kane. I got sucked in because her work, and the story of her life, are intensely compelling – but I paid for it later.

One thing I’ve found that helps stop the hallucinations are things that ground me back in objective reality. Hearing someone I trust say my name is a big one. Another one is talking about them. Somehow, describing what I’m experiencing to another human being seems to turn the intensity down. I’m hoping that describing my experience to the entire Internet might help me anchor into the real world better.

‘Hallucinations’ might not be the best word, actually. I learned from reading today that a hallucination is specifically a sensory perception (visual, aural, olfactory, etc) of something that isn’t there while a delusion is “fixed false belief” – particularly a bizarre or patently impossible one – that cannot be changed by compelling counterargument or proof to the contrary. What I experience is, as best as I can explain it, delusions about hallucinations. In other words, I become absolutely, incorrigibly convinced that I am about to start hallucinating – specifically, that I am about to start hallucinating something terrifying, that I am going to hallucinate it so strongly that I will believe it is real, and that the hallucinations will consume my entire reality permanently.

The most common manifestation of this fear is swarms of insects. I’ll be afraid that a giant swarm of, say, beetles is about to appear, maybe by pouring out of the sink drain, and cover everything around me including myself. Or, even more terrifying, that things – or people – around me are about to dissolve into anthills or writing piles of maggots. (I cannot tell you how much that scene in The Lost Boys where Jason Patric’s lo mein turns into a box of live worms freaked me out.) I can’t describe how it feels to have a serious, intimate conversation with your lover derailed because your brain is suddenly filled with images of their face covered in flies – or worse yet, trying to force yourself to continue the conversation in spite of the delusion, because you’re afraid that if you tell them what’s happening and why you’re acting so twitchy, they’ll think you’re completely insane.

And it took all my willpower just to write that paragraph, because this is the one delusion that’s equally powerful in the middle of the day as in the middle of the night, and the one that’s the easiest to set off just by thinking about it.

Other common ones are that something huge, alien and dangerous is chasing me when I’m underwater, that the person I’m sleeping next to is dead, or that they’re possessed and about to turn over to show me their empty eyes and evil grin. I’ll fear that someone I’m talking with in a totally innocuous, pleasant, intimate fashion is going to undergo a drastic, unprecedented shift in personality and start screaming – just wordless, violent, insane screaming – inches from my face.

When I’m alone, I get very afraid of TVs and radios (never the computer, oddly) , scared that they’re about to snap on randomly, or start talking to me personally, or playing some malicious song or sound written specifically for me to hear and be terrified by. I’ll avoid looking in mirrors out of fear that my own reflection is going to come alive and distort or torment me somehow. When I was a little kid, I would sometimes look in the mirror and make strange, creepy, wide-eyed faces at myself, whispering you…yooooou…. until I spooked myself and ran away. Sometimes, I’m afraid that face will reappear against my will. And then there’s just the generalized, indefinable but abject fear of the dark.

Another weird one is the fear that any body parts I can’t see or feel don’t exist. So, for example, if I’m in bed talking to someone and they have the covers pulled up to their chin, I’ll start to be afraid that I’m just talking to a severed head. This occasionally leads to me spontaneously yanking the covers off of people who must wonder why the hell I am being so rude when they are obviously cold. I remember one time when, for some reason, I couldn’t find Eric’s feet and I freaked out and became convinced it was because he didn’t have any feet. I started desperately scrambling under the covers trying to find his feet and he was like, “What? What’s wrong??”

Obviously, his feet were there (he’d just had his knees curled up behind him or something), and I played it off with some weird joke. But what I was really afraid of, I think, was that I was going to discover he had no feet and then I was going to look up to see him grinning evilly at me, replaced by some kind of demonic or fae facsimile, partially built, worked up just enough to trick me into believing he was the real deal and…then what? I don’t know. My brain just shuts down shivering at that point.

It’s not a fear of disability in my partners… It would be one thing if I was with someone who I knew didn’t have feet. And it’s never really a fear of violence, that anything is out to hurt or kill me. It’s more like I’m afraid to discover that someone I love, some place I trust, familiar things that I know what to expect from, anyone or anything that I’m in a vulnerable situation with, is actually something else entirely… Something malicious that doesn’t want to kill me; it just wants to make me crazy.

And that’s what it boils down to. I’m terrified of going crazy. All these things – hallucinating insects, hearing voices, believing people are possessed, horror movie fears – are stereotypical indicators of being “batshit insane”. I don’t think I have irrational, hallucinatory delusions because I’m insane. I think what I have is an irrational fear about suddenly being struck with irrevocable proof of my own insanity. Combine this with what, in a twelve year old, would probably be called an “overactive imagination”…and voila! What you have is a fear of going crazy so intense that it’s making me crazy.

Because, thing is, it’s six of one, half dozen of the other. I may have this very articulate, intellectual (albeit speculative) understanding of what’s going on in my brain. I also may have absolute intellectual certainty that there is not a man in my closet with an axe. That doesn’t change the fact that there is no way, under any circumstances, that I am going in that closet – or the fact that I’m going to call you at 3am crying about how, even though I know it’s not true, I still can’t sleep because I’m afraid there’s a man in my closet with an axe. And if my fear of being crazy makes me act like I’m crazy, well I might as well be crazy then. What’s the difference?

I’m talking with my partner. I’m imaging his face covered in bugs. He goes into kiss me. I jump away and start crying. He has no idea what’s going on, he just knows that he tried to kiss me and I started crying. I can’t tell him why I’m crying, because I’m afraid he’ll think I’m crazy, because I’m afraid I am crazy. He has to invent his own explanation – which – understandably since, of course, my partner doesn’t think I’m insane – will be something much more like, “she doesn’t want to kiss me because she’s afraid of me,” rather than, “she doesn’t want to kiss me because she got triggered by something totally unrelated and thinks there are bugs crawling out of my nose.”

Then my partner starts to believe that I hate him or am afraid of him and he doesn’t understand why…you can imagine the kind of damage this sort of thing might wreak on your personal relationships. Eventually, fed up with not being able to understand what’s going on with me, the person leaves and when someone asks him what happened his only response is, “Man, I don’t know. She’s crazy!”

Incidentally, I’m not talking about either one of my actual partners here. I’ve talked to both of them a little about this stuff and, even though I have trouble making myself clear and I think they have trouble (as do I) understanding what it’s all about, they at least know enough to believe me (I hope), when I say, “It’s not you.”

But, especially after reading today about how schizoid disorders onset in early adulthood and tend to degenerate without psychiatric treatment, I do still have this fear that these delusions will become worse and worse and eventually I’ll be so incomprehensible and hard to deal with that I’ll drive everyone I love away.


Because that’s what my Mom did.

There’s a lot more to say here about my own experience, my family history, and about paradigms for understanding madness, mental health/disability, psychiatry and how those fit into the political framework of kyriarchy…but I don’t really want to talk about this anymore right now.

April 17, 2009

The Super-Condensed Version!

Filed under: Uncategorized — thirdxlucky @ 3:12 am

Hey! You took your piercings out. How come?

Mm, I got them a long time ago and I’m not exactly sure why I have them. They’re cute but I’m concerned about cultural appropriation. I’m not sure my reasons ARE appropriative, but I’m also not sure they’re NOT. I need to think about it, so I’m taking them out while I think.

If you think about it for too long, they might close up…


I have to say, it’s nice being able to scratch my nose without stabbing myself in the nasal membrane! You’d think, after six years, I’d have figured that one out, but apparently not… 😛

April 16, 2009

Birthday Present to Myself

Filed under: Uncategorized — thirdxlucky @ 11:26 pm

This morning, I put on Becky’s birthday present to me – a beautiful steamy pendant handmade from the head of a spoon and a handful of gears, small clock parts and such.

Then I took out my tongue piercing and my nose ring. For good.

Much like getting these piercings in the first place, which I did on my birthday six years ago, I have a number of reasons both political and personal for removing them today. I may try to write about it more articulately in the future, but for the time being I’m just thinking.

I’m thinking about cultural appropriation, queer identity, body autonomy, and the ways that I mark myself as a radical. I think facial piercings can be a sticky issue within radical communities, especially for white anti-racist allies because, if nothing else, so many of us have them – or have respected white friends and loved ones who do. It’s much easier to, say, critique appropriative white youth for getting tribal or kanji tattoos, because far fewer of us have them ourselves…

I have both. The kanji for love – ai – tattooed on my hip and a Samoan tapping around my right ankle. And each one has deep personal, historical and spiritual significance to me; the first is a memorial, the second a statement of faith. I don’t regret them. But I recognize them as problematic, in part because I didn’t even think about issues of cultural appropriation when I had them done. Likewise, each piercing was, for me, a powerful ritual act of reclaiming related to issues of identity, body, sexuality, rites of passage and inner strength…but the fact that I had reasons for getting pierced beyond “looking trendy” or “being hip” doesn’t change the fact that I didn’t think about those reasons within the context of my white privilege. I didn’t have to.

Nor, over the past six years, have I given much very much thought to what having that jewelery signifies, suggests, or contributes to in terms of culture, ethnicity, and racial politics… In fact, I’ve semi-consciously veered away from discussions about cultural appropriation and body modification, because I’ve been afraid of what I might find there. But an unexpected conversation the other night got me thinking on the surface and now…I’m thinking about it.

Regardless of our personal investment biases, however, facial piercings are also a sticky issue within radical community because they’re not, in fact, as cut-and-dried a form of appropriation as something like white people wearing dreads. (And even THAT isn’t totally cut-and-dried, but there seems to be fairly general consensus about it.) Facial piercing is a thing that cuts across cultures, having been practiced in some form by almost every society, including European ones, since ancient times. As Epilady points out in this thread:

[…] Claiming that all body modification automatically equates to appropriation elides the European pagan traditions wiped out by Christianity and urbanization/capitalism. Body piercings, painting, tattoos, and braided or dreaded hairstyles all have been utilized by European peoples for millenia. The Picts, for example, got their tribal name because they were covered in highly graphical tattoos.

This is not to say that I don’t completely agree with you about appropriation, especially when we’re talking about dreadlocks or Asian character tattoos, for example. But it’s extremely problematic to imagine that white European-origin people all arose from the primordial ooze wearing polo shirts and carrying cell phones.

If someone told me she’d gotten a particular piercing to honor her Celtic warrior foremothers, I could get behind that. But that’s not why I got my piercings. I don’t know why I got them. Or, rather, I know what getting each piercing meant to me, but not why I chose that particular act for the rituals I needed. So, I’m thinking about that.

Another thing about facial piercings, and this is where it gets the stickiest for me, is that there are definite historical and contemporary links between body modification and radical queer identity.

On the one hand, I understand that this is itself an artifact of privilege. When we white people are oppressed along some other vector – such as gender, sexual orientation, class – we often appropriate the symbols of Other cultures in attempt to claim our own Otherness. We are inscribed in a dominant/default ‘whiteness’ that erases our diverse European ethnic backgrounds and their respective traditions of resistance. So it’s not surprising that, when we need to resist other oppressions, our own lack of cultural connection plus the sense of entitlement granted to us by our whiteness encourages us to grasp for whatever nearby symbols of resistance we can see and steal. Working-class punks start wearing mohawks. White women appropriate an indiscriminate melange of goddess mythologies. And maybe some Queer kids get labret piercings without giving much thought to their history as a Native American status symbol. Then future generations of otherwise-oppressed white people see those things as signs of our community’s resistance and adopt them blindly.

At the same time, facial piercings aren’t exclusive to white Queer folks. And even if their adoption into Queer culture is rooted in cultural appropriation*, this doesn’t cancel out the fact that facial piercings are often a marker of Queerness and that they have a contemporary historical association with Queer identity. Nor are And because of the particular ways that Queer identities, especially Queer womens’ identities, are erased in our culture, it is a major struggle for us to be seen as Queer – even by people who are looking right at us. Other Queer people included. On my way to work today, I walked by a woman with a close-cropped haircut and a Northface-esque jacket who could have easily passed for ‘sporty’. It was only because of the complex way her ears were pierced (and the fact that she had buttons pinned all over her messenger bag :P), that I read her as Queer.

Likewise, the scariest thing for me about taking my piercings out is the fear that now, even more often, I’ll be read as straight by random strangers, my family, and my own friends. I’m only recently starting to understand the depths of my own complicity with the erasure of my sexuality, and that’s a subject for a whole other post – but suffice to say that giving up one of the very few things that, even in the most minor maybesortapossibly way, visually marks me as Queer is really tough for me and it’s kinda freaking me out. But I didn’t get my piercings as a way of claiming my Queer identity either. Not really.

Except for one. When I turned 19, I had two rings punched through the cartilage of my right ear. It was the most horrifically painful piercing I ever got – I still remember the crunching sound. It literally took years to heal. In fact, I still sleep on that side with my forearm folded under my head, a habit formed to keep my ear from touching the pillow. I was barely out of high school and had only the most nascent political consciousness, but I chose my right ear because that was the one gay men had traditionally pierced. And it was a gift from August who – despite our perennial antagonism around politics, our respective psychological issues, our various power imbalances and the many ways these things make having a healthy relationship hard work for us – has been my strongest, longest-standing, and most loving ally and supporter throughout my entire adult life. That one, I’m keeping.

And I don’t want this to seem like it’s some kind of “sacrifice” for the sake of “political correctness.” I got my piercings as a way of self-reclaiming. And I kept them as a way to mark me as a radical. But, in a certain way, I use them as a crutch. When I pierced my cartilage, I remember telling a friend that it was kind of a relief, because I no longer worried about people thinking I was “normal”. I didn’t have to worry as much about my hair color or my clothes, because it would be harder now to mistake my identity – however awkwardly I articulated it then. And I think that was really valuable, even necessary, for me at the time…

I needed these piercings before. But I don’t really need them now. I just like them.

And I think that, in a certain way, not having obvious but potentially-problematic markers of difference will encourage me to develop new, more conscientious ways of reclaiming my identity. And I hope that it will also force me – if I care about being perceived as radical – to foster that perception more strongly through my words and actions. And perhaps through other choices I make about my appearance, my aesthetics, my consumption practices, etc.

And perhaps this is a rite of passage in itself. By removing, with a few flicks of my fingers, something I’ve believed to be an integral part of my identity for the past six years, I’m hoping to pass deeper into the understanding that radical movement isn’t about being a radical, in some kind of stable, static sense. It’s about constantly becoming radical by doing radical work. If I really felt like I was doing everything I could to fight for social justice and dismantle oppression, then I don’t think I would feel too concerned with what people on the street thought of my politics; and more than that, I think I would have more faith in my own decisions – about how I present myself, about how I spend my time, about where I choose to live, etc.

Of course, I don’t feel like I’m doing everything possible – because I’m not. And, in fact, I never will be. But I hope to spend my whole life learning how to do more and doing it. With that in mind, it IS important to have external symbols, static markers of radical identity, to remind both myself and others of my commitment to justice and community – because so much of oppression works by infecting those of us who oppose it with insidious self-doubt. But those symbols don’t have to be stolen from other people. My communities and I can create our own.

I’m not saying that piercings are inherently stolen. And I’m not saying that I will never have any kind of piercing again, or that I believe no other privileged people should have them. I don’t believe that all facial piercings on white people are appropriative or politically unjustifiable. I’m not even saying that MY piercings are appropriative. I just don’t know for sure that they’re not. I’m thinking about it. I’m listening and reading about it. And while I’m doing that, I’m keeping my jewelery in my pocket rather than in my face.

That’s my birthday present to myself.

I knew all of this, not in so many words, but I understood what I was doing when I took them out. But I expected to feel differently. Maybe I expected to feel clear, focused and liberated the way I did when I got them put in. Instead, I felt conflicted, confused, sad. I stood at the bus stop and cried a bit in the rain.

But then I came here and wrote this. I feel like anything that makes me cry a little more and write a little more is probably a step in the right direction.

It’s rambling and embarrassingly wordy, filled with the kind of unwieldy, hyper-academic clauses-within-clauses-within-clauses that I’ve been trying to eradicate from my writing, and feels like the roughest of drafts and isn’t what I had intended to write at all. But I’m going to post it anyway because I promised myself I’d publish something, and this is the thing I wrote.

I’m feeling better, since I wrote it. A little clearer, a little more focused, a little more uplifted. I have a little better understanding now of what I’m not understanding. And while, at the bus stop this morning, I was mourning the loss of some small expression of self… I can feel now that my truest self isn’t something I’ve given up, it’s something I’ve yet to become.

Happy Birthday.

[* And maybe it isn’t. Body piercing is also used by some survivors of sexual abuse to reclaim a sense of ownership over their bodies. There’s a relationship between piercing and kink that is far more complicated than as simple identity signifiers. (Not that identity signifiers are simple.) And there are also connections for some people (I was one of them) between body piercing and self-injury – which is an extremely complex, fraught topic that I don’t have space to get into here, but one which I want to validate as one of many possible coping mechanisms and something worth talking about. And there is frequently overlap between all of these experiences and the experiences of Queer folks.

There is so much going on here and there are so many different reasons why someone might undergo any type of body modification – and ultimately, I want to validate all peoples’ right to make whatever choices are right for their own bodies. This is why I’ve tried to keep this focused on my experience of piercing, without making assumptions that my reasons correspond with anyone else’s. I feel like I haven’t done the best job possible with that. I may try to rewrite this at some point.]

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