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June 30, 2010

Still Writer’s-Blocked.

Filed under: Uncategorized — thirdxlucky @ 11:02 pm

Yup.

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Archives: October 20, 2009

Filed under: Uncategorized — thirdxlucky @ 9:05 pm

I found this in my drafts folder under the title “akwardfunnycute”:

I was just thinking about how bi folks end up playing this kind of inverse-pronoun-game with each other. There’s this cute scene where Regina and I are sitting in the coffeehouse – on what may or may not be a date, but is certainly the first time we’ve hung out one-on-one – having this convoluted conversation where we’re both trying to obscure the genders of our respective partners. I think she’s gay and that she suspects I’m gay even though I’m not. And she probably thinks I’m gay and that I suspect she’s gay, even though she’s not. And, because we’re both queer and savvy, it’s obvious to both of us that we’re playing the pronoun game – but that just makes each of us MORE convinced that the other one is gay. Actually we’re BOTH doing it because, of course, the minute you let on that you have a partner or ex-partner who’s male – which we both do – you automatically get pegged as straight and the girl loses interest (or figures you’re not interested in her.)

I’m sick to death of getting read as straight. And I hate the fact that the only way to NOT get read as straight is to try harder to get read as gay – because there’s nothing even approaching a comparably concrete “bisexual” identity. Fuck, there isn’t even a comparable WORD – a slang term, like ‘gay’ or ‘lesbian’ instead of ‘homosexual’ – that establishes an identity not rooted in the word “sex”. And so I’m stuck with either bisexual, this weird, categorially confused, fucking-fixated, gender-binary-reinforcing moniker; queer, an ambiguous umbrella term that means more about my politics than about who I’m attracted to; or pansexual, which sounds like a bunch of naked hippies in a hot tub. And mostly, unless I noisily tag myself in with one of these reductive labels in conversation (awkward!), it doesn’t even occur to most people that I exist.

There is sort of enough of a vague identity or common traits that I can kinda sometimes sorta peg other bi folks, but I still mostly read them as either ‘Straight-Bi’ or ‘Gay-Bi’ – in other words a straight girl who sleeps with other girls or a lesbian who also sleeps with dudes. This is internalized biphobia on my part, but I know I’m not the only one. Ugh. This idea of bisexuality as either being “curious” or being half-assed gay; I’m over it. (Okay, there’s also the kind of neopagan earth mother “sensual goddess” bisexual stereotype but, again, naked hippies in a hot tub.) And bisexual boys have it even worse. There is really no space in our culture for mens’ sexualities to be more complex or ambiguous than: “Cock? YES!” or “Cock? NO. Ew. Gross. No.”

It sounds sort of ridiculous that I’m complaining about there not being a concrete stereotype of bisexuals. But there IS one. It’s this: Bisexuals aren’t real. Anybody claiming to be bisexual is faking it for attention. As much as being stereotyped sucks, being erased is also miserable. I would much rather people look at me and say, “Damn that girl is really bi,” than have the possibility not even occur to them. In day-to-day public life, I’m either forced to pass as straight or forced to pass as gay, because the middle ground doesn’t LOOK like anything.

It seems so politically passe to talk about the trials and tribulations of bisexuality in the face of all our efforts to deconstruct the Binary Gender Fallacy. And there are more subtle issues here around ‘passing’ and privilege and how that comes at the price of the obfuscation of your selfhood, that would be worth talking about later. But this simple, stupid bullshit is still affecting my life. Because here’s the thing: People assuming you’re straight, in addition to being invalidating and feeding my internalized biphobia and insecurities about my sexuality, makes it really hard to meet girls…

ETA: And don’t even get me started on the intersections between monogamy/polyamory and bisexual erasure. Jesus.

Filed under: Uncategorized — thirdxlucky @ 8:24 pm
Tags: ,

Rebecca C ‘s mother just drunk dialed her boyfriend.

…and left a literally fifteen-minute long verge-of-tears voicemail, in three parts, about how she just doesn’t understand this “polyamory thing,” wants to know how he REALLY feels about her daughter, and begs him – if his apparent need to “experience all the women of the world” means he can’t make a “deep commitment” – to please “set her free” to find a man who will marry her and have babies with her like she deserves. (She also made sure to mention, at least eight times, that I hadn’t put her up to this – poor thing.)

Kids, we need a Poly PFLAG, stat.

In the interim:
PFLAG Phoenix
Boulder PFLAG
PFLAG National homepage

I’m frustrated because there are a ton of resources out there for poly parents about how to talk to their kids, but I can’t find anything – beyond the occasional personal blog coming-out story – for poly kids about how to talk to our parents.

If nothing else, I’d love a good way to derail the “It’s just a phase. She’s experimenting!” argument. Look, I’m 28 years old and I’ve been openly bisexual and poly for thirteen of those years. If I’m experimenting, then this is one hell of a longitudinal study and I should be getting some damn funding.

I did think this was cute though – partly because I am a huge dork and I, like my Mom, love Fidder on the Roof: The Bintel Brief – Help! My Daughter is Seeking an ‘Open Marriage’

Archives: August 13, 2007

Filed under: Uncategorized — thirdxlucky @ 12:15 am

I wrote this on a pay-per-minute Internet terminal in a hostel in Johannesburg. It was intended for my travel blog, which I was updating regularly at that point. I never posted it because I could never finish it. I wrote a lot about race and racism while I was in Africa, but I never finished any of it. I’m not sure I would have the guts to post it if I had. My blog had roughly 900 readers subscribed to it, many of whom I convinced myself were only interested in cute pictures of penguins. The “Caveat,” in addition to screaming white guilt!, is a pretty good indication of how embattled I felt in general.

Eventually, it dawned on me that I was so aggravated by my audience because they liked my writing. And told me so, in gushy exclamation-point riddled LiveJournal commentary prose, constantly. This made me incredibly uncomfortable because, for the most part, I didn’t think my writing was any good. I figured they must either be mocking me or stupid. Bit of a Groucho Marx complex. “I don’t care to belong to any club that will have me as a member.”

This made me into kind of an asshole – which I regret. I’m mostly over it. But I still don’t know what to say about racism.

Culture of Fear

Caveat: Since I started traveling, I’ve been thinking a lot about how people construct space as “safe” or “dangerous”. I’m going to go out on a limb and talk a little bit of politics in this entry. It was bound to happen eventually. After all, I am in Africa and I’m not totally insensible. Enough people are reading this that I’ll probably offend somebody. This is normally where I’d apologize in advance for having opinions, but I’m trying to quit doing that. I will say that my impressions are cursory, that my critical analysis of racial politics is naive at best, and as such, this is a relatively undirected exploration of some ideas, and not a thesis or manifesto in any form. This means that I’m not interested in arguing about or defending it, since as far as I know, every word of if could very well be “wrong” or a product of my own ignorance. I am open to discussion and further opportunities to educate myself, especially from people who are more conversant with these issues than I am. Here we go…

Night caught me by surprise this time. I’d been expecting the sun to set about half an hour later than it actually did, so when I reached the darkened glass doors of the otherwise windowless mall-complex, my heart caught briefly in my throat. It was as if I’d looked just looked out to find the city streets flooded. Gingerly, I stepped back inside the lighted building and dug in my pocket for my rented cell phone.

“In Nairobi, they’ll pull a gun on you and demand your wallet. In Johannesburg, they’ll just shoot you and take it.”

Cities like Johannesburg and Nairobi have instilled in me an almost superstitious reaction to sundown. Places that that seem perfectly accessible in daylight take on, to my subconscious mind, an aura of incontestable impassability after nightfall. This isn’t typical of me; at home, I walk everywhere, regardless of the hour. I have no qualms about navigating New York City subways in the middle of the night nor taking a bus back from the pub in London. I’m cautious, but comfortable doing it, despite the fact that people get assaulted, robbed and raped in these cities all the time. I make an effort not to fall victim to exaggerated and paranoid messages from the “culture of fear” which, rather than encouraging conscientiousness, teach women especially to be afraid of the dark.

But in the cities of South America and Africa, I often find myself hastening through the fading afternoon light, in a hurry to slip behind some locked and security guarded door before the sun hits the horizon line – not so much as a conscious act of reasoned precaution, but impelled by a knot of urgency in my gut, as if the city undergoes some alchemical transformation at sunset and only this magical formula can protect me from impeding disaster…

Why do I encounter African cities as so much more “dangerous” than others of comparable size?Part of it is unfamiliarity with my surroundings; partly, it’s exposure to fear-mongering media imagery and my own subconscious ethnocentrism: difference equals danger; some is simply an awareness of statistics, such as the famous one that Johannesburg has an average of 50 murders per day – but largely it’s informed by the attitudes around me. In Buenos Aires, my PorteƱo friends laughed at my hesitation to catch taxis on the street. Kidnapping-by-cab-driver, while perhaps not entirely an urban legend, was evidently not enough of an issue in that area for people living there to worry seriously about it. After this, I flagged down cabs at will and never had any problems beyond a few harrowingly bad drivers (and one guy who cursed me out in Spanish a kicked me out of his car because I’d slammed the door too hard…)

But in Nairobi, the concerned concierge at our hotel insisted that yes, we really did need to call a taxi if we wanted to go half-way round the block; my host in Cape Town pointed out, “This way on Long Street is nice, but please don’t go the other way or you’ll get mugged;” security walls throughout Johannesburg are frosted with barbed wire and electric fencing; and the one thing you hear repeated by everybody is: Don’t walk around after dark. Don’t walk around after dark. Don’t walk around after dark. So, since my primary survival tactic while traveling is to follow the lead and advice of those who actually know the place, I don’ t walk around after dark. I don’t even walk from place to place after dark. I pretty much go to the place I’m staying and stay there. And if I get unexpectedly caught out after dark, I feel nervous and uncomfortably helpless.

I’m somewhat skeptical as to what degree this concern is realistic and to what degree it’s the paranoia of the privileged. One of the most pleasant nights I’ve had here was the time in Kampala when my Danish friend Kristian – with Keenan, Eva and me in tow – strolled out of the mzungu* oasis of a hostel where our volunteer group was staying, walked right past the security gate without stopping to ask directions or even “is it safe for white people to walk around here?”, hopped on the first matatu that passed by, went into town and saw a movie, as if this were just something people did. This would strike some as reckless behavior. The matatu ride alone sounds like an insane action, considering that these overcrowded and madly driven minibus taxis kill more people than any other form of transport in East Africa. But engaging in this particular form of insanity seems like a necessary part of the “authentic” African experience. And in the end, nothing happened except that we got to see the new Harry Potter flick and didn’t pay 30,000 Shillings for a cab to get there.

Still, I wouldn’t have done it in Nairobi. And even in Kampala – renowned as the safest and friendliest capitol in East Africa – I wouldn’t have done it without Kris, who is a towering Viking, speaks Swahili, and lived in Kenya as a child. (It galls my self-sufficient feminist soul that when I’m in a situation where I feel vulnerable, my first instinct is to find the largest, most competent man I can trust and stick to him like glue – while the pragmatic survivalist in me knows it lets me do things and go places that I wouldn’t have the physical strength, wherewithal or social standing to hack on my own. But that’s a whole different entry.) To be fair, the only times on this trip that I have found myself in immediate danger were both because I was in an unfamiliar part of some city late at night.

Even if the fear of darkness is exaggerated, the stories of assured and inescapable violence apocryphal, this paranoia is not just that of the naive foreigner faced with an alien environment; it is fully indulged in by the local population. In Nairobi, you literally watch the streets emptying at 6pm, when everything is shut and barred, ugh I hate this sentence. I can’t work on this any more. Fuck this. I’m going to go eat food and write postcards.

*Mzungu is the ubiquitous East-African word for “white guy.” According to Lonely Planet, it’s derived from a Swahili word verb that means “to wander around aimlessly.”

June 29, 2010

Anti-Racism Resource

Filed under: Uncategorized — thirdxlucky @ 11:43 pm
Tags: ,

Building a Multi-Ethnic, Inclusive & Anti-Racist Organization

This is a packet put together by the Safehouse. It’s a quick read, easy to digest, with a lot of good answers to the typically derailing “But what are we supposed to DO?” Some of it is specific to non-profit organizations with a hierarchical structure and a board/CEO – but the last page, “Qualities of an Anti-Racist Ally,” is useful for anyone who wants to do anti-racist work. (The Safehouse also does anti-racism trainings, apparently.)

Due, I think, to a couple of recent shakeups (namely the demise of Eagle’s Landing and the incursion of one particularly creepy dude into the Monday Poly MeetUp), we’ve recently started having a lot of conversations as a community about what the MeetUp is all about, what it means to us, and how we want to organize it. One of the things we’ve talked about is the various virtues of public vs. private space and trying to find a balance between safety and inclusivity. This has opened up the door a little bit to talk about how homogeneous our community is around ethnicity, age, gender and sexual orientation (we are mostly a bunch of young, cisgendered, straight and bisexual white kids) and what’s up with that.

Some people seem like they want to talk about it but are nervous and being conflict-avoidant (I’m in this camp), others seem like they get that it’s an issue but they don’t think it’s an important one or don’t want to deal with it right now. So it’s slow going… But at least it’s going.

Brains. (Braaaaaaains…)

Filed under: Uncategorized — thirdxlucky @ 10:31 pm

Yesterday, I overslept my alarm for three hours, masturbated in the middle of the afternoon, and spent most of the day lying on the couch in my pajamas, reading Savage Love archives and eating frozen ThinMints and leftover Chinese food cold out of the box. This sounds like an awesome day, but actually it was awful.

It was awful because I was quietly berating myself the whole time for screwing around when I should be getting work done, for the fact that I hadn’t accomplished anything significant in weeks, couldn’t focus, couldn’t concentrate, didn’t know what the hell I was doing, was lazy and hopeless and helpless and totally not cut out for this job and apparently incapable of working without dictatorial oversight or a mandatory schedule and should probably just quit and wait tables because at least then I’d know what the hell I was supposed to be doing and I couldn’t take it home with me. By the time I dragged myself out of the house at 5:30pm, I felt totally worthless and gross. On the way home, later, I had a mini-meltdown all over Aug, convinced that I totally couldn’t hack this and was eventually going to get caught and lose my job and all the perks it entails like healthcare and flexibility and time to write. I made him sit down and literally babysit me so that I could accomplish the one tiny twenty-minute task that had to be done by this morning without zoning out on Facebook for three hours. This is totally embarrassing.

Then this morning, I got up on time, came into the office, made progress on a bunch of projects that I’m actually interested in, checked my Facebook inbox without getting sucked into the vortex, and had useful conversations with each of my colleagues – who consistently treat me like I’m an equal part of the research team and ask for my input on things as if I know what the hell I’m talking about, something which continues to blow my mind.

Things to remember:

1. Real research is not straightforward. Ever. Doing everything wrong and having to start from scratch is part of how research goes. I know this. But the fact that I know it doesn’t make me immune to it. Sometimes I’m just going to screw it up and have to start over. That’s fine. Breathe.

2. I just made a more serious, long-term commitment to this job than I ever have. Simultaneously, I’ve taken on responsibility for three major strands of the project, each of which involves teaching myself how to do some complicated thing I’ve never done before and building something from the ground up that other people are going to be dependent on, all before the end of the summer. In other words, I’m in totally unfamiliar territory and the stakes of navigating it are suddenly much higher than they used to be. This is actually pretty exciting… But it is not weird or surprising that I’m having a deer-in-headlights moment. It won’t be the last one.

3. Remember how I used to have these depression/panic-attacks kick in around school or work and I’d spend two or three weeks not leaving my house, not going to class, avoiding the office, not answering the phone, playing obsessive games of Scrabulous or posting reams of inane bullshit on Netphoria all night instead of sleeping, living off of Doritos and cigarettes, starving myself for days, plus random hysterical crying jags and hallucinating giant swarms of insects and axe-murderers hiding in my closet?

…So, yeah. Eight hours just chilling on my couch and finishing off last night’s lo-mein kinda sounds like progress.

4. Food. Exercise. Writing. Snuggling. Reading the Tao Te Ching. If I can get at least three of these in every day, I’ll be fine. I don’t need more therapy. I don’t need drugs. I don’t need to quit my job and wait tables. I just need to have faith that as long as I keep taking care of myself, everything else will fall into place.

I’m posting this here so that next time I’m on the verge of panicking – and there will be a next time and probably a hundred times after that – I can come back and read it. It’s gonna be fine. It’s gonna work out. It always works out. Breathe.

June 28, 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — thirdxlucky @ 10:26 pm

Hm.

I’m not feeling depressed, but I’m acting depressed.

Stupid brain chemistry, I hates you.

Archives: January 20, 2009

Filed under: Uncategorized — thirdxlucky @ 9:37 pm

Forgive the slightly corny tone here. I wrote this in Antarctica on the morning of Obama’s inauguration, intending to send it to my upper-middle-class, middle-of-the-road, liberal Democrat extended family because I knew it was the sort of thing they’d like.

I’d planned to describe the scene that morning: A couple hundred of us, both grantees and grunts, had gotten up early and packed into the Galley before work to watch the inaugural address projected live on a big screen typically used for science lectures and PowerPoint presentations about company policy. When Obama made a comment about “restoring science to its rightful place” the Galley erupted in cheers. I was going to say something at the end about how I wasn’t overjoyed by his election; I felt there was still a lot of work to do that was never going to get done on the federal level – but I was cautiously optimistic and, for the first time in my adult life, looking forward to returning to America rather than approaching the customs desk in LAX or JFK with a sense of dread.

The subconscious implication here, I think, was that I wanted my family – who complain incessantly about my expatriate migratory pattern – to believe that the reason I kept leaving the country (and the reason our generation in general were such hopeless political layabouts) was because my sensitive soul couldn’t bear to be governed by George Bush. This is ridiculous, obviously, but since they’re the sort of liberal Democrats who relish blaming random trivia on the ex-President, I thought they’d like that too.

I never finished this, and thus never sent it, because I was writing it at work and got derailed by far more pressing requests for truck parts.

SUBJECT: Something Small for my Family

How can I express this?

I turned eighteen in the Spring of 2000. That September, I voted Al Gore for President despite a flickering sense that it would be morally more sound to go Green, and in November my freshman roommate and I stayed up watching the votes come in until we could no longer keep our eyes open, collapsing in anticipation of the morning paper…which told us nothing. We waited with bated breath through weeks of media punditry and arcane legal arguments.

In 2002, we marched against war. February 15th, along with millions worldwide. The Dublin police force cleared the route, re-directed buses, and patrolled the streets to keep us safe. Food Not Bombs served free burritos to hungry protestors. Back home, my friends marched in Colorado Springs where they were tear-gassed by the police.

In 2004, things were more clear cut. John Kerry would be our next President. Nobody I talked to knew even a single person who would vote for Bush. Who would dare, when his re-election meant half the population would move to Canada? Our favorite professor, an Englishman, laughed at us, “All of you associate with a very rarefied crowd. Bush represents the majority of Americans, and that majority is going to keep him in office, just wait.” We laughed back and waited. When Bush was re-elected, one of our classmates, a Philosophy student and a passionate organizer, committed suicide.

Effectively ever since I graduated high school, Bush has been in charge with everything that entailed. If these eight years have seemed long to you, imagine how long they’ve been for me and others my age. George W. Bush has been the President of the United States of America for our entire adult lives.

Until today.

And suddenly it feels like I can breathe again, when I didn’t even know I’d been holding my breath.

Archives: March 16, 2009

Filed under: Uncategorized — thirdxlucky @ 7:17 pm

Monday, 3.16.2009 – Unsent

It seems weird to me that I’ve never e-mailed you before, but I don’t think I have. How’s it going?

So, I had this idea. Lemme run it by you. I’ve made a commitment to start taking my writing and myself as a writer more seriously. This has, so far, involved a number of different tacks, including really obvious ‘duh’ ones like:

1) read more books
2) write every day, and
3) quit being an asshole to/about my audience on LiveJournal.

The biggest thing, however, has been simply trying to figure out WHAT this thing I supposedly want to take more seriously is. In other words, what does it mean to be a writer as opposed to someone who writes some stuff sometimes? What, if anything, differentiates an authentic creative act from hypergraphic journaling qua self-therapy? (The fact that I basically grew up writing in online forums and on DeadJournal doesn’t exactly help disentangle this.)

One of the best ways I’ve found to tackle this question is by reading about writers – their thoughts on writing; how they became writers; how they came to think of themselves as “real” writers; when, how and if other people came to think of them as real writers, and whether and how that matters; their process; what writing means to them, etc. etc. You know.

I recently learned that a girl I knew in Ireland is having her YA urban fantasy novel, the first in a trilogy, published by Simon & Schuster. This is a girl who, when I last saw her in person, was writing (albeit excellent) Harry Potter slash and worrying about boy problems and exams. Normally, something like this would throw me into paroxysms of embarrassingly existential self-doubt – but in this case, my only reaction was, “Sweet! She totally deserves it. I can’t wait to read it.”

Why? Because I already knew she was a writer. Not because she called herself one, or because other people said she was, or because publishers published her or reviewers reviewed her, but because I’d been reading her writing for years. And it was comforting and encouraging to know that this published author with a flashy website and a book tour was also a totally normal person with boy problems and school stress in whose house I’d drunk tea. Actually watching her writing develop in realtime over the years got it through to me better than any writer’s advice column or famous author biography could have that “Real Writer” is not an unattainable archetype.

Why the hell am I telling you all of this? Well, obviously because I like to talk about myself. But more importantly, because I like it when YOU talk about yourself. I don’t need Simon & Schuster to tell me that you are a Real Writer in the archetypal sense – I know because I’ve always read your writing and loved it. I have more trust, respect and admiration for you as a writer than almost anyone else I know. And I’d like to read more about your relationship to your writing and to yourself as a writer…

Archival Knowledge

Filed under: Uncategorized — thirdxlucky @ 6:41 pm

I just realized that I have fifty items in draft in my Gmail account. A few of them are just blanks or things I was using to keep track of dentists’ phone numbers because I was too lazy to open Notepad – but most are unsent e-mails, drafts of blog posts, disembodied ramblings about love and politics…

So, I thought I’d clean a few of them up and post them here ’cause, I mean, what else am I ever going to do with them?

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