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4 levels of friendship: fun, support, learning, mutual accountability

I'm not calling these truths, just musings. As such they could be totally wrong, so don't hesitate to disagree!

When you have only had shitty friends, you don't get a chance to learn all the friendship skills, because a friendship can't go beyond the most skilled one in it (unless you mutually work on it).  So if you are a level 2 with only level 1 friends, you can't move to level 3. If you're a level 1 with level 1 friends, you could both move to level 2 if you both decided to build that skill. Some of friendship is about intention, but a lot of it is about experience.

I think that people are composed of their experiences (and don't have much power over what those experiences are) so all you can really do is seek people who are similar to you in level, want to grow in friendship, and aren't so privileged or prejudiced that they can't see you as a person - and hope you get lucky. This is obviously easier if you are in a category that isn't routinely dehumanized and othered. Many more people are willing to invest in you when your looks and identity are something they feel comfortable with. Just from my relatively privileged experience, it was SO much easier to find friends when I was thinner and identified as a monogamous straight cis person. Also I am beyond lucky/privileged in the fact that I got to go to therapy for two and a half years, and got plenty of time to write and learn how to hone my communication, and more than anything else I was able to find people who were on my level but ready to move to the next and willing to do so with me. You can't create friendship skills without time, energy, and people to teach you and/or practice with. So, if you have few friendship skills it doesn't actually say that much about you as a person, necessarily. I think it only matters how you react to a chance to learn a new friendship skill.

I see four levels of friendship experience.

1) spending time together (not sharing deeply) in fun.
Most people exist at this level of friendship; at this stage a very close friend is one with whom you spend time with regularly or at length. At this stage, to feel close you have to be in-person and get things like smiles, laughter, hugs, overlapping energy, silliness, and play. You need (nearly) all interactions to feel good, because the only bad-feeling things that nourish a person involve sharing deeply.  If something feels bad about spending time with a person, they no longer count as a friend, because they're not doing the things that you consider to be friendship (sharing fun time).

2) giving emotional support/listening.
This next step often still requires spending a lot of time together for closeness, because people in the first stages of vulnerability often need the immediate feedback of in-person or real-time communication. Saying something vulnerable and then waiting is often much harder than saying something vulnerable and having immediate response.  For people in this stage, fun is still important, but it is also important to be able to express your negative feelings and have them held safely. People in the first stage can do this rarely if someone in massive crisis, but more often and they're gone; people in the 2nd stage consider supporting each other emotionally to be a vital part of friendship. I dunno if this is true for others, but when I was in this stage, I had a very hard time balancing my support for others with my own needs. It was like receiving support was so important to me that I imagined it as just as vital for everyone else, and I couldn't manage my own boundaries because it seemed so terrible to ever say no to a support need. This got me into trouble a lot.

3) giving feedback in a way that sparks new self-understanding; inspiring each other.
In this stage, spending time together for fun and support has decreased in importance.  I think that a person has to receive a certain amount of support for a certain length of time in order to move to this stage. I think ideally, your parents would give you enough support in your childhood that you could go into adulthood in this stage of friendship, but I've never seen that happen. The people I have seen in this stage at early adulthood had unusually supportive friend relationships early. For me, I got to this stage through the unbelievably kind and generous and faithful love of my LJ friends throughout the time I was working through childhood sexual abuse. Support is no longer a strong need for me, because I once hit that critical level. I think it is possible for people who have not yet hit that level to still very much value feedback that leads to new self-understanding, but I consider the level marker to be when it becomes more important than emotional support. At that point, you seek different friends and different kinds of interactions. Instead of seeking comfort first, you seek friendships that push you out of your comfort zone. You have a new set of goals in friendship. Support and spending time is of course still a need and important, but it's not primary. It becomes more important to be able to learn from and about each other.

4) challenging each other and responding positively; mutual accountability.
This may not be the final level but it is the deepest and most intense one I have witnessed. This is when not only do you value each other's feedback, but you hold each other accountable to the values that you have decided are important (not necessarily the same ones). For instance, Kylei values a broad sense of community and I do not, so in this level of friendship I would pay attention to whether or not they were investing in broad community, and point out any way I could see that they could invest more. Likewise, I value creativity, and someone could check in on me to see if I was living up to my value and creating regularly, whether they valued that for themselves or not. This level requires a lot of time and energy as well as skills in self-awareness and observation of others.

rambles...Collapse )

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new job / first Zikr / nervous about school stuff
icon: "overwhelmed (the character Keenan from "Playing By Heart," with hands over their face covering their eyes and head tilted back)"

starting a new job Wednesday (technically tomorrow) which I have been quite stressed about for several reasons -- I don't know what I'll actually be doing (they're gonna train me) and I had to set up an orientation which was very scary because I find bureaucracy, talking on the phone, and deadlines all terrifying and I had to deal with all of them. Also I ended up having to call five times because I kept getting dumped into dead-end transfers. Still have a ton of paperwork and hoops to jump through *scared frown*

And I went to a Sufi Zikr for the first time this Sunday. It wasn't what I expected (we met in someone's home and most of the attendees were white) but I enjoyed it and I felt hyper-aware of people's reactions to me. I couldn't get fully into it because the energy of the place was distracting. I felt like there was something behind me, possibly because it was a home and I may have felt presences who live there who were not introduced. But the chanting was really beautiful and I always appreciate being around people who feel genuine devotion, and I felt a connection to the source of life in that room. I felt included and very appreciative of that -- even the person I felt the most resistance from made an attempt to express understanding (talking about how their teenage kid taught them about trans people and using people's preferred pronouns). I think that unless I can find a person to carpool with I won't attend further except remotely, because it is just too much of a drive.

I want to attend a Sikh Kirtan service and hope to do that this Friday. It's been on my intentions list for months now but I just haven't had the extra energy.

I should have been asleep already... so nervous about orientation and dealing with making my minors official tomorrow. Heather is coming with me for the latter because I have found it so worrisome that I keep putting it off forever. I'm relieved that it's going to get done but SO stressed because one of the gatekeepers seems to have become massively uncomfortable with me and will no longer make eye contact or small talk with me. I fear having to talk to them.

I'm way too easily overwhelmed.

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tired and excited
icon: "exuviate (photo of a dragonfly with shimmery green wings after its last metamorphosis, standing next to its previous exoskeleton)"

whew, I'm so late going to bed but I finally caught up on LJ. And earlier this week I re-wrote my profile for the first time in years. It's not complete- I need to update the list of important posts - but it is way more reflective of who I am and what I want.

I'm really excited about tomorrow (later today); I'm gonna have a truth-or-truth night with alcohol and so many of my favorite people. Kylei and Heather are spending the night with me and Topaz and I think I am the most excited but I have felt excitement from each of them about it too, which makes me feel so happy and close and loved.

and I have used up too much brain for a longer post, bleh.

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realization: I need group intimacy as well as one-on-one
icon: "pensive (photo of me with a glitter goatee, looking down pensively with woods in the background)"

realized yesterday that I was craving intimate time with multiple people simultaneously in person. I'm not sure if it has actually been a while since I've had this? it feels like it. I've had casual time with multiple people and intimate time one-on-one, but last intimacy practice was like a month ago and I think that was the last time I had in-person group intimacy. But it could be because I'm finally appropriately medicated yet no longer spending all my energy on school, so I actually have time/energy to reflect on what is causing my feelings.

I didn't even realize I had a need for this but yeah, I do. I've been feeling a weird kind of lonely that doesn't go away from anything else. So I made a plan w Heather and Kylei and Topaz to have a sleepover and I can't wait. I think that I need specifically this for two reasons: 1) it is a broad kind of love (that many people associate with 'family' which I have nearly never experienced in biofamily situations) which brings its own nourishment, and 2) only by spending time with mutual intimates can I be deeply nourished by seeing one person's love for another. and I think maybe 3) flowing back and forth in my focus from person to person makes me feel a harmony and unity I can't feel otherwise.

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dreams: radio SJ speaking w Snoop, epic dystopia w devil gold ring programming
icon: "powerful (Frazetta's "Sun Goddess": a person with large breasts and belly and thick muscular thighs, standing with arms out and head back, knife in one hand, sabertooth tiger snarling by their side)"

dreamed something about driving a yellow firebird, the owner asking if I want to buy and me asking how much. they said 200 and I thought that that was either far too low or far too high, so just made an excuse. at another part I was falling from high above the ocean and used a thread from a disintegrating sailboat to save myself. there was also something about a grocery store.

I don't remember it all, but at one point I was at Snoop Dogg's house with them and their friend (a big muscular white dude who used a wheelchair) talking about how a bunch of racists had caused a shitton of damage in retaliation after snoop had a giant expensive party. I said something about defaults not wanting to see anyone else have money, and then explained what I meant by default. Snoop agreed with me about racism as a motivator but said that sexism/cissexism/ableism is not that bad and I explained how it is serious and systemic, not just a few bigots: people die. Then me and Snoop were talking on a college radio about oppression and defaults, as one of the college high-mucketys stood in the doorway. Snoop thought it was amusing that they were just letting me go at it. then I introduced Snoop and handed them the mic, and soft music started playing and the mic stopped working! I tried to fix it with the controls back there but it had been done elsewhere, as a way to shut us up, or maybe just Snoop. then the scene switched and there was something about a house magically lifted and tipped 20°.

Also when Snoop and I were setting up equipment, I coughed and found a blue cord in my throat. I pulled it and it came out and out and out, like three yards of it, and then it was attached to a pink one that was shorter. I started to get nervous that there was gonna be poop on it but I pulled it the rest of the way out (no poop) and looked carefully at the join place, which I thought was a knot but on carefully looking, realized was a tangle, that it was one cord that faded from blue to pink with a tiny section of purple.

Earlier there was a tiny dragon I was trying to catch, but not a normal one, a salamander one. about the size of my finger. it hid in a box of a toy with gardening stuff, and then begged me to get it out. it ran all over the place, very fast.

epic dream about evil 'devil' and sci-fi dystopia. started when I and another kid were left in a boxy stone gazebo and someone came up, loudly told us that our punishment was finished, and took us out. just behind us, someone else went into it with a captive and began torturing them. the one who rescued me and my companion took us to another spot with a bunch more children and we decided to try disappearing into the bamboo. when we did it and the others couldn't see us, they excitedly followed too but they wouldn't be quiet. I kept trying to shush them, getting to the point of wanting to hit them and waving violently and shouting in whispers instead.

Scene switch and everything looked dead and dried up. there were people in charge and reluctant followers who carried out their will. don't remember everything except gold rings were programming, and at one point someone said "this will change it from white to white Jesus." (meaning, from white supremacy to religious white supremacy) To deprogram oneself, a person had to take off their ring (which was illegal). we plotted to destroy the central power. at one point this line of people at the top of stairs who were the evil leaders were no longer in power. I don't think they could move from their thrones. we brought them food and they haughtily cast it down, thinking it wouldn't be long before we were killed and a new regime began. then one of them threatened us with its belly that it could apparently blast sound out of, but I took a butterknife and stabbed it through the stomach and popped the organ. this didn't seriously damage the person but it took away their weapon.

a little later I was watching a scene unfold that was very similar to the first except the aesthetics had changed, and felt disheartened, but then all of a sudden things were very different and people were removing their rings, even the super privileged. There was one 'princess' that my lover helped to remove theit ring (there are sometimes failsafes designed to punish as you try to remove it so you stop: you have to be careful) and they had three separate programming markers: the ring, a coin, and a flower that they wore in their hair. when they took it out it got angry and tried to stab my lover in the eye, but I could tell what it was about to do and warned my lover in time.

then I and someone else were tied up w a bunch of gold rings (bracelet size and massively thick), in the ocean, trying to sink, and the devil came along and pulled us out. we laughed because we were tied to a huge mass of more rings and people, and the devil couldn't pick it all up (they were the size of a human but able to hover). They were furious at me and told me to try and hold on (as it prepared to try and break my back). I braced myself emotionally but didn't care, I'd succeeded in helping all those others escape.

Then I was on a plane with others who had deprogrammed themselves, and I saw an AFAB intersex person who had stopped shaving their face and had the beginning growth of a beard, with a female-appearing companion who said something to them about liking them and all their accompaniments (meaning the fact that they were intersex).

Then I was like "okay, five stars for THIS movie, I'm gonna save the last 15 min for when I watch it with Topaz, who would love all the dystopian stuff." and woke up.

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my eating habits: what I don't eat at all, what I generally avoid, favorite meals & ingredients
icon: "delectable (photo of a snow leopard licking its lips)"

I told Anika that I'd compile a list of my dietary restrictions, avoidances, and preferences, and figured I might as well share.

the nopesCollapse )

preferences, favorite ingredients, and other things I often eatCollapse )

favorite meals (all best with NO oil or butter, or as little as possible):
tacos/burritos/salad w salsa and a shitton of raw veggies, plus beans and mushrooms
lasagne (almost never get a good one -- they all have those mushy squash or zucchini UGH)
chili (almost never get a good one -- it's like people don't know how to flavor and thicken without meat)
paninis (warm crunchy sandwiches mmm)
pizza! with fine-cut broccoli, black olives, spinach, roma tomatoes, banana peppers, red onions, portabella mushrooms, & roasted red peppers.
veggie soups, especially fresh, thin ones w lots of fine-chopped veggies
thick chunky tomato soup with brie on rye toast
thin pastas (angel hair or rice noodles) w lots of tomato sauce and added veggies/mushrooms
cheese w lots of raw veggies, herbs, and whole grain crackers or bread.
smoothies w fruits, peanut butter (w no oils, salt or sugar added) or whey protein, whole milk yogurt.

favorite desserts:
super-gingery ginger cookies and hot spicy tea
spearmint (NOT peppermint) gelato or ice cream w as little sugar and few bits of chocolate as possible
chopped fruits and Topaz' fruit goop (a mix of cream, soft cheese, and sugar)
dark dark chocolate bar w ginger bits (I savor this in small bits -- usually have 1/8th to 1/6th of a bar at a time)
lime sherbert (or it would be, if I could find some that didn't have too much sugar)
sheer bliss pomegranate ice cream w dark chocolate bits (not sure if it still exists, haven't found it in stores in years. but most pomegranate ice cream has WAYYYYYYYY too much sugar because people try to overwhelm the tartness)
connecting: , ,

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fuck you perfection I'm taking action: sweeping, crafting, gardening, tidying / time w Kylei / jobs
icon: "exuviate (photo of a dragonfly with shimmery green wings after its last metamorphosis, standing next to its previous exoskeleton)"

frustrated with myself because I've been writing, but not posting because I get to the 99% done point and stall out. Gotta edit, reread, edit, reread, wait and see if I think of something else, ugh. And then I don't write little random posts like this one because I have such a better one and I want to post THAT instead. Whyyyyyy do I get so fixated on perfection? Why do I break my own ethic of taking imperfect action?

Though, I did a number of things today where I didn't let perfect be the murderer of actually-getting-shit-done. Instead of thoroughly sweeping the back porch & stairs and getting every little flake of leaf off, I just did a quick and dirty job -- first time in ages that that porch & stairs has been swept. The pile was more massive than me, no hyperbole. I also set up a rig (not fancy, but sturdy) so that I can hang fabric along the side where there aren't enough trees to block the neighbors, so that I can sit out there in nature without having to think about my terrible neighbors or ever suffer their gaze. I'm sure not all of them are awful, but at least some of them are. Last year someone(s) deliberately smashed my two glass globe solar lights that were my shimmering joy (I took a photo because it smacked of hate crime (my car makes it super obvious that I'm queer) and I wanted evidence in case something worse happened) and recently someone sent me a nasty note for not having a tidy yard (it's since been tidied, because that has been my intention for months but I haven't had the spare energy).

Also I planted my newest garden baby, a sweet orange pepper that Topaz gave me. I also have a sweet green pepper (poblano I think), a Mexican Sour Gherkin cucumber and another that I don't remember the name of, Ititarod Red Dwarf tomato and some kind of small green tomato, a purple tomatillo, and cinnamon basil. Topaz has some seedlings for me that I'll hopefully be able to add soon.

I swept more things and watered and did lots of tidying and dishes, went to lunch with Lily and Tasha (whose cat is living in my basement room right now because Tasha can't keep them where they live and can't move yet), and spent time with Kylei. They were exhausted like always after a burn so they came over, took a nap (I made them up a bed) and then a shower, and then we had dinner (on plates at a table because Kylei wanted a ritual dinner; I enjoyed it more than I thought I would). We lay on my bed and stared at my fairy lights, which I tried on a new setting, slow glow (they have 8 patterns for flashing/fading). It was utterly hypnotizing and beautiful; definitely my new favorite. I can't believe I hadn't tried it before. When it went to red especially I felt like I was being bathed in healing. (I'll try to remember to get a video though I have no idea how I'd describe it!) We cuddled a little and Kylei told me about their burn experience. We hung out for a few hours and then Kylei went to bed but couldn't sleep, so I gave them melatonin and silent hair pets for a little while until they seemed almost asleep. I haven't heard them up and about since so I think it worked but now I'm afraid to go pee because I don't wanna wake them up *awkwardface*

I have two prospective jobs, one where I am 99.99% sure I have the job (waiting on paperwork) and another with an interview scheduled for tomorrow. I reeeeeeally want the one I'm interviewing for. It's an absolute dream.

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essential qualities to be a good cuddler: good at consent, emotionally present & aware, not in need

icon: "woven souls (a photo of me and Hannah laying nude on black fabric, holding hands and facing each other with legs intertwined at the knee. the photo is overlaid with a scarlet and violet color filter)"

The qualities that are most vital are being good at consent, being good at staying emotionally present, and not radiating need. Consent is vital because any touch needs to be consensual and a cuddler needs to know how to navigate that and give someone safety. Being emotionally present and aware is necessary because that is the building block for being able to give cuddles that are emotionally nourishing as well as physically pleasant. Not being full of need is necessary because even if you are otherwise perfect, if you have great need you may unintentionally drain people with your presence unless they know how to guard against that, or you are amazingly good at putting it in a box for a time. (for people who are full of need, guess what would be great for them? a professional cuddler!)

1) A cuddler needs to be good at consent: good at noticing non-verbal "no"s and asking clarifying, specific questions such as, "is there any part of your body that you would like me to avoid touching? Is there any particular kind of touch that you do not like?" and things like "would you like to be spooned? would you like me to stroke your arms? do you want me to play with your hair?"
2) A cuddler needs to not be touch-starved or affection-hungry. If they go into a session without their own tanks full, it is quite possible that their touch will drain the client rather than nourish them.
3) A cuddler needs to be good at boundaries. They need to be able to state their own comfort level and to be willing and able to say no and perhaps end the session if the client is not listening to those statements and honoring them.
4) A cuddler needs to have calm, settled energy about them, so that the cuddles they give will be relaxing and they won't transfer any stress to the client.
5) A cuddler needs to be comfortable with other people's emotions, able to listen, care, and hold space without getting swept along.
6) A (professional) cuddler needs to be good at separating sexual touch from affectionate touch, so that they can both offer touch with no sexual energy and they can read when a client is not being platonic and set boundaries accordingly.
7) A cuddler needs to be good at paying attention and good at reading people's reactions, so that they can tell how to adjust their touch according to what would be the most nourishing for the client.
8) A cuddler needs to be very comfortable with cuddling, so that they don't feel self-conscious and make their client feel awkward and uncomfortable about receiving their touch. They need to have a level of confidence and willingness to change something that is not working for the client.

Only the last one is really about physical aspects. The rest is all mental! Not all of it is stuff you can control -- obviously people don't have a lot of control over how much they need or how calm they are or even how emotionally present they are (some disabilities can break you out of being present no matter how hard you try). Some of this is skill, and some of it is just qualities that you might have or you might not, and some is a combination.

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emotional/artistic work is still work / types of cuddles: giving, receiving, sharing, passive
icon: "nuzzle (a photo of two snow leopards, one facing the camera and the other in profile, nuzzling the first so much that the first one is leaning over)"

[been thinking about cuddling for a living]
I've been thinking about cuddling for a living since I found out that there is a service near where I live that is hiring. I posted on facebook asking people if they'd be interested or knew others who would be. Some said yes and some said "yes I want cuddles but I wouldn't pay for them" and I found myself getting really offended and upset about it. Even after working it out logically (I do understand that reaction and don't need it explained) it's still upsetting. It feels like people are saying my skills aren't valuable or worth me being able to live on, which really is something I get constantly about everything I do (except stats).

People do this about every skill that is emotional or artistic in nature. Sure, it is rewarding to make art or teach people emotional skills, etc. But it takes energy! no one has an endless supply of that. Further, energy spent on emotional/artistic work means less energy for making money. Money is a thing that can get me food and shelter. If you don't think my emotional/artistic work is real enough work to earn me food and shelter then no, I don't want to give it to you. And when I have put hundreds of hours into building my skills, no, it's not the same as some random person who has never worked on it. It is really unlikely that any random person can give the cuddles I do. Affection or connection doesn't cut it; this is a skill. I have worked on these skills consciously for many years on many people. Cuddle skills are not common and even the sweetest and most loving people often have very low cuddle skills.

I am really fucking good at cuddling. I imagine that most people who are uncomfortable with the idea of paying for cuddles have in their mind the idea that cuddles are automatically mutual. They aren't. There are four kinds of cuddles as I see it - giving, receiving, sharing, and passive.

  • Giving (one-way) - this is where you are actively giving touch, such as stroking someone's hair or rubbing their back, and they aren't actively touching you, nor is there any plan for them to.

  • Receiving (one-way) - this is where you are not actively touching the other person while they are giving you touch, and there is no plan for you to give them touch.

  • Sharing (mutual) - this is where you and another person are engaged in mutually active and emotionally-present touch, such as both stroking each other's backs while lying together, or mouth-kissing, or hugging, or holding hands. It is only sharing touch if you are both actively, presently, and deliberately giving: it is quite common for one person to give a hug and the other receive it - that may look like sharing but it isn't.

  • Passive (can be mutual or one-way) - this is where you are touching the other person, but in an absent-minded or inactive way. An example would be leaning against someone while you both watch a show, or hugging while neither of you are focused on it.

If you have never just received without giving, you can't imagine how rejuvenating it is*. Shared cuddles are energizing but just receiving is like three times that intense. And it takes at least three times as much energy to just give: it's a huge investment of energy to just give fully-present cuddles, which is why I don't often do it for long stretches of time. I often brush Topaz' hair for hours on end because that is a less-present kind of giving that doesn't take much of my energy yet energizes them a lot. It's kinda halfway between passive and giving, because I shift in and out of being fully present in what I am doing (we're usually watching a show during this).

With people who do not give in cuddles for whatever reason, I only give if I am in a place where I can handle that much drain, or if I feel confident enough in their honesty & ability of response to request something that will help refill me. Mostly people are willing to give back, they just don't know how, because this is a learned skill. Sometimes I will have only passive cuddles with a person because that is something I can usually do without drain.

I probably seem arrogant, and I'm afraid someone's gonna be like "actually your cuddles stink" but I think that's an illogical fear. Though I think maybe I suck at cuddling Heather partly because I have been lazy the last few times we've hung out and partly because I don't think I've ever made them sigh in contentment, and after braggin on myself I'm also looking at all my cuddles given and thinking about my flaws.

I came up with a list of essential qualities for being good at cuddling, but I'm going to post that friends-locked because I sent it to the two places I applied to and I want to keep it under wraps until I get responses. If you're reading and you don't have an LJ, message me and I'll email it to you.

*I am sure that not all of this is true for all people, especially those who are not nourished by touch (less common, but certainly existing). Please take this with a grain of salt - I phrased it boldly because I feel strongly, not because I really think it is true for all people.

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slurs are still very harmful when they are aimed at a situation/action/thing instead of a person
icon: "passionate (a red stylized gas mask: the Benjamin Gate symbol)"

What does it mean to use a slur?

a slur is a word with derogatory meaning which gets its negative connotation from the 'undesirability' of a group of people. It's a word used to mean 'bad' because it refers to a group of people who are labeled 'bad' by society. It doesn't matter if it is being used against a person or not; it is still a slur. Slurs still cause harm when they are used about situations or actions, because they're still reinforcing the idea that a certain group of people is less worthy. The logic train is mostly subconscious, but it works like this: someone says "this situation is gay" and the implication is "this situation is bad like gay people are bad." If you said a situation was shitty, that would have no meaning if people didn't assume that shit was something unpleasant and unwanted.

So, if someone calls a situation 'gay' or an action 'st*pid' or a thing 'cr*zy' when they find the situation/action/thing upsetting and undesirable, they're (unintentionally) implying that anyone who is put in those categories is also upsetting and undesirable just for existing. When someone uses the word 'b*tching' to mean 'complaining' they are reinforcing misogyny. When someone uses the word 'id*ocy' to mean 'selfish evil' they are reinforcing ableism. (I see that last one so often in people speaking against oppression, and it fucking burns) Etc.

So please, don't call your actions st*pid, or use other slurs to describe things, situations, or actions. Usually what you mean is "illogical" or "thoughtless" or "careless" or "clumsy" anyway -- be more creative! be more accurate! Just take slurs out of your vocabulary completely. There is no acceptable way to use a slur.*

I can't be friends with people who use slurs. When I say I can't deal with this, I don't mean I can't deal with people who call names. That's a problem too, but it is WAY less common. I mean, every time you use these words in ANY WAY AT ALL it stabs me in the soul and there is only so much of that that I can take.

[this is also inversely true.]
This is also inversely true (calling people 'fit' when you mean you find them attractive is fatphobic and saying 'be a man' when you mean 'be brave' is misogynistic, etc) but that's a next-level analysis and at least it doesn't involve slurs. I don't like it but I can tolerate it. it's more like you gave me a hard finger-jab in the soul rather than stabbing.

*except for reclaiming: that is, society puts you in a group labeled with a slur, and you self-identify with that as a way of rejecting the stigma. For instance, I have reclaimed the word "fat" and use it as a self-label. I do not ever use it to mean something negative.

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dream: Anika & I flee authority, followed by children, find a safe garage, transfuse my magic blood
icon: "dreamy (a painting by pupasoul of a human figure in a cage, holding a hand out from which radiates light and squiggly sparkly vines of energy)"

Didn't sleep much last night so I had a nap today and dreamed pretty vividly...

Anika and I were fleeing from some kind of authority. We went into a hospital, ducked into a place we weren't supposed to go, and when the people in charge there (white dudes in blue scrubs) said no no, I did the white dude thing of explaining vaguely and carelessly while ignoring their commands. I said something about Anika being disabled and not having their cane -- even though they were using a cane? but it was a grey one instead of their kitties one. I was holding Anika's hand this whole time and marched us through the restricted area (a part of the emergency room that led outside). We got outside and it was raining and children were following us, which at first was fine but then we were walking on a very narrow sidewalk next to the highway and I decided it was too dangerous for them and told them to hold hands and go back inside, quick quick, and chased them a little. Anika thought this was cute and funny. Then I came back and took their left hand again and we went as quickly as possible down the sidewalk. Everything was grey but bright, like a very rainy summer day. We got to the bottom of the hill after passing a wooded area on the right and there was a fork in the road, with neighborhoods ahead. I let go Anika's hand to run ahead and see what I could see, and when I turned back, they were gone. I called out for them and they called back and I followed and found them in someone's garage. There was a fiftyish hippyish white cishetero couple working on something in the garage, also making chili, which they offered to share. They asked our story and [Content Warning: blood] [CW through the end: discussion of blood]

I explained that I had gotten a faulty license for blood transfusions, accidentally (in the dream world there was a proper way for layfolk to do this), and even though I could do it just fine they were after us. Apparently I had been giving Anika some of my blood. When I explained this, the man got up and gathered the equipment I needed, gave it to me, and I hooked it up to me and Anika as if this was an everyday thing to do. There was a fault in the line though and my blood started spilling on the floor, so I decided not to use it. As I unhooked it I warned the man that sometimes this made people woozy, and the man agreed, misunderstanding me and thinking I was referring to myself; apparently I meant that when exposed to my blood, anyone in the vicinity got light-headed (not just blood-faint-y people). The man slumped to the floor, but slowly and didn't get hurt. I explained to the woman (who was sitting and thus didn't fall) that this was a function of my magical blood.
Then I woke.
connecting: ,

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my hobby: watching other people's friendships
icon: "intrigued (a photo of a snow leopard with ears to the side and eyes intent, peering over a log)"

I love social media especially LJ for the way it lets me watch the development of other relationships. Oftentimes if I am on the fence about someone, it will be their interaction with someone else that make me decide one way or the other about whether or not I should invest in them. If someone is unkind to my friend, they're unlikely to be a decent friend to me. If someone expresses understanding and empathy to my friend, I feel affection for that person and desire to connect more with them. I like this in my real-time conversations as well, but people don't often remember to tell me or even realize I want to know. I'm always curious about my friends' interactions with each other.

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deepest question
icon: "confused (photo of a purple diamond-shaped sign with a line leading to four arrows all curving and pointing in different directions)"

have you ever been asked a question that made you really ponder your own beliefs, identity, or outlook? if so, what was the question? if not, what COULD someone ask that might have such an effect?

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rant on rape / dream about Nea / missing old LJ friends
icon: "antagonistic (a photo of me facing the camera and snarling, eyebrows drawn down and teeth bared)"

[possible TW: angry discussion of rape and victim-blaming]possible TW: angry discussion of rape and victim-blaming--------

So, thanks to the research paper I just finished, I know (even more in-depth than before) what causes rape and I know what could cure it. It would be expensive to implement and all the religious folk would piss themselves in rage but it's so totally within practical possibility. Who gives a shit though, moneygod says no and what moneygod says goes. And you know those religious people would rather maintain an epidemic of rape than give up their stereotyping and sex-taboos. Because deep down, they do not care about rape because they do not believe in bodily autonomy. They think that something external should have power over your body. They think rape is a suitable punishment for 'bad' people and they choose to believe that it doesn't happen to those they think of as 'good' -- if it happens to you, you just get moved to the 'bad' column so they can keep on believing this. I actually hate these people more than the capitalists who just think it won't happen to them so they refuse to put money toward it when that money could be benefiting them. Selfishness is evil; selfishness justified with cruelty is worse.

------end TW-----

in happier news, I dreamed about spending time with acid_burns last night. It was so airy and light, and I felt really free. I don't remember specifics but we did go to some giant warehouse store.

I still miss my old circle of LJ friends.

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failure w ex-partner / need to know true feelings esp negative
icon: "tenebrous (a dark, orangey photo of me in a heart-crushed moment, looking down, tear-streaked face.)"

I had a weird experience today where I was failing at words and logic, getting lost. Usually that kind of fail is ADD meds related and that had a little to do with it as I took my meds really early and forgot to break the pill in half and save the second half for the afternoon. But then I got disproportionately upset and suddenly realized I was projecting and trying to rescue my friend from my own fate, not theirs. My failure with my ex-partner in transitioning from monogamy to polyamory apparently still hurts. I really thought I was over it. I did everything I could and I really couldn't have tried harder, but it wasn't enough because when it came down to it my ex just didn't want to. We practiced poly for two years before we broke up, but they didn't actually try to change their thinking or understand me, they just avoided thinking about it and lived in denial - possible, because my relationships were all long-distance. They told me they were okay with it and even happy for my happiness but it wasn't true, as they told me later. Once they stopped being able to pretend, that was the end. They dumped me by starting to date someone else (while we were still supposedly together) and deciding to be monogamous with that person.

My greatest fear in relationships is that someone will pretend to be okay with something and not actually be okay with it. Pretend to love all of me and really just be tolerating parts of me or pretending them away. When I say greatest fear, I mean I'd rather someone get furious with me, be cruel to me, and dump me. I'd rather they express any possible negative feeling about any part of me rather than pretend like or indifference.

This is why it is so important to me that my close friends be willing and able to tell me when I upset them in any way, or when they don't like something about me, and be honest with me when they don't care one way or the other about an aspect of me or things that are important to me.

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dreams: grasshoppers & butterflies protect me from wasps / performing & drinking w Sia
icon: "transfixed (me at Big Trees for the first time, wide-eyed and open-mouthed in awe at the beauty)"

earlier this week I dreamed that butterflies and grasshoppers were protecting me from wasps, at the top of my driveway and just across the street. First I outran the wasps, then I decided to just let them sting me because I could handle it, then butterflies and grasshoppers swarmed around in between me and the wasps just blocking them from getting to me.

and two days ago I dreamed that I went to a Sia concert in a dark bar where the bar was part of the stage and one song involved making drinks for some reason. Sia pulled me on stage and had me perform in the song by pouring drinks. After the song someone came up and tried to order from me thinking I was a bartender and I was like "oh, no, I don't really do this, I don't know how to make that" and started to leave the stage and Sia was like "what? why are you leaving?" and said "oh, I thought you just wanted me here for that one" and felt awkward but then they moved to a different stage that was white and elevated and round with a spiral staircase/slide going up from one side. they were acting out this song and I just went up on the stage and interacted with them, playing the part of the other person in the song. I felt so in-sync I didn't fret about whether or not I was supposed to, though I was surprised that there wasn't security stopping me. at the end of the interactive part Sia pushed me off the stage and that didn't feel weird or bad either, I felt zero rejection. I went to watch from behind the stage on what were kinda like bleachers. They ended the set with this bizarre pretzeling of their body in a legs-spread backbend which was especially shocking since they weren't wearing underwear and their short dress got pulled up by the bend. The audience gasped but it made perfect sense to me and I just nodded. Then they came up to me after and asked to have a beer with me and we walked to another part of the building which was under construction, sheets hanging everywhere. We sat in a booth that was being stored there, under dim light, and talked. They were so clearly crushing on me and I both realized this and was comfortable with it though I wasn't feeling crushy myself (which has never happened to me in waking life). I really enjoyed their company and admired them and was curious about possibilities but didn't feel at all overwhelmed or nervous or self-conscious. That dream was so real, and stuck with me all day into the next, making me feel really affirmed.

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cleaning / Kanika and stress / what did I miss?
icon: "kanika kitty (a photo of my cat Kanika in profile and backlit, looking like Bastet)"

*whew* just finished a massive cleaning project. [grossness]the upstairs toilet stopped working so I cleaned the shit out of the downstairs bathroom -- literally. Kanika had pooped on the floor. Even though their litter box is 1ft by 3 ft, they won't use it for poop 99.99% of the time even if it is JUST SCOOPED. Today as I was scooping out the pee blobs, Kanika watched and then as soon as I was done, hopped in and peed. I scooped it, and then they climbed in and pooped! First time they have pooped in the box in years -- apparently the trick is that I have to be waiting around to scoop it out of the otherwise perfectly clean box, and then I have to scoop pee BEFORE they will poop. (I checked both poop and pee -- healthy, yay!) Good grief. Instead I put some newspaper down after cleaning the floor, hoping they'll use that (but not very optimistic about it). They've also been stressed, which means that some of the poop was diarrhea. I already treated for fleas and worms, so I know that isn't the problem -- honestly I think they have been absorbing my stress from the past month as they are extremely empathetic. I ordered some feliway refills which just came in today and I have plugged those in, and my stress has dropped to manageable levels this week, so hopefully they will be calm and happy and stop overgrooming (the overgrooming also decreased this week, to my relief).

Also, because March was such an overwhelming month, my checking my flist was spotty and I may have missed something. So, if you wrote about:
1) something that is essential to who you are or illuminates your history, or
2) something that has great emotional importance to you, or
3) something that made you feel really good to write, or
4) something that you would specifically like my input on or just want me to see (and I haven't already commented),
please post the links below! I'll screen comments in case that helps. I'm not asking out of politeness, I would ideally read back through everything but now that LJ is having a renaissance (yay!) there is no way I can really go a month back through everyone (boo!). If you didn't write anything that falls in any of those categories, please don't apologize. The other stuff is important too, it's just important in a series way rather than a one-off way.
connecting: ,

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blah blah overwhelmed UGH
icon: "overwhelmed (the character Keenan from "Playing By Heart," with hands over their face covering their eyes and head tilted back)"

[written on sunday]This past week has been hugely full of activity, partly from school and partly from Anika's visit. I feel like I haven't had any down time in a month, BUT all my biggest assignments are now done and my spring break has officially started, so I'm hoping to spend a lot of time on art and writing and the various meaningful things that I have been putting off. Having Anika visit this week has been kinda perfect, because the experiences we've shared have been intensely nourishing and magical and so I am going into spring break more nourished than drained, which means it will actually be helpful.

Today was the second time it hasn't worked out for me to go to the Sikh chanting I've been wanting to experience, and my next chance is two weeks away. I'm disappointed but the unpredictable nature of the interruptions (alarm getting turned off by someone else one week, staying home to take care of a suddenly ill topaz the next week) make me feel like it was meant to happen that way.

Did I mention that my meds have been changed? The one I am on now is SO much more effective. I was thinking about adding buproprion back but now this one seems to be working fine. The psychiatrist seemed convinced that the old med and this one should affect me the same, but they clearly don't, even though this is a slightly lower dose, proportionately. It'll be nice to not need to change something every month.

Then Monday and today have been semi-productive but disappointing. I'm not quite sure what I was expecting of myself. I did get my room tidy, go through my wardrobe and remove the stuff that I don't actually wear and bag it for donation, hang up my rainbow drip lights from Topaz, final-edit one fractal and create another, and do a little general house cleaning, but good grief, it's so little stuff for so much time. I guess I was more wiped out than I realized. Every obligation that comes up I want to shove away with a red-hot poker. I don't feel able to be there for anyone, which makes me feel shitty. I don't know what it would take for me to actually feel rested.

I think I need to stay off of facebook, for one, that sucks so much out of me. People are constantly shitty, stabbing me with slurs and being racist and sexist and etc. I am not sure how to reduce my use while still being able to use all the good bits (events and keeping up with the few who don't say awful things). Just realized a that I should make a custom reading list for when I can't deal... and in making it, realized that there are a multiplicity of ways that people are exhausting. The one that sticks out the most is when people use slurs or express oppressive ideas, but ugh. Maybe I'm just tired of people.

sick and tired of being overwhelmed. I had a pile of things planned tomorrow and just stripped them down to barest minimum. I have got to get to a better place this week because next week starts the grind again!


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PSA: use of ableist slurs will cause me to unfriend you
icon: "snarling (photo of a snow leopard in profile, snarling)"

PSA: if you want to stay on my friends list you're gonna have to avoid slurs, especially ableist slurs, because there are only so many I can take. If you don't care that use of these words/concepts hurts me and many other people, you are bad at empathy and I don't want to be your friend. I am happy to give you the benefit of the doubt and point this out once, maybe twice, possibly more if you respond well when I mention it and seem to not have realized, but really, you need to do the work of thinking about your language.

This includes: [TW: ableist slurs]
------TW: slurs-----
stupid, lame, mong, idiot, dumb, idiot, retard, derp, mongoloid, and all variations, such as stupidity, monging, idiotic, dumbass, retarded, derpy, 'special', short bus, etc.
---- end slur list-----

ANYTHING that refers to the idea of "less intelligence" in a non-positive way.

Also, anything that implies mental illness is inherently bad, or uses mental illness as adjectives for their lives or for things they don't like. for instance, "the weather is bipolar" "my mother-in-law is crazy" "I'm totally manic" (if you don't actually experience the mental state of mania, and no that doesn't just mean hyper and happy).

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poll - if I gave you a book, would you read it soon? & how do you feel about me sending you energy?
icon: "blossoming (willow arlenea painting of a person with long hair "blooming" out of a plant. Everything is translucent and there are energy lines running through it)"

random questions I've been meaning to ask:

if I gave you a fiction book, how likely would you be to read it WITHIN six months? be honest pls

less than 70%

if I gave you a NON-fiction book, how likely would you be to read it WITHIN six months? be honest pls

less than 70%

how do you feel about me doing energy work for / 'praying' for you?

I like that idea.
I'm indifferent.
I don't want that.
I only like that idea if I have asked for help with some specific issue, not generally.
other (explain in comments please)

The latter is because I'm considering a daily practice wherein I draw a name from a jar and send that person positive energy of some kind. I want to make a new set of paper coins for this but I don't want to include anyone who wouldn't like it.
connecting: , ,

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what nourishes me in friendship: self-care/growth/awareness, shared passion/enthusiasm, creating...
icon: "plant magic (photo I took of a tree blossom cluster, still in buds)"

A friend asked me what nourishes me in friendship, and after thinking on it, this is how friends can nourish me:

1. self-care/growth/awareness. This is far and away the most important, the thing that nourishes me most in spending time with someone (whether virtually or in-person). A person can be the best person in the world, but if they aren't good at self-care it will not nourish me to be around them. I think this is partly because I sense the care that they need and I have to practice a lot of self-discipline to be around them without trying to fill that hole (a vast improvement over my previous self, but still an intense and draining struggle for me), and that struggle gets exponentially harder the more I care about them. So the skill of self-care prevents me from feeling a constant drain (due to that internal struggle) in their presence.

But the other side of that, growth, is actively nourishing to me when it is shared with me. When someone has been, for instance, going to therapy regularly and learning new skills that they are applying in their relationships or their daily habits, I can feel that and it subconsciously nourishes me. (or if they have simply been taking a walk everyday because it helps them feel mentally clear and less anxious, or they've been reading more, etc) Further, if they describe it to me, it nourishes me more because I learn more about them as they learn about themselves, and I also learn about myself as they share. Sometimes this is because they share something that teaches me something new, sometimes it's just as simple as noting my reaction to a particular aspect of something and realizing something new about myself from that.

I often spark this on my own by asking questions that prompt self-reflection and growth, but that is usually a much much smaller nourishment because it requires energy to put in. If I ask a simple question and then the person makes explores it carefully and thoughtfully, that can be really nourishing, but that requires a certain mental habit of critical analysis and a level of practiced openness that most people don't have, so it is rare.

2. shared passion and enthusiasm. This is more complex than it seems at first glance, because it involves the other person not only understanding and caring about the same thing I care about, but expressing that emphatically and emotionally, 'hyper'ly even. And this could be anger, joy, excitement, shock, wonder, etc, any passionate emotion. Kylei has always nourished me in this way, because Kylei is very VERY good at being enthusiastic and loud about it. On the flip side, if I share something I feel passionate about with someone and they have a calm or flat reaction to it, I will feel drained by having shared with them and will wish I hadn't, because if I had instead written about it I would have had a better reaction just from myself re-reading it.

3. creating together. I find creating to be nourishing in itself, and when someone creates with me I feel extra nourished because I feel like they are investing in their self-care/growth as well as my self-care and growth. Conversely, if someone sets the intention with me to create, and then doesn't, I sometimes feel worse than I would have if I had just created alone.

4. spiritual working together. This can be incredibly nourishing but it requires number 1, 2, and 3 or it takes more energy than it gives.

5. asking me meaningful specific questions. This can be nourishing from anyone, but has far more impact if the question is one that I hadn't considered, and/or if it is about something that I am currently positively emotionally invested in. (being asked about things that I find stressful is draining, not nourishing, though someone who is really good at questioning can sometimes make an overall nourishing conversation out of it) Vague questions like "how are you?" are not at all nourishing because they take so much work for me to organize my thoughts and answer. (my ADD-PI means I hate vagueness in general, btw)

6. cuddles/focused touch. This can make me feel REALLY nourished BUT it is only good for me if the person is 1) good at self-care AND 2) is good at noting my reactions and adjusting for the comfort of both of us AND 3) is generous. I am very physically sensitive and it is easy to make me feel bad, and if I give a lot of cuddles without also getting them it rapidly gets more draining than nourishing. I like drinking and cuddling because I get numbed and then it is not distressing to the point of emotional suffering to have someone brush a sensitive place accidentally. Otherwise, I exclusively give (which I do really love when it doesn't happen too often) or do some specific and boundaried touch (like let them rub my feet or pet my hair).

7. gifts of effort. This can be things like driving to see me when you live far away, or doing a chore I hate doing. But if you don't ask if I want it and get a yes first (or ask if I have a blanket answer for that particular thing), it can be upsetting, because I want to be able to measure my gratitude against your effort. If it is going to take a lot out of you but only give me a little, then it is not worth it and if you do it I will just feel bad for your loss rather than feeling happy for my gain.

Things that have low to no nourishment value for me: activities which don't involve the previous things (so, going to the movies together would not nourish me unless we deconstructed it after or something), people expressing empathy/sympathy for my negative feelings (I want them to care, but I'm okay just trusting that they care unless I am in a desperate place and if I am there, I will specifically request support), being told nice things about myself, being listened to without feedback. These are all nice and certainly don't have a negative effect, but they are not things that have a large emotional impact on me.

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rune divination from Heather on finding romantic relationships, realizations & decisions
icon: "osculant (a photo of Hannah and I laying nude on dark fabric, facing each other with our bottom arms stretched toward the camera, hands overlapping, and our other arms entwined between us)"

A few weeks ago I was hanging out with Heather and they offered to do a rune reading for me. I was curious and agreed, and they told me to think of a question and then draw three runes. I did, and then they interpreted them for me. The first they said was about worth, perhaps material worth or self-worth. The second they said was about mysteries or magic, and that they associate it particularly with the vagina. The third was about success after a period of time (with nuances I have forgotten). They said that the first one is the source of the problem, the second is the solution, and the third is what will happen if you follow the solution. So then I told them that I had asked "how will I find my next romantic relationship?" and asked them to interpret again in light of that.

They then looked at the runes and laughed and said that the strongest impression they got was that I was asking the wrong question. I said that what I had sensed as they explained the first time was that my problem was in not having the resources as well as not believing in my worth, really. I felt the solution I was being told was to invest in my own magic, and that it would take time. Heather said that felt right. So I was like, HOW do I do that? And Heather told me to draw three more.

The first Heather interpreted as "you know what to do but you're resisting." They said I'm holding to a set of patterns that doesn't fit. Also, when this is near the next rune I pulled, it means ask for advice. The next one means prepare for harvest, implying a slow process. The third is firm indication that it is not time for new starts, that things are outside your control. Then I drew one more, don't remember why, and that one was "Isa" which means delay, wait for a better time.

This last set I felt was saying wait, wait, also wait some more, and let it come to you. And really, I feel I have learned that people who come to me end up being the ones who have strong positive impact, and when I chase people I just end up with wasted energy. Not everyone who comes to me is good for me, but everyone who is good for me has come to me. I know what actually works for me is to just focus on being as true to myself as possible, and staying open to people who reach out. I can't find them, I can only draw them.

Yet I was trying to find them because dammit, I thought I was ready. But also I was pushing myself because the longer I go dating just one person, the more I feel judged and rejected by poly people, and I wanted to escape that. I also just miss the kind of awareness that I only have when in multiple romantic relationships. But really, while I might be emotionally ready in one sense because I'm no longer dealing with squelching depression, I am overwhelmed with the multiplicity of things demanding my attention and adding another, no matter how lovely, would probably be a terrible idea. While I was disappointed, I was also relieved, and realized I had been putting a lot of pressure on myself and feeling bad because my efforts were failing and what if I never find anyone new who is awesome and why doesn't anyone want to date me etc.

Also, the fact that one of them suggested asking for advice made a lot of sense to me, because I am terrible at differentiating between potential and actuality and making decisions based on now. For instance, if a person is really amazing, but is so busy that we never see each other, I have a hard time deciding to not invest emotionally now. Or if a person really wants to build the skills I value, but isn't actually doing it or is doing it so slowly that it will be years before they have the skills that nourish me, I have a hard time moving on, or putting it on low priority. Heather and Topaz are both very good at evaluating those sorts of situations, and I think that if I had asked them for advice over recent years I would have saved myself a lot of unproductive energy drain.

This was definitely the most useful divination I've ever experienced. I felt a positive shift in myself after. I felt affirmed in the fact that I have been investing more in my own magic these past 3 months than I ever had in my life before. I feel comforted that I'm not lacking in new romance because there is something lacking in me. I feel inexplicably reassured that there are people who I could feel deep connection with who I have yet to meet. And I feel much better about the fact that I can't find people and have to wait for them to find me. I will still make small overtures when they feel right, but I'm not going to try to do "what everyone else does." And the energy that I was spending on trying to meet new people I am instead going to spend on my current friends.

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experiencing kirtans at chantlanta, 'meeting' Shiva, considering appropriation, looking into Sikhism
icon: "mysterious (a photo of the snow leopard Shynghyz from the Tama Zoological park, staring straight at the camera)"

Two weeks ago I went with Heather to an event called Chantlanta and experienced kirtans for the first time. I had mixed feelings about the leaders of the chants and event (it felt like there were appropriation issues, especially in the vendor area), but the chants themselves were amazing. Heather explained that the chants are considered sacred in that just saying them brings more of that thing into the world, that the thing is contained in the word (this is a thing that I have always believed and I feel happy to know another belief system (besides Kemetic systems) that does too). As I was chanting I imagined the words leaving my mouth as orbs of energy.

Heather and I attended two of them, and at the first there were several that when we first chanted them they made me cry, and others that also hit me in a strongly emotional way. The second one wavered between really powerful and really jarring, because the leader kept shifting the rhythm and tone every time it started to get intense. Still, there was a point where this sensation of floatiness filled my head to the point that it shocked me and I stopped chanting, just feeling it until it faded. I kinda wish I had kept on chanting because I want to know what would have happened if I had just gone into it.

The chants about Shiva made me cry, each time, unexpectedly. I didn't know anything about them, yet I felt so intensely longing and sad-happy at their mention. I looked up their traditional titles to write verses of praise for them, and one of their honorifics refers to memory/concentration/focus, which resonated so strongly with me. I understand why it made me cry: thinking about memory often makes me cry because I feel great loss there. Shiva makes me feel hope for memory.

I want to figure out if there is a good way for me to participate in kirtans in the future. It makes me really uncomfortable to give support to white leaders of a ritual that was created by those who white people have oppressed and continue to oppress. I also just don't want to learn from people who might not understand the nuances of things. But it's not like there's a guide so I'm not sure how to check, besides looking up pictures of the leaders I guess.

I looked up some things and Sikhs (one of the religious groups that use the practice of chanting) seem to welcome others to join in their worship, but I don't know if that is just for 'potential devotees' or if they are okay with people who are definitely not going to convert still participating. I think I'll email the nearby temple and ask. I don't know if theirs would be ones I want to participate in though, because they are strongly monotheistic and there's a lot of gender in their conception of deity. And gender is the most alienating thing for me.


I've been working on this post since then and reading about cultural appropriation with regards to this - most of the stuff I found was about yoga, but some of it referenced the chants. From what I gather, yoga is a practice that is meant to put one in the space for meditation, and to use it as mere exercise is profaning a sacred practice. Other issues are profiting from the severed pieces of yoga and Hinduism (for instance images of deities on objects sold for the purpose of fashion or decoration not worship), exoticizing, and sexualizing. I think for me there is also the money aspect that is a problem, but after looking into it, I think that there is a respectful way for me to participate in kirtans, so I feel encouraged to keep exploring. And I haven't yet asked anyone "what if I never convert" but I did ask a local temple about attending and they were very welcoming, so I may attend one and then ask about that.

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you can only measure emotional selfishness in bad times / racism is a system, bigotry is an attitude
icon: "voltaic (photo of me with rainbow reflections on my face, leaning my head at a sharp angle and staring intently at the camera)"

I can't bear selfishness, especially when it kills empathy. If you can't care about someone else's feelings when you are angry at them or hurt by them, what good is your love? NONE. it is USELESS. And I know that sometimes I am selfish like this, but I try my best not to be and when I fuck it up and don't keep compassion present, I apologize and do my best to help heal any hurt I have caused. That's what I ask from others. I'm not sure if selfishness should be a dealbreaker, or how many times it takes to decide that it's not just occasional accidents but the general way of handling things.

Doing stuff for other people that makes you feel good is not a test of love, not remotely. You can be the most romantic, gift-giving, affectionate-words-using, cuddly, playful, service-giving person when you're happy, but if you turn into an attacking beast when you're upset, that means you are NOT LOVING, you just like the reactions your niceness gives. Love doesn't vanish when anger or hurt happens. Selfish giving does vanish. You can tell how much someone loves you by how well they treat you when they are upset with you.


all white people are racist. not all white people are bigoted. racism is a system you are born into. bigotry is an attitude you can choose.

I'm using the sociological definition of racism as an institutionalized system of inequality. Individual acts of bigotry against white people are not called racism because they aren't something that exists in a nation-wide or world-wide way, enforced by laws and educational systems and media etc. Bigotry based on your skin is painful and horrible to experience no matter who you are. But if it was racism, a systemic problem, then every white person you know would have a similar set of daily experiences. People hating you for who you are is bigotry, prejudice- it only becomes oppression if it is something that no one in your group can escape. If I try to make it as simple as possible, bigotry is an individual problem which can be escaped by avoiding those individuals who are bigoted. Racism is a social system which cannot be escaped because you can't avoid the laws and other forms of institutional inequality like educational systems. Sometimes white people suffer under bigotry, but white people never have to deal with racism, at least not in the US.

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helping people figure out their desires without taking responsibility for their self-awareness
icon: "tree wisdom (photo of a large tree with roots underwater and trunk reflected in still waters, thick woods behind)"

When I suspect that someone wants something, I usually ask them, "do you want [this thing]?" and it used to be that if they said "I don't know" I would ask more questions to help them figure it out. Somehow within the last month I have stopped doing that second part. I just drop it or tell them "think about it and let me know when you figure it out." I feel like this is good progress for me, since it is vital to me to check in when I think of it (and can) but if they aren't participating enough to figure out their desires when deliberately prompted, then me continuing to poke them more is me taking responsibility for their self-awareness. It feels weird to leave that for them, but really freeing. I didn't realize how much effort it took, or how often I did it. I think somehow I realized that I now am surrounded by people who mostly won't blame me if they don't get what they want from me (when they didn't ask).

I'm happy to help people figure out what they want if they initiate the process* or ask me to do so (if I can), but when I do it otherwise it's usually because I expect them to punish me if I don't anticipate their needs and desires. This isn't an illogical fear, because to most people this is normal and tolerable behavior. But regardless of the logic, I do not want to be motivated by fear, and my risk is the smallest it has ever been. So I really hope that this new lack of fear continues. I think it will, unless I get a string of negative results for not doing that work. But so far no one has scolded me or pouted at me or pulled away from me.

*such as responding to my question about what they want with "I don't know, here are the factors I am weighing, help?"

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exiting overwhelmedness at last / watchin shows / spiral cuffs & energy flow / fractal productivity
icon: "necklace (gif flipping through photos of me wearing necklaces I made over the years)"

I finally broke through! I finally feel like I am getting better after the heavy weight of stress in February with ALL the biofamily stuff and ALL the conflict and ALL the travel stress. Yesterday I just watched like... 6 hours of episodes of 4400 (which I deem a 4-star, worth watching twice but not worth owning) while making spiral cuff bracelets. Part of me still feels really frustrated at not getting enough done yesterday but overall, I have learned that watching a bunch of creative-but-not-informative media is really helpful for self-care. I kinda hate that that is the most effective thing, but oh well. I hope to do more crafting during it so I can feel more productive and good about it. My hands still are a little numb from 6 hours of crafting yesterday! I'm not sure if I should list the spiral cuffs on etsy or give them away. They look so simple and easy to make but they each took THREE HOURS. I hate that combination, especially with regards to pricing. The choice becomes, underpay myself or look like I'm being an overcharging shithead. I think I'll make them for donation sales (where I pay the fees for selling and then give all the rest to a non-profit). And if I make more I won't pattern the seed beads because GOOD GOD.

I can't remember if I have ever made bracelets before -- I can't wear most of them because I can't bear a closed circuit on my wrists. That has been true for probably... 7 years? and more recently I can't wear a closed circuit on my neck. (that hasn't always been true as you can see from the images of me wearing necklaces I made in this icon) I think it just fucks with my energy in some negative way, but it feels bad. I recently made a closed-circuit ritual necklace, thinking that if I made it really long it wouldn't have the same effect. I was right that it didn't feel bad, but it broke within two wearings and I took the hint and re-made it as one long strand, which I will wear by looping the ends together. So all this to say, I recently got memory wire (which is like a piece of slinky but thin round wire rather than thick flat wire) and tried working with it. I like the look of it, though the kind I got is too small for my wrists anyway. I'm going to try making one for myself when I get larger-coil memory wire. I like that the lack of closure means that it doesn't feel like it blocks or clogs my energy flow, and I think I could actually make spiral cuffs that felt energetically positive for me to wear.

Today I managed to follow up with my sole and beloved patreon donor, update my fractal gallery (forgive the ugly design: webs now forces me to use templates or pay), and follow up with someone who did a partial trade with me at the art swap. Speaking of which, my friend Jezza hosted an art swap last Saturday which I nervously attended with my freshly-framed prints. I didn't know anyone except Jezza and it was full of burners, so it felt like going to someone else's family gathering. I felt soooo awkward but in that peculiar way I do around burners, where I feel like an outsider but like I actually know the culture of interaction and can follow along (which is a fucking relief from most socializing and I just realized why Kylei loves burners so much despite the problematic stuff). I was really delighted that at least four people wanted to trade with me (and one person expressed strong desire to buy but then disappeared, I think they miiiight have been intoxicated), and especially excited that Jezza traded me one of their canvas-printed fractals for two of my smaller framed fractals! I really like their work but I would never have felt like I could justify the expense of buying one (much less on canvas), so this was just perfect, and I was so flattered that they were willing to trade for my work. I don't remember if I wrote about meeting Jezza -- they're a local person who friended me after finding me on OKC, and we met up for coffee once last month I think. I felt weirdly super awkward, I'm really not sure why, it may have been because it was so cold and we were outside, which feels both intimate and like we should be going somewhere. But despite feeling awkward we had a really cool conversation. I asked if they were okay with prying questions and they said yes and seemed to enjoy reflecting on the questions I asked (and I liked their answers, which tells me a lot). I like that kind of reaction. I feel like we could be good friends but I also feel this big culture gap that makes me nervous about making a mistake, extra-so because it is really fun to have a friend who also does fractal art! Still, so far it's just happy.

[my new renderer is not as happy...]I got a used computer with a better CPU than mine to use as a dedicated fractal renderer, but it keeps crashing every time I try to use multithreading. I'm gonna delete and copy the programs and plugins directly from my main computer, and if that doesn't fix it I am going to try chaotica, a rendering program (which has a freeware version but for high-res I'd need to buy the full version). According to the internet, that computer should be able to run multithreading up to 4 (and my main can, so I can't imagine that the issue is the specs), so hopefully my free plan will be good enough.

ALSO! for a solid week in February I posted on my art fb page Vivid Magic Arts every day. And I'm getting better at writing image descriptions. Weird to know that there is an aspect of art and writing that I just had ZERO skill at, but the practice is helping. Hopefully I will improve rapidly until it is easy for me to write an evocative image description. Also, if you are a fiction writer or visual artist, I feel like this would be a really good exercise to do just to develop more skill in noticing -- and if you want to do that exercise as well as provide an important service, here's a good place to do it.

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for those who read my journal: how old are you?
icon: "curious (my face, looking straight forward with one eyebrow up and a sideways smile, head tilted down a little)"

bunnika and I were talking about the olden days of LJ (when we were about the average age on the site I think) and realized it's been 10 years. Now I'm wondering if LJ has aged in its average user in my little corner, answer pls!

Poll #2001991 age of people who read my LJ (only I can see your responses)

in what range does your age fall?

17 and under
48 and up

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icon: "confused (photo of a purple diamond-shaped sign with a line leading to four arrows all curving and pointing in different directions)"

at least I got something done today. I applied to the Allied Media Conference to give a skillshare on intimacy. And I mostly tidied my room from the post-trip chaos (though my art corner is full of stuff that doesn't belong). And I re-made a ritual jewelry piece that had broken. Didn't do any homework or real writing or reading though :-[

So tired of being stressed out over this same fucking conflict. can it be done already please.


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overwhelmed / my friendship needs
icon: "overwhelmed (the character Keenan from "Playing By Heart," with hands over their face covering their eyes and head tilted back)"

Sorry for my absence; things have been wild but they should be settling now for at least a few weeks.

One of the major aspects of life taking my thoughts and energy lately has been my friendship with Kei-Won-Tia. I won't go into details for fear of betraying confidence, but we had a major, two-week clash over what it meant to be open, and then they expressed a need that I cannot meet and still be a whole person, so we can't be friends right now, and not in the future unless they no longer need that thing I cannot do.

It made me realize that I have a need from all of my friends, which I am not sure if I have expressed recently or clearly. I need to be able to trust that you are not going to lie to me -- that you are not going to deliberately deceive me. That is a dealbreaker for me. My dealbreakers are:
1) deceitfulness/insincerity
2) disrespect
3) manipulative behavior
4) destructiveness of self and/or others and/or living things (see original post for details)
5) indifference/apathy

and mapped out with more specificity: my minimum requirements for friendly acquaintances and actual friends / my ideal friend's qualities.

Hopefully I'll write something of more substance soon.

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sad and alienated at Xenacon
icon: "disconnected (a gif of the two main characters from "Moonlight" on either side of a door, both looking distraught. underneath is the word "pain" in a handwriting font)"

I'm at Xenacon and should be happy, right? but I'm sad and I feel so adrift. Everyone keeps talking about how accepting people are here but I know how fuckin quickly that changes as soon as you point out a problem, or expose yourself to BE a problem by your very (non-binary) existence. I know this is being exaggerated by my exhaustion after an extremely stressful week, and my recent profound disappointment in realizing that what I had counted on in one of my friendships is just not there. I just feel so weary at the idea of investing even a little in new people - but at the same time I really want to. So, I end up in a state of frozen indecision, and feel sad about it. I am not being fully myself, because I just don't have the energy to be.

I'm so fuckin wiped out. About to go to sleep and hope this many hours bring me enough energy to be a little more outgoing. I'm not lookin for advice so please don't give me any.

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drained from all the things / speaking against trans erasure / need more SJ call to action / aunt KC
icon: "feminist(the trans-feminist fist symbol colored in a rainbow gradient, with the words "intersectional or bullshit" on top)"

I still fully intend to answer all of the prompts, but it is unlikely that they will all get answered this month *grimace* I'll just make my way through as I have time and energy. I've been dealing with a lot, particularly confusion and heartbreak-dread (that feeling where you are dreading heartbreak but have just enough hope that you can't resign yourself, ugh) as one of my friendships appears to be undergoing an intense and very unexpected change. Also homework has been heavy and I've had so. many. interactions that have taken a shitton of energy. I have met with biofamily FOUR TIMES, had at least four major conflicts with close friends, met two new people (who were both great, but meeting a new person always takes a PILE of energy) and attended two major public events where I got a lot of attention, all in the last three weeks. Last Saturday I participated in an event for the local chapter of One Billion Rising, where I spoke this (they wanted it close to tweet-length):

I'm rising for the transgender people who are hidden.
When you decide my gender based on how I look, you violate my identity.
Who I am is not decided by my body shape or my clothes.
Making assumptions based on the average erases those most vulnerable.

I at least managed to speak clearly, though my heart was beating so hard that it actually HURT and I felt shaky shaky shaky. I hate the feeling of adrenaline. But I was glad to be at that event partly because it was SO binary and SO trans erasing and me saying that ^ was SO needed. (those weren't the only issues) I felt a murmur of shock when I finished the first sentence, but Topaz told me that people applauded extra loud after (I was so out of it at that point that I had no idea), and several people came up to me and thanked me after. So at the least, they might be open to critique, and it was way better with regards to race and nationality than other reform-based feminist events I have witnessed.

Topaz shared with me their criticism of the event afterward, which was that there was no call to action. I heartily agree. I mentioned that those tend to come in the form of conferences rather than short events and Topaz said that shouldn't be the case, which kinda blew my mind with how fuckin true it is. You know what would be fantastic? a monthly meeting where all the SJ groups in the area come in and each share like a 15-minute blurb on what actions they are taking or planning and what their needs are for participation. Also, another monthly event that is just skill-sharing, people go and share solutions they have found and victories they have won or even recent victories they've heard of, or fuck, even old victories that have been erased from history. I could go to an event like that and get so much practical knowledge AND it would be so SO good for motivation, since I think the #1 motivation killer is the idea that we can't get anything done. People are getting shit done ALL AROUND us and also it is fucking insulting to the memory of people like Bayard Rustin and Sylvia Rivera for present-day people who care about social justice to refuse to use the tools of reform as well as the tools of revolution. VOTING MATTERS TOO.

I went to this event because of my aunt KC, who a week ago led a shared art project in my city that I also participated in. I really like KC -- I don't feel like I have to hide things, and they understand a lot of social justice issues already so they have the framework for me explaining more things. They're also open to learning from me, which I find to be rare in people who are a generation older than me. I feel upset with my parents for having not really allowed them to be part of my life, because I feel like we could be super close if my parents had invested in them like they invested in other people who were not critical of my parents (KC wasn't directly critical but would point out some of their bullshit). My number one problem with my parents is that they don't try to learn and grow, instead they flee from criticism. There could have been SO MUCH LESS SUFFERING if they had ever been willing to admit their ignorance and mistakes. Anyway.

So, KC is a professional artist who works for social and ecological justice. Last week we went to coffee for just a little while, and I showed them my fractals which they liked very much. I wish I had had more time with them, but I was so swamped that I really had no chance to spend more one-on-one time with them. I found out that there is ADD on my mom's side of the family too, which makes me want to get to know that person (I find that people with ADD tend to be people I like, which is annoying because they also tend to be people who are hard to connect with). I am not entirely sure how to build a relationship with KC now but I intend to.

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the intersection of openness, intimacy, and privacy as it relates to me
icon: "distance (two hands (from two people) just barely apart, facing each other palm to palm)"

So a friend of mine told me something that had an intense emotional impact on me (and was then unavailable for conversation), and I talked with another friend about it to try to process it. Several days later, the first friend told me that they wanted it kept secret. So as not to lie by omission, I told them that I had already told a mutual friend of ours as it literally did not occur to me to think of this as a secret, or to think of the friend as the wrong person to talk about my feelings with. The first friend is upset with me now because they feel I broke their confidence. So that this doesn't happen again, let me issue the following PSA:

I do not understand social assumptions regarding privacy. I do not know what qualifies as 'private' to you if you have never told me. If you have never told me that something you are sharing is private, expecting me to know that is not okay. If you want me to keep a secret, tell me it's a secret. I cannot know what you want to hide. And if you want me to keep things secret, don't tell me you want to be open with everyone.

In most cases this should be irrelevant. Most events are not going to affect me in a way that mentioning you specifically is important. For instance, if you describe a fight with your partner and that sparks memories and feelings in me, the specifics of your situation are not relevant and I wouldn't feel a desire to share them. However, if something happens between us or if something happens that could change or end our connection, then mentioning you specifically is relevant because our connection is unique and my feelings about it are going to change based on who you are and the history of our connection. If Kylei was moving away, that wouldn't feel at all the same as if Heather was moving away. If they didn't tell me "keep this a secret" then it wouldn't even occur to me to keep it to myself because I'd be thinking about it a lot and I'd want to discuss it and/or write about it.

If you ever ask me to keep something in confidence, I would do it as a matter of course. In any case whether you tell me it's private or not, I am not going to tell an abuser, authority figure, or dangerous person something that makes you vulnerable to them. That would not be me sharing my feelings with someone I love and trust, that would be me exposing you to danger for no reason. Of course I would not do that!! but if you have never told me that a person is dangerous to you, and I love and trust them, then I may unknowingly do that. This is why I must be told who not to talk to about something you want kept secret. In the rare case where I want to share something that involves you, I am willing to suffer a loss by not sharing if it will keep you from feeling hurt.

If you want me to default to not talking about you at all, tell me and I'll do that. That will seriously impact my desire to be close to you, because I loathe making secrets out of things that have personal meaning to me (like my close people). I would never have a secret lover, for instance, because that would feel torturous to me, and would disrupt my intimacy with everyone else I cared about. I don't want to be told lots of secrets, because the sheer amount will cause me extreme distress considering that my memory might make me fail at that point. But conversely, if you're gonna keep secrets from me about things that would impact our relationship, I can't trust you. So, secretive people do not work for me as close friends. I can be casual friends with secretive people and even love them, but I cannot be close to them.

For me, there are literally hundreds of people I am okay with knowing the details of my life. I warn my lovers that if they want to be a large force in my life they need to be okay with me writing about them (about their actions and their words to me) in my LJ. The exception I will make is that I will lock it if it is something they don't want shared publicly, and/or use a pseudonym. This is something I try to mention fairly early on, as it's extremely important to me. I spent my first relationship not talking about that person with anyone and it hindered my growth and nourishment extremely.

I have one friend who values privacy very much. They have made this clear to me. I ask them which people I can talk about them with and what I can talk about, unless I'm being very vague (vague being something like "a friend of mine was talking about media consumption"). This is possible mostly because we have a very specific methodology of sharing with each other. I could not be happy with that situation if we were in a more intimate relationship, because people who affect my daily life are part of my story. I would need at least to be able to talk about them (without checking) with a few people they had vetted. If I love you and invest continually in you, what happens in your life is a part of my life. I need to be free to be open about my life with the people I trust at the very least.

I value having a circle of people (most of those in intimacy practice) who all know each others' business, who all call each other out and point out when someone is getting off track. This is why I put myself in uncomfortable situations for intimacy practice and have conflict resolution that is witnessed. if I fuck up, I want everyone to know about it, so that if there is something I could learn, I have the greatest chance that someone will teach me. I would rather be embarrassed than ignorantly problematic.

In short, here are your privacy choices with me:
-anything is fine to share unless otherwise specified.
-anything is fine to share with identifying information removed. (this doesn't work if people know you well enough to guess)
-nothing specific is okay to share unless specific permission has been granted for what to share and with whom.

or come up with your own preference and ask me and I'll let you know if I can do it, and then you can make an informed decision.

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free public education is necessary but the current system is mediocre bordering on abusive
icon: "bluestocking (photo of a book laying open on a table in front of an open window, with light streaming in and a yellow spiral fractal overlay)"

from bunnika: What are your feelings on education at large? Its necessity (or lack thereof), benefits, downsides, cost. Feel free to include all levels of education that you have opinions on from preschool through grad school.

I think free public education is absolutely necessary, and the way the US does it is super shitty. I think at least 50% of what kids are taught is USELESS and the other 50% is barely a beginning. Also the way schools are funded is horrifically classist and awful. There's a zillionty problems with it. I'm just gonna talk about what I think should be done instead.

I think writing is a necessary class every year, and maybe 3 grades of arithmetic. In addition, critical analysis (where people learn to absorb media in critical ways) should alternate with self-development (where people learn to be self-aware and express themselves) every year. Every year there should be a 'basic skills' class which teaches things like laundry, gardening, nutrition, stretching, etc. Other than that, kids should have to take one class in each of many practical specialties before high school, and then in high school they should choose their own classes. It should be possible to go to 9th grade and learn neuroscience, baking, construction, gymnastics, and horticulture (in 101 classes of course). The idea that every kid should learn the same basics for THIRTEEN FUCKING YEARS is part of the reason we have so few actual thinkers and so many people who get stuck in their ruts. If it was all mixed up and by choice, kids would absorb new information from their friends constantly and naturally, and it would be actual consensual learning instead of meaningless obedience and memorization. Kids would learn that the world is full of really cool information and they'd develop an interest in learning and in self-educating. Also, other than tests on reading and basic math (not quite sure how those should be handled), everything should be graded by portfolio. You should be judged by how productive you have been and how much you have improved, never by how well you meet an external standard.

College should not need to have any 'core classes' because everyone should already have been exposed to enough paths to feel sure of which one(s) they want to invest further study in. And college should not be restrictive! if a person can do the work in a class they should be able to take it even if it has nothing to do with their main courses of study. For grading, a teacher should collect work and give feedback along the way and then at the end of the course give pass or fail (you learned the basic concepts or you didn't).

Grad school? I think if college was done right, this would just be a part of regular college. There should be further classes in any specialty that would benefit from a deeper understanding, but they shouldn't give you a new title/rank. You should take them only if you actually just want to know more. Classes should be things that get listed on resumes, not degrees.

I think most of the education system as it stands is mediocre bordering on abusive of both teachers and students (which is why so many good teachers burn out, and so many creative people drop out). I hate it. But I love and admire everyone who gets in it to try to make it better for the students. A teacher with enough passion can make up for a lot of the failures of the system but that is NOT the system functioning as it is designed. Those teachers have to break the system to save their students. The system is built to create drones, not educated lively productive people.

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my mood

books/pages read:
23 / 44
6,889 / 13,131