May 2017
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an 'about me' that is exceedingly dense and comprehensive.
icon: "vivacious (my face with bold cat-eye makeup, with my head tilted down and to the side, looking at the camera with a wide close-lipped smile, hugging myself)"

There is a steep learning curve for most people to be close with me because I am so different from the default in identity, values, and language.
photo of me
[image description]
I have pale pink-toned skin, blue hazel eyes with light brown bushy eyebrows, and very dark brown hair with silver in it. My eyes are long and fairly narrow, my nose is medium-sized and upturned, my mouth is wide with full lips, and there is a gap between my two front teeth. I am wearing cat-eye liner that is very dramatic, with violet on my upper lids and shimmery white under my eyes down to the curve of my cheeks. I'm also wearing silver and violet jewels on one cheek and a goatee made of violet glitter. I don't wear foundation or lipstick, so you can see freckles on my cheeks and that my lips are a pale cherry red. I am making eye contact with the camera and grinning widely enough that you can see my upper teeth. I'm leaning against a scaly bright green plant so that it frames my face in the foreground and background.

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I'm 33 years old, queer, trans, agender, polyamorous, fat & proud, demisexual, poor, Georgian (the state), nudist, questioner, social justice activist, tree-hugger, eclectic pagan Quaker, content creator, vegetarian, energy-worker, non-neurotypical ADD-PI thinker, data scientist, consent advocate, color/light worshipper, photographer, art catalyst, jewelry maker, fractal artist, erotic mirror, psychonaut, xenite, writer, coffee clergyperson, experimenter, growth-seeker, and meta-burner. I tried to shorten that list but couldn't -- all of those labels are important parts of who I am.

I'm also white, usually read as cisgender, college-educated, and non-disabled, and I'm open to people checking me on my privilege.

My core values are justice, respect, reverence/wonder, connection/compassion, imperfection/action, honesty, curiosity/questioning, transparency/openness, creativity, growth/change, & thoroughness. I'm curious, open, sensitive, resilient, creative, growth-focused, respectful, compassionate, and thorough. Also, often overwhelmed, fearful, unable/unwilling to read passive statements as active*, easily distracted, not fully present unless I make a deliberate effort (and sometimes I can't), often brashly overstate when I am relaxed, easily convinced that someone has no investment in me, and demanding of high levels of emotional skills from those I am close with.

*I won't take "I'm not sure that's a good idea" as "no, I don't want to go" -- I will ask until you say 'yes' or 'no' or 'I can't answer that' (unless the question is about sex or something I know you don't like doing, then I will take hesitation as a no unless you correct me). Making me try to guess or infer is unethical, in my opinion, and I will resist it. I spent many years putting all of my energy into reading people and trying to predict what they wanted and it is the most GIGANTIC DRAIN.

But probably the most difficult aspect is that I am very careful with and sensitive about language, especially regarding slurs. Most people don't see ableist slurs the way they do other slurs, so even the very nicest people will say things like [slurs under here]lame, stupid, moron, idiot, derp, dumb, imbecile, special or slow (as an insult), retarded, crazy, insane, psychotic, mental, spastic, blind/deaf (to mean not paying attention or being deliberately obtuse, or to mean any personality trait rather than literal physical trait)... And these are usually so very habitual for people that trying to unlearn them is very hard and results in having to fumble around trying to find an alternative, which makes people feel less than smart. And partly due to the constant demonization of the trait of thinking more slowly than average (which is not ACTUALLY a problem), this is scary, vulnerable, embarrassing, and uncomfortable. So essentially, trying to be kind to me is scary, vulnerable, embarrassing, and uncomfortable -- if people aren't already trying to weed out such words from their vocabulary, they're probably not going to want to be around me. I write about this a lot: slurs are still very harmful when they are aimed at a situation/action/thing instead of a person and we can't be close if you use slurs because it damages me & breaks my trust in you and slurs are both harmful and not expressive: say what you actually mean instead / TW: slurs.

This on top of the fact that most people have to learn a whole new set of words/concepts to even start to understand me: queer, trans, agender, polyamorous, demisexual, fat & proud, nudist. To understand these things you have to break down the idea that gender is a continuum from male to female or that gender is any set of discrete categories, the idea that there are only two sexes, the idea that you can only be attracted to one gender, the idea that everyone has a gender, the idea that true love is exclusive, the idea that sexual attraction happens by appearance, the idea that fat is bad, the idea that nudity is sexual or scandalous -- for starters.

And I do my best to resist oppression and unpack privilege in all forms that I know. White people do not like to think about racism and white supremacy -- unless it is the overt kind that they can pat themselves on the back for not participating in. Abled people do not like to think about ableism. Cis people do not like to think about cis supremacy. And men and masculine people do not like to think about sexism and femmephobia (again, unless it is super overt). Thin/average people do not like to think about fatphobia. I bring this stuff up all the time, because when I notice it it upsets me. (I wanted to go murder someone over the blasphemy of that recent movie set in Egypt with an ALL WHITE CAST. THAT is white supremacy, to think that white people can tell any story, stand in for anyone. UGH.)

I also have access needs that many people are not used to, because of my ADD-PI and auditory processing difficulties. I read lips and expressions to fill in the gaps in what I can make out from sound. If there is conversation happening I can't handle music with lyrics playing, even very quietly. I need to make plans for social in advance, partly because I have to plan everything in order to remember it and partly because I have to work myself up to being ready to interact (social includes any form of real-time communication including IM). Phone calls are usually torture for me but I can do them okay if I know the person's voice and speech pattern well enough. I often feel the need to explain when someone jokingly misunderstands. I can't bear to leave a potential misunderstanding hanging, even if it is very unlikely that they don't actually understand. I think people think I am humorless because of this but I can't stop, even though I am embarrassed that it seems like I am 'not getting it.'

The most important access need I have is understanding that I have a very glitchy memory and can't control this. I use photos and writing and google calendar as my memory, because the one in my head is almost useless on its own. If I forget something, it's not that it isn't important to me: it's that I don't get to decide what to remember or forget. I often don't respond to communication in a timely manner and may forget entirely, and this chance INCREASES when the communication is more meaningful because then I need to set aside more energy for it -- and I have to both remember it and have energy at the same time. This is part of why I love LJ so much -- it is expected to be asynchronous, so I don't feel the additional stress of 'should have responded already' (except with comments on my posts, but I'm working on that).

Art is deeply important to me. I consider art to be any creative endeavor done to express oneself, tell a story, or create beauty. Not all art is the same quality, because practice, knowledge of self, understanding of the world, study of technique, and study of audience all allow for a truer creation. BUT a little kid scribbling on paper with a crayon is JUST AS MUCH art as the oil painting of someone who has been doing it for 40 years and went to school for it. And there is NO VALUE in ranking one against the other because unless you are in the artist's mind you can't tell how true it is to their intent, which is the only measure of success. The art that goes up in galleries is a reflection of what a few privileged people think other people want to see. It is not a reflection of the best art -- in fact it is often bad art (the only bad art is art that uncritically reproduces oppressive ideology: it's not really art, but propaganda. it's everywhere in galleries and art museums.). I make art because I feel that each art piece, whether observed by someone else or not, is an offering to life itself. LJ is my primary source for witnessing art, in the form of what you all write.

I'm a very spiritual person but I avoid dogma as much as possible. That's why I am a Quaker; Quakers actually believe in structuring your own morality as well as holding equality as a core value. I am also an eclectic pagan because I am simultaneously nontheist and theist, and the deities I worship come from various pantheons. I was raised as a christian (though I took it way more seriously than almost anyone else I knew), and have read the bible cover to cover 3 times and parts of it upwards of a dozen times. I feel that meaning can be found anywhere -- I have used the dictionary for spiritual guidance. But I mostly find magic & meaning in plants, fungi (the internet of the forest), microbes, glittery/shimmery/glowy things, and glass. I do energy work fairly often and rarely pray.

Friendship is vitally important to me and if you consider romantic relationships or partnerships (including marriage) to automatically be 'more' than friendships, I will limit my investment in you (also I won't date you). I value highly skilled friendship and I'm always seeking to improve. Intimacy is a thing I deliberately create with my friends through intimacy practice and making sure I see them and/or communicate with them regularly.

I'm not an easy friend! but my friends have told me that I am trustworthy, compassionate, empathetic, generous, encouraging, insightful, creative, genuine, and growth-inspiring, so I think that I am worth the effort. Still, it's so much easier for someone to be comfortable with me if they are already careful with language and already self-educate on sex, gender, relationships, race, disability, etc.


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Comments
(I really hope none of this comes across as offensive - I want to preface this by saying that I'm not well educated about social justice. I'm trying to learn, but admittedly I'm not spending much time on it. =S This is mostly just me thinking aloud and explaining how you've helped me. If you have any corrections for me please go ahead and tell me.)

Honestly, reading your journal the past few months has made a pretty huge difference to me, and it's making me try to change my habits for the better. The first time I heard of social justice was maybe four-ish years ago, from a person I knew in high school. This person is trans (totally fine) and got way deep into SJ stuff on tumblr. She introduced me to it. And I freaking hated it. I could go on forever about what a cruel person she was, but basically she just craved being superior to others, and SJW gave her the tools she needed. She legitimately believed trans people were of greater value than cis people, among other things. It was the only experience I ever had with SJW stuff and it left an awful taste in my mouth.

(This really upsets me. I should have been better than that. I was young then, I was 19 when I was still talking to her, but looking back I feel really bad that I discounted ALL of SJ based on one shitty experience with a person. Sure she used a lot of SJW terms and whatever to put herself on a pedestal, but she talked about legit things like slurs and I completely rejected it. No cool, past me, not cool.)

Anyways, it took me a long time to start commenting on your journal mostly because I felt a little intimidated by the SJW stuff, but after reading it for a few months now I've really changed my mind about SJ. I'm working on eliminating slurs from my speech. I avoided the ones most people know about like ret***, gay (in inappropriate contexts), etc. But I've come to realize that words like stu*** and idi** and the like are also slurs. I'm also trying to stop using God and Jesus in vain. I'm absolutely not Christian, but I don't want to disrespect people who are. Bi***, sl*t, and the like I'm really on the fence about. They don't offend me personally if they're not meant in a venomous way. A lot of people seem to find great value in reclaiming them. But a lot of people hate hearing them, ever. To be on the safe side I'm trying to stay away from them, but I honestly don't know.

And then of course you recently described your relationship with Topaz and it kind of blew my mind, since I really had no idea other people had that kind of relationship and that it worked.

I'm super short on sleep and half of that probably didn't make any sense, but whatever. I hope I didn't get anything horribly wrong. You've made a difference to me and you're inspiring me to do better. :) Thank you.
belenen heart in my throat
that first paragraph scared me as people often say something mean after that! But no worries, for one I am not easily offended. I assume the best intentions and am only offended when someone has an attitude like "I care more about doing whatever I want than I do about hurting people."

And I found this comment SO encouraging and it made me so happy!

About reclaiming slurs -- if someone takes it on as a positive label for themselves and they are a person who would have that slur aimed at them, then I am in complete support of it. I really never hear b**** used in a positive way though -- it's often defiant, but people use it like they're saying they're proud to be a mean, selfish person, and in my opinion that is not reclaiming, it's reinforcing. Sl*t I do hear used in a positive and reclaiming way, but there are some issues there with regards to race and gender and it gets complicated. The main thing that keeps me from using it is that if I don't stop and thoroughly explain, the person listening may assume the opposite of what I mean and then I have reinforced the thing I don't want to. So rather than use it and explain it I just don't use it.

Thank you thank you for this comment <3
thanks very much for this intro post - definitely very comprehensive, and i'll try to keep all this in mind while interacting with you.
belenen amused
Well from someone with a terrible memory, I will understand if it doesn't all stick in your mind! ;-)
This is the first I've read of you, and I must say I identify a hell of a lot with what you're saying. Mind if I send you a friend request?
belenen effervescent
Not at all! If this drew you in, I imagine we will like each other. Gonna add you now :)
I like how introspective you are.
I don't know who said it, but the term "Know thyself" definitely applies to you
belenen garrulous
thanks! I do try *smiles*
cactus_rs fuck it
fungi (the internet of the forest)

Hah, I like that. It's a perfect description.


(I wanted to go murder someone over the blasphemy of that recent movie set in Egypt with an ALL WHITE CAST. THAT is white supremacy, to think that white people can tell any story, stand in for anyone. UGH.)

I don't get how people can fail to grasp this very simple concept. It hits my rage buttons every damn time.
belenen plant magic
I loved mushrooms already, but when I found out that it is the fungal mat that relays messages through the forest, I 'bout cried. so much love.
Oh, I think we will get along quite well!

I am always seeking to improve myself, and think a lot about the person I want to be and how to arrive there. My best friend and I spend a lot of time discussing ourselves and how/why we arrived at certain conclusions or ideas. I also am so, so open-minded about the choices others make in their lives. (I suppose there are some limits, but they involve acts like murder and rape.) I am (or at least I feel that I am) socially awkward and an introvert. I do a lot of introspection, as I mentioned above, and find that most social interactions drain me. (Which is difficult because I am my friend's go-to person for support or advice.) I need a lot of downtime. I've been in an ongoing struggle to find the right work/life balance, so I can be the person I want to be to my friends and family and animals.
belenen analytical
yay!

I love discussions of how and why people arrive at conclusions. So much more fun than just 'what are your opinions?'

eeeek, needing down time but having a friend who relies primarily on you is a hard balance to strike. I have learned that I can't handle it -- I need my close ones to have at least one other person to turn to so that it's okay if I fall apart and can't be their support sometimes.
meri_sielu black wolf gaze
"The internet of the forest" <---- That is the most perfect and amazingly accurate description of fungi that I have ever read and I love you for it. <3 Fungi is so fascinating, there's just so much more to it that you don't see underneath the ground and it does very much resemble fibre optics at times. So neat. :)
belenen fantasy
I don't think it was originally my idea, but I can't remember? probably I got it from Joan Slonczewski, my favorite writer and biologist :)

I looooove fungi <3 I want to be fungi when I grow up.
webgirluk pic#124969441
I loved reading your "About me" and identified with it a lot.

I too agree that friendship deserves just as much value as any romantic relationship and it bothers me when people devalue it. For instance, I don't feel it's important for me to celebrate someone else's wedding anniversary, if our friendship anniversary is not bonded over as by doing so, it makes me feel like I am stating their relationship is more important in some way, especially if the person is very close. In my view, a relationship isn't higher status but just another dimension. The same goes for families, really. I value friendships as much as family as well, friends are like self family you can create and get a choice over.

I love your analogy over art expression and measures of success. Your worded it beautifully and I totally agree.

I admit that I have in the past been guilty of using slurs in certain contexts but other contexts offend me, also. To give you an example, if someone likes to post things like "I hate st***d people" to enable superiority over intelligence then they won't be my kind of person and I feel strongly about this. However, what I HAVE been guilty of is saying things like "I felt st***d" today when X happened". Still, I have self educated through you on this issue and I do understand that it is slurring and I'm trying to unlearn the pattern. I worry that I could slip up sometime with you due to my own lack of concentration and fearing on saying the wrong things socially but I do respect this issue.
belenen garrulous
yes absolutely, friends are more important than family for me unless the family member has become a friend.

I understand about slip-ups, they really happen to everyone. It's just so ingrained. The other day I was having the strongest impulse to call myself st***d, and this is after years and years of not using it. It is hard to get that stuff out because people keep on reinforcing it in your brain!
ragnarok_08 Original ★ no realer than dreams
I love your intro post - it's so informative and you sound like a really great person - I look forward to getting to know you more :)
belenen adoring
awww, you're so sweet! ditto!
sabraka masq
I hope my writing isn't of any offence. A lot of my more aggressive language derives from a place of attempted humor, I think. I'm all about some stand-up. Even when joking though, I understand words can be hurtful. I struggle with words & communication in general, & I am not exactly what's considered neurotypical, either. When I write though, I am better able to see what it is I'm trying to say, & work on having it make sense. Striving to eliminate any hurtful slurs, is certainly something I can become more aware of & work on.

On the note of reclaiming slurs, "crazy" is one I've come to identify with. Even if it's something others have called me since the cruel days of school age. I was also called "queer", but I'm guessing it was meant as "strange; odd". Yes, I know knowing me can be confusing, & I'm sorry! Anyway, I go ahead & own it, along with "weird".

I totally hear you on the "work myself up to being ready to interact" bit. I have to be careful not to mentally drain my own energy, too. I tend to worry too much about everything. Also, executive functioning issues, argh. I don't know about my head, but my heart is in the right place, promise!
belenen artless
*nods* I understand struggling with communication in general and I imagine that makes it harder to train out certain words and phrases. It's extremely rare that someone offends me when they are trying to be respectful -- in fact I am not sure it has even happened once. I get offended by stuff people do on purpose, knowingly, not by stuff people do accidentally or without knowing that it is hurtful.
You have helped me to start getting ableist slurs out of my vocabulary. "Foolish," which just means using poor judgment, has become an effective stand-in. In fact a lot of times when we use ableist slurs to describe poor judgment, the comment itself is not even accurate. Somewhat akin, I think, to saying "Can I" instead of "May I".
belenen effervescent
yes, exactly! I like that removing those slurs has the effect of prompting me to be more clear and accurate.
the short amount of time we have been LJ friends has already had me re-evaluating my language choices- not just in writing but also verbally. So thank you for that. ;)
belenen ecstatic
whoa, awesome! thank you for telling me!
I'm not an easy friend!

Nothing worth having is ever easy. That's part of the reason it's worth having. :)
That is interesting to learn about the Quakers. I've been interested in constructing my own spirituality to suit my needs bc truly there is no one size fits all.
belenen voltaic
indeed! and when people try to just pick up a pre-fabricated morality, they end up being completely immoral people because they just do the letter of the thing and not the spirit of it.
Still working on the slur list. Most of it's been easy to elude, but it's still a habit.
"Queer" is in a difficult position as a slur; I know quite a lot of people who remember the word as a prelude to physical assault.

I appreciate the earnest clarification process.

I'm right there with you on auditory; probably not to the same level, but television and conversation are impossible to have at the same time, and I ask people to repeat a bunch. Which is ironic, because I also mumble sometimes.
belenen pensive
I don't really know what to do about the fact that queer can spark traumatic memories for some people, because I don't have another word to use that would mean what I mean, and I need to be able to describe myself and my community... so I try not to use it in spoken conversation unless I am very confident that that hasn't happened to anyone who is listening/watching, or anyone around me to whom that might have happened also has reclaimed it. That's the best I have come up with so far.
I think we can deal with it gently and let it go extinct (here meaning psychology term and/or physical dying out) - with enough positive effect and the passing of the negative. Most of the people I know with such reservations are 50+.
Curiously, the same people also tend to object to "fluid" identifications.
call_me_katya Exploring
I can't bear to leave a potential misunderstanding hanging, even if it is very unlikely that they don't actually understand. (I think people think I am humorless because of this but I can't stop, even though I am embarrassed that it seems like I am 'not getting it')

[Sorry, I tried to mark that out as a quote, but it posted on its own.]

This is something I experience a lot with new people, and especially on dating sites. I want everything to be crystal clear and joking misunderstandings with someone I have never met before almost seem disrespectful to me. It seems, yes, like I'm not getting it, but what they don't realise is that I don't want to get it, because it offends me.

What I probably should have written first though, is that this is a wonderful post. I knew some of this stuff about you already, but I'm learning more about your core values through the questions/answers you've recently been posting and realising that I share some, but haven't named them in the same way, or considered them as deeply.

As for fumbling around trying to find alternative words when you aren't used to avoiding slurs? I enjoyed this. I saw the rightness and viewed it as almost a ... vocabulary challenge? I think you can find people who had never considered such words as slurs before but are willing to start, because it feels right.
belenen adoring
thank you <3 I am glad you so enjoyed this post! and I love your reaction to the 'vocabulary challenge' :D
I was brought up a Quaker, and if I were more socially inclined in my spirituality I'd probably go back. I really respect how open-minded they are and er, non-lectury (it's late and I can't think of a better way to word that!)

I think the only slur I'm guilty of using there is 'crazy', and only really in relation to myself when I'm talking about my mental health and emotional instability. Most of those slurs there really bother me too.

I have ADHD-PI too and I find instant messaging a lot of pressure. Most people understand the phone anxiety thing even if they don't experience it themselves, but it's really hard explaining to people why I don't like to instant message!
belenen ADD-PI
Thanks for reading this!

I am okay with reclaimed slurs, such as people with mental illness referring to their 'crazy.'

Oh, it is a relief that someone else gets it!
on communication, social justice, intimacy, consent, friendship & other relationships, spirituality, gender, queerness, & dreams. Expect to find curse words, nudity, (occasionally explicit) talk of sex, and angry ranting, but NEVER slurs or sexually violent language. I use TW when I am aware of the need and on request.
Expect to find curse words, nudity, (occasionally explicit) talk of sex, and angry ranting, but NEVER slurs or sexually violent language. I use TW when I am aware of the need and on request.