hopeful

(no subject)

icon: "hopeful (close-up photo of me wearing cat-eye makeup, jewels on my cheek, and a violet glitter goatee. I'm gazing off to the side with a hopeful smile.)"


Comment on this post if you have a question for me or need to get in touch with me. Comments are screened.

[icon descriptions]
ADD-PI

I downloaded the new LJ app

So far I like it much better than the old one for reading my friends page, but the post editor is bleh. I'll probably still write in color note and then copy paste in here, if I use the app to post.

Ugh no, I just realized you can't even choose an icon in this post editor?!?! Terrible!!

Ugh and the tags don't work.

P.s. if you hate people using the new heart/like feature on your entries please lemme know, because I like it as a way to say "I read this and especially enjoyed it or related to it."
snarling

don't fucking spy on your kids

icon: "snarling (a photo of a snow leopard snarling in profile with teeth bared, whiskers back, and ears flattened)"

As a parent, you do NOT have the right to spy on your child NO MATTER WHAT. I don't care if they are suicidal or doing drugs, that doesn't give you the right to spy on them. You don't have the right to read their email or diary or texts.

Not only do you not have the right, literally no good will come from you violating their trust like this. All they will learn is hyper-vigilance against anyone who wants to get to know them, and they will learn to see you as the enemy and they will learn to hide things much better.

Instead of treating your child as a wild monster that you're trying to control, treat your child in ways that make them feel loved and trusted and able to trust you. Things like using drugs and having suicidal thoughts are a sign that they need more care, better care, more experienced care, not control. CONTROL ALWAYS MAKES IT WORSE.

edited to add:

sometimes I honestly feel grateful that my parents were so neglectful and disinterested in my life. Because they did not value consent at ALL and if they thought they could control me better by invading my intimate thoughts or alone time they absolutely would have.
bodylove -- me (belly goddex)

my body parts don't have any gender

icon: "bodylove -- me (belly goddex)" (my bare belly and breasts covered in colorful washable marker drawings with spirals on my breasts and a butterfly over my belly button)"

My g-cup boobs are not feminine and do not become so when I put them in a bra. My wide hips are not feminine and do not become so when I put on a skirt. My body hair is not masculine and does not become so when I choose not to cut it.

Only I determine if my body and clothing has a gender and I emphatically reject gender for all my clothes, all my grooming and self-decoration, and all my accessories. There is no gender in or on my body and if you see gender here, it's because you're wearing gender-coated glasses.

Actually, my boobs are one source of big dick energy for me so *shrug* cogitate on that
curious

people make their answer based on the question given, whether it's gender or ice cream

icon: "curious (my face, looking straight forward with one eyebrow up and a sideways smile, head tilted down a little)"

Asking someone "are you a man or a woman?" is as illogical and leading as asking "what is your favorite flavor of ice cream, chocolate or vanilla? Circle one." When you ask a question and specify only two possible answers, almost no one* (statistically speaking) will choose an answer not given. But this is how people ask the question about gender, if they ask it at all.

Also, if you ask people "what is your favorite flavor of ice cream? Check one: chocolate, vanilla, strawberry, praline, coffee, blank," you will definitely get more answers than just "chocolate" or "vanilla" but people will still mostly choose from the options given, even if that list doesn't make sense to them.

By framing the question in a way that makes being specific more work, you increase the barrier to being specific. Also, social desirability implies that anything on the list is more desirable than anything not important enough to be on the list.

So instead of making their own answer, many people will choose the one that is closest. For example, people whose favorite is rocky road may choose chocolate. Or maybe their favorite is a very unusual flavor that most people are unfamiliar with, so they choose the one that is closest while still being familiar to others. For example, my favorite ice cream of all time was Sheer Bliss pomegranate dark chocolate chip ice cream, but it is no longer in production and I have hated every other pomegranate ice cream I have tried, so I never mention it -- I just tell people my second favorite, which is not even a fruit flavor.

People will also take a cue on the range of acceptable options from the list -- for example from the list of five I mentioned, they may think that only single-flavor ice creams are being compared, so choose "coffee" because "mint chocolate chip" is a blend of two flavors. Similarly, I think many people initially describe themselves as "man" or "woman" because they felt like they had to pick the one that was closest, rather than define their own category. We choose from what we feel is the acceptable list of options and for many people that list is extremely short.

I am confident that if we stopped asking binary questions or asking people to choose from a short list, we'd find a much greater variety in the ways people identify, and a greater number that identify outside of the binary.

*I have loads of non-binary, neurodivergent, and artist/writer friends so I know this isn't true for most people who read me, but most people in the general U S population will not make their own line and write in their own choice!
Renenutet

there is no "safe space" from oppression: instead we need a safer space where we grow and learn

icon: "Renenutet (a relief carving of Renenutet, represented as a winged cobra, overlaid with a fractal coloring)"

There is no way to exclude oppression by sorting according to identity. There is no space that is safe for all people in it no matter how specific you get, because oppression is such a tangled web of interconnected forces.

I face oppression for being trans, queer, ADHD, autistic, hard of hearing (auditory processing disorder), anxious, depressed, non-binary, lower class, read as a woman, and fat. I face marginalization for being femme and gender-non-conforming, non-monogamous, and atheist. Not a single one of these identities would provide safety for me as a shared-identity group.

In trans-only spaces, I have faced classism, ableism, sexism, binary-ism (believing that non-binary is not real), thin supremacy, and marginalization. In queer-only and fat-only spaces, I faced all of those plus cis-centrism. In fat-only spaces, I have faced all of those. In non-monogamous, femme, and atheist spaces I have faced literally all of the isms that exist for me.

Non-binary spaces have been a safer space for me because anxiety, depression, autism, ADHD, and being poor are normalized, and of course non-binary people are affirmed as real, and straight cis people are not centered. However in non-binary spaces there is STILL a normative expectation of a "body journey" involving specific medical steps; there is a pattern of AMAB people feeling unwelcome or alienated due to being tokenized; being femme is devalued; and other oppressive forces like racism, ableism, and thin supremacy are present. Everyone is assumed to be non-disabled when it comes to sensory or motor disabilities. I have noticed that the thinner, white, masc-aesthetic AFAB people are more likely to speak up and come back and I feel like that means we are not providing enough sense of community to fat people, AMAB people, femme people, and people of color.

Disability justice has been a safer space for me because depression, anxiety, autism, and ADHD are normalized, and often being poor is normalized as well (but almost as often, classist assumptions are made). But there is still a lack of effort on the part of sighted, hearing people and people who do not have mobility or dexterity disabilities to make sure that all resources are accessible. There is still a stigma against people with cluster-B mental health diagnoses. Cis-centrism, sexism, and thin supremacy are common.

A lot of cis people can be accidentally hurtful and exhausting to be around due to their ignorance of trans-ness, but I have friends who I forget are cis, because they have put in real effort to unlearn habits that center cis people. And I have known people who are trans who make me feel incredibly unsafe because they want to enforce some kind of trans identity standard.

A lot of men enact oppression by talking over others, dismissing people, expecting to be served, etc, but I have friends who are men who are much less likely to do this than many women I know. That is because this behavior comes from being part of the dominant class and is just most OBVIOUS in men (where it is celebrated).

I have never felt safe from sexism in a women-only space, not to mention the lack of safety from cis-centrism and binary-ism. And I have read from many Black women and other women of color who have said that women-only spaces that include white women are usually (if not always) unsafe for women of color.

I do think that having groups where everyone shares an identity can be very healing and is absolutely necessary when that identity is devalued or erased. But there is no escape from oppression, and the illusion of escaping it only exists for those who are the most privileged in the space.

Instead of framing a shared-identity space as a safe space where people can be "free," I want us to frame them as a safer space where everyone is as open to recognizing difference as they are to recognizing sameness. I want safer spaces to be places where expressions of oppression are called out with the goal of everyone learning and growing, and the understanding that everyone needs to learn about their own privilege and change.
kanika kitty

facebook posts about Kanika, Feb 20 to June 6

icon: "Kanika kitty (my cat in profile with a blown-out background. Kanika is stark black with golden eyes, and looks like a statue of Bastet)"

Kanikas petting preference chart

[image: Cat petting preference chart with a line drawing of a cat, six colors in the legend, and name, Kanika. Purple means enthusiastic yes, blue means okay, green means maybe, yellow means "eh" or indifferent, dark red means emphatic no, and bright red means "I will bite."

The face, legs, feet, tail, belly, butt, and lower back above the tail are all filled with "I will bite." Most of the cat's flank is filled in with emphatic no over which are stripes of "I will bite." Around the neck and shoulders and upper back is indifferent, with stripes of "I will bite" along the neck and middle back. Along the back of the neck and top of the shoulders is maybe. Some stripes of enthusiastic yes are on the back of the neck just above the shoulders and under the chin above the chest. However, there are also stripes of "I will bite" on the neck.]
Feb 20, 2020, 1:48 PM

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The Lord is obsessed with fresh tap water and recently started observing my teeth brushing, immediately afterwards jumping on the counter and heading for the sink to lick up water drops. I found this really gross so I started giving them the "no jump" hand signal before they got on the counter, and then I would rinse out and refill their water cup right after I brushed my teeth.

Tonight they hopped up on the toilet to watch me brush my teeth as usual and when I finished and dried my hands and face, they meowed to remind me! I'm so charmed that they learned that they will get fresh water without getting on the counter by just reminding me. Such a clever cat.
Feb 21, 2020, 12:56 AM

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The Lord is such a jealous little copy-cat. They've noticed Topaz carrying their little dog, and now they occasionally come to me and ask to be picked up -- which they have NEVER done before (though they got more tolerant of it as they aged). It's cute and hilarious.
Mar 30, 2020, 2:16 PM

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Me being home all the time with Kanika's litterbox in my bathroom (attached to my room) has lead to me dealing with their poop almost immediately every time since I am usually within smell-range when it happens.

Now they think that this is to be expected, and they come and meow at me as soon as they finish. They also meow at me beforehand for some reason?? "Just letting you know you're about to be on duty, get ready!"
Apr 9, 2020, 4:32 PM

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Topaz keeps telling me that I've been exclaiming "what the fuck!?" in my sleep and today I figured out why. Whenever I do a big position shift in bed, Kanika comes and sticks their face, including their cold wet nose, on my hand!!

I thought it was just when I was going to sleep because they always come and get a good night pet after I first get settled in bed. But today I was close enough to awake that it woke me up and ugh, what a horrible way to wake up! Gross!
Apr 12, 2020, 4:08 PM

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I meant to get a colorful cat last time, after realizing how much harder it is to get a good photo of a black cat --

but then Kanika laid on their back in my hands and made eye contact with me for like 10 seconds as a TINY KITTEN and I was like oh well, guess I don't get to pick based on photogenic-ness. They are still the most eye contact-est non-human I have ever met.
Apr 13, 2020, 4:33 PM

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Kanika tapping my arm with their paw
[five-second gif of a little black cat with a small white spot at the top center of their chest, sitting next to me and reaching over with one paw to tap my arm gently as they look up at my face. They tap my arm once, twice, then go to tap a third time and put their paw down instead. Each time they tap my arm, their paw is outstretched and their claws are extended, but in a kneading motion: their claws barely touch me. Text over the bottom of the image says "look how fuckin gentle those paws are"]
Apr 14, 2020, 12:23 AM

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I overhear quiet rapid stomping in the kitchen and I turn to look at Kanika and sure enough, they're gone. Topaz and Kanika are playing tag SO CUTE OMG
May 3, 2020, 1:37 AM

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My weirdass cat uses the litterbox like this:

1) get in and scrape up a big mountain.
2) pee on top of the mountain.
3) jump out of the litterbox in an attempt to avoid the liquid running down the side of the mountain.
4) reach in from the side to scrape litter to cover it (usually badly).

I think this is because their parent cat's caretakers left their box dirty, so they never learned the right way to use it. Instinct covers the need to scratch but not the practical application!
May 15, 2020, 2:15 PM

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In an effort to get the Lord to stop scratching on the wrong things, I started giving them a treat every time they used their scratcher. They caught on quick and now if I don't notice and reward them, they helpfully remind me with a meow.
Jun 1, 2020, 12:37 PM

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Kanika's new favorite toy is a bent thumbtack. I know I'm gonna regret this when it ends up in my foot, but I can't take it away because I haven't seen them so excited about a toy in aaaaages!
Jun 6, 2020, 4:11 PM
ADD-PI

labels help you find your people, and help you find the right professional for your experience

icon: "ADD-PI (two electromicroscope photos of crystallized acetylcholine, overlaid & warped in several ways)"

Neuro-divergent and mental health labels serve two purposes: helping you find your people, and helping you find the right professional to aid you in building coping skills and/or healing from trauma and/or prescribing you medication.

So if you don't need to find your people, build your coping skills, heal from trauma, or take medication for your brain function, then there is no need for the label. But if you do need one of those things, finding the right label or set of labels is really important, and is often something a very self-examining person can do better than anyone else. Coping skills can mask symptoms and prevent correct diagnosis.

I have had medical professionals doubt whether or not I had ADHD because I made A's in school. It had to get so bad that I was distractedly driving through stop signs before they would medicate me, because my coping skills resulted in an outward expression of normalcy (grades). Never mind that my mental health and physical health was suffering terribly due to me using stress hormones generated by panic and not eating to help me focus.

I support people self-diagnosing, and will continue to do so as long as the psychology community continues to treat external markers of capitalist success as one of the most important diagnostic criteria. I will continue to do so as long as it is expensive and soul-crushingly difficult to find a therapist who isn't incompetent or abusive.
ADD-PI

(no subject)

I've been thinking about my definitions of friendship: this is an update of friendships are important / my levels of relationship for everyone. I have four levels:

1) friendly acquaintances / "casual friends":


  • people who are respectful and want to connect with me.

  • people who I care about, but don't know well yet.

  • people who I know share at least some of my values, but that is all I know.

  • we interact at least indirectly at least twice a year.

Most, if not all, of our interactions are indirect: reacting to each other's posts, but not commenting much or not commenting very in-depth. This is most of my facebook friends list.

2) part of my tribe / "real friends":


Just ONE of these things puts you in the "real friends" category for me (When I say "I can trust" I mean, I know through experience that it is true):
  • I can trust you to tell me that you don't like something I did, or that you want me to change my behavior in some way.

  • If I did something that seems to come from a shitty motive, I can trust you to ask about my motives rather than assuming bad of me.

  • You read my longer posts and care about them, especially the more personal ones.

  • I can trust you to tell me you disagree even when you think I won't like it.

  • I interact with you regularly, and you regularly reply and regularly share with me.

  • You have shared meaningful personal stories with me at least a few times.

The difference in how I treat people who I consider part of my tribe is that I try to initiate communication more often, though that depends on how they communicate over distance. I do this primarily through direct messages on snapchat or through texting photos back and forth, because that is a low-spoons activity that makes me feel connected. When I have the time, energy, and space to set up gathers, these are the people who I invite.

I deliberately build intimacy with these people. If they say something that I find hurtful or upsetting, I will make an effort to express this to hopefully decrease the block to connection. If I feel like I might have upset them, I reach out to see if they are okay, if they need anything from me, and if there is something I should do differently in the future.

3) core tribe / "best friends":


These are people who know me very well, who have ALL of the traits listed above, and who also nourish me by:
  • initiating connection with me at least half as often as I do with you.

  • sharing your thoughts and feelings in a self-aware and reflective way.

  • expressing affection for or appreciation of me at least a few times a year.

  • being creative, making or modifying things, and/or learning -- and sharing what you learned or created.

  • listening to me talk about something upsetting without trying to make me feel better or assuming that I haven't tried.

  • being silly and playful together.

  • challenging me to grow, and being willing to be challenged.

The difference in how I treat these people is that I want to include them in any social thing I do; I try to see them in person at least once a month, if possible, but often it is not possible because most of my core tribe is long-distance and almost everyone is neuro-divergent and has a hard time making and keeping plans. What usually ends up happening is that I see them about once every two months if they are local and once or twice a year if they are not.

4) life-sharers / "spouses":


These are people who have all of the traits listed above, and also:
  • We check in with each other before making big decisions.

  • We turn to each other if we need comfort.

  • We communicate every day, usually multiple times a day.

  • We spend time together in person and/or have real-time conversations at least twice a week.

  • We are comfortable asking each other for help when we are in physical or financial need.

  • We have a lot of experience giving and receiving "no" with each other and find it easy.

  • We tell each other about any difficult emotion that comes up because of each other's behavior, as soon as we have processed it enough and have the energy to express, and we make that a priority.

For me, romantic and sexual relationships are just friendship with sex and/or romance attached. The way I rank my relationships is by the friendship part, so "spouse" (or the term I prefer, life-sharer) is a kind of friendship and I don't need my life-sharers to be sexual or romantic with me.
ADD-PI

consciously activating the transverse abdominis is vital for me as an office worker who does weight

It has been about a year since I learned that the transverse abdominis exists and how it functions. This muscle wraps around your organs between your hips and ribs, behind your "abs," and helps stabilize your spine. A weak transverse abdominis can lead to back pain or injury.

It is NOT directly activated by crunches, situps, or other typical "abs" workouts. It is mostly activated subconsciously (before other abdominal muscles!), and in many people that is enough to keep it strong. However, in people who sit or lay a lot, such as people who have desk jobs or disabilities or health conditions that prevent them from standing or walking much throughout the day, the automatic activation can "turn off"! Then you get a weak transverse abdominis, even if you do abs workouts, unless you consciously activate that muscle.

I've been doing weight-training several times a week for about 21 months now. A few months after I began, I injured my back by continuing an exercise while I was feeling discomfort (it was one I had done before without incident), and I didn't understand why it happened. It took 6 weeks to heal, and I couldn't work out at all for 3 weeks because every exercise I would have done caused it to twinge and threaten that horrible pain. I now know this is because your transverse abdominis is automatically used anytime you lift an arm or leg, and I am pretty sure that is what I injured.

There are only two movements that have been found in studies to focus on strengthening the transverse abdominis: drawing-in and bracing. Drawing-in is where you pull your belly-button (navel) towards your spine. Bracing is where you tense your belly as if someone is about to punch it. Some studies show one is better than the other, but there isn't a lot of agreement about which is which. Personally there are some exercises where I can't do one or the other because it feels like rubbing head and patting belly, so both are useful for different things.

After I learned about this muscle I began tightening it every time I use a weight-training machine, and I have not had an injury since.

Last year I also began to lose fat (not weight), which made my belly sway more and lean out from my body more, because it was less dense and thus didn't stay in place. (Similar to how a very full backpack will stay in place as you walk, but a half-full one will sway from side to side) I wondered if this was creating strain on my back, but of course there is no information out there. Because no one studies the practical aspects of fat people working out, just the irrelevant and useless effects like "do you get lighter" or "do you get narrower."

I decided to believe in my own experience and give my back a "rest" after a workout (or a long walk!) by wearing a brace that wraps around my abdomen for about 30 minutes after. Since I started doing this I have had no back pain. Even more telling, I haven't had that weakness feeling where I feel like my spine might snap in half, like I used to sometimes after a workout. Once I learned about the transverse abdominis this made a lot of sense-- even before I tensed it on purpose, it was getting worn out supporting my spine as I exercised my arms and legs.

So if your back feels weak or gets achy regularly after a workout, I recommend trying a back brace to rest this muscle after a workout. And YES, losing fat can make your back hurt.

When I stopped working out 3 weeks ago because the gym is closed, my back started feeling weak again. So last week I started doing exercises for my transverse abdominis a few times throughout the day, and it is already helping. I do "bracing" while laying on my back or side and doing movements with my legs. One that I do is holding my legs out straight, bringing them up to vertical and lowering back, and another is holding my legs up vertical and swinging them side to side. With these I have to press my hand to my belly to feel the tension or else I will forget to "brace" which is the whole point.

So now, for any person I know who begins working out, especially for fat people whose belly sways or droops like mine, I would definitely suggest training yourself to tense up your belly as you do each rep (as long as this doesn't hurt). Initially I had to place a hand on my belly to give myself a physical reminder to brace, but now I do it almost without thinking. I also noticed my belly getting tired about halfway through the workday as I just sat at work, so I think it is actually starting to be automatically activated again.