May 2019
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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.

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I require my friends to be ethical with sexual consent

I do not value loyalty over ethics, especially when it comes to sexual assault. Being my friend doesn't mean I will ignore or excuse what you do to someone else, even if it is someone I dislike or don't trust.

I also do not throw people away without being sure that I should. People make mistakes. Literally everyone who has sex will make some kind of consent mistake at some point.

So to bring these things together:

When I learn that someone I am friends with has violated another person's consent, I feel it is my responsibility to reach out to my friend and say "please explain." Then from that explanation (or lack thereof) I will decide if my friend's actions make them an unsafe person or not.

A safe person:
1) made a mistake, which was not a conscious choice to disregard the other person's boundaries
2) responded to learning it was a mistake by sincerely apologizing, offering to do whatever they can to help the victim in the healing process, and changing the way they interact with all people to prevent it happening again.

An unsafe person:
1) made a boundary-violating choice on purpose to try and get the victim to do something they would not want to do if they had all the information, or something they clearly expressed not wanting
2) responded to learning it was a mistake by trying to explain it away or defending the choice
3) did not offer or did not follow through on what the victim said would be helpful
4) did not change the way they interact with all people to prevent it happening again.

If my friend didn't realize that they should do 2, 3, and 4, but is willing and does something like those after I mention it, I would not consider them unsafe. If they are not willing to do these things they are no longer my friend.

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It's vital to acknowledge abuse for what it is

When your parents or childhood caretakers have abused you, it is profoundly important to admit that it was abuse* (at least to yourself), regardless of your current relationship. Childhood is where you get your sense of normal; if you were abused as a child, your subconscious sees abuse as normal until you retrain it.

Trying to just "see the best" in your caretaker's actions or excuse their behavior is not a positive habit because if you don't label their behavior as wrong, you are extremely likely to end up doing the same thing. You might not do it exactly the same ways, but you can't tell what to avoid until you face it with complete honesty. There are just too many ways to act it out without even realizing.

You can still love them if they abused you. You don't have to throw them away to acknowledge that what they did was wrong (but also if you want to throw them away, that is 100% fine). Even loving parents can be abusive and often are, because it is common for abuse to stem from a sheer lack of understanding of what is going to be helpful.

Sometimes when they are trying their best to be good parents is when they cause the most damage. Their intentions do not make up for their behavior. You can acknowledge that they tried to be good while actually doing harm.

*I'm defining abuse here as actions or neglect by caretakers which caused long-term emotional or physical harm to the child they raised.

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I used to preemptively distance myself if I felt pushed into competition

It used to be that whenever I was dating someone and I thought they'd rather be spending time with someone else I would back off and not ask for any of their time. I didn't want to feel like I was competing and I didn't want to be interfering in their chance for maximum joy.

This was a wrong choice, not just because it was self-defeating and resulted in me missing out on my best chances to be close with some of my favorite people, but because I was essentially trying to make someone else's choices for them. It's not my job to predict how much of me someone else wants in their life, and I should be relying on them to tell me that, not trying to guess it based on my own observations. Also, someone might appear to be happier about something else, or even actually be happier about something else, without that meaning that happiness about me is invalid or not valuable.

So in the future I am going to resist this urge as much as possible, and if I feel like I am being put into a competitive situation or used as a consolation prize, then I will discuss that with the person. Or if I feel like we have different levels of desire for each other's company then I will ask them to define what they want from me.

Whatever the case, I will not allow my impulse to back off to be my first response to feeling like my time is not valued or desired. First I will ask questions.

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my intentions & desires in all connections: goals

icon: "interconnectedness (two bald purple-skinned people in the ocean: from Joan Slonczewski's "Door Into Ocean")"

(This is part of a post I made 3 years ago: relationship anarchy: we each only do what we want / my intentions & desires in all connections)

I am committed to doing my best to always:

respect your personhood: never mock, belittle, or call you names; never shut you up or treat you dismissively; never complain about you behind your back; never assume rights to your things; never try to deliberately deceive you for my gain; never use your vulnerabilities against you; never deliberately or carelessly hurt you; never treat my convenience as more important than your need; never consider myself better than you; never break an agreement without explanation or apology; never use 'loopholes' to justify behavior that I know goes against the spirit of what was expressed.

respect your bodily autonomy: never to touch without consent and never to verbally disrespect or attempt to sway your choices on what to put in or on your body.

respect your agency: never to try to persuade you to do something you don't want to do; never to use emotional manipulation to get you to do something; never deliberately or carelessly make it difficult to say no.

(all of the 'respect' ones are my minimum requirements for friendly acquaintances)

harm none, if possible: do my best to not cause harm to others or myself, yet maintain willingness to cause slight harm to others if the cost of not doing so would be significant damage to myself. Considering not to whom the harm goes, but which harm would be greater.

negotiate expectations: never have any non-consensual expectations of you, nor tolerate you having them of me.

build expectations from desire, not fear: base expectations on practicality and the needs and desires of all affected rather than blocking out scary things.

allow relationships to grow or shrink on their own merit: never invest in or maintain a relationship just because of its type or role. be willing to take breaks or break up if there is a harmful pattern. note patterns and set boundaries if a pattern of behavior begins to cause me damage.

prioritize needs: consider who has the greater need when making decisions on who to give my energy to if I have to choose.

share with you: whatever resources I have to spare I will share with you.

allow you to be the only one responsible for your self-care: never to try to caretake you in a way that has not been negotiated. If you want or need me to caretake you in some way, you are responsible for explaining this and for accepting if I cannot do it. I will not try to read your mind or predict your desires.

support you in your self-care and growth to my best ability: encourage you spending time and energy on activities that nourish you and help you grow and learn, even when they are not at all beneficial to me.

be responsible for my own self-care: never to assume that you will caretake me in any circumstance, and to be prepared for you to be unavailable at any time. I will never expect you to read my mind or predict my desires.

respect my needs: check in with myself regularly on if I am getting my needs met, express it if there are unmet needs, accept help when it is offered and I want it. If one person cannot meet my need, seek another person instead of trying to get the first to change.

pay attention: absorb and try to fully engage with what you share with me. (also, express that this is a need for me!)

avoid error-full judgement: assume best intentions and ask questions before assigning meaning to behavior.

compassionately work shit out: kindly and frankly express and resolve upsets before they become resentments or harmful patterns, and empathize and explain before problem-solving.

respect your other connections: make room for them to be nourished and grow.

express affection: when and how I feel it, with consideration for how you feel most loved.

balance kindness with firmness: easily forgive mistakes and be gentle with people's feelings whenever possible, but never invalidate my own experience because the other person is sorry. Be willing to affirm when someone says they acted badly, if it is true.

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There is no such thing as "perky" breasts ugh

If I never hear breasts referred to as perky again, it will be too soon. They can't be perky because they are not sentient. Calling them perky is a groveling bow to misogyny because that's what endowed them with sentient characteristics in the first place.

It is no accident that young, immature breasts are usually the ones being called "perky." This is in the same category of language as calling a young person's clothes "provocative." It is stealing agency from the person and giving it to objects as a way of manipulating young people into thinking that they are to blame for being objectified.

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no longer fetishizing spiritual connection: falling in love is for mutually nourishing relationships

icon: "artless (a painting of a nude person in sun-dappled shade, unselfconsciously pulling off red stockings. They have a soft round belly and breasts that slope down)"

It has been about 2 years now since I last got my heart broken, and it has been about 3 years since I last fell in love. For a while I would fall every year or two and get my heart absolutely trampled, but I've been cautious for a while now.

I can afford to be cautious because I am fully nourished by my relationship with Topaz and I am more in love with them than I have ever been with anyone. I do want to experience falling in love with someone else again, since I know it will be such a different experience now.

I don't fetishize my relationships anymore which is a completely different experience that allows me to observe them in a much truer way. By fetishize I mean, I elevated the importance of connection far above the practicalities of helping each other get needs met.

In the past I have endured people putting no effort in, trying to push me to give to them in ways that would harm me, not expressing appreciation for who I am and what I do, not expressing encouragement for my growth, not being willing to learn themselves, and/or not trying to understand and fully know me. I did this because I felt an intuitive connection with the person and I wanted to keep experiencing that so badly that I was willing to suffer for 90% of the relationship for the sake of that 10% of connection.

I'm no longer doing this, not because I made a choice to stop doing it, but because I stopped over-valuing "spiritual" connections. It was a leftover fetish from when I was religious, and it was a really damaging one because I put that sensation at higher importance than anything else. I still love feeling an intuitive connection with someone, and it is still magical to me and something I feel super lucky to have with Topaz, but it is NOT more important than being treated with respect, appreciation, consent, and curiosity.

Before I let myself fall in love again, I will need to know that the person can be: appreciative of who I am (not just what I do), more than willing to navigate conflict with me, curious & eager to know me, independently growing, encouraging of my growth, open and honest, willing and able to invest effort in building our relationship, considering my emotions as important in making decisions that affect me, and not yearning for more than I can freely give. All of these things I offer in a relationship and for me to feel fulfilled I need to receive them as well.

If I never find another person like this, that is okay. I already got luckier than I would have ever imagined possible to have all of this and more with Topaz. And I can still build meaningful and nourishing connections without being in love.

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selfcare: love memory bank

icon: "kissy (a photo of me outside in soft light, blowing a kiss)"

One of the best things I have ever done (and do) for myself is save memories of people being loving to me or showing that they know/understand me.

I call this my "love memory bank" and at first I was writing stuff down but then I kept forgetting, so now it is pretty much a collection of screenshots from snapchat or texts or fb, whenever someone says something that makes me feel loved or understood.

Whenever I try to think of someone being loving to me, I can't remember almost anything, because my memory is the worst and anxiety makes the good stuff the hardest to access. But when I look through my love memory bank I am amazed at how sweet people are to me, and it is "proof" of being valued which is something my anxious brain needs.

Bonus: I can make myself feel loved anytime without anyone else having to do ANY work for it!

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A scene from Shrill has me wishing I could watch people watching me

icon: "revolutionary (a gif series of four nude self-portraits of/by me: one from the back with me looking over my shoulder, one from the front with my arms up and arched, one with an upraised, arched arm and the other arm across my belly in a dance pose, and one from the side with both hands raised in a shrug gesture)"

Mild spoilers ahead for "Shrill" episode 3:

I keep thinking about this one scene where the main character is trying to cross a street at a crosswalk but is being too polite/timid and letting cars go first, and a tall fat person who is dressed literally head to toe in bright red (a fat person no-no), in a *jumpsuit* (another fat person no-no) and *heels* (a tall person no-no) walks past her and across the crosswalk with hardly a glance at the cars. The main character then follows the person in red down the road, into a flower shop, and down the road again.

I have had that impulse to follow someone based purely on how they commanded a space (but I resisted because I didn't want to creep them out), and I know that ah-ha moment that you can get from seeing someone-like-you doing something that you didn't think people-like-you could do. And the fascination and curiosity about how they got there.

I think that I have become that confident fat person who dresses head to toe in color and takes up space without apology. I wish I had the ability to notice when people are watching me because I want to see this happen.

And also if people make disgusted faces I want to round on them and out-face them. Because they'd probly dissolve like cotton candy in the rain and I would enjoy that just as much *wicked smile*

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"Shrill" is an amazing show

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

Holy fuck the 4th episode of Shrill had me absolutely sobbing with joy. Bodies that look like mine, dancing and swimming and just happily existing in bathing suits and not a goddamn skirted 1-piece in sight.

If you have never been fat and you have hulu, please watch this show. It is literally the only show I have ever seen with multiple fat people in it and where being fat is never a joke and the usual trope of fetishizing food or eating a lot is not present. It's so goddamn real.

[vague spoilers ahead]
I'm so fucking annoyed with the piece of shit boyfriend but also that is such an important story to tell because I did that, and for similar reasons. I put up with greedy, selfish, useless, entitled fuckwads because for so many years it literally did not occur to me that I could say "no" to something my datefriend wanted. I felt like I had to make up for my "inferior" body by accommodating their every whim and soothing their every uncomfortable feeling. And this idea was so deeply embedded that I didn't realize I was thinking it until after I had stopped doing it. While I was doing it I could not recognize it.

Also I don't know if non-fat people would get this, but in the second scene of the first episode, when the barista and customer say that she reminds them of Rosie O'Donnell, that is almost as bad as the overt harassment. It says that the only thing they see is "fat woman." It was a second cut-down by people who were trying to be nice, and for me that hurts so much more. It is worse when people are trying to be nice and they reveal themselves as so ignorant and alienated from your experience that they accidentally stab you.

I don't like that the main character gets so self-involved that she doesn't listen to her friends' needs. I feel like this is a trope when fat (or fat-ish) femme characters start to assert themselves and value their own needs and I think it comes from the writers not actually knowing any people who go from full-time-comfort-blanket to actual-human-who-still-cares.

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I blocked my own self with guilt

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

I have posted an average of once a month since October. Part of this was the deep depression I was in (which is starting to lift now) but most of it was just guilt at not replying to comments and not commenting on people's posts. I kept thinking that if I didn't let myself post until I commented, I would comment but clearly that isn't working. So I need to just face the fact that I am not going to do it, and hope that y'all still value me posting, or else my relationship with LJ is going to die and stay dead.

Please do feel free to unfriend me if this is upsetting to you because I don't want to be upsetting people every time I post. I just can't manage a good reciprocal relationship here. I wish I had the executive function to comment, but I just don't. That doesn't mean I don't value your posts because I really do, I just get lost in the context switch between reading and replying.

Does the new friends feed offer the ability to comment from your actual friends page without opening a new tab? if it does I may switch, because that would be immensely helpful.

I'm going to try to post every day for 22 days to get back in the habit.

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on "tidying up" and a reverence toward objects

icon: "analytical (a close-up photo of my eye in bright sunlight, showing the green and grey and roots-looking patterns)"

I watched a few episodes of "Tidying Up" recently and it made me exclaim a lot because so many of the things that Marie says are literally things I have said. When I am helping people tidy I say "where does this live?" and "does this have a home?" because in my opinion the most important thing for tidiness is for things to have a home. I do things like greeting a home and waking up books (though not those specific things).

I LITERALLY FOLDED MY SHIRTS THE SAME WAY, before ever watching that, so that I could look through them at a glance. and I fold my skirts like Marie folds ties. I do the same thing of small boxes organizing the inside of big boxes.

and then in my memories today I found an entry I posted last year where I talk about having an ethic of things belonging to whomever will love them more. When I was a kid, I stole or gave away things based on that.

The show makes a lot of assumptions about people being able to buy replacement things, which bothers me, but I do love seeing someone else have as much reverence for things as I do. Though it bothers me that some people appear to just throw away useful things rather than donating them and Marie doesn't scold them, wtf.

But I think a better question than "does it spark joy" (especially for people who get joy easily) is "if you lost it, would you miss it?" and if you don't know, box it up and put the date on it. if a long time passes without you feeling the need to take it out (and you don't have a practical need for it), then you can give it away. That's also how I decide whether or not to get something at a thrift store -- would I regret NOT getting it?

This is part of why it is such a sign of me being in a bad place when my home is untidy. When I am in a good place, I don't even have to try to get things tidy... when I'm not, it looks horrific, because I just drop things everywhere. I get in a very "if I can't get it right why bother at all" mindset. I know it's destructive but that's my brain when it's being a jerk.

connecting: , ,

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I want to post more

icon: "voltaic (me, face at a sharp angle staring out of one eye with a slight smile and streaks of rainbow light on my face)"

This is just me popping the bubble of tension that always builds when I haven't posted in a while.

I hate that I have been so absent from here lately. One post in November and one in December, and I haven't commented on anything in I dunno how long... anything less than 3 posts per month is a sign that I'm really struggling with life. Definitely true right now.

and I only managed 56 posts for the whole year. I need that to change in 2019.

Anyone have tricks that worked for them to stay active on LJ?

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my experience with supplement brands, plus info from labdoor

icon: "Ma'at (a photo of one side of a brass balance scale, with a feather inside the bowl. The background is sky blue. On the bottom of the image, below the photo, is the word "Ma'at")"

I finally went through and compiled information from my own experience and from to come up with a top-brands list mostly for my own reference. A lot of brands have similar names and logos so with my memory there is no chance I would remember.

Note: the supplements most likely to be ineffective across the board are multivitamins and green tea supplements. Most likely to have an inaccurate label are non-vegetarian omega-3s. Most likely to be contaminated (usually with arsenic) is magnesium. Dr's Best and Pure Encapsulations have a safe magnesium: I would not recommend buying from anyone else without research! This includes all my favorite brands.

Brands I will try from without necessarily checking amazon reviews:
Jarrow Formulas (tested by independent third party lab),
Nature's Bounty (tested 3rd party, in-house & by labdoor),
Solaray (tested in-house & by labdoor),
Solgar (tested in-house & by labdoor),
Source Naturals (tested in-house & by labdoor),
Swanson (tested by independent third party lab & by labdoor).

Brands I will look for, but will check reviews before buying:
Bulk Supplements (tested by labdoor),
Dr's Best (tested by labdoor),
Garden of Life (tested by labdoor),
NatureMade (tested by labdoor),
Nature's Way (tru-ID tested & by labdoor),
NatureWise (tested by independent third party lab & by labdoor),
Now Foods (tested by labdoor).

I've contacted all the above brands about their 3rd-party testing and will update if they say yes they do.

One exception is KRK Supplements, who is the only brand I trust for choline, because I can feel when it works or not.

vouched for by me and labdoor, tested in my body multiple timesCollapse )

vouched for by labdoor and/or 3rd party labs and okay by meCollapse )

not tested by labdoor but works for me:Collapse )

tested well by labdoor but I have not tried it:Collapse )

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femmephobia and masc-centric attitudes in white queer circles

icon: "distance (two hands (from a brown person and a white person) just barely apart, facing each other palm to palm)"

I have a dirty little secret to share about the queer world: it's just as misogynistic as the straight cis world, and even more femmephobic. At least among straight cis people it's fine for one group of people (women) to be femme, but among queer people (at least, white southern queer people), being femme whether you're afab or amab makes you undesirable or simply rejected as not real / not belonging. A common disclaimer on gay hookup ads is "no fems." (along with "no fats" "no Asians" "no blacks" because white gay cis men are every bit as disgusting as white straight cis men)

When I was a brand new baby queer, fresh out of a marriage to a straight cis man, I was completely devoid of queer friends or indeed, pretty much any friends. I came into contact with this group of queers and I fell in love with their sense of interconnectedness and I wanted to be part of that group so badly. I tried so hard to be friends. I was wide open to learning and willing to do far more than my fair share of the work.

[But none of them wanted to be my friend...]
But none of them wanted to be my friend. They never invited me to anything and the few people willing to spend time with me didn't find my company appealing enough to ever try to spend time with me on their own initative. Every time I spent time with one of them (except once), I had to drive an hour in my rickety, 20+ year old car down to their house or a place walking distance from their house because that was the only way they were willing to even see me, despite the fact that most of them had cars and lived near a public transit line.

If it was one person or even two people, I would have said oh well, they just don't like me. But there were at least five of them I actively tried to connect with, to varying degrees, and they all reacted the same. As soon as they learned where I lived, their willingness to invest in me dropped to zero (and it was low already). And the reason I lived where I lived (same as now) is because I couldn't afford to live in the city. Because you have to either be well-off, or know people who are willing to split a house with you. So they rejected me in large part because I couldn't afford to live in their neighborhood.

I'm also pretty damn sure that a huge part of why they rejected me was because I refused to wear the queer uniform. As a person with large breasts, wearing skirts and sleeveless clingy tops is not up to queer uniform code. It's too "straight"? too "gender normative"? (I laugh at this idea because no straight person dresses like me)

Femmephobia is real, and intense, especially in white queer middle/upper class circles in the south (apparently up north, masc is the uncool presentation). I remember someone approaching me about being femme and I didn't know what that meant and thought they were calling me feminine and I got very upset, partly because it felt like them affirming that I would never be accepted by queer society. Now I understand what it took to approach me, and why they did it, and I wish I had understood and taken that chance for connection.

I remember feeling immense pressure to change my look. I bought a binder, put it on and hated it thoroughly, instantly, and never wore it again. I cried because I felt like it damaged me in the 15 minutes I had it on. ...Wow I had never drawn the connection between the pressure I felt from those queers (nearly all of them masc) and buying a binder... I feel so bad for baby-me, so worn down by expectations and so lonely for a sense of community that I was willing to betray myself in an effort to become acceptable. My breasts have been one of my favorite parts of my body since I grew them, but I was willing to give them up in order to be accepted.

Being rejected by the entire group broke my spirit. It was first chance I had at in-person community ever in my life, because I had never had that in my family or in school etc. And they rejected me because I didn't have money and wasn't "on trend" or at least, that was how it read to me. It's possible I was just too socially awkward or too blunt or too excited or too invested etc, whatever it was, I needed them and they turned me away. All of them (except for the one who fell into drugs and cut contact and the one who moved away).

Godde, if even one had made even the slightest effort to include me, that would have changed my world. Or if they just foisted me off on some other set of queers they didn't like, that would have been wonderful. but no one bothered. I'm sure there are other queer groups in a city of over 5 million but finding them feels impossible and I am so tired of being rejected and/or ignored and/or disrespected.

This is why I don't ever want to go to gay bars. I expect to find anti-femme culture there and it hurts worse coming from people who should be my community.

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Kroger's clicklist is such salvation!

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

Kroger clicklist pickup service has changed my life for the better and I heartily recommend it to anyone who can afford the small fee and has a motor or social disability (and lives near a Kroger). The first 3 times are free and after that there is a $5 fee each time (plus tip if you want to do that -- it has to be in cash if so). Sometimes they have deals where if you buy certain items you get the pickup for free.

As a socially anxious, ADHD person I can't even describe how much work it is to weave around people and block out conversations and colors and words and unwanted items, especially now that my only times to go to the store are evenings and weekends. It is so hugely relieving to not have to manage that.

Even without clicklist, the Kroger app for android is incredibly useful. It allows you to add coupons to your card, shop sales, and save multiple grocery lists (saved items) as well as your cart (for pickup or delivery service). First you set your store, which allows you to search the entire store for an item you want (however you have to use whole words: "pap" won't bring up any items but "paper" will). When you search for an item you can add it to your cart and your list at the same time, or to just one of them. You can add to a list by manually entering items or by scanning in barcodes, and having a list makes it easy to find sales and coupons for the things you want.

The fact that I can shop by sales and coupons without getting distracted means that I can more than make up for the $5 it costs to use clicklist. I don't buy impulse items (unless there is a really great coupon or sale) and I don't forget to get things because I can add them to my cart the second I think of them, rather than having to wait and add them when I am in the store.

The fact that I don't have to be in the store after work or on the weekends means that:
* I get back at least 4 hours of my small amount of free time per month (I use clicklist about once every 2 weeks).
* I don't have to do a lot of difficult blocking out of sensation after a long day of cognitive labor.
* I don't have to sacrifice part of my 2 rest days to do hard mental and emotional work.
* I don't have to interact with more than one stranger in person.

Here's how I do it:

First I open the coupon section and sort by value. I scroll through and anytime I see something that I might want, I add that coupon to my card. When I get down to the low-value coupons I then switch to the "my coupons" tab and click on each coupon that I want to use on this trip. From the coupon details page, I scroll down and select the item I want from the list of things that match the coupon. Because everything is sorted this way I never mistakenly get things that don't match the coupon!

When I have done this with each coupon that I want to use, I then open my primary shopping list. On my primary shopping list I have everything I ever buy*. I scroll through and scan for the sale items, which are marked with a yellow and red highlighted price showing how much cheaper they are than usual. If it is on sale and I need it now or if it will store for a long time, I click on the picture of the item and then click "add to cart."

Finally, I look through my cart and consider what I have at home and what else I might need that goes with the things I am buying -- for example if I am buying eggs for french toast I get milk and bread if I don't already have those. When I am finished, I add instructions for any items I want substituted if they're out, and pick a time! at my Kroger you have to order at least 4 hours ahead of pickup, which stops at 8pm, but that's just enough time for me to get there after work.

They will even bring it out in crates unbagged so that you can bag it at the car (at least at my Kroger)! You do have to call the store when you arrive but it is a dedicated number and a series of rote questions, so at least for me it is not too difficult.

*If you use a Kroger plus card every time you shop, you can go online and log in to see everything you've ever bought! I used this feature to populate my shopping list. Every time I see something I might want, I add it to my list so that I can easily see when it goes on sale. This helps keep me from impulsively buying things because now I can "remember" to try them later.

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lj cleanup / need a home weekend regularly

icon: "slytherin (a closeup of the Slytherin crest: a rearing silver serpent in front of a green background patterned in stylized waves of water and plush upholstery)"

Yesterday I finally went through my flist and removed inactive journals and journals of people who I never really interacted with and who didn't interact with me, or who I never really clicked with. If I unfriended you and you still use your LJ to read, let me know.

I'm hoping this will help me keep up with my current friends better, because with the last two months getting absolutely swallowed by stress, I just haven't been able to read half as often as I wish. I'm trying to catch up now.

I've realized that even though I spend all my weeknights at home now, I still never get any real alone time because my evenings after work, workout, and commute are about 2.5 hours long and I need literally all of that time to get my brain to relax (through watching netflix/hulu) and then get ready for bed. So I need to make one weekend a month a stay-at-home weekend and I need to actually follow through and do it. Yesterday was the first full day I have had at home in months and months (unless you count sick days, which I don't).

I feel like I have been just surviving for a long time now, and my life feels mostly pointless. I feel like I am not doing anything except work, spending time with Topaz, and family-in-love events. That's not where I want all of my time to be going. I talked about this with Topaz, who felt like we don't do much family stuff but for me, more than twice a year is a LOT. I told Topaz that I need to keep it to only 1 family event per month, because it takes all of my social energy and then I have none for my friendships or for community.

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my personal cure for a yeast infection or UTI

icon: "hypnotiq (my fractal "Windwheel" -- an abstract swirl of yellow red and orange with a little green)"

If you have a UTI or yeast infection and don't want to go to the doctor*, you might try what I do. I combine certain supplements with drinking a lot of water and avoiding sugar and acidic drinks (sadly this includes coffee). I haven't needed antibiotics/antifungals for a UTI or yeast infection since I figured out this regimen.

Food: avoid sweet or very processed foods: go for raw veggies & cooked grains, stuff with lots of fiber.
Drink: avoid sweet or acidic drinks: go for water.
Supplements: take these throughout the day:
* cranberry 25,200mg, 3x the daily serving size
* garlic oil softgels, 1,000mg pills at 6-10 per day
* oregano oil softgels at max daily dose
* betacarotene 25,000 at max daily dose
* vitamin e softgels 800-1000mg daily
* evening primrose oil softgels 1000-1200mg daily

Note: this works best if you use it as the infection is coming on, before it gets too intense. If you take the garlic and cranberry right at the start and drink plenty of water you may not need the others.

for me, the ONLY cranberry that works is the one that has 25,200mg from concentrate. Nature's bounty triple strength is the one I most often use, but Azo also works (most others don't). I take triple the daily serving size, spaced throughout the day.

along with this I take odorless garlic oil softgels, 1,000mg pills at 6-10 per day (they're tiny if you get the oil ones) -- again it depends on the brand and type for them to be useful. BRI Nutrition and Nature's Bounty are good for me (most others give me awful burps). Take these with food.

Then, if it's already an infection, I also take oregano oil softgels at whatever the maximum daily dose is. Sometimes these are sold with parsley in them too and that works just as well. Take these with food.

If there is dry/irritated/inflamed skin, I also recommend betacarotene 25,000 (NOT vitamin A made with retinyl palmitate because you can overdose on that but you can't overdose on beta carotene because your body only converts what it needs) and vitamin e softgels 800-1000mg, and evening primrose oil softgels 1000-1200mg.

Another thing that helps me -- and this is weird but it helps SO MUCH -- is getting in the shower, applying plain (NOT flavored or sweetened!) yogurt to the outside, letting it sit a minute, then rinsing the area with lukewarm (not hot!) water. Soap will make it worse for me but this helps a lot. I'm not willing to use the yeast-killing creams so this is my solution. Also, airing out the area daily, while odd and potentially uncomfortable, helps too.

The cranberry and garlic I mentioned (taken as specified on the bottle) can work together as a great preventative. I have tested it out when I had to take antibiotics, and one of my friends tested it out too when they had to take antibiotics, and it helped both of us a lot. For me at least, taking meds for a yeast infection tends to bring on further problems so I want to avoid that if possible.

Speaking of antibiotics, I always take Florastor along with any antibiotics. It is a beneficial yeast which is not killed by antibiotics and it helps keep the bad yeast from overpopulating in the absence of the bacteria being killed by the antibiotics. It is expensive (about a dollar per once-a-day pill) but if you can afford it, it's worth it, especially if you tend to always get infections and/or gut problems after a course of antibiotics.

As you take it, keep in mind that all probiotics need fiber and a low-acid environment to survive, so you should take it with some raw fruit or vegetable and a full glass of water. (Cooked food has less fiber than raw) Also whenever you take antibiotics it is a good idea to avoid sugar and simple carbs like white bread because those feed the bad microbes.

*a final note of caution: if it doesn't improve noticeably within 3 days, or if it gets worse despite doing these things, I would encourage you to go to the doctor because if UTIs get really bad they can spread to your kidneys, which can be dangerous. If you have upper back and side pain, fever over 101f, chills, nausea, or vomiting that develops along with a UTI or yeast infection please go to urgent care and do not waste time trying this method!

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what to do after your partner tells you that you violated their sexual consent

icon: "progressing (a deeply, vividly green forest of thick vines and trees, with a tunnel running through where unused train tracks lay)"

Note: I am of course assuming that it was not an intentional violatiom because why would you read this if so. I'm also writing this in the context of a relationship but it mostly applies to casual encounters as well.

If someone lets you know that you have violated their sexual consent, here's how I suggest you react:

1) Listen carefully and accept their experience as real without editing or "interpreting.".

Do not reframe what they say as "you did bad" or "I'm mad at you" -- instead listen for each specific action you took which caused them pain. You need this information in order to keep from violating people in the future.

2) Apologize in very plain words and use the language they used.

If they called it rape, call it rape; if they called it sexual violation, call it sexual violation. Don't make it sound worse or better than they did. Do not assume you can guess the impact; don't assume it is devastating and don't assume it is NOT devastating.

3) Do not request or expect any kind of response.

Accept that they may never respond. Accept that they have the right to be angry or sad. Do not ask for nor expect forgiveness. This is not about you.

4) Do not use negative language about yourself and do not talk to them more than once about your guilt / sadness / etc about your mistake.

DO NOT SEEK COMFORT FROM THEM. DO NOT make them defend you by whining about how you feel like a terrible person. Find someone else to talk to about it. Seriously. Don't make your feelings their problem.

5) Figure out why you did what you did, and be very honest with yourself; then IF they ask why, tell them.

Don't shy away from uncomfortable truths like "I cared more about getting sexual gratification than I cared about how my actions might affect them" or "I didn't bother to think about their boundaries or desires." If your reason was terrible, you must accept and admit it or all hope is lost of you not violating someone like that again. also, don't tell them why unless they confirm that they want to know: telling them may cause additional pain so it MUST be their choice.

6) Figure out how you can prevent yourself from making the same mistake.

Then in extremely brief words, IF they are trying to rebuild with you, describe how you will prevent this happening again. no more than one long sentence. don't make them listen to your whole damn life plan.

7) Ask what, if anything, you can do to best help them recover from the violation and be determined to do anything you can.

Offer 2-3 things with a wide range between so that they can tell you really mean it and know how far you are willing to go. Don't offer anything you can't do.

For example, "if you need to change our relationship to nonsexual for a time or forever, I am okay with that; if you need to be out of contact for a time or forever, I can support that; if you need me to give you nonsexual physical affection every day, I will do that as long as I can. Or if you think of anything you'd like me to do please let me know."

Make sure you are clear that they can ask for anything, and you will do what is within your resources to do. If you don't want to do everything that is within your resources to do, have the decency to end the relationship. Violating someone sexually will not be healed with anything less than whole-hearted efforts.

8) do what they ask without bargaining or complaint.

If they want to heal without you, accept that and move on. Do not keep offering things after they said no. Do not try to bargain! Do not try to change what they asked for. If you're not sure what they mean, ask clarifying questions like "this or that?" and phrase them in neutral ways.

9) Don't ask for new kinds of relationship or household work from them for a while.

If this situation made you realize some new thing you want from them, keep that to yourself unless specifically asked, and wait until they seem to be less fragile to discuss it. This is not the time to be asking for emotional labor -- or any labor -- from them.

10) Don't try to have sex with them again unless and until they tell you that they would like that.

Let them know that you are not going to initiate sex unless / until they express a desire for that. Don't bring it up. don't hint. don't make sly comments or "jokes." If they decide they do want to have sex with you, trust that they know themself and accept their desire as real. Be very alert to their feelings the entire time and ask questions before increasing the intensity.

11) if you tend to avoid and suppress emotion, learn to express in an ethical way. Do the work!

If your reason for violating them had anything to do with avoiding or suppressing your emotions, and you have the ability to do so, then do SOME kind of intensive, continuous work to learn how to process your emotions: go to therapy or take a class or complete a workbook etc. Keep going until you start getting spontaneous compliments on your emotional maturity.

Handling your own emotions is a basic necessity of being an adult and if you are so bad at it that you violated someone sexually because of it, your need to learn is at emergency status. DO NOT ASK THE PERSON YOU VIOLATED TO HELP YOU. Not even if they are a therapist. Not even if they're really good at it. Be careful not to put the burden of your inexperience on them.

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recently: busy at work, Topaz moving, ex-friend attack, back pain, car broke, close friend suffering

icon: "pain (a digital painting of a thin naked person crouching with arms tight to their chest and hands over their face, and long hair spilling over their face and down their body, balancing on the balls of their feet on top of a precariously thin column of rock)"

Sorry I have been absent lately. It has been busy season at work, plus Topaz is moving so every weekend has been spent on that. And last week I hurt my back to the point that I took pain meds for five days in a row and after 8 days, it still aches at any strain and I feel so worried it won't completely heal. And my car conked out last week which reduced my energy to zero and pretty much wiped out my paycheck as well, but at least it is fixed now. And a close friend is going through agony about a personal betrayal they experienced and I'm attempting to offer support -- I'm glad to be able to offer what I can but I wish I was more capable.

Oh, and two weeks ago, someone who I was friends with at the time asked to send me an email and being the literal person I am, I said yes, not thinking that they had any expectation of response. When I read it, they started out with four paragraphs of praise of an ex-friend who they know hurt me, explaining why they trust this person because they met them through me, despite the fact that I don't trust them.

They then sent over a dozen more emails, together in length more than 12,000 words. I used google docs to get the word count. For context, that's a fourth of a short novel. It was more than 20 pages, single spaced. I share these details to explain why I was overwhelmed at the idea of trying to reply. Most people would not be willing to read that due to the length alone, honestly, and the content was super intense and involved a lot of talking rapturously about an ex-lover of mine who also hurt me deeply. It was heavy, but I read it all.

I replied a short message to only that part about the ex-friend because it felt urgent to me to explain, and said that I would try to respond to the rest but that I probably wouldn't get to it. I said this because they have known me for years and there have been many emails or messages that I have failed to respond to. I just have a very hard time with it and I feel bad about that but I don't seem able to fix it, and they are aware of this.

I thought they would be like "haha yeah that executive function fail, I know it well." I thought they would be like "yeah I know it's a lot, I just wanted to share it with you so thanks for reading." That was not at all what happened.

They got very upset that I didn't respond positively, and said that I disrespected them by doing this. Then when I replied explaining further they went to my facebook and said that they didn't read my further replies and they were confronting me in public because they didn't trust me in private, and said a lot of arrogant things implying that they knew me better than I did, etc etc.

Then they blocked me and then started posting negative shit about me on their wall (with notes saying that it was encouraged for mutuals to share with me) and messaging all of our mutual friends complaining about me -- along with uncomfortably over-the-top praise. Trying to talk to me without me having a chance to talk back, basically.

This activated a lot of previous trauma from being attacked by people I trusted. but I was relieved and felt very loved when our mutual friends kindly but firmly said "no" to the negative shit and pointed out that their behavior towards me wasn't okay. I was relieved also because I was worried that the stress they put on my friends would cause them to be upset with me for bringing this source of stress into their lives. I felt really cared about and understood and trusted by several close friends so that helped me cope much more quickly than I otherwise would have been able to. In particular Topaz, Nik, Allison, Rachel, and Serenity were kind to me about it and it meant the world to me.

This week there is road work making it difficult to get to my office, so my boss let us have three days of teleworking. I am so grateful because I needed it so badly. My house had turned into a giant horrible mess because it is a direct reflection of my mental state. So today is my third day of working from home and I have tidied my room and the hallway (neither fully but both much better) and did some dishes (which I hadn't managed to do for weeks) and managed to write this. Which I am going to post immediately rather than letting it languish at 95% complete for weeks.

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about time w Evelyn (from early June)

icon: "artless (a painting of a nude person in sun-dappled shade, unselfconsciously pulling off red stockings. They have a soft round belly and breasts that slope down)"

I started writing this at the beginning of June and never finished it, so here it is belatedly.

Recently Evelyn came over and we talked about our lives over the past year. They discussed some suspicions of abuse in their family and how it was affecting their relationships, and I talked about the fall-out in my life from an evil thing an ex-friend did, and how I am still sort of in shock from all the loss that resulted.

We also talked about the song-portrait I made of them and their thorough, analytical, and emotional response to it (which I find very beautiful). They said they were tempted to make a document of all the lyrics and highlight the ones that especially resonated and include a cover image, which I had literally almost done (according to my guess of what would resonate) before giving it to them and really only didn't because I was impatient. I told them about how I used to do just that in my music sharing posts, and that I had always wanted someone to respond so thoroughly to a mix I made for them. They covered their face and said "don't say that!" and then I worried that I was being too effusive or too intense and asked if I really should not have told them. They reassured me that they were just having an emotional reaction but that it was fine to tell them and they wanted to know.

I told them that I love how analytical they are, which embarrassed them but I think pleased them also. They said that they think of it as being a bad thing to be so geeky and I wryly pointed out "you're talking to someone who makes spreadsheets for fun." Then they enthused about their latest geeky infatuation -- creating a kind of alphabet of gender symbols (if I understood them correctly -- it was difficult for me to follow without visual examples).

Earlier that week I had asked what they would like to do when we were together and they mentioned feral play, which I also wanted. So after talking for a couple of hours we went to the cuddle room to play (so that I didn't have to fret about breaking anything) and wrestled without hands, head-butting and body-slamming, sniffing and nipping, laughingly trying to pin or throw each other. It was delightful, but short, because it was difficult for them to stay in a non-sexual space. We stopped, and they said something to the effect of having forgotten why they made that decision and not wanting it any more, and I told them that since when they said no they were sober (as in, not feeling an immediate craving for sex), they would have to be sober again when they told me yes. They expressed gratitude for that response.

We talked about their reasons some and about how they found it difficult to refrain, and I talked about how I had been through periods of non-sexual romance with several of my partners and said that I was good at sort of de-escalating sex if it had been decided against by one of us. They asked if I thought I had always had that ability or if I grew it, and I said I thought I always had it, but later I realized that they were really asking if I thought it was a skill or an innate ability which is a different question. I think the skill of de-escalating sex is almost the same skill as de-escalating anger, and I learned to do that long before I ever had sex.

Near the end they told me that they had thought about me and even considered my past advice during the time we were apart, which surprised me. If I had been thinking fondly of someone who I knew wanted to be with me, I wouldn't have been able to resist reaching out to them, so I had just assumed they had shut me firmly out of their mind or that they thought negatively of me in the times they were not in touch. It filled me with questions and made me wonder about other people who tend to flake out of my life for chunks of time.

They also told me recently via text that they wanted to be a very close friend to me, someone I can rely on for help without fear of losing. They said they want to really know me, "from the birds eye of years of intimate accumulation." That they want to be family, or in my terms, they want to be one of my lifesharers. This was something I desperately wanted them to want last year, and hearing it now feels surreal. I told them:

"what you say you want with me makes me want to cry. I can't choose to have faith in that yet because it would really be too much to trust in that and lose it. I want it so much. But I can try to have faith right now that you want to know me and you want to be my friend. I want those things and vice versa. and I want you to want to be known by me also."

I also told them (in very brief terms) how my prosopagnosia makes it really important for me to have access to photos of people I love, and they just started sending me photos of themself. It means the world to me and it makes me feel a lot more connected to them. They also have made a point to let me know when they expect to have delayed responses, so that I don't worry that they have just cut contact. They have told me how they want to see me again and made an effort to set the next plan at the end of the first two times, which is very affirming.

I felt more loved and attended-to by them in the past few weeks than I have in all the other time we spent together combined. They are sharing parts of their life with me that bring them joy as well as the parts of their life that are stressful. They text thoughtful replies to my questions and ask questions about my life, sometimes even initiating conversations.

The next time I saw them we met at a hookah bar, which was still good conversation but it was loud and felt the opposite of intimate. We talked about the kinds of connections we want to create and cultivate, and when I talked with them about intimacy practice, I realized I hadn't done it in over a year, maybe 2 years. Last time was a workshop I ran at Southern Fried Queer Pride, with a bunch of strangers. It works so much better when it is a group of people who have set the intention to invest in each other and learn about each other. I still feel like that is far out of reach, and I feel a mild sense of dissatisfaction at the various silos of my people, where trust is non-existent and not fair to even ask for at this point. I just hope that all my little seedlings of friendships can grow into a single garden of mutualistic symbiosis.

Most recently when I saw them they had just learned something that had them very stressed out, so we spent most of the time discussing it. It wasn't anything new, but I feel like they're listening more now than last time we were in touch. Still, I know they have a series of intense stressors for the next four weeks so I expect diminished contact for a bit. In the back of my mind is a worry because I am historically terrible about discerning the difference between behavior due to a pattern and behavior due to a situation. I just have to stay in touch with my feelings and not let myself get in that place where I start feeling responsible for...

and that's where I stopped writing, on June 8th. Since that time at the hookah bar over three months ago, I haven't seen them and have exchanged only very minimal texts. I think they are back in that uncommunicative rut but I think and I hope that they are making effort to get out of it. I recently had a conversation with them about how I think they need to prioritize their own health and well-being but I'm not sure it got through. They did take some positive steps afterwards though so I have a little hope.


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being ungendered in a body read as femme with a femme clothing aesthetic

icon: "revolutionary (a gif series of four nude self-portraits of/by me: one from the back with me looking over my shoulder, one from the front with my arms up and arched, one with an upraised, arched arm and the other arm across my belly in a dance pose, and one from the side with both hands raised in a shrug gesture)"

[recent gender ramblings that I posted on fb]
I feel like everyone who exists thinks of their own gender identity and sex identity as more real and valid than mine. I fight with myself to ever say anything about my experience related to someone else's because I imagine they are offended to be compared to my "pretend" self.

No one in particular has made me feel like I'm not valid, it's just this pervasive thing. I've been reflecting and I think it's because I don't know anyone else with my experience.

Afab + gender-free/ungendered + non-binary sexed + aggressively femmed aesthetic is a very particular experience and from the outside I think most people just read me as a cis woman. While that confers privilege, it also means that my selfhood often drowns in invisibility.

When I can't even witness myself it becomes really hard to feel like I am real.

My genitals really have nothing to do with my (un)gender except that people assume they understand what my genitals are from my clothes. To have people constantly guessing and always wrong is upsetting but there aren't clothes that would induce a correct assumption anyway.

I used to be anti-femme in clothing aesthetic because all the assumptions of weak, pliable, sweet, frail, easy-going, follower, submissive etc that get put on most people who dress femme made me so upset that I avoided the fuck out of looking like that. I wanted my clothes to communicate that I was powerful, forceful, strong, resistant, a leader, not someone you wanna fuck with, etc.

But then I got fat. Now I could wear a literal suit of armor and people would still assume all the same things as if I wore a damn tutu, because my large breasts and wide hips are considered so femme that it overwhelms everything else. I love my breasts and hips and I refuse to smash them flat or straight, so my body is always gonna read femme.

So now I am aggressively femme, though still not in a performative way. I usually don't wear makeup; I often have messy hair, and always wear it up in a braid; I never shave my body hair; on my feet I only wear comfortable black sneakers; I never paint my nails and I keep them very short. But I have come to embrace beading, appliqués, lace, ruffles, and even the color pink (though rarely).

I wear femme clothes defiantly, because I know people are going to get it wrong. I wear them because they don't mean weak, pliable, frail, easy-going, follower, submissive, etc; they mean whatever the fuck I want them to mean because only I can assign meaning to the clothes on my body. I will wear them when working out; I will wear them when topping someone; I will wear them in every situation where I am expected to be wearing boxed-in plain dark stiff heavy structured masc clothes. And I will make people accept the meaning I assign to how I dress.

connecting: ,

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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.