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Transitioning into liminal space

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Politics is Scary Right Now [Jan. 9th, 2018|09:46 am]
Transitioning into liminal space
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[State of Being |worriedworried]

The state of government in my country predisposes me more and more to the idea of leaving if Danae were to get a position outside of the US. Maybe even to more actively seek one.

We have one of the worst presidents in history right now. Moreover, his election has ushered in an age of absurdity in politics. Now people are seriously discussing Oprah Winfrey as a presidential candidate. I've never watched her show nor otherwise paid attention to her, and I have nothing against her as a person. I just can't believe the the appropriate answer to electing a president with no political experience is to elect another president with no political experience. I know it works sometimes. Arnold Schwarzenegger was ok I guess. Jesse Ventura seemed decent. I don't know a lot about either of their terms of office. It's a gamble.

I would have loved to see Hillary Clinton or Bernie Sanders in the office. I don't think I can get behind Oprah Winfrey. (I'd still vote for her if she were the Democractic nominee. I don't feel that I have any other helpful choice.) Moreover, I'm very worried about what it means that these are the kind of candidates we're seriously looking at now. If nobody cares about the experience necessary to make good decisions about policy and, perhaps more importantly, understand the function and importance of various agencies, and perhaps even more importantly, work within the unwritten framework of arcane wheeling and dealing within the system, I fear for the long-term future of the country.

And that's completely aside from the authoritarian bent that so many US citizens seem perfectly fine with either ignoring or actively supporting. Friends have pointed out that, at this point, signing petitions against presidential policies or buying copies of Michael Wolff's "Fire and Fury" are essentially adding your name to a ready-to-use enemies of the state list. That once would have seemed ridiculous to me as a legitimate fear. The current administration's attempt to put together a very similar list by bringing legal forces to bear against anti-Trump websites strips that concept of the absurdity it may have once had, at least to me.

Some of my fears may be premature, but so much has become reality in this last year and a half that I couldn't imagine coming to pass. How do you know when a government crosses a line from having an honest intent to protect most of its people (however awfully that may be done in execution) to an intent to protect only those who fit into the imagined stereotype of 'real' citizen while persecuting those who do not? Right now, it seems to me that the only thing keeping a lot of people of people (including followers of Islam, Sikhs, and Latinx and Hispanic people, among others) safe from legal, and possibly physical, harm is their status as US citizens. Even that isn't enough for a few people who've been deported anyway, or singled out for harassment and overly zealous law enforcement. It's also not enough for the many children who will no longer have medical care through CHIP thanks to political posturing.

Stories of people who stayed and fought against injustice are inspiring. I'd like to be brave enough to have gone into the South with the Freedom Riders to register Black voters, or to have ridden with John Brown to fight slavery in Kansas (though his methods were...questionable) and at Harpers Ferry, or to stand with Nat Turner in his unsuccessful rebellion in Virginia. We are far, far from those points right now, but the closer we get the scarier it is to think about.

Martin Luther King Jr. said that the moral arc of the universe is long, but it bends toward justice. If that's true, then that kind of stand will make a difference in its time and place. Things will always get better, and fighting on the side of good speeds that progress along. But the thought is worryingly teleological. Things don't always get better. Sometimes, especially when analysis is constrained to specific geographical areas, like countries, things sometimes get far, far worse. And whether or not the sum total of whatever we think of as goodness increases across the world, we have to deal with our immediate reality.

My immediate reality could be worse, but I'm very uncomfortable with the arc it's taking right now. I wish I knew what I can, should, or will do about it.
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Moody Blues [Jan. 7th, 2018|07:04 pm]
Transitioning into liminal space
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Some time ago, I picked up a pressing of The Moody Blues' "In Search of the Lost Chord." I'd never really listened to much of their stuff, but I've been working on finding and listening to more prog rock and I was really excited to find it. I didn't realize until I played it that it's the album with "Legend of a Mind" about Timothy Leary. I'm playing the record tonight.

The album sleeve credits Ray Thomas with that song, among others. Thomas just died today it seems. Is he on the outside, looking in? Is he on an eternal hunt for that lost chord? What will you find there? Will you stand a while and stare? Godspeed.
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(no subject) [Jan. 7th, 2018|12:44 am]
Transitioning into liminal space
[State of Being |sleepysleepy]

I was at Posicat's place tonight for food and games with Serinthia and her partner. While there, he looked at some of the scopes I've been considering with me.

I bought one! *bounces* Posi looked at it and declared it to be "sexy" so I feel pretty pleased with it. It seems to be a great scope for the price! I can't wait to start peeking in at the secret life of circuits....

https://www.ebay.com/itm/322979076856

And then we played with his scope for a little while, watching the square wave generated by the blinking of the LEDs on my bicycle taillight that I had in my purse. It thrilled me in the way that watching a stack of Cisco switches negotiate routing among themselves thrilled me while I was taking my CCNA class. It's just so neat to watch things like that working.

And now, to bed.
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(no subject) [Jan. 5th, 2018|07:21 pm]
Transitioning into liminal space
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[State of Being |contentcontent]

My nice speakers live on either side of the TV, which means that when I'm sitting at my computer, they're both off to my right. It had been long enough since I sat down between them and really listened that I was enchanted anew by them. Closing my eyes, it's not hard to 'see' the layout of the instruments where the person running the mixing board put them.

I listened to my two favorite songs from Blind Melon's eponymous album, Change and No Rain. Shannon Hoon's vocals are so sharp and unprocessed on Change, with crisp consonants and bright sibilants. On No Rain, his vocals are processed; slightly echoy, slightly...I don't know. Processed. I'd never noticed that before. I prefer the sharper sound, though the processing choice for No Rain was intentional, I'm sure, to fit the mood. It made me want to listen to some singing where the singer was being up close and personal with a nice microphone just to listen to all those beautiful details.
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(no subject) [Jan. 5th, 2018|08:59 am]
Transitioning into liminal space
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[State of Being |sadsad]

The shelter in Evanston has three elderly pugs who were owner surrenders. I don't know what their story is in full, but whether from lack of concern or lack of their owner(s)' means or abilities, they were not well taken care of. They smell bad: not just their breath, but all over. They're quite overweight, though I often let that slide as I consider an obese pet to be in much better circumstances than an abandoned or starved one. Other than that, the two 8-year-olds are typical happy pugs; that is to say, they are genetic disasters who could not survive on their own and who, fortunately, are not self aware enough to be upset about what humans have done to them. (One of the most wonderful things about dogs is how they can be in the middle of an awful situation and still be *so happy* just to *be*. It's inspiring.)

The 13 year-old, though, beyond the smell and poor diet, is blind and deaf. The poor thing must be confused and terrified. At least she has her two friends with her. But she's not just blind. Her eyes are...I don't know. Necrotic or something. They bulge disturbingly from the sockets. I don't know if she can even close them. They don't look like eyes; they're a matte reddish-brown across most of their surface, with bits of something resembling crusted mucus on parts of them. Her eyes move a little bit from time to time, but they are clearly not functional. I worry that she may even be bumping into things with them as she perambulates around.

Especially at first, she was hard for me to look at. Her eyes are like a claymation demon's from a horror movie. At the same time, I felt tremendous care and pity. After the walks were done, we took the three pugs into the front foyer to spend some time with them. I carried the blind one out and sat with her in my lap. She was terrified at first, shaking in my arms. I sat with her and stroked her back, head, and chin, telling her she was a good dog and that I was going to take care of her tonight. She probably didn't hear anything, but maybe the vibrations helped. She eventually settled down a bit and seemed to enjoy the petting. I slowly got used to looking at her face as she raised her head for scritches. She even licked my chin a few times as I tried not to think about her eyes that close to my skin.

I took a few pictures of her, thinking that I'd post them and talk about why the kind of inbreeding and trait selection that gives rise to some breeds makes them so unhealthy, but I think they may be too disturbing for people to see unexpectedly so I won't do that here. Instead, here's a link to the Adam Ruins Everything piece about purebred dogs.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aCv10_WvGxo

Pugs are adorable; I won't argue that. (Well, the ones that don't have horrifying defects or illnesses, anyway.) But their noses are so bizarrely upturned that not only can they barely breath, but they have a crevice of skin between it and the rest of their face that can build up ick in it and get infected. Please think about the lives some of these dogs have if you're thinking about what kind of dog you want.
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(no subject) [Jan. 5th, 2018|07:40 am]
Transitioning into liminal space
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It's a happy coincidence that Facebook reminded me of this post while Danae is out of town and I'm missing her.

It also reminds me of how much I can enjoy photography, wandering, and exploration and that I'd like to do some more of it one of these days.

During one of our earlier visits to Hamilton, Ontario, Miriam Boon took me on several wandering drives to show me the town. On one of them, up on the mountain (the upper 'half' of the town, sitting atop the Niagara Escarpment), we found several vantage points that afforded views of all of lower Hamilton and the steel plants. Exploring further, we bumped into an abandoned healthcare facility of some kind. She parked and we meandered around the grounds, talking and pointing out interesting details as I photographed.

These peripatetic drives to nowhere in particular are some of my favorite memories of our travels together. In December, we went on another drive up the mountain. This time, we found ourselves in Sam Lawrence Park, a linear green space that follows the edge of the escarpment near the Jolley Cut, a road cut into the cliff face. We parked and gave up the warmth of her car in favor of the chill mountain wind, tempted by signs and monuments scattered about the walking paths.

When I encounter a new space and spend a little time getting to know it, I revel in the sense of unfolding mystery. Whether it's an illicit tromp through an abandoned building or a simple stroll through a city park, not knowing what there is to find and see makes almost anything I happen upon a revelation. Most times, that thrill is a solitary one. As a photographer, the course and speed of my passage through a space is often constrained by the process of image-making; accompanying me on a photo trip can be an exercise in patience. I don't mind the solitude; I can connect with a space on its own terms and mine, spending as much or as little time as I please.

But I feel a different, equally special, thrill when I'm experiencing a new place in the company of another adventurer. Miriam let me share my excitement with her, contributing her own as well as I bounced from overlook to interpretive sign to the top of a stone wall. Places and cities are meaningful to me; I find things to admire and appreciate in each one I visit. Miriam knew this, and she shared a city, hers and her parents' city, with me. That sharing is an act of love. In a recursive way, that love is another part of what makes Hamilton special to me. And Miriam's understanding of my desire to experience, and the way she demonstrates her care and affection in facilitating those experiences, is one part, among so many parts, of what makes her very special to me.

These are some of the most memorable moments of my visits to Canada with my beloved Miriam. In these times, she gives me two things that are very important to me. First, her company and her own stories, experiences, and conjectures about Hamilton let me build a relationship to place that is both experiential and personal, adding to the historical and physical perspectives I can gain from reading about a city or exploring it with maps. Second, she gives me joyous time spent doing something personally meaningful to me with someone I love deeply. She takes joy in indulging my enthusiasms and seeing my excitement at the experiences she makes possible. When I think about standing at the top of the escarpment next to Miriam, the two of us looking far out over the city below, pressed together against the cold and calling each other's attention to buildings or landmarks, I feel overjoyed that she is in my life. I feel loved.
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Home Alone [Jan. 4th, 2018|08:56 am]
Transitioning into liminal space
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I may not be able to block Facebook from showing me comments that people I have friended make in other groups, but I realized today that I could just block any group whose comments tend to devolve into vitriol. That helps.

I also left Dogspotting. It's a fun group with lots of cute pictures that make me smile, but I'm tired of the cycle of someone posting an invalid spot followed by that spot being called out followed by yet another argument about whether there should be rules or that this one should be an exception.

Danae is in Hawaii for a conference through Monday, so Piper Ann (a co-worker with two Yorkies of her own decided that her middle name is Ann, and I'm going with it) and I are home alone. She was out of insulin for a day because of sytem-related delays, and she drank too much water and peed on the floor. I felt bad for her; I know she didn't mean to. I wish she'd use puppy pads.

Today, she's going to be in her crate for longer than I'm comfortable with. I got up early (4:30 this morning instead of 5:00) to give her food and a walk. Therefore, she ate too early too, but I'll give her an early dinner and I'll keep her schedule that way until Danae is back to take care of her in the morning.

And now she'll be in her crate until I get home around 4:30. Twelve hours is too long, and I feel anxious about it and like a bad doggy-parent. But it's only for today and tomorrow.

With Danae out of town, Piper slept in bed with me last night. It was soothing, lying down next to her and looking over at her, watching her occasionally resettle herself, or groom her paws, or just rhythmically breath. I like to think about the feelings she may be having in her little doggy mind, hoping that she's feeling pure feelings of safety and happiness.
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(no subject) [Jan. 2nd, 2018|12:35 pm]
Transitioning into liminal space
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[State of Being |scaredscared]

I went to my second therapy session on Wednesday last week; my first since resolving the insurance issues. This therapist is more likely to allow longer periods of silence while I think and/or organize my thoughts. That may be experience on their part, or a style thing. Either way, I feel a little anxious when neither of us are talking, but I think I'll get used to it and that it's beneficial for me.

I've only been in one relationship, I told them (the therapist), that I'd made an independent choice to be in and that I initiated. And that one was with someone I'd known for most of a decade and who I knew had been interested in me in the past. In my other relationships, I just responded to an expression of interest in what I think was a sort of automatic mirroring process.

I believe, as objectively as I can, that I very much want to be in my relationship with Danae. I think she's an amazing person and she is a wonderful partner to me. But I also feel that I've had very little agency in forming either the relationships that I've been in or the sexual experiences that I've had. I want to have more agency in my life in a lot of areas, and that's certainly one of them.

I'm also too scared by my past experiences of being pushed into things I didn't want and/or unable to express or be aware of what I do want. I feel that I can't express sexual agency in the way I would like to in a safe way, or decline to take part in something that I'm not mostly sure I'll be content with later.

They asked me what would need to be in place for me to feel safe. Did they mean internally, or externally I asked, before I answered my own question by saying that they probably meant either or both. They did.

I don't have very good ideas about the internal part. Externally, though, having someone with me came to mind immediately. Danae and I have talked in hypotheticals about going together to one of the Chicago dungeons (BDSM is included in my thoughts on this, though I'm primarily thinking of affection and care right now) and letting her mediate my interactions with other people so that I have someone I trust and feel safe with to protect me while I try to grow in this way. For numerous reasons, this is not something she is up to doing these days though.

Thinking after the session though, I synthesized a number of thoughts into a crazy idea that's slowly been feeling less crazy.

I've been reading self-reported accounts of casual sex on the appropriately-named Casual Sex Project web site. I've come to several conclusions, including:

Many people's communication skills suck ass.
Many people make really stupid decisions when horny.
I'm disturbed by how many people are very willing to opportunistically cheat on their partners. (The latter two could possibly be reduced by reducing the first one.)

However! There are a few metaphorical gems out there. People who met other people who were nice, respectful, and caring, and who behaved within bounds set by each other. As I commented to Danae, it may sound odd but the hottest and most enjoyable of these stories for me are the ones involving people who communicate well and are explicit about expectations and consent. Not because of what they may have done with each other, but because those are the people with whom I'm able to somehow identify.

So what if I post a personal ad on Craigslist? It would be geared toward attracting a male person, or one who is comfortable in a physically male body, who is compatible with me to be friends and play partners with. I'd describe myself and my interests. I'd explain that what I really want is a friend who enjoys playing together and who I can feel mutual affection and care for. I'd talk about my universally negative experience with men, and how much I really want to have some positive experiences. I'd explain my issues with consent and my need to have someone making sure I'm safe. I'd explain that I need to be able to decide I'm comfortable and initiate snuggling or petting as I feel comfortable doing so and knowing I'm not feeling pressure from a partner. And I'd explain that I'd want to meet them at my place, with my partner around, while I get to know them over board games or Factorio or through discussion of books or politics or what-have-you. And that if we progress to physical affection and sex, I'd want to do that with her in the condo as well.

It would be a very strange personal ad, I know. Maybe nobody would read it, or everyone who does would think it's absurd or laugh at it, and that's fine too. But if the right person did happen upon it and read it and contact me, maybe it could be a really positive thing.

Since we would both know from the beginning that I'm looking for a play partner, I wouldn't be quite as scared to initiate physical things with them because I wouldn't be as worried that I'll make them uncomfortable.

One concern is that I'll feel pressured to initiate out of concern for their expectations in having come to meet me. I'll have to think about that and figure out what to do. For that, or for any reason I'm feeling uncomfortable, I think I'd have a subtle way to let Danae know that. Then I'd have her help to make sure I'm able to express my disinclination toward sex, even if I'm terrified of rejecting someone.

I anxiously and embarrassedly ran this idea by her in the car on the way to my parents' place for New Years Eve and asked her to think about how she feels. I think it's possible that that one or two other people might be willing to be my safety blanket in this way too, but she's my first choice. I'll see what she thinks, keep thinking about whether I really want to proceed, and figure out where to go from there.

And now I am scared to hit the post button because I'm worried that people will tell me this is really unfair to my potential new friend in some way I haven't thought of, and that will make me feel embarrassed and thoughtless. But I'm thinking again of my target audience; someone like me. If I saw that personal ad, I think I would respond. Maybe that's the most important consideration for me in trying to find someone whose thinking is enough like mine in the ways I hope for it to be.
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(no subject) [Jan. 2nd, 2018|07:40 am]
Transitioning into liminal space
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I've chickened out on biking this winter. I'm too big to fit into my nice ski jacket right now. My long underwear and other thermal baselayers are in boxes or bags until the bed bugs are absolutely gone. Riding in my jacket and jeans is not going to cut it below 30F or so. Being a year-round bike commuter is a significant part of my identity and I feel disappointed in myself for taking transit. Next winter, I hope to be prepared again. For now, I appreciate the option of the CTA so I don't have to get in a car.

---

Danae and I visited my parents again on New Years Eve. My brother J had finally moved most of his stuff out of the spare room upstairs between my brother T and their other housemate/border, so there was a clean bed for Danae and I to stay in. We played board games and had food with family and friends on the 31st, then came down for a tasty breakfast my dad cooked on the 1st and played more games.

Danae and I gave my parents the expansions for Alchemists as a holiday gift; I really liked some of what it added to the game and enjoyed playing it. I won that one by a single point, with a score of 31 to Danae's 30 and I feel like I have a better sense of end game strategy. My mother won a game of Power Grid which ended, as so many plays of that game do, a turn earlier than most of us expected. There were a number of games of Dominion as well, using the Nocturne expansion that J had given my parents as a gift to the household; I liked it a great deal more than the last new expansion I tried with adventurers and things.

I'm so glad to have spent time with people I don't see enough and care about. Evil Bob and Dwarf and G were in attendance; my parents have known them longer than I've been alive (Evil Bob's son is my parents' boarder/housemate). They're good people and I miss seeing them regularly.

---

I rented a Rug Doctor from the local Jewel and cleaned the carpets in the bedroom and living room. Not only do they look a lot better, but hopefully any possible remaining bugs or eggs are gone. I unbolted the various pieces of our Ikea couch from each other and washed and dried all of the fabric covers. I Rug Doctored the upholstered furniture without removable covers and looked everywhere I could think of for bug evidence. If this doesn't do it, I'm going to go with a company that does heat treatment. They heat the entire space up to around 150F for long enough to kill bugs. That will suck a lot as we take heat-sensitive things out of the apartment in preparation and make sure those things don't have bugs, but we'll burn that bridge if we get to it.

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Danae is presenting at a conference in Hawaii this coming weekend. I've never been to Hawaii and am a little envious, though she really won't be seeing much of anything outside the conference hotel. While she's gone, I may end up visiting Posi or my parents for more games or something. There's also the cuddle party I'm nervously excited about going to. I'm worried about my consent-related problems, but it's about the safest way I can think of to engage in consensual physical contact with other people and I really hope it goes well and I don't feel trapped in a situation where I'm unable to say no. My pajamas have arrived for the event and I'm looking forward to wearing them there and, hopefully, meeting some nice people and being social.





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(no subject) [Dec. 30th, 2017|01:07 pm]
Transitioning into liminal space
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[State of Being |awakeawake]

I remembered a book I was going to buy a while back so I looked it up on Amazon to buy it. I was then also reminded that I will never be as cool as the author of said book.

"Michael Jay Geier has been an electronics technician, designer and inventor since age 6. He took apart everything he could get his hands on, and soon discovered that learning to put it back together was even more fun. By age 8, he operated a neighborhood electronics repair service that was profiled in The Miami News. He went on to work in numerous service centers in Miami, Boston and Seattle, frequently serving as the “tough dog” tech who solved the cases other techs couldn’t. At the same time, Michael was a pioneer in the field of augmentative communications systems, helping a noted Boston clinic develop computer speech systems for children with cerebral palsy. He also invented and sold an amateur radio device while writing and marketing software in the early years of personal computing.

Michael holds an FCC Extra-class amateur radio license. His involvement in ham radio led to his writing career, first with articles for ham radio magazines, and then with general technology features in Electronic Engineering Times, Desktop Engineering, IEEE Spectrum, and The Envisioneering Newsletter. His work on digital rights management has been cited in several patents. Michael earned a Boston Conservatory of Music degree in composition, was trained as a conductor, and is an accomplished classical, jazz and pop pianist, and a published songwriter. Along with building and repairing electronic circuitry, he enjoys table tennis, restoring antique mopeds, ice skating, bicycling, and banging out a jazz tune on his harpsichord."

https://www.amazon.com/How-Diagnose-Everything-Electronic-Second/dp/0071848290/ref=sr_1_fkmr1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1514660384&sr=1-1-fkmr1&keywords=how+to+diagnose+repair+anything
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