pandora_parrot: (relaxed)
I'm going to ponder this out on here because there *are* a few people listening, and I figure what-the-hey.

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Mic Check

Dec. 11th, 2011 09:40 pm
pandora_parrot: (Default)
Anyone out there still listening?
pandora_parrot: (Default)
So, as part of my class on ASL, I'm supposed to go visit Deaf events and engage in communication with folks. I did my first one this past weekend, and... wow.

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pandora_parrot: (Default)
Hey... check it out! I made a thing for burning man.

pandora_parrot: (Default)
So... I actually signed up for a night class at De Anza to study ASL. It starts September 26th.

In preparation, I've been practicing my fingerspelling and running through practice sentences in my spare time. I've also been researching deaf culture a bit, reading about their perspectives on hearing culture and the interactions.

I'm stunned how familiar this is, actually. Although the details are specific to each culture, I see a lot of parallels in the attitudes of Deaf people and Transgender people towards the majority culture. I read about the annoyance and frustration that many Deaf people experience towards hearing people. I read about the incorrect assumptions and stereotypes that get applied to them.

It's all quite familiar as a member of the transgender community. A similar sense of frustration and angst with a culture that *just doesn't get it* 90% of the time. Even those that try to be friendly often do so in a patronizing or annoying way. It's a rare person from the other world that actually *gets* it.

As I read about Deaf people getting "congratulated" for how well they lipread or talk, or being told, "I'm sorry," when telling someone that they're Deaf... I am reminded of my experiences of being told how well I pass as female, or how someone "had no idea I wasn't cisgender!" and crap like that. It's like... Thanks for the sentiment... but really? REALLY? Just treat me like a normal person! Don't congratulate me on my ability to fit in with the mainstream!

I think a lot of minority groups probably have similar experiences to these... Similar tales of annoyance and frustration. I wonder if there's a "passing" dynamic going on as well... In minority cultures where a member of the minority can "pass" as a member of the majority culture, are certain assumptions and such more likely to take root? Hard to say.

In any case, the whole thing makes me that much more excited about learning more about Deaf culture. It seems like there's a lot it may have common with my own experiences, as well as a lot of new things to learn. I think it may even help me understand better how cisgender people perceive transgender culture by experiencing what it is like to be an outsider to a minority culture and interacting with it directly. (Although I know members of other minority groups that I don't belong to, I don't actually know much about their cultures, which is disappointing. I should probably fix that.)

Anyways... the class is going to be on Monday and Wednesday nights.

I'm also thinking about finally taking that class on Spanish that I've been wanting to take. De Anza offers a Tuesday and Thursday class, but that would mean that my entire week would be taken up by classes after work. Additionally, I'm actually finding that I know more people that know, use bits of, or want to learn ASL than I know people that use Spanish. At least in terms of my more direct social circle. ASL has the advantage of enabling visual communication, which is a really nice capability upgrade to get. :) Spanish is only an additional audio communication system. It doesn't expand my options for communication paths, just alternate audio encodings. Thus I'm currently leaning towards putting the Spanish thing on the back burner until I get enough ASL to sign competently.
pandora_parrot: (Default)
It is so awesome when you start to learn a new language. What used to be random gibberish suddenly starts to become actual words and concepts.

This Friday, I finally encountered enough people around me that know and use ASL that I decided it was time to learn it. I memorized the alphabet and began practicing finger spelling about everything I could get my hands on. I downloaded an ASL dictionary app to my iPad and began constructing sentences with [ profile] thespatula, who used to use ASL to talk to a hard-of-hearing friend of hers.

On Sunday, I decided to load up the ASL version of Re: Your Brains and watch it again. And that's when that magical moment of understanding happened.

Despite not knowing even enough ASL to carry on a simple conversation, what little I had learned during the weekend was enough to completely transform the video for me. When I first watched it, it was entertaining for the weird hand motions and pantomime that I observed during the lyrics, but I didn't really have a clue when it came to the signs. Now, I found myself picking out individual signs, being able to identify when the person was fingerspelling things, and even catching a few jokes/amusing bits that I hadn't understood before.

Before, my brain only saw static. Now, it saw patterns and information. It's quite a delightful experience to have. I even learned a few signs!

As with most things I try out, I don't know if I'll carry on with this, but it has one of the key elements that I generally need to get a new hobby type thing to continue: Other people around me know, use, and are learning ASL. So maybe I'll actually be able to stick with it.

WHY learn it? A few reasons, really.

1) It's really useful to be able to communicate visually. Whether in noisy environments, or to have a secondary communication channel when there are other people around. It's an entirely new channel of communication. I actually learned morse code to try to do this when I was in grade school, but no one else wanted to learn it, too... so I forgot it.

2) I have at least one friend, if not more, that sometimes go non-verbal. When this happens, they use ASL to communicate. It'd be nice to be able to understand what they're saying.

3) I myself find being verbal hard sometimes. Always have, since childhood. There'll be times when people are trying to talk to me, and I just find it really frustrating and emotionally upsetting to have to speak. Having ASL on hand when that strikes me could be a nice way to avoid the frustration.

4) Although I don't know anyone that is deaf, and only one person that is hard of hearing, I really like the idea of learning another language for the sake of learning that language and learning about those that use it. How cool is it that we get these opportunities to explore the languages and cultures of other people? It expands our understanding of our world and helps us to build better communities that are more effectively inclusive.

5) Every time I learn something new, I help maintain brain health and stave off the possibility of dementia when I get old.
pandora_parrot: (Default)
Monkeys in suits wander around empty white corridors
Imbibing fine wine from golden chalice
and complaining of the rising cost of dry cleaning

Outside, she's sitting there alone, sleeping under a tree
Numb to the world and numb to her plight

She's one of the forgotten ones,
hiding within the world
Finding the cracks and eddies where she's allowed to exist.

The monkeys laugh and drink and make merry
while she sits outside and fights to live.

The drowning child makes great headlines
for stories and tales to share
Open hearts and open wallets reach out for those in need

But monkeys shy away from the dirty smelly creatures
that wander the land without chains
For fear... for worry... for disgust...

Open doors do not exist when the needy are real
pandora_parrot: (Default)

Dark caverns, black and wet
hidden beneath the earth

An age ago, they were filled with light
dry and comfortable
bright and cheery

The elves danced to bright music
Magic and merriment
innocent and care free

What happened to those days?
The times when we danced in the moonlight?
and created our own reality around us?

Music from the past echoes forward
reflecting off the dark cavern walls.
Tear drops fall from the ceiling
weeping for a bygone age

The queen still sits in her gilded throne
But her body is gaunt, and her silver tarnished
The jester sits in the corner, sobbing
The only eyes that still see

The royal court makes webs of sorrow
catching their meals from the air
while servants scurry on many legs
and take their fill from their queen

Buried beneath her own creations
forgotten by the world
she has vanished from the story
pandora_parrot: (Default)
Got a request for information about being faceblind today. Thought I'd post my response to the person's questions:

1: When you see a person you've never met before, do you see their face at all or is it just a blur? For example, if someone had say a scar or a facial piercing or bright blue eyes, would you be able to notice them?

Prosopagnosia, or faceblindness, isn't really about not being able to see things. I can see people's faces just fine. I can see a scar or facial piercing or blue eyes or anything. I see it all, and I can even memorize facts about such a face if I need to!

The best description that I've ever come up with for faceblindness is that it is this: There is a special region of the brain that is optimized for doing pattern recognition on faces. It is able to quickly and subconsciously evaluate all of the characteristics of a face and compare it against your memories of all the people you've ever met. For a person like myself, with faceblindness, we don't have this sort of "hardware optimization." We have to do everything in "software," ie. We have to use other parts of our brain to figure out who someone is.

Since these other parts of our brain aren't so optimized, they're not nearly as good. They work slowly, miss a lot of things, and are easily fooled. A close friend only has to put on unusual clothing, cut their hair, etc. to make it completely impossible for me to recognize them, despite the fact that I know them very well. For people I don't know as well, it takes far less for me to be unable to recognize them. Something as simple as a shift in mood, a hair style or color change, or something like that is enough to make someone completely unrecognizable to me.

Perhaps another way to look at it is that I can see all of these facial characteristics just fine. They just don't mean anything special to me, and even the closest people can look like complete strangers to me fairly easily.

2: How do you distinguish between people? Can you recognize voices or hair or skin color or anything?

For me, the big three characteristics that I use to identify people are context, personality, and large scale body characteristics.

So if I run into a short asian guy at work that's really exciteable, I'll know that's Gerry. If I run into a tall happy guy that wears bright colors and is always smiling, that's Bob. If I'm going on a date and a large bearded man comes up seeming to be laughing at the world, that's my boyfriend.

Context is huge. Take away context, and I'll generally completely lose my ability to recognize someone. A guy once tapped me on the shoulder at a supermarket and asked me if I needed help. It was actually a good friend of mine playing a joke on me, but because I didn't expect to see him, I didn't recognize him and thought he was genuinely an employee of the store.

Personality is also huge. So huge to me, that when a person is in a different mood, I can instantly tell. I'm very sensitive to changes in mood, and if someone came to me acting *very* different than normal, I'd run a chance of being unable to recognize them. Personality also influences the way people move, and I've become very adept at recognize people simply by the way they walk, swing their hands, play with their hair, and stuff like that.

And large-scale body characteristics. Stuff like long hair or short hair. Dark hair or light hair. Tall or short. Fat or skinny. Dark skin or light skin. Stuff like that. I'm not good at recognizing people in the middle, though, just on the extremes. Someone with average hair length, medium brown color, average height, average build, and light brown skin will be almost impossible for me to recognize, even after knowing them for a while. But make them pale and fat with short hair, or black, tall and skinny with long dark hair, and suddenly I find them very easy to recognize.

3: Do faces become more familiar the more you see them?

Not really. I become more adept at recognizing people's personalities in those faces though. I start to recognize the smiling bald guy that has a little smirk on his face, or the constantly depressed short woman. Stuff like that. Our brains aren't optimized to memorize these characteristics about people, so it takes considerably longer to learn stuff like this than it would for a normal person to recognize someone else. But over time, prosopagnosiacs learn to recognize people by various means. Just not by their face.

4: Were you born with your condition? If so, when did you realize that you had it?

As far as I know, yes, I was born with it. I realized I had it in college after a friend lead me to the "face blindness and stones" webpage.

I read that site and went "Yes! Holy shit! THAT is why I have so much trouble recognizing people and remembering faces!" It was an eye opening moment. I had started to suspect that something was different about me in high school, though, and recognized that I had more difficulty remembering faces than most people.

5: Lastly, (this one is kind of personal) how did/does faceblindness affect your relationships with others and/or your view of yourself, if at all?

Bill Choisser's online book goes into this in some detail:

For myself, it has the strongest tendency to affect my ability to connect with people. It's fairly often that I find myself sabotaging potential relationships, both personal and professional, when I hit that inevitable moment of, "I'm sorry, who are you again?"

People are so used to being recognized, that they automatically assume that if you don't recognize them, you don't care about them. I've seen it so many times, my heart tears to even think about it. Imagine lovers, friends, and others being turned away when you looked and them and didn't know who they were. It's horrible, and it makes for a very lonely childhood. When you don't recognize the playground friend you made the day before, it makes it hard to makes friends at all.

As for view of myself? Not really. I guess I don't care about makeup as much as most women, since it makes my face look so very very different that it can freak me out. But that's pretty common amongst people with this condition.

More death

Jul. 5th, 2011 07:00 pm
pandora_parrot: (Default)
Too much death lately.

This weekend, a friend of mine killed himself.

I find it confusing to deal with death when the person that has died is not a close friend or relative. If one of my roommates died, or one of my close friends that I see on a regular basis died... I'd know what my reaction would be. I'd understand that I'd be overwhelmed with grief and senses of loss. I'd know that I'd want to attend funeral events and connect with friends and mourn and all that... I'd understand my place in relation to that death.

But what if the person is only someone I see every few weeks? Every few months? A few times a year? What if the last time I saw them was many years ago?

In these situations... I don't understand my grief and my relationship to that grief. I don't understand other people's reaction to my grief.

My friend that died this weekend? It has been nearly a year since I last saw him in person. But we've talked online from time to time, and I'm close to an ex of his, and talk to his wife some. We're not close at all, but he was definitely a friend.

It seems strange to me when people say that they're "sorry for my loss." My loss? He wasn't really mine to lose. He was someone else's... He belonged to a community and collection of friends and relatives and people that interacted with him for more frequently than I. I have only had minimal contact with him in comparison. I feel as though I'm simply on the sidelines of this man's life.

Yet he meant something to me. He was someone I thought fondly of. Our last interaction was an 8 hour conversation that lasted until the wee hours of the morning. I still have a text file on my desktop listing some books he recommended I read on the basis of that conversation.

I have grief. Hell... I've been listless and depressed for the past 3 days over this. I've cried over this.

But I don't get it, and I don't get what it means.

More than my own feelings, I worry about the people closer to him that he leaves behind. How they're doing. His widow. His ex. People that loved him and were with him often.

I'm going to miss him. He was a brilliant and wonderful inventor and security researcher, who did great things for this world. I weep for all of the conversations we're never going to have. I weep for those he left behind. I weep for my loss and the world's loss.

Incidentally... I've been watching a lot of TV to zone out and ignore reality for the past few days. Especially Star Trek The Next Generation. It's amazing to me how much of this stuff deals with death, but besides the simple effect of confirmation bias, I think that it is just a fact that much of human literature and media deal with this question.

What is death... How do we relate to it? What does it mean for there to be an end to *me*? To a given person's consciousness? When another dies, how do we accept the permanent changes in expectations of reality? How do we accept the fact that we will never again meet them? That we will never again interact with them... talk with them... etc.

We're all trying to figure this out and answer our questions about what it all is. And how we deal with it when it impacts our own lives.

I'm going to miss him. He was a fascinating person that I wanted to know better.
pandora_parrot: (Default)
Friday night: Had a small dinner and games party at my place with the usual crowd. Slightly last minute, but at least I didn't have to cook. Afterwards, we unpacked the last of our "communal" boxes and finally finished the stage called "unpacking."

I drank a little, and wasn't feeling entirely normal and wound up staying up until 6 AM.

4 hours later, my friend Rose calls asking me where I'm at... We had arranged to meet at Whole foods to buy food to cook for the housewarming party later that day.


Rose's call woke up me, so I groggily indicated that she should drive to my place and pick me up while I got myself woken up.

Once my head had cleared a bit, I decided it was about time to figure out what I was going to make, food-wise, for the party. I quickly pulled up my recipe book and google and started contemplating and dreaming up ideas.

By the time Rose arrived from Whole Foods, I had managed to get a shopping list of ingredients put together, so we took off around 11.

By 1pm, we had all of the food and a bunch of extra things as well.

I came home and the roommates and I cleaned the apartment in preparation of guests. Around 3pm, I began cooking.

I wound up spending the majority of the next 5 hours cooking.

The foods that I had decided on were the following: Deviled eggs, my father's potato salad, a mushroom cream chicken bake, and a green bean casserole. I'd never made any of them before, and I didn't even have a recipe for the mushroom cream chicken bake. That was entirely off the cuff.

The deviled eggs turned out beautifully. The potato salad was excellent and perfect, but not a lot of people liked the style of potato salad I had made. Too chunky and stuff. The green bean casserole turned out "meh" in my opinion, but the chicken bake was amazing. I almost didn't get to try a bite, but when I did... WOW that was delicious.

The chicken bake was pretty simple:
1.5 c heavy cream
1 can cream of chicken soup
veggie chicken

Fry chicken in olive oil and butter until slightly browned.
Sautee mushrooms and onions in pan until cooked.
Layer chicken in a small glass dish.
Mix cream and soup and pour over chicken.
Put the mushrooms and onions over the chicken as well
Feel free to add some non-sauteed mushrooms as well
Bake for 30 minutes on 375º

It turned out great!

Best thing of all? With the exception of the chicken bake, it was all gluten free. And even with the chicken bake, I had a low-gluten version ready to go for my gluten free guests.

Dessert was brownies, cakes, cupcakes, and more. They were completely gone by the time the night ended.

After dinner and dessert, we played some various games... Topless pirate Fluxx, 2 station Artemis, and drunk Curses.

I had a blast! The party was wonderful and everyone seemed to have a really good time. Our house was delightfully warmed, and I feel very loved in the midst of my friends.

I passed out around 1am in the middle of a sentence, my feet killing me, and my body completely exhausted from all of the cooking and preparation that day.

Amusingly, as I wake up this morning, I need to get myself together and get packed for a 2 day "camping" trip to a lake in clearlake with a friend and her family.
pandora_parrot: (contemplative)
It's a simple formula. Choice + Action = Result.

If you want something out of life, you have to decide to get it, take the actions required to move towards it, and then you will gain the result.

So... there you go. Secret to the universe and all that. Go forth and make your lives better.

Oh wait... It's not that simple, is it?

There are secrets and hidden pitfalls buried in this formula. Although it is absolutely true... it's more complicated than this.

To begin... choice.

Choice is challenging. The ability to choose something is an important and powerful thing, but our choices are limited by a great deal of things. One of the biggest limiters that I have experienced in my own life, both first hand and in observation of others... is the fact that to choose something, you first must believe it possible to choose.

I know this guy from back in Cleveland who is a programmer who wants to improve his life. He wants to get out there and make more software and do more stuff... He even talked about the idea of someday getting involved with Android or iPhone development. But here the thing... He was doing nothing about it. Why? Because he had no idea that he *could.* In our conversations, I showed him that the tools for doing this development are already right at his fingertips for no charge. It was only after this that he could start working on doing this development. He could not take action to better his life until he knew that the option to do so existed.

Choice is also limited by our willpower. Now don't blow that off as some statement of judgement that you have to just *will* yourself to choose something or other. Studies show that our willpower is incredibly influenced by a number of factors. Depression, poverty, and many other things reduce our willpower and make it harder to make choices in our lives. Additionally, willpower has been shown to behave like a muscle: The less you use it, the harder it is to make choices, and vice versa. It's actually not necessarily some personality flaw if you find yourself challenged by the prospect of making choices. It's heavily influenced by the circumstances of your life.

So what about action? Let's say you've managed to overcome these obstacles to make a choice to do something about your life? But that's not going to necessarily accomplish anything by itself. Choice alone does little. It is only the first step of the journey. The next part of the journey is to actually start "walking it."

But actions are limited as well. Talk to anyone with fibromyalgia, chronic pain, or other physical ailments. They'll tell you, quite emphatically... They don't have the physical energy to *act* in all the ways they want to. They are limited by their conditions and bodies.

The same goes for for mental and emotional ailments. These can have just as strong an effect on the physical ability of a person to act in ways that benefit oneself. People with chronic depression or mental illness may literally not have the physical ability to act in certain ways at certain times.

No matter what choices we make, the actions available to us is ultimately limited by things outside of our own control.

So actions are limited and challenging... But let's say you overcome those obstacles. You make a choice to make your life better, and then you act in accordance with that choice to make your life better. Yay! The results are all yours and you get what you were after now, right?

Well, no... Here's the real kicker. If you've struggled and bled and fought to make your choices and act in accordance with them, you may very well not get the results you were hoping for. I dare say... this may even be the likely outcome. You'll probably wind up with something quite different than what you were working towards.

Why? Because your actions can only have so much of an effect on the world around you. There is a limit to your ability to influence your world, no matter how hard you try. Factors such as socio-economic class membership, social networks, and more heavily influence your ability to modify your world and the world around you. Rich people with lots of friends, for example, have more ability to influence their world than poorer people with smaller social networks.

Even more... as people rise in wealth, they are able to purchase *time*. That's right... rich people can buy themselves more *time* to do things to better themselves. How? By buying devices and services of convenience that free them to do other actions. Automatic clothing washing and drying machines drastically increase the amount of time a person has to do other stuff. Same with things like microwaves, robotic vacuums, and more. Services such as house cleaners, car washes, restaurants, etc. free up valuable time as well. The more wealth you have, the more you can have other people and machines do your work for you. You can basically *purchase time itself.*

So... fuck... that sucks, right? No matter how hard you work, you can't fully influence your results? Damn. So what's the point?

The point is that this formula still holds true. If you want something different out of your life, you have to choose to obtain it, and then act to obtain it. The reality is that if you do this, small successes will pile up over time, and while you may not be able to achieve absolutely anything you want, you can increase your ability to achieve in larger and larger ways. Making choices may be difficult at first, but as you do it more, your willpower will increase. Making money may be difficult without much to start with, but if you manage a small success, you'll have more money to achieve even more later.

Basically... it's not an even playing field. People are granted various degrees of privilege and facility and luck with which to act and improve their lives. But despite all of that, there are still doors open to grow and achieve more than you are now. There is hope.

It simply lies on the other side of constant struggle and battle. And probably won't be what you were expecting.
pandora_parrot: (Default)
I just read about some presumably cisgender men invading the dyke march this year. Understandably, there were some trans guys upset that cis men were not welcome, but trans guys are. They see it as a challenge to their gender identity, like they're not "really" guys and thus are welcome to join the dyke march.

I can't comment fully on the politics of this, but I think there is some sense in creating "anyone but cis-guy" spaces, and it all centers around male privilege.

First of all, to those that aren't on the up and up for privilege politics, the idea is that when you are a member of a majority/oppressor class for some characteristic, you have various privileges that you may or may not be aware of. It's not a *bad* thing to be this way, and just because you're a minority in one class doesn't mean you can't be a majority in another class. It's just more or less a fact of life. What's bad is pretending it doesn't exist and being defensive when called out on it.

What exactly is privilege? It's the ability to not have to think about or deal with certain things that people of a particular minority group have to deal with. White people don't have to deal with the shit people of color have to deal with, and are often not aware of how much shit people of color get. Rich people don't realize all of the nuances of being poor. Cis people don't realize just how much their assumptions about gender oppress trans people. etc. etc.

Now, these are, of course, blanket statements, and they are generally true, but not always, and certainly not in the same way with all people. Some majority-class members have more or less privilege than others, based on a wide assortment of things such as life experiences, upbringing, membership in other minority classes, etc. But as a general rule, this is fairly true.

As a member of a minority class, privilege can be annoying, and more-over *exhausting.* It's really annoying to hear the same tripe, the same bullshit, and the same crap over and over again. It's really annoying being the token representative of your minority class all of the time, having to explain to people why what they say and do is fucked up. Frequently, you just wish people would google this shit and stop being stupid. But the unfortunate thing about privilege is that it's usually invisible to the person that has it, so they don't even know that they're being offensive or insensitive or whatever.

So members of minority classes often go out of their way to create spaces, sometimes, that specifically exclude members of the majority class. It's a way to create a space where they can gather and be together without having to participate in the same constant-education-bullshit that they have to deal with all the rest of the time. And it's more than just education, but the fact that this privilege crap has been used time and again to hurt and oppress the members of the minority class. It can be triggery to experience it, and it's nice when you can go into a space where it is far less likely to experience it.

So an event like "dyke march" is a great space for queer women to create a space where they can exist in solidarity with less male privilege than usual. There is freedom and comfort and safety in being in a space that is filled with people that are unlikely to be as filled with privilege as normal. It's not perfect, but it's a big step.

So... That's great for queer cis-women, but what about transgender people of all genders? What about the question at the beginning about the inclusion of trans men in spaces like this?

Well... All that other stuff explained... it seems to me that transgender eople have a particularly unique perspective on male privilege. Many, if not most, of us have seen both sides of the coin to some degree. We know what it is like to have male privilege and then have it taken away, or to gain it after having not had it for most of our life.

As a result, I'd like to believe that we're all a little more sensitive and self-aware when it comes to our own unique experiences with male privilege. Trans women being able to recognize the remnants of male privilege from our pasts, and trans men able to recognize the privileges that they now enjoy. I hope that with this awareness comes an increased ability to accept and be challenged on our beliefs, behaviors, etc.. I'd like to believe that we are "safe" for cisgender women to be around without having to worry too much about us being offensive, insensitive, or whatever as a result of our experiences with male privilege.

So it makes sense to me that transgender people of all genders are included in a march focused on the experiences of women, while cisgender men might be excluded. Because I believe that our unique experiences of male privilege make us far less likely to be problematic than cisgender men who have not generally had as much opportunity to explore their experiences with male privilege.

Certainly, these characteristics have proved to be true within my experiences. When it comes to sexism and issues around male/female dynamics, cisgender women and transgender people seem to "get it" far more often than cisgender men. It's a rare cisgender male that I find that accepts his male privilege and knows how to avoid being problematic towards women. On the other hand, it's a rare cisgender woman or transgender person that *doesn't* get male privilege and male/female social oppression dynamics.

I've certainly met my fair share of sexist people in all gender combinations. One of the most sexist people I've ever met, in fact, was a cisgender woman that claimed that women should not "work men's jobs" because she believes it takes away the opportunity of men to support their families. In college, I wrote a long letter to the school newspaper calling out a presumably cisgender woman for her sexist comments regarding the decline of chivalry in men towards women.

Excluding cisgender men doesn't exclude all male privilege, and it keeps out some really awesome feminist-type guys that *get* and *understand* their male privilege. But when you've got little else to go by, it's not a completely horrible way to keep the usual guys with their unexamined privilege out.

Case in point... the presumably cis guys in the dyke march? Standing in the way, taking photos of the topless dykes, pointing, laughing and giggling. You know... acting in ways that demonstrate their ignorance of how their behavior hurts women. Demonstrating their male privilege.
pandora_parrot: (Default)

Toasted Cheese and Peanut Butter Sandwiches

This is a recipe based on a sandwich I had at Tommy's Restaurant in Cleveland, OH, called the "Quinn"

Pocketed pita bread
4-5 different kinds of cheese. I used mozzarella, provolone, münster, and a medium cheddar.
Caeser salad dressing
Shredded carrots
Bean sprouts
Shredded lettuce
Unsweeted, unsalted peanut butter

olive oil

1. Take a small amount of peanut butter and put it inside the pita pocket.
2. Take small pieces of each kind of cheese, and lay them on top of the peanut butter inside the pocket.
3. Put the carrot, sprouts, and lettuce in the pocket.
4. Drizzle a *small* amount of dressing on top of the veggies.
5. Place a few more small pieces of cheese on top of the veggies.
6. Pour a small amount of olive oil and butter into a skillet.
7. When the butter is melted, put the sandwich into the pan, peanut butter side down first. Cook on medium to medium-low heat.
8. Flip the sandwich every now and then until the cheese is melted. Don't let the pita burn!
9. Serve!

I also made "meatball" subs recently:

Easy Meatball Subs:

1 jar spicy pasta sauce
2 small cans tomato paste
1 package vegetarian italian sausage
1/2 yellow onion
sliced muchrooms
4-6 "hoagie" rolls
Shredded mozzerella cheese
Chili powder
Cayenne Pepper
Black Pepper

1. Mix the pasta sauce and tomato paste together in sufficient quantity for your table, so that the resulting mixture is quite thick.
2. Add chili powder, cayenne pepper, and black pepper to kick the sauce up a bit, since we'll be diluting the original spicy pasta sauce a bit.
3. Cook over medium to medium-high heat until hot

1. Meanwhile, slice the onion into small strings of onion.
2. Melt butter with olive oil in a skillet.
3. Sautee the mushrooms and onions together until the onions start to carmelize.

1. Lightly coat a skillet with oil and heat.
2. Slice the sausage into substantial chunks of sausage.
3. Place the sausage in the pan and start cooking.
4. Make sure the sausage pieces are cooked on all sides.

Final Preparation:
1. Lightly toast the interior of the roll. I did this by opening the roll up and placing it on a dry heated skillet.
2. You will want the roll to be only gently toasted. When this is done, take some of the sausage and put it in the deepest part of the roll.
3. Cover the sausage with the sauce. Don't be shy.
4. Cover the top of the sauce with shredded mozzerella cheese and some of the sauteed mushrooms and onions.

Serve hot!
pandora_parrot: (Default)
Assuming there are tickets left to buy... I've been pondering this.

I've been really wanting to go in my new mental state. The last time I went there, I was still in my "crazy teenager" phase, and had the sort of experiences that a wild teen might have there. This time, I'd be coming as my much quieter and calmer adult self. It could very well be the kick-in-the-ass that I need to start contemplating spiritual and artistic stuff again. I've been married to the concrete since December, dealing with an amazing amount of life and mental crud since then.

Reasons to go:
1) I'd love to reconnect with some of the poly people, friends I haven't seen in a while, etc. that go every year.
2) The theme this year is "Rites of Passage" with the temple being the "Temple of transition." Could it be any more perfect?
3) I'd love to get away from everything for a week and just chill out and have fun out in the desert.
4) It's a magical place. I really really want to see it again!

Reasons not to go:
1) I will need to dilate every day out there. This involves finding a space that is private, *relatively* playa dust free, and comfortable to lay on my back for 30 minutes. I also need a means by which to wash my dilators after each use.
2) It's already pretty last minute to go. I don't really have much in the way of outfits to bring at this point.
3) I expect I'll still be pretty low on stamina after a year of being sedantary and having surgery.
4) I don't have any close friends going that I could camp with. The only such person camps with someone that is full-of-drama, so I don't want to be involved with that. I have some less close/long distance friends that go, but that requires coordination and stuff as well.
5) Instead of going to a giant art/music/awesome-fest more or less by myself for a week, I could grab some closer friends and go on a week long road trip throughout the south west, or go camping, hiking, and climbing at Joshua Tree.

I'm leaning towards not going this year... but still... damn.

Your thoughts?

(And is there anyone out there that would be interested in camping/going with me?)
pandora_parrot: (contemplative)

House of Leaves is a SERIOUSLY amazing book, and it would not behoove you to read this if you haven't read it, as it spoils a great deal of the novel.

That said, I'm going to do some deep analysis on a particularly interesting point that I want to go into. If you've read the book, or are ABSOLUTELY SURE you'll never read it, feel free to carry on forward.

You've been warned. )
pandora_parrot: (confused)
To the person that recently mentioned this about my LJ, this actually isn't about you for the most part. It's coincidence that I happened to be thinking about this topic a bit at the same time that you made your comment. Please take no offense.

So... over the years, I've had several people accuse me of being self-centered on my LJ. I don't get this criticism. Not because I think it's not true, but because I'm surprised that people see this as being a problem.

I've always treated my LJ as a sort of open journal. I use it the same way I'd use a private journal, but with the expectation that other people are reading it. It's my personal soap box, rant space, and space for me to noodle out my thoughts on my self and my world.

In other words... I've always used my LJ as a place for me to be centered and focused predominantly on myself.

Oddly enough, I've never heard anyone make the claim that *I* am self-centered beyond my LJ. It is only in the context of my LJ that I receive this accusation.

I dunno. Am I using my LJ differently than other people? Am I doing things different here? Or is something else going on?
pandora_parrot: (peaceful)
I think I posted a year or two ago about being done with the crazy in my life.

It's taken a long time in coming, but I really think I've finally hit a place where I've basically excised all of the crazy and crazy-making elements from my life.

Being crazy was something I had to do for a while. I had to go through a second adolescence because I spent the first one rigidly following the rules and never doing anything "wrong" or "crazy" or whatever.

I went through it. I survived. And now I'm growing up.

The journey towards self-improvement, self-healing, and everything like that continues ever onward.
pandora_parrot: (trans activism)


Go Zinnia!

Of course... It's still not necessarily *safe* for a trans woman to keep her transgender status private, but it is absolutely, 100% her valid right and choice to keep it private if she decides to take that risk.

The onus is on the people that have a problem with this, not on the trans person. If you have cissexist issues with having sex with transgender people, it is *your* responsibility to make sure that you're sleeping with cisgender people. Your bigotry and attitudes about the "reality" of transgender genders is *your* problem, not ours.

I've heard some people claim that some people just have a "preference" for cisgender people. Fine. But the racist analogy holds true again. A person that has a preference for white people... fine... But consider a person that is attracted to a person that appears white to the point that they sleep with the person or want to... and later find out that the person is descended from people of color. If they "lose interest" because of that person's history, that person is, in my book, a racist. Period.

Same for someone that loses interest in someone after finding out they're trans. That's cissexism, plain and simple.

(For those of you not up on the vocab, "cissexism" describes prejudice against transgender people, especially related to the validity of their genders. It is much the same as "racism" is used to describe prejudice against people of color, or "heterosexism" is used to describe prejudice against lesbians, gays, and bisexuals.)

I'm angry

May. 26th, 2011 03:59 pm
pandora_parrot: (Default)
One of the things I've been exploring in the past few months is the ability to be ANGRY at people.

I'm feeling a lot of anger today.

Read more... )


pandora_parrot: (Default)
Pandora Parrot

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