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: (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: (Default)
Identity is an interesting thing.

I've met a number of people that claim that they are elves, dragons, lizards, vampires, angels, reincarnations of ancient wizards, and more. I've heard people claim to be collections of multiple people in one body with some coming from fictional media, some from other people, and some from alternate realities. I've heard even more claims of identity beyond even these.

Are these people crazy?

Personally, I don't think so.Read more... )
pandora_parrot: (adventure)
Hey everybody! I'm off to England, that great and wonderful old country full of weird accents and strange foods!

I'm going to be gone until January 5th. If you need to contact me before then, give me a call on my Google Voice number, as I will not be taking my cell phone with me. How do you do that, you ask? Why, just click below!

And if that doesn't work, you can go to this entry and get the number.

I'll also be on Skype, IM, and all the usual channels! See you guys when you I get back!
pandora_parrot: (Default)
Introspective rambling. Questions about my inner nature and mental landscape. Possible interpretations of my actions, behavior, and mental state. Inspirational conclusion leading towards self-improvement and growth. List of outstanding questions about myself. Goofy closing.


I had a post I was going to write, but I've been so busy lately, that it slipped out of my head. I promise you it would have been quite interesting though! Now if only I can remember what it was going to be! :P
pandora_parrot: (Default)
I haven't been putting as much time into the game as some of my friends, but I've been accomplishing a lot with my Minecraft world. As I said before, this is the best damn game I have ever played. Unlike most video games, this one actually has a sense of purpose: It's a tool for creating art. But instead of being *just* a tool, it's a tool that you have to play a game to use. If you want to make art, you're going to need resources. And to get resources, you need to spend time obtaining them. Sometimes, obtaining those resources is dangerous. You dig down deep into caverns that open wide into darkness filled with monsters or lava. You travel far afield seeking wood and sand and have to find shelter by nightfall or face the monsters that come out at night.

It's an adventure. Traveling deep into dungeons. Fighting monsters. Battling mysterious terrain. All for the reward of getting resources to build awesome things.

Speaking of awesome things, here are some of the things I've been building. I've added captions to all the pictures, so click the picture below and read through them. :)

Minecraft pics 2

Incidentally... this game is also making me think about this as a microcosm for life in general...

We start with nothing and slowly amass skills and resources to make things. We slowly learn to counter the obstacles in our lives to gain more things. The goal of our lives? To make beautiful things. Perhaps art. Perhaps families. Perhaps a beautiful experience and stories to share. And at the end, it's all as meaningless as video game data on a hard drive.

Yeah, I love this game. I'm going to keep playing it. :) Let me know what you're doing with it if you start playing, too!
pandora_parrot: (Default)
I cried out my fears to [ profile] viesti last night, and it seemed to help.

Thinking more about it today, I think that a lot of my anguish and fear about this whole thing actually comes from the circumstances and experiences around my recent broken ankle.

Two interesting facts about this: Breaking my ankle was the first time in my life that I totally lost consciousness. I've had faint-like things before, but I've never completely lost consciousness that way before. The other interesting fact? This is the first time in my life I've had a major debilitating injury.

Read more... )


Aug. 13th, 2010 06:28 am
pandora_parrot: (adventure)
Oooh boy, I had a crazy night!

I grabbed my girlfriend and her roommate and we went out to Griswold Hills to go see the perseids meteor shower last night! It was fantastic! A natural fireworks show against the backdrop of the vast and awesome milky way galaxy. Utterly and completely amazing and beautiful. It's been a long time since I've seen a sky quite that amazing.

Unfortunately, we had hiked about a quarter mile into the hills,looking for a better vantage point from which to view the stars, when disaster struck!Read more... )
pandora_parrot: (Default)
Here we are again, on the verge of another adventure to Zion National Park!

This time, I'll be going with my beloved [ profile] viesti! It's going to be so awesome to be able to share this experiencing with her.

Looking back on last year, Zion was a major turning point in my life. Something about gave me this sense of utter accomplishment and pride. Like I had done something amazing and incredible just by going and doing all of these things. Zion was when I decided that it was time to start working hard towards getting money saved for SRS, and it was the point when I came back and started doing a lot of coding again.

I don't know what it is about it, really. Something about being out in the wilderness and going on honest-to-goodness adventures is really awesome and inspiring.

This year, we're starting with Mystery Canyon as our first canyon. For those that don't remember, Mystery was the canyon that almost killed us last year. This year, we're getting up early and we're going to take that fucker down. Helluva first canyon for [ profile] viesti, though! We're throwing her in the deep end to begin with!

Like last year, we're going to do the short and sweet Keyhole Canyon again the day after. It's just such a cute and adorable little slot canyon. Just 3 hours and you're in and out. And gods-damn do we look sexy in our wetsuits!

We're not sure what we're going to be doing after that, but we've got a few ideas. On Tuesday, we're looking to meet up with Tom Jones to possibly do one of the expert-level canyons, such as Englestead Canyon. Tom Jones literally wrote the book on canyoneering in Zion. The man is incredible, and I feel very honored that he's going to guide us through a canyon while we're out there.

Besides that, we have thoughts about doing Behunin Canyon and Spry Canyon, but no definite plans as of yet.

I'm not sure if I'm going to be terribly into the story telling this year or not, right now I'm feeling not, but I'll definitely be posting pictures of our adventures as we go.

I dropped [ profile] the_local_echo, [ profile] parmonster, and [ profile] auntysarah at the airport this morning at 6AM, and [ profile] viesti and I will be driving to Zion some time this afternoon. [ profile] zoeimogen will be joining us at some point in there, but I'm not privy to when that's happening.

Keep in touch, and I'll see you all on the 28th when I get back! Wish us luck and safe adventures! Let's hope for no brushes with death this year, eh? :)
pandora_parrot: (Default)
For the first time in my life, I feel like I'm in control of my time. If there is something I'm not doing, I'm not doing it because I am actively prioritizing other things. If there is something I *am* doing, I am actively prioritizing it.

About the only thing that I could improve my time management on is my sleep cycle. I'd like to wake up earlier so I can exercise before work in the mornings.

But other than that, I'm in control.

However, this makes for a very controlled and regimented life. Between my two girlfriends, my desire to work out, and my desire to get coding projects done, I have at most 2 days a week to devote to other things and other people.

Those days fill up quickly. A friend invites me to their housewarming party, and that leaves me one day. I ask a friend I haven't had time to see much lately to a movie, and that's my week. I decide to go camping in the desert, and that's another week. At this point, my next free day for scheduling time with *anyone* or *anything* is May 15th.

I'm in control, and know exactly how and why I'm not doing certain things. The challenge before me, now, is to prioritize my desires. What really matters to me and what doesn't? And that's the hard part. There's a lot I want to accomplish and a lot of people I want to see... but how much of that is more important than what I'm already doing?
pandora_parrot: (Default)
Sometimes, I feel the need to consider, talk about, or remind people what this LJ here is about.

The primary purpose that my blog serves is to be a shared record of my thoughts. Because of fucked up crap in my childhood, I have a lot of issues with memory. If I have a thought and I don't share it with someone, it becomes invisible and insubstantial. I will forget it or misremember it. My blog is a place for me to record thoughts and share them with others, to make them real and to store them for review in the future. Livejournal was vital in my forming of a self-identity and self-confidence. It was vital in learning to trust myself, my thoughts, and my emotions, and it still helps me out with that.

Related to that last, my blog is a place for me to effectively think out loud. On this blog, you'll find many essays that I've written, analyzing and contemplating a very wide variety of topics. My favorite topic is myself, analyzing my behavior, my quirks, my failings, my successes, etc. It is one of the most powerful tools for self-therapy that I have found. It gives me the ability to openly share my thoughts on what I'm trying to work through, and through the advice and feedback I get from others about it, I refine things and tinker with my brain until I figure out a way to make it work better. LJ has helped me deal with emotional issues related to relationships, sex, egotism, and so many other things.

I also have a lot of essays on here analyzing various bits of things I'm trying to figure out about the world. Much like there's a lot about myself that I don't understand, there's a lot about the world in general that I don't understand, and I use my LJ to work on that. I write a lot of essays about things as a way to try to articulate my conception of them, so that that my conceptions of the world become explicit and real. They become something I can actually manipulate and get feedback on.

After essays, this LJ becomes a record of experiences that I've had. I have a lot of intense experiences, and I like to record those experiences so that I can revisit them later. Sometimes, entries like these will simply be a record of some experience that I want to re-remember some day later. Celebrations of exciting "firsts" in my life, like my first time rock climbing or skateboarding. Records of sad events, like the passing of my mother. Stuff like that.

Other times, the entry will be my way of trying to process an event. Figuring out how to place it into my mind and what I should think about it. Was it a positive experience? A negative one? Something else? I'm exploring just how I feel about something.

After that, it becomes a place to socialize. I'll announce events, let people know where I'm at and what I'm doing, stuff like that. Basically a place to connect with people. I love interacting with other people and their ideas. I love debates and discussions and everything else. I love connecting with people like you. Learning about your experiences, hearing what you have to say about things, etc. That's a huge reason why I love LJ: The ability to read about *YOUR* experiences, thoughts, etc.

Still, besides the socialization and interaction we have here, you are what makes this LJ thing work for all of the purposes I listed above. Your comments, feedback, and responses to my entries all help me organize all of the information and emotions in my head. You help me with your advice, your comfort, your congratulations, your criticisms, your outrage, etc. Your stories about your own experiences help me to further figure myself out. I learn from you, and I grow in strength and self-confidence because of you. By sharing all of these bits of myself with you, I am able to make myself real and become a real person instead of the imaginary person that I always used to be in my head.

Thank you for listening. Thank you for being here for me. And thank you for being my "LJ friend." You mean more to me than you could ever imagine.


Apr. 5th, 2010 11:35 am
pandora_parrot: (Default)
It usually takes awhile for a place to feel like home. And until it feels like home, I really can't sleep well. I stay up all night, afraid of the dark of night, nervous in the strange place that has yet to become my home.

Read more... )
pandora_parrot: (annoyed)
Something odd happened this week. On Monday, I came in late and really needed to run to a meeting. There was a box of Krispy Kreme donuts sitting in the lunch room, so I grabbed one of the delightful custard filled ones and wolfed it down.

mmm 300 calories, 17g of fat, and 35g of carbs (19g sugar)... so gooey and delicious and good and amazing.

Now, I haven't really eaten anything so high in fat and sugar in quite a while. I avoid the high fat sweets quite a bit, only taking exceptions for specifically low fat and low sugar ice creams and sherberts. This was quite a departure for me, because... OMG Krispie Kremes.... SOOOO good.

So here's the interesting part: For the rest of the week... NOTHING else has tasted good to me. From that moment on, all I've wanted to do was eat more of those donuts. Screw vegetables and proteins and salts and everything else. I want more donuts. Everything else just is... tasteless. I even went out to a delicious sushi restaurant this week and nothing there had any flavor. I had to use lots of soy sauce and... that green spicy stuff... to even get my tastebuds to notice.

What happened?! I've developed a bit of a good relationship with my body of late. When I'm hungry, I check in with it and it delivers up images of things that will satisfy the vitamin and mineral needs that it has. It's not perfect, and I'm still working on it, but generally speaking, it seems pretty accurate. After exercising, for example, I get a huge craving for tomatoes, protein, and pasta. I see images of veggie hamburger helper, spaghetti, and veggie-burgers with fries.

But this week, every time I check in and ask my body what it wants, I get nothing back but images of that donut. It's like my body has decided that custard filled Krispie Kreme donuts are the most nutritious and satisfying food in the world and I should get 100% of my daily caloric intake purely from them. Or at least something very much like them.

Did I overload my tastebuds or something? I've heard that human beings are naturally designed to crave fats, sugars, and salts. Sweet, fatty, and salty things in our natural environment are among the best and healthiest things for us to eat. But in our modern world, we can make things that are fatty, sugary, and salty with no other nutritional benefits. Our bodies still crave the fat, sugar, and salt, but we do not derive the benefits that the body expects. So we want more of it because our simplistic and instinctive analysis of the food gives us the false impression that *surely* it must have nutrition. Is that what's going on here?

In any case, I won't be eating another one of those for a while. I've failed to enjoy some really good meals this week because of that damn donut, if indeed the two things are related.
pandora_parrot: (Default)
One of the things that has really challenged me in my life is the ability to describe what it is that I'm experiencing. I generally find that my internal experiences are hard to map onto symbols and metaphors that I can describe to folks. And by being better able to describe it to others, I can more accurately describe it to myself and consider how it works in my life.

One of the big problems I've had with this is in terms of discovering a new concept, idea, project, hobby, or whatever to get interested in. In the past, I've tended to adopt such bits of stuff as my identity. "I'm a skateboarder" I'd say after a month or two of skateboarding. It made me unhappy to see myself constantly describing things as part of my identity only to have them become less interesting and appealing after a while.

So in the fall of last year, I came up with a new way of describing my newfound interests to myself and others: experiments. I haven't become a wow player. I'm experimenting with WoW. I haven't become a barefooter. I'm experimenting with barefooting. That's a far more accurate way to render things and gives them the proper weight when describing them.

I tend to have a lot of such experiments going on at any given moment in time, and I tend to launch myself into such things with intensity and glee. Because, simply put, they are rather important to me in the way they work. :)
pandora_parrot: (Default)
I have too many outstanding projects.

Read more... )


Jan. 19th, 2010 03:53 pm
pandora_parrot: (contemplative)
The supplicant looks up at the majestic mountain. His goal is to get to the top. There is only one way that will ever occur. And thus he starts to climb.

Each step is grueling and painful, the supplicant's back breaking as he ascends. Days pass, and the struggle becomes ever more intense. His muscles feel near to the point of giving out. But finally, after a long journey, it appears that the end is in sight. The summit is before his eyes. Only a few short strides to go before he has satisfied his goal. But alas, he trods upon a loose boulder that slides out from under him and he goes tumbling down the mountain, tumbling tumbling tumbling down past all of his progress, nearly back to where he started.

The supplicant gets up and looks back up at the majestic mountain. His goal is to get to the top. There is only one way that will ever occur. And once again he starts to climb.
pandora_parrot: (annoyed)
There are two things that you don't fuck with. My friends and my family. And if you fuck with the two people in this world that I love more than anything else, you are more than on my bad side. You're liable to meet with some significant unpleasantness over it.

With that said...

Universe? For what you did last night, you are officially on notice. Don't screw up again. You don't want to see me angry... well more angry than I already am.
pandora_parrot: (Default)
One of my goals this year is to relax more. I had a lot of drama happen last year. People being passive aggressive and/or irrationally attacking me and stuff like that. You know the list: The animated cat torture incident, the spaghettios incident, etc.

That stuff tends to freak me the fuck out and make me react very, well, irrationally myself.

So this year, I intend to keep calm. These are other people's issues, not mine. If people seem to have a problem, I'll ask about it. If people refuse to communicate with me about their issues, that's their problem to deal with. I am not going to worry about accommodating unspoken requirements for social relationships. I'm not going to try to guess at what I'm doing to upset someone if they seem upset by me. If they then throw a tantrum because I'm not reading their mind and doing what they want, well, I'm going to do my best to ignore it and stay calm.

I intend to have a relaxing and calm drama-free year. Let other people deal with their own damn drama.

What's up?

Jan. 12th, 2010 01:49 pm
pandora_parrot: (Default)
Redyed my hair. Used some darker colors this time. Not entirely happy with the way it came out. I'll have to wait for it to fade and not use so much Deep Purple next time. More Blue-haired freak and blue velvet, I think. Maybe use some pink to splash some texture in there.

[ profile] chirik's hair turned out awesome, as did [ profile] viesti's. I haven't been able to see the final results of [ profile] foxgrrl's hair, but hers was awesome from what I saw. Very happy with the results. [ profile] cheeseboy went with a simple orange, which works for him but doesn't give me much room to play. Heh. Had fun playing with his hair though. All nice and short and stuff.

Last week, I went nuts with climbing, after a month of being a shut in. Turns out that a lot of my problems were hydration related. I've basically spent a month and a half being dehydrated. I find, right now, that I'm drinking intense amounts of water, for me. I drank 3 liters within roughly an hour on Wednesday at climbing and felt incredible. It was like someone had lifted a veil from my eyes. Went climbing again on Friday and felt like I was pretty close to my old abilities again. At least being able to push myself. Then on Sunday, [ profile] chirik and I went climbing at Castle Rock. That was a blast. It's so great to be climbing outdoors again.

I've been really pressed for time these past few days, what with getting my life back together after being sick, completing my software project with [ profile] viesti, and working on getting back into climbing. I took last night off and went over [ profile] viesti's place to play WoW with her and her family, have dinner, and cuddle. Wound up passing out there.

I'm still struggling with this soul crunching depression that keeps threatening to come back to me, but I find that as long as I stay busy, it's harder to fall into it. I really want to go ice skating again some time soon, and get back to a few people that I need to talk to. But one thing at a time. Tonight, I plan to work all night.


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