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belenen

June 2017

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Expect to find curse words, nudity, (occasionally explicit) talk of sex, and angry ranting, but NEVER slurs or sexually violent language. I use TW when I am aware of the need and on request.

belenen: (Default)
2016 summary: some of the best weeks and worst months of my life.
icon: "confused (photo of a purple diamond-shaped sign with a line leading to four arrows all curving and pointing in different directions)"

I started 2016 with a lot of hope. In January I connected a lot with Kylei, Sande, and Hannah; I had two graduation parties and started making more plans to spend time with people, and I started meditating weekly-ish with Elizabeth. But by the end of January I ended up in a dark crash over how little I felt connected to people. The beginning of February was a little better -- I got to go to Big Trees with some of my favorite people, and Topaz hosted Heather's birthday which was also nourishing and fun. But then I went to a party at Kylei's and had a terrible anxiety crash which ended up leaking into the next day and causing a horrifically painful miscommunication with Topaz. Later that month I went to the activist meet-and-greet for the first time after meaning to go for ages, and met three awesome new people. But just introducing myself made my heart beat painfully hard. At the end of February I asked my psychiatrist to prescribe me anxiety meds and start being medicated for that for the first time.

In March I did a lot of social -- met with four friends as well as with my ex-mother-in-law. I also began a four-week break with Topaz, in an effort to re-set our relationship which had become too central for both of us. In April I had two tinder fails (one flaked and the other I could hardly talk with), made a new friend, hosted a crafty party and a cuddly communion, spent time with Roger and Serenity, and went to Euphoria where I gave a talk on intimacy and made a game with it. (yeah I'd say that the anxiety meds were helping!) In May I spent a lot of time with Serenity and Evelyn, hosted a cuddly communion, spent time with Katie, Allison, Serra, and Indie, and wrote a lot of important posts. In June I spent lots of time with Serenity, presented at APW and SFQP, hung out with Arizona, Sande, Allison, Kylei, Evelyn, and Cass, and had a truth-or-truth videochat with LJ friends, as well as writing a lot of important posts.

In July stuff started getting very stressful -- Topaz went through something really traumatic, Kanika had a medical emergency and I had to take her to the vet, my little sister came in town unexpectedly, and I ran out of money and had to start begging from my bioparents. But also I spent lots of good time with Serenity and had several gathers -- two with my lil sis, also Katie, Allison, Hannah, Kylei, Elliott, Evelyn, Sande, Cass, and even Adi, so that part was positive. But August brought a lot of painful stuff for Topaz, was when I ran out of ADD meds with no access to a doctor, and was the last time I saw Evelyn for months. Roger and Allison were supportive and helpful, and I went to a SONG membership meeting which gave me hope like nothing else except for TBC ever has.

September I got a job at Starbux and finally started getting call backs and interviews for a few of the hundreds of applications I had sent. My awful bioparents also invaded my house and stayed for a month, harassing me about money, rearranging my stuff and throwing some of it away without my permission, invading my bedroom, and being transphobic. October was mostly filled up with my awful bioparents and working at Starbux but at the very end I began doing LJ Idol again. In November things got still worse -- Evelyn officially broke things off with me and Kylei blew up at me and told me we can't be friends. Then later that month Evelyn invited me to a party at their house which ended up being an emotional disaster. I quit Starbux for my new job.

December was a very mixed bag. I started my new job, which was amazing; I got a new psychiatrist and finally got medicated for ADD again; I got to spend time with Arizona, Felix, Felix's people Blaire and Shay, Allison, Jonathan, Heather, Brian, Jessica, and my little sister. But also, my grandmother died and I had to spend time with my awful biofamily, and I was so emotionally drained that I couldn't really enjoy Solstice. It was also a sad reminder of my estrangement from Kylei and Evelyn, because I wanted them at Solstice so much.

detailed events )


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belenen: (incitement)
I wanna build local community starting w monthly gathers around needs, food, play, intimacy, & touch
icon: "incitement (painting of a bald purple-skinned naked person standing among thick vines and ferns: from Joan Slonczewski's "Door Into Ocean")"

I want a monthly gather, minimum. In it I want to address structural things like donations to pay for the space (if we can't find a free one). I also want to address people's needs in general and offer time for food, time for play, time for intimacy, and time for touch. I want it to last at least 3 hours, and I want people to commit to coming to at least the structural and needs-share parts. I want a safe space where we have a set of agreements for safe behavior and we pay attention and call people on it if they are not respecting consent, or if they are making oppressive/demeaning 'jokes,' etc. I want it to not be taboo to call people out OR to make mistakes. I want mistakes handled with as much kindness and gentleness as possible, and deliberate shitwadness to result in people being immediately escorted out (with the understanding that they are allowed to return next time if they refrain from being a deliberate shitwad).

I want a rotating group of at least four people who take turns doing the structural work, but I want everyone to feel like they have a commitment to keeping the group going and to making it better with their help and their suggestions. I want people to volunteer to as MOOP fairies (people who gather up 'matter out of place,' clean and tidy) at the end of the gather, and to volunteer to be consent coaches for cuddle time, or trick teachers for play time, or facilitators for intimacy time, or labelers for food time. I want people to be willing to really invest their time, effort, and material resources to creating community. I want people to hold each other accountable with things like reminding each other to attend and to bring/do whatever they promised.

To address needs in general: I want people to write down what they need help with on numbered papers (one paper per need, not per person) and put it in a bucket. I want one person to read those needs aloud and then people to raise their hand if they can offer a gift to fill that need. On a whiteboard, we can put the number of the need with a list of the people who can fill it. The person who had the need with that number can then spot those who raised their hand, or read from the list, and later go up to whoever they feel safe receiving from, and discuss it with them. The goal is to put no one on the spot. These can be needs like a ride to the doctor, or a can opener, or a person to talk with about assault.

For food, I want it to be a potluck where each person who is able to brings enough for 1-3 people -- nourishing food, not just munchies. If everyone just brings their own dinner, that's fine. If people bring more than their own dinner, I want them to provide ingredients lists so people with food allergies can participate. For play, I want there to be space and time for people to play with flow toys, or do art, or play music together. For intimacy, I want there to be space and time for people to engage in meaningful conversations, to do exercises like eye gazing and mirroring. For touch I want there to be time and space for people to give and/or receive touch, whether passive or active.

I want this gather to be in a wheelchair-accessible, non-allergenic, temperature-controlled space with non-fluorescent lighting. I want people to be scent-free. Ideally I want there to be at least one sign interpreter, and I want people to take turns talking and leave the room if they want to have a side conversation. I want notes to be available in text format (not images).

(this is a sketch and I may edit it as I think of more things)

(crossposted to Medium)


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belenen: (challenging)
local burners, let's build sustainable year-round community. 3-10 days per year doesn't work.
icon: "challenging (photo of me lifting one eyebrow and slightly squinting my eyes, wearing "Red Queen" makeup: searingly red lips, darkened pointed eyebrows, black eyeliner, deep red & black eyeshadow accented with gold & silver, and black-outlined silver hearts & diamonds with red shadows on my cheeks)"

At least three friends who I think of as burners (people who attend Alchemy or Euphoria or other Burning Man events) have expressed a similar dissatisfaction with the way that burns are less and less community and more and more conspicuous consumption. We want burners to put resources toward building sustainable year-round community rather than dumping so much money and effort into a few days a year. It's highly reminiscent of Christmas-and-Easter Christians who make a big damn deal twice a year but don't bring the principles they supposedly care about into their daily lives.


Even the poor burners I know usually end up spending at least $150 on tickets and food and water and supplies, and it is easily two or three times that for the more well-off burners. (that's just regional burns: don't get me started on Burning Man) Each year most burners seem to upgrade something they bring, with the result that long-time burners have invested hundreds of dollars over time and there is a significant difference in 'burner class' even among people who have similar income levels. This effect heightens the seniority effect, so that one has to invest for multiple years with increasingly luxurious accessories to be treated as if one belongs.

When I first started going to Georgia burns they were only five years old. Five years later, the landscape has changed radically. Instead of a bunch of little tents with a few shared spaces, lots of camps have infrastructure they bring. This has the effect of making camps very insular; instead of going from place to place enjoying various shared spaces, most spaces are fairly self-contained. Most of the resources seem to me to be going to making one's home camp more and more elaborate. I don't think there is anything wrong with that in theory, but in practice, it reduces community. If all giving was meant to happen in a shared space, how different would that look? how much more would people leave their own little bubble?

And at this point you look 'uncool' if all you have is a tiny tent. In the absence of vibrant shared spaces (not private 'shared' spaces that actually function as the living rooms of the camp that 'shares' them) being poor means being alone. I think all shared spaces should be separate from sleep spaces -- this would not only reduce the effects of class, but it would allow people to have quiet space away from partying when they slept.

If I was going to a Georgia burn for the first time this year, I would have felt like my class, my lack of money, made me unable to participate. I was able to borrow a tent, but if not, what then? Do people contribute to any kind of a shared sleeping space? Tents are expensive, especially ones that have enough space to breathe. People are constantly upgrading -- what happens to the old tents? Couldn't they be kept communally and lent on a by-need basis to people who don't have them? There are just so many ways that class cuts in.

There are some other large issues with burns but right now I'm just discussing the community aspects. I'm not ready to try to make the local burns better; I'm ready to take the principles outside of burns.


How much more nourishing would it be to have community in a continual way rather than periods of famine broken up by glut? How much more true to the principles of civic responsibility, participation, and communal effort to be building community at home, taking responsibility for taking care of each other, and doing actual work to build something lasting? How much more true to the principles of gifting, decommodification, and immediacy to invest in each other, here and now, rather than buying needs and luxuries for a three-day party once or twice a year?

We need accountable, accessible, growth-and-healing focused community. I am ready to build this. We need to find a gathering space that everyone can get to relatively easily, then bring together everyone who wants to build real community and have a brainstorming session. We need to decide what we want it to look like and what minimum things we need to keep momentum, and what people can contribute. We need to set shared goals and values, as well as safe space boundaries and how to handle violations of those.

I'm writing my set of wants and ideas now, but will post that separately because this is already long.


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belenen: (burn baby burn)
Euphoria 2016 / why I go to burns / new housemate feeds me, helps clean & tidy, & crafts with me!
icon: "burn baby burn (a photo of me silhouetted dancing in front of the effigy fire at my first burn)"

I went to Euphoria and camped with Topaz, Kylei, Heather, Brian, and Hope. It was a mix of pleasant and irritating, leaning a little to the irritating side. The best bits were sitting around the fire talking with people, smoking hookah with Topaz while petting Evelyn's hair, running an 'intimacy roulette' game, having people gift me and Topaz with exactly what we wanted, giving Rocky a meaningful hug when I came across them seeming in need of one, kissing Topaz, and kissing Evelyn.

The worst bits were our hugely inconsiderate dudebro neighbors who made loud noise and pointed floodlights at our tent all night, the unbelievably selfish shitsop who squeezed in front of me at the burn itself and blocked all my vision with their body which was a foot and a half taller than me, witnessing far too much waste and ableism, and getting sunburnt. I really was not expecting to get burnt because 1) I had been taking vitamin D religiously, and 2) I stayed in the shade the entire time. But I think that I didn't absorb what I had been taking, because I've been taking zinc and apparently it blocks magnesium sometimes, which is necessary for absorption of D (if I understood what I read on it). I started taking magnesium daily since then, and the purple-pink has turned tan far, FAR quicker than usual, so that's good at least. I ordered a calcium-magnesium supplement to balance out the zinc, and copper because the zinc I currently have doesn't contain copper and zinc can deplete copper. I recently started taking iron too, because I found a vegetarian source and I know that it is unlikely I get enough from my diet. Once all this stuff arrives I have to figure out what not to take with what, bleh. Never thought I'd be taking a bunch of supplements every day -- but I only take what I can actually feel an effect from, with the exception of these new minerals and curcumin, which I take because I've read that it helps with dementia, both prevention and cure.


I talked with Topaz after and realized that the reason I go to burns is purely to skill-share and/or for art. If I was not going to do that, I wouldn't be motivated enough to go, because I've never met a person at a burn who became important to me. Even though I have a lot of burner friends, I've met all of them in some other way. (technically I met Seth at a burn I think, but I met Seth through Abby so the burn was just a convenience) Other reasons to go to a burn are not relevant to me because they are already part of my daily life: self-expression, nudity, play, cuddles. For a lot of people burns are where they can really be themselves and feel accepted, but accepting me would require a lot of learning that people do not do, so I never feel accepted (it is nice that people try, but there's not much that can be done in the moment).

I go to burns because I like that people there are often willing to try new things, and so if I bring a skill I think will help make the world better and people are willing to practice, I can make change there in a way that is not possible elsewhere. This time I felt like I did kind of a bad job with planning, and that meant that the intimacy game I made did not reach many people, but it was still worthwhile. I think the few strangers that came and participated appreciated it.

In other news I have a temporary housemate, Serenity (also called Twilight) who has been WONDERFUL to have around. They were in need of a place to stay and I had a room which wasn't being used so I offered it to them. I didn't ask for anything, but they have cooked for me four times (delicious healthy vegetarian meals) since they got here 10 days ago, and have done dishes and swept! Also, having them around as a tidy person helps me to be better about tidying also, so the kitchen table is usable again for the first time in ages. And they wanted to craft which got me crafting too -- now I have a new project half-done that I think I will actually complete soon. They have a service dog who is INCREDIBLY sweet and Kanika is slowly adjusting to them. I am really enjoying having them stay with me. We've talked a lot and I feel a lot of resonance with them.


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belenen: (burn baby burn)
dear burners: practice radical inclusion by considering who is excluded by default & taking action
I have long been irritated with the burner community* for not living up to the 10 principles, especially radical inclusion. Radical means from the root; to radically include, you have to consider who is excluded by default, and why, and you must take action to get rid of those reasons. If you just fail to exclude, that is not radical at all. There will always be people self-selecting out for one reason or another. If you don't want that group to be those who are oppressed, you have to organize it so that those who would make it shitty for the oppressed self-select out instead.

Who is excluded by default and why? anyone who is not at the top of the privilege pyramid is excluded because of an oppression-based social structure. People of color, women, disabled people, non-neurotypical people, poor people, queer people, trans people, etc. When you are excluded by default, you know that most spaces will not be inclusive of you because they will not be safe for you. People will use slurs that attack you, they will expect you to speak for 'your group', they will either ignore your existence or only talk to you about your difference from them, they will make plans that you cannot do because of a disability or lack of funds, they will use language that erases you, they will ask invasive personal questions, they will not provide accommodations nor try to fulfill them on request, they will touch you without permission, they'll expect you to be 'socially appropriate' and judge you if you get socially anxious and go quiet, or if you stim, or if you fail to laugh at their stereotyping, etc.

A great example of missing the point is when the local burner community came together to create an all-terrain powered wheelchair for a disabled burner who is very active in the community. This was so beautiful -- and yet they didn't appear to consider other people who might also need an all-terrain personal vehicle in order to get around at a burn. They didn't appear to consider changing the venue so that all people who use wheelchairs could more easily get around. To be fair, I didn't ask, maybe they tried finding a more flat/accessible place to host the burn and couldn't (was there even a ramp to the showers? or an accessible portapotty? I don't remember, because I didn't need it <- privilege). But see, while this was generous and loving, it wasn't radically inclusive. It did not fix the greater problem or even discuss it (at least, not at the fundraiser I attended).

I value radical inclusion, which is why my house runs on these house agreements. I want people to know that they absolutely are included, right up to the point where they start excluding people by making the space unsafe. I want them to know ahead of time that they may have their behavior critiqued** (and that they are permitted to critique others including me). And I feel that if the burner community required people to agree to a code of conduct before buying tickets, and then kicked people out for not abiding (one warning, MAYBE two considering), they'd be about 500% closer to radical inclusion. And I would self-select in, for one.

One thing that is probably not possible for the organizers to get people to do but IS possible for individuals to do is to self-educate. So many of the exclusionary behaviors I mentioned come from sheer ignorance. If you have no access to the internet or spare time to read, then it's not on you, but if you do, and you fail to self-educate, you are guaranteeing that you are going to make someone feel excluded. The only path to making everyone feel included and safe is to learn what makes people feel unsafe and stop doing it.

* some individual burners do live up to them magnificently: I'm talking about broader trends.
** I really need to get better at this. Luckily my friends are better than I am and usually speak up when there is a language issue or something, but I freeze for like two minutes and have a very hard time bringing the focus back after I unfreeze. I know practice will help.


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belenen: (heart in my throat)
oh possibility! <3
I'm so enamoured! Oh. So. A few days after I wrote about worrying that I'd never again fall for someone in a intense and mutual way, I went to Euphoria with Kyle and Abby (who I had just met in person for the first time that week) and one thing that made it euphoric for me was the maybe of Abby. I don't know how to put it into words. Abby really fits with Kyle and I -- ze gets our strange humor (not just-Kyle's or just-mine, like most people) and plays along, and ze's really open and really growth-focused and also creative -- ze paints! and journals and takes photos (and not in an occasional way but in a part of life way, which makes me happy and inspired), and is so cuddly and sweet and open-minded. It's like I can see zir disassembling the things I say and reshaping them so that they fit in zir own mind-space, and I find that really exciting, especially since ze seems very skilled at it. And ze's willing/able to share life with me in a way that I'm not sure I fully understand yet but it feels similar to Kyle and Hannah which is... profoundly thrilling. And ze's excited about me too, at least I feel pretty sure ze is.

And I can't seem to share more story at the moment so that is all that will be marked so far. <3!!!
sounds: Blue Foundation - Stained | Powered by Last.fm
connecting: , ,


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belenen: (heart in my throat)
oh possibility! <3
I'm so enamoured! Oh. So. A few days after I wrote about worrying that I'd never again fall for someone in a intense and mutual way, I went to Euphoria with Kyle and Abby (who I had just met in person for the first time that week) and one thing that made it euphoric for me was the maybe of Abby. I don't know how to put it into words. Abby really fits with Kyle and I -- ze gets our strange humor (not just-Kyle's or just-mine, like most people) and plays along, and ze's really open and really growth-focused and also creative -- ze paints! and journals and takes photos (and not in an occasional way but in a part of life way, which makes me happy and inspired), and is so cuddly and sweet and open-minded. It's like I can see zir disassembling the things I say and reshaping them so that they fit in zir own mind-space, and I find that really exciting, especially since ze seems very skilled at it. And ze's willing/able to share life with me in a way that I'm not sure I fully understand yet but it feels similar to Kyle and Hannah which is... profoundly thrilling. And ze's excited about me too, at least I feel pretty sure ze is.

And I can't seem to share more story at the moment so that is all that will be marked so far. <3!!!
sounds: Blue Foundation - Stained | Powered by Last.fm
connecting: , ,


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