Monthly Archives: October 2016

Renegade History

I’m reading A Renegade History of the United States by Thaddeus Russell.  I have very mixed feelings about it.  There is some legitimately good stuff in there, and many of his arguments are fairly nuanced.  The beginning of the part on slavery is fucking shocking, about how slaves had some freedoms that whites didn’t have, but as he explains it and goes through the evidence it’s easy to start making connections with how African Americans are treated today.

What it boils down to is this, which will undoubtedly be familiar with anyone who knows a little bit about black history.  White America was formed around the idea that men should be responsible, frugal, morally sound creatures who deny their own desires in order to make a better society.  Throughout the early years of the nation, there was an awful Protestant work ethic that had whites putting in 14 hour factory days before the development of unions, or toiling their waking hours away on farms.  Idle hands were considered the devil’s workshop.  Children were regularly beaten.  Nonmartial sex was forbidden and even illegal.  Dancing was bad.  Music was bad.  Fitting into white society really sucked for everyone but the rich.  Nothing new there.

Black slaves weren’t raised to in that culture.  A person worked as hard as they needed to to avoid punishment, but they had no incentive to work harder than that.  Why should they, when they were forced into it?  And they weren’t bound by white sexual mores, and they weren’t raised under the Puritanical restrictions of whites.

Slave culture was completely different in its values and priorities.  Russell points out that a lot of repressed white people saw those differences and were jealous.  Not of being owned, but of not being judged as the whites were.  He writes that minstrel shows were actually born of a romanticized look at slave life, and whites wishing they could have the freedoms they saw slaves as having.

Which, of course, is racist as fuck.  How many white people romanticize Native American cultures, yet how many of them care about the poverty and misery prevalent on so many reservations?  Same thing: caring about a false ideal with no concern whatsoever for what the minority is going through.

This is what got me thinking, although I’m only halfway through the book.  There are modern black stereotypes that are the exact same ones leveled at slaves.  According to many whites, black people are lazy, “shiftless,” uninterested in working or being responsible citizens.  Black people are also (according to this view) morally loose and allow themselves baser pleasures than (“good”) whites do.  The stereotypes haven’t changed in 150 years.  There are white boys who romanticize gangsta culture.  Nothing fucking changes.

When you look at the white culture that propagates these stereotypes, how fucked up is that culture?  “Good” Americans are supposed to work as many hours as they can because it’s shameful to not want to move into management or whatever.  Look at how many insults middle-class (and higher) people heap on retail and service workers, despite those people being necessary to our way of life?  Many corporate cultures are competitive for who can work the hardest, put in the most overtime.  There’s the belief that if you work hard enough, you can be rich and never work again.  Some countries in Europe are establishing national minimum incomes.  Some cities are providing homes to the homeless, no strings attached, because it’s cheaper than providing other services to the same population if they’re left on the street.  Right-wing Americans are horrified by these ideas.  Again, skewed Protestant work ethic.  Wealth indicates godliness, and poor people are lazy.  So to become a better person, you have to work harder.  Being a productive member of society is awesome, but there are so many ways to do it that don’t require selling your soul to a corporation…  Ugh.

So there you go.  I’m learning more about the history of issues I already knew existed, but without knowing exactly where they came from.  The book also talks about voluntary immigrants to this country, and the “whitening” of the Irish, Jewish, and Italian peoples (all of whom were called by the n-word when first arriving in America).  I’m only halfway through, and very interested to see where the author goes next.

Life update, Halloween edition

Lots of stuff has been going on, mostly good things!

Social: I’ve been leaving the house and hanging out with people!  Which means I need to give a few people some nicknames. (Pause…)  Done.  I even made a page for my cast of characters.  Yesterday I hung out with Zelda for like 6 hours.  Her friend Domino joined us for lunch, and we hit it off too, and then the three of us spent like an hour in Joanns gleefully shopping for 70% off Halloween decorations.  Last Sunday I had coffee in the morning with Rose for two hours, and then spend the afternoon with Zelda.  I am such a social butterfly.

Hellooooooo nurse: I’ve been contemplating having a sex life again.  I don’t want love, but friendship with benefits would be awesome.  I’ve even been flirting with people.  Shocking.

Brain Fun: doing fairly well on most days. There was a four-day depressive streak last week during which I only left the house once.  And the week before that I struggled with occasional bursts of impulsive recklessness.  Like, “if I ride my bike down this 65mph highway, it’s not like I’m actually attempting suicide, right?  I mean, it has a bike lane…”  But mostly I’m okay.

Thursday I started decreasing my Lamictal dosage.  I’ve been on 200mg twice a day for years, and I’m fed up with the severe memory loss it causes.  I’ve forgotten almost everything I learned in college.  I don’t remember most of my childhood.  The memories are still there, I just can’t access them.  (Thanks to my psych degree and a stint volunteering in a neuropsych lab, I know a bit about memory testing and have done some.  I store memories just fine; it’s retrieval that’s the problem.)  I consider this to be the best way to lose memories, as it means I have a chance of regaining access.  If I wasn’t storing them when they happened, I’d be completely SOL.

Lamictal is what prevents my mania.  If I start getting manic I’ll just sedate myself and then resume my former dose.  Easy.  I hope this works.

Therapy: haven’t had an appointment since my last update.  I’ll have one tomorrow, though.

Cycling: still doing it, although not as much as I’d like.  That whole reckless thing has made me a little scared to ride much.  I’ll talk to my therapist about it.

I’ve resumed my daily walks, though.  Because outdoor exercise of any kind helps my mental health.

Crafting: two inches left of Nephew’s pillow.  I’ve been spinning a lot.  Nothing else, though.  I’ve been too busy reading.

Reading: alllll the books.  So many books.  Mostly paper ones.  All non-fiction.  Which reminds me, I should update my Goodreads account.

Cello: I’ve stopped lessons until January, so that I can afford school and Christmas presents.  I’m sad, but I’ll be back to it in the new year.

Follow-up from last update: I had to reschedule the dentist, because I’ve been having some trouble with nausea.  The craft fair this last Saturday was fun, although it was just me and Mom.  I got a new journal.  Now I just need to keep up with it.

Upcoming plans: Hiking November 11th!  So excite!

Happy Halloween!

Today would have been my 12th wedding anniversary.  Yay for being divorced!

It’s funny — I’m a goth and I love morbid, creepy, and spooky things, but actual scary shit really bothers me.  Some horror fiction is okay, and often enjoyable.  Movies, not so much.  I think the only horror genre films I really like are some of the Hellraiser series, especially the original, because Clive Barker is so good at eroticizing horror and I love that.  (I’m a huge fan of his books, too, and have been since the late 80’s.)  No, wait, I like some zombie stuff too.  And anything with Bruce Campbell in it.  Okay, some movies are decent.  Just not really scary ones.

Horror video games upset me, but mostly because my ex insisted on making me watch her play Fatal Frame and stuff when I really didn’t want to.  I liked some Silent Hill and Resident Evil, but only in small doses and only in daylight hours.  (So of course she insisted on all-night marathons with the lights turned off, and laughed when I got so scared I begged to be allowed to leave the room.  Because apparently I’m “cute” when I’m scared.  You know, the more I look back on my relationship, the more I realize how fucked-up it was.)

So I will spend this evening watching the new Ghostbusters, rewatching Nightmare Before Christmas, and cleaning off my yarn bins so I can put my new resin vulture skeleton on the silver platter with the painted zombie head and the black roses.  Because spooky is fun, even if I’m a giant chicken otherwise.

Mid-month update

I seem to be stuck updating biweekly…

Therapy: not as intense as last time, but stressful nonetheless.  Talked about how I dissociate so much, both deliberately and involuntarily.  How it makes me feel safer.  How when I cried happy tears the other day, I had no idea why my eyes were watery and it confused me, and how once I realized I was happy-crying I was even more confused because how could I not know that’s what I was doing?  I have serious mind/body disconnect issues, and I want to fix it.

Reading: Saturday I started reading a book that wasn’t fanfic.  Since then I’ve read four more books and am almost done with a fifth.  The last one I finished was a novel, which delighted me.  I want to read more fiction.  I hope this lasts for a while.  Oh, yeah, and three were paper books.  Maybe I need to switch back to physical books.  Yay for good libraries!

Biking: still at it.  I’m having to take shorter rides now, though, because long ones hurt my bad knee.  I have dual rear baskets now so I can run more nearby errands on my bike.  In a little bit I’ll be riding to my sister’s to babysit…

Crafting: My ex-MIL loved the washcloths I made for her birthday.  I finished the pillow for my nephew, only for him to tell me one of the colors was wrong.  (Never mind that he had picked it out.)  So I’m waiting on new yarn to come in.  I warped for my tunic but haven’t started weaving yet.  I haven’t finished the dishcloth I started a few days ago, because I’ve been reading so much.  I got the yarn for Mom’s birthday present (washcloths that match her bathroom decor) but haven’t started those.  (Gotta finish the dishcloth first, as it uses the same needles I need for the washcloths.)  Oh, and Friday I cut out all the pieces for the change purses I’m making.  Now I just need to figure out how to sew on the zippers.  Haven’t done any spinning in a couple of months.

Mental stuff: much less depressed.  Not napping often.  Not eating junk food.  Still dissociating but not as much.  So, better overall.  I’ve been having more good days than bad.  Never did hear back from Hillary’s campaign.  I should call again.

Also… this is going to sound weird and sad.  For the last couple of years I’ve only had a libido when really depressed.  Like, I only get myself off when I’m miserable, because when I feel better I’m not interested.  What does it say about me, that arousal is a sign of depression for me?  I get anhedonic except for lust, and even then I frequently feel desire without being able to do anything about it.  But today I got turned on while in a good mood.  It felt weird, but I’m happy about it.

Also, watching cisgender porn as a trans person is hard.  Because my private fantasies are always with me in a male body, and so sometimes gay porn is awesome, but then like today I wanted to see my own physiology reflected so I was watching straight porn.  Neither feels quite right, but there’s a lack of good trans BDSM porn featuring submissives whom I can identify with even a little.  Stupid transgender problem #873987984789375…

Upcoming plans: Thursday I finally see the dentist.  (My appointment was rescheduled because of the last hurricane.)  Pride festival is Saturday, and I’m going to go for at least a little while.  Next weekend I’m going to a craft fair with Mom and ex-MIL.  In November there will be hiking in Georgia.  And cello lessons!  I resume those on Nov. 3rd.

Cycling, therapy, cello, etc.

Cello: I have cancelled my lessons for the month of October.  I need to go to the dentist instead.  Joy.

Therapy: Today’s lesson dealt with some unpleasant shit from when I was a teenager.  It was kind of awful.  Afterwards I went to the Harn Museum of Art to make myself feel better.  Except, parking was $4 and I had no cash.  Sigh.

Depression: The Sunday before last I decided to try to get a part-time job, just stocking shelves at the grocery or something.  The stress of putting together my resume made me suicidally depressed for the next three days.  So that’s not really an option.  I’m trying to volunteer for Hillary’s campaign, but haven’t gotten a call back yet about when to come in.

Crafting: I’m knitting a pillow for my youngest nephew, and knitting three washcloths for my ex-MIL as a birthday gift.  Both projects are by request.  Today I set up a spreadsheet for planning weaving projects, and I really need to warp for my black and green tunic.  And do some sewing.  Can’t focus on anything that requires brain cells at the moment.

Reading: I’ve been so scattered I haven’t been able to read anything, even slash.  Annoying.

Cycling: padded bike underwear are awesome.  They feel like wearing a overnight-strength maxi pad, but because of them I’ve been able to ride two days in a row.  Nine miles yesterday, at the Gainesville-Hawthorne Trail, and seven miles today, around my part of town.  It helps that it’s been in the low 70s in the mornings!  More about biking under the cut.

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